Of What Use Is A Beautiful Monrovia to Poor Residents?

first_imgA middle-aged woman with a little market stall in the Jallah Town community in Monrovia wailed as the ‘General’ of the Sirleaf administration, supported by armed men, broke down her market stall. She wept profusely and her greatest concern was ‘how will I sell tomorrow to feed my children’. But that question is of no issue to the ‘General’. From her cries, one could tell she is amongst about 70% of Liberians living on less than a dollar a day. Her survival is dependent on an informal and micro-business popularly known in Liberia as ‘from-hand-to-mouth’. Yet, she is hopeful every day that she will survive, with or without government.“Let’s go everybody, we have more to do, we will force these people to be clean”, the ‘General’ called out to her men. This is all in the name of ‘beautifying the city’.But in his last Pan African Post Card, the late Secretary General of the Pan African Movement, Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem challenged this beautification campaign which is replete across Africa. He wrote: “In the name of ridding cities of illegal constructions, returning to the original city plans and ‘beautifying’ our cities, City councils and governments at all levels are creating more poverty ruining lifelong savings accumulated through extreme sacrifice and hard work. Of what use is a ‘beautiful city’ peopled by citizens who have lost their livelihoods? Would they appreciate the beauty?”Breaking market stalls in the usual violent and unprovoked manner does not in any way hold the solution to a clean and beautiful city. I, like all other Liberians, including the General and the Commander-in-Chief (CIC), share the same dream of seeing Monrovia a beautiful, flourishing and livable city. But I doubt if the ‘General’ and the CIC have any idea on making Monrovia a beautiful, flourishing and livable city; because it is ten years now and they are leaving Monrovia as they met it in 2006 without basic services. Thanks however to foreign merchants who are putting up some sky rises in the Sinkor area, even though those merchants have to procure their own electricity, water, and sewage systems in the heart of the city. Less than 2% of Liberians have access to these basic services. Liberians would appreciate more were the CIC to direct her energy to building a system of participatory governance through which basic services are delivered, than deploying a‘General’ to beautify a city with hungry and dismally underserved inhabitants. If the ‘General’ and the CIC could take a retrospect of what they have done in the last ten years about the city, they would quickly realize that they have done the same thing – an overzealous and uncontrolled exercise of power over weak and poor people – over and over and the results have not changed; and they are likely to do the same in the next two years, unless they listen to the rest of us who think differently, and, indeed, progressively. But Albert Einstein had a word that properly describes ‘the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. It is important that they ask themselves this question: Why do we have to do the same thing every year, yet the problem persists? I really won’t venture into answering that question, but would rather go into what they have not done, and that is where the solution lies. They have not mobilized the people into collective actions, and they do not work with the communities in their work. Critical to making Monrovia clean, beautiful and prosperous is mobilizing the people into collective actions or self-governance structures. All previous governments and the current one have failed to work with local people in solving local problems. The only disappointment is that this current regime has not learned from the failures of the past regimes, or perhaps it is deliberately ignoring the lessons. From all indications, the hegemonic and imperial state has only used raw power to get things done in our communities and in most cases its agents abused power particularly when it is in the wrong hands – like Chucky Taylor, or like the current ‘General’. They see the local people – mostly poor, weak and vulnerable people – as lazy and dirty. However, the poor social state of those people and the products of their interactions with their own communities are the outcomes of the incompetence of their leaders, for example, the former Mayor of Monrovia, the fierce ‘General’. For the ‘General’ and her likes, they must leave their offices and clean the environment. They don’t believe that the state or the government must work along with the communities through local structures to produce peaceful and desirable local outcomes. But their perception of local people is not only wrong and selfish; it is equally an attempt at creating false impressions and inflicting personalities beyond their natural scopes. Our communities have survived far better than the state which has fallen in numerous instances. The recent triumph of the communities over the Ebola virus is an example of strong local organizations in Liberia. Communities were succeeding while state institutions like the National Oil Company were collapsing as a result of poor leadership and unforgivable thievery. Therefore, beautifying Monrovia is not just about breaking stalls and shacks; it is more about organizing and giving local institutions more power for self-governance particularly in the areas of waste management and sanitation. But bigger than that is about organizing the state properly to deliver basic services, particularly in the areas of water and sanitation and other programs in poverty reduction. This should not be too much to achieve in ten years with well-intentioned leadership. The number of international and domestic support and increased in foreign direct investment (FDI) had all provided enormous resources and a propitious environment for transforming the lives of the poor people. Unfortunately, as the sun sets on the CIC and the ‘General’, they are yet to point to anything meaningful they have done about transforming the lives of the people whose living conditions will continue to dictate the outlook of the city of Monrovia. Now without proper sanitation services, and in the midst of serious poverty, they still think that they can make Monrovia look like an elite city. But as Taju would ask, “Of what use is a ‘beautiful city’ peopled by citizens who have lost their livelihoods” – like the poor woman in Jallah Town? In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice the Pen Shall Never Run Dry. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Takeaways: Joe Thornton is a perfect fit for the Sharks’ hole at 3C

first_imgClick HERE if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device.SAN JOSE — Apparently, it’s Timo Time all the time in San Jose this season.Timo Meier scored two more goals Saturday, lifting the Sharks (7-4-3) to an overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers (6-7-1) by scoring just 13 seconds into the extra session. Meier also found the back of the net at 3:15 of the first, allowing him to break Patrick Marleau’s franchise record of 10 goals in 14 games to open a season (2010, …last_img read more

Giants closer Will Smith is a ‘flawless’ All-Star

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — There are many ways the Giants have described Will Smith’s dominance this season, but the highest compliment he’s received is also the one that most accurately summarizes his performance.As the Giants’ closer this year, Smith has been flawless.“He’s been a joy,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “When we put him in that role last year, he did a really nice job. He’s even done a better job this year. He’s been flawless.”After earning his 23rd save in 23 chances in Sunday’s 1-0 victory …last_img read more

Echoes of Terror

first_imgKuldeep Kumar, 46, a businessman in Batala, worries that Punjab could slip back into the dark days of terrorism and violence. He clearly remembers those days nearly two decades ago when blasts, shootouts, abductions and extortions were everyday affairs. “These were routine. Whether it killed 10 or 20, we were,Kuldeep Kumar, 46, a businessman in Batala, worries that Punjab could slip back into the dark days of terrorism and violence. He clearly remembers those days nearly two decades ago when blasts, shootouts, abductions and extortions were everyday affairs. “These were routine. Whether it killed 10 or 20, we were too scared to talk because anyone could be a sympathiser (of terrorists) or a police informer.” A hard working dyed-in-the-wood Punjabi, he shifted to Haryana in 1991 but never felt at home there and came back when peace returned in 2000, after nearly two decades of sectarian violence.Bhindranwale merchandise is selling briskly throughout the state.Anyone who has lived through those terrible times which claimed 36,000 lives will shudder at the depressing thought of their lives going topsy-turvy if terrorism were to make a comeback. But it’s disquieting when Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Mathur says that inimical agencies abroad are attempting to “reactivate Sikh terrorist elements, forge a nexus between Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and terror groups like Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), and mobilise their resources for planning terrorist violence in Punjab and elsewhere in the country”.Or when Union Minister Ajay Maken, whose uncle Lalit Maken, a budding Congress leader, fell to terrorist bullets in 1985, says that Khalistani groups are trying to regroup and revive terrorism. Recently, Punjab’s Director-General of Police P.S. Gill wrote to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), listing the increasing activities of terrorists and said that they have now set up a new base in Malaysia and are sending arms and men to carry out terror strikes. He told India Today: “Attempts are being made to revive terrorism in the state. As long as there’s unrest in neighbouring Pakistan, militants from across the border will keep coming here to spread terror.”advertisementBhindranwale merchandiseThere is not a hint of exaggeration in Gill’s statement. The last three months have seen the recovery of 30 kg of RDX and other explosives in the state. Terrorists owing allegiance to several Khalistani outfits have been arrested in the state and elsewhere, and even as far away in Frankfurt, Germany. Police investigations show more are in hiding and waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Intelligence inputs suggest that a major strike can take place any time, violent incidents can happen, and cities and towns could be a terror target.If terrorism thrived in the 80s and till the early 90s, it was largely because of the support and sympathy that the movement and its masters enjoyed in the state. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s venom-spewing speeches impacted impressionable minds. For several years, his followers refused to believe that he had died during Operation Bluestar in 1984. Now, 26 years after his death, the militant leader is staging a comeback of sorts.From Chandigarh to Amritsar, youngsters are beginning to sport T-shirts that have his pictures emblazoned across the chest; his posters and stickers are pasted on the windscreens of hundreds of humble Maruti 800s and even SUVs throughout the state. In campuses across the state, his posters adorn the walls of hostel rooms. “These T-shirts are selling like hotcakes and books and CDs are vanishing fast off the shelves,” says Dilbagh Singh, who is raking in the moolah selling Bhindranwale merchandise outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar.”Attempts are on to revive terrorism in the state. As long as there is unrest in Pakistan, militants from across the border will keep coming here to spread terror.”P.S. Gill, DGP, Punjab Is it just a style statement, as optimists would like to believe, or is it something more serious? “It’s a fashion statement rather than a political statement, and it’s a trivialisation of Bhindranwale,” avers Pramod Kumar, director of Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communication. “There is no ideological grooming, no political nurturing and no social acceptability of terrorism. A revival is ruled out.” A senior police official argues, “These youngsters are too young to know what the state went through during terrorism days. They are just wearing his t-shirts for style’s sake.”Talk about the revival of the violent movement and you are promptly dismissed whether you are in town or a village, whether you are chatting to an educated or a semi-literate person, a moderate or a fundamentalist. Talk of revival of violence and the radicals surely don’t stay unprovoked. Yes, they are unhappy and there is unrest even if their numbers are not much. Many in the community feel that justice has been denied to the victims of the 1984 riots. But most of them don’t seek Khalistan or violent means to any end.advertisementThe issue has sparked a tussle between the Centre and the state government with Punjab’s Akali regime pressing for deletion of names of people from the Centre’s “black list”, which includes former militants. Many of them were blacklisted and denied Indian visas for their involvement in the pro-Khalistan activities while being foreign citizens.While the Centre has named 169 people in its latest list, the Punjab Government argues that only 28 out of them had any case registered against them and others could not be classified as militants and thus deserved to be removed from the list. A senior police official says they are open to this idea as this would only allow the state to try them according to the law for being involved in unlawful activities, even though the MHA is believed to be not very keen on this proposal. The black list was prepared by the Government during the days of terrorism to identify Khalistan activists in foreign lands.”If the Government stops certain Dera chiefs from preaching against Sikhism, Punjab can be saved from another period of turmoil,” says Navkiran Singh, human rights advocate. “Punjab’s political machinery was overheated in those days. Terrorism would not find same kind of acceptance in same quarters,” says Dipankar Gupta, sociologist and member of the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission.One of Bhindranwale’s oft quoted statement was “jehra Sikh hai, oh darda nahi; jehra darda, oh Sikh nahi” (the Sikh is not scared; if he is scared, he is not a Sikh). But as more and more people are arrested from places far and wide, the people of Punjab worry on a dark chapter being reopened again in the state.Arms and the MenThree Babbar Khalsa international members who were arrested at Patiala on March 26.Recent arrests of militants and seizures of explosives and arms underline the attempt to revive terrorism in the stateAugust 29: A police party recovers 18 hand grenades near Rampura village in Fazilka, Ferozepur district. No arrests made so far in this case.August 17: Two Punjab- based terrorists of the Khalistan Zindabad Force, Gurmeet Singh alias Bagga of Jalandhar and Bhupinder Singh alias Bhinda from Hoshiarpur, are arrested in Frankfurt by German authorities for hatching a conspiracy to eliminate Baba Gurinder Singh, head of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Dera, on July 28 in Vienna.July 28: Amritsar Police arrest five Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorists who are alleged to have links with terrorists-Narain Singh alias Chaura and Sukhdev Singh Chira. Pal Singh, Kulwant Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Jagtar Singh and Darshan Singh Dhadi are held with two AK-47 rifles, five magazines and 420 live cartridges.July 24: The Khanna Police arrest two suspected terrorists-Gurmail Singh and Kulbir Singh-and seize 250g of RDX and two detonators from their possession. The duo are believed to be aides of dreaded militant and mastermind of Ludhiana Shingar cinema bomb blast, Harminder Singh.June 10: Twenty detonators, 6 kg of RDX, 10 timer devices and 60 metres of fuse wire, besides 2 kg of heroin, smuggled in from Pakistan a few days ago, are seized on the Attari bypass in Amritsar. Sher Singh, Malkiat Singh, Paramjit Singh, Nirmal Singh and Balwinder Singh arrested.advertisementMay 30: Amritsar Police arrest hardcore terrorist Bakhshish Singh alias Baba associated with the Khalistan Liberation Force from Amritsar. Baba was carrying a reward of Rs 6 lakh on his head.May 8: The police recovered 1.8 kg of explosive material fitted with detonator from an abandoned car parked outside an eating joint at Railway Link Road, near Circuit House in Amritsar.March 26: Three members of the banned terrorist outfit BKI-Kulwant Singh, Variyan Singh and Bhupinder Singh-arrested from Patiala district. These three terrorists are found with two pistols and cartridges.last_img read more

Unique space for Cyber Theft protected only by VPNs

first_imgIn-Flight Wi-Fi: Unique space for Cyber Theft, protected only by VPNsThe dangers of public Wi-Fi are already well known, but the security issues of in-flight Internet connection are still somewhat obscure. In 2015, there were already 52 airlines worldwide offering in-flight Internet, and the prevalence of U.S. in-flight Wi-Fi alone has grown 1,600-fold since 2013.Security is an issue with in-flight Internet – dominated by Gogo provider, while its two main competitors, ViaSat and GEE, use satellites exclusively for airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest.First, there’s no password protection on the Wi-Fi connection, so anyone can intercept all data that’s being transmitted on the wireless network.Thus, while it’s great to go online while you are in the sky, connecting to Gogo or other provider might mean you are giving your private data away to cybercriminals. Airplanes are unique hacking grounds – more dangerous than airports or coffee shops, as they cram passengers in one small space for hours. This gives plenty of time and opportunity for hackers to access all data that’s being transmitted over open networks. Passengers who do online banking, shopping or business emailing are especially vulnerable to identity and data theft.Hacking devices, such as WiFi Pineapple, are accessible to anyone and are particularly dangerous on flights. The Pineapple, which is small enough to be stored in someone’s carry on, pretends to be a Wi-Fi connection – so when a user connects to Wi-Fi, they are actually connecting to a hacking device.How can airplane passengers protect their data and securely connect to the Internet?First, a traveler gets to designate the Wi-Fi network as Home, Work or Public. Those who choose Home network show that they trust all the people connected to the same network – which should not be the case on an airplane full of strangers. Work network should be used for a private group at work. So the safest option for airplane passengers is Public network setting –  as this option is created to make sure it’s not visible by other computers.Secondly, travelers have to make sure they are connecting to the Wi-Fi network offered on the flight, and not a look-a-like network with a similar-sounding name that might be spoofed.Besides these local precautions, the best and most effective way for any traveler to protect their data is to use a VPN.A professional VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device and helps hide an IP address. If you are a beginner, it’s best to choose a VPN that’s user-friendly.For example, NordVPN has recently launched new Mac, Android and iOS apps (with a redesigned Windows app on the way) geared towards everyday Internet user. How does it work? Log in (the first time only) and press the ON button. The app will then choose the fastest server to connect to, in a country of your choice. That’s all it takes to hide your IP address and to start safe browsing. Beware of free VPN service providers that typically rely on third party advertisers to cover the costs. Often, they are free proxy services, marketed as VPNs, when in fact proxies are not encrypted (they just change your IP address, but do not hide/encrypt it).VPNs are becoming essential  in the world of tightening online security, and soon using a VPN will be as common as going online. Unfortunately, some in-flight networks cut back on security and block VPNs, but in most cases users have no obstacles for using Virtual Private Networks.Besides using a VPN, travelers should use antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware and automatically update their software.October is Cyber Security Awareness month, and NordVPN is offering 70% off its yearly fee during the month of October. Simply go to NordVPN, choose the yearly plan, and enter “CyberAware” coupon code at the checkout. NordVPNlearn more hereAbout NordNordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider that is more security oriented than most VPN services. It offers double VPN encryption, anti DDoS & Tor Over VPN services. It has just launched a new NordVPN Mac App that provides a unique algorithm, allowing to automatically connect to the fastest server. The product is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 550 servers worldwide and is P2P friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is zero log policy.Source = NordVPNlast_img read more

Rep Sheppard bill clarifying ownership of surplus workers comp insurance funds passes

first_img07May Rep. Sheppard bill clarifying ownership of surplus workers’ comp insurance funds passes House Legislation reflects original intent, provides guidance to courtsThe Michigan House today voted in support of a bill that ensures employers who pay into self-insured workers’ compensation funds are rightly entitled to any surplus dollars, as they are member-owned asset pools.“The Workers’ Compensation Agency already considers employers the just owners of any surplus funds, so this bill sensibly clarifies statute to reflect an equitable practice,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jason Sheppard.House Bill 4362 amends the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act of 1969 to clarify that employer members in a self-insured group possess ownership of proportional shares in the any surplus assets.“The goal of this bill is to clarify the original intent of the legislature,” Rep. Sheppard said. “These insurance funds are owned by group members and no one else, it’s that simple.”HB 4362 also requires groups to establish processes and procedures for the distribution of excess assets in case of surplus or dissolution as approved by the Workers’ Compensation Agency.The legislation will be considered further in the Senate. Categories: Sheppard Newslast_img read more