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Posts tagged ‘China’

Defiant Chinese Bishop Dies at 97 While under House Arrest.


A Shanghai bishop who was imprisoned for decades by Chinese authorities died Sunday evening at his home, a Catholic group said in a statement.

Bishop Fan Zhongliang, 97, was ordained by Pope John Paul II but not recognised by Chinese authorities.

China is home to between 8 and 12 million Catholics, divided between the state-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which appoints its own bishops, and an “underground” church that is loyal to the Vatican.

Fan spent more than 30 years in prisons and labor camps over the course of his life, starting in 1955, according to the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, which reports on the treatment of Catholics in China. He was under house arrest when he died.

Supporters held a mass at Fan’s apartment immediately after his death, the foundation said, but Shanghai government officials ordered the body to be transfered to a funeral home after the service.

The government denied Fan’s supporters’ request to hold his funeral at a large cathedral, instead designating a smaller courtyard at the funeral home, the statement said.

China and the Vatican broke off formal diplomatic relations shortly after the ruling Communist Party took power in 1949.

Both the Vatican and China agreed to ordain a bishop in Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, in 2012, but government authorities arrested him after he stepped down from the Catholic Patriotic Association around the same time.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Official: Malaysia Flight Likely Crashed in Indian Ocean.


A senior U.S. official tells CNN that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 likely crashed in the Indian Ocean.

The network’s source says “there is probably a significant likelihood” the plane, which disappeared nearly a week ago with 239 people on board, turned west and flew over the Malaysian Peninsula and the Indian Ocean before crashing.

The network says Malaysian authorities have a record of several pings the aircraft’s engines made with satellites orbiting the earth after its transponder turned off. Their pattern indicates the plane turned west, flew across Malaysia, and above the Indian Ocean. Malaysian authorities, CNN’s source says, believe the plane flew for 4-5 hours after it lost contact with radar on the ground.

There were no pings that indicated an impact of any kind on land or in water.

ABC News, meanwhile, has two sources that say U.S. authorities believe the plane’s two communications systems were manually shut down from within the cockpit.  The system that reports data, officials believe, was turned off at 1:07 a.m. The transponder that tracks the plane’s location and altitude was shut down at 1:21 a.m.

Both systems were “systematically shut down,” U.S. investigators told ABC. The Americans, the report says, are “convinced that there was manual intervention” involved.

The USS Kidd, a Navy destroyer, is en route to the Indian Ocean to begin searching for the plane. It had been searching in areas south of the Gulf of Thailand with another destroyer, the USS Pinckney.

CNN’s source says his information is not 100 percent certain at this time. But the source says the United States is concerned that Malaysia is not sharing all the information it has related to the missing jetliner.

The White House said a new search may be started in the Indian Ocean, significantly broadening the potential location of the plane,

Expanding the search area to the Indian Ocean would be consistent with the theory that the Boeing 777 detoured to the west about an hour after take-off from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

“It’s my understanding that based on some new information that’s not necessarily conclusive — but new information — an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington.

Carney did not specify the nature of the new information and Malaysian officials were not immediately available to comment.

The disappearance is one of the most baffling mysteries in the history of modern aviation. There has been no trace of the plane nor any sign of wreckage despite a search by the navies and military aircraft of more than a dozen countries across Southeast Asia.

Satellites picked up faint electronic pulses from the aircraft after it went missing on Saturday, but the signals gave no information about where the jet was heading and little else about its fate, two sources close to the investigation said on Thursday.

But the “pings” indicated its maintenance troubleshooting systems were switched on and ready to communicate with satellites, showing the aircraft was at least capable of communicating after losing touch with air traffic controllers.

The system transmits such pings about once an hour, according to the sources, who said five or six were heard. However, the pings alone are not proof that the plane was in the air or on the ground, the sources said.

Malaysian authorities have said the last civilian contact occurred as the Boeing 777-200ER flew north into the Gulf of Thailand. They said military radar sightings indicated it may have turned sharply to the west and crossed the Malay Peninsula toward the Andaman Sea.

The new information about signals heard by satellites shed little light on the mystery of what happened to the plane, whether it was a technical failure, a hijacking, or another kind of incident on board.

While the troubleshooting systems were functioning, no data links were opened, the sources said, because the companies involved had not subscribed to that level of service from the satellite operator, the sources said.

Boeing and Rolls-Royce, which supplied the plane’s Trent engines, declined to comment.

Earlier, Malaysian officials denied reports that the aircraft had continued to send technical data and said there was no evidence that it flew for hours after losing contact with air traffic controllers early last Saturday.

“It’s extraordinary that with all the technology that we’ve got that an aircraft can disappear like this,” Tony Tyler, the head of the International Air Transport Association that links over 90 percent of the world’s airlines, told reporters in London.

Ships and aircraft are now combing a vast area that had already been widened to cover both sides of the Malay Peninsula and the Andaman Sea.

The U.S. Navy was sending an advanced P-8A Poseidon plane to help search the Strait of Malacca, separating the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It had already deployed a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to those waters.

India’s Defense Ministry has ordered the deployment of ships and  aircraft from the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. An Indian P8I Poseidon surveillance plane was sent to the Andaman islands on Thursday.

China, which had more than 150 citizens on board the missing plane, has deployed four warships, four coast guard vessels, eight aircraft, and trained 10 satellites on a wide search area. Chinese media have described the ship deployment as the largest Chinese rescue fleet ever assembled.

On the sixth day of the search, planes scanned an area of sea where Chinese satellite images had shown what could be debris, but found no sign of the airliner.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference the images were provided accidentally, saying the Chinese government neither authorized nor endorsed putting them on a website. “The image is not confirmed to be connected to the plane,” he said.

It was the latest in a series of contradictory reports, adding to the confusion and agony of the relatives of the passengers.

As frustration mounted over the failure to find any trace of the plane, China heaped pressure on Malaysia to improve coordination in the search.

Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at a news conference in Beijing, demanded that the “relevant party” step up coordination while China’s civil aviation chief said he wanted a “smoother” flow of information from Malaysia, which has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster.

Malaysian police have said they were investigating whether any passengers or crew on the plane had personal or psychological problems that might shed light on the mystery, along with the possibility of a hijacking, sabotage, or mechanical failure.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came last July 6, when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall with its undercarriage on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Pete Hoekstra: What Happens in Ukraine Doesn’t Stay in Ukraine.


Russia has invaded Ukraine militarily and electronically. Already strained, P5 plus 1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons programs are breaking down.

Examined in isolation they would appear to be international outliers existing separately in their own vacuums. But are they really?

Not at all. What happens in Ukraine doesn’t stay in Ukraine.

What happens in Iran doesn’t stay in Iran. Events in the two countries are in fact closely intertwined.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has always resented the collapse of the Soviet Union and harbors ambitions in which he absorbs the breakaway sovereign satellite states – such as Ukraine – to once again become a global superpower.

At the same time, a defiant Iran continues to advance its nuclear weapons programs, expand its sphere of influence, extend its support of global terror, build its ballistic missile stockpile, and grow its cyber capabilities.

Both Russia and Iran have significant global aspirations and view the United States as the biggest obstacle to achieving their goals. Recent events have pushed Russia and Iran closer together, which will result in dangerous consequences for the United States.

Russia always had very few reasons to support the West during negotiations over lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for halting its nuclear weapons program. It now has no reason to support the coalition given its aggression in Ukraine against strong Western opposition.

The nuclear talks with Iran will now inevitably fail without Russian support, and there will be no hope of re-imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Events in Ukraine will provide Iran with a significant amount of time to further work on its nuclear weapons program and build upon an already well-developed cyber capability.

The cyber capability may be the most troubling. Cyber reaches globally and crosses borders effortlessly. It can cause massive damage and is difficult to attribute.

Only a few years ago most experts rated Iran at tier two or tier three in its cyber capabilities. Today, with Russian assistance, Iran has closed the gap significantly and ranks closely behind tier one cyber powers such as the United States, China, and Israel. Experts are not only surprised, but they are perplexed at how Iran could have made up so much ground so quickly.

Iran’s cyber warfare program is now sophisticated enough to have carried out attacks on major U.S. financial institutions and penetrate into an unclassified U.S. Navy computer network that reportedly took four months to resolve.

Russia will continue its support for Iran’s aspirations of having a world class cyber warfare capability, both offensive and defensive.

Russia will also continue to extend its own global sphere of influence by antagonizing its neighbors and by moving into a perceived vacuum in Middle Eastern affairs created in part by Syria’s brutal civil war. Russia and Iran have long been suspected of sending weapons and other support to the Bashar al-Assad as the civilian death toll mounts.

The national security calculus for the United States is changing dramatically. It has at its core a developing relationship between Russia and Iran, an Iran with its nuclear program, terrorism support competencies intact, and a tier one cyber capability: none of which bodes well for the United States or the West.

Recent events should teach us that we cannot view any development in isolation, that it would be wise to consider the unintended consequences of any action or inaction.

What happens in Ukraine doesn’t stay in Ukraine. It can have ripple effects that alter the national security map around the world.

Pete Hoekstra is the former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Pete Hoekstra

US, France Warn Russia of ‘New Measures’ Over Ukraine.


President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande warned Saturday of “new measures” against Russia if it fails to work toward defusing the crisis in Ukraine, the French presidency said.

In a phone call on Saturday, Obama and Hollande insisted on the “need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers,” it said.
Obama’s conversation with Hollande was one of a half dozen telephone conversations he had with world leaders Saturday about Ukraine, the White House says.

He  also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and held a conference call with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The new warnings come in the wake of Russia’s insistence that any U.S. sanctions will have a boomerang effect on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

“Sanctions…would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang,” it added.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine’s new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards’ commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea’s pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War – resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence – escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.

The region’s government set a referendum for March 16 – in just nine days’ time.

JETS, DESTROYER

Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey’s Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine’s constitution.

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening European Union leaders Ukraine’s sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute “a threat to international peace and security”, after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia’s biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties “extremely unconstructive”. It pledged to retaliate.

“GUERRILLA WAR?”

Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich’s overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government’s openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being “in support of the Crimean people”. Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as “Crimea is Russian land”, and “We believe in Putin”.

IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the “so-called referendum” in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev’s willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international “contact group” with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they “make us smile”.

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine’s Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

“I don’t think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can’t behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking.”

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow’s rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea’s 2 million population opposes Moscow’s rule, including members of the region’s ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

“With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo,” Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. “Everyone fully understands this is an occupation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Dalai Lama to Open US Senate Session With Prayer.


The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, will give the opening prayer on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday, the first time he has done so, reports said.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said he and his committee also would host the Dalai Lama on Thursday afternoon. The Tibetan holy man is expected to meet with House leaders as well, The Hill reported.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black usually opens the Senate session with a prayer.

The Dalai Lama, who first visited the United States in 1979, has been in the country for a few weeks, sparking a controversy along the way.

President Barack Obama met with the spiritual leader in the White House two weeks ago — their third talk in recent years, the Washington Post reported.

China, which angrily objected to the meeting, calls the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, 78, says he wants autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

During the White House meeting, Obama reiterated the U.S. stance against an independent Tibet but encouraged dialogue between the two countries.

“The president commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ approach,” the White House said of the meeting, The Hill reported.

The Dalai Lama has appeared on Capitol Hill before for meetings with congressional leaders, and was awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, during a 2007 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in an event attended by President George W. Bush.

In 2009, he focused on compassion in an opening prayer for the New York State Senate.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Democrats Invite The Dalai Lama To Invoke Pagan ‘Blessing’ Over US Senate.


“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1

HuffPost: The Dalai Lama will step in for Chaplain Barry Black to lead the U.S. Senate’s opening prayer on Thursday, March 6, 2014 according to the Chaplain’s office.

The Director of Communications for Chaplain Black’s office told The Huffington Post that Senator Reid nominated the Tibetan spiritual leader to lead Thursday’s prayer in the place of the chaplain, whose office regularly facilitates prayers by visiting religious leaders.

dalai-lama-to-offer-pagan-prayer-over-us-senate-march-6-2014-new-age-religion

The Dalai Lama believes that he is a god, and as such recognizes no gods outside of himself. When he prays before the US Senate, he will be giving his blessing as a god, and not asking for God’s blessing on our nation.

The Dalai Lama’s prayer has been pre-approved, the director said, and if it is similar to the one he gave in 2009 to the New York State Senate, he may highlight the need for compassion and an “inner peace of mind.” He will be continuing the Senate’s 207-year tradition of beginning each session with a prayer, a role Chaplain Black has fulfilled since 2003 when he was elected 62nd Chaplain of the United States Senate.

Known for a firm commitment social activism, the 14th Dalai Lama is a controversial figure in China, where his relationship with the U.S. is regularly criticized. On February 21, the Dalai Lama met with President Obama for the third time prompting a reaction from the Chinese Foreign Ministry whose spokesperson called the meeting an “interference in China’s internal affairs.” source – HuffPost

by NTEB News Desk

The Unending Military Siege to Delta State By Ogaga Ifowodo.


 

Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

Delta is a densely populated state that also happens to house a vast amount of oil and gas. The Sapele-Warri-Ughelli corridor, extending to Port Harcourt, is the industrial and commercial heartbeat of the state and has a high volume of vehicular traffic. A testimony to the socio-economic importance of this corridor is the never-to-be-completed East-West Road that spans four states: Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom. Yet, it is precisely the short stretch of it between Warri and Ughelli that the Federal Government has managed to make motorable, seven years and N349 billion after, that exhibits the unbearable hardship of military checkpoints (MCPs) through which a permanent siege has been laid to the state. If you have ever travelled on that road at peak hours, or worse, are a frequent commuter between Warri and any of the towns further south—Ughelli, Patani, and all of Isokoland—then a nightmare for you must be a dream of sandbags and oil barrels that create bottlenecks in the middle of your road.

On Saturday, the 15th, I set out from Warri with an older cousin—I call him Brother Reuben—and his wife on a trip to visit my mother in Otor-Owhe, but with stops in Iyede to attend a funeral and Oleh for a wedding.  We crawled through the first MCP at Okuokokor in about twenty minutes, though from the DSC roundabout where the East-West Road begins to the checkpoint is less than half a kilometre.  At about 11:05 AM, our progress was halted with sterner resolve as we fell into one of now-three-and-now-four lanes caused by the MCP just before Beta Glass Company. For forty–three minutes, we stewed in the sun and expressed our frustrations in hisses and impotent rage. As we passed through the checkpoint, we noticed that the sentry hut was empty and the two soldiers in the vicinity were chatting with someone in the nearby petrol station. Thankfully, they had ensured to deploy helmets atop the sandbags to stand in for them! On our return, at 6:20 PM, we saw the gridlock ahead and turned just in time at Delta Power Station into the Otor-Udu Road, an alternative route to our destination in the Udu-Ovwian area of Warri.  We might as well have gnashed our teeth through the Delta Glass MCP for we ran smack into another in Ujevwu! Suffice it to say that a journey of twenty minutes, give or take, from the Delta Glass MCP took a full hour longer. But we were lucky: I heard stories of two to three hours lost to the East-West Road checkpoints.

But why build roads, supposedly for the freer flow of traffic, and then erect obstacles in them to defeat the purpose?  To combat kidnappers, I am told. Very funny! And not only because the soldiers do not check vehicles, do not do any actual policing—are indeed often not to be seen at the checkpoints—but also because I am yet to hear of any kidnapper arrested at a military checkpoint. Despite being hemmed in by MCPs, Kelvin Oniarah, the alleged kidnap kingpin of Kokori was arrested in a hotel in Port Harcourt, while one Enueme Ogaga, his alleged sidekick, was nabbed in Ashaka far from a checkpoint. And outside Delta State, the report “Another kidnap kingpin, 6 robbers nabbed in Rivers” (Vanguard, 20 February 2014) informs us that the said kidnapper “was traced to a . . .  bank . . .  where he went to withdraw [the] ransom” paid for his victim.

Checkpoints are an extreme policing device suitable only for a town under military occupation. They are to be used sparingly and only for a specific and immediate goal, then promptly dismantled. As I ranted against military checkpoints—they are a gratuitous infliction of pain; they hinder movement and economic activity and we mount them with glee only because we are not a productive economy, are not in competition with any other nation (crude oil and gas do not travel on the roads); they show us as a conquered people, a land rendered comatose by military dictatorship and civilian brigandage, etc.—my auditors recounted their experiences. On hearing me swear to write a column about the MCPs, Mr George Okoro, a retired Shell Community Relations Coordinator, said, “Well, you may write all you want but our governments delight in seeing us suffer, that’s all.” The next day, on a visit to Professor G.G.  Darah in his Udu-Warri home, I was still in a huff and so, it turns out, was he about the ubiquity of checkpoints in Delta State. He had once counted, he said, “29 checkpoints between Auchi and Asaba.” Delta State, he declared, “is a war zone. You won’t see checkpoints coming from Abuja, until you leave Auchi.”

Elsewhere, countries that take themselves seriously strain to outdo their nearest competitors in lowering the cost of doing business, partly by shortening the time for travelling between two points. And so China develops its new high-speed trains with France, Japan and Germany as its competitors. We do not have a rail transport system that would pass the laugh test; all we have are inadequate and decrepit roads. And yet we find every reason to bring traffic to a halt on them. Perhaps the powers that be who authorised the permanent military siege to Delta State might care to prove Mr Okoro wrong?

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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