Passing the Baton 2017: America’s Role in the World

As the United States prepares to inaugurate its 45th president, the U.S. Institute of Peace again will hold its Passing the Baton conference—a review, during the transition between administrations, of global challenges confronting our nation. USIP will convene Cabinet-level and other senior foreign policy and national security figures from the outgoing and incoming administrations as part of two days of meetings January 9 and 10. They will be joined by top officials from previous administrations, thought leaders and other foreign policy experts.

Photo courtesy of the The New York Times/Stephen Crowley

This third Passing the Baton seeks vital common ground on U.S. foreign policy. In accord with USIP’s congressional mandate, it will advance informed, bipartisan problem-solving on threats to U.S. national interests and international peace—from wars and extremist violence to global environmental, nuclear, cyber-security and other threats. In hosting this event, USIP is partnering with five prominent think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute, the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for American Progress and the Heritage Foundation. Media partners for the Passing the Baton are Politico and Sirius XM Radio.

USIP first held Passing the Baton in 2001 as part of the transition between the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In 2009, the conference took place as President Bush transferred power to President Barack Obama.

Passing the Baton will begin January 9 with private meetings, including members of the outgoing and incoming foreign policy teams. These will be hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former secretaries of defense Chuck Hagel and William Perry, former national security advisors Stephen Hadley and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

A conference the following day, open to news media and on the record, will include Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials from the current and former administrations, as well as President-elect Donald Trump’s designated national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his designated deputy, K.T. McFarland. Speakers also will include members of Congress and policy experts. At the day’s close, National Security Advisor Rice will speak before ceremonially “passing the baton” to her designated successor, Lt. Gen. Flynn.

Source : USIP

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European citizens want to speak up – but fear the consequences

One out of four citizens in the European Union (EU) believes that reporting corruption is the most effective thing a person can do to fight it. Unfortunately only a small minority of them would speak up, according to our recent public survey, covering 22 out of the 28 EU member states.

Why is this? Put simply, most fear the consequences: 35% of EU citizens said they are afraid of retaliation or a negative backlash such as losing their job. In France, The Netherlands and Portugal it is 50% who expressed this concern.

At the same time, the majority of European citizens feels personally compelled to report an incidence of corruption. In France, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK and Portugal more than 80% said they would feel obliged to speak up if they would witness wrongdoing.

We need EU-wide whistleblower protection!

If we want to fight corruption effectively we need to close this gap. Whistleblowers across the EU must be protected and supported when they witness or suspect wrongdoing. But legal protection is uneven across the EU – and poor to non-existent in most EU member states. Ireland adopted a strong bill in 2014, and last week France passed the Loi Sapin which includes provisions for whistleblower protection. But in other countries like Germany and Poland there is no progress at all, and the current whistleblowing legislation process in Italy is stuck at the Senate with an uncertain outcome.

That’s why Transparency International and many other organisations have joined forces in a call for a European law on whistleblower protection. An EU directive in line with good standards for such laws as developed by the Councvil of Europe and  Transparency International would provide certainty for whistleblowers across Europe that their disclosures are protected.

Brave citizens like Andrea Forsozo or John Wilson have successfully uncovered fraud, corruption or danger to public health and safety. LuxLeaks whistleblowers Atoine Deltour and Raphael Halet have helped to shed light on harmful tax avoidance practices, leading to a wide debate about tax transparency and to the adjustment of related rules and regulations.

But without legal protection such people take an enormous risk. Many end up in court or lose their jobs, even though their disclosures were critical to protect the public interest.

This needs to change: If we want to root out corruption and other types of wrongdoing we need to ensure that whistleblowers get the appropriate protection and support. An EU directive would be an important step into the right direction.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Source : Transparency International

The Essence of Revelations : All Should Be Proactive Against The Avoidable-Prof Olagoke

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The Founder and Spiirtual Head of Shafaudeen Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke reviews the outgoing 2016 and advises Nigeria’s leaders and followers to be proactive in the new year to avoid unpleasant situations. Excerpts :

A review of the outgoing year is as good as a carry over of the past. Negative resultant effect of our been fanatastyically corrupt. Inflation crept in and paucity of funds is the vogue, as reflected in states not been able to pay salaries of workers.

Prices of essential commodities have gone up, and almost out of the reach of the common man.  Although the Federal Government’s policy of Treasury Single Account(TSA) effectively controlled all transactions involving money, however, the policy has proven not to be perfect, because of its side effects, which has created hardships for consumers and threats to investments.

In fact, foreign currencies like the Dollar became scarce, while some guys became emergency millionaires in the process. The consequent economic hatrdships on the people gave the opposition the oppurtunity to hide their shame and proving to be better than the All Progressives Congress(APC) led Federal Government. Nigerians are in the Theatre. The scenario is of great woory to Nigerians, who have not seized to continue witness8ing the political panorama of the present.

However, the Federal Government has been able to win the battle against the insurgents and have also been successful in rescuing som eof the Chibok girls. This achievement has rekindled the hope of Nigerian that the Niger Delta crisis would soon be over.  Porvided the use of dialogue comes into force.

And that the menace  of the herdsmen in the game of kidnapping and blood letting will soon come to an end, if and only if, the Federal Government could be more strategic, in resolving all the conflicts.

For the year, 2017,  which revolevs on divine messages, on the socio-economic  based statistical data at hand, reveal the following :

  1. Governemnt will be serious in initiating programmes and projects, that impact positively on the people.
  2. Politicians will be involvesd in the war of attrition, in whicvh some will fall by the wayside.
  3. Economic construction will receive boost, relief, to a reasonable extent, in the current recession being experienced.
  4. Education will receive boost , but some aspects of Education shall be neglected.
  5. Security measures will be strong enough to resist any form of insrugency.
  6. Some Houses of God will be functional, while others will be bereft of the presence and favour of God.
  7. Sports shall be visited for better performance.

We need to pray  hatrd against accidents. Most especially on road accidents. Pray and prevent fire outbreak, that may destroy  property of significant magnitude, with possible attendant loss of lives.

The essence of revelations is to proactively prepare, against warnings, to be able to avoid sad and destructive happenings both at government level and at the home front. Reference : Koran Chapter 6,6-7 and Mathew 5,18

Rwanda: Gasabo Youth Makes Fortune From Banana Stems

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Banana is like the tale about seven blind people and the elephant. To some people, it’s food, for a farmer it is fodder for animals, and for alcohol manufacturers; it is a raw material for some gins and beer like Urwagwa.

But for one youth in Gasabo district in Kigali province of Rwanda, the banana plant has a whole new meaning. Every morning, Celse Ngaruye wakes up in the morning to hunt for banana stems which he later makes into a final product: the banana lampshades.

When he has collected enough banana stems for the day, he chops them into small pieces, packs them in a sack and makes his way back to his art studio at Niyo Arts center based in Kacyiru. The banana stems are key raw material for his enteprise.

“Apart from the bulb and sockets, our final product is uniquely Rwandan,” he explains. Ngaruye says since he started the enterprise, he has had steady stream of customers, mostly tourists, who are impressed by the unique lampshades made from local products.

“I sell most of these eco-friendly products during the tourism peak periods, from May to November. This is the time, when many tourists flock into the country,” he says.

He says the lampshades he makes during the other months target local clients.

He adds that his other buyers include big hotels around Kigali, and individuals, who like ambiance the local lampshades create in bedrooms or living rooms.

“I have already started getting bulk orders from key hospitality industry players, like hotels. When they make their orders, they are free to dictate the style of the lampshades. I don’t mind this since I value my clients and their opinions,” says Ngaruye.

He notes that what has also endeared him to customers is the fact that buyers are free to choose their favourite colours.

He explains that the lampshades come in different colours, depending on the hue of the paper and ‘ibitenge’ fabrics used. Each lampshade costs between $100 (about Rwf80,000) and $150 (about Rwf120,000), when he sells to tourists, while Rwandans buy them at a bargain price.

The former visual artist says he has now concentrated on making lampshades abandoning his first love – painting – “because this business is more lucrative.”

“I realised that there’s a lot of competition when it comes to visual arts since many youth are into it. But making banana paper lampshades is a new phenomenon in Rwanda… it’s still a virgin field,” he says.

Challenges

Ngaruye, who is soon holding a banana lampshade exhibition, says since his main buyers are tourists, that “business is low during off season (time when there are few tourists coming into the country)”.

Source : The Independent(Kampala)

Kenya: Wabukala Nominated for Top EACC Post

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Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated Retired Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to be the new chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi on Tuesday informed the House that he had received a message from the President communicating the nomination for parliamentary vetting.

Wabukala is set to be vetted for the position that was left vacant by Philip Kinisu following his Acrimonious exit in August.

Kinisu had been under fire after it was discovered that a firm owned by his family and where he was a director and shareholder, had dealings with the National Youth Service (NYS), while it was under investigation by the anti-graft agency.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) had submitted the name of retired Archbishop Wabukala alongside that of former Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Managing Director William Kipkemboi and Philemon Mwaisaka, who served at the defunct Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution.

The PSC had earlier shortlisted six candidates including former Inspector-General of State Corporations Peter Bita Ondieki, Rose Bosibori Osoro, who is on the Commission on Revenue Allocation, and Erastus Iguna Rweria.

Source : Capital FM

Rivers Sets Up Commission To Probe Deaths During Election

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Governor of Rivers state, Yesom Wike has set up a Judicial  Commission of Inquiry to look into the immediate and remote cause of the killings in the state during the December 10, elections.

During the Inauguration of the  Commission  on Thursday, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Wike directed the commission to ascertain the number of  people that were killed and those responsible for the killings.

“This Judicial Commission of Inquiry is not to investigate how they conducted their elections. You are to investigate the murders that attended the elections.

“Those involved in the killings will face the full weight of the law. This government has the capacity to follow through,” he said.

The Governor urged the members of the commission to  stand by the truth and be courageous in the discharge of their assignment.

In his response, the Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry,

Justice Chinwendu Nwogu  assured the Governor that the commission would discharge its assignment within the confines of the law.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry has the following terms of reference:

▪Investigate the remote and immediate causes of the violence during the December 10, 2016 rerun/supplementary elections in Rivers State.

▪Identify the perpetrators of the various acts of violence and killings in the aforesaid election.

▪Identify the victims of the violence including those killed

▪Identify if property was damaged and the value of any such property

▪Determine if the violence was localised to specific areas within the state or was state-wide

▪Make appropriate recommendations concerning their findings or any other recommendations as the commission may consider appropriate in the circumstance.

Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have also set up separate panels to investigate the conduct of the elections and the widespread irregularities that took place.

How Communities Resist Violent Extremism

By:
Lauren Van Metre

In 2003, the women of Tononoka, an ethnically and religiously diverse neighborhood in Mombasa, Kenya, organized security to protect themselves after a series of violent rapes had gripped the community. This movement, which they dubbed Sauti Ya Wanawake (Women’s Vioces), has spread nationally to prevent sexual violence, and the precedent has inspired Tononoka to mobilize repeatedly for its own security, including during the violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan elections. Today, this resilience is at play again as the community works to resist violent extremism.

Friends and family of victims of the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya during a memorial service. The siege by the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab left more than 60 people dead and many wounded. Photo Courtesy of the New York Times/Tyler Hicks

In the case of the election-related violence, citizens in Tononoka heard that ethnically based vigilante groups on the payroll of political parties were on their way to incite the community’s youth. Citizens mobilized to guard the community’s perimeter and repelled them. This same vigilance about security has allowed the community to resist violent extremism, as mosques, community watch groups and the local administration (elders and chiefs) work together to report on newcomers, screen religious speakers and manage mosque events.

Such citizen-led security organizations that work together and cooperate with the government are one of the key factors that build a community’s resilience to—or ability to resist—violent extremism, based on a comparative research study I conducted for USIP with Sahan Research and Development Organization in Kenya. The study looked at six urban communities (Eastleigh, Pumwani, Tononoka, Majengo in Mombasa, Kisuani and Kongowea) that were equally at risk for violent extremism, but exhibited different levels of violent extremist activity.

“Communities similarly at risk, but with less violent extremist activity, had high degrees and varieties of connections across religious groups.”

As the head of the research team, I selected Kenya as the study site because it is accessible and relatively safe and because it has a growing extremist problem.  Since the Kenyan military’s invasion of Somalia, Kenya has seen an increase in activity, including violent attacks, by Somali-based Harakat Al-Shabab Al Mujahideen, commonly known as al-Shabab. Recruitment for the war in Somalia, the radicalization of youth, the infiltration of local mosques and illicit financial transactions linked to extremist groups also have risen.

At the same time, the heavy-handed response of the country’s security forces to growing levels of violent extremism has antagonized Kenya’s local communities and angered youth, increasing their vulnerability to radicalization and recruitment. Kenya’s experience demonstrates the need for effective alternatives to traditional law enforcement and intelligence approaches to prevent violent extremism and terrorism.

With this research, I really wanted to understand how communities on the frontlines undermine and rebuff violent extremist groups. If the study could identify core capabilities and successful strategies that could be compared with similar studies across different communities and geographies, it could provide solid evidence for how to prevent violent extremism.

Deep Social Bonds

Previous research on how communities resist other types of violence had identified specific capacities and strategies to test on the ground in Kenya. Seminal works like Ashutosh Varshney’s Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life:  Hindus and Muslims in India, while focused on communal rather than extremist violence and not formally described as resilience research, identified key resilience factors. They included bonds among different societal groups that specifically work together on projects across ethnic and religious divides, rather than simply meeting at sports games and at markets. That distinction, Varshney concluded, has a direct relationship to the ability of a community to manage violence.

We wanted to test whether similar dynamics were at play in communities facing violent extremism. In addition to social cohesion, the Kenya study looked at other resilience factors drawn from other research. For example, collective efficacy—the belief that a community has the power and ability to successfully confront problems—and citizen participation, or the ability to work with the government to make change, were some of the resilience capacities that were tested in the six urban neighborhoods in Kenya.

A key challenge for the research team was security.

“We had to take measures to ensure the security of the surveyors and the respondents, since we were asking questions about violent extremist activity in their community,” Scofield Muliru, who managed the two surveys and one focus group discussion organized in each neighborhood.

The resilience research team also considered how to translate the resilience capacities identified in the literature review and describe them in ways that made sense to survey participants. By asking how communities responded to other crises and incidents of violence, such as the 2007-2008 unrest after national elections and a cholera outbreak not long before the study, survey participants were able to identify the key factors that they believed helped them resist violent extremism.

The key factor they cited was Christian-Muslim association. Communities similarly at risk, but with less violent extremist activity, had high degrees and varieties of connections across religious groups that allowed them to stop cycles of retributive violence and build greater levels of trust across religious lines. That trust allowed Christian leaders to assure their congregations that Muslim leaders were doing everything they could to prevent radicalization and recruitment.

Another capacity that existed in communities with less aggregate extremist violence of various types was community-organized, but unarmed, security groups that worked together and with the government to report violent extremist activity. The groups might be young people performing community watch-like patrols, or religious leaders sharing information, or tribal elders maintaining contacts with their communities.

Risks of Bribery, Informant Networks

The configuration of these groups was critical – there had to be more than one group sharing information, or community members would manipulate it. Also, if there was only one existing security group, it would have to rely on informant networks and bribes to cover enough territory to be effective, decreasing its legitimacy with certain populations. Multiple security groups, on the other hand, could verify information with each other, and they were in a better position to protect community members who made reports from being arrested or being subject to retribution from extremist groups.

Andia Kisia, who lead the Sahan research team, noted that communities that experienced heavy-handed police action – detentions, unwarranted arrests and beatings—stopped talking about violent extremism in their community. When these conversations “went underground,” it severely impeded a community’s ability to identify the violent extremist threat and develop successful strategies.

The study showed us that police brutality not only increases levels of recruitment and radicalization, it undermines a community’s resilience—its ability to act. It hits them on both sides by making them more vulnerable and less resilient.

The study’s recommendations are limited to urban communities in Kenya, because rural communities might have different dynamics. But non-governmental organizations and government officials trying to prevent or counter violent extremism in such areas should prioritize Christian-Muslim association in their activities, and support coordinated, community-led security organizations that work with the government to resist violent extremism.

The research results were briefed to Kenya’s National Counter-Terrorism Center and to participating community members. A leader in Pumwani said his community was preventing violent extremism by tapping into the same capacity they used to resist electoral violence in 2007-2008 – high levels of social cohesion based on widespread inter-religious and inter-ethnic marriage, which reflected the community’s tolerance and also strengthened its resistance to the electoral violence, much of which was based on ethnic divisions.

Perhaps communities that recognize the strengths they have and know how to use them can develop resilience strategies for different shocks, such as the potential risk of repeat electoral violence in Kenya in 2017.

Lauren Van Metre, the former head of USIP’s Center for Applied Research on Conflict, teaches at George Washington University and conducts research on community resilience.

Source : USIP

South Africa: Inquiry Report Submitted to Phiyega

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Pretoria — The Board of Inquiry that was established to investigate allegations of misconduct and the fitness of the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Victoria Phiyega to hold office has submitted a copy of its report to the National Commissioner.

According to section 9 of the South African Police Act, 1995, at the conclusion of the inquiry, the Board must submit its report to the President, the National Commissioner and Parliament.

The report was submitted to President Jacob Zuma on 15 December 2016. The President is still considering the report.

Arrangements are being made by the Board to submit a copy of the report to Parliament.

The Presidency has written to General Phiyega requesting her to make additional written representations that may assist the President in considering the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry.

Source : Sa news.gov.za

California becomes heart of anti-Trump resistance

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California’s political leaders are gearing up to lead progressive resistance to President-elect Donald Trump.

The Golden State, where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by more than 4 million votes, is a center of political power for the left.

It’s the home of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, two industries that tilt to the left. By itself, the state makes up 13 percent of the nation’s GDP.

A powerful group of Democratic politicians call the state home, including both of the state’s senators, a liberal legend in Gov. Jerry Brown and the nation’s first and only female Speaker in Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

California is also home to a growing Latino population, which means it will be ground zero for Trump’s immigration agenda.  About 40 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic.

“California can and will continue to lead on policy,” said Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state.He said his state is ready to oppose Trump on federal policies that would hurt California, and on nominees such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican and immigration hardliner nominated to lead the Department of Justice.

Outgoing Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), appointed earlier this month to succeed Sen. Kamala Harris as attorney general, will lead the local charge in California’s immigration fight.

Becerra has already vowed to fight federal immigration enforcement in his new role through legislation and litigation.

“My sense is we’re not going to stop being California,” Becerra told The Hill. “We’ve got a very progressive group of leaders from Governor Brown, to our state legislative leaders [State Assembly Speaker] Anthony Rendon, to [State Senate President] Kevin de Leon.”

California mayors have also pledged to resist aggressive immigration enforcement. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been adamant in keeping L.A. as a sanctuary city, and he announced Monday a fund to defend immigrants from federal deportation action.

The state’s political leaders are signaling they will be a part of the resistance to Trump’s pick for attorney general. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the 24-year California senator, will be the ranking Democrat next year on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider the Sessions nomination.

Becerra said all legal options are on the table when it comes to fighting to defend California’s policies, including litigation and political action.

“We’re gonna move, so long as we do things according to the U.S. and California constitutions, we’re gonna move,” he said. “I think what makes it an interesting or changing dynamic is if someone tries to stop us from doing what we’re by law allowed to do.”

Padilla, an outspoken voting rights advocate who already pushed through aggressive policies to expand California’s voter registration, vowed to defend voting rights at a national level.

Turnout in California was 73.5 percent, the state’s second-highest in history. It’s nearly 20 percent higher to the 54.4 percent who turned out to vote across the country, according to the United States Elections Project.

Some believe the higher turnout reflects the interest taken in the election by Hispanics who worried that if Trump won, he’d follow through on his promises to build a wall on the border and to start mass deportations.

Trump has complained about voter fraud in California, saying this contributed to his loss in the popular vote.

Some of Trump’s supporters have suggested illegal immigrants contributed to Clinton’s tally in the Golden State.

Padilla slammed Trump’s comments about fraud last month, saying they were unsubstantiated, reckless and unbecoming of a president-elect.

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him,” he said.

While Trump and California have been at odds — Trump supporters have noted he would have won the popular vote if the Golden State’s vote totals were excluded from the national vote — California politicians say they are willing to work with the president-elect where their interests aligned.

“If they take actions we approve of I’ll be the first to applaud,” Padilla said.

“As Leader Pelosi has mentioned, we will work and engage with the President-elect where we can,” Jorge Vargas, a spokesman for Pelosi, wrote in an email.

“However, House Democrats will confront where we must. We won’t stand idly by as Speaker [Rep. Paul ] Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Trump Administration attempt to attack Social Security and Medicare while at the same time assaulting the healthcare of 20 million Americans.”

With California as a progressive bulwark, the potential clash between the country’s largest state and the federal government could pit the country’s two largest bureaucracies against each other from opposite ends of the political spectrum on almost every issue.

But Kenneth Romero, executive director of the bipartisan National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, said the conflict is nothing new.

“It’s not the first time a state resists federal policy,” he said.

He argued that California’s local leaders are likely to use a pillar of the GOP identity in making their case against Trump’s agenda: states rights.

Source : The Hill