Related Gunmen attempt to rescue Islamist militants in Niger French and Niger forces killed three gunmen in a convoy carrying drugs and heavy weapons in Niger close to the Libyan border, the French army said on Monday, as its troops step up efforts to stop militants crisscrossing the Sahel-Sahara region.Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamist fighters in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali in 2013, has deployed thousands of troops across West Africa to form a counter-terrorism force and prevent trafficking in the region.The army said in a statement that on May 14 two pick-up trucks attempted to force their way through a checkpoint set up by about 200 French and Niger troops.“The occupants of the vehicles attempted to drive through and responded to warning shots by violently opening fire,” it said. “Amid the fighting, three people in the convoy were killed and three others were captured and handed to the Niger army.”It said 1.5 tonnes of drugs and weapons, including submachine guns, were recovered as well as communications equipment.France has set up a base at Madama in northern Niger to monitor the Salvador Pass trafficking route that leads from southern Libya to northern Mali.More than 3,000 French troops are now operating out of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — countries straddling the vast arid Sahel band — with the aim of stamping out Islamist fighters across the region.The French operation, dubbed Barkhane after the name of a kind of sand dune formed by desert winds, has set up its headquarters in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, but also placed an outpost in northern Chad about 200 km from the Libyan border.French officials have said for several months they are concerned by events in Libya, warning that the political void in the north is creating favourable conditions for al Qaeda-linked fighters to regroup in the barren south of the country.They have also said that failure to conclude a peace deal between the Malian government and separatist rebels is helping traffickers restore their previous networks in the region.– (Reuters) Gunmen Attack UN Base in Northern Mali Nigeria: Niger Delta Gunmen Kill Nine
Baby sea turtle with matching turtle jewelry by Norman GitzenGitzen explains what is causing the decline in sea life in our waters here in South Florida and what can be done to prevent it.Listen to the full interview here.SFS Vanishing Species ArtFor more information on Norman Gitzen’s artwork click here. Local artist, Norman Gitzen, has been sculpting a “Vanishing Species Series” for nearly two decades to draw attention to the decline in marine life.Norman crafts sea turtles, sailfish, dolphin, coral reefs and other marine life out of metal, leaving holes in the bodies to simulate their disappearance from the environment due to chemicals, rising temperatures and over fishing in our area. Gitzen recently was commissioned by TD Bank’s lead architect who researched his art to sculpt a vanishing sea turtle for their Miami Beach bank branch. The sculptures are forged out of bronze or steel and feature the characteristics of the sea animal…with parts of the interior missing. The absence of the metal is a metaphor for the vanishing marine life in South Florida.Artist, Norman GitzenWith “Vanishing Species Turtle” commissioned by TD Bank on Miami Beach.
For the last eight years, Mark Marino, an associate professor of writing, has successfully incorporated service in his course curriculum. This semester, his WRIT 340 course, “Advanced Writing for Social Sciences,” will be building an urban garden for a homeless shelter called Pathways to Home.“I started using service projects in 2008, when one of my summer classes created a website called SOS Classroom to help counteract LAUSD’s decision to cancel summer school,” Marino said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “I was inspired by the model of [fellow WRIT 340 professors] John Murray and Stephanie Bower, who teach a service learning writing course that involves creating video profiles of and with area nonprofits.”Juhee Shah, a junior majoring in policy, planning and development, is one of the students in Marino’s class this semester and discussed how the class collectively came to the conclusion to tackle homelessness.“In addition to our papers, we had to write wall posts on topics we are passionate about,” Shah said. “Eventually, our class compiled all the different causes, and the one we were unanimously interested in was the homeless population.”According to Shah, the class was inspired by Ted Talk speaker Ron Finley to create the garden.“Ron Finley is a ‘guerilla gardener’ who plants vegetable gardens in South Central L.A.,” Shah said. “He has grown a nourishing food culture by planting the seeds and tools for healthy eating, and we wanted to follow his lead.”The class has already started making preparations for the service project, and the tentative date to visit the shelter and begin planting is April 19.Sareen Palassian, a senior double majoring in international relations and French and a copy editor for the Daily Trojan, is in charge of researching plants and figuring out the best crops to grow in the garden.“Basically, our professor lets us pick our own role so we can each take ownership of the project,” Palassian said. “My job is to research plants and put together an ultimate caretaking guidebook for those at the shelter.”Palassian explained that she tried to select plants that don’t take up too much water.“Most vegetables require a lot of water in general, but we wanted to be as compatible as possible for an urban environment like L.A. that doesn’t necessarily have many resources,” Palassian said. “We ended up choosing late spring and early summer crops such as green beans, bell peppers and squash.”Palassian and her class have already started the urban farming process by planting the seeds in small egg cartons so they can sprout.“When it’s time to go to Pathways to Home, we’ll take the seedlings out and move them into a large planter,” Palassian said. “We want this to be a sustainable project so that after we leave, others can come in and continue the process.”Both Shah and Palassian have appreciated the element of service in their WRIT 340 class this semester. Shah appreciated how the project has brought the class closer together.“As a class, it has brought us closer together,” Shah said. “We all know each other quite well now, and that doesn’t happen a lot in [General Education] courses.”On the other hand, Palassian is happy that the class is doing something to contribute to the surrounding community.“This is the first time I’ve done something off campus with a class, which is pretty necessary when you go to a school like USC,” Palassian said. “We have a reputation for being closed off and isolated within L.A., so I think it’s great that we are getting more in touch with the outside community.”
An American Airlines mechanic was arrested on Thursday and charged with sabotage, after he allegedly disabled a navigation system on a flight that had 150 people aboard and was about to take off from Miami International Airport earlier this summer.According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court this week, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, who was a veteran employee of the airline, was upset about stalled union contract negotiations.The affidavit also states that none of the passengers or crew on the Nassau-bound flight were injured, because Alani’s tampering with the air data module triggered an error alert as the pilots were powering up the plane’s engines on July 17.As a result, flight 2834 was aborted and taken out of service for maintenance and inspection at American’s hangar at Miami International. That is when another mechanic discovered that a loosely connected tube in front of the nose gear and underneath the cockpit had been blocked with some type of hard foam material.The complaint states that Alani glued the foam inside the tube leading from outside the plane to its air data module, which is a system that reports aircraft speed and pitch, as well as other important flight data. If the plane had taken off, the pilots would have had to operate it manually due to lack of computer data.When he was arrested on Thursday, Alani told federal air marshals who are assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.” Instead, he claimed that his motive was that he was “upset” about stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics’ union and American Airlines, and “the dispute had affected him financially.”The affidavit adds that he also told the air marshals he tampered with the air data module “in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.”Federal air marshals identified Alani in video footage that showed him approaching the plane, which had just arrived from Orlando. The footage also shows him accessing the aircraft’s compartment which houses the navigational system, and spending about seven minute tampering with it.Alani is now charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft.” His first appearance in Miami federal court is scheduled for Friday.