“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Monday, January 30, 2012

African Union leaders fail to elect commission head

Deutsche Welle, 30 January 1012 

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma wanted to
see an AU that is a 'formidable force'
A bid by South Africa to propel a woman to the upper reaches of African decision-making ran aground on Monday. The election for the head of the African Union Commission yielded no outright winner.

The vote by African leaders for the head of their bloc's influential executive ended in deadlock on Monday between Gabon's Jean Ping, who was seeking a new term, and challenger Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa.

AU sources said the election was tight, with Ping holding a slender lead in three rounds of voting in which neither candidate secured the required two-thirds majority.

Dlamini-Zuma was then forced under AU rules to pull out leaving Ping to face a fourth round on his own, but he stilled failed to garner the votes he needed. 

Africa leaders failed to elect a new
head of the AU Commission
South African delegates broke into song and dance after the stalemate vote conducted at the two-day summit in the new AU headquarters built by the Chinese and unveiled at the weekend.

In a statement before the vote, Dlamini-Zuma had pledged to spare no effort in building on the work of those African women and men who wanted to see "an African Union that is a formidable force striving for a united, free, truly independent, better Africa."

Post never held by a woman

Dlamini-Zuma has served in the cabinet of every South African president since Nelson Mandela. One of the country's most powerful women, she is known for competent management and her stern personality. Her ex-husband, the current president, Jakob Zuma, found her indispensable enough to appoint her home affairs minister, the post she now holds.   

No woman has ever held the post of chair of the AU Commission. The job will be taken over by AU Commission deputy chairman, Erastus Mwencha, from Kenya, until fresh polls at the next summit in the summer.    

This is the first time in the history of the 54 member regional body that the AU Commission has failed to a elect a new head. 

'Peace comes back to our continent' 

Ban Ki-moon warned the AU Sudan
was 'threatening regional stability'
Earlier, the summit of African leaders was addressed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who warned that a furious row between Sudan and South Sudan was threatening regional security. "The international community needs to act, and its needs to act now," Ban added.

The UN Secretary General also berated African nations for treating gays as "second-class citizens, or even criminals."

The post of AU chairman, which rotates once a year, passed from Equatorial Guniea's President Tedodor Obiang Nguema to Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, though with none of the attention lavished on the AU Commission vote. With strife in Somalia, violence in Nigeria and riots in Senegal following an octogenarian president's resolve to cling to power, Boni Yayi said he wanted to ensure that "peace comes back to our continent." Obiang summed up his one year stint by accusing "external powers" of trying to "perpetuate their influence" in Africa.      

Author: Mark Caldwell (AFP, dpa)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

UN chief Ban tells African Union summit to uphold gay rights

Deutsche Welle, 29 January 2012 

African Union leaders gathered
at their new headquarters
Widespread legal bans on homosexuality in most African countries have been challenged by UN chief Ban ki-moon at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Ban said gay and gender rights must be respected.

UN Secretary General Ban accused many nations of the 54-member African Union of ignoring or "even sanctioning" discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for "too long."

Outgoing African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, who is president of Equatorial Guinea, speaking just before Ban delivered his speech, had accused "external powers" of perpetuating their influence.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that legally recognizes gay rights and same-sex marriage. Late last year, Uganda's parliament re-introduced a controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

Blunt talking by UN's Ban in Addis
Ban told summit leaders, whose two-day agenda is supposed to be focused on intra-Africa trade, that confronting homophobic discrimination was a "challenge."

"But, we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration of human rights," Ban said.

Tunisia returns to AU fold

Making an active return to the African Union is post-revolution Tunisia whose new president Moncef Marzouki said Tunis was looking to attract investors one year after its mass protests that triggered the so-called Arab Spring, also in Egypt and Libya.

Marzouki said ousted former ruler Ben Ali had not considered Tunisia as part of the continent. "Tunisia had no diplomatic role, especially in Africa. It (had) completely disappeared from the scene."

Tussle for AU leadership

AU leaders on Sunday elected Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi as their new president, to replace Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang.

Obiang, in his departing remarks, appeared to accuse former colonial powers of interfering. "Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration," he said.

Yayi, an economist who has led Benin for six years, acknowledged that he had a "high responsibility" in the one-year rotating job.

"We shall continue to work hand in glove to ensure that we consolidate all that we have achieved so far," he said.

Jean Ping (left) is counting on
Francophone support
The AU faces a string of issues, including war and hunger in Somalia,  violence in Nigeria, riots in Senegal and oil disputes between Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan.

Ban highlights Sudanese oil dispute

UN chief Ban, in his speech, urged African leaders to play "a more important role [in] solving regional issues." He highlighted the Sudanese oil dispute and urged South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to negotiate.

South Sudan, which was born last July out of a peace deal, recently shut down oil production after it accused al-Bashir's Sudan of stealing oil along pipelines used for export.

Ban said he was also "deeply concerned" about a humanitarian crisis along Sudan's volatile border with the south. He also accused Khartoum of blocking access to aid workers.

Tussle for AU's top executive post

Monday's AU deliberations in the AU's new headquarter complex provided by China will center on a secret ballot for the top executive job. The current AU commission head Jean Ping of Gabon is being challenged by South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Ping was first elected in 2008.

South Africa's foreign ministry said it was "optimistic" that Dlamini-Zuma, 62, and former wife of President Jacob Zuma, would receive the "necessary" two-third of the votes.

Dlamini-Zuma has the backing of the 15-member Southern African Development Community. Sources say Ping is counting on support of French-speaking AU member nations.

Ping told the opening ceremony that prospects for peace were "real" in war-torn Somalia. The AU has a 10,000-strong force protecting Somalia's fragile Western-backed government from the al Qaeda-linked Shebab militia.

Author: Ian P. Johnson (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

Related Articles:

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Riots in Senegal as Wade Cleared for Third Term Bid

Jakarta GlobeJanuary 28, 2012

Tires burn in a street on Friday in Senegal's capital Dakar, where clashes
broke out between police and young protesters, following the publication
 by the Constitutional Council of a list of candidates eligible to stand in the
 country's presidential election in February. Rioters killed a policeman late Friday
 in clashes after Senegal's top court cleared President Abdoulaye Wade to run for
a highly disputed third term in office, police said. (AFP Photo/Toure Behan)

Related articles

Dakar, Senegal. Riots erupted in Dakar on Friday night, leaving a policeman dead, as angry protesters took to the streets after a court cleared President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a highly disputed third term in office.

The west African nation’s Constitutional Council gave the 85-year-old the green light to run in February 26 polls, sparking anger among opponents who accuse him of fiddling with the constitution to serve his own interests.

Amid the resulting unrest, Wade in turn told his opponents to stop throwing “temper tantrums.”

The five-judge council rejected the candidacy of music icon Youssou Ndour, who warned of rising tension in the country and vowed to challenge his disqualification.

While the international community appealed for calm in one of Africa’s most stable democracies, violence spread through the seaside capital Friday night as rioters engaged in running battles with police, setting alight tires and shops.

“They killed a policeman,” Dakar police commissioner Arona Sy told AFP of clashes between police and demonstrators, without saying how he died.

Thousands had gathered peacefully at the Place de l’Obelisque in the working class suburb of Colobane all day ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated ruling.

However, shortly after the announcement, tensions rose and police lobbed teargas at stone-throwing protesters who dispersed to set up barricades and burn tires along the city’s main arteries.

“I see fires, it is impossible to pass. There are fires in Sacre-Coeur (central), on the VDN” a main road leading to the north of the capital, a witness driving through the city told AFP.

The June 23 Movement of opposition against Wade’s candidacy, which called Friday’s rally, appealed to Senegalese to march on the presidential palace in downtown Dakar to “remove Wade who is squatting there.”

The Constitutional Council approved 13 other candidates including three ex-prime ministers, Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse, and main opposition leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng.

Ndour, who shocked the music world when he announced this month he was quitting singing for politics, was left off the list with the council saying thousands of signatures he provided could not be verified. A minimum of 10,000 were needed.

The singer warned in an interview with France 3 television that the approval of Wade’s bid “is going to create tension.”

“The opposition in its great majority does not support any fiddling with the constitution,” said the singer, adding the Senegalese people were “tired” of politicians flouting the law.

The ruling seals months of speculation over the interpretation of the constitution on presidential mandates.

Wade was first elected in 2000 for a seven-year mandate, and re-elected in 2007 under a new constitution for a five-year mandate.

He again revised the text in 2008, reverting to a seven-year mandate, renewable once.

Wade argues that the law does not apply retroactively and that he is allowed to run again.

Rights activists have warned against a repetition of violent riots in June last year, and clashes between rival parties in December that left one person dead.

Amnesty International has warned the “potential for destabilization is huge,” and urged political leaders to make sure their supporters did not resort to violence.

On Friday, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appealed for calm and restraint in a statement expressing “serious concern for the rising tensions among political parties and citizens.”

Wade, a veteran opposition figure who dislodged the Socialist Party after 40 years of rule in 2000 elections, on his fifth shot at the presidency, has grown increasingly unpopular as he attempts to cling to power.

He has faced criticism over corruption, financial scandals and nepotism, with many accusing him of trying to position his son Karim Wade, 44, as his successor.

French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal on Thursday: “It is up to everyone to prove their responsibility. The future of Senegal is at stake in these elections.”

US deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, William Fitzgerald, said Monday that Wade’s bid to stay in office was “regrettable.”

Senegal has long been seen as a good example of democracy in Africa, with previous leaders Leopold Sedar Senghor and Abdou Diouf peacefully handing over power.

Unlike many countries in the region, Senegal has never experienced a military coup.

Agence France-Presse

African Union to open Chinese-funded HQ in Ethiopia

BBC News, 28 January 2012

Related Stories 

The new AU headquarters is seen
as a symbol of China's new role in Africa
The African Union is due to inaugurate its newly built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The entire $200m (£127m) project was funded by China as a gift to the AU, as Beijing continues to strengthen its influence in Africa.

The 100m high tower overlooks a vast conference centre where African heads of state are expected to meet for years to come.

Their first AU summit in the building will take place on the weekend.

China's most senior political adviser, Jia Qinglin, will attend the opening of the new headquarters and will address African leaders at the start of their assembly on Sunday.

The new AU building dominates the skyline of Addis Ababa and is the city's tallest building.

Most of the materials used were imported from China and even the furnishings were paid for by Beijing, AFP news agency reports.

Construction began in January 2009 and involved 1,200 Chinese and Ethiopian workers.

The project co-ordinator, Fantalum Michael, says the new building signifies China's growing friendship with Africa.

"It's a testimony that this relationship will continue in the future," he told AFP.

Thriving relationship

Trade between China and Africa has increased more than six-fold during the past decade to $120bn (£76bn) in 2011.

China is interested in Africa's natural resources and in return is investing huge sums in African infrastructure.

Roads are being built by Chinese firms at a staggering rate, says the BBC's Will Ross in Addis Ababa.

While other rich nations impose conditions before aid is given, China's relationship with African countries is strictly a business one, he says.

Human rights groups have criticised China for undermining efforts by western countries to link aid to improvements in governance.

However African leaders have welcomed the Chinese approach and have embraced investment from Beijing.

In Ethiopia, many jobs have been created through Chinese-funded projects.

Chinese cars are being made in Ethiopian factories and China is also building a light railway across Addis Ababa.

Related Article:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

South Africa investigates 'gay slur' King Zwelithini

BBC News, 24 January 2012

Related Stories 

South Africa's President Zuma (l) was
 at the event where the Zulu king (r)
allegedly made the remarks
South Africa's Human Rights Commission is investigating reports that Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini called gay people "rotten" during a speech.

The rights group says it has obtained transcripts of the speech to look into the matter.

The royal household has denied that the king made any homophobic comments - and has blamed "reckless translation".

South Africa's Times newspaper, which first carried the story, told the BBC it stands by its translation.

South Africa's constitution specifically forbids discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation - but homophobia is widespread and gay people complain they are often attacked.

HRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga says the traditional king is respected by millions of South Africans - and they need "an accurate reflection of what he said".

The HRC says it will be writing to the king and will demand an immediate retraction if he admits to making homophobic remarks.

"If it is indeed accurate that His Majesty, the Zulu king, made the utterances as reported, they constitute hate speech... and are inflammatory," Mr Moaga said.

King Goodwill Zwelithini allegedly made the anti-gay remarks in rural eastern South Africa during a ceremony at the weekend to mark the Battle of Isandlwana - a famous 19th Century Zulu victory over British troops.

"Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same-sex relationships," The Times quoted the king as saying.

"There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten," King Goodwill said, according to the newspaper, adding: "I don't care how you feel about it ... same sex is not acceptable."

But the king's office says the newspaper reports were badly translated and the king's meaning misconstrued.

"At no stage did His Majesty condemn gay relations or same relations," spokesperson Prince Mbonisi Zulu told the Sapa news agency.

President Jacob Zuma - the first Zulu leader of modern South Africa - was also at the weekend ceremony and used the occasion to call on South Africans to end discrimination against gay people.

Last year's brutal murder of 24-year-old gay activist Noxolo Nogwaza highlighted South Africa's growing homophobia, correspondents say.

Related Articles:

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Arab League demands Assad delegate power, set up unity government

RT.com, 23 January, 2012

Arab foreign ministers during their meeting at the Arab League
headquarters in Cairo January 22, 2012 (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

The Arab League's Foreign Minister demanded on Sunday that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad delegate the presidency to his vice president and set up a unity government, as a step towards early parliamentary and presidential elections.

That is according to Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who spoke to a news conference following Arab League talks in Cairo. He also noted that the League would ask the UN Security Council for its endorsement.

The League urged the Syrian leadership to form a new government within two months, and to start dialogue with opposition forces. And according to the League’s statement, in three months the new unity government will have to elect a council to write a new constitution. None of the Arab League's proposals support the idea of military intervention in Syria.

Earlier, the League decided to extend its the fact-finding mission in Syria for another month.

But political analyst Omar Nashabe says the observer mission to Syria has shown that both sides of the conflict are guilty of abuses.

“I think it’s time in Syria for dialogue, and President Assad has created the platform for such dialogue. At the same time, the Arab Leagues has declared an extension for the monitors’ mission – which lacks manpower, equipment and training. It needs more time to actually build a comprehensive report.”

However, Nashabe says, the first preliminary report had leaked to the media – and as a result, he had already seen to parts of it.

“The report shows that there are some grave violations on both sides – the opposition and the so-called Syrian Free Army, they have been also using heavy gun fire against civilians. It’s time that the opposition shows good faith, shows positive signs because it is in the interests of no one that NATO steps in: there will be destruction, chaos as was the case in Libya. And as we have recently seen there, things are not turning into the beautiful democracy everybody was dreaming of.”

Related Article:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Egypt pardons jailed blogger as generals brace for anniversary protests

Maikel Nabil Sanad among almost 2,000 prisoners convicted by military tribunal over the past year now set to be released

guardian.co.uk, Jack Shenker in Cairo, Sunday 22 January 2012

Supporters stand with banners bearing an image of Maikel Nabil Sanad.
Photograph: Christian Science Monitor/Getty

An Egyptian blogger jailed by the military junta for insulting the army has been officially pardoned, as the country's ruling generals attempt to bolster public support before protests planned for the coming week.

Maikel Nabil Sanad, a 26-year-old Coptic Christian who became a cause célèbre for activists opposed to the post-Mubarak military government, was among almost 2,000 prisoners convicted by military tribunal over the past year who are now set to be released following an announcement by Egypt's de facto leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Sanad was incarcerated in March over a blogpost titled "The army and the people were never one hand", inverting a popular Egyptian chant in support of the military.

He refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the army court that convicted him and mounted a high-profile hunger strike behind bars that saw him come close to death several times. He resisted efforts by the authorities to certify him insane and have him transferred to a secure psychiatric unit, and was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Critics claim that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which took power after the toppling of Mubarak in February last year, has proved itself to be even more repressive than the regime it ostensibly replaced. A series of violent crackdowns by the state's security forces against dissent and public protest has left dozens dead and thousands injured, and up to 12,000 civilians are believed to have been processed through military tribunals in the past 12 months – more than were processed during the entirety of Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship.

Sanad's pardon follows months of campaigning by No to Military Trials, an activist group that has mobilised many Egyptians against army rule and helped turn the tide of public opinion. Last month Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent revolutionary figurehead, was released from prison after bring falsely accused of inciting violence against the armed forces, and Scaf has promised on more than one occasion to end the practice of dragging civilians through military courts.

"We will never forget: the army and people were never one hand," Sanad's brother Mark Nabil said on Twitter as news of the pardon came through. "Freeing Maikel is not enough though. The army must, before the revolution's anniversary [on 25 January], free all those who were convicted by military courts."

Aalam Wassef, a journalist and campaigner who has followed Sanad's case closely, said events in Egypt over the past year vindicated the anti-junta post that landed the blogger in jail. "Maikel's predictions were logical rather than prophetic," he told the Guardian. "He had maintained a critical stance towards the Egyptian military even before the revolution, so once the generals took power it was very obvious to him the way things would develop."

Wassef accused Scaf of offering empty gestures in place of genuine reform. "It's a political concession, though a very provocative one," he said. "How dare they call it a pardon for Maikel when it is they, the generals, who should be requesting a pardon from the people?"

The first anniversary of Egypt's revolution is expected to spark some of the largest demonstrations yet seen against the ruling generals. Under sustained pressure from activists, Scaf has sped up its transition programme to civilian rule and promised a new constitution and presidential elections by the summer, though opponents claim the military cannot be trusted to keep its promises and warn that a facade of democracy is being constructed in order to mask the entrenchment of the existing political elite.

In the past few days a series of additional measures have been announced by the government to try to dampen the energy of the protest movement, including plans for a series of state-sponsored celebrations on the anniversary itself, and there have been assurances from one cabinet member, Fayza Abul-Naga, that no soldiers or riot police will be deployed around Tahrir Square that day.

On Monday Egypt's newly elected parliament is set to open to much fanfare. The ruling generals hope it will be viewed as a demonstration of their commitment to civilian-led democracy and thus dissuade the wider population from joining anti-Scaf rallies two days later. According to official results announced at the weekend, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party will form the largest parliamentary bloc with about 47% of the total representatives. The ultra-conservative Salafist al-Nour party came a strong second, with liberal, leftist and centrist parties gaining a smattering of seats each.

Wassef said there would be a high volume of protesters on Wednesday nonetheless. "There will be a big turnout by revolutionaries, despite a huge effort by Scaf to drown out the noise with celebratory activities," he said. "I don't think anyone in their right minds wants to celebrate the deaths and incarcerations we have seen under Scaf rule over the past year."

Related Article:

(Photo: Maikel Nabil)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Malawian women protest over 'trouser attacks'

BBC News, 20 January 2012

Related Stories 

Women cheered as politicians
and activists addressed the crowd
Some 3,000 people have gathered in Blantyre in Malawi to protest about attacks on women for wearing trousers.

Some female vendors were this week beaten and stripped on the streets of the capital, Lilongwe, and Blantyre for not wearing traditional dress.

A demonstration organiser told the BBC she urged women to turn up in trousers and white tops to show their outrage.

President Bingu wa Mutharika has said on national radio that women had the right to wear what they want.

He denied reports that he had ordered women to stop wearing trousers.

Until 1994, women in the deeply conservative southern African country were banned from wearing trousers or mini-skirts under the autocratic rule of Hastings Banda.

Men were also banned from having long hair.

Women have also been attacked for wearing trousers in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe in recent years.

'Economic frustrations'

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says Vice-President Joyce Banda, the gender minister, several MPs, university lecturers and other leading activists attended Friday's protest.

Seodi White, a lawyer and leading women's rights activist and protest organiser, said the women were not dressing indecently.

"Yes Malawi is a reasonably conservative country. But we have been dressing up in any way we want, to the best level of our own decency, which is standard for everyone around the world, for 18 years. And nobody can stand up and say this is un-Malawian," she told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

She said women were being targeted by disaffected youth unhappy with the economic situation.

"The vendors that you see on the street are not old men. These are youngsters, young enough to be my sons.

"They are telling me about culture? They are telling me about how to dress?

"Is this really about culture or something else in terms of economic hardship people are looking for an outlet to vent on?"

Earlier, Mrs Banda also blamed the attacks on economic woes in Malawi, where there are severe shortages of fuel and foreign currency at present.

"There is so much suffering that people have decided to vent their frustrations on each other," the vice-president said.

Last year, the UK and other donors cut aid to Malawi, amid criticism of its economic policies and its attitude to the opposition and journalists.

President Mutharika on Thursday made a nationwide broadcast, calling for an end to the attacks.

"I will not allow anyone to... go on the streets and start undressing women and girls wearing trousers, because that is illegal," he said.

"You are free to wear what you want. Women who want to wear trousers should do so, as you will be protected from thugs, vendors and terrorists."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ethiopia attack: British survivor endures 12-hour ordeal on volcano

Briton and other survivors were stranded on edge of the Erta Ale crater after ambush that left five Europeans dead 

guardian.co.uk, William Davison in Addis Ababa and David Smith in Johannesburg, Thursday 19 January 2012

Some of the group that were attacked in Ethiopia prepare to depart from
 Bole airport in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

A British tourist was among a group that endured a 12-hour ordeal on the edge of an Ethiopian volcano after a terrifying ambush that left five Europeans dead.

Two Germans and two Ethiopians were kidnapped in the pre-dawn attack on Tuesday in one of the world's lowest and hottest regions, known as the Danakil Depression. The search for the gunmen and hostages continues.

The group of 27 tourists had been visiting the Erta Ale volcano, one of Ethiopia's most active, in the northern Afar region. Armed escorts had remained at the bottom of the volcano, as is common practice.

"They trekked up the volcano alone before bedding down," said a diplomatic source in Addis Ababa. "They were unguarded overnight."

Ethiopian authorities have said the group was targeted by as many as 40 attackers.

After the incident, the middle-aged British tourist and other survivors were stranded on the edge of the Erta Ale crater for more than 12 hours, the source said. It was not clear why the security team failed to launch a search party for them.

Finally the group managed to make contact with a German tour company that contacted the German embassy in Addis Ababa to organise a helicopter rescue.

The UK citizen was medevaced from the city of Mekele on Thursday to an unidentified neighbouring country to seek treatment. There is no indication of whether he suffered bullet wounds.

"He has been through a very serious ordeal," the diplomatic source said. "He is in a serious, but stable condition."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a British national was involved in an incident on January 17 in Danakil. We are providing consular assistance."

Two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian were killed, according to Interpol. Two German tourists and an Ethiopian policeman and driver were abducted.

Authorities in Afar said they have sent elders to try to secure the release of the hostages. Ismael Ali Sero, president of the Afar Region, told state-run Ethiopian Television: "The region is doing all it can to have them released."

Ali Sero did not disclose whether the group had already made contact with the captors or if officials had located their hideout. The Ethiopian government said those kidnapped have been taken across the border into Eritrea, about 12 to 15 miles away.

In 2007, a group including British embassy staff from Addis Ababa was taken hostage in the region and released a week later via the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

Some of this week's tourists were said to be travelling with Addis Ababa-based Green Land Tours and Travel. Others were booked by a company in Germany called Diamir. The company said it deeply regretted what had happened and that it had no previous indication of risk to guests' security in the region.

A Hungarian, a Belgian and a citizen of another country who resides in Brussels were wounded in the attack and have been taken to a hospital in Mekele, northern Ethiopia's biggest city.

The incident has sparked a fresh war of words between Ethiopia and its neighbour, Eritrea. The Ethiopian government said: "It is already clear that the attack was carried out with the direct involvement of the Eritrean government."

Ethiopia "will be obliged to take whatever action is necessary to stop the activities of the Eritrean regime once and for all unless the international community assumes its responsibilities and takes the necessary steps to bring this abominable behaviour to an end," it added.

Eritrea's ambassador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom, has said the allegations are an "absolute lie" and that the attack was an internal Ethiopian matter.

The two countries fought a border war from 1998 to 2000, claiming the lives of about 80,000 people.

The only foreigners who normally venture into the Afar region 
are researchers, aid workers and adventure tourists visiting 
geographical wonders such as the Danakil depression. 
Photograph: Alamy

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Charles Taylor 'worked' for CIA

BBC News, 19 January 2012

Charles Taylor 

Charles Taylor was a CIA informant
in the 1980s
The US has confirmed long-held rumours that former Liberian leader Charles Taylor worked for its intelligence agencies, including the CIA.

The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information request by the US-based Boston Globe newspaper.

A Globe reporter told the BBC this is the first official confirmation of a relationship between US intelligence and Mr Taylor.

Mr Taylor is awaiting a verdict on his trial for alleged war crimes.

Rumours of CIA ties were fuelled in July 2009 when Mr Taylor himself told his trial, at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, that US agents had helped him escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985.

The CIA at the time denied such claims as "completely absurd".

But now the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's spy arm, has disclosed that its agents - and those of the CIA - did later use Mr Taylor as an informant.

Globe reporter Bryan Bender told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Pentagon officials refused to give details on exactly what role Mr Taylor played, citing national security.

But they did confirm that Mr Taylor first started working with US intelligence in the 1980s, the period when he rose to become one of the world's most notorious warlords.

He was later elected president.

Mr Taylor has been accused of arming and controlling the RUF rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a 10-year campaign of terror conducted largely against civilians.

If convicted, Mr Taylor would serve a prison sentence in the UK.

He denies charges of murder, rape and using child soldiers.