Cyclone Idai Hits Southern Africa

By Chuma Kisu

Dama

Damage of Cyclone Idai.

According to international reports southern Africa is still in relief efforts after cyclone Idia battered parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as Malawi Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Reports from officials say that nearly 500,000 people are feared dead from the 110mph, category 2 winds.

Damage includes loss of life, downed powerlines, building damage, washed away roads, mud, and deadly flooding.

Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, on Monday launched a request for help from local Non-Governmental Organizations and individuals. Ms. Sisulu is a member of the South African Parliament.

The appeal was: “to make donations towards humanitarian aid for the people of Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai.”

UNICEF USA also has launched a fund raiser labeled: “You Can Make a Difference Right Now”

The appeal read in part: “Tropical Cyclone Idai has battered Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, devastating already-vulnerable populations with severe damage and flooding. Please help now.”

South Africa suffered an indirect impact of the cyclone after a power supply from Mozambique was affected. The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, also deployed the army to help Mozambique manage the unfolding crisis.

Even though there are no official figures of cumulative deaths, figures show that the number could be reaching 200 plus. The Mozambican president told national radio that the death toll could exceed 1,000.

Meanwhile the Ministry has announced a call center for nationals affected by the cyclone advising that they also contact their respective embassies in the affected countries.

Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon. They are given different names based upon where they are located.

Hurricane is used in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. Typhoon is used in the Northwest Pacific. The term cyclones is used in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Cyclone Idai took place in the Indian Ocean that connects to Southern Africa.

Florida GOP Try to Halt Felon Voting

Florida conservatives have attempted to limit the reach of Amendment 4 which granted individuals convicted of a felon to vote.

Florida conservatives have attempted to limit the reach of the progressive Amendment 4 which restored the voting rights of individuals convicted of a felon.

By Free Radical 

One of the silver linings of Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum ‘s loss to Republican Ron DeSantis was that voters still approved Amendment 4 which restored voting privileges to individuals who were convicted of a felon. Many onlookers had even hoped that this Florida model could be replicated across the country. Nonetheless, to their chagrin, the state’s conservatives are attempting to limit the statute’s reach.

On Tuesday, the Florida House passed the Criminal Justice Committee bill which will require individuals who have been convicted of a felon to first pay all “financial obligations” before voting. This includes court fines, fees, and civil case settlements. Before Tuesday’s bill, people convicted of felons only had to pay restitution to the victim of their crime before voting.

“It’s blatantly unconstitutional as a poll tax,” Democratic Florida Rep. Adam Hattersley told local reporters.

Perhaps these developments should not come as a surprise. Many observers figured that Andrew Gillum would have won if Amendment 4 was passed. Not surprisingly, the eventual gubernatorial victor DeSantis advised against the implementation of the referendum before certain provisions were clarified.

Kirk Bailey of the Florida ACLU reasoned that Tuesday’s bill was “overbroad, vague, [and] thwarts the will of the people … This is exactly what we were worried about from the beginning.”

He added that the bill conjures up decades past when financial obstacles were established to stunt voting rights and “will inevitably prevent individuals from voting based on the size of one’s bank account.”

The Florida Senate will review a similar bill and if passed, each chamber will have to settle on a common piece of legislation to be signed by the governor.

Harvard Sued Over Photo of Enslaved African

By Free Radical

Tamara Lanier shown with an image of Renty who she claims is a direct ancestor.

Tamara Lanier here shown with an image of the man  Renty who she claims is a direct ancestor.

Tamara Lanier, a Black retired probation officer has made preparations to sue Harvard University for using the likeness of enslaved Africans she claims are her direct ancestors.

The pictures at the center of the dispute were taken in South Carolina and show a Congolese man by the name of Renty and his daughter Delia. Both are nearly naked. The images were used commissioned by former Harvard biologist  Louis Agassiz who purchased the pictures from a South Carolina plantation owner. The photos were used in Aggassiz’s studies which attempted to justify slavery and show that people of African descent were racially inferior.

The images are quite popular and one just has to casually skim a  number of history textbooks to see Renty and Delia. It is customary that the owner of an image collect fees from publishers that use it in books and other documents.

Lanier, who is represented by famous Black attorney Benjamin Crump, has a lawsuit that asks Harvard to return the images to her family, pay damages, and acknowledge its complicity in “perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.”

According to records, Lanier’s legal team also argues that, “By denying Ms Lanier’s superior claim to the daguerreotypes, Harvard is perpetuating the systematic subversion of black property rights that began during slavery and continued for a century thereafter.”

Attorney Crump echoes these sentiments. “These photographs make it clear that Harvard benefited from slavery then and continues to benefit now. By my calculation, Renty is 169 years a slave. When will Harvard finally set him free?”

As of press, Harvard has yet to respond.

School Collapses In Nigeria

Rescue efforts in school wreckage in Lagos, Nigeria.

Rescue efforts in school wreckage in Lagos, Nigeria.

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports a three story school building collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Rescue units are frantically going through the rubble in hopes of finding survivors. The building collapsed while classes where in session. Numbers of children are thought to be inside.

Video news reports from the scene showed a dust-covered child being carried out of the rubble alive but hurt. This was to the cheers of onlookers. Other children were brought out limp and dangling with onlookers unsure of their state.

Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital. It has an estimated population of 20 million people.

According to reports, a number of witnesses jumped in to offer assistance. Some did so with hacksaws and mallets in hand. Some were barefoot. Others were shirtless. A crowd grew around the wreckage to give a hand in the recue.

Sani Datti, a spokesman with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, told reporters that officials from the agency and other emergency services were at the site.

“For now we don’t have any word on casualties as we are still busy with rescue work,” he said.

The collapse comes as President Muhammadu Buhari, newly elected to a second term, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation.

“Nigeria’s infrastructure is generally less than half the size than in the average sub-Saharan Africa country and only a fraction of that in emerging market economies,” the International Monetary Fund has noted.

“The perceived quality of the infrastructure is low.”