Saturday, January 21, 2006


What Color Is Your Terror Alert?

Avedon Carol points out that, although Osama Bin Laden (via Al Jazeera) has just announced that al Qaeda has new plans for more attacks on the United States, the terror alert level has not been raised.

Osama announced on the radio that he had a big attack on the US planned, Bush/Cheney ignored it, 9/11 happened. Now Osama announces that he's got another attack planned, and I'm not being bombarded with terror alert crap. Makes me wonder if there's an interesting PDB on the way to the Oval Office. (No, it doesn't make me wonder if all the terror alert business is just political - I already know that.)
The most serious problem with the fact that the "war on terror" is nothing but a campaign issue for the Busheviks is that there really are threats out there that need a real response, not just a PowerPoint® presentation by Karl Rove. Remember how "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" ends.
We're talking about the people whose primary thought in any given situation is: "How can I fix it so that I or my buddies can get money or leverage out of it?"

To name but one example: FEMA was a turkey farm under the first Bush. Bill Clinton turned it into a world-class first-response outfit. Bush the Second turned it back into a turkey farm.
MEC says, "Remember how "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" ends."

Wait! Don't spoil it!
I read your comment on steve Gilliards blog..
and this was my response..
Me and a few other Nigerians happen to be extremely fed up of all the mass stereotypical uninformed bollocks making it's way around the web. Your post was factually incorrect and it is a shamebecause there are countless Nigerian blogs out there that you can reference, and countless Nigerian media sources.. but I guess actually factually checking out the stuff you post would be counter productive to your need to justify an imaginary hell hol which Nigeria definitely is not.

Talk about corruption? How is Nigeria anymore corrupt thn the USA? I don;t see our govt. bombing innocent people for oil?. I don't see our govt 'loosing' $9billion from the Iraqi coiffers,

Seriously the hypocricy of Americans when talking about Nigerians and corruption is astounding!
pheonix Woman..
I'm a Nigerian..
Nigeria is NOT the most corrupt country on earth.. It's not far unfortunately but it's not.. According to Western stats it's the 7th most corrupt. (nothing to be proud of but let's get the facts right)

I was there on Dec the 1st.. The president actually has a campaign about HIV/AIDS and organised an event in order to showcase and highlight it.. the entire day was devoted to campaigning, and eduication, TV shows, the news covered it.
All over Nigeria their are billboards dedicated to HIV/AIDS information.. so what you have just said.. is utter bollocks.

There is no credible news/media source in Nigeria denying the existance of HIV/AIDS, I'd like y ou to quote any source that does so please...

They have NOT banned Gay marriages, there is a BIll being proposed.. it is being debated.. no-one least of all me likes it. But it has been proposed. We will have to fight it before it has a chance to become law.

I was in Nigeria Nov/Dec.. I had absolutely no problems. I didn't have to bribe anybody at the airport, I didn't have to do jack. Have you ever been Phoenix Woman?
Get your facts right.
Mine is Code Pink.

See also Mother Jones Red. A second pair for a penny.

Turkey farm is about right, Phoenix Woman.
Soul, I haven't seen PhoenixWoman's post. What I can tell you is that she is very well-informed, and that most important, she is well-intentioned.

Most Americans know about Nigeria primarily because they receive spam e-mail making outrageous offers. There is a relatively small group of people in Nigeria who have made the country famous-- or, rather-- infamous. Like it or not, the first thing Americans think about when they hear the word Nigeria is mail fraud. As your post suggests, foreigners immediately associate "bombing" and "oil" when they hear the word "America." We'd be happy to trade you our fraudsters for yours any day.

I think you're probably right that Nigeria is not the most corrupt nation on earth. However, be aware that statistics like "15th most corrupt" are probably meaningless. Corruption is usually underground, and measuring it is not so easy.

As for AIDS, we'll see. The situation in Nigeria is a disaster. The 2004 CDC report is absolutely appalling. and a more recent BBC report suggests that medicine-- of which there is far too little to deal with 4 million HIV cases-- is not necessarily getting to where it's needed. (parethetical note: The US provides about $40/HIV positive person in 2006 according to the State Dept.For Africa, with weaker nutrition and the prevalence of diseases that can be synergistic, this is pathetic.)

PW knows a lot. You can probably learn from her. Maybe she can also learn from you.
I've already responded to Soul over at Steve Gilliard's blog, but since she came over here:

Here's what you get when you Google "Nigeria Corruption". (I was going to list a whole bunch of links, but HaloScan cut me off at three, and I'm not sure that Blogger won't do the same thing.)

As for gays, Nigeria is not only going to ban their marrying, but also ban gay-rights groups!


The Nigerian government has proposed a law to ban homosexual relations and same-sex marriage, in what the justice minister says is an attempt to avoid such practices spreading to the country from the West.


The bill would make engaging in homosexual relations and entering into a same-sex marriage offences punishable by five years imprisonment. Priests or other clerics or anyone helping to arrange such a union would also be subject to a five-year jail sentence.

The proposed law would also ban movements for promoting gay rights, the justice minister said.


Opposition to gay relations is deep-rooted in Nigeria, with the bulk of the north's Muslims and the south's Christians united in their hostility toward homosexuality.

In twelve states in the north that began implementing strict Islamic Shari'ah law in 2000, gay sex is punishable by stoning to death - though this penalty has yet to be applied.

The government's move to criminalise same-sex marriage and homosexual relations comes as the country's Anglican Church is leading global opposition to same-sex marriage and ordination of gay priests in the West. The 17-million-strong membership of the church in Nigeria is second in size only to that of the Church of England.

Ironically, the anti-gay wing of the Nigerian Anglicans is backed financially by conservative American millionaires who are politically allied with corrupt people like Tom DeLay. I speak of persons like Howard Ahmanson.

This last fact ties in with the point of my original comment over at Steve's blog, which is that there's a strong tendency for corrupt people, groups and régimes to cloak themselves in the mantle of false piety. Tom DeLay claims to be a "born again Christian". His good friend and partner in the K Street Project, Jack Abramoff, promoted himself as a super-pious Orthodox Jew, even operating a yeshiva for a short time.

There are hundreds of Bible references to the poor. There are maybe five or six, at most, dealing with allegedly deviant sex (depending on how certain Bible verses are interpreted). The persons who wrote the Bible were obviously far more concerned about whether people had enough to eat than if they were gay. But too many of today's "professional Christians", to use Mark Twain's phrase, act as if it's the other way around.
I actually started from Googling "Nigeria corruption," PW.

Over three million hits.

But then I started to think, "Well, what's typical for a country?"

I tried substituting other countries. Egypt, Israel, and South Africa each got more. France got 12million.

Read the Nigeria hits and one finds many disturbing points, especially that the corruption is not only from the top but that there is a permissive culture that sees corruption as an appropriate response to poverty and the financial strains of polygamous marriage. One sees some signs of hope. The anti-corruption commission has recovered 500M niaras, for example. When Soul says that Nigeria is the 15th most corrupt nation, that's a significant concession. As I indicated, statistics don't prove much when the error bars are so large.
Quality trumps quantity. It's not about the number of Google hits, it's about the kind of corruption referenced. In America, I can actually go to college without having to pay off a corrupt official to do so. Bush and his cronies haven't wrecked things that much. Yet.

Not that they aren't trying.
There are hundreds of Bible references to the poor. There are maybe five or six, at most, dealing with allegedly deviant sex (depending on how certain Bible verses are interpreted).

I'm trying to remember but think it is correct that Jesus mentioned two things that put people in danger of damnation. One was a rigid and ostentatious insistence on "the law", the other one was being rich.

And those bible verses that are always cited are far from being what the homophobes say they are. Even the sins of Sodom and G. are given as injustice in Jeremiah, which you'd think was as "inerrant" as any other part of the anthology.

Dispossess the rich. Save their souls.
so you googled Nigeria and corruption.. so? I never denied there is corruption in Nigeria but it is NOT the most corrupt nation..

Here's what I got when I googled america and corruption..

and there is NO law yet!!! It is a proposed Bill.. for crying out loud. I don't want to see the bill passed anymore than a fair few Nigerians want to.. but how dies equate to denying the HIV/AIDS rate?..
your statement was factually incorrect as is most of the stuff spouted all around about Nigeria.. and the sad fact is you won't even admit that you got it wrong.
FYI: homosexuality is a practised cultural norm in some states and it is accepted as the done thing.

we do not live like the West you will not see people making out on the streets like you see in the West, its a different culture and that is not our norm.
This Bill was proposed, it is being debated.. I don't want it to succeed, many dont... unfortunately many do as well..
It will go through due process and we will see what happens.. Nigeria signed up to the human rights charter so it's courts can get over turned..

With regards to stonig.. the states follow sharia law.. thats sharia law.. if they pass such a sentence.. an appeal is launched at the Nigerian supreme court and it is overturned.

.. you cut and paste snippets of literature and I can tell you fact. as I have lived there.. you haven't.
I follow the local politics, you don't. I have a vested interest in the country, you don't.

I'm sorry but you really dont know what you are talking about.
Soul, so are people getting stonned? Is stonning a possiblity?

Sharia law is just like any other law, I'm not witholding judgment on evil practices just because those who do it believe that they have divine authority to do it. I'm not going to condescend to Moslems and excuse injustice practiced among them anymore than I would among Mormons.

Islamic fundamentalism won't solve the problems of the people. It will let them down and be replaced by something else, one hopes an Islamic enlightenment.
No people are NOT getting stoned.

Once again the Bill is a 'proposed bill' NOT law.

I was reading Steve's blog about the immigrant guy who was trying to buy land and fell victim to the massive land scams going on the USA..
most people called him stupid..

I feel absolutely NO sympathy for any one caught in a 419 scam. The scam itself works only on the proviso that some Westerner wants to participate in money laundering, wants something for nothing, is greedy and believes that these Africans are naive enough to contact any random stranger.

re: the HIV/AIDS crisis.. how is that any more of a disaster than what is going on in the UK?

And you arrogance and ignorance will still NOT allow you to admit that you got it wrong when you said that Nigeria is burying it's figures.
It is NOT.
THe campaigns nationwide are massive, you cannot escape a day of TV without an HIV/AIDS campaign.. there are billboards all over the place promoting safe sex or abstinence in equal amounts.
but you don't see it for a few reasons..
1) because you have NEVER been there
2) you DO NOT KNOW the country at all
3) you are not intimately involved and are just cutting and pasting googled misinformation.

Here's are some stats for you...
Nigeria is the most populous country in West Africa (yeah it has more people, we ae very fertile I guess)
Number of people tested recently in Lagos State alone for HIV/AIDS = 23, 000 (mostly high risk and sex workers.
From this figure it was extrapolated that 2.3million people in Lagos hcarry HIV/AIDS.

re: Corruption:
please, I could go on and on and on like a damn song about the massive scams Americans have been performing on Nigerians...
but then you already know them.. they are either called mis investments or they are called the 'ministries dues'.

And again, in Nigeria if you get the grades.. you don't bribe anybody. PERIOD!
I'm presuming your president got into was it yale or harvard through hard work.. or maybe it was a donation to his alma matta or a secret handshake from the ole boy network.

I see bribery going on in the usa all the time, however I see the small people locked out of theis process. They don't even acknowledge that it is going on.

oh and Charles..
You didn't read pheonix woman's post on Steve's blog but you maintain that she is well informed.
She is NOT well informed about this.. because she has made inaccurate statements.
I'm still waiting for her to point out where ther NIGERIAN govenment has denied or tried to hide the presence of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria..

I'm still waiting for her to tell me how a 'PROPOSED BIll' has suddenly become law?
Without debate in the senate (yeah we do have one of those and they do debate the issues)

How can someone who is soo well informed get it soo darn wrong and not admit it.
If I get it wrong I hold my hand up and say.. I do not know enough about the situation in order to pass judgement. I ask questions.

What you guys are doing.. is letting your presumptions speak for you.
Again, I'd say.. get your facts right! There are countless Nigerian political blogs and even Nigerian newspapers online that can inform you. (shock horror! we have those too)

I would learn from pheonix woman, if she could recognise where she is wrong and recognise that she is misinformed and actually not as knowledgable about this subject area as she proports to be.

Otherwise the only thing I learn form this experience, is...
'here's another Westerner who thinks they know and is talking like they know, but anyone who really knows, knows that they are talking bollocks'.
Soul, I should have been clearer. People are stonned under Sharia law, people in Nigeria have been under threat of being stonned under Sharia law.

Stoning is called for in a number of Islamic countries

The history of religous fundamentalism leads me to believe that it is close to a law that faith based fascists will always compete to do the most horrible things they can. They did in medieval Europe, they will in the United States if they really take over.

There is some opposition to this among Moslems but as with attempts to revive civilization among Christian fundamentalists, they are a voice in the wilderness.

Your assurances are empty.

Sharia law is not the law of the land.
It is the law in some Northern states (not all) There are 30+ states in Nigeria.

The entire populace is not under threat of stoning.. just like the entire population of the usa is not under threat of lethal injection if they commit certain crimes.

I don't really care much for religion. I believe in God but not the acts of man or even the method by which man chooses to worship said God.

I despise religious fundamentalism just as much as I despise misinformation.

The fundamentalists have not taken over Nigeria yet. They still have Federal law to deal with.

I'm not assuring you. I'm telling you like it is. Simple.

I don't expect you to assure me that religious fundamentalists haven't taken over in the usa.. isn't your president one?.
Soul, I'm a bit familiar with the Nigerian federal system, not being a great fan of federalism it's something that stands out. It is true that Sharia isn't the "law of the land" but that's like saying that since some states in the United States have abolished capital punishment that capital punishment isn't the law of the land here. The federal system allows it.

I don't have any problem with people from Europe saying that the United States practices capital punishment and has a disfunctional legal system. It's the sad truth that it does.
Soul, I have known Phoenix Woman for many years. You have encountered her recently and briefly.

She has my respect.

You, on the other hand, are losing mine.

This is an achievement, and not in the good sense of the term.

A reasonable way for you to approach this would be to provide URLs that substantiate what you are saying and let them, and not harsh words, speak for you. You will notice, for example, that I linked the Centers for Disease Control, the BBC, and the State Department on the magnitude of the AIDS crisis.

None of us are God, omniscient and perfect. We all rely on our sources of information. Those sources can be wrong. Laying out one's sources is an important means of proving one's sincerity. In debating an issue, it's wise to understand in one's heart that the other person may have insight that one may lack, and vice versa.

A reasonable way for you to approach this would be to concede that both Phoenix Woman and I have, in small ways, offered our hands in peace. For example, I agreed with you that the US suffers serious corruption problems and that Nigeria is probably not the most corrupt country in the world. Phoenix Woman has made it clear that she is aware that the government has not passed an anti-gay law-- yet.

As for whether Nigeria has been open and honest about the AIDS crisis, would you accept the Nigerian-American Public Professionals Association as a reasonable source? They said, in late 2003:

For several years while the world was reverberating with information about the presence and impact of HIV/AIDS in countries especially in Africa, our military dictatorship was in denial, more preoccupied with looting the country and running down every known social service... Denial about the reality and seriousness of HIV/AIDS was not only prevalent among policy makers and leaders it also plagued communities, families and individuals..... This denial still exists in large measure

If you will concede that this may have some truth to it, perhaps you can bring to Phoenix Woman's attention this statement commending President Obasanjo for his leadership on AIDS.

The point is that if you approach a debate as if it were a war, you neither persuade the other person, nor do you learn from them. You go away empty handed and angry, when you could have gone away content in your heart, and with a new ally.

I know Phoenix Woman well enough to be certain that she wants to know the truth more than she wants to be right. As for you, we just met. But your unrelenting attitude makes me wonder.
It's quite okay to have phenixwoman's 'back' (so to speak).
You know her personally I don't.

I'm not respondeing to this to make friends. Phoenix woman made a statement which was and still is widly inaccurate.

I countered.
End of.

I am not seeking your respect. I'm seeking to correct a mistatement she made. simple. which she has still not corrected.
I am not approaching anything as a war. I'm irritated.
I'm irritated because of a two tier system where you can say what the heck you want and justify it well... just because.

It may surprise you to learn that I do not take the Nigerian-American Public Professionals Association as a credible source.
Nothing the Nigerian govt ever does is good enough...

In anycase Charles, you state that you are losing your respect for me... you never stopped to think if I had any respect for you (see, it works both ways)

I don't doubt that you know pheonix, but to blindly support an unseen statement she made.. to me is bananas

Pheonixwoman may want to know the truth, but I don't see that here.
Where's the evidence?

You may not like my style.. that's fine. I don't particularly like yours. But then I didn't make a comment to the effect that usa is in denial about it's HIV/AIDS cases, I didn't make wild accusations which I have no idea about... with regards to acountry I know next to nothing about.

It might surprise you to know that I've been reading this blog for a long time now,after discovering a link from Steve Gilliards blog. This is the first time I have felt the need to say anything..

Many Nigerians see these statements and say nothing for this exact reason.. because it yields nothing.
I see why they do it now.

I second that emotion... I don't particularly agree with Federalism either.. and I'll concede your point re: sharia is to Nigeria what capital punishment is to the usa.
(with a slight exception, but let's not go into that)

ept, I appreciate your approach.
Just to keep the record straight, the Nigerian-American Public Professionals organization describes itself as follows:

The Nigerian-American Public Professionals Association (NAPPA) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization representing Nigerian-American public service employees in ranking positions in federal, state, county and city government. It serves as a nexus for strengthening our professional and community link with all governmental bodies.

It is not, as far as I know, an agent of the Nigerian government, a matter that if it were true, would probably require its leadership to register as foreign lobbyists.

Also, the former Surgeon General of the United States C. Everett Koop stated that the Reagan Administration was in denial over the AIDS epidemic through ca. 1986. Parts of the Republican Party remain in denial over the issue, choosing to see it as God's judgment against gays or whatever.

If Americans had not been down this sad road, we might not have anything to report to travelers who follow. But we have and we do.
I know the association is not an 'agent' of the Nigeiran govt. that's why I said.. nothing the Nigerian govt ever does is good enough.. (I should have added 'for them').

In anycase, you say if the usa hasn't been down this road it won't have anything to offer.. you have and you do.


Jeez how many times must we say that there is no denial?
Publish the denial about the stats for us to see?

If the president is launching HIV/AIDS campaigns, if there are billboards right from the airport raising awareness... where is the denial?.

All I see is you trying to justify an incorrect statement made, by any means necessary.

The statement was and still is widly incorrect. There is no denial of HIV/AIDS occurence in Nigeria...

Yet every other post you make speaks as if there is.

You are trying to insist on a problem that isn't there, just to avoid saying that someone you admire is wrong.

Another reason why many Nigerians feel it is just completely useless to engage in these types of situations.

So far, you have determined there is a problem where there isn't and when told to the contrary have insisted you are right.. with absolutely NO background knowledge of the situation you are talking about..

You see why we leave you to the 419'ers?
Because they seem to have understood, that you do not want to know what is the truth, you just want to see and spread what is your own truth NO MATTER WHAT.

anyway... as you were.
Soul, let me start with the only substantial issue you have raised, namely that of Nigerian attitudes toward AIDS.

I hope that the statement that "There is no denial of HIV/AIDS occurence in Nigeria... " is not as cunning as it sounds. [emphasis added]

Was there denial? Could Phoenix Woman not really be wrong but simply have out-of-date information?

And if there was widespread denial at some point, could it be that there is still some measure of denial today, just as perhaps a tenth of Americans still deny that AIDS is a disease that anyone can get? If so, aren't you really arguing about shades of gray?

Writing in 2004, Professor Babtunde Osotimehin said, "Five years ago, we were in denial. Today, 90 percent of Nigerians are aware that there is HIV and Aids. Now, how many of them have the risk perception to change behavior?"

He doesn't answer the latter question. The implication is that a large portion of the population may know that there is HIV/AIDS, but that many people still haven't changed their behavior. Most of us would call that late-stage denial.

In 2003, just before he died, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti said that while there had been some good efforts, "I fear that most of our people don't understand the implications of what allowing this disease can mean for us if its let loose.... I think people are in denial about knowing people who have HIV and AIDs."

In 2002, an article in West Africa Review says, "The death of the renowned Afro-Beat star Fela Ransome-Kuti of AIDS was to be the beginning of HIV/AIDS awareness in Nigeria. The country remains gripped by what Schoofs terms a “schizophrenic attitude” toward AIDS; because of the shame and stigma attached to the disease, carriers and partners remain in denial about the scourge of HIV/AICS."

* There was denial in Nigeria in 1999.
* There was denial in 2002.
* There was denial in 2003.
* By 2004, maybe there is outright denial, maybe it is more of a silent denial, in which people admit that there is a problem, but that it is someone else's problem.

Today, it may be true that there is no denial... among the majority of people.

This is an issue where a reasonable person would agree that there is some truth to the statement that Nigeria has been in denial about AIDS. This may have changed, the claim that the country is in denial may be out of date, but there is substantial truth to the claim. Likewise, there is substantial truth to your claim that the country is presently not in denial. At the very least, the fog is lifting from people's minds. So, from the standpoint of someone who is not consumed by the emotion of the argument, it looks as if you are both partially right.

If you calm down and read through the thread thoughtfully, you'll see that that is the conclusion I have been trying to guide both of you to.

When you refuse to admit any truth to what Phoenix Woman is saying, when you try to turn a world of shades of gray into one where there is nothing but black and white, you look as if you are not merely wrong, but blind, and proud of it.
There's another point in your post that cannot be allowed to pass, Soul.

You said that you do not regard "the Nigerian-American Public Professionals Association as a credible source. Nothing the Nigerian govt ever does is good enough..." [emphasis added]

Many people would read that as a claim that the Nigerian government is behind the NAPPA.

Now you say that what you intended to say is actually that NAPPA is never satisfied, that they are overly critical of the Nigerian government.

But that's not what you said.

If I wanted to approach discussion the way you have approached it, I'd make attacks on your character. Instead, I corrected the misimpression your statement created without saying anything against you.

Faced with a clear example of a statement that you made that is either wildly wrong or very badly stated, do you step forward forthrightly and say, "Yes, I can see how my poor phrasing would make it seem as if I don't know what the h--l I am talking about" ?

No. The correction is furtive and shambling.

Have you justified your rejection of NAPPA with anything other than your unsupported opinion?


I took the time to find statements by senior Nigerian health officials that say that NAPPA's statement was perfectly accurate at the time it was made.

When will you take the time to justify any statement you have made with any independently verifiable source?

I am calm.
and to you I say Bollocks.

did you read the statement she made on gilliards blog?.

She said they are still in denial.

like I said 'as you were'.
Soul: For someone who claims to be concerned about accuracy, you seem to enjoy misstating other people's words -- and ignoring or misrepresenting their cites and links.

For instance: You stated that the anti-gay measure is not law in Nigeria. But you dishonestly refused to acknowledge that, barring a miracle, it soon will be law, as it has the support of Nigeria's rulers:

LAGOS, Nigeria, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Nigeria's Federal Executive Council has approved a bill baning same-sex marriages, and penalizing those who participate in them and those who perform them.

The Anglican Church is a strong backer of the proposal, which now goes to Parliament. In five northern provinces governed by Muslim Sharia law, all adulterous sexual relationships are a crime, punishable by being stoned to death.


Under the bill, anyone engaging in homosexual acts or marrying a same-sex partner would be eligible for a five-year prison sentence, as would anyone who presides at a same-sex wedding. Even participating in a homosexual rally or demonstration would be a criminal act.

Yes, you are a patriotic Nigerian. You want to defend your country. But with each post you've made to that end, you've just dug yourself so deep into a hole of deliberate deception that it's impossible to trust anything you say. The really sad thing is that you likely will never realize just how bad an impression you're making on the casual reader.

And that is the last thing I will say on this subject.
I'm with PW.

Some people, despite their use of words, have no interest in communication. The words are not nouns or verbs, but clubs.
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