Burundi- Afrique-International : 01 FEVRIER 2010 [14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opens in Addis Ababa]

{jcomments on}OMAR, AGNEWS, BXL, le 01 février 2010 – Ethiopian News Agency- February 02, 2010–The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) was held here on Sunday under the theme Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development.

RWANDA

Rwanda: Kagame Pushes for More Investment in ICTs
Nasra Bishumba /allafrica.com/The New Times/1 February 2010

Kigali — President Paul Kagame has appealed to African governments and business leaders to work harder to harness the potential of broadband technologies that are essential in today’s global business.

Kagame was speaking at the African Union (AU) Summit of Heads of State that begun yesterday in Addis Ababa.

This year’s summit is discussing how the continent can benefit more from the use of ICTs.

In his keynote address to the summit, Kagame said that there’s need to harness the potential of ICTs to generate greater prosperity for the African continent.

“Information and Communication Technology has already enabled Africa to make a tremendous leap in delivering public and private sector services, and in improving lives generally,” Kagame said.

“But we are still at the very early stage of harnessing its potential to generate greater prosperity by connecting our continent to global networks of business, knowledge and productivity.”

He said that while mobile technology has blossomed, the growth of internet infrastructure has not kept pace with the continent’s developmental needs.

“Government and business leaders have to recommit to the implementation of our ICT consensus – we should work even harder to replicate the success of mobile cellular technologies in order to harness the potential of broadband technologies that are essential in participating in global business,” Kagame said.

Kagame said that to achieve this, there’s need to empower institutions and other regional bodies.

“We should empower our institutions, including the African Union Commission and regional bodies to supervise and monitor this vital task. This is because leveraging the various ongoing national initiatives requires a more coordinated regional and continental approach,” he said.

He used the successful rollout of mobile telephony in Africa as an example on how ICTs can change the continent tremendously.

In 2009, the number of Africans with access to telephony stood at 280 million compared to 11 million in 1998.

“This growth was driven by African mobile operators whose combined investment since 2007 amounted to nearly three billion Dollars,” the President said.

However, he said that Africa is still a consumer of ICT products and services – as opposed to creating goods and innovative solutions. “We are not yet engaged significantly in more accessible multi-billion dollar markets of ICT-based outsourcing, most of which currently goes to other parts of the world.”

“If we are to open this vast global market to Africa, we have to rapidly deploy first-rate broadband technologies, enact enabling policies and train a world-class professional workforce,” the President told the AU summit.

At the summit Malawi’s President Bingu Wa Mutharika was elected as the new Chairman of the African Union taking over from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.


 


UGANDA

U.S. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney on Abhorrent Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda
www.huffingtonpost.com/01022010

On Thought Leaders and Global Citizens.

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, representing Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and Western Queens, has weighed into the debate over the U.S. response to Uganda’s proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”

She has just signed two letters initiated by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) expressing serious concerns about the grave injustice occurring in Uganda and other countries that are taking steps to criminalize or otherwise severely discriminate against their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) communities.

The first letter was to Barack Obama, asking our President to speak out publicly against this proposed legislation to bring further attention to the issue.

The second letter was to Ugandan President Museveni, urging him to use every means possible to convey to leaders in their Parliament that this appalling bill is reckless in both intent and possible impact, and should be withdrawn immediately.

She was one of just three House Members to issue a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Human Rights Commission, named after the late California Congressman and Holocaust survivor, Tom Lantos, noting:

The recent developments in Uganda have sent shockwaves throughout the international community and for good reason.
The Uganda Parliament recently introduced a bill that would further criminalize homosexual behavior.

It would make “any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex” punishable by a minimum of seven years in prison and in cases of so-called “serial offenders” and HIV positive individuals, death.

This form of officially sanctioned discrimination is both deeply troubling as a piece of legislation and an affront to the universal values of individual liberty and human rights.

Among its many offensive and dangerous provisions, the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 would force individuals to reveal the whereabouts of gays and lesbians to the police or face prosecution.

It would further establish extra-territorial jurisdiction to prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) Ugandans living abroad, criminalize LGBT advocacy, and limit the distribution of information on HIV prevention.

I join my colleagues in sending two letters: one, to President Barack Obama expressing our concerns with the bill’s discriminatory nature and the second to Ugandan President Museveni urging him to support the legislation’s immediate withdrawal.

I share Secretary of State Clinton’s fear — and others in the human rights community — that this type of legislation would almost certainly incite violence against Uganda’s LGBT community and further push this already marginalized population underground.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual Ugandans, as the New York Times has reported, are repeatedly subject to “beatings, blackmail, death threats, constant harassment, and even so-called correctional rape.”

Moreover, at a time when the U.S. sends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Uganda through PEPFAR and other health initiatives, we should closely examine the impact this anti-gay bill may have on our efforts to encourage HIV prevention, treatment, and care in that country.

The Washington Post has called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill an “ugly and ignorant piece of legislation.” I believe that is putting it mildly.

As a member of the LGBT Caucus and a longstanding champion of equal rights for LGBT persons, I am deeply troubled by the very notion that someone could be discriminated against — let alone sentenced to death — for their sexual orientation.

Such a measure goes far beyond ugliness and ignorance: it is hate in its rawest form.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was established by Congress to promote, defend, and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms in a nonpartisan manner, both within and outside of Congress, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.

Another one of my heroes, New York State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, is also trying to introduce a resolution in Albany regarding this hateful situation in Uganda.

I know for a fact that Carolyn Maloney is gay-friendly. Because I know Carolyn Maloney well and I am gay. She was there for me when my mother died, she remembered me when my father passed away.

She authored and introduced the first bill to recognize same-sex couples in New York State history, back in 1986 when she served on the New York City Council.

Nearly a quarter century later, she’s continuing to demonstrate that same commitment to gay and lesbian families by introducing the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act in Congress.

In fact, she’s been a fierce advocate for human rights throughout her career. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote in his new book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, that “no one has been a greater champion than Carolyn Maloney” in the battle against the scourge of human trafficking.

To help keep her advocacy in Congress, my partner John Lee and I are hosting a campaign reception for her in our own home, Sunday, Feb. 7.

As someone who builds orphanages around the world with Orphans International Worldwide, I need to be particularly sensitive to local mores. The developing world has a right to its own values. But no world has the right to de-value human beings on the basis of their sexual orientation.

It is because of her determination to better our world, Orphans International Worldwide is acknowledging the Congresswoman’s efforts by presenting her with our 2010 Global Citizenship Award For Leadership In Helping Humanity at a benefit for Haitian orphans on Sunday, Feb. 28, at historic Webster Hall in New York’s East Village.


TANZANIA:

Video Seems to Show Captive British Couple
01022010 /www.cbsnews.com

Paul and Rachel Chandler, Captured from Yacht, Have Been Held by Somali Pirates for Three Months

(CBS/AP) A British couple who have been held hostage for more than three months are pleading for help in new video.

The video of the couple taken by Somali pirates and its date and location couldn’t be independently verified by AP Television.

British broadcaster Sky News aired the footage of 59-year-old Paul Chandler and his wife Rachel. The pair were heading to Tanzania in their yacht, when they were kidnapped by pirates late last October.

In the video, both appear uninjured but frail and underweight. The couple claim that they’ve been separated and held in solitary confinement.

They ask for help to pay for their ransom, saying they’re innocent people who’ve done no wrong. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently said the government won’t get involved in any ransom payments, but, he says the government can’t stand in the way of private citizens.

“They kept asking for money and took everything of value on the boat,” Paul Chandler said in an October interview with British media, before the telephone connection was lost.

A pirate claiming to speak on behalf of the group holding the British couple had said shortly after the couple’s capture that they want a $7 million ransom to release Paul and Rachel Chandler. The British government has said it would not pay a ransom.

The couple, who have been married for 28 years, took early retirement about three years ago and have spent several six-month spells at sea. Their voyages – which have taken them to the Greek islands, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Oman, Yemen, India, the Maldives and the Seychelles – have been chronicled on a blog.


CONGO RDC :

 


 

KENYA :

 


ANGOLA :


SOUTH AFRICA:

Gold Reef, JD Group, SABMiller: South Africa Equity Preview
By Janice Kew and Garth Theunissen/Bloomberg/Feb. 1

Feb. 1 (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 dropped 0.5 percent to 26,675.95 at the close in Johannesburg on Jan. 29. The measure has retreated 3.6 percent this year, compared with a 4.4 percent drop in January 2009. It was the measure’s first monthly decline in four.

Beget Holdings Ltd. (BEE SJ): The computer services company said its net loss in the first half was 1.62 million rand ($212,000), compared with a 2.8 million-rand profit a year earlier. Beget was unchanged at 3 cents.

Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI SJ): Africa’s second-biggest producer of gold is negotiating with unions to implement a six-day work week for about 10,000 employees to boost productivity, offset a likely rise in power costs and avoid redundancies, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information. Gold Fields fell 2.45 rand, or 2.7 percent, to 89.05 rand.

Gold Reef Resorts Ltd. (GDF SJ): The gaming and hotel company said it is in talks that may affect its shares. Gold Reef advanced 19 cents, or 1 percent, to 19.25 rand.

Hosken Consolidated Investments Ltd. (HCI SJ): The investment company with gaming investments said it’s in talks that may affect its share price. Hosken rose 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, to 67.50 rand.

JD Group Ltd. (JDG SJ): Morgan Stanley equity analyst Danie Pretorius cut his recommendation on the furniture retailer to “underweight” from “overweight,” with a share-price estimate of 43 rand. The stock dropped 1.30 rand, or 2.9 percent, to 43.60 rand.

SABMiller Plc (SAB SJ): The world’s second-largest brewer may seek to buy Argentine brewer Isenbeck AG in a deal worth as much as $300 million, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without identifying its source. The shares fell 90 cents, or 0.4 percent, to 208.60 rand.

Sephaku Holdings Ltd. (SEP SJ): The mineral explorer’s Sephaku Flouride Ltd. unit is planning to start a beneficiation production facility. Sephaku climbed 40 cents, or more than 11 percent, to 3.90 rand.

Simmer & Jack Mines Ltd. (SIM SJ): The gold producer with a stake in First Uranium Corp. (FUM SJ) will hold a general meeting. Simmer slid 4 cents, or 2.2 percent, to 1.80 rand. First Uranium was unchanged at 16.15 rand.

The following stocks will begin trading without the right to the latest dividends:

Reunert Ltd. (RLO SJ), UCS Group Ltd. (UCS SJ).

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

Anglo American Plc (AAUKY US) fell 2.8 percent to $18.15. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU US) dropped 4.5 percent to $35.69. BHP Billiton Plc (BBL US) declined 2.6 percent to $58.58. DRDGold Ltd. (DROOY US) plunged almost 12 percent to $5.56. Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI US) dropped 5.1 percent to $11.42. Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY US) slumped 5.3 percent to $9.17. Impala Platinum Holdings Co. (IMPUY US) fell 3.4 percent to $25.51. Sappi Ltd. (SPP US) declined 2.1 percent to $4.15. Sasol Ltd. (SSL US) fell 1.9 percent to $36.60.

It’s time for Honda to recall cars
February 1st, 2010/ under Auto News/www.vicky.in

Toyota had a tough time recalling its many cars for the sake of faults in production. Now is the time for Honda to recall its Fit /Jazz on the reason in fault with windows. This follows a crucial incident of a child death due to fault in window switch and Honda had to withdraw some 646000 of its Fit , Jazz and City. This volume consists of 140000 from Europe, and remaining models from North America, South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia. Japan does not include in this list where Fit is the best selling model.

The snag lies in the form of defect in master switch giving way to water to enter the power window causing fire and two such cases in the US and one in South Africa were reported. The recall list includes 2002-08 models of Jazz in South Africa and 172000 units in Britain. Honda is to rectify the power window switch in the driver cabin which may be the leading snag for fire. In Jazz, water sneaks into master switch , leading to over heat and fire. The recall is to commence from February and in the meantime, Honda is notifying to its customers about the process of recall. Honda plans to provide a waterproof skit to prevent such a damage.

South Africa investigates World Cup fare collusion
Monday February 1, 2010/ atwonline.com

The Competition Commission of South Africa said it has launched an investigation into collusion on fares and pricing strategies for flights during this summer’s World Cup.

It named British Airways and its Comair subsidiary, South African Airways, Airlink, SA Express, 1Time and Mango as subjects of the inquiry.

The Commission said the office of President Jacob Zuma issued a November request asking it to look into World Cup airfares. Last month, SAA applied for leniency from prosecution in exchange for full cooperation and provided the Commission with “e-mail correspondence between the airlines in which there are indications that the airlines might adjust airfares ahead of the World Cup.”

The Commission said, “In particular, the e-mail suggests that since there is no indication as to which flights will represent peak demand flights, airlines have the option to either not provide any inventory for sale until such time, or price all inventory at peak time rates until such time as they have greater certainty.” It added that the e-mail “suggests that airfares will have to be raised in order to cover various anticipated additional costs.”

Commissioner Shan Ramburuth said the body “is obliged to investigate all legitimate complaints” concerning anticompetitive conduct and that if it identifies wrongdoing it will refer to the case to the Competition Tribunal for a hearing. The World Cup tournament runs June 11-July 11 in nine South African cities.

by Brian Straus

2010 World Cup: a Discussion about Crime
Miriam Mannak/www.worldpress.org/01022010

Some people claim that FIFA made a mistake by awarding South Africa the bid to host the 2010 World Cup, predominantly because of the country’s crime problems. A football correspondent for the Guardian, for instance, wrote that the bid should have gone to Egypt—one of the other three candidates to host the world’s biggest soccer event.

South Africa has one of the highest crime levels in the world, but, like The Netherlands is more than coffee shops and prostitutes and Nigeria is more than corruption and email scams, South Africa is more than crime. The country has much to offer—something FIFA acknowledged by giving South Africa the go ahead.

The assumption that Egypt is safe and thus a better location for the 2010 world cup is misguided. While day-to-day crime in Egypt is indeed lower compared to South Africa, its safety and security record is far from flawless. Over the past years, the country has experienced a vast number of terror attacks against tourists and locals, as well as kidnappings of foreign nationals.

Terror attacks in Egypt

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Egypt because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners,” the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns on their website. “Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Egypt, including in tourist areas.”

The website of the U.S. State Department features similar warnings: “Egypt suffered a series of deadly terrorist attacks in or near tourist sites in 2005 and 2006—often coinciding with major local holidays. Evidence of instability in the Sinai has been reflected in random attacks on vehicles transiting the interior. U.S. citizens who plan to visit the Sinai in spite of the persistent threat of terrorist attacks should exercise great caution.”

The warnings are not without reason. Last February four people, including two tourists, were killed and 20 others injured after a bomb exploded in the center of Cairo. Three months later, a homemade bomb exploded in Cairo. No one got hurt, but many people were left shaken. This year, on January 10, seven people were killed in a drive-by shooting outside a church in Nag Hammadi, a town in Egypt’s Qena province.

A bit further back, in October 2004, 34 people—mainly Israeli tourists—were killed and over 100 wounded during attacks on various resorts in the Red Sea villages of Taba and Ras Shitan. In April 2005, a bomb packed with nails killed two tourists and wounded 18 others. Three weeks later, two women opened fire on a bus in Cairo, wounding two passengers. 2005 saw more attacks in April and July. In April 2006, 23 people were killed and 80 wounded during three bomb explosions in the Egyptian resort city of Dahab. In September 2008, gunmen took 11 Western tourists and eight locals hostage for a week.

2010 World Cup safety precautions

The South African government and police are very much aware of the country’s high level of crime and the fact that large events like the World Cup drive up criminal activity. They also know that the world will be scrutinizing South Africa with regard to crime during the event, and that every incident will end up on the front page.

To protect both visitors and locals, 50,000 extra cops are being trained, and all 10 of the World Cup stadiums will boast a police station and various police holding cells to lock up criminals and misbehaving tourists. Long distance trains will be fitted with holding cells and a mobile police station. In addition, 54 special 2010 World Cup courts are being established to deal with crime effectively. The South African police service will also work closely with Interpol, police services and private security companies from various European countries, the anti-terrorist unit, and the army.

South Africa no rookie

People forget that South Africa has many years of experience organizing large, international sporting events and dealing with the safety and security issues that come with them. Last year, the Rainbow Nation hosted the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy, the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2009 Indian Premier League. No incidents of visitors being attacked during those events have been reported. Other major past events include the 2007 World Twenty20 Championships, the A1 Grand Prix (since 2006), Fina Swimming World Cup (since 2003), the Red Bull Big Wave Africa (since 1998), various six-star rated surfing events, the 2006 Paralympics Swimming World Champs, the Women’s World Cup of Golf (2005-2008), the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the 1998 World Cup of Athletics, the 1996 World Cup of Golf, the 1996 African Cup of Nations, and the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

This is not to say that South Africa can guarantee that the World Cup will play out without incident. Large crowds of people, regardless of the event’s geographical location, attract opportunists and criminals. No FIFA World Cup in history has been completely crime free. To expect that from South Africa is grossly unfair.


AFRICA / AU :

After Losing a Post, Qaddafi Rebukes the African Union
By JASON McLURE/www.nytimes.com/01022010

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state Sunday after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa.

“I do not believe we can achieve something concrete in the coming future,” said Colonel Qaddafi, before introducing President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as his successor at the African Union’s annual summit meeting, held in Addis Ababa. “The political elite of our continent lacks political awareness and political determination. The world is changing into 7 or 10 countries, and we are not even aware of it.”

South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries opposing Colonel Qaddafi’s attempts to form a continental government, which many view as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.

Colonel Qaddafi argued that individual African states are too weak to negotiate with major powers like the European Union, the United States and China. His efforts to become the first African leader to win another one-year term as chairman of the African Union were thwarted by a push for Mr. Mutharika, 75, by the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

The Libyan leader also complained that such summit meetings were boring, that his colleagues were too long-winded and that he often was not informed of African Union decisions.

Colonel Qaddafi did not leave the lectern before giving the microphone to an unnamed representative of a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders who had crowned him “King of Kings” in a ceremony in 2008.

The representative, bearing a golden scepter and trailed by an aide fanning him with a large feather, spent much of his address praising Colonel Qaddafi.

“You have the African people with you,” said the man, who spoke in French and did not identify himself. “This is what is important, not politicking. It is politicians who have destroyed us.”

UPDATE 1-Nigeria rebels: not “directly responsible” for raid
Mon Feb 1, 2010/Reuters

Stocks

ABUJA, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s main militant group said on Monday it was not directly responsible for the sabotage of an oil pipeline that forced Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) to shut down three pumping stations.

The sabotage occurred hours after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) called off a three-month old ceasefire on Saturday and threatened to unleash “an all-out assault” on Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry. [ID:nLDE60T00E]

One security source, declining to be identified, said the sabotage of Shell’s pipeline, located in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, might have been the result of oil thieves trying to tap into it rather than a targeted militant attack. “MEND was not directly responsible,” the group said in an email to Reuters.

“It was certainly a response to our order to resume hostilities by one of the various freelance groups we endorse.”

Shell said on Sunday the sabotage to the Trans Ramos Pipeline had caused some oil to spill into the delta’s creeks and that it was in the process of recovering the spilled crude. [ID:nLDE60U0KC] (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ ) (Reporting by Randy Fabi; Writing by Nick Tattersall)

New AU chairman vows to strengthen foundations for socio-economic growth
01/02/2010/nazret.com

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The newly appointed African Union (AU) Chairman and Malawi president, Dr.Bingu Wa Mutharika, on Sunday vowed to strive to strengthen the foundations for socio-economic growth for all countries in Africa to become competitive in the global industrial development, trade and economic development of Africa.

Mutharika told the AU summit that he will do his best to attain the continental aspirations.

“I well count on the valuable support of all member states of the African Union in our collective efforts to attain our continental aspirations,”said Mutharika.

The Malawi leader was elected to the AU chairmanship for 2010 at the on-going AU Summit here in Addis Ababa where many agendas were tabled for discussion by the leaders.

Mutharika said that various continental problem qremain the challenges of Africa, home to a billion people.

“Africa is facing enourmous challenges, such as food shortages and famine, wars and conflicts, diseases, climate change, gender imbalance and capacity constriaints,” he said.

He indicated that all these challenges slow down Africa’s effort to improve the quality of life of its people through rapid transformation of the continent’s economies.

“They also impede our efforts to attain greater participation of Africa in global affairs,” said Mutharika.

“But Africa cannot and must not live in the past. Africa must look to the future. The way forward is for the AU Assembly to recognize that “Africa is not a poor continent but the people of Africa are poor. This is a very important paradigm in determining the future of Africa,” he said.

The 14th African Union Assembly is being held in Addis Ababa on ICT, however many continental issues are being discussed where the leaders are expected to pass various resolutions and make decisions in the next two days.

Africa mobilizes assistance for Haiti
By Abayomi Azikiwe /Editor, Pan-African News Wire /www.workers.org/01022010

Various organizations and governments throughout Africa are working to provide relief to the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. In South Africa, churches, mass organizations and the government are encouraging the people to immediately come to the aid of Haiti.

The general thrust in aid efforts stems from the common history of an African heritage and shared legacy of slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism. Some well-known figures in the Haitian relief efforts include Bishop Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel. The African National Congress-led government in South Africa has a considerable history of supporting Haiti and its ousted head of state Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

South Africa was one of the major states to recognize the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence in 2004. President Aristide was granted asylum there and has spoken out about returning to assist in the relief efforts.

The South-African-based Gift of the Givers rescue team helped to clear out a damaged hospital in Port-au-Prince which had 600 bodies buried underneath the rubble. The hospital is being repaired in order to resume efforts to provide medical treatment to thousands of people in need of immediate care.

Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, the chair of Gift of the Givers, said: “Six of our team members will be deployed here [at the hospital] and will be joined by a seven-member Mexican team. The other four members are going to a Cathedral to start suturing and treating the huge influx of patients arriving there.” (Independent Online, South Africa, Jan. 25)

A partial list of pledges from African governments includes South Africa, which has offered $135,000 along with other material assistance; Chad, which is donating $500,000; the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has pledged $2.5 million; and Sierra Leone, which has offered $100,000.

These aid efforts are called the “Africa for Haiti Campaign,” which over the next six months will collect funds and materials to assist the Caribbean nation where some 3 million people have been impacted by the 7.0 earthquake. This project will draw upon the existing resources of governments and non-governmental organizations.

According to the Daily Maverick newspaper, “The campaign will spend the next six months raising cash primarily from ordinary Africans all over the continent. Then it will send representatives to Haiti, which should be knee-deep in the business of rebuilding by that point.” (Jan. 25)

The aid deliveries to Haiti have two main purposes: “one, to show the face and voice of African solidarity and second, to fact-find and identify which are the community organizations and NGOs we can work with so we can channel our support to them, and leave them to be the major implementers of the programs that we will agree upon together,” says Graca Machel. (Daily Maverick, Jan. 25)

The Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a Jan. 22 press conference and pledged its support to the relief efforts. The Foundation says that the Africa for Haiti Campaign “will identify, in partnership with Haitian civil society organizations, initiatives in which it can assist. It also hopes to provide Africans from all walks of life an opportunity to demonstrate their collective solidarity and support for the people of Haiti thereby uniting Africans in compassion and giving.” (Episcopal Life Online, Jan. 22)

In a statement made by former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he says: “We were supported wonderfully by the international community when we struggled against the vicious policy of apartheid. Today the people of Haiti, struck twice by the earthquake, are in a worse predicament than we were. As South Africans, we especially want to do our bit to alleviate the immense suffering of our sisters and brothers in Haiti. I welcome the initiative by Graca Machel and others. It deserves our wholehearted and very generous support.” (Episcopal Life Online, Jan. 22)

This approach to aid delivery will be based upon the experiences of Africa, which as an underdeveloped region has had many negative interactions with Western-based charitable agencies that do not understand nor respect the culture and social situation of the people.

In utilizing a people-based, grassroots approach to Haitian relief, “the African initiative may be more welcome than, say, the far richer offers of help that will come in from the U.S. The assembled group use words like ‘solidarity’ and ‘dignity’ a lot. They want to focus on building long-term relationships.” (Daily Maverick, Jan. 25)

Senegal offers land for repatriation

President Abdoulaye Wade of the West African nation of Senegal recently offered to re-settle displaced Haitians on the continent. Wade says that his proposal will be submitted to the African Union very soon for its approval and assistance.

Wade says that the history of enslavement of Africans in Haiti entitled the descendants the right to return to the continent of their ancestors. “All we are saying is that the Haitians didn’t take themselves over there. They are there because of slavery, five centuries of slavery.” (Reuters TV, Jan. 25)

The 83-year-old leader said: “We have to offer them the chance to come to Africa, that is my idea. They have as much a right to Africa as I have. You can’t tell me it’s not possible. It’s all possible if the Haitians seek it.” (Reuters, Jan. 25)

He went on to urge that other African states naturalize any person from Haiti who sought a new nationality. In addition, he is encouraging mass adoption programs for orphans who can be transported to various regions of the continent.

Following this same trend of solidarity with Haiti, the African Union Commission Chair, Jean Ping, revealed on Jan. 25 that the continental organization was setting up an account with the African Development Bank to solicit contributions for ongoing efforts to assist the people of Haiti.

In an African Press Agency report issued on Jan. 25, it states, “The AU Commission intends, through this initiative, to collect in absolute transparency all financial contributions of member states wishing to express their active solidarity towards Haiti which is considered by the AU as the sixth region of Africa.” Ping described the earthquake as a major disaster and urged African groups and Africans in the Diaspora to move forward with a massive support campaign for Haiti.

Lessons for East Africa

Scientists and policymakers are also studying the situation in Haiti in order to prepare for future disasters on the African continent. Chris Hartnady, a former associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, said recently, “Large areas of the African Continent are in an unstable, tectonically active state and, especially in the mountain regions, substantial danger is posed to growing populations.” (The East African, Jan. 25)

Between 1980 and 2002, Africa was hit by over 50 earthquakes that resulted in more than 23,000 deaths and injuries. The East African Rift System has some of the most densely populated areas on the continent such as the Virunga Mountains located between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A 2004 workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya, predicted that if an earthquake occurred with a similar magnitude as the one which took place in 1910 in Rukwa (7.4, Africa’s most severe in the 20th century) the impact would be devastating. The quake could potentially damage large areas on the East African coastline including Mombasa in Kenya, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique.

In an article published in the East African on Jan. 25, it emphasized the need for disaster preparedness. The article says: “In the case o
f earthquakes, disaster-preparedness need not cost the earth. One important prerequisite is to tap into and expand the local knowledge base. According to the report from the 2004 meeting in Nairobi, while particular seismic events cannot be predicted, the general level of seismicity across broad areas can be forecast for up to hundreds of years in the future.”

The efforts of people in Africa and other oppressed regions of the world are important in the struggle to rebuild Haiti in a fashion that will benefit the working and poor people of the country. An upcoming “donors conference” in Canada will bring together representatives of imperialist states whose aim is to lead the reconstruction efforts in the interests of global capitalism.

Gerald Caplan, the author of “The Betrayal of Africa,” says that this same imperialist approach toward Haiti will only benefit the Western industrialized states and not the Haitian people. Caplan says: “What is important to note about most donor countries, including Canada, is that they have always extracted far more from the poor recipient countries than they’ve contributed. Poor countries, in reality, have been net donors to us rich folks.” (Globe and Mail, Jan. 22)

Chinese envoy pledges strengthened dialogue, cooperation with AU
news.xinhuanet.com/English.news.cn/ 2010-02-01

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — The Chinese government’s special envoy to the 14th summit of the African Union (AU) has expressed China’s willingness to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the AU.

The envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, told AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping at their meeting Saturday that China-AU relations have been experiencing sound development, with exchanges and dialogue in various fields ever expanding and deepening.

Zhai said the two sides have already successfully held two rounds of the China-AU Strategic Dialogue and that construction of the AU Conference Center, which China helps build, is proceeding well.

China values the friendly cooperative relationship with the AU and views the AU as an important partner on African and even global issues, said Zhai.

China would like to further strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the AU to advance relations between the two sides, he said.

Jean Ping described China as a reliable friend and partner of African countries.

The AU appreciates China’s constructive role in both international and African affairs, China’s important contribution to African development and its support for Africa’s integration, he said.

Jean Ping said the AU hopes to further enhance coordination and exchange of views and promote cooperation with China in dealing with major global issues.

The two also exchanged views on a number of other issues including the situation in Africa and climate change.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Togo Soccer Team Banned by Confederation of African Football
By Peter Valk/Epoch Times Staff/01022010

On the eve of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations soccer final, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) caused a stir by announcing that Togo will be banned from the next two Africa Cup of Nations and fined $50,000 because of their withdrawal from this year’s tournament held in Angola.

The Togo government and soccer squad are infuriated with the decision since their withdrawal was a response to a deadly assault on their team bus a few days before the tournament’s kick off on Jan. 10.

“This is a surprise decision and it means that people [CAF] have no consideration for the lives of other human beings,” Togo Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona was reported as saying by BBC Sport.

Togo star player Emmanuel Adebayor called the decision “outrageous” and “a complete betrayal” of the Togo squad, according to media reports.

CAF explained on their Web site that the decision was because “the Togolese government decided to call back their national team” despite “a decision taken by players to participate in the competition. The decision taken by the political authorities is infringing CAF and African Nations Cup (CAN) regulations.”
The Togo government is, in turn, considering legal action against the CAF and the Angolan state for organizing the tournament in a war zone, thereby endangering the lives of participants.

The coach of the Togo squad, Hubert Velud, has challenged the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to take a stance in this matter.

A Deadly Ambush
Two days before the official kickoff of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, which is one of the most prestigious sports events in Africa, the Togo soccer squad was on their way to a training camp when their bus was ambushed by gunmen shortly after crossing the Angolan border from Pointe Noire, Congo.

Togo’s press officer, the assistant coach, and bus driver were killed in the attack that lasted for more than 20 minutes. The heavily traumatized Togo team returned home. After a period of mourning and deliberation with the Togo government, it was decided to withdraw from the tournament.

A rebel group named Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (FLEC) claimed responsibility for the attack saying that the attack was not directed at the Togo soccer team but “against Angola’s illegal occupation of Cabinda” Province.

Thus far, two suspects have been arrested by Angolan authorities.

Suggestions to cancel the tournament were rejected by the CAF. “Terrorism will never have the upper hand over our activities,” CAF president Issa Hayatou was reported as saying by the BBC.

Other than tightened security measures, especially in Cabinda Province, the tournament went ahead as planned. On Sunday night, the Africa Cup of Nations came to an end with a 1-0 victory of Egypt over Ghana.

Egypt rules Africa again, makes history
By Femi Atoyebi /www.punchng.com/Monday, 1 Feb 2010

Super-sub Mohammed Gedo‘s 85th minute lone strike was enough for the defending champions the Pharaohs of Egypt to beat Ghana‘s Black Stars in Sunday’s final at the Estadio 11 de Novembre, Luanda and win their third consecutive Africa Nations Cup. The win means Egypt has won the competition for the seventh time.

Gedo, who came on for Emad Moteab in the 70th minute, played a one-two with striker Mohammed Zidan before curling the ball past the outstretched hands of keeper Richard Kingson.

The goal meant Gedo won the highest goalscorer award with five goals and he also kept his tournament record of scoring in every match he appeared as a substitute.

The Pharaohs were overwhelming favourites to win the trophy for a third consecutive time and the Ghanaians like in their previous games, started cautiously, getting a lot of men behind the ball whenever the Egyptians attacked.

And they should have been 1-0 up in the 14th minute when the impressive Dede Ayew won a free-kick wide on the right. But Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu missed missed his shot from Asamoah Gyan‘s low drive into the box.

Despite their mass defending however, the Black Stars were almost behind in the 41st minute when captain Ahmed Hassan, who has now won his fourth Nations Cup title, narrowly failed to get his head to a free-kick by Hani Said at the far post and both sides went into the break without a goal.

Both sides tried to sustain the pressure in the second half and it showed when referee Koman Coulibaly from Mali gave out three yellow cards in five minutes to Ghana‘s Opoku Agyeman (47th) and Egypt‘s Sayed Moawad (48th) and Ahmed Al Muhammadi (52nd).

In the 59th minute Ehytp got another yellow when Hossam Ghali pulled back Kwadwo Asamoah. Samuel Inkoom was menacing on the right flank but it was Egypt that finally broke the deadlock in the 85th minute to send the Pharaohs and their fans into wild jubilations.

The Pharaohs previous triumphs were in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006 and 2008. Cameroun, who was knocked out by the Egyptians 3-1 in the quarterfinals and Ghana are joint second, having won the biennial competition four times respectively.

Egypt takes third straight title in Africa Cup iof Nations
From: AFP /February 01, 2010

Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these?EGYPT beat Ghana 1-0 in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations today with with supersub Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagy lifting the Pharaohs to their third straight title.
Gedo, who has scored from the bench in Egypt’s last four games in Angola, came on in the 63rd minute and produced his magic with five minutes left to cement Egypt’s standing as the kings of Africa.

The win also gave Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata a history-making third championship and extended Egypt’s unbeaten record in the competition to an astonishing 19 games.

Ghana, one of Australia’s group opponents in the World Cup finals, began in enterprising fashion, matching the Egyptians for speed and dexterity.

In-form striker Asamoah Gyan had an early shot go high over the Pharaoh’s crossbar and Serie A-based Kwadwo Asamoah had a long range effort safely scooped up by Essam al-Hadary as the supposed ‘underdogs’ counter attacked with menace.

Down at the other end Egypt were proving slippery down their right flank.

Towards the end of the first period both skipper Ahmed Hassan, on his 172nd international appearance, and Motaeb, failed to connect with a floating 25m Egyptian freekick into the box.

Honours even it was as the sides re-emerged after the break with the 50,000 capacity Chinese-built stadium by now three-quarters full and the near-40 degree heat which greeted the players at kick-off cooling down as night fell.

Opoku Agyemang went into Mali referee Coulibaly Koman’s book for an ill-judged tackle on Ahmed al-Mohamady and not to be outdone Egypt’s Sayed Moawad picked up a yellow card seconds later for handball.

Koman had his hand in his pocket again to fish out a card for al-Mohamady after a collision with Opoku, with Gyan’s resulting 28m freekick edging over the woodwork.

Shehata introduced Zamalek defender Mohamed Abdel Shafi for Moawad on 56 minutes.

The game badly needed a goal but what it got was another booking, this time Ghaly for pulling Asamoah.

Gyan had al-Hadary at full stretch on the hour but the keeper needn’t have worried as the Rennes forward’s shot curled round to the left of the near-post with the ball crashing into the side netting.

Shehata brought on supersub Gedo with 20 minutes left for Motaeb hoping the Al-Ittihad striker would repeat his magic.

Ghana’s best chance came in the 78th minute when al-Hadary did well to punch away Gyan’s lethal looking 28m freekick as Ghana’s youngsters had Egypt’s red shirts on the run.

But with the game heading towards extra-time, Gedo conjured up the decisive goal with a sublime 1-2 with Zidan down the left to slot an angled shot past Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

– AFP


UN /ONU :

Ethiopia – The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opens in Addis Ababa
01/02/2010/nazret.com/By JASON McLURE

Ethiopia – After Losing a Post, Qaddafi Rebukes the African Union

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state Sunday after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa.

“I do not believe we can achieve something concrete in the coming future,” said Colonel Qaddafi, before introducing President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as his successor at the African Union’s annual summit meeting, held in Addis Ababa. “The political elite of our continent lacks political awareness and political determination. The world is changing into 7 or 10 countries, and we are not even aware of it.”

South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries opposing Colonel Qaddafi’s attempts to form a continental government, which many view as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.


Ethiopia – The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opens in Addis Ababa

Source: AU

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 31 January 2010- The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opened in Addis Ababa today. The Summit’s theme is “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Prospects and Challenges for Development”.

The Assembly meeting started with a call by the outgoing AU Chairperson Brother Leader Muammar El Gaddafi, leader of the Libyan Revolution, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Jamahiriya and Chairperson of the African Union, for a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the Ethiopian airlines plane that crashed off Beirut on 25 January.

Speakers at the opening ceremony included Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AU Commission; Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations; Mr. Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapattero, President of Spain; and Brother Leader Muammar El Gaddafi respectively.

Mr. Ping was the first to make his presentation. He reminded the Heads of State and Government and other delegates of two major events taking place in Africa this year i.e. the African Cup which is taking place in Angola and the FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament to be held in South Africa in June and July. He condemned the attacks on the Togolese national soccer team in which three people killed as the team was on its way to the African Cup tournament. He also announced that many African countries had pledged support to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, saying a special account for Haiti has been launched with the African development Bank. He extended his condolences to the UN and families of those UN members who perished in the disaster

Mr. Ping’s account of the activities of the African Union Commission was fashioned after the four pillars of the Commission i.e. peace and security; development, integration and cooperation; shared values and institution and capacity building. He gave an overview of the successes, challenges and setbacks that characterised 2009. The Chairperson noted that the situation on the continent was mixed. There had been notable successes and also some challenges.

Among the successes in peace and security, Mr. Ping highlighted that the peace architecture is now operational. He noted the establishment of governments of national unity in Kenya and Zimbabwe during 2009. He applauded the move to democratic rule in Guinea where elections are due to take place. In Somalia, Mr. Ping noted a new dynamism towards peace. He also expressed gratitude to Burundi and Uganda for their commitment to peace by sending troops to Somalia. The Chairperson appealed to AU Member States to contribute further by sending troops to support the 5500 that are now in Somalia to protect its institutions, which have not existed for the past 20 years. He applauded the resumption of relations between Chad and Sudan. The Chairperson also recalled that 2010 was declared year of Peace and Security in Africa.

Turning to the challenges, Mr. Ping expressed concern at the persistence of conflicts and return of coup d’etats, as they affect stability on the continent. In this respect, the AU has adopted a firm attitude against coup d’etats, he reported. He called for vigilance in protecting the peace processes in Africa. He also appealed for vigilance against human and drug trafficking, and organised crime

Under the pillar of shared values, the Chairperson observed that legislative elections in some countries are consistent with values that have been adopted by the African Union. He went further to report on the adoption of the African Convention for Assistance and Protection of Displaced persons in December 2009, which will help protect displaced people. This is the first such instrument in the world.

Under the pillar of development, cooperation and integration, Mr. Ping highlighted that Africa has consolidated its position with the G8 and G20 and that the Commission has already started preparations for its participation in the upcoming meetings. There has also been a marked increase in interest in Africa among development partners and the international community.

Other notable achievements under this pillar include the Afro- Arab cooperation. Chairperson Ping announced the Afro Arab summit to be held this year in Tripoli, Libya. AUC has also taken moves to strengthen the position of Africa at the WTO and in other international forums.

One of the key achievements of Africa in the last year was the fact that the continent spoke with one voice at the Copenhagen Summit, thereby making sure that its voice was heard.

Mr. Ping highlighted that concrete projects have been launched in infrastructure, energy, ICT, agriculture and education. The Inga dam in Central Africa, the Kafue Gorge in Southern Africa were given as examples of satisfactory projects. In education, the Pan African University project is underway and this will help attain the MDGs. In agricultural development, NEPAD and the Regional Economic Communities (RECS) have moved the CAADP compact forward. He reported that 13 states have so far signed up to the compact and he called upon other member states to do the same.

The AUC has also made progress in driving the science, technology and information society; and in this regard, Mr. Ping gave the example of the telemedicine facility, which was inaugurated at the AU clinic on 28 January through collaboration with the Indian government.

Under shared values, Mr. Ping reported that architecture for good governance has been worked out for Africa. He reiterated that the AUC promotes shared values and is working in areas such as human rights, good governance, protection of refugees and displaced persons among others. The Chairperson said the AU continues to promote gender equality through the Solemn Declaration on Gender and Equality in Africa and other instruments. The policy on gender is being translated into deeds, he added.

Culture is also being promoted as a major axis of action for the AUC. The 2nd pan African Congress held in 2009, was an opportunity to celebrate one of Africa’s sons, Mr. Kwame Nkurumah. As regards civil society participation in Africa’s development, Mr. Ping said it is being included through the work of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSSOC), an organ of the AU.

Under the institution and capacity building pillar, the Chairperson reported improvements in internal governance, human resources and financial management

In his speech, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon thanked Africa for its assistance to Haiti. The UNSG also announced the creation of the MDG advocacy group composed of eminent persons from all walks of life who will raise awareness and emphasise Africa’s MDG priorities. He commended Africa for declaring the year of Peace and Security in Africa and pledged the UN’s full support.

The Spanish president Mr. Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapattero commended the AU’s search for peace, and its efforts to reduce conflict. He reiterated his country’s firm commitment to peace and security and to the fight against trafficking. He said his country has greatly strengthened its cooperation with Africa and that a lot of that assistance had been channeled to education, health and agricultural development.

Delivering the Assembly’s opening statement, Brother Leader Muammar El Gaddafi, leader of the Libyan Revolution, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Jamahiriya and outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Africa encouraged Africa to unite and fight for its development as a single entity. Mr. Gaddafi said speaking as one will help Africa resolve many of its challenges.

Eco Fashion Huge in NYC, Grammys…and the UN?
by Amanda Wills /earth911.com/February 1st, 2010

Fashion has taken a serious nosedive to rock-bottom with PR messes in the past couple weeks with H&M’s trashed clothing scandal and India’s organic cotton fiasco. So with New York Fahsion Week just two weeks out, eco-fashion can only go up, right?

We know one thing’s for sure, there are plenty of people behind the concept, including top NYC designers at last week’s Eco Fashion Week, big celebs at the Grammy Awards and the United Nations (really!).

Jason Mraz proved plastic is the new black as he walked the red carpet on Sunday night decked out in what we can only call really haute fashion in a sleek suit that you would never know was made from recycled goods.

“Mraz’s ensemble may have appeared to be a basic suit and tie combo, but, in fact, it is from EcoGear, a line that utilizes eco-friendly materials,” USA Today reports. “His suit is made of polyester from recycled water bottles and wool, and his thin, black sparkly tie is made of recycled casette tapes.”

And as we promised in our headline, the U.N. is backing the idea of eco-friendly fashion as well as it has officially dubbed 2010 as the International Year for Biodiversity. “EcoChic Fashion” is one of the U.N.’s top plans for combating the fast-fading flora and fauna.

According to FutureFashion, “Fashion uses more water than any industry other than agriculture. At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles.” It makes sense to incorporate our everyday plastics into fashion, cutting down on the use of virgin materials.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development is calling for the sustainable use of natural resources, calling on ecological fashion firms to use organic materials and production methods that do not damage the environment.

War crimes trials unlikely for Israel or Hamas
Date: 01 February 2010 /By Chris Stephen/news.scotsman.com

JUSTICE and politics will clash in spectacular fashion this week when the United Nations General Assembly meets to review war crimes allegations against Hamas and Israel during the fighting in Gaza at the end of 2008.

Three months ago, the Assembly told both sides that unless they launch their own investigations it would call for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to do the job instead. And the signs are that neither side has complied.

Israel launched its
Gaza operation, named Cast Lead, in December 2008, saying it was in response to months of Hamas missile attacks on Israeli towns. Planes, tanks and troops were sent into the Gaza Strip and when it was over, 14 Israelis and at least 1,100 Palestinians were dead.

Last September a UN report, by respected South African jurist Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of multiple crimes, ranging from the bombing of hospitals and a mosque to the use of Palestinian civilians as “human shields”.

His report also blamed Hamas for firing unguided rockets at Israel, but the bulk of its 575 pages took aim at Israel’s military, with Goldstone, like the UN Assembly, calling for an ICC investigation if neither protagonist does the job.

So far, neither has done so. Hamas has written to UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, saying it has found little to investigate and that its missiles were intended for military targets. Israel has called the UN’s report biased and said it has already held inquiries into the conduct of its military.

For advocates of war crimes justice, the UN’s task is now clear: if neither side will investigate, the ICC should weigh in.

This is certainly a well-trodden path. The UN Security Council set up its first war crimes court in 1993, The Hague Tribunal, to prosecute crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and followed with a second for Rwanda’s genocide in 1994.

In 2005 it requested the ICC begin investigations of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region, in a case that has seen Sudan’s president, Omar Al Bashir, indicted for crimes against humanity.

The ICC is also currently busy looking at allegations of crimes in Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic. So why not do the same for the Middle East?

Israel’s answer is that the process is flawed. For one thing, the UN’s Human Rights Council, which commissioned the Goldstone report, limited its mandate. Goldstone was allowed to look at events only during the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, and not at the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in the months beforehand.

Also, Israel is incensed that the Council has refused to demand similar action against Sri Lanka, despite a UN report last year accusing that country’s government of violations against Tamil civilians in the closing stages of the campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Finally, Israel insists its actions were “defensive” – saying the action it took was the only way to stop the missile strikes.

None of this would be likely to impress a war crimes judge. War crimes law does not debate the nature of a war, defensive or offensive, only how wars are conducted.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, would have to explain why unguided missiles were fired at Israel, since they would almost certainly hit civilian areas.

But the chances of the ICC being ordered into action are slight. The UN General Assembly is unable to order a war crimes investigation by the ICC. Only the Security Council can do that, and that is almost certainly not going to happen.

The United States fears that an investigation by the ICC will derail any chances of starting a new Middle East peace process. Certainly, it is hard to see how meaningful negotiations could start among statesmen under threat of war crimes indictment.

The result is that the US will veto any vote on the ICC that comes before the Security Council – and it will not be alone. At least three of the permanent members, Britain, France and Russia, are likely to take the same line, and for the same reasons, blocking any move in the Security Council to bring the ICC into action.

War crimes advocates are less than pleased, fearing the Security Council will send out the wrong signal – that it is willing to set up war crimes courts for Africa and the Balkans, but not for the Middle East. And that, when it comes to the crunch, politics will trump justice every time.

“At the end of the day everybody is playing politics here,” says Fred Abrahams of New York-based Human Rights Watch. “The people left out of the equation are the civilians who lost their lives.”

RELIEF EFFORTS IN HAITI PLACE SANITATION AS TOP PRIORITY
news.brunei.fm/NAM NEWS NETWORK/ Feb 1st, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 1 (NNN-AGENCIES) -Special emphasis on improving sanitation to prevent outbreak of endemic diseases as cholera, malaria and dengue is top priority in Haiti as
relief effort focus on providing food and drinking water for quake victims.

The World Food Programme (WFP) over the weekend started issuing food tickets which Haitians can use to trade for food portions under a 15-day emergency ticket-for-food relief programme.

Up to 2.4 million people will benefit from this special programme which is aimed at preventing further chaos during food distribution.

More than a dozen distribution spots were set up in the Haitian capital to facilitate the project, a WFP spokesperson said.

“We have formed 16 fixed distribution sites around the city. We aim to reach 10,000 people at each site,” said Marcus Pryor.

The UN body has so far provided food for around 650,000 Haitians in the 18 days after a major earthquake hit the Caribbean island on Jan. 12.

“Each family will be allotted 60 pounds (27 kg) of rice. Only female heads of household will be allowed into the distribution area to bring the food out,” the WFP spokesperson said. “We will be loading and transporting during the night because of the dense population and traffic within Port-au-Prince.”

The same procedure will be repeated on a daily basis and at the end of the 15 days, the WFP will assess the situation to see if it is reaching those most in need.

The Haitian capital experienced chaos in the last couple of weeks when hungry crowds overwhelmed Uruguayan Air Force and Brazilian Army food distributors.

The UN said that such chaos occur when available food is not enough.

On Sat Jan 30, an estimated 2,000 people from a refugee camp near the presidential palace used a single portable toilet while others were forced to use a gutter running close to the camp.

Water had been recycled when it was brought in by trucks. Women in the camp used the scarce, sometimes even unclean water to wash vegetables and cook food first before recycling it as bathing water.

The United Nations institutions and other aid organisations have started digging latrines for 20,000 people, according to UNICEF coordinator for water and sanitation Silvia Gaya.

An estimated total of 700,000 people are currently residing in refugee camps after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

More international institutions are joining the UN-led efforts to build latrines and to handle solid waste disposal.

International relief efforts are still overwhelming at Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport with over 100 flights in a single day.

While UNICEF and some NGOs are registering children who may have been separated from their parents or families, some American nationals were reported
ly held by local Haitian authorities for allegedly taking some Haitian children to the Dominican Republic without proper travel documents.

Press reports said that these Americans, ten members of U.S. charity group from the state of Idaho, would appear in front of a local judge later today.

The five men and five women with U.S. passports were caught Fri Jan 29 while they were about to cross border to enter the Dominican Republic with 33 children, aged between two months to 14 years.

Advocates both in Haiti and in other countries have cautioned that with so many people still unaccounted for after the quake, adoptions especially cross-border adoptions, should not go forward until after it can be established that the children have no relatives to take care of them in Haiti.

The U.S. embassy in Haiti confirmed the detention of its citizens for “alleged violations of Haitian laws related to immigration.”

The Haitian authorities have also warned of a rise in child smuggling cases which was making use of the chaos in the aftermath of the quake on Jan. 12.

The person in charge of a Haitian social welfare institute said “numerous children” have left Haiti without obtaining legal authorisation.

Meanwhile Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Africa to increase its assistance to Haiti.

At the opening of the 14th African Union Summit on Communications Technology in Africa, before representatives from 53 member countries, Moon recalled the African roots with Haitian culture and history.

He also said the disaster caused the death of 84 UN officials (40 civilians, 24 military and 18 policemen. — NNN-AGENCIES

Sudan pledges to cooperate with UN and AU on peace strategy
Monday 1 February 2010/ www.sudantribune.com

January 31, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has expressed today Sudan’s readiness to cooperate with the UN and the African Union in a four-track announced by the UN Secretary General in Addis Ababa.

Al-Bashir made his statement during a special meeting on Sudan held on the sidelines of the 14th African Summit. Besides, Ban Ki-Moon and the new AU Chairman Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, the meeting was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zinawi.

Ban Ki-Moon told the special summit on Sunday that the common strategic objective for 2010 should be a peaceful resolution to the two conflicts in Sudan. He further said UN would pursue a four-track strategy to achieve this goal.

The UN chief emphasized the UN will work with Sudanese parties, the AU “to coordinate activities and forge a consensus on the way forward,” strengthen the UN presence on the ground, promote discussions between the parties on key post-referendum issues, and to work with our partners to help build the capacity particularly in South Sudan.

President al-Bashir confirmed the readiness of the Government of Sudan to cooperate with representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and African Union Commission Chairperson for the enforcement of the four tracks, said Presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail in a statement to the official Sudan News Agency.

Ismail also said that Bashir briefed the meeting on the latest developments in Darfur, elections, and Sudan’s relations with international community and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

According to the presidential adviser, the summit praised the positive developments taking place in Sudan, particularly on the implementation of the CPA and the situation in Darfur.

Jean Ping, the chairman of the AU commission and Ban ki-Moon this week said worried about the possible secession of the southern Sudan.

Ban reminded the CPA parties their commitment to make unity attractive but stressed that “In the end, the future of Sudan rests with the Sudanese people.” He also said the UN and AU must “provide them with critical assistance on their difficult journey towards lasting peace and prosperity.”

(ST)


USA :

Zimbabwe: Sanctions – the Silent Atomic Bombs
Tafataona Mahoso/ The Herald/ 01022010

Harare — By far the worst sanctions story, which is not widely seen as a sanctions story at all, is the hushed news about the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Grade Seven national examination results for rural schools.

This is the first part of a two-part series By Tafataona Mahoso

Readers may have seen Mr David Mutambara on ZTV News at Eight on 19 January 2010 and they may have read the Sunday Mail story on 17 January 2010 on page 3 which was entitled Rural schools record zero percent pass rate.

The same readers remember the millennium vision and desired legacy of the liberation movement in government (Zanu-PF) for Zimbabwe as “Education for all by the year 2000” and “Health for all by the year 2000.”

Because the MDC formations saw their foreign-driven mission as to stop the programmes and wipe out the achievements of liberation movement in government, they came with their own objective and vision which they did not declare openly: Sanctions for all by the year 2000.

We are now receiving the tragic and long-lasting results at the base, at the foundation, of our once excellent national education system.

This is most tragic, as I pointed out in the African Focus instalment for 17 January 2010, because the people who invited the evil and racist sanctions were themselves given free education up to university level by the very same liberation movement in government whose legacy in education they have now turned upside-down, from “Education for all by the year 2000” and “Health for all by the year 2000” to “Sanctions for all by the year 2000.”

On 24 April 2005, my African Focus instalment in The Sunday Mail was entitled “Opposition vent its anger on rural folk” to punish them for continuing to vote for the liberation movement in government.

At that time some of my readers may have thought I was being extreme and unfair. The results are there to see: the worst and most long-lasting effects of the illegal and racist sanctions will be felt at rural growth points, in rural schools and in communal farming areas.

My 24 April 2005 African Focus instalment was provoked by the reactions of the then MDC party in Harare to its defeat in the 2002 Presidential elections and the 2005 parliamentary elections.

The MDC then tried to say that, because it won Parliamentary and Urban Councils seats in Harare and other cities, it would punish “Zanu-PF” farmers by banning them from urban produce markets.

Farmers from Mutoko and Murehwa were therefore ordered not to deliver their fresh farm produce to Mbare Musika.

Unfortunately for the MDC formations, it soon dawned on them that Harare was fed and kept alive by rural farmers, especially those from Mutoko, Murehwa and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe.

So the ban could not last.

What I wrote in the 24 April 2005 African Focus article included the following:

“After the resounding defeat of the Movement for Democratic Change in the last parliamentary elections, some opposition leaders, foreigners supporting the MDC and opposition media have chosen to attack rural communities rather than accept the MDC’s defeat.

“Tony Namate . . . revisited Morgan Tsvangirai’s insult to rural people by declaring ‘The mushrooms have spoken!’ He borrowed Tsvangirai’s outburst against the African land reclamation movement where Tsvangirai said:, ‘Munongomera pese pese kunge hwohwa.’ (Why do you sprout everywhere like mushrooms?)

“Namate elaborated the metaphor, explaining that Tsvangirai’s picture of the rural population was good because mushrooms did not think; they were kept in the dark [by ZESA and because of sanctions]; and they fed on rubbish and excrement.

“Trevor Ncube’s Mail and Guardian went further and suggested that, since most of the 78 seats which Zanu-PF won in 2005 were in rural areas, His Excellency President Robert Mugabe was therefore the President of rural poverty!”

“Then Tsvangirai added yet another astounding insult, saying that the indigenous land reclamation and revolution in land tenure had turned the entire rural population into “stone age scavengers!”

Yet the real meaning of all this was that the purpose of illegal sanctions was to make resettled African farmers look like stone-age scavengers when compared with the well-supported white settler farmers they had replaced!

What makes the April 24, 2005 article important now is my observation that the MDC formations and their foreign sponsors were in expressing not a fact of rural ignorance, but rather a wish to plunge the rural population into darkness and ignorance in the future as a punishment for that population’s historic and heroic role as the backbone of the national the liberation movement and liberation war.

In those MDC outbursts in the sponsored opposition press and at opposition rallies, we were being subjected to the worst anti-African, anti-democratic and anti-popular sentiments of the derivative African bourgeois class. I continued in the April 24 article:

“Most schools where leaders of the African liberation movement studied were based in the rural areas: Chikore, Mt Selinda, Tengwani, Rusitu, Biriiri, Kutama, Mutambara, Hartzel, St Augustine’s, Gokomere and so on.

If Zimbabwe had a way of giving awards to entire rural communities the way it did to former leaders of the Frontline States, our rural communities would also have been brought to the Harare Sheraton (Rainbow Towers).

They would have received awards at the same time and the same platform as Zambia’s first President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, President Josè Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and the surviving relatives and spouses of Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere and other leaders of the former Frontline States.”

I was comforted, however, by the realisation that the heroic rural population had benefited with everyone else from the practical implementation of “Education for all” and “Health for all by the year 2000.”

But now that achievement has been damaged severely.

I did not realise then in 2005 that by documenting the heroic and historic role of rural communities in the liberation and redemption of the African, I was also unintentionally alerting the MDC formations and their hordes of empire-sponsored NGOs to tighten the sanctions screws on the same people in order to try to force them to abandon that historic role.

Two months after my African Focus instalment, former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell went to the site of one of those rural schools, Hartzel, and announced a shocker which we have to revisit in order to put the Grade Seven disaster in context.

Dovetailing into global and regional crises affecting the future of Zimbabwe is the mass shock inflicted on the entire Zimbabwean population through illegal and racist sanctions at the instigation of the United Kingdom.

Without going all the way to admit that the mass shock experienced by Zimbabweans from 2000 to 2005 was a result of illegal sanctions, former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell had this to say to Africa University students and faculty on 2 November 2005:

“The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 is the cornerstone of US policy toward Zimbabwe. Under the Act, the United States conditions aid and financing for Zimbabwe . . . Ladies and gentlemen, no issue today is more important to the future of Zimbabwe nor has the potential to harm the [SADC] region than the growing collapse of the Zimbabwe economy . . . It was more than
dismaying to read a paper published in July by the Centre for Global Development in Washington on the Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe’s Crisis.

“It is estimated that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has set the country back more than half a century. The paper calculated that the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean in 2005 had fallen back to the same level as in 1953… That’s an astonishing reversal of 52 years [at 2005] of progress in only half a dozen years.”

The theory behind the diabolic use of economic terrorism is well established in the ne-oliberal capitalist doctrine which Naomi Klein called “the shock doctrine.”

The sanctions-induced economic and social crisis in Zimbabwe had the effect of taking the country and the people back to 1953 in a short period of six years, according to former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell’s speech on 2 November 2005.

Such a disastrous situation has the effect of recycling the country back to a “frontier” state, a colonial state. It is unfortunate that journalists did not ask Dell what the significance of 1953 was for the forces of illegal regime change. But the education statistics coming out now show what the US Ambassador was celebrating in his 2005 speech.

In 1953, colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier of fresh opportunities for white racists from all over Europe and North America; it was an open “frontier” economically speaking, territorially speaking, ideologically speaking, culturally and morally speaking. African nationalism was still in its infancy.

In 1953, colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier society where Britain resettled its white veterans of the Hitler wars with the assistance of the US Marshall Plan, the World Bank and the Rhodesian piece of racist legislation called the Native Land Husbandry Act which helped to clear African prime farm land of natives.

Indeed a new “frontier” colony is always characterised by a creeping, universalised corruption, whatever name the coloniser may give it. Sanctions brought back mass corruption and the school system was not spared. We heard of teachers who needed to be “juiced” in order to teach.

The year 1953 was the frontier year of the start of the white Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Coming to Zimbabwe in 1990-2000, the combination of structural adjustment, illegal sanctions and financial warfare was supposed to reverse the African land reclamation revolution and bring back the former Rhodesian settlers to a new post-regime change frontier where the natives would be cleared off the reclaimed prime farmland again in the form of the “rampant mushrooms” and “stone age scavengers” once described by MDC-T leaders.

In the words of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein: “Corruption has been as much a fixture on these contemporary [neoliberal] frontiers as it was during the colonial gold rushes.

Since the most significant privatisation deals are always signed amid the crisis, clear laws and effective regulators are never in place [and if they are they must be removed] — the atmosphere is chaotic, the prices are flexible and so are the [compromising and compromised] politicians.

“What we have been living … is a frontier capitalism with the frontier constantly shifting location from crisis to crisis, moving on as soon as the law catches up.”

Our education system was brought, through sanctions, back to the Rhodesian frontier, with teachers abandoning their classes to go and prospect for diamonds; teachers abandoning pupils to go

and work on farms in South Africa and elsewhere.

Those who stayed behind often demanded illegal cash payments from pupils in order to replace salaries destroyed by hyperinflation.

At the moment in Zimbabwe the location of the frontier mentality has moved to the make-shift structure called inclusive government and the swarming army of more than 2 500 NGOs besieging the IG.

The country has therefore undergone mass shock and there are things, which those who have suffered mass shock should and should not do.

First, they must know that they have been exposed to pure and raw global events moving at lightning speed. In other words, they have been opened up, through someone else’s strategy of illegal sanctions and through the free flow of Zimbabwe’s wealth and professionals to the outside world.

If our readers wonder what that means they should contemplate the lightning events which finally led to the temporary abandonment of the Zimbabwean Dollar. These events have not been explained in the media except from the point of view of those who imposed the illegal sanctions on the people.

According to Naomi Klein: “A state of shock, by definition, is a moment when there is a gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them.”

The events which destroyed the Zimbabwe Dollar and led to the adoption of multiple foreign currencies, are categorized in disaster theory as “excess reality, pure event, raw reality, unprocessed by story, narrative or anything that could bridge the gap between reality and understanding.

Without [a full story of our own leading to a home grown strategy], we are . . . intensely vulnerable to people who are ready to take advantage of the chaos for their own ends.

As soon as we have a new narrative that offers a perspective from within on the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make (our) sense again . . . [For] in moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure — whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or … a terrorist attack.”

So the real purpose of terror is not just the bodily pain which victims feel from injury, hunger or deprivation.

The biggest harm is the shock and “terror by forgetting” which produces “the gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them,” in the words of Naomi Klein.

“Terror by forgetting” means that people begin to experience their lives in isolation and as isolated events, which are disjointed. “Terror by forgetting” first and foremost destroys relationships among people and relationships, which connect events affecting people.

In this sense, the ancient Greeks were like Africans. They understood “terror by forgetting” when their author Sophocles wrote the tragedies of Oedipus at Colonus and Oedipus Tyrannus.

The source of the script is the legend of Oedipus who was saved and raised by foreigners. When he was fully-grown up, he began to travel and in his travels he came to the land of his ancestors without recognising it.

There he fought and killed his own father Laius during a quarrel.

His father’s people saw him as hero, the same way some Africans may see US President Barack Obama or his Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray or even former US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

So Oedipus was offered his own father’s crown as king, which meant that he also took over the queen, his real biological mother Jocasta, as wife!

After his own mother had borne him four children, the truth was revealed to him.

In anguish, Oedipus put out his own eyes and became a wanderer in foreign lands. Anglo-Saxon powers have brought a curse (chikwambo) upon our children, the way Sophocles’ Oedipus was cursed.

Illegal sanctions have produced a pervasive and paralysing effect on the whole society.

Black History Month Highlights Leaders
By WomensRadio Staff/www.womensradio.com/01022010

WomensRadio Staff is made up of the dedicated men and women who work to bring information to light that aids in creating a happier, healthier and more prosperous world.

February is Black History Month
With the celebration of Martin Luther King’s 81st birthday on Monday January 18th and the coming to the end of the first year of office for our first black president E-Tech would like to honor all those who contributed to African American History achievements. The 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States marked a defining moment in both American and World history. This historic event was another step toward Martin Luther King’s dream of a more equitable society. Throughout Black History Month we remember how Black American leaders helped to bring our Nation together.

A History of Black History
In February, the nation joins Black Americans in celebrating their rich culture, heritage, and contributions to the American lifestyle during Black History Month. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week” in 1926 which was established by Carter G. Woodson and was expanded to a month long celebration in 1976. Woodson is said to have chosen the second week in February for the celebration to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and editor, and Abraham Lincoln.

The scope to which Blacks have contributed to American life can be witnessed at even the most fundamental levels: Garrett Morgan invented the first Traffic Signal (1923); Lewis Latimer invented the Carbon Filament used in Light Bulbs (1882); Richard Spikes invented the Automatic Gear Shift (1932) and Lydia O. Newman invented the Hair Brush (1898). Today, Black Americans are still achieving firsts in politics, education and business: Condoleezza Rice was the first Black Woman to serve as US Secretary of State; President Barack Obama was the first Black President of the Harvard Law Review and was the first Black to run for the Democratic Party’s Presidential Candidacy; and Robert Johnson, owner of Black Entertainment Television, became the first Black Billionaire in 2001.

The Black Consumer Market
The Black population is younger than the rest of the U.S population. In 2008 the median age of the Black population was 41 compared to the general U.S. population at nearly 45. In addition, females represent a greater percentage of the Black population in the United States. While the Black American median household income is lower than the U.S. average, the percentage of Black American households with an income of $50,000.00 or more grew 13.5% between 2003 and 2009, compared with 8.4% for the total U.S. households.

According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, the buying power of Black Americans was $855 Billion in 2008 and estimates the buying power in 2012 to reach $1.1 trillion. In that same year, the US Census Bureau estimated the number of Black residents at 40.7 million, comprising 13.5% of the total US population. The number of Black-owned businesses was 1.7 million in 2008, a 58% increase since 1997 and Black businesses generated revenues of $92.7 Billion that year. Black Americans are also gaining ground in education. In 2008, 18% of Black Americans held Bachelor Degrees and 1.5 million held advanced degrees (Master’s, J.D., M.D. PhD).

Black Americans are attracted to companies that represent their lifestyle with targeted messages and images. It is the responsibility of marketers to attract and maintain a relationship with the Black consumer.

“Black folk are not just dark-skinned white people. Marketers who consciously establish a relationship with this lucrative yet under-served market, by better understanding the African-American culture, mindset, attitude, behavior and lifestyle, will reap significant long-term rewards from a loyal, influential, increasingly affluent customer base,” – Herbert Kemp, Founder & CEO of What is Black about IT? LLC.

About Ethnic Technologies:
Ethnic Technologies, LLC is the Global Leader in Multicultural Marketing, Research, Data Enhancement, Segmentation and Modeling Analytics. The EthniCenter® from Ethnic Technologies is the result of over 30 years of continuous multicultural, religious and language preference research. E-TECH’s Multicultural Ethnic, Language Preference and Degree of Assimilation selects outperform the competition in accuracy and response rates time after time. Whether using the data for mailing, telemarketing, email campaigns or modeling, the same excellent results have been achieved.

E-Tech ® and The EthniCenter ® are registered trademarks of Ethnic Technologies, LLC

Nigeria Group Not “Directly Responsible” For Oil Raid
By REUTERS/Published: February 1, 2010

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s main militant group said on Monday it was not directly responsible for the sabotage of an oil pipeline that forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut down three pumping stations.

The sabotage on Saturday came hours after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) ended a three-month old cease-fire and threatened to unleash “an all-out assault” on Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry.

One security source, who declined to be identified, said the sabotage on Shell’s pipeline, located in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, might have been the result of oil thieves trying to tap into it rather than a targeted militant attack.

“MEND was not directly responsible,” the group said in an email to Reuters.

“It was certainly a response to our order to resume hostilities by one of the various freelance groups we endorse.”

Shell said on Sunday the sabotage had caused some oil to spill into the delta’s creeks and that it was in the process of recovering spilt crude.

It was not clear how much oil production had been shut down.

Attacks by militants and disgruntled community members on Nigeria’s oil sector in the past few years have prevented the OPEC member from producing much above two-thirds of its capacity, costing it about $1 billion (627 million pounds) a month in lost revenues.

Nigeria’s light crude is popular with U.S. and European refiners as it is easily processed into fuel products and previous oil attacks have helped lift global oil prices.

But several key MEND field commanders accepted a presidential offer of amnesty last year and it is unclear what operational capacity the group has left or who is in charge.

POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY

The threat by MEND to resume hostilities could not have come at a worse time for Nigeria.

President Umaru Yar’Adua has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia for more than two months but has failed to formally transfer powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, bringing the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

The Senate, former heads of state and ex-ministers, the Nigerian Bar Association and the opposition have all called on Yar’Adua to formally notify parliament of his absence and allow Jonathan to take over until his health is restored.

Yar’Adua was the driving force behind the amnesty programme last year which saw thousands of gunmen hand over weapons in return for clemency and the promise of stipends, re-training and investment in the region.

Community leaders had warned Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence was stalling the amnesty programme and forcing former rebels to re-think their participation.

MEND’s announcement piles further pressure on Nigeria’s leaders to resolve the impasse over who is in charge.

The Trans Ramos Pipeline has been v
ulnerable to militant attacks in the past.

MEND in June sabotaged the same pipeline which connects to the Tunu, Opukusu and Ugbotubu flow stations and feeds crude oil to the Shell-operated Forcados export terminal.

(Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Noah Barkin)

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 1
www.prnewswire.com/ Feb. 1

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Following is the daily Black History Month feature from the U.S. Census Bureau:

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Profile America for the first day of Black History Month. February is a time to recall and honor the many positive contributions to our nation made by the people of African descent. Started as a special week 84 years ago by historian Carter G. Woodson, the observance is now a full month of activities across the country. There are just over 41 million African-Americans in the U.S., 13½ percent of the total population. They are the largest minority group in 24 states. New York has the largest number of blacks at 3.5 million, and 17 other states are home to al least 1 million. The state with the highest percentage of African-Americans among its population is Mississippi at 38 percent. This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB10-FF.01

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look under the “Newsroom” button).

SOURCE U.S. Census Bureau

 


CANADA :

Canada – Minister Cannon Concludes Successful Discussions at African Union Summit
www.isria.com/1_February_2010

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded a successful attendance at the 14th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from January 29 to 31.

While in Addis Ababa, Minister Cannon met with numerous African leaders and ministers, including Ethiopian Prime Minister, His Excellency Meles Zenawi and Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Seyoum Mesfin.

“Ethiopia is a valued development partner, especially in light of the progress made toward achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in health and education,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada would also like to express its sincere condolences to the government and the people of Ethiopia for the airplane tragedy that occurred on January 25.”

Minister Cannon also met with His Excellency Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

“Canada is pleased to have worked closely with the African Union and previously with the Organization of African Unity for many years,” said Minister Cannon. “The African Union plays an increasing leadership role across the African continent and remains a valuable international partner for Canada.”

On January 30, in Addis Ababa, the Minister addressed the 22nd Summit of the New Partnership for African Development’s (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.

“Canada welcomes the further integration of the NEPAD into the structure of the African Union,” said Minister Cannon. “Bringing this key continental initiative under the auspices of the AU is a crucial step in making its implementation more effective and widespread.”

During his address, Minister Cannon also provided an overview of Canada’s plans regarding the G8 and G20 Summits, which were welcomed at the opening ceremony of the African Union Assembly by Chairperson Ping.

“Canada is proud to be G8 President in 2010. In June, Canada will host two separate summits: the G8 Muskoka Summit and the G20 Summit in Toronto. This will be a landmark year as it provides Canada with an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate international leadership as well as the effectiveness of the G8 and G20 in addressing pressing global challenges.

“Prime Minister Harper has said that as president of the G8 in 2010, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions. Members of the G8 can make a tangible difference in maternal and child health and Canada will be making this the top priority in June. Far too many lives and unexplored futures have already been lost for want of relatively simple health care solutions.

“The G20 will continue to work toward restoring the health of the global economic and financial system,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada will use its presidency of the G8 to respond to the key development and peace and security challenges which are at the top of the international agenda.”

Minister Cannon congratulated the President of Malawi, His Excellency Bingu wa Mutharika, for assuming the rotating African Union Chairmanship of the Assembly for the next 12 months.

“We hope that Canada and the African Union can continue to work in close partnership as the Commission’s capabilities and responsibilities continue to grow.”



AUSTRALIA :


EUROPE :

14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opens in Addis Ababa
Written by Ethiopian News Agency / www.cocorioko.net/01022010

Addis Ababa, January 31, 2010 (Addis Ababa) – The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) was held here on Sunday under the theme Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development. The Summit observed a minute of silence for the people who lost their lives during the recent tragic Ethiopian aircraft crash near Beirut. The new AU Flag has also been inaugurated. ICT exhibition was also opened in connection with the theme of the summit.
Addressing the Summit African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping said the commission has carried out various activities in peace and security, shared values, building human and institutional capacities of the commission.

He said various projects are being carried out that would speed up the economic integration of the continent.

The chairperson mentioned, among others, the Addis Ababa – Djibouti railways and the construction of Gibe project in Ethiopia.

Africa’s historical decision to voice out its common stand has brought promising future for Africa in the issue of environment. The commission is engaged in preparation of G-20 due to be held in Canada.

Ping commended the constructive role played by IGAD to ensure durable peace and stability in the region.

He mentioned the flagship of African university and establishment of African investment bank as major steps.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on his part said the UN would continue its support to address the challenges of Africa as the continent is strategic and operational partner of the UN.

The Secretary General underlined that member states should also provide the necessary resources in support of AU commission.

He said the UN remains strongly committed to continue to work with the AU to strengthen the AMISO.M.

The resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa run counter to fundamental UN values , international laws and AU ‘s Own Constitutional Act .

The secretary-general said “Our challenges are linked, our solutions must be as well.“

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on his part said Spain remains the genuine partners of Africa.

The PM, who is also the current EU President, said Spain has increased its development and cooperation remarkably in the last few years.

He urged the international community to take bold preventive measures on piracy and AU should intensify efforts.

He said EU will work closely to enhance the capacity of AU in various issues including climate change and terrorism within the framework of development and cooperation policies.


CHINA :

U.S. Arms for Taiwan Send Beijing a Message
By HELENE COOPER/www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01

WASHINGTON — For the past year, China has adopted an increasingly muscular position toward the United States, berating American officials for the global economic crisis, stage-managing President Obama’s visit to China in November, refusing to back a tougher climate change agreement in Copenhagen and standing fast against American demands for tough new Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Now, the Obama administration has started to push back. In announcing an arms sales package to Taiwan worth $6 billion on Friday, the United States leveled a direct strike at the heart of the most sensitive diplomatic issue between the two countries since America affirmed the “one China” policy in 1972.

The arms package was doubly infuriating to Beijing coming so soon after the Bush administration announced a similar arms package for Taiwan in 2008, and right as tensions were easing somewhat in Beijing and Taipei’s own relations. China’s immediate, and outraged, reaction — cancellation of some military exchanges and announcement of punitive sanctions against American companies — demonstrates, China experts said, that Beijing is feeling a little burned, particularly because the Taiwan arms announcement came on the same day that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly berated China for not taking a stronger position on holding Iran accountable for its nuclear program.

While administration officials sounded a uniform public note, cautioning Beijing not to allow this latest tiff to damage overall relations, some administration officials suggested privately that the timing of the arms sales and the tougher language on Iran was calculated to send a message to Beijing to avoid assumptions that President Obama would be deferential to China over American security concerns and existing agreements.

“This was a case of making sure that there was no misunderstanding that we will act in our own national security interests,” one senior administration official said. A second Obama administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said pointedly: “Unlike the previous administration, we did not wait until the end of our administration to go ahead with the arms sales to Taiwan. We did it early.”

But larger questions remain about where the Obama administration is heading on China policy, and whether the new toughness signals a fundamentally new direction and will yield results that last year’s softer approach did not.

Beyond the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, management of the American relationship with China is one of Mr. Obama’s biggest foreign policy challenges. Flush with cash, China’s economy is growing mightily, and China has become one of the biggest foreign lenders to the United States. China also is an increasingly critical American trading partner and a global rival in influence and economic power.

“The president’s view is that obviously we have to have a mature enough relationship with China that we can be candid and firm where we disagree and cooperate forcefully when we agree,” a senior administration official said. He insisted that the timing of the arms package and Mrs. Clinton’s tough words were “not designed to send a gratuitous message to China, but to demonstrate the firmness of our position.”

China has a history of getting off to a tough start with American administrations. President Bill Clinton alienated Beijing with tough talk on human rights, even signing an executive order that made renewal of trade privileges for China dependent on progress on human rights. But Mr. Clinton reversed himself in 1994, saying that the United States and China would move forward faster on issues of mutual concern if Beijing was not isolated.

Similarly, President George W. Bush’s first dealings with the Chinese were also fractious, including an effort to recover American airmen whose spy plane was forced down off the Chinese coast.

“The Obama administration came in exactly the opposite,” said Steven Clemons, director of foreign policy programs at the New America Foundation. “They needed China on economic issues, climate change, Iran, North Korea. So they came in wanting to do this lovely dance with China, but that didn’t work.”

Instead, China pushed back hard, including at the Copenhagen climate change summit meeting in December, when Beijing balked at American and European demands that China agree to an international monitoring system for emissions targets. Twice, the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, sent an underling to represent him at meetings with Mr. Obama, in what diplomats said was an intentional snub. Mr. Obama later had to track down Mr. Wen, surprising him and appearing at the doorway of a conference room where Mr. Wen was meeting with the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and India.

The United States and China eventually reached a compromise on the monitoring agreement, but the whole incident left a bad taste in the mouths of many Obama administration officials, who believed China had deliberately set out to belittle Mr. Obama, and who were determined to push back and reassert American authority.

“The Chinese,” said James J. Shinn, who was assistant secretary of defense for Asia during the Bush administration, “now seem to have a palpable sense of confidence that they’re more in the driver’s seat than two years ago, across a whole range of issues.”

For Mr. Obama, the arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, may be only the first of many instances this year in which he will run afoul of Beijing.

Some foreign policy experts said that the administration now seemed intent on poking at the sovereignty issues that have long been China’s Achilles’ heel. Mrs. Clinton noted on Friday that Mr. Obama would soon be meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — a meeting that White House officials put off last summer to avoid alienating Beijing in advance of Mr. Obama’s China trip. China regards the Dalai Lama as an advocate of Tibetan independence.

“China is feeling very confident these days, but the one thing that the Chinese freak out about consistently are sovereignty issues,” said Mr. Clemons of the New America Foundation. “So anything related to Taiwan or Tibet will get them going.”

Added to that, the administration has been championing Internet freedom recently, another source of public tension with Beijing. China’s government is embroiled in a fight with Google over that company’s complaints about Internet censorship and hacking attacks it says originated in China.

But the tougher American positions do not change the fact that Mr. Obama needs Chinese cooperation on a host of issues. Beyond his efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the president is also working with Beijing on similar ambitions in North Korea.

And Mr. Obama announced in his State of the Union address last week that he planned to double American exports in the next five years, an ambitious goal that cannot be met unless he somehow persuades China to let its currency appreciate, making Chinese products more expensive in the United States and American products more affordable in China.

Honda says its recall will not impact China
Source: Global Times/February 01 2010

Honda Motor Co’s China branch yesterday confirmed to the Global Times that China is not among the countries that will be impacted by the recall of three popular automobiles.
The recalls which include the Fit, Jazz and City models, cover cars fitted with US standard circuit boards and with European standard right side steering wheels. The left side steering wheels standard in China are not affected, said a statement provided by Honda Motor (China) Investment Co Ltd.
“The Fit and City sold in China have no such default as in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia, and Chinese consumers do not need to worry,” the statement said.
Last Friday, Honda Motor Co recalled 646,000 automobiles globally over a faulty window switch that led to the death of a child when a car caught fire last year.
Earlier last week, Reuters reported that Toyota Motor Corp said it would extend to Europe and China a recall of millions of vehicles due to faulty accelerator pedals and floor mats.
Yang Liya, a teacher at the Henan University of Technology, and the owner of a four-year-old Fit, said she felt “a little nervous” on learning the news of the recall.
“Honestly speaking, it is impossible not to worry about the quality of the Fit after the recall, but the model has performed well, and didn’t only save petrol,” Yang said.
Wang Bo, deputy sales manager of the Zhitong 4S shop in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, said “the recall will not impact sales” as the Fit has gained credibility in recent years.
However, experts worry repeated recalls in a short time may hurt the brand.
“Such a recall will not have too big an impact on the company in the short term, but repeated recalls would dampen the brand’s popularity,” said Zhong Shi, an independent auto analyst.
The company produces a huge number of automobiles every year, and one or two component malfunctions would have a major impact.
But as regulations are being tightened, there may be an increase in recalls in the future, Zhong said.
In the second half of 2008, Honda recalled some City automobiles due to a brake defect.
Currently, the Fit and City models sell for between 80,000 yuan ($11,718.17) and 130,000 yuan ($19,042.04) in China.
Their total sales in the country hit a record of more than 360,000 units last year, according to Guangzhou Honda’s website.
Honda was ranked second behind only Mercedes-Benz for customer loyalty, measured by repeat buyers, in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Customer Retention Study released in December.

Nations meet Copenhagen Accord deadline
Carbon News and Info> Climate change news> Copenhagen, Kyoto & climate politics
Monday, 1 February 2010 /www.carbonpositive.net

The deadline for notification of nations’ emissions reduction pledges under the Copenhagen Accord has passed with the world’s major emitters – both developed and developing – putting their commitments on the table.

The Accord set January 31 as the day by which countries should lay down their 2020 emissions targets for inclusion in the schedules that accompanied the accord text, the political agreement struck by the US, China, India, South Africa and Ethiopia, with input from 20 or so other nations, at the Copenhagen climate conference.

Under that deal, the 194 countries signed up to the UN climate convention (UNFCCC) have a choice over whether to embrace it and place on record their own national commitments to tackle emissions. But UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer has already made clear the cut-off date is only a soft deadline with nothing to stop nations choosing to table commitments beyond at a later date. He also underlined that the accord had no legally binding status.

The UNFCCC says it will publish the full list of commitments, sent by letter, today but it became clear by the weekend of January 30/31 what the positions of the major emitters would be. China, India, South Africa and Brazil, the big developing world emitters and now known as the BASIC bloc, have simply formerly restated their pre-Copenhagen targets for greenhouse intensity cuts or reductions below what emissions would otherwise be under business as usual (BAU) by 2020:

China – 40 to 45 per cent cut in emissions/GDP from 2005 levels
India – 20 to 25 per cent cut in emissions/GDP from 2005 levels
South Africa – 34 per cent below BAU
Brazil – 36 to 39 per cent below BAU

Indonesia, another big developing world emitter due to deforestation, also restated to the UN on Sunday its goal to cut emissions by at least 26 per cent below BAU by 2020.

Two of the more industrialised of what are classed as developing nations under the UN climate convention have also lodged pledges; South Korea restating a target to cut emissions 30 per cent below BAU and Singapore recently announcing 7-16 per cent.

The United States restated its Copenhagen position to the UN via climate envoy Todd Stern last week. That is for a cut of 17 per cent below 2005 levels, in line with the cap laid down in the climate bill passed by the House of Representatives last year. But the target remains subject to a final Congress bill, should it emerge, and other countries committing reductions to the accord.

Canada announced on Saturday a 2020 target in line with the US at 17 per cent from 2005 levels, in line with government policy to harmonise climate action with its big neighbour.

After some testy internal debate since Copenhagen, the European Union forwarded its previously stated target position to the UN, for a 20 per cent cut below 1990 levels, to be increased to 30 per cent if matched by other major emitters. Some member states had called for the 30 per cent target to be unilaterally raised and submitted to the UN at 30 per cent, but it wasn’t to be.

Norway, the most influential European nation outside the EU on climate action, restated its target to the UN – for cuts of 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, or 40 per cent if the ambition was matched by other big emitters.

Japan too has reiterated a target of 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, but conditional on a strong global agreement.

Australia has simply restated its target range of potential cuts of 5 to 25 per cent (below 2000 levels in most circumstances). The government has declined to set a firm target yet until the extent of global commitment is clearer.

New Zealand has at the last minute tabled its target range announced last year, 10 to 20 per cent below 1990 levels – the final number depending on the strength of international commitment. It had said in mid January that it would not commit to the Copenhagen Accord while major questions remained over forestry rules under any new global agreement.

Reuters reports that Mali, Bangladesh, Philippines, Samoa, Marshall Islands and Macedonia are among smaller developing nations declaring their support for the accord.

The question now is whether or not the tabled commitments to the accord make it substantial enough to generate new impetus towards a comprehensive and binding global treaty, still being sought under UN negotiations this year culminating in the next annual climate conference in Mexico in December.

Other components of the accord also remain to be finalised including climate funding commitments from the developed nations to the developing world, how its envisaged Green Climate Fund will operate, and how emissions commitments from developing countries will be verified.

Reuters, Agence France Presse, CBC News, NZPA, National Business Review

Secret airstrip built at Zimbabwe diamond field
A secret airstrip is being built in a diamond field illegally seized by the Zimbabwean army 14 months ago which would enable clandestine weapons shipments.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger / www.telegraph.co.uk/0102 2010

Diplomats and analysts believe that the mile-long runway is intended for arms shipments, probably from China, for which troops loyal to President Robert Mugabe would pay on the spot with gemstones from the Chiadzwa diamond mines.

Aerial pictures show construction work is well under way, with a newly built control tower apparently complete and the runway nearly ready for surfacing.

There are other airfields within a short distance of the mining area, and no obvious need for a runway long enough for transport planes to take off and land even closer to the mines. A Western diplomat said the existence of the runway, out of sight except from the air, was “extremely” worrying.

The images also show what appears to be a tented army camp in the diamond fields, which would be in violation of Zimbabwean court orders and of an undertaking to the Kimberley Process, which was set up to prevent “blood diamonds” from conflict zones entering the global gem trade.

According to human rights groups, hundreds of independent miners were killed when soldiers seized control of the Chiadzwa area in November 2008, since when others have been compelled to work for only a fraction of the value of the diamonds they unearth. Officers use the proceeds from their sale to enhance their meagre pay – a ploy encouraged by Mr Mugabe’s henchmen to help ensure the army’s continued loyalty.

But the construction of the runway suggests that the army has now widened its ambition and wants to use its access to the raw diamonds – whose production is worth an estimated £125 million a month – to obtain goods from abroad, in particular weapons.

The revelation comes at a highly sensitive moment for Zimbabwe, where the future of joint government by Mr Mugabe’s ruthless Zanu-PF party and the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, hangs in the balance.

Last week Mr Tsvangirai was in Europe to press for international sanctions against Zimbabwe to be eased, despite continued repression of opponents by state security forces and the refusal by Zanu-PF to honour all the elements of its agreement with the MDC.

The MDC leader was briefed about the continued presence of the army at the diamond fields and the construction of the secret runway. A party insider said: “We know about it and it is extremely sensitive. We are very worried about what we have found out this week.”

China has lo
ng been Zimbabwe’s main source of arms, but delivery has been more difficult since a shipment was blocked in South Africa three years ago.

Other deliveries have come in through the Mozambican port of Beira, but government officials in the country’s capital, Maputo, have expressed concern over the issue.

The army has also been frustrated in its attempts to buy weapons by Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Tendai Biti, a member of the MDC who has blocked new arms purchases since taking control of the treasury under last year’s power-sharing deal.

But the new facility would give Zimbabwe’s Joint Operations Command, the military top brass who long swore they would never recognise Mr Tsvangirai’s authority, a way to obtain weapons independently.

A Western diplomat claimed the head of Zimbabwe’s armed forces, Constantine Chiwenga, had been “very busy” with the Chinese recently, adding: “We are concerned he is buying weapons.”

A senior political source who has seen the pictures said: “Zanu-PF believes these diamond fields will allow it to continue to defy outstanding issues of the political agreement.

“Zanu-PF only went into the inclusive government because it lost the elections but it has no intention of fulfilling the political agreement, and wants to go it alone. But it needs an income to ensure loyalty among soldiers and other security forces.”

The source said building such a runway in the mining zone did not otherwise make sense, adding: “We should all be very worried about this.”

The diamond fields, in Marange district in eastern Zimbabwe, could be worth billions of pounds and make a vital contribution to rebuilding a country brought to ruin by Mr Mugabe’s economic mismanagement. Tens of millions of pounds worth of the gems are smuggled into nearby Mozambique each month, to be bought by dealers from Lebanon, Belgium, Iraq, Mauritania and the Balkans – many of them with the connivance of the army and police.

The mines, whose rough diamonds have a characteristic and unappealing grey appearance, cover an area of 10 square miles. A British company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), has a legal claim to them under a deal originally struck with the Zimbabwean government, but in 2006 the Mugabe regime went back on the agreement and declared the mines open to all comers.

Thousands of desperate Zimbabweans descended on the area to pan for diamonds among the soft red mud, and police exploitation and corruption soared.

Then, towards the end of 2008, hundreds of soldiers were sent in to evict the miners by force and take control for the army. Human rights groups estimate that between 200 and 400 were shot dead, and many more were beaten, tear-gassed, mauled by dogs or raped.

The international diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, has been urged to suspend Zimbabwe over the violence and allegations of continuing violance at the mines – a move which would make the trade in Zimbabwean diamonds illegal. But at a meeting in Namibia in November the body decided to give Zimbabwe until June to improve, to the fury of campaigners who said the mines’ output should be considered “blood diamonds” and banned.

Mark Canning, Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, confirmed that diplomats are closely watching developments in the diamond fields, including apparent construction of a 2,000-yard runway.

“The situation in Marange is of continual concern,” he said. “What this particular facility [the runway] is, at this stage is anyone’s guess, but it’s crystal clear that the proceeds of a rich diamond field which has the potential to transform the fortunes of this country are being channelled into a handful of well lined pockets.”

The Zanu-PF defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, denied knowing of any runway under construction in the area. “Ask the mining ministry or home affairs, they might know about it,” he said.

The mining minister, Obert Mpofu, who is also a member of Mr Mugabe’s party, said he was on holiday and therefore could not comment.

The government says the army has withdrawn from the mining concession area and the mines are now being run by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), ignoring a high court order granting that right to ACR, the company which says it has the licence.

One of the mining companies involved in the development says that it is building the runway in order to comply with Kimberley Process rules that diamonds be transported in the most secure way possible, and that a private contractor is responsible for security.

ACR’s chief executive Andrew Cranswick said: “We are certain the majority of valuable stones from our sites have been and are being smuggled out of Zimbabwe.”

 


INDIA :

 

Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashes Scattered
2010-2-01 /english.ntdtv.com

The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were brought to South Africa after his death in 1948 but not all have been scattered.

Sixty-two years to the day since his assassination ashes kept by a friend of the family for decades were finally sprinkled onto the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Family and friends of the the Indian icon took part in the ceremony off the coast of Durban.

Speaking ahead of the event his great grandson Satish Dhupelia says the world still needs his philosophy.

[Satish Dhupelia, Gandhi’s Great Grandson]:
“I think this is an opportune moment for the world to actually stop and take note that we are living in a very violent society, let’s follow the teachings of this great person.”

Gandhi is largely credited as the architect of India’s freedom from 200 years of British rule.

His decades-long campaign of non-violent resistance has made him a global icon.

He was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist less than a year after India’s independence.

In India the anniversary of his death is commemorated as Martyr’s Day.

The country’s leaders have been laying floral tributes at his memorial in New Delhi.

The political party of which Gandhi was a member leads India’s federal coalition.

NZ signs Copenhagen Accord on climate change
NBR staff/Monday February 1 2010

The government has signed up to the Copenhagen Accord on climate change, which has already been rejected by two of the world’s major carbon emitters, China and India.

The accord, which was agreed among 26 countries at the Copenhagen summit on climate, is supposed to be step on the path toward replacing the Kyoto Protocol.

These countries include the US, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Climate Change Negotiations Minister Tim Groser has described the summit as disappointing because it did not make any progress on a comprehensive and legally binding agreement.

“What this accord does is provide a framework for more progress to be made,” Mr Groser said. “It aims to set a limit on the temperature rise to 2°C, improves the transparency for developing countries to list their mitigation targets and actions, and acknowledges the need for new mechanisms for funding and technology.”

Under the Copenhagen Accord developed countries have to submit details of their proposed emissions target for 2020. New Zealand has submitted a conditional emissions reduction target range of 10% to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.

These conditions are:

• a global agreement that sets the world on a pathway to limit global temperature rises of not more than 2°C;

• comparable efforts by other countries;

• actions by advanced and major emitting developing countries fully commensurate with their respective capabilities;

• effective rules governing land use, land use change and forestry; and

• full recourse to a broad and efficient international carbon market.

“New Zealand’s 2020 target will be less than the -10 to -20% range in the event that these conditions are not met as has been previously stated publicly and in international negotiations,” Mr Groser said in a joint statement with Climate Change Issues Minister Nick Smith.

“For our 2020 target to be representative of our fair share, other developed countries will need to set higher targets. Alternatively, New Zealand will need to reduce its target to ensure comparability.

“New Zealand joining the Copenhagen Accord sits well with our Emissions Trading Scheme, our international initiative for the Global Research Alliance on agricultural emissions and our wide range of complementary climate policies.”

Works to begin at Continental Coal mine
February 1, 2010/news.smh.com.au/AAP

South African focussed coal miner Continental Coal Ltd says site works are expected to commence at its Vlarkvarkfontein mine in South Africa in about two weeks.

The Australian-listed company said mining contractor Trollope Mining Services (TMS) was expected to deliver an initial 100,000 tonnes of crushed coal per month.

TMS was expected to begin topsoil stripping at the site, and conventional open cast mining was forecast to comment in the later stages of the first quarter of 2010, the company said.

“Annualised production of 1,000,000 tonnes of domestic quality thermal coal and 350,000 tonnes of export quality thermal coal are scheduled,” the company said on Monday.

“Offtake sales agreements, for the domestic and export coal product, are currently being finalised with South African power utility Eskom and a number of international coal trading houses respectively.”

Continental managing director Bruce Buthelezi said TMS was one of the most reputable and experienced coal mining contractors in South Africa.


BRASIL:

Government mum on arrest of minister’s wife
01 February 2010/Anna Majavu/www.sowetan.co.za

THE government has thrown a shroud of silence on Friday’s arrest of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s wife Sheryl on charges of drug-dealing.

An insider told Sowetan yesterday that the Hawks, who arrested Cwele, had “gone to ground” to give the government time to “come up with a way to distance the minister from his wife”.

But Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter called the government’s silence “shocking”.
“Cwele might have used her husband’s position to gather intelligence to cover up her nefarious activities. State security has been compromised, and we expect (President Jacob) Zuma and the cabinet to show some leadership and fire the minister, not to keep silent,” Dexter said.
The Hawks arrested Cwele in her office on the South Coast of KwaZulu- Natal on Friday, charging her with “dealing in drugs or conspiracy to deal in drugs with Frank Nabolis”, who is also allegedly involved in a drug- manufacturing factory in Westonaria on the West Rand in Gauteng.
Cwele, the director for community services in the Hibiscus municipality, spent the weekend in jail after the Pietermaritzburg high court denied her permission to apply for bail.
Hawks spokesperson Musa Zondi told the media that Nabolis reportedly worked with Cwele in a syndicate, using young women as drug mules to allegedly smuggle cocaine from Brazil to South Africa.
The allegations against Cwele surfaced almost a year ago after South African Tessa Beetge was arrested in Brazil for attempting to smuggle a 9kg block of cocaine worth R3million to South Africa.
Beetge is now serving eight years in a Brazilian prison.

Cwele will appear in court again on Friday for a bail hearing.

Out of the bottle
By Richard Lapper //www.ft.com/February 1 2010

In 1979, when Standard Bank published Pioneer Bank in a Pioneer Land , the title of the corporate history had a distinctly nostalgic feel. South Africa’s largest bank – then an offshoot of Standard Chartered of the UK – might have spent much of its early days breaking new ground as it followed Cecil Rhodes and other gold diggers around Africa. But by the end of the 1970s it was on the defensive, labouring under economic sanctions and heavily reliant on its domestic market.

It took another decade before F.W. de Klerk told the white parliament, 20 years ago tomorrow, that its days of domination were over. But with democratic South Africa now more open to the rest of the world, the pioneer label is once again appropriate for Standard, which is increasingly orienting itself to the resource-rich African continent and big emerging markets, in particular the “Brics” – Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The bank’s shift in strategy is just part of a growing trend in South African business. This period of expansion abroad embraces not only mining companies, which have traditionally had a more international focus, but sectors ranging from finance to retailing, telecommunications and consumer goods and services.

“It is an orthodoxy,” says Jacko Maree, Standard’s chief executive, who in the past three years has orchestrated multibillion-dollar deals with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Troika, Russia’s second-largest investment bank. “When [South African companies] expand they look at emerging markets.” Standard sold a 20 per cent stake to ICBC in 2007 and acquired one-third of Troika last year.

Bric investment into South Africa is less pronounced than in some other parts of the continent – indeed, $5.5bn (£3.4bn, €4bn) of China’s $7bn investment is accounted for by the Standard deal. But trade connections are strengthening. Last year, China established itself as the country’s biggest trading partner, displacing Germany.

Barred from doing business in most of Africa during the apartheid era, South African companies are meanwhile making up for lost time in their own continent. Links with other emerging markets – themselves interested in Africa’s resources and high-growth consumer markets – are growing quickly. The economic momentum is also giving substance to a foreign policy that since the end of apartheid has favoured links with Asia, Latin America and Africa in an effort to reduce a historical dependence on Europe and the US.

“South Africa is becoming the corporate captain of Africa because it has more pan-African companies than any other country in Africa and this gives it a seat at the table of the Brics,” says Michael Power at Investec Asset Management in Cape Town.

Growing connections with emerging markets in part reflect the long-term shift of an economy that remains heavily dependent on whoever is demanding its raw materials exports – and the way in which the global crisis has hobbled Europe and the US, while the east and south have been less affected. Mineral and raw material exporters have seen rising Chinese demand for their products help compensate for the slide elsewhere.

Coal and iron ore exporters – often part of big international groups such as Anglo American – have been particular beneficiaries. So have platinum miners. In 2008, about two-thirds of the platinum dug out of the ground was used to make catalytic converters, a component that makes vehicle exhaust emissions cleaner. Last year, the motor industry downturn led to a sharp fall in sales – but platinum producers were able to sell huge quantities of the metal to jewellery producers in China, where demand for the so-called white gold is strong.

In addition, though, companies in other sectors have been stepping up their expansion. Standard itself has been busy expanding in Africa, recently obtaining a licence in Angola. These arrangements have enhanced its capacity to negotiate project finance, mining deals and trade facilities, often – as in the case of a power station being built by the Chinese in Botswana – with a partner from one of the Brics.

For financial services groups, exchange controls and tight regulation meant the sector has emerged little scathed from the crisis and well placed to move forward. Last June, for example, FirstRand announced it would refocus activities on Africa and the region’s growing trade and investment links with India and China, agreeing a month later a strategic alliance with China Construction Bank. Like ICBC, CCB ranks among the big four Chinese banks.

The trend is also visible among consumer companies. SAB Miller, the brewer, invested in China as long ago as 1994 and is now stepping up its drive into Africa. MTN, the telecommunications group that has sought and failed in the past few years to merge with India’s Bharti Airtel (on two occasions) and Reliance (on one), has nonetheless made headway expanding in Africa and in the Middle East. It commands an average 38 per cent share of 10 markets ranging from Nigeria and Ivory Coast to Afghanistan and Syria, has more than 100m subscribers and generates 60 per cent of its revenues outside South Africa.

Even companies that were formerly bastions of apartheid have been joining the throng. Naspers, a publishing group of Afrikaner origins, has been picking up media, communications and especially internet businesses in Brazil, China, Russia and other high-growth markets – last September buying Brazil’s BuscaPé, a profitable electronic commerce company, for $342m. Naspers also owns a stake in Tencent, a big Chinese internet portal.

Sasol, which under white rule developed technology to convert coal into oil to mitigate the impact of the international block on sales of crude to South Africa, has struck agreements within the past two years to develop plants in countries including China, India, Uzbekistan and Indonesia.

South African companies have been able to take advantage of these trends for several reasons. Perhaps most important is the country’s business culture. South African managers are seen as less risk-averse than their counterparts in Europe and the US. The country’s ethnic diversity and tumultuous recent history means they also tend to be open to different cultures and less dogmatic about business methods. Companies have become adept at working with local partners, influencing the course of a venture even though they might not have total control.

The very isolation of the apartheid era forced business to be creative, but post-apartheid trends have helped, too. Black economic empowerment, a policy introduced in the 1990s under which an elite of black managers was created and billions of dollars of corporate equity transferred to black business, has made South African companies more acceptable in Africa and other emerging markets. Companies have meanwhile acquired experience in selling their products to South Africa’s own emerging black middle class and low-income groups, arming them to operate in similar markets further afield. “South African business isn’t as afraid of Africa as its competitors. They know what does and does not work and I think proximity helps as well,” says Mr Power.

Size is another factor. With a population of less than 50m, South Africa’s domestic market is far smaller than the giant emerging economies, forcing companies to be flexible rather than focus on volume. Yet local capital markets are relatively large compared with economic output, allowing companies to get hold of funds more easily than some of their developing country competitors. Capitalisation of the Johannesburg stock market is roughly twice gross domestic product, whereas in many countries the value of listed companies is smaller than the yearly output of the overall economy.

The country also has sophisticated debt markets on which companies can raise long-term funds. “South Africa has b
y far the most sophisticated capital market compared to [other developing economies]. You had an ability to fund yourself that was disproportionate to the size of the home base,” says Standard’s Mr Maree.

On top of all that, companies have been urged by their government to do business in emerging markets. Since the mid-1990s the governing African National Congress has wanted to promote a southern axis, linking the big emerging nations and Africa. In part, that is to keep US political domination in check by strengthening multilateral institutions.

Seven years ago, South Africa joined Brazil and India to form the G3, also known as Ibsa. Although its economy is by far the smallest of the three, the country’s influence within Africa gives South Africa disproportionate weight, making it an attractive partner for the Brics when they seek to exercise diplomatic muscle. That influence was visible late last year in Copenhagen when South Africa – alongside Brazil, India and China – took an active role in climate change negotiations, giving birth to the so-called Basic group.

It will take time for these connections to develop. The government is wary of a high degree of dependence on any country and insists national interests have to be taken into account, with leaders warning about the dangers of a new colonial relationship. Indeed, the government imposed temporary quotas on Chinese textile imports in 2007 and 2008. In the eventually unsuccessful negotiations about merging MTN and Bharti Airtel, South Africa jealously defended the idea that the new entity should be listed in Johannesburg as well as Mumbai, in spite of the greater scale of the Indian undertaking.

No longer is it likely that globalising South African companies will be allowed to list their shares and move their headquarters abroad, as groups including Anglo American and SAB did in the late 1990s by relocating to London. But even so, say analysts, the country’s corporate sector offers investors keen on the potential of the Brics a different way to access those markets. Because South African companies tend to be more transparent and better governed than many of their emerging market counterparts, it could also be a safer way to benefit.

Ayanda Ntsaluba, director general at the foreign ministry in Pretoria, says the government regularly holds discussions with companies such as Standard and MTN, and lends particular backing to co-operation between these businesses and Chinese, Indian or Brazilian counterparts. “We are encouraging more South African companies to establish themselves in the emerging world,” he adds.

Brewer with a recipe that can vary to suit its markets

SAB Miller, the brewer listed in London since 1999, started South Africa’s corporate move into emerging markets and has become something of a role model. Heavily dependent on its domestic market until 1990, the company now derives 80 per cent of its profits from Asia, Latin America, eastern Europe and the rest of Africa, an achievement that has made it the subject of close attention among South African businesspeople.

In part, SAB has been simply been faster than its competitors, buying into China – where it owns Snow, the best-selling local beer brand – as long ago as the mid-1990s. More recently, it expanded into eastern Europe, acquiring Pilsner Urquell of the Czech Republic under the noses of European competitors such as Heineken and Carlsberg. “This really was a coup,” says Rob Forsyth at Investec Asset Management in Cape Town. The Colombia-based Bavaria has meanwhile given it significant exposure in Latin America.

All this means SAB Miller is well embedded in markets that have more growth potential than the US and Europe. Beer consumption in Africa is a fraction of that in other developing markets, with many still preferring the home brews offered in shacks and backroom bars.

There are other elements to the company’s success. It has worked effectively with local partners, sometimes in situations where it does not own a majority stake. Mr Forsyth says that the group is in many ways a “beer consultancy”, prepared to adapt its methods to local conditions. “One of their abilities is to work with people. They are open to different cultures and not too proscriptive.”

SAB Miller has been innovative in its approach to operations. In African markets, for example, the group has built smaller breweries nearer to population centres. That helps cope with potholed roads and weak or non-existent rail links, reducing distribution costs. “Africa requires a different business model,” says Mark Bowman, managing director of the group’s business in the region. Breweries “have to be closer to the market”.

The group has developed a broader range of beers and other drinks for the African market. These include cheaper so-called opaque beers that are sold in paper containers, have a limited shelf life and are aimed at the home brew customer. It has begun schemes to source ingredients from local farmers in order to make pricing more competitive, especially among low-income groups.

A beer made from local sorghum has been a big success in Uganda. This year, SAB Miller plans to start producing beer in Angola made partly from cassava.

Davos 2010: No glitz, no politics, but down to business
Monday, 1 February 2010/news.bbc.co.uk

ANALYSIS
By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website, in Davos

This year’s World Economic Forum may not have been quite the event the organisers had hoped for.

If you count success in the number of top politicians you can attract, then Davos 2010 was something of a failure.

Yes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened the five-day jamboree. The presidents of South Africa, Mexico and South Korea came to advertise their countries – ahead of the Football World Cup, to attract investment and in the run-up to taking over the G20 leadership respectively.

But overall there was a distinct lack of heavy-hitters, and a late cancellation from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle left an embarrassing gap in the Saturday schedule – a slot once taken by star turns such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Down to business

Not that anybody really missed Mr Westerwelle and his ilk. “Davos has not many politicians this year, and the better for it,” one forum old-timer told me, and his comment was echoed by other executives.

And so Davos got down to business.

This is not a complete list, but in my view four themes dominated this year’s discussions.

•Banking reform – with bankers and regulators probing and prodding each other in the search for a solution that – in the words of Standard Chartered bank boss Peter Sands – strikes the right balance between safety and risk: “If we go wrong one way, we’ll have another crisis; if we go wrong the other way, we take the steam out of the recovery.” Bankers were well beaten up by the Davos crowd (just as hedge funds, private equity and sovereign wealth funds were given a hard time in previous years). It made Deutsche Bank boss Josef Ackermann plead with the audience to “stop the blame game, let’s get on with the job”. The debate also drowned out other big issues such as global food shortages. “I know it’s more fun to talk about the banking sector,” said a whistful Patricia Woertz, chief executive of agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland.
•Economic recovery – which most agreed would see Europe in the doldrums, the United States facing a slow recovery, and a shift in the economic balance towards countries such as Brazil, China and India.
•Technology – and how it is changing societies, government, companies and human behaviour.
•Humanitarian aid – a great opportunity for companies to show their smiley face, but also generating genuine help. Bill and Melinda Gates announced a massive $10bn programme to bring vaccination programmes to poor countries, and plenty of aid organisations hooked up with big business to finance or execute their programmes better.
Overwhelmed

Unlike previous years, when a “Davos consensus” emerged on key topics, this forum was characterised by confusion and uncertainty. Davos was missing “buzz”, several participants said, it “lacked a theme”.

“This is an unusual forum,” said Samuel DiPiazza, retired chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers and member of the forum’s business council. “People are very cautious with what they say, and try to stay out of the spotlight. It reflects the uncertainty of the situation.”

Maybe, said Kenneth Hersh, chief executive of NGP Energy Capital Management, we simply face too many competing priorities that are overwhelming our systems – from water to food to climate change to the recovery. “We are tackling this with institutions like the UN and the IMF that were not designed to solve these problems.”

In the world of business, however, uncertainty also presents plenty of opportunity. “Davos 2010 – and the year 2010 – is about risk, said Martin Halusa, the chief executive of private equity group Apax Partners. “Davos 2011 and the year 2011 will be about reward.”

The real Davos

And yet there may be another reason why the buzz is missing. The fact is, not that much of the real business happens in the Davos Congress Centre anymore.

Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to catch up with top chief executives, especially when they are on a session’s panel. But even though they are in town, these days the most powerful bosses are strangely absent from many proceedings.

Instead, they are cloistered away – partly in industry conclaves (called governors’ meetings) organised by the forum itself, but even more so in small meetings and private briefings organised by their companies.

Some bosses don’t go to a single Davos session. “I’ve got 70 meetings with business partners back-to-back, 30 minutes each,” moaned one of them.

In other words, there’s the official Davos where business leaders mix with academics and campaigners and journalists and social entrepreneurs, and there is a parallel Davos, a world of private and at times secretive meetings.

Davos moments

Despite all this, Davos has not yet lost its purpose of bringing together bright minds and creating opportunities to network.

It may have been snowing during this year’s Davos, but inside saw yet another blizzard of business cards.

Joel Selanikio, boss of Kenya-based software company Datadyne, was on the hunt for funding and support.

“I’m on this panel with [Google chief executive] Eric Schmidt. How improbable is that? And he comes up to me and says ‘Hi Joel’… – isn’t it great?” Five days in Davos have yielded more than 200 business cards for him, all potential leads to build his fledgling business, which makes mobile phone software to provide healthcare in remote parts of Africa.

If there were a contest for the coolest business card in town, it would easily be won by self-described hacker (and all-round genius) Pablos Holman: it’s deep black matt on both sides, revealing the text under ultraviolet light only.

But there is also plenty of serious and – at times – brutally direct business. “We’ve got this major client, we’ve got more than 100 people in his company,” one senior executive of a consulting firm tells me, “and he walks up to me and says ‘this doesn’t work: one… two… three… .’ Now I can nudge the team to ensure there are no more problems.”

Let me entertain you

The sober mood in Davos probably matched the economic situation. Few stars had come to Davos. No Bono, no Sharon Stone and definitely no Angelina Jolie.

James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic, generated the most excitement – but even he was seen huddling with MIT professor Josh Tenenbaum to discuss cognitive science rather than living the Hollywood life.

Most receptions and night caps were subdued affairs, at least given Davos standards. Notable exceptions were the Google and McKinsey parties with their jam-packed dance floors – probably for old times’ sake.

Only South Africa, this year’s sponsor of the traditional farewell soiree, worked really hard to inject some party spirit, and the Davos crowd nibbled eagerly on delicacies like pink peppercorn-crusted crocodile and smoked Kudu.

No two years in Davos are the same. In 2011, the forum will be held in a much-extended congress centre.

The organisers may have to work hard to keep the Davos spirit going.



EN BREF, CE 01 février 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,01/02/2010

 

 

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