FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Friday:  August 15, 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 Gaddafi (5)

Thursday
Sep082011

Will Gadaffi's Overseas Land Grabs Hold? (NEWS BRIEF)

A man in Bujumbura holds up a map of Africa. Several African countries have been victimized by lopsided land grabs by countries such as Libya. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS(HN, September 8, 2011) - Millions of dollars worth of Libyan land purchases from Ukraine to Mali are up in the air now that the Government of Colonel Gadaffi has crumbled.

Importing food is essential for Libya - almost all its food needs, including wheat and flour, is brought in to feed its 5.3 million people.

In May 2008, during a state visit to Kyiv, Gadaffi gave Ukraine an oil and gas contract in exchange for 247.000 ha of Ukrainian land to produce its own food.

A few years ago, according to Michael Muleba, Executive Director, Farmer Organisation Support Programme, Libya acquired control of 100.000 ha in the office du Niger, Mali’s main rice producing area. As part of the deal, Libya agreed to improve local infrastructure including enlarging canal and improving a road. But when it came to awarding these contracts and to finding a supplier of rice seeds, local firms were snubbed in favor of Chinese and Libyan ones.

Aside from Libya, Saudi Arabia, China and South Korea that have sought farmland abroad to guarantee food supplies and cut dependence on imports.

Africa is a prime target for foreign land grabs. Muleda describes various ways including: land purchases, long term leases, and large investments in existing farms as well as barter-type principles. The collective GRAIN argues that while African governments proclaim their commitments to food self-sufficiency, behind the backs of their people they are signing an alarming number of deals with foreign investors that give these investors control over their countries’ most important agricultural lands, including rice lands.

However, now that Gadaffi is gone, there is speculation that some of the deals may not stand up.

Even the Ukraine deal ran into trouble shortly after it was negotiated by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is now being prosecuted for alleged corruption. After a visit to Tripoli in 2009 she defended the deal, saying "Libya is a bridge to African countries. Africa can be a great consumer of Ukrainian grain and food. We worked out a draft agreement which is to be signed."

- HUMNEWS staff

Wednesday
Mar302011

Children Recruited to Fight With Rebels in Libya - Reports (UPDATED 1500GMT)

Child soldier, photo courtesy Oxfam.org(HN, March 31, 2011) - Teenage children are joining the fight to oust Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, according to reports.

The British broadcaster, Independent Television News (ITN), today broadcast images of rebel soldiers that are clearly below 20 years old. One of them, Ahmed Saled, brandishing a large knife and wearing a Nike shirt, said he was 17 and claimed his mother knew that he had joined rebel forces.

The development comes amid reports that the US is preparing to arm the rebels, who are vastly outnumbered and out-powered by Gaddafi forces. If children are indeed recruited it creates a tricky situation for the Obama Administration and allies - many of whom are in the forefront of the campaign to abolish recruitment of children in conflict.

In 2000 then U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Child Soldier’s Treaty - an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Treaty raised the age for conscription and participation in conflict to 18 from the old international standard of 15 and requires governments to take "all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities."

"Many of these combatants are young, are poorly trained, are child soldiers," Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and an expert on U.S. foreign policy with a special emphasis on Africa and the developing world, told Jim Lehrer on PBS News Hour, referring to the current conflict in Libya.

She said the region is already awash in arms and that arming the rebels "could be a disaster."

The rebels are not the only side to be accepting children in the conflict.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it has received reports that child soldiers are being recruited to fight for Gaddafi loyalists.Child soldiers guard a road in the DRC. Credit: UNICEF

UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado was quoted as saying there is "a serious concern" that child soldiers are among the mercenaries that Gaddafi is hiring to attack rebel forces. She reportedly said the mercenaries had come from Chad, Niger, Central African Republic and Sudan's Darfur region, all places "with known child soldiers."

The U.N. special envoy for children in armed conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has also quoted reports that children are being killed and injured by taking up arms in Libya.

- HUMNEWS staff, wires

Monday
Mar072011

People Power Has Arrived in Africa (PERSPECTIVE)

By Imraan Buccus

The Zimbabwean Newspaper created an ad campaign featuring huge posters, wall murals, flyers, and even billboards all made out of trillions of Zimbabwean dollars. CREDIT: The Zimbabwean(HN, March 7, 2011) - People's power has arrived in Africa and, as some have recently argued, it's not just Africa north of the Sahara in which the democratic spirit is stirring. The thrilling political earthquake that began in Tunisia, exploded into Egypt and then rippled out to Libya is set to leave lasting changes in its wake.

Its too early to say exactly what those changes will be but one thing is for sure – this is the greatest moment in the global struggle for human freedom since 1989 when the Soviet Union and its dominions across Eastern Europe fell.

When the protest spread from Tunis to Cairo they began as a carnival of freedom. Men and women, Muslims, Christians and secular people, old and young and rich and poor were all united in their excited opposition to dictatorships. It was a beautiful moment which the philosopher Nigel Gibson has likened to the Paris Commune of 1871.

In Tripoli the North African revolution is taking the form of pitched battles against a ruthless and psychopathic dictator. Here there is courage aplenty but no carnival. Irrespective of the ultimate fate of the Libyan Revolution a loud and clear message has been sent to dictators around the world. That message is that while it is possible to oppress a people for a long time, even generations, the people will reach a point at which they decide to rise.

The time will come when the will of the people will be expressed. In our own neighbourhood (Zimbabwean President) Robert Mugabe and Mswati (King of Swaziland) must be watching the revolutions raging across the North of the continent with considerable anxiety. Neither ZANU-PF nor the Swazi monarchy will run their brutal dictatorships for ever and while the rest of us thrill to the winds of change blowing down from North Africa that wind must be chilling to the tyrants in Harare and Mbabane.

Mugabe seems to be especially anxious. Gadaffi has been one of his biggest backers and has used his oil money to turn the African Union (AU) into a new version of the old Organisation for African Unity (OAU), which was rightly disparaged as a dictator's club. Zimbabwean state television has, liked Chinese state television, steadfastly ignored the revolutions in North Africa. And when the International Socialist Organisation, a courageous but tiny Trotskyite organisation, arranged a meeting at which people could watch some footage of the protests in Cairo, Mugabe promptly had all 46 people arrested and charged with treason. This has been followed up by axe wielding mobs attacking MDC meetings. Paranoia is a sign of weakness and this paranoia is even ridiculous by Mugabe's own standards. He must know that the thread by which his authority hangs could snap at any minute.

Mugabe successfully stole elections in Zimbabwe in 2000, 2002 and 2005. Each time he was assisted with the complicity of various forces in and outside of his country. In South Africa there are factions who remain solidly pro-Mugabe but generally political parties, trade unions, poor people's movements and civil society are united in their opposition to the Mugabe dictatorship.

When we think of Zimbabwe, in the context of the North African revolutions, we are confronted by three urgent questions.

Protests against Mugabe in Zimbabwe have often been met with brutal forceThe first is how we offer solidarity to the Zimbabwean refugees in our country. The periodic attacks on Zimbabweans by ordinary people and the ongoing and harassment of Zimbabwean refugees by our police needs to be urgently opposed. We need to recall the solidarity shown to South African exiles in other African countries and demonstrate basic human decency. Change can come to Zimbabwe soon, and in the potentially uneasy days of a difficult transition from dictatorship, SA will need to offer immense support to Zimbabwean refugees.

The second question that we need to consider is the nature of the flaw in some of our leaders that has allowed them to become complicit with tyranny. The struggle against apartheid was supported by governments, ordinary people and civil society around the world. One would have thought that we would have taken a similarly activist position towards tyranny in other countries. But instead some in SA some have taken the same position towards tyranny in Zimbabwe that Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher took towards apartheid - "constructive engagement" or, in (former South African President) Mbeki's outdated spin, "quiet diplomacy."

The third question we must ponder is the question of what went wrong in Zimbabwe. The argument that Mugabe was a good leader who went rotten holds no water. Revisionist Zimbabwean historians have pointed to ruthless abuses during the liberation struggle. And of course we cannot forget Operation Gukurahundi, the ethnic cleansing of the Ndebele in Matabeleland in the early 1980s which cost more than 20 000 lives. This crime against humanity is enough, on its own, to ensure that Mugabe should be called to account for his crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It is clear that the political culture of Zanu-PF was authoritarian and rapacious long before the fiasco of recent years. Zimbabwe has been governed by ruthless and predatory elite from the beginning. The seeds of the later crimes, the plunder of the Congo, the attacks on shack dwellers and street traders and the ruthless suppression of internal opposition, were planted early on.

What this means is that it is essential to think holistically. Just because a man and a movement opposed one form of tyranny does not mean that they are opposed to tyranny. There is a tremendous difference between using democracy to come to power and being democratic. A democrat is not defined as a person who came to power by democracy. A democrat is defined as a person who, when in power, welcomes debate and dissent. By this definition it is clear that Zimbabwe has never been a democracy.

We should be proud that our Constitution commits our government to welcome dissent and to be aware that in a democracy we need to always protect this. Any signs of Zanufication in any part of our society are a challenge we must all take up. So, as South Africans, when we think of Zimbabwe in the context of what is happening in North Africa, we need to also reflect on the important role that South Africa needs to play in promoting democratic transformation in Zimbabwe.

We are, no doubt, appropriately reminded by the Zimbabwean media entrepreneur, Trevor Ngube, that Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have restored the collective faith in peoples' power. The clear signs that Zanu PF has been shaken by the North African revolutions show up that the regime in Harare is not all powerful and that it will go the same way as the dictatorships in North Africa. It is a question of ‘when’ and not 'if'.

Buccus is attached to the School of Politics at UKZN and the Democracy Development Program. This article first appeared on the website of the South African Civil Society Information Service - SACSIS

Monday
Feb282011

UN Orders Immediate Evacuation of Remaining International Staff From Libya (BREAKING NEWS)

(HN, February 28, 2011) - All remaining international staff have been ordered to leave Libya immediately, HUMNEWS has learned.

UN agencies operating in the country were advised yesterday that the evacuation of "all remaining international staff" had been authorized.

The UN's Department of Safety and Security has also ordered the suspension of any travel to Tripoli.

The decision is a clear sign of the rapidly-deteriorating situation in Libya and comes after several major powers - including the US and UK - have shuttered their embassies.

According to UN rules, locally-engaged staff do not qualify for evacuation without special authorization from the Secretary General. Although internal evacuation is sometimes granted earlier.

Among the UN agencies active in Libya are: the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Information Service (UNIC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A UN mission has had a presence in the country since its independence in 1951.

Last week, UNDP announced the firing of Aisha Gaddafi - Colonel Gaddafi's daughter - as its Goodwill Ambassador in Libya.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the agreement with Aisha al-Gaddafi was terminated under Article 30 of the UN Guidelines for the Designation of Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace.

The article says that the designation will be terminated if the "messenger of peace or goodwill ambassador engages in any activity incompatible with his/her status or with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, or if the termination is in the interest of the Organisation."

Aisha al-Gaddafi. Daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Aisha al-Gaddafi was appointed as the goodwill ambassador of Libya on July 24, 2009 to address the issues of HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya, both culturally sensitive topics in the country.

It appears that all references to Aisha Gaddafi have been removed from the UNDP's country website for Libya.

- HUMNEWS staff

Tuesday
Feb222011

Pulling the Revolutionary Trigger - Via Facebook (PERSPECTIVE)

by Alina Vrejoiu

“Whatever the future may have in store for us, one thing is certain — this new revolution in human thought will never go backward.” --- Fredrick Douglas

(HN, February 21, 2011) -- As Libyan cities continue to fall into the hands of anti-Gaddafi supporters, many people are once again speculating on the root cause of the upheavals in the Middle East and Northern Africa.Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was so terrified of social media he ordered the Internet shut for several days. CREDIT: Al-Ahram

As an educator, and having lived through the revolution in Eastern Europe, I can tell you that if you peel away all the layers one thing becomes clear: the lack of an educational foundation is at the top of the list for revolutionary triggers.

It’s no accident that in this information age, social networking is leading the North African and Middle Eastern leap to modernity. This - combined with a high population of youth and a poor economy - makes a very potent recipe for revolution.

Who would have imagined that social networking sites - such as Twitter, Facebook and others like them - once thought to be playful diversions, are now helping to thread together the fabrics of the revolution? And who would have thought that the technology embraced by so many millions could pose a threat to strongmen like Muammar al-Gadaffi, one of the nastiest in the region, Hosni Mubarak and long-standing regimes in Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and elsewhere?

Protesters in Benghazi demonstrate against Colonel Gaddafi Photo: FLICKRYoung men and women of these long-closed societies - such as Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim in Egypt - have formed online communities of like-minded individuals who have been disenfranchised by their governments of economic dignity and freedom for so many decades.

Something had to give and the timing is no accident: food prices are sky-rocketing, joblessness is at an all-time high and promises of reform from long-serving strongmen in the region have produced nothing more than hollow results.

In this information age everyone is connected but no one is in charge - this is what is leading to a breakdown in the dictatorships.
The rotted out governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East are a clear example of how being out of touch with technology and the huge generational gap have become huge liabilities.

These are the two main propellant forces that will fuel more and more protests in countries all over region.

In the region, about 60% of people are under the age of thirty and they all want to be free and have economic stability like all human beings do.  

As a presidential contender, Barack Obama knew how to reach America’s youth like no other politician running for office. His hypnotic “Yes We Can” campaign slogan resonated not only with the youth in this country, but all over the world. He had the savvy to connect with and engage college students for the first time in the United States through the Internet.

Overthrowing a regime and making a change will require massive investment in infrastructure and social programs in order for change to be successful and sustainable.

According to the United Nations the countries in this region have not only avoided badly-needed investment in their people but they have also kept them in the dark - through tactics ranging from limiting access to Internet sites to keeping tight reigns on state-owned media outlets.

Expect this astonishing wave of change to wash across virgin territory. Iran’s regime is vulnerable to the same break down as the countries in Northern Africa are faced with. The Mullahs and the Islamic element are minor in comparison to the population of youth they must face. The regime will put up a lot of resistance but its chances of surviving are slim. I am making the bold prediction that the Iranian regime will collapse within a year’s time, at the latest, and will change the geopolitics in the Middle East.

People all across the Middle East and North Africa are willing to sacrifice their lives for a common cause. The reality is promising and - these days - the trigger seems just a click away.

---Alina Vrejoiu is a faculty member of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York and has taught international students for the last four years.