Archive | October 24, 2015

South African Student Uprising Wins Tuition Hike Freeze*

South African Student Uprising Wins Tuition Hike Freeze*

By Sarah Lazare

Student organizer Nompendulo Mkatshwa marched through the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on Wednesday (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Facing the largest student uprisings since South Africans toppled apartheid, President Jacob Zuma pledged Friday to halt tuition fee increases in the year 2016—prompting declarations of victory, as well as calls to continue the mass mobilizations until free education is won for all.

“A famous victory won by the hard struggle of students. We are all humbled,” Salim Vally, associate professor of education and director of the Center for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg, told Common Dreams.

“The determination and resoluteness of the students forced the hand of government. This was clear to many even before the sun rose this morning.”

“Many lessons learned and an incredibly important educational experience for us all,” Vally continued. “Foremost of which is that unity and mass struggle works.”

Following a meeting with student organizers and university management, Zuma announced to reporters:

“On the matter at hand we agreed that there will be a zero increase of university fees in 2016.”

The president’s concessions were met with widespread celebration, but not all expressed satisfaction.

“We should be having free education,” said 18-year-old Bongani Shabangu, who is studying education at a Pretoria university, in an interview with The Irish Independent.

“Most of us are from poor families.”

And, when large crowds rallied outside the main government complexes in Pretoria on Friday to demand that Zuma address them directly, police forces pelted them with water cannons, stun grenades, and tear gas.

What’s more, many are still furious at police brutality against protesters and are calling for the government to drop steep charges levied against dozens of demonstrators who were detained.

Patrick Bond, professor of Political Economy at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told Common Dreams that students have won a “historic victory over South African neo-liberalism.”

However, he continued:

“Other student demands remain outstanding: free tertiary education for poor and working people as the overall goal, and an end to labour casualization and outsourcing for low-paid university workers. Many such workers barely receive $100/month, and with a poverty line of $60/person/month, raising a family on starvation wages is impossible.”

Sparked by tuition hikes of up to 11.5% at numerous universities, weeks of student protests have swept at least 18 campuses and shut down the country’s top universities. Many are calling for free education, in a society beset with deep inequities.

The current system continues to exclude most black South Africans and other historically disadvantaged groups,” anthropologist Vito Laterza explained at the blog Africa is a Country.

As thousands rallied Thursday at the ruling ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg, student leader Mcebo Dlamini declared: “The ANC government will never give us free education. We must take it.” Students’ speeches at the demonstration are captured in the video below.

The protests follow the ongoing Rhodes Must Fall movement of “students and staff members mobilizing for direct action against the reality of institutional racism at the University of Cape Town”—which is working towards the long-term goal of decolonizing higher education. Their demands include the implementation of “a curriculum which critically centers Africa and the subaltern” and the removal of “all statues and plaques on campus celebrating white supremacists.”

According to Bond, the mass protests that brought Friday’s concessions constitute a “boost to anti-austerity activism” that is especially relevant given a series of punishing reforms advocated by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

“A victory has been won but the battle for free quality public education from pre-primary to higher education continues,” Vally said. “The market orientation of higher education remains, and it reproduces and reflects the inequalities of the wider society. This includes privatization, outsourcing, competitiveness, user-fees, racism, patriarchy and managerialism.”

Vally added: “We now have the beginning of a new movement increasingly steeled in struggle.”


Related Topics:

South Africa: NWO’s Agenda 21 Litmus Test*

The Democracy South Africans Never Voted for*

Gates and World Bank Peddling Private, For-Profit Schools in Africa, Disguised As Aid*

Amsterdam Revolts against the Neo-liberalism in Education

The Global Money Supply Flows in One Direction!

Why Billionaire Oligarchs Bankroll Feminism*

Students Loan Strike against for Profit Colleges*

Student Debt Strikers Cancel Meeting With Dept. Of Education*

U.K. Students March for Free Education*

Syrian Army Kills al-Nusra Leader*

Syrian Army Kills al-Nusra Leader*

The Nusra Front terrorist group is an al-Qaeda affiliate operating in Syria fighting against the Syrian government.

The Syrian army killed the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) terrorist group, Egypt-born Abu Suleiman al-Masri in Aleppo, a source confirmed to Sputnik Saturday.

According to the source, the terrorist was killed during a fight near the Tal-al-Karsani village outside Aleppo. The Nusra Front is an Islamist armed group fighting the Syrian government. Damascus also combats the IS terrorists and a number of opposition forces.

This week the Russian Defense Ministry said IS was in talks with other terrorist groups operating in Syria about joining forces against the Syrian Army.

“Intercepted radio communications suggest that commanders of several large units of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group have begun talks with leaders of the Islamic State terrorist organization about joining forces to contain the Syrian Army offensive,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.


Related Topics:

U.S. and Israel is Managing Combat Operations for ISIS and al Nusra in Iraq, Syria*

Syria Eliminates Al-Nusra Leadership*

Syrian Army Kills 50 Al-Nusra Front Terrorists, Mostly Foreigners*

Syrian Airstrike Kills Israeli and Jordanian Officers in Al-Nusra*

Syrian Army and Hezbullah Push back al-Qaeda as Christian Militia Mobilizes*

Brzezinski to Putin: Stop hitting OUR al-Qaeda or it’s World War III*

Israel Admits Aiding CIA’s al-Qaeda in Syria*

Parents Call Nevada School Vouchers Illegal*

Parents Call Nevada School Vouchers Illegal*

By Laney Olson

Nevada is about to divert $100 million from public schools to private ones through an unconstitutional voucher program, parents of 10 children claim in a request for an injunction to stop it.
     Lead plaintiff Hellen Quan Lopez sued State Treasurer Dan Schwartz in Carson City Court, claiming Senate Bill 302 , the Education Savings Account Program, violates the Nevada Constitution.

The bill, which took effect Jan. 1, authorizes the parent of a child who has attended a public school for 100 days anytime in his or her life to get $5,000 a year in state tax money to send the child to private school or teach them at home or online.

More than 20,000 children are enrolled in private schools in Nevada, which would take more than $100 million in tax dollars away from public schools and send it to private ones, according to the complaint.

However, “The Education Article of the Nevada Constitution expressly prohibits the use of public school funds for anything other than the operation of Nevada’s public schools,” the complaint states.

“The voucher statute plainly violates this and other provisions of the Nevada Constitution and will have serious deleterious effects on Nevada and its children.”

The vouchers also will allow spending of public money on schools that violate laws against discrimination, according to the request for an injunction.

Nevada schools are not very well-funded, by national standards. A 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report, “ Public Education Finances ,” ranked Nevada 45th of the states in per pupil spending in public schools – $2,400 per student below the national average.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported last year that the state had fallen to 49th.

Quan Lopez et al. sued the state in September, and on Oct. 20 asked for a preliminary injunction, along with co-plaintiffs Educate Nevada Now and the Rogers Foundation.

The State Treasurer’s Office “has done the preregistration and will be giving away fund money in February,” said Tamerlin Godley, plaintiffs’ attorney with Munger, Tolles and Olson. She said the injunction is intended to put a hold on the voucher accounts until a ruling on the lawsuit.

Treasurer Schwartz’s Chief of Staff Grant Hewitt has said that the vouchers will not reduce funding for public education because parents of private school students still pay property taxes. He claimed that fixed costs of schools, such as teacher salaries and maintenance, remain the same regardless of how many students leave. He added:

“The students that are left are more expensive, like the ELL [English language-learners] and low-income students.”

Supporters of public education call Godbey’s claims absurd.

The lawsuit does not challenge property taxes; it challenges where the tax money goes. Nor do fixed costs remain the same if students leave, as teachers, administrators and staff will be dismissed with dwindling enrolment, and schools could close.
Also, public schools receive federal funding based on average daily attendance, so the loss of each student costs a school district thousands of federal dollars. And it is difficult to see how burdening public schools with higher percentages of low-income students and English language learners would improve public schools, or even leave them at Nevada’s already low level.

No hearing has been set on the request for an injunction.

Godley is assisted by Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman and Rabkin in Las Vegas and the Education Law Center of New Jersey.


Related Topics:

Nevada Gives Public School Funds Back to Parents and ACLU Throws a Fit*

Getting the Perfect Education for Your Child*

Amsterdam Revolts against the Neo-liberalism in Education

National Educational Association Blasts Homeschooling*

UN Urges States to Monitor and Regulate Private Education Providers*

Gov’t Official Warns Homeschoolers: Prepare For Home Visits*

Some New York Schools Providing an Alternative to Standardized Tests*

Homeschooling Family Sues CPS*

Gates and World Bank Peddling Private, For-Profit Schools in Africa, Disguised As Aid*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*
By Amanda Froelich

“There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

What would you do if an angry mob threatened to disrupt the peace at your place of worship?

If you’re Cynthia DeBoutinkhar, a Muslim woman who attends the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Ohio, you give them a hug and offer them a free breakfast.

After a Facebook campaign tried to organize a picketing at dozens of mosques around the U.S. on October 10th, the attendees of the mosque were prepared for anything to erupt.

They nervously awaited the protest and were surprised when only one individual arrived with signs denigrating Islam. Many tried to welcome the sole protestor and offer her coffee and bagels inside the mosque, but she repeatedly refused and continued spewing confusions at the place of worship.

That was, until DeBoutinkhar bravely went up to the woman, whose name is Annie, and asked if she could embrace her in a hug. Reluctantly, she said “yes.” That one simple act disabled Annie’s resistance, and she agreed to walk into the building that housed a culture she was sure housed ‘evil’.

Cynthia later wrote on Facebook: “I felt her body go from tense to soft and I asked her to please come inside with me.

DeBoutinkhar promised Annie she’d stay by her side inside the temple to provide comfort and a guarantee of safety. That offer was quickly deemed unnecessary, as the moment the two walked into the building, they were greeted with a grand applause.

Amazingly, Annie agreed to accompany the group on a complete tour of the mosque. Cynthia shared that she also led Annie to the ladies room to watch her take off her hijab, “so she could see that I’m just a normal person under my scarf.” 

In an interview with Good News Network, Cynthia relayed that she’d been inundated with media requests for interviews about the incident.

It’s been an overwhelming response. I think it struck a nerve with people. I think Muslims see it as finally some good press–and non-Muslims seem to like it because it shows the religion in a good light.”

Annie confided in DeBoutinkhar that the source of her beliefs regarding Islam came from FOX News and a friend who visited Turkey.

During the tour, Annie was able to look into classrooms filled with children and catch a glimpse of the afternoon prayers. She even began to ask her own questions that the president of the mosque answered enthusiastically. He also presented Annie with an English Quran as a gift.

Despite peoples’ difference, there is always an opportunity for peace to be realized.


Related Topics:

U.S. Anti-Islam Rallies ‘Fizzles’ Nationwide*

Generosity in Islam

The Gift (Sunnah) of a Smile

Beyond Mass Control

Israeli Colonel Leading ISIL Terrorists Captured in Iraq*

Israeli Colonel Leading ISIL Terrorists Captured in Iraq*

Iraqi security and popular forces have caught an Israeli colonel from Golani Brigade along with a number of ISIL terrorists, a commander disclosed on Thursday.

“The security and popular forces have held captive an Israeli colonel,” a commander of Iraq’s popular mobilization forces said on Thursday.

“The Zionist officer is ranked colonel and had participated in the Takfiri ISIL group’s terrorist operations,” he added.

Noting that he was arrested along with a number of ISIL terrorists, the commander said,

“The Israeli colonel’s name is Yusi Oulen Shahak and is ranked colonel in Golani Brigade of the Zionist regime’s army with the security and military code of Re34356578765az231434.”

He said that the relevant bodies are now interrogating the Israeli colonel to understand the reasons behind his fighting alongside the ISIL forces and the presence of other Zionist officers among ISIL terrorists.

The Iraqi security forces said the captured colonel has already made shocking confessions.

Several ISIL militants arrested in the last one year had already confessed that Israeli agents from Mossad and other Israeli espionage and intelligence bodies were present in the first wave of ISIL attacks on Iraq and capture of Mosul in Summer 2014, but no ranking Israeli agent had been arrested.

Political and military experts told FNA that the capture of the Israeli colonel will leave a grave impact on Iraq’s war strategy, including partnership with Israeli allies.

In a relevant development in July, Iraqi volunteer forces announced that they had shot down a drone that was spying on the Arab country’s security forces in the city of Fallujah, Western Iraq.

Iraq’s popular forces reported that they had brought down a hostile surveillance aircraft over the Southeastern Fallujah in Anbar Province.

They said that the wreckage of the ISIL’s spy drone carried ‘Israel-Made’ labels.

This was not the first Israeli-made drone downed in Iraq.

In August an Israeli Hermes drone was shot down in the vicinity of Baghdad Airport.


Related Topics:

Putin Blows the Whistle on the Who and the Why of ISIS*

30 Moroccan Jews Trained with the Israeli Army*

America Reels as Putin “Redlines” Israel*

U.S. Playing Games Whilst Russia Strike 72 Terrorist Targets in Syria*

U.S. Playing Games Whilst Russia Strike 72 Terrorist Targets in Syria*

The Russian Air Force has attacked 72 IS targets in Syria in 53 sorties within the past 24 hours, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, stressing the “increased efficiency of Russia airstrikes”.

The Russian Air Force attacked militant locations in the Syrian provinces of Hama, Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo, Damascus and Deir ez-Zor, Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

“I’d like to draw your attention to the increased efficiency of Russian airstrikes on terrorist installations. Russian jets used to work in pairs, but now there’s no need for that since our pilots have explored the location and are capable of hitting two targets at Konashenkov said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry denied U.S. allegations that cluster bombs had been dropped in areas with civilian population during the operation, describing the accusations as “nonsense” and “unsubstantiated fantasies”.

Major General Konashenkov referred in particular to a statement made by Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve, who accused Russia of using cluster bombs “in several populated areas, including Hama and Idlib.”

The Colonel’s assessment was based on an “initial open source” that he failed to provide.

In addition, the Russian military said that its intelligence has recently detected a significant increase in the number of new ISIS targets.” Konashenkov explained that the influx comes from Islamic militants reinforcing their positions with “manpower from Raqqa and Iraq” and “attempts of ISIS to send maneuverable car caravans with weapons and ammunition to the frontline with the Syrian troops.”

“Therefore, explanations by the Pentagon representative that they had dramatically reduced the number of sorties because, as of today, they don’t see targets in Syria, looks more than strange,” the Major General said.

IS commanders have been in talks with members of other terrorist groups, including Al-Nusra Front, to unite their forces against Syrian government troops, Konashenkov said in an interview with Rossiya 24 channel.

Despite the reported surge, the deputy chief of the General Staff of Russia, Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, said on Thursday that the terrorist’s combat ability has been significantly reduced by Russian airstrikes. ISIS control and supply systems have been almost completely disrupted, according to the General Staff’s data, TASS news agency reported.

Russia’s military has also hit one of ISIS’ supply routes from Iraq into Syria, a bridge over the Euphrates River in Syria, Kartapolov said.

In a briefing for reporters, the Colonel General said that ISIS has been recruiting children as young as 12 years old.

IS militants have been usingbarrier squads” comprised of their most loyal fighters to prevent mass desertions.
Operations carried out by Syrian troops have been significantly complicated by terrorists using civilians as human shields, Kartapolov pointed out.


The Syrian army has managed to oust jihadists from a major railway junction in the Mahata neighborhood and rescue the village of Sanasil, while continuing to identify and destroy firing positions of the enemy, Kartapolov told journalists during a briefing.

Government forces are advancing towards the Kuwayris airbase in the Aleppo province, which they predict will be freed within a matter of days. The troops need to cover a distance of 8 kilometers to launch the attack.

In the meantime, the Russian military has provided foreign journalists with a chance to observe their work, letting International reporters into the Khmeimim Airbase, where Russia’s Air Force in Syria is based, the Russian MoD said.


Related Topics:

Quartet Meeting agreed on External Support Formula for Political Process in Syria*

Russia, U.S. Sign Memorandum on Military Flights over Syria*

U.S. Plan to Spread Cholera across Syria and Turkey May be Failing*

Whoever Controls Eurasia Controls the World*

Syrian Army Seizes Control of Al-Amal Farms in Golan Heights*

Terrorist in-fighting as Russian Jets Destroy ISIS Supply Lines*

U.S. on Russia’s Borders Trying to Provoke War*

Putin Blows the Whistle on the Who and the Why of ISIS*

Israeli Settler Attacks Rabbi*

Israeli Settler Attacks Rabbi*

A video showed a Jewish extremist trying to stab the head of a human rights Israeli group as he attended an olive harvest at a Palestinian farm.

The head of the pro-peace Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Asherman, was attacked by a right-wing extremist Jewish settler as a group of Israeli and international activists attended an olive harvest at a Palestinian farm.

The incident was caught on camera, showing the settler is throwing rocks and attempting to stab Asherman near the Palestinian village of Awarta in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli settlers were stealing olives and setting fire to plants on the hillside, the Israeli +972 magazine said Friday. When Asherman went to put out the fire, he was set upon by a masked man swinging a knife at him.

A police spokesperson responded to the attack on Friday by blaming the incident on a provocation by “left-wing activists and anarchists.” She said officers were searching the area for the suspect.

According to a statement by Rabbi Asherman, he and other activists remained at the scene in order to direct the army and police toward the attacker. However, it took police 30 minutes to arrive, giving the attacker enough time to flee.

Rabbis for Human Rights often accompanies Palestinian farmers to help protect them from settler attacks. The organization’s website states:

“Our presence in the groves with the farmers helps keep them safe, as extremists are far less likely to cause problems when they know Israelis and internationals are present.”

According to +972mag, a police spokesperson blamed the incident on a provocation by “left-wing activists and anarchists.”

The attack comes amid increased violence in Israel and Palestine where dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and many injured as Israel tightens security in the occupied West Bank amid several isolated cases of stabbings against Israelis and settlers.

The violence has been aggravated by the settler attacks, supported by the Israeli authorities, on Palestinian and Muslim holy sites in the occupied East Jerusalem.

According to human rights group Yesh Din, between 2005 and 2014, only four out of the 246 criminal complaints of damage to olive trees that it monitored resulted in indictments.


Related Topics:

Obama Administration is Cutting Aid to the Palestinians by $80mn*

Israeli Media Fabricating Palestinian Attacks Of Jews*

Woman Who Led Palestinian Bid for ICC Membership Arrested 24hrs of Succeeding*

Israeli Settlers’ Seize Palestinian Hospital*

Israeli Soldier Strangle-holds Palestinian Boy*

A Rabbi Refers to Netanyahu’s Claim of All Jews ‘Identity Theft’