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Desperate Parents of 200 Abducted Nigerian Girls Say They Have Turned to U.N.

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In this Monday, May 19, 2014 file photo, Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica Mark cries as she displays her photo, in the family house, in Chibok, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

In this Monday, May 19, 2014 file photo, Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica Mark cries as she displays her photo, in the family house, in Chibok, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

Julia Payne, REUTERS

 

ABUJA, Nigeria (Reuters)—Parents of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist rebels in April said they were appealing directly to the United Nations for help after losing hope that the Nigerian government would rescue them.

A group lobbying for government action on behalf of the parents met with U.N. Women, the head of the U.N. representation in Nigeria, and with officials of the U.N. Office for West Africa last month. The group has also appealed to UNICEF, campaign spokeswoman Bukola Shonibare said.

U.N. officials were not immediately available for comment.

“If the government cannot take action, we are asking for the UN to come in and help and if they reject, we just don’t know what to do,” Reverend Enoch Mark, leader of the parents, told Reuters. Two of his daughters were kidnapped.

 

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COMMENTARY: Beijing’s Winter Olympics? An African American Diplomat Speaks Out for the Uyghurs in China

Probably not “mass killing,” of an estimated 1 million like Pol Pot in Cambodia in the 1970s. But considering China’s restrictions on Uyghurs having children, and taking children away from families, it all falls within the conventional definition of the term, according to Naomi Kikoler, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the latest Smithsonian Magazine.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

Elana Meyers Taylor, an African American and four-time Olympic bobsledder, missed out on the honor of being the U.S. flag-bearer at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing last week.

After testing positive for COVID-19, she was forced into isolation. But by Monday she was cleared to compete in her events.

COVID-19 hangs over these games in China like a dense cloud. But it’s not the only cloud.

The other involves China’s treatment of the Uyghurs.

Pronounced “Wee-ger,” they are a centuries-old Turkic people of Central Asia, but has been annexed as part of western China for a fraction of that time. Uyghurs are often referred to as Uyghur Muslims, and that should be your clue.

In a country viewed as homogenous as China, there are actually more than 50 ethnic minorities. The ones that stick out are the Uyghur Muslims.

Uyghurs’ movements in their home area, the Chinese province of Xinjiang, are restricted. What they do. What they say. How they pray.

The Chinese have subjected them to a forced assimilation into the Chinese mainstream. It’s really the systematic erasure of Uyghur culture.

Human rights advocates would say it earns China the gold medal in oppression.

It’s the reason U.S. President Joe Biden isn’t attending the Olympics. The U.S. has joined other countries in declaring a diplomatic boycott.

And the leading voice in defense of the Uyghurs’ human rights? An African American, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

“Uyghurs are being tortured,” Thomas-Greenfield said recently on CNN. “And Uyghurs are the victims of human rights violations by the Chinese, and we have to keep that front and center.”

Mind you, as harsh and direct as those words were, Thomas-Greenfield from Louisiana, is being diplomatic. Makes you wonder just how bad it is for the Uyghurs.

The term ‘genocide’ is often used.

The Journal of Genocide Research in 2020 said many at first doubted the word should be used at all. But as British scholar Jo Smith Finley said, “More have shifted closer to this position, and others beyond our discipline have joined in.”

Genocide.

Probably not “mass killing,” of an estimated 1 million like Pol Pot in Cambodia in the 1970s. But considering China’s restrictions on Uyghurs having children, and taking children away from families, it all falls within the conventional definition of the term, according to Naomi Kikoler, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the latest Smithsonian Magazine.

Since 2017, China has placed up to 3 million Uyghurs caught praying or practicing their Muslim religion in re-education camps. It qualifies as the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority since World War II.

China calls the camps vocational training. But survivors of the detentions say they were prisoners, some subjected to torture, rape, and beatings.

And then when people “graduate” from their indoctrination, they are sent to forced labor assignments with Western companies like Adidas, Amazon, Apple, and Google.

Some are calling it a form of slavery.

The lucky ones have fled the country in the Uyghur diaspora. In the U.S., there are about 250,000 Uyghur Americans who are able to keep their language and culture intact. But many haven’t been able to contact family and friends for years.

China is using the 2022 games as a propaganda tool of Olympic proportions. It even had the lone Uyghur athlete, Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a cross-country skier, light the torch. But then wouldn’t let her speak to the media.

So, all is good in China? We should know better.

And all this because the Uyghurs are Muslim and seen by China as terrorist threats to the state.

Nothing sporting about any of that. Enjoy athletes like Elana Meyers Taylor. But heed the words of Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

She can see through Beijing’s Olympic rings. She’s fighting for the Uyghers.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com

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Bay Area

Port of Oakland Aims to Help Agriculture Producers Export Products More Quickly

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement. The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

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The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)
The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)

By Keith Burbank, Bay City News

The flow of agricultural exports may improve at the Port of Oakland after it sets aside quick-access space for containers, assists exporters, and if more cargo carriers restore service to Oakland, port officials said Monday.

Twenty-five acres will be used to operate an off-terminal, paved yard to store containers for rapid pick-up following their removal from chassis.

The yard, which may open in March, will allow trucks to turn around more quickly than is currently possible in the terminal. Agricultural exporters will also get help using the yard from state and federal agencies.

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement.

The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

But it’s not entirely clear the yard will make a huge difference unless more ships stop at the Port to pick up the exports.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said.

Port officials have restored one key route to Tokyo and China. Also, four carriers have recently made Oakland their first stop en route from Asia. But that may not be enough to relieve the shortage of export containers in Oakland.

An import surge in the U.S. has ships waiting to offload cargo in Southern California. When they do, they offload cargo that would typically come to Oakland and then turn around and immediately go back to Asia.

The containers that could be used for exports never make it to Oakland.

Port cargo volume is typically 50% imports and 50% exports so usually enough containers exist at the Port.

Many agricultural exporters and meat producers prefer to ship their products through Oakland because it’s closer than other ports.

The container shortage has been a problem for a year. The problem recently prompted a meeting between farm producers, transportation executives and Port officials and resulted in the steps the Port is now taking.

A solution is important because the state’s agricultural export industry is worth billions of dollars.

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Bay Area

California Goes on Offensive as Omicron Variant Threat Grows 

“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Dec. 1. “We should assume that it’s in other states as well. There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”

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In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.
In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Three days after Thanksgiving, Gov. Gavin Newsom went online to address the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, a version of the virus with at least 50 mutations, according to the World Health Organization.

Twenty-six of those mutations have never been detected before, scientists say.

“California is monitoring the new variant,” Newsom tweeted. “We will continue to be guided by data and science. Right now, the best way we know to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and get your booster. Go today. Don’t wait.”

The variant was first identified by a South African scientist and has since surfaced in several other Southern African and European nations and has now been detected in at least 16 states in the United States, including California.

In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.

Since then, Alameda County public health officials have confirmed five new cases with mild symptoms. All of them were people who attended a wedding in Wisconsin where they likely contracted the virus.

Newsom responded to the news with a tweet last Wednesday.

“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California,” Newsom tweeted Dec. 1. “We should assume that it’s in other states as well. There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”

Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, said the state has taken several steps to protect Californians and contain the variant, including “doubling down on COVID-19 vaccination and booster efforts to ensure that all Californians have access to safe, effective and free vaccines.”

Weber was speaking at a briefing organized for Black media on December 3. She said the California Department of Health is monitoring the presence of the variant throughout California and is partnering with the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support local public health departments and health care providers across the state.

“The state is also preparing to increase COVID-19 testing at airports across California for U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi,” she said. “These countries are where higher rates of Omicron have been observed and may shift over time.”

Last week, President Joe Biden also pushed for vaccines and boosters in preparation for this new variant on Twitter.

“As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises. For now, the best way to strengthen your protection if you’re already vaccinated is to get a booster shot, immediately,” Biden tweeted.

In a controversial move, Biden has issued a travel ban from eight African countries where the higher numbers of the variant have been reported.

“The WHO has identified a new COVID variant which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure, until we have more information, I am ordering air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries,” Biden tweeted.

This United States’ response has been met with some criticism from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said, arguing that the variant may have been detected in those countries, but there is no proof that it originated there.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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