The Dangers of Chemical Weapons

Hello everybody

I have not written in a while. Busy.Busy. Busy.

I have some minutes to chit chat and I wanted to repost an article written by  Lizzie Tomei on the Dangers of Chemical Weapons.

We have all just recently experienced with Boston the horrors and shock of terrorism. The first question is why the hated? Why is it okay for someone to make explosives to kill innocent people. The truth is: it can never be acceptable. I dont care what the prejudices are. Terrorism is wrong. Full stop. 
We must spare a thought or two for innocent Nigerians living in Northern Nigeria whose every day reality is terrorism. Sadly, even  Nigerians living in Nigeria dont even bait an eye lid. Every day, its business as usual.

The news cycle since last night: Assad’s use of Chemical Weapons. I think the guy is some kind of terrorist. Frankly.

Here is the article. When is the violence in Syria going to stop?

What is a chemical weapon?
A chemical weapon is a “toxic chemical contained in a delivery system, such as a bomb or shell,” according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The organization notes that the Chemical Weapons Convention, however, defines them more generally as “any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action.” Chemicals that fit this description but that also have routine industrial use are only considered weapons if they are “produced and stockpiled in amounts that exceed requirements” laid out in the Convention.
The bombs and shells used to deliver chemical weapons are also considered weapons in their own right.

Which chemical weapons does Syria have?
A 2008 paper put out by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that Syria is believed to possess mustard agents — also known as “blistering agents,” for the burn-like wounds they cause — and nerve gas. Nerve agents are “organo-phosphorus” chemical compounds that can be absorbed either through inhalation or contact with the skin, according to the OPCW.
Syria is believed to have cluster warheads that can deliver chemical weapons, according to CSIS, and the country may also have chemical bombs, rocket warheads, and chemical artillery shells.
What governs the use of chemical weapons?
International conventions including the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (full name: The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction) prohibit the use of chemical weapons. Scott D. Sagan, a political science professor at Stanford, wrote in a 2000 book chapter that “the use of both chemical and biological weapons is now deemed illegal by the international community, and any state that violates this norm is likely to face significant international opprobrium.”
The OPCW, headquartered at the Hague, is the body responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention. Though the OPCW is an independent organization, it works in formal cooperation with the United Nations toward the prohibition of chemical weapons.
According to crimesofwar.org, a private, non-profit website that seeks to explain international humanitarian law, the 1925 Geneva Protocol allowed countries “to develop and stockpile chemical weapons for ‘defensive’ purposes,” though it banned “first use” of the weapons. Conventions since have been much more strict.
The heart of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, according to crimesofwar.org,

“is that each State party undertakes never, in any circumstances, to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, or retain chemical weapons, or transfer them directly or indirectly to anyone; never to use chemical weapons or engage in any preparations for doing so; and never to assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited by the treaty.”
 

For more, please read:
 http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120821/chemical-weapons-explained

Culled from www.globalpost.com
December 6th 2012.

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We will remember you. RIP

Film Critic, 1942-2013
 
 
Chief Oluwole Awolowo, Publisher, Tribune Newspapers.1943 -2013

Free Movement Blog: Professional bashers of Mrs May

A huge thanks to Miss K who introduced me recently to the work of the barristers at the Renaissance Chambers. As I started to read a post from them earlier this morning, (link here)http://www.freemovement.org.uk/2013/04/08/plus-ca-change/, I was tingled and delighted for several reasons.  The article was articulate, solid enough to give the Coalition government and the Home Secretary Theresa May, a professional bashing. Yippee!!!

Immigration is an issue every one (especially those without a red passport) should take seriously.This is because,  everytime, a change is announced that change could affect you or someone you know. I am interested in Immigration because I know the hardship an uncertain Immigration situation can cause.   I am  sensitive to the plight of people with Immigration problems. For millions of  affected people (in the shadows),  being in the Immigration process is not easy. Its hard on the nerves and can be quite a challenge to deal with. Its especially hard if you have kids and you cannot work. Life becomes burning  hell.

People  who have not had to pay the huge administrative fees (from £800 upwards),  suffered the indiginities of working a mediocre job because  primarilly because you dont have the right papers , suffered the inconvinence of an Immigration Rule change,  never been an illegal immigrant/over stayer, may not understand what I am talking about. Thats the way life is isnt it. You are either affected or not affected.
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The plight of undocumented workers in the UK is hard enough, never mind rhethoric like thishttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15235649 by the Prime Minister.  If you have a heart and know someone  who is illegal for whatever reasons,  their pain becomes yours and it is hard to look away. Truth is, the welfare of these people are left to the churches and welfare associations who help to feed, clothe and house these people.

Unfortunately,  many of us shun them, take advantage of their plight, charge them exorbitant rents,  pay them way below minimum wage and relate to them as though they are substandard people. Read a BBC report of the plight of illegal immigrants http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17183171.

Make your own conclusions about illegal immigrants.

 Indifference  and judgement does not solve the humanitarian disaster we have on our hands. Illegal immigrants are  humans after all.

Back to where I started from, a well written from the blog  Free Movement. Here is some information about the people responsible for the blog. Simply copied and pasted below.
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Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Renaissance Chambers

The Free Movement blog is written by immigration barristers from the Renaissance Chambers specialist immigration team. Renaissance Chambers is ranked as a Leading Set in the Chambers and Partners Guide 2013, said to be of growing stature in the immigration and asylum field and known for its human rights expertise, “especially when considering difficult cases.” If you wish to instruct a Renaissance barrister, the contact details for chambers are as follows:

Renaissance Chambers
5th Floor, Gray’s Inn Chambers
Gray’s Inn
London
WC1R 5JA
DX : LDE 0074 CHANCERY LANE
Telephone : 0207 404 1111
Fax : 0207 430 1522/1050

Taking the lead: A cue for Nigerian leaders?

President Barack Obama will be giving up 5% of his salary in support of the Federal workers whose salaries would be cut as part of the sequestration. When I read this  (link here) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/04/barack-obama-salary-solidarity, I thought about Nigeria and her President Goodluck Jonathan. I wondered if the Nigerian President ( and the myriad of our leaders) could  do same  giving the staggering differences between the rich and the poor.

 To be fair,  some good things can be said of GEJ .For example, the moribund Lagos/Kano rail is a huge credit to his administration.  It takes in excess of  33 hours to journey from Lagos to Kano, but the rail service (often disrupted by electricity outages)  is a transport relief for those who use it.

Whether or not it is propaganda, I read an interview recently with the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Adesina and I was persuaded, he knew what he was doing. To read the interview, please read TELL interview, Issue No 30 July 30, 2012. It might be available on TELL Digital which you can get by downloading the app (each edition cost £0.69 in the UK and $0.99 in the States). The cover edition is titled ‘How Agriculture will Transform Nigeria’.

So two good things there: Agriculture and Rail transport. Unfortunately,  there are heaps of things not right with GEJ. 
 Most importantly, is  his recent pardon of a convicted felon and thief Alamieyeseigha, his former boss and  permanent ally. Morally, this further shapes this adminstration and gives bloggers like myself the ammunition condemn  GEJ unequivocally. Most people have found the pardon distasteful. It will, no doubt,  cost GEJ at the polls in 2015 . This is just one of the catalogue of leadership deficit related  under GEJ. Little wonder the EFCC have not made real time changes. No wonder Nigeria is listed as the Nigeria is ranked 139th out of 176 countries in Transparency Internation’s 2012 Corruption Index. We are tied with Kenya, Nepal and Pakistan.
 Back to my admiration of US President Barack Obama, sadly, his gesture is another the Nigerian leadership will be convinently over looking.

Naij: A Documentary on the History of Nigeria by Jide Olanrewaju

 
 
A friend asked me to watch this. I have seen it before. I decided to post it here to give it some more attention. We have Mr Jide  Olanrewaju  to thank for this video. Mr Jide Olanrewaju is Partner at Satya Capital LLP.  He was part of a round table at an event at Chatham House last year. The video is here.
 
 
 
 
 
Enjoy the stimulating discussion.

A Woman's Woman

I  spent the better part of today finishing up a write up about feminism. Unwittingly, I was forced to consider what makes a feminist  in the 21st century.  Why do some black men/ women act like the feminist label is sinful? Is it wrong to desire financial liberation? Is it sinful to desire independence? Can a woman commit to a marriage, kids and her career successfully?  Can a woman really have it all? What does ‘having it all’ mean? Must a woman perpetually accept limitations placed upon her by community, her religion and her self?  When is it appropriate for a woman to develop her own voice? Should a woman have a say in the affairs of her own life and kids? The answers to these questions are obvious, but for some, answers are difficult to accept.

 Feminism means different things to different people. The bottom line is every woman needs to determine where she can be empowered to do better and not become a liability. We cannot all be Beyonce, but we can all strive to improve the quality of our lives. This is what feminism is about.

 Spoiled with time,  I  enjoyed watching Beyonce tell her own story on  BBC1’s Imagine…. Life is but a Dream aired on the 28th of March 2013 (I think!). Link here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01rlx6r/.

I was moved to say the least by the love, power and optimism in the documentary.  I think every girl who watches the documentary would either shed a tear or reach out to be hugged.  Her humility and transparency helped me to reflect on my own life.   Obviously, feminism as a concept is bigger than Beyonce. Studying Beyonce’s life though, serves as a contemporary begining to understanding modern perceptions of feminism in the West. She spoke as a sister to a sister. That was what I heard, the voice of a sister telling her story, her challenges and triumphs. You will love it.

 My write up on feminism will be published next week in Tell Magazine.

Giving and Dirty Money in Nigeria

Comic Relief was recently observed in the UK. Comic Relief, a major charity formed in 1985 and based in the UK has raised over £800million since its inception to fight social injustice and poverty in the United Kingdom and across the world. This year alone, they raised £75 million pounds through positive entertainment and two   fund raising campaigns- Red Nose Day and Sport Relief.  Comic Relief’s flagship event Red Nose Day occurs in odd numbered  years and Sport Relief in even numbered years.

  Say what we like, the British are a giving people. They give generously and unreservedly to people, charities and projects when called upon to do so.

Giving is ingrained into the culture here that kids are encouraged from school to do ‘things’ for charity. In schools across the UK, kids had to pay £1to come in mufti to take part in non-uniform day, the sale of pizza, cakes and sweets and many other money generating ideas for Red Nose Day. Routinely, schools support other charities.

Even though Nigeria does not have an equivalent of Comic Relief, Nigerians are equally generous givers. Never mind the reasons why we give, we too like giving. Nigerians give enormously to their churches, and indeed to the causes they believe in.  In the UK, a church has the legal status of a charity (NG0), so people can choose to give either to their churches or their charities. However, some churches go a step further by reminding their congregants that when you give (tithes and offerings) to your church it is ‘inspired giving’ under the ‘anointing’ and God will bless you for that.  This line of thinking does not answer the question ‘ Whether God blesses you the same when you give to a charity?’

It is probable that a lot of the cash given in  Nigerian churches is from ‘Federal/oil/blood money’. It is just that a lot of monies in Nigeria are unaccounted for. Its unclear the percentage of Nigeria’s oil wealth  buried in churches.   It is not to suggest that honestly rich people do not give, the trend seems to be that  it is most fashionable to give to a church than a cause (non religious based mission). Unfortunately, some  churches have tied miracles, prosperity, healings and even promises of longevity to  generous giving. The more you give, the blessed you are is the ideology propagated in Nigeria’s  Pentecostal circles. And as such, those who attend these churches,  know the feelings of being hounded to give. They know the psychological battering,  emotional assault used each Sunday to cajole people to part with their hard earned cash. As a result, people give out of fear and  as a bargain with the Almighty.

These Church pastors could learn a lesson or two from the past: George Muller was a German priest who built orphanages in Bristol in the 19th century.  Muller was not a rich man and he never sought a donation or an offering from man to look after the thousands of orphans in his care. He sought God. Imagine a Nigerian church where no offering is collected? At a  Baptist church in the UK, no offering is ever collected. There are two wooden boxes at the end of the church where people can put their offerings if they so desire. A couple of weeks ago, the Pastor made an exception and urged his people to increase their giving for employing an assistant Pastor. A basket was passed the next Sunday  and people gave. In that one service, the people  donated/contributed over £75,000. The pastor had said he needed only about a quarter of that. The Pastor himself was visibly moved. Giving should be inspired and voluntary. Churches must let people give as and when they have.

The Nigerian government also gives. The President granted a common criminal and convicted felon a pardon. The pardon from financial crimes came at a time the President could have solidified his gains by taking a hard lined stance against corruption.  In another State, a State governor  used state money to finance the lavish wedding ceremony of a friend in Dubai. These are two erroneous examples of giving as they are not inspired and not for the common good.

 The problem with Nigerian society is not that we do not give, but that our giving must be targeted to fight poverty and social injustice.  The reward for these is in a society fair, equitable and just to all. NGOs and social organisations like the Rotary are making a difference locally but we need more social givers  to tackle issues like youth unemployment, child poverty, domestic violence and so on. We need people to give to NGOs/charities  so they can close the gap in the dysfunctional areas of our society. Nigeria is at the point where philanthropy (for change) would have to come from Nigerians. This is the truth because the West is bankrupt cannot afford the millions they pay into economic aid anymore. The future of Nigeria depend on the giving of Nigerians. The giving of their time, resources and energy in combating the myriads of social ills which plague us. Social giving must move away from making churches into super powers but in building communities safe and relevant for all to live.

Comic Relief started out to feed the starving Ethiopian children. We need our own Nigerian Relief.  We need to make the ‘little people’ amongst us safe.  Many have expressed that need to give back by starting a blog, become active online commentators, joined a political party   etc. Others have supported a cause on  change.org. In November 2012,  a police officer’s kindness went viral. He bought a pair of shoes and socks for a homeless man. Not knowing he was being photographed  as he knelt to help this homeless man wear the shoes. The police officer restored the faith of Face book audience in humanity. Giving can be beautiful but it can be meaningful when it is done socially. As we celebrate Easter, lets remember to give a little something of our selves for the good of all.

Tundun Adeyemo
Published in TELL