South Sudan leaders reach key deal on control of states

South Sudan’s president and his former rival have reached a deal on the selection of governors for the country’s 10 states, an issue seen as the biggest threat to peace since a transitional unity government was formed in February. 

President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, a former rebel leader and now vice president, had been at odds over the allocation of states, especially those producing oil, the country’s main earner.

International pressure had been growing, with the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway in a joint statement this month saying “any further delay creates uncertainty that undermines the [political] transition process”.

On Wednesday, a statement by the Minister of Presidential Affairs Nhial Deng Nhial said Kiir’s camp will nominate governors for six states, including the oil-rich Unity State and Central Equatoria, which includes the capital Juba.

Machar’s camp will propose governors for three states, including the largest oil-producing area, the Upper Nile state, while a third signatory to the peace deal, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, will nominate a governor for Jonglei state.

“With this development, a fresh impetus has been given for the process for the implementation of the agreement,” said Nhial.

“We are very hopeful that with this development, the road is now paved to further positive developments that we hope will be carried out expeditiously.”

The number of states is contentious because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.

When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 10 states, as set out in its constitution. Kiir increased that in 2015 to 28, then 32 – and has now reduced them to 10, plus three administrative areas.

The composition of the executive and the legislature in the states “shall be discussed and agreed at a later date”, the statement said.

South Sudan plunged into a ruinous civil war in 2013 after Kiir fired Machar, his vice president also at the time. The president accused Machar of plotting to overthrow him, a charge denied by the latter.

Soldiers loyal to the two leaders then clashed with the conflict taking an ethnic dimension, forcing a third of the country’s 12 million people to flee their homes.

The conflict has killed an estimated 400,000 people and left more than 60 percent of the population food insecure, according to the United Nations.

Since 2013, Kiir and Machar have signed several ceasefire agreements, including some lasting for just a few days before fighting resuming shortly after.

In September 2018, the warring parties signed an agreement to form a unity government, which would see Machar return to government as vice president, after previous attempts at ruling together only led to disaster.

In their statement last week, the three Western countries said increased violence was putting South Sudan’s hard-won peace at risk.

“In Jonglei, the vacuum created by the lack of governance has exacerbated cycles of intercommunal violence,” said the statement, while in Central Equatoria a ceasefire between the government and rebels who did not sign the peace deal broke down and fresh fighting erupted.

During the first three months of 2020, 658 people were killed in intercommunal violence in the country, while 452 were injured, the UN rights office said last month.


‘Black lives don’t matter’ in the US: Floyd’s brother to the UN

George Floyd’s brother on Wednesday begged the United Nations to help African Americans because “Black lives do not matter in the United States”, as the UN’s rights chief urged reparations for centuries of discrimination.

Philonise Floyd made an impassioned speech via video-link to an urgent UN Human Rights Council debate on “systemic racism” in the US and beyond.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the “gratuitous brutality” of Floyd’s death in police custody encapsulated racism that harmed millions of people of African descent.

She also urged countries to confront the legacy of slavery and colonialism and to make reparations.

The council, based in Geneva, is debating a draft resolution pushing for Bachelet to investigate racism and police civil liberties violations against people of African descent in the US.

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the council two years ago.

‘Tortured to death’

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer – since fired and charged with second-degree murder – pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Amateur video of the incident sparked demonstrations and calls to address systemic racism in the US and around the world.

Philonise said his brother had been “tortured to death” as witnesses begged the officer to stop, “showing us Black people the same lesson, yet again: Black lives do not matter in the United States of America”.

“You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd.

“I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us Black people in America.”

He urged them to establish an independent international commission of inquiry – one of the UN’s highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crises like the Syrian conflict.

Proposal dropped

An initial text presented on Tuesday on behalf of 54 African countries had proposed such an inquiry.

But the proposal was dropped, the resolution heavily watered down following stark opposition from Washington and some of its allies.

It now calls on Bachelet and UN rights experts to “establish the facts and circumstances relating to the systemic racism, alleged violations of international human rights law and abuses against Africans and people of African descent” by law enforcement in the US and beyond – especially those incidents that resulted in deaths.

The aim, it said, was “to ensure the accountability of perpetrators and redress for victims”.

In her statement to the council, Bachelet said Floyd’s death had brought to a head the sense of outrage felt by overlooked people and the protests were “the culmination of many generations of pain”.

“Behind today’s racial violence, systemic racism, and discriminatory policing lies the failure to acknowledge and confront the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism,” the former Chilean president said.

She stressed the need to “make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including through formal apologies, truth-telling processes, and reparations in various forms.”

Calls for transparency

On Tuesday, Trump issued an order to improve policing, calling for a ban on dangerous chokeholds – except if an officer’s life is at risk.

The executive order encourages de-escalation training, better recruitment, sharing of data on police who have bad records, and money to support the police in complicated duties related to people with mental illnesses or drug issues.

However, it stopped well short of demands made at nationwide protests.

Andrew Bremberg, the US ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said his country was open in its commitment to addressing racial discrimination and injustice, citing Trump’s executive order.

“We call upon all governments to demonstrate the same level of transparency and accountability,” he said.

“Sadly, there are too many places in the world where governments commit grave violations of human rights and practice systematic racial discrimination while many of those assembled in Geneva are silent.”

It remains to be seen whether the current draft resolution will pass.

Australia, South Korea and the Netherlands all issued statements in the chamber that were broadly supportive of Washington’s outlook.

“We have confidence in their transparent justice systems to address these issues appropriately,” Australia’s representative said.

The UN Human Rights Council’s 47 members are due to vote on the resolution following the urgent debate, which was set to conclude on Thursday.

Wednesday marks only the fifth time in the council’s 14-year history that it has agreed to hold an “urgent debate”, which is like a special session, but within a regular session of the council.


Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is showing what a police-free world looks like

The Most Revolutionary Act

By Ray Levy-Uyeda

As protests continue for a third week in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, calls for racial justice have come to include another, less-understood demand: defund the police. And it’s already working — in Minneapolis, a veto-proof majority of the city council voted to disband the police, following the city school board‘s move to pull all officers out of its educational institutions. Los Angeles soon followed and vowed to reduce the city’s multi-billion dollar budget by $150 million, and New York City is also considering cuts to its massive police budget.

But is it possible to live in a world without police? Skeptics wonder who would keep the pace and ensure public safety if there are no officers to deploy. But in Seattle, a movement called Free Capitol Hill is in the early days of demonstrating what it looks like to live…

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Wealth and Health: Why Black, Brown, and Poor People Are Dying of COVID19

The Most Revolutionary Act

In Sickness and in Wealth

Directed by Llewellyn M Smith (2008)

Film Review

It’s no mystery and doesn’t need yet more study. Epidemiologists have known since the late seventies that health and life expectancy directly correlate with income level, irrespective of genetics, lifestyle (smoking, exercise, diet, etc), or access to medical care. This documentary is a about a 2008 study that examined four Louisville districts with varying average income levels.

Residents in the wealthiest district earned incomes averaging $100,000+. Nearly all had college degrees and owned their own homes. Their average life expectancy was 80 years.

In the second most prosperous district, most residents had high school diplomas. Although a minority owned their homes, they considered themselves solidly middle class. They had an average life expectancy of 76 years.

In the third wealthiest district, fewer were high school graduates. Many had difficulty maintaining stable employment and lived in subsidized housing…

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Infiltrating Antifa: The Feds and Their Long History of Subversion

The Most Revolutionary Act

 Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair


B , Counterpunch.

On May 31, President Trump (or his people) tweeted: “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” Attorney General, William Barr, said: “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

Trump and Barr were referring to the Antifascist collective that has supported the ongoing, international Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations. Mary McCord, an ex-Department of Justice official, reminds Trump that “no current legal authority exists for designating domestic organisations as terrorist[s].” At the time of writing, Trump has taken no action to officially designate Antifa a terror group.

Antifa is a leaderless, direct action platform, making it unusually easy for police, intelligence groups, and rival organizations to infiltrate and frame for violence. For example…

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Fox News CAUGHT faking CHAZ photos as protest propaganda collapses

The Most Revolutionary Act

by Keith Preston

Krystal has a pretty good take on how the right-wing of the ruling class responded to the insurrection. Acknowledge the murder, put on a faux embrace of “peaceful protestors” with the usual “Dr. King was a Republican” nonsense while deflecting attention to rioters, looters, Antifa, anarchists, etc. And where the right-wing actually split among itself was on the use of the military […]

via Fox News CAUGHT faking CHAZ photos as protest propaganda collapses

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