Monday, September 30, 2013

Republicans Shutting Government Down to Avoid Helping the Uninsured

President Barack Obama
Americans are among the most hardworking and worn out people on the face of the earth. A country where production never stops, every hour of the day from 12.00 a.m to 12.00 p.m, millions of Americans toil like termites to feed their families and keep the wheels turning on the largest economy in the history and imagination of mankind.

From federal income taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, investment taxes, etc, the federal and state authorities take a bite out of every paycheck that people in this country make and if you make more than what the government thinks is sufficient for you and your family, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hounds you like a hungry leopard until every cent is paid. If you fail to pay soon enough, you pay back with interest. You payback interest on money that you worked for, such is the beauty of capitalism.

No matter how sick you are, regardless of what financial hole you are in, the government takes their slice out of your paycheck evenbefore you set your hungry eyes on it. American workers form the backbone of this massive economic giant. The healthier they are, the more hours they put in and the happier the tax men are to take their share and leave you to figure out what you want to do with the rest.
The American Uninsured

Most Americans get their health insurance through their jobs. When the American economy began to stall in the 90s, the insurance companies saw that they could still make some money by jerking up health insurance premiums. The little secret lies in the economic concept of elasticity. There are certain things you can't do without, like fuel for your car and and access to health care, at least for sensible people. The demand for these commodities are relatively inelastic. This means that if the price of gas goes up, people will complain, but have very little option other than pay for the gas if they want to continue for gas. For most necessities, the demand is inelastic and not overly responsive to variations in price.

If for example the price of candy becomes expensive, people will say "hey we can do without candy," and the demand for candy will fall faster than the fall in price. The demand for candy is elastic, very sensitive to price changes.

Health care on the other hand is a necessity. American Heath care is the most expensive in the world and without Heath insurance, good health care will be out of the reach of most families. It is only the very healthy, the very poor, or the foolhardy few who will decide to give up health insurance coverage when the price of health care premiums go up. Health insurance companies know this dirty little secret and have been jerking health care premiums up every year, throughout the 2000s. Add to this, they stopped providing insurance to people with preexisting conditions or if they did, they only did so at premium rates so abominably expensive that they were out of the reach of the average struggling American.
Opponents of Health Care for All

For many decades, the Democratic Party had been trying and failing to ensure that most of the citizens and residents of thus country have access to affordable health care, just like other industrialized nations around the globe. President Clinton made it a signature issue in the 90s, but was derailed by entrenched Republican opposition.

President Obama in his first was able to pass the Affordable Care Act which ensured that millions of uninsured will get access to health coverage. Millions of hard working, tax paying Americans who would not be getting a free ride, but would be able to keep their children on their insurance and have access to competitive rates and no longer had to declare bankruptcy or sell their valuable assets when they fell sick.

The Republicans, who claim that they are Christian conservatives have at every turn tried to prevent this access by the poor and needy to health care and have now resigned themselves to shutting down the government, just so that the poor people who Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the 47%, will not get the benefit of access to affordable health care, which in their view only damage the healthcare enjoyed by their affluent constituents over the years.

As we go through life, we all obtain our world views through interaction with those around us and our environment. I was brought up in a society where every man is his brother's keeper and one hand washes the other. I do not understand why anybody, let alone a politician, would deny access to affordable healthcare for the very citizens whose sweat pay for all the luxuries these politicians take for granted.

What is conservative about a Christian who would rather see his brother die than to help him live, who would deny health care to the father who supports a family of five. Republicans care so much for the economy that they would rather see a sick man go bankrupt than help him stand on his own too feet again and continue working, paying his taxes every two weeks, without complaint. I fail to see either reason or humanity in this stance.

Republicans take their cues from the talking points of right wing commentators like Bill Oreilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin, all right wing multimillionaires who do not give a damn even if their premiums were $50,000.00 a month. It is only the Democrats that are standing between up for the poor and marginalized. The Republican instead of waging a war on poverty have decided to wage a war against the poor.

President Obama should hold firm. For two terms he campaigned on the promise of providing affordable health care and all those two terms the republican vowed first to not allow it to happen if they were elected, but then vowed to repeal it. Both times he won by increasing margins. The voice of the majority spoke when they voted for President Obama instead of Senator McCain and the shape shifting Governor Romney. The President must therefore stand by the people's decision and not allow fringe politicians like Senator Ted Cruz to derail the most significant piece of legislation for the last 7 years.

We stand with President Obama, we support and pray for the successful implementation of the affordable care act. And for your information I have health insurance, so go figure.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sierra Leone Tax-Payers Getting Ready to Fund Official Adventure.

UN New York
New York, the Always busy headquarters of the world's premier international body the United Nations, will be even busier this week as the organization gets ready to host the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, an annual event where world leaders get together to discuss issues they feel is of importance to the future of the world and the destiny of their nations. This year talkative Hugo Chavez of Venezuela will not be in attendance, having joined his brother Muammar Ghaddafi in the hereafter. The Iranian delegation will also be quieter with the exit of Ahmadinejad.

This year the President of the United Nation's General Assembly will be the UN Ambassador of Antigua and Barbados, John William Ashe, who was unanimously chosen by all the 33 GRULAC member states of the United Nations. All the countries of the United Nations are divided into five regional groups. The African Group consists of 54 countries, the Asia-Pacific group has 53 members, the Eastern European Group has 23 members, the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) has 33 members and the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG) has 28 members plus the United States as an observer. USA voluntarily decided not to become member of any regional group but has observer states in WEOG and only acts as a member to put forward candidates for election in the UN general Assembly. These regional blocks were created to help in the fair distribution of UN positions and prevent domination by nations with deep pockets, though African Group with 54 members still does not have the influence its numbers suggest.
Ernest Bai Koroma
The "World's Best President"

Our country, the poor West African nation of Sierra Leone has become famous over the past 5 years for the size and lavish lifestyle of its UN General Assembly delegations. In 2011 the President Ernest Bai Koroma led Sierra Leone delegation occupied two entire floors of the Hyatt 48Lex hotel where single rooms cost between $1600.00 to $5600.00 a single night, excluding taxes. But as the "World's Best " President, who comes to these occasions with a battalion of admirers, friends and supporters, President Koroma has become popular for using international trips funded by the poor taxpayers of Sierra Leone as an effective tool of political appeasement. It is not uncommon to have Sierra Leone UN Assembly delegates strolling aimlessly through the busy streets of New York gazing in awe at the skyscrapers, with their mouths wide open. Many members of our country's overbloated UN General Assembly delegations, never even see the United Nations during their entire stay, but just use these trips to engage in shopping.
Garbage Pile up in Freetown
The Capital of the World's Best

This year, following rumors that the official UN General Assembly delegation from Sierra Leone will top a record 52 people who will each receive daily allowances (per diem) of four hundred and thirty five dollars, loud grumbling across the country forced a government spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay to go on radio to refute the allegations. Bayraytay was at pains to emphasize that there were two delegations coming to the USA from Sierra Leone, one headed for the UN General Assembly and the other to attend the Millennium  Challenge Corporation (MCC), which he claims Sierra Leone won last year.  

The world's best Citizens
The American Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent US foreign aid agency that gives aid to developing countries based on pre-established criteria such as good governance, economic freedom and investment in their citizens. Their are two main types of MCC grants, Compacts and Threshold Programs. The Compacts are large five year grants for countries that pass MCC's eligibility criteria. The African countries that won a compact are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Tanzania, Senegal and Zambia. These countries and some non-African countries are receiving over 7 billion dollars in poverty reduction grants. The countries that won a 495 million dollars in Policy Improvement Threshold Programs from Africa are Burkina Faso, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Below is the list of African countries who won the millennium compact and Sierra Leone is missing in action. While spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay may have been talking about some other MCC challenge, he is not being completely liberal with the facts as has become a pattern with the current Sierra Leone government, a government that has become increasingly addicted to the dissemination of embellishments, half truths and the occasional lame brained propaganda. These embellishments and  juvenile propaganda are effective in a country in which over 75% of the people are illiterate and most of the journalists are hoping to become government foreign press attaches, but they are an embarrassment to the image of the country abroad. Below is the list of African countries with MCC programs and I don't know what Sierra Leone won.

Countries in Africa with MCC Programs
Benin Compact
Benin Compact II
Burkina Faso Compact
Burkina Faso Threshold Program
Cape Verde Compact
Cape Verde Compact II
Ghana Compact
Ghana Compact II
Kenya Threshold Program
Lesotho Compact
Liberia Threshold Program
Madagascar Compact
Malawi Compact
Malawi Threshold Program
Mali Compact
Morocco Compact
Mozambique Compact
Namibia Compact
Niger Threshold Program
Rwanda Threshold Program
Senegal Compact
Tanzania Compact
Tanzania Threshold Program
Uganda Threshold Program
Zambia Compact
Zambia Threshold Program

President Koroma is trying to bring a country up that was nearly decimated by ten years of violent conflict. However, his individual flaws as a leader is gradually making his second term a joke. His affinity for sycophancy has led him to surround himself by yes men and praise singers who lack the ability to tell him the truth. Everybody around the President is now an official spokesman, with one saying one thing and one saying the opposite. Alpha Kanu, Abdulai Bayraytay, Sylvia Blyden, Jarra Kawusu Conteh, Titus Boye-Thompson and every single character ambulating the corridors of State House has become an official spokesperson, with no coordination and competing messages.

The large presidential team will travel to New York City on the sweat of the poor Sierra Leone taxpayer for no well defined purpose, while teachers in the country are not being paid. But as the main opposition party so busy with infighting is now a toothless bulldog, President Ernest Koroma can even bring clowns to UN as delegates and he will still be praised as the world's best.

Tegloma Minnesota Hosts Major Convention

Members of Tegloma Minnesota

We did it!
Members of 1975 Tegloma Founding
Members (The Pioneers)

One of my favorite creatures is the mail African agama lizard. There are two reason why I love the agama lizard. The first reason is that as a former biology student, it was one of those creatures whose scientific name was very easy to remember. The scientific name simply being "agama agama." Now that was not so hard, was it?

The second reason why I love the agama lizard is the rare natural talent the reptile has to motivate itself. An agama lizard will crawl up to a roof and then find no way to get back down. No matter how high the roof, the agama will close its eyes and leap off, landing on the hard grown below on its stomach with a thud. It will then look right and look left, and if there is no other lizard around it will shake its head up an down apparently in self admiration, as if to say. "Yes, I did it!". I love this reptile which knows how to blow its own horn even in the presence of nobody.
New Tegloma Ohio President
Chief Jamiru and Tegloma Day
Declaration from Mayor
When we recently concluded the Tegloma International Convention here in Minneapolis, that is exactly what I felt like doing, patting myself on the back, and that is exactly what every other member of the Minnesota Tegloma Chapter must have felt like doing, nodding their heads and murmuring quietly to themselves, "Yes we did it!"
Convention Delegates

Hosting the Minnesota convention two weeks ago was challenging for two reasons. Firstly, two formidable Tegloma Chapters, Tegloma Indiana and Minnesota had both wanted to host the convention and Indiana had graciously let Minnesota have the opportunity, so we had to prove that their decision was justified. Secondly, the convention coincided with Tegloma Federation elections, an event that draws Tegloma crowds like insects to a light bulb. We were therefore expecting a huge turnout, as we were expecting delegates from most of the 24 chapters around the world.

New Secretary General Amos Allie
Given that the active membership of Tegloma Minnesota Chapter was just 28 individuals who had other commitments, hosting a crowd of over 250 adult individuals for three days without proper planning would have been a logistical nightmare. Luckily most of the members of our chapter are veterans at community organizing and the planning of events involving public participation.
Tegloma Northern California Delegates

Chief Hassan and the Minnesota
We could have sought the help of professional event planners, but these people are so prohibitively expensive that we would not have been left with any money to entertain and feed our guests had we decided to go that route.

Having recently returned from the relatively new Tegloma Missouri Chapter and experienced how they had managed to host a beautiful convention with just a few members, we knew that we could do much better and do it in grand style.

Tegloma Washing DC Delegation
Much thanks and admiration goes to our President Hassan Kamara and his Vice Alice Karpeh who ensured that every committee set up to facilitate the panning of the convention was constantly monitored to ensure they were ready before the convention and during the convention the only focus would be on execution or modification, and not the time for new ideas.

Tegloma Minnesota Vice President Alice Karpeh and the wonderful ladies of Tegloma ensured that there was enough food for the three days to feed an entire battalion of starving elephants. The food was fresh and available and we ensured that hunger was kept as far away from the convention hall as possible. Wherever Alice and her crew was, hunger fled the scene with the utmost urgency, as hunger is no friend of great tasting food and gourmet beverages.
Tegloma Dallas Delegates
Tegloma DVC

The Transportation committee consisting of Imam Lamin Jabbie, Charles Grey and Philip Sandy, easily tied the food committee for hard work, as these three men gave up those three days of their lives, burning the miles between the Minneapolist-Saint Paul International airport, the three guest hotels and the convention center. All the delegates who sent messages of thanks after going back home gave special commendation to these three heroic gentlemen.
Tegloma Ontario Canada

Of course the media committee of Sheku Sheriff (Segbwema Blogger), Rebecca Johnson and David Wonnie ensured that the convention received maximum exposure. Guests were informed in timely fashion about airport and hotel facilities months before the convention and reminded on a weekly basis. The media committee was also able to publish a wonderful convention booklet with advertisements from some wonderful Tegloma members. The media committee also helped in designing the beautiful t-shirts for the convention.
Candidates Conteh & Sheriff

The cultural committee showcased the talents of Raymond Kamara, Paul Mbemeh, Philip Sandy and other cultural ambassadors who put on such a wonderful cultural display that Tegloma Minnesota Chapter is now receiving invitations from all across the state of Minnesota for cultural performances.
Tegloma Chicago Delegation

Ibrahim Seisay, Ansumana Lahai and the members of the entertainment committee ensured that the convention hall was always in a state of readiness, the public address and entertainment system was in prime shape and security around the hall was top notch. The DJ for the event, Raymond Borbor made such a name for himself those three days that he will have customers lining up for him for years to come.

Tegloma Southern California
Tegloma Missouri Delegation
Hassan Kamara and his beautiful wife Safiatu ensured that they played the role of President and chapter First Lady magnificently. Hassan did not leave anything to chance and ensured that he was always physically on hand to ensure everything was in place. The fellow deserves a medal for sheer tenacity.

Tegloma Atlanta Delegates
No event of such magnitude will be complete without suitable aesthetics. To ensure that the hall was beautiful and ready for the event, we turned to our Friends at Fairfax Decor, a Farmington Minnesota based Event Decoration business owned by a group of Sierra Leoneans. Fairfax decor made the hall beautiful and suitable for the event.
Tegloma Houston President

Though we have received praised from many quarters for a wonderful convention, I think I would behave like the Agama Lizard today and join them in saying, "Yes we did it!"
Tegloma Garden State President

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tegloma International Federation Gets New Leadership.

Swearing In Ceromony for New
Tegloma Leader Mustapha Sheriff
On Sunday September 1st 2013, Tegloma Federation International Inc, the largest Sierra Leone philanthropic and cultural organization in the diaspora, consisting of 24 chapter organizations on three continents, had a change in leadership through a democratic process that was largely described as free, fair and highly transparent.
Tegloma Day Declaration

In the Midwest USA city of Minneapolis Minnesota, Mr. Mustapha Sheriff, a professional accountant was elected Chairman of the Tegloma Federation adminstration, the body that is responsible for the day to day activities of Tegloma. Mr. Mustapha Sheriff, who had variously been President of the Tegloma Chicago Chapter, financial secretary of the federation, President of the Tegloma Midwest Coalition and Vice Chairman of the federation Board of Directors contested for the chairmanship against the former President of Tegloma New York/ New Jersey, Mrs. Julia Hawa Conteh, and educator and community activist.
Candidate Julia Hawa Conteh
Tegloma Minnesota Attire

Over the Labor Day Weekend in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Tegloma Chapter played host to 18 Tegloma chapters from USA and Canada whose members voted in the election that resulted in Mustapha Sheriff taking the mantle of leadership from outgoing Chairman Alfred Moi Jamiru of Tegloma Indianapolis.
Tegloma Ontario Canada

Tegloma conventions that elect federation leaders are hectic and lively events, and this was no exception, as both candidates had spent the past four months campaigning very hard and were busy right up to the eve of the elections. Though many of the leaders of Individual Tegloma Chapters are women, no woman has ever been elected to the post of federation chairman and Mrs. Julia Hawa Conteh was the first woman to contest for the highly influential position. However, Mustapha Sheriff was ultimately  declared the winner by a vote of 87 to 49.
Tegloma Philadelphia (DVC)

Upon losing the contest to become chairman Mrs. Julia Hawa Conteh graciously conceded and congratulated the new Chairman and pledged her support to ensure the success of his tenure at the head of the organization. Many observers and Tegloma members were surprised by the graciousness of Julia Hawa Conteh, who even joined candidate Mustapha Sheriff around the East Side Neighborhood Services convention hall for a celebratory dance. This was in marked contrast to the usual intolerance and bad blood displayed among Sierra Leonean candidates for most positions, no matter how small.
Tegloma Indiana

Federation Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha in congratulating the new administration Chairman Mustapha Sheriff, wished him the best in his quest to make Tegloma a more formidable organization and expressed admiration for candidate Julia Hawa Conteh for her exemplary behavior.
Outgoing Leadership

Mustapha Sheriff inherits an organization that is going through the throes of transformation from an emphasis on cultural and traditional activities, to onewith a greater focus on philanthropic activities, while simultaneously promoting Sierra Leone's rich cultural heritage in the diaspora.

Convention Delegates

On Saturday 31st August 2013, Mayor R. T. Rybak the Mayor of Minnepolis, the most modern city in Minnesota declared the day "Tegloma Day" in recognition of the role Tegloma is playing to help its members in the diaspora, promote Sierra Leone culture and help the needy back in Sierra Leone. The declaration was read to the assembled delegates by a Representative of the mayor and handed to outgoing Tegloma Chairman Alfred Moi Jamiru.
Tegloma Minnesota President
Hassan Kamara

Tegloma Minnesota Chapter has been congratulated by the various Tegloma Chapters for having hosted one of the best Tegloma Conventions in the organization's history. The theme of the convention was "cross-cultural survival" with a keynote speech by the director of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in Minneapolis. The Convention was a fusion of culture, modernity, brotherhood, philanthropy, and optimism and many are hoping that with Mustapha Sheriff's extensive experience, he will be able to make the organization more relevant back in Sierra Leone, by engaging in meaningful philanthropic activities.
Panorama View
Hail to the New Chief

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