Thursday, May 30, 2013

Uganda, Ethiopia women tells of being sex slave in Asia – Bikya News

ADDIS ABABA and SINGAPORE: Ugandan girls are being trafficked and forced to work as sex slaves in Asia at an alarming number, Uganda’s High Commissioner to India Nimisha Madhvan said.
The envoy said the young girls are trafficked into India, Singapore and other countries by businessmen who promise them good jobs.
“They bring you here and hold your passport until you pay back the money they used to transport you,” said Nimisha.
Uganda, Ethiopia women tells of being sex slave in Asia“The girls are pushed to Nigerians to have sex and after paying back the costs, they are left to fend for themselves, leading to their suffering here,” she said when briefing the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, and members of the Parliamentary Commission, who were in India to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union Female Speakers’ conference.
Carol Lwabi, the First Secretary of the Uganda High Commission in India, told the Ugandan delegation that after holding onto the girls’ passports, the traffickers would tell them not to go to the high commission by lying to them that they would be arrested if the did so.
“We do not have access to the girls because we can’t go to the places they stay and very few of them know that they can come to the mission and get help,” she said.
Exclusive Account
She was forced to be a sex worker in Singapore for two years after being told she was to be assigned to work as a cleaning lady in the Southeast Asian city. For “Tanya” moving to Singapore was biggest moment of her life.
Upon arrival, however, that all changed. And it changed quickly.
“I got to Singapore and was picked up by a man who said he would take me to my new flat,” she began. “I was the happiest girl in the world,” the 21-year-old told
Her life was turned upside the next day, when she was again picked up by the man, but instead of being driven to see her new boss, she was taken to a unmarked building, told to strip and was forced to take a shower and be “groomed.”
“It was the scariest moment of my life. They just told me to take off all my clothes and then two women washed me and shaved all the hair off me as if I was just a thing that they could use.
“Then I was sent to a room and two men came in and forced themselves on me. They raped me over and over again. I was in tears the whole time. But I couldn’t do anything, because they said they would kill me if I tried to leave,” she continued.
While sex work is legal in Singapore, there is a growing trend of East African women, and young girls, being co-opted into arriving to the country, where they are then forced into sex work against their will.
Tanya’s friend, “Susan” from Ethiopia, said she had a similar experience, arriving and being taken to another building, where she was put to work as a sex worker.
For both girls, they struggled to survive, being forced to have sex with as many as 8 clients a day.
“I still don’t even know how this happened,” Susan told “It was the worst time of my life and now I just feel so scared all the time,” she added.
The two women say they know other African girls who had been told they were coming to Singapore to work as domestic workers, but are then taken to buildings where they are forced to work, as they call it “sex slavery.”
“We didn’t get paid and we didn’t have any clothes. They would take us to a shower after every client and force us to wash. Our cries and tears did nothing. It was horrible,” Tanya, from Uganda, added.
Both women are now free of their situation, running away, naked late in the night.
“I grabbed my sheet and just pushed my way past a client and sprinted to the street. I found a couple who helped me and finally it is over, but I can’t imagine what other girls have to deal with,” she said.
Both women have become close, living together in the city and dealing with their physical and psychological trauma together. They say that without each other, the both would have killed themselves.
“I just wanted to die. Every night I have horrible dreams about what I have been put through,” added Susan.
While the Singapore government and the police have told they are cracking down on sex slavery in the city, it is often difficult to track such incidents and with clients not willing to say anything, finding illegal facilities is difficult.
Human rights organizations say hundreds of African women are forced into sex work across Southeast Asia as the “appetite” for African women appears to be growing.
For Tanya and Susan, they hope they can assist other women who have been put through similar situations.
“We want to work with police and women’s organizations to put an end to this horrific experience that we and other women have been forced into so we are staying in Singapore to help,” said Tanya.
** Mariam Yuan contributed to this report in Singapore.

French and German feminists stage topless protest in Tunisia over jailed fellow FEMEN activist - YouTube

Monday, May 27, 2013

Africa defense force never more needed but still a paper tiger

By Pascal Fletcher and Drazen Jorgic

ite created for Africa’s proposed continental defense force proclaims a lofty mission “to support and keep peace for Africa’s prosperity and a better life for all in the world”.
But click on current operations on the African Standby Force site ( and the response is a dispiriting “page cannot be found”.
The force dreamed of half a century ago by the founding fathers of independent Africa still exists only on paper, casting a shadow over the back-slapping at this weekend’s African Union (AU) summit, which is marking 50 years since the foundation of its precursor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
Instead of a muscular rapid-response force to halt genocide, protect civilians in coups or civil wars, and pursue jihadists, drug traffickers and pirates, African peacekeeping remains a hotch-potch, almost entirely externally funded and mixed into U.N. or foreign missions.
“If ever we needed an African standby force, it is now,” said Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, head of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana.
He pointed to recent coups and conflicts in Guinea Bissau, Mali, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, jarring plotlines in the narrative of an economically emergent Africa attracting foreign trade and investment.
“If you looked at Mali, the African standby force was more a bystander force,” said South African defense analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman of the slow preparations for a U.N.-backed African force slated to intervene in late 2013 in Mali, where Islamist rebels had seized control of the northern half of the country.
Events overtook the plans. The AU largely watched from the sidelines in January as former colonial power France, at the request of Mali’s government, rushed in troops to drive back an Islamist rebel offensive threatening the southern capital Bamako.
This was not what Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, had in mind when he called for “a common defense system with African high command” in a speech at the 1963 founding of the OAU. Nkrumah also warned against “hobnobbing with colonialism”.
Plans drawn up a decade ago, when the AU replaced the toothless OAU, foresee a 5,000-strong Standby Force, comprising five regional brigades from across Africa, responding within 14 or 30 days to various crisis scenarios.
AU officials say there is no certainty the full force will be up and running by the target date of 2015.
“By that time, definitely some of the regional brigades will be fully operational, and if three out of five are fully operational, then that’s a significant result,” AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra told Reuters.
“In the meantime … we believe we need a tool for immediate response to crisis,” he added.
Lamamra said the AU Commission was consulting with member states’ ministers and military chiefs about setting up an interim African rapid-response unit that could go into action while the larger standby force is being put together.
This month, South African President Jacob Zuma pleaded for the creation of the African Standby Force to be speeded up, citing instability in the Central African Republic, the eastern Congo and Mali, “where decisive intervention is needed”.
African troops – from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi – are headed to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to take on armed rebels there, but they are wearing United Nations peacekeeping hats, which means U.N. control and funding.
And while the AU has publicly backed the Mali intervention by France, which is due to hand over most security there to a U.N.-mandated African force, Paris’s military presence in its former colony still rankles with some.
“France is a nasty meddler in African politics,” Aning said.
But the question of who should fund a properly trained and equipped continental force is key for Africa, the world’s least developed region. Despite buoyant recent growth, half of the continent’s near 1 billion inhabitants live in poverty.
“Most African countries are so poor, they can’t afford effective security forces,” Heitman said. “So help is needed.”
More than 90 percent of the AU’s peace and security efforts are currently funded by external actors such as the European Union and the United States, according to a 2012 report by South Africa’s Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Berlin-based Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
With U.N. peacekeeping missions in Congo and in Sudan’s Darfur each costing global taxpayers well over $1 billion a year, the AU’s Lamamra said Africa cannot be expected to bankroll its own peace enforcement.
“We are not supposed to do that. The U.N. Security Council is responsible for international peace and security. What the Africans are doing as a contribution should be recognised and acknowledged,” he added.
But Ghana’s Aning warns the future credibility of the AU is at stake. “I think Africa must fund the largest part of the Africa Standby Force,” he said.
In the absence of this force, the 17,700-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is being held up as a successful example of internationally backed African peacekeeping, fighting Islamist al Shabaab militants.
First deployed in 2007 and comprising troops from Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Djibouti,AMISOM is credited with pushing al Shabaab out of the capital Mogadishu and the centre and south of the Horn of Africa state.
“It is the most effective mission in Africa and also the most cost-effective,” Michele Cervone d’Urso, the EU’s special envoy to Somalia, told Reuters at Mogadishu airport, where Ugandan troops guard against suicide bombers.
AMISOM soldiers’ salaries are paid by the EU, while logistics are covered by the U.N. The United States, another donor, shares vital intelligence from drone flights.
But the Somalia mission has come at a high cost in lives. Around 3,000 AMISOM soldiers have been killed since 2007, according to the U.N. In contrast, 3,096 U.N. peacekeepers have died in global operations since 1948.
“There is no doubt that AMISOM has shown a higher tolerance to casualties than most western peacekeeping forces would,” said Matt Bryden, a director of Sahan Research think-tank and former U.N.-Monitoring Group coordinator for Somalia.
Experts warn, too, that any pan-African force must take care not to become entangled in, or exacerbate, regional rivalries.
“One of the problems with the whole African Standby Force concept, and its regional brigades, is do you use the regional brigade in its region? Because, of course, the countries there all have little bones to pick with each other,” Heitman said.
The new U.N. eastern Congo intervention force does not include troops from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, whom U.N. experts have accused of supporting Congolese rebels. Kigali and Kampala strenuously deny this.
As regional leaders congratulated each other on what AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma hails as Africa’s “take-off towards peace and prosperity”, some recalled that the continent’s full independence was not a complete reality.
“A free and self-sustaining Africa will be a pipedream if we remain beholden to external sources,” South African President Jacob Zuma reminded his peers on Saturday.
(Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Addis Ababa; Editing by Will Waterman)

France anti-gay-marriage rally ends with violent clashes - YouTube

Video: France anti-gay-marriage rally ends with violent clashes - YouTube: ""

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Must-listen Interview with Abraham Yayeh Part one - YouTube

Must-listen Interview with Abraham Yayeh Part one - YouTube: ""

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ethiopia Women are also trafficked to Iraq – The CNN Freedom Project

01:24 AM ET

Women trafficked to Iraq

By Atika Shubert, CNN
(CNN) Like so many Indonesian women, Eli Anita wanted to earn more money than she could at home.
In 2007, she moved to Dubai through a labor recruitment company where, she says, her manager immediately began harassing her for sex, at one point becoming violent.
“He got very angry and he also beat me and kidnapped me in the bathroom for many hours. He locked the door,” she says in broken English.
“And he said 'Eli, just obey to me and I will give you everything.' I said, 'I’m sorry. But I came for working. I will not allow anybody to touch my body or anyone working on my body, like this.' Then he asked me, 'What do you want?'  I said I want another job.”
Eli says her employer offered her a new job in Italy, but she didn’t recognize the place.
She told CNN he said, “I will send you to new country, high technology, good country. Kurdistan is a part of Italy.”
For a village girl from Indonesia, Eli says she had no idea about Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, and at that time in the midst of war.
She says she was flown to Erbil airport under the constant watch of labor company chaperones with about a dozen other women from Ethiopia, Indonesia and the Philippines. She says the labor company took her passport.
“All of them don’t know where is Kurdistan.  I’m asking, 'Where is Kurdistan?' Immigration man said: 'Why do you want to go there?' He keep saying in Arabic, 'It’s very dangerous.' But I have no choice because my agency always by my side and watching me. They are afraid I am running away.”
As they passed army checkpoints with U.S. soldiers, Eli says she slowly began to figure out where they were. She finally convinced one of her minders to let her call her Dubai employer.
“So, I call the agency and say, 'You sent me to Iraq when you telling me it’s part of Italia?' He say, 'Eli just keep quiet. I already received $4,500.' So, I knew at that time, they sell me.”
She tried to run away several times. But after days on the street, she was found by labor agency workers, dragged back and, she says, beaten as a punishment.  She describes the incident vividly.
'Because the agency also kidnap me inside the bathroom and hold a gun to my head. 'If you doesn’t stop all your actions and calling your government, I will kill you.'"
But the feisty Eli says she refused to back down in the face of their threat.
“If you want to kill me, shoot me right now,"  she remembers telling them. “But if you kill me, you send my body back home.  If not I will wake up again! They said 'you are crazy,' majnoon in Arabic.  I said, yes, I’m majnoon because of you!”
Eli finally escaped by secretly contacting the International Labour Organization. They brokered her release from the labor agency and transported her home to Indonesia.
CNN confronted the man that Eli says sold her, trafficking her from Dubai to Iraq.  He refused to talk to us or give us his side of the story.
Eli now works with Migrant Care in Jakarta, Indonesia where she shares her experience with other would-be migrants workers as a cautionary tale.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Egypt deports 50 Ethiopians trying to enter Israel

Egypt has deported 50 Ethiopians after they were caught in the Sinai Peninsula trying to infiltrate across the border into Israel. Official sources at Cairo International Airport said that the fifty were put on an Ethiopian Airways flight to Addis Ababa on Thursday morning.
Security staff seized the Ethiopians in groups over a period of time. Travel documents were issued by the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo to facilitate their journey back to Addis.
Residents of several African countries try to infiltrate into Israel in search of a better life. In the past, Israel used to grant them passports, but sheer weight of numbers has led to the authorities taking measures to stop them getting across the border. These have included an electrified fence built on the border since the Egyptian revolution. Any illegal migrants not caught by the Egyptians are usually captured by the Israelis and deported from Tel Aviv.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Louisiana is the world's prison capital |

Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.
Richland Parish Detention Center
EnlargeSCOTT THRELKELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Inmates return to their dormitory from the cafeteria at Richland Parish Detention Center in September. Prison overcrowding has become a thing of the past, even as the inmate population multiplies rapidly.Louisiana Incarcerated: state is No. 1 in prisoners gallery (19 photos)
The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.
Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.
If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.
Meanwhile, inmates subsist in bare-bones conditions with few programs to give them a better shot at becoming productive citizens. Each inmate is worth $24.39 a day in state money, and sheriffs trade them like horses, unloading a few extras on a colleague who has openings. A prison system that leased its convicts as plantation labor in the 1800s has come full circle and is again a nexus for profit.
In the past two decades, Louisiana's prison population has doubled, costing taxpayers billions while New Orleans continues to lead the nation in homicides.
One in 86 adult Louisianians is doing time, nearly double the national average. Among black men from New Orleans, one in 14 is behind bars; one in seven is either in prison, on parole or on probation. Crime rates in Louisiana are relatively high, but that does not begin to explain the state's No. 1 ranking, year after year, in the percentage of residents it locks up.
In Louisiana, a two-time car burglar can get 24 years without parole. A trio of drug convictions can be enough to land you at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for the rest of your life.
Almost every state lets judges decide when to mete out the severest punishment and when a sympathetic defendant should have a chance at freedom down the road. In Louisiana, murderers automatically receive life without parole on the guilty votes of as few as 10 of 12 jurors.
The lobbying muscle of the sheriffs, buttressed by a tough-on-crime electorate, keeps these harsh sentencing schemes firmly in place.
"Something has to be done -- it just has to be done -- about the long sentences," said Angola Warden Burl Cain. "Some people you can let out of here that won't hurt you and can be productive citizens, and we know the ones who can't."
Every dollar spent on prisons is a dollar not spent on schools, hospitals and highways. Other states are strategically reducing their prison populations -- using tactics known in policy circles as "smart on crime." Compared with the national average, Louisiana has a much lower percentage of people incarcerated for violent offenses and a much higher percentage behind bars for drug offenses -- perhaps a signal that some nonviolent criminals could be dealt with differently.
Louisiana Incarcerated: Intro VideoLouisiana has more citizens in prison than anywhere else in the world. A New Orleans Times-Picayune team of reporters led by Cindy Chang along with photographer Scott Threlkeld investigates why. Here is a video preview of this Times-Picayune special Report.
Do all of Louisiana's 40,000 inmates need to be incarcerated for the interests of punishment and public safety to be served? Gov. Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican with presidential ambitions, says the answer is no. Despite locking up more people for longer periods than any other state, Louisiana has one of the highest rates of both violent and property crimes. Yet the state shows no signs of weaning itself off its prison dependence.
"You have people who are so invested in maintaining the present system -- not just the sheriffs, but judges, prosecutors, other people who have links to it," said Burk Foster, a former professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an expert on Louisiana prisons. "They don't want to see the prison system get smaller or the number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good old boys are all linked together in the punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically."
Keeping the beds full
In the early 1990s, when the incarceration rate was half what it is now, Louisiana was at a crossroads. Under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, the state had two choices: Lock up fewer people or build more prisons.
It achieved the latter, not with new state prisons -- there was no money for that -- but by encouraging sheriffs to foot the construction bills in return for future profits. The financial incentives were so sweet, and the corrections jobs so sought after, that new prisons sprouted up all over rural Louisiana.
The national prison population was expanding at a rapid clip. Louisiana's grew even faster. There was no need to rein in the growth by keeping sentencing laws in line with those of other states or by putting minor offenders in alternative programs. The new sheriffs' beds were ready and waiting. Overcrowding became a thing of the past, even as the inmate population multiplied rapidly.
"If the sheriffs hadn't built those extra spaces, we'd either have to go to the Legislature and say, 'Give us more money,' or we'd have to reduce the sentences, make it easier to get parole and commutation -- and get rid of people who shouldn't be here," said Richard Crane, former general counsel for the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
Lt. Dee Hutson: 'It's a career.'Lt. Dee Hutson talks about the benefits of his work as a corrections officer at Richland Parish Detention Center, about 15 miles southeast of Monroe, Louisiana.
Today, wardens make daily rounds of calls to other sheriffs' prisons in search of convicts to fill their beds. Urban areas such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge have an excess of sentenced criminals, while prisons in remote parishes must import inmates to survive.
The more empty beds, the more an operation sinks into the red. With maximum occupancy and a thrifty touch with expenses, a sheriff can divert the profits to his law enforcement arm, outfitting his deputies with new squad cars, guns and laptops. Inmates spend months or years in 80-man dormitories with nothing to do and few educational opportunities before being released into society with $10 and a bus ticket.
Fred Schoonover, deputy warden of the 522-bed Tensas Parish Detention Center in northeast Louisiana, says he does not view inmates as a "commodity." But he acknowledges that the prison's business model is built on head counts. Like other wardens in this part of the state, he wheels and deals to maintain his tally of human beings. His boss, Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones, relies on him to keep the numbers up.
"We struggle. I stay on the phone a lot, calling all over the state, trying to hustle a few," Schoonover said.
Some sheriffs, and even a few small towns, lease their prison rights to private companies. LaSalle Corrections, based in Ruston, plays a role in housing one of seven Louisiana prisoners. LCS Corrections Services, another homegrown company, runs three Louisiana prisons and is a major donor to political campaigns, including those of urban sheriffs who supply rural prisons with inmates.
Incarceration on the cheap
Ask anyone who has done time in Louisiana whether he or she would rather be in a state-run prison or a local sheriff-run prison. The answer is invariably state prison.
fullpage-4reasonswhyLA-051312.jpgHow Louisiana became the prison capital of the world (view full size graphic)
Inmates in local prisons are typically serving sentences of 10 years or less on nonviolent charges such as drug possession, burglary or writing bad checks. State prisons are reserved for the worst of the worst.
Yet it is the murderers, rapists and other long-termers who learn trades like welding, auto mechanics, air-conditioning repair and plumbing. Angola's Bible college offers the only chance for Louisiana inmates to earn an undergraduate degree.
Such opportunities are not available to the 53 percent serving their time in local prisons. In a cruel irony, those who could benefit most are unable to better themselves, while men who will die in prison proudly show off fistfuls of educational certificates.
Louisiana specializes in incarceration on the cheap, allocating by far the least money per inmate of any state. The $24.39 per diem is several times lower than what Angola and other state-run prisons spend -- even before the sheriff takes his share. All local wardens can offer is GED classes and perhaps an inmate-led support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Their facilities are cramped and airless compared with the spacious grounds of state prisons, where inmates walk along outdoor breezeways and stay busy with jobs or classes.
With a criminal record, finding work is tough. In five years, about half of the state's ex-convicts end up behind bars again.
Gregory Barber has seen the contrast between state and local prisons firsthand. He began a four-year sentence for burglary at the state-run Phelps Correctional Center -- a stroke of luck for someone with a relatively short sentence on a nonviolent charge who might easily have ended up in a sheriff's custody.
chart-prisonpop-051312.jpgLouisiana's prison population since 1977 (view full size graphic)
With only six months to go, the New Orleans native was transferred to Richwood Correctional Center, a LaSalle-run prison near Monroe. He had hoped to end his time in a work-release program to up his chances of getting a good job. But the 11th-hour transfer rendered him ineligible. At Phelps, he took a welding class. Now, he whiles away the hours lying in his bunk for lack of anything better to do. The only relief from the monotony is an occasional substance-abuse rehab meeting.
"In DOC camps, you'd go to the yard every day, go to work," said Barber, 50, of state-run prisons. "Here, you just lay down, or go to meetings. It makes time pass a little slower."
Downward spiral

chart-louisianaworld-051312.jpgView full size

While Louisiana tops the prison rankings, it consistently vies with Mississippi -- the state with the second-highest incarceration rate -- for the worst schools, the most poverty, the highest infant mortality. One in three Louisiana prisoners reads below a fifth-grade level. The vast majority did not complete high school. The easy fix of selling drugs or stealing is all too tempting when the alternative is a low-wage, dead-end job.
More money spent on locking up an ever-growing number of prisoners means less money for the very institutions that could help young people stay out of trouble, giving rise to a vicious cycle. Louisiana spends about $663 million a year to feed, house, secure and provide medical care to 40,000 inmates. Nearly a third of that money -- $182 million -- goes to for-profit prisons, whether run by sheriffs or private companies.
"Clearly, the more that Louisiana invests in large-scale incarceration, the less money is available for everything from preschools to community policing that could help to reduce the prison population," said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a national criminal justice reform group. "You almost institutionalize the high rate of incarceration, and it's even harder to get out of that situation."
Louisiana's prison epidemic disproportionately affects neighborhoods already devastated by crime and poverty. In some parts of New Orleans, a stint behind bars is a rite of passage for young men.
About 5,000 black men from New Orleans are doing state prison time, compared with 400 white men from the city. Because police concentrate resources on high-crime areas, minor lawbreakers there are more likely to be stopped and frisked or caught up in a drug sweep than, say, an Uptown college student with a sideline marijuana business.
With so many people lost to either prison or violence, fraying neighborhoods enter a downward spiral. As the incarceration rate climbs, more children grow up with fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles in prison, putting them at increased risk of repeating the cycle themselves.
'Don't feel no pity'
Angola is home to scores of old men who cannot get out of bed, let alone commit a crime. Someone who made a terrible mistake in his youth and has transformed himself after decades in prison has little to no chance at freedom.
map-incarceration-051312.jpgWorld and state incarceration rates (full full size graphic)
Louisiana has a higher percentage of inmates serving life without parole than any other state. Its justice system is unstintingly tough on petty offenders as well as violent criminals. In more than four years in office, Jindal has only pardoned one inmate.
"Louisiana don't feel no pity. I feel like everybody deserves a second chance," said Preston Russell, a Lower 9th Ward native who received life without parole for a string of burglaries and a crack charge. "I feel like dudes get all this education ... under their belt and been here 20, 30 years. You don't think that's enough time to let a man back out and give him another chance at life?"
An inmate at Angola costs the state an average of $23,000 a year. A young lifer will rack up more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded expenses if he reaches the Louisiana male life expectancy of 72.
Russell, 49, is in good health. But as he gets older, treating his age-related ailments will be expensive. The state spends about $24 million a year caring for between 300 and 400 infirm inmates.
Now in his 13th year at Angola, Russell breaks into tears recounting how he rebelled against the grandmother who raised him, leaving home as soon as he could. First he smoked weed, weed became crack, then he was selling drugs and burglarizing stores in between jobs in construction or shipping.
The last time he stole, Orleans Parish prosecutors tagged him as a multiple offender and sought the maximum -- the same sentence given to murderers. In the final crime that put him away for life, he broke into Fat Harry's and stole $4,000 from the Uptown bar's video poker machines.
Political will
Tough fiscal times have spurred many states to reduce their prison populations. In lock-'em-up Texas, new legislation is steering low-level criminals into drug treatment and other alternatives to prison.
In Louisiana, even baby steps are met with resistance. Jindal, who rose to the governor's office with the backing of the sheriffs' lobby, says too many people are behind bars. Yet earlier this year, he watered down a reform package hammered out by the Sentencing Commission he himself had convened. The commission includes sheriffs and district attorneys, so its proposals were modest to begin with.
Measures like those in Texas, which target a subset of nonviolent offenders, are frequently lauded but may not be enough. To make a significant dent in the prisoner numbers, sentences for violent crimes must be reduced and more money must be invested in inner-city communities, according to David Cole, a professor at Georgetown Law School. Such large-scale change -- which has not been attempted in any state, let alone Louisiana -- can only happen through political will.
In Louisiana, that will appears to be practically nonexistent. Locking up as many people as possible for as long as possible has enriched a few while making everyone else poorer. Public safety comes second to profits.
"You cannot build your way out of it. Very simply, you cannot build your way out of crime," said Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc, who supports reducing the incarceration rate and putting more resources into inmate rehabilitation. "It just doesn't work that way. You can't afford it. Nobody can afford that."
Cindy Chang can be reached at or 504.826.3386.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lesbian Couple beaten by straight women at Ethiopian nightclub | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

Gay hate on the rise in Africa attributed to Western Evangelicals and a New push to “Kill the Gays”

By Melanie Nathan, May 12, 2013.
Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 8.16.02 PMAfter Uganda, we predicted it would spread. It seems that the Western Evangelicals have found their way into Ethiopia and are repeating the actions that are causing such strong anti-gay sentiments, that local Ethiopians are now lashing out and implementing the inevitable persecution. See Cathy Kristofferson’s Article here on OBLOGDEE, linked below.
A Ethiopian  couple, together for five years, have reported being attacked for being lesbians, and alluded to the Evangelical presence when telling their story.
The couple told their story to and it had yet to be independently verified.  Its is alleged that last week, while dancing at a local club in Addis Ababa, they were attacked by a group of presumably heterosexual women, beaten and forced out of the nightclub.
“The women just kept yelling at us and screaming and pushing when we started to hold hands,” Lucy told, her eye still dark from the marks of the assault. “They shoved and punched at us until we were forced to leave.”
Tina also has bruises on her arms. The couple said they were enjoying a night out of dancing at a club they often go to for relaxation. They said they’d never had any problems.
“It is shocking because we don’t show a lot of physical intimacy, but we do try to enjoy our time,” chimed in Tina. “And then all hell broke loose. It is becoming more and more common in Ethiopia to be attacked because people are gay or lesbian. The campaign against the community is growing.”
According to the report “both alluded to the recent calls from an Evangelical organization that is pushing for the death penalty against Ethiopia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.”
An anti-gay organization that held a recent workshop on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in Ethiopia is reporting that the death penalty against gay people in Ethiopia may be on the horizon.
The workshop reportedly looked with the social ‘evils’ and ‘disastrous’ effects of homosexuality in Ethiopia, and was led by United for Life Ethiopia, a Western Evangelical Christian organization with local representation.
Government officials, religious leaders, leading heath professionals, charities and members of the public attended the event at the Bethel Teaching Hospital in Addis Ababa, last week.
An article recently published by has received virulent anti-gay sentiments from users inside the country. A number of comments and angry emails have been flowing in that call for the death of Ethiopia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Now it is being reported that the heterosexual “community as a whole seemed bent on attacking LGBT people.”
It seems that we may well find yet another case of direct harm caused via the persecution incited by the actions of Western Evangelicals, yet again in Africa.

Zambia and Ethiopia are the ‘next Uganda’

Seyoum Antonios
Anti-gay sentiment increases after the export of more Western Evangelical hate See Cathy Kristofferson’s  Article READ HERE

Friday, May 3, 2013

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appears in Libyan court charged with plotting escape | World news |

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appears in Libyan court charged with plotting escape

Son of Muammar Gaddafi is accused of conspiring to flee prison in case branded 'farce' by British lawyer
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in court in Libya. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has appeared in court accused of plotting to escape from the jail in which he has been held since he was arrested in November 2011.
Libya accuses Gaddafi of conspiring to break out of his detention, in the western mountain town of Zintan, aided by a lawyer from the international criminal court (ICC), Melinda Taylor, who was herself detained by Libyafor three weeks last summer.
It was only the second appearance in court by Gaddafi, 40, since he was captured trying to flee Libya by former rebels.
The case is separate from charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity he faces from both Libya and the ICC, but Thursday's 20-minute hearing was branded a farce by his British lawyer, John Jones QC.
"It's a farce from start to finish," said Jones, who was not in court. "His detention is Libya's Guantánamo Bay. He's been held incommunicado for 17 months without any meaningful judicial process."
Gaddafi looked lean, smiling to journalists from the dock and giving a thumbs-up during the brief hearing. Prosecutors showed a pen and a watch they say contain a secret camera and recorder which Taylor was accused of smuggling into a meeting with Gaddafi last year. The court appointed two local lawyers to represent him, adjourning the case until September.
Libya alleges that Taylor had the items with her during a meeting in June last year. Prosecutors say they formed part of a conspiracy to organise an escape.
Thursday's hearing throws fuel on the fire of a simmering row between Libya and the ICC over who should try Gaddafi, with the court in The Hague demanding he be handed over to their custody, and yet to rule on whether to back Libya's plans for a war crimes trial on home turf.
Gaddafi was once considered the heir-apparent to his father, who was captured and killed by Libya's rebels in 2011, and is jointly charged with Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, also in custody in Libya, of crimes against civilians during the Arab spring uprising.