Mandla Maseko, First African Astronaut Dies at 30

Mandla Maseko, First African Astronaut Dies at 30

In the era when space travel has been front and center, with private entities like SpaceX making great strides in humanity’s quest to explore this frontier, what we have not seen are very many people of color. Therefore, it is with great sadness that Mandla Maseko, 30, the first black African who would have traveled to space has died.

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Yemen Crisis: Climate and Water Scarcity

Yemen Crisis: Climate and Water Scarcity

In addition to climate change, most acutely felt in the desert and polar regions of the earth, experts previously warned that Yemen could be the first country to run out of the water as a consequence of global warming since it has no rivers, rainfall has been decreasing; thus underground aquifers are not being replenished. Even if water were available, the infrastructure to drill and access underground water tables is inaccessible further exacerbating water insecurity.

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Introducing U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe | Brian A. Nichols

Introducing U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe | Brian A. Nichols

Brian A. Nichols was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the Department of State. He previously served in this bureau as a Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2010 to 2011. From 2007 to 2010, Nichols was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. From 2004 to 2007, he was Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs in the Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. 

From 2001 to 2004, he was a Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Nichols joined the Foreign Service in 1989 and his first assignment was Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. He has also served overseas in Mexico and El Salvador. He received a B.S. from Tufts University.

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Humans Impact Climate and Extinction of 1 Million Species

Humans Impact Climate and Extinction of 1 Million Species

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which was established in 2012 by the United Nations Environment Programme and includes representatives from 132 countries release a report that humans are having an “unprecedented” and devastating effect on global biodiversity, with about 1 million animal and plant species now threatened with extinction.

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Myth of Reparations | 40 Acres Minus Mule

Myth of Reparations | 40 Acres Minus Mule

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explains how reparations originally stipulated that freed slaves would receive “400,000 acres of land — a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast,” as Barton Myers reports — would be redistributed to the newly freed slaves.”

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A Not So Sweet Situation - Cocoa and Cote d'Ivoire

A Not So Sweet Situation - Cocoa and Cote d'Ivoire

Although the default has proved harrowing for many, some people have outsmarted the system and began smuggling cocoa across the border to neighboring Ghana and Guinea where they can sell it to make a larger profit than in their homeland. Even though this has provided temporary relief for some, there does not exist a long term solution. As a result, many have taken to the streets in a cry for help for government assistance during this time of need. Likely fueling the protests is the fact that the Ivory Coast has not used either its stabilization fund or the Reserve Fund to support cocoa sales or otherwise mollify the situation.

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A Vision for the Future - China to Construct Housing in Rwanda

A Vision for the Future - China to Construct Housing in Rwanda

It is not uncommon for cities in the developing world to experience an influx of rural-urban migration because of economic development, and thus heightened opportunities in urban areas. While at times this occurs on a scale so large that new buildings and infrastructure must be constructed to accommodate the newly enlarged population. In the case of Rwanda an entirely new microcosm of a city had to be built to mollify the citizens adversely impacted by the this issue.

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Women in Bahrain: Living and Working in this Part of the Middle East

Women in Bahrain: Living and Working in this Part of the Middle East

Bahrain has always been believed that Bahrain is different from its other Gulf counterparts. It is true especially when it comes to women and their participation towards the economic growth of the country. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Bahrain is counted amongst the fastest growing economies of the Middle East. This is due to the country’s emphasis on offering more opportunities for education and providing more rights to women.

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Are We There Yet? Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton SNL Video

Are We There Yet? Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton SNL Video

It has been a hellish and interminable 2016 presidential election cycle, best described by the immortal words of Charles Dickens from the opening salvo of his historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities.It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

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How an Olympic Race Became Political: Feyisa Lilesa's Homage to the Oromo Nationalist Movement

How an Olympic Race Became Political: Feyisa Lilesa's Homage to the Oromo Nationalist Movement

While many Olympic runners raise their arms as they approach the finish line, few do so as a demonstration of political protest. Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa joined this elite group of politically charged Olympic athletes such as Tommie Smith and John Carlos when he crossed his arms at the end of the Men’s Marathon during the Rio Olympics. While Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute during the awards ceremony, Feyisa Lilesa crossed his arms at the end of the race to demonstrate his allegiance with the Oromo people as they continue a centuries long clash with the Ethiopian government. What looked like a stretch to many Olympic observers was really a powerful demonstration that resulted from many years of unrest and political strife. Photo: Feyisa Lilesa, Ethiopian Olympian, Oromo Activist, Rio 2016 Olympics, Photo by Jeso Carneiro

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Failed Military Coup Against President Erdoğan Leaves Dozens Dead in Turkey

Failed Military Coup Against President Erdoğan Leaves Dozens Dead in Turkey

A military coup in Turkey was announced by Turkey’s government broadcasting agency, TRT, Turkish Radio and Television, July 15th before midnight, local time. The note read by TRT’s Tijen Karas said “Control of the government is completely seized.” The note was also published in office of commander of chief, which later was removed after the situation was taken largely under control.

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Palestinians Learn from Israel’s History of Making Handmade Weapons For Use Against an Occupying Power

"Carlo" - Handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 Sub-machine Gun, Source: The Truth About Guns.com

"Carlo" - Handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 Sub-machine Gun, Source: The Truth About Guns.com

ISRAEL - It’s been said that history has an uncanny tendency of repeating, and that those who don't know history are damned to relive it. But, sometimes the repetition of the past is deliberate, especially when the lessons from it are used as a proverbial playbook to frame current actions and strategies. When this happens, it can lead to some interesting conclusions. An example of this phenomenon can be found through the study of the similarities of recent events in the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton University, published an op-ed critique in the Washington Post of the book ‘Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947’ by Bruce Hoffman (Knopf). He writes about the deftness with which Hoffman draws parallels between the Jews struggle for freedom from the occupying power of British rule and those of the Palestinians today.  

“Palestinian and Israeli narratives have always been more reflective of each other than contrasting. Both peoples suffered exile from their homeland and the experience of being refugees. Both believe they have been the victims of historical injustice. Both claim the same land and have a primordial attachment to that specific land. And members of both have engaged in acts of terrorism in the pursuit of national self-determination and independence.”

At the risk of giving too much away, or even straying from the focus of this article, and in the interest of transparency, in his book, Hoffman does highlight the differences in how Jewish terrorists resisted the British versus tactics employed by the Palestinians today. 

Despite this, Kurtzer acknowledged that “…One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, and Hoffman's study will undoubtedly add to the partisan debate over who exactly was and is a “terrorist,” and whether violence associated with the struggle of one people for national independence is more legitimate than the struggle of another people.”

The weapons used by the Israelis between 1917 and 1947 to fight against the British were often handmade because of a lack of access to arms dealers. Fast forward to the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and it has become evident that there is a marked increase in terrorists attacks in which handmade weapons have been utilized in attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. Of these new and potentially lethal firearms, a cheap imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 sub-machine gun (better known by its street name, the “Carlo”) has emerged as one of the most popular handmade weapons.

The “Carlo” has been tied to a string of recent attacks, including one this past February, which took the life of a 19-year-old Border Police officer, Hadar Cohen. Though crude and inaccurate - the firearm was highly effective. It was constructed from cheap and readily found materials, and in this case the barrel of the gun used in this particular case was crafted from a commercially available water pipe. Other such weapons, used in similar recent attacks throughout the country, have been constructed from blueprints found on the internet and assembled out of household items such as fridge pipes, metal hoses, and other random pieces of metal.

Jewish militants, fighting for their independence also worked secretly and around the clock to produce a series of handmade weapons for use against the opposing British forces. Like the “Carlo,” which is now favored by Palestinian militants, a favorite firearm produced by the Jewish resistance was the Sten sub-machine gun. Cheap to produce, this weapon was essentially a hollowed-out metal tube which could spit out bullets. Yet, it became the scourge of British troops who often fell victim to its deadly simplicity.

The weapon was a favorite among the pre-state militias, such as the Lehi and the Irgun, who manufactured and used the weapon with devastating effectiveness. All too common were attacks like one in which a British police sergeant was killed, and three other police officers wounded when ambushed while sitting in a cafe.

It was the relative ease of construction and an inability to control the everyday items from which the weapons were fashioned which has led to escalating concern among local security and military officials. Similarly, the "Carlo,” a handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 sub-machine gun, is a simple design easily constructed from discarded material.  It is comprised of three separate components: an internal mechanism, a barrel, and ammunition, and of all these the ammunition is the least complicated to compound. All other pieces can be manufactured by using common machinery; such as pipe-cutters and lathes, operated by a single person or small group of individuals.

The period in which this weapon was originally manufactured, from the 40’s to the 60’s, lends itself to uncomplicated duplication and inexpensive cost to produce. Consequently, they are readily obtainable on the black market for as little as $750. Perhaps most troubling, is that this also makes it untraceable which further complicates efforts to keep peace in the region. As use of this weapon becomes much more prevalent, and as Security officials seek ways to stop its manufacture and spread, it takes us back to the beginning of the article and to the premise of the oft penchant for humans to repeat history.

Like the Palestinians, the Israelis similarly manufactured and distributed illegal arms for use in its battle against the English occupiers. A war that sought to expel the colonialists from a region that was governed under the British Mandate prior to the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948. Eerily, it seems that the Palestinians have studied and employed a few lessons in warfare from the history of Israel’s struggle against its own former occupier, and that they are equally determined.

Ironically, like the British, Israeli security officials now find themselves in a difficult but strangely reminiscent position that the colonialist must have certainly confronted. The reality that the efficacy of their efforts to hinder the production of the handmade weapons by the Israelis may not have been as effective or swift as they desired or required.  

The question remains, now that the Palestinians are manufacturing and distributing the “Carlo” for use in their resistance against what they see as an occupying ruling government, can the Israelis succeed where the British ultimately failed? Can they control the production and spread of similar handmade weapons used by the Palestinians to attack Israelis, or will they find themselves on the opposite side of a dynamic which may portend a repeat of history of their own independence?

Contributing Journalist: @JonEizyk
LinkedIn: Jon Eizyk