Tuesday, November 25, 2008

India Sunk the wrong ship!

File image of Indian navy frigate INS Tabar

This is what happens when one becomes over zealous. India, thought it had hit Pirate gold and attacked a so called mother ship they though belonged to Somali Pirates. Somalis are not that rich to have that many vessels to float them out. I wonder why any one imagined that those simple pirates would have such a vessel. On the other hand, they have given the pirates a better idea. Here is the latest from CNN about a Thai ship they sunk. SMH. Also amazing is how the story took so long to come out.

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Fourteen sailors are still missing from a Thai trawler that was sunk last week by the Indian navy as a suspected pirate ship, the vessel's owner said Tuesday.

One crewman was found alive after six days adrift in the Gulf of Aden, and one is confirmed dead, said Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, owner of the Ekawat Nava 5.

Last week, India's navy reported that the frigate INS Tabar had battled a pirate "mother vessel" in the gulf November 18, leaving the ship ablaze and likely sunk. Wicharn said that vessel was his ship, which was in the process of being seized by pirates when it came under fire.

Indian authorities insisted that their ship had acted against a pirate vessel which had threatened to attack the Tabar.

"We fired in self-defense and in response to firing upon our vessel. It was a pirate vessel in the international waters and its stance was aggressive," Commodore Nirad Sinha, a navy spokesman, told CNN. He said the ship the Tabar fired upon was laden with ammunition. Watch more about the piracy threat in the region »

Wicharn told reporters that the Ekawat Nava 5 was headed from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was set upon by pirates off the Horn of Africa. The pirates were seizing control of the ship when the Tabar moved in, he said.

Wicharn said he learned the fate of his vessel from a Cambodian crew member who survived the gunfire and drifted in the ocean for six days before he was plucked to safety by a passing ship. The sailor was recovering in a hospital in Yemen, he said.

Wicharn said his ship made a distress call on November 18 as it was chased by pirates in two speedboats, but the connection was lost midway. The owners, Sirichai Fisheries, had not heard from the crew since then.

Later that evening, the Indian navy said it encountered a suspected pirate "mother vessel," with two speedboats in tow, about 285 nautical miles (525 km) southwest of the Omani port of Salalah. "Mother vessels" are often used as mobile bases to ferry pirates and smaller attack boats into deep water.

When the Tabar's crew hailed the ship and demanded it stop for inspection, the pirates threatened to destroy the Indian ship, the ministry reported.

An international fleet has been patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa in an effort to crack down on pirates based in largely lawless Somalia. Map of piracy incidents in 2008 »

Pirates have attacked more than 90 vessels off East Africa so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center, which monitors piracy around the world, including a Saudi supertanker captured earlier this month.

The latest ship seized was a Yemeni freighter Adina taken last week with a crew of seven on board, including two Yemenis, two Panamanians and three Somalis, security sources in Yemen told CNN.

The government is in direct contact with officials in Somalia to work on rescuing the ship, for which the hijackers are asking for a $2 million ransom.

While the pirate take over of the Saudi super-tanker highlights the dangers facing cargo ships navigating the Horn of Africa, marine security experts are warning that racing boats, private charters and luxury yachts can be far easier pirate targets -- rich people usually carry cash, and jewels. Watch the risks facing racers and luxury sailors »

And competitors in the world's biggest ocean race made an unprecedented change of course this year as organizers mandated yachts steer clear of Africa's east coast.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Black women now earning more than their white counterparts

Constance Briscoe, who became one of Britain's first black female judges

This is now happening in Britain. Is this good news really? According to some recent research Black women are out earning their white counterparts. The study also shows that Black British women have a work ethic twice that of all other women and equal to that of White men. So what exactly does this all this mean? To me it seems official, Black women cannot wholly depend on Black men the way women of other races depend on their men. Is this a good thing? Are we redefining woman hood or are we simply being further victimized?

Here is an article from the Daily Mail

Black women are earning more than white women in Britain for the first time, official figures suggest.

On average, women who described their ethnicity as 'Black Caribbean' have taken home more pay in 2008 than their white counterparts. The pay gap grew to 6 per cent in the three months to October, when black women earned an average £462 per week - against £436 for white women.

It is a reversal on the figures for 2007, when white women earned over 7 per cent more than black women on average.
The trend emerged in an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, based on the authoritative Labour Force Survey.
But experts at the Equality and Human Rights Commission cautioned against 'over-simplifying', warning that black women were still under-represented compared with white women in the senior ranks of many professions despite recent strides.
A spokesman said the trend may be linked to working and residential patterns, explaining: 'Black women are more likely to live in London, where wages are higher, and work in the public sector, where the pay gap for women generally is lower.'
In addition, it is thought financial pressures mean black women are less likely to switch to part-time work after having children, meaning they suffer less of a pay penalty when returning to work.
Meanwhile many work in health or social services where pay has been rising.
The pay trend follows other strides made by black women in recent years including the appointment of two to the Cabinet, including Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, and others to senior positions in the judiciary.
Colleen Harris, the first black press officer at Downing Street, told the Sunday Times, which published the analysis, she was 'cynical about the figures'.
But she added: 'Black women do work very hard, and often they are the single earner in a household and have the whole weight of a family on their shoulders.'
The figures come at a time of growing concern over the under-achievement of white working-class youngsters, particularly boys.
They have worse GCSE results than almost any other group and are less likely to go to university.
Just 15 per cent of white working-class boys finished compulsory schooling last year having mastered the three Rs, gaining five good GCSEs including the core subjects of English and maths.
For black boys from similar backgrounds, the figure is 22 per cent while for Asians it is 29 per cent and Chinese 52 per cent.
Figures also show black Caribbean girls of any background doing better than their male counterparts.
Some 38.5 per cent achieved five good GCSEs including the three Rs last year, against 26.5 per cent of black Caribbean boys

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Piracy a serious Industry in Somalia's Puntland

When I first heard of Somali Piracy over a year ago, I immediately foresaw a serious growth in activity given that Somalis have had a dysfunctional state for the past 18 years. This year alone over 80 attacks have taken place. With almost daily attacks in the last 2 weeks. These guys have become battle hardened and given that there is all this wealth roaming around them, the obvious inclination for people used to lawlessness is to pirate. I am personally surprised it has taken so long for them to get this active. The danger that I see now is for all sorts of criminal elements from all over the continent taking up piracy on the high seas around Africa. Last week a Chinese Fishing vessel was high jacked with 24 on board. Question is, what where the Chinese doing fishing in that region? This is an aspect not reported about. The Somali Fishermen have long had an axe to grind with big foreign vessels depleting their fish resources. But this is not something you are going to hear much about. So now they have picked up an even more lucrative business, piracy.
Following is a BBC article about the economic growth of Puntland whose biggest income earner is Piracy. So good luck to all those flexing their muscles on ending piracy. The infrastructure and system around piracy have been set up, getting rid of them will be quite the challenge.

Life in Somalia's pirate town

By Mary Harper
BBC Africa analyst

Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in the Somali region of Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen.

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have been surging

There is a great rush to the port of Eyl, where most of the hijacked vessels are kept by the well-armed pirate gangs.

People put on ties and smart clothes. They arrive in land cruisers with their laptops, one saying he is the pirates' accountant, another that he is their chief negotiator.

With yet more foreign vessels seized off the coast of Somalia this week, it could be said that hijackings in the region have become epidemic.

Insurance premiums for ships sailing through the busy Gulf of Aden have increased tenfold over the past year because of the pirates, most of whom come from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

In Eyl, there is a lot of money to be made, and everybody is anxious for a cut.

Entire industry

The going rate for ransom payments is between $300,000 and $1.5m (£168,000-£838,000).

A recent visitor to the town explained how, even though the number of pirates who actually take part in a hijacking is relatively small, the whole modern industry of piracy involves many more people.

"The number of people who make the first attack is small, normally from seven to 10," he said.

"They go out in powerful speedboats armed with heavy weapons. But once they seize the ship, about 50 pirates stay on board the vessel. And about 50 more wait on shore in case anything goes wrong."

Given all the other people involved in the piracy industry, including those who feed the hostages, it has become a mainstay of the Puntland economy.

Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.

Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.

As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.

When commandos from France freed two French sailors seized by pirates off the Somali coast in September, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had given the go-ahead for the operation when it was clear the pirates were headed for Eyl - it would have been too dangerous to try to free them from there.

The town is a safe-haven where very little is done to stop the pirates - leading to the suggestion that some, at least, in the Puntland administration and beyond have links with them.

Many of them come from the same clan - the Majarteen clan of the president of Somalia's transitional federal government, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Money to spend

The coastal region of Puntland is booming.

Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought - all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.

Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last year - far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about $20m.

A Canadian navy ship escorted a recent delivery of food aid to Somalia

When the president of Puntland, Adde Musa, was asked about the reported wealth of pirates and their associates, he said: "It's more than true".

Now that they are making so much money, these 21st Century pirates can afford increasingly sophisticated weapons and speedboats.

This means that unless more is done to stop them, they will continue to plunder the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden.

They even target ships carrying aid to feed their compatriots - up to a third of the population.

Warships from France, Canada and Malaysia, among others, now patrol the Somali coast to try and fend off pirate attacks.

An official at the International Maritime Organisation explained how the well-armed pirates are becoming increasingly bold.

More than 30% of the world's oil is transported through the Gulf of Aden.

"It is only a matter of time before something horrible happens," said the official.

"If the pirates strike a hole in the tanker, and there's an oil spill, there could be a huge environmental disaster".

It is likely that piracy will continue to be a problem off the coast of Somalia as long as the violence and chaos continues on land.

Conflict can be very good for certain types of business, and piracy is certainly one of them.

Weapons are easy to obtain and there is no functioning authority to stop them, either on land or at sea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brace yourselves. Another one leaves the KKK reservation in Austria

Well expect more of these in the next four years. Some of us will be tracking them.

New Obama race row as Austrian TV pundit says black people 'are not civilised enough to rule'
From the Daily Mail
Incendiary: Klaus Emmerich, left, talks on Austrian TV during the U.S. election coverage

Austria's official state broadcaster is refusing to sack a senior political commentator who said blacks were not civilised enough to rule.
Klaus Emmerich, the retired editor-in-chief of Austrian broadcaster ORF's news and current affairs service, is the station's top political commentator for U.S. affairs. Der Spiegel likened him to Wolf Blitzer, CNN's legendary political commentator.

But covering the election in which Barack Obama was elected American president, Emmerich said: 'I do not want the western world being directed by a black man. And if you say this is a racist remark, I say you are damn right it is.'

Following his outburst, the moderator prevented Emmerich from speaking again.
But Emmerich took an even harder line in newspaper interviews later, calling Mr Obama's victory 'a highly disturbing development' because 'blacks are not as far advanced in the civilisation process nor in their political progress'.

Slur: Barack Obama has 'a devilish talent', the Austrian journalist claimed
He went on to tell Die Presse that Mr Obama has 'a devil-like talent to present his rhetoric so effectively'.

Emmerich, who has worked in the news for 61 years, made his incendiary remarks just five weeks after Austria drew international condemnation when two far-right parties won 29 per cent of the vote in national elections.
The row over his comments comes as Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was blasted for calling Mr Obama 'tanned', apparently in an inept attempt at humour.
The 80-year-old pundit called Obama a 'talented man, but a branded man' - apparently referring to the president-elect's skin colour.
ORF bosses disassociated themselves from Emmerich's remarks but have refused to ban him from future work. They say they are still reviewing the situation.
'We have never had any comments from Mr. Emmerich which would indicate he has such opinions,' said Pius Strobl, head of communications at the channel.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Sunday, November 9, 2008

BB - Before Barack, AB - After Barack

I am not a huge fan of DL- Hughley but I find some of his latest work on CNN quite profound. This interview brings out two different perspectives of America before Barack Obama. Spike Lee aptly put it that there are two eras now, Before Barack and After Barack.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Here we go. Italian Prime Minster's comments racist towards Obama?

By Nick Squires in Rome
Last Updated: 3:46PM GMT 07 Nov 2008

The Italian prime minister provoked outrage when he described US President-elect Barack Obama as "young, handsome and also tanned."

The media mogul, well known for his gaffes, sexist remarks and blunt language, was savaged by opposition politicians at home and criticised in American newspapers for the bizarre remark, made during a state visit to Russia.

The leader of the centre-left opposition, Walter Veltroni, said the comment "seriously damages the image and dignity of our country on the international scene."

Italy's only black MP, Jean-Leonard Touadi, said Mr Berlusconi had embarrassed his country.

"In the United States, a joke like that wouldn't just be politically incorrect, but a great offence to this amazing example of integration, which it seems the Italian premier should take as an example."

But as his opponents demanded an apology be issued, Mr Berlusconi, 72, said the remark was in fact "a great compliment".

He said his critics lacked a sense of humour, adding: "God save us from imbeciles. How can you take such a great compliment negatively?"

But opposition MP Massimo Donadi, of the Italy of Values party, said it was Mr Berlusconi who was guilty of imbecility.

He said: "To make a wisecrack on race at the moment in which America is freeing itself of the heavy burden of racism is the saddest and unhappiest thing that a head of government could do."

Mr Berlusconi made the suntan remark at a press conference in Moscow, when he said the relative youth of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, 43, and President-elect Obama, 47, should make it easier for Moscow and Washington to work together.

Smiling and speaking in Italian, he said through a translator: "I told the president that (Obama) has everything needed in order to reach deals with him – he's young, handsome and even tanned."

While there was no official comment from the Democratic Party, Mr Berlusconi's odd remark was condemned by ordinary Americans.

"What a muscle head," one New York Times reader wrote on the newspaper's website, while another advised the Italian prime minister to "mind his own business." Typical of the reaction of many who filled 48 pages of comment was the reader who wrote: "Apologise if you like, moron. You're irrelevant." Hundreds of Italians posted messages on US news websites, apologising for Mr Berlusconi's remark.

"I apologise to our American friends. Today I am ashamed to be Italian," wrote Marco from Milan.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

SALUTE, the unsung white hero of the 1968 Olympics Civil Rights protest

One of the most powerful images of the twentieth century coming third after JFK's Assasination and and Man's landing on the moon is this 1968 photo at the olympics. Little has been said about the white guy in the photo and his own role. Well now there is a documentary made by his nephew Matt Norman about his contribution to the Civil rights movement and the heavy price he paid for his actions among which was the death of his athletic career. Of late I have heard disgruntled voices over the lack of recognition of non black people that contributed to the Civil Rights movement. From my understanding this movie does tackle that theme too.
This is a thorny issue that sooner or later will have to be faced head on. How much was done by who and how effective were they is such a grey area in the tumultuous race relations in this country.

Here is the movie trailer.