Monthly Archives: August 2010

greetings, 18 percenters!

Let’s meet the knucklehead Americans who think barack obama is a muslim.

By Jack Shafer

Shall we set ourselves on fire at the news spat out by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life today that 18 percent of Americans recently polled believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim? Shall we pour gasoline over our heads before torching ourselves because the number of those who think he’s a Muslim is up from 11 percent, recorded in March 2009, and up from 12 percent in March 2008, when the average American couldn’t spell his name let alone name his religion?

I’ve got a book of matches and a gallon can of gasoline here, if you want to go first.

You probably do because you probably have a higher opinion of your fellow citizens than I do. But before you strike that match, I’ve got some more bad news. The Pew poll’s other finding is that while 47 percent of Americans thought Obama was a Christian in 2008, 34 percent thought so this summer.

Maybe you’d like to drink some of that gasoline before you commence incineration.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that the percentage of Republicans who think that Obama is a follower of Allah has risen from 17 percent to 31 percent between March 2009 and August 2010. But who among you are prepared for the news that the percentage of Democrats who think the same of Obama has risen from 7 percent to 10 percent? Or that this falsehood is also gaining currency among independents! Yes, 10 percent of independents thought Obama kicked with that foot in March 2009. In August 2010, 18 percent held that mistaken view.

Don’t these people read newspapers or watch TV? As a matter of fact, many do. According to the poll, 60 percent (PDF) of those who believe Obama is a Muslim also told the pollsters that they learned it from the media. Seeing as I can recall no major or minor media report that presented proof that would convince any sentient creature over the age of 10 that Obama is a Muslim, I’m starting to feel better. The 18 percenters are imagining things. Non-media sources cited by the poll’s respondents include Obama’s behaviors or own words (11 percent), nonspecific things they’ve heard or read (7 percent), the Internet (7 percent), things heard or read during the presidential campaign (6 percent), Obama’s ancestry (4 percent), and so on.

Unfortunately, the percentage of poll respondents who said Obama is a Muslim and could also successfully define Islam was not on the list of questions. Nor was the question, “If a Muslim bit you on the ass, would you be able to identify his religion?” I’m guessing that the percentage of respondents who would answer yes to either of those questions would be low, as would the percentage who could accurately describe the tenets of faith observed by Muslims.

What we do know from the Pew survey is that beliefs about what religion Obama practices closely track the political assessment of him: About two-thirds of respondents who think Obama is a Muslim disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, while about two-thirds of respondents who believe Obama is a Christian approve of his performance.

I’d be more upset about the Pew poll if a Gallup Poll hadn’t also reported that 18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth or that only 18 percent of Americans believe all or most of what is published in the New York Times. We can count on stupidity, willful ignorance, and intellectual sloth to plague us 100 percent of the time. All we can do is fight the darkness with light.

That’s why I always carry matches.

Courtesy of


is “gentleman’s agreement” broken in nigeria?


president goodluck now in the ring

Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party has cleared way  for head of state Goodluck Jonathan to compete for president in January 2011.

The decision, adopted by delegates of the party’s National Executive Council’s in the capital Abuja, is a shift from the “gentleman’s agreement” between the north and south.

“Today Dr Goodluck Jonathan by the dictate of our constitution is exercising the term of a joint mandate, given by the people of our great country,” the PDP chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo said.

“If our late president were alive today, we wouldn’t be contesting his right to run for a second term under our national constitution,” Dr. Nwodo said, saying other aspirants in the party are allowed to contest in the presidential primary.

“In the 2011 presidential primary, we were faced with unforeseen circumstances, which can only be likened to a national crisis we faced recently when our late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was ill and couldn’t transfer power to the then vice president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

“The country rose to the occasion and parliament successfully transmitted power to the vice president as acting president. In the zoning arrangement, we didn’t envisage that a serving president would die in office, unfortunately we lost our dear president”.

This has been a victory for the party’s Northern Summit Group campaigning for Jonathan to contest on the party’s ticket.

President Jonathan had earlier taken a swipe on the opposition for meddling into the party’s internal affairs.

“Just look at the issue of zoning or no zoning, it is PDP primaries, whether we zone or don’t zone, it is our own internal affair,” he said.

“But the debate is even being spearheaded more by non-PDP members. That shows that what happens in PDP, in fact they already conceded the presidency to us.

“Otherwise, they have no business coming to join our own debate. That means that they have already known that the PDP will produce the president of this country, but do it well,” said Mr. Jonathan, a southerner.

The party expressed its commitment to the zoning concept. “When our president emerged, he chose a northern muslim as his vice president; when the chairman resigned, he was replaced by another chairman from the south eastern zone. Our Senate president, Speaker, deputy senate president and deputy speaker are from different zones of the country,” Dr. Nwodo said.

africa faces dangerous toxic waste alert


hélé rings the bell

It seems another dangerous toxic waste is on the brink of being disposed along the coasts of West Africa.

Cameroon’s minister of environment and nature protection Pierre Hélé who broke the news, accused a Dutch ship NV Nashville of choosing the region to dump the dangerous waste.

The exact location of NV Nashville is yet to be known but the whistle blowing minister warned countries in the region to increase patrols on their waters as a way of tracking down any suspicious vessels.

Most Africans have got an axe to grind with western firms for using Africa as a “dumpsite” for dangerous waste products, making reference to the case of Trafigura whose dumping of dangerous toxic waste had resulted to so many deaths in Cote d’Ivoire.

Some weeks back a court in Amsterdam found Trafigura guilty of a similar crime.

It’s about time that African countries took drastic actions against those found guilty of such inhuman acts.

kenya crosses an important bridge


prime minister raila odinga

Last week’s peaceful referendum in Kenya without hitches is welcome with open arms across the world.

This success marks a positive step in the consolidation of democracy and rule of law, especially in a country that is moving fast to heal the wounds of the 2007 deadly post-election violences.

African Union hails the peaceful constitutional referendum, calling it a “sign of maturity” that Kenyans can hold free, fair and transparent elections without violence.

Some prophets of doom expected the country to burst into flames again. They were wrong beyond imagination.

Prime minister Raila Odinga’s call for the opponents of the constitution to swallow their differences and unite in the country’s post-referendum era is appropriate and timely.

Yes, the focus should be centred on how all Kenyans can embrace the consitution after it gets parliamentary approval.

The new constitution, which replaces the 1963 constitution, addresses a lot of issues that have heightened tensions in Kenya.

The new constitution might get voters approval, its opponents are still adamant that some of its provisions, in particular, on abortion rights should be ammended. This issue is already inviting fresh debates in Kenya.

I support Mr. Odinga calls for tolerance on the pretext that anything made by man can’t be perfect.

The new constitution supported a presidential system of governance as opposed to a parliamentary trumpeted by Mr. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement. “We wanted a parliamentary system, but we didn’t get it. It must be a game of give and take,” confessed Odinga.

rwanda’s elections without credibility


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fatal attacks and banning of media outlets
in the run up to August 9th Rwanda’s presidential elections have already undermined the credibility of polls long since.

Condemned left and right across the world, Amnesty International has renewed calls on Kigali to ensure the polls are held in a peaceful atmosphere that allows Rwandans to freely express their views.

The assassinations of a journalist and an opposition politician both critical of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of President Paul Kagame has already caused fear among voters.

AI’s  Africa Programme Deputy Director, Tawanda Hondora, insists Rwandan government must ensure  thorough investigations into the killings, and reinstate closed media outlets.

On 14 July, André Kagwa Rwisereka, the vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, was found dead in Butare, southern Rwanda. Photographs obtained by AI showed that his head was severed from his body.

Rwisereka, who broke away from the RPF to create the Green Party, had earlier raised concerns for his security. Other members of his party had also confirmed receiving threats.

Despite international outcry, Rwandan police is yet to come public with any leads, and would not allow external investigators to chip in.

Ironically, all the main opposition parties were knocked out of the Monday’s polls. Both the Democratic Green Party and FDU-Inkingi were denied right to register their parties. PS-Imberakuri, a newly formed opposition party, alone secured registration but could not stand because its leader remains in custody. Arrested on 24 June, Bernard Ntaganda faces charges of genocide denial.

In addition, another opposition leader Victoire Ingabire who faces genocide related charges has had her trial stalled, a calculated attempt to throw her out of race.

Rwandan media is yet to recover from the June 24 killing of Jean-Leonard Rugambage in Kigali. The last remaining editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper had been investigating the shooting of an exiled former Rwandan general, Kayumba Nyamwasa, in South Africa.

His paper published a story linking Rwandan secret service to Nyamwasa’s shooting. Police arrested two suspects for Rugambage’s assassination, linking the case to revenge attack.

protesters shut off internet in senegal

Senegal is one country counted among many in Africa whose citizens enjoy the power of democracy.

But there are writings on the wall that the Senegalese government is slowly but surely slashing its citizens freedoms and rights, raising fears in a volatile region struggling with post-conflict situations.

Being the custodian of sea of knowledge, wisdom and experience, President Abdoulaye Wade is playing pivotal roles in bringing back normalcy in Bissau, Conakry, Mauritania and Cote d’Ivoire.

It’s obvious that Senegal itself has its hands full with its own domestic problems that need to be urgently addressed before exploding into full blown crisis.

The country is still trying to recover from Thursday’s protest by telecoms company workers who could not swallow their anger against the government’s plans to tap incoming international phone calls volumes to maximize tax revenues.

The results was a complete disruption of internet and long distance services in a country home to a slew of regional businesses, news agencies and aid groups.

I am concerned about Sonatel workers union leaders’ comments of “fighting fire with fire.” We don’t expect such inflammatory statements in Senegal, especially at a time the regional economic grouping is doing all it could to win back stability in West Africa.

court acquits facebook critic


president hosni mubarak

Press freedom advocates are celebrating the acquittal of an actor on charges of facebook insult and libel, the first of its kind in Egypt.

The actors’ union leader sued Hisham Bahaa El Din for criticising the union board’s performance on his facebook postings.

The latest verdict overturned an earlier conviction on 15 May when El Din’s was fined US $2,000 or in default spend two weeks behind bars.

El Din’s victory is an important step for Egyptian online bloggers and social networkers whose rights to free speech continue to be denied.

The government of Hosni Mubarak has been condemned for for its assault on its citizens for exercising their press freedom rights.