The Association of Disabled Females International (ADFI) in Liberia has sued (called on someone formally for something) the government—with emphasis on the National Legislature—to ensure that a bill in support of their welfare is removed from the back-burner—where it obviously has picked up some moss—and pass it into law. The bill, according to the ‘disabled’ women, has been lying in a committee room at the National Legislature, ever since it was submitted, early last year. The bill was sponsored by a Maryland County Representative, Isaac B. Roland and Montserrado County lawmaker Muna Pelham Youngblood.It raised issues relative to war reparations (reimbursement, compensation) and the establishment of a War Victims’ Trust Fund for disabled females in the country. The ADFI already operates in the country, in collaboration with war-survivors; it also seeks reparations (war-damages) for other kinds of war victims.The renewed appeal to members of the 53rd National Legislature, to fast-track the passage of the bill seeking to establish a War Victims’ Trust Fund at the national level was made by Ms. Meimai Hoff, ADFI executive director of ADFi. According to Ms. Hoff, when the bill is passed, government would be obliged to offer some compensation to war victims across the country—something, she says is done in international circle.Demands for reimbursement came in vogue (fashionable, a trend) after Germany lost World War I, and the victors, including the UK, France, and Russia—later joined by the US, Italy and Japan, (the Allies), defeated the Central Powers, including Germany Austria and Hungary. The allies they demanded reimbursement for the loss and damage they sustained from the war.The cost to Germany—the main instigator of the war—was 22 billion pounds that took Germany 92 years to deliver. Final repayment ended on October 3, 2010. “Since 2005, we have had a stable government with good governance, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” Ms Hoff continued.Against that backdrop, Liberian war-victims are hopeful that something will be done to give them a leg up as they try to rebuild their lives.This is why we are appealing to our lawmakers to revisit the bill, flung into the committee room so long ago,” the head of disabled females lamented.Ms. Hoff went on to remind President Sirleaf to reinforce her commitment to urge ministries and agencies to employ people with disabilities. The female leader of the ADFI made these recent appeals during an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer. The interview took place at the close of a program that marked the end of a day-long workshop, at which the disabled community was targeted for public education, in preparation for the pending October (2014) special election. The first in the series of such exercises, the workshop was facilitated by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and hosted at the ADFI Headquarters in Slipway, Central Monrovia. ADFI executive director Hoff told this paper that the essence of the workshop was to educate members of the disabled community about procedures toward exercising their rights at polling centers when, election time comes around. Over 61 disabled participants from various communities and townships in Monrovia and environs attended the ‘educative program,’ with the intent of sharpening their awareness on ‘how to proceed (go on) to the ballot box,’ come election season.“We want the disabled, especially the females with various forms of disabilities, to be informed about how to participate in the upcoming election,” Ms. Hoff explained. According to the social worker, the exercise was also intended to reawaken the disabled and get them involved in doing the right thing, when it comes to voting. She reiterated that people with disabilities need a disable-friendly environment to go about exercising their inalienable (undeniable) rights in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia. Ms Hoff observed, however, that during the conduct of the 2005 and 2011 general and presidential elections, most of the polling centers and precincts were not disable-friendly enough to allow people with disabilities to cast their votes. “This time around,” she continued, “the ADFI has decided to begin taking some corrective measures to enable the disabled participate in the electoral process, without any constraints. She added that there are more disabled female non-voters, compared to their male counterparts; therefore, there was a need to identify disabled females and train them to ensure their involvement, beginning with the approaching October exercise. (With an assist from Keith Neville A. Best)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
SAN DIEGO (AP) – Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham resigned Monday after admitting he took $2.4 million as part of guilty pleas in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques. The Republican congressman wiped away tears as he announced his resignation outside federal court. “I can’t undo what I have done but I can atone,” he said. Authorities said Cunningham steered defense contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to the people who bribed him. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004. Cunningham, an eight-term congressman, answered “yes, Your Honor” when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties. “He did the worst thing an elected official can do – he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said in a prepared statement. After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting. He will be released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of a felony no longer should vote or participate in committee work. Under Republican caucus rules, Cunningham also would lose his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence. Cunningham had already said he would not run for re-election in 2006 but it was not immediately clear whether he would resign. He planned to address reporters at a press conference later in the morning. His chief of staff said she didn’t know his plans and his attorney didn’t immediately return a call for comment. Cunningham agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and antiques and rugs. Prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations. Prosecutors would not name the conspirators. Daniel Dzwilewski, the FBI’s special agent in charge in San Diego, called the violations “staggering” for a serving U.S. congressman. The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy a $2.55 million mansion in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 – a loss of $700,000. Cunningham is a former Vietnam War flying ace known on Capitol Hill for his interest in defense issues and his occasional temperamental outbursts He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he’d sold the home to Wade. The house sale was just one in a series of too-friendly deals for Cunningham. Though he denied wrongdoing when he announced in July that he wouldn’t seek re-election, Cunningham himself acknowledged it didn’t look good. Cunningham’s pleas came amid a series of Republican scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, had to step down as majority leader after a Texas prosecutor indicted him in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case. In addition to buying Cunningham’s home at an inflated price, Wade let him live rent-free on his yacht, the Duke Stir, at the Capital Yacht Club. His firm, MZM Inc., donated generously to Cunningham’s campaigns. Prosecutors did not specify if those allegations were part of Cunningham’s guilty pleas. Around the same time, MZM was winning valuable defense contracts, and Cunningham sits on the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls defense dollars. In 2004 the little-known company based in Washington, D.C., tripled its revenue and nearly quadrupled its staff, according to information posted on the company Web site before Wade stepped down as president and the company was sold to a private equity firm. An associate of Wade, Brent Wilkes, president of a Poway company called ADCS Inc., also gave Cunningham campaign cash and favors. Wilkes reportedly flew Cunningham in a corporate jet to go hunting in Idaho and golfing in Hawaii, and a charitable foundation Wilkes started spent $36,000 hosting a black tie “Tribute to Heroes” gala in 2002 that feted Cunningham with a trophy naming him a hero. ADCS, which specializes into turning paper records into digital files, has received tens of millions in Defense Department contracts since the late 1990s. In some years, lawmakers on Cunningham’s spending panel added the money themselves, even scolding the Pentagon for not requesting it in the first place. Unlike Wade and Wilkes, the third man federal investigators focused on, Thomas Kontogiannis, apparently wasn’t in the defense business. Like them he had a mutually beneficial relationship with Cunningham. Cunningham wrote to prosecutors in 2000 on behalf of Kontogiannis, a New York developer then under investigation in a bribery and kickback scheme involving school computer contracts. Two years later, Cunningham made $400,000 selling his 65-foot flat-bottom riverboat to Kontogiannis. Also, a company run by Kontogiannis’ nephew and daughter helped Cunningham finance a condominium in Alexandria, Va., and his house in Rancho Santa Fe. Kontogiannis ultimately pleaded guilty to fraud charges. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Cunningham gave him advice on attorneys to contact to explore getting a presidential pardon.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!