AFRICA Sudan Joins Coalition Against Yemen Rebels By SOMINI SENGUPTA MARCH 26, 2015

Omar Hassan al-BashirCreditAli Ngethi/Associated Press
  UNITED NATIONS — It is an awkward moment.

The Arab-led, American-supported coalition seeking to rout Houthi rebels in Yemen includes a man indicted on charges of war crimes and vilified by Washington for more than a decade: President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan.

Mr. Bashir’s government has said it will join the military offensive to aid its ally, Saudi Arabia, according to reports by the state-owned news agency, perhaps even sending ground troops.

In a sign of Sudan’s growing ties with Persian Gulf countries, Mr. Bashir met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on a visit to the kingdom this week, and he is expected to take part in the Arab League summit meeting in Cairo this weekend.

Mr. Bashir was in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh in mid-March to speak at an investment conference. Secretary of State John Kerry attended that conference, too, but left the audience for a few minutes when Mr. Bashir took the podium.

Mr. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges in connection with the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. The United Nations Security Council, which referred the situation in Darfur to the tribunal, urged all countries to cooperate with the court and help it secure Mr. Bashir’s arrest.

Eritrea: Action Needed Against EU Policy for Funds to PFDJ to Control Refugee Exodus  by AI Staff  on 25 March 2015

This is a plea to all Eritreans to write letters, make calls, demonstrations and contact civic and government leaders. Our opposition and civic leaders would have even more clout to help out on this.
The policy is a slap to our aspirations to do away with the very regime that is responsible for the mass exudes of our people from their beloved country.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY.

 

EU hopes to curb exodus from Eritrea through development aid

ADDIS ABABA: The European Union said on Tuesday it hopes development aid to Eritrea will stem a growing exodus of Eritreans attempting the dangerous journey to Europe to claim asylum there.

Eritrea is now the second largest source of migrants to arrive in Italy by boat, after Syria. The highly perilous crossing of the Mediterranean on overcrowded, rickety boats claimed around 3,000 lives last year.

The United Nations and rights groups say poor human rights conditions in Eritrea are to blame for the outflow of people. Some have called for measures against the government. Asmara denies the charges.

Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, told Reuters in Addis Ababa that the EU would try to address social and economic exclusion in migrants’ countries of origin in a bid to halt the crisis.

The number migrants are rising sharply: During the first two months of 2015, arrivals to the EU via Italy were up 43 percent versus the same period of 2014.

“In that context in Eritrea, we see that we need to assist such processes that would be beneficial for the overall advancing of the human rights and democracy framework, but also that would address the long-term development needs,” Mimica said.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says the number of Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe tripled to nearly 37,000 in the first 10 months of 2014, of whom 34,000 came by sea.

Earlier this month, an interim report of a U.N. investigation said Eritrea was ignoring human rights laws and exerting pervasive state control and ruthless repression on the population.

According to EU diplomats, Brussels is planning a multi-million euro development package that Eritrea will be allowed to spend on energy and other sectors.

The EU approved a major aid package for Eritrea in 2007, worth 122 million euros (87 million pounds) in aid over a six-year period.

Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and remains at loggerheads with Addis Ababa, the United States’ main regional ally.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa Kasolowsky)

– Reuters

Eritrea: Got the Dutch Disease Yet?  by Zekre Lebona  on 26 March 2015

 

Potential patient (photo: Bill Ross/Corbis)

The state of Eritrea, which became an independent nation more than 20 years ago; depended for its survival on the remittance money from the huge diaspora and foreign aid; until the rupture of relations and military conflict with Ethiopia in 1998. In order to survive the sudden de-coupling of its economy with the huge economy of its neighbor; and maintain the punishing cost of war; the state mobilized a large percentage of the adult bodied population, and resources of the country for war; war economy has therefore become a permanent feature.

However, a large amount of money from gold and other metals has since overtaken; the dwindling flow of remittance money from some of the disgruntled diaspora. Has Eritrea succumbed to the “Dutch Disease, or Resource Curse” phenomenon; as many countries of the Third World and particularly Africa had been? It probably didn’t; confounding many economists. Eritrea may likely remain immune from it for a longer period of time. What factors made it “escape” from it?

War economy   

Countries that succumb to the Dutch Disease suffer from the sudden availability of hard currency; which has a deleterious effect on the manufacturing and export sector. Awash with hard currency, the local currency will increase its value; putting many of the goods produced domestically in unfair competition with the rest of the world. Awash with hard currency, regimes often spend large amount of money on social services; which had been neglected for years. This policy often results in the indirect-diversion of labor to the sector; leading to massive inflation. Venezuela is an excellent example.

Eritrea, however, doesn’t seem to keep any significant amount of its mine-generating hard currency in the central bank. It depends on the informal economy with little transparency to its budget and debt accrued over the years. The recent scandal on the close to 700 million dollars stashed away in a Swiss bank is a good illustration. That may not be the entire amount money kept hidden in foreign institutions. Is this money a “sovereign wealth”; money kept for hard times and the future generations as Norway, Australia, Canada do? It’s most unlikely for the countries mentioned are democracies. In addition, Eritrea, is not a welfare state notwithstanding the jargon on justice.

Outsourcing welfare

Eritrea’s expenditure on social services is extremely small compared to its huge expenditure on its military; estimated by some in several hundred thousand. It has outsourced the upkeep of its significant percentage of its population to the huge diaspora; who hate as they may seem the regime, would not refrain from sending money to their relatives. The inflation that ensues is not from any major expenditure on social services by the regime, however. Unemployed people, including hundreds of thousands of people in the army, who earn only about 2 dollars a day; depend for their livelihood on this sector. The state of Eritrea has other important uncanny methods of keeping itself from the Dutch Disease.

The United Nations, human rights organization, and others have lately been reporting on the systemic use of thousands of people; graduates from the Eritrean National Service work for free or pittance for the government in the civil sector, the party owned farms and factories, and business entities run by army generals. Like a vacuum machine, the state sucks most of the able bodied people in the land into its war economy; leaving them little agency to manage their lives. Prior to their being corralled by the state; the large majority were teen age students; and the rest unemployed, underemployed people; subsisting on donations from people living abroad.

There was no manufacturing sector to begin with in Eritrea; having endured a thirty years the factories from the past were in ruins; with little chance for recovery. More alarmingly, the command economy had a stranglehold on the private sector leaving neither capital nor labor for its existence. In other words; a large majority of the people had no job or were partially employed for years. The regime’s panacea for this was a massive militarization; not even sparing the millions of poor farmers eking a poor existence.  The highly glorified “self-sufficient” economy of Eritrea is nothing but a thorough war economy.

In sum, the purpose of this article is to encourage economists and development experts to explore the lethal effect of revenues from precious commodities by a totalitarian state. In comparison with the ravages of the state such as Eritrea’s, the lot of millions of people living under a Dutch Disease, or Resource curse is much humane and tolerable. Arguably, humanitarian emergencies of the magnitude, which exists in Eritrea; rarely happens in countries afflicted with the Dutch Disease.

Middle East | News Analysis |​​NYT Now A Policy Puzzle of U.S. Goals and Alliances in the Middle East By MARK MAZZETTI and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICKMARCH 26, 2015

A Policy Puzzle of U.S. Goals and Alliances in the Middle East – NYTimes.com

Middle East | News Analysis |​​NYT Now A Policy Puzzle of U.S. Goals and Alliances in the Middle East By MARK MAZZETTI and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICKMARCH 26, 2015

Boston Marathon Bombing: Tale of the Gun BOSTON — Mar 25, 2015, 12:55 PM ET By MICHELE McPHEE

PHOTO: Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this Ruger 9mm pistol, allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers days after the marathon attack.

Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this Ruger 9mm pistol, allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers days after the marathon attack.

The gun’s serial number was “obliterated” by the time U.S. law enforcement got to it, but federal investigators were able to forensically “raise” the numbers and trace its purchase to a gun store more than three years ago and 100 miles from Boston.

In November 2011, Los Angeles native Danny Sun Jr. bought the 9mm Ruger P95 at a Cabela’s hunting and fishing store in South Portland, Maine as part of a “multi-gun” purchase, law enforcement officials and a Cabela manager told ABC News. Sun Jr. later told police that at some point over the next year, he gave the weapon to Biniam “Icy” Tsegai.

When Tsegai, an Eritrean immigrant, received the gun, federal prosecutors in Maine said he and others were the target of a multi-agency federal investigation into crack dealing out of Portland hotel rooms. Tsegai would plead guilty to drug charges in 2014.

But back in 2012, Tsegai handed the gun off to 21-year-old Merhawi “Howie” Berhe, according to recent testimony from Stephen Silva, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s “best friend.” Berhe is also Eritrean and was arrested in South Portland on a burglary charge last year, according to a police log. It remains unclear how Berhe, a Cambridge, Mass. resident, knewTsegai. An attorney for Berhe declined to discuss specifics of his case with ABC News and an attorney for Tsegai did not respond to request for comment.

PHOTO: Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this Ruger 9mm pistol, found in the aftermath of a firefight Tsarnaev and his brother had with police days after the marathon bombing. 

 

Department of Justice

 

 

PHOTO: Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this Ruger 9mm pistol, found in the aftermath of a firefight Tsarnaev and his brother had with police days after the marathon bombing.

 

Silva testified that he then took the gun from Berhe, who he said was “a friend of mine from my neighborhood.”

“He asked me if I could do him a favor and hold down a firearm for him because he needed to get it out of his house,” Silva testified, adding that Berhe’s “mother had searched his room.”

Berhe was charged earlier this month possessing a firearm with an “obliterated” serial number, presumably the same one he gave to Silva and would eventually end up in Tsarnaev’s hands. Berhe has pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 bond on March 17, the same day Silva outlined from the witness stand in Tsarnaev’s trial how the gun made it from a ceiling panel in his apartment where it was secreted in a tube sock, to the accused marathon bombers.

Silva described the gun as “black…looked a little rusty…the serial number was obliterated on a silver panel and it said ‘P95’ on top slide and it also says Ruger on the side of the gun.”

While he had it, Silva decided to make use of the gun himself, he said, and ripped off buyers in a drug deal in Cambridge, Mass. later in 2012.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly first saw the gun after Silva brought it to a New Year’s Eve party that same year. Tsarnaev asked about borrowing the gun, Silva testified, but Silva didn’t get around to giving it to him until February 2013. Silva testified that Tsarnaev wanted the gun to “rip some URI students,” presumably referring to the University of Rhode Island, which is close to his college dorm at University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth. Tsarnaev also demanded bullets, asking Silva for the “food for the dog,” Silva said.

 

PHOTO: Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this 9mm ammunition, allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers in the days after the marathon attack. 

Department of Justice

 

PHOTO: Evidence presented against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing case included this 9mm ammunition, allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers in the days after the marathon attack.

 

Over the next few weeks, Silva said he was annoyed with Tsarnaev because he refused to return the gun, always “coming up with excuses,” up until the first week of April when he last saw Tsarnaev and allegedly sold him marijuana.

The Marathon bombs exploded on April 15, 2013 and three days later, MIT police officer Sean Collier was murdered in his patrol car, allegedly with six bullets fired from the Ruger. Tsarnaev’s attorney Judy Clarke admitted in her opening arguments that the Tsarnaev brothers were responsible for the 27-year-old officer’s murder. Prosecutors said Collier was shot three times in the head and three times in the hand, by the Tsarnaev brothers, though it’s unclear which one pulled the trigger.

A short time after Collier’s death, Tamerlan knocked on the window of a young businessman Dun Meng and pointed the Ruger at his head several times during a harrowing carjacking and robbery, Meng testified. Meng was able to escape when the brothers stopped at a gas station.

 

Boston Marathon Bombing - ABC News infographic 

ABC News

 

Boston Marathon Bombing – ABC News infographic

 

A few miles and hours later after Meng escaped, the Tsarnaevs became pinned in by police and engaged in a firefight. Police say Tamerlan fired the Ruger until it was empty and then threw the handgun at the officers. Massachusetts State Police Lt David Cahill testified on Tuesday that the Ruger was fired 56 times in Watertown during the Tsarnaevs’ crime spree.

Tamerlan died after being shot in the firefight, and then run over by his brother as Dzhokhar fled the scene, according to witness testimony. Dzhokhar managed to elude capture for 16 hours before being pulled off a dry-docked boat in Watertown backyard.

The Ruger was recovered at the scene of the firefight in Watertown and now serves as a key piece of evidence in the trial against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, Collier’s murder, and the businessman’s carjacking.

Boston Marathon Bombing Tale of the Gun