A man from the African country of Mali has been deported after completing a federal prison sentence for engaging in drug dealing in support of Colombian terrorists.
Idriss Abdelrahman (EE’-drihs ahb-dehl-RAH’-muhn) pleaded guilty in April 2012 at federal court in New York to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He was charged along with two other men in December 2009 with agreeing to transport cocaine through West Africa in an effort to support al-Qaida and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement says Abdelrahman was deported and handed over to Malian authorities this week.
Abdelrahman was sentenced to 46 months in prison but was released and sent back to Mali after being credited for time served since his initial arrest.
This book is a study in African literary influence. It focuses on the importance of indigenous sources to new writing. The analytical framework for the study draws on recent conceptual advances in theories of authorship. Juxtaposing works and authors that are traditionally thought to be unlikely bedfellows, the book persuasively identifies their hitherto unexamined points of contact, opening up a vigorous debate about the roots of African literature and offering a radical critique of the assumptions underlying conventional notions of African literature. The book provides valuable insight on the roles of such activities as appropriation, copying, pastiche, parody, simulation, foraging, grafting, padding, recycling, and remodeling in underwriting literary expression in Africa. Alive with wit and full of delight in the texts it discusses, it is a marvel of close and attentive, detective reading.
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This book is a wide-ranging introduction to the social, political, cultural and economic life of South Africa. Updated throughout, the new edition considers the particular challenges of the early 21st century: unemployment, education, crime, a maturing HIV/AIDS epidemic and South Africas complex international relations within sub-saharan Africa and beyond.
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The pope is by far the world’s most visible religious figure. His office can be a bully pulpit on everything from salvation to the economy. In his overseas travels, he’s greeted with the kind of pomp and reverence accorded major world leaders.
But as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to step down, questions are being raised about just how influential his successor can be. He will be taking command of a church that has been weakened in recent decades — by rising secularism in the West, fallout from clergy sex abuse, competition from Pentecostal groups in the developing world and crises within the Vatican itself.
“Many Catholics, particularly in the Western world, take the pope’s counsel seriously, but they don’t consider it binding,” said Mathew Schmalz, a professor who specializes in global Catholicism at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “But since we live in an age of technology and 24-hour media, the symbolic influence has increased. Benedict recognized this, that you need someone who is healthy and robust to engage this complex environment.”
No other religious group has invested a leader with as much organizational authority and reach as the Catholic pope.
The pontiff leads about 1.1 billion parishioners worldwide, comprising around one-half of the globe’s Christian population, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. While he is bound in many ways by precedent and history, he alone can set the direction and tone for the church. Until relatively recently, these powers were a central theme of anti-Catholic hatred. (John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic U.S. president, famously pledged his administration wouldn’t take orders from the Holy See.)
Yet, as a growing number of Europeans and Americans from different faith traditions leave organized religion, many Christians have welcomed the pope’s prominence as a much-needed voice for traditional belief. On Monday, when the pope announced his stunning decision to resign, the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the flagship seminary for the evangelical Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted: “Remember that millions of people around the world gain their idea of what Christianity is from the papacy.”
The rise in technology has been a double-edged sword for the church. Young people trying to decide whether to remain Catholic have access to more arguments than ever about why they should leave. But at the same time, technology has built a greater intimacy between the pontiff and the public. Compared to many evangelical groups, the Catholic church was slower to take advantage of the Internet. But the pope is now on Twitter. His statements are posted in several languages at once. Papal events are broadcast on the Web.
“They have a backstage pass to the Vatican,” said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna research group and author of “You Lost Me” and other books about young Christians and religion. “It gives both the perception and reality of access that previous generations might not have had.”
Still, at least in the West, the pope is advancing these views in a modern world less open to hearing them. Gay relationships are gaining acceptance even among many theologically conservative American and European Christians. Women are taking more prominent positions of authority in all spheres of life, keeping the church on the defensive about the all-male priesthood. The church ban on artificial contraception is at the heart of a fight by Catholic bishops against a requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul that workers’ insurance covers birth control.
“I think for a lot of young people, the cultural argument is already settled, so there’s a lot of tension there,” said Dennis Doyle, a University of Dayton professor who specializes in the Catholic church. “We can’t simply label these issues in terms of sin and temptation.”
Yet, while the church is shrinking in the West, it is growing dramatically in Africa and other parts of the developing world, where Christianity tends to be more theologically conservative and more in step with papal teaching. Pentecostal churches are drawing some parishioners away. Still, by 2025, almost half of all Catholics will be in Latin America, Africa and Asia, said Juan Martinez, a Latino studies professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif. The average Catholic will be a relatively poor, young mother from Brazil, the Philippines or sub-Saharan Africa.
“Her issues and what she expects and how she defines her faith and what she expects from the church in her walk of faith, look extremely different,” Martinez said.
Mark Noll, a scholar of evangelical history at the University of Notre Dame, argued it would be wrong to view the papacy as weakened because of the challenges before the church. Given the splits within Protestantism and among secular-minded people, few leaders have the platform a pope does.
“The papacy remains the world’s oldest continual functioning institution,” Noll said. “There is a tremendous proliferation of voices in the world. Nonetheless, you have this historical institution that becomes rare and rarer.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that the speed of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September kept U.S. armed forces from responding in time to save the four Americans who were killed.
Testifying for likely the last time on Capitol Hill before he steps down, Panetta defended the U.S. military’s response on a chaotic Sept. 11 day as the Obama administration tried to assess the threat from protests in Tunisia, Egypt, the Libyan capital of Tripoli and other countries.
He insisted that there were no specific signs of an imminent attack on the diplomatic mission that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But soon after the initial attack, Panetta dispatched various military teams to Benghazi, including Marines from Spain and a special operations force that was training in Central Europe.
He pushed back against questions about why more firepower, such as gunships or fixed-wing fighter jets weren’t sent. He said they were not in the vicinity and would have required at least nine to 12 hours to deploy.
“This was, pure and simple, a problem of distance and time,” Panetta said.
Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dempsey reminded the committee that it was “9-11 everywhere” when the consulate was attacked and that U.S. armed forces were prepared to respond to a wide variety of threats around the world.
U.S. posts and facilities in many countries throughout Africa and southwest Asia were operating under heightened protection levels, he said.
“We positioned our forces in a way that was informed by and consistent with available threat estimates,” Dempsey said.
Panetta is retiring after a Washington career that has stretched over four decades, with years as a California congressman, budget chief, White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and CIA director who oversaw the hunt and killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
The Defense Department is bidding farewell to Panetta, who has served as defense secretary since June 2011, in a ceremony on Friday. The committee gave Panetta a round of applause as Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., praised the Pentagon chief’s integrity. President Barack Obama has nominated former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to succeed Panetta.
In his testimony, Panetta detailed the steps the military took in response to the Libya attack. He pointed out that it was not a prolonged assault that the military could have ended, but rather two short-duration attacks that occurred about six hours apart.
“Despite the uncertainty at the time, however, the Department of Defense and the rest of the United States government spared no effort to save American lives,” Panetta said.
The United States is struggling to confront an uptick in threats from the world’s newest jihadist hot spot with limited intelligence and few partners to help as the Obama administration weighs how to keep Islamic extremists in North Africa from jeopardizing national security without launching war.
The spread of militants across Libya, Algeria and Mali — many are linked to al-Qaida — is in part a natural outgrowth for terror networks that have been pushed out of places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. But it also reflects a rise in local extremist movements that have been emboldened since the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
U.S. counterterror officials agree that extremists have almost no interest in attacking America at home. However, U.S. and Western interests in North Africa — primarily military bases, diplomatic missions and business facilities — and Americans traveling there are at increased risk.
Government intelligence and analysis gleaned from the region indicate that America’s ability to contain, or respond to, threats from North Africa is harder than it was in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan because intelligence is not as well developed or available, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.
“We do not have the resources, footprint or capabilities that we have in other theaters,” said the intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of releasing intelligence analysis. Moreover, the official said, “it’s not clear we have a natural partner with whom we can work,” meaning that African nations are unwilling or unable to help with counterterror measures.
Since the attack in Benghazi, North Africa has evolved as the Obama administration’s latest national security headache, coming on top of conflicts across the Mideast through Asia. Many, if not all, of the extremists there are linked to al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, which is rooted in Algeria. AQIM itself is affiliated with al-Qaida’s core network, based in Pakistan and headed by Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian who took over after Osama bin Laden’s death in May 2011.
None of the North African groups appear to receive direct orders from al-Zawahri or his lieutenants, and most are as motivated by asserting local authority through criminal activity as by anti-Western ideology.
U.S. intelligence officials believe some of the militants behind the Benghazi attack were linked to AQIM. Others within AQIM are suspected of driving overloaded trucks of rifles, mortars and other weapons from Libya to Mali and Niger to arm allies there.
“The stakes have gone up since Benghazi,” said Mark Schroeder, an Africa analyst at the private global intelligence firm Stratfor. “It’s a conflict zone now.”
Algeria and Mali “are the two ‘moths to the flame’ areas right now,” the U.S. intelligence official said Thursday, citing rising concerns about allied extremist groups across North Africa who are sharing resources, manpower, expertise and information.
Islamic militants overran a BP gas plant in Algeria and lay siege with hostages for four days in January. National security forces launched a bloody counterattack, and Washington had to wait nearly a day before it could piece together what had happened. In all, 37 hostages — three were Americans — and 29 militants were killed.
Mali, where the U.S. has no diplomatic or military toehold with the government, is the most likely haven in Africa for militants plotting attacks. Islamic extremists have taken over much of Mali’s north, although they were routed from major towns there within weeks of a French military mission that began Jan. 11. The U.S. has not dealt directly with Mali’s government since a coup last March that put a junta leadership in power.
The Pentagon is considering plans to base unarmed spy drones in Niger to boost its ability to see what is happening in the region. But there is no appetite and little funding in the White House to send in U.S. troops beyond a military post already located in Djibouti, in East Africa, and limited special forces teams. A senior U.S. military official who deals with Africa issues said few nations there are willing to let U.S. forces work inside their borders for fear of having their sovereignty trampled.
American lawmakers said they are frustrated with the administration’s apparent lack of focus on — or, at least, ability to anticipate and respond to — the burgeoning North African threat.
“Simply playing Whack-a-Mole with allegedly al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in one region to another around the world is not the answer,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees Africa issues. “The answer is a better-crafted, thorough strategy that combines development, diplomacy, democracy and security.”
Coons added: “You could say that there is no obvious or immediate threat to the American homeland from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, but they did just succeed in killing three Americans in a hostage-taking in Algeria that had clearly been planned for some time.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., another Africa expert, put it bluntly: “If we don’t engage, we run the risk of having another Afghanistan pop up one day in the form of North Africa.”
White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the administration is “very worried” about the various extremist groups in North Africa but cited “varying degrees of ability and willingness” within governments there to fight them.
“There is a not a quick fix — these have to be a series of steps we take over the long term,” Vietor said. “There is not a narrow military solution that can eradicate bad guys and then we are OK.”
The U.S. is already helping fund, train and arm troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and other African nations to lead the fight against North African extremists. That would follow the model of international military aid to African forces that have fought and severely hobbled the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia since 2006. Al-Shabab is also loosely linked to al-Qaida.
Yet many North African nations are too consumed by local unrest and security issues to fight militants outside their borders. Nations that have undergone transfers in power over the last few years — most notably by Arab Spring revolutions — now find themselves with weaker counterterror abilities.
That has given al-Qaida and other extremists areas to exploit, one of the senior U.S. intelligence officials said.
“What we’re seeing is that our enemy, al-Qaida, is showing remarkable adaptability,” Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institute think-tank in Washington, told an audience this week. “They are adapting to a new environment, which is the Arab Spring, and taking advantage of it.”
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Take a look at the social, political, and economic revolutions that have dominated the history of our world. This presentation covers the Industrial Revolutions, the Enlightenment, and the American, French, and Russian Revolutions. It also includes rebellions that took place in India, Africa, and Asia. See how revolutions have made people and broken them, defined governments and toppled them, and marked the beginning of one era and the end of another. High school.
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ALTOONA — The Beza Project, operated by Penn State Altoona Enactus students, is partnering with the Tea Merchant, 101, located in Duncansville, to sell unique African-style mugs. Proceeds will support economic development and higher education in …
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A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists.
The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and won’t be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approval from the secretary of defense.
The sharper focus on Africa by the U.S. comes against a backdrop of widespread insurgent violence across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.
The terror threat from al-Qaida-linked groups in Africa has been growing steadily. Officials believe the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi may have been carried out by insurgents with ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
A break-in at Zoo Boise early Saturday left a Patas monkey dead from blunt force trauma to the head and neck and police were analyzing blood found at the scene to determine if it came from the monkey or one of two human intruders.
Two males wearing dark clothing were spotted by a security guard at 4:30 a.m. outside the fence near the primate exhibit, police said. Both fled, one of them heading into the interior of the zoo. Boise police used a thermal imager in searching the 11-acre zoo grounds but didn’t find the person.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and we haven’t had anything like this happen,” Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns said. “It’s unfortunate that we have to let kids know that something like this happens. Monkeys are always among the most favorite animals here.”
Patas monkeys, often called the military monkey, have reddish-brown fur with grey chin whiskers and distinctive white moustaches. They are widely distributed across central Africa south of the Sahara Desert and can live more than 20 years in captivity.
During a search of the zoo before dawn, Burns heard a groan that at first he thought sounded human. It turned out to be an injured Patas monkey barely moving near the perimeter fence.
The zoo’s veterinarian was called, but the monkey died just before 6 a.m. as it was being examined. A necropsy later determined that blunt force trauma was the cause of death, police said.
An inventory done by zoo staff found no other animals missing or injured. The zoo has one remaining Patas monkey — another male — but it’s unclear if it will remain at the zoo or will be sent to another zoo where it can socialize with other Patas monkeys, Burns said.
“They’re not endangered in the wild, but there are not many in zoos in the United States,” he said. “Monkeys are social animals. We only have one.”
The two Patas monkeys came to Zoo Boise about three years ago from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in Florida. They had an outdoor enclosure during the summer in Boise but were moved indoors to the primate building when colder weather arrived.
Burns said the monkeys hadn’t been given names, and he didn’t know their ages. The monkey that was killed was about 2 1/2 feet tall and weighed about 30 pounds, Burns said.
Burns declined to discuss details of the police investigation, including how the intruder entered the primate building, if the monkeys might have been specifically targeted, or how the monkey ended up near the perimeter fence. The zoo doesn’t have surveillance cameras, he said.
“It’s very disturbing that someone would intentionally break into the zoo and harm an animal,” said Sgt. Ted Snyder of the Boise Police Department in a statement. “We’re doing all we can to find who did this.”
Amy Stahl of Boise Parks & Recreation said the death shocked zoo workers.
“They’re hit hard,” Stahl said. “They care for the animals on a daily basis and they care about them deeply.”
The zoo was supposed to open at 10 a.m. but remained closed while police gathered evidence, opening about 2:30 p.m.