FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Tuesday:  October 27, 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

HUM HUMOR

"CLIMATE CHANGE: EVERYWHERE"

CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au) "HILLARY ROUND THE WORLD"

(CARTOON: Taylor Jones/Politicalcartoons.com)

"HOW THE MIGHTY FALL"

(CARTOON: Michael Ramirez/Weekly Standard)

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
WORLD CLOCKS
   
San Marino     Mongolia
   
Vancouver     Ghana
"THE GIRL EFFECT" - VIDEO

Advertisement

 

HUM SEARCH
@HUMNEWS ON TWITTER

`SUPPORT-A-REPORTER'

 Follow Me on Pinterest  Folo us on Pinterest.

Read some exciting news about our founder and FFI, here: http://bit.ly/12GJyXs

Are you a Global Citizen?Join us on GlobalCitizen.org to help end extreme poverty.

TRANSLATE HUMNEWS

THE HUM - OUR DAILY EMAIL OF WORLD HEADLINES
MY HUMPLANET

Do you have your eye on the world? Help us expand the global perspective and tell the stories that shape it.  SHARE what's happening locally, globally wherever you are, however you can. Upload your news, videos, pictures & articles HERE & we'll post them on  MY HUM PLANET CONNECT.  Learn something NEWS every day! THX

Advertisement

HUM BOOKS: Focus on FRIENDSHIP
  • Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    by Todd May
  • Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    by Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    by Tom Roach
HUM SOCIAL GOOD

Learn more and join us here!

HUMNEWS SOCIAL MEDIA

  Look for HUMNEWS in the News Section of PULSE @www.pulse.me. For iPad, iPhone & Android-recently launched on deck for Samsung’s Galaxy tab.

Advertisement

HUM TWITTER FEEDS
10000 Women 9/11 9-11 92Y ABC News Abdel Futuh Abdoulaye Wade abductions Abidjan Abuja abyei Acapulco ACS Action Against Hunger ADB Adivasi Adjara adolescents Afghanistan Africa Africa Fashion Week Africa Human Development Report African Wax AFRICOM agriculture agrochemical Ahmad Ashkar Ai Weiwei aid Aid Effectiveness aid work aid workers AIDS Air Canada Air France airlines Aisha Gaddafi Alain Juppe Alan Fisher Alassane Ouattara Albania Albanians Alexandria Algeria Alina Vrejoiu Alliance of Small Island States al-Qaeda Amama Mbaba Amazon American Samoa Americas Amina Filali Amnesty International Amr Moussa ANC Andaman Islands Andes Andorra Angelina Jolie angola Anguilla Anna Hazare Ansar Dine Antarctica Antigua & Barbuda Antonio Guterres Antonio Patriota apartheid Apple Arab Spring Aral Sea Arctic Argentina Armenia Art Aruba ascetism ASEAN ASEM Asia Asia Pacific Asia Society Asian Development Bank Asylum Asylum-seekers Augusto Pinochet Aung San Suu Kyi Aurora Borealis Australia Autism Azawad Azerbaijan baby trafficking Baghdad Bahamas Bahrain Balkans Balthasar Garzon Baluchistan Ban Ki-moon Bangalore Bangkok BANGLADESH Barack Obama Barbados Bashar Assad Bashir Bashir al-Assad bats Beijing belarus Belgium BELIZE Belo Monte Benghazi Benin Berlusconi Bermuda Bettina Borgfeld Beyonce Bhutan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BILL GATES Bill McKibben bio fuel Bishkek Bitter Seeds black jails Boko Haram Bolivia Bono books Bosco Ntaganda Bosnia Bosnia-Herzegovina Botswana Bouthaina Kamel BRAC Brazil Brazilian government Brian Williams BRICS Britain British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Territory British Virgin Islands broadband Bron Villet Bruce Springsteen Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bruno Pellaud Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burma Burundi Business Cairo Cambodia Cameroon Campesino Campesinos sin Terra Canada cancer Cape Town Cape Verde Carbon CARE Caribbean CARICOM Carlos Enrigue Garcia Gonzalez Carlos Travassos Cartagena Casablanca Catherine Ashton Catholic Relief Services Cayman Islands CBS Central Africa Central African Republic Central America Central Asia CGI Chad Charles Feeney Chernobyl Child Labor child labour child marriage child soldiers Children chile China China's Communist Party Chinese farmers Chocolate cholera Cholpan Nogoibaeva Christiane Amanpour Christianity Christmas Island CIDA CItigroup Citizen Ciudad Jarez climate climate change Clinton CLMV Countries cluster munitions CNN Cocos Island coffee Colombia Columbia University Commission for Africa Committee on World Food Security Committee To Protect Journalists commodities Commonwealth community-based organizations Comoros conflict Congo Congolese conservation consumer Contas River Contraception Cook Islands COP17 corruption Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire cotton Council on Foreign Relations coup Cover The Night CPJ credit Crime Crimes Against Humanity crisis Croatia Cuba culture cyclone Cyprus Dadaab Dakar Damon Runyon Dan Lashof Dan Toole Darfur David Bernet David Von Kittelberger DDenmark Dear Kara Delhi democracy Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrations Dengue Fever Denmark dennis fentie Department of State depression Deraa Desmond Tutu developing countries development Diabetes Dilma Rousseff Disaster Risk disasters discrimination disease Diwali Djibouti Doctors without Borders Dominica Dominican Republic Dominique Strauss-Kahn DPKO DPRK Dr. Judy Dr. Judy Kuriansky Dr. Mark Welch Dr. William Gray DRC DRINKS drought Drug war Drugs Dubai Duncan McCargo Earth Hour Earthquake East Africa East Timor Easter Island Eastern Europe ECHO economy ECOSOC ECOWAS Ecuador Education Egypt Eid Eirene El Alto EL SALVADOR El Trabajo de Crecer Election elections electricity Elizabeth Okoro Ellen Johnson SIrleaf Emerging emerging markets energy Energy4All enough project environment Environmental Defense Fund equality Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia ethnic cleansing EU Eurasia EurasiaNet Europe European Union expats explosion Facebook Falkland Islands famine FAO FARC farmers Farming Faroe Islands FASHION Father Wismick Jean Charles Federated States of Micronesia Feeding America Felipe Calderon Femicide Fernando Lugo Festival FGM FIFA Fiji Fiji Islands Films finance Finland flood floods food food crisis food security Forbes Ford Foundation foreign aid foreign assistance foreign correspondents club of China Foreign Policy Forest Whitaker Foxconn France FRENCH GUIANA French Polynesia fuel Future G20 G8 Gabon Gabriel Elizondo Gaddafi Gambia Gandhi Ganges River Gangs Gao Gauteng Gaza Gbagbo GCC GDP Geena Davis Gender Genetically Modified Food Geneva Genocide George Clooney Georgia Germany Ghana Giants of Broadcasting Gibraltar Girl Effect Girls Giving Pledge Gladstone Harbour Glenn Ashton Global Compact Global Digital Solidarity Fund global food prices Global Fund Global Health Global Malaria Program Globalhealth Globalization GMO's GMO's India Golden Globes Goma Good Samaritan Center Goodluck Jonathan Google grassroots organizations Greece Greed Greenland Greg Mortenson Grenada GRIST GRULAC Guadeloupe Guam Guantanamo Guarani Guatemala Gucci Guinea Gulf of Aden GUYANA Habitat For Humanity Haiti Half the Sky Halloween Hamadoun-Toure Hamid Karzai Happiness Haze health Heglig Helen Wang Hershey hhuman rights Hillary Clinton Hindu HIV HIV/AIDS HIVAIDS Hoffman Hollywood Hollywood Foreign Press Association homosexuality Honduras hookah Horn of Africa Hotel Housing HSBC Hu Jintao Hubble Telescope Hugo Chavez Hult Global Case Challenge HUM Human Impact Institute human rights Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Film Festival human trafficking Human Unlimited Media Humanitarian humanitarian work HUMmingbirdz Hunger hurricane Hurricane Rina IAEA IAVI Ibrahim Azim ICC Iceland ICG ICRC IHL ILO IMF immigrants Immigration improved cook stoves Imran Garda India Indian Ocean Indians Indigenous Indonesia inequality information infrastructure Innocence of Muslims Innovation INSI International Aid international community International Criminal Court International Crisis Group international development International Human Rights Day International Labour Organization International Maritime Board International Red Cross Internet Internews Interpol investing investment Invisible Children IO IOC IOM IPad IPhone Iran Iraq IRC Ireland irrigation Islam Islamabad Islamic Broadcasting Union Islamic Republic of Iran Islamists Islamophobia Islands Israel Italy ITC ITU Ivory Coast IWD Jamaica Japan Jarvis Island Jason Russell Je Yang Camp Jerusalem Jerusalem Post Jezebel Jim Rogers Jody Williams Johannesburg John McCain John Prendergast JOIDES Resolution Jordan Jose Carlos Meirelles Jose Graziano Da Silva Joseph Kabila Joseph Kony journalism journalists Joyce Banda Jr Judy Kuriansky Julia Gillard Kachin State Kah Walla Kaingang Kano Karachi Karen Attiah Karl Marx Kashmir Kazakhstan kenya Kenya Airways kgb Khaled Said Kidal Kigali Kim Jong-il King Mswati Kiribati Koror Kosovo Kurdistan Workers' Party Kurds Kuwait Kyoto Treaty Kyrgyzstan La Nina Labuje camp Lagos landmines Laos Las Vegas latin america Latvia Laurent Gbagbo Laurie Garrett LDCs Lebanon Leslie Lane Lesotho Lesser Antilles Leyla Qasim LGBT Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Literacy Liu Changlong Liuxiazhuang London London Stock Exchange Louise Arbour LRA LTTE lukasenka LUNCH Luxembourg lybia M23 Macau Macedonia Madagascar Maggie Padlewska Maha Kumbh Mela Mahatma Gandhi Mahmoud Abbas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad malaria Malawi Malaysia maldives Mali malnutrition Malvinas Islands Manuel Zelaya Margaret Chan Marie Claire Marina Cue marine Mark Fitzpatrick Marrakesh Marshall Islands Martin Indyk Martin Luther King Martinique Marwan Bishara Mary Robinson MASERU Mashable Mastercard Foundation maternal health mauritania Mauritius Max Frisch Mayotte MDG Summit MDGs MDG's media Melanesia Melanesian Spearhead Group Memorial Day Memphis Mental Health Mercy Corps Mexican Red Cross mexico Mia Farrow Micha Peled Michael Bociurkiw Michelle Funk Micronesia micronutrient initiative micronutrients Middle East migrants migration Mike Hanna millennium development goals Mine Ban Treaty mining Misogyny Misrata Miss Universe Mississippi river Miyagi MLK Mogadishu Mohamed Cheikh Biadilah Mohammad Nasheed Mohammad Waheed Hassan Moldova Money Mongolia Mongolian Stock Exchange Monsanto Montenegro MONTSERRAT Morocco Mothers Mozambique Mr. Gay World MSF Mswati Mt. Merapi Muammar Gaddafi Mubarak Muhammed Munduruku Murder Musharraf Muslim Brotherhood Mustapha Erramid Myanmar MYUGANDA NAB Nahru Nairobi Namibia NASA Natalie Billon national congress party National Congress Party (NCP) National Democratic Force National Science Foundation NATO Natural Resources Defense Fund Nauru NBC News Nelson Mandella NEMA Nepal Netherlands Antilles Nevada New Caledonia New Jersey New York New Zealand NGO nicaragua Nicholas Kristof Nick Popow Niergai Nigel Fisher Niger Nigeria Nigerian elections Nike Nike Foundation Niue Nobel Nobel Women's Initiative Nokia Non-Aligned Movement North Africa North Kivu North Korea Northern Mexico Norway not on our watch Nuclear nuclear power plant Nutrition NYC OAS Obama OccupyNigeria Ocean Ocean Health Index oceans OCED OCHA OECD OHCHR Ohrid Framework Agreement OIC Oil Olena Sullivan OLPC Olympics Oman Omar al-Bashir Omar Suleiman One Laptop Per Child One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative Oprah Organization of American States Organization of Islamic Countries Osama bin Laden OSCE Ouattara OXFAM Oxi P-5 Pacific Pacific Institute of Public Policy Pacific Island Forum Pacific Small Island Developing States Pakistan Palau Palestine Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestinians Palocci Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Parana Park Won Soon Paul Giannone Paul Kagame Paul Martin PDP Peace Peacekeepers Peacekeeping PEACEMEAL PEPFAR Perspective Peru philanthropy Philippines Pilay Piracy Pirates Pitcairn PKK PNG Pokuaa Busumru-Banson polio politics pollution Pope Benedict population Pork Port-au-Prince Porto Alegre Portugal poverty President Asif Zardari President Bingu wa Mutharika President Joseph Kabila President Karzai President Lee Myung-bak President Thein Sein Press Freedom Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Prime Minister Shekh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Prince Zeid protests Proview Puerto Rico Putin Qatar Quetta rainforest Ramadan rape Rarotonga Ray Chambers RC Palmer Red Cross Reduction referendum refugees religion remittances Reporters Without Borders Reproductive Rights Republic of Congo Republic of South Sudan Reunion Island Richard Branson Richard Parsons Richard Pithouse Richmond Rick Steves Rio Branco Rio de Janeiro Rio Grande do Sul RIO+20 Robert Mugabe Robinah Alambuya Romania Ronit Avi Room to Read Rousseff Rowan Jacobsen Roxy Marosa Royal Air Maroc Russell Daisey Russia Rwanda S-5 SACMEQ sacsis Sahel Sahel NOW Saint Helena Island Salafists Saliem Fakir Salva Kiir Salvador Dali Samoa San Marino sanctions Sanitation Saudi Arabia Save the Children Savvy Traveller Scenarios From the Sahel ScenariosUSA security Security Council Senegal Senetable Seoul Serbia Sergio Vieira de Mello Seth Berkley sex trafficking Sexism sexual abuse Seychelles Sharia Sharks Shashi Tharoor Shirley Wessels shisha Shreeya Sinha Shrein Dewani Sierra Leone Sindh Singapore Skype Slovakia Slovenia smoking Social Good Summit social development social media Solar Solar Panels SolarAid Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South America South China Sea South Kordofan South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Southeast Asia Southern Kordofan Southern Sudan South-South cooperation South-Sudan Southwest Farm Press Soweto Soya Spain SPLA sports Sri Lanka St . Vincent & The Grenadines St Lucia St. Kitts and Nevis St. Maarten St. Vincent and the Grenadines Stand Up For Peace Project starvation statelessness steel StopRape Students Sub-Saharan Africa sudan sudan people's liberation movement Summitt of the Americas Superstorm Sandy Surfing SURINAME Sustainable development Svalbard Svalbard & Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tahiti Taiwan Tajikistan Taliban Tanzania technology Ted Turner Tehran Terena terror Thailand Thaksin The Arab Spring The Bahamas The Caribbean The Carter Center The Elders The Enough Project The Gambia The Hunger Games The Marshall Islands the Middle East The Netherlands The Ocean Project the Philippines The Republic of South Sudan The Surfrider Foundation The Whistleblower theatre Thein Sein Themrise Khan Three Cups of Tea Tibet Tiger Tigers Tikki Pang Tim Hetherington Timbuktu Timor-Leste Tobacco Togo Toilets Tokelau Tom Schelling Tonga Tony Lake Toronto tourism trade Trademarks trafficking travel Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Tripoli tsunami Tuareg Tuberculosis Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Tuvalu Twitter Typhoon Bopha Typhoon Pablo UAE Uganda UK Ukraine UN UN Clean Development Mechanism UN Food and Agriculture Organization UN Foundation UN Peacekeepers UN Security Council un techo para mi pais UN Women UNAIDS UNCTAD UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFCC UNFPA UNHabitat UNHCR unicef Union Solidarity and Development Party UNISDR United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United States United to End Genocide University of South Florida UNOCI UNRWA urbanization Uruguay US US Peace Corps US Supreme Court US Troops USA Uzbekistan Vancouver Vandana Shiva Vanuatu Vanuatu. Fiji Venezuela Vestergaard Vice President Joyce Banda Victoria Hazou Vidal Vega Vietnam Vii VIIPhotography Viktor Yanukovych Vladimir Putin Vladivostok Vlisco Vodafone volcano Walmart War Water West Africa West Bank Western Sahara WFP WHO wimax Wine Woman Women Women's Economic Opportunity World World AIDS Day World Bank World Cup World Economic Forum World Food Day World Food Prize World Food Programme World Health Assembly world hunger World Refugee Day WorldCup WTO WWF Xi Jinping Xingu Yemen Youssou N'dour Youth Youth Olympics YouTube Yoweri Museveni Yukon Yulia Tymoshenko Zambia Zimbabwe Zuma

HUM QR CODE

Entries in Algeria (15)

Friday
Oct192012

Fiji’s Leadership of G77 a ‘Rare Opportunity’ for the Pacific  (ANALYSIS)

By Catherine Wilson

BRISBANE, Australia - For the first time in 48 years, a Pacific Small Island Developing State (PSIDS) is gearing up to assume chairmanship of the Group of 77 developing nations plus China.

In 2013, the Republic of Fiji – located between Vanuatu and Tonga in the South Pacific and currently under a military government led by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama – will take leadership of the largest intergovernmental coalition within the United Nations, replacing the incumbent chair, Algeria.

“Fiji’s election to the Chair of the Group of 77 and China (G77) for 2013 demonstrates the international community’s (confidence in us) to preside over the 132-member organization in its endeavour to advance international matters that are of great importance to all developing countries,”  Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji’s minister for foreign affairs and international cooperation, told IPS.

The G77 was formed in 1964 with 77 founding member states, representing a collective ambition by developing nations to advance their international voice and influence on world trade.

(MAP: G77 Nations/Wikipedia) Since then, the G77, now comprising 132 member states, has championed South-South cooperation as a key strategy to boost standards of living and economic fortunes in the global South.

The intergovernmental group, which has identified the eradication of poverty as one of its greatest challenges, was also influential in developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to a United Nations report last year, South-South cooperation has boosted development and investment between developing countries and is a formidable driver of economic growth.  Between 1990 and 2008 world trade expanded four-fold, while South-South trade multiplied more than 20 times.

Fiji’s rising role

Fiji’s new role within the UN was confirmed at the G77 foreign ministers’ meeting in New York on September 28.

The island state, with a population of about 868,000 spread over more than 330 islands, has an economy dominated by the sugar and tourism industries, as well as the highest national human development ranking within the Pacific sub-region of Melanesia.

However, an ongoing struggle for political power between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians – descendants of nineteenth century Indian immigrant laborers – has fuelled four military coups since 1987.

(MAP: Melanesia/Wikipedia) During the most recent one in 2006, Bainimarama, commander of Fiji’s military forces, took over the presidency and dissolved parliament in an alleged attempt to stifle corruption.

His declared aim is to reform the race-based electoral system and draft a new constitution, following nationwide consultations, ahead of planned democratic elections in 2014.

But Fiji’s refusal to hold democratic elections by 2010 led to international sanctions and its suspension in 2009 from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum, a regional intergovernmental group of independent and self-governing states.

The government of Fiji currently receives significant economic aid and political support from China.  It also remains politically engaged in the South-west Pacific as an active member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an intergovernmental group comprising Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Nikunj Soni, board chair of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PIPP), an independent regional think tank based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, told IPS that with the emergence of a range of advocacy platforms, such as the MSG and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Pacific Islands Forum was no longer the sole organization through which the islands could coordinate a voice.

“Fiji’s chairmanship of the G77 will give the country’s leadership a chance to reach out to the rest of the region by way of consultation in order to make sure a regional voice can be heard on the international stage,” Soni told IPS. “The Pacific will have a rare opportunity to represent itself on the global stage…”

(MAP: Countries of the Pacific Island Forum/Wikipedia) This is becoming increasingly important for the Pacific Islands as neighboring superpowers like China and the US set their sights on the archipelago as a crucial geo-strategic location. China is increasing its investment and presence in the islands, while the U.S. has made moves to renew its engagement with the Pacific region in areas ranging from aid to security, and has deepened defense ties with Australia.

The Pacific Islands are also rich in mineral, forest and marine resources. The PIPP emphasized that increasing the region’s international voice on issues of security and resource management in the context of climate change was a top priority.

“With the Pacific Ocean covering half of the world’s ocean area and one third its total surface area, the region contains some of the largest unexploited natural resources and some of the most climate vulnerable nations on earth,” Soni explained.

“It remains important that small island developing states are not used by larger powers as proxies for their own geopolitical battles. At the same time, we must be able to protect our natural resources for the benefit of our own peoples.”

The global influence of the G77 will only increase as developing countries, especially Brazil, China and India, emerge as the new leaders of world economic growth. According to this year’s UN global economic outlook, developing countries will grow an average of 5.9 percent in 2013, while developed countries are likely to average only 1.9 percent growth.

But this year’s G77 Ministerial Meeting in New York also highlighted many challenges ahead for the coalition of developing nations, including the impact of the global financial crisis on world trade, food security, the fight against poverty, technology transfers and efforts to combat the severe effects of climate change.

“More recently, the G77 has taken on negotiating positions in areas of climate change and sustainable development, the two areas which PSIDS focuses on in New York,” Kubuabola stated. “These are the two areas Fiji wishes to place emphasis on to ensure that the interests of all developing countries, including those of PSIDS, are effectively addressed.”

During a speech at the G77 meeting in September, UN Under-Secretary-General for economic and social affairs, Wu Hongbo, pointed out that the G77 also had an influential role to play in drafting the global Sustainable Development Goals, one outcome of the Rio+20 Earth Summit held in Brazil in June.

-- This article first appeared on InterPress Service.

Sunday
Mar252012

No Nukes? Or More Nukes? As the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Begins (REPORT)  

(PHOTO: Activists attend a rally opposing nuclear power in Seoul March 19, 2012/ChinaDaily)(HN, 3/25/2012) - World leaders including US President Barack Obama Monday will launch the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit a meeting on the threat from nuclear-armed terrorists, but the atomic ambitions of North Korea and Iran are set to feature heavily.

Leaders or senior officials from 53 nations will attend the Nuclear Security Summit, with Interpol, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union and the UN also taking part.

Participating countries, which also gathered at the 1st Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 include:  South Korea, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine, USA and Vietnam.

Though not at the summit, next -door, North Korea’s upcoming rocket launch has overshadowed the run-up to the two-day meeting in Seoul, which seeks agreement on locking down fissile material that could be used to build thousands of terrorist bombs.

The nuclear-armed North says its rocket will merely put a peaceful satellite into orbit. The United States and others believe next month’s launch will test a long-range missile which could one day deliver an atomic warhead.

Gary Samore, coordinator for arms control at the US National Security Council, warned that North Korea would face a “strong response” from Washington and its allies if it goes ahead with the launch. “We will be working with other countries, when President Obama is in Seoul, to try to discourage North Korea from going ahead with the proposed satellite launch,” he told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Friday.

Obama will hold talks on the launch plan and other issues with leaders of China, Russia and host South Korea during his visit.

The IAEA, while worried about nuclear proliferation by North Korea, also suspects that Iran is bent on making nuclear weapons. Iran says its uranium enrichment activities are peaceful.  Neither Iran nor North Korea are on the formal agenda in Seoul. (Source: Wikipedia)

   NPT Nuclear Weapon States (China, France, Russia, UK, US)
   Non-NPT Nuclear Weapon States (India, North Korea, Pakistan)
   Undeclared Nuclear Weapon States (Israel)
   States suspected of having nuclear weapon programs (Iran, Syria)
   NATO weapons sharing weapons recipients
   States formerly possessing nuclear weapons

 

But leaders of five nations involved in stalled nuclear negotiations with the North — the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan — will all be present, offering an opportunity for consultations.

 Pyongyang sees the summit as a chance for Washington and Seoul to gang up on it. Any South Korean move to address the North’s nuclear program at the summit would be seen as a "declaration of war", it said.  

Seoul says the formal event is not about nations but “non-state actors” such as al-Qaeda, Nigeria's Boko-Haram terrorist group, and others groups which it fears could lay their hands on loose nukes as proliferation continues.

(via PressTV)

Obama in a 2009 speech described nuclear terrorism as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”, and announced a drive to secure all vulnerable nuclear material worldwide within four years, a process which led to the first nuclear security summit in Washington in April 2010.

Since then, according to a joint report by the Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS), which campaign against nuclear proliferation, acknowledged major progress since then.

Former Soviet republic Kazakhstan secured over 13 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, while Chile eliminated its entire HEU stockpile, the report said.

The United States and Russia signed a protocol under which each will dispose of 34 tons of plutonium — enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons.

Russia ended plutonium production. Ukraine eliminated two-thirds of its HEU and was expected to dispose of the rest by the Seoul summit.

But experts say much more must be done to end an apocalyptic threat.

“The commitments on the books will not get the job done,” said Michelle Cann of PGS, the report co-author.  “To prevent nuclear terrorism in the years ahead, the global nuclear security system must grow and adapt to new threats,” she said.

“There is a danger that early successes of the summit process will lead to complacency.”

The ACA says there have been 16 confirmed cases of unauthorized possession of HEU or plutonium documented by the IAEA since 1993, mainly in the former Soviet Union.   Alexandra Toma of the Connect US Fund, which promotes nuclear non-proliferation, said a sophisticated extremist group could plausibly take advantage of such lapses.

“It takes only 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of highly enriched uranium to make a crude nuclear bomb” the size of a grapefruit, she told a Seoul forum Thursday.

The summit agenda has been expanded to cover the securing of radioactive material, freely available from hospitals and other sources, which Stanford University expert Siegfried Hecker told the forum Thursday would be the most likely nuclear threat as a “dirty bomb... a weapon of mass disruption” since radiation sources were everywhere.

The meeting will also discuss the link between nuclear security and nuclear safety after Japan’s March 2011 Fukushima disaster.   Experts say the accident showed terrorists could create the same conditions as a tsunami did, by damaging cooling systems and cutting off power.

 -- HUMNEWS. An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in The Arab Times

RELATED:  Fidel Castro on defense of Iran’s right to nuclear power

RELATED:  North Korea: Déjà Vu All Over Again

RELATED:  Activists oppose nuclear summit in Seoul

Tuesday
Feb212012

10 million Africans face starvation (REPORT) 

 By Mel Frykberg

(GRAPHIC: FEWS Net)The UN warned on Saturday that 10 million people in Africa’s Sahel region faced starvation and called for a greater humanitarian response to the crisis, which is threatening eight countries, particularly Niger, where at least half of those at risk are situated. The Sahel countries include parts of Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, Niger, northern Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan, northern Cameroon and Eritrea.

Helen Clark, the UN development programme’s administrator, and the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and UN emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, made the appeal during a visit to Niger’s Tillabery region.

Their visit entailed an inspection of an agricultural project supported by the UN, which grows vegetables in a sustainable way, while simultaneously improving the nutrition of the villagers and providing them with a source of income.

“This project shows how a tiny initial investment can make a major difference,” Amos said.

“Just a few kilometres from here, there is a village which has not had this investment, where people are leaving their homes and have taken their children out of school so that they can look for food,” she said.

(PHOTO: Aliyin Would Eleiat, the chief of a village in the Gorgol region of Mauritania shows 1 of few wells that still has water. It serves as the lifeline for 75 families/Irina Fuhrmann, OXFAM)Clark stated that the wider crisis in the Sahel, where poor harvests following repeated droughts had caused severe shortages, threatened 10 million people in desperate need of assistance.

Furthermore, international non-governmental organisations warned that the Sahel could be crippled by this year.

Oxfam has announced that harvests plummeted 25% in the region compared to 2010 because of lack of rains. This will leave more than one million children threatened with severe malnutrition.

---This piece originally appeared in South Africa's New Age

RELATED:

(PHOTO: Baaba Maal with Oxfam in Mauritania/OXFAM)Senegal's Baaba Maal visits Mauritania with Oxfam: "The scale of this crisis is so great that I have to speak out so that the world reacts"

During a 48 hour visit to the Gorgol region of Mauritania, the musician Baaba Maal discovered the harsh reality for communities affected by a food crisis that now touches one in four people across the country. Today 700,000 people are food insecure in Mauritania.

"What is happening in this part of Africa is so close to my heart. People are suffering, especially children. I cannot watch and do nothing,” declared Senegalese singer Baaba Maal after visiting Mauritanian communities at the center of the current food crisis in the Sahel. Low rainfall, poor harvests, a lack of pasture and rising food prices are among the key factors driving this crisis.

Baaba Maal, who met populations in the south of the country, not far from his home village in Senegal, noted: “Some families have almost nothing to eat, and I worry about how they will feed themselves until the next harvest.”

(PHOTO: The Senegal River, which forms the natural border between Mauritania & Senegal, is too low for the crop season/Irina Fuhrmann, OXFAM)The Senegalese singer, internationally renowned and recognized for his commitment to development in Africa, launched an appeal to the international community for urgent action: “We cannot watch and do nothing while our brothers and sisters in Mauritania are victims of such a crisis. I have been able to see the solutions that are being put in place. We have to support and strengthen them."

"I met Hamila, a mother of five children, who had just bought a bag of rice thanks to money provided by Oxfam. This money will allow her to feed her family over the coming weeks. Hamila is among the most vulnerable people in her community but there are many other people who need our help,” explained Baaba Maal.

Last December, Oxfam and its partners launched a humanitarian response in the south of Mauritania in order to provide assistance to 30,000 people, and are planning to scale up operations to avoid a major crisis. In coordination with the emergency plan developed by the Government, the organisation has put in place cash transfers to allow populations to protect their livelihoods. Other actions to improve access to clean drinking water are also underway in order to prevent water-borne diseases that lead to malnutrition, especially in children.

"When I was young, this region was totally green but every year I see it becoming more and more dry. Yet water is there, in the river and in the ground. We have to work together and join forces to solve the problem, so that we never see this situation repeated again,” added Baaba Maal.

Oxfam is calling for urgent interventions to avoid the worst over the coming months, as well as long-term investments to strengthen the resilience of populations, allow communities to cope with bad years, and prevent crises of the future. As well as Mauritania, Oxfam is actively supporting communities affected by this crisis in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

--- This piece originally appeared on OXFAM

Saturday
Jan142012

One year on, Tunisia and the Arab Spring (Perspective) 

Interview with Gilbert Achcar, professor of political science at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

One year after the start of a revolutionary process in Tunisia which swept through the Arab region and continues today, International Viewpoint asked Gilbert Achcar to look at the current state of play throughout the region. This interview was conducted on December 14, 2011.

We are approaching the first anniversary of the outbreak of the "Arab Spring", in Tunisia. The overthrow of Ben Ali opened the way to the mass mobilisations in Egypt and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the mobilisations in Yemen and the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the mobilisations in the Gulf States and in Syria in favour of democracy. How can we characterise these movements?

These are effectively movements which have as their common point the demand for democracy: they take place in countries with despotic regimes and they demand a change of regime, a change in the form of government and the democratisation of political life. This dimension is common to the movements cited, and it also gives them their strength because the democratic demand allows unification of a broad mass of people of different views, when it combines with a potential for social revolt that is very strong in the region. It should not be forgotten that in Tunisia the movement began with a social explosion. Young Mohamed Bouazizi, who set fire to himself, protested against his conditions of existence and did not advance political demands. His case highlighted the problem of endemic unemployment in the countries of the region, notably youth unemployment, the economic crisis, the absence of social perspectives. These are the basic ingredients. But when they combine with the opposition to a despotic regime, it takes on considerable proportions, as we can see in the countries mentioned. In contrast, in the countries where the despotic question has not been posed with the same acuteness, or the regime is more liberal and more tolerant of political diversity — Morocco for example — we find a movement built on social questions, but which has not yet acquired the breadth rapidly attained in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

How do you see the evolution of US policy and that of the European countries in the region? Do the elections in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, or the military intervention in Libya, constitute a recovery of the initiative on the part of imperialism or the comprador national bourgeoisies?

In your question, there are two actors: the bourgeoisies and imperialism. These are not exactly the same thing. Moreover, this is a part of the world where those who now work in concert with the Western powers, with the US in particular, are not all governments that one could characterise as bourgeois — I am talking about the Gulf oil monarchies, which have a pre-capitalist dimension, which are rentier castes, exploiting the oil rent. In these countries, it is not the local bourgeoisie — whether comprador or not — which is in command. One should make the necessary distinctions.

As for the United States — the main imperialist force in the region — one could say that they have restored the balance a little after the very difficult situation in which the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings had put them, but to speak of a “recovery of the initiative” seems exaggerated to me. They have been able to regain a little credit by intervening in Libya, at relatively little cost for them, and by presenting themselves as being “on the side of the uprisings”. They combine this with a general discourse on democracy and — contrary to what some claim — this hypocritical discourse extends also to the Gulf monarchies, although they do not in their case combine it with any action. The US is trying to present itself as the repository of the values of liberty which they brandished as an ideological weapon for several decades, notably during the Cold War. In Syria, they do this with a certain ease, because it is a regime allied to Iran, for which they have no particular affection, any more than they had for the Libyan regime. But to say that they have recovered their hegemonic position in the region would be extremely exaggerated. In fact the events underway signal a significant decline in US hegemony. We see this in particular in the cases of Syria and of Libya.

In Libya the Western intervention was essentially an intervention from a distance, without troops on the ground. The influence that the US can have on the process underway is very limited. In fact, nobody controls the situation in this country where there are increasingly developments which are not at all to the taste of the United States, including a growing protest against the Transitional National Council and against its attempts — very timid, incidentally — to undertake a reconstruction of the state.

In Egypt, we see that Washington’s military allies still have a grip on the situation, but their rule is very much contested by the street, by a popular movement which continues — notably at the social level, where it is reflected by tough ongoing struggles. The emergence in force at the electoral level of the Islamic currents attests to a new regional factor: even if these currents do not represent a threat to US imperialism, they are not an instrument or ally as docile as the military for it. There are tensions in the alliance, in the cooperation, between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not comparable to what the Mubarak regime was for the US.

This also explains why the US has had very extensively to redefine their policy in the region since their traditional allies have very little popular legitimacy — something on which they did not have too many illusions as the Wikileaks revelations show. Now that the affirmation of popular sovereignty is in the street, the US must find allies with a real social base. That is why they are turning to the Muslim Brotherhood, who, after having been demonised in recent years, are now presented as “moderate Muslims” in contrast to the Salafists. The Muslim Brotherhood is present in the whole region. The US needs them, as in the good old days of the alliance with them against Nasser, against Arab nationalism, against the Soviet Union and its influence in the region from the 1950s to 1980s.

The Gulf monarchies — in particular two among them who play a very significant role in the Arab world today, the Saudi kingdom and the emirate of Qatar — are also trying to retake the initiative. These two monarchies do not necessarily have the same policy, they have a tradition of rivalry with sometimes even tensions between them, but they have made common cause alongside the US in the effort to orient the events in a direction which does not threaten their own interests and which allows them to stabilise the region in the short term. Qatar, in particular has seen its influence increase considerably with the uprisings, unlike the Saudi kingdom which like the US is experiencing a decline and ebbing of its influence. The emirate of Qatar has betted for several years on its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, becoming its main financial backer, creating the satellite television channel Al-Jazeera — a political tool of considerable power, which is at the same time at the disposal of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have a significant presence among its staff. Qatar has played these cards for a long time now and the events have turned them into strategic advantages. The emirate has thus become a very valuable and significant ally for the US, with whom it has had very close relations for a long time, sheltering on its soil the main US military base in the region. But it has also for a time cultivated relations with Iran, with the Lebanese Hezbollah, and so on, to “spread the risks” — this is the mentality of the rentier consolidating their investment portfolio. Today, Qatar can fully play upon its regional influence in the eyes of the US.

All this combines also with Turkey’s regional role. There, we can speak truly of the bourgeoisie being in power, of a country where the government is certainly the expression of local capitalism above all. The Turkish government is the ally of the US — Turkey is a member of NATO — but it also intervenes with the perspective of the specific interests of Turkish capitalism, whose trade and investment offensive in the region has in the course of the years taken on a growing importance.

There are some of the big players at the state level in the region. But the biggest player today is the mass movement. Even in the countries where semi-victories have been achieved, like Tunisia or Egypt, the mass movement continues.

How do you analyse the electoral success of the Islamist parties in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt? Can these successes be interpreted as a repetition of the bringing to heel of the Iranian revolution of 1979-1981 or do they amount to another phenomenon?

It’s different according to the country. In Morocco it isn’t the same thing as in Egypt or in Tunisia. In Morocco, the success of the Islamic party is very relative, first because the elections were massively boycotted. According to the official figures, participation was less than the half of registered voters, the number of which had, moreover, curiously fallen since the previous election. This happened on the background of an energetic campaign in favour of the boycott from the forces of the real opposition grouped in the February 20th Movement. I should say, to correct the impression, that these opposition forces also include a significant Islamic component, radically opposed to the regime. The success of the Islamic party of the "loyal opposition" in Morocco is then very relative. It has probably been much welcomed, if not supported, by the monarchy with the aim of giving the impression that Morocco has thus experienced, under peaceful and constitutional forms, the same process as elsewhere. The party in question has links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Tunisia and in Egypt, the electoral victories of the Islamic parties are more impressive, but there is nothing surprising about them. In the case of Egypt — here again we should highlight the differences between countries — these elections came after decades during which the Muslim Brotherhood were the sole mass opposition that existed, whereas the Salafists enjoyed a freedom of manœuvre because Mubarak considered them as useful to his regime, since they preached apoliticism. These two components of the Islamic movement were able to develop themselves over the years, despite the repression that the Muslim Brotherhood has had to suffer. Although they did not initiate the mass movement (they rallied to it en route), when this movement succeeded in imposing a relative democratisation of the institutions, these forces were better placed than anyone to benefit from it. It should not be forgotten that Mubarak only resigned last February, and that there were only a few months to prepare for the elections. This is not a lot of time to build an alternative force of credible opposition capable of triumphing at the electoral level. The mass movement broke the party of the regime — which was the main electoral machine in the country — but this was a broadly decentralised uprising in its form of organisation, multiple networks rather than a “leading party”. The Muslim Brotherhood was then the only organised force with material resources in the movement.

The case of Tunisia is different, because Ennahda — the Islamic party — was persecuted and banned under Ben Ali. But the repressive regime of Ben Ali also prevented the emergence of left or even democratic forces. These forces did not have the breadth that Ennahda acquired in the early 1990s before its repression, and which has allowed it to appear in the course of the years as the strongest and most radical force of opposition to Ben Ali, with the aid of Al-Jazeera notably. Ennahda again did not initiate the uprising in its country, but given the short period for the preparation of the elections, it was in a much better position than the other political forces.

The Islamic parties in Egypt and Tunisia had money, which is essential for an electoral campaign. If in the past left forces in the Arab world could benefit from the material support of the Soviet Union or of this or that nationalist regime, all that ended a long time ago. On the contrary, for the Islamic parties, we even observe a competition between their backers: Qatar, Iran, and the Saudi kingdom. The role of Qatar is very important in this respect. Rached Ghannouchi, Ennahda’s leader, went to Qatar before returning to Tunisia. The new Ennahda headquarter in Tunis, several stories high, is not within the normal means of an organisation emerging from decades of repression. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has not stopped opening new offices in every corner of the country, with a profusion of resources, since last February when they were legalised. We have seen the considerable funds that they have deployed during the electoral campaign. The money factor then operates fully, it adds to their symbolic capital as main force of opposition, and, in the case of Egypt, to their implantation as a religious political force which knew how to draw together a significant network by carrying out social and charity works. It is not surprising that these forces emerged as the principal winners of the elections.

In the longer term, could the Islamic parties be replaced by other forces which will build themselves?

The main problem for the moment is the absence of a credible alternative. There it is not only time which matters, but also the capacity, the existence of a credible political and organisational project. The sole force which, in my view, could counterbalance the Islamic parties in the region, is not the liberals of all stripes who have by their nature a limited social base, but the workers’ movement. In countries like Tunisia and Egypt it represents a considerable force — a force which has popular roots, unlike the liberals. The workers’ movement is the sole force capable of building an alternative to the religious fundamentalists in the countries concerned. Indeed the crucial problem is the absence of political representation of the workers’ movement.

A strong workers’ movement exists both in Tunisia and Egypt: the UGTT in Tunisia, which has been a decisive factor in the overthrow of Ben Ali, and the new Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Egypt. The latter is not a marginal force; it already claims a million and a half members. The EFITU was set up after the overthrow of Mubarak on the basis of the strike movement which preceded it and followed it. This strike movement played a decisive role in the overthrow of Mubarak. In a sense the EFITU resembles the opposition trade unions created against the dictatorships in Korea, Poland or Brazil.

The problem is that that there is no political representation of the workers’ movement in Tunisia and Egypt, and unhappily I must say also that the radical left in the countries concerned has not given priority to such an orientation. It thinks that by self proclamation and building itself politically it can play a major role in the events, whereas their rhythm demands a politics oriented much more directly to the promotion of the social movement itself. One can give priority to the construction of political organisations during slow periods, in the periods of crossing the desert, but when one is in situation of upheaval self-construction is not enough — I do not say that it is not necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need initiatives seeking to create a broad movement. In my opinion, in countries like Tunisia and Egypt, the classic idea of the mass workers’ party based on the trade union movement should be central, but it is unfortunately not prominent in the political thinking of the radical left in these countries.

Why do the monarchies (Morocco, Jordan, and the Arabian Peninsula) seem to be “holding”? For Morocco, you mentioned the elements of “tolerance” of the current regime, but this is not really the case for the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula.

Here again we need to make distinctions. I should say first that Jordan is more like Morocco than certain Gulf monarchies. It also presents a façade of “liberal despotism”, “liberal absolutism”. These are absolute monarchies where there is no popular sovereignty, but they have granted constitutions and a certain measure of political liberalism, with a political pluralism which is not illusory. There is also a social base for the monarchy, a retrograde base, rural or of rural origin that the monarchies cultivate. This is combined of course with a selective repression.

But the current social situation differs between Morocco and Jordan. In Morocco, there is a strong social movement. The February 20th Movement has succeeded in organising significant mobilisations and until now, it has shown a remarkable perseverance. This movement made a mistake, in my view, in starting on the constitutional question, on the democratic question which, in Morocco, has no great acuity, whereas the social question is very much sharper. But there has been an evolution over the months and today the social is emphasised much more. Nonetheless, in the present conditions, there could be a popular uprising in Morocco of the type of those in Tunisia or Egypt only on social questions, and not on the democratic question, because the regime is intelligent enough not to show its teeth on the latter. There has been very little repression in Morocco compared with other countries of the uprising, Ben Ali’s Tunisia or Mubarak’s Egypt, not to speak of Libya or Syria.

There are common elements between Morocco and Jordan, where the regime allows a controlled freedom, it opens the safety valve and lets the steam out. At the same time it plays on the ethnic factor. In Jordan too, there are mobilisations which are not negligible and which continue. Thus in these two countries — Morocco and Jordan — there is a real movement, even if it does not have the impressive scope of what we have seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, or Syria. But the highly artificial ethnic cleavage in Jordan between “native Jordanians” and Palestinians (that is people originating from the exodus from the other bank of the river Jordan) is exploited by the regime. Knowing that the Palestinians originating from the West Bank are in the majority in the country, the Jordanian monarchy cultivates a fear of “native Jordanians”, of being in the minority. It’s the classic “divide and rule” recipe.

If we turn to the Gulf monarchies, the situation is different. There have also been popular movements where it is possible. In Oman, there has been a social movement, we now see the development of a political movement in Kuwait, there have been protest movements and riots — harshly repressed — in the Saudi kingdom. And there is of course Bahrain, the only Gulf monarchy to have been confronted with an uprising of great breadth.

The exceptions have been the eminently artificial micro-states — Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — where 80 to 90% of the inhabitants are "foreigners", that is have no rights and can be deported at any time. These then are states that do not fear too much the social movements and that benefit from the direct protection of Western powers — the US, Britain or France (which has important link with the UAE in particular, notably at the military level). Everywhere else, there have been movements — even in Kuwait, where the native population is a little more significant, although here again limited.

And above all there has been the uprising in Bahrain, which the local monarchy and the Saudis have tried to present as a strictly sectarian Shiite movement — the Shiites constitute the great majority of the island’s population — against the Sunni monarchy. The sectarian dimension exists, certainly, and it is strong in the region: the Shiites are persecuted in Bahrain as well as in the Saudi kingdom (where they are a minority). The regimes in power use the most abject sectarianism to prevent the coming together of a mass movement, and cultivate in their own social base hostility against the Shiites. Of course, they also use their financial resources to buy off those who they can. In Bahrain, we have seen a considerable democratic movement, given the relationship of forces. Without external intervention, this movement would have been able to — and could still — overthrow the monarchy. The external intervention took the form of troops from the Gulf countries, above all Saudi, hurried to the island to supplement the local forces so that they could devote themselves to the repression of the movement. But the movement continues in Bahrain, and it is not ready to collapse.

Finally there is Yemen, which is not among the Gulf monarchies, but belongs to the same region. It is — with Sudan and Mauritania — one of the poorest Arab countries. Two thirds of the population there live below the poverty threshold. Yemen has experienced an absolutely extraordinary mobilisation for months. There it is the tribal factor which is exploited fully by the regime, as well as the regional factor, in such a way that the events have taken on aspects of what we could call “cold civil war” between two fractions of the population with imposing mobilisations on both sides. It is the only one of the countries concerned where the regime has succeeded in organising considerable authentic mobilisations, contrary to those which Gaddafi organised in Tripoli or which Assad organises in Syria, which are partly artificial. Yemen is a country whose situation directly affects the Saudi kingdom, and this explains why the Saudis are so directly involved there: they support Saleh, they are behind his “resignation” — which is a masquerade which fools nobody, above all not the radical opposition which continues the struggle.

The Algerian regime has not up to now been shaken by popular mobilisations, how do you explain this?

We can say the same of Iraq or Sudan, as well as Lebanon. These are countries which have known prolonged phases of civil war. In such conditions, it is understandable and natural that the people are not very inclined to destabilise the situation. There is a fear of the unknown, a fear of the resurgence of the most extremist fundamentalist forces, a fear of renewal, including by manipulation of the regime, of the dirty war that Algeria has known and for which the people have paid the price. This background is very important. It should not be forgotten that Algeria is a country which has already experienced a popular uprising in 1988, which certainly did not have the same breadth, or the same forms of organisation as what we have seen this year, but which nonetheless led to political liberalisation. The electoral rise of the Front islamique du salut (FIS - Islamic Salvation Front), which followed, was ended by the coup d’état as we know, and the civil war. It is natural and normal that the people do not wish a repetition of this scenario. This is a stumbling block in Algeria, in the absence of forces capable of organising a horizontal social convergence on a class basis, which could be the base of a new uprising. There have been attempts at mobilisation in Algeria, but they have had little resonance. The perspectives seem rather blocked for the moment. That could change if the regional movement, which began in December 2010 in Tunisia, continues to broaden. We should also take account of the fact that neighbouring Tunisia and Libya are experiencing democratisations which benefit in both cases Islamic forces resembling the former FIS, repressed in Algeria. Ultimately that can have direct consequences on the Algerian situation and that worries the ruling military.

Do you think the revolutionaries can win in Syria? And who are these revolutionaries?

The mass uprising in Syria is above all an uprising of the popular base, of which the youth are the spearhead. It is the expression of exasperation faced with a family dictatorship which has ruled for 41 years. Hafez el-Assad took power in 1970 and died in 2000, after thirty years in power and since then, for eleven years, his son Bashar, promoted to this post when he was only 34, has ruled. There is then a very understandable exasperation, all the more in that the social dimension, ever-present in the background and as part of the infrastructure of the uprisings, is very present in Syria. It is a country which has been subjected for decades to economic liberalization reforms, which have accelerated in recent years and which are reflected in a dizzying rise in the cost of living, a very difficult social situation and considerable poverty (with 30% of the population living below the poverty level). This combines with the minority, confessional character of the regime, the ruling clique belonging mainly to the Alawite minority. All this explains why, when the inspiration came from the Tunisian example, then Egypt and finally Libya — including the international intervention in the latter country, which encouraged the Syrians to enter into action, hoping that it would dissuade their regime from repressing violently — we have seen the explosion of this movement that no political force can claim to control and still less to have initiated. Youth networks in particular — as we have seen everywhere from Morocco to Syria, using the new technologies of communication (like Facebook, of which much has been said) — have initiated and organised these uprisings under the form of “local coordination committees” now federated, which continue to propel the movement. They have no political affiliation.

But there are also political forces which are coalescing so as to “represent” the movement. We have seen two forces emerge, two competing groupings. One basically includes left forces, some of whom were not in the radical opposition to the regime and have ambiguous attitudes with respect to it, after having called for dialogue with it, believing they could act as mediators between the popular uprising and the regime and convince the latter to make reforms. They have quickly seen that this would not work and since then most have rallied around the objective of overthrowing the regime.

The other includes parties which are more radical in their opposition to the regime, a variety of forces going from the Muslim Brotherhood (who, here also, play a central role) to the Democratic Peoples’ Party (originating from a split in the Syrian Communist Party), which has evolved ideologically in an “Italian” manner, but remains a left opposition to the regime, as well as the Kurdish parties. These forces have formed the Syrian National Council, which has been accepted by a good part of the rank and file of the Syrian popular movement as their representative, although this doesn’t mean that the movement is controlled by political networks. It is then a peculiar situation which is reflected in the fact that they have chosen to entrust the presidency of the SNC to Burhan Ghalioun, an independent who is rather to the left. We see him now participate increasingly in a diplomatic game led by the Muslim Brotherhood in agreement with Turkey and the USA. This is a dangerous dynamic.

Finally, there are the army dissidents. After several months of repression, what should have happened did happen. Even in the absence of an organisation capable of organising the passage of soldiers to the side of the popular revolt, the discontent of the soldiers has led to defections, initially completely unorganised. Since August they have set up a Free Syrian Army, against a backdrop of the beginnings of a civil war, with confrontations between army dissidents and the Praetorian guard of the regime.

There is then in Syria a spectrum of forces. Because the country has not known any political life for decades — although the regime here is less totalitarian than was the case in Libya — it is impossible to know what the relative weight is of one or the other. We need to await the overthrow of the regime, if it happens, and free elections to see the relative force of the organised political currents.

To return to Libya, does the fall of Gaddafi mean the end of the civil war or could we see the re-emergence of armed confrontations and if so, who are the protagonists?

First, it should be stressed that in Libya, more than forty years of totalitarian regime had suppressed any form of political life. Libya appears then an uncharted land in political terms, and nobody knows what political landscape will emerge there, or what will emerge from the elections in this country, if they take place.

If by civil war, you mean the war which culminated in the arrest and liquidation of Gaddafi, then the arrest of his son, this is essentially over for the moment. What there is currently is rather a chaotic situation, a little like Lebanon in the first years of the civil war after 1975, or, to take an extreme case, as in Somalia. There is a government, but there is no state. If we define the state first and foremost by its armed spinal column, there is no longer an army in Libya (even if there are attempts to reconstitute one): there is a plurality of militias, structured on various bases, regional, tribal, political-ideological and so on. The regional factor, in the narrowest sense — Misrata or Zintan, for example — is determinant. Each region has its own armed militias.

That testifies to the popular character of the war that brought the regime down. What we have seen in Libya is without a shadow of a doubt a popular insurrection and even a popular war, in the most classic form: civilians of all professions metamorphosised into combatants, who threw themselves into the battle against the regime.

Those who believed that the NATO intervention meant the end of the popular character of the rebellion and transformed the rebels into NATO puppets made a serious error. Besides, most of those who said this sought to justify their support for Gaddafi’s regime against the Libyan revolution. We have seen attitudes of every kind and an indescribable confusion in the international left. To believe that NATO would have control over the situation in Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi was to entertain great illusions. The US has not succeeded in controlling Iraq with a massive deployment of troops in this country, so how could anyone believe that they can control Libya without even having troops on the ground.

The potential of popular protest liberated by the uprising against Gaddafi is still present in Libya. Witness for example the demonstrations which took place on December 12th in Benghazi against the Transitional National Council and against the fact that it seeks to co-opt personalities linked to the old regime. NATO has not ceased to advice the TNC to integrate members of the Gaddafi regime, saying that these are the lessons learned from the Iraqi fiasco. Well, that is rejected by the people; there are popular movements which oppose it. Witness also the organisation of women — for the first time in Libya, an autonomous movement of women has emerged and is mobilising whether it is on the question of rape or around the issue of political representation. There are also protests by civilians who wish to get rid of the militias. Libya is a country where the situation is exploding in all directions, where the potential awakened by the uprising is being strongly expressed.

To be sure, the perspectives there are handicapped by the absence of a left, given what the regime has been and what it has done to any form of political opposition. But there has been some small progress nonetheless — for example, the constitution of a Federation of Independent Trade Unions which has established links with its Egyptian equivalent. We shall see what will happen.

For the moment in any case, from the very fact of the uprising and the armed overthrow of the regime, and in spite of the imperialist intervention in the conflict, Libya is, of all the countries in the region, the one that has experienced the most radical change up until now. The Gaddafi regime has been radically destroyed, even if there are remnants of it which provoke popular mobilisations. But the fundamental structures of the regime have fallen — which is very different from Tunisia, Egypt, not to mention Yemen. In Egypt, still more than in Tunisia, the basic structures of the regime are still in place, and a military junta is even in power in Cairo.

Of all Arab countries, Tunisia is the one where the organisations of the workers’ movement — trades unionism — have the longest tradition and strongest organisation. But the workers’ movement was marginalised in the electoral process for the Constituent Assembly. Do you think that we are witnessing the beginning of a stabilisation, or simply an electoral interlude?

Tunisia is a country where there is a real bourgeoisie, which tolerated or profited from the regime of Ben Ali. This bourgeoisie has had recourse to the remnants of the Bourguiba regime — that is, the regime which preceded Ben Ali’s seizure of power — represented by Béji Caïd Essebsi, who was prime minister until the elections. Today, the Tunisian bourgeoisie tries to co-opt the new majority — the Ennahda party, the Congress for the Republic led by the new president Moncef Marzouki and so on. These forces are assimilable by the bourgeoisie because they do not have an anti-capitalist social or economic programme. On the contrary, they are either more or less progressive liberal democrats, like Marzouki, or an Islamic current of fundamentalist origin, Ennahda, to which the new prime minister, Hamadi Jabali, belongs, and which claims to have transcended its fundamentalist character and to have become a Tunisian equivalent of the ruling AKP party in Turkey. Just as Turkish big capital has perfectly well accommodated to the AKP party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has today even become its best representative, the Tunisian bourgeoisie seeks to co-opt Ennahda.

At the same time, the movement continues at the grassroots level. Hardly were the elections over than we saw an uprising in the Gafsa mining basin — whose struggles, in 2008 in particular, preceded the revolution which broke out in December 2010. The protest this time, as in 2008, concerned the social question, the demand for the right to work and for jobs. And this will continue, because the movement in Tunisia began around the social question and the coalition now in power has no response to this question.

So in Tunisia there is a favourable terrain for the construction of a political force based on the workers’ movement, provided that the left forces take the initiative in this direction.

How are the mobilisations in Yemen developing after the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh?

The movement continues in Yemen also. A significant part of the opposition understands perfectly that the resignation of Saleh is only an attempt to change the façade, without modifying the base.

Separatist demands are also gathering momentum in South Yemen, faced with this unconvincing compromise. It should not be forgotten that Yemen was only unified in 1994, after a long division into two states. The southern state had the only regime identifying with Marxism in the region, with a social experience which is little known, but remarkable. After a bureaucratic degeneration that was facilitated by its dependency on the Soviet Union, the regime collapsed in the wake of the collapse of its tutelary power. But we are now seeing once again a separatist movement in the South which sees itself as socially more advanced than the North where pre-capitalist, tribal and other structures are more decisive.

There is also in Yemen a sectarian war with a minority that has been the subject of attacks from the Saleh regime, and there is also Al-Qaida — Yemen is today the Arab country where the Al-Qaida network is the strongest at the military level. Yemen then is a considerable powder keg.

What do you think of the difficulty in Europe in leading solidarity campaigns with the revolutions in the Arab region?

Contrary to the implication of the question, I believe that there has been a very strong sympathy, even in the USA, with the uprising in Tunisia and still more with the uprising in Egypt.

The fact that it did not lead to mobilisations, it seems to me, is because people have not seen a particular reason to mobilise. I am not going to engage in counterfactual history, but I think that if there had been any attempt at a repressive intervention by Western governments against the revolution in Tunisia or in Egypt, a significant solidarity movement would have emerged. In the case of Libya, the Western governments intervened on the right side, in appearance at least, in the eyes of public opinion. In the Libyan case, it is generally the opposite question that is posed: why was there no mobilisation against this Western military intervention? In the case of Syria, people hear contradictory assessments, and they see that the attitude of their governments is “cautious”, a fact that does not incite them to mobilise.

I see things otherwise. The echo of the Arab uprisings is very strong among the peoples of the world. We have already seen the mobilisations of February 2011 in Wisconsin, in the US, which took Egypt as a reference point, and we have seen the big trade union demonstration in March in London, where many placards referred to Egypt, or again the movements of the indignant in Spain and Greece, then more recently the Occupy movement which has spread through the US and elsewhere. Everywhere we find references to what happened in the Arab world, and in particular to the Egyptian uprising — because there was much more significant media focus on the events in Egypt than on all the rest. People say “We will do the same as them”, “They dared to do it, we will do it”! Of course, there should be no exaggeration in the other direction. In saying that, I am perfectly aware of the limits of all this, even where the movements have taken on a considerable breadth, as in Spain. In no European country is there currently a situation similar to that in the Arab world; that is, a combination of sharp social crisis and of illegitimate despotic government. In Europe, with bourgeois democratic regimes, things do not have this sharpness, and recurrent resort to the ballot box helps dampen the level of explosiveness.

It is not so much about organising solidarity, in my view, since for the moment there is no Western intervention against the uprisings in the region — if that should take place, it would of course be necessary to mobilise against it. But for now, what is more important is to take inspiration from the regional example, which shows that a mass movement can bring about radical changes in the situation of a country. This is the lesson that is snowballing today, and what seems to me the most important

Don’t you think that in the historic, traditional left, which is quite decayed now, there is a loss of bearings which holds back mobilisations? You mentioned the movement of the indignant, but it is also a movement which says “no party, no union represents us”, which means that it does not feel itself linked to this traditional left, or at least not in the same way as in the past...

I believe, more fundamentally, that we have for some years been confronted with a historic transformation of the political forms of the left, the forms of the workers’ movement, the forms of class struggle. It seems to me that this transformation is very unevenly understood in what remains of the left. There are still too many people who continue to think within the frame of thought inherited from the 20th century. And yet the experience of the 20th century left, which has tragically ended in bankruptcy, is today completely obsolete. It is necessary to renew with conceptions of class struggle which are much more horizontal, much less vertical and centralised than the model that imposed itself within the left since the Bolshevik victory in 1917. Today the technological revolution allows much more democratic forms of organisation, more horizontal, in networks… This is what young people are doing; it is what we see at work in the movements underway in the Arab world. Without entertaining illusions though: to believe that Facebook will be the equivalent for the 21st century of the Leninist party would be to entertain big illusions. But between the two, there is room for an inventive combination of much more democratic political organisation, using these technologies, capable of linking to social and citizen networks, capable of appealing to the new generations. The new generations are practically born in these technologies, we see how they use them, how they insert them into their lives. That sketches a future, which necessitates a political, ideological, organisational rearmament of the left at the world scale. That is the challenge which is posed, as shown also by what is happening in the Arab world. This challenge had already been illustrated by the Zapatista revolt, which was a strong attempt at reinventing the forms of expression of the radical left; then with the movement for global justice and in the thinking of components of this movement; and today between the uprisings in the Arab world, the indignant, Occupy, and so on, we see an explosion of mobilisations, in particular of the youth, but not only them, who use these methods of action. The radical left needs to recharge its batteries; it is essential to try to combine the radical left’s programmatic and theoretical legacy, the Marxist legacy, with these modern forms, this radical renewal of the forms of organisation and expression, in order to build a revolutionary left of the 21st century.

----Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon and teaches political science at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. His best-selling book ’The Clash of Barbarisms’ came out in a second expanded edition in 2006, alongside a book of his dialogues with Noam Chomsky on the Middle East, “Perilous Power“. He is co-author of “The 33-Day War: Israel’s War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Its Consequences“. His most recent book is “The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives“, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2010. (REPRINTED FROM INTERNATIONAL VIEWPOINT MAGAZINE, January 2012)

Tuesday
Jan102012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - January 10, 2012

Algeria 

Algeria to Nationalize Orascom Algeria’s Mobile Phone Unit

(PHOTO: In Canada, author Naomi Klein is named one of the 12 people to watch in 2012. TORONTO STAR)Australia 

Australia’s International Islamic College suing Saudi Arabia

Azerbaijan 

3023 illegal migrants deported from Azerbaijan in 2011

Bahrain 

Formula One urged to quit Bahrain

Brazil 

US House Speaker John Boehner tours Rio slum as part of trade-boosting Latin America trip

Canada 

Canadian warship bound for Mediterranean

Asking for an outbreak of preventable diseases

12 Canadians changing the way we think

Calgary, Edmonton set attendance record for World Junior events

China 

(PHOTO: Cuban Labor Delegation visits in Damascus, Syria. SANA) China launches remote-sensing satellite

China imports dairy cows as demand for milk continues

China, an important driving force in East Asian cooperation: asst. FM

Hong Kong Arts Festival 2012 to Kick Off January 28

Congo (DRC)

Elections-DR Congo: DRC faces suspension of EU cooperation over last elections

African States and UN agree to beef up measures against Lord’s Resistance Army

U.S. Department of State Announces Second International Sports Exchange with the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Cuba 

Cuban Labor Delegation in Damascus: Syrians have right to Solve problems without foreign Intervention 

Egypt

Three New Land Routes to Connect Egypt, Sudan

Equatorial Guinea

Sam Wallace: A poverty-stricken people don't need the wonga cup (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Producers with Cocoa beans in Ivory Coast. BUSINESS LIVE)Estonia

Ikea Expands to Estonian, Latvian Markets

Finland

Woman: Hotel clerk in Finland gave my key to drunken pervert & now I’m suing 

Demand for day-care skyrockets

Around 100 street beggars remain in Finland

France

France's RFI radio back on air in DR Congo

Georgia

Marriott Business in Tbilisi Proving Successful Despite Tough Competition 

India

Indian expats celebrate winning the right to vote

Terrorist threat to railway stations in Bihar

Graft war in India reflective of global power shift: Miliband

India is the success story of South Asia — that is a fact: David Miliband

India seeks reversal of EU carbon emissions tax

International real estate expansion halted for Indian companies

(PHOTO: Students at the International Islamic College in Brisbane, Australia. BIKYA MASR)Bangalore airport may shut down for 7 hours every day from Feb 24-April 19

India Faces Challenges in Connecting With African Continent

'Bangalore can be a little slow' (Perspective)

Indonesia

Many Indonesians repatriated from Saudi Arabia in 2011

Analysis: Power woes could trip Indonesia’s economic surge

Iran

Oil Minister: Iran Self-Sufficient in Drilling Industry

Iraq

Poll: 25 percent of Iraqis 'suffering'

Ivory Coast

Ivorian cocoa arrivals slump, exporters say

Jamaica

(PHOTO: Next top model Model Hoang Thuy (R) with American super model Tyra Banks in Vietnam. SAIGON Daily)New Jamaica PM: We will be a republic 

Japan

Japan begins Middle East visit seeking oil assistance

Japan to Install Tsunami Monitoring System at Sea

Kenya

Kenya's TB campaign proves a success (Video)  

Libya

Libya lifts sanctions against Switzerland

Lithuania

President’s charity campaign provides Lithuanian libraries with thousands books

Malaysia 

Malaysia to boost ties with South Africa

Marshall Islands

Marshalls President announces Cabinet

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulates the Marshall Islands on their Presidential election (Press Release)

(PHOTO: In Ukraine EcoWave Power Completes Testing of Wave Energy Generation. Model-ECO WAVE POWER UKRAINE)Mauritania

Report: Mauritania "expels" Qatari emir

Mauritius

Bihar’s village decks up to welcome Trinidad & Tobago PM

Mexico

Vatican spokesman explains why Pope will visit Mexico

Myanmar 

Aung San Suu Kyi Confirms Run for Burmese Parliament

George Soros to open aid office in Myanmar

Namibia

Namibian Prime Minister Angula Meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Nepal

Lack of Awareness, Stigma Fuels Marital Rape in Nepal

(PHOTO: Hong Kong Arts Festival to start. This is the Hong Kong Jockey Club. DESTINASIAN) Nepal's child malnutrition 'silent emergency'

Nepal Telecommunications Authority reports 2.1m mobile additions in a month; amends Telecoms Regulations

Smartphones outsell normal handsets

Straws of steel: Earthquake-proof houses

Pollution Rise Worsens South Asia’s Winter Smog

New Caledonia

New Caledonian politician suggest to merge with Wallis and Futuna 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua goes back to gold

Nicaragua next stop in Ahmadinejad's Latin America tour

Niger

Niger's president makes stop over in Luanda city

Nigeria

Nigeria, Finland Renew Commission

(PHOTO: In Uganda Assist Commissioner of Entomology Mr. Fred Luyimbazi inspects a target used to control Tsetse flies in Murchison Falls National Park. SPYGHANA) Nigeria: UN, MDGs and Fuel Subsidy Removal

North Korea

N.Korean economy plunges after hitting high in 2007: report 

Oman

Oman LNG signs pact to fund two more social initiatives

Sierra Leone keen to boost trade with Oman

Pakistan

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait reject Pak's request to supply oil on long-term credit

Palau

2-year Pacific tuna-fishing ban extended until March

Panama

Taboga Festival of the Sea- The timing is right

(PHOTO: Some Saudi's travel miles to go to the cinema. Bikya Masr) Papua New Guinea

Encouraging sign of new gold and copper find in PNG

Paraguay

Paraguayan FM to Attend Inauguration of Daniel Ortega 

Peru

Peruvian Govt Highlights Agreements with Venezuela

Six Peruvian cities nominated for New 7 Wonders Cities campaign

Philippines

South China Sea issues flare yet again as Manila alleges Chinese incursion

A sea of humanity attends Black Nazarene feast, ignoring warnings of possible terror attack

Dads push for declaration of La Trinidad as pioneer in organic farming

Environment is Benguet's main concern for 2012

Puerto Rico

(PHOTO: Vietnam rice exports facing growing competition. Thanh Niet News) Puerto Rico Gets First Assisted Living & Memory Care Community

Russia

Russian naval vessels anchored in Syria

Russia to put new radar in 2012

Russian-Ukrainian border closes because of recognition of people animals in Ukraine 

Rwanda

Children Contributing to Country's Development - Unicef

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia Tourism Minister Calls All Hands on Deck  

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s automotive aspirations

(PHOTO: The vast, sany Karakum desert dominates Turkmenistan in Central Asia which is getting ready for an election. REX) Saudi executions concern U.N. officials

Saudi N-S Railway stations contract signed

The Arab Spring of Saudi Cinema?

Man tries to sell son on Facebook for $20 million

Senegal

CCR: Schlesser scores the Africa Eco Race victory

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Women Issues for the 2012 National Elections

The Geo-political implications of the November elections (Perspective)

Singapore

Top international scientists meet in Singapore

Singapore Government Unveils Initiative To Improve National Productivity

(PHOTO: South Sudanese children displaced by attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the town of Mundri, Western Equatoria state. South Sudan. UN NEWS CENTRE) A Pool for Daring Swimmers in Singapore

Slovakia

Piano Media extends its mass paywall in Central Europe, launching in Slovenia

Slovenia

Media in Slovenia to charge for online access

Jankovic announces formation of govt. coalition

Slovenian adventurer launches eco-friendly round-the-world light plane trip

Solomon Islands

Delay of results irk parents

Government soon to receive Truth and Reconciliation Commissions final report

Reconciliation minister assaulted in Honiara

Somalia

(PHOTO: A man covers the body of fellow immigrants killed in Yemen. BAR KULAN)Somali immigrants killed in Yemen

Transitional Federal Government PM says roadmap nearly to fail

Somali Nationalism: A Dead Concept? (Perspective)

South Africa

Runner Zola Budd in Durban for Comrades

South Korea

Google accused of meddling with S Korean probe

S. Korea to offer better biz environment for foreigners: minister

S Korea President Visits China

Financial crimes on rise in S. Korea

Samsung seeking ban on iPhone 5 in South Korea

South Korea approves Anti-leukemia drug production

South Sudan

(PHOTO: In Somalia, the Grand Mosque in Garadag district, Somaliland. THINK AFRICA PRESS)Humanitarian Crisis in the World's Newest Country

Blue Nile Governor Refutes International NGO Claims of Food Gap

Spain

Spain: Thousands March in Support of ETA Prisoners (Video)

Spain: "This year we expect to have a slight increase in the acreage of garlic"

El Mundo America newsroom relocates to Spain, USH and Latam editions of Marca

Spain's SOPA Law: How It Works And Why It Won't  (Perspective)

Spanish prince, princess to tour Central America

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka to establish embassy in Ukraine

Lanka to issue free passports to Tamil refugees in India

Sri Lanka liquor sales grow

(PHOTO: In Tanzania micro enterprises dominate the manufacturing sector. THE CITIZEN) Sri Lankan government is banning its roti and eating it too

Non-alignment and SL’s foreign policy (Perspective)

Sudan

Libya lays out red carpet for Omar al-Bashir

Turabi’s party releases documents alleged to contain coup plan in Sudan

15 people perish in Sudan auto accident

Suriname

Suriname President takes over chairmanship of CARICOM, promises 2012 to be a “year of change”


Sweden

Sweden Recognizes File-Sharing as a Religion

Swaziland

Govt offers farmers land for edible oil production

Taiwan, China aid to Swaziland won’t be affected by economic slump

(PHOTO: In Swaziland, following a spillage of chemicals into canals in Big Bend, fish were found floating dead in the past week. TIMES OF SWAZILAND) andChemical poisons hundreds of fish

Hard work earns orphan six distinctions

Switzerland

Switzerland’s central bank chief resigns

Cooperatives: building blocks of democracy (Perspective)

Lenzburg Prison in Switzerland uses state-of-the-art IP video surveillance

Syria

As Syria unravels, prices soar for guns, grenades, and RPGs

Syria hails arrival of Russian warships

Turkish FM meets Syrian official in Istanbul

Syria Criticizes Qatar´s Biased Stance

Taiwan

Taiwan's elections draw international attention 

Biotech innovation offers hope for Taiwan entrepreneurs

Growth of visitor arrivals to Taiwan double world average: officials

Taiwan’s birth, marriage rates hit new high in 2011

(PHOTO: A Taiwanese garbage truck. FLICKR) In Taiwan, trash disposal is a classical (music) affair

Taiwan, U.S. companies to jointly release online console game 

Movie madness in Taiwan

Tajikistan

200 kilos of Afghan drugs burnt in Tajikistan

Wildlife Conservation Society documents pneumonia outbreak in endangered markhor

Tanzania

Micro-enterprises dominate manufacturing sector — study 

World Bank $5m to boost local mining firm capital

Airtel Mobile Money offers thousands of jobs

Construction of big arena gets going

Doctors to hold emergency meeting

Health-Tanzania: Rising cancer cases cause big concern

(PHOTO: New snake species in Tanzania Matilda's horned viper. Tim Davenport/Wildlife Conservation Society)New Snake Species Found in Tanzania

Need for effective education on disaster management (Perspective)

Agricultural modernisation techniques needed - expert (Perspective)

Press - Not Yet Free, Though There Is Certain Degree of Freedom (Perspective)

2012 - It's Time to Do Your Own Thing (Perspective)

Thailand

Capital market faces unresolved questions

Thailand's furniture industry looks to intra-Asean markets

Hard Drive Prices Rise Due To Thai Floods

Losing out for lack of English

British backpacker 'electrocuted by fridge' in Thailand

Thailand is the hottest Asian destination for British tourists

Thai Christian fights child prostitution

The Arctic

Energy firms asked about Arctic drilling

UK launches Arctic environment inquiry

Visualizing the Link Between Ice Extent and Volume

(PHOTO: Inuit filmmaker Qajaaq Ellsworth’s new app & educational game `Iliarnnarnaqsivuq', or Time for School, is designed to encourage learning among Inuit youngsters.) New Inuit language app makes learning fun for little ones

Much Ado about Methane (Perspective)

Watch This Stunning HD Time-Lapse Of The Largest City North Of The Arctic Circle (Video)

The Netherlands

Dutch Royal Family is Visiting the United Arab Emirates (Photos)

Togo

Mobile technology takes root in Togo (Video)

Tonga

Former Tonga Chief Justice Knighted

Trinidad and Tobago

Coalition member worried over conflicting police reports on alleged assassination plot

Trinidad and Tobago to tie up with India’s Jaipur Institute

Young designer to launch fashion label

Tunisia

Protests Challenge Tunisian Prime Minister’s Public Media Appointments

Tunisia can be a model for North Africa, German foreign minister says

US Issues Arrest Warrant for Tunisian-American Accused of Abducting His Children

(PHOTO: In Tunisia, a banner that reads `Journalists revolt against the dictator's remnants'. TUNISIA LIVE)Tunisia: Request to do away with death penalty

Tunisia, Larger Olive Oil Crop and Exports in 2012

Turks and Caicos

Chamber of Commerce predicting another tough year

Courtney Robinson Appointed As New Director Of The Turks & Caicos Islands Red Cross

Turkey

Istanbul forum to boost GCC-Turkey trade links

Diplomat Confirms Turkey Hosting US Drones

Turkish Minister: Energy Agreement with Russia

Turkey signals more sanctions against Syria

A maturing market (Perspective)

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan refuses to use military force as an instrument of foreign policy - President of Turkmenistan

Monitors from the former Soviet Union to observe Turkmen election

Uganda

State House Aide Cited in Buganda Park Land Scandal

100 dead from nodding disease

Uganda’s Warid Telecom:  “Mobile money moving faster than expected”

(PHOTO: Newport Beach California, USA famous for its big ocean swells where Mark Holmes David New of Green Wave Energy is testing wave powered energy generation 200 yards offshore. Don Bartletti/LATimes)Uganda government releases plans to get rid of tsetse flies in parks

Inspire Africa Reality Show Launched

Ugandans in Diaspora launch TV proggie

Ukraine

Ukraine to introduce EU model to control food quality, biosecurity service head says

Ukraine exports 9.65 million tonnes of grain in 2011-12

Tax revenues in Crimea almost triple over year

Ukraine: Eco Wave Power Completes Testing of Wave Energy Generation Models

United Arab Emirates

Dubai hotels reap rewards of tourism boom, increase rates

Scottish government, UAE in landmark agreement on green energy

Emirates to host Somalia meeting before UK’s sponsored conference

UAE's Dewa launches new USD26m water pipeline project

(PHOTO: In the UAE, Coptic Christians thanked Muslims for Christmas spirit. THE NATION) Copts thank Muslims for Christmas spirit

UAE looks at open data to promote e-government

Plastic bags cause pollution crisis, camel deaths in UAE deserts (Video)

UAE’s Hidden Fashion Talent… Hamda Al Fahim!

Sports fans left in the dark with channel blackout set to continue

United Kingdom

UK still has racism problem says David Cameron

U.K. Will Use Olympics to Spur Investment With Business Summits

Man gets suspended sentence for UK’s largest child porn collection

Woman Who Launched Internet Campaign to Track Down Guy She Met in Spain Finds Out He’s Already Taken

Roald Dahl's best-loved novels celebrated with new set of stamps

6 Million(i) UK Households Could Not Survive Until the Weekend on Savings According to first direct (Press Release)

United States

Almost 1 In 3 U.S. Warplanes Is a Robot

US expels Venezuelan diplomat

Ocean waves power a prototype generator in Newport Beach

Gayest Cities in America, 2012

(PHOTO: In Switzerland, cooperatives reign for consumers. Swiss retail giants Migros & Coop are both cooperatives RDB)Hyundai and Land Rover win top awards at Detroit auto show

CAIR Seeks Support for Bill Barring Military Detentions

American Farm Bureau leader: ‘We are the 1 percent’

Vanuatu

Vanuatu man told to find a lawyer

Vanuatu Churches Continue Anti-WTO Efforts

Volcanic activities at Ambrym and Yasur volcanoes at Vanuatu

Venezuela

Chávez: No somos guerreristas (on his meeting with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)

Venezuela's Skyscraper Slum

Venezuela Will Not Bow Down To Imperialist "Tentacles": Chavez

Chavez resumes Venezuelan TV show after illness

Venezuela: Women with PIP breast implants demand justice while creating online support network

Cuba - Venezuela to Premiere Film on Terrorist Posada Carriles

Vietnam

(PHOTO: Venezuela's Skyscraper slum. Ángela Bonadies & Juan José Olavarría/THE ATLANTIC WIRE) Vietnam Bars Zimbabwe’s Mugabe's Plane From Its Airspace

Vietnam rice exporters face growing competition for low-end markets 

Vietnam asks the US to help search for the missing

Vietnam hopes to clear unexploded ordinances in 100 years 

Vietnamese Man Has 200-Pound Tumor Removed From Leg (Video)

Hoang Thuy chosen Vietnam’s Next Top Model 2011

No One Wants to Move to Vietnam’s New Cities (Perspective)

Wallis and Futuna Islands

(PHOTO: Multi Platinum selling R&B group Boyz II Men is headed to Zimbabwe in March this year. The Zimbabwe Guardian)New Caledonia politician says territory should merge with W&F

Yemen

Yemen's Cabinet gives president immunity from prosecution

Yemen told by UN not to pass amnesty law to protect “gross violations”

Yemen PM kicks off tour to GCC states seeking aid

WFP raises 2012 food aid to Yemen to $122 million

Yemen plans to renegotiate container port accord with DP World

Yemen HR minister: government must talk to youths

Yemen to have Friday-Saturday weekend

Zambia

Organization Works to Rehabilitate Sex Workers in Zambia

(PHOTO: Volcanic activities at Ambrym & Yasur volcanoes at Vanuatu. THE WATCHERS)Graft: Zambia charges ex-minister

IFAD releases K127bn for rural agro development

Maamba's planned thermal expansion to boost power

PF government should address the plight of lack of health workers (Perspective)

Zimbabwe

Terror bungee fall like being slapped: tourist (Video)

‘Air Zimbabwe refused to take advice’

Zimbabwe MPs to get own hotel

Union urges teachers to report for work

ZMDC Takes Over Sino-Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Operation

A tale of two democracies: New Hampshire to Zimbabwe

(PHOTO: Taiwan Movie Madness-Actor Masanobu Andô as Genji Kojima (left) & Umin Boya as aboriginal warrior Temu Walis in Warriors of the Rainbow Seediq Bale.)Zimbabwe outlaws sale of used knickers

MDC-T MP demands union for prostitutes

Boyz II Men headed for Zimbabwe

WORLD

Russian, French warships off Syria, Iran, US drones over Iranian coast

$ 20 trillion needed for global oil & gas infrastructure in MENA

MultiTaction 55-inch Multi-Touch Display Can Track Hundreds of Fingers

Struggles of Refugee Children Captured By Filmmakers

Mobile tech and child protection in West Africa

Amnesty International slams western reactions towards Arab Spring

The Career Of The Future Doesn't Include A 20-Year Plan. It's More Like Four.

(PHOTO: MultiTaction 55-inch Multi-Touch Display Can Track Hundreds of Fingers. PC WORLD)‘Occupy’ occupies 2011 Word of the Year

Ecobank applies equator principles to finance activities

Elton John Writing His First Book

Press censorship on the rise in Latin America (Perspective)

Ocean Floor Reveals Past Climate Changes

Deep Sea Expedition to Probe Tectonic Plates 

(PHOTO: The world's tectonic plates. USGS)

Friday
Dec232011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/23/2011

Algeria 

Algeria Eyes 2.5 Million Tourists Per Year By 2015

(PHOTO: Marriott, 198 room hotel expected to open in 2014 in Setif) Courtyard by Marriott Announces Its Second Hotel in Algeria

Bhutan 

Health referral cost escalates

Cambodia 

Challenges Ahead as Cambodia Preps for Asean Presidency

Cambodian PM Pays Last Tribute to DPRK's Leader Kim Jong Il

MSF Steps Up Tuberculosis Support in Cambodia

Finding profit potential in the rich soil of Pailin

Digital content key to growth for Kingdom’s telecom firms (Perspective)

Central African Republic

CAR: UNSC extends mandate of UN office

Chile

Pinera Says Chile Will Be First Developed Latin America Nation

Christmas Island

(PHOTO: Kirimati, Christmas Island, NASA) Seen from Space: Christmas Island

Congo (DRC)

Congo Opposition Leader Ready To Take Oath Office, Says Adviser

Egypt

Meeting condones peaceful use of nuclear power for generating electricity

India

Much anticipated short film fest in Gauhati today

Kenya

Ebola fear strikes Kenya

Morocco

Snake Charmers, Old Markets and Friendly People

Myanmar

Myanmar to allow private mining in noted ruby area

Samoa

Samoa considers decriminalising female impersonations

Slovenia

Stay at a former military prison turned art hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Suriname

Suriname, Fiji ink comminique at UN

UAE group to set up mint house in Suriname

Swaziland

Over 600 armed officers hunt ‘scarface’ in Swaziland

High tech ticketing system comes to SD

Switzerland

Concern as asylum seekers forced onto street

Revised CO2 law reflects uneasy compromise

Syria

Syrian company owner  molests Pinay, 2 other workers in UAE

Violence, sectarianism stalk Homs

Taiwan

PFP VP candidate to visit Bhutan in search of happiness

Tajikistan

Tajiks need more private investment to spur economy, WB says

Tanzania

Kindle, eBooks and the future of Tanzania’s poor readership

In Tanzania, two journalists charged with incitement

Police fail to charge Tanzania media boss

Thailand

Shipbuilding seeks revival

Junie Browning Finally Surrenders to Thailand Police

China signs currency swap deal with Thailand

Turks and Caicos

Sandals Foundation brings Christmas joy to TCI kids

TCI draws more than 1 million tourists in 2011

Togo

Togo to Receive Assistance to Better Manage Flood and Land Degradation Risks

Tokelau

Tokelauan New Zealanders get help to maintain language

Tonga

Tonga speaker at risk of arrest over bail breach

Investor embarks on beef plan

Trinidad and Tobago

Chicken prices will eventually go up

Key and ministers off to Oz

Turkmenistan

Native of Turkmenistan Oleg Kononenko in second space flight

Tunisia

New Tunisian premier names coalition government dominated by Islamists

American Children Kidnapped and Taken to Tunisia By Father

Turkey

Turkey: Post-Earthquake, How Easy to Stop Substandard Construction?

Tuvalu

The Tuvalu Drought: A Microcosm of Things to Come

Uganda

Don't Break Your Nails. Hire a Chef

Lazy Ugandan men face arrest

Ukraine

Ukraine will start 2012 in precarious condition

United Arab Emirates

Citizenship law for Emirati women sets good example

Young people spend nearly 10 hours a day online

United Kingdom

Sony - Netflix's U.K. Plans Undermined By Amazon Deal

England riots: all-night courts praised, but were they a publicity stunt? (Perspective)

United States

U.S. Population Grows at Slowest Rate Since 1940s

The U.S. Isn’t Into Social Networking as Much as You’d Think, and Females are Into It More Than Males

Uruguay

Uruguay Set to Invest in Its Dairy Farmers to Make Them More Green

Vanuatu

Vanuatu minister accused of making threats

Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Calls Obama a 'Clown'

No more kumbaya

Malicious Spam Depicts Demise of Venezuela President

(PHOTO: Theresly Malavé, Venezuelan criminal defense lawyer & president of NGO Justicia y Proceso Venezuela (Venezuelan Justice & Process) & Jackeline Sandoval, the director of the Foundation for Due Process (Fundepro); Credit Gustavo Bandres)NGOs count 24 political prisoners in Venezuela

Vietnam

Vietnam fuel companies suspected of dodgy tax practices 

Wallis and Futuna Islands

Real Estate In Wallis And Futuna Islands Look Great

Western Sahara

Justice for Killing of Young Saharawi Boy Demanded

Yemen

Unrest puts child marriage issue on back burner

Yemen faces critical period to cement political settlement: UN envoy

Zambia

Zambia’s Free Education Policy to Benefit Poor

(PHOTO: Lusaka, Zambia; CREDIT: Jacqui Wintle; September 2011)Women farmers need funding in face of climate change says environment advocates

Zambia to host 200th David Livingstone celebrations

Zimbabwe

Women still marginalised in Zimbabwe

Blitz Triggers Transport Woes

Saturday
Nov262011

GLOBAL HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 11/27/11

(PHOTO: Farouk Batiche) Algeria

Algeria law seen as blow to women's rights

American Samoa

Glory days for soccer in tiny American Samoa

Angola

2011 a year of success for Angolan women

Anguilla

Anguilla turns to TVET for more job skills

Antarctica

British adventurer sets out to become first woman to make solo crossing of Antarctica

(PHOTO: Disaster coordinators, Antigua & Barbuda, CARABARENA)Antigua & Barbuda

Disaster Co-ordinators Recognised

Armenia

Women’s role issues discussed in Armenian government

The Bahamas

Promote Youth Empowerment to Reduce Brain Drain (Opinion)  

Barbados

Marcus Samuelsson in Barbados Gives Lessons on Eating Well

(PHOTO: Cynthia Williams, Womens Department, BELIZE7) Belize

Women Launch 16 Days Of Activism

Benin

West Africa Plans “Electricity Interconnection” 

Bhutan

Where are the snows of yesterday?

Botswana

The prime heritage trails of Botswana

(PHOTO: Brunei Times) Brunei Darussalam 

WWF says 40% of Borneo's forests can be managed by firms

Burkina Faso

Forest Communities in Burkina Faso, Ghana and DRC to Benefit From Dedicated CIF Grant (AfDB)

Cameroon

Cameroon Sentences Three ‘Effeminate Men’ to Maximum Prison Time

(PHOTO: Surfer Today) Cape Verde

Cape Verdean kitesurfers challenge home waves

Cayman Islands

'Crazy Idea' guys start their run

(PHOTO: Chad former dictator Hissene Habre)Chad

Africa's ousted dictators live high on the hog while nations bicker over trials

Christmas Island

Australia to release 100 boatpeople a month

 

Cocos Islands

Cocos base under review

Comoros

Satellite Survey Sheds Light on Species' Extinction Risk

Cook Islands

Cooks signs deal with China for exploratory fishing

(PHOTO: Djibouti, WHO) Djibouti

Djibouti Diarrhea Outbreak Has Affected Thousands

(PHOTO: East Timor Fishooks, Susan O'Connor) East Timor

20,000-year-old fishhooks found in East Timor

Eritrea

Eritrean diplomat defects to Canada

Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands hope for tourism boost after news of Prince William's tour of duty

Faroe Islands

Two suspected murder cases in the Faroe Islands

French Guiana

In Latin America, Effective Regulations Bolster Energy Boom

The Gambia

Jammeh re-elected Gambian president in polls, ECOWAS alleges intimidation

Ghana

IBM opens Ghana centre to grow business in 17 African countries

Greenland

Polar ways of life 'disappearing'

Guam

Ways to improve Guam's public schools

Guinea-Bissau

France pardons Guinea Bissau’s debt

Guyana

Living and struggling in Guyana

Iceland

Women’s Empowerment Event in Reykjavík

Kiribati

Pair adrift in Pacific for over a month

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan moves to stop ‘bride’ kidnappings

Laos

Laos Human Rights Advocate Dies

Lesotho

Film about friendship hopes to inspire

Liberia

Ellen Declares 16-Days Action Against Gender Violence

Madagascar

Air France’s commitment in Madagascar

Malawi

Malawi study reveals climate adaptation costs

The Maldives

Women's contribution possible only by eliminating gender disparity: President

Mali

Climate Investment Fund Board approves Mali’s $40m plan to scale up renewable energy

Marshall Islands

New cases of dengue fever in Marshall Islands confirmed

Mauritania

Maghreb youths chase paradise

Micronesia

108 Countries Support HFC Curbs under Montreal Protocol

Moldova

Moldova issues stamp to mark 60th anniversary of refugee convention

(PHOTO: Mongolia, Vogue India)Mongolia

Vogue India: Art or Exploitation?

Montenegro

Montenegro: IMF requesting reforms in the labour market

 

Mozambique

Mozambique launches US$2bn power project

Namibia

More Needed to Access Higher Education

Palau

The shark, a predator turned prey

Papua New Guinea

WHO warns of untreatable tuberculosis

(PHOTO: Morocco's King Mohammed VI 2nd right hosts a luncheon in honor of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani 2nd left.)Qatar 

Emir of Qatar visits Morocco

Seychelles

Seychelles proposes a new energy bill to revolutionize electricity provision

Solomon Islands

I will not resign: Solomon Islands PM Lilo

Suriname

Citizens of Suriname Celebrate Their Independence Day

Swaziland

Calling all men, calling all leaders

Togo

HIV group N case detected outside Cameroon for the first time

Tonga

Maori party takes a hit

Trinidad and Tobago

Governments plan for HIV/Aids insurance can hit snag

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan begins supplying gas to southern China

Tuvalu

Western nations 'used bullying tactics' at climate talks

United Arab Emirates

Regional issues to personal drama in Arabian Nights Film Festival

Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s WTO membership vote further delayed

Wallis and Futuna

Hundreds Protest Living Costs in Wallis and Futuna

Western Sahara

Concerns over cost to EU and Morocco occupation of Western Sahara

Monday
Oct242011

Powder in the Eyes in Algeria (PERSPECTIVE) 

By Wided Khadraoui

Algerian newspapersThe endgame unfolding in Libya is having profound effects throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The revolution still rages on as Gaddafi’s relatives pour into Algeria, where the implications of the last battle in Sirte have profoundly impacted the political situation. Algeria and Morocco are the only states in North Africa where the leadership remains intact. Algeria has certainly felt the pressure of the revolutionary wave and has taken several measures to counter any challenge that might emerge from its conflict-weary nationals.

There are three main factors preventing Algeria from joining the Arab Spring. The first is a lack of support from the intellectual and academic elites of the nation, making protests like the ones called for this past September 17 irrelevant. This lack of support is tied to the second reason, which is the lack of an authentic substitute for the current government. Opposition parties in Algeria have all failed to present better political prospects. Finally, Algeria is essentially a diffuse “mafia state” with widespread corruption, bribery, and protection rackets. Algeria does not have one leader that can be targeted for removal, but rather an entire establishment that needs complete restructuring. The military junta that runs Algeria maintains its support by exploiting security threats in the region and offering token reforms in an attempt to quell protests.

The most recent of these reforms is the opening up of the country’s media. Algeria has 45 independent French and Arabic publications alongside four government-owned newspapers. There are currently five television channels in Algeria, all publicly owned and used solely for the regime’s propaganda. But on September 12, the government announced that it would relinquish its monopoly on the airwaves, which it has enjoyed since 1962.

Communication Minister Nacer Mehal, in an interview with the newspaperL’Expression on September 21, promised that such reforms were sincere, although it would take some time to implement them. However, the minister also warned would-be broadcasters of “excesses that might undermine [Algeria’s] unity and sovereignty.” A careful reading of the draft bill shows that additional limitations have been inserted under the guise of protecting national media. Despite somewhat liberalizing the audio-visual sector, the bill also proposes numerous restrictions on the freedom of association, once again under the guise of national safety.

The government’s timeworn refrain that restrictions and control are necessiary to protect Algerian nationals from instability and insecurity no longer holds water. It only reinforces societywide symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the recent civil war, and severely limits socio-economic progress.

Censorship in Algeria

Censorship in Algeria has always been somewhat indirect. Insults to the president, an MP, a judge, or the army are usually prosecuted under defamation laws. It is not necessarily treated as sedition, but unfavorable media coverage can still result in prison terms or fines.

Journalists such as Mohammad Benchicou, for example, director of the newspaper Le Matin and author of a critical biography, Bouteflika: An Algerian Impostor, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2004 after the release of his book. Omar Belhouchet of the opposition El Watan has been under constant judicial attack since 2008, when he accused a supposed faith healer with close ties to the government of being a fraud. Despite the harassment, Algerian newspapers have survived constant government attempts to scrutinize and control.

Still, although Algerian journalists have generally had somewhat greater liberty to express their opinions compared to others in the region, many journalists essentially practice a form of self-censorship, avoiding certain sensitive topics altogether.

Powder in the Eyes

Meager “political reforms” to assuage public frustration have been slowly trickling out of Bouteflika’s cabinet since February. Mehal promised that consultations to open  the audio-visual sector would be initiated as early as this October. The minister has repeatedly declared that the latest draft reforms are not simply “de la poudre aux yeux,” an expression that literally means “powder in the eyes,” referring to appearances that are appealing but misleading.

Ending the government’s monopoly on broadcasting has been a long-standing demand of the opposition. The authenticity of the proposed reforms, however, is another story, especially considering the regime’s history of dealing in “powder.” Democratic reforms offered by an oligarchy, after all, are an oxymoron. Accordingly, the statement released on September 12 by the Algérie Presse Service (the state-run news agency) contained an ominous caveat: the liberalization of media outlets would be dependent on broadcasters’ willingness to show “respect for the Constitution and legislation [currently] in force.”

The shortcomings of these proposals are not lost on either the press or the opposition. An op-ed from El Watan stated it most concisely: “there is nothing new, or virtually nothing [in the draft bills]. … The President of the Republic and his ministers have failed to revolutionise Algerian legislation on political practice, the way that associations work, or media conduct.”

Constitutional Failings

The requirement that broadcasters show “respect for the Constitution” begs the question: which constitution will new players in the sector have to “respect” — the current one, or the one to be amended at the end of this month? Any revisions to current laws promised by the government have to be discussed and adopted by Parliament. To make the matter more complicated, the criteria for what allows particular laws to be passed and others dismissed are not clear, and the order in which reforms will be made is just as ambiguous.

In order for any reform to be feasible, the current constitution cannot continue to serve the purposes of the president and his cache of generals alone. It must clearly delineate powers, processes, and limitations, and just as importantly, it must be respected. Algeria cannot continue to put the cart in front of the horse; no reform proposed by the current regime can be viable without first eradicating the country’s political cronyism.

Algeria and the Arab Spring

Although the Arab Spring has not yet come to Algeria in full force, the country remains ripe for social unrest. Not only is poverty is widespread and unemployment high (especially among youth), but pervasive government corruption and deficient public services are persistent sources of significant popular dissatisfaction. And despite the “repeal” of the 1992 emergency laws in response to the major protests of January 2011, where two people were killed in clashes with security forces, the Algerian regime has continued to find ways to maintain the same level of control.

In an interview with Maison des journalistes, when asked about the reason for high levels of censorship in Algeria, exiled Algerian journalist Djamledine Benchenouf eloquently answered that “the leaders, who have their hands on the riches of the country…cannot afford to allow the emergence of a democratic system.” This inability to embrace the foundations of a democratic system makes it impossible for viable change to emerge under the current regime.

This is no less true elsewhere in the region. From Bahrain to Syria, Jordan to Saudi Arabia, authoritarian regimes across the Middle East resist any tangible change.

The push for democratic reform will not cease now that the initial passion of the Arab Spring is over. The seasonal nomenclature unrealistically restricted the movement to a specific time; in reality it is a continuous process. The Algerian government treats democratic reform as some kind of impossible brainteaser, when in reality all it requires is a basic overhaul of the current regime and the introduction of new and able-bodied players. Whether the current archaic leaders recognize it or not, “Out with the old, in with the new” is the only solution. 

- Wided Khadraoui graduated from the London School of Economics with an MSc in conflict studies. She is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and writes on issues on the Middle East and North Africa, especially the Maghreb, at www.livefromthecasbah.com

-  Originally published by Institute for Policy Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday
Feb022011

Hunger fuels discontent in the Middle East (Opinion) 

Weeks of street protests across Tunisia culminated in the dramatic ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ali after 23 years in power. photo courtesy PressTVby Joel Brinkley

(HN, February 2, 2011) When the Middle East tumult began in Tunisia two months ago, demonstrators had barely a thought in their heads about throwing their president out of office. No, they had a larger problem. They were hungry.

Next door in Algeria, meantime, youths were setting government buildings afire and shouting "Bring us Sugar!" And after people first took to the streets in Jordan, Finance Minister Mohammad Abu-Hammour promised to lower commodity prices to "help the poor and middle class cope as global food prices rise."

The world is heading into a food crisis again, barely three years after the last one in 2008. That, not political reform, animated the riots and demonstrations across the Arab world and beyond -- until Tunisia's president fell from power on Jan. 14. After that, hungry demonstrators aimed higher.

Now, whatever the final results in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and other states that have been under siege, millions of people in these places still will not be able to afford enough food for their families.

The United Nations office that monitors global food supplies announced last month that world prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat have reached record levels and will probably continue to rise in the months ahead. That list of affected foods is far broader than last time. In 2008, the demonstrations were called "bread riots" because of the high price of grains.

Late last month, the World Bank warned that Yemen was "particularly vulnerable" to food-price shocks because the country is desperately poor and imports most of its food. A few days later, thousands of protestors took to the streets, and the government finally announced it would institute price controls. But Middle Eastern nations aren't the only victims.

Thirteen people were killed in Mozambique last fall during riots over the price of bread. Sri Lanka's president warned his people that they couldn't import food to mitigate the crisis because so many other nations are in serious trouble, too. In Kenya, five people actually starved to death, local media reported.

Around the world, the U.N. reports, nearly one billion people live at the edge of starvation. These are the people who live on something like a dollar a day, and when the prices of staples, like rice and corn and wheat, shoot up, they can no longer afford to buy any.

In Sri Lanka, for example, prices for those staples rose by 30 percent in recent months. Already, 15 percent of Sri Lanka's infants suffer from "wasting," Unicef says. That means they are starving to death.

Who's to blame for all of this? America and other wealthy nations, in large part. When commodity prices begin to rise, Western speculators start buying commodity shares, driving prices even higher. After hearing about poor wheat crops in Russia and Ukraine last August, speculators drove the wheat price up by 80 percent.

At the same time, when gasoline prices are high, as they are now, demand for ethanol increases. Ethanol is made from corn, and Washington offers subsidies for corn's use as fuel. The U.S. is the world's largest corn producer, but now 40 percent of the crop is converted to ethanol. As a result, corn prices have risen by 66 percent.

Unusually violent weather also played a role. Floods, droughts, storms and wildfires in Australia, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and South America, among other places, reduced crop yields. Agronomists blame climate change and predict worse in the years ahead.

But other villains hold responsibility, too. They are the past and current leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and others of their ilk. They've had little control over global food prices. But they've wielded imperial control of their nations.

The Egyptian president lives in one of the world's most sumptuous palaces, once a luxury hotel with 400 rooms and a 6,340-square-foot ceremonial hall. Living there for nearly three decades, Hosni Mubarak knew full well that his people were hungry and desperate; 30 percent of the state's children grow up "stunted" because of malnutrition during the first years of life.

Regularly, union members and others held angry demonstrations over low wages, hundreds of them. To mollify them, sometimes Mubarak raised salaries a few pennies. But as successive food crises devastated his people, Mubarak, like his fellow dictators throughout the region, did little if anything to alleviate his peoples' misery -- watching their suffering from high windows in his grand manse. During the 2008 food crisis, his government actually cut bread rations.

Mubarak and the others brought this on themselves.

Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

This article first appeared on StAugustine.com

Thursday
Jan062011

Soaring Food Prices Cause Concern Worldwide (Report)

(PHOTO: Bikyamasr.com)(HN, January 6, 2011) - Noah commandeers his battered taxi through the early morning haze of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, wondering how he will come up with the money to pay for a trip to the market. Not only has the price of produce shot up in recent months, the price of parking at the market has double in recent weeks.

Noah’s worries were confirmed this week by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which reported that its food price index – a basket tracking the wholesale cost of wheat, corn, rice, oil seeds, dairy products, sugar and meats, has jumped to a record high – even surpassing prices that sparked riots in more than 30 countries – including Haiti, Somalia and Cameroon - in 2007-2008.

While the price of staples such as rice and wheat are below the crises level, sticker shock in markets around the world is being caused by corn, sugar, meat and vegetable oil.

“We are entering a danger territory,” Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO told reporters Wednesday.

(GRAPH: FAO) But some believe the world food supply is more fragile than it ever was, mostly because of extreme weather worldwide last year. Major wheat producers such as Ukraine and Russia have banned exports of wheat in 2010 after extremely poor harvests. And recent severe flooding in Australia’s agricultural heartland of Queensland is already having global repercussions on the world food supply.

This week, young people in the capital of Algiers, Algeria, rioted mostly because of rising food prices – including oil, sugar and flour.

There is also evidence to suggest that in the poorest countries, mothers are being forced by rising prices to cut back on essentials. In Niger - where one in four children die before their fifth birthday, mainly due to malnutrition – record numbers of children are being admitted to the country’s 822 therapeutic feeding centres, according to UNICEF.

Even in developed countries, people in the food business are being forced to cope using innovative means. Cynthia Thomet, co-owner of Atlanta’s Lunacy Black Market, a trendy eatery, said fluctuating prices of produce means much more frequent menu changes.

The sharp increase in commodity prices has prompted food companies like General Mills, Kraft, Sara Lee, Kellogg and ConAgra Foods to drop discounts and start rising prices on many products, said Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

According to the FAO not only is their Food Price Index which tracks 55 commodities in total at a record high, but December 2010 was the sixth month in a row of surging prices - the highest since records began in 1990. The organization says it fears that prices will continue to soar in coming months as supply will fall short of world demand.

(PHOTO: City Farmer)Additionally, in a continuing to struggle world economy rising food prices would see consumers left with less money for discretionary spending on things like eating out and retail items as every day eating becomes more expensive.

Compounding the issue is the growing global population, scheduled to top 7 billion people sometime this spring.  The FAO has previously warned that worldwide food production must rise by 70% by 2050 when the global population will increase to 9.1 billion people, mostly in Asia and Africa.

--- By HUMNEWS’ staff

Friday
Oct292010

(HEADLINES) - October 29, 2010 - AFRICA

ALGERIA

(CREDIT: Tunisia Online) The 3rd congress of the Arab Women Organisation was held on Thursday afternoon in Tunis

ANGOLA

Angola at launching of Africa’s Food Security Day

Angola hosts fashion, beauty expo

BENIN

Benin: UN emergency flight arrives with aid for flood victims

BOTSWANA

Celebrating Botswana's amazing one-hit wonders

Flood victims cry out for help(CREDIT: MMEGI ONLINE)

Khama declares war on poverty

Fires in Botswana (PHOTO)

BURKINA FASO

Honesty must be predominant in social change (opinion)

CAMEROON

Transparency International launches Launches Corruption Perception Index @Cameroon Center

US$19.2 million IFAD loan to Cameroon to improve food security in rural areas

Cholera kills 550 in Cameroon

Cameroon Counts Over 93,000 Business Companies

CAPE VERDE

Atlantic sea turtle population threatened by egg infection

Cape Verde gets Africa's first giant wind farm(CREDIT: Afrol.com)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Support for National Efforts Vital As UN Leaves, Says Secretary-General

COMOROS

Al-Rumaihi's Statement on Arab Committee for Development in the Comoros

Research and Markets: 3Q10 Comoros Mobile Operator Forecast, 2010 - 2014

Comoros Ambassador to Tehran Encourages Iranian Traders to Invest in Comoros

DJIBOUTI

Book Review: Elmore Leonard Takes His Crime-Writing Skills to ‘Djibouti’

Djibouti Food Security Outlook October 2010

Research and Markets: 3Q10 Djibouti Mobile Operator Forecast, 2010 - 2014

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

African women primed for big stage

ERITREA

Yemen, Eritrea summit boosting joint cooperation

Modern Machineries-Backed Crop Harvesting Underway in Dekemhare Sub-Zone

GABON

Gabon and Chinese in manganese project

UN to Open Conflict Prevention Office in Gabon

Korea, Gabon hold talks on energy cooperation

THE GAMBIA

Soldiers told to take proactive role in national development

Gambia to set up Science, Technology Park

GHANA

Iran's foreign minister flies to Ghana

Gov't Releases Funds To Control Black Flies

GUINEA

Guinea sets date for poll second round

GUINEA-BISSAU

UNDP to back civil society projects in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea Bissau to create more mangroves, parks by 2012

LIBERIA

WFP Supports Food Security in Liberia

Carbon Fraud Report Links Many

LIBYA

Chavez, Gaddafi meet in Libya to build power among global "south"

African Development Bank Launches First Project in Libya

MADAGASCAR

Parasite infects poor women's reproductive organs

MALAWI

Malawi: no longer begging

Sex for work at Labour offices

MALI

Mali: Restructuring Agriculture

Weather forecasting helps Mali farmers adapt to climate change

Cuba: Alarcon Meets with Mali Parliamentary Leader

MAURITANIA

Mauritania unveils counter-terrorism plan

Orangutans And Monk Seals Among Species To Benefit From Spain-Backed Conservation Boost

MAYOTTE

Coral deaths reach Mayotte, Comoros

MOZAMBIQUE

Child Registration Campaign

Nippon Steel to acquire interest in Mozambique coal project

Eight Detained for Cholera Disinformation

Central Bank of India to open branch in Mozambique

NAMIBIA

Coca Cola Happiness Ambassadors land in Namibia

NIGER

Niger to vote on constitution; critics question vote's significance months after military coup

South Korea to cooperate with Niger on nuclear energy

RWANDA

Hero of 'Hotel Rwanda' is declared enemy of the state

SAO TOME & PRINCIPE

World Bank to support state budget of Sao Tome and Principe

SEYCHELLES

Seychelles, from recession to new boom

SOMALIA

New radio show features Somali language

U.S. slips in corruption index, Somalia worst

SUDAN

Sudan’s Last Chance for Durable Peace

SWAZILAND

Swaziland Railway employees petition CEO

TANZANIA

Tanzania Teachers Start Second Taarab Workshop in Comoros

TOGO

21 dead in Togo as floods ravage west Africa

WESTERN SAHARA

Western Sahara: the difficult mission of Christopher Ross

Call for the protection of rock paintings of the desert

ZAMBIA

H.E joins London Mayor to Celebrate Africa @50

AFRICA GENERAL:

Africa's election Super Sunday

Bharti Airtel to establish call centers across Africa

Witchcraft in Africa a complex dilemma

WHO Launches Massive Polio Eradication Campaign 

All Afrika Expedition against malaria kicks off

Cholera continues to be deadly epidemic in most countries

Is the US backing governments who employ child war fighters? (opinion)

Cable exclusive: The secret Obama administration memo on child soldiers

4 African countries, 15 others join ECOSOC

Africa: from North to South, the economy is recovering

Two wheels to a better life in Africa

Wednesday
Sep152010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - September 15, 2010 (Africa and the Middle East) 

The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea, & lies along the south side of the Gulf of Aden. The region contains the countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Djibouti, Ethiopia, & Somalia. As such, it covers approximately 2,000,000 km² & is inhabited by about 100.2 million people (Ethiopia: 75mn, Somalia: 10mn, Eritrea: 4.5mn, Djibouti: 0.7 million). Regional studies on the Horn of Africa are carried out, among others, in the fields of Ethiopian Studies as well as Somali Studies. (VIA WIKIPEDIA) REGION – Africa and Middle East

Hung up on the Horn of Africa

BP and off-shore drilling in the Mediterranean

World Bank report highlights Middle East economic challenges

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE among the most generous donors around the globe

ALGERIA

Petroceltic hopes to tap a new markets as loss hits $5m

Algeria to host North African security meeting

Algeria Power Report 2010 – Between 2010 & 2019, report forecasts an increase in Algerian electricity generation of 57.3%

Algeria convicts anti-corruption activist of corruption

ANGOLA

British ambassador praises role played by Angola in Africa

Social reintegration of disabled persons easier

Angola and Kenya to analyze cooperation in media

BENIN

Benin, Oba wants Swedish help on sex trade

Police give reasons for violent crimes in Edo

Internet and e-commerce industry in Benin

Guitarist Lionel Loueke combines African, jazz, classical sounds (entertainment)  

BOTSWANA

Cosatu’s radical new plan for the economy  

Residents against Botswana joining United States of Africa

Botswana installs full body scanners

Botswana, SA move up Fifa rankings (sports)

ISAF welcomes Botswana as a new member national authority (sports)

BURKINA FASO

Iran urges enhanced ties with Africa

CAMEROON

Cameroon begins search for seized vessels

First CamairCo flight to Paris scheduled on March 28, 2011 (travel)  

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

New network launches in Republic of the Congo

The ICC is a phantom court  

GABON

Fifa rankings: Gabon overtakes Nigeria (sports)

GAMBIA

Pres. Jammeh tours affected communities – brings hope to disaster victims

VP launches support for disaster victims

GHANA

Ghana to set up International Trade Commission

Ghana breaks in Top20 in Fifa rankings (sports)

Michael Essien leads Ghana Quintet in champs league action (sports)  

Derrick Adjei, A damaging liability to Ghana  

Chris Gardner arrives in Ghana next month

LESOTHO

Report says hunger costing poor countries billions

New customs deal to lighten burden on SA  

LIBERIA

African Aura Mining granted Liberia iron ore development rights

Cellcom gives US$500,000 to Liberian Football Association

Country still faces security challenges  

Monrovia, Liberia, Now Delta’s 7th African destination (travel)

LIBYA

Growing row in Italy over alleged Libyan attack on fishing boat

Libya paying fees for assault suspect

Libyan Shoah survivors to get reparations

MALAWI

Malawi President expects remarkable growth in Iran-Africa ties

Ex-President Muluzi denies Malawi corruption charges

Malawi democracy ‘on the right track’  

MAURITANIA

35 Islamists pardoned show their repentance

QATAR

Qatar index up after delayed opening

Qatari official and Darfur mediator discuss peace process

Qatari oil rises as refiners seek more distillate rich grades  

SIERRA LEONE

Politics with a new dimension in Sierra Leone: President Koroma brings the government to the people of the U.S.

African minerals constructs schools for Tonkolili kids

SOMALIA

Ethiopia troops arrive in Somaliland to hunt down ONLF rebels

SUDAN

Sudanese FM hails Iran’s remarkable progress in different fields

Child refugees at risk from sexual abuse

YEMEN

Three coincident explosions rock south Yemen, separatists blamed

Terrorist death squads publish their hit lists  

Yemen to attend 34th session of Arab Central Banks Governors Council

Monday
Jul262010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - July 26, 2010 (Africa and the Middle East) 

ALGERIA

One killed in attack on Algeria security forces: resident

Algeria turns down Desertec project

Bougherra could still go (sports)

Moroccan music takes spotlight in Algiers festival (entertainment)

ANGOLA

Angola becomes China’s largest oil import source in H1

Angola: Transfers Palop presidency to Mozambique

Angolan basketball team stronger now player says (sports)

Angolan footballer Gilberto leaves Al Ahly of Egypt  

BENIN

3 to die by hanging over murder of Benin chief

Russia’s proud moment: First black (originally from Benin) gets elected into office

BOTSWANA

Botswana upholds guarantee not to execute death row inmate

Foreign criminal syndicates operating in Botswana - DIS

Botswana opens path for Bushmen to study at university

IFSC has helped match demands with right skills

Where is it all going wrong? (sports)

BURKINA FASO

Gold production booming in Burkina Faso

New leaders, new tools can transform fight against malaria

CAPE VERDE

Action not words will improve maternal and child health (opinion)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Mills makes stop-over in Central African Republic

All we want it to celebrate the birth of our children (opinion)

Abused women in Africa demand justice

CHAD

ICC’s call to arrest Bashir is futile

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

The hired guns

ERITREA

Gerenfit inhabitants commend health service in their village

Effective Agriculture Activities Carried Out in Mogolo Sub-Zone

Dialogue can bring peace to Somalia

GAMBIA

Jammeh accuses Britain of stealing from Gambians

Nationwide AHINI vaccination campaign starts in Gambia

Gambia government demolishes M Sumareh and Sons business center

GHANA

Education Ministry asked to provide funds for research into Ghanaian languages

GUINEA-BISSAU

Security council calls on Guinea-Bissau to improve on rule of law

LIBERIA

Liberians observed 163 years of independence on Monday

Like water for Liberia

Liberia and Nigeria sign oil deal

LIBYA

Prince Andrea hosted VP guest from Libya as Cameron prepared to meet Obama over Megrahi storm

Libya stops diplomatic operations in South Korea

Gathafi muscles back into African Union

Russia has stronghold on Libyan weapons market – arms exporter

Italian minister hails cooperation between Libya, Italy and Malta on migration

MADAGASCAR

With Madagascar's Priceless Biodiversity on the Line, New Report Says 'Go for it' to USAID

MALAWI

Madonna performs for charity

President’s dogs dominate front pages

GAIN awarded injunction against USD 6.9 m fine

MALI

Al Qaeda kills French hostage in Mali, says Sarkozy ‘has opened the doors of hell’

Mali: water has become a “luxury”

MOZAMBIQUE

Mozambique’s retail sector set to soar

11 Nepali students missing in Mozambique

NAMIBIA

Shot in the arm for Namibian infrastructure projects (business news)

Land auction prices skyrocket

QATAR

Qatar telecom signs up English premiership coverage

Qatar airways confirms order of Bombardier jets

AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011 online ticket sales start  (press release)

SIERRA LEONE

Midas: Algy Cluff striking more gold in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, Paul Kamara breaks silence over youth commissions

How China is changing Sierra Leone (opinion)

SUDAN

African Union drops resolution barring arrest of Sudanese president in continent

UGANDA

Ugandan President rallies support for fight against terrorists

YEMEN

Yemeni forces kill 3 Al Qaeda members

Yemeni high court upholds death sentence

Yemeni President calls for end to tribal clashes

Tuesday
Jun222010

Amid humiliating African Losses, South African team told to "storm the Bastille"

(HN, June 22, 2010) -- Today all eyes on the continent will be on the South African team at the World Cup to reverse a string of humiliating losses chalked up by African teams Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire.Johannesburg fan Tamara Sutila shows her support for "Bafana Bafana"

In a few hours Bafana Bafana (the boys, the boys) meet France in a do or die soccer encounter in the South African city of Bloemfontein. The South Africans need several goals in order to stand a chance at progressing into the second round.

One local newspaper today instructed South African players to "storm the Bastille" in their meet-up with France. The South African team tied with Mexico in the opening match of the World Cup, but lost to Uruguay a few days later.

Should South Africa be defeated today, it would signify the first time a host nation fails to make it to round two.

The hopes for an African win is palpable in the country's airports, shopping malls and streets. After all, this is the first World Cup to be played on African soil and the poor performance thus far by the continent's teams has thrown fans into a collective depression.

This morning at Johannesburg International Airport dejected fans from Cameroon were headed home, unable to afford a longer stay in South Africa.

Asked what he thought about the poor performance of the Cameroonian and other African teams, one departing fan said: "I think it has to be back to the drawing board for our teams. They havent been communicating well internally."

Ghana, and to a lesser extent Algeria and Nigeria, are among the other African teams that still stand a chance at progressing to the second round.

South African political and sports leaders are reminding their countrymen that no matter what the outcome of today's match, the host country must continue to play the perfect host to the world.

"Over the past few weeks South Africa has undergone an extraordinary revival of its national spirt," said Archbishop Emeritus Demond Tutu. Observers here say the Cup has been extremely helpful in boosting the spirits of South Africans - many of them concerned about poverty, crime, unemployment, and factionalism within the African National Congress.

Of the more than 400,000 foreign tourists who have come for the World Cup, there are only about 50,000 African fans who bought tickets. The difficulty and cost of acquiring tickets, and the expense of flights and accommodation have been factors in keeping African fans at home.

In hosting the World Cup, some South African opinion leaders are hoping that it will bring a change in the mindset of the political, business and sports elite. Said columnist John Carlin: "South Africa...is at a crossroads. Either the spirit imposes itself of those who have contrived to get the country ready for the World Cup, whose hard and honest toil is ensuring that so far everything is going well or, after the World Cup has come and gone, the spirit of the Bafana 'black elite' reigns in the land. At which point we might as well forget all notion forever of this country re-establishing itself - as it did during the Mandela glory years - as a light and example to Africa, let alone the world."

-- Reporting by HUMNEWS staff in Johannesburg, SA. 

Tuesday
Jun152010

HUM at the World Cup

(HN, June 15, 2010) Starting today, HUM News takes its front row seat at the World Cup in South Africa to report on the backstories surrounding the world’s most watched sporting event.

Four countries that fall within HUM’s definition of a ‘geographic gap' are represented at the World Cup. They are: North Korea, Algeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

(Tonight North Korea competes in the first round against Brazil in a sold out match in Johannesburg. The North Koreans so far have held all of their practices behind closed doors).

Along with a small editorial team now on the ground in South Africa, HUM will utilize a team of writers, editors, stringers and commentators spread across the globe. 

The HUM News site at www.humnews.com will serve as the main portal for World Cup coverage. In addition the news agency will be sharing video, audio, images and text with a variety of media outlets, big and small. Instant updates and links to stories will be posted on the HUM News Twitter feed at @humnews.

The World Cup is the second major global sporting event to be covered by HUM. Earlier this year, the Atlanta-based news service deployed a large team to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where about a dozen HUM countries competed for the medal stand. Over four consecutive days, HUM’s unique brand of coverage was streamed live to Barcelona, where it was displayed at the Intel booth at the Mobile World Congress.

Star Alliance partners Air Canada and Lufthansa assisted HUM’s journey to South Africa.