FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Wednesday:  July 23, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Afghanistan (18)

Monday
Apr302012

NGO's Under Threat in Pakistan After Red Cross Official Beheaded (REPORT)

(PHOTO: British Red Cross worker Khalil Rasjed Dale killed in Pakistan/The Australian)

(HN, 4/30/2012) - A Yemen born, Scottish UK citizen and senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dr. Khalil Asjad Dale, 60 who had been kidnapped in January in southwestern Pakistan, was killed by his captors and his bullet-riddled body was beheaded and found in an orchard near Killi Umar, on a road leading to the airport in Quetta on Sunday.  Dr. Dale was engaged to be married to a nurse, Anne, in Australia.  He changed his name from Ken when he became a Muslim.

Dr. Dale had been taken by unidentified armed men from the Chaman Housing Complex in Quetta earlier this year.  Police said they received some tips about the presence of a dumped bag and when it was opened a body was found in it that was later identified as that of Dr. Dale.  

The body was “fresh” and had been slaughtered, said doctors at the Civil Hospital where his body was taken for autopsy.  A letter recovered from his pocket said: “This is the body of Dr. Khalil Asjad who had been kidnapped four months ago and was killed because our demands were not accepted.”  Demands that included a $30 million ransom.

The note further said "we (Taliban) claim responsibility for his murder. We will release video of this killing as the organization did not fulfill our demands despite repeated warnings."

(Video ICRC)

The ICRC has been active in Pakistan since 1947, providing humanitarian services in the field of healthcare, in particular physical rehabilitation.  Director-General Yves Daccord said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act".  

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, lies close to the Afghan border and for decades has hosted thousands of refugees from that country. The Red Cross operates clinics in the city.

"All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends. We are devastated," Daccord said, adding that the aid worker - who had worked in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq for the ICRC - was a "trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member".

The ICRC had announced a reduction of its activities in Pakistan just days before Dale's abduction with the closure of three of its centers in the restive northwest. But after Dale's abduction, the organization vowed to continue its work in the troubled country.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London had tried tirelessly to secure Dale's release. "This was a senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan, and causing immeasurable pain to those who knew Dale," he said in a statement.

Pakistan also condemned "the barbaric act" and vowed "to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice".

Officials of the Balochistan government said they had already asked all foreigners working with NGO's and UN organizations to restrict their movements and not to go anywhere without informing the provincial home and tribal affairs department.

Much of Balochistan and the tribal regions close to Afghanistan are out of Pakistani government control, and make good places to keep hostages. Ransoms are often paid to secure their release, but such payments are rarely confirmed.

Abductions are `Common'

The parents of five kidnapped employees of the Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP), a foreign NGO, were collecting donations by setting up a fund raising camp at the Bacha Khan Chowk to pay over Rs220 million as ransom to the captors for their release. "Please help us so that we can pay the ransom and secure the release of our children," said one banner at the fund raising camp.

Meanwhile, five persons were killed in separate incidents of violence in different localities of Balochistan on Sunday. Unknown armed men opened fire on a motorcycle carrying a man and his son near Hub city, killing them both. In a separate incident in Dast Goran area of Kalat two persons were killed in another firing attack.  Also, unknown men blew up a portion of the 16-inch diameter gas pipeline in the Pirkoh area of Dera Bugti district on Sunday. On Saturday night, unidentified men blew up a portion of the Quetta-Taftan railway track damaging a portion of the track passing through the Ahmadwal area of Noshki district. 

Last August, a 70-year-old an American contractor, and director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, Warren Weinstein, was kidnapped from his house in the Punjabi city of Lahore. Al-Qaeda claimed to be holding him and said in a video he would be released if the US stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

(PHOTO: Swiss couple Olivier David Och & Daniela Widmer wave at the Qasim base in Rawalpindi, March 15, 2012/Telegraph)A Swiss couple Olivier David Och and Daniela Widmer  who were seized last year by the Pakistani Taliban were released in March. An Islamist extremist group said a ransom had been paid, but the Swiss and Pakistani government denied the claim.

Dr. Dale, of the Red Cross, had previously been awarded the MBE for his humanitarian work overseas by the British government.  "It's unbelievable what they've done to Ken," a friend and former colleague, Sheila Howat, said. "It's soul-destroying. For someone who has ... devoted their life to caring for others - it's just so wrong. Ken was an absolutely lovely person who saw good in everybody. He wanted to make the world a better place for people who had nothing."

---HUMNEWS, agencies

Thursday
Apr052012

The Dangers of Journalism (REPORT) 

(Video 25 years of Reporters Without Borders)

(HN, 4/5/12) - Yesterday's suicide bombing at the newly opened National Theater of Somalia is now believed to have killed four people, including the nation's Olympics chief and FIFA head among them; just as a ceremony began in celebration of the Somali National Television's one-year anniversary.

It was meant  to be a moment of lightness in the much darkness Somalia has experienced in 25-plus years of unrest, famine, and chaos.

It also - again - highlighted the dangerous situations global journalists contend with - even at an afternoon cultural event - to tell the story.

(PHOTO: Advocates in Sri Lanka/JNEWS) Journalism, on any stage, is never safe.

Various reports say that at least 10 journalists - four of them women - were seriously injured when the blast ripped through the  theater 5 minutes into a speech by the Somali Prime Minister, Abdiwelli Mohamed.

Witnesses said they believed the bomber had been a female who mingled with the crowd before detonating. The explosion killed 4 people.  The nation's Olympics chief and FIFA head among them.

The Al-Shabaab militant group has taken responsibility.

The hurt reporters are named as (SEE PHOTOS HERE):  Said Shire Warsame of Shabelle TV, Ahmed Ali Kahiye of Radio Kulmiye; Ayaan Abdi (female) of S24 TV/Somalie 24  and Hamdi Mohamed Hassan Hiis (female) of Somali Channel TV; Deeqa Mohamed (female) of the state-run Radio Mogadishu/ Radio Mogadiscio; Mohamed Noor and Mohamed Sharif of Radio Bar-kulan; Somali National Television staffers and Abdulkadir Mohamed Hassan, and freelance journalists Suleiman Sheikh Ismail and Mulki Hassan Haile (female) of Royal TV.

Reporters Without Borders in Paris said, “We condemn this despicable attack in the strongest possible terms and our thoughts are with the many victims,”

By all accounts, being `on assignment' can sometimes mean life or death for a journalist - and not always glamorous. 

DEATH AND IMPRISONMENT

In its annual "Attacks on the Press" report, the New York-based Committee  to Protect Journalists (CPJ) detailed intimidation and deaths to journalists. 

Imprisonments of reporters worldwide shot up more than 20% to its highest level since the mid-1990s in 2011, according to the annual survey - an increase driven largely by widespread jailings across the Middle East and North Africa;  finding, 179 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1.  More than 34 higher than in 2010.

Additionally Iran was the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars. Eritrea, China, Burma, Vietnam, Syria, and Turkey also ranked among the world’s worst.

Losing their lives in 2011 were 46 journalists who were killed in the line of work around the world - undertaking dangerous assignments such as covering street protests and civil strife which reached a record level last year (2 more than 2010) as political unrest swept the Arab world. 

Reporters Without Borders puts that number at 66; and a tally by Switzerland Press Emblem Campaign says the total is as high as 106.

Photographers and camera operators made up about 40% of the overall death toll and noted an increase in the deaths of Internet journalists - who rarely have appeared in the totals before - with nine killed last year.

(Video of the moment of blast in Somalia yesterday, captured - via The Guardian)

BY  GEOGRAPHY 

Country-by-country, in 2011, Pakistan had the most deaths with seven, while Libya and Iraq followed with five each, and Mexico had three.

So far in 2012, the most hazardous duty ranks are:  Syria- 7, Somalia-3, India-2, Nigeria-2, Thailand-1, Pakistan-1, Brazil-2, Bangladesh-2, Afghanistan-1, Philippines-1

By all accounts approximately 22 journalists have died this year alone.  

They are:

Ali Ahmed Abdi, Radio Galkayo, Puntlandi - 3/4/12 in Galkayo, Somalia

Rajesh Mishra, Media Raj - 3/4/12 in Rewa, India

Abukar Hassan Mohamoud, Somaliweyn Radio - 2/28/12 in Mogadishu, Somalia

Anas al-Tarsha, Freelance - 2/24/12 in Homs, Syria

Rémi Ochlik, Freelance - 2/22/12 in Homs, Syria

Marie Colvin, Sunday Times - 2/22/12 in Homs, Syria

Rami al-Sayed, Freelance - 2/21/12 in Homs, Syria

Mario Randolfo Lopes, Vassouras na Net - 2/9/12 in Barra do Piraí, Brazil

Mazhar Tayyara, Freelance - 2/4/12 in Homs, Syria

Hassan Osman Abdi, Shabelle Media Network - 1/28/12 in Mogadishu, Somalia

Enenche Akogwu, Channels TV - 1/20/12 in Kano, Nigeria

Mukarram Khan Aatif, Freelance - 1/17/12 in Shabqadar, Pakistan

Wisut "Ae" Tangwittayaporn, Inside Phuket - 1/12/12 in Phuket, Thailand

Gilles Jacquier, France 2  - 1/11/12 in Homs, Syria

Samid Khan Bahadarzai, Melma Radio - 2/21/12  in Orgun, Afghanistan

Chandrika Rai, Navbharat, The Hitavada - 2/18/12 in Umaria, India

Paulo Roberto Rodrigues, Jornal Da Praça, Mercosul - 2/12/12 in Ponta Porá, Brazil

Meherun Runi, ATN Bangla Television - 2/1112 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Golam Mustofa Sarowar, Maasranga Television - 2/11/12 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Nansok Sallah, Highland FM - 1/18/12 in Jos, Nigeria

Christopher Guarin, Radyo Mo Nationwide/Tatak - 1/5/12 in General Santos City, Philippines

Shukri Abu al-Burghul, Al-Thawra/Radio Damascus - 1/3/12 in Damascus, Syria

-- HUMNEWS

Monday
Apr022012

India: Leading the way on polio, energy innovation (PERSPECTIVE) 

(PHOTO: Polio victims in Kishanganj, India/TOPNEWS.IN) By N R Narayana Murthy and Ted Turner

India celebrated an historic milestone earlier this month when the World Health Organisation announced there had been no new cases of wild polio virus for one year.

That leaves only three polio endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

To understand the scope of this achievement, consider that 20% of all births worldwide today are in India. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), one child is born here every 20 seconds, and each has to be vaccinated in order to completely wipe out polio - from the most rural outposts to shanty towns in urban hubs and everywhere in between.

The achievement is a validation of the work of the United Nations, the public and private partners of the Global Polio Eradication initiative, the Indian government, and the people of India, all of whom united to solve what seemed like an insurmountable problem.

The victory over polio is also evidence that fast-growing nations like India can embrace economic development and sustainable development at the same time. India`s transformation on many fronts gives us reason to believe that nations can overcome disease and environmental degradation to become healthier, wealthier, and more environmentally sustainable.

It is estimated that India will soon surpass China as the world`s most populous country. As India grows, it is bringing millions of people out of poverty and into an emerging middle class. How India grows can show the world that harnessing innovative technologies, using sustainable energy sources, and engaging a young generation is a proven path to prosperity.

India is working with the UN to tackle these issues on a global scale. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is championing two new initiatives - Every Woman Every Child and the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative - because access to energy and improving women and children`s health are fundamental to achieving all our development goals. India is an example of how a commitment to these two goals leads to results.

A bright future for India begins with increased efforts to promote safe motherhood. According to USAID, today, India accounts for more maternal deaths than any other country in the world; avoidable complications during pregnancy and childbirth kill approximately 67,000 Indian women annually. These unfortunate statistics are a reality in part because many Indian mothers are still in their teens; nearly one-third of all women deliver a child before the age of 20.

The Indian government has committed to promoting maternal health and family planning, pledging to spend $3.5 billion per year on improving health services, especially women`s and children`s health. India`s ministry of health has announced it is strengthening efforts in the 264 districts that account for nearly 70% of all infant and maternal deaths. The government is implementing a Mother and Child Tracking System, which tracks every pregnant woman by name for the provision of timely antenatal care, institutional delivery and postnatal care, and immunizations for newborns.

Innovations in health are being matched with a bold effort to find new sources of energy to meet India`s growing demand. According to the UN, more than 280 million people in India lack access to electricity, and millions more suffer from unreliable and intermittent service. When Indians don`t have access to energy, they cannot improve their health and economic opportunity.

(GRAPH: Solar roof water heater/Watersystemz.com)In Bangalore, rooftops are dotted with solar-powered water heaters - now mandatory on all new structures. Underserved communities are experimenting with clean energy solutions. The UN Foundation, for example, through its Practitioner Network for Energy Access, is working with a range of businesses and civil society organizations in India to catalyze the delivery of micro-grid and stand-alone energy solutions to communities that lack access to electricity.

In India`s rural communities, clean burning cookstoves can provide a safer way for millions of people who live off the electricity grid to cook meals without emitting harmful smoke into their homes. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has extended an invitation to the Indian government, as a leader on this issue, to be a leading national implementing partner in scaling up the market for clean cookstoves and fuels.

India`s leadership on sustainable energy is crucial because developing countries around the world want to replicate India`s success. India is now developing ways to bypass the plight of many developed countries, which rely excessively on a fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure. It also helps India fulfill its obligations to future generations for clean, sustainable energy sources.

India will have the opportunity to showcase its progress to the world in June when delegates from around the world gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  As governments and civil society groups gather to talk about the future we all want, there are lessons to be learned from India`s approach to development and innovation.

To be sure, India`s embrace of sustainable development will take decades to realize. The size and scale of its challenges are enormous. But India doesn`t accept these challenges as intractable, and neither should the world. There is impressive evidence that India can achieve both economic development and sustainability at the same time. That`s good news for India and good news for the world.

-- Murthy is an industrialist and Turner is a media entrepreneur and philanthropist. This opinion piece first ran in the Times of India.

 

Thursday
Mar012012

Pakistan and Iran: Pipelines or pipe dreams? (REPORT) 

By Kamal Hyder

(PHOTO: Daily Times of Pakistan)

Two weeks ago, the leaders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan met in Islamabad for the third round of a periodically held trilateral summit.

Iran and Afghanistan, however, have as much to discuss with Pakistan regarding those countries’ bilateral relationships with Islamabad as they do with each other.

As such, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan prime minister, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, held separate bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the larger summit with their Pakistani counterparts, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Zardari.

Afghanistan’s concerns were fairly straightforward: with the United States seeking an honourable exit from the war in Afghanistan, and the impending talks with the Taliban set to take place in Qatar facilitating such a move, Karzai was concerned about the fate of his fragile government, and the role Pakistan would play to stabilise or destablise his country. 

Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, took the stance of blaming regional turmoil on external influences, a thinly veiled dig at the United States. Faced with the prospect of ever-tightening sanctions against his country from the US and the European Union, Ahmadinejad wanted guarantees from Pakistan that a gas pipeline deal that has been in the works for several years will not now become victim to US sanctions.

This deal has already been subject to opposition from the US, of course, Initially, the pipeline was to run from Iran, through Pakistan, into India – making it the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline. The Indian government, however, pulled out in 2008, after the United States stepped in and promised the country it would offer it entrance into the club of nations allowed to trade in civilian nuclear technology, in order to meet India’s ever-growing energy demands.

In exchange, Delhi was asked to drop its plans to co-operate economically with Iran.

At the time, Pakistan demanded that the US offer it the same deal. Washington refused, suggesting instead that Pakistan modify the IPI plan and use Turkmenistan as its natural gas source – creating the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project. Given the unstable security situation in Afghanistan, however, that plan never took off, and Pakistan instead signed a nuclear energy co-operation deal with China.

Iran pipeline challenges

Security challenges, however, are not limited to Afghanistan. If an Iran-Pakistan pipeline is to be built, it will pass through Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. Nationalists in that province are fighting for an independent homeland, and Islamabad alleges that they are doing so with Indian support.

The Balochistan issue is a touchy topic with Pakistan, and US-Pakistan relations have been rattled in recent days by the passage of a non-binding resolution in the US House of Representatives condemning a Pakistani crackdown on what the state calls "insurgents" in that area.

Balochistan, then, is a stick the US can use to beat Pakistan within the public sphere, were it to move forward on any pipeline deal.

Regardless, Pakistan has assured Iran that it will indeed move forward on its proposed pipelines, no matter what the obstacles are. Iran has also proposed barter deals with Pakistan to buy a million tons of wheat and 200,000 tons of sugar in exchange for fertiliser and iron ore. It has also offered to provide Pakistan with 80,000 barrels of crude oil on a deferred payment basis, and aid in laying the pipeline required to transport said oil.

The US, meanwhile, has warned that the pipeline deal is in direct violation of its latest round of sanctions against Tehran, and could prompt sanctions on Pakistan.

With Pakistan’s economy already precariously balanced between massive external debts and struggling industries, any new sanctions could push it over the edge.

The seriousness of the threat of sanctions prompted Pakistan’s political and military leadership to head into a crisis meeting, reassessing the country’s options.

Pakistan already buys the bulk of her oil from countries in the Gulf, particularly from key ally

Saudi Arabia. As such, it would appear that the country’s relations with those countries, as well as the threat of sanctions from the United States, would be enough to  convince it to hold off on the deal with Iran.

Despite the tough talk, then, it would appear that for now at least, the pipeline deal is more of a pipe dream.

- Originally published by AlJazeera under Creative Commons License 

Friday
Feb032012

Afghanistan's Injustice System (PERSPECTIVE) 

By Nick Grono

Afghanistan is ruled not by law, but by power and patronage. The absence of the rule of law fuels the country's savage insurgency. When citizens can't rely on the state to protect them against systemic abuses, then rebellion becomes a far more attractive option. Tragically, in Afghanistan the abusers, more often than not, are from the government itself - including ministers, governors, police chiefs and militia leaders.

It needn't be this way. If there is one policy reform that all the main actors in Afghanistan purport to agree on, it's the critical importance of building the rule of law. President's Karzai's speeches are liberally salted with promises to reform the legal system and tackle corruption.

Afghan fighters (file photo) The Taliban understands that a key way to win Afghans' hearts and minds is to provide them with the justice they so desperately desire. It does so by setting up mobile courts, delivering a very rough and ready justice, but one that is often preferred to the arbitrary rule of local commanders. And Western governments have spent billions on rule of law reforms, with little tangible impact.

So with this apparent unanimity on the need for the rule of law, why in Afghanistan do the powerful continue to abuse the weak with near total impunity?

The answer is that the purported commitment is largely in name only. True rule of law requires laws that are public, clear, and apply equally to everyone. It needs government officials who accept that they are subject to the law. It requires reasonably fair, competent, and efficient courts, prosecutors and police who respect the presumption of innocence and due process. It needs judges who are reasonably independent and impartial, and have the confidence in their safety to properly perform their jobs.

But the reforms necessary to achieve all this present an existential threat to the power of the ruling elite in Afghanistan.

Building the rule of law involves challenging vested interests at the highest levels of the government. It is far more a political exercise than a technical one. Many Afghan power holders -- from President Karzai downwards -- benefit from a patronage based system. It enables them to buy and maintain loyalty. Corruption is an integral part of such a system.

It's not just corruption that thrives in such an environment.  Equal treatment by the law requires that those who have committed atrocities against their people be held accountable for these crimes. Failure to do so promotes a climate in which the powerful continue to commit abuses with impunity. But in Afghanistan those responsible for grave human rights abuses continue to occupy positions of power.

These include officials like Vice Presidents Mohammad Fahim and Karim Khalili, who face credible accusations of war crimes or crimes against humanity during the brutal civil war. They also include a generation of post-Taliban leaders -- such as the Minister of Tribal and Border Affairs, Asadullah Khaled, as well as powerful provincial governors allied to Western forces -- accused of serious human rights violations since 2001. A report soon to be released by the Afghan human rights commission -- if not blocked by the government -- will document many of the past crimes.

View of the shell of the "Large Buddha" and surrounding caves in Bamyan. The Buddha statue in this cave as well as in another - both dating to the sixth century A.D. - were frequently visited and described over the centuries by travelers on the Silk Road. Both statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. (photo: CIA World Factbook)International intervention encouraged and promoted this impunity by returning to power warlords and commanders. Influential international actors continue to rely on alliances of convenience with these abusive power holders to promote perceived stabilization goals.

Meanwhile the Taliban also preys on the local population, and subjects those it is purporting to liberate from foreign occupation to horrendous abuses, including suicide bombings, assassinations and the use of civilians as human shields.

For Afghans, the tragic result is that today's reality is not much different from that of the last thirty years, and their lives are still dominated by powerful men with guns.

Achieving accountability is not a question of naïve aspiration: the culture of high-level impunity must be challenged, as failure to do so will undermine all other rule of law efforts and perpetuate an environment in which conflict will flourish. 

The culture will not change until some of those responsible for the worst abuses against the Afghan people are prosecuted.

The best option would be for the government itself to pursue some of these abusers. This would increase its legitimacy in the eyes its people and would send a clear warning to those in authority and to those seeking to do deals with the government who believe they can continue to kill with impunity. It would also undermine one of the claimed attractions of the Taliban -- that it provides harsh, but fair, justice where none otherwise exists.

Unfortunately, there is no prospect of the government providing high-level justice.

The Karzai administration has consistently opted for expediency over principle when it comes to accountability, most notably in enacting a law giving amnesty to former warlords. Most international actors have been largely silent on this law. In fact, it appears that a desire for a quick exit by NATO countries may have stifled all discussion of the critical need to link reconciliation with accountability and to tackle Afghanistan's longstanding culture of impunity.

But expediency will not promote stability, and a failure to build the rule of law will lead to more instability, not less. It will also ensure that Afghan power holders - government and Taliban alike - continue to commit abuses that shock the conscience of the international community and fuel the very instability that led, a decade ago, to such a costly international  intervention.

Nick Grono is the Deputy President of the International Crisis Group. Originally published by Foreign Policy

Wednesday
Jan112012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - JANUARY 11, 2012

(PHOTO: Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander; Princess Maxima of the Netherlands visit the Sheikh Al Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 8 January 2012. Patrick van Katwijk) Afghanistan 

A rare sign of hope in Afghanistan

Afghanistan signs oil contract with Chinese giant

Antigua & Barbuda 

Lovell Says No Early Elections

Argentina 

Little relief in sight for Argentina due to climate

American Samoa 

Hospital woes top American Samoa legislature agenda

Australia

Council struggles to lure more doctors-town's only doctor threatens to leave

Reports of doctors blaming Australian women's behaviour for rupturing breast implants

Bahrain 

Bahrain Court Cases Resume For Doctors, Anti-Government Protesters

(PHOTO: In Venezuela a jail riot leaves 5 people dead. EPA)Belarus

Belarus Erects New Online Barriers

Belarusian Activist, Journalist Jailed

Belgium

Belgium Satellite Services and Intersat Announce Strategic Tie-in to Expand into the Middle East and Africa (Press Release)

Belize

Wholesale vendors get their own market

Bolivia

More than 85% of Bolivia's bilateral debt is held by Venezuela

Indigenous People in Bolivia Resume March for Tipnis

Bosnia-Herzegovinia

Witness in Karadzic trial describes killing of 1,000 Muslims

(PHOTO: Islam and Christianity - Young Muslims, many from Somalia, walk the streets of Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood near the meeting place of a Church of Christ. ERIK TRYGGESTAD)Botswana

'Loop' usage by women explodes - Ministry of Health

Brazil

Southern Brazil's Drought Dings Corn, Threatens Beans

Brunei Darussalam

Brunei Prince on official visit to Sinpagore 

Cameroon

Cameroonians returning to Nature’s packaging

Canada

Canada welcomes Cuban reforms on eve of tour by Harper's Latin America minister

Under 16 too young for snowmobiles, doctors say (Video)

China

China, US to Discuss Iran, Trade Imbalance

China's Wen to visit key Mideast energy powers, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates & Qatar this weekend

How the West is wholly missing China's geopolitical focus (Perspective)

Colombia

Bolivian crowned Colombia's new Coffee Queen

Congo (DRC)

(PHOTO: The three-part documentary “Fleeing Carthage” recounts the dramatic moments that led to the ouster of former Tunisian president Zine El Abedine Ben Ali. AL ARABIYA) Jillian Michaels: I’ve Been Matched with a Little Girl

Croatia

Croatia gets third biggest private hospital in Europe

Cuba

Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The Best President For The United States (Is a Quantum Computing Robot)

US satisfied with Cuban oil platform safety in Gulf of Mexico  

Ten years of Guantanamo - and no end in sight (Perspective)

Cyprus

Doctors in court for Legionnaires’ baby deaths

Dominican Republic

Haiti president prioritizes balance in Hispaniola 

Egypt

Egypt presents food and logistic assistance to Djibouti

El Salvador

Election Campaign Starts in El Salvador

UN investigator who revealed Iran's "Baha'i Question" memorandum dies aged 93

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea President Makes Visit To Zimbabwe

(PHOTO: Fidel Castro offers his idea of a US Presidential pick. GIZMODO) Estonia

Estonia Foreign Minister to Visit Tajikistan

Ethiopia

Diageo buys Ethiopian brewer Meta Abo for £146m

Falkland Islands

Malvinas recovery for Argentina must become a “Chilean cause”, says former minister

Fiji

Russia’s Lavrov expected in Fiji next month

Extra hours for doctors

Finland

Putting foreign doctors to work (Perspective)

Germany

Hospital doctors ready to strike for better pay

Grenada

Grenada "days away" from national strike

Grenada PM among attendees at Toronto man's funeral

Guatemala

Guatemalans' STD lawsuit invalid, U.S. argue

Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau opposition reject interim president 

Haiti

President Declares January 12th 2012 National Holiday

India

(PHOTO: Polar Bear Clubs in Uzbekistan shut down. RFE) Sailors back home after 11 months in captivity

U.S. Shelves H-1B Visa Talks With India

Thailand PM to be India's chief guest at Republic day parade 

Three fake doctors arrested

Over 350 doctors attend medical meet

Kore wins at Chennai Open chess to join leaders

Indonesia

Doctors turn away bird flu victim

Third Man Dies From Bird Flu in Indonesia

(PHOTO: In Indonesia, Xia Aimei’ tells the story of a Chinese girl’s escape from sexual slavery in Jakarta. Falcon Pictures) Jakarta’s Dark Underbelly, Through Foreign Eyes (Film)

Iran

Iranian nuke scientist killed by magnetic bomb

163 Iranian nationals held in Thailand’s prisons

Iraq

Fallujah babies: Under a new kind of siege (Video)  

Ireland

Minister for Children travels to Vietnam for adoption talks

System of recruiting foreign doctors defended

Irish Minister in UAE business talks

Israel

Israel, Cyprus sign defense agreements - reports

Ivory Coast

France 24:  First-ever video proof documenting murder of suspected Gbagbo militants (Video)

Japan

First Korean member in Japan's Cabinet

Bulk of tsunami debris from Japan expected in 2013; multiple fields of wreckage reported in Pacific Ocean 

Kenya

Al Shabaab sold Doctors Without Borders hostages to pirates?

Fear and faith: As Kenya battles terrorists, church looks to take the Gospel to its increasingly Muslim neighborhood

(PHOTO: In Nairobi, he African Heritage House overlooking the great, still plain of Nairobi National Park, is both a trove of a continent’s aesthetic richness & a mausoleum of its extinct wonders. KUWAIT TIMES)Keeper of Africa’s lost art

Kosovo

Women in Politics, Women in Public Service: Kosovo has the youngest female President in the world

Kuwait

Kuwaiti Amir Receives Letter from Tunisian President

Kuwait’s students to solve world’s problems using Microsoft technology

Kyrgyzstan

Turkey first official trip abroad for Kyrgyz leader

Human right defender Azimzhan Askarov goes on termless hunger strike in Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Lao leader urges stronger relations with Vietnam

Laos upgrades golf course to economic zone  

Liberia

$24.9 Million IFAD Loan to Liberia to Revitalize Cocoa and Coffee Production Sectors

China Promises More Support for Educational Sector

(PHOTO: In Pakistan, Bill Gates offers to help with Microsoft prodigy's healthcare costs. MICROSOFT) Libya

Zambia reneges on Libya’s LAP Green Network deal

Madagascar

Madagascar: the challenge of child-friendly schools

Malawi

Malawi judicial strike shuts down courts

Shake-up at Reserve Bank of Malawi

Malaysia

Kazakhstan Keen On More Trade With Malaysia In Promising Sectors

Mexico

Guatemalan refugees cleared out of camp in Mexico, NGOs say

Mongolia

Mongolian music conquers the world 

Morocco

Maroc Telecom begins Morocco-Spain cable laying

Namibia

Namibia Lose Legal Battle to Oust Burkina Faso from Africa Cup of Nations

New Zealand

Machine turns doctors into surgeons

Doctors face tighter rules in bid for recertification

(PHOTO: Iconic photo taken June 8, 1972, shows Kim Phuc, running down a road near Trang Bang after a South Vietnamese Air Force napalm attack. Phuc will be at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California 1/19. Nick Ut/AP)Nicaragua

Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega begins new presidential term

Ahmadinejad travels to Nicaragua after defending Iran’s nuclear program in Venezuela

Nigeria

Finding Solution to Clashes Between Herdsmen and Farmers

Doctors take medicare to protest ground in Lagos

Pakistan

Dr. Jamal’s killing in Peshawar:  Provincial Doctors Association protest enters second of three day strike

Doctors trying their best to save Pakistani Microsoft child prodigy

Bill Gates offers to bear Aarifa’s medical expenses in US

Ready to rule Pakistan again: Pervez Musharraf (Video)  

Peru

Peru fire leaves hundreds homeless (Video)

Philippines

'It's not fun in Switzerland' (or why new Philippines DOT slogan works)

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico governor approves proposed referendum on cutting size of island legislature

(PHOTO: Rahul Puranic, Indian crew member of hijacked Italian oil tanker Savina Caylyn is greeted by his 4 yr-old daughter & wife on his arrival at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai on Tuesday. Vivek Bendre)Qatar

Royal Princess of Thailand tours Qatar Foundation

Russia

Venezuela: Country of Great social missions (Perspective)

Rwanda

“We Are At a Critical Moment in our Economy” says private sector

Samoa

Samoa and the question of Tokelau 

Saudi Arabia

Turkey: 6-year Ban Lifted On Exports Of Poultry Products To Saudi Arabia

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone set to deregulate international telecom gateway

Rebranding Sierra Leone: The Nation’s Saving Grace

Somalia

TV journalist held without charge in Somaliland

South Africa

Giant Footprint of God Video

Suriname

Suriname President Mr Bouterse wrong choice for Caricom chairman (Perspective)

Swaziland

Lack of bandwidth causes problems for MTN 3G network

Over 34,000 Swazi men circumcised

HIV+patients in a dilemma

Woman accused of poisoning in-laws

Switzerland

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is in Geneva, Switzerland Today for a Fundraiser

Occupy the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (Perspective)

Syria

United States awaits new draft resolution on Syria from Russia at UN

(PHOTO: Syrian Art Exhibition showcasing art from the uprising opens at the British Museum) British Museum showcases Syrian artists’ take on art, politics and brutality

Observing the Observers (Perspective)

Taiwan

Nuclear power a key issue for Taiwan polls

Taiwan needs to step up electoral reforms: foreign observers

Young Taiwan Voters Concerned about Economy (Video)

Beijing takes Taiwan off watch list after food scare

Taiwan's investment environment 3rd in world: BERI

Snarky Tofu Rob Schneider Love’s Taiwan

Joseph Ambro

Tajikistan

Uzbekistan Cuts Gas Supplies to Tajikistan

Tajikistan Considers Iran as Strategic Partner

Tanzania

Rural telecom market holds the key to growth in Tanzania

48 Tanzanian Microfinance Institutions Adopt Code of Conduct

Regional Commissioner underlines Dar, Beijing bilateral ties

Iran, Tanzania sign cultural cooperation agreement

(PHOTO: Funny man US Comedian Rob Schneiders stumps for Taiwan. Joseph Ambro)Thailand

Thailand's 32 provinces declared cold disaster zones, say officials

Active year ahead for Thai bonds

Chinese brewers Tsingtao to open plant in Thailand

The Netherlands

Khat banned in the Netherlands

Togo

Fuel crisis in Togo?

Tobacco taxes up in Togo

Tokelau

Phishing economy: Why tiny Tokelau is 3rd largest country domain

Tonga

Tonga's king blocks arms amendment act

Tonga police seek three men over armed robbery

Apple CEO Tim Cook Made More Than Twitter Last Year and tied the GDP for Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago PM to visit Kolkata

Tunisia 

Another Tunisian dies of self-immolation in employment protest, 1 year after Ben Ali ouster after a fruit-seller's self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring 

Prime Minister's New Media Appointments Cause Controversy

Tunisia - FM meets German counterpart

Tunisia joins UN Democracy Fund

(PHOTO: Tunisian singer Amani Al Suwaisi who was attacked in Tunisia. Albawaba)Singer Amani Al Suwaisi assaulted in the streets of Tunisia

Al Arabiya’s ‘Fleeing Carthage’ recounts last hours of former Tunisian regime

Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos Government Appoints Five New Permanent Secretaries

Turkey

Turkey angry after Danish court leaves Kurd TV on air

Imprisoned journalists publish own newspaper

Turkey vows to thwart Syrian civil war

Turkey will continue to impose its 8-point sanctions against France – Turkish PM 

Tunisian FM Abdessalam to visit Turkey 

Turkmenistan

Incumbent President Vows To Make Turkmenistan 'Industrial Power'

Turkmen Schoolteacher Says Presidential Candidacy Rejected

Empty TV broadcast centre

Tuvalu

As Tuvalu Readies for King Tide Season, a Swell is an Unwelcome Harbinger

Uganda

Uganda: Police Shut Down Three More Broadcast Stations

Ugandan journalist committed to High Court for treason

Officials Meet On Food Insecurity

Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) To Strike over Interest Rates

Uganda is left with fewer than 5000 doctors and no strategic plan to retain them

Male Organ Size: Homosexuality, Economy and Uganda's Domestic Relations Bill (Perspective)

Ukraine

Ukraine mulling revision of tariffs for some goods with WTO

Ukraine angered by Russia’s Onishchenko remarks over quality of produce

Expert: UAH 40-50Billion needed for development of agricultural market in 2012

(PHOTO: Chinese brewers Tsingtao to open plant in Thailand. TSINGTAO) Ukraine continues healthcare reform

Ukraine to start commercial production of shale gas by 2015

Implementation of innovative technologies starts in Ukrainian schools

United Arab Emirates

Dubai announces solar park for clean energy

UAE clarifies citizenship rules for children of naturalized Emiratis

UAE second top performing economy in Arab world

Emirates in expansion mode

UAE banks may refinance rather than repay debt

Queen Beatrix, princess Maxima put on headscarf for mosque visit

UAE: Dutch Queen Tours Jebel Ali Port

Man arrested with 5kg of crystal meth in hotel room

Parents urged to use car seats for children

Start-up hopes to help UAE businesses lost in translation

Used computers from Emirates Post to be refurbished for underprivileged

Abu Dhabi blasts rumours it is to axe UAE horror film

(PHOTO: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mohan Padmanabhan THE HINDU)Taj of the Abu Dhabi — It doesn’t get grander than this

United Kingdom

New 101 police number rolled out

UK To Grant Scotland Binding Independence Vote

Scottish supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol, says top doctor

UK Recommends Two Drink-Free Days Per Week

Study: UK Nurses Lack Compassion, Skills

Intel exploring ways to help Stephen Hawking speak

British Embassy in Vietnam hoists Olympic flag

Most U.K consumers go online to buy holiday gifts

UK's Two Main Political Parties Back GMOs And The US Agenda

Migration IS killing off jobs: 160,000 Britons have missed out on employment because work was taken by foreigners (Perspective)

United States

Iranian-American death sentence confirmed: US

Fannie Mae CEO to resign

Middle TN doctors, researchers, activists pursue the end of AIDS

US Seriously Concerned Over Tibetan Self-Immolations

US probes alleged hacking by India spy unit

(PHOTO: British Ambassador Antony Stokes & Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports & Tourism Ho Anh Tuan at the flag hoisting ceremony in Vietnam. Vietnam Net) Hollywood's Tunisian Film Festival marks Arab Spring anniversary

University of Wyoming Offers Reduced Tuition to Tunisian Students

Social media and the US presidential race (VIDEO)

US firm KKR seeks to bond with Pacific Brands

A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs

Uruguay

New Records Set by Heatwave in Uruguay

Uruguay Increases Minimum Wage Next Year

Uzbekistan

Uzbek Fun Police Shut Down Winter Swimming Club

Vanuatu

Vanuatu joins the World Trade Organization

Vanuatu sets up fish processing plant in joint venture with China

Vanuatu Government to establish new industrial zone

Concern over infant formula use in Vanuatu

(PHOTO: Transparency Vanuatu says payments based on aid funds should be made public. Phillip Capper]Spotlight on Vanuatu's ambassadors over aid deals

Vanuatu government profile

Vanuatu Roving Ambassadors Contract Leaked

Vanuatu women's soccer coaches learn the ropes

Vatican City

Vatican receives final report on US women religious lives 

Venezuela

Venezuela closes chapter on compensation to Exxon Mobil

5 dead in Venezuela jail riot

Vietnam

Vietnam prepares to better protect its S. China Sea claims

Vietnam police confiscate wild tiger carcass from Hanoi restaurant where it was being boiled

Vietnam women with massive tumors recover after surgeries 

Made in Vietnam wind towers face anti-dumping lawsuit

Vietnam's First Weapon Museum Opens To Public

Vietnam trial begins of teen accused of killing to play video games

Inside The Vietnam ETF (VNM) - Leveraged ETFs

City of Hanoi Selects Echelon and ElcomTek to Deploy Vietnam's First Smart City Street Light Control System

Vietnam Napalm Survivor Kim Phuc to Speak at Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, California

Western Sahara

US Congressional Action Spurs State Dept to Break Western Sahara Deadlock (Perspective)

Yemen

Yemen’s Government Approves Expanded Amnesty Deal for Saleh

Explosion stops output at small Yemen oil field

Yemen unearths Paleolithic sites

Institution Revolution Expanding in Yemen

Zambia

Zambia: Former Diplomat Calls on West to Engage Iran Through IAEA

State to open up airwaves for private investment

Cabinet to meet over Online publications

China buy vehicles for Zambia

U.S Calls for More Grant Applications

Africard arrives in Zambia #payments

MTN goes green in Zambia

Zimbabwe

India to offer Zimbabwe $100m credit

Zimbabwe teachers strike for more pay

(PHOTO: Infectious: More than 165 wild animals including 88 hippopotamuses have died amid an outbreak of anthrax in Zimbabwe. DAILY MAIL) Anthrax outbreak claims lives of more than 165 wild animals in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Utility Moves to Expand Pre-Paid Consumer Meter Program

Chinese have become unwelcome guests in Zimbabwe because of bad labour practices (Perspective)

WORLD:

Battle set for internet domain names

Meet the Heroic Women Who Sparked the Arab Spring 

UN Ratifies Zero Tolerance for Blue Helmets

Why Latin America Calls on Philosophers (Perspective)

At the Crossroads of Sustainability: A Conversation with Bill Ryerson

A Solar Solution for Africa’s Mobile Problem

SA assumes UN Security Council presidency; Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo start two-year terms on the council

(PHOTO: Meet the heroic women of the Arab Spring. PALESTINE NOTES)

Wednesday
Jan042012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - JANUARY 5, 2012

Afghanistan 

UN Helps Uzbekistan to Equip Border with Afghanistan

Argentina 

(PHOTO: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Mt Holyoke)Argentine president fine after thyroid cancer surgery

Saudia Arabia's buy 30,000 acres of prime land in Argentina

Australia 

The Melbourne filmmaker, the topless Ukrainian feminists and a brush with the KGB

Bahamas

Standing out from her peers

Bangladesh 

2 Bangladeshi workers die in UAE after falling from hotel  

Botswana 

Botswana nurses eye Namibian jobs

Bulgaria 

Bulgarian Nationalist Party Stops Newspaper, TV Station May Follow Suit

Cambodia 

Thailand, Cambodia agree to implement World Court border order

Chile

(PHOTO: Torres Del Paine, Patagonia. RANDOM FACT)Patagonian wilderness devastated as fire sweeps through Chile’s Torres del Paine

China 

In Chinese trading town, disputes and strains fuel mistrust of India

(PHOTO: China's Vertu `Year of the Dragon' edition phone. VERTU) Vertu's Year of the Dragon phone has roaring price

Christmas Island 

Detainees tell of Christmas Island punishment

Aussie PM Julia Gillard denies tough asylum seeker punishment move

Colombia 

Colombia receives $3.78B in remittances

Comoros

Comoros jails Muslim leader over booze bribe bid

Congo (DRC)

In DRC, Tshisekedi Asks for Protection, UN Tells Him Kabila Is In Change

In DRC, France’s RFI suspended over elections coverage

Congolese Plea for Conflict-Minerals-Free iPhone

Giving Congo's child soldiers a second chance

NBA Players Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Fan’s Look

Cook Islands 

Cook Islands fishing company fears Taiwan deal

(PHOTO: The Korgan Hotel in Yiwu in southern China, where two Indian traders were held in detention for two days. THE HINDU)Costa Rica 

100,000,000 Text Messages Sent During Holiday Season

British backpacker accused of murder in Costa Rica

Croatia 

Croatia prepares to join the world wine battle

Cuba

Cuban chess players well positioned in the global ranking

Nordic Brigade of Solidarity Visits Cuban Town

Cyprus

Turkey demands KKTC involvement in Cyprus talks

El Salvador

(PHOTO: Protestors arrest in El Salvador. PRENSA LATINA) Dozens of Demonstrators Arrested in El Salvador 

Ethiopia

The Film Oblivion: How Abduction for Marriage Ended in Ethiopia

New Ethiopian AIDS plan needs men (Perspective)

Falkland Islands

Argentina Ratifies Sovereignty Over Malvinas Islands

(PHOTO: Sappers Hill Corral, the large stone-walled corral, a Falklands’ landmark, remains behind minefield fences. MERCOPRESS)Falklands’ “land release” demining phase begins next week with 18 Zimbabweans

Fiji

UK calls for public dialogue on a new constitution for Fiji

France

French Foreign Minister to Visit Tunisia on January 5th

Gay Tunisian man fears being deported from France

Gaza and West Bank

Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh Visits Tunisia

Germany

IDB, Germany to continue to offer development aid to Yemen

Oxfam criticises production of bananas and German Supermarkets 

Guam

GTA TeleGuam Airs Top Asian Networks

Guatemala

Iran’s president adds Guatemala to his tour of four Latin American countries

Guyana

Rural Guyana should get top priority in the planning corridors of Georgetown (Perspective)

Haiti

(PHOTO: Haiti Ambassador Duly Brutus, today assumed the Chair of the OAS Permanent Council for the next 3 months (right), taking over from the Permanent Representative of Guyana, Ambassador Bayney Karran. OAS) Haiti Assumes Chair of OAS Permanent Council

Haiti: From Displacement Camps to Community (Perspective)

Honduras

Unusual heavy rains hit Honduras

Hungary

Hungary’s New Constitution Lacks Rights For Gays, Bans Gay Marriage

India

4-day meet in city to focus on Persian culture

India, Tunisia to take forward MSME co-operation

Hotels Beware of Mixed Olive Oil

Indian businessmen manual to be published in the UAE

“Security wise, we are dependent on Sri Lanka” – Indian External Affairs Minister

Indonesia

Indonesia enjoys relations with almost all UN member states: FM

Iran

Turkey's FM in Iran for talks on nukes, Syria

(PHOTO: A new report says all Italian olive oil, isn't. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH) Iran: Tractor exports up 154%

Ahmadinejad will travel to Tajikistan in Noruz (Persian New Year)

Iranian photographer wins top prize at Slovenian contest

Ireland

Fall in asylum seekers linked to recession and tougher controls

Italy

'Four out of five' bottles of Italian olive oil debased - report

Ivory Coast

Cote d'Ivoire president meets Chinese FM on bilateral ties

Jamaica

Jamaica's first female PM set for office

Japan

Japan and China still at odds over islands (Video)

Japan Fights Virus With Virus

Jordan

(PHOTO: In the UAE, Iran sanctions are impacting traders in marketplaces and souks. THE NATIONAL) Gov't to hold conference on online media regulation 

Kyrgyzstan

Ethnic Kyrgyz Have Trouble Gaining Citizenship In Kyrgyzstan

Laos

PTT increasing investment in green business

Lithuania

Lithuanian office suppliers shun crisis, spur eco-product sales

Macau

Home for Autistic want tertiary college

Malaysia

(PHOTO: Ukraine holidaymakers Sergei (right) extending his gratitude to a Fire & Rescue Services Department officer for the assistance provided as Tanya and Igor look on. THE BORNEO POST) Ukraine holidaymakers safe on shore after ‘little adventure’

Maldives

Government lifts week-long ban on resort spas, massage parlors

Malta

Malta signs bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia

Mauritania

Man of the Year 2011 in Mauritania

Emir of Qatar expected Thursday in Nouakchott  

Morocco

PJD leads new Moroccan government

Mozambique

Argentine institute to work with Mozambique’s agricultural sector

Myanmar

Burma Celebrates Independence Amid Criticism

Myanmar celebrates 65th independence day

Billionaire George Soros visits Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon

Namibia

Internet Fraud Cons the Country Out of N$3,5 Million

New Caledonia

New Caledonia government okays new air fares

(PHOTO: Ukraine asks for $9 bln gas discount from Russia to form joint transit consortium. RIA NOVOSTII)New Zealand

North Avocado growers face disaster (Perspective) 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua pursues loan with Venezuela to prevent higher electricity rates

Nigeria

Nigeria’s Archbishop of Abuja Dismisses Civil War Reports

Social Media Ginger Subsidy Protests

Norfolk Island

Air New Zealand to operate Norfolk Island flights

Norway

(PHOTO: The Black Sea © Flickr.com/Hans Dekker)Norway’s Statoil discovers one more oil field in North Sea

Pakistan

Pakistan-Tajikistan Discuss Electricity Exports

Papua New Guinea

Copper Drives Papua New Guinea Island’s Independence Movement

Paraguay

Paraguay Returns Land to Indigenous Peoples of Northern Chaco

Peru

Peru deemed better-positioned in LatAm to face global crisis

Barclays: Peru Needs Systematic Solution to Social Conflicts

(PHOTO: The Dakar Road Rally makes its way through South America.) Dakar Rally places Peru in the spotlight

Philippines

Philippines senator wants more disaster preparedness

Royal Dutch Shell donates $1M for Sendong relief, rehab operations

Poland

Poland orders more Kongsberg missiles from Norway

Qatar

Qatari PM, Ban Ki-Moon discuss US-Iran rhetoric about Gulf, Syria crisis 

Qatar- Drastic cut in carbon emission

Russia

Russian fuel tanker under way for ice-encrusted Nome, Alaska

Tons of scrap to be transported from Russian Arctic in 2012

Saint Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts-Nevis Moves Closer to Green Energy Goals

(PHOTO: In Korea, robots are now being used to control prisons. YONHAP)Saudi Arabia

Renewed Protests Defy Ban

Saudi poets slam ‘plague’ of extremism and poverty in Million’s Poet show

Seychelles

Chinese Troops In Seychelles (Analysis)

Sierra Leone

Youth Ambassador, entreprenuer Anthony Navo elected as Chairman of AWOL in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: Communities Divided Over Mining in Rainforest (Perspective)

Singapore

Singapore Poly transforms classrooms into work spaces

Slovenia

Slovenian court: referendum challenging same-sex ‘marriage,’ adoption law can proceed

(PHOTO: In Singapore, Singapore Poly is using technology to turn classrooms into schools. Singapore POLY) Somalia

Parliamentarians elect new speaker after fist-fight session

Crisis in Somalia: PM Mohamed Ali & his wife speak out

How a Somali rapper became the 'Face of Africa' 

South Africa

SA assumes UN Security Council presidency for second time

Unclear if Mandela will be at ANC party

South Korea

S. Korea adds cyber-security to defense plan

Robots Patrol South Korean Prisons at Night

South Korea’s SK Energy to buy more Iran oil in 2012

Cities of the Future: Songdo, South Korea – Episode 1 (By Cisco)

South Sudan

South Sudan's President Pledges Commitment to Resolve Conflict in Jonglei State

WFP Concerned By Violence In South Sudan

One Year Anniversary of South Sudan Referendum (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Aerial view of Kalma refugee camp in Darfur, Western Sudan. RADIO DABANGA)Spain

How Spain’s version of SOPA is setting the web on fire

Spain Launches Some of the Strongest Anti-Piracy Laws

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka expresses concern over France’s postal service publishing 4 stamps featuring Tamil Tigers

Sri Lanka to conduct population census in March

Private company to develop the Sri Lanka's renewable energy industry

Sri Lanka 4th Best Economy in the World in 3rd quarter 2011, says report

Sri Lankan Hospitals to Go Paperless

Sri Lankan bank connects its 500th ATM (Press Release)

Sudan

Sudan, South Sudan to Resume Talks on Abyei in Addis Ababa

UN Seeks Access to War-Torn Sudanese States

Kalma refugee camp: no food aid for three months, 15 days

(PHOTO: Sudan shuts a third newspaper, The CItizen. AFRICA REVIEW) Sudan shuts third newspaper in media crackdown

Svalbard and Jan Mayen

Website created for polar bear attack inquiry

Swaziland

Coca-Cola urged to abandon Swaziland’s King Mswati III

Government Makes Small Loans for Young Entrepreneurs to Help Fight Crisis

Poorly performing schools to be under scrutiny

Most nabbed drunk drivers unmarried

Sweden

(PHOTO: Troubled Swedish carmaker Saab may have suitors in India, Turkey)Investors from India, Turkey could still save Saab

Filesharing Now a Religious Practice in Sweden

Gun laws may be tightened: minister

Switzerland

Switzerland's central bank chief accused of insider trading

Madonna Takes Family And Brahim Zaibat Skiing In Switzerland [PHOTOS]

Syria

Syria accuses US of interfering in Arab affairs

Syria, Iran to boost Agricultural Cooperation

Syrian National Council launched its official website

Taiwan

(PHOTO: A mass cycling event, “One Bike One,” in honor of the Taiwanese Republic's anniversary took place on Dec. 31. CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY) Taiwanese Set New Guinness Record for Their Anniversary

Taipei city government to expand Wi-Fi network of free access to Internet

Taiwan sparks up electric bike promotion efforts

Taiwan media regulator wants less Korean content on TV

A First Look at Conde Nast’s WIRED Taiwan

Taiwan's IT wizards turn to the movies

Taiwanese Engineers Arrested For Selling Intel Chips On eBay

Taiwan Mobile expects higher smartphone purchases in 2012

Taiwan's machinery exports likely to hit record high in 2011, surpass Italy

(PHOTO: WIRED Magazine gets ready to launch in Taiwan) Freedom differentiates Taiwan, mainland China: says MAC head

Tajikistan

Uzbekistan cuts gas supply to Tajikistan without notification – Tajik Foreign Ministry

Tanzania

20 Somali Migrants Found Dead in Tanzania

Mobile broadband modernisation underway for Tanzanian operator

Vodacom Tanzania says firm injects $100bn for facelift

Communities empowered to probe extractive investors

Govt, donors urged to fund alternative energy

Aid Agenda:  We Need to go Back to the Basics (Perspective)

Thailand

New Year Road Mishaps Kill 314 in Thailand

Flood situation in southern Thailand still critical

Thailand Gets New Banking Policies

Wanted: About half a million more labourers

Transgender airline staff make inaugural flight in Thailand

(PHOTO: The Ravana Robot, an interactive 10-faced robot that can say greetings via QR Code technology in 4 languages - Thai, English, Chinese, Japanese - is an attraction at the Thailand Pavilion. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD)Robots ready to take centre stage at BoI Fair 2011

'Greater Phuket' Chosen for First Jewish Pesach Festival in Thailand

The Arctic

Russian river water affecting the Arctic – AO shift blamed

The Netherlands

Dutch military on board ship with emergency aid for Somalia

Dutch to fund $36.4m Kilimanjaro Airport facelift

Dutch teen sailor nears end of round-the-world voyage

Togo

15 biofuel plants worth N414bn to come afloat

Tunisia

Tunisia Granted Membership to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

McDonald’s Announces to Set Up New Franchises Soon in Tunisia

(PHOTO: At Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Dutch investment will upgrade the airport. INSIGHT MAGAZINE) International Day of Internet Freedom – A Tunisian Initiative

Turkey

India’s Aditya Birla to invest US$500m in viscose plant in Turkey

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's 'Protector' Registers For Presidential Election

Ashgabat Residents Turn Up Noses At Smelly Artificial River

Tuvalu

Sun risk for albino Islanders

Uganda

Uganda launches investigation into "nodding disease"

Kumi Siamese Twins Pass Away

Hearts star David Obua causes fury in poverty-stricken Uganda by building £500k mansion

(PHOTO: In Turkmenistan residents are dealing with an old, smelly river. RFL) Cancer Institute seeks funds for upcountry units

Uganda fights phone fraudsters with registration of SIM cards

Ukraine

Ukraine starts pumping Azerbaijani oil

Ukraine asks for $9 bln gas discount from Russia to form joint transit consortium

Ukraine recognized one of leaders in global food market last year

Only 8% in Ukraine say foreign policy meets their interests

First power plant using gas from household waste launched in Ukraine

Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko kept under 24-hour camera surveillance with lights permanently ON

Daughter Not Allowed To Meet Jailed Ukraine’s Ex-Premier

United Arab Emirates

UAE business  growth slips

Sanctions put squeeze on UAE's Iran traders

(PHOTO: Mariam Al Safar, the 1st Emirati woman train attendant, at work on the Dubai Metro. GULF NEWS) Relatives of Mangalore air crash victims in the UAE hit out against compensation delay

UAE residential market set for growth

Emirates Airlines to launch Vietnam services in June

UAE University to host international conference on Time

Big Solar and Big Wind to Meet in Abu Dhabi for World Future Energy Summit

Emirati woman train attendant breaks the traditional mould

Auschwitz in gym advertisement, removed

Groupama claims the UAE dash in the Volvo Ocean Race

Dh387,988 club bill goes viral

(PHOTO: The Cavalli Club in UAE. Megan Hirons Mahon XPRESS) Young energy leaders prepare for summit

In the UAE, Shopping Bag Doubles as Grocery List in Promo for Tide

Fossil fuel subsidies making biofuels uncompetitive in UAE (Perspective)

United Kingdom

Archbishops commit to ‘listen to England’ in research to launch twin projects

Microsoft sues U.K. retail chain for pirating Windows

UK consumers gave 1.3m e-readers this Christmas

Call for gun law crackdown after cabbie shoots dead girlfriend and two others

UK youths join gangs to escape abuse at home

£400 Million Later, and All UK Eggs are Free-Range or From "Enriched" Cages

(PHOTO: In the UAE where plastic bags are a concern, product giant Tide tries something new. ADAGE) Offshore Wind Spurs UK Renewables Growth

Apple Interested In Bidding For Premier League UK TV Rights, Says Report

Sex, blood and the status quo (Perspective)

United States

Oil Companies Big Winners as U.S. Becomes Net Exporter of Fuel

US State Department sets up counter-terrorism bureau

US Hispanic Consumers  Holiday Shopped on Their Mobil Devices to The Tune of $5.15 Billion

U.S. Taxpayers Cover Nearly Half the Cost of U.N.’s Global Warming Panel - Report

U.S. Education Spending Compared To The Rest Of The Developed World

NORTH KOREA: Kim Jong Eun transition called 'important opening' for religious liberty focus by The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

Twitter Founder Biz Stone Speaks about Technology and Empathy at Farm Sanctuary gathering

Sign of the Times – A Photo Shows Romney Backing Vietnam Draft

US cancer deaths continue to drop

Double bubble: U.S. twin birth rates soar since 1980

The President of the United States Joins the Instagram Phenomenon

Uruguay

Mark Zuckerberg’s Outrageous Week in Uruguay

Mark Zuckerberg eligió Punta del Este para continuar con sus vacaciones

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan: Police Make Rare Admission of Prison Rapes

Web Use Spirals in Uzbekistan Despite Curbs

(PHOTO: Tajikistan says Uzbekistan will pocket $70M more with increase in transit rates. UZBEKISTAN NEWSWIRE)Uzbekistan spikes transit rates to Tajikistan, Tajik Railways says

Vanuatu

Vanuatu police name NZ businessman’s alleged killer

Fijians appear on rape charge

Venezuela

Inmates Keep 1,000 Family Members from Leaving Venezuela Jails

About 200 Venezuelan women to sue French breast implant company

Venezuela Calls on Senior Citizens to Enroll in Mission

Venezuela to Take Measures to Control Weapons  

Police: 1,150 kidnappings in Venezuela in 2011

Polluted water responsible for the Lake Valencia flooding

Telecoms agency closes 27 radio stations in 10 states in 2011

Vietnam

Vietnam urged to free anti-corruption journalist

Vietnam urged to call up private capital for airports and seaports

InternetQ wins Vietnam's mobile marketing contracts

First bird flu outbreak in Vietnam contained in Hau Giang

Vietnam wins first prize at Asia student film festival 

Vietnam chess ace Liem invited to join 2012 London Olympics Torch Relay

Vietnam’s Development Dilemma – Sustainability or exploitation? (Perspective)

Western Sahara

Pan-African Parliament plans to send delegation to occupied Western Sahara

Ahead of Arab Spring ‘Curve’ in Morocco – US takes ‘Giant Leap’ approving use of aid in Western Sahara (Perspective)

Yemen

The International Federation of Journalists urges Yemeni VP to end harassment against newspaper staff

US aid for Yemeni media institutions discussed

Report: Yemeni prime minister plans Gulf tour

Yemen president not US-bound

(PHOTO: In Yemen, Qat is coming under fire. BIKYA MASR)Yemen’s battle against Qat

Zubair volcano (Jemen, Red Sea): New dramatic video shows volcanic eruption forming new island (VIDEO)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen author Paul Torday: 'The Yemenis said, what’s all this about fish?'

Zambia

India gives Zambia $50 m loan to build health centers

First Quantum suspends production at its copper/gold mine in Zambia due to strike

The Shield of Presidential Immunity

Prisoners suffer eye infections

47 year old Zambian says he has 95 children

Zambia’s C.R.I.$.I.$.rapper invited to attend US Grammy awards

Zambia: Cervical Cancer – ‘A Battle We Can Win’ (Perspective)

Zimbabwe

(PHOTO: Air Zimbabwe airliner. FILE) Again, Air Zimbabwe gets grounded

Serial Rapist Gets 40 Years in Jail

Mystery surrounds diamond ore theft in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Constitution - Drafters Back At Work

Wage Disputes Tense As Firms Reopen

Jobless Nurses - 'Govt Flouting Labour Laws'

'Boeing' Set to Keep You Laughing

WORLD:

BRIC Economic Slowdown Boosts CIVETS Profile

Donors await improved accountability from `Least Developing Countries’ (LDC’s)

Revenue from MENA IPOs down sharply

China and 21 Other Countries to Get iPhone 4S

Asian Social Media Users Create; Western Users Consume [STUDY]

Cussing For Charity – New Twitter App Benefits UNICEF

Climate Change, Migration and Conflict

Tuesday
Jan032012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - JANUARY 4, 2012

Afghanistan 

Triple bombing targets Kandahar police 

Antarctica 

(PHOTO: British scientists have discovered huge colonies of a new species of yeti crab on the sea floor near Antarctica. OXFORD UNIVERSITY)Yeti Crabs & Ghost Octopus! Unique Life Found at 1st Antarctic Deep-Sea Vents

Argentina 

Leaders' illnesses cloud South America's newfound stability

Mistakes cost dear in Third Stage of Dakar Rally

Australia

Clipper Round the World Race - Geraldton Western Australia takes lead 

Bangladesh

Dhaka calls Kathmandu for power 

Brazil

Brazil buys three BAE Ocean Patrol Vessels

(PHOTO: 'Geraldton Western Australia-Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race'. ONEDITION)Burundi

IRRI Releases Two New Rice Varieties In Burundi

Cameroon

Cameroon Villagers Pin Hopes on Diamond Mine

Cambodia 

Ancient City of Angkor may have been ruined by drought

Canada

More than 700 Canadians ‘brrrrrrave’ the cold for charity

Colombia

Colombian team to be disqualified from Dakar Rally

(PHOTO: Czechs held in Zambia Michal Vébr, Jiří Cetel, Jan Coufal. CZECH TELEVISION)Czech Republic

Czechs detained in Zambia return home (Audio)

El Salvador

El Salvador Murder Rate Highest Since End of Civil War

Ethiopia

Ethiopia discovers largest ever gold reserves 

Shell plans oil pipeline construction from South Sudan to Ethiopia 

France

Latin America leads Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Gabon

45 challenges to Gabon's poll results

(PHOTO: In Haiti, some of the Hands Across the Sea students returning to school in 2012. HANDS ACROSS THE SEA) Gaza and West Bank

New bid to broker Middle East talks takes place

Guam

Humanities Council to hold film series on the Micronesian experience on Guam

Guatemala

Violent deaths in Guatemala down in 2011 

Guinea

Donor Assistance Will Reduce Contract Non-Payment Risks Despite Continued Risks of Sporadic Violence

Guinea-Bissau

Navy chief held in Guinea-Bissau after alleged coup attempt

Guyana

Guyanese cargo vessel goes missing after leaving T&T

Haiti

Haiti still recovering from deadly 2010 earthquake

(PHOTO: In the UAE new ID cards are being issued online, rather than at centers. UAE GOV) Iceland

Icelandic President decides not to run for re-election

India 

Chennai youth devises a new method to curb movie piracy

Coal India looks to buy coal assets in South Africa 

Detained Indian traders in Chinese hub are “fearing for their lives”

Indonesia

Indonesia sailors detained for killing Taiwan skipper

Indonesia Leads Southeast Asia With 6.5% Expansion In Q4

Indonesia sees 2012 unmilled rice output up

Iran 

Oil prices soar as Iran warns US aircraft carrier away from Persian Gulf

Iranian currency falls against U.S. dollar on fresh sanctions

(PHOTO: Iran's currency falls on fresh sanctions. GANT DAILY)Ireland

'Undocumented' are being forced to live in fear on margins of Irish society

Israel

Israel and Taiwan ink aviation agreement

Taiwan airlines have no immediate plans to run flights to Israel 

Jerusalem Marathon 2012: A race of nations (Press release)

Ivory Coast

Dry, windy weather darkens Ivorian cocoa outlook

Jamaica

OAS Secretary General Congratulates New Prime Minister of Jamaica 

Jordan

RefugeeLives program establishes mobile network in Jordan

Kazakhstan

South Kazakhstan companies pursue CSR policy

(PHOTO: The Communication Commission of Kenya headquarters along Waiyaki way in Nairobi. ANTHONY KAMAU) Kenya

Kenya Trailblazes in Mobile Money Transfer Services

Kenya to miss June date for digital switch over

Kuwait

New, social media ‘the tool’ of 2012 Assembly elections

Kuwait to build first-ever solar power station

Laos

Passenger Services Restored on Mekong River 

Latvia

Referendum to determine the status of Russian language in Latvia

Lebanon

(PHOTO: In Niger, the RAIN foundation is building community gardens. RAIN) aram, Niger.Lebanon to host U.N. conference on reform in Arab world

Libya

Libya seeks to boost tourism industry (Video)  

Malaysia

More flood victims evacuated in Pasir Puteh, Malaysia

LivingSocial enters Malaysia online shopping market

Maldives

Hotels forced to shut down spas across Maldives

Mali

Mali to give 40,000 tonnes of food to drought victims 

Malta

Malta Airport achieves record 3.5 million passengers in 2011

(PHOTO: New Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, (left, in white), is escorted by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil on his arrival at Tripoli International Airport, Libya. TRIPOLI POST) Marshall Islands

Former senator elected Marshall Islands president

Mexico

Mexico tries to rally its expatriates to vote

Mexico, war crimes and a slippery slope  (Perspective)

Mongolia

President talks past, present, and future at honor assembly 

Morocco

Moroccan king unveils Islamist-led government 

Mozambique

Mozambique to take up production of ARVs

New Mayors Sworn in

Myanmar

Burmese company to launch cheap mobile phone service

In Burmese Chanukah celebration, signs of Myanmar’s openness to the West

(PHOTO: In Uruguay, abortion decriminalization passes in Uruguay Senate LIFESITENEWS)Namibia

Tractor Shortage Delays Ploughing

Nepal

Darfur hearing begins

ADB to provide loan for six water projects in Nepal

New Zealand

New Zealand's "Solar Promise" Becomes Solar Policy

Passport checks find surge in fakes

Niger

Niger's anti-corruption files burn

Charitable trust invests in sustainable agriculture in Niger with RAIN

Nigeria

Fuel subsidy protests spread to Lagos

Reversing the Terrorist Tide in Nigeria: The Need for Smart Power (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Omani adventurer Nabil 'Nabs' Al Busaidi became the first Arab to walk to the magnetic North Pole. AL ARABIYA)Northern Mariana Islands

Election Dispute Brewing in Northern Mariana Islands

Norway

Bible becomes 2011 bestseller in Norway

Oman

Sultanate of Oman hosts GCC Health Ministers meeting tomorrow

New civil identity cards

Oman warns over illegal surveys

Seeb project to enhance greenery in Oman

Omani explorer's North Pole trek hits big screen

Pakistan

Pak-Tajik intertwined in bonds of religion says Pakistan National Speaker

Pakistan, India to start power, petro trade

Nimoo-Bazgo project: Pakistan to take dam dispute to world court

An unforgiveable sin (Perspective)

(PHOTO: The North Face of the Jungfrau Mountain in Switzerland, illuminated to celebrate 100 years. JUNGFRAUBAHN)Panama

Panama's president lambasts media owners for publishing about corruption scandals

Paraguay

Paraguay confirms new foot-and-mouth outbreak 

Peru

Peru to celebrate National Chocolate and Cocoa Day every October 1

Controversy in Peru for Possible Junk Food Tax

Peru’s Central Bank: Poverty Rate Could Drop to 17 Percent by 2016

Philippines

Disease Outbreak in Philippines after floods

Hackers attack Philippine vice president's website

Gov't plans to produce Panama disease-free banana seedlings soon

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: status vote set as crime, unemployment rise

Violence Continues in Puerto Rico After Close of Deadliest Year

Solar energy project in Puerto Rico completes financing, receives modules

(PHOTO: February Vogue 2011, who profiled first lady of Syria Asma al-Assad as a bright light in the Middle East. FROM THE ATLANTIC WIRE) Qatar

Taliban says it will open Qatar office for talks with U.S.

Federer trounces Davydenko in Qatar Open

Romania

Romania catches up on building highways

The number of active operators in Romania's organic farming sector has tripled this year

Romania to Resume Privatization of State-Owned Energy Companies

Rwanda

Rwandan President Visits UAE

A New Kid On the Block Within Telecoms

Innovative Businesses to Instill Entrepreneurship Spirit

Young Motorcyclists Still Cause Most Traffic Accidents

(PHOTO: In Africa kickboxers demonstrate their tactics at their training centre in Nimera Talaata in Juba, South Sudan where the East Africa Kickboxing Championships will take place. GURTONG)Saint Kitts & Nevis 

Solar Power Industries completes new solar installation

Saint Vincent & The Grenadines

Azerbaijani President receives Premier of Saint Vincent and Grenadines (VIDEO) 

Samoa

Samoa begins celebrating 50 years of independence

Samoa paper names PM as Person of Decade

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia arrests foreigner for celebrating New Year’s with balloons

Libya, Saudi Arabia to Restore Full Relations

Saudi Arabia/Islam-Media: 70% of new media related to Youth, according to Saudi Vice Minister of Culture and Information

Saudi healthcare grads snub private sector jobs

Senegal

Africa's 'most famous' singer N'Dour eyes Senegal presidency

Serbia

Serbian Princess to visit Halifax

(PHOTO: In Kremenchug, Ukraine’s new synagogue suffered its 2nd firebombing in as many months. CHABAD.ORG)Singapore

Greying Singapore taps robots, games in rehab

Singapore Press accuses Yahoo of plagiarism in copyright suit

Singapore's counter-terror success (Perspective)  

Slovakia

Slovaks made 12.5 million mobile phone calls and messages on December 31

South Africa

IMF head set for South Africa visit

Supercomputing: SA back in top 500

South Africa's holiday road death toll exceeds 1000

Controversy Over S. African Rhino Hunting

South Africa Seed Centre to Provide More, Cheaper Varieties

(PHOTO: In Taiwan, a convenience store every 500 meters. TAIWAN NEWS CHANNEL) South Korea

South Korea Lifts Ban On Travel To The North

South Korea hopes for 'new era' for Koreas

Korean mobile app Kakao Talk now sees 1 billion texts sent every day

South Sudan

South Sudanese 'massacred' after fleeing Pibor say reports

Shell eyes possible South Sudan opportunities

South Sudan To Host East African Kickboxing Championship

Spain

Spain selects site for nuclear waste storage

Spain's house prices 'have fallen significantly'

Spain: New Year brings end to bullfighting in Catalonia

New Year tradition of the 12 grapes

Sri Lanka

Lotus Tower will be South Asia’s tallest built in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka brimming with promise (Perspective)

(PHOTO: To these children in Nghe An, Vietnam, schooling is a risky adventure every day. TUOITRENEWS)Sudan

NHRI Condemns Shutting Down Ray Elsha'b Newspaper and Confiscating Its Assets

Sudan upgrading airbase in North Kordofan

Sudan Women's Advisory board 'seeks to improve health among females'

Malaria, bilharzia and filariasis endemic in South Darfur

Sweden

Swine flu victim tells of six-month fight for life

Swaziland

Aggrieved soldiers want to see the king

Security guard threatens ATM users with knife

Some contract teachers not paid in full

Paving Paradise (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Mt Cleveland, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA could be a problem in 2012) Switzerland

Boss of World's Largest Container Shipping Line Maersk, Taken Ill

Chunk of Swiss peak breaks off in massive rockslide

Jungfrau illuminated to celebrate mountain railway centenary

Syria

Syria and Iran Discuss Agricultural Cooperation

Philippine Government seeks Syria’s help with labor trafficking

Syrian state journalist, videographer killed

The Only Remaining Online Copy of Vogue's Asma al-Assad Profile

Taiwan

One convenience store every 500 meters in Taiwan

Taiwan, Germany Ink Agreement to Avoid Double Taxation 

Funds to be raised for East Africa famine relief 

Tanzania

Number of Tanzania Internet users is 5m

Hopes dashed as fuel prices go up

Financial constraints hamper Tanzania's London 2012 Olympic preparation

Lake Zone regions capitalise on sisal growing

(PHOTO: The African ECO-Challenge is taking place in the disputed territory of Western Sahara. MOTORSPORTS.COM)Thailand

Bangkok floods, reducing urban risk in a changing climate

Public debt forecast to rise rapidly on big borrowing

Thailand switches to Euro IV standard for gasoil, gasoline

Logistics sector needs to be prepared for emergencies (Perspective)

The Arctic

Solar charging panel generates call time for test team

The Netherlands

Dutch pension fund puts Walmart, PetroChina on investment blacklist

Tonga

Sending money home crucial for many immigrants

Trinidad and Tobago

Facebook and Trini life

Sabga pleads for efficient importation of pain medication for cancer patients

Former Chamber head backs removal of fuel subsidy in Trinidad and Tobago (Perspective)

Tunisia

Tunisian President on First State Trip Abroad Visits Libya

Tunisia is keen to strengthen relationship with India

Mother Plans Rally to Demand Return of Her Children

'Rouge Parole' by Tunisian director Baccar opens in Theaters On January 4th

Turks and Caicos

Expectation high for new tourism season

Turkey

GCC, Turkey to discuss investment

Tuberculosis still prevalent in Turkey

Tuvalu

DO highlights island migration

Uganda

Gay Activists Lash Out At Nsaba Buturo

Ugandans Abroad Want to Get More Involved in Business

Minister Storms Radio Station, Orders Arrests

Ukraine

Ukraine Synagogue Firebombed a Second Time in Two Months

Activ Solar completes Europe’s largest solar power plant

United Arab Emirates

Emirates Airline buys UK travel agent

UAE Facebook penetration rates among highest globally, while female use in the region lags

Seven new rules in UAE as new year starts

UAE’s Abu Dhabi facing water shortages

Young Future Energy Leaders Program

UAE camel festival features beauty contests, races

Volvo Ocean Race: Telefonica resumes Leg 2 tomorrow

Forecasts differ on the Dubai real estate market

UAE National ID card application and renewal can now be done online

Dubai gets own fog monitoring stations

United Kingdom

Mesothelioma Kills Over 150 Residents of Gwent, England

UK Faces Private Sector Pensions 'Collapse' (Video)

United States

Backgrounder: U.S. presidential nomination process and Iowa caucuses

Latest US military drone features 1.8 gigapixel camera

There's a New Volcano to Worry About, and This Time It's in the USA

Marines fighting mold problem at Parris Island

Congressman Ron Paul on Autism in America

US: Harsh Conditions for Young Lifers (Human Rights Watch report)

30 Statistics That Show The Middle Class Is Dying Right In Front Of Our Eyes (Perspective)

Uruguay 

Abortion decriminalization passes in Uruguay Senate

Uruguay’s citrus industry in the dumps due to rising costs

Uzbekistan 

Armenian Grigoryan to open boxing school in Uzbekistan 

Vanuatu 

Vanuatu’s President to be medi-vacced to Australia

Young players off to Vanuatu

Vatican City 

Vatican agency says at least 26 church workers killed in 2011

Venezuela 

Investment remains stagnant in 2011

Venezuelan TV shows will make it in Hollywood, a firm hopes

Vietnam 

Schooling in Vietnam: a stark contrast (Photos)

Vietnam has fewer than 50 wild tigers left 

Vietnam handbag exports cross US$1bn-mark

Search for missing Vinalines Queen Ship continues, Four days on

Falling home prices in Vietnam a positive development: ministry   

Western Sahara 

CCR: Schlesser keeps Africa Eco Race lead after stage 5

Yemen

Yemen PM to visit GCC countries Saturday to seek support

Yemen: On the Permaculture Map

Zambia 

Soya bean shortage concerns Zambian poultry industry

Diarrhea second leading cause of death in Zambia

Zimbabwe

Workers at Zimbabwe's Shabanie Mine Paid for First Time in Three Years

Growing risk of waterborne diseases in rural areas

Air Zimbabwe suspends flights to London after one of its planes is impounded over unpaid debts

2011 Art Year in Retrospect

China Pledge to Develop Martial Arts Wushu in Zimbabwe

WORLD

Where film is a risky biz

How mobile is reshaping the globe

Meeting food demands

Maggie Padlewska One-Woman Mission to Document Global Voices(PHOTO: Maggie Padlewska interviews Chief Antillano Flaco of Embera Quera Village, Panama, for the pilot documentary of her "One Year One World" project. (Elvin Flaco) EPOCH TIMES)

Monday
Dec262011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/26/11

Afghanistan

High Power consumption the main factor of electricity outage

Canada 

(PHOTO: The provincial government of British Columbia has created a task force team to handle the tonnes of debris from the Japanese tsunami floating in the Pacific Ocean that is expected to hit B.C. shores. US NAVY)B.C. launches task force to manage coming tsunami debris

China 

Asia to be largest corporate, investment banking market by 2015: McKinsey

Congo (DRC)

Capital markets: Burj Capital thrives against the tide

Cuba 

US 'Disappointed' Cuba Will Not Release American Prisoner

Egypt 

(PHOTO: Ismail Haniya, Gaza Strip PM. EPA)Palestinian PM in Cairo

Ethiopia

Egypt deports 93 Ethiopians using the country as a transit stop to reach Israel illegally

Haiti 

Haitian migrants found dead off Cuban coast

Iran 

Iranian diplomats review Islamic awakening in Arab states

Tehran, Tunis Able to Further Develop Relations Far from Sectarian Differences

Iran President underlines development of ties with Africa

Iraq 

Iraq blocks Jordanian trucks heading to Turkey over Syria concerns

Israel 

Israeli gas quests plagued by pirates

Libya 

We are pumping more than a million barrels of oil a day, says Libya

Nepal 

Nepal sets up diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands

Nigeria 

Africa’s Biggest Street Party Takes Centre Stage

Paraguay

Paraguay, stuck in siesta mode, awaits Lugo's exit

Somalia 

Somalia: Protesters march the streets to stop violence aimed at aid workers 

South Korea 

(PHOTO: RIA NOVOSTI)S.Korea: doctors charged over deal with pharmaceutical companies

Spain 

Spain: King Juan Carlos Says Fighting Joblessness Top Priority

Sri Lanka 

Sri Lankan female ex-rebels faces uncertain future

Sudan 

Sudan’s Ancient Civilization: Nubian Kingdoms and the Christian Era

Svalbard and Jan Mayen (Arctic Ocean)

Pack ice breaking up in Svalbard in the arctic north of Norway (PHOTO)

 

Swaziland

Marriage trouble for Mandla Mandela  

Sweden

The tallest revolving door in the world

Busy Christmas weekend for the Swedish police

Syria

Syria Faces a New, Long-Term Phase

Taiwan

Taiwanese banks will back plant restoration in Thailand

More sons in Taiwan get inheritances than daughters: report

Tajikistan

Wheat genetics in Tajikistan could help feed the world

Tanzania

Exposed: Dar lacks disaster response system

Thailand

High waves ravage S. Thailand, thousand affected, tourists marooned

Tonga

Tonga National Population Census 2011; Preliminary Count

Trinidad and Tobago

Business owners crying as shoppers watch their pockets

Tunisia

Tunisian women’s group ATFD wins Simone de Beauvoir award

Turkey

(PHOTO: Turkey's learning disabled students. SUNDAY'S ZAMAN)Learning disabilities often confused with mental retardation in Turkey

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan to hold talks on laying international fiber-optic communication lines

Tuvalu

Anglicans tiding Tuvalu over

Uganda

Hopping mad: Uganda power cuts hit grasshopper harvest

Ukraine

Iran, Ukraine to sign oil contracts

Ukraine and Russia to hold next round of gas talks on Jan 15

Ukraine to produce 36 million tonnes of steel in 2012

United Arab Emirates

DHA: No local emergence of malaria

Most in UAE borrow to splurge, says expert

Dassanayake to embark on talent hunt

United Kingdom

Pen woman swallowed 25 years ago works

UK taxpayers face extra £250m bill for nuclear waste clean-up

The globalised underclass (Perspective)

United States

Hackers target United States security think tank

Child Homelessness on the Rise in the US 

Giant shrimp raises big concern as it invades the Gulf of Mexico

Uruguay

Uruguay to Adapt Agriculture to climate change conditions

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s courts launch fight against corruption

Vanuatu

Nursing School gets educational material from Rotary

Global Fund for Environment Projects Ends Year in Vanuatu

Venezuela

Chavez issues Christmas amnesty to 140 prisoners

Vietnam

(PHOTO: Thailand's `Bubble Woman'. THANH NIEN NEWS) Vietnam’s Bubble Woman to be treated in HCMC 

Vietnam still doesn’t have regulations to treat electronics waste

Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program in Vietnam, yielding positive results

More int’l brands shifting base to Vietnam from China

Yemen

Photos of Yemen’s Deepening Humanitarian Challenges

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh heads to United States after government forces attack peaceful protesters

Zambia

Zambia’s poor still waiting for change after Sata’s 90 days

MTN Zambia launches solar green site

Women for Change launches ‘Zambia We Want Charter’

Zimbabwe

Reform efforts in Zimbabwe move slowly

Medical student wins Face of Zimbabwe pageant

Thursday
Dec222011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/22/2011

Afghanistan

Prince Harry Headed Back to Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Asian women shine in politics

Burundi

(PHOTO: BUJUMBURA TIMES)East African Community push for a political federation loses steam

China

China to Invest $1.5 Trillion in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Ethiopia

Total Ethiopia Inaugurates First Solar Powered Station

Falkland Islands

'Nuclear submarine should be sent to protect Malvinas,' says Former British Sea Lord

Germany

GERMAN POWER: Prompt stable as less wind offset by lower demand

Guinea

The Gulf of Guinea is Now Even More Filthy, 40k Barrels of Oil Leak from Bongo FPSO

Guam

Senators likely to pass Guam Film Office bill

VIDEO: Guam Shipyard's "Big Blue" Still Not Operational; Rival Gulf-Copper Lays Off 72 of Its Local Ship Repair Workers

Iceland

Man Given Three Years for Brutal Violence

India

Less generous:   We need to build a philanthropic culture (Perspective)

BP Solar and India: Unable to Compete in Solar

Iraq

Iraq signs $72 mln power deal with Iran's Sunir

Kazakhstan

Young Kazhaks Prefer to Get Education in Great Britain

Kosovo

Paulina Makes Mark in Kosovo

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Makes Progress on Electricity Sector Reform

Kuwait

(PHOTO: NATIONAL POST) Lingerie market in Muslim countries booming

Myanmar

Myanmar introduces 1st telecommunication service call center

Myanmar Seeks Collaboration With Indian Business Houses

Namibia

Namibia: Local Beef on Chinese Tables

Nepal

Nepal: Facebook diplomat (Perspective)

Pakistan

Pakistani rice exporters losing out to India (Perspective)

Papua New Guinea

Population growth fuels conflict

PNG 'Resource Curse' Site

Historic women’s bill defeated in Papua New Guinea

Poland

Poland adjusting to more secular age

Sierra Leone

Gay rights and aid: Africa's new challenge

Slovenia

Slovenia's Ljubljana Airport sees a decline in passenger numbers this year

Somalia

Somalia Constitutional Conference opens in Puntland capital

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka port handles largest container ship

The Netherlands

Dutch TV hosts 'to cook and eat own flesh' on air

Turkmenistan

IMF advises Turkmens

United Arab Emirates

Dubai International Academy's Good Deed for Africa

United Kingdom

UK responsible for base clean-up (Perspective)

United States

Chinese hackers target U.S. Chamber of Commerce, report says

Uzbekistan

Bitter reality of child labour in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan: Residents Freezing without Gas

Yemen

UN: Yemen Faces Uncertain Future

UNDP grants $15 mln for Yemen's elections

Friday
Aug192011

WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 2011 – `People Helping People’ 

-- Since 2009 the world’s community of nations has celebrated World Humanitarian Day on August 19, as a day dedicated to recognizing humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working in service for humanitarian causes.

This year, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is focusing its attention on the devastating famine crisis in the Horn of Africa; but is also asking the global public for their ideas on how to change the world.  

 

The day is celebrated in honor of the tireless efforts of former UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died August 19, 2003 along with 21 other colleagues in a bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, Iraq.  A national of Brazil, Sérgio Vieira de Mello died at age 55 after dedicating 34 years to the United Nations, international cause issues and bringing peace and comfort to the world’s citizens.  He served fearlessly in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations, and died at age 55 leaving a legacy of peaceful co-existence and awareness of the need for people to help people.

The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation works to remind the world every day that the sacrifice and tragic loss of Vieira de Mello, and all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate effort to relieve the suffering of victims of war and inequity, have not been in vain.

Since 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends have dedicated their lives to continue his unfinished mission by supporting initiatives to promote dialogue for peaceful reconciliation of communities divided by conflict through an annual Sergio Vieira Mello Award, an Annual Sergio Vieira Mello Memorial Lecture, a Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship and advocating for the security and independence of humanitarians worldwide.

People helping people, Sergio Vieira de Mello would be proud.

On this day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon offers this message:

“There is never a year without humanitarian crises.  And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope.  From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.  These humanitarians often brave great danger, far from home.  They work long hours, in the most difficult conditions.  Their efforts save lives in conflict and natural disaster.  They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.

On World Humanitarian Day, we honour these aid workers and thank them for their dedication.  And we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – in Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond.  Too many have died, or suffered their own loss, in the course of duty.  We pledge to do all we can to ensure the world’s humanitarians are kept safe to do their essential work.   This is also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help -- to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship.  Let those we honour today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.”

--HUMNEWS staff

Tuesday
May242011

Tajikistan: The Changing Insurgent Threats (ANALYSIS)

Photo courtesy of ICGby The International Crisis Group

Tajikistan, by most measures Central Asia’s poorest and most vulnerable state, is now facing yet another major problem: the growing security threat from both local and external insurgencies.

After his security forces failed to bring warlords and a small group of young insurgents to heel in the eastern region of Rasht in 2010-2011, President Emomali Rakhmon did a deal to bring a temporary peace to the area. But he may soon face a tougher challenge from the resurgent Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group with a vision of an Islamist caliphate that is fighting in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban.

That conflict is moving closer to the 1,400km Afghan-Tajik border. Many anti-government guerrillas operating in northern Afghanistan are of Central Asian origin and are largely affiliated with the IMU, which seems to be focusing on its fight against the government in Kabul but may at some stage turn its attention northwards. Tajikistan has almost no capacity to tackle a dedicated insurgent force; its efforts to quell problems in Rasht have left its only well-trained counter-insurgency unit with just over 30 fighters.

A decade of increased international attention and aid has failed to make Tajikistan more secure or prosperous. A kleptocracy centred on the presidential family has taken much of the money from assistance and aluminium. Popular discontent over poverty and failing services has been kept in check by repression and an exodus of the dissatisfied as migrant workers. All institutions have been hollowed out, leaving a state with no resilience to cope with natural disasters, economic crises or political shocks.

A new generation of guerrillas is emerging, both within Tajikistan and in the IMU. They are mostly men in their twenties with little memory of the Tajik civil war of 1992-1997. This development has punctured two comfortable assumptions: that the IMU was a forlorn rump of ageing jihadists and that Tajiks were too scarred by the memory of the brutal civil war to turn on the regime. The latter has long been central to the analyses of both the Tajik leadership and many foreign governments.

The secular, Soviet-trained leadership that emerged from the civil war now finds itself dealing with a society increasingly drawn to observant Islam. The regime’s response to this is as inept as its efforts to bring Rasht to heel. Tajiks studying in foreign Islamic institutions have been called home; the government is trying to control the content of Friday sermons and prevent young people from visiting mosques; it has also dismissed some clerics. Officials allege that the main opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party, is becoming increasingly radicalised. Clumsy policies may make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jihadist groups, too, are paying more attention to Tajikistan. Limited infiltration of armed guerrillas from Afghanistan has been taking place for several years. The numbers seem relatively small and their intent unknown. Many pass through to other countries – notably Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Some, however, are probably probing for government vulnerabilities. A small number of fighters from the North Caucasus have also been active in Tajikistan in recent years.

Radicalization by osmosis is growing: Tajikistan is gradually becoming part of the virtual jihad. Islamist websites are paying increasing attention to events in the country. Islamic militants in Tajikistan are adopting tactics already well known in other jihadist struggles, notably in the North Caucasus. In September 2010 the country witnessed what was described as its first suicide bombing. And while most military attention is focused on Rasht, the northern border area of Isfara, not far from Khujand, is developing the reputation of a safe haven for armed militants.

Billions of dollars of drugs pass through Tajikistan en route to Russia and China every year. There is a strong suspicion within the international community that senior members of the ruling elite are protecting the transit of narcotics from Afghanistan. High-level protection is almost certainly undermining international organisations’ attempts to control the border with Afghanistan – efforts that officials involved admit have had very little effect. At a time of growing menace from Afghanistan, the first line of defence is being kept artificially weak.

With the IMU engaged, for now, in Afghanistan, it would be advisable to use whatever breathing space is available to re-evaluate security and aid policies.

China, a silent but crucial player in the region with vital security interests, could usefully be drawn into joint consultations, along with the U.S., Russia and others, on measures to assess the security problems and possible responses.

Bilateral and multilateral donors should examine the utility of providing assistance to a regime that cannot prevent a very significant proportion being lost to corruption. Conditionality should be adopted as the norm. The Tajik government should be put on notice that a failure to address support for the narcotics trade within its own elite will seriously damage its credibility and outside support.

President Rakhmon denies that the North African scenario of popular unrest and revolt could happen in Tajikistan; despite the different circumstances, such confidence is questionable.

Tajikistan is so vulnerable that a small, localised problem could quickly spiral into a threat to the regime’s existence. The speed with which the popular mood can move from passivity to anger was demonstrated not just in the Middle East, but much closer to home, in Kyrgyzstan, in April 2010. Tajikistan is not immune.

- The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. The recommendations by ICG on the above topic can be found  here.

Sunday
May082011

Norway Best Place to be a Mother, Afghanistan Worst - Report (NEWS BRIEF)

A student in Balochistan (بلوچستان) in Pakistan: access to improved education is key to boosting maternal and child health. PHOTO: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS(HN, May 8, 2011) - As Mother's Day is observed today in North America, a new report by Save the Children finds that Norway is the best place to be a mother and Afghanistan the worst.

The United States, meanwhile, comes in at #31 among the 43 developed countries ranked.

The findings are contained in Save the Children's 12th annual Mothers' Index, which analyzes health, education and economic conditions for women and children in 164 countries.

Other countries that ended at the top of the list are: Australia, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. Competing with Afghanistan for worst rankings are: Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Chad, D.R Congo and Eritrea.

Explaining the last place ranking of Afghanistan, the report said: "It has the highest lifetime risk of maternal mortality and the lowest female life expectancy in the world. It also places second to last on skilled attendance at birth, under-5 mortality and gender disparity in primary education. Performance on most other indicators also places Afghanistan among the lowest-ranking countries in the world."

With one of the most advanced health systems in the world, and a wealthy economy, the relatively low rank place of the United States may come as a surprise to some people. Save the Children explained that one of the key indicators used to calculate well-being for mothers is lifetime risk of maternal mortality.

Says the report: "The United States rate for maternal mortality is 1 in 2,100 - the highest of any industrialized nation.  In fact only three Tier I developed countries - Albania, the Russian Federation and Moldova - performed worst than the United States on this indicator.

A woman in the U.S. is more than seven times as likely as a woman in Italy or Ireland to die from pregnancy-related causes, and her risk of maternal death is 15-fold that of a woman in Greece."

So what is the world to do to boost countries such as Afghanistan out of its lowest-ranking status? Save the Children suggests that governments and international agencies boost funding to improve education levels for women and girls, increase access to maternal and child health care and advance women's economic opportunities. Current research and new studies on mothers' and children's well-being is also crucial. Finally, the US and other industrialized countries, governments and communities "need to work together to improve education and health care for disadvantaged mothers."

Tuesday
May032011

The Bin Laden Capture: A Feeling of Betrayal in Pakistan (PERSPECTIVE)

By Themrise Khan

And so it ends. The world’s most feared man is dead. Or so we are told.

The news Pakistan woke up to Monday morning was something most of us never thought would happen. Osama bin Laden had already transgressed into terrorist mythology many years earlier, including being the very mortal victim of renal failure some years ago.

Now, not even all the headlines of the world can pronounce his death often enough for it to sink in. It will take some time.
 
The world is rife with jubilation, while Pakistan sits in a state of shock.
 
Why? Take the hiding place. Abbottabad? Seriously? Bin Laden’s compound was situated just 800 meters from the most prestigious (not to mention heavily guarded) military school in the country - with more than 100,000 active and retired military personnel? How on earth could it be possible? Like one friend remarked: “there goes the cave theory.”

With the release of an official statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, that the operation was conducted by US forces without any Pakistani involvement, the shock gradually began turning into a state of denial.  So did our government know about it beforehand or not? Did we just quietly sit back and let the US do what they do best?

But as the days tick by, denial is gradually turning into one of betrayal. Betrayal of the not just the Pakistani people by its own government and military, but by the Americans as well. It was bad enough that the world saw us as “terrorists” for the last ten years. Now they just wont be able to think of us as anything else. Especially since we apparently, didn’t have anything to do with it!

But if there was any event that had the makings of a conspiracy theory, it’s this one. And that is what is fuelling Pakistanis at the moment. And understandably so. From the location, to the action, to the conclusion (dumping a body into the ocean according to Islamic practices?), every element of this tale defies any logical analysis that has thus far been presented about bin Laden and his whereabouts.

What is unbelievable in this fairly bizarre saga, is not that an operation of such a scale actually took place without anyone knowing of it. The point of espionage and covert operations are exactly that. Neither is it hard to believe that such intelligence existed for many months and possibly both countries were aware of it. Planning an attack like this would obviously take a great deal of preparation and Pakistan could well have been trying to protect its “interests” by turning a blind eye.

What is unbelievable and a matter of great shame for us, is the fact that everyone who has thus far accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, is now spot on. I can picture fingers wagging saying, “told you so”.

Even many die-hard critics of the government were in agreement that the al-Qaeda leader was probably not in Pakistan, or at least not anywhere habitable - or in a densely-populated urban area. Now, they too stand stunned in silence.  The implications of this fact alone, is perhaps more dangerous for Pakistan than the threat of militant reactions to bin Laden’s death.

If it is true that the US kept the operation and existence of bin Laden from the Pakistani government, its intelligence and military, then that is clear proof that either one or all three of these institutions were seen as colluding to the interests of the militants. If, on the other hand, the military and government were aware of the whereabouts of bin Laden but kept denying it, then that is clear proof that a government lied to its own people. In either case, the Pakistani people stand to inherit a huge trust deficit from their leaders.

Surprisingly so, despite threats already being slung at the Pakistani military, government and at the American establishment, the retaliation that is expected, is not so much physical violence, although that threat is very real.

More so, it is the threat of a falling out of power between the Pakistani military and its civilian establishment over how this event was orchestrated and conducted. It is the internal strife between the Pakistani military, ruling political parties and the opposition that will now be at centre-stage as the outside world celebrates.

Who in our establishment, will take responsibility for this, is the biggest question on the national agenda. And who will apologize to us for embarrassing us as a nation, beyond all doubt?

We will never know the truth of this story. We will never see a body and even if we do, we will never know if it was real. Unless bin Laden walks back from the grave and into a downtown shopping mall somewhere in Wisconsin or Karachi, he is to all intents and purposes, dead.

But in reality, this awe-inspiring notion means little to people in Pakistan. The damage to the nation was already done many years ago and continues unabated. Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in terrorist acts, tens of times more than those who died on September 11. Our war is endless, with or without bin Laden. He just planted the seed, we bear the fruit.

The nightmare seems to have ended for many across the world. For Pakistan it has only just begun.

HUMNEWS contributor Themrise Khan is a freelance social development consultant based in Karachi who occasionally dares to venture into the Pakistani media.
Monday
Apr252011

'Three Cups of Tea' Challenges Pakistanis' State of Mind (PERSPECTIVE)

By Themrise Khan

(HN, April 25, 2011) - A well-known British journalist familiar with Pakistan, recently declared that “Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers”.

The declaration was in response to the UK government's planned £650 million in education aid grant for Pakistan. While this statement was made in a wider geo-political context, it seems that recently, Pakistan itself has been played for a sucker by a well-meaning American educationist.

The revelation by some quarters that Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea was based on semi-fiction, rather than fact, has sent shock waves among Pakistanis, particularly its elite. The elite, because the book hasn’t exactly been the most accessible to the actual subjects that it portrays, i.e. the impoverished families and girls of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Despite accusations that 41% of donations collected by Mortensen and his Central Asian Institute (CAI), have not gone to aid the education of young girls, many in Pakistan still support the author. Their argument is simple. So what if he lied about some things? At least he has helped those in need, which most Pakistanis can hardly admit to themselves. Or, as Mortenson’s avid supporter journalist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times said in an opinion piece on April 20, “Greg has still built more schools and transformed more children’s lives than you or I ever will”.

It is true that one cannot out rightly deny Mortenson’s contribution to girls’ education in the remote northern areas of Pakistan and regions of war-torn Afghanistan. Many of the stones he has converted into schools, do exist and educate young girls where Pakistan’s own government has not been able to do so. In a country where officially at least, only 45% of females are literate and girls’ schools are regularly targeted by militants, Pakistan’s record in education, especially girls education, has been miserable for decades. So much so, that in a desperate attempt to prop up its weak image, a state of “education emergency” was recently declared, thanks to yet another glossy report commissioned by a non-governmental Education Task Force. Students at The Citizens Foundation Secondary School – Cowasjee Campus, Mauripur, Karachi CREDIT: TCF

This sudden interest in education and the controversy surrounding Mortenson raises several issues, ironically none of which are actually related to girls’ education. Instead, they are indicative of an insecure state of mind that Pakistanis are perpetually in about who they are.

Pakistan has regularly been caught out for misrepresenting facts and embezzling resources meant for others. But we have always been quick to our own defense, citing “weak leadership” or “a lack of accountability”. An easy way of saying, we are at the mercy of others.

There have been several education programmes such as the Education Sector Reforms and debt swaps that have spent millions, perhaps billions of dollars, on building schools, increasing enrollment, developing curriculum and training teachers - the end result of which have been an even weaker education system. Rarely, have these failures been brought to task by those who have been quick to jump to Mortenson’s defense.

At the same time, there are several local philanthropic initiatives in Pakistan that have been perhaps even more successful than Mortenson’s personal attempts.

The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit set up in 1995, has built 730 schools and enrolled over 102,000 underprivileged girls and boys, throughout the country, without controversies attached to it. Several local NGOs throughout rural Pakistan, including in the northern areas, have been trying for many years, to improve community-run education, albeit with much fewer resources and publicity. Neither has any of this been acknowledged enough by those who feel that Mortenson has been unfairly accused and should be exonerated for all the good work he has done.

Herein lies the problem. Does “doing good work” mean that doing a bit of bad shouldn’t really be an issue? Does more of one override the other? Granted that Mortenson is still innocent until proven otherwise, but the issue here is not just whether he misused funds or made up stories to sell his book.
It's about the responsibility that comes with “doing good” not just by the doer, but by the recipient as well. This includes not just building schools and providing education, it is also about trying to sustain the momentum of the change. Mortensen spent years working in both countries. But never once did anyone in either of these countries choose to emulate, study or critique his model. The bestseller status of Three Cups of Tea was evidence enough for us.

So when the revelations were made public, this controversy was yet another nail in the coffin for a country that has and continues to be burned for its malpractices and used by others for a “greater good”, i.e. ridding the world of terrorists.

Reactions to the controversy have also shown how we, as a nation, love to be validated by foreigners rather than by ourselves. Pakistan and Afghanistan needed a Greg Mortenson to tell us through Three Cups of Tea, that we were essentially good people who somehow didn’t have the resources to bring about good. And so for us, he is still a hero, because he did what we couldn’t.

But we still don’t ask why we couldn’t, which is perhaps the biggest disappointment of this saga.

Mortenson’s supporters, including Kristof, are also ignoring the fact that philanthropy is not just about being selfless, it's about sticking to being selfless all the way. It's about what money can do to a person or what a person can do with it. Putting Mortenson or anyone (rival accuser Jon Krackauer perhaps?) on a pedestal, does not exonerate them from being accountable either.  Otherwise, what’s the point of constantly crying for accountability and transparency?

But we still refuse to openly question, authenticate, instead challenging only selected discrepancies in our society, letting ourselves be exploited by others.
 
It is true that the matter has yet to be investigated and can turn out to be completely false itself. But Mortensen’s supporters in Pakistan have already declared him innocent without even waiting for a verdict.

“Does it really matter?”, they ask. Yes, it does matter. This is not about Mortenson. This is about us.

 

HUMNEWS contributor Themrise Khan is a freelance social development consultant based in Karachi who occasionally dares to venture into the Pakistani media.