FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Wednesday:  December 17, 2014

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

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

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

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

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

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

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

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

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

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

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Entries in Desmond Tutu (6)

Wednesday
Sep212011

Aung San Suu Kyi: "The World Needs to Know What is Going on in Burma" (NEWS BRIEF)

By Themrise Khan in New York

CGI 2011 Plenary Session Conversations on Courage(

Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, Addresses the Clinton Global Initiative in New York today, live via satellite from Yangon. CREDIT: CGI

(HN, September 21, 2011) - Two of the world's famous freedom fighters sat face-to-face this morning in New York City - or as was as close as possible under the circumstances.

Live on stage in New York,  in front of a packed plenary on the second day of the Clinton Global Summit, was Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

A world away, via satellite and sitting comfortably in her home on the banks of Inya Lake in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was the renowned opposition leader in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Aung San Suu Kyi.

The fact that technology could link these two Nobel Peace Prize winners is, in these times, unremarkable. What was astonishing was that the Burmese military regime allowed Suu Kyi's conversation to take place, uncensored.

It's not clear what type of diplomatic handywork or meaneuvering went on behind closed doors by former US President Clinton, the host of the meeting, to get the Burmese generals to agree to the broadcast. But for a man who has rescued stranded celebrity journalists from North Korea, and has accomplished other seemingly impossible feats, this may have been received as just another challenge.

The broadcast was billed as Suu Kyi's first live conversation since her release in 2009.

Little wonder the atmosphere in the hall was nothing less than euphoric. Tutu, who made no secret of his admiration for his colleague a world away, appeared smitten and almost child-like at her elegant and articulate responses.

It was a rare site.

As moderator Charlie Rose pointed out more than once, audience members were witness to “something going on here, mutual admiration society and more”.

But the humorous banter did not hide the seriousness of the issue at hand. At issues was the struggle for freedom of a nation, a topic which very few around the world seem to know very little about.

Despite her long and painful incarceration, Suu Kyi sounded very optimistic about Myanmar’s future, especially that of its youth. She was confident of the possibility of change, citing that when she was freed in 2009, there were many, many more youth out to greet her than at any of the previous times, she had seen. “That showed me that some change was going on within the people”, she said.

To Suu Kyi, awareness of the situation for the Myanmar people, and for the whole world, was one of the most important elements of bringing change. “If the world wants to help Burma, the world needs to know what is going on in Burma”, she said. “ We would like the world to keep an eye on what is happening here”.

Responding to a question on whether neighbours, India and China. can do more to help the political situation in Myanmar, Suu Kyi was adamant that people must first listen to the voices of ordinary Burmese, to what the people want. Then they can help Burma.

“We have always been good neighbors, but times have changed and to continue to be good neighbors certain policies will have to change”, she said.

Unfortunately, Myanmar is still far away from uprisings like the Arab Spring. In answering Rose’s question about the use of social media, Suu Kyi pointed out that Myanmar has no where near the media access that participants in the Arab Spring had. Young people in Myanmar need to be better prepared to face the modern world starting with education.

“I could never have been speaking to you like this seven years ago”, she said. Not letting fear sap her energy all these years, Suu Kyi has remained a controlled and passionate fighter for the cause. A fighter, that fellow fighter Tutu, looks forward to seeing inaugurated as head of the government, when he visits Myanmar in the future.

When you stand out in a crowd it is only because you are standing on the shoulders of others," said Tutu.

CGI 2011 Plenary Session Conversations on Courage

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of The Elders, could hardly hide his excitement sharing the stage today with Aung San Suu Kyi. CREDIT: CGI

Tuesday
Sep202011

Campaign Against Girl Brides Gains New Advocates (NEWS BRIEF)

By Themrise Khan in New York

Mary Robinson (L) and Desmond Tutu at the Clinton Summit in New York. CREDIT: HUMNEWS(HN, September 20, 2011) - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of the Elders was one of the driving forces behind the official launch of the Girls Not Brides campaign, here at the Clinton Global Initiative today.

Supported by the Ford Foundation and the Novo Foundation, among others, the multi-funded collaboration with the Elders Group, seeks to end the centuries old practice of child marriages, affecting almost 3 million young girls around the developing world.

The initiative is committing a start-up of $2 million to partner with almost 150 organizations already involved with the cause and demanding that this practice be ended.

Tutu, along with Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, are lobbying donors, NGOs and cultural and faith-based groups to come together to do more to raise awareness on issues that include lobbying to increase the legal age of marriage to 18 years, so that young girls have the opportunity to attend and complete school.

As passionate and engaging as ever, Tutu urged the audience to look beyond the statistics and put a human face to turn the numbers into flesh and blood, to be able to understand why this ghastly system has to be ended. His appeal was to the men of this world who have to be the ones to change this tradition by saying that they do not want to marry children. “If the men aren’t on the right side, we are in trouble”, he said.

Following on the success of the Burhani Huwan initiative in Ethiopia which assisted in allowing 11,000 girls to complete their schooling and delay child marriage, this global partnership aims to allow young girls the opportunity to be educated and economically independent.

However, the causes contributing to child marriages go beyond just tradition and cross into economic depravation and poverty which forces parents to take such actions.

With multiple challenges facing this commitment, Tutu is one of the key strengths of the initiative declaring that “I am committed to this like I was committed to ending apartheid”.

Thursday
Mar032011

African Asylum-Seekers Among 1000s Stranded in North Africa (Report)

Source: ReliefWeb(HN, March 3 2011) - As distressed migrants, most of them from developing Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan African countries, flee to Libya's border crossings, the numbers entering neighbouring countries is reaching close to 200,000.

However some African officials admit that many of those they have been forced to repatriate are nationals who entered Libya illegally and are undocumented - in effect, a vulnerable sub-class of migrants who are at extreme risk.

Officials and evacuees interviewed by the regional media say that they were in Libya in the process of seeking passage to Europe.

Some quoted in Nigerian newspapers said they have variously spent between four and 17 years in Libya.

The Ghana News Agency said many of the 10,000 or so Ghanians stranded in Libya were "illegal immigrants and undocumented."

Indicative of the diversity of those fleeing Libya is that one of the people evacuated was professional boxer Bash Ali, who said he was in Tripoli for medical treatment.

Upon returning to Nigeria he was quoted by the Daily Trust Newspaper as saying: “I am proud to be a Nigerian… I am proud of this encouraging exercise. Home is home… and home is sweet. Nothing is more comforting than to be among your people at home."

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said yesterday that over 1,000  Nigerians are still stranded in Libya, with the same figure already evacuated.

The rescued Nigerians hinted at some surprise of having their government step up to the plate in this crisis.

A spokesman for the repatriated Nigerians, Chief Festus Koiki said: "For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Federal Government has demonstrated its ability and capability to address the plights of distressed Nigerians in the Diaspora, which is unprecedented.”

Nigeria has had strained relations with Libya for the past decade.

Aid agencies say they are worried for thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers, and irregular migrants still inside Libya and in circumstances of considerable danger of reprisal attacks.

According to a report from the Ghana Embassy in Libya, a number of Nigerian nationals suffered such reprisal attacks, the Ghana News Agency reported.

At least two sub-Saharan Africans are already reported to have been lynched in Benghazi on suspicion of being mercenaries for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, others fear being hunted down by insurgents, a report by UN OCHA released today said.

Actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie"With these new waves of uprising and conflict, there is and will continue to be massive new displacement. The world needs to address this moment. We have to give people safe passage, evacuation if needed, and ensure they have asylum. We don't want to look back and find their deaths are on our hands," UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie said.

Meanwhile, transit camps operated by relief agencies are said to be bursting at the seams as an endless stream of migrants heads towards border crossings in the East with Egypt, in the West with Tunisia, in the South with Niger and towards the port in Benghazi.

The UN said today about 100,000 Africans may try to cross from Libya into poverty-stricken Niger in coming weeks, placing a huge strain on the land-locked country.

Reports indicate more than 50 flights, using commercial and military aircraft from a handful of countries, will be operated today to evacuate the migrants.

Separately, The Eldershave called on the international community to maintain pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to step down as the only way to end the bloodshed in Libya.

Welcoming the strong resolution adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council to try to halt the violent repression in Libya, they urged the rapid implementation of agreed measures including an arms embargo, targeted financial sanctions and travel bans.

The Elders also underlined the need for swift humanitarian assistance to those in need, including people fleeing the violence.

Ultimately, the Elders say, it is Gaddafi's departure from power, along with that of key members of his regime, that will forestall further bloodshed.

The Chair of The Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said: “This is a moral universe – the Libyan people have right on their side and I am confident that they will succeed in their quest for freedom. I admire their courage in facing up to a leader who has in effect declared a brutal war on his own people to cling onto power. Gaddafi must recognise the truth – that the people of Libya are demanding change and he cannot stand in their way.”

- HUMNEWS staff, files

 

Wednesday
Aug112010

THE POST WORLD CUP MOOD IN SOUTH AFRICA (Perspective)

By Roxy Marosa

(HN, August 11, 2010) -- Many South Africans seem to be proud of the upbeat mood generated by the World Cup 2010. After all, it was the first time that the world’s most watched sporting event was hosted on African soil. It was also a coming out party of sorts for cool South Africa, for a post-apartheid country yearning to shake off years of being seen an ostracized state.

South African President Jacob Zuma said the World Cup is "the single greatest opportunity we have ever had to showcase our diversity and potential to the world."

National and regional governments spent an estimated 40 billion rand ($5.2 billion) to host the games. When all is said and done it could boost economic growth in South Africa by as much as 0.5 percentage points this year.

On the first day of the World Cup on June 11, many companies closed early allowing for their employees to join in the festivities. Some people described this day to be more festive than Christmas or New Year’s day.

A white Afrikaner friend, Sandra Barr, who owns a modelling agency, said she and her husband, James, did something June 11 they’d never contemplated doing before. They travelled by train from their safe suburb of Bellville - about 20kms west of Cape Town - to one of the main fan parks in the city. Sandra says the mood on the train was surprising, with people chatting amicably.

Even though they were of a different race and colour, the camaraderie on the train got everyone interacting with each other. This is something they had not witnessed in years, given South Africa’s racial historical background.

Arriving in Cape Town, Sandra and James walked through the streets, taking in the festive mood. They even treated themselves to a traditional Cape Malay meal – Vetkoek (a traditional Afrikaner pastry) and curry mince, and ate while walking in the street – all unusual to them. They felt safe and later took the train back to Bellville.

Being enthusiastic rugby fans who always have season tickets, Sandra said they rarely watched soccer games from home. Many rugby fans not keen on soccer say that during the World Cup, they actually enjoyed the soccer more than the concurrent rugby games. Some say that they are still surprised at their newfound curiosity and love for a game that has been traditionally embraced by black South Africans.

In the immediate aftermath of the World Cup, one could still hear the vuvuzela’s been blown as pedestrians were walking in the streets. Of course this happened a lot during the eight weeks the World Cup was being played in our country. 

Even though it’s now been almost a month since Spain’s Andres Iniesta scored his victorious goal over the Netherlands in Johannesburg’s Soccer City, many people say that they are still recovering from the hectic socialising and outdoor life of the World Cup. I have spotted some cars still driving around with the South African flag, a patriotic symbol that was commonly seen during the games period. Yet some people miss the ‘vibe’ and the mood. In the streets, the improvements are visible and many people are glad to be enjoying the roads, train links, new signage and other upgrades that brought our cities up to world class standards. 

Though not everyone had smiles during this euphoric period. Some businesses took a knock, and one of the activities forced to cease during this time was filming in public areas. That meant the film industry - which employs 30,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than R2.65 billion - and especially production of commercials, took a painful hit. Sandra said her agency had little to no work coming in for her models and talents. Some agencies are said to have closed down. Fortunately, the challenges she experienced in the years previous running her business were great lessons for her to manage in this challenging time. 

Clearly, the socialising and the hustle and bustle of the World Cup encouraged many people to spend a lot of money during this time. The street dwellers also seem to have benefited from people’s generosity, although they are still living in the streets. 

In short, the World Cup was a badly-needed shot in the arm for a country mired in tough economic times. It also demonstrated that a once-divided South Africa can come together. 

As retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu said during the World Cup: “Yet again we've been shown just how we are a rainbow people..that we are there for one another."

---Cape Town-based Roxy Marosa is host of the Roxy Marosa Show and runs several projects assisting people affected by HIV and Aids in South Africa

Wednesday
Jun302010

Tutu's Call for Investment, Aid Into Africa (REPORT) 

(HN, June 30, 2010) - Cape Town, South Africa - Archbishop Desmond Tutu's oratorical prowess is legendary. But when "Arch" spoke to a conference room this weekend, packed with some of the world's top executives; a normally skeptical crowd, this holy man's warmth and charisma brought the room to complete silence:  you could hear a pin drop.Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cape Town summit

Tutu was invited to wrap up a three-summit hosted by the so-called media triumvirate of Fortune, Time and CNN. The theme that emerged was that Africa's time is now - especially with the continent hosting the World Cup for the very first time.

Among African political and business leaders, there was a feeling of heady exuberance - that new infrastructure, growing stability and waves of visitors coming will kick-start a new investment wave.  South African President Jacob Zuma's confident opening remarks at the summit were symbolic of the more self-assured voice one hears more frequently in the corrdiors of power here.

But as Tutu correctly remarked, the continent can't do it alone - and needs the skills, resources and expertise of outsiders to deal with seemingly intractable problems.

"The World Cup has done an incredible thing for us. It told us that we can do this. Yet again we have shown the world, in South Africa just how much we are a rainbow nation. That we are there for one another. It's been an incredibly exhilarating time.

"But we look to you to work with us. This is a continent about to make a leap…and we know that you are very, very smart people. So we pray that you are going to help us eradicate poverty in this cradle of humankind. That you will help us with all the skills that you have. We hope that you will assist us to reduce the burden in Africa."

Tutu reminded an audience sitting in the opulence of the Cape Town Convention Centre, that in many parts of Africa many people are still living on just $2-a-day. "We won't have stability if we have such a skewed relationship."

He said that the world needs to come to terms with the idea that "we are all member of one family."

The rich countries, he said, spend billions of dollars on "instruments of death and destruction." If even a very minute fraction of defence budgets were to be diverted, it would be enough to ensure that all the children in the world don't go to bed hungry. "It's a revolution in our thinking that has got to happen."

Tutu's plea for aid was extremely timely. Recently, respected international non-governmental organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have begun ringing loud alarm bells - saying that donor nations are starting to reduce their funding for HIV AIDS prevention and treatment programmes.

Seth Berkley, the chief of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, told HUMNEWS that in 2008, for the first time, there was a 10 percent decline in global expenditures on HIV vaccine research and that 2009 figures could also be down.

Said Berkley: "Things that are long term are often the first to go at a time like this. And yet if we are ever going to have a chance to eliminate this disease we need better tools."

Many speakers at the summit complained that there exists an enormous knowledge gap in the West on Africa, and that major media should share the blame for this.

African telecommunication entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim told HUMNEWS that this is one of the continent's major headaches.

"This is our main weakness in Africa - that people don't know," said Ibrahim. "There is a total ignorance of what's happening here."

He said that an Indian company typically receives 15 times the market research coverage over an African company of the corresponding size.

"Nobody invests in an atmosphere of ignorance. How can you go to your investment or credit committee with a proposal when they don't know what you are talking about? It is tough."

 --- Reporting by HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw in Cape Town, South Africa

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.