BURUNDI – AFRICA / INTERNATIONAL : 19 JANVIER 2010 [Africa home for Haitians]

{jcomments on}OMAR, AGNEWS, BXL, le 19 janvier 2010 www.mirror.co.uk,January 19, 2010–A new African state should be created for Haitians who have lost their homes, the President of Senegal said yesterday.

 

RWANDA

Zambia to Hunt Down Genocidaires
Edmund Kagire/The New Times/allafrica.com/19 January 2010

Kigali — President Paul Kagame and his Zambian counterpart, Rupiah Banda, yesterday held talks at Urugwiro village in which they discussed the security situation in the Great Lakes region and the issue of Rwandan Genocide fugitives living in the southern Africa nation.

The Zambian President currently chairing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was on a fact-finding mission on the peace process within the region ahead of tabling a final report to the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government summit scheduled for Addis Ababa early this year.

Addressing the press shortly after the meeting, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of both countries said that the two Presidents discussed the latest initiatives that have made progress in bringing peace to the region but discussed issues of joint bilateral interests.

“As you may be aware, Rwanda and Zambia are very close countries with a very warm relationship… the President, who is the current chair of the ICGLR, is here to carry out consultations ahead of the AU Summit which is scheduled for the end of January,” Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga Pande, said.

The two Presidents agreed to revive a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to address issues of bilateral interests.

The JPC will come up with a final approach on the issue of Rwandan Genocide fugitives living in Zambia.

“Zambia is a country that does not entertain Genocide and is strong on human rights. The promise that we have made is that the two justice ministries should sit and see how Zambia can help Rwanda bring Genocide suspects to come to Rwanda and face justice and not feel comfortable in Zambia,” Pande said.

Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, thanked Zambia for their strong support as the country sought to join the Commonwealth bid.

She said that the Zambian leader fully backed the issue of apprehending Genocide suspects hiding in Zambia and bringing them to justice.

“He visited the Genocide Memorial site at Gisozi this morning and promised that the country will do anything that is feasible to make sure that Genocide suspects do not feel comfortable in Zambia,” said Mushikiwabo.

“The judicial authorities are now going to bring together information they have on both ends and we move from there.”

On the issue of refugees in Zambia who may not have participated in the Genocide, it was agreed that the two countries work together to ensure that those who want to be repatriated be sent home while those willing to seek asylum go through the right channels.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


UGANDA

Tullow on track to block ENI’s Ugandan oil plans
British company pre-empts bid by Italian rival to acquire Heritage Oil’s share of reserves
By Nikhil Kumar/www.independent.co.uk/Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tullow Oil, the FTSE 100-listed oil exploration and production group, has takes its first steps in a plan that will see it hold on to a bigger share of its assets in Uganda, by pre-empting a $1.5bn (£918m) bid by Italy’s ENI to acquire its partner’s stake in the oil concession.

Tullow, in partnership with Heritage Oil, has found proven reserves of more than 700 million barrels of oil in three drilling blocks at Uganda’s Lake Albert Rift basin, as well as identifying more than 1.5 billion barrels of potential yet to be explored. Last year, Heritage said it planned to sell its share – comprising of 50 per cent of Block 1 and 50 per cent of Block 3A – to ENI, which offered up to $1.5bn for the assets.

The deal allowed Heritage to back out of a merger with Turkey’s Genel Energy while allowing ENI to enter Uganda, which according more optimistic industry estimates may have up to eight million barrels in possible reserves.

In an attempt to attract partners with experience of building the sort of infrastructure needed to exploit the resources, Tullow had begun selling up to half of its share – 50 per cent each of Block 1 and Block 3A, and 100 per cent of Block 2 – in the blocks. However, it now wants to keep a bigger chunk of the assets.

It has pre-emption rights as Heritage’s partner, allowing it to match ENI’s bid, though the Ugandan government still has the final say on any deal. Heritage may also accept a higher offer from ENI or another company, but only if such as proposal arrives before Heritage investors meet on 25 January. ENI has not yet terminated its agreement with Heritage, and is awaiting clarity on the government’s views.

If successful, Tullow will assume Heritage’s share and own all three blocks. It still plans to sell on up to 50 per cent of its blocks, but following the pre-emption, that will equate to a bigger piece of the pie for Tullow, which will submit names of potential partners next month.

For Heritage, the sale will mark an exit from Uganda, though it retains interests on the Congolese side of Lake Albert. “This news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to the market,” said Phil Corbett, an analyst at RBS. “Senior Tullow officials in Uganda had indicated that a pre emption was more likely than not and in our view there is clear industrial logic in the decision,”

He added that, while there was likely to be speculation about the Ugandan government’s stance, “Tullow would have sounded out its intentions”.

Uganda Opposition Figure Demands the Release of Detained Women
A leading member of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says the party is demanding the immediate release of 50 women who were arrested Monday for calling for the resignation of the electoral commission chief Badru Kiggundu.
Peter Clottey/www1.voanews.com/19 January 2010

Washington, DC
A leading member of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says the party is demanding the immediate release of 50 women who were arrested Monday for calling for the resignation of the electoral commission chief Badru Kiggundu.

John Kazoora said Ugandans have lost confidence in Mr. Kiggundu’s ability to organize a credible election scheduled for 2011.

“These women numbering about 50 wanted to hand over a petition to the chairman of the electoral commission demanding that he should resign on the following reasons; that one (the) Supreme Court of Uganda has found him and his team incompetent and therefore could not be seen to hold a free and fair election, come 2011. Secondly, he was elected under the so-called Movement System therefore he is a cadre of the Movement Party. Since we moved to multi-party, they were saying no, you cannot be a referee while you are a partisan,” he said.

The detained women were part of the Interparty Cooperation (IPC), a group seeking more democratic reforms ahead of next year’s general election.

They were protesting the re-appointment of Dr. Badru Kiggundu, chairman of the electoral commission who they claimed is incapable of organizing a transparent election.

Kazoora said Kiggundu undermined the credibility of the last election.

“The last election we had given him (the) benefit of the doubt and he failed that benefit. So, the women were expressing that concern. They just wore their black T-shirts with words, women for peace so when they approached the gates of the electoral commission, they were barred from entering the offices,” Kazoora said.

Grace Turyagumanawe, deputy director of police operations is quoted as saying that the detained women will be charged with criminal trespass for illegally entering into the offices of the electoral commission — a charge the women’s group rejected.

Kalonzo meets Ugandan traders
Written By:VPPS/www.kbc.co.ke/ Posted: Tue, Jan 19, 2010

Uganda has moved a notch higher in its quest for comparative manufacturing competitiveness with Kenya with the opening of a multi-million dollar Anti-retroviral producing facility in Kampala.

Vice President Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka Monday visited the plant a joint venture between Indian drug maker Cipla and Ugunda’s Quality Chemicals and praised the technology transfer taking place at the complex.

He said he would advice the relevant health authorities in Kenya to consider sourcing ARVs from the firm after the necessary assessment and approvals from the Kenya Drug and poisons Board.

The firm which was established at a cost of ksh 4 billion produces 100 million tablets of ARVs per month, mainly the Duovir-n brand.

It also produces anti-malarial drug Lumatern. Uganda ‘s Minister for Health Mr Richard Nduhura said his country took the decision to manufacture generic ARVs after India, the traditional makers of generic drugs, ratified the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Accord under the World Trade Organization.

“This will bar them from continuing to provide us with these cheap alternatives.” said the Ugandan Minister.

He said Africa needs low cost medicines, which are safe and effective, and the continent needs to produce these drugs and be less reliant on outside help.

In a meeting with Members of the Uganda business community including the powerful Uganda Manufacturers Association, the Vice President, was presented with a number of challenges they face while doing business with Kenya.

These include inordinate delays in the clearing of their goods at the Port of Mombasa, damage to goods during handling as they are offloaded from ships to lost containers on transit enroute to Uganda.

The Chairman of the Uganda Manufacturers Association Mr Kaddu Kiberu de asked that the request for compensation for Ugandan goods and properties, lost during the 2007 post election violence which was lodged the Attorney General, be expedited.

The VP promised to address their complains and stressed the importance of Ugandans keeping faith in the Port of Mombasa.

While meeting the management of Rift Valley Railways led by Chairman Brown Ondego, Mr Musyoka expressed concern that at a time when the world was embracing high rail transport, East Africa was still saddled with a dilapidated system.

Uganda tops EAC states in revenue collection at 22.9%
By Ismail Musa Ladu/ www.monitor.co.ug/Posted Tuesday, January 19 2010

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) performance for the first half of the financial year indicates that Uganda is collecting slightly more taxes than its other EAC counterparts.

Regional revenue records provided by URA show that the tax body’s cumulative revenue performance stands at 22.99 per cent, followed by Kenya at 13 per cent, and 6 per cent for Tanzania.

“We were not able to get the one of Rwanda but it is important to understand revenue regional performances so that you can appreciate what we do,” the URA Commissioner General, Ms Allen Kagina, said recently while announcing the monthly revenue performance in Kampala.

Rwanda performance in the region was unrivalled between July and November.

Between the aforementioned period, Rwanda registered a revenue performance of 104.2 per cent, followed by Kenya at 101 per cent, Uganda at 93 per cent, and Tanzania at 90.42 per cent.

According to Ms Kagina, the much improved performance of domestic taxes explains the positive cumulative growth registered in the first half of the financial year, a trend she optimistically said will get better as the countdown to the last quarter of the financial year begins.

New reforms
As a measure to cover the previous shortfalls, now amounting to Shs43 billion and as an effort to sustain the current cumulative growth, the agency will fast track the implementation of e-Tax in the domestic tax department, step up its effort in the debt collection and increases its usage of compliance tools for non-compliant taxpayers and tax agents.

Other measures include; closing leakages existing in the Customs revenue system through monitoring of transit goods and improving controls like dipping of fuel tankers and re-examining RADDEX information usage, where goods will be monitored, cleared and reconciled in advance between the EAC States.


TANZANIA:

 

 

 

 

 


CONGO RDC :

 


International Criminal Court: Justice and politics
Tuesday, 19 January 2010/www.leadershiponline.co.za

A key institution of modern justice, the International Criminal Court (ICC) must learn to speak to the world it inhabits. Much unease about the court boils down to one issue: how should its prosecutor decide, among thousands of crimes and perpetrators within his jurisdiction, which ones to charge, writes James A. Goldston in an article on the openDemocracy website.

In its short life, the ICC in The Hague has indicted 14 persons, launched two trails, and provoked controversy across the globe. Kofi Annan hailed the court’s birth in 2002 as “a great victory for justice and for world order”. Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya’s president and chair of the African Union, branded the arrest-warrant issued to his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir an act of “first-world terrorism”. John R. Bolton, before he became United States ambassador to the United Nations, famously called the ICC “a product of fuzzy-minded romanticism that is not just naïve but dangerous”.

Prosecutorial discretion is a common method of triage in overcrowded legal systems. But it is unusually contentious at the ICC, given the epic scale of the crimes at issue (including genocide and crimes against humanity), and the court’s limited capacity (three courtrooms and no police force) to address them.

In order to make the court more than a pawn of the UN Security Council yet forestall ‘rogue’ prosecutions, its governing statute grants the prosecutor substantial freedom to pursue cases on his own initiative, but subject him to judicial review. As indictments have been issued against rebel leaders in the Congo and Uganda and government figures in Sudan, complaints have grown that , notwithstanding this careful balance, the court is targeting Africa or currying favour with individual states.

Much of this criticism represents the predictable reaction of those who have never reconciled themselves to the idea of legal accountability for mass murder. As such, it simply confirms that the court is doing its job.

But other disenchanted voices – among civil society and victim communities, particularly – merit a response.

It is regrettable then that a number of court officials and non-governmental organisation allies have thought it sufficient to proclaim that the role of the prosecutor is to “apply the law. Nothing more. Nothing less.” Such formulations may sound principled and appealing, but they ring hollow to anyone familiar with the way courts function in practice. For the law and its institutions can never be divorced entirely from their surrounding environment.

The ICC’s first trial – of a former warlord in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Thomas Lubanga – can illustrate the point. The friends of the court have been at pains to explain why a case, arising from a war in which millions were killed and countless numbers raped, should focus on the (comparatively) narrow matter of child-soldier.

Why not acknowledge that both the target and the nature of the indictment were convenient, even attractive – because Lubanga was already in detention in the DRC (enabling the ICC to secure custody over its first defendant), and because conscripting child-soldiers is a heinous act that exerts powerful hold on public attention?

Such an acknowledgement may lead to a more inclusive approach that nonetheless accepts the limits of the courts capacity – for example, focus on particular categories of crimes, as does an ongoing prosecution of widespread rape in the Central African Republic. The inadequate attention historically accorded to crimes against women and children means that it would surely be appropriate for the prosecutor to highlight them in his charging strategy and case selection.

It is essential to be guided by “the law” and “the evidence”. But in many situations, doing so may not sufficiently narrow the range of possible charges or perpetrators. The prosecutor may have to consider other factors as well in deciding how to proceed.

These may include the need to demonstrate the court’s viability (for example, by charging at a level or in a manner that prevents states from simply ignoring the court’s orders); its efficacy (by charging persons who may readily be apprehended); its efficiency (by limiting the number of charges, and thereby the length of trails); or its independence (in appropriate circumstances, by charging officials of governments that have referred situations to the court).

It would be wise and valuable in itself for the ICC to take such issues into account at this stage of its evolution. But it would also be of great practical benefit at a time when the ICC’s very existence remains under challenge. More broadly, it would help the court and its underlying mission overcome the atmosphere of polarised discussions that still surrounds it, which does little to educate and inform.

If the ICC is eventually to command sustained public support, there must be an effort to move beyond platitudes in explaining the nuanced nature of the prosecutor’s discretion: grounded in law and evidence, but of necessity considering issues of institutional strategy and policy while refraining from partisanship of bias.

The court’s president, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, has rightly called the ICC “a judicial institution operating in a political world”. That is no easy feat, even in the best of circumstances. To speak with greater candour about the prosecutor’s role is one way to help.

 

 

 

 


KENYA :

Kenya Cracks Down on Somali Immigrants
Police arrest 400 and detain more than a dozen Somali parliament members following Friday’s violent protest by Muslim youths
Alisha Ryu/ www1.voanews.com/ 19 January 2010

Nairobi
Kenyan police and paramilitary forces have arrested as many as 400 Somali immigrants during a security sweep in Nairobi. The sweep follows a violent protest by Muslim youths in the capital Friday, which the Kenyan government says was backed by militants in Somalia. More than a dozen parliament members from Somalia are also being detained.

Somali residents in the city’s Eastleigh neighborhood tell VOA that heavily-armed paramilitary troops and anti-terrorism police went door-to-door Sunday evening, arresting anyone they suspected of being in Kenya illegally.

Eastleigh is known locally as “Little Mogadishu” because it is home to a large ethnic Somali population.

Abdurahman Salad Qoryole, a member of Somalia’s transitional parliament, says police arrested him and more than a dozen other Somali parliament members and government officials in Eastleigh without explanation.

Qorole says many Somalis holding foreign passports, as well as a former Somali military commander and prominent Somali businessmen, are also in police custody. The parliament member called the arrests “insulting” and “unjustified.”

A senior Kenyan police official declined to comment on the security sweep. But he said the police only arrested those who did not possess valid visas and travel documents.

The Somali ambassador to Kenya has reportedly been summoned to Mogadishu for urgent consultations. Nairobi has long been home for many Somali government officials and parliament members facing security threats in Somalia.

The raid on Eastleigh follows claims by Kenya’s Interior Minister George Saitoti that Friday’s protest by hundreds of Muslim youths had the backing of Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked militant group, al-Shabab.

During the protest, several demonstrators unfurled a black flag adopted by al-Shabab and other Islamic extremist groups around the world. Kenyan riot police fired tear-gas and live bullets during running battles, which killed and wounded more than a dozen people.

The protesters took to the streets to demand the release of a radical Jamaican-born cleric, Abdullah al-Faisal, who was arrested in Kenya on December 31 while on a preaching tour. Earlier this month, Kenyan authorities tried and failed to deport the cleric, who had previously served a four-year jail term in Britain for inciting racial hatred.

On Sunday, al-Shabab’s main spokesman, Ali Mohamud Rage, praised the protest, but denied his group was involved.

Al-Shabab controls vast areas of southern Somalia and has been leading an insurgency since early 2007 to overthrow the U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu. It aims to create an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate in the Horn of Africa.

Al-Shabab’s growing ties with al-Qaida and al-Qaida-inspired groups, including efforts to recruit fighters and suicide bombers among the Somali Diaspora, have raised alarm and concern among western governments and their allies in the region.

Students from Ill., Kenya die in Mich. plane crash
www.washingtonpost.com/The Associated Press /January 19, 2010

MANLIUS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Hope College says a student from Kenya was piloting a small plane when it crashed in southwest Michigan, killing himself and a student from Illinois.

Hope College spokesman Tom Renner said Monday that 23-year-old David Otai (OH’-ty) of Nairobi, Kenya, and 20-year-old Emma Biagioni (bya-jee-OH’-nee) of St. Charles, Ill., were aboard the single engine Cessna 172 that crashed Sunday.

Renner says Otai’s mother helped run Africa Inland Missions, an air service to missions in central Africa. Renner says Otai wanted to get a commercial pilot’s license so he could fly for the service.

The Allegan County sheriff’s department says the plane made a distress call shortly before crashing in a snow-covered field in Manlius Township.

 

 



ANGOLA :

Cabinda, place of constant sorrows
www.thedailymaverick.co.za/Tuesday 19 January, 2010

Many observers around the world had barely heard of Angola before the attack on the Togolese soccer team, let alone about its volatile enclave, Cabinda. One careful look into its past reveals a oil- and pain-rich place that was never really peaceful.
Cabinda is the kind of place where Joseph Conrad, in his novel “Heart of Darkness”, might have come across a man-of-war anchored off the coast: “There wasn’t even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts… In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent.”

It’s a place where the Portuguese unhappily co-opted rival kingdoms into their slave trade, making certain men rich for selling others into penury. It’s an exceptionally oil-endowed place that no-one thought much about, except, of course, international oil companies and the Angolan government, which is busy arresting all sorts of people after the tragic killing of members of Togo’s soccer team ahead of their opening game in the Africa Cup of Nations.

But now everyone’s heard about Cabinda, though few comprehend what the killings proved. The two factions claiming responsibility for the attack say they mistook Togo’s team bus for part of an Angolan military convoy. So why is Cabinda now everybody’s business?

Angola’s 13 million people are made up of about 100 different ethnic groups, speaking three main languages. They supported three independence groups struggling for the freedom of Angola. The Ovimbundu people in the south backed Unita (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), the central Kimbundu group allied themselves with the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), while the Bakongo in the north of the country put their money on the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola).

Angolan president Agostinho Neto and his MPLA governed the country from the capital, Luanda, after the Portuguese colonists walked away in 1975. He died in 1979 and was succeeded by Jose Eduardo dos Santos who remains President today. The party, of course, took more than a keen interest in Cabinda’s oil wealth, being drilled at that time by US company Gulf Oil (later Chevron), and invaded Cabinda with its Cuban allies. Amazingly, Gulf Oil’s installations were guarded by Cuban troops during the country’s subsequent 30-year civil war, to the chagrin of successive US administrations that supported Unita and the FNLA.

The Holden Roberto-led FNLA had mounted the first serious challenge to Portuguese rule in Angola in 1961, receiving support from parties as disparate as then-Zaïre, the US, China, Ghana, Israel, France and Romania. But after being absorbed into Unita during the final stages of the war against the Portuguese, they were decimated by the Marxist MPLA in the battle for Luanda, and became extinct. Unita died decades later, after its apartheid-supported leader, Jonas Savimbi, was killed by government troops in 2002.

The Cabinda enclave came about through the centuries-long fusion of three kingdoms: the N’Goyo, Loango and Kakongo. It’s separated from the rest of Angola by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo, fuelling its claims to independence. Nowadays it harbours some 65% of Angola’s oil, which make its tiny minority of culturally and ethnically distinct people extremely vulnerable to Big Brother down south in Luanda.

In the early 1960s, several separatist movements for the liberation of Cabinda came into being. The MLEC (Movement for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda) morphed into Flec (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda). Since then, Cabinda, whose population is said to be in the region of 360,000 (including, no doubt, many settlers brought in from elsewhere in Angola) has seen Flec split into numerous factions, with an estimated one-third of Cabindans living as refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

It’s two of these factions that have now claimed responsibility for the attack on the Togo soccer team’s bus, from the comfort of their leaders’ homes in Europe. The main group of Flec signed a ceasefire with Angola in 2006, and some of its members were absorbed into Angola’s government.

On 10 January 1975, some 10 months before Angola gained independence, the Alvor conference in Portugal assembled Unita, the MPLA and the FNLA and legitimised the annexation of Cabinda by Angola (basically, the MPLA). This was backed by the Organisation of African Unity, which today is the African Union.

Flec wasn’t invited to the conference, so the few remaining fighters (some say just hundreds) still battle on for independence. In the meanwhile, Angola has become Africa’s biggest oil producer, with China and the US pumping in billions of dollars in infrastructure. Big money will never like instability anyway but, after the 12 January shooting, don’t expect anybody else to sympathise with the remnants of Flec.
By Mark Allix

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOUTH AFRICA:

AVI, BHP, Richemont, Truworths: South African Equity Preview
By Janice Kew/Bloomberg/Jan. 19

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — The following is a list of companies whose shares may have unusual price changes in South Africa. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names and prices are from the last close.

South Africa’s FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index added 170.48, or 0.6 percent, to 28,099.70 in Johannesburg.

Anglo Platinum Ltd. (AMS SJ): Platinum climbed to a 17- month high on speculation investment and industrial demand will increase. Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest producer of the metal, climbed 18 rand, or 2.3 percent, to 790 rand. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP SJ), the world’s second-biggest, rose 2 cents to 216.02 rand.

AVI Ltd. (AVI SJ): South Africa’s second-largest food company said earnings excluding one-time items per share from continuing operations for the six months ended Dec. 31 will be between 5 percent and 10 percent lower than the previous year. AVI fell 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to 20.92 rand.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BIL SJ): The world’s largest mining company may resume buying back shares as rising metal prices increase its available cash, UBS AG said. BHP added 2.20 rand, or 0.9 percent, to 250.19 rand.

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA (CFR SJ): The world’s second- largest luxury-goods maker was raised to “buy” from “hold” by Standard & Poor’s equity analyst Alessandra Coppola. Richemont rallied 66 cents, or 2.5 percent, to 26.75 rand.

JD Group Ltd. (JDG SJ): The furniture retailer was cut to “sell” from “buy” at UBS AG, which reduced its estimate on sales growth. JD Group climbed 1.92 rand, or 4.1 percent, to 48.70 rand.

Truworths International Ltd. (TRU SJ): The clothing retailer was cut to “sell” from “hold” at Citigroup Inc. after Truworths said fiscal first-half sales rose less than the brokerage had estimated. Truworths slid 26 cents, or 0.6 percent, to 42.25 rand.

Sasol Ltd. (SOL SJ): Crude oil rose for the first time in six days as the dollar weakened and some investors took the view a decline below $79 a barrel made crude attractive to buy. Sasol, the world’s biggest maker of motor fuel from coal, slid 4.59 rand, or 1.5 percent, to 300.20 rand.

Set Point Group Ltd. (SPO SJ): The technology and analytics company said it plans to delist its shares from the main board of South Africa’s stock exchange. Set Point will offer shareholders, excluding Sabvest Investments Ltd., 90 cents a share. Set Point was unchanged at 83 cents.

Shares or American depositary receipts of the following South African companies closed as follows on Jan. 15. The U.S. market was closed yesterday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday:

Anglo American Plc (AAUKY US) fell 1.3 percent to $22.09. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU US) shed 2.8 percent to $40.81. BHP Billiton Plc (BBL US) fell 1.8 percent to $66.54. DRDGold Ltd. (DROOY US) climbed 1.1 percent to $7.46. Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI US) slipped 1.1 percent to $13.26. Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY US) shed 1.4 percent to $10.39. Impala Platinum Holdings Co. (IMPUY US) dropped 1.8 percent to $29. Sappi Ltd. (SPP US) added 0.4 percent to $4.59. Sasol Ltd. (SSL US) shed 1.7 percent to $41.08.

SABMiller 3Q Lager Volumes Fell 4% In South Africa >SAB.JO
online.wsj.com/JANUARY 19, 2010

JOHANNESBURG (Dow Jones)–International brewing concern SABMiller PLC (SAB.JO) Tuesday said lager volumes declined 4% in South Africa during its financial third quarter as the country continued to experience a softening of consumer demand.

MAIN FACTS:

– Market share declined “marginally” over the three months to Dec. 31.

– Soft drinks volumes were down 5%, impacted by a weak economy and unseasonal cold weather at the start of the quarter.

-By Johannesburg bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; +27 11 783 7848; robb.stewart@dowjones.com

Mobile phone boost for South Africa ahead of World Cup
www.tmcnet.com/Xinhua via COMTEX/Jan 19, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 18, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — A massive investment in the South Africa’s mobile phone network infrastructure is under way to ensure people will be able to communicate efficiently during the FIFA World Cup.

Apart from five new and five refurbished stadiums, World Cup 2010 will leave South Africa with a legacy of state-of-the-art TV broadcasting and mobile phone technology.

And South Africa is about to be hit by “massive world class technology” which will provide a starting point for the transition to high definition television (HDTV) providing “superb broadcasting pleasure” for future events, said Delia Fischer, FIFA media manager on Monday.

FIFA said it had appointed its own service provider, Host Broadcast Services (HBS), as the official host broadcaster for the World Cup.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation and pribate station SuperSport will benefit from the HBS team which will share their expertise and experience and this will enable them to speed up their move to HDTV.

While SuperSport had the recent cricket tests between South Africa and England live on HDTV, it is still in a test phase and its official HD channel launch is on February 12, coinciding with the start of the Super 14 rugby tournament.

On the mobile phone front, the construction of towers and laying of more fiber optic cables for data communication will benefit South Africans for years after the World Cup.

Last year, the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) chairman, Paris Mashile, expressed concern at networks’ inability to cope, based on their failure to handle heavier loads around Christmas and New Year.

MTN, the official FIFA network partner, has focused on improving coverage around airports and stadiums.

Bridget Bhengu, senior manager: communications for MTN, said they were ready for the World Cup.

She said MTN is setting up special equipment rooms at stadiums.

“The system has been designed so that fans are guaranteed coverage in the stadium and in the vicinity at any time. Support staff will be on hand at each stadium to help.

“Communities around stadiums that host matches are assured that the network will not be affected.” Andries Delport, executive director: engineering and technology for mobile service provider Vodacom, said the company has invested significant time, resources and funds to ensure that their network could handle an increase in traffic during the World Cup.

ICASA’s Mashile said: “Having seen the reports and assuming that this is not a marketing gimmick, I am of the view that their systems pass muster. However, our field and test engineers will intensify their own independent testing and evaluation as to the efficacy of the networks to meet busy and peak period demands.” FIFA will provide material, including live match feeds, shot for mobile operators who have been given rights.

Maradona reviews World Cup preparations, dismisses security concerns
By Nkemeleng Nkosi (CP), Canadian Press/190110

PRETORIA, South Africa — Argentina coach Diego Maradona dismissed security concerns at this year’s World Cup on Monday as he toured the elite South African sports campus where his team will live and train during the tournament.

South Africa’s high crime rate has sparked worries about security for players and fans since it won the right to become the first African nation to host football’s premier event. With the tournament just months away, new questions were raised about South Africa’s ability to cope with any terrorist attack after Angolan separatists ambushed the Togo team bus as it travelled to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola earlier this month.

Maradona had not been expected to address reporters during his visit after just coming off a two-month suspension by FIFA for a profanity-laden rant. But he relented with a few words about security and about his hope Argentina could win its first World Cup since 1986.

“We want to break the curse after 24 years,” Maradona said. “The desire never goes away. The hope never goes.”

Relaxed and friendly, he also signed autographs for student players and others at the sports campus, and kicked a ball around.

Asked about security as he toured the sports campus, Maradona told reporters: “We don’t have anything to complain about.”

Tournament organizers and South African government officials say they are taking extraordinary measures to fight crime during the World Cup, including recruiting more than 140,000 new police.

South Africans have bristled at comparisons to Angola – South Africa has no separatists fighters and its peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy contrasts with decades of anti-colonial and then civil war in Angola. South Africans security officials nonetheless say they have trained and prepared for the possibility of an attack during the World Cup by international terrorists.

Toby Sutcliffe, chief executive officer of the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Center, said the centre was spending 2 million rand (C$277,264)to upgrade fencing, hire more guards and take other steps to improve security for the Argentina team.

The facility, which includes a four-star hotel as well as sports fields and clinics, was also installing plasma television sets and whirlpool baths at the request of the team, Sutcliffe said. He did not say how much Argentina was paying to take over the facility during the June-July tournament.

Argentina will face South Korea, Nigeria and Greece in World Cup Group B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



AFRICA / AU :

‘Africa home for Haitians’
19/01/2010 / www.mirror.co.uk

A new African state should be created for Haitians who have lost their homes, the President of Senegal said yesterday.

Abdoulaye Wade, 83, said they are entitled to an African homeland because they are the descendants of slaves.

“They have as much right to Africa as I have,” he said.

He will put his plan to the African Union. He also said African states should naturalise any Haitians who want a new nationality.

Decades later, small Michigan city builds homes to atone for discrimination against blacks
ED WHITE/Associated Press Writer/January 19, 2010

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — More than 40 years after her family was forced from their home because they were black, Sallie Sanders received the keys to a new house built to settle one of the longest-running cases of housing discrimination in the United States.

“My parents would be ecstatic that their offspring would be able to enjoy the things they couldn’t,” the 60-year-old Sanders said Monday before a ceremony to celebrate the milestone on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Hamtramck agreed in 1980 to develop 200 family housing units to make up for violating the civil rights of blacks whose neighborhoods were targeted by white officials to make way for urban renewal projects in the 1960s.

Hamtramck still hasn’t met that goal, although officials predict it will by next year. The city of 23,000 is now extremely diverse, with immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Bangladesh passing by a statue of Pope John Paul II in the historically Polish community.

“Everyone here practices their culture without fear or hesitation,” said Shahab Ahmed, one of three Muslims on the city council.

The 2000 census found 41 percent of residents were born in another country.

“If you talk to anyone in Hamtramck,” Mayor Karen Majewski said, “the first thing they’ll tell you is we welcome everybody.”

That wasn’t always true. In 1971, after a three-week trial, a federal judge said Hamtramck had a clear strategy when it demolished housing in poor neighborhoods. Blacks were 14.5 percent of Hamtramck’s population in 1960, but only 8.5 percent six years later, noted Damon Keith, now a judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It took until 1980 for all sides to agree to a solution: Two hundred family housing units, as well as 150 units for senior citizens, would be offered at below-market rates to black plaintiffs in the lawsuit. It didn’t take long to build the senior housing, but construction on the rest didn’t start until 2004.

“Attitudes, funds and skills were the three missing ingredients,” said Michael Barnhart, attorney for the victims. “The city was still fighting it. Secondly, they didn’t have the money. Hamtramck was in and out of state receivership.”

The city’s current lawyer, James Allen Sr., agreed.

“This litigation was used as a political wedge issue. The us-versus-them mentality kept people in political office,” he said.

That changed when Gary Zych became mayor in the late 1990s. He said resolving the discrimination case was a moral issue as well as a practical one. Hamtramck couldn’t develop vacant land for other purposes until it built the subsidized housing.

Half of the 200 units have been completed, and the rest could be finished by 2011. The homes are a mix of new construction and renovated units to be sold or rented, Barnhart said. The federal government, state of Michigan and Wayne County are helping Hamtramck with money or properties.

“This could be the oldest living discrimination case that involves housing,” said Florence Roisman, an expert at Indiana University law school in Indianapolis.

Since many of the 500 plaintiffs in the lawsuit have died or moved away from the Detroit area, the housing has been offered to their children or grandchildren. If they aren’t interested, units will be offered to others.

Sanders, a retired state employee, said there was a “lot of sadness and turmoil” when her family had to move into Hamtramck’s public housing. Their former home, a rental, was razed when she was a teenager.

After living in Detroit as an adult, she returned to rent in Hamtramck a few years ago. Now, Sanders and four children are moving into a $164,000 four-bedroom house. Subsidies from the city and county dropped the price to about $100,000.

“I’m glad to be back,” she said.

Obama to America’s youth: Civil rights struggle isn’t old news
The president hosts a group of African American ‘elders’ at the White House, hoping to remind young people that the battles Martin Luther King Jr. fought weren’t that long ago.
By Christi Parsons/www.latimes.com/January 19, 2010

Reporting from Washington – President Obama convened a group of African American “elders” at the White House on Monday in the hopes of reminding young people that the struggle for civil rights is not so far in the American past.

Before the event could get started, though, a guest leaned over to whisper a different message into his ear, one informed by more than a century of experience.

“This must be the Lord’s doing,” 102-year-old Mabel Harvey told him, “because we’ve come a mighty long way.”

As he delivered his own message in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday marking his birthday, Obama and his administration emphasized the work yet to be done to realize the slain civil rights leader’s vision.

His Cabinet fanned out across the Washington area to participate in civic projects to serve the needy and clean up their community. The president and his family served lunch at a local soup kitchen as he called for commitment to a “cause greater than ourselves.”

The annual observance of King’s birthday came close on the heels of a new poll suggesting a slide in the public’s optimism about race relations. Just before Obama’s inauguration a year ago, nearly six in 10 Americans believed this president would improve race relations, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Now, only about four in 10 say that has happened, a result most pronounced among African Americans. This time last year, three-quarters of African Americans polled said they expected the Obama administration to make things better. Now, 51% think it has done so.

Speaking to reporters at the White House in the afternoon and in other messages over the holiday weekend, Obama exhorted people not to lose faith.

He invited the senior citizens to visit the Roosevelt Room to remind young people that many heroes of the civil rights movement are still around to encourage and inspire. “I think sometimes in celebration of Dr. King’s birthday we act as if this history was so long ago,” he said.

There’s still work to be done, Obama said, urging Americans to undertake the challenge on a personal level. “Part of what the civil rights movement was all about was changing people’s hearts and minds and breaking out of old customs and old habits,” he said.

“That’s an important lesson for all of us on this day,” he said, to pursue “th
e things that we can try to do that might have seemed impossible but we know are worth doing.”

For the senior citizens who met with the president on Monday, though, the meaning of the day was about progress already made.

They talked to an African American president in a historic conference room. They toured his Oval Office. They examined the Emancipation Proclamation, on loan to the White House from the Smithsonian in honor of the occasion.

Eleanor M. Banks began working for the federal government in 1945, the first black person to work in the stenography pool for the U.S. Coast Guard. At that time, black women working for the government were housed separately from white women, and the eating facilities were segregated as well. To have a black man as chief executive is an achievement she never expected to see.

“It is the greatest thing for me to see it and to live it,” she said, emerging from the West Wing after her meeting with Obama.

cparsons@latimes.com

Congo, Nigeria, S. Africa: Sub-Saharan Bond, Currency Preview
By Renee Bonorchis/Bloomberg/Jan. 19

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — The following events and economic reports may influence trading in sub-Saharan African bonds and currencies today.

Democratic Republic of Congo: The central African nation will announce the amount of Treasury bills it will sell at this week’s auction.

The Congolese franc was unchanged from the yesterday’s close at 910.3550 per dollar as of 8:09 a.m. in the capital, Kinshasa.

The average rate on the 7-day bill was 68.27 percent at an auction held on Jan. 14.

Nigeria: Nigeria’s central Plateau state imposed a dusk-to- dawn curfew in the city of Jos overnight as security was stepped up following sectarian violence in which 20 people died.

The naira traded 0.1 percent weaker from yesterday’s close at 150.35 per dollar by 8:09 a.m. in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital.

South Africa: The South African National Treasury plans to sell 2.1 billion rand ($284 million) of bonds at its weekly auction, it said on its Web site. Public hearings continue on state-owned electricity company Eskom Holdings Ltd.’s proposed 35 percent price increase for each of the next three years.

The rand was 0.3 percent stronger at 7.3761 per dollar by 9:33 a.m. in Johannesburg from a previous close of 7.3962.

The benchmark 13.5 percent security due September 2015 yielded 8.53 percent, two basis points below its previous close.

Comment: Senegal Does Africa Proud, Even As Ghana Vacillates
news.myjoyonline.com/By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D./ Tuesday, 19 January 2010

In the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12 instant, the President of Senegal released a statement via the Associated Press (AP) in which Mr. Abdoulaye Wade indicated, as a matter of humanitarian urgency and a poignant affirmation of kinship, the Senegalese government’s preparedness to receiving any Haitians affected by the 7.0 Richter-Scale tremor who wished to be repatriated to his/her ancestral land. In essence, not only was the Dakar government, literally, throwing an open invitation to Haitians at large, but, perhaps even more significantly, the Wade government was also prepared to offer any Haitian(s) who decided to take the Senegalese premier up on his invitation free passage to the Francophone West African nation of some 10 million people, largely of Islamic persuasion.

And almost readily coming to grips with the fact of his country’s terrain being composed largely of desert tracts, President Wade, through his spokesman, Mr. Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye, added further that if a massive number of Haitians decided to take up the offer, then sincere efforts would be made to guarantee the “repatriates” some of the choicest lands of the country. The Senegalese premier, according to the Associated Press report, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), was also poised to creating a new administrative region, altogether, for the especial benefit of the Haitians.

Meanwhile, in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, as adumbrated elsewhere earlier on, President John Evans Atta-Mills, caught flatfooted in his largely vacuous, albeit stentorian, pan-Africanist rhetoric, desperately struggled against a sputter, his throat being horribly parched and voice hoarse below the most minimal decibel-level of human hearing, and came up with a rather pathetic grunt to the effect that Ghana would chip in its proverbial widow’s mite “at the appropriate time.” The fairly notable tax-law wonk, until his recent presidential election, that is, had apparently been offered the wrongful translation vis-à-vis the horrific enormity of the Haitian apocalypse by one of his habitually besotted minions at Ghana’s information ministry.

Nonetheless, it is hardly flabbergasting that President Atta-Mills would smugly style himself as the ideological spitting image of the proverbial Nkroful Show Boy. For somewhere in one of the massive tomes authored on/by South African black liberation spearhead Nelson R. Mandela, I believe it is his The Long Walk to Freedom, the future president of a multiracial and democratic South Africa painfully details the flat refusal of President Kwame Nkrumah to meet in Accra with a wanted and underground-operating Mandela, the leader of Umkonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), or the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC). Nkrumah, who had misguidedly chosen to back the Sobukwe-led splinter group, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) would, for good measure, even malign the awe-inspiring Madiba as traitorous reprobate to the African liberation struggle and one shamelessly ensconced in bed with the unconscionable architects and ardent promoters of apartheid.

Thus even at a time when economically far less privileged African countries like Togo, Tanzania and Benin heartily chipped in to facilitate the ANC’s epic battle for the ultimate establishment of a non-racist, multiracial South Africa, Nkrumah’s Ghana, literally held at the throttle by the Show Boy and his so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP), would simply and smugly thumb their nose at Mr. Mandela.

Ironically, those of us who had earlier on been fanatically indoctrinated with a mega-dose of a placebo called Nkrumaism would later become disconsolately confounded when, upon his historic release from an over-served life-imprisonment term in 1990, Mr. Mandela seemed to gloriously and heartily express his profound gratitude to the leaders and citizens of almost every African country, except for Ghana. “How ungrateful this thoroughly jaded jailbird is,” some of us were even tempted to mutter.

In any case, whether the most expedient thing to do is for many an emotionally devastated and psychologically traumatized Haitian to simply jump aboard the next flight from Port-au-Prince or mount the deck of the next ship to weigh anchor at Port-au-Prince, no pun is intended here, of course, and literally abandon the virtual shipwreck that is present-day Haiti, after some three- to four-hundred years of staking up domestic existence in the erstwhile Hispaniola, is really beside the point. What matters more than all else is the prompt and timely demonstration of great and enviable leadership such as admirably exhibited by Mr. Wade at Haiti’s most vulnerable and desperate moment.

In making his landmark offer, President Abdoulaye Wade made it pointedly clear that
his was not simply a humanitarian gesture for which Haitians needed to be eternally grateful but, rather, one that was logically and immutably dictated by historical reality: “Haitians are sons and daughters of Africa[,] since Haiti was founded by slaves, including some [who are] thought to [have hailed] from Senegal.”

Needless to say, Mr. Wade clearly appears to have been fully aware of the fact of the bulk of the ancestors of modern Haitians having originated largely from between Eastern Volta and Western Niger. Still, for the erudite Senegalese premier, an African identity is decidedly more of a corporate, or collective, feature than being merely a topical or geographically parochial phenomenon. Such inclusive stance is no happenstance at all, coming from a bona fide native of the land and nation that produced such intellectual and cultural giants as Messrs. Cheikh Anta Diop, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Alioune Diop and Sembene Ousman.

Credit: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank and the author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008). He is also a former Honorary Member of the City College of New York chapter of the African National Congress (ANC).

Poll: Obama Wins High Marks for Haiti Earthquake Response
Posted by Stephanie Condon ./www.cbsnews.com/January 19, 2010

President Obama has promised extensive aid to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and Americans and approve of the president’s handling of the U.S. response to the crisis so far, a new CBS News poll shows.

Additionally, the poll, conducted Jan. 14 – Jan. 17, shows Americans believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to help in Haiti, where up to 200,000 deaths are being predicted due to the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12.

Eight in 10 Americans approve of Mr. Obama’s response; just 8 percent disapprove. Unlike many political issues today, there is no partisan divide on this – Republicans, Democrats and independents all give the president strong marks, with at least three in four approving.

Presidential approval ratings can – but don’t always — rise as a result of a crisis or disaster. In January 2005, 81 percent approved of how President George W. Bush was handling the U.S. response to the tsunami in South Asia, and in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks his approval rating rose to 90 percent, the highest recorded for a modern president. But President Bush’s approval rating dropped in the aftermath of his administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.

Most Americans (84 percent) say the U.S. has a responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. This, too, spans the political spectrum.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1090 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone January 14-17, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Flight Centre forecasts profit take-off
By Online business reporter Michael Janda/www.abc.net.au/2010/01/19

Australia’s biggest travel agency has upgraded its profit forecast by 30 per cent, because of a strong recovery in Australian sales volumes.
Flight Centre was originally expecting a pre-tax profit of between $125-135 million for the current financial year, but is now anticipating a profit in the range of $160-180 million.
If profit matches the revised forecast, it would be 60-80 per cent higher than the company’s $99.8 million trading result in 2008-09.
Pre-tax profit for the half-year to December 31 was expected to be $70-74 million, which would be 13-19 per cent higher than the previous corresponding period.
The company’s managing director, Graham Turner, says the full-year result will ultimately depend on the global economy continuing to gradually recover.
“Double-digit growth is a reasonable achievement for the first half, given that last year’s result included a record first quarter profit,” he wrote in a statement.
Investors seemed to rate it more than a reasonable achievement, pushing the company’s share price up 7.6 per cent to $19.05 by 3:24pm (AEDT).
Ben Potter, a research analyst at IG Markets, says the upward revision is a positive portent leading into the February profit reporting season.
“There’s so much to like about this upgrade. Not only is this the biggest upgrade we’ve seen so far this year, the accompanying narrative is very encouraging,” he wrote in a brief analysis of the news.
“Trading conditions have stabilised globally with the company seeing strong growth in sales volumes, especially in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
“It’s very encouraging to a see positive earnings confession heading into the reporting season, especially given that the sector was one of the worst hit during the downturn.”

Haiti: Aristide waits for invitation to return
Jan 19 2010/Sapa

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was to brief the UN Security Council yesterday about the situation in Haiti after touring the devastated capital and bringing home the remains of top UN officials killed in the powerful earthquake.

Ban made the one-day morale- boosting visit to Port-au-Prince on Sunday to show solidarity with Haitian quake victims and shell- shocked local UN staff. Tuesday’s 7.0- magnitude quake may have killed more than 200000 people, including at least 40 UN staffers.
“I am here to say we are with you. You are not alone. This is a tsunami- like disaster,” Ban told a press conference after flying over the ruined city in a helicopter.
The UN chief met President Rene Preval and had an emotional reunion with Michele Montas, a Haitian who until late last year had been his spokesperson.
Late on Sunday, Ban flew back to New York bearing the remains of his special envoy to Haiti, Hedi Annabi and his Brazilian deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa, both killed in the quake.
In a day of high emotion, the secretary-general visited the flattened main headquarters of Minustah – the UN mission to Haiti – to praise the work of some 1500 rescue workers battling to save as many lives as possible and to offer comfort to the staff.
Some 330 UN staffers are still missing in the rubble of four UN facilities around Port-au-Prince.
In what Ban called “a small miracle” a Danish UN civil affairs official was pulled out from the ruins of the Minustah’s main building by US rescue workers from Virginia just after the UN chief had toured the site.
Jens Kristensen emerged from the debris of the UN’s six-story building, where the walls have become a sarcophagus for so many, without a scratch on him.
Ban said he had a good meeting with Preval focusing on the need to save as many lives as possible, bring in emergency relief aid in the form of food, water, shelter and medical supplies and to improve and better coordinate aid delivery.

He also toured a makeshift tent city of 50000 people which has sprung up on the open-air Champs de Mars square next to the collapsed presidential palace.
“We need food, we need shelter, we need work,” angry and frustrated Haitians shouted.
Ban urged them to be patient, saying help was coming, and warned against rioting.
Reporters travelling with Ban saw none of the thousands of bodies littering the city streets as on previous days.
The Haitian government said on Sunday that it had already buried some 70000 bodies in mass graves, and was declaring a state of emergency until the end of the month.
l The South African government is to send a second team of professionals to assist with rescue efforts in Haiti .
Spokesperson Saul Molobi said the team would comprise mainly forensic pathologists who would help identify bodies.
“We are not sure exactly when they will be sent. We are waiting for a report back from Rescue South Africa, who are doing ground work in the country.”
The South African team already in Haiti include about 40 people, mainly medical staff and engineers.
It took 10 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as medical supplies.
Molobi said South Africa would follow this up with other aid, such as food and more medicine.
It was hoped South Africa could raise R30 million to help.
The City of Tshwane and charity Gift of the Givers had also sent rescue teams.

Molobi said former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide had not yet received an invitation to return home. Last week, Aristide, who came to live in exile in South Africa with his family following his ousting as president in February 2004, publicly expressed a desire to go home.

Molobi said Aristide would need to receive a formal invitation to be allowed home, and would not be involved in politics once there.
“When he goes back, he is not going back to a political office.
“He will just be going there to contribute through academia and civil interventions,” said Molobi. — Sapa

U.S. troops in Haiti to prevent Aristide’s return
Jan 19th, 2010/By Wayne Madsen/Online Journal Contributing Writer

(WMR) — President Obama, in keeping with his CIA lineage, has permitted the Pentagon under Robert Gates to take charge of the humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti.

As Cuban and Venezuelan field hospitals were already rendering first aid and trauma care to Haitians injured in the mega-quake, Obama was gathered at a White House photo op with Vice President Joe Biden and other Cabinet officers to state that U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft would fly over Haiti to assess the situation from the air. A U.S. P-3 Orion spy plane from Comalapa air base in El Salvador was dispatched to conduct the surveillance operation, an act that was already being accomplished by earth satellites, the images of which were available on Google Maps.

As Obama was garnering praise from such sycophantic White House outlets as the largely-discredited Washington Post, a 37-person Icelandic search-and-rescue team was pulling trapped earthquake victims from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince. Iceland, a nation bankrupted by Obama’s banker pals on Wall Street and in the City of London, was able to react in a way that the slumbering and oafish dying super-power, the United States, could not — with action aimed at providing immediate assistance to the Haitian people.

Obama’s generals and admirals, who are mostly more concerned about their appearance than in taking charge and moving out, were still scratching
their heads about where to land the U.S. Marines and 82nd Airborne. In fact, military aircraft carrying weapons and other war supplies crowded the airport aprons at Port-au-Prince airport that could be used by planes from other countries carrying much needed food, water, and medical supplies. Argentine doctors already on the scene in Haiti complained that they were running out of simple sewing kits being used as stitches for the injured who had undergone surgery.

When U.S. Special Operations forces hit the ground at Port-au-Prince airport they pointed their weapons at desperate Haitians at the airport perimeter who wanted help not a gun pointed in their faces. Russia, Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Guatemala were rushing in food and water for Haiti.

Meanwhile, Obama was phoning former President George W. Bush to ask him and former President Bill Clinton to launch a fund drive for Haitian earthquake relief. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was partly behind engineering the 2004 coup that deposed democratically-elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, attended a Haitian relief fundraiser at a Washington hotel called “W.” The symbology could not have been worse — it was Bush who showed the world that he was totally disinterested in the 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that decimated New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Apparently, the so-called media-savvy Obama failed to realize the revolting nature of asking Bush to do anything related to Haiti when people remembered his lack of action over Katrina. Bodies of African-Americans floating in the streets of New Orleans became juxtaposed with the bodies of Afro-Haitians piling up in the streets of Port-au-Prince. But, of course, Obama is the “Max Headroom” of America’s political leadership — a talking head — whose rhetorical flourishes speak louder than principles or concrete action.

Aristide, from an exile in South Africa imposed by the United States, France, and Canada, vowed to return to Haiti to be with his people in their time of stress and despair. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, served the people of the Haitian slum of La Saline and he understands best the plight of his people. On the other hand, Rene Preval, the U.S. stooge who was placed in power twice by the CIA and the U.S. Southern Command to replace Aristide, once in a fraudulent election (Preval won in 1995 with 88 percent of the vote in a 25 percent voter turnout) and the other in a coup, could only complain to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta about not having any place to sleep for the night, “I cannot live in the palace. I cannot live in my own house, because the two collapsed.”

Preval has been reaping all sorts of “free trade” deals that caused Haiti’s agrarian population to stream into Port-au-Prince to work in the sweat shops heralded as “progress” by the likes of George Soros and his gang of thieves on Wall Street. Because of Port-au-Prince’s swollen population of sweat shop workers, the death count from the earthquake will be much higher as the result of collapsed tenements that housed more people than they were designed for.

Dr. Gupta, who was Obama’s first choice to be surgeon-general of the United States, was more interested in using dying Haitians in makeshift hospitals as stage props for CNN’s ratings than in rendering medical assistance to the injured. Imagine, being one of the few doctors available to the severely injured and breaking away to go on camera and tell some old fool like Larry King or some Israeli agent of influence like Wolf Blitzer about how awful the situation is in Haiti.

However, Gates and his military brass will ensure that Aristide will not show up to threaten Preval’s continuing disastrous leadership of Haiti. It was Gates, who was George H. W. Bush’s nominee to be CIA director, who helped plan the military coup that ousted Aristide the first time in September 1991. Gates, at the time, was Bush’s deputy national security adviser.

Clinton helped Aristide regain his presidency from the CIA-backed coup leader General Raoul Cedras in 1994. But Clinton’s disastrous flip-flopping on Haitian refugees from the Cedras dictatorship plunged his new administration into a major crisis. It is certain that when Haiti’s earthquake struck, people like Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel were conducting focus group polls to find out how U.S. assistance to Haiti would be received by the public. Although a clear majority of Americans favor helping the beleaguered people of Haiti, and many feel that Obama’s assistance has been extremely slow, Emanuel only seems to be concerned about the handful of Americans, including Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, who have uttered racist language in reacting to the Haitian tragedy, are worth listening to. But Emanuel does not view things through the enlightened lenses of America’s founders but through the religious myopic eyesight of Talmudic interpreters.

Haiti under Aristide and Preval, was forced by Clinton to agree to horribly one-sided “free trade” deals that saw Haiti’s workers press ganged into toiling away in Port-au-Prince sweat shops to produce clothing for America’s major retailers like Disney. Haiti had no choice — Clinton imposed devastating economic sanctions against Aristide to force his compliance with the diktats of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Clinton sweetened the pie for his Arkansas rice-growing cronies by ensuring that Haiti went from being an exporter of nutritional rice to an importer of expensive bleached and genetically-modified “junk rice,” primarily from Arkansas.

When Aristide regained the presidency in 2000, he took immediate steps to improve the lot of the Haitian workers — he raised the minimum wage to two dollars a day. Bush decided it was time for the CIA and the Southern Command to remove Aristide, which they did with the help of France and Canada. Aristide was exiled to the Central African Republic and then South Africa.

Preval regained office in 2006 after a phony election engineered with the help of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), two CIA contrivances acting under the aegis of the U.S. Republican and Democratic Parties, respectively. Soros has adopted Haitian politicians like former Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis who continue to advocate disastrous “free trade” policies and provides them with funding and travel expenses through his Open Society Institute (OSI).

UN “peacekeeping” forces in Haiti have ensured that Aristide and his Lavalas Party does not regain power. One of the methods the UN uses is periodically raiding pro-Aristide slums and killing Lavalas activists in their homes. Bill Clinton was rewarded last year for his guile and deceit committed against Haiti by being named by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as the UN’s Special Envoy for Haiti.

When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya also raised the minimum wage in his country, the CIA and Southern Command arranged for a military coup to remove him. Obama has now decided to place the Southern Command, headquartered in the right-wing Latin American exiles’ rat’s nest of Miami, to coordinate humanitarian relief in Haiti, along with the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) a CIA pass-through headed by Rajiv Singh, a one-time political hack for Pennsylvania’s corrupt Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

The perfidy that is America’s relationship with Haiti extends to Bill Clinton’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has appointed her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to oversee America’s role in Haiti. Mills has stated, “We actually see our role as ensuring that the leadership of Haiti is able to provide the leadership that the Haitian people properly expect them to provide.” That represents an endorsement of the hapless leadership of Preval and a thumbs

down to any return for Aristide.

Note: The editor’s book, “Jaded Tasks” is named for the covert Pentagon and CIA operation that removed Aristide in 2004: Operation Jaded Task. Aristide was presented a signed copy of the book in South Africa with a note that states I hope he is rightfully restored to the presidency in Haiti. Haiti needs Aristide more now than it has ever needed him in the past. People like Obama, Gates, Emanuel, the Clintons, Mills, and Southern Command commander General Douglas Fraser need to step out of the way and allow the legitimate president of Haiti to lead his people out of the rubble of their country, “moving from misery to poverty with dignity,” as he said from Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg awaiting permission for a return to his native country.

 

 

 

 

 

 



UN /ONU :

 

UN-backed group backs efforts to reach compromise to political crisis in Guinea
19 January 2010 /www.un.org

18 January 2010 – A United Nations-backed group has voiced support for the efforts shown by all sides in Guinea to reach a compromise to the political crisis that has engulfed the poor West African nation since Government forces opened fire on unarmed protesters at a rally last year and killed at least 150 people.
A high-level delegation from the International Contact Group on Guinea met over the weekend in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, with a mediator and senior Guinean figures to discuss the recently signed Joint Declaration aimed at resolving the crisis, according to the UN spokesperson’s office.

The Declaration, signed on Friday, calls for the establishment of a transitional commission and the holding of fresh presidential elections within the next six months.

Guinea has been gripped by unrest since the armed forces shot and killed or raped and attacked hundreds of civilian demonstrators attending a rally in the capital, Conakry, on 29 September.

The deadly crackdown sparked international outrage and prompted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate the events of the day. Mr. Ban has since handed the report of the three-member panel and their recommendations to the Security Council, the Guinean Government, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Captain Dadis Camara – who seized power in a coup in 2008 following the death of long-time president Lansana Conté – has also survived an assassination attempt in the interim and is currently in exile.

Today the UN spokesperson’s office said that the delegation from the contact group, which includes Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, met over the weekend with Capt. Camara and with General Sekouba Konaté, the President and Vice-President of the National Council for Democracy and Development (known as the CNDD).

The delegation, which includes representatives from the AU and ECOWAS, also held discussions with Blaise Compaoré, the President of Burkina Faso and the mediator of talks to end the political crisis in Guinea.

“The delegation commended the efforts of the mediator and expressed satisfaction with the spirit of compromise and sacrifice exhibited by all parties and their willingness to place the interest of the nation above all other considerations and urged them to continue along that path,” the UN spokesperson’s office noted.

“The delegation encouraged the interim head of State, Gen. Sekouba Konaté and the Prime Minister to be appointed to ensure full implementation of the accord in line with the expectations of the people of Guinea.”

Q+A: Has Obama’s offer to engage yielded any results?
Ross Colvin and Caren Bohan/Reuters/19012010

WASHINGTON
Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:14am ESTWASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama spent his first year in office laying the foundation for a new, multilateral U.S. foreign policy.

While it is too early to talk of an “Obama Doctrine”, a signature aspect of his foreign policy has been his offer to extend a hand to U.S. foes like Iran and North Korea.

WHAT HAS THE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY YIELDED?

Obama made his most visible overtures toward Tehran, including sending a video message last year to mark the New Year celebration of Nowruz. But the administration has also tried to engage North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar and Syria.

The strategy has yet to yield breakthroughs but the administration believes it has achieved results, particularly on Iran where Washington is seeking international support for sanctions to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.

The White House says its offer to talk to Tehran created more international support to isolate Iran because the United States is no longer perceived as the problem.

IS OBAMA LIKELY TO CONTINUE TO SEEK ENGAGEMENT?

Administration officials say they remain open to dialogue, not only with Iran but also North Korea and other adversaries.

But the administration has said dialogue is not an end in itself but a means to urge these countries to live up their international obligations.

The focus this year could be more on pressure than dialogue with Iran, with a push for U.N. Security Council sanctions.

But Russia and China, both of which hold Security Council vetoes, have been lukewarm and appear likely to agree only to a watered-down measure.

Analysts say Washington may try to impose sanctions through a “coalition of the willing” that could include Arab states fearful of Iran’s regional ambitions.

DO STREET PROTESTS COMPLICATE EFFORTS TO ENGAGE IRAN?

The rise of a popular opposition movement after the June 12 disputed Iranian elections appears to have stiffened Iran’s leadership in its refusal to accept Obama’s offer of talks.

Some U.S. critics of Obama’s policy say even if Iran’s leaders were to agree, it would be unseemly for the United States to hold talks with a government that has launched a crackdown against its own people.

While not backing away from his offer of engagement, Obama has toughened his rhetoric, warning Iran to both cooperate on its nuclear program and respect “universal rights.”

WHERE DO THINGS STAND WITH NORTH KOREA?

Efforts to persuade North Korea to return to six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations are stuck in “talks about talks.” Analysts see few signs of progress, despite Obama dispatching an envoy to the reclusive state last December.

In contrast to Iran, Obama has made few public gestures to Pyongyang and has instead talked tough. Washington and its allies imposed fresh U.N. sanctions on North Korea after it conducted a nuclear test in May.

In recent weeks, North Korea has sent some conciliatory signals. Asked whether the United States was pursuing those gestures, a senior U.S. official said “we’re pursuing every avenue that we can” but Washington wants to see Pyongyang back up its words with actions.

HAS THERE BEEN ANY WARMING OF TIES WITH CUBA?

Obama promised to “recast” Washington’s relationship with Cold War foe Havana and took initial steps such as lifting restrictions on family visits and slightly softening a 47-year trade embargo on the island.

A friendlier atmosphere led the countries to resume migration talks in July and the Cuban government acknowledged a new attitude from the White House.

But Cuba has since accused the Obama administration of meddling in its affairs by supporting and funding dissident groups in the same way as previous U.S. governments.

The arrest of an American contractor in Havana last month and Cuba’s objection to being included in a U.S. list of “state sponsors of terrorism” have further raised tensions.

However, last week, the Cuban government agreed to let the U.S. military use its restricted air space for medical evacuation flights of Haitian earthquake victims, sharply reducing the flight time to Miami, the White House said.

Obama has made clear the long-standing U.S. economic embargo on Cuba will remain until the Cuban government implements Democratic reforms.

(Editing by Alan Elsner)

Haiti and the Dominican Republic: A Tale of Two Countries
www.time.com/By Alexandra Silver/ Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

The day after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, Christian televangelist Pat Robertson sparked outrage with his comments on The 700 Club that the nation’s history of catastrophes was due to a “pact to the Devil” its residents had made some 200 years ago. How else to explain why Haiti suffers, while the Dominican Republic — which shares the 30,000 sq. miles of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola — is relatively well-off? “That island of Hispaniola is one island,” Robertson said. “The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty.”

Robertson’s rationale is more than suspect, yet the differences between the two nations are undeniable. The UN ranks the Dominican Republic 90th out of 182 countries on its human development index, which combines a variety of welfare measurements; Haiti comes in at 149th. In the Dominican Republic, average life expectancy is nearly 74 years. In Haiti, it’s 61. You’re substantially more likely to be able to read and write if you live in the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, and less likely to live on under $1.25 a day.

Much of this difference is geographic. The mountains that lie across the island can cut off Haiti’s rainfall. The northeast trade winds, and so the rain, blow in the Dominican Republic’s favor. Haiti’s semiarid climate makes cultivation more challenging. Deforestation — a major problem in Haiti, but not in its neighbor — has only exacerbated the problem. Other differences are a result of Hispaniola’s long and often-violent history — even TIME called it a “forlorn, hate-filled little Caribbean island” in 1965. On the eastern part of Hispaniola, you’ll probably speak Spanish; in the west, it’s more likely to be French or Creole, a division that’s the result of centuries of European colonization and numerous power struggles. (Not to mention the decimation of Hispaniola’s indigenous Taino people — who, of course, spoke neither.)

When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, he named the land La Isla Española; it served as a Spanish colony and base for the empire’s further conquests, though was never particularly profitable. In 1697 the Spanish formally ceded the western third of it to the French, already present and more heavily invested. The Hispaniolan outposts of both empires imported African slaves, though the latter did so to a much greater extent. The colonies — Santo Domingo and Saint-Domingue, respectively —subsequently developed vastly different demographics. According to a study by the American Library of Congress, by the end of the 18th Century there were about 40,000 white landowners, 25,000 black or interracial freedmen, and 60,000 slaves in the Spanish colony, compared with approximately 30,000 whites, 27,000 freedmen, and at least 500,000 black slaves in its French counterpart.

As revolution raged in France in the 1790s, its colonial slaves in Hispaniola revolted; in 1804, they declared independence, and Haiti, which was named after the Taino word for “land of mountains,” became the world’s first sovereign b
lack republic. The Dominican Republic wasn’t established until 1844, after not just European rule but also 22 years of Haitian occupation. Strife between (as well as within) the neighbors, rooted in deep class, racial, and cultural differences, was constant. Interference by foreign powers was often the norm. The Spanish took back the Dominican Republic again in the early 1860s, and for periods during the twentieth century, the U.S. occupied both nations, supposedly to restore order but also, in the face of European threats, to assert its influence in the Western Hemisphere. Internal politics were characterized by multiple coups, revolts and dictators, the most infamous being Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and François and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Juan Bosch, the first democratically elected president of the Dominican Republic in 1962, was almost immediately overthrown after taking office in 1963. Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the first freely-elected president of Haiti, in 1990; he was ousted as well, returned and was ousted again.

But while both countries struggled with democracy, economically they began to diverge. Haiti had long been exploited, by foreign powers, neighbors and its own rulers. France not only milked its colony for coffee and sugar production, it also extracted an indemnity from Haiti: the young nation had to pay a burdensome sum to its former colonizer in order to achieve France’s diplomatic recognition. The lighter-skinned Dominicans looked down on the darker-skinned Haitians: in 1965, even as the D.R. was embroiled in civil war, Haitians were working in Dominican fields and not the other way around. And while Trujillo at least encouraged economic development in his country, Duvalier pere et fils essentially sold their own people as cheap sugar cane-cutters to the Dominican Republic.

Today, with a lack of resources and a much higher population density than its neighbor, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The UN has sent peacekeeping missions to maintain order there since the mid-1990s, but terrible conditions persist. Haiti’s dismal statistics have a long history; no Devil is necessary.

 



USA :

China’s Africa Play
Robert O’Brien: Facing the Prospect of an Africa Dominated by China
Jan. 19, 2010/ www.cbsnews.com

(CBS) Twenty years ago, China’s main concern in Africa was upending the diplomatic relations enjoyed by Taiwan with numerous Sub Saharan nations. Now its unprecedented drive to take the preeminent role in continent is being fuelled by China’s vast energy, mineral and food stuff requirements.

I just returned from a visit to South Africa. Earlier in the year I travelled to Rwanda and Kenya. One trend that is impossible to ignore in Sub Saharan Africa is the growing role China is taking in the continent’s affairs. Beijing is on the move in Africa — using aid, diplomacy, weapons sales and Chinese ex pats in a bid to become the preeminent power in the region.

The anecdotal evidence is everywhere. In Kigali, the big modern Chinese embassy bristles with communication antennas and dishes. Rwanda, with its paucity of natural resources, seems a surprising place for such an installation until you factor in the country’s role as the gateway to the Eastern Congo and its untold mineral wealth. It has been widely reported that China recently purchased half the farm land under cultivation in the Congo.

Roads in Nairobi, notorious for their clogged traffic circles, are being widened and repaved with large billboards telling Kenyans that the work is a gift from the people of China. The fact that the roads will ease congestion for Kenyan motorists is an afterthought to the benefactor which requires modern infrastructure to move African commodities to ports for shipment to China.

Rural South African towns that have been losing population for two decades are seeing an influx of Chinese restaurateurs and merchants. A parliamentary leader in one South African province told me he believes that many of the small businessmen who have fanned out across his remote farming and mining constituency have ties to Chinese intelligence. In neighboring Namibia, China established its first overseas military base to track its satellite and manned space flights.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Chinese companies are considering the purchase of interests in Nigerian oil companies, including the stakes currently held by major American companies.

China’s rapid inroads into Africa are made possible by a combination of Chinese money and a willingness by Beijing to deal with some of the world’s most unsavory leaders and human rights abusers like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir in the Sudan. The inattention of the West to this important development has made China’s strategic initiative that much easier.

The prospect of an Africa dominated by China means that progress in human rights and democracy in the region will stall and could be reversed. While propping up dictators may make doing business there easier, it will certainly ensure that corruption will continue to flourish and Africans will continue to be oppressed. Chinese money and weapons in the hands of those who have no problem using them to steal, stifle dissent and subjugate minority tribes is a bad thing.

The United States and the West also require fair access to the vital energy supplies and strategic minerals in Africa. American policy makers have already identified West African oil reserves as a resource that can lesson our dependence on volatile Middle Eastern and Venezuelan markets. Undue Chinese political and economic influence on the continent could deny America access to these critical sources of supply in the future.

America is in a unique position to promote free men and free markets in Africa. The United States can compete with China diplomatically and commercially in the region. The United States does not carry baggage from a colonial past as do European countries. Sub Saharan Africa is a place where America remains truly popular. President Bush’s HIV/AIDS imitative was very well received. The Millennium Development Corporation is better known there than here. The United States is lead by a President of African descent, widely admired on the continent, and American pop culture rules in Africa.

To stem the Chinese tide and to give Africans the opportunity to have a better future, the United States must strongly advocate for human rights, democracy and freedom on the continent. We cannot be reticent to criticize African strongmen in forums such as the UN. The people of Africa are not looking for our apologies; they are looking for us to bolster them as they struggle against tyranny and corruption.

We should support those countries such as Botswana, Rwanda and South Africa that are committed democracies and nurture those such as Liberia that are making progress in the right direction with increased trade, investment and tourism. The budget of the Millennium Development Corporation can be increased and focused on Africa. America should remain at the forefront of funding HIV/AIDS, polio vaccination and anti-malaria programs on the continent. All of the foregoing programs have broad bipartisan support.

Further, the Africom HQ needs to move from Frankfurt to Africa. The HQ would immediately provide the host country with an economic boost. It would also allow us to work closely on the ground with the AU on peace keeping logistics and training. Having our HQ in the region will encourage friends and cause the foes of freedom to be nervous. It will also demonstrate our ability to project power in a way the Chinese still cannot.

An African renaissance requires democracy, transparency and respect for human rights. A free and transparent Africa will be a friendly place for the United States and a partner in trade and culture long into the future. An Africa dominated China is unlikely to be such a partner. The time for America to fully engage in Africa is now.

US Open fine a ‘good thing’: Serena
ROBERT GRANT /news.smh.com.au/AAP /January 19, 2010

Serena Williams has described her record fine for abusing a lineswoman at last year’s US Open as a “good” thing.

Williams said after winning her Australian Open first round match against Poland’s Urszula Radwanska, that she had responded by raising money for charity, including the devastated Caribbean nation of Haiti.

“I wrote an article about it. $92,000 is a lot of money to fine someone,” Williams said. “I always said what I did wasn’t right, but I turned that around and I’m actually raising $92,000 to educate ladies, women, also for my school in Africa.

“Also I’m giving some money to Haiti, as well, because of the recent things.

“I just think that the whole incident was a learning experience. And I actually think it was good that it happened, that I got fined. At the end of the day I’m raising money to help other people …”

However, she still believes the fine – and a two-year good behaviour bond – for abusing a lineswoman during her semi-final against Kim Clijsters, was extreme and sexist. She says had a man acted that way he would have escaped with a less severe punishment.

“We live in a world that still has men leading in a lot of things,” she said.

“In tennis I think we’ve been able to do really well with having fought so hard to get equal prize money. I think that’s really good.

“But I think we still sort of, say, live in a man’s world. I’m the first to say that I like men to be strong, to be leaders. I think that’s absolutely important. But I just think at the same time some incidents can bring you back to life and back into reality.”

Serena and sister Venus are conducting an on-line auction to raise the money for charity.

“You have the auction. You can go to my website to find more about it. I
‘m auctioning a dress I wore at the Olympics,” she said.

“Venus gave stuff. She was forced to. We’re getting so many cool people to donate stuff. The money is going to a great cause. I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t gotten fined.”

Williams said she was not affected by the suspended two-year ban hanging over her head.

“No, that hasn’t crossed my mind at all as if I yell too much, it would be a problem,” she said.

“I feel like I can always be myself. You know, I just do the best that I can. I’ll say, C’mon. I’ll get frustrated. I’ll still be human. I’ll still make mistakes. I’ll still learn from them.”

© 2010 AAP

Remembering Dr. King
Posted on: January 19, 2010/ by Josh Rosenau/scienceblogs.com

In his proclamation honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, President Obama reminds us of the value of service, and of the value of education. “Education can unlock a child’s potential and remains our strongest weapon against injustice and inequality,” the President writes.

Education was at the center of the civil rights movement, and equal access to education was a critical part of the fight to make African Americans truly equal. In his speech to the Vermont Baptist Church on Sunday, President Obama reflected on an early speech in King’s career, “The Challenge of a New Age,” in which King tried to see what would come after a Supreme Court decision abolishing segregated buses in Montgomery. Despite this victory, the President reminds us, “segregation was still rife; lynchings still a fact. Yes, the Supreme Court had ruled not only on the Montgomery buses, but also on Brown v. Board of Education. And yet that ruling was defied throughout the South – by schools and by states; they ignored it with impunity. And here in the nation’s capital, the federal government had yet to fully align itself with the laws on its books and the ideals of its founding.”

We still struggle to make that alignment. In Berkeley today, the school system is torn over lab time for science classes. The labs are not required for graduation, but are necessary for college admission, and white students are pushed into those college prep classes while African American students are not. The recently released Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 shows that minorities have on-time high school graduation rates 20 percentage points lower than whites. Given these disparities even in a wealthy and pro-science community, not to mention the ways science has been abused to justify racism or has simply adopted racism in its practice (cf.), it’s hardly remarkable that last year’s Pew poll on public attitudes toward science found an 11 point gap between whites and African Americans regarding whether they view science as positive. These attitudes hold African Americans back from being fully represented in the next generation of scientists, doctors, and engineers, and from bringing fresh perspectives to the sciences.

To address these problems, my Scibling Abel Pharmboy has dedicated his blog to the noble mission of increasing minority participation in science. Today, he highlights some of Rev. King’s remarks on science and its relationship to religion and to society. “Science investigates; religion interprets,” Dr. King said. “Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.” As Abel notes, King skipped past the idea of non-overlap between science and religion, preferring to consider the nature of their connection to debating whether it exists. In his talk on science and race at last weekend’s ScienceOnline ’10, Abel observed: “a great many of my science students, particularly of Hispanic/Latino or southern US African-American backgrounds, cite their religious beliefs as a primary motivator in pursuing a health sciences or pharmaceutical research career. Rather than religion being at odds with the scientific method, they feel that their faith fuels their desire to apply the scientific method in the name of relieving human suffering. The duality of religious beliefs and hypothesis-driven inquiry is certainly an intellectual challenge but one that I respect.”

Anyone wanting to improve their outreach to minority communities, to broaden the impact of science in society, has to take account of this phenomenon. The notion that pro-science means anti-religion is counterproductive to that goal. It takes people like those in Abel’s classes and forces a false dichotomy on them, driving potential advocates for science in underserved communities out of the fold. Dr. King didn’t have to make this choice, and neither do modern science students.

While pursuing this line of thought, I got curious to see what prominent “New Atheists” had said about Dr. King. He is, of course, a shining example of the way that a religious leader can improve society, and a pretty strong counterargument to the whole “religious moderates simply enable fundamentalism” claim. King’s struggle to block the extremism of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam is well-documented, and it’s hard to claim that his non-violent, ecumenical form of equal rights activism somehow enabled to segregationist neo-confederate guerrillas of the fundamentalist KKK (for instance).

Anyway, not much from Dawkins, which is fine since he’s a Brit and can be excused for not wading into American race relations. King is not listed in the index to Sam Harris’s The End of Faith and Google doesn’t help me find other comments by him on the topic.

I did find this absurd tripe from the predictably noxious Christopher Hitchens (in 2007):

Wiener: Of course, you are right that we have Pat Robertson and … Jerry Falwell, saying horrible things in the name of religion. … But we have also had Martin Luther King …. Why not conclude that religion can lead people to do good things as well as bad?

Hitchens: Let me start with a question: Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist? I don’t think so. I’ll take your case at its strongest—that would be Dr. King. Fortunately for us, he wasn’t really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child. Fortunately for us, he didn’t take that route.

This stinks of hypocrisy – of double standards, of revisionism, and of genuine pig ignorance. Hitchens, too, is a Brit, and so might be forgiven for not knowing the importance of Moses to the African American struggle for freedom, but he is not to be forgiven for forgetting the religious and cultural significance of Moses and the promise of freedom within both Judaism and Christianity. He is not to be forgiven for claiming that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who regularly turned to the Gospel for his inspiration, who turned his small Atlanta congregation into peaceful warriors for equality, and who turned the Lincoln Memorial into his pulpit, was not Christian. If there’s a bigger no true Scotsman fallacy to be attempted, I dare say we should notify Guinness before trying it. And Hitchens is hardly consistent in demanding that any good action attributed to King’s religion must be “a moral action… or a moral statement … that could not have been made by an atheist.” Atheists can and do back and take the moral statements and actions of religious authoritarians, but this is never admitted as evidence that religion isn’t the problem. All of a sudden, though, it is sufficient evidence not only to exclude actions King justified by overt reference to his religious beliefs from being considered as results of religion, but we are to believe that King wasn’t actually a Christian as a result. In short, I must conclude that the New Atheists have no reply to Martin Luther King, Jr., short of Dawkins’ entirely unremarkable observation in The God Delusion: “In America, the ideals of racial equality were fostered by political leaders of the calibre of Martin Luther King [sic] … Some of these leaders were religious; some were not. Some who were religious did their good deeds because they were religious. In other cases their religion was incidental. Although Martin Luther King [sic] was Christian, he derived his philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience from Gandhi, who was not.”

Even here, we have a problem. In introducing Dr. King for the speech on the Challenge of a New Age referred to by President O
bama, “Samuel Williams, one of King, Jr.’s mentors at Morehouse … remark[ed] of his former pupil that there is ‘some talk of his being a student of Mahatma Gandhi, and he is, but long before he heard of Mahatma Gandhi, through the preaching of his grandfather, the late Dr. A. D. Williams, and the preaching of his father, the quiet, dedicated life of his mother, he heard and learned of Jesus of Nazareth, whom he now follows in all that he does.'” Jesus, too, spoke of turning the other cheek, after all.

But rather than sink into the divisions of yesterday, let us remember King’s words about strife and conflict, from that same speech:

Those of us who live in the twentieth century are privileged to live in one of the most momentous periods of human history. It is an exciting age, filled with hope. It is an age in which a new world order is being born. We stand today between two worlds: the dying old and the emerging new. Now I am aware of the fact that there are those who would contend that we stand in the most ghastly period of human history. They would argue that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent from Africa, the uprisings in Asia, the confusion surrounding Suez, and the racial tensions of America are all indicative of the deep and tragic midnight which encompasses our civilization. They would argue that instead of going forward we are going backwards. We are retrogressing, they would say, instead of progressing. But far from representing retrogression and tragic meaninglessness, the present tensions represent the necessary pains that accompany the birth of anything new.…
I’m trying to get something very basic over to you. The world in which we live is geographically one. And now we must make it spiritually one. Through our scientific genius we have made of the world our neighborhood. Now through our moral and spiritual genius we must make of it a brotherhood.

This day is a good one to rededicate ourselves to that goal. The quest for equality, whether in science classes or healthcare coverage or the right to marry, is still a necessity, and King’s words are still a guide to the complexities of that struggle. We are still shaping the new age to come, and I would rather see it form into a loving brotherhood of all than the bitter and divisive world preached by Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson.

Make time, if at all possible, to volunteer through MLKday.gov, or Organizing for America, or Equality California, or your favorite group dedicated to social justice and equality for all.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


CANADA :

 

 

Nexen Presents at the 2010 CIBC Whistler Institutional Investor Conference
money.cnn.com/January 19, 2010

Nexen Inc. announces that Marvin Romanow, President and CEO, will present at the following investor conference:

CIBC Whistler Institutional Investor Conference – Whistler, British Columbia
Date: Friday January 22, 2010

Nexen Inc. is an independent, Canadian-based global energy company, listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges under the symbol NXY. We are uniquely positioned for growth in the North Sea, Western Canada (including the Athabasca oil sands of Alberta and unconventional gas resource plays such as shale gas), deep-water Gulf of Mexico, offshore West Africa and the Middle East. We add value for shareholders through successful full-cycle oil and gas exploration and development and leadership in ethics, integrity, governance and environmental protection.

Contacts:
Lavonne Zdunich
Manager, Investor Relations
(403) 699-5821
Robin Greschner
Analyst, Investor Relations
(403) 699-5231
Nexen Inc.
801 – 7th Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3P7
www.nexeninc.com

Flight Centre soars on guidance upgrade
January 19, 2010/news.smh.com.au/AAP

Flight Centre Ltd shares soared after the travel agency group announced a large upgrade to its earnings guidance amid signs that the battered sector globally was stabilising and stronger growth in Australia.

Investors took heart from the upgrade ahead of the reporting season from one of the hardest hit sectors in the downturn, with stocks like Flight Centre a barometer of the broader economy, analysts said.

Australia’s largest travel retailer on Tuesday revised upwards its 2009/10 pre-tax profit guidance by 33 per cent to between $160 million and $180 million, from prior guidance of between $125 million and $135 million.

Flight Centre’s shares surged after the announcement and closed up $1.30 or 7.34 per cent at $19.00, a level not seen since October 2008.

“The revised guidance represents 60 per cent to 80 per cent growth on the $99.8 million trading result achieved during 2008/09 and follows a stronger than expected first half,” Flight Centre said in a statement.

Managing director Graham Turner said trading conditions stabilised globally during the first half, particularly in Australia.

Mr Turner said pre-tax profit for the six months to December 31 was likely to be between $70 million and $74 million, a 13 per cent to 19 per cent improvement on the prior corresponding half.

“Assuming global trading conditions continue to gradually recover, we are well placed to record stronger profit growth during the second half, as results during the corresponding period of 2008/09 were heavily affected by the global financial crisis,” Mr Turner said in the statement.

Flight Centre had seen strong results in Australia, where ticket numbers were up 20 per cent, reasonable profit in the UK and profits in Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

Losses in the US were in line with expectations in the first half and results were traditionally stronger there in the second half, Mr Turner said.

Continued growth in cash reserves “should allow the company to restore its normal dividend policy, subject to the business’s anticipated needs”, the travel group said.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Craig Walker said Flight Centre’s upgraded guidance was “over and above market expectations”.

“A stock like Flight Centre is a fairly good indicator as to how the broader economy is going,” Mr Walker said.

“They’ve seen strong performances across all of their geographic divisions even in places like the UK where the financial crisis has been a bit more severe than what it is here.”

IG Markets research analyst Ben Potter said there was a lot for the market to like about the announcement.

“Not only is this the biggest upgrade we’ve seen so far this year, the accompanying narrative is very encouraging,” Mr Potter said in an email.

“It’s very encouraging to a see a positive earnings confession heading into the reporting season, especially given that the sector was one of the worst hit during the downturn,” he said.

Haitians beg to survive survival
More Marines as looters swarm
19/01/2010/www.arabtimesonline.com/ Agencies

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 18, (Agencies): Rescuers pulled dazed survivors from the ruins of Haiti’s flattened capital as thousands of US troops headed in Monday to shore up the beleaguered international relief effort.
Six days after the magnitude 7.0 quake, aid workers are still struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of homeless, injured and traumatized people desperate for food, water and medicine.
Violence has erupted as survivors fight for whatever they can find, while all around the stench of burning bodies clings to the air as tens of thousands of rotting corpses are hurriedly disposed of.
Officials fear the eventual death toll may top 200,000, and by Sunday some 70,000 had already been buried in mass graves.
International aid is trickling in but supplies remain scarce amid the enormity of a crisis the United Nations estimates affected three million people and left 300,000 homeless.
US President Barack Obama has mobilized military reserves and another 7,500 troops were to join 5,800 US forces already on the scene or in ships off Haiti.
“Time is still of the essence. We’re getting better, but there is still a lot of misery in Haiti,” said Rear Admiral Ted Branch, who commands the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson strike group.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon promised after visiting the disaster zone to speed up the aid effort.
“I am here to say we are with you. You are not alone,” he said after flying over the ruined capital Port-au-Prince in a helicopter.

But amidst the death and desperation were life-affirming tales of survival against all the odds.
A text message to the United Nations set in motion a relief operation that led to the rescue two days later of Maria, Ariel and Lamy after being buried for more than 100 hours under a collapsed supermarket.
“I’m seven,” Ariel shouted to rescuers seeking signs of life, adding that she was stuck next to a dead man but covered with supermarket food.
“It was electric when we saw the fruit of our labor, when that little girl came out,” said Joseph Fernandez, of a Florida search and rescue team.
Two Australian news crews dug by hand to rescue an 18-month-old baby lying alongside her dead parents.
“She did not cry,” reporter Robert Penfold told The Australian newspaper. “She looked astonished, almost as if she was seeing the world for the first time.”
At the UN’s building in Port-au-Prince, Jen Kristensen emerged from the debris, and there was fresh hope at a pancaked commercial building, where US Fire Captain Miguel Garcia said one woman was talking to them.

“She indicates that there’s more but we can’t hear them,” he said. “We’ve seen a hand, but they can’t get out from where they’re at.”
Elsewhere, residents abandoned the search for survivors and began torching the squalid ruins to stop the spread of disease.
Survivors besieged hospitals and makeshift clinics, some carrying the injured on their backs or on carts.
Hundreds of rioters ransacked Hyppolite market in the capital. Police armed with shotguns and assault rifles shot dead one rioter, an AFP photographer said.
The UN’s humanitarian relief coordinating body said hospitals on the Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti were “overwhelmed” with quake victims and running short of medicines, equipment and doctors.
It said the fuel shortage in Haiti was becoming “more and more critical”.
Emergency workers are expanding to battered communities outside of Port-au-Prince, including Gressier, Petit Goave, and Leogane which were all badly hit.
Even where aid is getting through, it is still not enough.

Looters
The United States was sending more troops on Monday to help protect a huge relief operation in Haiti from marauding looters as tens of thousands of earthquake survivors waited desperately for promised food and medical care.
Gangs of looters still prowled demolished streets of downtown Port-au-Prince filching goods from destroyed shops with little police presence, but some signs of normality returned as street sellers emerged with fruit and vegetables.
“We do not have the capacity to fix this situation. Haiti needs help … the Americans are welcome here. But where are they? We need them here on the street with us,” said policeman Dorsainvil Robenson, as he chased looters.
Some 2,200 Marines with heavy earth-moving equipment, medical aid and helicopters were arriving on Monday, said the US Southern Command, which aims to have 10,000 US troops in the area for the rescue operation.

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti since Tuesday’s quake killed as many as 200,000 people and left its capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins.
European Union institutions and member states have offered more than 400 million euros ($575.6 million) in emergency and longer-term assistance to Haiti, which even before the disaster was already the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere.
Aid workers struggled to get food and medical assistance to the survivors, many of them injured, hungry and thirsty and living in makeshift camps on streets strewn with debris and decomposing bodies.
“The situation is very tough on the ground, including for agencies and countries rushing to help. Minimal survival even for staff there is an issue,” the head of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, said in Geneva.

Nearly a week into the crisis, international aid was only just starting to get through to those in need, delayed by logistical logjams and security concerns.
Haitian President Rene Preval said on Sunday US troops will help UN peacekeepers keep order on Haiti’s increasingly lawless streets, where overstretched police and UN peacekeepers have been unable to provide full security.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the commander of the US military operation in Haiti, Lieutenant General Ken Keen said: “We are here principally for a humanitarian assistance operation, but security is a critical component. … We are going to have to address the situation, the security.”
In an indication of the sensitivity of US soldiers operating in a Caribbean state where they have intervened in the past, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused Washington of “occupying Haiti undercover.”
Canada will host a meeting of foreign ministers in Montreal on Jan 25 to look at Haiti’s needs, the Canadian government said.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, meanwhile, proposed that African nations offer Haitian survivors the chance to resettle in Africa “the land of their ancestors”.

Prayed
Despairing Haitians prayed in church ruins Sunday as rescuers raced against time to unearth quake survivors and the UN vowed to speed up desperately needed supplies of food, water and medicine.
The government said 70,000 bodies had been buried in mass graves since the 7.0 earthquake flattened much of the impoverished Caribbean nation on Jan 12, triggering a massive humanitarian crisis.
Officials fear the eventual death toll could top 200,000.
Survivors were besieging hospitals and makeshift clinics, some carrying the injured on their backs or on carts, and violence flared as police tried to stop looting in a city market.
The stench of burning bodies hung over slums clinging to a Haitian hillside as residents abandoned the search for survivors and torched the squalid ruins.
Lieutenant-General Ken Keen, who is running the vast US military relief operation, said 200,000 might be a possible “start point” for the final death toll, but that it was too early to know.
“Clearly, this is a disaster of epic proportions, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.
After hours of painstaking digging, a team from Florida unearthed a seven-year-old girl, a man aged 34 and a 50-year-old woman in the mangl
ed wreckage of a supermarket in the ravaged capital Port-au-Prince.
Australian news crews reported putting aside their day jobs to rescue an 18-month-old baby after hearing her cries from underneath the rubble in Port-au-Prince as she lay trapped next to the bodies of her dead parents.
“And then, out of the ruins came this little girl, and I will never forget it,” Nine Network reporter Robert Penfold told The Australian newspaper.
“She did not cry. She looked astonished, almost as if she was seeing the world for the first time.”
A Danish man was pulled unscathed from the flattened UN mission, but rescuers knew the likelihood of finding more survivors was waning with every hour.

“Today is the last day that I think we will be able to find survivors, mainly because of dehydration,” said Rami Peltz, a rescuer with an Israeli team.
The church bells lay silent Sunday over the ruined capital, but the faithful still gathered in large numbers to pray for solace in the darkest hour of this deeply religious nation.
“I want to send a message of hope because God is still with us even in the depths of this tragedy, and life is not over,” said Father Henry Marie Landasse as he held mass in the rubble of the main cathedral.
But with vital supplies of water and food still struggling to reach some of those most in need, many Haitians were close to despair.
“Life is really hard, we have nothing,” said 40-year-old Jean Osee, camped out with his family in front of the presidential palace in a makeshift slum of 50,000 wretched people.
“I don’t have much strength to feed him, I can’t look after him properly,” Osee’s daughter Louisoguine said, cradling her curly-haired baby.
Hundreds of rioters ransacked Hyppolite market in the heart of the capital. Police reinforcements descended on the market armed with shotguns and assault rifles and one rioter, a man in his 30s, was fatally shot in the head, an AFP photographer said.
In the few medical facilities that are still standing in the city, there is not only a shortage of medication, but also of staff.
“They are overwhelmed and bursting at the seams,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
The United Nations has estimated that the quake affected three million people — one third of Haiti’s population — and left 300,000 homeless.

Dead
Eleven Canadians died and 859 are missing in the earthquake that struck Haiti last week, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday.
The updated number of missing persons was less than previously announced. On Sunday, Canada was still searching for 1,115 people who had not been heard from since the devastating quake.
“It’s evident that as the hours pass, the probability of finding people safe and sound diminishes,” Cannon told a press conference.
So far, 1,433 Canadians had been found alive, and 947 of them have returned to Canada aboard military aircraft used to transport aid to Haiti, he said. Forty more were expected to arrive in Canada Monday.
Cannon said he has spoken with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, the UN peacekeeping chief Alain LeRoy, Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as his Brazilian and French counterparts, Celso Luiz Nunez Amorim and Bernard Kouchner, and top officials from six Latin American countries.
The Friends of Haiti group agreed to hold talks in Montreal on Jan 25 to lay the groundwork for a larger summit to discuss Haiti reconstruction, Cannon said.

A woman fell into a trance and collapsed onto the coffin as the burial of a Haitian hip-hop star was greeted with hysterical singing from his adoring entourage.
Evenson Francis, known to fans on the streets of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince as “Shacan Lord”, never escaped his recording studio when Tuesday’s earthquake hit, robbing Haiti of a bright young star.
Along with his group “Gasoline Clan”, the 31-year-old performer was regarded as a “pioneer of Haitian hip-hop,” explained his producer Roosevelt Francois.
In an astonishing act of homage given the sheer scale of the destruction in Haiti, his entourage held an extraordinary ceremony in Delmas Stadium where the hip-hop artist had enjoyed performing.
“We built him a coffin with planks of wood,” said Francois.
A song in French by his group and other close friends kicked off the Saturday night ceremony: “This is only a last goodbye that we are singing to you.”

 



AUSTRALIA :

ArcelorMittal, BHP discuss Africa iron ore JV
Tue Jan 19, 2010 /Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is in talks with miner BHP Billiton to combine their iron ore assets in Guinea and Liberia in a joint venture.

ArcelorMittal said in a statement on Tuesday that the companies’ iron ore interests were close to each other’s and could be significantly more competitive if brought together.

The two would assess the merits of a partnership in coordination with the governments involved in the coming months.

ArcelorMittal’s iron ore assets straddle the border between Guinea and Liberia. Its mining there is in the process of being revived since the end of the civil war in Liberia, but is not currently active. It expects first shipping in 2011.

Neither ArcelorMittal nor BHP, the world’s largest mining group, would specify the size of their deposits.

Rio Tinto and BHP — the world’s second and third biggest iron ore producers respectively — last month signed a $116 billion iron ore joint venture agreement to combine their Western Australian iron ore operations.

Brazil’s Vale is the world’s top iron ore miner.

ArcelorMittal has been pushing to increase its self-sufficiency in iron ore in recent years. The African venture would be its first combination of iron ore assets.

It said in the second half of last year that it planned to reinitiate some projects to capture growth in emerging markets and to continue to expand into mining.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


EUROPE :

 

 

SA to focus on trade as global crisis recedes
Published: 2010/01/19 /www.businessday.co.za

SA is likely to focus on stimulating targeted sectors of the economy and firming up trade relations with key partners in Africa, Europe and the east this year, as growing global trade flows are expected to reflect a world emerging from recession.

SA’s new industrial policy would be presented shortly to the Cabinet, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies confirmed on December 29. Key parts of the “high-impact” policy would include emphasis on local procurement for infrastructure projects undertaken by parastatals such as Eskom and Transnet.

The focus of stimuli would be the manufacturing sector, green industries and agro-processing.

The Soccer World Cup will benefit more than SA’s tourism sector. In a recent interview, Derek Carstens, Fifa World Cup organising committee chief marketing officer, said SA’s global investment appeal would improve as businesses and individuals demonstrated they had the skills to host a successful event. The economy would also benefit generally from the investment in infrastructure and injection of forex from visitors.

On the international trade front, continuing discussions around an economic partnership agreement (EPA) between the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) countries and the European Union (EU) are going to feature prominently. So far, SA, Angola (which is not a Sacu member) and Namibia have refused to sign an EPA but the other Sacu countries have signed an interim agreement. SA already has a trade and development co- operation agreement with the EU, but that could be revisited, if SA does not sign the EPA.

Davies told the Southern African Documentation and Co- operation Centre in Vienna last month that although some issues had been resolved through negotiation with the EU, others were outstanding, “and these are going to have to be resolved favourably to create the conditions for the three of us to want to sign. At the end of the day we will have to look and see what does the EPA look like once it is finally negotiated through, how will it look in comparison with the (trade and development co-operation agreement), is it worthwhile moving into the EPA?

“Those will be the kind of consideration(s) we need to make as SA.”

John Mare, a consultant on international public affairs, said it was likely SA would know its position on a trade agreement with the EU by midyear.

Negotiations with the EU had exposed the possibility of fractures within Sacu, but Mare said there could be a positive restructuring of the union as a result.

Currently, the bias in trade was against South African sales of processed agricultural goods to the EU, with EU imports to SA attracting zero tariffs but SA’s exports to the EU subject to a quota, and beyond that a heavy tariff. After the Copenhagen climate talks, when the EU pledged to help green industries in developing countries, it would have to accommodate growth of agriculture in Africa, Mare said.

Institute for Global Dialogue senior researcher Brendan Vickers said although the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) was due to launch its customs union this year — as a follow-up to the free-trade agreement of 2008 — it seemed unlikely to occur because the institutional requirements were not in place yet.

In April or May, another tripartite meeting of the CEs of the secretariats of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa , East African Community and Sadc will be held towards reaching a tripartite free-trade agreement.

The goal is a tariff-free, quota- free and exemption-free, free-trade area combining the existing members of the three organisations, and to have an agreement in place by June 2011.

Vickers said Davies’s emphasis in free-trade agreements was to move away from the classical approach of market access and lower tariffs towards facilitation of trade in goods and services through eliminating nontariff barriers.

SA also wanted to change the focus of Sacu away from mainly revenue sharing to achieving a common policy towards agriculture, competition, intellectual property rights and procurement.

A global breakthrough for SA, and other developing nations, this year would be progress on the long- running Doha negotiations, which are aimed at helping poor countries prosper through trade.

Washington’s Peterson Institute for International Economics has estimated a Doha agreement could raise world gross domestic product by 300-700bn a year.

In an interview with Reuters last week, India’s chief negotiator, DK Mittal , said key issues had still not been settled and it was too early to say whether the pact would be signed by the end of this year.

Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will have to agree on a formula for the deal by June this year in order to be in a position to sign an agreement by the end of the year, Mittal said . Vickers said a deal looked unlikely by the stated deadline, as the recent WTO meeting late last year focused on institutional and organisational issues, rather than Doha issues.

mathewsc@bdfm.co.za

EU, Iraq sign energy cooperation pact
www.hindustantimes.com/Indo-Asian News Service/January 19, 2010

Brussels,

The European Union (EU) and Iraq have signed an agreement to boost cooperation in the energy sector, Xinhua reported Monday.

The pact provides a political framework to strengthen energy cooperation between Iraq and the EU, the European Commission said in a statement Monday.

“Iraq represents a vital link for EU’s security of (energy) supply,” said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani in Baghdad.

The EU could help Iraq develop electricity network and tap its vast renewable resources, he added.

The document outlines cooperation in developing renewable energy, energy efficiency and an energy policy for Iraq, among others.

Iraq, with the world’s third largest proven oil reserves, is already an important supplier of oil and can become a key gas supplier for the Southern Corridor, Piebalgs said.

The Southern Corridor refers to pipelines that bring gas from the Caspian Sea and the Central Asian region to the EU with the Nabucco pipeline as the main part of the network.

The gas transit networks, including Nabucco and several other natural gas routes, were envisioned by the EU to achieve energy security by diversifying its energy supply and reducing dependence on Russia.

In recent years, the EU has significantly strengthened its relations with partners in the Middle East and North Africa to diversify its energy supply.

Expert urges EU to develop Nigeria’s infrastructure
234next.com/January 19, 2010

A consultant to the Common Investment Market of ECOWAS, Jonathan Aremu, has urged the European Union to show commitment in developing Nigeria’s infrastructure before the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is signed.

The EPA is a trade agreement being negotiated currently between West Africa and the EU to open up the West African market to products from Europe.

Mr. Aremu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that without developing the country’s infrastructure, concluding the EPA negotiations would not be possible in the near future.

 


 

 

 


CHINA :

China’s Africa Footprint: a Makeover for Algeria
China’s Africa footprint gives Algeria a makeover, though not without frictions
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU/ Associated Press Writer/ January 19, 2010

ALGIERS, Algeria
While still struggling with the aftermath of a decade-long Islamic insurgency, oil-rich yet impoverished Algeria is getting a makeover: a new airport, its first mall, its largest prison, 60,000 new homes, two luxury hotels and the longest continuous highway in Africa.

The power behind this runaway building spree is China.

Some 50 Chinese firms, largely state-controlled, have been awarded $20 billion in government construction contracts, or 10 percent of the massive investment plan promised by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a nation where jobs and housing are scarce and al-Qaida has struck roots.

Algiers, the tense and rundown capital, now has something relatively new to the Arab world: a Chinatown.

The Beijing government has been a supporter of Algeria since the 1960s, after it won independence from France, and today the 35,000 Chinese in the country are the biggest foreign population after the French.

Trade both ways soared to $4.5 billion last year, from just $200 million in 2001, according to Ling Jun, deputy head of the Chinese Embassy in Algiers. China, is now second only to France in exports to Algeria.

Algerian exports to China barely top $300 million because China is a latecomer to the North African nation’s biggest asset, the oil and gas under its portion of the Sahara Desert, which is dominated by U.S. firms. “But we’re very active for the prospecting of new fields,” Ling said.

And meanwhile, they’re earning a hefty chunk of Algeria’s oil money.

The China State Construction Engineering Corp., is building two-thirds of Algeria’s 1,200 kilometer (745 mile) east-west highway at breakneck speed and was on the verge of completing it this month after just three years, Ling says.

The Algerian story mirrors China’s inroads elsewhere in Africa, which are helped not just by its bulging coffers but by the fact that unlike some Western countries, China doesn’t make human rights and corruption-free procedures a condition for investment.
It has drawn heavy criticism from human rights groups accusing it of bypassing the arms embargo on the embattled Darfur region by trading weapons for oil with the Sudanese government. Elsewhere it is accused of failing to spread the jobs among local workers, and of mistreating those it hires.

Some feel the China’s African footprint has gotten too deep.

“Africa shouldn’t have eluded one form of neocolonialism to fall headfirst into Chinese neocolonialism,” Rene N’Guettia Kouassi, the head of the economic commission at the African Union, was quoted as saying in Jeune Afrique, the leading French-language weekly on the continent.

In Algeria too, that footprint has not been trouble-free.

Last summer Algiers saw its first anti-Chinese riot, apparently touched off when an Algerian got into a scuffle with a Chinese trader in the capital’s Chinese market over a parking space, and the confrontation took on Islamic overtones.

Residents and local media say the Chinese beat up at least one man, whereupon an Algerian mob looted Chinese shops and vandalized cars.

The Chinatown in Bab Ezzouar, a suburb of Algiers, is now heavily patrolled by police cars, and the Chinese continue to sell their wares — bed linen, sports shoes, European fashion knockoffs — imported direct from China. “Business is good around here, but it’s not as good as it used to be, because there are too many of us now,” said Qing Nei, a shopkeeper from Beijing who moved here two years ago and can haggle over prices in rudimentary Arabic and French.

Also last summer, anti-Chinese sentiment rose after Beijing repressed its Muslim minority in western China. Al-Qaida and its Algerian branch, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) threatened retaliation.

The Chinese Embassy issued warnings to its citizens and heightened security measures, although no specific violence has yet targeted China’s interests, Ling said.

In June an AQIM ambush killed at least 19 police officers escorting Chinese workers near the highway construction site. No Chinese were hurt, and Ling says the ambush appears to have been against the state, rather than the Chinese.

The Islamic violence today is scattered, sporadic, and nothing like the 1990s, when regular slaughters by rebels and government forces left up to 200,000 people dead. And despite the lingering al-Qaida threat, most Muslims in Algeria and elsewhere express no hostility to the Chinese as such.

“Islam accepts other religions, and we don’t mind that they come to build in our country,” said Abdeljabar Saad, an imam with strong ties to Islamists, who lives in area with many Chinese construction projects.

What Saad and others increasingly object to is that there is no trickle-down from China’s investment.

Chinese firms import everything from the largest cranes to refills for their water coolers. On construction sites, even the unskilled workers pushing wheelbarrows are usually Chinese, not Algerian.

Ling, at the embassy, said state firms now have the obligation to hire and train two Algerian workers for each employee they bring from China.

But the few Algerian laborers working for Chinese contractors have begun complaining about their conditions. Some of those working on the new highway’s construction site went on strike in late September, demanding overtime pay. Two months later, several newspapers reported they stormed and sealed the Chinese workers’ camp.

Another image problem is a persistent rumor that some Chinese workers are convicted criminals who got a plea bargain for agreeing to work abroad.

Tang, a chief engineer at a site near Algiers where several hundred homes are being built, denied the rumor as “pure fantasy.” Giving only one name because his management had not authorized him to be interviewed, he said every Chinese wishing to work for a state firm must show a clean police record.
He said his site employs 40 Chinese and 10 Algerians.

“Frankly,” he said, “the Chinese work better, and longer hours, without complaining.”

SABMiller Volumes Stop Falling on Latin America, China Strength
January 19, 2010/Bloomberg/By Andrew Cleary and Jeroen Molenaar

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — SABMiller Plc, the world’s second- biggest brewer, said beer volumes stopped falling in the third quarter as the economy improved in Colombia and sales growth continued in China and Africa.

Volumes, stripping out acquisitions and disposals, were unchanged in the quarter, the London-based company said in a statement today. That compared with a 1 percent decline in the first six months of the year, though missed the median estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg for a 1 percent increase. Volumes in Latin America, the company’s largest profit pool, rose 4 percent, helped by gains at the Bavaria unit in Colombia.

SABMiller’s beer sales fell at a slower pace than those of competitors during the recession due to its larger exposure to emerging markets such as China. SAB generates around 84 percent of earnings in developing markets, compared with 44 percent at global leader Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, according to UBS AG.

“We believe an inflection point is ahead for SABMiller as GDP growth in emerging markets should lead to a return of volume growth,” Jason DeRise, an analyst at UBS in London, said in a note. “Colombia’s economic conditions have begun to show signs of stabilising, which is clearly a positive sign.”

SABMiller rose 37 pence, or 2.1 percent, to 1,820 pence in London trading yesterday. The stock gained 57 percent last year.

European beer sales fell 2 percent in the quarter ending Dec. 31, slowing from a 6 percent d
ecline in the first half.

Sales at the MillerCoors unit, a joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing Co. in the U.S., dropped 3.6 percent.

UPDATE 2-SABMiller Q3 beer volumes flat, misses forecasts
Tue Jan 19, 2010/Reuters

* Q3 underlying beer volumes flat

Stocks | Global Markets

* Financial performance in line with expectations

(Adds further details)

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Brewing giant SABMiller (SAB.L) missed forecasts as it reported flat third-quarter worldwide underlying beer volumes on Tuesday as consumer demand was varied with some regions showing signs of recovery and others subdued.

The London-based brewer, which lost out to Heineken (HEIN.AS) in the race for Mexican brewer FEMSA Cerveza earlier this month, reported level volumes for its October-December 2009 quarter compared to analysts forecasts for a 1 percent rise.

This came after the group reported a 1 percent fall for its half-year to end-September 2009, as growth in China and other emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa helped to offset falls in Europe, North America and South Africa.

The world’s second-ranked brewer behind Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) which brews brands such as Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch added that its financial performance in the quarter was in line with its own expectations.

Underlying beer volumes for the first nine months of its financial year to end-December 2009 were off 1 percent.

SABMiller like other brewers has seen volumes hurt by the global downturn, but it is expecting falling commodity costs such as barley and the generally weaker dollar to help its earnings in its second-half to end-March.

SABMiller, which also brews Castle, Snow, and Pilsner Urquell beers, said beer volumes rose 4 percent in Latin America, grew 5 percent in Asia boosted by 6 percent growth in China and its Africa region was 7 percent ahead, while volumes were down 2 percent in Europe and off 4 percent in South Africa.

In the United States, where it formed the MillerCoors (TAP.N) joint venture in July 2008, sales to retailers were 3.6 percent down in the quarter with both key brands Miller Lite and Coors Light showing volumes declines.

The group, which earns nearly 90 percent of its profits from emerging markets like Colombia, Tanzania, Poland and China was giving a third-quarter trading update ahead of its full-year results on May 20. (Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Sharon Lindores)

Standard Chartered Bank makes strategic alliance with China Unionpay
19 January, 2010/today.gm

Standard Chartered Bank and China Unionpay (“CUP”) today announced a global ATM alliance. Standard Chartered’s global network will now provide ATM services to China Unionpay cardholders in 20 different countries and territories worldwide. Across Africa, this new service is now currently available in Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Uganda and Botswana; and will be rolled out in other African markets later in 2010.

China Unionpay cardholders will now be able to withdraw cash and perform account inquiries at over 2,000 Standard Chartered Bank ATMs across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Commenting on this latest alliance, Musa Jallow Head of Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Gambia said: “We are very excited about our partnership with China Unionpay and the greatly enhanced service and convenience it offers to both Standard Chartered customers and China Unionpay cardholders worldwide.”

This latest deal by Standard Chartered is yet another demonstration of the importance the Bank is affixing to the growing Africa-China trade corridor. The Bank remains bullish on the long-term growth of Chinese trade and investment in Africa; with the trade corridor worth over $80billion in 2009.

Standard Chartered’s strategic cooperation with China Unionpay will provide enhanced payment convenience to all China Unionpay cardholders traveling in Africa.

Cardholders will be able to withdraw cash in the local currency of the country that they are currently in, with the amount debited to their Chinese Renminbi account, using a very competitive exchange rate.

In recent years, the number of outbound Chinese tourists traveling to Africa and elsewhere has been increasing commensurate with the growth of China’s international economic and trading relationships with the rest of the world.

In 2008, outbound tourist numbers exceeded 45 million, an increase of nearly 12% on 2007.

Further commenting on the growth of the Africa-China trade corridor, Humphrey Mukwereza CEO Standard Chartered Gambia, added: “We see the China- Africa relationship as a mutually-beneficial economic partnership.

The Bank has deep, local knowledge of Africa, The Gambia and China, and will continue to provide the necessary financial tools to Chinese companies doing business in Africa assisting sustainable economic development in both regions. Our recent alliance with China Unionpay is an important part of this strategy.”

US-POLITICS Summary
Reuters /Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts votes in crucial election for Obama

BOSTON (Reuters) – Massachusetts voters head to the polls on Tuesday in a cliffhanger election for a new senator that could derail Democrats’ dominance in Washington and scuttle their top priority of sweeping healthcare reform. What looked likely to be a Democratic shoo-in to replace late party icon Edward Kennedy has instead turned into a too-close-to-call race with a last-minute rally by a Republican, State Senator Scott Brown, a relative unknown just weeks ago.

Obama State of Union set for Jan 27, budget Feb 1

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address on January 27 and his budget plan on February 1, setting the tone for a second year in office marked by a long list of economic and foreign policy challenges. In a televised speech to the American public, Obama will have a chance to outline his policy priorities, from combating double-digit unemployment to overhauling healthcare, and try to boost his sagging job approval rating.

Japan, U.S. vow to expand ties despite base feud

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan and the United States reaffirmed their five-decade security alliance on Tuesday, vowing to expand ties into new areas even as they squabble over the relocation of a U.S. Marine base. They will work with China and also jointly deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers said in a statement to mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.

U.S. poll: fewer see Obama advancing racial ties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fewer Americans believe the presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the White House, has helped advance race relations compared with a year ago, a Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests. The poll, published on the U.S. holiday commemorating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., found 41 percent now say Obama’s presidency has helped race relations, compared with 58 percent on the eve of Obama’s inauguration a year ago who said his presidency would help race relations.

Clinton, Bush join forces for Haiti quake relief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joined forces on Sunday to exhort Americans to give to Haitian earthquake relief, setting aside political differences for an extraordinary show of unity. Clinton and Bush, both 63, fanned out on major U.S. television networks to broadcast their message, a day after joining President Barack Obama at the White House to announce their combined fund-raising effort.

Bill Clinton to visit Haiti on Monday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Sunday he will travel to Haiti on Monday, his first visit since a powerful earthquake devastated the country, to meet with government officials and the international community. “As U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, I feel a deep obligation to the Haitian people to visit the country and meet with President (Rene) Preval to ensure our response continues to be coordinated and effective,” Clinton said in a statement, adding that he would also deliver much-needed emergency supplies.

Congress makes job creation top 2010 priority

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the U.S. Congress begin 2010 scrambling to reduce the double-digit U.S. jobless rate, knowing their own jobs will be at stake in the November election if they fail to deliver. With about one in 10 Americans out of work, the highest percentage in 25 years, President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats — who control the Senate and House of Representatives — are making job creation their top priority.

House panel asks Paulson to testify in AIG probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A House panel slated to look into the collapse and bailout of insurer American International Group has widened its probe, adding former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to its list of invited witnesses. Paulson, who was asked on Friday to testify, would join his successor, Timothy Geithner, in explaining the roles they played in not disclosing payments AIG made to bank counterparties after receiving a taxpayer bailout.

Gates looks to bolster ties in India, eyes on Pakistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaves for India on Monday seeking to strengthen military ties with the rising Asian giant, even as Washington focuses on rival Pakistan as a top foreign policy priority. The January 19-21 visit includes talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has sought U.S. help getting Islamabad to crack down on Islamic extremists blamed for the attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

Iran says its “nuclear rights” must be recognized

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Major powers will only achieve results in their meetings on Iran if they adopt a “realistic approach” and recognize its nuclear rights, the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday. Ramin Mehmanparast made the comment a day after the six powers met to discuss prospects of further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, with participants saying China made clear it opposed more punitive action at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


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UPDATE: SABMiller 3Q Lager Volume Flat, Soft Drinks Up 2%
By Vladimir Guevarra / online.wsj.com/JANUARY 19, 2010

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
LONDON (Dow Jones)–Brewer SABMiller PLC (SAB.LN) said Tuesday that third-quarter lager volumes were unchanged, but soft drink volumes were up 2% from the same period last year as the slight recovery seen in some of its markets was offset by subdued markets elsewhere.

On a nine-month basis, the world’s second-biggest brewer by volume after Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV (ABI.BT) said lager volumes were 1% lower than in the same period last year.

“Consumer demand during the quarter varied across our markets, with some showing tentative signs of recovery, whilst in others demand remained subdued,” the company said in a statement.

The London-based company–which counts Grolsch, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Castle Lager and Pilsner Urquell among its brands–said in November its outlook was starting to improve, after a difficult first half.

Shore Capital analyst Andy Blain said the third quarter update was “slightly disappointing” because lager volumes lagged expectations of a 1% increase.

Blain said the “key concern” is in two of its major markets–the U.S. and South Africa which have seen falls in sales volume. He said SABMiller’s presence in emerging markets positions it for long-term growth, but that is already priced in its valuation. Blain kept his sell rating on the stock.

At 0852 GMT, SABMiller shares were down 3.2% at 1,762 pence while the FTSE100 index was down 0.55%.

MillerCoors’ U.S. third quarter domestic sales were down 3.6% against the prior year “amidst a challenging industry and economic environment,” the company said.

In South Africa, lager volumes fell 4% in the quarter “as the country continued to experience a softening of consumer demand.”

In Latin America, SABMiller’s lager volumes grew by 4% in the third quarter, with Colombia in particular growing 6%, due in part to good weather and higher spending from customers.

In Europe, third-quarter lager volumes declined 2%. In Romania, lager volumes fell 18% compared with a strong prior-year growth of 11%.

In Africa, lager and soft drink volumes rose 7%. Mozambique, for example, saw lager volumes rise 11%, aided by a resilient economy and strong growth in the northern region which was supported by a new brewery in Nampula.

Across Asia, lager volumes grew 5% even though China’s growth slowed to 6% with heavy snow and wet weather suppressing demand across the country. Volumes in India were down 7% following an increase in excise charges.

SABMiller reports its results in dollars, but a significant part of its earnings come from emerging economies.

Adverse currency exchange rates in the first half turned into a benefit in the second half, largely due to the recent strengthening of the South African rand and the Colombian peso.

SABMiller was widely tipped to buy Mexico’s second-largest brewer, Femsa Cerveza (FMX) recently, only to lose out to Dutch rival Heineken Holdings NV (HEIO.AE) which paid $7.6 billion for it earlier this month.

SAB’s shares have recovered strongly in the last year, gaining 70% as the market priced in strong future growth from emerging markets and further cost savings.

SABMiller began a four-year program to reduce costs and simplify its business last year. Finance, human resources and procurement will be streamlined globally, it said, with some functions outsourced. The program is costing $370 million in the first year, with costs lowering 40% each year until 2013. By 2014, the company expects to be saving $300 million each year.

-By Vladimir Guevarra and Michael Carolan, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0) 2078429486, vladimir.guevarra@dowjones.com

There goes the sun!
janvier 19, 2010 /beta.thehindu.com

Over millennia, humans have woven myths, legends, and superstitions around solar eclipses. But this phenomenon occurs only because the moon is just the right size and far enough from earth to block out the sun when all three bodies are appropriately aligned. All solar eclipses are, however, not the same. Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical, not circular, its distance from earth varies, apparently changing its size in the sky. So while people in northern India witnessed a total solar eclipse in July 2009, this time it was an annular eclipse. The moon did not cover the entire disc of the sun and it did not get as dark as during a total solar eclipse. In India, the eclipse could be seen by people in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. An annular eclipse was last seen from this country in November 1965. If the plane of the moon’s orbit were not slightly tilted, solar eclipses would be occurring at every new moon. There are, in fact, between two and five solar eclipses in any given year but these are visible from different parts of the globe.

But that was not good enough for scientists. In 1715, the British astronomer Edmond Halley published the first prediction of the path of a total eclipse. Since then, scientists have been travelling to the far corners of the world, telescopes and other equipment in tow, to take advantage of the natural phenomenon. Their work has resulted in some major advances. In August 1868, the French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen camped in tobacco fields in Guntur in coastal Andhra Pradesh to make his observations. His work led to the discovery of an entirely new element, helium, which derives its name from the Greek word for the sun. Data from a 1919 eclipse validated a prediction of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that the sun would bend the light from stars. A total solar eclipse remains a major opportunity for studying the sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere that is ordinarily not visible. Such investigations are not possible during an annular eclipse. The Indian Space Research Organisation is, however, using sounding rockets fired from Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram and Sriharikota as well as balloons and ground-based equipment to look at changes that could occur high up in the atmosphere during the eclipse. Most important of all, the eclipse is a rare opportunity for millions of people to behold a grand spectacle and learn some science in the process.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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EN BREF, CE 19 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,19/01/2010

 

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