Al Jazeera- Israel Arrests Hamas MP

 Mohammed Abu Teir was one of four senior Hamas officials that Israel has been trying to expel in recent weeks, sparking concern among Arabs in the city about their rights as residents. “We arrested him; he has broken the law and stayed within the borders of the state of Israel,” Shmulik Ben-Ruby, the Israeli police spokesman for Jerusalem, said on Wednesday.

“He has been detained and taken for questioning.” Israel had sought to strip Abu Teir, Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former minister for Jerusalem affairs, and Ahmad Atoun and Mohammed Totah, both MPs, of their Israeli-issued identity cards. The men have appealed the decision and Abu Teir was due to appear in court on Thursday.

IDs revoked:  Many Palestinians fear their expulsion could set a precedent for the removal of more of the nearly 270,00 Paletinians living in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 in a move not recognised internationally.

Palestinians living in east Jerusalem hold Israeli-issued IDs that allow them to travel freely in Israel and the West Bank, collect government benefits and vote in local but not national elections. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, while Israel views the entire city as its “eternal, indivisible” capital.

Israel has said they are being expelled because they are members of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a “terrorist” organisation, although it won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. Abu Teir was among dozens of Hamas politicians from Jerusalem and the West Bank that Israel rounded up after the polls. He was freed in May, but was then told his Israeli-issued ID was being revoked.


BBC: Ghana’s unique African Hindu Temple

The Hindu temple in Ghana

The air is filled with the sweet smell of incense burning in a corner of the huge hall.

Wrapped in shiny bright clothes, idols of Hindu gods and goddesses smile benevolently from the elevated platform. Sitting on the white marble floor a group of more than 50 men, women and children sing devotional Hindi songs. Nothing extraordinary about this scene, except that the temple is in Ghana and the devotees are all indigenous Africans.

The tall cone-shaped temple emerges out of the crowded neighbourhood of Orkordi on the outskirts of the capital Accra. It can be easily identified – the holy Sanskrit word ‘Om’ shines on its top.

Indian feel : The devotees here have no links with India and have never visited the country. Still they strictly follow religious rules and observe rituals in traditional Hindu way. They say they have all converted to Hinduism but many still use their Christian names and African surnames.

However, they give their young ones Hindu names like Rama or Krishna. Once inside the temple, you forget that you are a continent away from India. Diyas or little lamps are lit in obeisance to the gods. Surprisingly, there is even a picture of Jesus Christ amid the idols of Hindu deities. Come evening and the devotees gather in the temple hall for evening prayer rituals. Holy offerings to the gods are distributed after prayers.

Swami Ghanananda Saraswati, the man who established Ghana’s first African Hindu Monastery in 1975, oversees the prayers sitting in a high chair. Dressed in a flowing saffron kurta and a wrap-around, he addresses the people on the public address system and explains the finer points of the Hindu faith and philosophy.

 Swami Ghanananda Swaraswati established the temple in 1975  “I was born in a village nearby into a native Ghanaian faith,” he says. But his parents converted to Christianity. “From a very early age I would think about the mysteries of the universe and try to find the answers in religious texts. But I failed,” Swami Ghanananda says. Then he read some books on Hindu faith and embarked upon a new journey which took him to Rishikesh in north India.

Swami Ghanananda Swaraswati

Emerging affordable, modular, eco-efficient housing hits Ghana

Designed by Lisbon-based Blaanc in collaboration with Architect João Caeiro, Emerging Ghana is a plan for an eco-affordable single family house for the emerging middle class of Ghana. The design recently won first place in the international design competition Open Source House, a non-profit organization that aims to provide better, more sustainable housing in low-income countries. Emerging Ghana is modular single-family home design to be built with local materials, local labor, and with all the best sustainable design strategies you can imagine, all for a low cost of about $12,500 USD.

Revolutionary But Gangsta — Dead Prez x DJ Drama release timely mixtape fire

Turn Off The Radio Vol. 4

Author:  David Math

It’s that curl in the afro

That twang on the guitar – 12 string on the sitar –

That Coltrane saxaphone – blowing like a cigar –

Malcolm by the window with his finger on the trigger.  (c) RBG

With the new RBG-powered Dead Prez x DJ Drama “Revolutionary But Gangsta” mix-tape comes a summer anthem that motivates, sobers up, and super-charges the listener hungry for substantive, raw, and unbridled realism over street-thumping soundscapes.

As Drama proclaims on the stand-out “Soul Power”:

“…we can agree that some of this sh!t done got outta control right?  We ain’t gonna take you to far-left though – we gonna stay street…stay revolutionary – it’s only right!”

Indeed – that’s exactly what the RBG crew does over a variety of industry instrumentals main-stream audiences will surely recognize.  While re-doing pop-rap records is always a risky maneuver in mix-tape format – the sheer master-presence of Sticman, M-1, and the RBG-massive laced each track with raw bars of vintage witty DPs word-play – matched with a fluid conceptual strain throughout the mix-tape that has the head-nodding recklessly and the mind stirred-up for revolution.

The undeniable banger is “Malcolm, Garvey, Huey” feat. Divine – which parodies the club-favorite “Beamer Benz or Bentley” with vintage DeadPrez PeopleArmy revolutionary fervor:

For many – this mix-tape is nostalgic of Dead Prez classics like “Let’s Get Free” – “RBG” – and the consistent Turn Off The Radio mixtape montage that can snap you out of a commercial day-dream and have you ready to do duty in the gym, in the classroom, in the streets, on the homefront, or anywhere else where the guerilla-motivational lyricism and god-hop street beats of Dead Prez can find you.

If you only download one mix-tape this summer – let this  be it.

Lets Get Free! Download at

Foreign Policy: Red Shirts could demonstrate again

The streets of Bangkok may be quiet again after the Red Shirt protests earlier this year that resulted in more than 80 deaths and thousands of injuries, but the country’s politics are still highly unstable. A state of emergency remains even as Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva has proposed a “road map” to national reconciliation. The government has also filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for his alleged role in organizing the protests. 

Thaksin, who was overthrown in a miltiary coup in 2006 and now lives mainly Dubai, denies funding or organizing the Red Shirt movement. Today, I had the chance to speak with former Thai foreign minister Noppadon Pattama, who is now Thaksin’s legal advisor and spokesman and asked him about the former leader’s connection to the movement: 

Dr. Thaksin provides moral support…. He has no control over the day-to-day running of the Red Shirts. They have their own structure, their own management, their own leaders. It’s not possible for him to order anyone to stage a rally. It would be decided by the Red Shirts themselves. 

Noppadon has rejected the Abhisit government’s road map plan, calling instead for national peace talks between the various parties in the conflict, including Thaksin. He warned today that without meaningful reconciliation, more unrest is likely: 

If the situation goes unresolved, Abhisit Vejjajiva and the government candidates will not be able to campaign in certain regions of Thailand, for example in the North and Northeast. That would be bad for democracy. The Red Shirt protesters will go and hound them, go and prevent them [from campaigning].

The sense of bitterness, the sense of hatred is still there among the red shirts because of the loss of life. They feel Abhisit ordered the army to use excessive force and violated their human rights. Unless we can settle the crisis amicably, Thailand will not have political stability. …

We don’t want the Red Shirts to stage a third big rally in Bangkok. To prevent that, some sort of arrangement or reconciliation to be achieved. If we don’t address the hatred, I fear there will be more demonstrations in Bangkok. 

TIME: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gun Rights: More Bark than Bite?

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 28, in a challenge to Chicago’s gun-control law, that Americans in all 50 states have a constitutional right to possess firearms for self-defense. Gun-rights supporters are ecstatic about the decision. The floodgates are now open for lawsuits challenging state and local gun-control laws nationwide. But based on what the majority actually said, it seems likely that many of these challenges will fail. (See photos of “Open Carry” gun-law advocates.)

This week, the court answered a technical question about its 2008 ruling, concerning whether the federal right it recognized (the District of Columbia is on federal land) also applied to the 50 states. By another 5-4 vote, the court said it does.

While the court’s five-member conservative majority has been bold about declaring a Second Amendment right to have a gun, it has been less than clear about which gun-control laws violate that right. In fact, the court did not actually strike down Chicago’s law, which is effectively a near ban on the possession of handguns by private citizens. It simply asked a lower court to take another look at it. (See pictures of the history of the AK-47.)

In both the Chicago and D.C. cases, the Supreme Court focused narrowly on people’s rights to use guns to protect themselves in their own homes. The court emphasized that it was not casting doubt on many kinds of gun regulations — including prohibitions on gun possession by felons and the mentally ill, laws keeping guns away from schools and government buildings and laws imposing restrictions like waiting periods on the sale of guns.

That still leaves a sizable gray area. As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his dissent, the court has not given any real guidance on whether the right to be armed extends outside the house, whether it includes the right to use a semiautomatic weapon or what registration laws are permissible.

These are some of the issues lawyers will be fighting over. And despite all of the celebration by pro-gun forces, it is far from clear that they will win when the battle turns to specific gun-control measures. Perhaps that’s why supporters of gun control were notably upbeat when the ruling came down. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence declared that it “does not prevent elected representatives from enacting commonsense gun laws.” Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago said his city has already begun crafting a law that will withstand constitutional challenge — by, for instance, focusing it on gun registration, background checks, requirements for gun owners to get training and perhaps requirements to carry insurance. (See pictures of gun culture in America.)

The stakes in this battle are extremely high. Pro-gun advocates have done a good job of trumpeting the rights of people to carry firearms. But less attention is given these days to the right not to be put into danger by guns. More than 100,000 Americans are killed or injured by guns every year, according to the Brady Center. By some estimates, the Chicago gun-control law that is now in jeopardy has saved as many as 1,000 lives since it was enacted in the early 1980s.

Pro-gun groups try to create the impression that the vast majority of Americans support greater gun rights. But the will of the people has long favored some kind of gun control. A CBS–New York Times poll in April found that 40% of Americans thought gun-control laws should be more strict, while 42% thought they should be kept as they are. Just 16% said they should be less strict. All 50 states have gun regulations, and the Chicago and D.C. laws were enacted by democratically elected governments.


Al Jazeera: Canada’s brewing ‘insurgency’

But with Canadian soldiers, snipers, commandos and police tactical units representing the sharp end of a security budget that is poised to top $1bn, the most significant threat to business as usual for the summit may turn out to be far-flung rural blockades enacted by Canada’s long suffering native communities.

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” said Douglas Bland, a retired Canadian forces lieutenant-colonel who is now the chair of defence management studies at Queen’s University. In recent years in particular, Canada’s indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country’s economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada’s urban landscape.

In 2007, the Mohawk community at Tyendinaga, 200 kilometres east of Toronto, blocked the trans-continental rail line and Canada’s largest highway in protest at the government’s failure to address land rights and basic issues of survival within First Nations – including safe drinking water, which the community lacked.

That episode was a hint of the leverage indigenous peoples in Canada possess, as hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo was stalled by simple barricades placed across a rural stretch of the Canadian National railway’s mainline between Toronto and Montreal.

“The message resounded,” said Shawn Brant, a high profile Mohawk activist involved in the 2007 blockades.

“We are not going to live in abject poverty, to have our children die, to have our women abducted, raped and murdered without any investigations. We are not going to live with the basic indignities that occur to us daily. We would bring them to an end.”

In 2007, Brant characterised the blocking of the 401 highway and CN main rail line as a “good test run”.

“We showed that we would meet the severity of what was happening to us with a reaction and a plan, a strategy that would be equally as severe,” Brant said.

Last week, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network broadcast footage of Canadian intelligence agents threatening a native activist ahead of the G8 summit.

“I will tell you straight up,” said an agent of the Canadian security and intelligence service to an indigenous activist, “there [are] other forces that are from other countries that will not put up with a blockade in front of their president”.

The twin summits, held in Toronto and Huntsville, a rural community that lies 225 kilometres north of Toronto, are separated by a major highway that runs through large swathes of indigenous territory adjacent to the major travel arteries.

A determined blockade could wreak havoc on the summit and cast light on Canada’s darkest shame.

Blockades, said Harrison Friesen, a spokesperson for native rights movement Red Power United, would be intended to show the world that “everything is not okay in Canada for native people”.