BURUNDI – AFRICA / INTERNATIONAL : 09 JANVIER 2010 [Angola ‘underestimated rebel threat to Cup’]

{jcomments on}OMAR, AGNEWS, BXL, 9 janvier 2010
By AFP Jan 9, 2010 — Angola may have underestimated the threat posed by separatist guerrillas who staged a deadly gun attack on Togo’s football team ahead of the African Nations Cup, a minister said.

RWANDA

Rwanda genocide witnesses to testify
Published: Jan. 9, 2010 /UPI
HELSINKI, Finland, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Witnesses to the 1994 Rwanda genocide will testify in Finland at the trial of a man charged with 15 killings in the massacres, authorities say.

Four Rwandans who sought asylum in Zambia will testify for the defense in February, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported Friday.

The Rwandan genocide was the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by militias of the Hutu-dominated government.

About 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the massacre, which went on for 100 days.

Finland is one of several countries, including Canada and France, trying genocide suspects rather than extraditing them to Rwanda, where they say they could not get a fair hearing, the newspaper reported.

A Rwandan man living in Porvoo, Finland, is on trial for genocide, the newspaper reported. The trial began last summer.

Head: Football can score for African peace

2010-01-09 /thecitizen.co.tz
In Rwanda, former enemies embrace each other; during the Sierra Leone civil war, guns would fall silent for soccer; and Ivorian star Didier Drogba relentlessly pushed for an end to the country s civil war. Well-handled football can promote peace in Africa, writes MWAURA SAMORA

The ability of football to harness and project emotions in one direction is one of its biggest assets in uniting people.

In Africa, a continent divided along ethnic, political and cultural lines, the sport is the only music common to a huge majority of the population. Although this fact has been exploited by some leaders to gain political mileage it has also been explored in times of conflicts and tensions to bring about peace.

In the past football matches have caused temporary ceasefires with warring parties downing their arms either to cheer a game or to celebrate a victory.

The success of George Weah and his Lone Stars colleagues during the Liberian civil war would bring relative calm to the streets of Monrovia, only for the shootings to begin soon after the so-called brotherly celebrations. It is said that during one of the World Wars German and Allied troops left the safety of their trenches to play a thirty minute friendly in the no-mans-land.
Universal peace

« As a citizen of one of the most politically and culturally divided nations Nigeria I ve witnessed firsthand the almost magical effect that football can have on its fans.

When the Super Eagles are playing, no one cares if you are Muslim or Christian, Northerner or Southerner; its as if nothing else matters for those 90 minutes, said one Nigerian observer during a BBC survey on the role of football in uniting nations.

Lillian Thuram, the veteran French defender, once suggested that to create a sense of goodwill in search of a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict Israel and Palestine should be allowed to co-host the 2018 World Cup. This, he explained, is because there is no game that mobilises energies and unites enthusiasms like football.

Inspired by the game s ability to bring people together in a spirit of universal peace and brotherhood Jules Rimet, a committed Catholic and father and an ardent soccer
administrator, conceived the World Cup to unite members of his faith throughout the world and reconcile the different classes in a Christian spirit and to relieve the moral and physical suffering of the poorest.

Therefore can hosting the World Cup for the first time achieve Rimet »s dream of « universal peace and brotherhood » in Africa, or will it just be another goal galore that will be forgotten immediately after the more than 10,000 minutes of football?

In a bid to capitalise on this global carnivore the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) has initiated several drives aimed at using the event as a platform for uniting people around Africa and within the host nation.

In collaboration with International Marketing Council of South Africa, (IMC) and Travel South Africa, LOC launched a major campaign in May 2009 aimed at sparking enthusiasm and drumming support for the 2010 World Cup.

Anchored by a powerful advert showing major natural and historic hallmarks throughout the continent united around the host nation’s football symbol vuvuzela, « the campaign is about celebration and solidarity, encapsulating the African and South African spirit of ubuntu (humaneness) , » says IMC CEO Paul Bannister.

Besides uniting the continent the tournament s organisers also hope that the 2010 World Cup will play a crucial role in uniting South Africans of all races who despite the official end of apartheid 15 years ago still remain a racially stratified nation.

Football is hugely a game of blacks in that country while whites favour rugby and cricket. But consistent media campaign and advocacy is changing the trend as witnessed during the Confederation Cup when « rainbow » crowds gathered in stadiums to cheer on Bafana Bafana, the national team.

« For me this was a test event for the organising committee and for FIFA but I must say for South Africa it has been an historic moment. Never in history of this country have we seen South Africans so united on the field of play.

The spectators showed South Africa can be united facing the same direction. The Confederations Cup has achieved what no other sporting code has achieved, said Irvin Khoza, chairman of the organising committee.

With only six teams participating in a continent of more than 50 republics critics are quick to point out that the oneness enhanced by this event in Africa will be very minimal.

But the collective attention of nations and convergence of emotions create a perfect platform to sensitise the world about important issues.

Several corporate entities have already put in place measures meant to capitalise on this arena.

United Against Malaria’ campaign, an initiative of European Commission and FIFA, is one of the many campaigns strategically aligned with the World Cup to promote football as a factor of development in Africa, since according to the Commission « around 50 million people across Africa play football regularly and for many of these people football is ‘an act of survival’ and a means of rebuilding confidence and promoting tolerance and solidarity. »

Others are UNICEF and 1Goal initiatives all of which have aligned their campaigns for a universal availability of basic education with the 2010 World Cup fever.

There are several cases in Africa where the popular game has achieved monumental milestones outside the pitch by playing a critical role in ending conflicts and enhancing national unity and healing.

Rwanda is the ideal example of how football can unite, harmonise and cement national healing and reconciliation.

The success of the national team, Amavubi, and clubs in the regional and continental stage have been so effective in erasing negative ethnicity and arousing a sense of nationality in the tiny East African country that football is now the official language of peace.

In 2008 when National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) was tasked with reintegrating genocide perpetrators back into the same community they committed atrocities against, it turned to the beloved sport.

Games between former foes were conducted in various parts of urban Rwanda like Kigali and Butare which worked marvelously as former foes embraced each other.

This phenomenal achievement of the game in national healing and reconciliation would never have been possible without the personal impetus of President Paul Kagame, himself a passionate football enthusiast.

Besides being instrumental in the formation of APR, now a major club in Rwanda, while still a fighter in the bush and building one of the strongest and well-organised local soccer bodies in the region, the president convinced his cabinet in 2002 to allocate an annual budget of $60,000 (Sh4.5 million) to rescue the perennially under-funded Cecafa Club Championship.

« Football, especially the World Cup, symbolizes the importance of unity, peace and prosperity across the world, » said President Kagame.

During the civil war in Ivory Coast the game played a vital role in accelerating the realization of peace.

After leading his nation to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany back in October 2005, Chelsea marksman the Ivorian Didier Drogba picked up a microphone in the dressing room and, surrounded by his team-mates, fell to his knees live on national television.

He passionately begged both warring factions to lay down their arms and, just within a week, his bold wish had been granted. Of course there were factors at work.

« It was just something I did instinctively, he explained later. « All the players hated what was happening to our country and reaching the World Cup finals was the perfect emotional wave on which to ride. »

A year later after winning the African Player of the Year award Drogba flew to Abidjan to show his trophy to President Laurent Gbagbo, where he beseeched the leader to let the next Elephants Nations Cup qualifier against Madagascar be played in Bouake, then the rebel heartland, as a unifying gesture.

Making an emotional speech while presenting his golden ball award to a huge crowd of jubilant fans in the rebel-held town a few weeks before the game, the Chelsea forward

declared « the game date will be memorable day: it will be a victory for Ivory Coast football, the victory of the Ivory Coast people and quite simply there will be peace. »
Political animosity

At the peak of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, football proved to be the only talking point between the two enemies.

During the 1999 Cecafa Club Championships held in Kampala players from the two countries shared a hotel where, against all odds, they were seen sharing jokes, eating at the same table and jogging together while back in the Horn their kinsmen were brutally butchering each other.

However in some occasions football acts as an extension of political animosity between nations, which literary turns the soccer pitch into a battlefield of eleven men armed with studded leather boots, solid muscular bodies, aggressive attitudes and egoistic prides.

Matches between Argentina and England have always been perceived through the context of the Falklands War while those between Cameroon and Nigeria are intensified by the row brought forth by the issue of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula, not to mention that the two giants of African football once bitterly contested for the citizenship of FC Wolfsburg star Obafemi Martins.

Sometimes the emotional flare-ups are so intensive and abrasive that the situation disintegrates into a diplomatic showdown, hence negating the role of the beautiful game as a source of unity to a cause of animosity and hatred.

This was perfectly played out during the explosive World Cup qualifying match between Egypt and Algeria.

After a dramatic 3-1 loss the whole of Egypt was literary berserk, with the Pharaohs accusing Algerian fans of making noise around their hotel in Algiers all night long to deny them a healthy sleep before the game.

In an apparent act of retaliation the Algerian team bus was brutally attacked by mobs of angry fans while driving across Cairo to their hotel, leaving three players seriously injured.

« We were bombarded with stones, » recalled Michel Gaillaud, a French doctor traveling with the Algerian squad.

« The first rock was thrown with such force that it sailed through the bus, smashing windows on its way in and out. We were lying on the floor when someone started screaming, ‘There’s blood! There’s blood! »

These prompted revenge attacks on Egyptian companies based in Algeria. Egypt Air offices in Algiers were repeatedly ransacked and plundered while Egyptian mobile service provider Orascom Telecom pulled out 25 staff and their families after 15 offices of its Algerian subsidiary were attacked.

Authorities from the two nations blamed each other for the chaos, with the head of Algerian football federation questioning the thin security detail escorting the visiting team bus from the Cairo airport and accusing his Egyptian counterpart Samir Zaher of inciting the violence.

The diplomatic row spilled over into the delicate and emotionally fragile Arab unity politics where Egypt is a prominent player, dragging in long forgotten political issues between the two countries. Fear is rife that fresh violence might erupt during the actual tournament depending on Algeria s performance.

Therefore with two major football events, Cup of Nations and the World Cup, scheduled to take place in Africa this year the big question is whether these international gatherings of the world’s most popular sport can realistically help foster the continent’s unity, or it will just be another platform for temporary emotional gratification that fades from memory immediately after the final game.

Africa Insight is an initiative of the Nation Media Group s Africa Media Network Project.

 

 

 

 

 


UGANDA

S.J. man assumes role in Uganda controversy

By The Record/January 09, 2010

Lockeford man is entangled in the conflict over Uganda’s anti-gay legislation.

Don Schmierer, a board member of Christian ministry group Exodus International, was one of three Americans who spoke in Uganda last March at a conference about homosexuality, the New York Times reported this week.

On Friday, a Ugandan lawmaker refused to withdraw proposed legislation that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians despite international condemnation and presidential opposition to a measure that could scare off foreign investors.

Lawmaker David Bahati said he will not heed a call from the government to drop the proposed bill, as he feels such a measure is necessary in the conservative East African country.

Themes of the conference 10 months ago included the « gay agenda » and methods to make gay people straight, the Times reported.

Schmierer told the Times he had been invited to speak on « parenting skills » for families with gay children; he said he didn’t know some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for gays. The proposed legislation was introduced after the conference.

Schmierer signed a Nov. 16 letter from Exodus International to the Ugandan government expressing concern about the proposed law, saying, « While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue. »

Schmierer is author of « An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth. »

U.S. Warns of Threat of Attack on Flights From Sudan to Uganda

By Maram Mazen and Brian Latham/Jan. 9

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. embassy in Sudan warned of a “potential threat” of attack by extremists on flights between Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, and Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

“The U.S. Embassy has received information indicating a desire by regional extremists to conduct a deadly attack onboard Air Uganda aircraft,” according to the statement issued late yesterday on its Web site. It didn’t elaborate on the identity of the potential attackers and said the capacity of the extremists to carry out such an attack is “unknown.”

The U.S. announced Jan. 3 that travelers bound for the U.S. who travel from or through any of 14 countries, including Sudan, will face enhanced screening, after 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Dec. 25.

Uganda figures hold out good prospects for new jobs after 35pc slip in investment
2010-01-09/Reuters

KAMPALA Friday

Uganda registered investments worth $1.57 billion in 2009, more than one-third down from 2008, but fourth quarter data held out good prospects for new jobs, according to the state-run Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).

East Africa’s third largest economy has been credited for withstanding the impact of the global economic crisis and investor interest has been on the upswing, spurred by the discovery of commercial petroleum deposits.

« The last quarter of the year 2009 was a very good one as far as planned investments are concerned, despite the general economic downturn around the world, » Maggie Kigozi, UIA’s executive director, said in a statement seen by Reuters on Friday.

Investments in 2008 totalled $2.4 billion, according to the UIA figures which gave no breakdown between investment from local and foreign investors.

The statement said the UIA licensed 87 new companies in the last quarter of 2009 with a total planned investment of $564 million, expected to create 29,000 jobs.

A total of 12,000 jobs were created in the same period in 2008 from a planned investment of about $1 billion.

Manufacturing attracted the highest number of investments, accounting for 44 percent of the last quarter’s total planned investments, followed by agriculture and construction which accounted for 14 percent each.

The report said agriculture, however, produced the highest number of planned jobs at approximately 16,000.

Uganda is currently wooing members of its diaspora community to invest at home, seeing it as a potential source of economic growth. Kigozi said recent trends showed their interest in the home market was growing.

Investors are also attracted by strong demand for Ugandan exports in the new markets of South Sudan and Eastern DR Congo.

The top 10 countries that invested were China, India, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Togo, Germany, Russia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan.


TANZANIA:

 

 

 


CONGO RDC :

 



 

 


KENYA :

Aid Cut to Somalia – A Burden on Kenya

Saturday, January 9th, 2010/written by Suleiman Mbatiah /www.newstimeafrica.com

Aid cut to Somalia means a burden for Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki said on Friday. He urged World Food Programme to reconsider its decision as Kenya houses thousands of refugees. The UN decision is the latest setback for Somalia, which has not had an effective central government for two decades. The president however, thanked other aid agencies that for ages assisted Somalia and the region in times of need.

The president met and held discussions with Country Director of the World Food Programme Burkard Oberle and WFP goodwill Ambassador Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussien of Dubai. Princess Haya and the Country Director in response said WFP would consider Proposals made by President Kibaki in relation to Somalia. The United Nations food agency suspended distribution of desperately needed aid in southern Somalia Tuesday, citing attacks on its staff, a decision affecting up to a million people.

Sources say last year, the al-Shabaab administration in the south-central regions of Bay and Bakool gave aid agencies a list of 11 rules to comply with, including a registration fee of around 14,000 Euros, payable twice a year.

 



ANGOLA :

Attack is late ‘wake-up call’ for Angola
January 09 2010 /www.iol.co.za

Luanda – The African Nations Cup was meant to banish the ghosts of Angola’s civil war, but instead the tournament plunged into tragedy with a gun attack on the Togo team, prompting calls for its cancellation.

Angola has vowed tighter security after the « terrorist act » by separatist guerrillas, but the tournament has been overshadowed before kickoff by images of a shell-shocked and tearful Togolese team in the restive northern Cabinda enclave.

The attack was a « serious and late wake-up call » for the government, said Angolan journalist and human rights campaigner Rafael Marques.

« There was always a fear something would happen during the CAN and that it was a risk to host games in Cabinda, » Marques told AFP.

« The government said it would take security measures but it didn’t. It’s not about having large numbers of soldiers somewhere, it’s about intelligence and analysis of a situation and that analysis clearly didn’t happen. »

Separated from Angola by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cabinda was chosen one of the four host cities in a bid to demonstrate the province’s stability, promote its image abroad and attract investment.

The oil-rich province, home to much of Angola’s offshore petroleum activity and a large Chevron base, has suffered a long-running independence fight led by the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).

Angola’s broader civil war ended in 2002. A peace deal in Cabinda was signed in 2006, but a low-level insurgency has continued. FLEC have claimed responsibility for this latest shooting.

Marques said the shooting showed the pact was a « sham », and also condemned government’s tardy public response.

State media stayed silent for hours after the attack made international headlines, until a late-night official statement finally named FLEC as the culprits.

Angolan television later released footage of bloodied people being carried off the bus and Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor in tears of shock.

The tournament’s organising committee initially denied the shooting, telling told AFP a blown tyre had caused panic among the players.

The Togo team is set to decide Saturday whether to pull out of the tournament, while top football officials travel to Cabinda.

Souleymane Habuba, spokesman for the Confederation of African Football, said the tournament would go ahead but questiond why Togo had chosen to drive rather than fly to Cabinda.

Alex Vines, of London-based think tank Chatham House, also believes some blame may lie with the Togolese team.

« The mistake is that the team travelled by road. They had obviously done no serious risk assessment of the area, » he told AFP.

« This is the Mayombe rainforest and where radical FLEC separatists have operated for decades, » he said, although their numbers are believed at only several hundred.

« International companies in the zones have been targeted with abductions and killings, » he added, despite a large military and security presence in Cabinda.

Human Rights Watch, which has documented torture and illegal arrests by security forces in Cabinda, condemned the attack but said it was not an excuse for heavy-handed tactics.

Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch said Angola was entitled to step up security in response.

« But this does not justify illegal arrests or crackdowns on the media, as it has done in Cabinda in the past, » she said. – Sapa-AFP

Angola ‘underestimated rebel threat to Cup’
Jan 9, 2010 /By AFP

Angola may have underestimated the threat posed by separatist guerrillas who staged a deadly gun attack on Togo’s football team ahead of the African Nations Cup, a minister said.
Before joining the government, Antonio Bento Bembe led the separatist movement in Cabinda, a tiny enclave that produces more than half of the oil that has fuelled Angola’s recent economic boom.

He insisted that the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) no longer existed as a cohesive force after he signed a 2006 peace deal, but admitted that government may have underestimated the strength of the rebellion’s remnants.

“Perhaps Angola’s security forces under-estimated the FLEC’s ability to pose a nuisance,” he told AFP today.

“Despite that, you must note that our police forces responded immediately and repelled the attackers.

“I made war in Cabinda, I speak with knowledge of the cause. Everyone is free to say whether or not this was a FLEC attack. For me, these are elements staging terrorist attacks.”

Claiming responsibility for Friday’s shooting, FLEC warned in a statement that more attacks would follow.

The group has claimed a series of recent attacks against the military and foreign workers in Cabinda, where oil giant Chevron maintains a large staff base.

The enclave is separated from the rest of the country by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and separatists have battled for its independence since the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975.

Bento Bembe said he remained confident that security forces would ensure the safety of the tournament, and defended the decision to allow Cabinda to host seven of the matches this month.

“Cabinda is a province like any other in Angola. And the Nations cup is positive for Angola. It does not represent a threat. There is no reason not to organise the Nations Cup in Cabinda.”

“I have confidence in our security and defence forces. This incident does not negate the effectiveness of Angola’s defence forces,” he said.

Angola’s sports ministry has vowed to beef up security for the tournament, but Bento Bembe declined to say what measures would be taken.

“These are questions of security and defence that cannot be discussed in the press,” he said. “It must be known that there are safeguards in place, but these defences are secret.”

RB leaves for Angola tomorrow, Ethiopia month-end

www.zambianwatchdog.com/2010/01/09

President Rupiah Banda will fly to Angola on Sunday to watch the Zambian national soccer team participate in the Orange African Cup of Nations.
Sport Minister Kenneth Chipungu who is in the presidential entourage confirmed the president’s ‘flight plan’.

It is not clear when the president will return as Zambia will on play their first game on Wednesday, January 13, against Tunisia.

And in three weeks from now, president Banda is expected to join other African rulers in Ethiopia for the African Union Summit.

The next AU summit will be held in Addis Ababa from 31 January to 3 February, 2010.

The most important item on the agenda is transferring of AU chairmanship from the incumbent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafy.

Zambia and other Southern Africa leaders are backing Malawi’s president Bingu Mutharika for the position.

Two days ago, Foreign Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met in Maputo, Mozambiaque and reiterated the region’s full support for Malawi in its bid for the leadership of the African Union this year.

Under the AU’s rotating system, it is southern Africa’s term to occupy the chair.

At its last summit, in Kinshasa in 2009, SADC decided to back the candidature of Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, and the Foreign Ministers, meeting as the SADC Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee, made clear that there could be no going back on this.

The final statement from the meeting “reiterated the 2009 Kinshasa summit decision that, consistent with the established rotational principle of the AU, Malawi remains the candidate for the chairperson of the AU, and SADC members individually and collectively commit to support Malawi in the process”.

Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi, who chaired the meeting, declared “Malawi is maintaining its candidature, and has heard repeated expressions of support and encouragement, including suggestions on how to make its candidature stronger, with greater possibilities of success”.

Nigerian football officials assure of Eagles’ safety after Togo attack

Pana /09/01/2010
News – Africa news .The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has assured that the country’s national team – the Super Eagles – is safe in Angola, following the gun attack on buses carrying the Togolese team to the tournament Friday.

The official News Agency of Nigeria quotes NFF President Sani Lulu as saying that Nigerians should not panic because  »Angola is safe and the Nigerian team is safe ».

The Super Eagles arrived in Angola Friday on a charter flight from Durban, South Africa, where they have been training for the 10-31 Jan. tournament, due to open on Sunday.

The Hawks of Togo were travelling from their training camp in the Republic of Congo to Angola’s northern province of Cabinda when the attack occurred. Details are sketchy but several players are said to be injured.

Fears that the attack could affect the Nations Cup have been doused by African soccer’s governing body, CAF, which said the tournament would go ahead.

Togo was due to open its campaign Monday against Ghana in group B of the tournament. Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso are also in the group.

Lagos –

 

 


SOUTH AFRICA:

UPDATE 1-S.Africa’s Zuma-worst of econ dowturn may be over

Sat Jan 9, 2010/ www.reuters.com
* Econ recovery likely to be slow

* Job-creation expected to lag revival

* Survey shows Zuma, ANC ratings up

* (Adds details)

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 9 (Reuters) – There are signs South Africa is recovering from the worst effects of the global economic crisis, but the revival will likely be slow and job-creation will lag, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

Zuma was addressing tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Kimberly, about 380 km (236 miles) south west of Johannesburg, for the 98th anniversary of the ANC party’s creation.

« There are some indications that we may be recovering from the worst of the (global) crisis but this recovery may be slow and perhaps even temporary, » he said in a speech broadcast on SABC.

Zuma sought, however, to lessen the expections of his supporters that new jobs will created soon.

« It should also be expected that the creation of new jobs on a massive scale will lag behind the economic recovery, » he said.

A survey conducted by Ipsos Markinor between October and November 2009 showed the ANC had consolidated its support after narrowly failing to achieve a two-third majority in last year’s election, with support of 71 percent of eligible voters.

The party drew most of its support from the ranks of the unemployed with more than two-thirds (67 percent) of their supporters jobless.

The poll, published on Saturday, found Zuma’s approval rating has increased since he took office to a mean of 7.6 from 6.1 on the scale of 10, the most notable increases in minority racial groups such as Indians and whites.

Zuma assured his supporters that the ANC was still committed to its target of creating 4 million jobs by 2014, providing quality healthcare and ending corruption and crime.

Zuma is under pressure to deliver on election promises made last year, including drastically reducing unemployment which stands at about 25 percent after last year’s recession slashed nearly one million jobs.

Due to the economic downturn, Zuma was unable to meet his pledge of creating 500,000 new jobs last year.

The ANC government also faces pressure to improve basic services. Riots erupted in several poor townships across the country last year as residents protested over the lack of running water and electricity. (Reporting by Phumza Macanda; Editing by Andy Bruce)

David Owen: Angolan attack highlights South African security concerns
Saturday, 09 January 2010 /www.insideworldfootball.biz
.It has been a dreadful start to the year for African football.

I was just settling down to write a column arguing that African governing body CAF’s decision to sign an exclusive sponsorship deal with Qatar 2022 demonstrated that FIFA needed to take a firmer grip on the World Cup bidding process – either that or simply auction the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to the highest bidders – when word of the attack on the Togo team came through.

Obviously this is a different scale of problem altogether.

Yet both episodes have contributed to the big shadow now looming over what ought to be a breakthrough year for a continent that, Lord knows, has to battle mightily hard for its voice to be heard in any international forum with real clout.

And the year is not yet 10 days old.

To deal first with the consequences for the African Cup of Nations.

The eyes of the world were always going to be on this 27th edition of the tournament more than ever before for a variety of reasons: the global stature of players such as Ghana’s Michael Essien and Côte d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba; the accident of timing that has made the 2010 competition a curtain-raiser for the first African World Cup; the success story that Angola is on the verge of becoming after decades ripped apart by war.

Now they will be glued to it all the more, but for the wrong reasons.

Events are moving quickly as I write this.

At the moment, however, it looks like the tournament is set to go ahead, albeit with a large question-mark over Togo’s participation.

What I severely doubt in the wake of this shocking attack is whether Cabinda – an oil-rich enclave to the north of the main body of Angola – can be judged in any way a safe venue.

Drogba (pictured) and Essien – probably the two biggest names in African football – are due to line up in Cabinda’s Estádio Chimandela, along with Côte d’Ivoire’s Kolo Touré and Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor, as early as Monday.

English Premiership clubs are hardly noted for their love of the Cup of Nations at the best of times.

I find it very hard to believe that their clubs would now allow this to happen.

The line of least resistance, therefore, might well be for the Group B matches, scheduled to be played principally in Cabinda, to be shifted to the other venues of Luanda, Benguela and Lubango.

If Togo does withdraw, you would only be talking about rearranging two matches, albeit one a real humdinger between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, a match-up that could easily be replicated in the final.

It seems inevitable that this incident will also lead to security at this summer’s main event, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, being subjected to yet more intense scrutiny.

Many will argue, with some justification, that extrapolating between Cabinda and Johannesburg is akin to comparing, I don’t know, Kosovo and Germany.

But security was always going to be an area in which it was vital, for the credibility of an entire continent, that South Africa did an outstanding job.

It will be even more so now.

The only straw one can clutch at is that the Togo party’s harrowing ordeal should at least ensure there is not the slightest trace of complacency.

Yes, football is only a game.

Yet it is hard to overstate the importance of 2010’s football tournaments for Africa’s image on the world stage.

Football, after all, is one of very few areas of intense international interest in which the continent has started to taste real power.

Going back to that contest for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, four of the 24 voices who, this coming December, will decide where these competitions will be staged are African.

What is more, with no African countries in either race, these four voices will be particularly important, especially in the early rounds of voting.

One way or another, for the world’s biggest sport, 2010 is set to be Africa’s Year.

It would be a tragedy – and I don’t use the word lightly – for this much-abused continent if we end up remembering it for all the wrong reasons.

David Owen is a specialist sports journalist who worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering last year’s Beijing Olympics. An archive of Owen’s material may be found by Twitter users at www.twitter.com/dodo938



AFRICA / AU :

Africa Cup of Nations to go ahead despite attack
DPA /beta.thehindu.com/janvier 9, 2010

Luanda,
Africa’s controlling football body late Friday said that the Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead, hours after an attack on the Togo team bus left one person dead and several wounded.

The bus driver was killed and two Togolese players were among those wounded when the bus came under machine-gun fire shortly after entering Angola.

Suleimanu Habuba, Confederation of African Football (CAF) director of communications, said that the attack came as a shock.

“Our first priority is the safety of the players, but the tournament will go ahead,” he said.

In a statement following an emergency meeting held on word of the incident, the confederation condemned the attack, which occurred 10 kilometres inside the Angolan territory as the Togolese delegation headed to Cabinda from Congo.

CAF said that Angolan authorities had sent a team to the area to assess the situation.

“According to the information provided by the director general, all injured people were taken to a hospital in Cabinda,” the CAF statement said.

Organizers are also to meet with Angolan officials Saturday in Cabinda to discuss the shooting. Angolan Prime Minister Antonio Paulo Kassoma and CAF President Issa Hayatou are to meet Saturday to “take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition,” the confederation said.

“CAF is terribly saddened by these events and express its total support as well as sympathy to the entire Togolese delegation.” Togolese players, who are to play their first game Monday in Cabinda, said late Friday that they would discuss withdrawing from the competition.

The team has been drawn into the so-called Group of Death with Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The organization has been involved in a long-running struggle for independence for the Cabinda region, which is separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sudan dismisses warnings by activists of possible war

Sat Jan 9, 2010/Reuters
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan on Saturday dismissed warnings from aid groups and activists that it was sliding back to war, as it marked the fifth anniversary of a faltering peace deal with the south and prepared for two divisive votes.

World

Drummers from Radiohead, Pink Floyd and other bands appeared in a « beat for peace » film to mark Saturday’s anniversary, part of global events urging world powers to help prevent more bloodshed in the oil-producing state.

Sudan ended more than two decades of north-south civil war with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but relations between the two sides have remained tense.

Aid groups and campaigners issued a series of reports in recent days warning there was a risk of fresh conflict as Sudan counted down the days to national elections in April and a referendum on whether the south should split off as an independent country, due in January 2011.

« The situation in southern Sudan is very far from what has been depicted…It is not all doom and gloom, » Anne Itto, a senior member of the south’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) told reporters.

Itto, speaking in the southern capital Juba, said the campaigners had failed to take into account significant improvements and development in the five years since the accord.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement a report « from some foreign organizations…that the north and the south are doomed to go back to war, was not correct and was not backed by facts on the ground. »

There was a need to tighten security in the south, ministry spokesman Moawia Osman Khalid told the state Suna news agency.

But « war is no longer an option for the remedy of the situation between the north and the south, given the fact that the country has tasted the woes of the war and its repercussions, » he added.

At least 139 people were killed in tribal clashes in the south’s remote Warrap state last week, the latest in a surge of tribal violence, officials said on Friday.

Two million people were killed and 4 million fled their homes between 1983 and 2005 when Sudan’s north and south fought over differences in ideology, ethnicity and religion. The fighting destabilized large parts of east Africa.

Saturday’s « drum for peace » film, organized by Amnesty International and other pressure groups, featured Nick Mason from Pink Floyd performing a mass drum roll with percussionists from across the world.

« We are already seeing a grave increase in inter-ethnic violence in the south and violence continues in Darfur, » said the Deputy Director of Amnesty’s Africa Programme Tawanda Hondora in a statement.

« The coming year poses serious threats to human rights in Sudan that can be prevented if governments act now. »

Oxfam and nine other aid groups warned on Thursday that « a lethal cocktail of rising violence, chronic poverty and political tensions has left the peace deal on the brink of collapse. »

(Additional reporting by Skye Wheeler in Juba)

Anti-gay Bill includes death penalty deterrent

The Irish Times/ NICK WADHAMS in Nairobi/ Saturday, January 9, 2010

A UGANDAN parliamentarian who crafted a harsh anti-homosexuality Bill has vowed to push ahead with his bid to get the law passed despite mounting opposition from government ministers and an international backlash.

David Bahati said the Bill – which would impose severe punishment for homosexual behaviour, including the death penalty – may be amended once it comes out of committee in February in response to concerns from “a number of stakeholders”. But he predicted it would ultimately pass. “The process of coming up with the law to defend our children and traditional family values in Uganda moves on,” he said.

“There is nothing really that can discourage me from moving forward. As you know, this is the process of legislation – you get criticism. This is part of the joy of the democratic process.”

If passed, Mr Bahati’s Bill would, among other things, give the government the power to extradite Ugandan gays and lesbians from other countries. Writing about homosexuality in Uganda could land reporters in jail, and sexually active HIV-positive people could be convicted of “aggravated homosexuality”.

The Bill has widespread support in Uganda and much of sub-Saharan Africa, where homosexuality has been labelled an import from the West, despite a long, if quiet, history in the region.

There is strong evidence suggesting that the idea of the Bill was encouraged by American evangelical groups which have pushed nations to adopt anti-gay policies. They claim there is a “gay agenda” to recolonise Africa and undermine its economy by “converting” its youth to homosexuality.

The Bill has provoked outrage among many foreign governments and civil society groups, which say it severely restricts minority rights and could ultimately cripple the fight against HIV/Aids by driving gays and lesbians with the virus underground.

In recent days, government support for the Bill in its current form has appeared to crumble, with President Yoweri Museveni reportedly saying the death penalty provision was too harsh. Prominent Ugandan religious leaders and American evangelicals have also condemned the death penalty.

Yesterday, Aston Kujara, state minister for investments, said the government believed the Bill was not necessary. He said existing Ugandan law outlawing homosexuality was sufficient.

It was not clear whether Mr Kujara was speaking for all of Mr Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement. Other members of parliament with the party said they would still support an amended form of the Bill.

“We can amend the death penalty, but the Bill should remain because I believe that we have got to retain something that we believe in,” NRM spokeswoman and member of parliament Mary Karoro Okurut said.

Mr Bahati belongs to the NRM and would come under intense pressure to withdraw the Bill if party leaders told him to do so. But there is still no sign of that happening. Nonetheless, the apparent divisions made gay rights activists cautiously hopeful that the Bill would ultimately fail.

“It’s clear the Bill does not have the full support of government,” said Dennis Wamala, chairman of Other Sheep Uganda, a Christian ministry that promotes the rights of gays. “The ideal situation would be to withdraw it completely.”

US toughens stance against Sudan national security law
Saturday 9 January 2010/www.sudantribune.com

January 8, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The US administration today warned Sudan that the National Security law in its current form may hinder the conduct of fair and free elections scheduled for next April.

The Sudanese national assembly passed the National Security Act last month by the mechanical majority of the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) despite objections by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and other smaller opposition parties that voted against the law.

Critics say that the bill enacted grants sweeping powers to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) including the powers of arrest, search and seizure.

The SPLM chairman and First Vice president of the country Salva Kiir vowed not to sign it and urged president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to do the same.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending Africa’s longest civil war the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the NCP “must recognize that, as the dominant political party, it bears greater responsibility in ensuring the full and successful implementation of the CPA”.

“The NCP therefore must use its executive authority to suspend elements of the national security and public order laws that are incompatible with free and fair elections,” Clinton told reporters in Washington today, flanked by the special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration.

“There must be no efforts to restrict freedom of speech and assembly and there must be no prohibitions on peaceful protests,” Clinton added.

The White House echoed the position in a separate statement today describing the security law as “repressive”.

“Time is limited, the stakes are high, and there is much work yet to be done to secure a lasting peace and prevent the resurgence of a deadly war. Recent setbacks, including violent clashes in the South, the Khartoum government’s passage of a repressive National Security Act, the government’s violent suppression of peaceful protests, and the failure of the two sides to come to agreement on critical issues such as border demarcation, do not bode well for the region or for the people of Sudan”.

The US top diplomat hailed “positive” made since the CPA was signed but warned that “they are not enough to secure lasting peace” adding that “threats to progress are real”.

“Reform of key institutions has been sporadic, and true democratic transformation – envisioned in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – remains elusive. Violence in the South is rising and tensions continue in border areas. So today, the parties in Sudan have a choice. They can revert back to a dark era of conflict or they can move forward together toward a lasting peace” she said.

She further said that the US is concerned with the increasing interethnic and tribal violence in South Sudan particularly ahead of the 2011 referendum in which Southerners will decide if they want to establish their own state.

“In Southern Sudan, no matter the outcome of the referendum, Southern Sudan must increase its institutional capacity and prepare to govern responsibly, whether as a semiautonomous region within Sudan or a newly independent nation,” Clinton added.

The US special envoy stressed that Washington does not want to see any delay in the elections beyond April because of the rains season after that.

“We would like those elections to take place in April because the rains start right after that. And we believe that if they are delayed, the rains will be a problem. In some areas the rains, as you know, will keep people from being able to get to the polling places” Gration said.

“We start registration for the referendum in Abyei and in the South in July, and it would be good if we cold separate those two events. We believe that the election gives us an opportunity to practice those elements that will be so important in the referendum. If we can get it right on how to do voter education, get the laws passed, get the commissions up and running and funded, to get the processes out just in terms of the logistics and admin of printing ballots, making sure that the system has security so people can come and go freely, to make sure it’s transparent, and to make sure that those results are passed out in a way that everybody recognizes that this is credible” he added.

Gration said that he is in contact with former South African president Thabo Mbeki who is chairing an African Union (AU) panel that oversees the implementation of a Darfur roadmap endorsed by the pan-African body and the CPA.

He added that they are looking at what the new UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari will be doing while voicing support to the Doha peace talks between Khartoum and the Darfur rebel groups.

However, Gration made no mention of the joint AU-UN mediator Dijibril Bassole who sources say is not in good terms with the US special envoy.

(ST)


UN /ONU :


Experts urge rethinking of peacebuilding efforts in Darfur

www.dw-world.de/09.01.2010

The war in Darfur has experienced a lull in violence. Yet rebel factions and the Sudanese government are still at loggerheads. Analysts say home-grown solutions and local ownership are the only real fix to this war.

The commander of the combined United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur, General Martin Agwai, has claimed the war in Darfur is over, now that the vicious fighting over the past six years has subsided, with the rebel groups having disbanded into insignificant factions. Agwai says the Darfur region now suffers more from low-level disputes, like banditry and localized issues over water and land.

Peaceful coexistence in social structures such as communities and villages has not yet been restored in Sudan. The eastern region of Sudan’s neighbouring country, Chad, is currently host to over 250,000 Darfur refugees and more than 2 million Sudanese are internally displaced. Despite the rhetoric coming from Agwai about the war being over, Sudan’s refugees clearly do not feel safe enough to return to their homes and try to rebuild their lives.

Political analysts strongly reject Agwai’s assertion that the war in Darfur has reached a resolution. « This is incredibly premature, » said Colin Thomas-Jensen, policy adviser for « Enough, » the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington. « To say the war in Darfur is over directly contradicts what we see on the ground. There may be a lull in the violence, but you cannot say that it is over. There is no political settlement and no political process to resolve the conflict. Neither side is defeated and the government is still building up its arms stockpile. »

Under fire from analysts who say his reports have wrongfully given the impression that Sudan’s problems have been solved, Agwai insists the real problem now is political. It is clear that there cannot be long-term solutions to the Darfur crisis without a resolution of the political conflicts behind it.

Dr Annette Weber, of the German Institute for International Security Affairs, emphasizes that the conflict in Darfur will remain intractable without commitment from its three major spoilers – the rebels, the government and the government proxies – toward sustainable peace. She told Deutsche Welle: « The problem is this: the spoilers in this war must feel convinced that they can gain something from a peaceful situation for them to make a commitment to it. »

Darfur Peace Agreement not up to scratch

The conflict in Darfur is only a window to a larger political problem that has remained unresolved despite several rounds of peace talks organized by the African Union, which were in turn funded by Western donors such as the EU, the US and Canada. The seventh round of the peace talks held in 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria, was more successful and led to the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement by both the Sudanese government and the faction of the rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Minni Minnawi.

The Darfur Peace Agreement dealt with Darfur’s political representation at national and regional levels, the allocation of national resources and security aspects. These included, in particular, the disarming of the Janjaweed militias and the integration of rebel fighters into the regular security forces. It was an agreement drafted with high hopes for a ceasefire from all sides followed by a power-sharing accord, but expectations have since been disappointed.

The Darfur Peace Agreement has neither improved the security situation in Darfur nor led to a comprehensive political solution to the conflict. And as a result of´it, the rebel movements have split into numerous groups, making a negotiated solution even more difficult.

Minnawi only signed the Darfur Peace Agreement under strong international pressure, while the other two rebel movements, the faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdul Wahid and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Khalil Ibrahim, rejected the agreement because it did not meet their expectations.

The failure of the agreement is no surprise to Weber. « The Darfur Peace Agreement is just words on paper without local ownership, » she said. « The agreement is not focused on local ownership and that’s why it hasn’t gained any ground. »

Local ownership key to long-term solutions
Peace in Sudan may remain unattainable as long as peace agreements are conceptualized entirely by outsiders and merely expected to be implemented by the local actors. Establishing local ownership remains a crucial factor in peacebuilding efforts. Experts say the relationship between international donors and local actors in peacebuilding is often assymetrically imbalanced, therefore peaceful objectives are hardly met because the local actors are not brought on board to develop home-grown solutions.

Dr Jörn Grävingholt, a political scientist with the German Development Institute, told Deutsche Welle, « International partners need to get a clear mandate in order to work with people and accompany them in their attempts at transforming their own conflict. Long-lasting peace can only grow from the inside. »

Fervent peace talks are still underway toward a resolution to the Darfur conflict but long-lasting solutions may remain elusive for some time to come. Weber explains that the complex nature of the Darfur conflict entails that solutions will not be easily reached.

« We are all looking for some quick fix to this situation but it won’t be a quick fix. There’s no local ownership on the agenda at the moment. We don’t know anything about the people’s needs and what they want, except that they would like to leave the camps. And we’ve wrongfully promoted the idea that if you pursue negotiations, that’ll surely provide solutions, » she said.

Call for context-specific considerations

Political analysts point out that a major error in peacebuilding is focusing on ending the violence in a war without considering long-term, context-specific political solutions. Intrusive methods in peacebuilding, such as have been implemented in Darfur with the involvement of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force that has succeeded in quelling the violence, are indeed often effective but analysts warn that they also alienate the political actors on the ground who are essential to conflict resolution

« You must consider the long-term consequences early on in conflict transformation and bring the relevant local actors on board, » said Grävingholt. « Don’t just come in to end the violence without considering that beforehand. »

Presuming that having an understanding of the reasons for a conflict determines an ability to come up with resolutions, as with the case of the Darfur Peace Agreement, may be a misjudgement. Matthias Reis of the German Development Service calls for more considerate approaches in peacebuilding:

« We should listen to the local actors more. They know much better how to solve their own conflicts than anyone else. We must also accept the fact that we deal with very different societies who don’t always want to develop in the direction we want them to or think they should, » he told Deutsche Welle.

Grävingholt also calls for different approaches in peacebuilding. « The danger is when international partners bring in their own preconceived notions about how the world should work, which have been conceived according to their own culture, norms and ideas, » he said. « So it’s difficult to come up with solutions that fit the people in that particular country, according to their own culture and history. »

The international community has demonstrated its support to Darfur’s problems, and Sudan at large. The uproar from human rights organizations about the war in Darfur has helped influence committment from Western leaders toward resolving it. Nonetheless, Weber insists even deeper commitment from international partners is crucial to sustainable peace in the region.

« Long-term commitment is needed in Darfur, » she said. « The international community needs to stick with the situation and not just show up for a little while and then leave. »

Author: Faith Thomas
Editor: Rob Mudge

 



USA :

Census Bureau word choice bothers some
By Chris Metinko and Matt O’Brien/Oakland Tribune/ www.mercurynews.com /Posted: 01/09/2010

Just as the U.S. Census Bureau kicks off its campaign to raise awareness about the decennial survey, some in the African-American community are questioning whether its questionnaire is in desperate need of an update.

Question number 9 on the census form asks for a person’s race. One of the options is « Black, African Am., or Negro. » It’s the last word that has drawn some ire since the bureau started its road tour in New York City earlier this week.

« I wouldn’t say it offends me, but it makes me feel uncomfortable, » said Austin Jackson, a 16-year-old from Fremont who serves as president of the NAACP Youth Council in Alameda County. « It’s unfortunate they would use such a clearly outdated term. »

According to Sonny Le, a regional spokesman for the bureau, the term « Negro » has been on the survey for at least 100 years. He added the form is reviewed and analyzed thoroughly by different offices and advisory groups before being finalized.

Le said the decision to keep the term « Negro » on the form was due in large part to that fact some older African-Americans still identify themselves with the term. In fact, in the 2000 census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as « Negro. » That number does not include those who checked the box « Black, African Am., or Negro. »

« We decided to keep the term, but at the same time, I think it’s good for everybody to have this conversation now, » Le said.

« The census is an evolving process. It’s supposed to reflect our country. If enough people do not want the term, we should revisit again whether or not it belongs. »

On Friday, the Census Bureau issued a release stating it will gather research from the 2010 census to analyze the effects of removing the term « Negro » on future surveys and the 2020 census.

Le said while he has not heard much about the controversy on the West Coast, he is well aware the term caused a mild media storm when the Census Bureau kicked off its road tour in New York City, including a story in the New York Daily News.

David Glover, executive director of Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal, a 55-year-old organization that is partnering with the Census Bureau this year to reach out to African-Americans in Oakland, agreed that the time for the word « Negro » has likely passed.

« The consensus among the folks I’ve surveyed is the word Negro needs to be retired, » Glover said. « If there’s anybody who still thinks of themselves as a Negro they have enough associative reasoning to know that black or African-American will apply. »

Glover noted that his parents, who died last year at ages 96 and 90, had not used the term for themselves since at least the 1960s.

« That is not a term that anybody uses. Culturally it is obsolete, and it should be obsolete on that form, » he said.

Glover expects that the term will be a turnoff to many African-Americans when they receive the questionnaires from the Census Bureau in March. That could be a problem for Glover and other community activists, who have been working hard to increase the participation of African-Americans in the once-a-decade count. Thousands of African-Americans in Alameda County and elsewhere were missed in previous census counts, according to previous government studies by the Census Bureau and the GAO.

If residents are offended, Glover said he will tell them to « go ahead and be counted, because being counted is the most important thing. »

Jackson agrees people likely shouldn’t spend too much time on one question on the U.S. Census.

« This is a good discussion to have, » Jackson said. « But, honestly, there are more important things going on in the world right now than this. »

Bomb suspect faces accusers; terrorism case may take months
BY BEN SCHMITT, DAVID ASHENFELTER and JOE SWICKARD/FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS/www.freep.com/Jan. 9, 2010
They came from all over the world to see him — Africa, Europe, Asia and from across the United States.

All jammed into a small courtroom in U.S. District Court in Detroit to get a look at the terrorism suspect accused of trying to bring down a packed jetliner with a homemade bomb in the name of al-Qaida on Dec. 25.

What they saw looked like a small, soft-spoken, schoolboy wearing an oversized white T-shirt and baggy khakis. His expression was unremarkable. His demeanor, polite.

His childlike appearance stunned the mother of one of his would-be victims.

« He is so young and petite, » said Neveen Aref, mother of Northwest Flight 253 passenger Hebba Aref.

Legal experts said Friday’s arraignment is likely to be Abdulmutallab’s last public appearance for some time as prosecutors and his defense team hunker down for long legal maneuvering that could decide his fate.

At the courthouse
As he was being whisked from a federal courtroom in Detroit by U.S. Marshals following his 3-minute arraignment Friday, Abdulmutallab looked over his shoulder.

If he was looking for family members or friendly faces, he had to search hard — one woman inside, who had flown in from Nigeria, identified herself as a lawyer for his parents.

Standing in court, shackled at the ankles and speaking in barely audible tones, Abdulmutallab faced a judge.

Abdulmutallab spelled his name and told U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Randon that he understood the charges levied against him by a grand jury in a six-count indictment.

Randon repeatedly questioned Abdulmutallab to ensure he understood the proceedings and the charges against him and to ensure that his lawyer consented to his continued detention at a federal prison in Milan, near Ann Arbor.

Among the questions asked by the magistrate was whether the suspect had taken any kind of medication in the past 24 hours.

Abdulmutallab — who suffered severe burns to his body in his alleged attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253 and the nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard as it made its way to Detroit from the Netherlands — responded: « In the last 24 hours? Some painkillers. »

The 23-year-old Nigerian national was flanked by his lawyer, Federal Defender Miriam Siefer. He wore white socks and blue canvas slip-on shoes.

Abdulmutallab, a self-professed al-Qaida operative, looked physically fit in his brief court appearance, though he walked with a slight limp. He was barely taller than Siefer, who stands at 5-feet-2.

Siefer informed the court that their client would stand mute — meaning he did not plead guilty or not guilty. But a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf by the court, which is routine at the outset of most federal criminal cases.

After the arraignment, Siefer declined to speak at length, saying: « This is just the first step in a very long process. »

However, she scotched rumors that a new legal team was going to take over the case.

« Who represents him? We do, » she said.

Siefer said she met with her client for about 45 minutes before the arraignment. Abdulmutallab faces life in prison for the most serious charge of trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. Authorities say the weapon was a homemade bomb hidden in his underwear.

The defense team is expected to file various motions to get documents and other evidence from the government to learn more about the case being built against Abdulmutallab.

« This case is going to take months, » said criminal lawyer James Thomas, who represented one of four North African immigrants in a 2003 terror trial in Detroit.

« There are so many agencies — with initials you know and initials you don’t — involved in a case that transcends territorial boundaries, » Thomas said.

With evidence being gathered in Yemen, Nigeria, the Netherlands and elsewhere, he said it will take months to digest, declassify and share with the defense team. There will be legal skirmishes.

Once the defense digs into the evidence, it must decide whether to go to trial or negotiate a plea deal for Abdulmutallab, who faces up to life plus 90 years in prison on charges of trying to blow up the airliner.

Legal experts say that, given the reported admissions he made to people on the plane and to investigators on the ground in Detroit, his case is unlikely to go to trial.

Hebba Aref, 27, who is from Bloomfield Hills but lives in Kuwait where she is a corporate attorney, was on Northwest Flight 253 on Dec. 25 — seated six rows in front of Abdulmutallab. And she was seated behind him in the federal courthouse today.

« It was strange, not frightening, to see Abdulmutallab in court today, » she said. « I felt something in my stomach and in my heart. At the time of the incident, he was completely blank. This time, he was talking. »

Describing the failed bombing attempt, she said someone yelled, « Fire! » and « I saw a flash. »

Aref, who attended the hearing with her parents, was escorted to one of the front rows in the courtroom. She said she was satisfied with the charges against Abdulmutallab.

« This person has changed my life and the way things are done in the United States, » she said. « I just wanted to see who this person was again. »

A woman who was escorted out of the courtroom by security officers was swarmed by a crowd of news media spectators and protesters who mistakenly believed her to be the mother of Abdulmutallab.

Dave Alwatan, 36, of Dearborn Heights shouted at her: « Shame on you! … Shame on you for how you raised your kids. »

As she left, the woman was asked repeatedly by the news media about the case, but she wouldn’t comment.

Earlier, the woman told reporters inside the courthouse that her name was Maryam Uwais, and she was an attorney from Nigeria appearing in court on behalf of Abdulmutallab’s parents.

« The family asked us to be here, » said Uwais, who confirmed she flew from Nigeria for today’s arraignment. A lawyer accompanying her, Mahmud Kazaure, said he lives and practices law in the United States.

The day concluded with the Detroit police bomb squad shutting down Fort Street between Shelby and Washington Boulevard after a suspicious package was discovered.

A U.S. Marshals Service employee noticed an envelope placed on the ledge of a ground floor window of the federal courthouse on the Fort Street side.

Twenty minutes later, Detroit Police Inspector Don Johnson said an unidentified woman embarrassingly told police she was smoking a cigarette near the window and accidentally left the envelope there, touching off the scare.

Johnson said the woman was very apologetic.

African Cup of Nations to go ahead after Togo attack

January 9, 2010/CNN
(CNN) — The organizers of the Africa Cup of Nations say the tournament will go ahead in Angola despite a machine gun attack on a bus carrying Togo’s national football team, including star striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou will meet Saturday with Angolan Prime Minister Antonio Paulo Kassoma « to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition, » a statement on the organization’s Web site said.

« The Confederation of African Football is terribly saddened by these events and expresses its total support as well as sympathy to the entire Togolese delegation, » the statement said.

Football world government body FIFA said it was « deeply moved » by the incident and expressed « utmost sympathy with the Togolese players. It said it expected a full report from the CAF on the situation.

Hosts Angola are due to kick off the tournament against Mali on Sunday in Luanda. The competition is Angola’s first major sporting event since a 2002 peace deal brought the southern African country’s decades-old civil war to an end.

It also marks the beginning of a year in the spotlight for African football with South Africa set to become the continent’s first country to host the FIFA World Cup, football’s setpiece event, in June.

There were conflicting reports over the casualties caused by Friday’s attack which occurred in Cabinda, a disputed oil-rich enclave separated from the rest of Angola by Democratic Republic of Congo territory, shortly after the team bus had crossed the border

Togolese striker Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus, said the bus driver was killed in the attack and three others were wounded. But Angola’s official press agency, ANGOP, reported nine people were wounded — eight Togolese and one Angolan.

An armed wing of a separatist group, the Forces for Liberation of the State of Cabinda, claimed responsibility for the attack. CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

Angola, which was wracked by civil war for nearly three decades, brokered a peace deal in 2006 with separatists seeking an independent republic of Cabinda. The southern African country is one of the world’s largest energy producers and a major supplier of petroleum and liquefied natural gas to the U.S. market.

Dossevi, 30, who plays for French side Nantes, told CNN « armed rebels » with AK-47s had opened fire.

« We were attacked by armed rebels who used Kalashnikovs. We had just passed the border and a couple of minutes later we were attacked from both sides.

« We hid below the seats — we had police protection in front and behind but we were attacked from both sides. As soon as I heard the bullets I went to the floor. … The attack lasted for 10-15 minutes,  » Dossevi said.

Togo are due to play their opening match of the competition on Monday against Ghana but Dossevi said the players didn’t want to play in the tournament.

« The players are shocked. They don’t want to play in the competition anymore, » he said. « We will meet all night long to decide what we are going to do. Right now, we don’t even have all our clothes. »

Togo’s star player Adebayor, who plays for Manchester City, was among those on the bus but the English Premier League club said he was unhurt in the attack.

« Manchester City can confirm that striker Emmanuel Adebayor is uninjured after this afternoon’s attack on the Togo team bus in Angola, » a statement on the club’s Web site said. « Club officials have spoken with Adebayor and though shaken by the terrible events, he is unharmed. »

Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini expressed condolences for the wounded players and their families.

« Our thoughts are with the Togo team, their football association and the people. We send them our best wishes at this traumatic time, » he said.

The Africa Cup of Nations is one of the world’s biggest football tournaments, bringing together stars including Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o and Barcelona’s Yaya Toure and watched by telvision audiences of tens of millions.

This month’s tournament has been eagerly anticipated as an early chance to assess the form of African powerhouses such as Drogba’s Ivory Coast, Essien’s Ghana and Eto’o’s Cameroon ahead of the World Cup.

Gates Foundation names new agricultural director
Sam Dryden, an investor and entrepreneur, was named Friday to be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new director of agricultural development.

By Kristi Heim/Seattle Times business reporter/090110

Sam Dryden, an investor and entrepreneur, was named Friday to be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new director of agricultural development.

Dryden, a managing director of New York-based Wolfensohn & Company, an investment firm, will begin the new post on Feb. 1. He replaces Dr. Rajiv Shah, who was sworn in Thursday as the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

« Sam brings a wealth of experience to the foundation — not only in agriculture, research and business, but also in a wide variety of projects related to agricultural development and public-private partnerships, » said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation’s Global Development Program. « His strong leadership qualities will help the team deliver on our strategy to help small farmers improve their lives. »

In his new position, Dryden will lead a team attempting to help the world’s poorest farming families boost productivity and incomes with better seeds, management training, access to markets and effective policies. The foundation, which has targeted agricultural improvements as one of its core missions, has committed $1.4 billion to agricultural-development initiatives in Africa and South Asia.

Dryden has written and lectured widely on food security and economic-development issues and served as an adviser on rural development for the World Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation.

At Wolfensohn, which was founded by former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, Dryden focused on investments in alternative energies. He formerly headed Emergent Genetics, which develops and markets seeds. Emergent, the third-largest cotton-seed company in the U.S., was acquired by Monsanto in 2005 in a $300 million deal.

The foundation’s choice of Dryden raises a red flag for those against genetically modified crops, Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center on Food Safety, told The Associated Press.

« Appointing someone like this as head of their agriculture project is a bad sign, » Freese said

Dryden has also been president and chief executive of Agrigenetics, a seed company now part of Dow AgroSciences, and was founder of Big Stone, a private venture and development company. His career began as an analyst with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Dryden has 25 years of experience as an investor and entrepreneur in the life sciences. He has served on a number of international boards and commissions focused on agriculture development, economic development and food security.

 

 


CANADA :



AUSTRALIA :


World datelines
Deseret News wire services/ Jan. 9, 2010

Angola: Team attacked

LUANDA — Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire Friday on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, killing the driver and wounding at least nine people, including two players.

Some players said they wanted to pull out of the African Cup of Nations tournament following the violence, but an official in Angola said it would go ahead as planned.

Australia: KFC drops ad

CANBERRA — Fast food giant KFC has pulled an Australian television advertisement after it was branded racist in the United States.

The ad depicts a white Australian cricket fan subduing boisterous black West Indian fans by sharing his fried chicken. The spot, which foreshadows a much-anticipated clash between the two fiercely competitive cricketing nations, ran for three weeks without raising a ripple of complaint in Australia.

But when the ad spread via the Internet to the United States, some complained it played on a derogatory stereotype of black Americans.

Canada: Bombings arrest

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Police arrested a man Friday in connection with a series of oil and gas pipeline bombings in northeastern British Columbia.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Tim Shields said a man in his 50s or 60s was taken into custody in western Alberta. Police did not release the suspect’s name pending the filing of formal charges.

There have been six bombings of EnCana pipelines in British Columbia since October 2008. No one was injured in the attacks which caused only minor disruptions to pipeline operations.

England: Threats on plane

LONDON — British police arrested three people aboard an Emirates passenger jet at London’s Heathrow Airport Friday. Witnesses said police were called after the three suspects made verbal threats as the plane was taxiing.

A police spokesman said the three — all believed to be male — were removed from the jet, which was preparing to fly to Dubai. The spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with policy, said officers were searching the plane but had found no hazardous material.

Iraq: Sunni leader barred

BAGHDAD — Hopes of persuading Iraq’s minority Sunnis to take part in the March election were dealt a blow Friday after a prominent Sunni politician said he’d been barred from the polls because of alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Legislator Saleh al-Mutlaq said he planned to appeal the decision by a committee to bar him and warned its ruling would stoke sectarian tensions ahead of the Mar. 7 vote.

Malaysia: Religious anger

KUALA LUMPUR — Religious tensions in Muslim-majority Malaysia turned violent Friday with firebomb attacks on three churches following a court decision that allows Christians to translate God as Allah.

« Allah is only for us, » said a poster waved at one of at least two protests outside mosques in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, the Muslim holy day.

Many Muslims are angry about a Dec. 31 High Court decision overturning a government ban on Roman Catholics’ using « Allah » for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

Venezuela: Devaluation

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez announced a currency devaluation Friday for the first time since 2005, setting a two-tiered exchange rate designed to help Venezuela’s oil earnings go farther domestically while holding down prices of priority imports like food to counter soaring inflation.

Story continues below
Chavez said the bolivar will now have two government-set rates: 2.60 to the dollar for transactions deemed priorities by the government, and 4.30 to the dollar for other transactions. The devaluation dropped the currency’s value by 17 percent or 50 percent, depending on the tier.

Chavez said the priority exchange rate will apply to items including food, health care products and school supplies.


 


EUROPE :



CHINA :

China-Nigeria strategic partnership improved: Chinese FM

www.chinaview.cn /2010-01-09

ABUJA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) — The China-Nigeria strategic partnership has been improved for the past few years, said visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, on Friday.

In a meeting with Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, Yang said after the two countries established strategic partnership in 2005, both China and Nigeria witnessed all-round development in their bilateral relations.

He said the mutual trust between the two sides was deepened and exchanges in various sectors were frequent. The two countries were engaged in closed cooperation in international and regional affairs. The economic and trade cooperation continued to make progress and the human and cultural exchanges were facilitated on wide ranges.

He noted that under the new situation, the two countries are expected to enhance cooperation and exchanges so as to cope with challenges.

China is willing to make joint efforts with Nigeria to promote mutual understanding and trust so as to facilitate economic and trade cooperation, he said.

The Chinese foreign minister called for both sides to improve their strategic partnership and benefit the two peoples.

After the fourth ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, he said, the Chinese government is willing to cooperate with Nigeria and other forum member states to fulfill the eight-point measures for China-Africa cooperation.

Jonathan spoke highly of the Nigeria-China relations, saying Nigeria sets great store by the strategic partnership between the countries.

He said on the climate change and other international issues, the two countries support each other and played a key role in the achievement in the Copenhagen Conference. The two countries made a major contribution to the unity of the developing countries.

Nigeria will cooperate with China to further strengthen and develop the friendly cooperation and raise the Nigeria-China strategic partnership to a new standard, he said.

Jonathan reassured that Nigeria will adhere to one-China policy and it will never change its stand on this issue.

On the same day, Yang also held talks with his Nigerian counterpart Oyo Maduekekwe on the development of the bilateral relations. The two ministers attended the signing ceremony of cooperation documents and jointly gave a press congress.

The Chinese top diplomat arrived in Nigeria on Friday morning for a day-long visit to the West African country.

EcoBlu Products Receives Endorsement From Borm Associates

January 09, 2010/money.cnn.com

VISTA, Calif., Jan. 8, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EcoBlu Products, Inc., (OTCBB:ECOB) announced today that it has secured the endorsement of Borm Associates, Inc. Borm is the leading engineering firm in the United States for production of residential single and multifamily construction projects. Consulting to the nation’s largest builders including D.R. Horton, Pulte, Lennar, Centex, Pardee, Brookfield, and Lyon, Borm has prepared plans for over half a million homes and apartments.

« We have evaluated the cost, structural, and environmental benefits of EcoBlu products and believe that these products give our clients and their buyers extremely valuable benefits, » said Borm’s CEO Masoud Bokaie. « EcoBlu’s products are being added to the standard material specifications of our firm, » Masoud continued.

Steve Conboy, President and CEO of EcoBlu Products, commented, « Not only is Borm’s recognition of our product a valuable endorsement for the U.S. market, Borm’s involvement in housing overseas including China, the Middle East and North Africa offers us an invaluable opportunity to expand more quickly than we had previously anticipated. »

The Borm project portfolio includes over 6,000 completed engagements serving some of the world’s most respected builders, developers and architects in the United States, Mexico, China, North Africa and the Middle East.

About EcoBlu Products, Inc.

EcoBlu Products, Inc. is a manufacturer of proprietary wood products coated with an eco-friendly chemistry that protects against mold, fungus, rot-decay, wood ingesting insects, termites and fire with EcoBlu’s FRC(TM) technology (Fire Retardant Coating). EcoBlu products utilizing BLUWOOD(TM) and FRC(TM) technology is the ultimate in wood protection, preservation, and fire safety to building components constructed of wood; from joists, beams and paneling, to floors and ceilings.

The Company is committed to the development, marketing and sales of environmentally responsible building materials. EcoBlu products are ready to deliver the winning edge to builders and the environment with its sustainable green product line.

About Borm Associates, Inc.

Established in 1981, Borm has operated under the philosophy that the best solutions to development challenges are attained through a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach. BORM, led by visionary CEO Masoud Bokaie and backed by top-tier design and engineering professionals, work across departmental lines to optimize designs and create newer, better and more cost-effective techniques.

Safe Harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: The statements in this release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Some or all of the results anticipated by these forward-looking statements may not occur. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and the actual results and future events could differ materially from management’s current expectations. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, contractual difficulties, which may arise, the failure to obtain necessary approvals, the future market price of EcoBlu Products, Inc. common stock and the ability to obtain the necessary financing.

Central plot of China-US ties faces off-stage challenge
By James Kynge in London /www.ft.com/Published: January 9 2010

Popular narratives sometimes overshoot. One of the latest to outlast its veracity is the conventional wisdom that China’s export engines have been spiked by subsiding consumer demand in the US. This, so the argument goes, leaves Beijing with no option but to spur domestic demand to compensate for lost export revenues.

This became an über-narrative last year. Its snowballing popular appeal was powered by two unassailable charms: it made sense and seemed largely true – but not any longer. Its potency appears set to wane in coming months not so much because of a challenge to its central plot, but by other things happening off stage.

The telling off-stage action is the recent upsurge in trade with south-east Asia and the « newly-rising economies » of Brazil, Africa and India. Although Chinese trade with these places has historically been limited, it has grown so fast in the past five years that a robust performance in 2010 may be enough to offset any moderate weakness in China’s trade with the US.

Statistics show a stark increase in the influence of Asia, Africa, Brazil and India in China’s trade universe. During the first 10 months of 2009, trade with the US accounted for 13.6 per cent of China’s total trade, whereas Africa and the 10 nations of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) accounted for a combined 13.5 per cent. Brazil and India together account for a further 4 per cent (Australia and Russia accounted for 2.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively).

In November, a clear difference emerged between still lacklustre trade with the US and a resurgent relationship with Asia and some « newly rising » economies. Exports to the European Union and US fell 8 per cent and 1.7 per cent year on year respectively in November, while exports to Asean nations surged 20.8 per cent.

Imports from Asean were even more impressive, up 45 per cent.

Asean’s emerging status as a key growth pole for Chinese trade is set to be enhanced this year by the inception of a free trade area with China, which got under way on January 1. China replaced the US as Asean’s third largest trading partner last year, a position that the US had held for decades.

China’s trade with the region has risen nearly 20-fold since 1993.

Beijing is keen to boost commercial ties with the regional grouping, partly to counterbalance an increasingly fractious commercial relationship with Washington. Officials in Beijing speak of boosting investment ties with countries in Asean and promoting the adoption of the renminbi as a hard currency in several Asian neighbour economies.

In one recent example, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China secured a licence to operate in Malaysia in December, paving the way for more merger and acquisition activity in the region. ICBC, the world’s largest bank by capitalisation, also bought a 90 per cent stake in Indonesia’s Halim Bank in 2007 and is engaged in buying a controlling 19.2 per cent stake in Thailand’s ACL Bank.

In addition, there are signs that Chinese companies are being pushed by higher costs at home to consider moving low-cost manufacturing activities to some Asean countries.

Experience shows that trade flows follow investments. As factories relocate to cheaper bases, many of the parts that they need will need to be exported from their former supply chain in China.

Overall, it is possible that China may record an increase in its year-on-year trade value in 2010, reversing last year’s declines. If this happens, it will tend to undermine the argument that Beijing’s trade-centric growth model is in urgent need of a thorough overhaul.

Also under this scenario, pressure on China to boost domestic consumer demand may abate. In addition, the tectonic shift towards Asia may make China progressively less dependent on the US market and correspondingly less inclined to do Washington’s bidding on trade issues ranging from allowing the renminbi to appreciate to the further liberalisation of its foreign investment environment.

James Kynge is editor of China Confidential and writes a weekly column for FT.com

Bonding At Copenhagen Cemented India-China Relations
India-China ties are closer, maturer, more vigorously pursued
Zhang Yan / www.outlookindia.com/Jan 09, 2010

In the backdrop of the global financial crisis and the drastically evolving international situation in 2009, China-India relations generally maintained the momentum of stable development and made new progress. In 2009, China and India witnessed frequent high-level interactions. Chinese President Hu Jintao held talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) summits in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as did Premier Wen Jiabao with Manmohan Singh at the East Asia Summit in Thailand and the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

Leaders of the two countries spoke highly of the significance of China-India relations and set the direction for its future development. Both sides, proceeding from the long-term and strategic perspective, reiterated their commitment to deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, properly handling the differences between the two countries and joining hands to push forward the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership. Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo, foreign minister Yang Jiechi, minister of commerce Chen Deming and party secretary general of Sichuan province Liu Qibao also paid successful visits to India and reached wide-ranging agreement with the Indian side on jointly implementing the consensus of top leaders of India and China and strengthening the practical cooperation between the two countries.

india and china are interested in development. Both need peace and stability. and bilateral ties face new prospects and opportunities.

The global financial crisis posed great challenges. As major emerging and developing countries, China and India enhanced coordination and cooperation, took proactive actions in response to the crisis and jointly overcame the difficulties. The two economies went against the downward trend of the global economy to successfully regain stability and sustain the growth registered over the years, thereby playing a very important role in the recovery of the world economy. Both China and India endeavoured to overcome the impact of the crisis on their economies, properly handled trade frictions and maintained a relatively sound momentum of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Bilateral trade reached $38.3 billion from January to November 2009, with the whole-year trade volume set to cross $40 billion. The economic cooperation between China and India has yielded mutual benefit; it is a win-win situation for people of both countries.

Meanwhile, China and India are working closely within G20, actively proposing reforms to the international financial system and jointly promoting the building of a fair and reasonable international economic and financial order. The two countries strengthened coordination, ensured positive results in both the London and Pittsburg G20 summits, greatly elevated the status, function and voice of emerging powers in international economic and financial affairs and safeguarded the interests of vast developing countries, including China and India.

Bilateral defence exchanges have witnessed new development. The vice chief of staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Ge Zhenfeng, and the commander-in-chief of the PLA Tibet Military Area, Shu Yutai, visited India. The Chinese missile destroyer Shenzhen paid a goodwill visit to the port of Kochi on its way back to China after completing an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. The chief of staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, also visited China and Indian naval warships participated in the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese PLA Navy. These exchanges and visits have greatly promoted mutual trust between the two armed forces as well as the two countries, enhanced stability in the border areas and strengthened cooperation in combating sea piracy.

Climate change, one of the most important issues of 2009, has also become a facet of China-India cooperation. Both countries share similar concerns and positions in addressing climate change and closely consulted and coordinated with each other. The Indian minister of state for environment and forest, Jairam Ramesh, communicated closely with his Chinese counterpart. In November, Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the China National Development and Reform Commission, visited India and signed with the Indian side an Agreement on Cooperation in Addressing Climate Change. During the Copenhagen climate conference, China and India joined hands. Premier Wen had talks over the phone with Prime Minister Singh to coordinate the stands of the two countries; they maintained close contact throughout the Copenhagen conference. China and India, together with Brazil and South Africa, worked for the unity of developing countries, put forward a position paper, and urged developed countries to fulfil their obligations and commitments, thus protecting the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. Both China and India played very important roles in achieving the positive results of the Copenhagen conference.

The development of China-India relations in 2009 witnessed at least three positive trends. First, bilateral cooperation is developing in an all-around manner. While both sides maintained frequent exchanges in political, economic and defence issues, there are also active communications between parliaments, political parties, youth of the two countries as well as in the fields of culture and education. In international and regional affairs, bilateral cooperation has expanded and deepened. Both sides have maintained effective cooperation in the frameworks of China-India-Russia trilateral mechanism, BRIC, BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), developing five nations (BASIC+Mexico), 8+5, G20, and other forums. The two governments have also acted jointly in the wto talks to combat trade protectionism and push for progress in the Doha-round talks.

Second, the bilateral relationship is getting increasingly mature. Being immediate neighbours and emerging economies, the China-India relationship occasionally comes under stress because of a few sensitive issues either left over from history or rising from frictions of respective interests. Yet, the two governments can view bilateral relations from the long-term and holistic perspective, stick to the principle of appropriately dealing with core interests and concerns of both countries through dialogue—all reflecting an increasing maturity.

Third, public opinion supporting the development of bilateral relations in both countries is gradually getting consolidated. Enhancing friendship and cooperation between China and India accords with the will of the peoples and the trends of the time. Citizens of both countries are fully aware that cooperation benefits both sides while confrontation harms each other. Sino-Indian synergy would not only benefit the two peoples but also contribute to peace and development in Asia and the whole world. Cooperation between China and India in regional and international affairs makes it clear that their relationship has gone beyond the bilateral dimension to acquire global and strategic importance as their role and influence become increasingly prominent.

Currently, both China and India are dedicated to national development and both are in great need of stable international and regional environment. China-India relations face new opportunities for further development. We have reasons to be confident about the prospects of our bilateral relations. This year is an important one for the development of China-India relations. Both will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, coinciding with a China Festival in India and an India Festival in China. We should seize this opportunity and further intensify exchanges and collaboration in various fields, promote mutual understanding and trust, expand contacts and friendship among the people and boost China-India relations to a new height.

——————————————————————————–
(Zhang Yan is the Ambassador of China to India.)

 



INDIA :

Malawi seeks joint exploration of uranium with India news
www.domain-b.com/09 January 2010

Lilongwe: In a bid to attain energy security mineral-rich, landlocked, south-east African nation, Malawi, has asked India to jointly explore its uranium reserves. The offer was made even as both countries signed three key agreements in fields of agriculture and small and medium enterprises in the course of Indian vice president Hamid Ansari’s visit to the country.

India and Malawi also signed a protocol on foreign office consultations.

The agreements aim to provide a boost for the setting up of new industries in Malawi, marketing of agri-products, animal husbandry and micro processing.

According to Malawian vice president Joyce Banda, there were four specific areas in which Malawi was seeking India’s cooperation in the field of energy – coal, water and wind energy besides uranium.

Banda said her country had huge deposits of the mineral.

« We have discovered Malawi has huge deposits of uranium. We can work with Indian government to explore other sites of uranium deposits, » Banda said in reply to a query on the nature of assistance it wanted from India in exploring the mineral deposits.

Banda also said that though India had proposed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of coal resources, Malawi had asked that the scope of the MoU be expanded to include development of other mineral resources such as uranium.

« What is paramount for Malawi is energy security. Mining of uranium is just a component of energy…Uranium is just a part of the larger picture, » she said.

Though avoiding a direct reply on the issue of uranium exploration, secretary (West), ministry of external affairs, Vivek Katju, said, « the country (India) indicated that it is ready and willing that there should be cooperation across the board in energy sector like in all other sectors ».

Katju said India was discussing a MoU on cooperation in mineral resources with Malawi, which would hopefully be finalised in the coming months.

Uranium production in Malawai began in September 2009, with the first uranium exports being made by Paladin Energy of Australia in mid-October to Canada from the Kayelekera mines.

In a joint communique, Malawi has thanked India for its development assistance made available mainly through the Exim Bank, Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, and the Commonwealth African Assistance Plan.

It also expressed satisfaction on granting duty free access on various products within the framework of the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries, announced at the India-Africa Forum last year.

The two countries also agreed to establish a joint implementation and monitoring mechanism to ensure expeditious implementation of agreements and MoUs.

Besides uranium exploration, the Malawi government also sought India’s support in development of hydro-electric power stations in identified sites, coal-fired power generation, bio-fuel and development of potential mining sites of coal.

Queried about China taking up a number of construction and infrastructure projects in Malawi recently, Banda said: « Being a sovereign state, we have a bilateral relationship with China. »

She, however, added that Ansari’s visit provided an opportunity to enhance bilateral relations with India.

She also sought Indian investment in the Nsanje World Inland Port project and said her country was keen that India re-opened its diplomatic mission in Malawi, closed since 1993.

First annular solar eclipse of 2010 on Jan 15
IANS /beta.thehindu.com/janvier 9, 2010

New Delhi,

January 15th will herald the first annular solar eclipse of the year, also the longest in the millennium.

Ajay Talwar of the Amateur Astronomers Association told IANS, “Not only will this eclipse be the first of the year but also the longest of the third millennium, that is between 2001 and 3000. In India it will start at around 11 a.m. and end at around 3 p.m.”

“The eclipse will first be seen in south of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and then travel obliquely to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi, where it will enjoy the best view. It will then travel to Kerala and end in Mizoram in the northeast,” he said.

The rest of India will see the eclipse only partially, Talwar added.

According to a post on the site of NASA: “On Jan 15, an annular eclipse of the sun is visible from within a 300 km wide track that traverses half of earth. The path of the moon’s antumbral shadow begins in Africa and passes through Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia.

“After leaving Africa, the path crosses the Indian Ocean where the maximum duration of annularity reaches 11 minutes 8 seconds. The central path then continues into Asia through Bangladesh, India, Burma (Myanmar) and China.” he added.

According to Talwar, the eclipse will last the maximum in Rameshwaram – 10 minutes and eight seconds.

“As the eclipse passes through different places after that, the duration will lessen. In Kanyakumari, the eclipse will be for around nine minutes and so on,” Talwar said.

“Also, the eclipse will begin at different times in different places. It will be a long eclipse,” he added.

WHO: Some 13,000 dead worldwide from H1N1
Published: Jan. 9, 2010/UPI

GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 8 (UPI) — More than 200 countries have reported confirmed H1N1 flu deaths of more than 12,799, officials of the World Health Organization in Switzerland say.

WHO officials say the fatalities were laboratory confirmed but actual mortality from the pandemic will be higher. The most active areas of pandemic influenza transmission currently are in parts of central, eastern and southeastern Europe, North Africa and South Asia.

Pandemic influenza transmission remains geographically widespread throughout Europe, particularly in several countries of central, eastern and southeastern Europe such as Poland, Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia.

The greatest proportions of samples testing positive for influenza were observed in Greece at 72 percent, Georgia at 54 percent and Switzerland at 49 percent. However, in most of western and northern Europe, rates of influenza-like illness have been declining substantially.

Sporadic cases of seasonal H3N2 influenza have been identified in Western Europe but in very small numbers.

In North Africa and West Asia, limited data suggest influenza transmission remains active. Although west Asia may have already experienced a peak in influenza activity, parts of North Africa are reporting increasing respiratory disease activity, particularly in Egypt.

Pandemic influenza remains geographically widespread in South Asia, particularly in northern India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Influenza transmission remains geographically regional to widespread in Southeast Asia, and transmission remains widespread and active in East Asia but appears to be declining overall.

 

 


BRASIL:

Music stars to drum for peace in Sudan
(AFP)/090110

KHARTOUM — Drummers from Pink Floyd, Radiohead and The Police are joining other musicians to drum for peace in Sudan as part of an international campaign to press world leaders to prevent more bloodshed in Africa’s largest nation.

The Sudan 365 campaign, launched on Saturday, calls « on global leaders to take urgent diplomatic action over the next 365 days to prevent all-out conflict returning to Sudan, » a statement by the organisers said.

It comes as Sudan marks the fifth anniversary of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended a devastating 22-year war between majority Muslim north Sudan and the mainly Christian and animist south.

The CPA also paves the way for Sudan to hold its first general election in 24 years in April ahead of a key referendum on southern independence in 2011.

Celebrity drummers are taking part in a « beat for peace » film that features a drumroll starting in the war-wracked nation « and being picked up and passed like a baton between drummers in over 15 countries » — including Brazil, Egypt, France, Japan, South Africa and the United States.

Drummers will include Radiohead’s Phil Selway, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, as well as Egyptian musicians Yehia Khalil and Mohammed Munir and Ghana’s Mustapha Tettey Addy.

Nine organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the US group Save Darfur have joined efforts to organise the campaign along with the drummers.

Gatherings are due to take place in a dozen cities across the world on Saturday when the film will be launched on www.sudan365.org and the front page of YouTube, organisers said in a statement.

« I wanted to be involved in this project because I think music is such a powerful way of bringing people together, » Selway was quoted as saying.

« Hopefully this film will show that together people can make a huge noise and through this film I hope people’s focus will be brought back to what is happening in the Sudan over this very important next year, » Selway said.

Five years after the end of the north-south civil war, the political situation remains tense between the two sides while south Sudan continues to be rocked by bloodshed and deadly tribal clashes.

At least 140 people were killed in the remote Wunchuei region of southern Warrap state over the past week, the United Nations reported on Thursday.

The dead were from the Dinka people, and local sources suggested they were killed by a rival Nuer group, but this could not be confirmed.

Since 2003 the volatile region of Darfur in western Sudan has also been the scene of a devastating civil war in which 300,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

« The next 365 days will be critical for the people of Sudan, » said drummer Jamie Catto, founding member of 1 Giant Leap and Faithless, and the brainchild of the film.

« This global drumbeat is a cry for positive action from world leaders to prevent conflict from returning. »

Egypt’s Mohammed Munir added: « Sudan has experienced too much pain and suffering in the last three decades. Now is the time to make sure that the future is one of peace and prosperity for all those in Darfur and the rest of Sudan. »

BASIC ministers to meet in Delhi over climate accord
9 January 2010/timesofindia.indiatimes.com/IANS
NEW DELHI: Environment ministers of India, China, Brazil and South Africa will meet here sometime between Jan 20 and 25 to discuss their climate strategy in the wake of last month’s Copenhagen summit.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here Friday the ministers would discuss how to respond to the Copenhagen Accord that the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) countries had negotiated with the US during the summit.

All countries have to indicate by Jan 31 if they are signing the accord and what action rich as well as large developing countries will take to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases that are leading to global warming.


EN BREF, CE 09 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,09/01/2010

 

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