Car Bomb Explodes In Somalia

Car bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Car bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia.

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports, at least ten people were killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu when a car bomb exploded in a shopping mall Monday, February 4, 2019.

Mogadishu police officials have been quoted in international reports confirming the bombing in the capital’s business district.

According to police officials, the death toll may rise because of the number of those seriously wounded and a thorough search of the wreckage has yet to occur.

Some witnesses were quoted saying that the explosion rattled windows of several nearby business buildings.

Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to reports, they were also responsible for three car bombings in November 2018 that injured over 100 people and killed at least 52.

The bombs in Mogadishu were detonated near a hotel popular with visitors to Somalia and international journalists.

Since 2006, the group has carried out several attacks in Mogadishu, killing international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders, and peacekeepers, as well as Somalia’s government and military targets.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the group wants to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state.

The attack marks the second major terror attack carried out by Al-Shabaab in 2019 following several hours of siege last month in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. At least 21 people were killed.

At least 21 people were killed when militants from the terror group laid siege at the DusitD2 compound, an upmarket cluster of shops and hotel facilities in Nairobi.

The CFR is an independent, nonpartisan policy organization with an international membership. This membership includes individuals and corporations. It also includes journalists, civic leaders, students and religious leaders. It was founded in 1921.

Better Together Means Better for White Folks

By Steppin’ Razor

By now, most interested parties have heard of Better Together’s contentious recommendations amid the heated debate about merging St. Louis City and County. Many residents in the areas of concern don’t like the recommendations- we’re hesitating to call it a “plan-” because, quite frankly, they seem to want to provide country residents greater access to city operations without providing a detailed resourcing plan. Bar none, Better Together leaves people of color and city dwellers in the blast of the storm of divestment and political isolation, and county dwellers fear the results of merging with a starving urban center.

The city/county merger has been an electoral hot button issue for years. St. Louis City is one of only two politically-progressive bastions in Missouri, sharing the distinction with cross state sibling, Kansas City. Each national election, these urban centers have voted impressively blue, while the rest of the state, particularly rural areas, vote staunchly red, with increasing sanguinity coming from the suburbs.

While Blacks enjoy a population majority in the city with 55 percent, the percentage of Blacks in Better Together’s would-be “Metro City” would fall to about 33 percent. Who in their right mind would give away an electoral majority and therefore, political power?

Politically, Better Together’s city-county merger recommendations amount to a Rex Sinquefield-financed power grab, to further entrench conservative values and dilute Black political power in the city and furthermore, the state.

The consensus in the region is that ‘da Lou is due for a shot in the arm, and therefore, the merger COULD be an opportunity to spur growth and equitable development. Some tech companies have started to move downtown and the NGA is preparing to build its metroplex in north city near the Pruitt-Igoe site. But St. Louis has seen a consistent private company, population, and tax base flight over the last few decades, steadily declining after a population growth to almost 900,000 in the 1950s. Much of that lovely tax money is believed to have moved out to the county and St. Charles with the racism of white flight, creating the “St. Louis Metropolitan Area.”

White flight county residents and out state Whites love their access to the St. Louis Zoo, the Stifel Center, the Dome, Soulard, AB InBev, The Fabulous Fox, Grand Center/Midtown, South Grand, Cherokee, the Central West End, but would love to eradicate the Black folks and other people of color who live around these outlets in an effort to preserve the blindness of their privilege. Better Together is here to help them reclaim the Midtown Corridor.

And to add insult to injury, Better Together would have the destiny of this region determined by outstate rurals who have little stake in the matter. They don’t live here. Even a cursory examination of state politics shows us that the rest of the state of Missouri often votes differently than St. Louis City, and often against St. Louis interests. So to suggest that the political, economic, and social destiny of St. Louis should be determined by a state full of folks who consistently walk over our interests lets us know whose needs are the priority.

Better Together merger recommendations include the creation of one executive position, the Metro Mayor, rumored to be set up for county executive Steve Stenger to step into. That makes us wonder… Why would St. Louis city mayor Lyda Krewson be willing to GIVE away her power like that? Was she promised some support for some state appointment or candidacy down the line?

A 33-member council repping districts drawn by a “nonpartisan expert” was also recommended. Talks suggest these districts would be drawn to include approximately 40,000 residents, and would be administrated by two staff members. But how would this form of government work for and with the people? Details were not provided.

Here’s how you can tell Better Together ain’t up to no good: They want to phase out the earnings tax, which makes up about 33% of the city’s budget and is directed to the city’s General Revenue fund. The tax, coming from 1% of salaries collected from city residents, equals about $164 million, according to 2016 data. These are much needed funds St. Louis uses to pay its bills and fund programs.

The most dastardly part? St. Louis city residents voted OVERWHELMINGLY in April 2016 to keep the tax, passing it easily with 72% of the vote for the measure to keep it.

So why is Better Together ignoring the wishes of city residents in trying to eliminate the tax? Some of us believe that the private conservative billionaire-funded group is trying to choke St. Louis City into submission.

One of the most glaring potential pointes of interest to come out of Better Together’s scheme was its hands-off suggestion for school systems. Of all the consolidation to occur as part of this deal, the St. Louis public schools would be essentially left to suffocate.  Everyone who gives a damn knows that our public school system, even after consistent closings over the past few decades, is in need of resources to properly educate our young ones. Wealthy municipality systems like Ladue, Clayton and Kirkwood continue to thrive in their enclaves, while benefiting from school choice transfers from impoverished city locales. After years of decay, neglect, finger wagging and divestment due to culturally-biased test score based resource allocation methods from President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” barnstorm, it’s a miracle struggling school systems like St. Louis City are still hanging on. But now, Better Together is trying to put the nail in the coffin.

Better Together’s recommendation is racist, unilateral, conservative billionaire-mandated post-Ferguson backlash that essentially sources mayonnaise-flavored fear in creating a region that would erase any notion of political or economic empowerment for people of color. This is especially real and dangerous for Black folks, who make up about 55 percent of the population, and have used those numbers to stave off a conservative devouring by the state of Missour-uh, in concert with sistas and brothas in Kansas City. We’ll see how this plays out, and whose interests surface as true priorities in this process.

Mosby Will No Longer Prosecute Marijuana Cases

State Attorney Marilyn Mosby poses in front of a mural of Freddie Gray who was killed in the custody of Baltimore police.

Marilyn Mosby poses in front of a mural of Freddie Gray who was killed in the custody of Baltimore police.

By Malcolm Speaks

Baltimore’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday that marijuana possession will no longer be prosecuted in the city.

“For far too long, we have sat back and watched idly as communities and families are literally destroyed by the failed policies of the war on drugs,“ Mosby told NBC News.

“There is absolutely no link between marijuana and violent crime and we’ve seen that all across the country,” Mosby said.

Therefore, “There is no public safety value” to prosecuting marijuana possession, she added.

The State Attorney stated that marijuana convictions disproportionately affect the city’s Black community and that her office will not process any cases of possession, regardless of a person’s prior criminal record.

“In Baltimore, the majority of citations, even after decriminalization, are issued to Black people,” she told NBC News.

Dana Vickers Shelley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, agreed with this course of action.

“Even though studies show that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, black Marylanders are consistently arrested at higher rates for marijuana in every county,” Shelley said at a press conference Tuesday.

However, the Baltimore State Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute the distribution of marijuana, but only if there is “articulated evidence of intent to distribute beyond the mere fact of possession.”

State Attorney Mosby said that prosecuting marijuana possession is “costly and counterproductive to the limited resources we have in the city of Baltimore.”

“If you ask a mother who lost her son where she would like you to use those resources, she will tell you, ‘l want you to use those resources to find my son’s killer,’ as opposed to jailing and incarcerating people for possession of marijuana.”

State Attorney Mosby also announced that her office plans to vacate almost 5,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 2011.

“Jailing people for marijuana possession is a vast and ongoing moral failure,” Mosby said during her announcement of the new policy. She explained her decision by saying that the communities affected by “unjust” marijuana policies are “still paying a price for behavior that is already legal for millions of Americans.”

The State Attorney told NBC News that even if Baltimore police continue to arrest people for possession of marijuana, she will “release those individuals without charges.”

Birmingham Institute Reverses Davis Decision

Angela Davis has been reoffered the Shuttlesworth award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Angela Davis has been reoffered the Shuttlesworth award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

By Free Radical

In an apparent about face, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) re-invited lifelong freedom fighter Angela Davis to accept its Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. The award recognizes “individuals for their service to civil and human rights causes around the world. It is the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.”

Angela Davis was originally chosen for the award in September. However, it was ironically Angela Davis’s support for human rights, particularly for the people of Palestine that caught the ire of members of Birmingham’s Jewish community which applied enough pressure on the BCRI to force the organization to rescind the award. According to national reports, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center sent the BCRI a letter urging them to disinvite Davis because of her support for the divestment of Israel and its apartheid style polices on the people of Palestine. In a statement, the BCRI announced that it “began receiving messages of concern from various segments in the Birmingham Community” which persuaded their January decision to no longer honor Davis.

This decision was met with instantaneous derision. Birmingham’s mayor Randall Woodfin, who is also a member of the BCRI board,was dismayed about the undemocratic process in which the decision was made. In a statement, he expressed, “The crisis of leadership at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute represents a clash of values, wherein the institution responsible for stewarding powerful, poignant and respectful dialogue, has demonstrated that they do not value dialogue with residents of Birmingham and the public at large.”

Even Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Voice for Peace came to Davis’s defense and created a petition urging the BCRI to reverse the decision.

Davis had also stated that she still planned on coming to Birmingham to attend an “alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.”

Yet in a reverse of course, the BCRI announced it would reoffer the Shuttlesworth award to Davis. In a prepared statement, the BCRI expressed “in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes and in order to stay true to the BCRI’s founding mission, the board voted to reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient. Dr. Davis was immediately thereafter personally invited to reaccept the award.”

Davis has not announced if she planned to attend the event which honors Fred Shuttlesworth, who headed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, and for many years was the face of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

In related news, on Saturday, it was announced that Black filmmaker Julie Dash will direct a biopic of Angela Davis. It will be produced by Lionsgate and Sidra Smith. The screenplay will be written by Brian Tucker. Davis will be involved in the project which is set to begin filming in June.