BURUNDI – AFRICA / INTERNATIONAL : 22 JANVIER 2010 [Al-Shabab threatens to attack Kenya]

{jcomments on}OMAR, AGNEWS, BXL, le 22 janvier 2010 – www.presstv.ir – January 22, 2010–The leader of al-Shabab fighters in Somalia has threatened to attack Kenya following a crackdown on Somali nationals in Nairobi.

RWANDA

Sarkozy to visit Rwanda as France relations improve
Friday, 22 January 2010/news.bbc.co.uk

Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Rwanda next month to pay the first visit by a French president to Kigali since the 1994 genocide, Rwandan officials say.

Rwanda’s foreign ministry made the announcement after the new French ambassador presented his credentials.

The states severed ties in 2006 after a French judge said President Paul Kagame helped spark the genocide, while Rwanda accused France of arming Hutu militias.

In just 100 days, some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.

‘Common history’

Rwanda and France agreed to restore relations in November, three years after investigative judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere accused nine Tutsi officials of being behind the murder of President Juvenal Habyaremana.

The shooting down of his plane on 6 April 1994 triggered the mass killings of minority Tutsis by extremist Hutu militias.

The Tutsi-led government of Mr Kagame had already accused France of backing and arming groups held responsible.

Earlier this month, a Rwandan government enquiry concluded that Hutu extremists within Habyaremana’s own inner circle had planned his assassination months beforehand and that France was not involved.

However, it noted that French military officials stationed in Rwanda as part of a military agreement with the government had access to the plane wreckage.

The enquiry said French officials had disappeared with the aircraft’s flight recorder and debris from the missiles fired at it.

During a recent visit by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Kigali, his Rwandan counterpart said the two countries had to move forward together.

“We have a common history. We have had difficulties. We are ready to discuss them and move on,” Louise Mushikiwabo said.

The resumption of ties came on the same weekend as Rwanda was admitted to the Commonwealth, an association of mainly former British colonies.

In 2008, the government decided all education would be taught in English instead of French.  

 

 


UGANDA

Uganda May Receive $400 Million in Taxes From Heritage Sale
By Fred Ojambo/Bloomberg/Jan. 22

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) — Uganda may receive as much as $400 million in capital gains tax from Heritage Oil Plc’s sale of its assets in the country, Energy Minister Hillary Onek said.

The east African country would receive this amount if the finance ministry sets the capital gains tax at 30 percent, he told reporters yesterday in the capital, Kampala. Uganda’s government yesterday approved Eni SpA’s agreed $1.5 billion offer for assets owned by Heritage, dismissing a last-minute attempt by Tullow Oil Plc to block the sale.

And What Did We Learn From Today’s Congressional Hearings on Uganda?
www.queerty.com/22012010

While the president is opening his mail to find letters signed by a slew of lawmakers denouncing Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, some of those 90 congressmen and women today heard testimony from activists, State Department officials, and even a Ugandan who flew in to tell his story of personal victimization.
At the congressional hearing today hosted by the nonpartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and chaired by Rep. Tammy Baldwin, officials heard from the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary Karl Wycoff, “that the Bill not only constitutes serious threats to human rights in Uganda and the international reputation of country, but also compromises Aids work,” relays UK Gay News. Christine Lubinski, speaking on behalf of of the HIV Medicine Association at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told officials “Silence equals death. We have a responsibility to ensure billions of USPEPFAR money is reaching those in need.”

And then there was Julius Kaggwa, of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, who flew in from Uganda to share how he was among the “personal victim[s]” of assault in the country’s crackdown on gays. “All in Uganda are affected.”

It must have been somewhat reassuring, then, to have Rep. James McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat (who was arrested in D.C. in 2006 outside the Sudanese embassy for protesting the Darfur genocide), declare that “Congress stands behind Mr. Kaggwa” and that he would be “watching for his security very closely.”

Us, too. 


TANZANIA:

 

Pirate pair fear death within days
By John Kelly/www.mirror.co.uk/ 22/01/2010

RANSOM

A brit taken hostage with his wife by Somali pirates three months ago said yesterday he feared they could be killed in “three or four days”.

Paul Chandler, 59, and 55-year-old Rachel were kidnapped while sailing from the Seychelles to Tanzania.

The retired quantity surveyor revealed he was now separated from his wife.

In their last phone conversation 12 days ago she said she was “being tormented all the time and giving up”.

In a TV interview Mr Chandler, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said they were being held like “animals”. He added: “They whipped us and beat Rachel with rifle butts. They set a deadline of three or four days.

“If they don’t hear then they say they’ll let us die.”

The pirates, who are said to be moving the couple around Somalia, lowered their ransom by more than £2million to £1.9million earlier this month.

The Foreign Office said they are “doing everything we can to help secure a release”. 

 

 


CONGO RDC :

 

Death sentence in DR Congo prisons
By Rhodri Davies and Claude Mahoudeau / english.aljazeera.net/Friday, January 22, 2010

For 540 people held in Bunia jail in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the ongoing conflict and disaster in the region is both distant and immediate.

While the fighting that has precipitated a humanitarian crisis remains outside its dominating concrete walls, it has also prevented food from reaching those inside the prison, causing starvation.

At least 17 prisoners of Bunia jail in the Ituri district died in the two months before the intervention of aid organisations in early December.

“[Their] arrival got us out of serious problems,” Adrien Mamoudi, the assistant director of the prison, said.

Medicins San Frontiers (MSF) and the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) have provided emergency medical care and food supplies, but sanitary and medical conditions remain dreadful in the dilapidated jail.

No trial

The prison was closed while the DRC suffered one of the world’s deadliest conflicts since the second world war as the remnants of Rwanda’s civil war spilled over into the country – then called Zaire – in the mid-1990s.

Bunia jail reopened in 2004, a year after peace accords were signed. Yet, fighting has continued in the east where Hutu forces loyal to Laurent Nkunda gained control of gold and tin mining regions and routed government forces in 2008.

The inmates – including about 30 women and 20 adolescents – have only recently been able to get access to clean water provided by the ICRC.

“It’s hard work,” Jean-Pierre Tika, a nurse who has been working at the prison for more than a year, said.

“There are many patients with many different kinds of infections. We lack the resources, we don’t have a lot of medicines and I can’t refer those with urgent needs to the main hospital. There are too many escapes.”

Conditions fail to discriminate between those convicted of crimes and, according to Mamoudi, the approximate two thirds of inmates who have been charged but not yet received a trial.

‘Life is constrained’

“We are a post-conflict country … Life is constrained. I don’t think that prisons or penitentiary systems come way outside of all these restrictions,” Lambert Mende, the communications minister, said.

“We are working very slowly due to lack of public income … It is a priority among other priorities.”

Mande said embezzlement of funds, rather than inadequate resources, had led to food not reaching inmates. Culprits had been arrested, he said, while acknowledging two or three cases of deaths.

Security takes only a small portion of the country’s total budget of about $6bn and prison and judicial facilities have been looted and destroyed during the conflict.

Sarah Bailey, a research officer for the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute who has DRC expertise, said that “woefully inadequate” government services at large mean that it is “sadly unsurprising that prisoners are often left to fend for themselves for many basic needs”.

MSF initially supplied therapeutic food to ease the suffering. Now their two tents are providing medical, nutritional and logistical activities scheduled for the next three months, with the ICRC supporting daily meal provisions.

Little more can be expected in such a fragmented land. Here the UN’s largest peacekeeping force of 18,000 soldiers is trying to support the military in a conflict in which 500,000 people have been displaced, with claims of murders and rape by opposition forces and the military over the past two years.

Overcrowding

Claude Wakungo, an MSF nurse, works from one tent where patients come to be registered, have their weight and temperature taken and undergo simple consultations. If prisoners are suffering seriously or require testing, they visit a doctor and nurse in the second tent.

Since the aid groups’ intervention there have been no additional deaths.

However, prisoners continue to live in extremely cramped conditions, with the jail holding five times more than its 100 inmate capacity.

People crowd in tiny rooms while motionless men line the edge of the prison’s courtyard, backed up against latrines that have an overwhelming smell of excrement.

“We gave out gloves and safety equipment to prisoners so they could empty the pits [latrines],” Geoffrey Santini, an MSF logistician, said.

“Before, they had to do it with their bare hands.”

In one windowless cell 108 men lay packed side-by-side on threadbare mats on the ground, dozing in the dank surroundings. Plastic bags hanging above their heads carrying each person’s belongings are the only spots of colour. The odour of sweat and other bodily fluids is inescapable.

One man lies separately, shivering with a fever. Another complains of acute diarrhoea.

Violent crime

Some of those who have been sentenced have committed rape and violent crimes. Here they are mixed with petty criminals and adolescents.

About 140 inmates are soldiers who are still receiving a wage. They can therefore afford food, but before food supplies arrived those who survived did so on the kindness of relatives living close enough to help.

Mamoudi hopes that more government assistance will be forthcoming with aid organisations bringing to light the prison conditions.

Once dependable food, medicine and water supplies, and functioning latrines are in place, reconstruction of the prison is needed and a separation of adolescents from adults.

Bailey calls the combination of rebels and soldiers held among other inmates, and the “alarmingly high” levels of sexual violence in the DRC, a “very volatile situation”.

She cites a mutiny in Goma prison, in the east, in 2009, where rioting prisoners got a hold of weapons, easily smuggled into penitentiaries, killed a guard and raped female prisoners.

In the long-term, however, the country’s judiciary must be able to cope with the volume of cases, while petty criminals and those accused of more serious crimes need to be separated.

Parliamentary review

Mende said the government was making progress in establishing a judicial system. It has located magistrates and, although he acknowledged that overcrowding remains, he said 36 people from Bunia jail have been tried.

Mende added that the new judicial system is under review in parliament and will be in place “before March”.

“After two or three months we will deal with all these people who are awaiting their trials.”

Belgium, the EU and the UK have provided assistance recently, and Bailey says prison conditions have received increased non-governmental and government attention of late.

“But achieving real results will require substantially improving the justice system as a whole so that people receive fair and timely trials, rather than only focusing on the prisons,” she said.

“It is widely acknowledged that the government has a long road ahead to bring some measure of peace and governance to the country, and the most crucial element is reforming its security sector.”

Meanwhile, policemen enter the prison intermittently to keep some order, leaving their guns outside lest they be stolen.

Source: Al Jazeera  

 

 


KENYA :

Kenya: Confusion Over Whereabouts of Radical Cleric
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Published: January 22, 2010

Government officials made contradictory statements on Thursday about whether a radical Muslim cleric had left the country. Kenyan authorities had detained the Jamaican-born cleric, Abdullah al-Faisal, who served four years in a British jail for inciting murder and stirring racial hatred, and were trying to deport him. In response to a lawsuit, the High Court ordered the government to produce Mr. Faisal in court on Thursday and state its reasons for holding him. A document filed by prosecutors said Mr. Faisal was trying to recruit Kenyan youths to fight for Al Shabab, an Islamist insurgency in Somalia. But at the hearing, a prosecutor said Mr. Faisal had left the country. An official confirmed that he was on a plane that was scheduled to refuel in Moscow before going on to Jamaica. But hours later, Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said that Mr. Faisal was still in the country.

Al-Shabab threatens to attack Kenya
Fri, 22 Jan 2010 /www.presstv.ir

The leader of al-Shabab fighters in Somalia has threatened to attack Kenya following a crackdown on Somali nationals in Nairobi.

In a recording posted on the internet on Thursday, Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr, threatened the Kenyan government that the fighters will enter Kenya.

“We hit until we kill. We have the weapons,” he said, Reuters reported.

Anger has been rising in Somalia since last week, when hundreds of Somali nationals were detained after a violent protest in Nairobi over the detention of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal in Britain.

Al-Shabab fighters’ threats to attack Kenya is not a new phenomenon; however, this time they said that “we will not retreat.”

Al-Shabab fighters are the military off-shoot of the Council of Islamic Courts. They have been fighting the Somali government troops and African Union peacekeepers in and around the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Council of Islamic Courts came to power in 2006 after defeating Somali warlords. It was, however, removed from power in 2007 through an Ethiopian invasion, which was aided by the United States.

FTP/MMN 

 

 



ANGOLA :

Angola President Dos Santos Reneged on Promise, Says an Analyst
A political analyst says Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos reneged on a promise to hold direct elections following parliament’s approval of a new constitution that allows a president to be chosen as the leader of the party with the most votes in parliament.
Peter Clottey/ www1.voanews.com/22 January 2010

| Washington, DC
A political analyst says Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos reneged on a promise to hold direct elections following parliament’s approval of a new constitution that allows a president to be chosen as the leader of the party with the most votes in parliament.

Andre Thomashausen, a professor at the University of South Africa said the ruling party with its overwhelming majority in parliament should have accommodated the concerns of the main opposition UNITA party before approving the new constitution.

“The fact that the opposition boycotted the vote says a lot because that is a very drastic thing to do for an opposition party to walk out. And it is a pity that the majority party, the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) although they have such a large majority, but they didn’t try and accommodate the concerns and the wishes of the opposition. So, the start for this is not very nice,” he said.

Angola’s media quoted Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, president of the parliament as hailing the new constitution, saying “This is a historic moment…(after) parliament adopted the new constitution of the Republic of Angola.”

However, President Dos Santos and the Constitutional Court would have to approve the new constitution before it comes into effect.

Political observers say the new constitution will further consolidate more power in the hands of President Dos Santos.

Thomashausen said President Dos Santos and his ruling MPLA did not live up to their promise.

“In 2008, there was a firm promise that once a new parliament is constituted, once a new constitution has been passed then the president would finally put himself for direct election. The promise has now been breached because the president in future would simply be the first name appearing on the party list. And to understand that one must know that in Angola, you don’t elect individual representatives,” Thomashausen said.

The ruling MPLA won an overwhelming 82 percent of the 2008 vote giving a majority in Angola’s parliament.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been the leader of Angola since 1979. 

 

 


SOUTH AFRICA:

S.Africa rand gains vs dlr, stock futures down
Fri Jan 22, 2010/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand gained against the dollar on Friday, rebounding after hitting a fresh four-week low, while stock futures pointed to a weak start on the bourse amid a global equity slide.

The rand was at 7.56 against the dollar at 0634 GMT, 0.6 percent stronger than its previous close of 7.6050 in New York. It fell to 7.62 earlier in the session, its weakest level since December 23 on Reuters data.

A Johannesburg-based trader attributed the rand’s gain to dollar weakness against the euro.

The euro pulled up from a six-month low of 1.4029 against the dollar, after heavy losses earlier this week.

Despite starting the session on a firmer footing, the rand is expected to be choppy.

“I think the rand will be a little bit nervous today given the state of the equity markets and I think the range will be 7.48 to 7.65,” said David Gracey, head of trading at Nedbank.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday and Asian markets followed suit on Friday as a White House proposal for tough new restrictions on banks sparked a move away from riskier assets.

The local bourse looked set to keep the trend, with the JSE’s blue-chip Top-40 March futures contract 1.3 lower ahead of the start of trade at 0700 GMT.

South Africa government bonds gained in line with the rand, with yields on the 2015 bond dipping 2 basis points to 8.515 percent, while the 2036 bond yield fell 2 basis points to 9.09 percent.

Market players are already looking to next week’s slew of data, especially the central bank’s interest rate decision on Tuesday.

The central bank left the repo rate flat at 7.0 percent at its last three meetings after cutting interest rates by 500 basis points between December 2008 and August 2009.

Nersa’s Gauteng hearings – Day One: the people have spoken
www.thedailymaverick.co.za/2010-01-22

The National Energy Regulator’s hearings are odd. Everyone takes them very seriously. Shame it is just plain useless.
The Nersa people are all there, in their best regulator attire. The dark suit and tie, the slightly forced smile firmly in place, the jumping on any chance to make a brief witticism. Every submission is taken seriously, everyone gets to be asked questions, even if they’re clearly beyond the regulatory and economic pale. It’s good. It’s democracy in action. It makes everyone feel listened to and appreciated.

Of course, most people know by now that the hearings are simply not how things are done in South Africa. Things work differently here. Or at least that is the claim. Luthuli House will make the final decision. Add to that this week’s admission that the ANC still has a stake in a company that will benefit directly and enormously from Eskom’s build programme, and you have a fertile brew for cynicism.

But because we’re optimists here at The Daily Maverick, we thought it important to give you the brief highlights of Day One of Nersa’s Gauteng hearings. They’ve been around elsewhere in the country, but this is where most of the important business will be done.

First up, of course, Eskom’s chairman and CEO, Mpho Makwana. He’s done this speech 10 times now. First to journalists when the price hike proposal went to three times 35%, and eight times in the seven other provinces and one republic (that’s just rude, young Grootes! The Western Cape is still part of South Africa, like it or not. – Ed). It’s very simple, give us the money, or we’re all gonna die. He gets another go, where he’ll say exactly the same thing at the end. But the regulators, bless ‘em, after all these times still have questions to ask.

Then a couple of people didn’t pitch up, which seemed to please the regulators greatly. After a brief pause, the Displaced Ratepayers Association took to the podium. There was some confusion about who was actually speaking, then the translator for isiZulu and isiXhosa didn’t pitch. Of all the languages not to arrive. Anyway, the gist of the association’s presentation was that a power price hike was bad. It was emotional.

By this stage the entire room was small. We’ll never understand what Nersa was thinking. They chose the smallest room at Gallagher Estate. Did they think no one would care?

Moving on, the Energy Intensive Users Group took over. Basically your typical white business bloke who knows how to speak PC. It was good competent stuff. The general message: some of our members will go under at 35%, some will go under at 25%.

Smart Green Property was next. Smart Who? One of the smaller lobby groups that come out to play at things like this. It’s about power efficiency. They had their time, and everybody moved on.

The human element then took centre stage. The owner of a pottery company, armed with lots of information about kilns, firing pots and energy usage. It was the typical example of a company going to the wall because of higher power prices. The speech used words like retrenchment, my workers, and finally, closing down. It rammed home the message that this issue is actually affecting people’s lives in a very real way. Perhaps Alex Erwin should have been there to hear it?

Another suit took over, this time representing “Big Business”. Nothing you haven’t heard before. The hikes would be bad for the economy, bad for business, and generally bad. And “the shareholder” (i.e. government) should be responsible for paying for Eskom’s capital expenditure.

After a reasonable lunch, the greenie beanies took over. If Eskom claims we’re all gonna die without the price hikes, it’ll be Eskom that kills us. Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace Africa had a good old rail against the machine moment. They brought their brains, lots of good academic stuff, full of facts and figures about how “the world would be so much better if only…” Earthlife felt the need to end their presentation with a slide of Chernobyl. Nothing like the soothing, grand gesture.

Things really took off after that. The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa sent a guy with a great mandate. He was switched on and experienced, both with politics and Nersa. He spoke about the load shedding that will return, how municipalities are profiteering, and more importantly, about the dubious nature of the whole price determination process. He had the balls to mention the secretary general of the ruling party, and dared Nersa to hold another day of hearings, to hear from all the government departments how they are involved, to hear from Luthuli House, to see what they actually have to say in public.

It was riveting stuff. And it broke the hold the make-believe had had on the day.

By Stephen Grootes
(Grootes is an EWN reporter)
Friday 22 January, 2010

DRDGold, ConvergeNet Holdings: South African Equity Preview
By Janice Kew/Bloomberg/Jan. 22

Jan. 22 (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 fell for a third day, sliding 411.89, or 1.5 percent, to 27,489.85.

DRDGold Ltd. (DRD SJ): The gold mining company said it bought the 50 percent it doesn’t already own in Ergo Mining Ltd. from Mintails Ltd. for 82 million rand ($10.8 million). DRD closed 53 cents, or 9.6 percent lower, at 4.97 rand.

ConvergeNet Holdings Ltd. (CVN SJ): The information technology company holds its annual general meeting of shareholders. ConvergeNet was unchanged at 40 cents.

Shares or American depositary receipts of the following South African companies closed as follows yesterday:

Anglo American Plc (AAUKY US) fell 8.2 percent to $19.90 AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU US) shed 1.3 percent to $38.80. BHP Billiton Plc (BBL US) slipped 4.7 percent to $62.91. DRDGold Ltd. (DROOY US) dropped 9.4 percent to $6.31. Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI US) fell 4.5 percent to $12.32. Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY US) lost 3.3 percent to $9.73. Impala Platinum Holdings Co. (IMPUY US) shed 5.2 percent to $26.92. Sappi Ltd. (SPP US) was down 6.5 percent at $4.20. Sasol Ltd. (SSL US) dropped 3.7 percent to $38.33.

South Africa’s Winelands
online.wsj.com/By WILL LYONS / JANUARY 22, 2010.

The South African vignerons have high hopes for 2010. With a World Cup kicking off in June, interest in their wines is predicted to be at new levels as visitors from across Europe descend on the Western Cape. Su Birch, chief executive of the industry body Wines of South Africa, says they are expecting a 10% rise in sales as supermarkets across Europe prepare for a summer of South African promotional activity.

In wine circles there is a growing feeling that the time has come for the vineyards nestled around the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Hermanus. In 1995, when South Africa last hosted and won a World Cup — the Rugby World Cup — the Winelands were still building their reputation. Just five years after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, F.W. de Klerk’s negotiations that moved the National Party out of power and the end of apartheid, the world opened its doors to a wine industry a little unsure of its identity. James Farqharson, a winemaker who has completed stints at one of the Cape’s best known wine estates, Boschendal, said it was a hugely exciting time.

“I graduated in 1994,” he told me. “And for the first time as a winemaker I could go anywhere and experience anything.” He headed to France where he worked vintages in Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, learning to pick early, not to over-oak and reduce the natural residual sugar of the grapes. The result is that his winemaking has a slightly European feel.

That search for identity has led many wine critics to describe South Africa’s Winelands as a bridge between the restrained, delicate Old World character found in European vineyards and the upfront, fruity character found amid the hot plains of the New World. Indeed, it is often said that South Africa is the most Old World of the New World wine-producing regions. Certainly, the Cape possesses some of the oldest geology in the wine-growing world and three centuries of winemaking lineage, but today there is such a myriad of styles and flavors it is difficult to describe it in such broad brush terms.

I have visited the region twice in recent years and found a uniquely Old World philosophy in many of the Cape’s most sought after wine estates such as Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, Rustenberg and Vergelegen. This can be summed up in one word: subtlety. For white wine this means not overdoing the oak, producing less wild, tropical flavors that dominate the nose and opting for more mineral, understated, dry flavors.

Hamilton Russell’s Pinot Noir is sensational with notes of dark cherry, black spice and an earthy savory character. More importantly, these sell at around £25 a bottle. By no means cheap but when compared to their counterparts in the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy they are trading at a near 50% discount.

On my visit to the Cape, Sauvignon Blanc has particularly impressed me. Among the many that stood out were Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia, Rustenberg and Vergelegen, all of which produced a restrained, mineral, zippy character with notes of gooseberry and pear. Chenin Blanc, perhaps South Africa’s most famous white grape varietal, keeps getting better and better. Mrs. Kirsten’s Old Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2007 is sensational. It has an intense, nutty, walnut, creamy character that wouldn’t look out of place in the vineyards around Savennières in France’s Loire Valley.

While there is almost universal agreement that South Africa’s white wines have reached new heights in terms of quality, in some quarters the reds have been criticized for being a little over ripe and baked, with a slight rubbery flavor. Personally, it is the Bordeaux blends that really caught my attention.

Kanonkop’s Paul Sauer blend, Rustenburg’s John X Merriman and Peter Barlow blends, and Vergelegen’s Mill Race and straight Cabernet Sauvignon are all welcome in my cellar any day. It isn’t an underestimation to put some of the past vintages on a par with anything produced in the Medoc.

If there is one gripe I have with South Africa’s wines, it is the heavy alcohol levels which too often exceed 14.5%. With growing concern about public health, particularly alcohol abuse, I feel this could be a real problem. In the meantime, we will just have to moderate our intake.

Write to Will Lyons at wsje.weekend@wsj.com  

 

 



AFRICA / AU :

Africa: Obama – Defending the ‘Interests of Empire’
Demba Moussa Dembele/Pampazuka News /allafrica.com/22 January 2010

The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States elicited worldwide enthusiasm and raised hopes for change, especially in Africa and much of the global South. One year later, what remains of that enthusiasm, of the immense hopes and even expectations that his election had raised?

For sure, one year is not enough to assess the record of his administration. But some decisions and actions during the last 12 months may give an indication of the kind of policies he intends to conduct for the duration of his term.

POSITIVE CHANGES

One of the most important changes in the international arena has been the end of the contempt for the United Nations and the embrace of multilateralism in tackling world affairs. This is reflected in the recognition of a greater role for the United Nations in dealing with global issues. One illustration of this shift is the participation of President Obama himself accompanied by a huge US delegation in the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009. Another positive change is the new approach to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues. Instead of threats and intimidation, President Obama has given priority to negotiations and diplomacy, even if it may remain some hidden agenda.

Overall, with Obama, the United States is projecting the image of a country that is less arrogant and seeks to restore good or normal relations with other countries and peoples of the world. The Cairo speech, addressed to the Muslim world, is certainly one of the most important illustrations of that new image that the US is trying to project with Barack Obama. By extending a friendly hand to the Muslim world and by distinguishing between Islam as a religion of peace and those who are using it as a political tool, he opened the door to restoring trust between the US and large parts of the Muslim world.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

But these positive changes cannot mask the big disappointments of the first Obama year, especially in Latin America and Africa. With Cuba, it is almost the status quo, despite some timid steps and Cuba’s gestures of goodwill and overtures. The goodwill displayed during the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, with a handshake with President Hugo Chávez, was not followed by a real break from Bush policies with regard to Venezuela, Bolivia and other progressive governments in South America. The signing with Colombia of an agreement to station US troops near the border with Venezuela did not sit well with most Latin American countries, even with some ‘moderates’ like Brazil. Then, the coup in Honduras and its consequences dealt a big blow to the credibility of the Obama administration in the region. After condemning – mildly – the coup, the US finally remained indulgent with the illegitimate regime and hailed the elections organised by the coup leaders as ‘step toward the restoration of democracy’.

The boycott of the Durban Review Conference on Racism held in Geneva in April 2009 was another big disappointment for all progressive forces inside and outside the United States. Several African-American organisations reacted very angrily to this boycott, which was seen as an ominous signal of how the Obama administration would handle issues of racism and discrimination inside and outside the United States.

AFRICA: WHAT’S NEW?

Maybe one of the greatest disappointments is Obama’s attitude towards Africa. Several observers had expected to see Africa high on his administration’s agenda. But so far, there is more continuity with past policies than innovation.

The Accra address

The Accra address gave an illustration of that continuity. That address was supposed to outline Obama’s ‘vision’ for Africa. In fact, in Accra, he insisted more on the familiar clichés manufactured by Western imperialist ideology and mainstream media about Africa than on outlining a new vision for Africa-US relations. He spent more time condemning ‘corruption’, ‘tribalism’, ‘bad governance’ than talking about the real structural obstacles to Africa’s development, obstacles inherited from centuries of domination, plunder and exploitation by Western countries and corporations.

When he alluded to colonialism and Western responsibility in the current situation of the continent, it was to stress that this responsibility is secondary to Africa’s own responsibility. In his opinion, conflicts in Africa and weak economic and social indicators are all Africa’s fault. There was not a single word about the hand of Western powers – the US in the lead – in provoking and encouraging conflicts, staging military coups and assassinations in order to perpetuate the continent’s destabilisation and their control over its resources.

This position is consistent with Western countries’ attempt to convince public opinion – inside and outside Africa – that a few decades of neocolonial rule and imperialist intervention in all areas have erased centuries of destruction of the African mind, of genocide and of the looting of Africa’s wealth and resources.

Some Africans have praised Obama for insisting on ‘good governance’ and ‘solid institutions’. But the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank have been preaching the same gospel since 1989.[1] When Obama said that Africa’s development ‘depends on good governance’, this is a code word for neoliberal policies to make African countries more ‘attractive’ to foreign investors and put in place an ‘enabling environment’ for the promotion of the private sector – a speech Africans have heard before from the World Bank and the IMF!

Even more importantly, his Accra address was noticeable for its omissions. For instance, he mentioned President Kwame Nkrumah just once and as a footnote. But even more puzzling was his total silence about a great African-American and companion Nkrumah, W.E.B. DuBois. There was not a single word for DuBois, who is buried in Accra, just a few yards from the US embassy! DuBois is one of the founding fathers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the oldest human rights organisation in the United States. He is also one of the fathers of Pan-Africanism, which explains why he went to Ghana to help Nkrumah after his country’s independence. But above all, DuBois is one of the foremost intellectuals of the 20th century, which is why Harvard University has named an institute after him, to honour his scholarly achievements. And that institute is chaired by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., whom Barack Obama calls his friend.

The shadow of AFRICOM

Obama’s visit to Ghana was dubbed as a premium to ‘democracy’ and ‘good governance’. And the US government hailed the visit as an opportunity to ‘strengthen the U.S. relationship with one of [our] most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.'[2]

But in reality, the visit was about promoting the US interests in a region rich in crude oil and minerals. Obama has not abandoned his predecessor’s idea of installing the headquarters of the Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Africa. It is the pursuit of that strategy that led Obama to Ghana in the hope that this country may accept to host AFRICOM, given its ‘stability’ and proximity to the Gulf of Guinea.

Some US analysts have come to the conclusion that the Obama administration is even trying to enhance Bush’s policies toward Africa: ‘While Africans condemned U.S. military policy in Africa under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not only mirrored Bush’s approach, but has in fact enhanced it. President George W. Bush established Africa as a foreign policy priority in 2003, when he announced that 25% of oil imported to the United States should come from Africa. Like the Cold War, the Global War
on Terror establishes a rationale for bolstering U.S. military presence and support in Africa. Yet official pronouncement of U.S. policy is routinely presented as if neither of these two developments occurred.'[3]

While official statements tend to present the Obama administration’s policies toward Africa as only aiming at bolstering economic development and preventing conflicts, they are contradicted by actual policies. In the eyes of the same analyst, the agenda outlined by the US government for public consumption is different from the real agenda. He noted that the fiscal year 2010 budget ‘doubles the size of AFRICOM’s funds’ and there has been the ‘doubling of financial support for counterterrorism projects throughout the continent – including increased funds for weapons, military training and education at a time when US foreign aid money is stagnating’.[4]

In light of the above, it is fair to say that with regard to Africa, there is nothing new, there is no bold vision for a different type of relationship in the 21st century as some had expected. Apparently, his ‘African blood’ made no difference!

SERVING THE INTERESTS OF THE EMPIRE

Of course, only those who are naïve may think that Obama’s ‘African blood’ would lead him to have a special agenda for Africa. This is why some of his most enthusiastic supporters on the continent, who were expecting massive flows of ‘aid’, are disappointed with his policies.

But what these people seem to ignore is that Obama was elected to defend and promote the interests of the United States. And those interests do not necessarily coincide with African interests. And to achieve this goal, he will resort to any means. In his Nobel speech in Oslo, Norway, on 10 December, he was very explicit about that by saying that he would not hesitate to use force to defend and protect the interests of the United States.

From that perspective, the decisions and actions of Barack Obama aim to promote first and foremost the interests of the empire, that is, the interests of US multinational corporations and banks, the interests of Wall Street, as well as the interests of the military-industrial complex. The election of Obama did not change the goals of the empire to hold on to world leadership by strengthening its hegemonic role in world affairs. So, behind the rhetoric lies the shadow of the empire, which as despotic, cynical and ruthless as ever.

CONCLUSION

It is difficult to see a shift in these policies in the medium term. In fact, the mid-term elections of November 2010 risk costing the Democratic Party if the economy does not show signs of recovery and if the situation in Afghanistan keeps deteriorating. The eventual loss of a majority in Congress would make Obama’s task even more difficult.

It is almost certain that if things don’t improve before November, especially on the economic front, Barack Obama will be confronted with a more complex situation and even more daunting challenges, at home and abroad. If a more hostile Congress emerges after the November elections, there will be little hope that the ‘change’ he advocated during his campaign may ever be achieved.

Demba Moussa Dembele is the director of the African Forum on Alternatives and a member of the 2011 Dakar World Social Forum organising committee.

NOTES

[1] See Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth: A Long-Term Perspective Study. Washington, DC, The World Bank

[2] ‘Straight Talk: Revealing the Real US Africa-Policy’, Foreign Policy in Focus, Washington, DC, July 2009

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

Big Help From Big Pharma
By Gary Stix/www.scientificamerican.com/Jan 22, 2010

Health & Medicine
..
Activists often slam large pharmaceutical companies for failing to develop drugs that are of critical importance to the developing world.

Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline’s youthful chief executive, gave those critics pause yesterday in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Witty promised to sell the company’s malaria vaccine that is in late-stage clinical trials in Africa for no more than a 5 percent profit. At the same time, he is inviting other researchers to work on combatting the mosquito-borne malady at a company laboratory in Spain and will make public a library of thousands of compounds screened for leads against malaria, according to a report in Forbes.

Witty is setting an example for the entire industry at a time when new drug pipelines are increasingly challenged and the companies may only be able to survive if they are able to devise innovative new strategies in collaboration with governments, academia and the biotech industry.

Glaxo’s move may bode well for the ultimate fate of Unitaid, an attempt to pool patents to let generic drug manufacturers create inexpensive HIV drugs.

Kudos to Witty. Now let’s see if the rest of the industry can respond in kind. We need other drug giants with ample resources to step up for schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and the like.

Black gold in Africa holds danger as well as promise
The Irish Times/Friday, January 22, 2010

Tullow may face tough choices dealing with the regime in Uganda, writes NICK WADHAMS in Kampala

IN TULLOW Oil’s Uganda headquarters, there hangs a small framed map of the company’s oil-prospecting blocks in the country. It is a gift from president Yoweri Museveni, who autographed it and, with a flourish, wrote the Swahili word for dung fly – zindangire – next to his signature.

When he presented the map to Tullow’s Uganda manager Brian Glover, Museveni warned the company to watch out for people who demand bribes in notoriously corrupt Uganda. The president calls them dung flies.

“That’s why that picture is on my wall – because he’s the one telling me this is the way we’re going to do it,” Glover said in an interview. “Transparency should win the day.”

So one would hope. Tullow, listed on the London and Dublin stock exchanges, is one of two lead oil exploration companies that have found at least 800 million barrels of oil in Uganda’s west, in protected wildlife areas near Lake Albert. That discovery thrust a poor country known mostly for its struggle to fight HIV/Aids into the role of a potential economic powerhouse in east Africa.

With the prospect of great wealth, however, has come the fear that Museveni and his allies will fall victim to the so-called oil curse, by which new found resources such as oil or gold impoverish underdeveloped countries even more. That has put Tullow in an awkward position.

Tullow argues that it is reversing the trend set by foreign companies elsewhere in Africa, which are known to collude with corrupt regimes, offering kickbacks and favours, in exchange for massive profits.

“We and our process will stand up to any and every scrutiny,” said Tim O’Hanlon, Tullow’s vice-president for African business. “That’s what we pride ourselves in. It sometimes makes life very, very difficult for us in Tullow Oil.

“I propose it’s a lot more challenging to do business here, but it’s a lot more interesting and we sleep very well at night.” Tullow, founded by former accountant Aidan Heavey, earns 69 per cent of its revenue from Africa, much of it by working with regimes with abysmal records, including Equatorial Guinea and Angola. But it also portrays itself as environmentally cautious and socially responsible. In Uganda, Tullow spent about $1 million on corporate social responsibility projects in 2009. It built a health clinic, drilled boreholes and even teaches people how to swim so that the frequent ferry accidents on Lake Albert don’t take so many lives.

Sceptics of Uganda’s government fear that Tullow’s good intentions cannot co-exist with the dirty task of extracting oil. And, human rights activists fear that Tullow’s do-good message may ultimately be irrelevant if the government itself is not committed to openness or environmental safety.

The president’s critics argue that he has solidified his grip on power by dubious means. His family and allies possess enormous economic influence in Uganda. He abolished term limits in 2005. Since he took control in 1986, Uganda has become one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, according to Transparency International.

Opposition leaders argue that oil money will help alleviate pressure from donor countries, which now contribute about 40 per cent of Uganda’s budget. At peak capacity, Uganda will likely produce 150,000 barrels of oil a day, and earn the country $2 billion a year.

“What oil can achieve today is to give the government the freedom to operate without the encumbrances imposed by donor countries,” said opposition leader Kizza Besigye. “It would take the democratisation process miles back from where we have reached.”

The government insists that Uganda’s oil profit will not simply vanish. However, the most public battle over Uganda’s oil future is being waged by two young journalists with the independent Daily Monitor newspaper who filed a lawsuit in 2007 asking the government to release the production-sharing agreements it signed with the oil companies.

The PSAs dictate, among other things, how oil profits will be split between companies and the government.

The government insists it got a good deal with the contracts and that disclosing them would cripple its competitive advantage when it negotiates new contracts.

Tullow says it would happily release the agreements if the government allowed. Transparency advocates argue that the agreements are not nearly so advantageous to Uganda as the government claims.

AU Madagascar compromise stresses power-sharing
Fri Jan 22, 2010 /By Alain Iloniaina/Reuters

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – The African Union’s top diplomat, Jean Ping, opened talks seeking an end to Madagascar’s year-long political crisis on Thursday with a call to its feuding leaders to respect last year’s power-sharing deals.

An AU document containing compromise proposals and seen by Reuters urged the formation of a consensus government and said the institutions set out in last year’s accords “must be established and made operational without delay”.

The consensus prime minister, Eugene Mangalaza, who was dismissed by President Andry Rajoelina last month, should be re-appointed, it said, adding that legislative and presidential elections should be held by October.

Two of the four main political movements confirmed they had received the document from Ping. It was not immediately clear whether this was a final compromise or the starting point for negotiations.

Rajoelina, Africa’s youngest leader, has in recent weeks torn up a series of internationally brokered power-sharing deals, appointed a military prime minister and is intent on unilaterally organising legislative elections in March.

There are concerns in the opposition and among donor countries that an election hastily organised by a government not recognised internationally will not be free and fair.

“Elections must be held within a time frame that allows for the guarantee of their credibility and transparency,” the document said.

GROWTH CURBED

The turmoil has unsettled foreign investors including Sherritt International, Rio Tinto and Exxon Mobil and dramatically curbed economic growth.

Ping had talks with Rajoelina who has told international mediators to stop meddling in the affairs of the world’s fourth largest island and has previously refused to reopen discussions on a consensus government.

He later met members of each of the three opposition movements and Rajoelina’s camp independently.

Foreign Minister Ny Hasina Andriamanjato told reporters: “This is a proposition and not a condition. We will meet again tomorrow to discuss further. There have been problems putting in place the accords, problems that can’t be resolved on paper.”

Earlier, security forces fired tear gas at a small crowd of anti-government protesters near where the talks were taking place.

The United States has warned Madagascar it could face sanctions if Rajoelina’s administration continues to foster an atmosphere of intimidation and impedes a return to constitutional rule. 

 

 



UN /ONU :


Asia to Lead Global Economic Growth in 2010

Mil Arcega/www1.voanews.com/ 22 January 2010

| Washington
The United Nations says the world economy is on the mend. In its annual economic report released Wednesday (January 20), the U.N. predicts a global growth rate of 2.4 percent in 2010 with East and South Asia taking the lead. But the organization warns conditions for sustained growth around the world remain fragile.

The U.N. report says the world’s economy is beginning to show signs of modest recovery. Equity markets are on the rebound, international trade and industrial production are rising and banks are starting to lend again. It’s an economic revival driven in large part by massive stimulus measures around the world.

“In Hong Kong, we have spent some $11.2 billion on economic stimulus measures. That is equivalent to about 5.2 percent of our GDP. We have taken extraordinary steps to guarantee bank deposits, support small and medium enterprises and provide additional capital to the banking sector if required,” said Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang. His comments came at the start of the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, where international delegates and representatives of the International Monetary Fund met to discuss the region’s economic future.

“The transformation has been huge and the share of Asia in the global economy has raised a lot, helping hundreds of millions escape poverty. And in front of us, we have the possibility of sustained growth, helping billion, one billion people to get out of poverty,’ said IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who noted the crucial role Asia is playing in a post recessionary world.

The world economy has shown steady improvement since the second quarter of 2009, but Strauss-Kahn says the recovery has been uneven. China grew at a blistering pace of 10.7 percent in the final quarter of 2009, but the government has since placed curbs on lending to reduce inflation and cool down an overheated economy. In contrast, Japan is worried deflation and weak demand could push the economy back into recession.

“Macro-economic situation has been very sluggish for last couple of decades. Japan hasn’t seen, in Japan, we haven’t seen the actual nominal GDP growth for as long as two decades,” said Takashi Hibino, head of brokerage firm, Daiwa Securities.

Forecasts call for East Asia to grow 6.7 percent this year, followed by South Asia, – at 5.5 percent in 2010.

The IMF expects growth to accelerate in the poorest regions in Africa as the global recession eases.

And the U.S. and the 16 nation Eurozone can expect modest but continued expansion even as job growth continues to lag in the new year.  

 

 



USA :

U.S. may ban importing ‘giant invasive snakes’
BY TIM CHITWOOD /www.ledger-enquirer.com/ Jan. 22, 2010

Is that a Burmese python in your pants or are you just glad to be here in America?

Better go with the latter, if questioned at a U.S. port of entry, because Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants people to quit bringing Burmese pythons and other “alien snakes” into the United States.

“The Burmese python and these other alien snakes are destroying some of our nation’s most treasured – and most fragile – ecosystems,” Salazar said in a press release. “The Interior Department and states such as Florida are taking swift and common-sense action to control and eliminate the populations of these snakes, but it is an uphill battle in ecosystems where they have no natural predators. If we are going to succeed, we must shut down the importation of the snakes and end the interstate commerce and transportation of them.”

Eight other “giant invasive snakes” listed in the proposed ban are the northern African python, southern African python, reticulated python, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, DeSchauensee’s anaconda and boa constrictor.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish the proposal in a February Federal Register. The public will have 60 days to comment on it.

About a million of the big snakes have been brought into the United States over the past 30 years, the feds say, “and current domestic production of some species likely exceeds import levels.”

The Burmese pythons quickly adapt to a new environment. Since 2000, more than 1,200 have been removed from Everglades National Park. Two found near Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge had in their stomachs the remains of three endangered Key Largo wood rats.

If you’ve got a Burmese python, keep it to yourself, Salazar said: Don’t release it into the wild. The python has populated much of south Florida. Boa constrictors have a wild population south of Miami, and authorities have found evidence that northern African pythons have a population west of Miami.

Gambia: Editorial: The US Supreme Court Ruling On Elections Financing: Do We Have Democracy In Africa?
www.freedomnewspaper.com/ January 22, 2010

Editorial: The US Supreme Court Ruling On Elections Financing: Do We Have Democracy In Africa?
The US Supreme Court yesterday made a landslide ruling-legalizing private Corporations sponsorship of election campaigns in this country. The court verdict was greeted with mixed reactions across the nation-even though some of the Justices openly disagreed with their learned colleagues dissenting views on the matter. The five judges argued that it was legitimate to have private companies to participate in the country’s electoral process through the sponsorship of elections Ads and campaigning.

However, the Supreme Court’s decision does not go down well with some pro-democracy activists, including influential policymakers in Washington. Critics of the court’s ruling argue that such a decision would “corrupt” the country’s much cherished democratic values. They are concerned about the implications of the Supreme Court’s move to give “green light” to corporate America to meddle into the nation’s electoral process.

To our African audience, I think we have a lot to learn from the US judicial system. One could safely argue that the US judiciary is one of the most independent legal systems in the world. Judges here openly expressed dissenting views on issues of national concern-irrespective of which side of the political spectrum is affected.

Four of the Supreme Court Justices disagreed with their colleagues position on this high profile political case. The Justices opined that private corporations should not be allowed to inject their finances into election campaigns and TV ad commercials-contrary to the position held by the other judges.

Concerns about electoral fraud and political manipulations were among some of the issues highlighted by critics of the Supreme Court’s decision. That, once these corporations are allowed to promote political agenda, they might have direct control over policymakers in Washington. But supporters of the court’s decision disagreed. They argue that corporations should reserve the right to sponsor politicians of their choice. They also contend that any attempt to censure political views, association, or free speech is unconstitutional.

But at the end of the day, the majority carried the vote. In other words, the decision upheld by the five Justices is final. The court verdict means a lot as far as the United States’s democratic process is concerned. Mighty corporations can now inject millions of dollars in Senate races and Presidential elections. It is a question of whether policymakers would be obligated to dance to the tunes of what we called here the big corporations. They should put the interest of their constituents ahead of companies interest. We have seen some companies trying to use lobbyists to promote their business agendas.

Democracy requires the participation of all and sundry, but it is imperative to note that factors that are likely to undermine a nation’s electoral process should be discouraged. Campaign funds should be derived from legitimate sources and not otherwise. Politicians should refuse to be used to promote the agenda of big influential business entities to the detriment of their electorates.

Taking a cue from the US judicial system, we are of the view that poor nations such as The Gambia, has a lot to learn from the US jurisprudence. Our courts should depart from the notion that dissenting judicial views tantamount to being an opponent of the Government in power. It is healthy for judges to agree and disagree on issues. The Government cannot be right all the time. We expect our judges to come up with sound rulings-supported by well grounded legal opinions.

After all, the judiciary is the bastion of hope for our country. A corrupt judicial system can retard national development and democratic values. We as a country need to emulate the United States –by ensuring that there is an independent and efficient judicial system put in place.

Unless, our judges recognized the fact that they owe an allegiance to the law and not the President, there cannot be justice. Judges must demonstrate a high sense of independence and impartiality in their day to day work. They should ensure that the rule of law prevails in any democratic dispensation.

Rights Group Criticizes African Union on ICC Indictment of Sudan’s Bashir
Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch says the African Union seems less concerned about the innocent victims of Sudan
James Butty/www1.voanews.com/22 January 2010

| Washington, DC
The commissioner of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, Ramtane Lamamra, said the African Union stands by its decision that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir is counter-productive.

Last March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir for crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Western Darfur region.

Lamamra reiterated the AU’s position reached last July that the ICC indictment could hamper efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in Sudan.

“We said very clearly that the indictment has the potential to pour fuel on fire, that the indictment could be counterproductive with respect to the efforts toward achieving peace and national reconciliation without endangering the need for justice,” he said.

With Sudan’s general elections scheduled for this April, Lamamra said the people of Sudan will have a chance to decide who should lead them.

“The very fact that President Bashir is running for election means clearly that the first judge would be the people of Sudan, and hopefully the general in the month of April this year would be instrumental in Sudan’s endeavor toward political and peaceful transformation that will help us address the challenges of the January 2011 referendum,” he said.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch this week again criticized the African Union decision to oppose the ICC indictment of President Bashir.

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch said the AU seems less concerned about the innocent people who he said have being killed in Sudan.

“When hundreds of thousands of people are slaughtered, the international community understands that those most responsible need to be held to account in a fair trial. So to cite reconciliation as an excuse or a reason to oppose justice, is an argument that I think better belongs in the 19th or 20th Century, the early part but not the 21st Century,” said

At its summit held in July last year in Sirte, Libya, the African Union accused the ICC of unfairly targeting Africans for prosecution. 
 

 

 


CANADA :


TeleTech to Support “Hope for Haiti Now” Global Telethon for Earthquake Relief

Company to Provide 5,000 Employees and Technical Infrastructure to Manage Phone Donations During Live Telethon This Friday
January 22, 2010/money.cnn.com

TeleTech Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEC), one of the largest and most geographically diverse global providers of business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions, today announced its participation in the coalition of global media, entertainers and businesses to support the “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” telethon to aid the victims of the recent earthquakes in Haiti. TeleTech will provide technical infrastructure and 5,000 employees from around the globe to take calls from telethon viewers who wish to make donations to support the people of Haiti.

“Hope for Haiti Now” will air on Friday, January 22, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. TeleTech will utilize 42 existing global service delivery centers located in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Philippines, South Africa, and Costa Rica. In addition, the company will use its TeleTech@Home workforce as well as its headquarters location in Englewood, Colorado to take calls and pledges for the telethon. tw telecom is joining TeleTech in this effort by donating telecommunication services.

“On behalf of our employees around the globe, we want to express our sincere sympathy to those impacted by this tragedy,” said Kenneth Tuchman, TeleTech’s chairman and chief executive officer. “I’m proud and honored to announce that TeleTech will play a role in this important fundraising event. It is highly rewarding to be able to repurpose our global infrastructure, technology, and human capital to aid others during a crisis and I am overwhelmed by our employees’ consistent drive to help others in a time of crisis and their generosity to give of their time and resources.”

TeleTech has a longstanding tradition of assisting those impacted by a crisis, including support of the American Red Cross’ “Shelter from the Storm” telethon in 2005 to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. TeleTech and the TeleTech Community Foundation are committed to being a driving force for change in our local and global communities.

ABOUT TELETECH

TeleTech is one of the largest and most geographically diverse global providers of business process outsourcing solutions. TeleTech and its subsidiaries have a 27-year history of designing, implementing, and managing critical business processes for Global 1000 companies to help them improve their customers’ experience, expand their strategic capabilities, and increase their operating efficiencies. By delivering a high-quality customer experience through the effective integration of customer-facing front-office processes with internal back-office processes, we enable our clients to better serve, grow, and retain their customer base. We use Six Sigma-based quality methods continually to design, implement, and enhance the business processes we deliver to our clients and we also apply this methodology to our own internal operations. TeleTech and its subsidiaries have developed deep domain expertise and support more than 250 business process outsourcing programs serving more than 90 global clients in the automotive, communications and media, financial services, government, healthcare, retail, technology and travel and leisure industries. Our integrated global solutions are provided by approximately 45,500 employees utilizing 36,000 workstations across 71 delivery centers in 17 countries. For additional information, visit www.teletech.com.

Nexen, Paramount Energy Trust, Parkland: Canada Equity Preview
By Matt Walcoff/Bloomberg/Jan. 22

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) — Shares of the following companies may have unusual moves in Canadian trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index fell the most since October, losing 210.22 points, or 1.8 percent, to 11,469.10.

Nexen Inc. (NXY CT): Marvin Romanow, chief executive officer of the energy company that operates in Canada, Europe and Africa, is scheduled to address the CIBC Whistler Institutional Investor Conference at 8 a.m. in Whistler, British Columbia.

Paramount Energy Trust (PMT-U CT): The Western Canadian natural gas producer said it expects to convert to a corporation later this year.

Parkland Income Fund (PKI-U CT): The owner of 612 gas stations in Canada said the country’s competition commissioner has approved the company’s proposed purchase of petroleum distributor Bluewave Energy LP.




AUSTRALIA :

 

  


EUROPE :


More than 50 EU embassies open across the world

More than 50 European Union embassies have opened across the world since the Lisbon Treaty came into force three weeks ago.
By Bruno Waterfield /www.telegraph.co.uk/22 Jan 2010

The move has led to fears that British consular facilities could be shut down as Brussels establishes itself as a world power.

Critics say the 54 new embassies in countries including Afghanistan, China, India and 33 African nations will shift power away from the British foreign office towards a new EU diplomatic service.

Embassies in the key capitals of Beijing, Kabul and Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union, are regarded as marking a major shift to giving the EU a role as a global player to rival nation states.

The embassies will takeover national bilateral missions in the 54 countries where they are set up, headed by ambassadors who are empowered to speak on behalf of the EU as a whole.

“They are going to be a bit more political,” a Brussels official told the EU observer website.

The decision to give 54 of the European Commission’s 136 delegations full ambassadorial status was taken without any public announcement when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force three weeks ago.

Twelve of the embassies are in Asia and the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. A network of 33 in Africa will cover countries ranging across the continent from Ghana to Kenya and South Africa to Zimbabwe. Eight of the new-model units are in Europe in Armenia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

A decisions over New York has been delayed amid a fierce political battle over the EU’s role in the United Nations Security Council.

Mats Persson, director of the Open Europe think tank, said the new EU embassies would, for “all practical purposes”, take over the job of representing Britons on the world stage.

“Common EU embassies means that Britain can be overruled on crucial diplomatic matters, such as on how to respond to human rights abuses in a conflict-ridden country,” he said.

“In order for common embassies to work, EU member states must have shared national interests. This simply isn’t the case, particularly in Africa where the EU has consistently failed to act in a unified manner in the past.”

The Lisbon Treaty has created an embryonic diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service, under the control of an EU foreign minister, a post held by Baroness Ashton.

A text, agreed by European leaders, including Gordon Brown, last October gives the EU “delegations” the objective of taking over consular work, a new role that could lead to British consulates being closed in remote countries to make cash savings.

“EU delegations could gradually assume responsibility, where necessary, for tasks related to diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries, in crisis situations,” the text states.

Mark Francois, the Conservative spokesman on Europe, said: “It is crucial that these new EU delegations do not try to stray into the work of national embassies. The growth of the EU’s diplomatic representation presents a stark and regrettable contrast to the financial crisis facing Britain’s Foreign Office.”

The Conservatives have accused the government of drafting plans to close overseas embassies and consulates as part of a wider programme of spending cuts.

An internal Foreign Office memorandum, leaked to the Tories, has urged diplomats to fire staff and close some overseas posts.

The Foreign Office has defended the new EU embassies.

”The EU’s foreign policy will become more consistent and effective, without costing the British taxpayer anymore because this is about redeploying existing resources,” said a British diplomat

”We are rightly proud of the consular service we offer to British and indeed EU nationals around the globe and there are currently no plans for the EU to take on that role.” 
 

 

 


CHINA :


Copenhagen & beyond: Stage set for BASIC meet in Delhi

economictimes.indiatimes.com/ Urmi A Goswami, ET Bureau/22 Jan 2010

NEW DELHI: With an eye on the climate change conference in Mexico, the BASIC countries are considering ways to mend fences with the small island
states and less developed countries. At the BASIC meeting to be held this week, India is likely to put forward a proposal for a fund to help vulnerable countries to deal with the effects of climate change.

The BASIC meeting in New Delhi will focus on post-Copenhagen scenario. With the group—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—now focusing on climate change negotiations leading to the conference at Mexico, it will need to work out ways in which it can make common cause with the rest of the developing bloc. There has been a sense that in Copenhagen, the emerging economies or the more advanced developing countries had broken ranks with the G-77. For the BASIC to retain its negotiating strength it will need to reach out to the vulnerable countries in the developing group.

The fund could serve this purpose. “The details of the fund are still being worked out,” a senior ministry official said. The proposed fund will be bilateral in nature and not under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. The fund is unlikely to be a formal set up as that would require setting up of structures. Instead each of the four countries—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—will co-ordinate their climate related aid to vulnerable countries.

The idea of a fund is being proposed by India, and is likely to gain currency with both Brazil and South Africa. Both these countries have been re-evaluating the Copenhagen Agreement and its implications. South Africa has been having discussions with members of the African group. Brazil too has been making efforts to build bridges with other Latin American countries. A fund like the one being proposed by India will find acceptance of these two countries. Brazil is likely to agree to such a proposal especially as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had at Copenhagen committed to contribute funds for less developed and vulnerable countries.

The underlying presumption during the eleventh-hour negotiations at Copenhagen was that the Accord would be followed by decisions by the Conference of Parties. The COP is the association of all countries and is the highest decision making body in the UNFCCC system.

An adoption by the COP would have make it possible to operationalise all aspects of the Accord, including finance, technology and REDD. These are critical pillars of the Bali Action Plan. However, the fact that the Accord was only “taken note of” by the assembly allows for a limited operationalisation, only the emission reduction commitments of the developed countries and actions of developing countries under the Copenhagen Accord will be operationalised.

However, for the small island states and the less developed countries that are looking to receive funds, the Accord will not have much meaning. This is likely to increase the sense among vulnerable countries that the BASIC had not kept their interest in mind while negotiating the Accord. The proposal of a fund could address this as well

 


 


INDIA :

 

India’s Bharti quarterly profit rises 2 percent
AFP /220110

NEW DELHI — Top Indian mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel squeezed out a two-percent rise in quarterly profit on Friday as a fierce price war cut into revenues in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

Net profit totalled 22.10 billion rupees (478.4 million dollars) under US accounting norms in the fiscal third quarter to December as revenues rose one percent to 97.72 billion rupees.

Bharti achieved the profit “despite the hyper competition” in the Indian market, company chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said in a statement.

India’s cellular market has been adding at least 15 billion subscribers a month, fuelled by some of the cheapest calling rates in the world, making it the world’s most rapidly expanding.

The results announcement came nearly two weeks after Bharti said it would take a 70-percent controlling stake in Bangladesh-based Warid Telecom as the company moves to expand its global footprint.

The drive into Bangladesh came after Bharti’s plan to ally with South Africa’s MTN to create an emerging market telecom giant collapsed last September.
 

 

 


BRASIL:


EN BREF, CE 22 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,22/01/2010

 

 

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