South Africa: Julius Malema: ANC expels fiery youth leader


South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) has expelled its controversial youth leader Julius Malema, who was appealing against his five-year suspension from the party.

The ANC's disciplinary committee found him guilty of fomenting divisions and bringing the party into disrepute.
Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema is currently one of his strongest critics.
The 30-year-old now has 14 days to appeal against the decision.
"In respect of the present disciplinary hearing, Comrade Julius Malema is expelled from the ANC," the disciplinary committee said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Mr Malema says he is being persecuted for advocating that the party should adopt a policy to nationalise mines, and replace Mr Zuma as the ANC leader.
But his combative, populist style had angered many in the party, correspondents say.
He has indicated in the past that he would appeal a verdict of expulsion.
Mr Malema was handed a five-year suspension in November after being found guilty of three of the charges against him - including bringing the party into disrepute by calling for regime change in Botswana - a position which contravenes party and government policy.
His Youth League had said its members would have no comment on the announcement, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Syria unrest: Surgeon tells of Homs makeshift hospital


Jacques Beres is a 71-year-old surgeon and co-founder of the Medecins Sans Frontieres group. He has just returned from the besieged Syrian city of Homs where, in a makeshift clinic, he managed to treat dozens of people wounded during weeks of bombardment. He told the BBC News website what he saw.

"I spent 12 days in Homs, arriving via Lebanon. We planned the trip for several weeks. It was very dangerous to enter illegally so I made the journey with the help of a chain of intermediaries.
"One met me at the airport in Beirut. I landed in the evening and by 09:00 the next morning I was already in Syria. I had a rest at a farm and then progressed to Qusayr [three miles (4.8km) south-west of Homs], where I worked for a few days before making the journey into Homs.
"I was scared. It is only reasonable to have some fear. Bombs are never normal. I can't really compare Homs to any other war zone I have worked in though - apart, perhaps, from Chechnya.
"Grozny is small and the town has a mixture of rural and urban areas. The houses in Homs are built in a similar way - there is no protection and, when they are hit, they collapse completely. Also, the ferocity of the attack and the repression are comparable.
"I was based in a makeshift operating theatre. Everyone is too scared to go to the state-run hospital - they are terrified of having a limb amputated, or of being kidnapped. Only the Syrian army soldiers go there now.
"It was just one operating theatre, in someone's home. It was badly lit, the electricity was frequently cut. It was minimal, very basic. Marie Colvin came to visit us three days before she died.

"We did have running water but, as it was a private hospital, there was only water in some rooms - the bathroom and kitchen. There were no proper sterilisation facilities either - we just had to rinse our hands with alcohol and put them straight into our gloves.
"There was a Syrian team and a Syrian doctor who ran the hospital, who slept there and treated patients and kept everyone's morale up. There were other surgeons who came and helped when they could.
"I operated on 90 people. We couldn't help those who had been injured in the chest and the head, only those with wounds to the abdomen and below.
"The people there are convinced that they will win. They are very brave but they are also desperate at having been bombarded for so long. They think they have been abandoned.
"They are always watching television. The TV is always on, the news flows and they communicate via Facebook and Twitter. They know what is going on.
"I travelled there because it had to be done. It's an emergency. It helps them a lot to see someone from abroad helping them. Plus, I'm very experienced in this field. You can gain a lot yourself from such an experience too - these people are immensely brave. They just want their freedom, they want to get rid of the tyrant. I'd like to return if I can."

Dead wife resurrects after hubby whispered "I love you"

By Daily Mail

Who says that miracles never happen? Lorna Baillie was declared dead after she suffered a massive heart attack, but astonished doctors and her grieving family when she suddenly came back to life.
Relatives of Baillie were devastated when a team of doctors withdrew treatment after spending three hours trying to revive her.

The family gathered around her hospital bed to say their goodbyes after doctors told them the 49-year-old grandmother was 'technically dead', being kept artificially alive only by a combination of adrenaline, electric shocks and CPR.

It was then, 45 minutes later, that Mrs Baillie's disabled husband John, 58, whispered 'I love you' to his wife. As John, his son and three daughters sat beside Mrs Baillie, they were surprised to see her colour gradually improve. A nurse present in the room assured them this was a normal side effect of prolonged emergency treatment.

And when Mrs Baillie's eyelids flickered and she appeared to squeeze her eldest daughter Leanne's hand, the nurse again assured the family that 'involuntary movements' were to be expected. Unconvinced, the family demanded the nurse call in a doctor, who found a pulse and rushed Mrs Baillie to intensive care.

Daughter Leanne Porteous, 31, said: 'I asked the nurse if it was normal that she squeezed my hand and that she had opened her eyes and she said it was. We are so close as a family and we are not the kind of people to just give up. We were telling my mum to be strong. I kept saying to her, "Come back, Mum, come back". At one point my dad said, "Lorna come back, I love you," and then –just like that – she was there again.'

Two weeks later, the former auxiliary nurse from Prestonpans, East Lothian, has even managed some 'high-fives' after sitting up in bed and communicating with her family. Mrs Baillie, a keen gardener and dog walker, collapsed at her home at 4.30pm on February 10. Paramedics battled to resuscitate her before taking her to Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary where, at 8.45pm, a doctor told the family she had died.

Leanne said: 'His words were that she was technically dead, but they had to wait until she had stopped breathing before they could pronounce her medically dead.'

Mrs Baillie's miraculous signs of recovery followed, but medics warned that her chances of survival remained slim because her kidneys had failed and she was in a coma.

The family were still so worried that her daughter Charlene, 23, asked the hospital chaplain to obtain a special licence to allow her to get married by her mother's bedside. But Mrs Baillie's condition continued to improve and last week she was moved from intensive care to a medical ward. An MRI scan recently revealed no obvious brain damage.

Somali Journalist Killing Is Latest in Violent Trend


A Mogadishu radio-station director has became the third Somali journalist killed in as many months. The death underscores the constant threat against journalists working in the war-torn country.

Abukar Hassan Mohamoud is the latest journalist to be killed in the bullet-ridden Somali capital, Mogadishu. Witnesses say unidentified gunmen assassinated the Somaliweyn radio station director late Tuesday at his home in the Wadajir district.  

Radio Somaliweyn is an independent radio station operating in northern Mogadishu.

The National Union of Somali Journalists has condemned the killings. Union Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim said it is not clear why Mohamoud was targeted, but noted that in recent times he was involved in civil society activities.

“He was planning to bring the radio on air again. The reason is yet unclear, though he was very involved in civil society activism, such as youth in Banadir region in recent days. This is a really worrying trend for the journalists working in Mogadishu and the government has not done enough to investigate and bring suspects for prosecution,” said Ibrahim.

The killing came just a month after another journalist, Radio Shabelle Network Director Hassan Osman Abdi, was gunned down outside his house in Mogadishu. The Transitional Federal Government promised to investigate the murder and arrested two suspects.

In December, a government soldier killed journalist Abdisalan His at a checkpoint in the capital.

The head of the Reporters Without Borders' Africa desk, Ambroise Pierre, said civil society and the elite in Mogadishu are targeted because of their political influence.

“When journalists are being targeted like this, and targeted in their house, it shows that people are really looking into killing the information.  For an organization like ours what is important is to stop this process,” said Pierre.

Pierre also said for a country like Somalia, without a stable government, there is need for the international community to support independent investigations into such crimes. He said this may help to catch the killers and stop this cycle of violence against the media.

The Transitional Federal Government says it has secured Mogadishu and the city is safe. Ibrahim disagrees.

“I do no think Mogadishu is safe for journalists unless the government ends the culture of impunity and brings the killers to the court. We feel as a union, it is yet unsafe,” said Ibrahim.

Media-rights groups say Somalia is the most dangerous country in Africa for journalists.

In addition to the recent killings, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] also has condemned the arrest and assault of another journalist in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland.

A CPJ statement this week said Mohamed Abdirahman was arrested and beaten by police, who accused him of publishing a false story that said Ethiopian separatists had settled in a town in the region.

Syrian Security Forces Launch Ground Assault in Homs


Syrian security forces have launched a ground assault on the besieged city of Homs, in an attempt to overrun rebel-held districts that have endured nearly a month of bombardment that killed hundreds and left residents in desperate peril.
Activists said Wednesday that government troops were trying to enter the opposition Baba Amr and al-Inshaat neighborhoods, where fierce confrontations with the rebel Free Syrian Army were taking place. A Syrian official vowed Baba Amr would be “cleansed” within hours.
In recent days, opposition sources had reported the Syrian military was massing elite Fourth Armored Division troops and tanks under the command of President Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher, around the city in preparation for a final assault.
At least three Western journalists remain trapped in Baba Amr, although Syrian activists smuggled British photographer Paul Conroy to safety in neighboring Lebanon Tuesday in an escape during which some of his rescuers were killed.
Activists said troops also entered the central town of Halfaya in Hama province after five days of intense shelling. They said the rebel-held town of Rastan, just north of Homs, was shelled and that casualties were reported.
Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the newly appointed United Nations-Arab League envoy for Syria, said he will discuss the situation Wednesday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and member states in New York. He will then go to Cairo for talks with Arab League head Nabil Elaraby.
U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe said Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on the nearly year-long opposition uprising has killed “well over 7,500″ people. He told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that “credible reports” from Syria indicate more than 100 civilians are killed every day, “including many women and children.”
France said Tuesday diplomats have begun drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate end to violence in Syria so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to communities under weeks of government assault.
China also issued calls for a humanitarian response and a halt to fighting.
Russia and China have twice vetoed Western- and Arab-backed council resolutions that would have condemned Damascus for its deadly crackdown. Diplomats say Western powers and their Arab partners hope that focusing a new resolution on Syria's humanitarian situation will make it difficult for Moscow and Beijing to cast a third veto.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that al-Qaida and other militants are taking advantage of the situation in Syria, and that now is not the time to “further militarize the situation.”
Syrian officials blame the uprising on foreign-backed armed “terrorists” whom the government says have killed more than 2,000 security personnel. The revolt against Mr. Assad's autocratic rule has become increasingly militarized in recent months with Syrian army defectors joining a loosely-organized rebel force.
The new death toll provided by the U.N. Tuesday represents an increase of 2,100 from the figure it gave last month.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said a humanitarian cease-fire must be declared in Syria immediately to stop “serious rights abuses” by security forces against civilians. She made the plea at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Syrian envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui walked out of the session in protest.

North Korea Agrees to Halt Nuclear Tests, Missile Launches Amid U.S. Talks

By Maria Ermakova and Roxana Tiron

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment at Yongbyon to aid relations with the U.S., according to both nations.
The agreement is a “modest first step in the right direction,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told House lawmakers today in Washington. Further talks will be held on implementing the accord, which includes plans for the U.S. to provide food aid to the isolated nation.
The accord came out of talks between the U.S. and North Korea in Beijing on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, the first since dictator Kim Jong Il died in December and his son, Kim Jong Un, inherited leadership of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country.
The new leader is following the “exact playbook” of alternating confrontations and negotiations established by his father and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, according to David Maxwell, associate director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University in Washington.
“I do not see this as any kind of change or breakthrough,” Maxwell, who said North Korea was angling for food aid, said today in an interview.

Food Aid

The U.S. agreed to make final plans to provide an initial 240,000 metric tons of food aid, with the “prospect of additional assistance based on continued need,” according to a State Department statement.
The U.S. has expressed concern that food aid not be diverted to North Korea’s military and elite, and Clinton said there will be discussions on steps needed to monitor food distribution.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement that the talks “offered a venue for sincere and in- depth discussion” of measures to build confidence and improve relations.
“The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these,” Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, said today in the department’s e-mailed statement.
“The United States reaffirms that it does not have hostile intent” toward North Korea, according to Nuland’s statement.

South Korea’s Response

South Korea’s government welcomes the results of the talks in Beijing and expects the agreements will be “faithfully carried out,” the South’s foreign ministry said today in a statement on its website.
South Korea sees the agreements as “a basis to further its efforts to comprehensively and fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” the ministry said.
As part of the talks in Beijing, North Korea agreed to permit the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to verify and monitor a moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Yongbyon and confirm that the five- megawatt reactor and associated facilities are being disabled, according to the State Department.
North Korea said it will let the IAEA monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment “while productive dialogues continue.”
Analysts in the U.S. debated whether the announcement represented movement by North Korea under its new leader.
“This could be one of the more significant diplomatic surprises of the year,” George Lopez, a former United Nations sanctions investigator now at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, said today in an e-mail. “Very few analysts believed that anything of substance would happen in the first few months after Kim Jong Un came to power.”

‘Baseline Understanding’

John Park, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the deal announced today had been scheduled for December and was postponed upon Kim Jong Il’s death. Its revival is significant as a sign of continuity, Park said.
“It provides something of a baseline understanding with the new leadership in Pyongyang,” he said.
U.S. Republican Representative Ed Royce said the agreement shows the Obama administration “is following the failed course of its predecessor” on North Korea.
“Years of getting duped by North Korea should tell us that verification on their turf is extremely difficult, if not impossible,” Royce, chairman of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, said in an e-mailed statement. “That applies to food aid distribution, where the military has stolen food aid, or nuclear disarmament.”

Six-Party Talks

North Korea’s foreign ministry said the discussions in Beijing offered an opportunity for the resumption of six-party talks, which haven’t been held since December 2008. The six- party talks are aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program through negotiations involving China, the U.S., Japan, Russia, North Korea and South Korea.
The Beijing meetings were the third since the U.S. resumed direct talks with North Korea in efforts to bring the country back to negotiations aimed at persuading the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
In October, Kim Jong Il said North Korea was ready to restart the talks as long as they occurred without preconditions. The U.S. State Department said in August that North Korea must refrain from nuclear testing and missile launches and meet other conditions before the talks can resume. The North revealed its uranium-enrichment program in 2010.

To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Ermakova in London at mermakova@bloomberg.net; Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

Hamed bin Zayed chairs chairs Khalifa University's Board of Trustees Executive Committee Meeting


During the meeting, a number of topics were discussed at length. These include; senior level searches for the Provost, the Dean for College of Engineering and Chairs for academic programs. The meeting also updated the board on searches already concluded, including Vice Presidents of Human Resources, Student Services, and External Relations, in addition to discussing an update on the development of the planned College of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Updates for both Etisalat-BT Innovation Center (EBTIC) and the Emirates Advanced Network for Research and Education (Ankabut) were also discussed and the committee approved renewing their contracts.

On the academic level, the agenda included discussions on undergraduate recruitment and admissions, undergraduate student progression, improvements to the preparatory program and improvements to the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Furthermore, the graduate student progression, approval of graduate degree awards and expansion of graduate programs were also discussed, including the addition of new PhD programs in Engineering, which were approved.

The committee also discussed the campus extension update, along with a number of budgetary and financial issues and matters related to the overall budget and human resources. Research and Development (R'&'D) and partnerships were other items on the agenda, along with research funding, the Georgia Tech Memorandum of Understanding and issues related to the aerospace research and innovation center, and the semiconductor research and development center.

Bahraini Opposition Leader Blames Washington for Anti-Islam Moves

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Bahraini opposition leader took Washington responsible for insults to Islam, and stressed that the recent desecration of the Holy Quran was part of the US and the West's campaign against Islam.

"The US and the West make use of any means to insult Islam, among them is accusing Muslims of terrorism and insult to the Holy Quran which both take place in the framework of trampling Muslim sanctities," Secretary-General of the National Democratic Action Society of Bahrain Fazel Abbas told FNA on Wednesday.

He further blasted the promotion of terrorism and racism by the West, and called for the mobilization of the entire Muslim community against such acts.

"The US is responsible for insults to Islam and the slogan 'Down with the US' should be kept alive and spread among Muslims in a bid to demonstrate the Muslims' wrath," Abbas reiterated.

The remarks by the Bahraini opposition figure came after the US soldier set fire to several copies of the Holy Quran at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

At least 25 people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded in protests against the desecration of the Holy Quran in Afghanistan since it first emerged that copies of Quran and religious materials had been thrown into a fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field.

Americans have set fire to the copies of the Holy Quran on several occasions thus far. Angry Afghans have staged increasing protests across the war-torn country since the US troops burnt the Holy Quran in their base in Afghanistan.

BICE Manama: Wine Tasting


Frendly reminder about our Wine Tasting on this Sunday the 4th of March 2012 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm at only BD 11 per person.
Along with our fabulous wines selected by our Sommelier you will find our Chef’s finger- food pairings, all this in a chilling out ambience well backed up by our Live Piano Entertainment! This is the Lounging experience at Bice.

Please confirm you attendance contacting us at +973 17533 666 or mail at restaurant@bicebahrain.com by Saturday the 3rd of March.

BAHRAIN: National Commission for BICI recommendations implementation requests 20-day extension

Manama, Feb 29 (BNA) The National Commission charged with following up on BICI recommendations highlighted that most of the recommendations has been implemented by the government work continuing on executing the remaining of BICI recommendations.

These recommendations include legislative amendments, devising criteria for media, crafting educational programs aimed at indulgence and tolerance, as well as compensating victims subjected to wrong doing.
The Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Ali Saleh Al-Saleh said that the government is fully committed to implement BICI recommendations and this is verified through the correspondence the Commission regularly receives from the government updating the commission on stages of executing the recommendations.
The Commission and due to the sheer volume of correspondence received has asked for extension for its work period till 20th March 2012 so that it can review all the procedures and actions taken by the government so that a final report is prepared and passed to HM the King. The Commission lauded the government response to proposals and queries passed by the commission and the clarifications received.

“Social media will ring the death knell for newspapers”

Manama, Feb. 29 (BNA) -- Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter have the power to influence events and decision making at all levels, resulting in decision makers at all levels relying on this source to find the influence of any decision. It is going to kill the newspaper industry, said Barakat Al Wagayyan, television anchor of Al Watan, Kuwait.

In Kuwait, the reliance on social media channels is very high, he said. Even in Kuwait’s political sphere the social media has played an important role. All the government heads and representatives of the people are social media savvy.

“From what I perceive, general opinion on any issue is readily available on social media and it is easy to access this source to find the pulse of any decision. Which is why even governments today depend on this medium prior to legislating or implementing a law,” said Al Wagayyan.

It is a source of immediate response on any issue. The importance of social media to the governments and also decision makers can be gauged from the huge budgets allotted to this, he added.

“I think social media will push all other forms of media to the sidelines. I think it will be the master of the media. It knows no bounds and neither is it confined to a few channels. It is ever expanding – from facebook to twitter to the next level,” said Al Wagayyan.

Asked about the limitations of this media source he compared it with the traditional media. The newspapers came first, he said, followed by the radio which depended on the newspapers. The television technology came over and took it to bring live news.

In a short span of time the newspapers will lose their significance. It will be replaced by the social media because when I want to see a newspaper I browse its digital version. Earlier the news and its updates were provided by the newspaper. With the social media stepping in, there is news as it happens from the origin itself.

The television is expected to give the details. The new devices will give information quick and live, he concluded.


Bahrain: 20th day of Hungerstrike: Lawyer warns that Alkhawaja’s health is entering a dangerous Phase


The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) calls on international
human rights organizations to urgently intervene to secure the release of human
rights defender Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja (Previous President and acting
director of the BCHR) who is to enter his 21st day of hungerstrike tomorrow.

Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja had began the hungerstrike demanding “Freedom or Death” on the
8th of February which followed a 1 week hungerstrike just 2 days before which
aimed at highlighting the continued human rights violations taking place in

According to Mr.Alkhawaja’s wife, the activist can no longer tolerate sitting
for longer than 10-15 minutes in the sun due to fatigue and spends most of his
day lying down. Mr.Alkhawaja’s wife also states that the activist needs a hot
water bottle to keep his body warm.

The activists lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Aljishi had previously stated that the
hospital clinic can no longer administer IV fluids as the activists veins are
too weak.

Mr. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja’s daughter, Human Rights Defender Ms.Maryam
Alkhawaja, Head of Foreign Relations of the Bahrain Centre for Human
Rights(BCHR)as well as the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) , had previously
stated that Mr.Alkhawaja was exhibiting symptoms of a person on his 60th day of
hungerstrike as his Kidney had already started to get affected. He also shows
signs of increasing fatigue and lack of concentration in addition to having
difficulty in moving.

The activist, even in accordance to the Bahrain Independent Commission of
Inquiry (BICI) that was commissioned by the King , was subject to severe
torture. Numerous international human rights organizations have called for
Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja’s release such as Amnesty International, Human Rights
Watch, Human Rights First as well as Frontline Defenders and questioned the
trial procedures through which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The BYSHR once again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of
human rights defender Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and places full responsibility for
his well being on the Bahraini authorities.


Bahraini ‘Reformers’ in Washington, Courtesy of American Spinmeisters

Journalism in the Public Interest
by Justin Elliott

Earlier this month, a group of three young Bahrainis arrived in Washington to talk about reform in the small Persian Gulf nation, which has been rocked by Arab Spring protests for the last year. The delegation, including an NGO worker and a tech entrepreneur, both Western-educated, represented "the leading voice for change and reform" in Bahrain, as an email message from one of the group's representatives put it.
But these weren't leaders of the protest movement that has challenged the country's ruling Sunni monarchy. They were members of a "youth delegation" put together by a top American public relations firm, Qorvis, which has been working with Bahrain to shore up the country's image in the United States.
The youth delegation's modestly pro-reform message was mixed with sharp criticism of the opposition in Bahrain and complaints about negative media coverage in the U.S.
Last year, in the early weeks of Bahrain's violent crackdown on the largely Shia opposition protests, the minister of foreign affairs inked a contract [1] with Qorvis to provide public-relations services for $40,000 per month, plus expenses. One of the largest PR and lobbying firms in Washington, Qorvis employs a number of former top Capitol Hill staffers and also works for Bahrain's close ally, Saudi Arabia. The firm's work for Bahrain came under scrutiny last year when it defended [2] the government's raid [3] last year on a Doctors Without Borders office in Bahrain. Also in 2011, a Qorvis official wrote [4] pro-regime columns in The Huffington Post without revealing his affiliation with Qorvis.
Bahrain is an important American ally in the gulf, and its capital Manama is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. An independent commission found [5] late last year that the government had systematically tortured detainees and used excessive force to put down the protests. While the unrest has fallen from the headlines, Bahrain continues to [6] suppress protests, sometimes violently. And while Bahrain has promised reforms, Human Rights Watch today released a report [7] finding "egregious violations of fair trial rights" in cases brought against opposition activists.
The Obama administration has largely stood by Bahrain, offering muted criticism while continuing to [8] sell arms to the government, though one weapons package remains on hold.
To counter negative press, Bahrain has made a major public-relations push in the U.S., employing Qorvis and several other firms [9]. The youth delegation dispatched to Washington, on the anniversary of the start of the protests, is the latest part of that effort.
In meetings and public appearances, the three-member Qorvis delegation has criticized opposition protesters as violent agitators.
"The message of this delegation was, things over here [in the U.S.] are portrayed so unfairly," said Cole Bockenfeld, an official with the Project on Middle East Democracy [10] who met with the group in mid-February and has been critical of Bahrain's government. The delegation members said they "represent the silent majority that is very moderate but wants to see limited and stable reform."
The Qorvis-organized group also argued that youth coalitions involved with the opposition "are a fringe group of rioters and vandals," Bockenfeld said.
The Bahrainis in the delegation were all educated in either the United States or Canada, according to their bios [11]. One member founded a tech company that develops web and mobile applications; another works for the Bahrain branch of an NGO called Young Arab Leaders; and the third is a media specialist for the government's Information Affairs Authority.
Qorvis did not respond to our requests for comment.
The firm's pitch, written by staffer Adam Croglia, framed the delegation as representing the pro-reform community in Bahrain. Here's an email from Qorvis sent to one policy analyst in Washington:
But the delegation instead seemed to focus on criticizing the opposition and decrying American media coverage.
Delegation members, for example, attended a panel [13] discussion on Bahrain on Feb. 15 at Freedom House in Washington. In the Q&A after the initial discussion, delegation member Ebtisam Khalifa Bahar, who works for the Information Affairs Authority, said:
"I tell you this: The protesters are not peaceful. I know this because I live next to a village where I see it, smell it and hear it every single day. Molotov cocktail petrol bombs being thrown in front of my home, at my car. ... I do have the same grievances that they have. I do want better jobs. I do want better reform in the government."
Bahar then challenged an official on the panel from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
"I think you are betraying the Bahraini voice because you are omitting my voice. … I want my country back the way it was, before all this hoopla started."


Bahrain GP 2012: Information Concerning the Accreditation Procedure for National Press Share |

Manama, Feb. 28. (BNA) -- The following information concerns the accreditation procedure for the National Press who intend to cover the 2012 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the fourth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which takes place from April 20 to 22, 2012 at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
National Press:Members of the written media of the following countries will be regarded as “National Press”: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Your accreditation request will be handled by the National Accreditation Office in Bahrain at the following address:
Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Accreditation Office
Mohammed Shareeda
P.O. Box 26381
Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
Phone: +973 17 451789
Fax: +973 17 451112
E-mail: media@bic.com.bh / m.shareeda@bic.com.bh

National News Agency:News agencies from the above mentioned countries are also invited to send their accreditation request to the National Accreditation Office in Bahrain.
How to receive the accreditation form:
In order to officially receive your application form, we would ask that you send a short e-mail or fax to the National Accreditation Office in Bahrain stating the name of the publication, the number of journalists or photographers who would like to attend the race weekend, as well as your contact details including full postal address.
Alternatively, you can download the application form from the Bahrain International Circuit website, http://www.bahraingp.com/.

Deadline:You will be required to return the form to us by post with a number of documents that will be detailed in the form you receive. This form must reach us before 18th March, 2012. Applications received after this date cannot be considered.

International Press:Members from the written Press of any country other than those listed above as “National Press” who require accreditation are asked to send their applications to the FIA External Relations Department, 8 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France, phone +33-1-43125815, fax +33-1-43125819 or e-mail: press@fiacommunications.com. The 2012 Formula One Accreditation Procedure is available on http://www.fia.com/ under the Press section: Procedures for Accreditation.
TV, International Radio and Electronic Media:
News agency from any other country than those listed above as “National Press” as well as ALL TV stations and electronic media, e.g. magazines that are only published on the Internet, should contact the following address:

Formula One Management Ltd. (FOM)Accreditation Service
6 Princes Gate
London SW7
Great Britain
Tel: + 44 207 584 66 68
Fax: + 44 207 589 21 91
Email: media@fomltd.com

Accommodation:If members of the press require help with booking accommodation for the 2012 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix please contact the National Accreditation Office.
For further information please contact the National Accreditation Office in Bahrain.
Thank you.


East Africa: How piracy is causing economic mayhem and wrecking businesses

By Christine Mungai and Paul Redfern The EastAfrican

When it comes to businesses, fortunes are always at the mercy of chance. This is the reality Raju Malde, a director at Pwani Oil, one of Kenya’s biggest oil and fats manufacturers, is grappling with. The profitability of his company is facing one of its worst threats with a surge in freight costs as shippers factor in charges arising from piracy on the Indian Ocean.
While Somali piracy has been around for some time now, the real cost of the menace is emerging with a new report that breaks down the total price of piracy to businesses — estimating it at Ksh50 million monthly for shippers. The world, business executives said, has been so preoccupied with how piracy got to its current levels that it has not noticed how much economic pandemonium the crime is causing countries.
Freight costs have definitely gone up,” says Mr Malde. “The shipping lines are now charging a fee they are calling piracy risk surcharge, which is $10 on freight, and another $3 on insurance.” (READ: Freight forwarders turn to air cargo as shipping costs bite)
Mr Malde said that the bulk of their imports consist of palm oil from Indonesia, which they import by the tonne. “The piracy has had the impact of reducing our margins, and we are also passing the extra costs to the consumers.”
A new report by the One Earth Future Foundation, shows shipping companies are paying roughly $5,000 a day for a four-man armed team, on duty for four to 20 days to protect their vessels in the vital waters off the East African coast and through the Gulf of Aden.
The stretch — where more than a third of the world’s traded goods cross — is the most vulnerable to Somali pirates, meaning increased level of piracy pose a grave threat to international business.
Humanitarian agencies like the World Food Programme, too, have been affected. “Our ships have had to have military escorts from the EU and Nato,” says Challiss McDonough, WFP’s senior spokeswoman for East, Central and Southern Africa. “It’s not just the WFP, other humanitarian agencies have had to employ military escorts.”
Timothy Kimani, clearing and forwarding director of Siginon Freight Ltd, says that ships are reluctant to call at the port of Mombasa, and security is one of the major reasons why.
“The surcharges were not there before the piracy started. If you are a big importer bringing in about 6,000 containers every other month, you can see the impact,” he says. “The extra fees pay for security on board the ship, marine patrols and other efforts to prevent hijackings.”
A new report says that international shipping companies are paying more than $50 million a month for security on board their ships plying the coastal waters off the Somalia coast.
More than a third of the world’s traded goods cross the East African coast, the stretch of sea most vulnerable to Somali pirates. A sizeable percentage of cargo comprises oil from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran.
According to the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, which represents 120 armed security outfits, more than half of which are British, many ships now employ private security companies as protection and this fledgling industry pulls in $52.2 million a month from an estimated 1,500 escorted journeys.
The vast majority of the estimated $7 billion spent last year in combating piracy was related to recurring costs associated with the protection of vessels — costs which must be repeated each year. This is in sharp contrast to the $38 million spent for prosecution, imprisonment, and building regional and Somali capacity to fight piracy. Average ransoms increased 25 per cent from approximately $4 million in 2010 to $5 million in 2011. Although the total cost for ransoms was $160 million for 2011, money collected by pirates represents a mere two per cent of the total economic cost.
“The human cost of piracy cannot be defined in economic terms,” said Anna Bowden, the report’s author. “We do note with great concern that there were a significant number of piracy-related deaths, hostages taken, and seafarers subject to traumatic armed attacks in 2011. This happened in spite of the success of armed guards and military action in the later part of the year.”
Continue reading on The EastAfrican

Syria unrest: UK photographer Paul Conroy out of Homs


British Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy is no longer in Syria, having been smuggled out of the besieged city of Homs.
He was evacuated from the Baba Amr district on Monday with help from the Syrian opposition and Free Syria Army fighters, diplomats told the BBC.
The whereabouts of French journalist Edith Bouvier remain unclear.
Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said she had received reports that "massive campaigns of arrests" by Syrian troops against rebels had deprived many civilians of food, water and medical supplies.
Syria's representative to the UN, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, stormed out of the session, accusing countries of "inciting sectarianism and providing arms".
Reports on Tuesday said Homs had come under some of its heaviest bombardment yet, with the government sending in units of an elite armoured division into rebel-held districts.

'Warning shot'

The Sunday Times has confirmed Mr Conroy is now safe in Lebanon.
The Western journalists were wounded in an attack on a makeshift media centre last Wednesday during a three-week offensive on rebel areas by Syrian government forces.
American Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed.
The Syrian Red Crescent said earlier that it had reached Baba Amr on Monday, bringing out three Syrians, including a pregnant woman, her husband and an elderly female patient, but that it had been unable to bring out the Western journalists or the bodies of their colleagues.
The movements of 47-year-old Paul Conroy had been shrouded in discretion because of fears for his safety, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Beirut.
Syrian opposition sources said he was smuggled out of Baba Amr on Monday and taken through the Syrian countryside before crossing the border into Lebanon during the night.
In a video posting a few days ago, Mr Conroy said he had received "three large wounds" to his leg and was being treated by Free Syria Army medical staff.
Ms Bouvier was more seriously wounded, suffering multiple leg fractures. Earlier reports said she too had been smuggled into Lebanon, but other reports suggest she may not have been evacuated from Baba Amr.
French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said he was unable to confirm any news regarding the Le Figaro journalist.
The Syrian activist group, Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), said on its Facebook page that Ms Bouvier and other foreign journalists had refused to leave Homs until the Syrian regime guaranteed their photographs and recordings wound not be confiscated.
"They have also demanded from the Red Crescent to transport some injured civilians that are in a critical condition, but the Red Crescent refused," the group added.
Their comments have not been independently verified.
There has been no word either on what has happened to the bodies of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik.
Ms Colvin's mother Rosemarie told the BBC's Today programme of her hope that her daughter's body could be brought home. "I want my daughter back and I can't rest myself, I can't have peace in my life, with my daughter's remains in that country," she said.

Checkpoint deaths

The Syrian government appears to have stepped up its offensive against rebels across the country this week - sending forces into several towns in northern Syria for the first time.
As many as 125 people died across Syria on Monday, many of them in a single incident at a checkpoint in Homs, the LCC said.
However, it is difficult to independently verify the death tolls and individual incidents as media access across the country is tightly restricted.
The emergency session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is to discuss a confidential report delivered by a UN panel of experts that lists Syrian army officers and government officials who could be investigated for crimes against humanity.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has urged the 47 nations in the council to be prepared to submit a complaint against Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
"The task of the council is to express the disgust of the entire world at the odious crimes that the Syrian state is committing against its people," he said.
But the meeting is unlikely to bring about any change from the government in Damascus which is currently fighting for its survival, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from neighbouring Lebanon.
It is more likely to put pressure on countries such as Russia and China, which have opposed any international action against Syria, he adds.


Head of Bahrain sovereign wealth fund quits

The head of Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s state holding company, has resigned after a four-year term to return to the private sector.
The move looks set to boost the Gulf state’s troubled financial sector, but it has also raised concerns about the erosion of reformists from leading government roles.
Talal al-Zain said he was proud of the achievements of his term as chief executive of the sovereign wealth fund, managing state companies such as Aluminium Bahrain and national carrier Gulf Air.
“We were formed to manage these investments on a commercial basis, creating best practice and corporate governance across state-owned companies,” he says.
Mr Zain, previously at private equity group Investcorp, is setting up his own financial services company, which will become a joint venture with a global investment house.
“I see lots of opportunities for investment in the Middle East and north Africa, with strong interest from Asia in our region, we want to be a contact point for that,” says Mr Zain.
The entry of a prominent financial services company will be a fillip for the embattled sector, which accounts for a quarter of Bahrain’s economic output.
Several foreign banks have moved from Bahrain amid the political crisis between the majority Shia, who are pressing for more democracy, and the minority Sunni-led government, which insists it is reforming after the excessive violence of last year’s crackdown.
The departure of US-educated Mr Zain, an ally of the reformist crown prince, is being described by some as a blow.
Analysts are concerned that the reform-minded elements in government are sliding into the background as security concerns take centre stage.
“This is not good; we need the crown prince’s people to remain in place,” says one opposition member. The opposition fears the dilution of reforms, including Mumtalakat’s transparency drive.
Mr Zain rejects any such concerns, saying the company’s governance systems and strong board will keep its mission intact.
“My loyalty is to Bahrain and the leadership,” he adds. “I will continue to contribute where I can, by investing in the region and bringing business here.”
Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, Mumtalakat’s chairman, said in a statement announcing the departure that Mr Zain “leaves behind a strong team capable of continuing the steady strides undertaken over the past five years”. He added: “As the investment arm of Bahrain, Mumtalakat will continue to be a strategically important institution and execute its mandate of managing the kingdom’s strategic commercial assets.”
Mumtalakat, which oversees assets valued at $9bn, was formed in 2006 during a government drive to boost transparency among the companies it controls outside of the energy sector.
Corruption claims have repeatedly dogged the ruling elite, becoming a central element of the protest movement’s grievances.
Analysts say the effort to diversify the economy into an outward-looking commercial and tourist hub appears to be in retreat, replaced by an even greater dependence on Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s larger neighbour.
Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince, led government attempts to open a dialogue with the opposition last February, but talks failed to develop before Riyadh led Gulf troops on to the island to back up the clampdown, which included the sacking of thousands of protest sympathisers in both the public and private sectors.
Analysts say the crown prince’s sphere of influence has since diminished as the minority Sunni community have become more vocal against concessions to “disloyal” Shia.
Bahrain’s economic development board, which used to take the lead on economic policy, now bears the hallmarks of a more passive trade promotion body.
Significant labour market reforms, including taxes on business for expatriate labour, have been suspended to help the struggling economy, rolling back the most serious attempt in the Gulf to address the festering issue of unemployment among nationals.
As to the future, the restructuring of lossmaking Gulf Air will be one of the biggest challenges of Mr Zain’s replacement, whose appointment now rests with the board.

Bahrain Regime Postpones Medics Case Again


Washington, DC – Today, the 20 Bahrain medics who were detained, tortured and sentenced to long terms in prison after an unfair military court trial again had their appeal hearing postponed, this time until April 30.  Human Rights First notes that this latest delay indicates that the Bahraini government has no intent to give the medics a fair appeal any time soon and is further proof of the ongoing human rights abuses in the kingdom.
“It’s very clear they just want to drag this on to infinity,” Dr. Fatima Haji told Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley after today’s hearing. “They failed to bring their witnesses, failed to get whatever information they needed about duty [rotations] from last year…It was just a copy and paste from the last three or four court hearings.”
Haji was sentenced to five years in prison by the military court and is out of detention while the appeal continues. She is one of the medics arrested in March and April of last year. They were then tortured into making false confessions and sentenced to prison on Sept. 29, 2011.
Following today’s delay, another of the medics, Dr. Nada Dhaif, who was sentenced to 15 years, told Dooley that, “Today’s hearing was something very close to a very bad, boring play, with lousy performers … I don’t know why they insist on continuing with this.”
The 20 medics are among 502 people who were given unfair trials by the military courts.  Another prominent figure sentenced by the military court is leading human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who was sentenced to life in prison. He is on his third week of hunger strike in protest at the unfair convictions.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on authorities in Bahrain to take immediate steps to address the “deepening mistrust” between the government and civil society. She notes, “The Bahraini authorities need to urgently take confidence-building measures including unconditionally releasing those who were convicted in military tribunals.”
Those convicted by the military court also include about 160 policemen who refused to join in the government’s violent crackdown against democracy protests last year.
“The U.S. Government should match the U.N.’s call that all those convicted in military tribunals be released unconditionally. The U.S. needs to get on the right side of the democracy debate in Bahrain and not be seen simply as a government that arms the dictatorship,” concluded Dooley.

For more information on Bahrain, read Dooley’s most recent report, Bahrain: The Gathering Storm. To speak with Dooley about today’s proceeding or other developments in Bahrain, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.

BBC: Bahrain, Feb14 2012

‎#BBC Newsnight - #Bahrain Feb14 2012 MUST WATCH & SHARE ~ thank u
تقرير البي بي سي عن البحرين - 14فبراير2012 - يستحق المشاهدة

Sheffield 2012: Evgeni Plushenko

Sheffield 2012: Evgeni Plushenko, è ancora lui il re ...


Wade Claims Lead in Senegal Presidential Poll


Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade says he is leading in the vote count from Sunday's presidential election.
In a news conference at the presidential palace in Dakar Monday, Mr. Wade said results are in from about half of Senegal's 550 voting districts.
He said the results show him winning about 32 percent of the vote. He said the second-place candidate, who he did not identify, has about 25 percent.
VOA correspondent Anne Look, who attended the press conference, reports that Mr. Wade acknowledged a second-round vote is possible. The president's party had predicted a first-round victory for the incumbent.
A total of 13 opposition candidates are seeking to unseat the president, who angered many Senegalese by trying to extend his 12-year rule of the West African nation.
Earlier Monday, one of Mr. Wade's main rivals, Macky Sall, said that a second-round vote is “inevitable.” Senegal's electoral commission has yet to release any results.
Mr. Wade's decision to seek a third term triggered weeks of demonstrations ahead of the vote, some of which turned violent. At least six people were killed in the protests.
Amadou Sall, a spokesman for Mr. Wade's campaign, told VOA that he expects the president will win re-election, and that all Senegalese will accept the results.
When asked about the prospect of a run-off vote if no candidate wins a majority, Sall said it is up to the voters.
“If the Senegalese people decide that President Wade will win at the first round, then President Wade will win at the first round. And if the Senegalese people decide that we will have a second round, we will have a second round.”
Hundreds of people booed President Wade Sunday as he voted at his home precinct.
Opponents say his bid for a third term is unconstitutional following a reform he signed into law in 2001 that limits presidents to two terms.
The presidentially appointed Constitutional Court ruled last month the reform did not apply to Mr. Wade because it came into effect while he was already in office.

Pakistan Lauds Oscar-Winning Filmmaker

Pakistan's government has honored filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won the country's first Oscar for her short documentary on the plight of female victims of acid attacks.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Chinoy will receive a “high civil award” for her accomplishments.
Her film Saving Face chronicles the work of London-based plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad, who travels to Pakistan and performs reconstructive surgery on women disfigured by such attacks. Dozens of Pakistani women and girls are victims of the crime every year.
Chinoy, who co-directed the documentary with Daniel Junge, paid tribute to “all the women in Pakistan who are working for change.” She said the film was for them and urged them not to give up on their dreams.

Saudi Billionaire to Invest $3.4 Billion in Ethiopia Over Next Five Years

By William Davison

Derba Group, an amalgam of three Ethiopian companies owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed al- Amoudi, said it plans to invest 59 billion birr ($3.4 billion) in seven industrial projects over the next five years.
The company, formed last month, has already invested 12 billion birr of a planned 71 billion birr in agriculture and cement in the Horn of Africa country, Chief Executive Officer Haile Assegide said today by phone from Derba Midroc Cement Plc’s plant near Chancho, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) northwest of Addis Ababa, the capital.
“The balance will be invested in the next five-year period,” said Haile. Derba’s cement, steel, agriculture and transport operations may generate annual revenue of 41 billion birr and create more than 370,000 jobs, he said.
Ethiopian-born al-Amoudi is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s 63rd-richest person and was worth $12.3 billion in March. The 66-year-old is close to the Saudi royal family and his construction company, Midroc, built the $30 billion underground oil storage facility in the kingdom in the late 1980s, according to the magazine.
Al-Amoudi’s Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc, which is primarily growing rice to export to Saudi Arabia, has leased 10,000 hectares (24,711 acres) of land in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region where it plans to build two rice mill factories, Haile said. The company is also in the “process of leasing an additional 290,000 hectares,” he said, without providing further details.

Foreign Currency

Investment in Saudi Star is projected to be 52 billion birr, of which 3.5 billion has already been spent on agricultural machinery, construction and consulting, according to Haile, a former works and urban development minister. Annual foreign currency earnings from crops, which will also include sugar beet and cereals, may reach 17.3 billion birr, he said.
Derba Midroc Cement, Ethiopia’s largest producer of the building material, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi this month. The factory will make Ethiopia “self- sufficient” in cement, according to Haile.
The five other projects targeted for investment are Derba Transport, Maya PP Bag, Derba Lime and Chemicals, Toussa Steel Mill and Dashen Cement, he said. The government will earn more than 6 billion birr a year from “value-added tax alone” from the seven projects, said Haile.
The group’s other interests include gold mining, trading, construction and cable-manufacturing operations.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

Ship's anchor slows down East African web connection


East Africa's high-speed internet access has been severely disrupted after a ship dropped its anchor onto fibre-optic cables off Kenya's coast.

The ship was waiting to enter Mombasa - one of Africa's busiest ports - when it anchored in a restricted area.
It could take up to 14 days to repair, cable owners The East African Marine Systems (Teams) told the BBC.
This is one of three undersea cables to have arrived in the region since 2009, delivering faster internet access.
Dropped anchor
Cables run by Teams, which is partly owned by the Kenyan government, and Eassy - a consortium of telecoms companies - were damaged at the weekend.
Internet service providers and mobile phone operators have re-routed to the Seacom link - which was not damaged by the dropped anchor.
But the companies have only bought a small amount of bandwidth because of cost.
The BBC's Noel Mwakugu in Nairobi says as a result internet connections are expected to slow down by 20% in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Sudan's capital, Juba.
Seacom - the first to be up and running - links East Africa to Europe, India and South Africa.
Teams links the region to the United Arab Emirates - and Eassy, which went live in July 2010, links countries along the East African coast.
Correspondents say that since then, the increased bandwidth has given a boost to mobile services and the burgeoning tech scene of home-grown developers, programmers and designers in Kenya.
In the first 12 months after the cables arrived, the number of internet subscriptions in the country jumped from 1.8m to 3.1m.

When Octogenarians refuse to cede power… Mugabe, Wade Shame Africa

Source: The Chronicle (Ghana)

The tragedy of Africa is that our leaders do not appear to know when to quit. Most of the anti-colonial leaders in Africa, who charted the course for independence, have signed up to the syndrome of Life-Presidents. And, though they begun as heroes of their various societies, their refusal to quit created so much tension in the body politic that their nations became polarised.
Most of them had to be forced to relinquish power by being removed by the military. By then they had virtually run their individual countries aground.
When Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah led the then Gold Coast to self-government, and declared that the independence of Ghana was meaningless, unless linked up with the total liberation of the African continent, it struck an accord with the people of this country and all nations on the continent then struggling under colonialism.
He was a hero, not only in his native Ghana, but the most adored leader on the whole continent. Things began to deteriorate when Nkrumah declared himself Life President after the constitution was changed in 1964, following a stage-managed referendum.
When the military stepped in, they had their own agenda, and instead of the liberation they promised, they drove the Ghanaian society further into the woods.
It was a syndrome that cut across the continent. From Libya, Egypt, and Sudan in the north, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Liberia, in the West, through Uganda in the East, the early charismatic leaders were replaced by military adventurers, whose main agenda was to plunder their individual states.
When the liberation war of Rhodesia ended in 1980 with the triumph of forces under Robert Mugabe, the leader became Prime Minister.
Born on February 21, 1924, Mugabe took his political tutorials in Ghana, where Dr. Nkrumah stood astride the political edifice like a colossus.
After taking a teacher training certificate at Achimota (1958-1960), Mugabe, a devout Catholic, taught at the St. Mary Secondary School, at Apowa, near Takoradi, then owned by the Catholic Mission. He met his first Wife, Sally Hayfron in the Western Regional capital, Takoradi, and tied the matrimonial knot.
Mr. Mugabe’s socialist orientation made him to drink deep from the fountain of socialist principles in vogue in Ghana, by attending the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute at Winneba.
Fully armed with anti-imperialist tools of the time, Mugabe went back to the then Southern Rhodesia to lead the war of liberation against racist Ian Smith, who was leading a unilateral declaration of independence from British rule. After seven years as Prime Minister, Mugabe became Head of State in 1987.
Mugabe embarked upon the controversial land reform programme, under which farms belonging to white settlers were seized and distributed to the majority black population. The programme was initially touted as the means of reversing inequitable land distribution in the nation. But, critics say the beneficiaries were mainly officials of the government and the ruling Zimbabwe African People’s Union. Unfortunately, the period has been marked by deterioration in the Zimbabwean economy.
A wide range of sanctions was imposed by the United States and the European Union. In 2008, when Mugabe went into the presidential elections, his power base at home was gradually slipping. Political observers believe the veteran politician lost at the polls. But, after a long time of wrangling with the opposition, Mugabe entered into a power-sharing arrangement with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tvsangirai (MDC-T) and Movement for Democratic Change – Mutambara (MDC-M) respectively.
Robert Guest, Africa editor of The Economist for seven years, argues that Magabe is to blame for the free-fall of the Zimbabwean economy. “In 1980, the average annual income in Zimbabwe was $980, and a Zimbabwean dollar was worth the American dollar. By 2003, the average income was less than $400, and the Zimbabwean economy was in a free-fall.
“Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly three decades, and has led it, in that time, from impressive successes to the most dramatic collapse of any country since Wekimar’s Germany. At 88, Mugabe has certainly passed his sell by date. There are unconfirmed reports that Mugabe is receiving treatment for prostrate cancer. In spite of the concern for his health and the economy, Robert Mugabe apparently, wants to die as President.
In an interview with state radio on his birthday, the President said he was as fit as a fiddle.
I have died many times. That’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once – I am as fit as a fiddle,” according to literature on the world-wide web.
In another interview with state television, the President of Zimbabwe said the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), would choose their own leader the moment he was no more. “Our members of the party will certainly select someone, once I say I am now retiring, but not yet, he is quoted to have said. I can still go some distance, can’t I?”
At the extreme end of West Africa, Abdoulaye Wade, born officially in 1926, is preparing to ignore the protests on the streets, and contest the Senegalese presidential elections. At 85, the former opposition leader, who has already served 12 years as Head of State of the Republic, is obviously having fond memories of the concept of President for Life.
Wade was born on May 29, 1926 – but some say, he might have been born several years earlier. After several years in opposition, during which he lost four elections, Abdoulaye Wade won the presidential election in 2000 on the second round ballot. He had taken the second place with 31 percent in the ballot on February 27. Incumbent Abdou Diouf could not win an outright majority in the first round. That gave the veteran opposition leader the opportunity to rally the support of other presidential candidates to grab the vote in the second round, with a majority of 54 percent.
Wade was inaugurated as President of Senegal in Dakar, on April 1, 2000. In 2007, he won the presidential race in the first round, with 55.9 percent.
The main opposition parties disputed Wade’s victory, and questioned his legitimacy. They boycotted the parliamentary election, and the re-established Senate vote, later in the year.
Wade responded in an interview with Le Soleil, Senegal’s leading newspaper, on May 19, 2008, that there was no longer any possibility of dialogue with the opposition.
“Let them do what they want, it does not bother me. So long as they respect law and order.”
At the African Union Summit in Accra, in 2007, Wade supported Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi’s proposal for the formation of a United States of Africa. “If we fail to unite, we will become weak and live isolated in countries that are divided.”
In July 2008, the National Assembly in Dakar approved a constitutional amendment increasing the length of the Presidential term to seven years. The amendment did not apply to Wade’s 2007 to 2012 term, but Minister of Justice Madicke Niang stressed on the occasion that Wade could potentially run for re-election in 2012, if he was still healthy. On September 17, 2009, Wade confirmed that he would run for a third term “if God gives me a longer life.”
At a rally on July 14, 2011, Wade told supporters thus: “I said that I can take it back” – explaining his decision to go back on his word of 2007, never to run for a third term.
On January 27, 2012, Abdoulaye Wade was officially approved by the Constitutional Court to run for the third time. Following this announcement, enraged youth took to the streets in protest.
Wade’s main accusation is that he has promoted hegemony. The widespread view in political circles in Dakar is that Wade’s son Karim, Minister of State for International Co-Operation, Urban and Regional Planning, Air Transport and Infrastructure, is being groomed to take over from his father.
In a continent where inheritance from father to son appears to be a political norm, there is the fear that Wade is paving the way for his son to take charge of one of Africa’s true democracies.

Senegal Counts Votes in Controversial Presidential Election


Election officials in Senegal are counting votes from Sunday's presidential election.
Opposition candidates are seeking to unseat President Abdoulaye Wade, who angered many Senegalese by trying to extend his 12-year rule of the West African nation.
Early, unofficial returns indicate a close race, and one of Mr. Wade's main rivals, Macky Sall, said Monday that a second-round vote is “inevitable.” Senegal's electoral commission has yet to release any results.
Mr. Wade's decision to seek a third term triggered weeks of demonstrations ahead of the vote, some of which turned violent. At least six people were killed in the protests.
Amadou Sall, a spokesman for Mr. Wade's campaign, told VOA that he expects the president will win re-election, and that all Senegalese will accept the results.
When asked about the prospect of a run-off vote if no candidate wins a majority, Sall said it is up to the voters.
“If the Senegalese people decide that President Wade will win at the first round, then President Wade will win at the first round. And if the Senegalese people decide that we will have a second round, we will have a second round.”
Hundreds of people booed President Wade Sunday as he voted at his home precinct.
Opponents say his bid for a third term is unconstitutional following a reform he signed into law in 2001 that limits presidents to two terms.
The presidentially appointed Constitutional Court ruled last month the reform did not apply to Mr. Wade because it came into effect while he was already in office.
Thirteen other candidates are running against President Wade, including two who have served as prime minister during his rule.

China, Russia Angry Over US Comments on Syria


China and Russia have responded angrily after the United States criticized their stance on Syria and the European Union imposed new sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday China will not accept U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's denunciation of other countries. Last week, Clinton called the actions by China and Russia on the Syrian conflict “despicable.”
An influential Chinese state newspaper, the People's Daily, said the United States has no right to speak for the Arab people.
“The comments by the mentioned American person are totally unacceptable for us. On the Syria question, China has always maintained a fair and objective stance.''
Also Monday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin defended the joint veto by Russia and China of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Syria for its military crackdown against an anti-government uprising.
Russia and China have repeatedly blocked the Security Council from taking action against Syria's government.
In another development Monday, EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions on Syria's central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian government officials.
The bloc has already blacklisted nearly 150 Syrian entities and people.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong, also welcomed Sunday's referendum on a new constitution for Syria, which has been rejected by the United States and other Western governments as a farce.
“We hope that this referendum is conducive to pushing forward Syria's reform and progress, opens the door for political dialogue, and meets Syrian people's justified demands for the change and protection of their interests. We hope that the various sides in Syria can make efforts to ease the tense situation as early as possible.''
Hong said China hopes the referendum, which would open the door to political opposition parties, will ease a conflict that has seen thousands of civilians killed by Syrian security forces.
However, opposition factions in Syria called for a boycott of the referendum, saying the only acceptable solution to the nation's crisis is for President Assad to step down.
The constitution would create a multi-party system in Syria, which has been governed solely by the Baath Party since 1963. But even if it passes, President Assad would still be very powerful.
Forces loyal to the president were blamed for the deaths of at least 31 people Sunday while voting on the referendum took place. Syria says its forces are fighting foreign-backed terrorists.
Clinton renewed her criticism of the Syrian government Sunday during a visit to Morocco. She said troops who remain loyal to Mr. Assad are dishonoring themselves, and she urged them to defect.
“And I want to reiterate my message to those Syrians who still support (Syrian President Bashar) Assad, especially members of the Syrian military and business community. The longer you support the regime's campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor. If you refuse, however, to prop up the regime or take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen and women will hail you as heroes.”
U.N.-appointed investigators estimate the death toll from the uprising at 6,400 civilians and 1,680 army defectors. Syrian officials have said they only took military action when under armed attack from “terrorists.”


‎#Bahrain | Burned by Hero Protesters - AlDair 26.2.2012
تم حرقها بواسطة الأبطال - بلدة الدير

Kuwaiti society still ‘male dominated’ – Women’s society holds symposium


KUWAIT: The 2012 Parliament is without any woman MP. This is a disappointment for most people, especially as the last Parliament had four women MPs, which was a historical record in Kuwait. Women only got their political rights in 2005. To discuss the reason behind the failure of women in the last elections, the Women’s Cultural Society held a symposium on Wednesday titled ‘Who is Behind the Woman’s Absence in the 2012 Parliament’.
Dr Rana Abdulrazzaq expressed her disappointment at not having even one women candidate pass the elections. “If we compare the performance of male MPs and female MPs, the women were much more productive. They were attending committees in Parliament, they proposed law drafts, their dialogue was more polite, and they carried out many projects. Women MPs participated in passing a law in favor of women, especially the housing care law,” she stated.
She spoke about the reasons that women failed from her point of view. “Although some female candidates were competing with male candidates and achieved a good number of votes, none of them passed. This is due to the general atmosphere of the elections. Women candidates did not participate in the tribal or sect coalitions. They did not use impolite dialogue and shouting like the men did. We witnessed some new young candidates who won, and this was due to their coalition with the Salafi faction,” added Dr Rana.
Ibraheem Al-Mulaifi said any analysis after resolving Parliament is not accurate. “We need psychological analyses more than election analyses in this issue. The change is not only in Parliament but in the Government as well, as there are no women ministers. At the end, their failure was the choice of the people and we respect the opinion of voters who have chosen their candidates,” he said.
He agreed with Dr Rana that the women MPs were more productive and attended more sessions in the last Parliament. “Women participated in political life even before getting their political rights. Masouma Al-Mubarak, for instance, was a minister in 2003, and Nouria Al-Subeih was a minister as well. I think there is a general ignorance of the issue of women in the community. I wonder where are those who were defending women’s rights. I advise women to go to protest at Determination Square as they have no place in Parliament with the complete absence of women MPs,” Al-Mulaifi added.
Dr Khadeeja Al-Mahmeed insisted that Kuwaiti society is still a male dominated society. “I see the main reason for the failure of women in this Parliament as the male culture. The way is still long for us women, as the community still preserves old social traditions which prefer and empower men. I think that this is an experience and woman here should not stand. She should be optimistic,” she stated.
By Nawara Fattahova, Staff Writer

Syrian protesters quit UAE after visas 'cancelled'


    CAIRO, Feb 26, 2012 (AFP) - Emirati authorities have cancelled the residencies of dozens of Syrians for taking part in a protest against their regime outside the consulate in Dubai, Syrian activists told AFP on Sunday.
    Two of them have already fled the Gulf country, arriving in Cairo on Saturday, after "all efforts failed to convince Emirati authorities to retract the decision," one of the activists said.
    "My son can't go to Syria" for fear of being arrested there, the father of one of the protesters told AFP. "They have no mercy. They didn't even give him a warning. They just cancelled his residency right away."
    The opposition activist told AFP that the UAE "authorities went ahead with the measures to cancel residencies despite promises to retract the decision."

    Nearly 2,000 Syrians took part in a demonstration outside the Syrian consulate in Dubai on February 10.
    The Emirati authorities recalled several dozen of them and asked them to sign a pledge not to take part in any future demonstrations.

    But days later, they were summoned by the immigration authority, which took their passports and cancelled their visas.
    Some were given a time limit of up to around 10 days to leave the country, while the authorities have confiscated the documents of others whose residencies have not yet been cancelled.
    The Syrian Revolt Coordination Committee, a network of Syrian opposition youths who organise protests and activities in Egypt in support of the Syrian insurgency, said it would support all those expelled from the UAE.
    "We have been informed of how the government of the country you live in has failed you and of its unfair decisions against you," the group said in a statement from Alexandria, Egypt's second city.

    "Our leadership has decided to invite all Syrian youths living in the UAE who will be expelled to come and stay with their brothers" in Egypt.
    Committee spokesman Ahmad Balouch told AFP: "We are ready to help them in any way possible."
    "If they need financial aid we can work on providing this. And if all they need is to get connected to people here, we and other groups in Alexandria as well as Cairo can keep in touch with them," Ahmad Balouch told AFP.
    The United Arab Emirates, which has strict conditions on demonstrations, is one of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states that decided to recall their envoys from Damascus and expel Syrian ambassadors from their countries in protest at Syria's lethal crackdown on dissent.
    More than 7,600 people have been killed in violence across Syria since anti-regime protests erupted nearly one year ago, human rights groups say.