Category Archives: Africa

Chart of the day: Granted asylum in Europe

From Eurostat [PDF]:

BLOG Euro asylum

Quote of the day: The definition of insanity

From Corey Robin, journalist, theorist, and political science professor at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, in an essay for Jacobin:

By his own admission, President “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars” made the same mistake in Libya that President “Mission Accomplished” made in Iraq. It’s almost as if that Best and the Brightest thing doesn’t always work out.

President Obama’s admission that his failure to plan for a post-reconstruction Libya was his greatest mistake — and his concomitant refusal to say that the intervention was a mistake — makes me wonder how many times a government gets to make the same “mistake” before we get to say that the mistake is no mistake but how the policy works.

I mean when you have a former University of Chicago Law School professor/former Harvard Law Review editor doing the exact same thing that his alleged ignoramus of a predecessor did in Iraq, when you see that the failure to plan for a post-intervention reconstruction is not a contingency but a bipartisan practice, don’t you start wondering about the ideology of intervention itself?

Maps of the day: Tracking Zika virus’s spread

From the World Health Organization:

BLOG Zika 1

1947: Scientists conducting routine surveillance for yellow fever in the Zika forest of Uganda isolate the Zika virus in samples taken from a captive, sentinel rhesus monkey.

1948: The virus is recovered from the mosquito Aedes africanus, caught on a tree platform in the Zika forest.

1952: The first human cases are detected in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania in a study demonstrating the presence of neutralizing antibodies to Zika virus in sera.

BLOG Zika 2

1969–1983: The known geographical distribution of Zika expands to equatorial Asia, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, where the virus is detected in mosquitos. As in Africa, sporadic human cases occur but no outbreaks are detected and the disease in humans continues to be regarded as rare, with mild symptoms. Seroprevalence studies in Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan indicate widespread population exposure.16–19 Researchers later suggest that the clinical similarity of Zika infection with dengue and chikungunya may be one reason why the disease was so rarely reported in Asia.

2007: Zika spreads from Africa and Asia to cause the first large outbreak in humans on the Pacific island of Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia. Prior to this event, no outbreaks and only 14 cases of human Zika virus disease had been documented worldwide.20 House-to-house surveys among the island’s small population of 11 250 people identify 185 cases of suspected Zika virus disease.

BLOG Zika 3

2013–2014: The virus causes outbreaks in four other groups of Pacific islands: French Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia.26,27 The outbreak in French Polynesia, generating thousands of suspected infections, is intensively investigated. The results of retrospective investigations are reported to WHO on 24 November 2015 and 27 January 2016.

2 March 2015: Brazil notifies WHO of reports of an illness characterized by skin rash in northeastern states. From February 2015 to 29 April 2015, nearly 7000 cases of illness with skin rash are reported in these states. All cases are mild, with no reported deaths. Of 425 blood samples taken for differential diagnosis, 13% are positive for dengue. Tests for chikungunya, measles, rubella, parvovirus B19, and enterovirus are negative. Zika was not suspected at this stage, and no tests for Zika were carried out.

1 February 2016: WHO declares that the recent association of Zika infection with clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Democratic Republic of Congo, a story of tragedy

For five centuries, Western nations and empires viewed the Congo as the source of vital raw materials: First slaves, then rubber, and now minerals, including those needed to keep the American war machine running.

Before the mass murders of European Jews, the 20th Century witnessed another genocide, the slaughter of slaves under Belgian King Leopold II, who held the country as his personal property and whose regime as estimated 10 million Congolese perished in a ruthless drive to produce rubber at the dawn of the automobile age — a story told with brilliant and compassionate precision in King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, a scholar now on the faculty at the Graduate School of Journalism here in Berkeley.

The West has maintained its oppressive grasp on the Congo, though now through puppets who make deals with the new empires of the age, multinational corporations back by American military might and the dark doings of its intelligence agencies.

The tragic plight of the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] is the subject of the latest episode of The Empire Files, the superb series on teleSUR English hosted by Abby Martin, a fine journalist who began her television journalism on Berkeley Community Cable.

Her interview subject is Kambale Musavuli, a native of the DRC who studied engineering at North Carolina A&T University and now serves as a human rights advocate and  Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Empires Feed on Congo’s Treasure

Program notes:

Every drone flown by the U.S. military has inside a piece of the Democratic Republic of the Congo–a valuable mineral, of which the DRC has trillions of dollars worth buried underground.

For five centuries, the continent of Africa has been ravaged by the world’s Empires for its vast untapped treasure. Today, the U.S. Empire is increasing it’s military role through their massive command network, AFRICOM, carrying out several missions a day.

With the Congo being arguably the biggest prize for imperialist powers, Abby Martin is joined by Kambale Musavuli, spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, to look at Empire’s role in their history and current catastrophe.

The world’s largest primate nears extinction

The news comes in a new survey from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

We begin with a WCS video:

Shocking Collapse of Grauer’s Gorilla Population

Program notes:

The Grauer’s gorilla, the world’s largest primate, is now critically endangered. Recent surveys by WCS have revealed a 77% population decline across its range.

More than thirteen thousand individuals have been lost in just the last twenty years — with fewer than four thousand remaining in the wild today. This devastating result means that both gorilla species and all four gorilla subspecies are now Critically Endangered.

The loss is due primarily to the illegal hunting of the species for bushmeat, particularly around mining concessions that are often deep in the forests.

Working with help from the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Fauna and Flora International, the biological surveys took place across a large swath of war torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

While this video was being finalized, the chief park warden of Kahuzi Biega notified WCS that Oscar Mianziro, one of the rangers who monitored the habituated gorillas, was killed on March 31, 2016, by armed rebels in an ambush on the park.

Our deepest condolences go to his family and to his colleagues. Helping these courageous men and women is vital. Please consider supporting them and the challenging work they do. Go to

Footage provided by Celestin Kambale, Andrew Kirkby, Andrew Plumptre and Ian Redmond.

Skulls from illegally slain Grauer's gorillas.

Skulls from illegally slain Grauer’s gorillas.

Next, the story, via the the Wildlife Conservation Society:

A shocking new report [PDF] by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International documents a catastrophic collapse of the world’s largest great ape– the Grauer’s gorilla – due to a combination of illegal hunting around mining sites and settlements, prior civil unrest, and habitat loss.

The results of the report point to a 77 percent drop in gorilla numbers, from an estimated 17,000 in 1995 to just 3,800 individuals today. Grauer’s gorillas – the world’s largest gorilla subspecies weighing up to 400 pounds – are closely related to the better known mountain gorilla. The subspecies is restricted to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

ICCN, WCS, Fauna & Flora International and other partners are calling for the following additional actions to reverse the decline of Grauer’s gorillas. 

1.      Legally gazette the boundaries of Itombwe Natural Reserve and Punia Gorilla Reserve

2.      Tackle illegal mining inside protected areas and pursue the legal establishment of artisanal mining cooperatives in areas close to gorilla habitats

3.      Disarm militia groups operating in the region

4.      Support park staff and community ecoguards that they are protecting gorillas and their habitat

5.      Find alternative sources of income for local people other than employment from mining

6.      Lobby cellphone/tablet/computer companies and others to ensure that source minerals from this region are purchased from mining sites that do not hunt bushmeat and are conflict free

The survey was led by experts from WCS and Fauna & Flora International, with field data gathered from across the Grauer’s gorilla range by a group of collaborating organizations. The report, funded by the Arcus Foundation, analyzed data collected with support from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, KfW (German Development Bank), ICCN, Newman’s Own Foundation, Rainforest Trust, UNESCO, USAID, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and World Bank. Results were presented at a press conference in Kinshasa.

The authors of the report say that their findings justify raising the threatened status of the Grauer’s gorilla as “critically endangered” on the IUCN list of Threatened Species, highlighting the perilous position these great apes are in, and the need to act now to prevent a further decline in numbers. This would put all four gorilla subspecies in the critically endangered category, the highest category ranking.

There’s much more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Map of the day: Understudied and overstudied

From a report, “Conservation Research Is Not Happening Where It Is Most Needed,” published in the open access journal PLOS Biology, a depiction of the focus of conservation research as reflected on the number of articles published with a focus on specific countries:

BLOG Pub deficit

From the report, written by scientists from Australia, Germany the Czech Republic, Indonesia, and Botswana:

The countries for which knowledge is sparse coincide with where research is most urgently needed. The top five countries, ranked according to relative importance for mammal conservation (i.e, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Mexico, and Australia), were represented in 11.9% of the publications. However, our determination, based on relative importance for investment in mammal conservation, was that these countries should be represented in 37.2% of the publications. We determined that the United States should be represented in approximately 0.5% of the publications—instead, it was the subject of approximately 17.8% of the publications and was the most studied country overall. If we consider the broader definition of conservation importance that reflects the richness of vascular plants, endemic species, and functional species, then the top five countries (i.e., Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Papua New Guinea) are the focus of only 1.6% of publications. On the basis of the proposed level of investment for mammal conservation alone, we would expect these countries to be represented in at least 7.3% of the publications. Comparatively less research is published on the most biodiverse countries.

Quote of the day II: Hillary’s bloody hands

From Australian journalist John Pilger, writing for RT:

One of Hillary Clinton’s most searing crimes was the destruction of Libya in 2011. At her urging, and with American logistical support, NATO, launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, according to its own records, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. See the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. Read the UNICEF report on the children killed, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.

In Anglo-American scholarship, followed slavishly by the liberal media on both sides of the Atlantic, influential theorists known as “liberal realists” have long taught that liberal imperialists — a term they never use — are the world’s peace brokers and crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. They have taken the humanity out of the study of nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves warmongering power. Laying out whole nations for autopsy, they have identified “failed states” (nations difficult to exploit) and “rogue states” (nations resistant to western dominance).

Whether or not the targeted regime is a democracy or dictatorship is irrelevant. In the Middle East, western liberalism’s collaborators have long been extremist Islamists, lately al-Qaeda, while cynical notions of democracy and human rights serve as rhetorical cover for conquest and mayhem – as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Haiti, Honduras. See the public record of those good liberals Bill and Hillary Clinton. Theirs is a standard to which Trump can only aspire.