Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nigerian Leader Meets Quattara’s Envoy, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Saturday, 22 January 2011 00:00,

Nigerian Leader Meets Quattara's Envoy, Gives Gbagbo Last Chance to Quit

By Williams Ekanem and Additional Reports

Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS chairman and Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with the Prime Minister appointed by Alhassane Ouattara, the globally recognized elected President of Cote d'Ivoire, Gullaune Soro, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the crisis in the West African country.

Soro, who had earlier served under President Laurent Gbagbo for three years as Prime Minister until the November 28, 2010 election, came as the special envoy of Quattara.

At the meeting, President Jonathan reaffirmed the position taken ECOWAS and that of the international community that Ouattara won the Ivorian elections and that Gbagbo must cede power to him.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Salamatu Suleiman told the media after the meeting at the President's office that the use of force was still a viable option to restore normalcy in the cocoa-producing country.

She said: "As you know, the President under the auspices of ECOWAS, has been sending many envoys to Cote D' Ivoire to try and resolve the issue diplomatically so that there would be no use of military power. But as it appears, that (military force) remains an option.  

"However, the President and the entire authority of Heads of States and government of ECOWAS are still trying to explore dialogue as the best way forward in settling this crisis. I can assure you that Mr. President, as Chairman of ECOWAS and indeed the entire ECOWAS are firmly on that.

"But they are aware of Gbagbo's tactics. They have given him the leeway, sent him many diplomatic missions to speak with him and if that fails, the option of military force is not ruled out."

Suleiman added: "Currently Mr. President as Chairman of ECOWAS is also liaising with the entire members of the international community. As you are aware, the United Nations (UN) is fully in support of the position taken by ECOWAS that Ouattara is the winner of Cote D Ivoire's elections and should be allowed to be put in power.

"The President has also sent a high-power mission led by Presidents of other countries that are members of ECOWAS. Mr. Blaise Compaore, the President of Burkina Faso met with the governments of United Kingdom and France on the 18 and 19th of this month and they are all supportive of ECOWAS position.  

"Another delegation will go to the other regions of the world. And I can tell you that the entire world is speaking with one voice on this matter."

UN: Post-conflict peacebuilding (Part 2), Posted by Menelik Zeleke

UN: Post-conflict peacebuilding (Part 1), Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Three shot dead at Albania anti-government protest, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

UPDATE 5-Three shot dead at Albania anti-government protest

January 21, 2011 11:01:52 PM


* Three dead in worst unrest in more than a decade
* President and opposition leader appeal for calm
* Police fired tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets
* EU, U.S. and OSCE call for restraint on all sides
(Updates with PM's reaction, recasts)
By Benet Koleka
TIRANA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Three men were shot dead as protesters battled police at an anti-government rally in the Albanian capital on Friday, in what Prime Minister Sali Berisha called an opposition attempt to foment a Tunisia-style uprising.
Supporters of the opposition Socialist Party, which refuses to accept the result of a 2009 election, protested outside Berisha's office against what they see as official corruption and electoral fraud.
Some pelted the building and police with stones, sticks and umbrellas. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and stun grenades. Smoke billowed from burning cars, some of them police vehicles.
"The bastard children of Albania's own Ben Alis conceived Tunisian scenarios ... for you citizens of Albania," Berisha said, comparing his Socialist foes with ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.
Socialist Party leader Edi Rama said the crowd was provoked and police had behaved unprofessionally.
The violence was the worst since the European Union applicant country spun out of control after the storming of the government building after the death of a lawmaker in 1998.
"Albania is not in a state of emergency and will not pass into a state of emergency. But scenarios of violence will not be tolerated," Berisha said.
Alfred Gega, deputy director of Tirana's Military Hospital, told reporters three civilians had died, one with a gunshot wound to the head and the other two with bullet wounds to the chest from close range.
Some 33 protesters and 17 policemen were wounded. A civilian and a policeman were in critical condition, Gega added.
Protestors packed the main boulevard. Witnesses estimated the crowd size at around 20,000; the opposition reported there were more than 10 times as many.
"I call for calm and maturity," President Bamir Topi said after the violence erupted. "Albania needs to heal its wounds, not to open new ones."
After about three hours of clashes police in riot gear dispersed the crowd and took control of the boulevard. Live television pictures showed police chasing stray lone protesters and beating them with truncheons.
The opposition Socialists called for new elections after refusing to accept the results of the June 2009 parliamentary polls, which Berisha's Democratic Party won by a wafer-thin margin. Talks to break the deadlock have repeatedly failed.
Berisha's ally Ilir Meta, head of his junior coalition partner, resigned as deputy prime minister a week ago after being accused of corruption. Tension had escalated this week after sharp exchanges of accusations in parliament.
"My call for the so-called premier is to refrain from taking our society and country further down a blind alley," Rama said. Protesters would observe mourning on Saturday for the dead, and later hold more protests, which would be peaceful, he said.
In a joint statement, the Tirana missions of the EU, United States and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe deeply regretted the casualties and called for a compromise.
"Violence and excessive use of force cannot be justified and should be avoided. We urgently appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and to abstain from provocations," they said.
The European Union rejected Albania's application last year for the status of official candidate to join the bloc, urging it to fight corruption and establish a functioning democracy. (Editing by Andrew Roche and Peter Graff)

UN Security Council Meeting: International Tribunal, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Friday, January 21, 2011

Posted by Menelik Zeleke

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer David Bauder, Ap Television Writer – 2 mins ago

NEW YORK – MSNBC host Keith Olbermann announced Friday that he is leaving the network and has taped his last "Countdown" show.
MSNBC issued a statement that it had ended its contract with the controversial host, with no further explanation. Olbermann hosted the network's most popular show, but his combative liberal opinions often made him a target of critics.
Olbermann did not explain why he was leaving.
"MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," the network said.
A spokesman said Phil Griffin, MSNBC's president, would not comment on Olbermann's exit. Spokesman Jeremy Gaines would say only that the acquistion of NBC Universal by Comcast, which received regulatory approval this week, had nothing to do with the decision.
Olbermann was suspended without pay from the network for two days in November for donating to three Democratic candidates, which violated NBC News' policy on political donations. Olbermann complained that he was being punished for mistakenly violating an inconsistently applied rule that he had known nothing about.
The host apologized to fans — but not to the network.
Olbermann, before leaving the show with a final signature toss of his script toward the camera, thanked his audience for sticking with him and read a James Thurber poem.
"This may be the only television program where the host was much more in awe of the audience than vice versa," he said.
He thanked a series of people, including the late Tim Russert, but pointedly not Griffin or NBC News President Steve Capus.
Olbermann's prime-time show is the network's top-rated. His evolution from a humorous look at the day's headlines into a pointedly liberal show in the last half of George W. Bush's administration led MSNBC to largely shift the tone of the network in his direction, with the hirings or Rachel Maddow and Lawrence

The U.S.-China meeting, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Live Feed from UN 24/7, By Menelik Zeleke

UN Security Council Meeting: Haiti, Posted by Menelik

Reported by Menelik Zeleke

Thousands of Jordanians protest economic conditions

January 21, 2011 4:09:27 PM


* 5,000 Jordanians attend largest protest so far

* Govt raises wages and freezes new taxes to defuse protests

By Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Several thousand Jordanians protested on Friday over soaring food prices and the erosion of living conditions, blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country's poor.

Islamists, left wing and trade unions activists marched through the old downtown of the city chanting "The government is eating our flesh ... O Samir (Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai), you have slaughtered us with high prices. You have left us broke."

The 5,000-strong march was largest so far after several smaller protests last week, inspired by Tunisia, to try to force authorities to roll back austerity steps such as higher taxes imposed to repair public finances that have been severely strained by the global financial crisis.

Hundreds of members of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition group, chanted: "O people of Jordan revolt against poverty and hunger", "The government must leave" and "No to theft of the country."

Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15 bln this year in one of the Arab world's smaller economies that is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

"Successive governments have sought to compensate for the rising debt caused by corruption from the pockets of people," Abdul Hadi Falahat, head of the powerful opposition dominated professional unions told crowds in the event.

"These policies have led to the impoverishment of Jordanians and widespread corruption and the squandering of public funds," said Falahat, whose 130,000 members belong to 14 professional unions, including doctors and engineers.

Rifai, under fire from an enraged public over high food prices, announced wage increases on Thursday to civil servants and the military in an apparent attempt to calm the protests.

Rifai also pledged no new taxes this year to cushion ordinary Jordanians from the rising cost of living -- a burden on the already cash strapped budget, whose deficit is expected to reach $1.4 bln this year.

The government already allocates hundreds of millions of dinars to various subsidies, from food to water and electricity, as a safety net against rising global food and energy costs in a country almost entirely dependent on imports.

And just days after the unrest in Tunis and Algeria over soaring prices and unemployment, Jordan hastily announced a $225 million package of cuts in the prices of several fuels and staple products, including sugar and rice sold in government run outlets.

In another policy reversal, the government promised to open jobs in some state sectors to ease unemployment after an earlier freeze on hiring to cut waste within a bloated public sector, where salaries eat up the bulk of an $8.8 bln budget.

"We want solutions that go to the root of problems not piecemeal measures. The outcome of unbridled free market reforms and privatisation has been poverty and widening disparity in wealth and deepening frustrations," said Amjad Majali, a deputy from the southern city of Karak, who attended the march. (Editing by Alison Williams)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Floods in South Africa

UPDATE from Tunis, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

All Tunisian ministers quit ruling party- state TV

January 20, 2011 8:40:09 AM

TUNIS, Jan 20 (Reuters) - All ministers in Tunisia's interim government have resigned from the ruling party of the ousted president, state TV reported, after demands the RCD party be stripped of power or dissolved.

Four union and opposition ministers had quit the interim cabinet this week, demanding that RCD ministers go. The move could go some way to restoring credibility in the cabinet.

Tunisia's prime minister and president quit the party of deposed President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali earlier this week. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Africa Channel TV. Tunisia Time Of Change

My Africa Channel TV. Troops held over DR Congo mass rape

Rape is frequently reported in eastern Congo and blamed on a range of armed movements, including the army [EPA]
Seven soldiers and a commander in the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been arrested over allegations that they were involved in a mass rape, according to the United Nations.
Fifty women have told the UN that they were raped in the eastern town of Fizi on the night of January 1 this year.
Madnodge Mounoubai, a spokesman for MONUSCO, the UN mission in DRC, said the atrocities had been committed after a drunken soldier got into a dispute.
"A soldier in a bar got somehow drunk and he fired and shot at a civilian," he told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
"He [the civilian] was taken to the hospital. The people thought that he was dead, so they turned against this soldier and actually they killed him.
"After he got killed, his colleagues heard that he was killed and they came and went on a rampage in the village. They started to loot the village, to loot the stores and to rape the women."
A spokesperson for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Southern Kivu said the women had been restrained by ropes or beaten with rifle butts before being attacked - some of them in front of their children.
Lieutenant Colonel Kibibi Mutware has been identified by some victims and witnesses as the commander of the soldiers who allegedly committed the mass rape.
Rape frequent
The UN said the number of victims could rise as more villagers return from the bush to which they fled after the alleged rapes.
In Depth
Major Vianney Kazarama, a spokesman for the Congolese army, put the number of rapes at 14 and said that eight personnel had been disciplined, including a major.
Rape is frequently reported in eastern Congo and blamed on a range of armed movements, including Congo's regular army.
Amnesty International said the events in Fizi "are another telling example of the consequences of the virtual impunity the Congolese forces benefit from.
"The failure to hold the Congolese army to account when they fail to carry out their protection role or commit crimes themselves in turn encourages further violations."
The rights group said it welcomed the arrests, as well as investigations by South Kivu's military
"More often than not investigations in the DRC are never brought to a conclusion. A recent example of this is the investigation into the mass rapes that occurred in Walikale, North Kivu, in August 2010 which have now stalled," Amnesty said.
Mutware was identified as a former commander in the Tutsi-led CNDP rebel movement that swept across large swaths of eastern Congo at the end of 2008 until a peace agreement was signed in January 2009.
The rebels were speedily integrated into a national army that has become a conglomeration of numerous rebel groups and militias along with mutinous soldiers.
Congo endured back-to-back civil and regional wars that erupted in the aftermath of neighbouring Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
Al Jazeera and agencies

My Africa Channel TV. Genocide Trial Kick Off

Rwandan genocide trial opens in Germany

Posted Tuesday, January 18 2011 at 19:57

A former Rwandan mayor went on trial today accused of ordering three Tutsi massacres during the country’s 1994 genocide, in the first such case prosecuted in Germany.
Mr Onesphore Rwabukombe, a 54-year-old ethnic Hutu, is accused of genocide, murder as well as incitement of genocide and murder before the higher regional court in the western city of Frankfurt.
“Between April 11 and 15, 1994 the accused ordered and coordinated three massacres in which a total of at least 3,730 members of the Tutsi minority who had sought refuge in church buildings were killed,” prosecutor Christian Ritscher read out from the charge sheet in court.
Rwabukombe, a former mayor of the town of Muvumba in northeastern Rwanda who has lived in Germany for several years, was arrested by German police in July. The charges were filed with a court in Frankfurt on July 29. (AFP)

U.S.-China Economic Issues, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Office of the Press Secretary
January 19, 2011

FACT SHEET: U.S.-China Economic Issues

The United States and China share one of the most important trade and economic relationships in the world.  The U.S. exports $100 billion of goods and services to China, making China our largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico.  Those exports support more than half a million U.S. jobs.  China’s GDP growth is expected to have reached 10 percent in 2010, and U.S. goods and services exports to China are growing almost two times as fast as overall U.S. goods and services exports.  We seek to base our relationship on mutual prosperity, respect for the rules-based trading system, and a deep commitment to resolve outstanding economic issues.  President Obama and President Hu took note of the following commitments to strengthen the U.S.-China trade and economic relationship. 

Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights Protection

China committed to strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement to protect innovative industries and the jobs they create.

·       Private sector experts suggest decreasing China’s software piracy rate by 50 percent could increase legitimate software sales by $4 billion.  The United States supports China’s commitment to assess and ensure its government’s use of legal software, by, among other measures, 1) allocating government budget funding for legal software purchases, 2) auditing the use of legal software and publishing the results of those audits, and 3) promoting the use of licensed software in private companies and in state owned enterprises through software asset management programs.  

·       The United States welcomed China’s agreement to hold accountable violators of intellectual property on the internet, including those who facilitate the counterfeiting and piracy of others, and to strengthen IPR protections in China’s libraries.  China has also agreed to clarify the IPR liabilities of relevant third parties, like landlords, managers, and operators of markets that sell counterfeit products.

Eliminating Discriminatory Innovation Policies

·       The United States and China committed that 1) government procurement decisions will not be made based on where the goods’ or services’ intellectual property is developed or maintained, 2) that there will be no discrimination against innovative products made by foreign suppliers operating in China, and 3) China will delink its innovation policies from its government procurement preferences. 

·       China agreed to eliminate discriminatory “indigenous innovation” criteria used to select industrial equipment for an important government catalogue prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to ensure that it will not be used for import substitution, the provision of export subsidies, or to discriminate against American equipment manufacturers in Chinese government programs targeting these products. 

·       The United States welcomed China’s commitment to let its “3G” third generation and future technologies develop free of discriminatory technology or standards preferences.  China’s 3G infrastructure investment is expected to reach $10 to $12 billion in 2011. 

·       The United States supports China’s commitment to allow foreign companies equal opportunities to participate in the development of the country’s “smart” electric power grid.  China committed that purchases of smart grid products and technologies will be made solely on commercial considerations with no discrimination against foreign companies.  China also will ensure that foreign stakeholders have full opportunities to participate in an open, transparent process for establishing smart grid standards.  China also committed to make purchases solely on commercial considerations.  China plans to spend $10 billion annually on smart grid investments. 

Expanding Market Access for U.S. Manufactured Goods, Agricultural Products and Services

China committed to submit this year a robust revised offer to join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). 

·       China committed that its revised GPA offer would include not just commitments for central government purchases, but also purchases by sub-central entities.  The Chinese central government has indicated that it alone procures more than $88 billion in goods and services annually; sub-central entities’ procurement is even more significant.

The United States and China are building on their successful and growing agricultural trade relationship.  U.S. agricultural exports to China last year exceeded $12 billion, including soybeans, cotton, and wheat. 

·       The United States welcomed China’s December 2010 lifting of Avian influenza-related bans on U.S. poultry products from Idaho and Kentucky, and urged prompt action to lift the four remaining U.S. state-level bans. 


A Tale of Two Executions...Bittersweet Justice, posted by Meosha Eaton

Article by Correspondent Dallas Darling. As the world rejoices for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who just had her sentence commuted, it must also mourn for Teresa Lewis who died of a lethal injection. Whereas Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death for adultery and for murdering her husband, will not receive the death penalty, Teresa Lewis was executed at a correctional facility in Virginia. It is a tale of two executions, one in Iran and one in the United States of America. In Iran, the story ends with hope. In the United States, the tale ends in tragedy. Ashtiani's death sentence caused a global outcry among human rights activists and political leaders in the United States. While the European Union called the sentence "barbaric," Brazil offered Ashtiani asylum. In the United States, politicians railed against Iran, but there was little protest when Lewis was executed and pronounced dead. Neither was there a global outcry over her borderline mentally ill condition, and what some claimed was the use of faulty and contradictory evidence during court proceedings. The European Union did send a letter to the governor of Virginia asking for clemency on behalf of Lewis. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the execution a travesty of justice when he visited New York to speak at the United Nations. Even though Lewis appeared to be spiritually transformed while in prison, singing Christian hymns and being an inspiration to others, she was still put to death by a cold and calculating state machine and its court system. Ashtiani's case, on the other hand, seemed to be used as a political tool by the United States to denigrate Iran's political leaders and to try and shame the Islamic Republic. Iran does not separate religious matters and values from criminal or civil maters. Instead, the Koran codifies a body of law known as the sharia, which brings all aspects of life together. Not only was her possible execution used to bolster United States-led economic sanctions against Iran, but it was used to denounce Iran's peaceful intent to pursue nuclear energy. When considering the recent invasions and occupations of two Muslim nations by the United States, including long-term wars that have caused the deaths and executions of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, one must wonder what kind of justice exists in the United States. It should also cause one to question the United States as guardian of unalienable rights and justice. Even more so, it appears Ashtiani's case was used to make sure Iran would not secure a seat on the United Nation's new women's agency. As Iran reevaluates its sharia laws and some of its crimes that are punishable by death (enforced in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution), the U.S. might want too reconsider its own secular codes and death penalties. It may even want to broaden its perception of executions, to include senseless wars and economic sanctions. Sanctions that leads to either starvation, or airliners crashing and killing innocent passengers. Preventing a nation from pursuing its nuclear enrichment program for health care reasons, which has the potential of saving tens of thousands of lives, is also a form of execution. It is obvious the United States, as a global and imperial conqueror and executioner, has above all else, executed diplomacy and peace. Around the world, it has the most powerful firing squads, the most reproachful gallows, the most technologically advanced electric chairs, and the most lethal injections. These poisonous injections distort yet reality itself. Because of this, America's moral fiber and spirit has been executed. For a State, like America, to take a person's life when it and its political and social environments are extremely corrupt, is premeditated revenge and murder. While people and human rights activists around the globe can rejoice for Ashtiani and Iran's decision of commutation, they can only grieve for Lewis and the United States. It is a grief, though, that should not only mourn for Lewis' execution, but for the hundreds of thousands of other concealed and hidden executions, due to perceptional domination. Imperial democracy, when mixed with violence and militarism and the ultimate insanity of war, always makes for a lethal injection into the rest of the world.

President Obama calls for calm in Tunisia, Posted By Menelik Zeleke

Struggling Tunisia unity cabinet to meet
January 19, 2011 10:07:39 AM

* Caretaker PM trying to hold new government together
* Cabinet set to meet for first time since Ben Ali ousted
* Street protests have eased
* President Obama calls for calm

(Adds Obama comment, Arab summit, Moody's downgrade)

By Christian Lowe

TUNIS, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Tunisia's national unity cabinet was due to hold its first meeting on Wednesday, with the caretaker prime minister under pressure from opposition leaders who demanded he fire more of the ousted president's allies.
Four opponents of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali quit the government within a day of being appointed, saying street protesters who triggered the upheaval were disappointed at how many of the old guard, including Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, were still in power.
The tree-lined Avenue Bourguiba, in the centre of the capital, was re-opened to traffic for the first time in several days. The street had on Tuesday been the scenes of clashes between protesters demanding the removal of Ben Ali's RCD party from power, and police using tear gas.
Tunis residents said the streets were quiet overnight, with no reports of shooting or looting.
Abid al-Briki of the UGTT trade union, whose three ministerial nominees all resigned, said it still wanted to see all ministers from Ben Ali's team cleared out, though it would make an exception for Ghannouchi.
"This is in response to the demands of people on the streets," Briki said.
Trying to defuse the row, Ghannouchi and caretaker President Fouad Mebazza quit the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD).
One of the new ministers who resigned, Mustafa Ben Jaafar, indicated that move might be enough to tempt him back.
But the UGTT responded that while their ditching of old party cards was positive, it was not sufficient. Ghannouchi said some ministers were kept on because they were needed in the run-up to elections, expected in the next two months.
Underlining international concern over Tunisia, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about Washington's desire for calm.
"The President ... shared with President Mubarak that the United States is calling for calm and an end to violence, and for the interim government of Tunisia to uphold universal human rights and hold free and fair elections in order to meet the aspirations of the Tunisian people," the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.
At an Arab summit in Egypt on Wednesday, the emir of Kuwait called for national unity to resolve the crisis.
Ministers in the coalition government took the oath of office in a ceremony on Tuesday evening, Najib Chebbi, an opposition party leader and minister in the government, told Reuters.
In an indication of the new government's desire to break with the past, the ruling RCD party cancelled the party membership of Ben Ali, ex-presidential advisor Abd Elwahab Abdallah, Ben Ali's son-in-law Sakher Materi and brother-in-law Belhassen Trebelsi, state television reported.
The government says at least 78 people were killed in the unrest and the cost in damage and lost business was estimated at $2 billion.
The weeks of protests over poverty and unemployment which forced Ben Ali out prompted speculation across the Arab world that other repressive governments might also face unrest.
In Syria, opponents of President Bashar al-Assad said that the overthrow of dictatorship in Tunisia had fatally undermined assertions by Arab governments that their repression is the only alternative to chaos or extreme Islamist rule.
Rating agency Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday lowered its credit rating for Tunisia, and Standard and Poor's has threatened to do so if uncertainty continues.
The cost of insuring Tunisia's debt against default rose sharply after the downgrade. (Writing by Giles Elgood, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)