Sunday, July 22, 2018

SOCCER: Mesut Ozil cites 'racism and disrespect' as he quits Germany

Football star felt he was singled out as scapegoat for World Cup exit due to Turkish heritage and Erdogan meeting.

Mesut Ozil was part of Germany's national team at the World Cup in Russia [Pilar Olivares/Reuters]

AL JAZEERA - Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football, hitting out at the "racist" and "disrespectful" treatment he received in the wake of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany's early World Cup exit.

The Arsenal star, who has Turkish ancestry, made the announcement on Sunday in a lengthy statement he posted on his Twitter account.

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder, who was part of the German squad that exited the World Cup in Russia at the group stage, felt he was singled out as a scapegoat for the failure due to his Turkish heritage and the Erdogan meeting in May.

"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect," Ozil said.

"The treatment I have received from the DFB [German Football Association] and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt," he added.

"People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual-heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent."

Ozil said he could not accept "German media outlets repeatedly blaming my dual-heritage and a simple picture for a bad World Cup on behalf of an entire squad".

He added: "I am German when we win, but an immigrant when we lose."

Ozil earned 92 caps for Germany since his debut in 2009. He was a key member of the country's 2014 World Cup-winning side.

"This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I've always given everything for my teammates ... but when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough," he wrote.

"That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever, be accepted."
Ozil met Erdogan meets in London in May [Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters]
Ozil drew criticism at home after his meeting in Erdogan. He and Ilkay Gundogan - a team mate also of Turkish descent who likewise posed with Erdogan - were jeered in warm-up games before the World Cup in Russia.

In his statement on Sunday, Ozil said if he had not met the Turkish president, he would have been "disrespecting the roots of my ancestors".

"For me having a picture with President Erdogan wasn't about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family's country," he said.

The Arsenal midfielder also said that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement.

"Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey," he said. "I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish."
Ozil holds the World Cup trophy after Germany beat Argentina at the 2014 final in Brazil [Antonio Lacerda/EPA]
Relations between Germany and Turkey have soured amid a crackdown by Erdogan's government on suspected supporters of a failed military coup in July 2016.

"My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies," Ozil said.

"I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would've been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture."

MUSIC: International Musicians Create Harmony Through Music Program - VIDEO

Twenty-five young musicians from around the world have gathered in California to train and perform this month. The international program called iPalpiti, from the Italian word for heartbeats, is a labor of love for a Russian-born conductor who says music can break down barriers.

LOS ANGELES (VOA) — Twenty-five young musicians from around the world have gathered in California to train and perform this month in an international program called iPalpiti, from the Italian word for heartbeats. The training program and performance festival mark a labor of love for Russian-born conductor and musical director Eduard Schmieder, who says that music has the power to break down barriers.

The musicians come from 19 countries, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Israel and Italy, and Schmieder says that in their own way, they make the world more peaceful.

“In our orchestra,” he said, “I will not name the countries on purpose, but there are musicians from the countries which are practically — not practically — but which are at war. And they are sitting next to each other, and they become friends,” he said.

Schmieder and his wife started this program in 1997 with help from the renowned violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.

Accomplished musicians

Professional musicians whose ages range from the late teens to the 30s take part in the program. They are accomplished, Schmieder said, and include winners of major competitions.

“It’s so great that you have so many sensitive musicians,” said Peter Rainer, a violinist who serves as concertmaster, the link between the musicians and conductor. “They all are very alert and awake and listen to each other” as they work together to perfect their performances, he said.

Turkish viola player Can Sakul says the international group meshes well.

“This is home because when you make good music; it makes you feel like you’re home,” Sakul said during a break from rehearsals in Orange County, California.

Cultural exchange

This is a cultural as well as musical exchange, a Siberian violinist says.

“Here, everyone has their own opinion of music, how to play every composition,” said Russian Semyon Promoe. “It’s very interesting to interact with everybody,” he said, “to play together and to create one opinion for everybody.”

This year, the festival focuses on music from baroque to contemporary, from J. S. Bach and Franz Schubert to the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak and Russia’s Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. Yet, this music has no geographic boundaries, says a cellist from Ecuador.

“It’s interesting to see where we intersect,” Francisco Vila said, “how many things we have in common. And also the music world … is quite small,” he added, “so you’re only one person away from knowing everyone else.”

He says that through this program, the instrumentalists get to know more about each other as they share the thrill of performing great music. Musicians who have taken part in the annual training and festival make up “a big family,” said Turkish violist Sakul, “so I’m proud to be a part of it,” he added.

AFRICA: Africa's desire to have national airlines - case of NiGERIA

The first Nigerian prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, greets an air stewardess after the inaugural flight of the WAAC (West African Airline Company) on Oct 1, 1958. (Keystone/Getty Images)

From elephants to eagles: the evolving brands of Nigeria’s unsuccessful national airlines

By Kemi LijaduQuartz Africa

This week Nigeria launched plans for a new national airline to be called Nigeria Air. It’s set to take off in December.

Even though there is pent-up demand for more air travel in Nigeria as it is currently an underserved market, the plans have already received a lot of criticism from those who feel Africa’s largest economy has a myriad of other more pressing problems to deal with from electricity shortages and lack of basic infrastructure to a rising poverty challenge.

And airlines are very tough businesses to run. Also, the Nigerian government doesn’t have a great track record in the aviation industry. Even privately-owned Nigerian airlines have struggled and some eventually collapse.

Dolapo Oni@Dolarpo

Running a national carrier is notoriously difficult mostly due to political/government interference. This has been the bane of previous attempts. Airline business is tight margin business. You have to follow each kobo through operations to safeguard that net profit margin...1

Wednesday’s announcement was limited in scope. It confirmed the carrier will be private sector-led and that the government would own a maximum of 5% of the airline. However, Nigeria’s minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, speaking at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, would not confirm any details of who the potential partners or investors would be. There have been press reports that the Nigerian government is in talks with partner airlines including Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airways to help manage its operations.

To be clear, attitudes are mixed towards the new national carrier, while there is plenty of skepticism there are also many Nigerians who see it as a sign of progress and national pride and that Nigeria is making a bold statement on the global stage.

Nigeria’s long and fluctuating history with national carriers can be told through the design choices of their day.
West African Airways Corporation (1946-1971)

The first airline associated with the Nigerian government was the West African Airways Corporation (WAAC) created in 1946. Its quant logo includes a winged elephant, lunging upwards with WAAC emblazoned on its side.

This, of course, was pre-independence West Africa. This logo was a clear nod to the colonial badges of the British West Africa Protectorate which featured an elephant.

The creature served to represent West Africa as WAAC was a jointly owned airline operated by the Nigerian, Ghanaian, Gambian and Sierra Leonean governments with the headquarters based in Nigeria.

WAAC was dissolved in 1958 and rebranded as WAAC Nigeria, as all the other shareholder countries pulled out to set up their own individual carriers post independence. The first flight was on Oct.1 1958 as captured with Nigeria’s first prime minister Abubakar Tafewa Balewa in the main photo above. That was exactly two years before Nigeria’s independence from Britain.
Nigeria Airways 1966 flyer (Bjorn Larsson & David Zekria, Virgin Nigeria (2004-2008)
Eventually WAAC Nigeria was renamed Nigeria Airways, which operated as the official national carrier of Nigeria, until 2003. Nigerian Airways maintained the colonial relic of the elephant with the Nigerian flag. Nigeria Airways’s 32-year run was the longest of all iterations of the country’s national airlines through the oil boom years in the early 1970s to much leaner austerity years in the mid-1980s. Eventually, as Nigeria’s economy worsened over the years it crash-landed in 2004 under a pile of debt. It left behind many disgruntled pensioners who are unhappy today about plans to launch a new airline without taking care of what’s owed to them.

The dissolution of Nigerian Airways paved the way for a joint venture between Nigerian investors and British tycoon Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2004. In this design there’s a Nigerian adaptation of the internationally recognized brand, linking to the successful Virgin Atlantic airline.

But the Virgin Group pulled out of the venture after three years blaming interference from local politicians and regulators. Branson is memorably quoted comparing Nigerian officials as having the attitude of the mafia:

To my utter dismay, certain authorities in Nigeria have chosen to ignore our contract, sending in heavies a few months ago to smash up our lounge with sledgehammers.The behavior of the authorities was similar to the way the Mafioso behaved in the U.S. in the 1930s… If Virgin Nigeria can be treated in this way, can any company in the world seriously consider investing in Nigeria in the future?

Nigerian Eagle Airlines (2008-2010)

Virgin withdrew in 2008. The airline was rebranded as a Nigerian Eagle Airlines. Interbrand, the global brand consultancy commissioned to create the logo, described their conceptual design as an intentional use of ” uniquely West African colors… inspiration came from the rich kaleidoscope of patterns in cloths worn by West Africans.”

This time the eagle in the brand name and the logo were more in line with the Nigerian coat of arms where the bird represents strength. It made sense, after all even the Nigerian soccer team is nicknamed the Super Eagles (originally the Green Eagles). Besides, apart from Disney’s Dumbo, elephants can only go so far in the sky.
Air Nigeria (2010-2012)

With few alterations to the design, Nigerian Eagle was rebranded as Air Nigeria in 2010. Operations finally ceased in 2012, when due to mismanagement the airline collapsed under 35 billion naira of debt.
Nigeria Air (2018-??)

This brings us to Nigeria Air, the latest iteration in the list of national air carriers. Like its name, the logo is a sort of reworking of elements from the previous air carriers. The design is more minimal that its predecessors, featuring a ribbon bearing the green-white-green colors of the national flag fluttering in the wind. If you are attentive there is an optical illusion. A white dot on the ribbon, is an eye and the ribbon flutters into the shape of an eagle. Representing a distinctively Nigerian but more functional and streamlined service..

This time, FROM6, an advertising agency from Bahrain, was in charge of design. In the Nigerian Air video debut, they describe it as one that will “take the country to new heights under our common symbol of pride – Nigeria Air.” Unlike past designs, Nigeria Air includes a tagline “bringing Nigeria closer to the world”.

There are still doubts from many Nigerian commentators and watchers as to whether logo and design will translate to actual airplane leases and airport gate slots. The concern, as analyst Dolapo Oni says in the last tweet of his thread, noted earlier, aside from all the economic, financial and operational challenges running a national airline it’s also fraught with political challenges. You could say it’s complicated.

TANZANIA: US senator demands Trump action Magufuli move towards dicatorship

Mr Bob Menendez (pictured), a senator from New Jersey, on the Democratic party ticket, is pushing the US government to immediately nominate an ambassador to Tanzania to lead diplomatic efforts to push back against what he termed “the tide of anti-democratic actions.” The diplomatic post, he says, “…has been vacant for well over a year.”
THE CITIZEN - Dar es Salaam. A senior United States politician has filed a motion calling on President Donald Trump to raise his voice on what he says is the reversal of democratic gains in Tanzania.

Mr Bob Menendez (pictured), a senator from New Jersey, on the Democratic party ticket, is pushing the US government to immediately nominate an ambassador to Tanzania to lead diplomatic efforts to push back against what he termed “the tide of anti-democratic actions.” The diplomatic post, he says, “…has been vacant for well over a year.”

In the motion, published in the Congress records last month and uploaded on the website:, the senator has described Tanzania as a country that appeared to be on the path toward greater democracy and political openness but raised concerns over the trend of increasing restrictions on basic freedoms. He has also asked the US government to increase assistance to build the capacity of civil society and media stakeholders in Tanzania and robustly fund US programmes that can adequately address the current challenges.

However, Mr Menendez noted, as a disclaimer, that he did not intend to raise criticism against the Tanzanian government and its people.

“My purpose is not to offer gratuitous criticisms of Tanzania or its people, but to register my strong concern that the progress of the last decade and a half in the areas of democracy and respect for civil liberties may be undergoing a reversal right before our eyes,’’ he said in his motion.”

“By many measures, Tanzania is doing fairly well,’’ he added in one of his acknowledgements of the progress that Tanzania had made in terms of economic growth, peacekeeping and openness but express his fears about the current human rights trend.

“I fear that while we are all rightly focused on the resolving the many crises on the continent and around the globe, the gradual downward spiral of respect for civil liberties in Tanzania is proceeding unnoticed, unremarked, and unchallenged by its friends and partners,” he said.

He pointed out key areas which he believes are key indicators of Tanzania’s downward progress in terms of civil liberties and human rights.

“First is the rise in recent years in the harassment of opposition political figures and restrictions on their activities,’’ said. “In February of this year, the US Embassy released a statement of concern about the rise in politically related confrontations after reports of kidnapping and violence in Tanzania…,’’ he pointed out, partly.

“Second is closing media space. According to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, RSF, Tanzania dropped 12 places between 2016 to 2017 to 83 out of 180. While this is the best score in east Africa, RSF stated that the climate for journalism ‘‘has not improved since John Magufuli’s election.’’

“The third troubling trend is the closing space for civil society. In March, the President promised to crack down on anyone who participates in demonstrations deemed illegal by the government, vowing not to let his economic reforms be derailed by street protests,” he pointed out.

Prior to planned antigovernment demonstrations on April 26, a senior law enforcement official stated that ‘‘those who plan to demonstrate tomorrow will seriously suffer . . . they will be beaten like stray dogs,’’ he cited an example.

He called on the Trump administration to increase its efforts to encourage the government of Tanzania to support individual and collective Freedoms.

“Join with likeminded partners in the diplomatic community in Tanzania and in multilateral fora to jointly condemn President Magufuli’s war on democratic freedoms and civil liberties and urge the Tanzanian Government to take concerted action to ensure that all political and civic rights guaranteed under the Tanzanian Constitution are fully respected.

“Such norms [freedom of expression, and civil liberties…] are the hallmarks of a healthy democracy and are among the basic rights and duties guaranteed to Tanzania’s citizens under their constitution,’’ he stated.

UGANDA: NBS TV Uganda has added Bugishu Cooperative Union Chair Nandala to Defend Seat video

Bugishu Cooperative Union Chair Nandala to Defend Seat

Campaigns are underway to select a new Board of Directors at the Bugisu Cooperative Union after Union members threatened to seek the intervention of the commissioner for cooperatives, accusing the old board of refusing to relinquish power, 3 months after the expiry of its term on 31st March this year. According to the farmers, there were concerns the outgoing board was buying time to doctor books of accounts, which are critical in determining the growth of the union.

UGANDA: NBS TV Uganda has added Economists Advise on Inclusive Growth video

Economists Advise on Inclusive Growth

Government has been challenged to not only pursue goals that are aimed at macroeconomic stability measured by selected sectors like banking, but also consider investing in other isolated sectors to like agriculture to become real economic actors that can directly contribute to economic growth. Prof Julius Kizza, a political economist, warns that concentrating on the wealth creation alone, may be a short term target.

UGANDA: NBS TV Uganda has added Mweso Championship for Kabaka Coronation video

Mweso Championship for Kabaka Coronation

In a run up to the Buganda Kingdom commemoration of the coronation of Kabaka Ronald Mwenda Mutebi II on July 31st, ten clans spent today at Bulange Mengo battling for the top spot in the Mweso Championship. Details in this report.