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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Global Guardian Adds Somalia To Service Area

Global Guardian, the international security and emergency evacuation firm has added Somalia to the list of countries where it provides personnel tracking, emergency response, security, medical support, and evacuation services.
The firm’s security and emergency response coverage includes the Puntland and Somaliland states and Somalia’s largest cities such as Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Bosaso, Kismayo, Galkayo, Afgooye and Merca.
For most, Somalia evokes images of the battle of Mogadishu or pirates chasing tankers in the Gulf of Aden.  The capital city Mogadishu is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  The territory under the federal government’s control has gradually expanded, but progress toward economic normalization and recovery remains severely impeded by continuing security threats.
The 20-year long civil war in Somalia makes the country an unlikely travel and investment destination.  However, perceptions are changing with relative calm in Mogadishu and displaced Somalis returning back home to rebuild the nation.  Because of the returning Somali diaspora, some sectors of the Somali economy have seen an unprecedented level of growth in the past few years.    

“We’re starting to see real interest from the private sector in investment in Somalia,” said Dale Buckner, Global Guardian CEO.   ”If the country continues to stabilize and becomes more peaceful, it will continue to attract investors as well as international aid organizations,” he added.
In environments such as Somalia, businesses can spend more than 50% of their operating costs on security expenses.  Those expenses can add up very quickly with secure lodging, guards and secure transportation which sometimes includes armored vehicles.  The security costs become so high that many organizations operate with little or no security and assume the risk of an incident happening.   ”With Global Guardian’s fractional cost model, we can spread the cost of providing security and emergency response coverage in a region among several users,” said Buckner.  “This reduces the cost to the point where it’s more likely that organizations can afford to provide security in high-risk environments and meet duty of care obligations.”  
About Global Guardian
Global Guardian provides personnel tracking, emergency response, security, medical support, and evacuation services in 24 emerging markets.  Global Guardian’s suite of risk mitigation services provides organizations with an innovative and cost effective solution to help them protect their most valuable asset – people. 
For further inquiry, please contact:
media@globalguardian.com
703-566-9481

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi News: Lined Up For Judd Apatow's Trainwreck; ‘Struggling To Get By’ Despite Bafta Win; Flagged At Immigration Due To Criminal History : Trending News : KDramaStars

Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi News: Lined Up For Judd Apatow's Trainwreck; ‘Struggling To Get By’ Despite Bafta Win: Trending News : KDramaStars

Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi News: Bafta-winning Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi is set to join Trainwreck, Judy Apatow's new comedy together with Amy Schumer, who wrote the script and has been cast in the lead role.
According to The Guardian, 'Plot details of Trainwreck, which would mark Apatow's first directorial outing since This is 40, have not been released, but Slashfilm reports it concerns "a basket case (Schumer) trying to regain control of her life. Other key characters in the film include the woman's boyfriend, her best friend/co-worker, and her parent." Tilda Swinton is also being sought for a role'
Abdi bagged the best supporting actor Bafta for Captain Phillips, where he played young Somali hijacker Muse. His performance in the film also earned an Oscar nomination. Trainwreck will represent his first major role after the awards.
Abdi admitted recently that he has been struggling to get by after giving up his job as a limo driver to become a full-time actor, The Guardian stated.
To quote from the report 'Abdi was paid $65,000 two years ago for his role in Paul Greengrass's true life thriller. Despite having been put up by studio Sony at the plush Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, he has been living day to day on expenses and wore borrowed clothes for a number of awards season functions. A taxi driver friend from Minneapolis, where Abdi's family settled at the turn of the century after emigrating from Somalia, has been driving him to events for free.'
Abdi's struggle to get by led him to return to a job selling mobile phones for his brother in Minneapolis immediately after Captain Phillips wrapped, as reported by The Guardian.
Captain Phillips was nominated for a total of six Oscars, including best film, but did not take any prizes at the 86th Academy Awards Ceremony. It has so far made more than $217m at the box office against a budget of $55m.
Abdi was stopped by immigration officials returning to the U.S. last month after traveling to London to receive the BAFTA the best supporting actor award.
As quoted from Daily Mail, 'The Somali-born actor who made his first film appearance as a pirate involved in the 2009 hijacking of the Mearsk Alabama, was flagged for his criminal history including arrests for drug possession and credit card fraud.
Abdi, a permanent resident of the U.S., now faces a hearing with Customs and Border protection this week that carries the possibility of deportation, a source told the Star Tribune.
However, that same source said it was unlikely 28-year-old Abdi would actually be deported since customs officials usually only do that in the most serious cases.'

Kenya orders Somali refugees back to camps after attacks - Yahoo News

Kenya orders Somali refugees back to camps after attacks - Yahoo News

 Kenya on Tuesday ordered all Somali refugees living in urban areas to return to their camps in a bid to end attacks by Islamist militants carried out in retaliation for Kenya's intervention in neighboring Somalia.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku issued the order citing "emergency security challenges" in Kenyan towns, but the move is likely to be criticized by rights groups which have discouraged similar actions in the past.
Until now, refugees who could support themselves or were in need of specialized education or medical care had been allowed to live in urban areas.
Lenku said "all refugees residing outside the designated refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadaab are hereby directed to return to their respective camps with immediate effect" adding anyone who flouted the direction would be prosecuted.
The refugees, around 1.1 million, are required to be housed at Dadaab, close to the Somali border, and at Kakuma, near Kenya's frontier with South Sudan.
Lenku also said all refugee registration centers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Isiolo to the north and Nakuru in the northwest would be closed. He urged Kenyans to report refugees or illegal immigrants found outside the camps.
Kenyan security officials believe militants have used the refugee camps as bases to prepare attacks and then mingled with residents in urban areas to carry them out.
The al Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab and its sympathizers have carried out several attacks in Kenya, including at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year in which at least 67 people were killed.
On Sunday, gunmen killed six worshippers in a church near the coastal city of Mombasa. Last week, police said they had arrested two men found to have two large bombs in a car which they intended to use in Mombasa.
In January last year, a similar move by the government to relocate an estimated 100,000 urban Somali refugees brought condemnation from Human Rights Watch.
In November 2012, prior to a plan to restrict Somali refugees to camps, street battles erupted between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis in Eastleigh, a part of Nairobi commonly dubbed "Little Mogadishu" because of its large Somali population, after a bomb on a minibus killed seven people in the area.
Al Shabaab militants have threatened to carry out further attacks if Kenyan troops do not withdraw from Somalia where they are battling Islamist insurgents as part of an African Union peacekeeping force.
(Reporting by James Macharia and Joseph Akwiri; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Somalis resist task force cut | mndaily.com - The Minnesota Daily

Somalis resist task force cut | mndaily.com - The Minnesota Daily

A proposal in the Minnesota Legislature has some Somali families outraged.
The bill would eliminate the Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force, which has been working since 2011 to develop a plan to spread awareness and provide more services to people with autism. While state legislators and Somali community leaders both want to help families affected by autism, they disagree on how to do so.
“The task force has been dysfunctional and unable to get any work done,” said bill chief author Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, who has a degree in special education. “We need to push to implement a plan and broaden the scope of the force.”
Norton wants to work with the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Human Services instead of the task force to aid families affected by autism.
Previous task force members have quit and even argued during meetings, Norton said.
But task force member Idil Abdull, who is also cofounder of the Somali American Autism Foundation and a mother of an autistic child, said disagreement is natural for a task force like this.
“Find me two people who agree about autism and I’ll buy you lunch for a year,” she said.
Policymakers underserve and ignore minority communities, Abdull said. Somali communities have a higher rate of autism, according to a 2013 University of Minnesota study.
Abdull said when she first came to the U.S., there was no word for autism in Somali and many Somalis still don’t feel comfortable reporting mental health issues.
“A lot of families don’t want to talk because of the social stigma,” she said.
The University study also found that Somali children with autism were more likely to have an intellectual disability — something Norton said needs more attention.
A report to the Legislature by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University School of Public Health, published in February, compared the experiences of Somali, Latino and Hmong communities. Shannon Pergament, a researcher for West Side Community Health Services who was part of the research team, said all three groups have a high need for autism-related services.
Researchers interviewed parents of autistic children and outlined recommendations for the Legislature to implement, such as creating community support groups and educating more parents about available resources.
“We want parents to give their input and tell us what they need,” said Mariam Egal, who contributed to the report and works for the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota.
While Adbull had never heard the word autism before her son was diagnosed with the disorder, she now “eats, drinks and breathes autism.”
Her son, Abdullahi, wasn’t diagnosed until he was about 2 ½, an age both Abdull and Norton agree is too late. Autism becomes noticeable at about 18 months, but most children aren’t diagnosed until they’re older.
Early diagnoses and better access to autism-related services are major parts of what the task force has tried to accomplish and what still needs to be done in the future, Norton said.
“There’s a lot of stress on families,” she said. “There’s therapy, housing and insurance that needs to be provided. We’re seeing such a gap between what’s provided and what they need.”
Norton worked as a family liaison for autistic children before she became a representative.
“I know the heartbreak,” she said. “That’s why we need to get this moving.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Somali actor Barkhad Abdi's criminal past snarls travels - Top News - InsuranceNewsNet.com

Somali actor Barkhad Abdi's criminal past snarls travels - Top News - InsuranceNewsNet.com

Minnesota
actor Barkhad Abdi, who gained fame as a Somali pirate in the 2013 film "Captain Phillips," was stopped briefly by U.S. customs officials in February while returning to the U.S. after accepting an award for his performance overseas. Abdi, 28, is a permanent legal resident in the U.S. and several previous criminal offenses flagged him when he returned to the U.S., according to a local federal source with knowledge of the case. He faces a possible hearing this week with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which stopped him after he returned from accepting the British equivalent of the Oscar as a best supporting actor in the film. He was also nominated for an Oscar. One of the offenses was a drug arrest in August 2012 in Iowa for possession of marijuana and khat. He has also been arrested on suspicion of credit card fraud in North Dakota and Minnesota. While the arrests might be considered minor, any sort of drug offense could result in immigration action against him, the source said. But it is unlikely Abdi, who came to the U.S. at 14 from Somalia by way of Yemen, would be deported because federal immigration authorities have shown little appetite for making a move for any but the most serious offenses, the source said. Abdi, who is said to be splitting time between Los Angeles and Minneapolis, could not be reached for comment. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection regional office in Detroit did not return requests for comment. Abdi, who answered an open call for his role as the lead Somali pirate in "Captain Phillips," has never denied his past. In February, he told the Daily Beast: "Our mistakes shape us. You make a mistake and it makes you a better person. You learn from it. I wasn't a complete man." It is unclear whether the current situation with federal authorities will have an impact on some of his activities in Minnesota and in his acting career in Hollywood. Abdi is slated to throw out the first pitch for the Minnesota Twins home opener and is a pitchman for MNsure, the state's health insurance marketplace. Mark Brunswick -- 612-673-4434

United Nations News Centre - Somalia: UN envoy condemns recent outbreaks of deadly violence in Baidoa

United Nations News Centre - Somalia: UN envoy condemns recent outbreaks of deadly violence in Baidoa

The top United Nations official in Somalia has condemned the brutal killing of eight local elders in the Bay region of Somalia, as well as the violence that erupted in the city of Baidoa between supporters of different state formation initiatives, and called on all parties to show restraint in order to de-escalate the tensions.
“I condemn these cruel murders and express my heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the elders” said Nicholas Kay, head of the UN assistance mission in the country (UNSOM) in a press release on the incidents that occurred over the weekend. Calling for a full investigation and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice swiftly, he said: “I remind all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and avoid provocative actions that could pose a security threat and lead to further instability.” According to the Federal Government of Somalia, the community elders were participating in a state formation conference in Baidoa after which they were ambushed and killed by Al Shabaab insurgents. After decades of factional fighting, new Somali Government institutions emerged last year, as the country ended a UN-supported transitional phase towards adopting a permanent, democratically-elected Government. Meanwhile, in a separate address to the 425th African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, Mr. Kay called for an urgent response by the State authorities to lead Somalia’s the peace-building process. “It is imperative that all stakeholders meet without delay to address the issues in Baidoa and support a peaceful state formation process under the leadership of the Federal Government.” The UN envoy welcomed the Government’s proposal to bring together political and traditional leaders from all parties for immediate consultations. “UNSOM is committed to supporting the Government’s efforts and will work closely with its international partners, particularly the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and European Union (EU), to move forward the reconciliation and state formation process” stressed Mr. Kay. In his address to the AU Peace and Security Council, Mr. Kay noted that Somalia is now “at a turning point of a long road” and emphasized that “only together can we help the Federal Government deliver to the Somalis what they most need: improved security, rule of law, education, health, jobs, economic development.” “Together, I am sure, by 2016, we will achieve much of which we now dream,” he concluded.

Twins tap a pirate, Oscar-nominated actor Abdi, for first-pitch honors | Star Tribune

Twins tap a pirate, Oscar-nominated actor Abdi, for first-pitch honors | Star Tribune

Minneapolis’ hottest celebrity, Oscar-nominated actor Barkhad Abdi, will take to the mound at Target Field and cut loose with the ceremonial first pitch kicking off the Minnesota Twins’ 2014 home season.

  
Barkhad Abdi arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
 
Minneapolis’ hottest celebrity, Oscar-nominated actor Barkhad Abdi, will take to the mound at Target Field and cut loose with the ceremonial first pitch kicking off the Minnesota Twins’ 2014 home season, the team announced Monday.
After his pitch count reaches 1, Abdi will sail over to the stadium’s home run porch and meet with fans attending the April 7 home opener vs. the Oakland A’s.
Abdi was nominated for best supporting actor for his portayal of a Somali pirate in the movie “Captain Phillips” in his Hollywood acting debut.
The home opener festivities are many, as is tradition with the Twins. They start with a free Breakfast on the Plaza, then Twins legends Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and Tom Kelly will greet fans as they arrive at the gates.
The national anthem will be performed by Twin Cities stage actress and singer Thomasina Petrus.
Abdi has also been tapped recently for public appearances and broadcast pitches to help MNsure in its push to get uninsured Minnesotans enrolled in a health plan by March 31.

Using Mobile Technology to Deliver Water and Protect Staff: Lessons from Dadaab, Kenya

Using Mobile Technology to Deliver Water and Protect Staff: Lessons from Dadaab, Kenya
In response to the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa, the drought and the mass movement of Somali refugees, CARE launched an emergency response operation in both North-East Kenya and Dadaab Refugee Camps.

The response focussed on meeting the large-scale humanitarian needs, building on existing programming and presence in the area.
When the program was launched, the security situation remained stable and CARE staff was able to move throughout North East Kenya and in and around Dadaab Refugee Camps without difficulty, with the exception of some security constraints along the Kenya-Somalia border.
Following a significant deterioration of the general security situation, including incidents involving armed opposition both in Nairobi and North East Kenya and abductions of national and international humanitarians, a rapid but thorough operational review was undertaken which pointed at the need for CARE to significantly reduce its overall staff composition, movements and exposure to risk in this context.
Using Global Information System (GIS) mapping and mobile phone updates, CARE developed an interactive map, which enabled CARE staff to reduce their movements while still providing emergency life-saving services to residents in Dadaab.
In Dadaab refugee camps, CARE is responsible for providing essential services, including water for some 470,000 refugees.* Managing the water in Dadaab requires constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure that refugees have access to a minimum of 20L of water per day.
Due to the heightened security situation, visiting water points on a daily basis to ensure proper performance posed a significant security risk for staff, with kidnapping and road side bombings on the rise. At the same time, ceasing to monitor and maintain this essential service was not an option, as water is fundamental to the day-to-day survival of refugees living in the camps.
Nicholas Koech, an innovative member of CARE Kenya’s WASH team, created a remote management system relying on creative tools to ensure the continued provision of water, while also limiting the movement of staff to the field and the unnecessary exposure to risk, where possible. Koech created an open-source mapping application using GIS technology to support CARE’s refugee programming.
The application was developed to share spatial and non-spatial information on the Dadaab refugee camps, allowing staff members to have a visual mapping of the situation on the ground. Currently the users can visualize and print detailed information of tap stands, boreholes, elevated steel tanks, pipe networks and latrines in Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera refugee camps.
This tool enabled CARE to reduce exposure of its staff to risk faced when monitoring water provision. Instead of having to visit each water point daily, community leaders living in Dadaab were provided with low cost cell phones and were asked to report to the WASH manager to confirm that the water point in their section was functioning correctly.
The community leaders were trained by CARE Kenya staff in GPS data collection and are required to fill out questionnaires when visiting the water points in order to gain all the relevant information. Cameras are also used to report information to the field offices. Refugee leaders texted information to CARE, which was then displayed on an interactive map of the water points in the camp, flashing either in green, (functioning properly) or red (needing attention) to signify functional and not functional water points. The information was then verified at the field offices.
This GIS mapping project has enabled CARE to focus its movements on water points which were not operating effectively, rather than having to transit the entire camp, which significantly reduced staff members risk exposure, while also ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of essential life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need.
Though this project has been successful, the increased use of technology will never replace the value and importance of face to face contact between CARE staff and beneficiaries.
While technology has enabled humanitarian actors to adapt approaches in response to security threats, a decrease in the physical presence of staff at the field level can affect our overall accountability to beneficiaries and reduces the feedback that we receive through more traditional patters.
At the same time, such tools require staff with different capacities and skills in order to ensure that the information gathered is accurate and inputted correctly. Technology can bring added value to any project, but it also requires an investment.
Overall, mobile technology has become an innovative and effective tool.
Widely available technologies supported by mobile and smart phones have allowed humanitarian organisations like WFP and World Vision to create modern assessment tools and increased the ability to gather beneficiary feedback and augment humanitarian accountability. CARE and the IFRC have empowered beneficiaries to be a part of the process by using mobile technology to encourage affected communities to be active in service provision or to provide feedback.
Mobile technology is increasingly being used in humanitarian operations in order to enhance efficiency, empower communities and address remote management challenges.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New autism program to focus on Somali children

Minnesota: New autism   program to focus on Somali children



St. David's Center will launch a new treatment program in Northeast Minneapolis that focuses on Somali families.
Autism is more prevalent in Somali children compared to other ethnicities, according to a University of Minnesota study released last year. The reason is unknown, but it has shed light on another problem.
"I think the greatest barrier right now is the community attitude about it," Beth Fagin, senior director of autism services for St. David's Center.
There is no word for autism in Somali, yet a University study found that for kids ages 7 to 9 in Minneapolis 1 in 32 Somali children are autistic, compare that to 1 in 36 white children and 1 and 62 black (non-Somali) children.
That's why St. David's is opening a treatment program in April to focus on Somali children, according to Fagin. The location will be right next door to a Somali day care center and will look similar to their Minnetonka location. The treatment model will be the same, but the execution will be different.
"What will be significantly different is the language skills that the staff will have and the outreach to family," Fagin said.
The center is training staff like Amina Hassan to help break barriers. They will be able to serve six children in the morning and six children is the afternoon.
"I can say that for some families right now they are not getting the help they need because since they don't know what autism is and there are not a lot of resources out for them," Hassan said.
Hassan hopes to be that resource to get families the help they need.
Parents can call St. David's at 612-548-8700 to start the assessment process.
Source: KARE11

Islam and feminism: British Muslim women don't need the West's version of feminism, OK? - Telegraph

Islam and feminism: British Muslim women don't need the West's version of feminism, OK? - Telegraph

Everyone loves Malala Yousufzai, right? Fearless, inspiring and courageous, she is the kind of female icon that asserts the need for women to have justice and rights - arguably a 'feminist' viewpoint - and which has won the admiration of western feminists.
Whatever your opinions of Yousufzai, one part of her core identity rarely discussed in feminist circles is that: she’s a proud Muslim and sees her faith as a driver for the change she preaches. Yet the feminist movement as we know it today, born in the West, asks women of faith to leave their religion at the door. Want to join the feminist club? Then you’re asked to leave the world view that inspires you, makes you want to be a better person, and abandon the very principles that drive you to fight for justice and rights for women.
I understand why many feminists in the West might have this knee-jerk reaction: religion has often been co-opted by the powerful to hang on to their privilege and oppress women, and the European religious context where feminism was born was part of the movement’s formation.
This rejection of women of faith is a symptom of a core problem the feminist movement faces today: that it has come to embody only the concerns of white, middle-class women from the West. Everyone loved Sheryl Sandberg when she told us to ‘Lean In’, but some say her self-help guide was aimed at a handful of already highly-privileged women. Working class feminists rarely get a look-in.
And the same applies to women of faith and colour. And for those at the intersection of multiple oppressions being a feminist means a struggle to fight all forms of oppression.
The idea of Muslim feminism or Islamic feminism isn’t just contentious for secular feminists and the historic feminist movement. It’s equally contentious among Muslims, some of whom argue that it focuses on individuality, diminishes men and the family and works to eliminate God-consciousness from society.
Stuck in the middle of this furore are Muslim women themselves – who may or may not label themselves as Muslim feminists – but who nonetheless are working tirelessly to improve the conditions for (Muslim) women.
To this backdrop, a new project has been announced by Maslaha, a UK based social enterprise that is part of the Young Foundation that aims to improve social conditions within Muslim and minority communities. The Islamandfeminism.org project sets out to introduce ideas of feminism to Muslim women. It is being described as ‘new’ and ‘pioneering’.
Simply put, this is to deny the long and ongoing history of activism to improve the social conditions and justice afforded to Muslim women. My great grandfather would never have called himself a feminist, but he was in some ways. In a society where male babies were consistently privileged over female babies, who some considered a disappointment of birth, he only ever gave celebratory gifts when girls were born. My grandfather sent his daughters to school on bicycles to ensure they were safe, but for a girl to be on a bike was considered shameful. He rejected that.
Some Muslim women make it into our headlines like Yousufzai, or Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman who also clearly stated Islam as a core driver of her work, and who proudly wears her headscarf. The vast majority remain unheard of, working on the ground, inspired by their faith.
I’m pleased that there is an additional resource to talk about Muslim women’s work in the global justice movement. But its impact is less about engaging Muslim women in an internal community discourse that can fuel the discussion around the realities of Muslim women’s lives, in a way that is meaningfully rooted in the faith that they wish to uphold. It is more an opportunity for the wider feminist movement to push its own priorities and in-built biases.
Muslim women don’t need to or even want to be accepted on sufferance, a kind of ‘we’ll let you into the club even though you’re wrong’. Rather, women’s rights movements need to accept input as a two-way street.
Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is a commentator on British Islam and Muslim women and is the author of Love in a Headscarf. She can be found blogging at spirit21.co.uk and tweeting @loveinheadscarf

Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs - Telegraph

Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs - Telegraph

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.
Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.
The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.
Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.
Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.
Some lawyers, however, described the guidance as “astonishing”, while campaigners warned it represented a major step on the road to a “parallel legal system” for Britain’s Muslim communities.
Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer leading a Parliamentary campaign to protect women from religiously sanctioned discrimination, including from unofficial Sharia courts in Britain, said it was a “deeply disturbing” development and pledged to raise it with ministers.
“This violates everything that we stand for,” she said. “It would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves.”
The guidance, quietly published this month and distributed to solicitors in England and Wales, details how wills should be drafted to fit Islamic traditions while being valid under British law.
It suggests deleting or amending standard legal terms and even words such as “children” to ensure that those deemed “illegitimate” are denied any claim over the inheritance.
It recommends that some wills include a declaration of faith in Allah which would be drafted at a local mosque, and hands responsibility for drawing up some papers to Sharia courts.
The guidance goes on to suggest that Sharia principles could potentially overrule British practices in some disputes, giving examples of areas that would need to be tested in English courts.
Currently, Sharia principles are not formally addressed by or included in Britain’s laws.
However, a network of Sharia courts has grown up in Islamic communities to deal with disputes between Muslim families.
A few are officially recognised tribunals, operating under the Arbitration Act.
They have powers to set contracts between parties, mainly in commercial disputes, but also to deal with issues such as domestic violence, family disputes and inheritance battles.
But many more unofficial Sharia courts are also in operation.
Parliament has been told of a significant network of more informal Sharia tribunals and “councils”, often based in mosques, dealing with religious divorces and even child custody matters in line with religious teaching.
They offer “mediation” rather than adjudication, although some hearings are laid out like courts with religious scholars or legal experts sitting in a manner more akin to judges than counsellors.
One study estimated that there were now around 85 Sharia bodies operating in Britain. But the new Law Society guidance represents the first time that an official legal body has recognised the legitimacy of some Sharia principles.
It opens the way for non-Muslim lawyers in High Street firms to offer Sharia will drafting services. The document sets out crucial differences between Sharia inheritance laws and Western traditions.
It explains how, in Islamic custom, inheritances are divided among a set list of heirs determined by ties of kinship rather than named individuals. It acknowledges the possibility of people having multiple marriages.
“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class,” the guidance says. “Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised.
Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death. This means you should amend or delete some standard will clauses.”
It advises lawyers to draft special exclusions from the Wills Act 1837, which allows gifts to pass to the children of an heir who has died, because this is not recognised in Islamic law.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “This guidance marks a further stage in the British legal establishment’s undermining of democratically determined human rights-compliant law in favour of religious law from another era and another culture. British equality law is more comprehensive in scope and remedies than any elsewhere in the world. Instead of protecting it, The Law Society seems determined to sacrifice the progress made in the last 500 years.”
Lady Cox said: “Everyone has freedom to make their own will and everyone has freedom to let those wills reflect their religious beliefs. But to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kenya's parliament passes bill allowing polygamy | World news | theguardian.com

Kenya's parliament passes bill allowing polygamy | World news | theguardian.com

Kenya's parliament has passed a bill allowing men to marry as many women as they want, prompting furious female MPs to storm out, reports say.
The bill, which amended existing marriage legislation, was passed late on Thursday to formalise customary law about marrying more than one person.
The proposed bill had initially given a wife the right to veto the husband's choice, but male members of parliament overcame party divisions to push through a text that dropped this clause.
"When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way, and a third wife … this is Africa," MP Junet Mohammed told the house, according to Nairobi's Capital FM.
As in many parts of Africa, polygamy is common among traditional communities in Kenya, as well as among the country's Muslim community, which accounts for up to a fifth of the population.
"Any time a man comes home with a woman, that would be assumed to be a second or third wife," said Samuel Chepkong'a, chairman of the justice and legal affairs committee, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.
He said: "Under customary law, women or wives you have married do not need to be told when you're coming home with a second or third wife. Any lady you bring home is your wife."
Female MPs stormed out of the late-night session in fury after a heated debate. "We know that men are afraid of women's tongues more than anything else," female legislator Soipan Tuya told fellow MPs, according to Capital FM.
"But at the end of the day, if you are the man of the house, and you choose to bring on another party – and they may be two or three – I think it behoves you to be man enough to agree that your wife and family should know,."
The bill must now pass before the president to be signed before becoming law.

Standard Digital News : : The Counties - Ikrima: The man who planned Westgate Mall attack

Standard Digital News : : The Counties - Ikrima: The man who planned Westgate Mall attack

The hunt for Kenya’s most wanted terrorist, Abdukadir Mohammed Abdukadir, alias Ikrima, has gone a notch higher with the US government placing a $9 million (Sh779.4 million) bounty on his head alongside two other men.

Ikrima is being sought alongside the two who have been identified as Jafar and Yasin Kilwe. Both are said to be based in Somalia and responsible for terror activities in the East African region. The bounty was announced on Thursday in a statement from the US State Department.
The American government said it was authorising “rewards of up to $3 million (Sh259.95 million) each for information leading to the arrest of Abdukadir Mohammed Abdukadir alias Ikrima, Jafar and Yasin Kilwe”. Ikrima is believed to have been one of the masterminds of the September 21, 2013 Westgate Mall terrorist attack, with calls made by terrorists from the besieged mall going to contacts in Uganda and to Ikrima in Somalia.
Very little was known about who the Westgate attackers were calling outside the borders of Kenya until the early hours of Saturday October 5, 2013, when teams of Navy Seals from Seal Team 6 arrived on the Somali shoreline under the cover of darkness.
The teams were flanked by additional Seals in three small boats and air support, implying that the man they were after was not an ordinary terrorist but a most wanted man.
Pentagon Press secretary George Little told the media then that the operation targeted Ikrima, a Kenyan living in a fortified seaside compound in the Somali town of Barawe.

Now intelligence officers, security experts, Somalis, friends and former Al-Shabaab members who spoke to The Standard on Saturday have painted a clear portrait of the man being sought by several nations. Ikrima is the man believed to have planned the Westgate Mall attack.
The US government has described Ikrima as having “medium-length hair and has worn a thick moustache,” with “missing three fingers on his left hand”.
On the morning of the attack in Barawe last October, security sources said the Seals could see Ikrima through the windows of his compound, but could not get to him, as he was protected by dozens of fighters, women and children.
The operation failed to capture him but cemented the small-figured boy who grew up to become a cold-blooded killer as one of America’s most wanted terrorists.
US intelligence have linked Ikrima to Harun Fazul and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, two Al-Qaeda operatives now deceased, who played key roles in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2002 attacks against Israel targets in Mombasa.
Eastleigh to Europe Besides the Westgate attack, Ikrima is said to be a “point person” for several Al-Qaeda-linked organisations, with links stretching from Africa to Europe, Yemen and Pakistan. “For over six months now, we have been on the trail of Ikrima, from the dusty steets of Eastleigh to Europe in an attempt to speak to the Norwegian intelligence service, the PST.
However, the first glimpse and the most important details on Ikrima emerged from the chaotic streets of Eastleigh.
We met Ikrima’s childhood friends who narrated his story. The names of his friend and fellow Al-Shabaab fighters have been changed to hide their identities.
We first met Abdi, a talkative man who grew up skipping prayers and preferring to play football and smoke marijuana with Ikrima. Abdi says Ikrima’s family left Mombasa when he was about four, six or seven years old. They arrived in Nairobi and rented an apartment in a four-storey building in Eastleigh’s Section 1.
“Ikrima was a talkative, small boy. He was about 5.1 feet tall. He was skinny and had a small long beard that made us nickname him Abdi Kandefu,” Abdi says. “Everyone loved him. He was a bit loud and easily caught the attention of everyone.” Ikrima failed to qualify for the Government-sponsored  university programme.
His family enrolled him for computer courses and French classes. Meanwhile, he had found a new pastime – smoking bhang. Haji, a friend and former Al-Shabaab fighter who left the group to return to Kenya, recalls: “Marijuana was his favourite. He smoked 15-20 sticks of bhang.” Abdi says they loved to play football on Thursday and Friday afternoon instead of attending madrassa.
The next time Abdi saw Ikrima was in Bakara Market in Somalia. “A friend told me that Ikrima was now working with the leadership of Al-Shabaab and was one of their high-ranking officials,” he recalls.
Abdi says he came to learn that Ikrima was the leader of the terror gang that kidnapped a French intelligence agent known by his pseudonym Denis Allex, a member of the French secret service, General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), in Mogadishu in late 2012.
“He was the leader of the team because he spoke fluent French,” he recalled. Suicide bombings The Islamist group killed Agent Allex in January in retaliation for a failed French operation to free him. The raid resulted in the death of two French commandos and over a dozen militants.
Abdi says he was told that Ikrima belonged to the hard-core Al-Shabaab group of Amir Godane, the Al-Shabaab leader known for his brutality, assassinations and suicide bombings.
Ikrima, sources reveal, is a senior commander of Al-Shabaab’s “secret service” unit, known as “The Amniyat”, which carries out surveillance and plans attacks.
Haji, who fought alongside Ikrima, left Kenya for Somalia in January 2008 to join Al-Shabaab. “We had been recruited by a new sheikh who came to our mosque in Eastleigh,” Haji told The Standard on Saturday. About a month later as he underwent military training in Somalia, he met Ikrima.  “There was a pistol tucked in his trousers near his  belly,” he recalls
Haji was taken aback to see his friend’s transformation from the boy who never liked to pray in the mosque to a fanatic and now a terrorist. 
“When I asked him how he changed, he just laughed,” Haji recalls. “To me, he looked like someone who had been brain-washed. He was not afraid of death.” Ikrima, Haji found out, was a strategist. “He was the one who made the attack plans but was never involved in the ground fighting,” he recalls.  The 28-year-old Ikrima speaks English, Kiswahili, French, Norwegian and Arabic.
Intelligence sources believe he lives in the port of Barawe. “The town’s security is controlled 24 hours. There are morning and evening security shifts that guard the town and the coastline,” a source within the city told The Standard on Saturday.
Ikrima is shielded not only by indigenous Somali fighters but also by foreign militants who have travelled to Somalia. ngisesa@standardmedia.co.ke

Contaminated water a grave threat to Somalis | Oxfam International

Contaminated water a grave threat to Somalis | Oxfam International

As “World Water Day” is marked 22 March with events around the world, today millions of Somalis remain in danger by simply taking a drink of water. Contaminated water and a lack of sanitation are killers in this country, where waterborne diseases are a constant threat to health. Only 30% of Somalis have access to clean water, leaving the majority vulnerable to several life threatening diseases.
“Clean water should be available to all, but sadly that’s far from the reality in Somalia,” said Daud Rahoy, Officer in Charge for HIJRA, (Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid, local Oxfam partner) in Mogadishu. “Diseases from contaminated water and poor sanitation are all too common. Young children and women are especially vulnerable to the spread of such diseases.”

Increasing health risks

Large portions of the Somali population are at continuous risk from waterborne diseases like Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD), cholera and polio. Since 20 January this year, there have been at least 216 cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) in South Central Somalia, with the number of cases increasing sharply in the past month. Diarrheal diseases contributed to the deaths of thousands of people during the 2011 – 2012 famine in Somalia.
Besides the lack of safe drinking water, poor hygiene and a lack of sanitation are significant contributors to high disease rates. In Somalia less than one in four people have access to improved sanitation. The numbers are worst in rural villages where toilets and latrines are rare, and open defecation stands at 83 percent; the third highest rate in the world.

Water prices rising

The lack of clean water at this time of year, has also led to a sharp price increase for drinking water. In Tooratooroow, a small village north of Afgooye, the price for a barrel of water (200 litres) now costs 100,000 Somali Shillings, (more than US$5) a price far out of reach for most Somali families. That is a more than 100 percent price increase in the past two months.

Oxfam is there

While 860,000 people are still living in crisis conditions, many foreign donors have reduced their humanitarian aid budgets for Somalia. Oxfam and HIJRA have continued to supply clean water and sanitation to 158,000 people living in several of Mogadishu’s camps for the displaced. With donor funding drastically reduced this year, the threat of closing these life sustaining water programs in the camps has risen.
“The humanitarian community urgently needs money to keep clean water accessible in all of the camps for Mogadishu’s displaced,” said Enzo Vecchio, Oxfam Somalia Country Director. “Oxfam calls on international donors not to abandon these people in need, and provide support for clean water programs in Somalia. We must ensure that vulnerable people are not needlessly  exposed to risks when looking for water elsewhere. In the long term Mogadishu needs a sustainable water supply, but in the short term vulnerable communities need water now to survive.”

Comprehensive solutions needed

“A comprehensive approach to reducing waterborne diseases must include increasing access not only to safe drinking water, but also to improved sanitation, while addressing hygiene behavior,” said Daud Rahoy of HIJRA. “Integrated programs which include water, sanitation and public health promotion will reduce these outbreaks of waterborne diseases in Somalia.”
The global theme for World Water Day this year is “Water and Energy”. Worldwide, 768 million people lack access to improved water, and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation.

Contact Information

For further information or for interviews please contact:

Geno Teofilo, Oxfam Media Lead for Somalia
Phone: +254 737 500 035
Email: Geno.Teofilo@OxfamNovib.NL
Twitter: @GenoWorldView

Friday, March 21, 2014

Somalis Down Under exhibition shows light and shade in artworks

Somalis Down Under exhibition shows light and shade in artworks

This didactic exhibition is the brainchild of Aden Ibrahim who heads the Somali Cultural Association (SCA). Since 1995, the SCA has aimed to foster awareness of the Somali way of life while also sustaining cultural traditions among the Somali diaspora, which now numbers more than 17,000 in Victoria.


Central to exhibits about the daily life of a nomadic family group, one that owns a couple of camels and goats, say, is the hangool, a pronged stave made from a sapling, usually about a metre and half long, here seen in a shortened form, along with a milk bowl, a pestle and mortar, camel bell, and a neck rest, all carved from single pieces of wood.
The last of these has symbolic value. It is said that the neck rest represents vigilance, as it affords the user respite, rather than promoting deep sleep. Certainly, this show is about survival.
AdvertisementInferior contemporary versions of traditional artefacts are shown alongside fine historical exhibits, including a century-old basket. This is jarring to the gallery-goer interested in the significance of materials.
Particularly problematic are the oil paintings commissioned from either Jama Ganei, who lives in Somalia, or Ahmed Barre, a resident of Melbourne. A single painting by Aden Mursal was done in a refugee camp in Djibouti, with materials sourced in Dubai under Ibrahim's auspices.
All of these canvases were executed to Ibrahim's specific instructions regarding content. Their commonality of palette and design, their anecdotal role - and their aesthetic shortcomings - are the result of this collaborative process.
Given the right context, these images might have been part of a narrative frieze of some power and poignancy. Regrettably, as easel paintings exhibited in a municipal temple of culture, they mostly look quaint.
Although the country's occupation by Italy and Britain coincided roughly with the development of Modernism in Western culture, there is no tradition of studio painting in Somalia for these painters to draw on.
But consider, for example, Barre's head and torso of a camel boy whose bachelor status is evident in his halo of stiffened hair, and who holds some of the implements mentioned above.

Somali artefacts, part of the Somali Down Under exhibition.


Painstaking brushwork, an understanding of principles of light and shade in creating volume, and attention to graphic details cannot disguise the absence of artistic vision, but occasionally, as with this image, the result is delightful.
The boy is a smile in the landscape. He stands in the savannah, his arms akimbo, like a road sign at a crossroad. He is an angular lady-boy with a limp wrist who has strayed from an Egyptian tomb painting. No, really.
Paradoxically, the ''authentic inauthenticity'' of these images - for that is what Ibrahim's project of fostering such painting results in - is what makes the show profound. By default, their formal dislocation signifies the refugee experience.
There is a bonus. A photograph from 1960, in the introductory section, has generated a contemporary legend that does not have epic status, but has entered popular culture. (For an example of an ancestral tale from this land of epic poetry see Kulmiye, Last of the Lion Hunters, self-published by Ibrahim and illustrator Margaret Gambold, in 2010.)
Aden H. Kulmiye's gorgeous monochrome portrait is of Asli Warsame. Titled The Bride, it was taken on July 1, 1960, the date of Somali independence - Warsame having vowed to marry only when Somalia was free.
Recent history has not been kind to Somalia, and perhaps we can read uncertainty in the young woman's eyes - and even, perhaps, something of her soulfulness in similar dark eyes met with on Melbourne streets.

Hennepin County sheriff's office announces new policy for religious head coverings for inmates | Star Tribune#continue

Hennepin County sheriff's office announces new policy for religious head coverings for inmates | Star Tribune

Inmates at the Hennepin County jail will be allowed to wear religious head coverings, the Sheriff’s Office said Thursday, making it the first law enforcement agency in Minnesota to adopt such a policy.
Just a few hours after Sheriff Rich Stanek announced the change, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said it will roll out a similar policy this week.
The new policies were warmly welcomed by representatives of religious and cultural groups.
“This addresses the most fundamental of civil rights,” said Fartun Weli, executive director of Isuroon, a Somali women’s advocacy group. “It’s part of our identity.”
The trauma of an arrest can move a suspect to “seek spiritual relief, but they also have to deal with the shame of not being able to wear a head covering,” Weli said. “This is a big deal to us, but we aren’t saying somebody should receive special treatment because of their religion.”
Although both sheriff’s offices had been considering the changes for nearly a year, a compelling letter from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to Stanek last fall drove home the importance of allowing religious garb in jail, the sheriff said.
In Hennepin County, at least a couple of dozen inmates each year will be affected. When individuals wearing a head covering such as yarmulke, hijab or kufi are booked into jail, they will be taken to a private area where the clothing item will be searched and inventoried. For security reasons, the jail then will provide a replacement.
Procedures are also in place for inmates who didn’t arrive wearing a religious head covering, but want to request one.
One caveat: An inmate can receive a head covering only if he or she isn’t deemed a safety or security threat, Stanek said. If the covering is altered or used for anything other than its intended purpose, it will be taken away.
The new policy also includes booking photos. In Hennepin County, a female inmate wearing a hijab will be allowed to keep it on, but push it back off her face for the photo. In Ramsey County, a nonpublic photo without the covering will be taken for police use and another photo with the covering will be available for public use.
The policy’s genesis
The new policy, which adheres to the constitutional and federal requirements of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, followed discussions with CAIR and experts on religion and corrections, Stanek said. His office also reviewed similar policies in California and Illinois.
Before the new policy, the Sheriff’s Office considered head covering requests from inmates case-by-case. The jail currently accommodates inmates with specific religious needs such as adhering to dietary requirements, providing religious literature and organizing religious leaders from a variety of faiths who volunteer in the jail.
Each year, more than 38,000 people are booked into Hennepin County jail and 20,000 into the Ramsey County facility. Inmates usually are struggling with a variety of issues when they land in jail, and not being able to wear a head covering can add to their problems, Weli said.
Weli has seen a jail-issued hijab, which is dark brown and made with a stretchy material. She said she was pleased with it, and that it compared well to one she might buy at a local Somali shopping mall.
Lori Saroya, executive director of CAIR, agreed, then joked she was glad they weren’t the bright orange color typically associated with jail attire.
An influential letter
Saroya said her office has heard complaints of insensitivity over head coverings at jails throughout the state.
In August 2013, a religious Muslim woman was ordered to remove her hijab and given two T-shirts to cover her head and arms, Saroya said.
The letter CAIR sent to Stanek in December detailed that incident and compared making the religious woman remove her scarf to asking a woman to take off her shirt.
“The hijab is not an accessory. Muslim women who wear the hijab sincerely believe it is a religious obligation,” the letter stated.
The letter also discussed federal and state discrimination laws, head-covering policies in other states and recommendations for the Hennepin County jail. Saroya hopes other counties will follow the lead of Hennepin and Ramsey.
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, also hailed the change. “We appreciate the difficulty in balancing a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs and practices with the need to maintain security and decorum at the [jail],” he said.
The new policy is an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive, Stanek said.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

Thursday, March 20, 2014

House Speaker moves to release files into journalist's death - GazzettaDelSud

House Speaker moves to release files into journalist's death - GazzettaDelSud

House Speaker Laura Boldrini on Wednesday announced she has moved to have the government release secret case files into the 1994 slaying in Somalia of Italian TV journalist Ilaria Alpi and her Slovenian cameraman Miran Hrovatin. Boldrini said she had asked the government "if the case continues to meet requirements" for the country's secret service. Investigators have long suspected the pair was deliberately killed to prevent them revealing a high-level conspiracy to divert Italian aid to an organisation trafficking in weapons and toxic waste. Alpi, 32, and Hrovatin, 45, were ambushed and shot in their jeep in Mogadishu by a seven-man commando unit on March 20, 1994. A Somali citizen, Hashi Omar Hassan was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the double murder. A parliamentary committee, working from July 2003 to February 2006, concluded that Alpi and Hrovatin died in a kidnapping attempt that went wrong. However, the panel stated that there were many attempts by military and diplomatic authorities to minimise or suppress certain aspects of the case. The centre-left opposition called the committee's findings "unacceptable", saying there was not enough evidence to suggest the two were the victims of a kidnapping. No autopsies were performed in the immediate aftermath of the two murders. Instead, photos were taken of the dead body of Alpi, who worked for state broadcaster RAI's third channel. Those photos and the medical report, along with other key evidence including Alpi's notes, camera and video cassettes, mysteriously went missing on the journey back from Africa to Italy, fuelling suspicions of a cover-up. Initially, it was thought that the journalist's murder was simply revenge for clashes which had broken out between the militias of Somalia's warlords and Italian peacekeepers. But a 1999 book by Alpi's parents called The Execution speculates that Alpi and Hrovatin were killed to stop them revealing what they knew about an international arms and toxic-waste traffic ring implicating high-level political, military and economic spheres in both countries. The book, which was later turned into a film, accuses the Italian secret service SISMI, later renamed as AISE, of playing a major part in this ring. Hashi Omar Hassan, who came to Italy in 1998 to give evidence into a probe into brutality by Italian soldiers, was acquitted of involvement in the two murders at the end of a first trial in July 1999. But he was found guilty by an appeals court in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. Italy's Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict in October 2001 but reduced the sentence from life to 26 years because it said the crimes were not premeditated. Hassan's lawyers say he was not even in Mogadishu at the time of the killing, and say he was tricked into coming to Italy. Hassan was sentenced on testimony given by two witnesses, Alpi's Somali driver Abdi Ali, who died in Somalia several years ago, and a local policeman who never testified in court. A former member of the 'Ndrangheta mafia claimed in 2009 that the pair were assassinated because they had seen toxic waste shipped by the 'Ndrangheta arrive in Somalia.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kenya, Uganda on Alert for Possible Terror Attacks - ABC News

Kenya, Uganda on Alert for Possible Terror Attacks - ABC News

Security agencies in two East African countries are on alert for possible terror attacks from Somali extremists who have vowed to avenge the presence of African Union troops in Somalia, officials said Wednesday.
Anti-terror police foiled a planned terrorist attack in the coastal city of Mombasa after they intercepted a car packed with explosives a week ago, according to Kenyan authorities.
The FBI is aiding the investigation and two men who were allegedly caught in the car were charged in court Wednesday for preparing to commit murder, being members of an outlawed organization and illegal possession of explosives and weapons. The two men charged in court were identified as Abdiaziz Abdulahi Abdi and Isaak Noor Ibrahim believed to be Somali nationals.
Two more suspects, Mohammed Daayo, a Somalia national and Shadrack Nicholas, a Kenyan, are in police custody in connection with the planned attack, according to Mombasa County Criminal Investigations boss Henry Ondieki.
Security in the country has been increased following the arrests, said Kenya's Internal Security Minister Joseph Ole Lenku.
Police on Tuesday displayed the explosives found in the vehicle, including six cylinders weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds), six detonators, six grenades, an AK47 rifle and a cache of ammunition. A mobile phone improvised for detonating bombs was also found, said Lenku.
Two senior FBI agents attached to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi are in Mombasa assisting Kenyan agencies with the technology for analyzing the explosives, the Mombasa County commissioner Nelson Marwa said.
The FBI used satellites to locate and track the blue Toyota SUV in which the explosives had been mounted leading to the arrests, Marwa said.
Police had arrested the first two suspects on March 11 but it is only on March 17 that they discovered the explosives which were concealed under the seats of the suspects' sports utility vehicle, Marwa said.
The Islamic extremist rebels in Somalia, al-Shabab, have vowed to inflict violent attacks on Kenya and Uganda because the two countries have contributed troops to the African Union force supporting the government in Somalia.
In Uganda, police spokesman Ibn Ssenkumbi says Somali militants may be planning to launch attacks on fuel trucks.
Ssenkumbi, a spokesman for police in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, said the authorities had taken precautionary measures such as providing police escort to fuel trucks parked or moving along highways.
"We got intelligence that a group actually was planning to attack, but we can't tell if they are already in the country or not," he said.
Certain gas stations in Kampala have been ordered to keep parking lots empty of all vehicles, while most fuel depots across the country are now under heavy guard, he said.
Because Uganda is landlocked, fuel trucks arriving from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa are a common sight along major highways. Trucks going to neighboring Rwanda also pass through Uganda.
Ugandan officials have issued many terror alerts since the attack last September at a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. That attack was claimed by al-Shabab, and Ugandan officials believe those Somali Islamic extremists are plotting a similarly deadly attack on Ugandan territory in retaliation over Uganda's military involvement in Somalia.
Al-Shabab bombed a bar screening of the 2010 World Cup final in Uganda's capital in July 2010, an attack which killed more than 70 people.
———
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda

Somalia: Al-Qaida Outfit Recruited Grandfather as Suicide Bomber

Somalia: Al-Qaida Outfit Recruited Grandfather as Suicide Bomber

Somalia's Islamist militant group al-Shabaab has claimed that a suicide bomber who blew himself up at a hotel in the east African country was an elderly Norwegian national.

Six soldiers, including a top army commander, were killed when a hotel frequented by Somali and African Union officials in Bulo-Burte, central Somalia, was hit by a suicide car bomb and subsequently attacked by al-Shabaab gunmen.

"The attacker of Bulo-Burte was a 60-year-old man who came from Norway to fight the enemies of Allah," al-Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab told AFP.

"He paid the sacrifice in order to be close to Allah by killing his enemies. The event is showing us that there is no age limit for jihad."

Abu Musab named the attacker as Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle, saying he was a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin.

After it was formed in 2006, al-Shabaab exploited Somalia's lawlessness and took over large swathes of the country, which it turned into a safe haven for jihadi training, attracting a large number of foreign extremists.

Dozens of westerners, including Britons, are known to have joined the ranks of the al-Qaida-linked group in recent years.

Among the most famous examples are British native Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, the widow of one of the 7/7 London bombers, and Omar Hammami, 28, an Alabama native who came to international prominence when he posted a series of YouTube videos in which he rapped about jihad.

A Norwegian national was initially named as a suspect in the group's terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, last year.

The attack on Bulo-Burte came after the town was captured by African Union and Somali forces last week, as part of a largely successful ongoing military offensive to regain full control of the Horn of Africa from the Islamist group.

The world's oldest suicide bomber is believed have been Fatma Omar An-Najar, a 64-year-old grandmother, from Gaza who blew herself up in an attack on Israeli troops in Gaza in 2006.

Culture of bribing traffic police poses security challenge for Mogadishu - Sabahionline.com

Culture of bribing traffic police poses security challenge for Mogadishu - Sabahionline.com

For Abdi Ali, a 35-year-old shop owner in Mogadishu's Hamar Weyne market, driving with cash on hand to give traffic police officers at checkpoints is a normal part of getting around the capital.
"It is a normal thing and we save time when there is a lot of traffic on the city roads," he told Sabahi. "I give a small amount of money to any police officer that agrees [to take a bribe] after which he notifies the other policemen that the car has been searched. If that was not possible, anyone who is driving a personal car would waste a lot of time at security checkpoints."
While many drivers may choose to bribe the traffic police to avoid routine car searches, others worry that it sets a bad precedent and could have a negative impact on security.
"I have witnessed many drivers handing out cash bribes to police in the streets to avoid being searched," said retired Colonel Abdullahi Abdi Ganey, who served in the Somali army under the Mohamed Siad Barre regime. "[But this] can have a huge negative impact on security if the government does not do something about it and hold security forces accountable."
Ganey said that if law abiding citizens can pay off security forces, so can members of al-Shabaab and other people with bad intentions.
"Vehicles carrying explosives used by al-Shabaab pass through intersections manned by security officers in the capital city Mogadishu," he told Sabahi.
"So far, there has not been any soldier who was jailed for failure to perform his job duties when an explosion occurs," he said. "When an officer is bribed with a small amount of cash, he will not look inside the car even if Ahmed Godane is in it, and I am still wondering why there have not been any inquiries into this."
Mohamed Ali, a 35-year-old a taxi driver, told Sabahi he sometimes wastes about 20 minutes when the traffic police conduct searches on vehicles.
"When a client calls me for service and I arrive at a place where the traffic police are conducting searches, I bribe the police so as to not lose my client," he said. "I know that if this continues it could affect security because an al-Shabaab person who is driving a car [with explosives] could do the same, which could harm the civilians."
Ali said he usually pays between 9,000 and18,000 shillings (up to $1) per bribe.

Civilians disrespecting the law

Sahra Salat, 32, who owns a mobile phone store at the KM-4 intersection, said she refuses to pay bribes and goes through the legitimate search process every time.
"It is true that some people pay money, but they are not forced to do that," she told Sabahi while refuelling her car at a gas station near KM-4. "The police officers are not evil, but it is the people who are not willing to adhere to the law and are rushing to bribe the officers."
"No one will refuse money if it is offered," she said. "It is the public that is teaching officers to accept bribes."
"I would tell the people who are driving expensive cars and have too much money to repent from what you are doing. It is possible that an al-Shabaab member driving a car full of explosives could hide among you and then cause a lot of damage," she said.
Ali, the taxi driver, agreed, saying that he is aware that bribing the police is unlawful.
"We have been in a state of lawlessness for more than 20 years and it is difficult for some of us to follow the rules," he said. "I believe we need a lot of awareness training so that civilians will collaborate with the security forces."
For his part, Benadir administration spokesperson Mohamed Yusuf Osman defended the traffic police and refuted the claims that they were accepting monetary bribes instead of ensuring security.
However, he said, any officers found guilty of accepting bribes will have legal measures taken against them.
"I do not believe that there is any officer standing on the road for the purpose of receiving a bribe. The security forces who are on duty day and night to ensure the security of their people deserve praise," he told Sabahi, deflecting blame on citizens who engage in bribery.
"It is possible that sometimes civilians driving passenger vehicles will approach officers with money because they do not want to waste a lot of time in security searches," he said. "The problem lies with the civilians because they should respect the law first."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Which Browser is Best? Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Internet Explorer | PCMag.com

Which Browser is Best? Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Internet Explorer | PCMag.com


It's getting harder and harder to update this article—and that's a good thing for everyone but me, because it means that today's Windows Web browser choices are fast, secure, compliant with new Web standards. The products most people are likely to have heard of—Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox also sport trim, clear interfaces.
But each browser has its own appeal and unique features. Microsoft Internet Explorer excels at graphics hardware acceleration, as you'll see in the benchmark results in the reviews linked below. It's also the only 64-bit program of the lot, and the only one that includes powerful Tracking Protection against site code that tracks your browsing activity.
Google's Chrome exceeds other browsers in cutting-edge technologies like voice response and instant page loading for search. Firefox is known for its extensions that let you customize the browser beyond what's possible in the others. Other innovations include its clever Panorama bookmark tool and a Social API that makes it easy to integrate a social site into the browser.
A couple of lesser-known players—Opera and Maxthon—also have a lot to offer. Opera has been around since the early days of the Web, and it is now distinguished for two things. First is its Speed Dial start page of tile links. This page not only gives easy access to frequently used sites, but it can also even display live-updated content from said sites. The second is its Off-Road mode, which reduces webpage data by sending it compressed from Opera's cache servers. This can save you money on metered data connections.
Finally, and perhaps most extra-jammed of all, is the least-known of our browser candidates—Maxthon. A slew of tools like media download, screen capture, and integrated cloud services are just of few of this China-made browser's goodies. And it includes both Internet Explorer's and Webkit's page-rendering engines for extra compatibility. On top of all that it gets top grades of the number HTML5 features supported and does very respectably on speed tests.
Despite how excellent these browsers have gotten, website consumption is such a complex matter these days that every one of them will encounter particular sites that won't display correctly. A show of hands if you've seen Chrome's Aw Snap! page recently or gotten a message saying your brand-new IE11 is "out of date." Sometimes it's simply a matter of the site testing for particular browsers and refusing to let you in if your version and product don't fit their preset conditions—even if the site would work perfectly well in the browser. For these reasons, it's always a good idea to have more than one browser installed.
So while no one browser will be perfect for all your Web needs, you still have several excellent choices. It's just a matter of deciding what's most important to you. Dig into the detailed reviews linked below for plenty of help in making that decision. Note that these are Windows browers; Safari, which is no longer developed for Windows, is not included.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP

Chrome 33

Chrome's speed and minimalist design have deservedly attracted a devoted group of users to Google's browser. Leading HTML5 support means it will be ready for the future, application-like Web. Hardware acceleration adds even more speed, and though Google has implemented Do Not Track privacy protection (set to off by default), it's probably not the best choice for privacy mavens. Read the full review ››


firefox
Firefox 27

Firefox versions keep coming at a fast clip, now that Mozilla hews to a Chrome-like rapid release schedule. These frequent versions haven't brought the kind of earth-shattering changes we used to see in new full-number Firefox updates, but the development teams have tackled issues of importance to a lot of Web users—startup time, memory use, speed, and of course security. This lean, fast, customizable browser can hold its own against any competitor, and it offers graphics hardware acceleration, good HTML5 support, and the unique Panorama system for organizing lots of tabs. Read the full review ››


ie9
Internet Explorer 11 (IE11)

Now available for Windows 7 as well as for Windows 8 (but not for Vista or XP), Microsoft's latest browser is faster, trimmer, far more compliant with HTML5—a major improvement over its predecessor. It even now supports WebGL and SPDY, but not WebRTC. IE brings some unique capabilities like tab-pinning, leading hardware acceleration. Its excellent privacy tools include Do Not Track enabled by default and the more-powerful Tracking Protection feature.
Read the full review ››


Maxthon
Maxthon 4.2

Recently re-dubbed a "Cloud Browser," thanks to its extensive online syncing and storage service, Maxthon is the app in this roundup known and used by the fewest people. But it offers among the most in tools, and surprisingly good performance and HTML5 support. If the idea of being able to take a screen capture of a webpage, download video, or switch to a dark view for night viewing appeals to you, give Maxthon a download. Site compatibility is guaranteed, since Maxthon uses both Chrome and IE's webpage rendering engines. The latest version even adds hardware acceleration. Read the full review ››



Opera 20

Like the other current browsers, Opera is fast, compliant with HTML5, and spare of interface. Long an innovator, recently it's added support for HTML5 getUserMedia, which lets webpages access your webcam (with your permission, of course). Opera's Off-road mode speeds up the Web on slow connections through caching. It's dropped a few of its distinguishing plusses like built-in BitTorrent and email clients, and now defers to Chrome code for its page rendering—which does mean it's fast and supportive of new standards. Read the full review ››

Monday, March 17, 2014

Farah 'fine' after New York collapse - Olympic Sports - Al Jazeera English

Farah 'fine' after New York collapse - Olympic Sports - Al Jazeera English

Double Olympic and world track champion Mo Farah collapsed after crossing the finish line in the New York half-marathon, having recovered from a fall earlier in the race to finish second to Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai.

Farah fell to the ground shortly after completing the race and was taken away from the finishing area in a wheelchair but later allayed fears for his health.
The Briton, who won the same half-marathon in 2011, endured a tough run after taking a painful fall after five miles.

He recovered to finish in 61 minutes 50 seconds - 18 seconds behind Mutai.

"The conditions today were very, very cold," he said.

"London's going to be different, but I feel good and I felt good to the point I went down."

London up next 

Farah said his fall took a lot out of him and affected his ability to see in the latter stages of the race.

"(The) last four miles, I was just pretty much seeing stars... everything was kind of blurred to me," the 30-year-old said.

"When I went down, there was a massive gap, and it was hard to close that gap again."

Mutai's countryman Stephen Sambu finished third to round off a good day for Kenya in New York, with their compatriot Sally Kipyego winning the women's event.
Farah won the 5,000m and 10,000m golds at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 world championships, is preparing to run his first full marathon in London in April.
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"When I went down, there was a massive gap, and it was hard to close that gap again."

Mutai's countryman Stephen Sambu finished third to round off a good day for Kenya in New York, with their compatriot Sally Kipyego winning the women's event.

Farah won the 5,000m and 10,000m golds at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 world championships, is preparing to run his first full marathon in London in April.

Source: Reuters

Sunday, March 16, 2014

100-year-old Saudi beggar dies leaving million-dollar fortune | Panorama | Ammon News

100-year-old Saudi beggar dies leaving million-dollar fortune | Panorama | Ammon News

Over 50 years of panhandling on the streets of Jeddah had taken its toll on her and residents of the downtown al-Balad district never suspected that their blind, haggard centenarian neighbor had secretly amassed a fortune and real estate portfolio that rivaled those of the city’s millionaires.

Eisha’s life came to an end in the bathroom of her home when the 100-year-old woman, who had spent the majority of her adult life begging, suddenly died.

Neighbors were saddened to see an ambulance pull up to her home and carry away her body on a stretcher, but they were left speechless when they learned that she left behind a fortune estimated at SR3 million, including four buildings in the same district, and an additional SR1 million in jewels and gold coins (a total of just over $1 million).

Ahmed al-Saeedi grew up with Eisha in the same district since they were children and spent a considerable amount of time caring for her. He said Eisha did not have any relatives except her mother and sister, both of who were beggars, and alleged that the four women were able to build up a small fortune while scrounging on the streets of Jeddah.

“They used to get a lot of sympathy and assistance from philanthropists throughout the year, especially during Eid. Eisha continued to beg after the deaths of her mother and sister. She was just an old, blind woman who did not have any relatives in this world,” said an emotional Saeedi who buried her in Ummana Hawwa (Our Mother Eve) Cemetery in the al-Ammariya neighborhood.

Saeedi was one of the few people who knew of the wealth Eisha possessed. When asked if he ever broached the subject with her, Saeedi said he had tried to convince Eisha to stop begging on several occasions.

“I asked her to give up this profession as she possessed a huge amount of wealth but she always refused and said she was preparing for hard times,” he said.

Eisha had given all of the gold coins she had to Saeedi and told him to keep them until she decides when the time is right to sell them. That was 15 years ago when the coins were each worth SR250, but at current market prices, they are valued at SR1,000 each.

Feeling the magnitude of the responsibility, Saeedi said he reported the matter to the police and a local court and was informed the matter will be dealt with according to regulations.

“Until now, neither the police nor the courts have done anything so I was compelled to hand over the fortune to one of the most respected and trusted residents of the district, who has promised to give it to the authorities. All of my neighbors witnessed me handing over the gold and money Eisha had kept with me for safekeeping,” he said.

Saeedi said a number of families live in the four buildings Eisha owned. She had allowed them to live in the buildings but after her death, they were required to vacate them so they can be formally handed over to the concerned authorities.

Residents of the buildings said no one could ask them to vacate them because they were never rented to them in the first place. One resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said Al-Saeedi had filed a complaint against him for his refusal to vacate the building. He insisted, however, that it was Eisha’s desire that he and the others reside in the building for free.

Neighbors were sympathetic toward the occupants of Eisha’s buildings because, like her, they too were beggars. “They are all poor people. Saeedi is insisting that the properties be handed over to the authorities but where will these poor people go?” asked one neighbor.

The district chief (umdah) of Al-Balad, Tal’at Ghaith, acknowledged that after Eisha’s death all of her property deeds were handed over to the authorities concerned. He said he had documents as well as official police reports that proved that Saeedi had notified the relevant authorities about Eisha’s fortune and properties.

“The old woman hosted several families in her buildings before her death. They lived and grew up with her. After her death, none of the families have left the buildings. Even though I’m the umdah of the district, I have no right to evict them from the buildings. The whole case is before the pertinent authorities that will issue a final decision on it,” he said.
Source: Alarabiya