Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
World Socialist Web Site
By Niall Green Faced with mass opposition in the country and a split in ruling class circles, the US-backed president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, entered negotiations with his political rivals on Saturday.
28 March 2011
As protests continued across the country, the government of Saleh is still holding out for a deal with some opposition parties and powerful figures from the national elite that will allow the president to remain in office for the remainder of the year.
Saleh, whose dictatorial regime receives millions of dollars of aid as well as military training from Washington, has repeatedly launched vicious attacks on protests, which broke out in the Middle Eastern country in late January. In the most recent massacre, Saleh’s forces killed an estimated 52 demonstrators on the streets of the capital, Sanaa, on March 18.
The crackdown failed to quell the mass protest movement, with hundreds of thousands pouring onto the streets of Sanaa in the following days, joined by contingents of tribesmen from the surrounding countryside. Outside the capital, the regime has almost no authority. Anti-government forces have taken over government buildings and driven Saleh’s representatives from office in towns and districts across the country, including the major port city of Aden.
Fresh clashes took place on Sunday in the southern province of Abyan. An Islamist group, alleged to be associated with Al Qaeda, took control of several government buildings, including a munitions factory, in the towns of Jaar and Lowdar. Yemeni troops retook the area in fighting that left six soldiers and an unknown number of Islamists dead.
Massive protests against the government are continuing in Sanaa. Tens of thousands marched through the capital on Friday, chanting anti-Saleh slogans and demanding democratic government and improved living conditions. Al Jazeera reported that at least one demonstrator was shot on Friday. Onlookers told the news agency that police snipers, who were responsible for most of the March 18 deaths, were still on the roofs of buildings in the city.
An armed pro-Saleh mob attempted to attack anti-government protesters near Sanaa University on Friday, but was dispersed by soldiers from units that have mutinied against the government.
In order to head off mass popular opposition to the regime, a section of the military top brass and senior figures from government broke with Saleh last week. Voicing support for the “youth revolution,” these members of the ruling class, who for decades collaborated in the repression and exploitation of the Yemeni people, are now jockeying to secure their interests.
Of particular significance was the defection of Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, one of the most powerful figures in the military and formerly a close ally of Saleh. The general, who has fallen out of favor with Saleh in recent years, sent his forces to take control of large parts of Sanaa last week, under the guise of protecting demonstrators from police attacks.
It was the defection of some military commanders—not the weeks of protests on the streets—that gave the signal to other powerful figures to split from Saleh. Among the new supporters of the “revolution” are several former ambassadors, government ministers and the head of the Yemen Oil Company, Omar al-Arhabi, who is Saleh’s brother-in-law.
On Saturday, representatives of this “opposition” met with the Saleh regime in Sanaa to strike a deal to end the crisis. One of the key figures negotiating with the government was Mohammed al-Sabri, leader of the Nasserite Unionist People’s Organization. A nationalist party that sits on the opposition benches of the country’s toothless parliament, the Nasserites have been an established fixture in Yemeni politics since the organization was legalized in 1989.
The Nasserites have worked loyally with Saleh ever since, even praising supposed attempts by the president to act against corruption in the armed forces. Al-Sabri, in an interview with the Yemen Post in 2008, described the Yemeni army as a “national institution and property to all Yemeni citizens.”
That the Nasserites should now be in league in figures such as Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar—one of the wealthiest and most corrupt leaders in the military—speaks volumes about their democratic principles.
In a further expression of the anti-democratic nature of the negotiations between oppositionists and the regime, the US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, was present at Saturday’s talks. Washington has backed Saleh throughout the mass protests, with the US State Department offering only the most muted criticism of the slaughter of unarmed demonstrators by Saleh’s forces.
Feierstein has previously voiced opposition to the protests in Yemen. In comments made to Reuters earlier in the month, the ambassador said that the US did not “believe that the demonstrations are the place where Yemen’s problems will be solved.”
Representing the government at the talks, Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi rejected calls for Saleh to step down. Presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Sufi said the demands placed on the government were “impossible to accept” and that “the president wants an honorable transfer of power according to the constitution through elections.”
Saleh has promised not to run in early elections proposed for later this year, and that his sons would not stand to replace him.
Political analyst Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani told Reuters that Saleh was now only “maneuvering for favorable exit terms. Still, with tanks on the streets of Sanaa, he is holding the city hostage.”
The mass protests have rejected Saleh’s offer to step down later this year, correctly realizing that even if the president honored his word, the intervening period would be used to ramp up repression of opposition forces while consolidating the power and wealth of the Saleh family and their coterie.
That Saleh is still able to cling to power and negotiate for a favorable outcome, despite the near collapse of his government, is testament to the support that he continues to receive from the US.
The presence of the US ambassador at the meeting on Saturday indicates that it is Washington calling the shots in the negotiations. The outcome of such a sordid compromise between Saleh, the bourgeois opposition and US imperialism will be an equally venal regime opposed to the most elementary demands of the Yemeni masses.
Speaking before the US-brokered talks, Saleh, whose elite Republican Guard forces still control key government and military installations in the capital, announced on the Al-Arabiya satellite television network that only he could prevent the fracturing of the country.
“Yemen is a ticking time bomb and if the political system collapses and there’s no constructive dialogue there will be a long civil war that will be difficult to end,” Saleh declared. Seeking to whip up sectarian backing for his rule, Saleh claimed that the Houthis, a Shiite Muslim tribal group based along Yemen’s boarder with Saudi Arabia, had influenced the protests. The Houthis have fought a protracted war with Saleh’s forces and the Saudi monarchy over their demands for autonomy.
Yemen had been divided during the Cold War, with Saleh ruling US-backed North Yemen from 1979 until he took over the unified state in 1990. There is a powerful secessionist movement in the south of the country, as well as numerous tribal and sectarian tensions.
The main concern for the parties to the negotiations is the preservation of bourgeois rule in Yemen and across the Arabian Peninsula. To the extent that Saleh is seen as a liability, Washington is preparing sections of the opposition leadership to enter a future government in order to strangle the movement of workers.
The uprising across the Middle East and North Africa has seen the working class come into open conflict with the Arab bourgeoisie, which has for decades enriched itself from the region’s resources while brutally repressing any expression of the social and democratic aspirations of the masses.
In another US-backed dictatorship in the region, security forces in Bahrain used police batons and teargas to quell crowds still protesting against the regime on Friday. Al Jazeera reported that clouds of gas could be seen across the capital city, Manama. “People will march down the street and a helicopter will appear, police will move in, and people move indoors,” the news agency’s correspondent reported.
A 71-year-old man died of asphyxiation after police fired tear gas grenades into crowds gathered in the town of Maameer. At least 20 people have been killed since anti-government protests began in February, and hundreds more have been wounded.
Demonstrations in Bahrain have been smaller in recent days after the government of King Hamad al-Khalifa, backed by over a thousand troops from Saudi Arabia, launched a crackdown in Manama on March 17 that left at least six people dead. Pro-regime thugs have also been terrorizing working class neighborhoods, attacking businesses and entering the homes of Shiite Muslims, the religious majority of Bahrain who face discrimination from the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy.
Workers and youth in Yemen and Bahrain and across the Arab world have sought the ouster of hated dictators and monarchs, but they have also demanded social and economic rights: job creation programs for youth, secure employment, an end to the privatization of state-owned assets, and the equitable distribution of oil revenues.
These demands for social equality cut directly across the interests of the ruling class in every country in the region. But the uprisings also threaten the interests of the imperialist powers, who for decades have backed these regimes in order to profit from the mineral wealth of the Middle East and North Africa.
In order to protect their predatory interests, Washington and the other major powers continue to back Saleh and al-Khalifa, as well as the other despots of the region—while utilizing feigned concern for “human rights” to justify a colonial war of plunder against Libya.
World Socialist Web Sitewsws.org
Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)
By John Chan The ongoing bombing of Libya by the US and its European allies has provoked increasingly strident criticisms from Russia and China. While pointing to the underlying American and European strategic interests involved, the objections are not driven by any genuine humanitarian concern or principled opposition to neo-colonial war. Rather Moscow and Beijing are concerned that Washington is once again using its military might to advance its strategic ambitions at their expense.
25 March 2011
The sharpest criticism came from Russian Premier Vladimir Putin on Monday. He denounced the UN resolution as “defective and flawed”, and likened assaults on Libya to “medieval calls for crusades”. He said: “I am concerned by the ease with which decisions to use force are taken in international affairs. This is becoming a persistent tendency in US policy.” Putin recalled the NATO bombing of Serbia under the Clinton administration and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush. “Now it is Libya’s turn, under the pretext of protecting the peaceful population.”
A front page article on Tuesday in the People’s Daily—the official mouthpiece of Chinese Communist Party—criticised the UN resolution, declaring: “Historical experience has shown that humanitarian intervention is only an excuse for military intervention in other countries’ domestic affairs… They claim to be motivated by morality but in fact they are driven by narrow political and economic interests.”
It is certainly the case that the US and European powers have intervened militarily in Libya to protect their interests—not only in that country, but as a measure aimed against the revolutionary movements in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. However, China and Russia are seeking to do the same.
China and Russia both hold a veto in the UN Security Council and could have blocked the resolution, but instead they abstained, along with Germany, India and Brazil, effectively giving a green light for the US, UK and France to carry out their criminal project. Last month, China and Russia voted for a UN resolution imposing sanctions on Libya, thus largely accepting the bogus “humanitarian argument” that measures were needed to stop Gaddafi regime’s attack on civilians.
The manoeuvres of China and Russia in the UN were nothing more than an attempt to delay the impending Western intervention that would undermine their own interests. It was only after the US and its allies began to speak openly of ousting Gaddafi that China, Russia, India and Brazil issued statements expressing “regret” over the bombing of Libyan civilians and called for a ceasefire.
In fact, China and Russia are just as concerned as the US and European powers to suppress revolutionary upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. Protracted unrest would not only threaten the world’s oil supplies but could inspire similar revolts including in China and Russia. However, the US-led military intervention threatens their vital economic and strategic interests.
China in particular is coming into conflict with the US and European powers as its economic growth drives it to scour the world—including Africa and the Middle East—for raw materials and markets. An unstated object of the military intervention by US and European powers into Libya is to undermine China’s growing influence in Africa.
On March 15, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi met the ambassadors of Russia, China and India and called for their companies to invest in the Libyan oil industry. In the same week, Beijing announced that Chinese firms would soon return to Libya as pro-Gaddafi forces were on the verge of crushing their opponents. However, the US-European bombing campaign dashed China’s prospects of expanding its already substantial interests in Libya.
In 2009, China displaced the US as Africa’s top trading partner, and became a significant investor in mineral resources, infrastructure and manufacturing. Libya is a case in point. Since 2009, China has become Libya’s largest trading partner and has invested heavily in the infrastructure and telecom sectors. The bombing campaign has threatened, according to a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman on Tuesday, 50 major Chinese projects worth $18.8 billion in the country.
Although Chinese firms have not yet made major inroads into the Libyan oil sector, China imported 150,000 barrels of oil a day from Libya last year, about 11 percent of the country’s output. Moreover, China is seeking to explore oil and other mineral resources in nearby Chad and its oil companies have transformed Sudan into a major oil supplier for China.
The scale of China’s presence in Libya was underscored by the unprecedented evacuation of 36,000 Chinese workers from the country after the outbreak of protests against Gaddafi regime. For the first time, China sent a warship to the Mediterranean as part of the evacuation operation that included other ships and four military transport planes.
China is already building a blue-water navy and a troop airlift capacity that could be used to protect Chinese firms operating overseas and vital shipping lanes. Following the Libyan evacuation, General Ji Mingkui of National Defence University declared that the new tasks of the Chinese military were not just to send warships to extract nationals, but “to fulfill requirements of [protecting] overseas interests with other means”—in other words, by force if necessary.
Likewise Russia will be a major loser if Gaddafi is ousted. It is likely to lose major arms contracts with Libya, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Libya has military contracts with Russia worth $2 billion, with another $1.8 billion deal for military aircraft and anti-air missiles in the final stages of negotiation. Russian oil companies have hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in Libyan oil exploration, and a Russia Railway’s €2.2 billion contract is also now in question.
Putin chose to voice his criticisms of the bombing campaign against Libya while visiting a ballistic missile factory. He announced the doubling of ballistic missile production starting from 2013, as part of a massive $637 billion weapon procurement program covering 2011-2020. Like China, Russia is beefing up its military in response to the eruption of US militarism.
Putin made his statement while US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was in Moscow to improve relations with the Russian military. President Dmitri Medvedev took a softer line, publicly distancing himself from Putin’s remarks by saying that it was “unacceptable to use expressions that in essence lead to a clash of civilizations, such as crusades and so forth.” Medvedev sacked the Russian ambassador to Libya, Vladimir Chamov, who reportedly criticised Moscow’s failure to veto the UN resolution as “a betrayal of Russia’s interests.” While there may be tactical differences, the political establishment as a whole is deeply concerned that Russian interests are being compromised by another US-led military intervention.
The reaction of China and Russia to the US and European military operations against Libya again highlight the fact that the scramble for resources, markets and geostrategic position ultimately leads to conflict and war between the major powers.
By Wolfgang Weber The opposition forces in Libya attempting to march on Tripoli with the assistance of American, French and British bombs are far removed from the image of innocent civilians fighting for freedom and democracy promoted by the media and political circles.
31 March 2011
This is made clear in a March 22 article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Gunnar Heinsohn, the author of Encyclopaedia of Genocide (Rowohlt, 1998).
Heinsohn cites a report by the well-known Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Farai Sevenzo dealing with barbaric, pogrom-like massacres perpetrated by the so-called “rebels” against black African workers in Libya. The article states:
“Because mercenaries from Chad and Mali are presumed to be fighting for him [Gaddafi], the lives of a million African refugees and thousands of African migrants are at risk. A Turkish construction worker told the British radio station BBC: ‘We had seventy to eighty people from Chad working for our company. They were massacred with pruning shears and axes, accused by the attackers of being Gaddafi’s troops. The Sudanese people were massacred. We saw it for ourselves.’ ”
The genocide authority Heinsohn explains: “It is standard knowledge in genocide research that minorities come under attack in civil wars because at least one party to the conflict accuses them of collaborating with the enemy….
“Whoever wants to prevent crimes against humanity with the use of force...is always in danger of helping one side in the neutralisation or even extermination of the other side…. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17 against the Libyan government provides a perfect example.
“All the stops of international criminal law have been pulled against those prepared to bloodily defend their power. The material assets at risk are meticulously listed. But neither in the text of the resolution nor in the speeches of US Secretary of State Clinton or French President Sarkozy is any mention made of warnings or legal threats directed to the insurgents. The use of ‘mercenaries’ by the Libyan leadership is expressly condemned. But genocidal acts conducted under the same pretext—such as the mass killings of black African workers reported by Farai Sevenzo—go unmentioned…. A cloak of complete silence is being thrown up surrounding the deeds of his [Gaddafi’s] opponents.”
On February 28, the Arab TV station Al Jazeera reported the racist massacre of black African workers by so-called “freedom fighters” as follows: “Dozens of workers from sub-Saharan Africa, it is feared, have been killed and hundreds are hiding because angry opponents of the government are hunting down black African mercenaries, witnesses reported…. According to official reports, about 90 Kenyans and 64 people from southern Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Burundi landed in Nairobi today.
“One of them, Julius Kiluu, a 60-year-old construction manager, told Reuters: ‘We were attacked by people from the village. They accused us of being murderous mercenaries. But in reality they simply refuse to tolerate us. Our camp was burnt down. Our company and our embassy helped us get to the airport.’
“Hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who work mainly as low-wage day labourers in Libya, have been wounded by the rebels. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor.”
At the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were employed in Libya as labourers in the oil industry and the construction, agriculture and service sectors.
Indian model promises to go nude if India win cricket World Cup... She will strip-cheer the Indian team
Poonam, who is the most downloaded model of the year and has posed as the cover girl for many popular calenders of this year, is a huge cricket fan and claims to be a die-hard supporter of the nation. She has vowed to strip for the Indian team in their dressing room if the team wins the World Cup.
Apart from this Poonam who models for lingerie like Larissa Riquelme of Paraguay and Luciana Salazar of Argentina, has also promised to strip for the Argentina Football team if they win the FIFA World Cup. Poonam has also claimed to strip in front of the whole cricket stadium with the permission of BCCI and the law of India. She says that this is her way to support the Indian team and keep up their spirit for the match. She has also opened a fan page on Facebook to cheer the Indian team.
While, we wonder how her stripping will motivate the Indian team for giving their best at the World Cup match, you enjoy the most awaited action tomorrow.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN AFRICA
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Albino body parts are sold for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in parts of Africa. Coumba Makalou, president of the U.S.-based Salif Keita Global Foundation, a group that advocates for albinos' rights, says those who pay for body parts include rich businessmen and politicians looking to improve their political fortunes.
Makalou says body parts sell for as much as $2,000. At least 57 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi since 2007. Thousands of albinos are estimated to live in hiding.
The killings are fueled by superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring wealth and success. Source...
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Tanzanian police said today that they had arrested a man who tried to sell his wife’s head and other body organs, including breasts and genitals.
Police said the man confessed during interrogation to killing his wife to sell her body parts because he heard that human organs were in demand in his Shinyanga region in the north of Tanzania.
“The suspect had a plastic bag and claimed to be carrying pork, but police guards at a bank ... checked the contents and discovered a human head, breasts, genitals and other parts,” said regional police commander Diwani Athumani.
The man, arrested yesterday, would undergo a psychiatric test before trial, police said.
Sale of human body parts is not uncommon in the east African state, where dozens of albinos have been murdered for their body parts. Witch doctors use these body parts to concoct lucky charms. Source...
Posted by tony at 1:46 PM
|Written By:Rose Kamau & KNA, Posted: Tue, Nov 23, 2010|
A man who attempted to sell his one-year-old albino daughter for Ksh 1 million has been apprehended in Kuria district, Nyanza region.
Benson Nyaisuba who has been in hiding for the past two weeks presented himself to the children's office in Kehancha town in a bid to clear his name against allegations that he attempted to sell his child to Tanzanians.
The district children's officer Mr. John Lang'at however whisked him to the nearby police station through the help of administration police officers where he was immediately locked up.
"The accused brought himself here but we arrested him for the accusations made against him by his wife. He will be possibly arraigned in court to answer to the charges arising from his act," said Mr. Lang'at.
The accused reportedly tried to force his wife to agree with his plans to sell or kill the girl because she was a "curse" to the family. The couple has another child who does not have albinism.
His wife accused him of constantly harassing her ever since the child was born because she refused to be party to his plans.
The woman who left her matrimonial home and lives with relatives claimed Nyaisuba chased her away and had made elaborate plans to sell the girl to Tanzanian witchdoctors.
The sale of albinos or their body parts has been big business in Tanzania where some people believe they can be used to make medicinal concoctions able to give remedy to various ailments and socio- economic problems.
The Tanzania government has however declared war on people threatening the lives of albinos in the country.
In September this year a Kenyan tried to sell his albino friend to Tanzanian witchdoctors but his plans were thwarted and he was arrested and jailed.
Posted by mrnaija in News on 11 13th, 2008
The man was allegedly planning to sell his wife to two Congolese businessmen for around $3,000.
Albinos have been living in fear in Tanzania after a series of killings due to a belief their body parts can make magic potions more effective.
At least 27 people with albinism have been killed since March, including a seven-month old baby.
President Jakaya Kikwete ordered a police crackdown on those involved in the killings, and 170 witchdoctors have since been arrested.
But BBC investigations suggest that some police are being “bought off” in order to look away when such crimes are committed.
Rukwa regional police commander Isunto Damian Mantage said the fisherman was arrested following a tip-off from an informer, according to the Daily News newspaper.
His wife was not aware that he was planning to sell her off, police say.
Mr Mantage says the wife’s angry parents have decided to take back their daughter.
The businessmen managed to escape arrest, and are suspected to have fled back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The police have asked Interpol to help track them down, the newspaper reported.
The recent attacks on albinos have been linked to witchdoctors who are peddling the belief that potions made from an albino’s legs, hair, hands, and blood can make a person rich.
Albinism affects one in 20,000 people worldwide, but in Tanzania the prevalence appears to be much higher.
The Albino Association of Tanzania says that although just 4,000 albinos are officially registered in the country, they believe the actual number could be as high as 173,000.
A census is now underway to verify the figures.
A 44-year-old woman has given birth to her 18th child in Canada.
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles 4:13PM BST 29 Jul 2008
Livia Ionce gave birth to her tenth daughter, Abigail, in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where she and her husband, Alexandru, have lived since 1990 when they immigrated from Romania.
Mr Ionce, 51, said his younger daughter weighed 7lb 12oz and was delivered naturally. She joins 17 siblings whose ages range from 20 months to 23 years.
"We never planned how many children to have. We just let God guide our lives, you know, because we strongly believe life comes from God and that's the reason we did not stop the life," said Mr Ionce, who works in construction.
He did not know if the couple would add to their brood of eight boys and 10 girls, most of whom share a seven-bedroom home.
"We would have liked a boy to be even," he added. "We thank God all of them are healthy and happy."Mr Ionce said Abigail's birth was not difficult and both mother and child were doing well.
None of the couple's children were multiple births and all were born naturally apart from their four-year-old son Filip, who was born by Caesarean-section.
The most prolific mother in history, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was a Russian woman, known only as "the wife of Feodor Vassilyev", who gave birth to 69 children in the 18th century from 27 pregnancies.
The book also cites Leontina Albina, from Chile, as the most prolific living mother. She reportedly gave birth to her 55th child in 1981.
A 12 year-old Dutch schoolgirl gave birth to a baby girl during a school trip, according to local health services.
9:45PM BST 29 Mar 2011
"Neither the girl nor her family had realised she was pregnant, and there were no external signs to show it," a spokesman for the health services said, adding he did not know how many months pregnant the girl had been.
The girl, from Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, was on a day out on Tuesday last week with her classmates where she began to feel violent stomach pains, the spokesman said.
A supervisor thought the pains suspicious and alerted the emergency services.
When ambulance staff arrived they saw the girl was on the point of giving birth and rushed her to a nearby building where she had her baby.
Both "are doing well" in the maternity ward of a Groningen hospital, the spokesman said.
SOMALI YOUTH FOR PEACE: Yemen I was elected Democratically and I will leav...: "I AM DEFENDING FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS WHO I AM, ASK THEM WHO IS ALI ABDALLA SALEH.!!! MY PEOPLE IT IS THE AMERICANS AND..."
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Influx of earnings may boost jobs and economy, but also fuel corruption.
A drilling rig, 70-feet high, towers above stumpy acacia and shady mango trees, overlooking little fields of cassava and homes made of mud and thatch.
Pieces of blue and red ribbon flutter from bushes and long stems of grass direct workers in orange jumpsuits to the paths they cut through the undergrowth and around huts. Later cables dotted with receivers will read the signals as explosions are detonated underground to reveal the subterranean structure and where the oil might lie.
Tullow Oil, a U.K.-based oil exploration company, may have discovered as much as 2.5 billion barrels of oil here, enough to change everything in Uganda, a poor country with little in the way of industry. This is what is at stake in Friday’s election in which President Yoweri Museveni will seek to extend his 25-year rule in the face of a challenge from his former friend and main opponent Kizza Besigye.
The value of the oil windfall is estimated at $2 billion a year for the next 20 years. This is a huge sum when compared to Uganda's annual budget of $2.4 billion or its GDP of $17 billion.
So far 35 wells have been drilled as Tullow seeks to pinpoint the true size of the oil find. Only one well has come up dry.
“The hit rate here is phenomenal,” said John Birch, a consultant geologist, sitting within the wire-fenced perimeter around the just-completed Kigogole-6 well.
“I’ve been in this industry 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like the Rift Valley,” he said.
Tullow struck oil in 2006 and first production is now expected early next year, scaling up to a possible 150,000 barrels per day over the following three years.
Finding the oil was one thing, getting it out is quite another. Uganda is a land-locked country and the oil itself is waxy, like a candle, so a 800-mile pipeline to the Kenyan coast would have to be heated above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade) to keep the oil flowing.
Museveni has demanded that instead of exporting crude oil a refinery should be built allowing Uganda to sell fuel to other countries in the region and profit more from the resource. With China’s national oil company and French giant Total set to buy into the Lake Albert oil find the $2 billion refinery looks likely, which will enable Uganda to refine as many as 150,000 barrels per day.
Three of the wells drilled so far are within Murchison Falls National Park and conservationists are concerned about the threat of pollution, destruction of habitat and disruption of wildlife migration patterns.
“They are going to drill in the parks, they are going to extract oil: It is a political reality that is pointless to oppose,” said one resigned conservationist. “If managed properly oil extraction can be done without destroying the environment, but do they have the will, the expertise? There is also the potential for some very damaging social and environmental impacts.”
Ken Opitto, field operations supervisor at Tullow’s Bugungu camp just outside the park dismisses the concerns. “Most people make noise without coming to see what is actually on the ground,” he said. Opitto added that once the post-drilling clean-up is complete all that is left is red pipe like a fire hydrant with a chicken wire fence around it.
Of Uganda's population of 33 million, an estimated 35 percent live below the poverty line. Hopes are high that the oil will dramatically boost the country's economy and provide much needed jobs.
In Hoima, a regional town close to Lake Albert, there are great expectations of the improvements and opportunities that the oil will bring.
“They have already constructed a road and some boreholes,” said Morris Odero, an 18-year-old motorbike taxi driver, sitting on his bike at the side of the newly built dirt road. “We have not benefited much from jobs but it is early days and we hope that will come.”
In Hoima’s busy market, fishmonger Julius Byarinhanea, 40, said: “We are all waiting for just one thing, to get that oil so that we can get more jobs."
“We are going to work very hard,” he said eagerly, “and the government must spend the money very well.”
Opitto, Tullow's operations manager, agrees: “The big question is what we Ugandans will do with the revenues.”
There is widespread concern, given Uganda’s worsening reputation for official corruption, that the oil windfall may be squandered, stolen or siphoned into private bank accounts rather than invested in the roads, schools, hospitals and infrastructure the country so desperately needs.
High-stakes squabbles over control of the oil money that flows into state coffers might also undermine Uganda’s democracy, which is still stabilizing after a long history of civil war and single-party rule.
John Mary Odoy, director of the Democracy Monitoring Group in the capital Kampala, warned: “If the oil is badly managed it will affect our emerging democracy very badly.”
Unprotected sex used to cause AIDS. Now it causes cancer. Iva SkochMarch 29, 2011 06:50
Unprotected sex used to cause AIDS. Now it causes cancer.
GABORONE, Botswana – In a small trailer, a nurse applies vinegar – the cheapest kind they sell in local supermarkets – on her patient’s genitals.
Because tissue harboring precancerous lesions turns white when exposed to acetic acid, she waits for white spots to appear on her patient's cervix.
Once she sees them, she isn't sure whether they are actual lesions or scar tissue. So she snaps a photo of the cervix using her phone camera. She then forwards it to a doctor’s phone with the text message: “39-year-old patient. I think there’s a distant lesion at 2 o’clock. Do you agree?”
Some 200 miles away, Dr. Doreen Ramogola-Masire opens the message, zooms in on the lesion’s borders and agrees. She recommends cryotheraphy, a treatment that freezes part of a woman’s cervix to destroy abnormal cells that may lead to cancer.
A few minutes later in the trailer, the nurse freezes the patient’s cervix using liquid nitrogen.
According to Dr. Masire, even a one-time cryo treatment decreases a woman’s lifelong chances to develop cervical cancer by 25 percent. But most women in Botswana don’t get screened or treated at all because they don’t have easy access — or the resources — to see a doctor. Distant consultations, such as this one, have potential to change that.
“The future with cell phones is huge, especially in rural areas,” said Dr. Masire, head of the Women’s Health Initiative Botswana that partners with University of Pennsylvania for clinical care, research and funding, who helped introduce the telemedicine pilot program to help battle an epidemic of cervical cancer that’s sweeping sub-Saharan Africa.
“Cervical cancer is a disease of inequity,” she said. “Those who can afford it get the screening.” According to research done in neighboring South Africa, black women are 26 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than white women.
Nobody knows exactly why the incidence of cervical cancer is so high in Botswana, one of Africa’s richest countries because of its diamond wealth.
But anecdotal evidence suggests cervical cancer runs rampant due to lack of mass screening, a lack of education and sexual behavior that would be considered licentious in the West. Also, because of extremely high HIV rates in this area of the world, available resources typically go to tackle AIDS research rather than cancer.
People often assume there’s no cancer in Africa, said Dr. Masire. “But the truth is we have no data on cancer in Africa,” she said. And without data, it’s almost impossible to provide help and to get help from abroad.
“Data is king,” she said.
That’s one of the reasons her organization began collecting cancer data. It's also providing cervical cancer screening to local women who are HIV-positive.
About one-third of Botswana’s adult population is estimated to carry the HIV virus and HIV-positive women are, in turn, five times more likely to contract the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV, which triggers cell alterations of the cervix, can lead to cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the vulva, vagina and anus.
In the last two years Dr. Masire and her team have screened 2,200 local women. Only half had a healthy cervix. Of the rest, 354 had mild precancerous lesions and were given cryotherapy. The remaining 700 or so had abnormalities of the cervix that required more treatment, surgery, or even radiation, and were invited for further consultations in the referral clinic run by Dr. Masire and her team.
Prevention is essential, since there’s only one oncology ward with 20 beds – 10 for men, 10 for women – in this country of 2 million people. It’s a modest ward, without the equipment to handle advanced cases. For radiation, patients are typically sent to hospitals in South Africa.
In developed countries, cervical screening programs, such as PAP smears, have significantly reduced the incidence of invasive cervical cancer. But in sub-Saharan Africa, PAP smears aren’t readily available and if they are, results take months, sometimes years. Often, they get lost.
“The PAP smear test is good, but it requires a sophisticated infrastructure,” said Dr. Masire. In remote areas of Africa, the infrastructure is poor and clinics typically don’t have the slides, the sprays and most importantly, qualified personnel to do these tests or read the slides. When women finally make it to one of the clinics, they often have symptoms too advanced to help them.
A decade ago, in the midst of the HIV epidemic, so many people in Botswana were dying of AIDS the country feared its population would be decimated by the disease. So in 2001, the government made a widely applauded – and in Africa a quite unprecedented – decision to provide antiretroviral drugs to all citizens who needed them. Today, more than 90 percent of patients in Botswana who need HIV treatment receive it. The disease that used to be a death sentence has gradually become a chronic disease.
But there is bad news, too. A decade ago, HIV patients would have almost no chance to die of cervical cancer. They would have died of tuberculosis or meningitis or one of the more common symptoms that are considered complications of AIDS long before they would die of cancer, which is much more costly to treat.
“Now, people are living longer and pre-cancers have a chance to develop into cancers,” said Dr. Masire.
Improvement in the patients’ quality of life has also made them enjoy sex more once again. Dr. Masire speculates that when there were no HIV meds, people looked ill, had no energy and were probably not having too much sex.
Nowadays, with antriretroviral drugs, nobody can tell who has AIDS and who doesn’t. People look healthy and feel good, which might also affect how they interact sexually, she said.
Crystal Mhone, a 27-year-old patient, whose name was changed to protect her privacy, tested positive for cervical cancer and had surgery on her cervix last month. She has been HIV-positive since 2007 and because here, cervical cancer is classified as one of the AIDS-defining illnesses, she is no longer considered an HIV patient. Because of her cervical cancer diagnosis, she is an AIDS patient now. She doesn’t remember where she got infected or by whom.
When she was asked how many sexual partners she’s had – a routine question during gynecological visits – she replies with a disarming, “You mean in total? Or now?”
Dr. Mimi Raesima, one of the medical officers working with Dr. Masire, said that multiple partners, especially the prevalence of concurrent partners, as well as inter-generational sex, is a huge obstacle in their efforts to curb the cervical cancer epidemic.
“If my husband has several girlfriends and I have several boyfriends at the same time, and all of them have multiple lovers, the number of lovers we are effectively sleeping with is staggering,” she said.
In Botswana, such arrangements are quite common. Men often claim that the shortage of male population here requires local men to have more than one girlfriend. Otherwise, there would be a lot of lonely women. Because most of Africa still doesn’t provide a lot of professional opportunities for women, especially “lonely” ones, a woman is often forced into transactional relationships with multiple men, who in turn help cover her household expenses – from her mobile phone bills to her often distant and expensive doctor visits.
Dr. Raesima said that many patients think that if they already have the HPV virus, they don’t have to worry about it anymore. “Once you have it, you haven’t won. You can always get reinfected by other strains,” she said.
Some 40 different strains of HPV are transmitted through sexual contact and unlike HIV, condoms are only 70 percent effective in preventing HPV transmission. Vast majority of cervical cancers in the West are caused by the HPV virus 16 and 18. Not surprisingly, the HPV vaccines, available in the developed world, prevent infection with the HPV types 16 and 18.
The vaccine isn’t readily available in Botswana yet because it’s expensive and because there’s no definitive research proving that strains 16 and 18 are the most common types of HPV in Africa, too.
“Data is king,” repeats Dr. Masire.
Kosovo's Mafia: A hotbed of human trafficking
Part III: Allegations of sexual slavery reach the highest levels of the Kosovo government.Matt McAllester and Jovo MartinovicMarch 27, 2011 16:03
Part III: Allegations of sexual slavery reach the highest levels of the Kosovo government.
“The big guys don’t take a cut in this business — they run it,” said the man, who gave his name as Luan and acknowledged that he previously made his living from trafficking women and girls into Kosovo against their will so that they could be forced to have sex with paying customers. “The system is highly organized and there’s no police or anything to stop it. Everything is corruption from top to bottom.” Every day, an enterprise of trafficking women thrives in this country.
In the aftermath of the U.S.-led war in Kosovo in 1999, this nascent democracy, born of an international effort to protect human rights, has become a hub of the global trade in human beings, according to human rights investigators who monitor human trafficking.
This industry, which operates in a shadowy underworld where former members of armed militias have turned into murderous enforcers in a criminal enterprise, nets an estimated $32 billion globally every year and is widely considered by international human rights’ investigators to be the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.
According to an International Labor Office (ILO) report, a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67,200 annually in Western Europe. In a three-month investigation, GlobalPost has uncovered mounting allegations that the highest levels of the U.S.-backed Kosovo government are involved in this human trafficking.
The victims of the trade are typically teenage girls who are recruited, seduced and often forced into what amounts to sexual slavery. There is prostitution in Kosovo that services the international community, the U.S. and NATO military forces and the U.N. and aid workerts who operate here. But more frequently, investigators say, Kosovo is a trafficking hub for women sold into prostitution rings in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Western European capitals and elsewhere. Much has been written about these victims, but less has been written about the men who carry out the trafficking.
In the course of its investigation, GlobalPost gained access to several men, including Luan, who say they were directly involved in the trade. The detailed information they provided helped to assemble an impressionistic picture of how the trade works here in Kosovo and beyond. And their statements combined with several intelligence reports and the findings of ongoing criminal investigations into organized crime in Kosovo reveal how the syndicate that carries out this trafficking does so with the complicity — and in some cases direct involvement — of the very highest levels of Kosovo’s political leadership.
Sources point to the top
The United States and its NATO allies, and the United Nations, have said publicly for some years that corrupt officials within Kosovo’s government and police have at times taken part in the illegal trade of women and girls for sex.
“Trafficking-related corruption continued to hamper the government’s anti-trafficking efforts,” the State Department writes in its 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, citing experts in trafficking. “Foreign trafficking victims often arrive in Kosovo with valid documents and employment contracts stamped by Kosovo officials who may be aware that the document holders are trafficking victims.”
But the privately discussed rumors that have circulated for almost as long among American officials, Western diplomats and ordinary people in Kosovo are much worse: that the corruption goes beyond low-level officials, all the way to high-level politicians.
No senior Kosovar official has ever been charged in relation to human trafficking in Kosovo. GlobalPost reporters, during the course of a wider investigation into allegations of broad criminality by former senior Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders and their ties to the United States and other Western countries, interviewed three men involved in sex trafficking in Kosovo, two Albanians and Luan, a Kosovar Albanian. All three men insisted that some senior political figures, specifically former KLA commanders, were indeed involved in the trafficking of women and girls. Furthermore, GlobalPost has obtained several intelligence reports from NATO military and intelligence services that also claim senior former KLA commanders have been involved in the sex-slavery business. Further bolstering the claims, various well-informed people, including a former NATO intelligence official who worked in Kosovo and a Western diplomat with experience in the region, all say that it has been common knowledge in American, NATO and U.N. circles for years that the former guerrilla commanders — many of them now in positions of great power in Kosovo — are believed to be linked to sex-trafficking.
Luan said that officials in the parties of two former KLA commanders are closely tied up in the trade. The parties are: the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), whose leader is the current prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci; and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), whose leader is Ramush Haradinaj, a former prime minister who is currently in custody at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as he awaits trial on charges of war crimes.
“The whole thing, as well as any other illegal business, is controlled by the state both in Kosovo, Albania and all of former Yugoslavia,” said one of the Albanian men, who called himself Rexhep. “No one can do [smuggle] drugs, women, cigarettes or anything without blessing from above. I mean, you can try but you’ll be found in a ditch somewhere after many days already half-eaten by worms and dogs, which has happened to some.”
The three traffickers who made the allegations against the former KLA commanders are self-described criminals and their stories could not be independently confirmed. They insisted on anonymity, saying they did not want to face retaliation from other criminals or arrest from law enforcement officials. Two GlobalPost reporters have for many years interviewed criminal figures in the Balkans and in every previous case the stories of the criminals have held up to scrutiny. The three traffickers agreed to be interviewed because they trusted the intermediaries used to arrange the interviews and the reporters, who have been working in the region for many years. The traffickers do not know each other; GlobalPost reporters found them through separate channels.
This is a video that every human being should see, really it is something that should be available to all without any kind of restriction, when it comes to whatever that has got something to do with humans who need help, it is not fair and fit at all, for anyone to seek ways of getting benefit from such a thing, this is exposing the suffering of the poor men, women and children who are living right now in our time. and their fate need to be addressed urgently.this is nothing but slavery no matter whatever you might call it, for sure it has been there for quit a long time, it has to be stopped.
You must see this video which has been Uploaded by journeymanpictures on Nov 20, 2007
You must see this video which has been Uploaded by journeymanpictures on Nov 20, 2007
Saturday, March 26, 2011
From Mayra Cuevas, In Session
March 25, 2011 11:35 p.m. EDT
- Joran Van der Sloot is accused of killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Lima, Peru
- Police say he admitted attacking her after she read an e-mail tying him to the Holloway case
- Natalee Holloway disappeared during a 2005 trip to Aruba
- Van der Sloot's attorney says the analysis of the laptop proves nothing
(CNN) -- The laptop belonging to Joran Van der Sloot was turned off the night he is suspected of having killed a young Peruvian woman in Lima, suggesting he lied to investigators when he said he attacked her after she read an e-mail on his computer connecting him to missing American teenager, Natalee Holloway, a source said Friday.
Van der Sloot has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the case of 21-year-old Stephany Flores. Authorities found Flores' body in a Lima hotel room registered to him last year.
Surveillance video from the hotel shows Van der Sloot and Flores entering the hotel room together around 5 a.m. on Sunday, May 30. He is seen leaving by himself some three hours later.
Police have said that Van der Sloot admitted he attacked Flores on May 30 after she read an e-mail on his computer connecting him to the Holloway case.
But, according to an analysis of that computer, it was turned off between Saturday, May 29 around 3 p.m. and Sunday, May 30 around noon, a source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told In Session.
A police official, meanwhile, said the computer was active, but that nothing done or received during the time period in question would suggest Flores saw information linking Van der Sloot to Holloway. The official, connected to the case, was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Van der Sloot's attorney, Maximo Altez, said the laptop analysis does not change his defense. His client attacked Flores after she found something on his computer that tied him to Holloway, he said.
"The police can't determine the exact time when Stephany was killed. She was in the room for three days ... Joran didn't mean to kill this woman," said Altez.
Flores' body was discovered on June 2.
Van de Sloot is perhaps best known as the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Holloway in Aruba. He was arrested twice in connection with the case, but was not charged.
Investigators found some files related to the Holloway case on Van der Sloot's computer, but many of them were deleted, the source said.
After killing Flores, police say, Van der Sloot took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested June 3. He was returned the next day to Peru and is being held at the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima.
Van der Sloot used his laptop to search travel to Chile and border checkpoints, the source said.
He could face a minimum of 15 years in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder. If convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter, he could face up to five years in prison.
Altez recently supplied "In Session" with a copy of a motion he filed last year in support of the manslaughter charge.
"My client ... admits having murdered the victim, but not with ferocity, for profit or pleasure, nor any of the other element(s) that make up this murder, but only by violent emotion that overtook him at the time he was attacked by the victim," the motion read.
Van der Sloot also faces federal wire fraud and extortion charges in the United States, where prosecutors say he demanded more than $250,000 from Holloway's family in return for disclosing the location of her body.
- Thursday, 24 March 2011 15:03
- Kim Yuthana
Seventy-two women and nine supervisors working at a karaoke parlour in Siem Reap town were arrested in a raid on Tuesday under suspicion of prostitution and illegal sex trafficking, police officials said yesterday.
Siem Reap provincial police chief Suot Nady said the operation to arrest girls working at the karaoke club Wonder was conducted by expert authorities in cooperation with provincial court prosecutors.
“It is so illegal that the parlour owner who has a license for operating karaoke but he runs his business on sexual service and sex trafficking,” said Suot Nady.
“[There were] rooms for having sex as well when local authorities searched.”
Sun Bunthorn, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau, said that 12 of the women were under the age of 18 and three were Vietnamese.
“This is the fourth case of cracking down on sex trafficking in early 2011 in Siem Reap province,” said Sun Bunthorn.
He added that the supervisors and the club owner were suspected of taking advantage of the women.
Sun Bunthorn said that the women would be questioned by provincial police and handed over to the provincial department of social affairs, while the supervisors would be interrogated and a report sent to the provincial court.
Suot Nady said that the raid was the biggest crackdown on sexual exploitation in Siem Reap province so far this year following a similar raid on a club in Siem Reap town last year.
Global human trafficking roundup (Mar 25, 2011 )
by YBKIMTwo weeks ago, Italian police busted 40 pimps selling Romanian girls' virginity on the internet. The investigation began in 2007, when the Romanian girls reported the police that they were forced into prostitution by the criminal organization and that they were willing to collaborate with the investigation. According to the report, the virginity of young Romanian girls were auctioned for 6000 euros ($8000), and the victims were rescued from the police and receive victim assistance programs from the Italian government. But, many other victims are not as fortunate as these victims at the mercy of Italian police. In fact, the legislative loopholes lead some victims to be left behind in the immigration detention facilities without even getting a chance to explain their situation to the police.
The legislative loopholes
Though Italy's legislation, like Article 18, provides a relatively good victim assistance programs, victims are eligible for the assistance only when they cooperate with the police in catching the predators. In Italy, though nonprofits is in charge of assisting victims to receive aftercare assistance, the police has the ultimate authority to grand the victims a residential permit and an eligibility to receive the victim assistance. And, more often than not, police grants the victim assistance and residential permits to those who are willing to collaborate in catching the traffickers. Therefore, if a victim is unwilling to collaborate with the police, she or he is not considered as a victim by the police and deported to his or her own country. In such case, a victim is often re-trafficked by the same exploiters.
Neglecting victims living under fear
The problem rises when victims are unable to collaborate with the police investigation because they are afraid of their traffickers. For instance, many Nigerian traffickers use voodoo to force victims into slavery. Traffickers control victims with the threat of "destroying their souls or making them crazy" through voodoo magic. Therefore, under such circumstance with a cultural misconception, it is difficult for many Nigerian victims to testify against their traffickers to collaborate with the police and become eligible to receive victim assistance from the Italian government. In fact, one research recalls that more than 100 Nigerian trafficking victims were deported to their own country without even being granted the chance to explain their situation during the period of spring and summer 2003. Meanwhile, nonprofit groups said that Nigerian made up more than a half of Italy's 19000-25,000 street prostitutes in 2008.
What needs to be done
The Italian government should extend the definition of trafficking victims so that victims will be eligible to receive the aftercare assistance even if they are not able to speak against the exploiters. Of course, the Italian government may only be willing to use victim assistance program as an incentive to the victims who helped the police out to crack down on traffickers. But, without receiving aftercare assistance, many victims become vulnerable to not just being re-victimized but to become traffickers themselves for survival. In fact, many female traffickers in Italy initially came to the country as victims but become traffickers after paying off their debts. Therefore, Italy's failure to grand victim assistance to all victims, in essence, is the very source of proliferation of sex trafficking in Italy.
Victim sent text to friend in home country
By Eman Al Baik
Published Monday, February 21, 2011
A gang of human traffickers were busted here in Dubai all thanks to an SMS sent half way across the world.
The group of five men will stand trial on charges of human trafficking on an order from Eissam Issa Al Humaidan, Dubai’s Attorney-General.
They will be prosecuted on charges of human trafficking, illegal confinement and forcing a woman into prostitution by threatening and physically assaulting her.
They have been referred to the Court of First Instance.
The Asian victim sent a text message to her friend in her home country detailing her ordeal, which led the police here to take action. They raided the place in Naif area where they found the victim locked up in a room.
During interrogation, she revealed that she was lured into coming to the UAE and was forced into prostitution after being threatened that she would get into trouble withthe police if she didn't obey.
The defendants would take her to customers until one day she fell ill and messaged her friend back home, who in turn informed the police here.
Two women are still wanted in connection with the case.