12/30/2013

Congolese army regains control of capital

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/12/congolese-army-regains-control-capital-201312301132596774.html


Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed gunmen who opened fire on sites across the capital Kinshasa.
Armed men attacked Kinshasa airport and the state television station RTNC on Monday in what appeared to be an attempt to seize power by supporters of religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila.
Congolese troops killed 16 people and detained a further 20.
Lambert Mende, a government spokesman, said on Monday the army had regained control of the city and that the situation was now calm.

Steve Wembi, a journalist based in Kinshasa, told Al Jazeera that the motive behind the series of attacks remains unclear "but people are speculating that this was an attempted coup."
"Sixty five journalists were rescued by the national army. The situation is now under control of the FARDC (the national army)," Wembi said.
Before transmission was shut down at RTNC, two gunmen appeared on camera to deliver what appeared to be a political message against President Joseph Kabila's government.
"Gideon Mukungubila has come to free you from the slavery of the Rwandan," said the message, according to a Reuters reporter who saw a tape of the transmission.
In central Kinshasa, the streets emptied and shopkeepers closed their shutters.
"They are armed with machetes and guns. They have taken reporters hostage. An operation is under way to dislodge them," police spokesman colonel Mwana Mputu told the news agency AFP.
A customs official at the international airport on the outskirts of Kinshasa reported heavy gunfire there just minutes after the attack on state television.
"Shooting has started here," the official told Reuters.
"They are shooting everywhere. We are all hiding."
It is not clear if the two attacks are linked.

Bahrain foils weapon smuggling attempt

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-foils-weapon-smuggling-attempt-1.1272184

The seizure included Iranian and Syrian-made equipment to be used in bombs
  • By Habib ToumiBureau Chief
Manama: Bahrain on Monday said that its foiled attempts to smuggle weapons and ammunition into the country and to help 13 people wanted on terror-related charges leave the country clandestinely.
“Thanks to the deployment plan of the Coast Guard patrols and the use of radars, a target was located 118 nautical miles off north eastern Bahrain, in international waters, sailing towards Bahrain,” Public Security Chief Major — General Tareq Hassan Al Hassan said at a press conference.
“The target was followed until it entered territorial waters in eastern Al Jarem, and with the support of the police air patrols, it was seized at 4.50 pm, around two nautical miles away from the coast of the Karranah village. The target was a 29-foot boat with two 200 horsepower engines. Two Bahrainis were on board of the boat,” he said.
The police seized 38 C4 explosives, 31 Claymore blocks, explosive material to be used against individuals, 12 EFP armour-piercing explosives, six explosive devices containing magnets, 30 Nokia mobile phones, with batteries, a Thuraya satellite phone with a SIM card, and 29 circuit boards to be fixed on mobile phones to set off bombs.
The Coast Guard also seized a PK machine gun and 12 cartridges, a large number of machine gun bullets, two boxes containing a large number of ignition capsules, three explosive fuses, 50 Iranian-made hand bombs, 295 “made in Syria” commercial detonators and C4 and TNT explosives.
“The operation was documented visually and investigations are still going on in this case,” Al Hassan said.
The 13 people being smuggled out of the country were arrested after the Coast Guard located a boat with a number a people aboard heading out of the coast of Karranah village towards the north, he said.
The boat was followed and stopped 10 nautical miles away from the kingdom’s coastline.
“The target was immediately followed with the support of the police air patrols and a number of coast guard boats until it was cordoned and stopped at 2.40pm after a pursuit along the east of Al Jarem marine area [10 nautical miles away from Bahrain coastline].
“The 29 — foot long boat was carrying 13 people wanted for security-related cases were aboard. One of them was a Saudi national. They were carrying their passports, different currencies, mobile phones, as well as clothes and personal belongings,” he said.
Other security operations included busting a warehouse used to store explosives and ammunition in the village of Al Qurrayah and defusing a bomb placed in a car parked in a popular street in the capital Manama, he said.
“Security servicemen had suspicions about two cars parked in the Hoora area and conducted a search operation that revealed they had been reported stolen,” he said, referring to a neighbourhood in central Manama.
“The specialised teams examined one car and discovered that it had explosive devices. The Bomb Squad and the Civil Defence managed to dismantle the car bomb and to neutralise the explosives found inside.
“A gas cylinder, two fuel plates, and a homemade pipe bomb connected to a remote control phone were found. The investigations are still being conducted to capture the perpetrators of this terrorist act,” he said.
“The presence of another car in a different area in Hoora also raised the suspicion of a police patrol. However, nothing suspicious was found after it was examined,” he said.

12/28/2013

Police defuse booby-trapped car

http://bna.bh/portal/en/news/595189

http://bna.bh/portal/en/news/595189

Manama, Dec28(BNA) Capital police have defused this evening a
booby-trapped car.

Policemen located two suspicious cars as they were parked at two different places in the Capital.

The two vehicles turned out to be reported stolen earlier, Capital Police Director-General.

The anti-terror squad and the anti-explosive experts searched the two cars and defused the home-made bombs, which were planted in one of the vehicles.

Civil Defence units had also to intervene to assist in defusing the booby-trapped car.

Forensic experts rushed to the scene and collected fingerprints and evidence to identify the perpetrators of the heinous act, which aimed at terrorizing innocent people, and bring them to justice.

Capital Police Director-General called on the public to report any suspicious cars to the nearest police station or on hotline 80008008

Manama, Dec28(BNA) Capital police have defused this evening a
booby-trapped car.

Policemen located two suspicious cars as they were parked at two different places in the Capital.

The two vehicles turned out to be reported stolen earlier, Capital Police Director-General.

The anti-terror squad and the anti-explosive experts searched the two cars and defused the home-made bombs, which were planted in one of the vehicles.

Civil Defence units had also to intervene to assist in defusing the booby-trapped car.

Forensic experts rushed to the scene and collected fingerprints and evidence to identify the perpetrators of the heinous act, which aimed at terrorizing innocent people, and bring them to justice.

Capital Police Director-General called on the public to report any suspicious cars to the nearest police station or on hotline 80008008

Bahrain Shia opposition leader Ali Salman 'arrested'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25536981

The main Shia opposition movement in Bahrain, al-Wefaq, says its leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been arrested.
In a statement, the group said Mr Salman was in detention after what it called a series of illegal measures by the prosecuting authorities.
It is unclear whether he has been charged with any offence.
Al-Wefaq won 18 seats in the last election in 2010 but its MPs resigned the next year after a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.
Dozens died when the government moved to quash protests in Bahrain in February 2011. The protesters were demanding more rights and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia community by the Sunni royal family.
Al-Wefaq said a number of people were arrested on Saturday during a demonstration outside Mr Salman's home against his detention. It denounced the "excessive amount of toxic tear gas" used against them.
There was no immediate response from the authorities on the reported arrest.

12/25/2013

Richard Branson: Boycott Uganda over gay rights

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25506754

UK business tycoon Richard Branson has called on companies and tourists to boycott Uganda after its parliament approved a bill to toughen the punishment for homosexual acts.
It was against his conscience to support a country which carried out a "dreadful witch hunt against the gay community", he said on his website.
The bill proposes a life sentence for certain homosexual acts.
It has been condemned by world leaders since it was mooted in 2009.
US President Barack Obama called it "odious".
Mr Branson said he had been seriously considering investing in Uganda after being "courted" by government officials.

Start Quote

Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want”
End Quote Richard Branson UK businessman
However, he had decided not to "support" Uganda because of its "witch hunt" against gay people.
"I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find it being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide," Mr Branson said.
Mr Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, which has more than 400 companies worldwide, focusing mainly on travel, entertainment and telecommunications.
He is also a leading philanthropist who supported charities set up by South Africa's first black President, Nelson Mandela.
Mr Branson attended Mr Mandela's funeral last week.
"Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want," he said.
He said it was not for any government "to ever make any judgements on people's sexuality".
"They should instead celebrate when people build loving relationships that strengthen society, no matter who they are," he added.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has not yet signed the bill into law while Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi opposed the vote in parliament on the grounds that there was no quorum.
An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag in order to protect his identity as he marches with the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force during the Gay Pride Parade in Boston, Massachusetts June 8, 2013. Some gay Ugandans have fled the country, saying they are being persecuted
However, MPs pushed ahead with the vote.
The bill's supporters say it protects traditional family values, which they allege are under attack from Western-inspired gay rights groups.
The private member's bill originally proposed the death penalty for some offences, such as if a minor was involved or the perpetrator was HIV-positive, but this has been replaced with life in prison.
The bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report gay people to the police.
Map showing gay rights in Africa

12/23/2013

IntercontinentalExchange Announces 2013 Achievements; NYSE Leads in Capital Raised, Total IPOs and Technology IPOs

http://ir.theice.com/investors-and-media/press/press-releases/press-release-details/2013/IntercontinentalExchange-Announces-2013-Achievements-NYSE-Leads-in-Capital-Raised-Total-IPOs-and-Technology-IPOs/default.aspx

December 18, 2013
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Third Consecutive Year as Global Leader in IPOs; $59B Total Proceeds Raised; 157 IPOs, Most Since 2007
ATLANTA, Dec. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- IntercontinentalExchange Group (NYSE: ICE), the leading global network of exchanges and clearing houses, today announced 2013 accomplishments, including the third consecutive year for NYSE's leadership in global initial public offerings (IPOs) and capital raised.
"ICE has established a global exchange group offering the broadest portfolio of services to customers around the world," said ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey C. Sprecher. "ICE's leadership in risk management has driven increased transparency and security in the global derivatives markets while providing leadership amid significant regulatory change. And our global listings franchises enable the world's leading businesses to fuel economic growth, job creation and innovation."
"The NYSE's listed company network comprises the great businesses of our time and beyond. It extends across leading innovators and brands in every major sector. We are steadfastly focused on serving companies around the world who seek the benefits of the U.S. capital markets with our unique market model and leadership in market integrity," said NYSE EVP and Head of Global Listings Scott Cutler.
Leading in global capital raising for the third consecutive year; leader in technology IPOs 
•NYSE Euronext is the global leader in IPOs with 157 transactions raising $59.1 billion in total global proceeds – more than the next three exchanges combined.
•NYSE is the leader in follow-on financing with $176.2B in proceeds raised as of December 18, 2013. Transactions were up 23% year over year from 2012 and global proceeds grew by 6%. Global Leader
•In the U.S., NYSE and NYSE MKT combined maintained the top position welcoming 141 IPOs, raising $55.4 billion in total proceeds, more than three times any other U.S. marketplace.
•30 new technology listings, representing 54% of all U.S. technology IPOs and 56% capital raised in the sector, including Twitter's IPO, which raised $1.8 billion
•4 new healthcare listings, representing 51% capital raised in the sector, including the two largest deals in the sector, Quintiles and Zoetis
•52 new private equity-backed IPOs, including AMC, Hilton, SeaWorld, Vince, Container Store and Bright Horizons, representing 82% of capital raised by all U.S. PE-backed IPOs in 2013
•64% of all non-U.S. listings in the U.S., including IPOs from China with 500.com, 58.com, LightInTheBox and Autohome; Latin America with Volaris, Avianca, and Grana y Montero; and Luxoft, headquartered in Switzerland with a significant footprint in Russia•Transfers from other exchanges, including Oracle, Perrigo, PowerSecure International, Rudolph Technologies and Ciena, representing $164.4B in market cap and 35.3M in trading volume, recognized the benefits of the NYSE platform.
•In a strong year for small-caps, NYSE MKT, the listing and trading market for growth-oriented companies, welcomed 27 new listings.
•In Europe, Euronext benefited from increased capital markets activity across its Euronext and Alternext markets and welcomed 34 new listings with €3 billion raised in proceeds from 16 IPOs, including Bpost in Belgium, CTT in Portugal and Tarkett, Numericable and Blue Solutions in France.  Also, Eli Lilly, Infosys and Abbvie chose Euronext for their cross listing. 
•A total of €85 billion was raised on the Euronext markets from initial and secondary offerings, including bond offerings. 
•EnterNext, the Euronext subsidiary for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that serves companies with market capitalizations of under €1 billion, launched in May 2013.
Establishing the leading global exchange network
•In November, ICE completed the acquisition of NYSE Euronext creating the leading network of markets that span interest rates, equities and equity derivatives, credit, bonds, foreign exchange, energy, metals, and agriculture.
•ICE reached an agreement to acquire the Singapore Mercantile Exchange and will become the first Western company to acquire an exchange and clearing house in Asia, pending regulatory approvals.
•ICE Endex, a Continental European energy exchange for natural gas and power markets, was launched in March.
Offering new products and services
Energy and Agricultural Commodities
•ICE launched approximately 140 new energy contracts throughout 2013.
•Following two years of market consultation, ICE Futures Europe transitioned Brent futures, options and related derivatives instruments to a new "month-ahead" expiry calendar for March 2016 contract months onwards.
•ICE Futures U.S. worked with the cotton industry to prepare for the launch in 2014 of an international cotton contract that will trade alongside the ICE's cotton benchmark No. 2 contract.
Interest Rates and Equity Indices
•With the introduction of 3 and 4 year Mid Curve Options for the start of 2013, NYSE Liffe's Euribor and Sterling Options have seen a further 27% growth throughout the year.
•NYSE Liffe's Euro Swap future, Swapnote®, continues to grow on the back of pending regulatory change, with over €90bn ($125bn) notional value traded in 2013, up 14% on the previous year.
•Following another strong year in Long Gilt Futures, NYSE Liffe has worked with the Gilt trading community to develop an Ultra Long Gilt Future which will launch in early 2014.
•Euronext introduced the CAC 40® Ext and AEX Ext (Extended) indices. These indices give investors an indicator of the index levels outside the regular trading period. More than 300 products were launched on the CAC 40 Ext in 2013. Euronext also launched the X12 and X15 CAC 40 Leverage and Short indices this year.
•DTCC® GCF Repo Index futures celebrated the first year of trading with nearly 1.5 million contracts traded and record open interest through November 2013.
•The NYSE Diversified High Income Index launched; it measures the performance of a broad, diversified basket of 138 publicly-traded securities providing exposure to multiple asset classes, sectors and segments that historically pay high dividends or distributions.
Exchange Traded Products
•NYSE Arca led in new exchange traded product (ETP) listings in 2013; of the more than 150 ETPs that listed in the U.S. this year, over 80% listed on NYSE Arca.
•NYSE Arca has over 50 issuers with 1,411 ETPs, representing nearly $1.6 trillion of combined assets under management, an increase of more than 20% from 2012.
•Euronext had 47 new exchange traded fund (ETF) listings YTD versus 28 for full-year 2012, with two new issuers joining in 2013. 
Equity Options
•NYSE Amex Options and NYSE Arca Options continue to lead the industry in exchange group market share with over 27% of normalized equity options market share year-to-date. 
•Mini options contracts in five actively traded securities and exchange-traded funds were launched. For the first time, options customers are now able to trade mini options with 10 share deliverables as opposed to the standard 100 deliverable contracts.
•NYSE Amex and NYSE Arca options exchanges announced a semi-exclusive agreement with Russell Indexes to trade all Russell U.S. index options.
Bringing greater security to markets
•Clearing services for the London-based derivatives market of NYSE Liffe was transitioned to ICE Clear Europe on July 1. The transition involved 43 member firms with 75 million contract sides and $11.17 billion in margin.
•ICE Clear Credit began clearing for Markit iTraxx Europe CDS indices in February and Russian Federation and Republic of Turkey sovereign CDS instruments in November
•ICE Clear Europe successfully launched client clearing for CDS in October.
•Euronext signed a new five-year clearing contract with LCH.Clearnet in November. This new agreement allows customers to maintain their existing trading and clearing connectivity and infrastructure, while enjoying high service quality and quicker, more responsive, customer-driven innovation.
Creating unique transparent platforms with customer-focused solutions
•Following a rigorous selection process conducted by an independent advisory committee, NYSE Euronext Rate Administration Ltd, now known as ICE Benchmark Administration Ltd, was appointed as the new administrator for LIBOR. The transfer of the administration from BBA LIBOR Ltd, the subsidiary of the British Bankers' Association, to ICE Benchmark Administration Ltd, is expected to be completed in early 2014, subject to FCA authorization.
•ICE Swap Trade, ICE's CFTC-registered Swap Execution Facility, launched with trading activity in the energy and CDS markets.
•ICE Trade Vault Europe was approved by European regulators to establish a trade repository to serve European futures and swaps markets.
•ICE and Cetip's jointly developed fixed-income trading platform, Cetip Trader, launched in February and followed up with ICE Link's post trade solution launching in August.
•ICE mobile, the first mobile trading platform for commodities, attracted a record number of traders and contract volume.
•The migration of NYSE and NYSE MKT to the Universal Trading Platform had a positive impact on market efficiency, reducing acknowledgment message latency by 77%.
•The NYSE's Retail Liquidity Program, which offers alternative trade execution for individual investors, averaged 8.7 million shares per day. The average price for individual investors was 62% better than the program's required minimum price improvement. The NYSE has also proposed a one-year pilot program to establish the Institutional Liquidity Program, designed to provide liquidity for institutional investors in a more transparent environment.
•Voluntary risk mitigation tools will be made available to NYSE, NYSE MKT and NYSE ARCA member organizations in early 2014 to supplement their internal procedures for managing their exposure to equity trading activity and to reduce the potential for disruptive, market-wide events.
Earning Recognition
During 2013, ICE's companies were recognized for achievements by various publications, receiving multiple industry awards:
IntercontinentalExchange
•FOW Global Exchange Group of the Year
•FOW U.S. Exchange of the Year 
•FOW European Clearing House of the Year
•FOW Best Innovation by an Exchange
•Energy Risk Clearing House of the Year
•Financial News Best European Clearing House
•Financial News Best Exchange GroupNYSE Euronext
•Uptime Institute's Gold Award for the U.S. Liquidity Center
•Waters Technology Best Data Center Provider to the Sell-Side
•Wall Street Letter Best Overall Exchange
•Markets Media Best Exchange 
•NY Office of Emergency Management Private Sector Partner in Preparedness
•Waters Technology Contract Win of the Year with Russell Indexes
About IntercontinentalExchange Group
IntercontinentalExchange Group (NYSE: ICE) is the leading network of regulated exchanges and clearing houses for financial and commodity markets.  ICE delivers transparent, reliable and accessible data, technology and risk management services to markets around the world through its portfolio of exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, ICE Futures, Liffe and Euronext.
Trademarks of ICE and/or its affiliates include IntercontinentalExchange, ICE, ICE block design, NYSE Euronext, NYSE, New York Stock Exchange, LIFFE and Euronext. Information regarding additional trademarks and intellectual property rights of IntercontinentalExchange Group, Inc. and/or its affiliates is located at https://www.theice.com/terms.jhtml and http://www.nyx.com/terms-use.
Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 - Statements in this press release regarding ICE's business that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of additional risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see ICE's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, including, but not limited to, the risk factors in ICE's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012, as filed with the SEC on February 6, 2013.
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SOURCE IntercontinentalExchange
Media Contacts, Brookly McLaughlin, 1 312 836 6728, brookly.mclaughlin@theice.com, or Claire Miller, 44 20 7065 7745, claire.miller@theice.com; or Eric Ryan, 1 212 656 2411, eric.ryan@nyx.com; or Investor Contact, Kelly Loeffler, 1 770 857 4726, kelly.loeffler@theice.com

12/19/2013

Riyadh ‘redoubles’ crackdown on online activists

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/riyadh-redoubles-crackdown-on-online-activists-1.1268275


London: Saudi Arabia has “redoubled” a crackdown against online criticism since the start of the Arab spring in early 2011 to silence critics, said an advocacy group.
The kingdom is trying to silence calls for reform and criticism by a campaign of intimidation and arrests against online activists, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
Focusing on the plight of 11 activists, it found that those who post criticism online or try to encourage political participation face travel bans, termination of their employment, smear campaigns and arrest.
Those featured in the report included the women’s right campaigner Samar Badawi who was jailed for speaking out against repressive male guardianship laws after suffering abuse from her father. She was released from jail in April 2011 after a high-profile Twitter campaign for her freedom.
“Social media sites are one of the few places where Saudis can vent their anger, to say ‘we have rights’,” she told the researchers.
The report also profiled journalist and rights campaigner Mikhlif Al Shammari, who has been arrested three times since 2007 on the basis of his writing alone. He said the Saudi authorities were trying to stifle a growing awareness of human rights being disseminated through sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Social media activity scares the Saudi authorities,” said the report’s author Adam Coogle. “We are starting to see over the previous year and a half an increased crackdown on online activities. Activists have been investigated, threatened put on trial and convicted based in part on things they have posted on social media networks.”
The report urges Saudi Arabia to end criminalisation of free expression and demands its allies, including Britain, publicly call on the Saudi authorities to stop the arrest and trial of peaceful activists.
Coogle added: “The Saudi authorities think that by arresting the most prominent activists for their social media activism and human rights activism in general, that they can intimidate everybody else into silence, but really the cat is out of the bag.
“People are talking on social networks now, that are expressing their views and there is really nothing the Saudi authorities are going to be able to do to shut this down.”

SlowFood: Rest in Peace Mandela

http://slowfood.com/international/slow-stories/204442/rest-in-peace-mandela/q=7D014E

South Africa - 06 Dec 13
As we reflect on the life of a remarkable leader and human being, we revisit some inspiring words Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, that remind us of our ongoing commitment in Africa.

“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom.

In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.”

Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to us all. We salute you.


Photo credit: Lasanta

12/17/2013

Homemade bomb wounds 2 policemen in Bahrain

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/homemade-bomb-wounds-2-policemen-in-bahrain-1.1267974


Manama: Bahrain’s interior ministry says two policemen have been wounded, one critically, when a homemade bomb exploded in a village southwest of the capital, Manama.
The ministry said in a statement on its official Twitter feed that the explosion happened early Tuesday in the village of Demistan. The area has been the scene of frequent clashes between anti-government activists and Bahrain security forces.
More than 65 people have been killed in violence since protests led by the country’s opposition began in February 2011 calling for a greater political voice in the nation. Some rights groups place the death toll higher.
Anti-government factions have been increasingly deploying bombs targeting government forces.

US may lift restrictions on weapons sales to GCC

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/us-may-lift-restrictions-on-weapons-sales-to-gcc-1.1267930

Washington: President Barack Obama Monday ruled that the Gulf Cooperation Council states should be allowed to buy certain US defence articles, deepening ties with a grouping wary of Iran’s regional influence.
Obama determined that US restrictions on selling material for ballistic missile defence, maritime security and counter-terrorism operations should be lifted, opening the way to purchases by the six-nation GCC.
The initiative was announced by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month in the region and Obama’s determination is required before military sales can take place under US law.
“I hereby find that the furnishing of defence articles and defence services to the Gulf Cooperation Council will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace,” Obama said in a memorandum to Secretary of State John Kerry.
The move came amid increasing concerns among America’s Gulf allies about the perceived threat from Iran, and was seen in some circles as an attempt by Washington to assure Gulf states that it has not taken its eye off Tehran’s regional ambitions despite trying to conclude a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
“Today’s action will allow the GCC to pursue the defence articles and services necessary to further regional defence cooperation,” said Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman.
“The designation reflects our strong commitment to the GCC and our desire to work with our Gulf partners to promote long-term regional security and stability.”
During his trip to Bahrain, Hagel announced that Washington planned to keep 35,000 troops and an array of military and maritime resources in the region.
Senior officials said his intention was to send a message of solidarity to Gulf allies while also conveying a warning to adversaries “that any sort of mythology of American retreat is just wrong-headed”.
US Gulf allies are concerned about the interim nuclear deal with Iran reached in November, the US failure to intervene in Syria over chemical weapons attacks and the US pullback from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon has for years tried to encourage closer security cooperation among the Gulf states, especially on missile defence.
The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
Regional states have previously been able to buy US arms and equipment individually, but Monday’s determination opens the way to the GCC’s first such purchases as a group.

SOUTH SUDAN, JUBA: NEW CLASHES, THOUSANDS SEEK REFUGE AT UN BASES

http://www.misna.org/en/other/juba-new-clashes-thousands-seek-refuge-at-un-bases-17-12-2013-813.html

Clashes resumed overnight in Juba and are still underway, report MISNA sources contacted in different areas of Juba, a day after President Salva Kiir denounced a “coup attempt” by forces loyal to his former vice-president Riek Machar.
“They are shooting everywhere and we are all barricaded in our homes”, said Albino Tokwaro, director of the Catholic Radio Bakhita, reached in a central area of the city. “Fighting is underway in the airport area and other neighborhoods”, added Tapiwa Gomo, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Gomo confirmed that the ongoing violence and reprisals has caused some 13,000 people to seek refuge at two UN bases.
According to South Sudan’s Foreign minister Barnaba Marial, the army today is “quashing” the “last few” soldiers who backed the coup attempt. There is no independent confirmation on this statement.
Reports last night indicated the arrest of four former ministers, who like Machar were removed from their posts last July by the President. According to the government, the fighting has so far left 26 dead and 120 injured.
No incidents have been reported outside the capital. “People went to work as usual here in Wau and the situation appears normal for now”, said a MISNA source from the north-western city.
The fighting broke out on Sunday night in Juba in the main barracks of the city, after a failed meeting between Kiir and Machar. The units engaged in the clashes belong mostly to the two main communities of South Sudan, the Dinka to which the President belongs and Nuer of the former vice-president. [VG/BO]
© 2013 MISNA - Missionary International Service News Agency Srl - All Right Reserved.

Former South Sudan ministers arrested over 'coup'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25422698

Ten senior political figures, including the former finance minister, have been arrested in South Sudan after a coup attempt, the government has said.
The authorities are looking to question five other prominent figures, including former Vice-President Riek Machar.
The country has seen two days of violent clashes, which President Salva Kiir blames on soldiers loyal to Mr Machar, who was dismissed in July.
More than 60 soldiers have been killed in the clashes, doctors have said.

Analysis

The continued clashes are undercutting President Salva Kiir's claim on Monday that the government was in "full control" of the situation.
There are two possible - and not necessarily mutually exclusive - explanations for what is happening.
The first, the president's version, is that the army is fighting off an attack by soldiers allied to the former Vice-President, Riek Machar.
The second is that the president has taken advantage of the military flare-up to crack down on many of those who have criticised him.
A showdown between Kiir and Machar is not unexpected. South Sudan is now at a critical point.
The UN says up to 13,000 people have sought shelter from the violence at its compounds in the capital, Juba.
President Kiir said the clashes began when uniformed personnel opened fire at a meeting of the ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), on Sunday night.
The violence continued into Monday, until the government said it was back in full control.
But fresh gunfire erupted on Tuesday near the presidential palace and many other areas of Juba.
A night-time curfew is in place, and the US has ordered all non-emergency embassy staff to leave the country.

More...

12/15/2013

Chronicles of Chic: Mandela, man of style

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31846#more-31846

If there were one outfit that would symbolise Mandela and that would remain an emblem of his style, it would have to be the familiar “Madiba” shirt made of Javanese silk batik or African fabrics. Created in 1990 by Sonwabile Ndamase, a fashion designer who was also close to the family, they were, and still are, the symbol of Mandela’s freedom.
After spending 27 years in jail, Mandela wanted to translate his liberation into a specific style, something that would tear down conformism and the sometimes-unbearable stiffness of traditional suiting.
“The decision to make a style statement was one Nelson Mandela made on his own. He wanted to identify with the people. The majority of South Africans never wore suits, so he wanted to have a specific kind of shirt made – cut long so it could hang over trousers, both coloured and plain, with the conventional pointed collar as well as the standing Nehru. As always, ‘Madiba’ wanted to do things his own way,” says Ndamase. “The result was a shirt that has made its mark on the world: never casual, always buttoned to the top, classic, well pressed, and usually in boldly patterned fabrics, such as West African damask, wax-prints and traditional Xhosa cloth with braid.”
The choice was astute: the shirt buttoned up to the collar, reminiscence of his 1961 interview, revealed a grounded attitude, a solid man with a sensitive allure, softly but firmly in control. The neck was held straight in its collar and the shirt was always impeccably crisp. And yet, it fell over the pants, in a well-thought-out négligé, and was worn without a jacket, as if not to be taken too seriously.
With this one shirt, Mandela gave to the world the image of a humble man ready to take charge and do things his way, differently. He dressed for the job he wanted, president of the people of South Africa. Long before Barack Obama and his rolled-up sleeves and tie-less suits, and long before he even became the president of our country, Mandela understood how to present himself and the importance of his appearance.
From an already young age, he was attentive to his clothes and valued the concept of elegance. In his biography on the former President, Mandela, the Authorised Biography, author Anthony Sampson notes: “The Regent, Jongintaba, otherwise known as David Dalindyebo, became Mandela’s new father figure. He was a handsome man, always very well dressed; Mandela lovingly pressed his trousers, inspiring his lifelong respect for clothes.”
Early pictures of Mandela portray him here, in a double-breasted suit, given by the Regent, already buttoned all the way up, the wide peaked lapels high on the chest, a white shirt and tie underneath, a handkerchief in the breast pocket; there, bearing the fashion as seen in the 1940s and 1950s’ in Sophiatown, wearing his favourite double-breasted suit Chicago-style, confident, the handkerchief still in place, a colourful patterned tie as a vibrant hint. His style was structured, fitted, his elegance undeniable.
continue reading on Daily Maverick 
By Emilie GambadeDaily Maverick 

Bahrain announces line-up for Sleepless Night

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-announces-line-up-for-sleepless-night-1.1267156

Free Bahraini, Arab, French and Italian entertainment all-nighter in Manama
  • By Habib ToumiBureau Chief
  • Published: 12:06 December 15, 2013
Manama: Bahrain is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Bahrain National Museum with a sleepless night featuring several cultural and entertainment events.
Culture Minister Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa will start the evening on Sunday with an 8pm guided tour of the museum overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
The 30-minute tour will be followed by a one-hour concert to be performed by the French Orchestre de chambre de Versailles, the culture ministry and French embassy said.
At 9.30pm, a photography exhibition by Eric Bonnier will be opened at the adjacent Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage. The works in exhibition was produced during two journeys on December 2012 and April 2013. In the course of his stay in the Kingdom, Bonnier revealed his impressions of Bahrain in a collection of photographic pictures.
The show will continue at 10.30pm, but with an Italian tune through the piano recital by Italian pianistic duo Antonella Vitelli and Luciano Bellini.
At 11.30pm, the cultural feat continues with questions and answers on the fifth volume of “Atyaf”, the literary series that covers the legacy of Nobel Literature Prize winner Najeeb Mahfouz.
The session at the lecture hall of the museum will be with the book’s editor Dr Abdul Qadir Faidouh who edited, collected, and studies the papers contained within written by 20 Arab analysts and intellectuals.
The fine arts and calligraphy exhibition by young artist Ayman Jaffar will be opened at 12.30am at the museum.
A glimpse into life 25 years ago will be offered to participants when a traditional meal will be served in a family setting at 1am.
A group of youths will play eastern and Latin music as part of the one-hour concert to be staged at 2am, followed by the screening Patience of the Salt, the short film that won the second prize of the Gulf Film Festival and Abu Dhabi Film Festival. The film was also selected to be screened in Saint Petersburg.
A second short tour of Bahrain National Museum will be afterwards held to help rediscover its contents.
“Tela’at Ya Mahla Noorha” a one-hour concert with qanun player Nabeel Al Najjar will be the last cultural event of the evening at 5am while a group breakfast by the seaside will conclude the day’s events by 7am on Monday.
This innovative showcase of culture began when Paris hosted the first “Nuit Blanche” event in 2002. The success of the event in Paris has made it an annual city celebration and has become an international trend, spreading to several cities, including Rome, Madrid, Brussels, Toronto and Miami.

12/12/2013

Unicef: 230m young children 'do not officially exist'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25341965

The UN children's charity, Unicef, says one in three children under five have not had their births registered.
In its report, Unicef says nearly 230 million children worldwide do not officially exist, making them more vulnerable to neglect or abuse.
It says a birth certificate guarantees that children are not denied rights or basic services such as education.
The countries with the lowest registration levels are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
"Birth registration is more than just a right. It's how societies first recognize and acknowledge a child's identity and existence," said Geeta Rao Gupta, Unicef Deputy Executive Director.
"Birth registration is also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nations."
Unicef analysed data from 161 countries in compiling its report, Every Child's Birth Right: Inequalities and trends in birth registration.
Mobile phones helping
It said that in 2012, only about 60% of all babies born worldwide were registered at birth.
The rates varied significantly even within continents, with fewer than one in ten births registered in Somalia, Liberia and Ethiopia, while in South Africa 95% are recorded - approaching levels in G8 countries.
Unicef said it was using innovative approaches to help governments and communities strengthen their civil and birth registration systems.
For example, in Uganda, the government - supported by the UN and the private sector - has introduced mobile phone technology "to complete birth procedures in minutes, a process that normally takes months", says the report.
Unicef says that in East and Southern Africa, only about half of those children registered actually have a birth certificate.
Prohibitive fees, unawareness of the relevant laws or processes, cultural barriers, and the fear of further discrimination, are all listed as reasons why families do not register children.
The UN agency says children unregistered at birth or without identification documents are often excluded from access to education, health care and social security.
And if children are separated from their families during natural disasters, conflicts or as a result of exploitation, reuniting them is made more difficult by the lack of official documentation, it says.
"Birth registration - and a birth certificate - is vital for unlocking a child's full potential," said Mrs Rao Gupta.
"All children are born with enormous potential. But if societies fail to count them, and don't even recognise that they are there, they are more vulnerable to neglect and abuse."

Birth registration

  • Lowest rates globally are in Somalia (3%), Liberia (4%) Ethiopia (7%), Zambia (14%)
  • In South Asia, the lowest rate is in Pakistan (27%) while in Bhutan it is 100%
  • The regional average in Latin America is 92%; Chile, Cuba and Uruguay register 100%
  • Unregistered children can be more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse
  • They can also be excluded from education, health care and social security services
  • Reuniting families during natural disasters or conflicts becomes more difficult
Source: Unicef

12/10/2013

Bahrain denies reports of US relations warning

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-denies-reports-of-us-relations-warning-1.1265291

Prince Salman made comments referring to concerns about dramatic developments
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:26 December 10, 2013
Manama: An alleged interview with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa published by The Daily Telegraph has been denied by his court.
“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Bahrain has not undertaken an interview with The Daily Telegraph on an ‘exclusive’ or any other basis,” the court said in a statement carried by Bahrain News Agency (BNA).
The report quoted the crown prince as saying that the US’ policy in the region was “schizophrenic” and that its Arab allies may be forced to review their relations with America and turn to a more “reliable” Russia for better relations.
“A Telegraph correspondent was part of a wider delegation of individuals who met HRH the Crown Prince yesterday [Sunday] on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue,” the official news agency said, referring to the three-day international security conference in the Bahraini capital.
The crown prince hosted the dinner banquet marking the opening of the conference attended by more than 20 high-ranking ministers, including US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague who delivered the inaugural address.
Prince Salman was regularly present at the Manama Dialogue premises where he held bilateral talks with senior officials from various countries.
“His Royal Highness made comments that specifically related to the growing dangers in the region, and their potential spillover effects internationally, due to deepening radical extremism and, especially, increasing concerns about the regional situation due to perceptions about the Western foreign policy,” the court statement said.
“The Court of the Crown Prince therefore rejects the misleading comments ascribed to the Crown Prince in the article on this basis and in the context they were presented,” the court said.

Nelson Mandela Did Not Walk Alone

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31781#more-31781

In the early 1990s I was teaching Economics in a fifth floor classroom at Khanya College in downtown Johannesburg. During one of my early lessons at Khanya I was in the middle of explaining supply curves when a roaring sound from the street below began to disturb my teaching.
I tried talking louder but the roar from the streets grew too powerful. As the sound reached a crescendo, my students got up and went to the window. I joined them there. This was my first exposure to the mass democratic movement. I had been on many demonstrations in the US but what I saw in the streets below was totally different.
These protestors were not students or lifelong agitators like myself. These were workers, carrying their union bannners-street cleaners, drivers, metalworkers, miners, domestic servants, hotel waiters. In the US workers were quiet, almost invisible. Yet with great joy and fervor these South African proletarians were demanding, as they had for decades, an end to apartheid capitalism. Over the next few years, I would join their ranks on many occasions, gradually learning the songs, the chants, and the high kicks of the toyi-toyi.
During the past few days as the world has reflected on the life of President Nelson Rolihlala Mandela, these ordinary South Africans have been largely absent from the media accounts. We have witnessed a rapid re-writing of history where the struggle spearheaded by the mass democratic movement that marched past my classroom has been collapsed into the special personal determination and charisma of one great man and, at most, a small circle of people around him.
Having spent six and a half years in prison myself, I have the highest regard for Madiba. But he did not take his long walk to freedom alone, nor did he succeed because of some American-style rugged individualism. Madiba was a product of his traditional Xhosa community in the Eastern Cape. He was also a product of a hateful apartheid system that propelled him to envision a loving, inclusive alternative. But most importantly, Madiba was a product of some of the most profound social movements of the 20th century. From the ANC Youth League of the 1940s all the way through to the United Democratic Front and the Mass Democratic Movement of the 1980s, he was surrounded by thousands of people grappling with the complexities of changing a hateful system and constructing a society based on participatory democracy and sharing of wealth. That long road to freedom which Madiba walked was a crowded highway bursting with masses of creative, energetic, dedicated and vastly intelligent people. Madiba drew on their strengths to rise to his special heights. So when we remember him let us not swallow the iconized version of an African giant, but instead keep in mind all those who walked that road with him, without whom he never could have undertaken the journey.
By James KilgoreAfrica is a country 

Africa Prepares for Central African Republic Deployment

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31773#more-31773

Addis Ababa – The African Union is preparing to deploy thousands of troops in the Central African Republic as a deadly conflict there spirals further out of control.
On Monday, Dec. 9, African Union (AU) Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha met with diplomats at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to work out the details of AU troops’ deployments, logistics and funding. After the meeting, he told IPS that Burundi is the only confirmed troop supplier so far, but several other countries including Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo are discussing sending forces as well.
French troops have already begun deployments in the capital city of Bangui, which was taken over by a rebel coalition called Seleka in March. Since beginning their advance across the country in December 2012, Seleka fighters have caused turmoil across the countryside, further destabilising areas already plagued by rampant poverty and food insecurity.
In Bangui the situation has been especially dire since Thursday, Dec. 5, Amy Martin, head of the Bangui branch of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IPS. “Heavy arms were being fired, light weapons were being fired, and tensions remain very high in some neighbourhoods,” she said, adding that the problems are just as serious outside of the capital.
“In the interior, Seleka units have taken control of territories, and whoever was the commander became the law in each town. Those people, having no support from the central government, are basically living off the population, partly through illegal taxation. So you end up with a bunch of warlords and criminal gangs.”
A U.N. resolution last week approved the deployment of up to 1,200 French and 3,500 African troops to help stabilise the country of 4.6 million. But following the recent surge in violence, which has already killed at least 400 people in Bangui since Thursday according to the Red Cross, African and European leaders agreed at a weekend summit in Paris to increase the number of French troops to 1,600, and the number of African troops to as much as 6,000.
Regarding funding, Mwencha noted that “we have been grateful that the U.S. and the European Union have already made some indication to support these operations, and so we are also trying to coordinate to see how their support can be channelled to support this mission.”
The International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, or MISCA, will be fully deployed as soon as possible. They will join the African forces that were already in CAR as part of the Mission for the consolidation of peace in Central African Republic (MICOPAX), a peacekeeping group first stationed there on the initiative of the Economic Community of Central African States.
“MISCA is going to be an African mission, so all troops [will] be under the command of the African forces, but there will of course be a transition,” Mwencha said. “There was MICOPAX and there are the French, but all those will converge with the African forces once we’re on the ground.”
But the CAR crisis has raised some doubts of African troops’ abilities to quell violence on the continent, according to Thierry Vircoulon, the International Crisis Groups’ project director for Central Africa. “Unfortunately, the French are the only ones willing and able to do the job at this stage. The African peacekeeping force demonstrated its ineffectiveness to secure Bangui,” he said to IPS, noting that the French troop deployment was welcomed by CAR and its neighbours during the U.N. summit.
At the Paris summit, leaders discussed the prospects of setting up a permanent African force capable of intervening independently in times of crisis, rather than wading through the logistics of each individual deployment whenever crises occur.
continue reading on Ips Africa
By Jacey FortinIps Africa 

Glory Days: Robben Island comrades remember Mandela

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31765#more-31765

Former president Nelson Mandela sent a note to his friend and comrade Ahmed Kathrada four years ago. It read:
Dear Kathy,
Our warmest congratulations on the occasion of your eightieth birthday. We have spoken often of the long road we have travelled together.
But Madala, you would agree that to find ourselves still going strong after nearly a decade into the twenty-first century is extraordinary. Your friendship has been a great resource to me in good times and in bad.
We join with South Africans and many friends abroad in celebrating your life and acknowledging the many contributions you have made to the struggles for justice in our country.
Happy birthday Kathy. May the years ahead bring you good health, and at least some rest in the midst of your many continuing projects.
Kind regards
N.R. Mandela
Since Mandela’s passing on Thursday night, Kathrada has had none of the rest his friend wanted for him. The world’s media has been interviewing him as one of the few surviving leaders of the golden generation of the ANC which Mandela led. Even as Madiba was drawing his last breaths, Kathrada was at a colloquium talking about his life and legacy. For Kathrada, it seems as if the best way for him to pay tribute to his friend is to share the story of their journey together with others.
While prayers and memorial services were taking place across the country on Sunday, the event hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation at the Gandhi Hall in Lenasia was a rare peak behind the walls of Robben Island when it quartered South Africa’s liberation struggle royalty. Kathrada, together with Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Dennis Goldberg were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island when the Rivonia Trial ended in June 1964. Laloo Chiba joined them in the B Section of the prison a few months later after he was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.
The common traits of most of the B Section veterans is their penchant for debate and teasing each other. Sunday’s memorial service was no different, with Kathrada and Chiba each wanting to talk about different issues and taking playful jibes at the other. Kathrada told how Chiba, who was in charge of transcribing the manuscript of Mandela’s autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom to microscopic shorthand, was a “very thorough chap”, even destroying a transcript because of a “blemish”. Chiba corrected him to say the transcript he destroyed because of the blemish was actually from Sisulu’s book, not Mandela’s.
Kathrada related how when he was in solitary confinement for six months, Chiba smuggled in a book to him. But to Kathrada’s eternal exasperation, the book was about horrible diseases, which he was forced to read.
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By Ranjeni MunusamyDaily Maverick 

12/08/2013

GCC ‘must join P5+1 Iran talks’

http://gulfnews.com/news/region/iran/gcc-must-join-p5-1-iran-talks-1.1264734

Manama: Gulf Cooperation Council states must be part of the negotiations between major world powers and Iran, oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief said on Sunday.
Iran and major powers broke through a decade of gridlock on November 24 to agree an interim deal that would freeze parts of Iran’s controversial nuclear programme while easing some of the crippling international sanctions against it.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch-foe across the Gulf, had cautiously welcomed the deal.
“I suggest that the negotiations on Iran not be limited to the P5+1” comprising the US, China, Britain, France and Germany, Prince Turki Al Faisal said.
“The Gulf Cooperation Council must be involved,” added the influential Saudi royal, who also served as ambassador in both the US and Britain.
“Iran is in the Gulf and any military effort will affect us all, let alone the environmental impact” Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme could have on the region, he said at the Manama Dialogue, a forum on Middle East security.
The West, the Israelis and Arab states in the Gulf have long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, a charge Tehran denies.
The temporary freeze is meant to make it more difficult for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and to build confidence while Tehran and the P5+1 hammer out a long-term accord.
“Ongoing talks are incomplete and the presence of the GCC states on the [negotiating] table will benefit everyone,” Al Faisal said.
He also urged the Islamic republic to end “its interference in Arab countries’ affairs”.
“The only way to improve relations is by Iran becoming a stability factor” in the region, he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited four GCC states last week to reassure them over the interim nuclear agreement.
Zarif did not visit Saudi Arabia, although he said he plans to do so in the future and appealed to the kingdom to work with Tehran to achieve regional stability.
Relations between the six GCC nations and Tehran have deteriorated further because of Iran’s support for Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad against rebels.
Some Gulf monarchies also accuse Tehran of backing dissent in their countries.
The GCC, led by Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia, also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Nelson Mandela: The Crossing

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31742#more-31742


As a boy without a father of his own and living as a ward of the Thembu Regent, Jongintaba Dalindyebo, at his Great Place at Mqekezweni in the green hills of the Transkei, Rolihlahla Mandela heard stories about people like Nongqawuse and Makana, people who had passed into the realm of myth.
When he washed the last of his childhood into the Mbashe River in 1934 he couldn’t have known that in life he too would pass into myth.
In 1942 returning to Mqekezweni from Johannesburg to honour Dalindyebo’s passing he found his thoughts occupied by a proverb: Ndivelimilambo enamagama — I have crossed famous rivers. By the time he gave his speech from the dock in 1964 his name, and the bright strength of the intersection of his courage and ideals, had crossed the oceans and entered the grand stage of universal history.
In 1986, in the midst of the state of emergency, Asimbonanga, Johnny Clegg’s exquisite song for Mandela, soared above the blood and teargas on the streets yearning for the day when “We cross the burning water”. Mandela, the song seemed to suggest, could take us across the burning water.
Mandela, Mandela the man, did come back from Robben Island. And while the sun didn’t rise red on the day of his return and the dead didn’t arise to make the world whole, time seemed to stand still as he returned to the embrace of a mass movement. There are critiques of how this delicate moment was handled. Some are important, some are infused with little but the cheap wisdom of hindsight and some are just empty bluster – the radicalism of those for whom engagement does not move beyond the adoption of a posture and the manipulation of words. Those who say that we should have chosen war over negotiation tend to take no account of the balance of forces at the time, locally and globally, nor the depth of the bitterness of war or how its corrosion eats into its victors. War is certainly no guarantee of anything – none of the anti-colonial wars fought in Africa led to democratic and just societies.
continue reading on SACSIS
By Richard PithouseSACSIS 

Madiba: South Africa’s loss is the world’s loss too

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31714#more-31714

Nelson Mandela once rescued me from a very dangerous situation.
I was in Egypt, covering the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. My taxi had taken a wrong turn, and I found myself at a checkpoint manned by pro-Mubarak thugs, who were making something of a habit from arresting and assaulting foreign journalists. They forced me out of the vehicle at knifepoint, and started shouting at me. “Where you from? You England? America?” I gave them my passport. “South Africa? What is South Africa?”
I tried to explain – World Cup, Bafana Bafana, Nelson Mandela. Only Mandela struck a chord. “Nelson Mandela! He good man. In Egypt, we love Nelson Mandela.” With that, they returned the passport, apologized for being rude and let me on my way.
Even here, in the heart of a brutal dictator’s regime, Mandela’s name meant something and carried real weight; his legacy was potent enough to earn this South African citizen a get-out-of-jail-free card.
I am reminded of this story in the midst of the outpouring of obituaries and tributes dedicated to Mandela coming from all over the world in the wake of his passing. Mandela was not just a South African hero, as much as South Africans like to lay claim to him; he was a global icon, a truly world-straddling figure that changed lives everywhere – invariably for the better, and sometimes in the most unlikely places. Losing him is not just South Africa’s loss; it is the world’s loss.
World leaders have been quick to offer their condolences, as they always do at the passing of a former colleague. Of these, it is extraordinary how many have strayed from the pro-forma diplomat-speak templates to offer what feels like expressions of genuine grief.
US President Barack Obama, for instance, credits Mandela with kick-starting his political career (imagine, for a moment, if someone had told a young Madiba that his actions would inspire a US President, and that that president would be black). “I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set,”said Obama. “Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. And today’s he’s gone home. He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”
continue reading on Daily Maverick
By Simon AllisonDaily Maverick

12/07/2013

Working To Honour Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31709#more-31709

Johannesburg/Port Elizabeth – As the world mourns the passing of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, his close friend and political stalwart Tokoyo Sexwale says much needs to be done to honour his legacy.
Mandela, 95, died surrounded by his family at his Johannesburg suburb home on Thursday evening at 8.50 pm.
“We ask people to honour Madiba by living his legacy. We are free today because of Mandela,” Sexwale told IPS after Mandela’s passing, referring to the statesman’s legacy of non-racialism and non-sexism. South Africans affectionately referred to Mandela by his clan name, Madiba.
“Death is a sad thing. But there is a lot we can celebrate of Madiba’s life. It was 95 years well spent,” Sexwale said.
Leaders around the world mourned the Nobel Peace laureate’s death, with U.S. President Barack Obama saying: “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.”
But it was Mandela’s close friend and confidant, Ahmed Kathrada, who brought tears to many with his heartfelt tribute.
“We have known each other for 67 years, and I never imagined I’d be witness to the unavoidable and traumatic reality of your passing…to whom do I turn for solace, comfort, and advice?”  Kathrada, a politicial activist and former political advisor to Mandela, said in an open letter on Dec. 6.
Kathrada told IPS in an interview before Mandela’s death that his legacy would always be remembered. He also pointed out that much had to be done to achieve the ideals Mandela had when he was released from 27 years of imprisonment in 1990.
“There’s a lot that one has to do, because the main message Madiba came out of prison with was that of non-racialism. That means you live in a country of various political beliefs,” said Kathrada.
In Kathrada’s office there is a portrait of him sitting on a couch next to Mandela, his former commander-in-chief, laughing as if they shared a private joke.
“It is time for you to retire, Madala,” wrote Mandela in cursive on the portrait, which he gifted to Kathrada in 2001.
“We called each other ‘madala’. Old man,” Kathrada explained. “The whole world calls him Madiba but he was my ‘madala,’” Kathrada said.
The portrait provides a glimpse of the deep bond the two shared, stemming from the many years they spent together during the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa. Both Kathrada and Mandela had been sentenced to life imprisonment during the 1963 to 1964 Rivonia treason trial – they and other leaders of the African National Congress had been accused of trying to sabotage the apartheid government. They served time together on Robben Island.
Kathrada maintains some five decades later that he shared a very frank and open relationship with Mandela in their pursuit for democracy.
“Madiba was not a saint but he had very redeemable qualities. He did not give up his commitment to fight injustice…he was a tiger.”
“We knew we would win the struggle. That we will get democracy but it didn’t cross my mind that Mandela would ever be president,” he said. Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served only one term of office, stepping down in 1999.
But judge Siraj Desai, who practiced as a legal activist and was closely involved in many legal battles against the apartheid government, said that during that time Mandela, a former lawyer, was able to radically reform South Africa’s legal system.
“His contribution in introducing human rights and a legal framework based on human rights is immeasurable. He changed the way we practiced law completely,” he told IPS. “His legacy is spelled out in the Bill of Human Rights.”
Desai added that South Africans could not close their eyes to the reality of poverty. “The realisation of these socio-economic rights have not happened yet, but I think that it is a question of failed political implementation, not failed legal reform,” Desai said.
South African social justice activist Fazila Farouk said that the issues Mandela touched on in his speech during the Rivonia treason trial were still very relevant today.
“Mandela spoke about people in rural areas, how they suffered through soil erosion and droughts. He spoke about the appalling employment conditions of black farm workers. He spoke about income inequality [in urban areas], a bifurcated education system and the massive impact that poverty and malnutrition have on children’s ability to learn,” Farouk told IPS in an interview before Mandela’s passing.
“The sad reality is that you can cut and paste sections of his speech from 1963 and use it just like that to address the reality that so many South Africans face today,” she said, adding that it was shocking that the lives of so many South Africans had still not changed.
She admitted that access to education has improved radically since South Africa became a democracy in 1994.
“If we look at our country today, we realise what is striking about his speech is that we have, in many ways, failed him.
“Income inequality lies at the heart of many of government’s failures to realise human rights – if we don’t deal with it, we will not overcome our problems,” Farouk said.
However, gender activist Lindsay Ziehl said that legislatively, South African women were significantly better off because of Mandela’s influence.
“He made a significant contribution in levelling the playing field for women. We now have better laws, better training at police stations and the courts. For the first time people understand that domestic violence is not just a matter for married people,” she told IPS.
South Africa implemented a Domestic Violence Act in 1998, which recognised economic, emotional and physical abuse in domestic relationships.
She added that there are now more women involved in politics than ever before. South Africa is ranked third in the world in terms of gender representation in parliament.
But Daygan Eager from the Rural Advocacy Health Project told IPS that on analysis of health rights for South Africa’s poor “honestly there has not been much of a change – in fact there has, in some areas, been a decline.”
He said that the country’s macro-economic policy was more focused on urban areas while rural areas were very much neglected.
“Immediately after 1994 there was an initial massive increase in the number of health services being built – but there was no focus on service delivery or the sustainable use of resources,” Eagar said.
Eagar said that Rural Advocacy Health Project research shows that at the moment about 15 percent of rural households are impoverished by the “catastrophic effect” of transport costs to get medical help.
As the world mourns Mandela’s death, Kathrada said the precedent Mandela set through his actions and life was enough to create a “world of young Madibas”.
“Remember what Madiba stood for and sacrificed all his life. It is to build one united nation under one flag, under one anthem,” Kathrada said.
By Quaanitah Hunter and Estelle EllisIps Africa

12/06/2013

Nelson Mandela death: South Africa and world mourn

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/africa/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25252626

South Africans have gathered in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.
Crowds paid tribute, dancing and singing in front of Mr Mandela's former home in Soweto throughout the night.
Flags flew at half mast after President Jacob Zuma announced his death in a late night national TV address.
Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.
His administration replaced the racist white-minority regime that had enforced segregation of black and white people in a policy known as apartheid.

Scenes from around the globe in the hours after Nelson Mandela's death as world leaders, South Africans, and our own journalists react
Mr Mandela went on to become one of the world's most respected statesmen.
A service of national mourning will be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg. His body will then lie in state for three days in the capital, Pretoria, before being taken for a state funeral in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he grew up.
"God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our president at a crucial moment in our history," said long-time ally Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Nelson Mandela
1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
1943 Joins ANC
1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial
1962 Jailed for five years for incitement and leaving country without a passport
1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life
1990 Freed from prison
1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994-99 Serves as president
2004 Retires from public life
2005 Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness
At a service in Cape Town on Friday, he said Mr Mandela had "taught a divided nation to come together".
Mr Mandela had been suffering from a lung illness for a long time.
He had been receiving treatment at home since September, when he was discharged from hospital.
As soon as the news broke, small crowds began to gather in Soweto's Vilakazi Street, where Mr Mandela lived in the 1940s and 1950s.
Crowds chanted apartheid-era songs, including one with the lyrics: "We have not seen Mandela in the place where he is, in the place where he is kept."
The announcement of Mandela's death was made by President Jacob Zuma
By daybreak, dozens more had gathered.
"We are celebrating his life and all that he did for us," said one of the mourners, Terry Mokoena.

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12/03/2013

Structural Adjustment Policies and Africa – A Reply to Shantayanan Devarajan

http://www.afronline.org/?p=31635#more-31635

In an interview with Think Africa Press earlier this year, the outgoing Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa Division, Shantayanan Devarajan, credited Africa’s robust economic performance in the past 10 to 15 years to Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) policies. SAPs, he claimed, “delivered economic growth and poverty reduction.”
In response to these claims, I would like to argue that SAPs were in fact not successful in achieving their desired objectives of increasing investment efficiency or reinvigorating growth. Rather, SAPS imposed serious socio-economic problems on the continent.
Contrary to Devarajan’s claims, the recent growth in Africa and the lessons drawn from other emerging countries suggest we need to look beyond macroeconomic fundamentals. For example, Africa’s recent economic growth has been underpinned by a commodity boom and the emergence of development-oriented political regimes that helped many African countries deal with pressing structural transformation issues and construct the necessary institutional reforms that have won the day.

The real effects of structural adjustment

The SAPs, adopted by many African countries in the 1980s and 1990s, were meant to help address mounting internal and external economic imbalances arising from a confluence of factors such as: the 1974 global oil crisis; the subsequent global debt crisis which provoked financial distress in Africa; a decline in export earnings due to falling commodity prices; and rising interest rates in OECD countries, particularly the US, which increased the debt burden of poorer countries.
The main theoretical premise of SAPs was that government interventions were inefficient because they distorted market signals. Long-term development planning was therefore abandoned and industrial policies became neglected in most African countries. In their place, governments focussed on macroeconomic stability and institutional reforms to protect property rights and ensure contract enforcement. These policies, however, lacked coherent strategies to address inherent market failures and externalities, and these actions ended up constraining investment, growth and economic diversification.
According to the World Bank, during the 1987-1991 period, 29 sub-Saharan African countries were implementing SAPs with mixed results. And it had become clear after 15 years that SAPs in Africa had neither accelerated growth nor reduced poverty, while there was a notable lack of ownership or resistance to conditionality from recipient governments. “Adjustment programmes were often unresponsive to country conditions and changes in external circumstances,” wrote the World Bank, which led to a lack of shared vision between the Bank and recipient governments as to the aim of the programmes.
continue reading on Think Africa Press

12/02/2013

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab denied early release

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25188172

A Bahraini court has rejected a request for early release from the jailed human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab.
A judicial source told the AFP news agency Mr Rajab's lawyers had argued he was eligible because he had served three-quarters of a two-year sentence.
The prominent activist was convicted in August 2012 of taking part in illegal gatherings and disturbing public order.
Last week, Amnesty International said Mr Rajab had been detained in "inhumane and humiliating conditions".
"His detention for taking part in a peaceful protest shows the lengths to which Bahrain's authorities will go to stamp out dissent," said the group's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
"His case also shows how, despite repeated promises of reform, Bahrain continues to flout its international human rights obligations."
Failing to release him "would make it crystal clear that his imprisonment is not about justice or the law but about silencing him", she added.
'Brutal violations'
Mr Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Start Quote

Brutal violations are still continuing today against peaceful Bahrainis while the whole world continues to stay silent”
End Quote Nabeel Rajab Letter published in September 2013
Before his imprisonment in July 2012, Mr Rajab was repeatedly detained in connection with the pro-democracy protests that erupted in the Gulf kingdom the previous year.
Amnesty said that he was punched in the face several times by riot police as he led a demonstration in February 2012, and in May 2012 was charged with "insulting a national institution" in comments about the interior ministry he posted on Twitter.
In June 2012, Mr Rajab was sentenced to three months in jail over different tweets he wrote about the prime minister. The conviction was eventually overturned on appeal, but only after he had begun his two-year sentence for taking part in unauthorised protests.
At his trial, Mr Rajab told the court that he had been held in dire conditions and subjected to ill-treatment, including being placed in solitary confinement with a dead animal and kept almost naked, with only a small piece of cloth covering his genitals.
In a letter published after the BCHR was awarded the Rafto Prize for human rights defenders in September 2013, Mr Rajab wrote: "Brutal violations are still continuing today against peaceful Bahrainis while the whole world continues to stay silent, especially Bahrain's Western allies.
"Our nation is a victim of being in an oil-rich region and a victim of hypocrisies and double standards. Unfortunately, dictators of the Gulf region succeeded in silencing governments of the free world in return for short-sighted economic and financial gains."
The BCHR's founder, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. He was convicted on evidence that was widely accepted as having been secured under torture.