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As of March 2010, Google is no longer supporting FTP publishing of it's Blogger blogs. Therefore I will be consolidating all of my blogs into a single front page format that I will be experimenting with and changing from time to time until I find something I like.

posted by Lorenzo 3:18 PM

Protest supporting Africa ends in chaos
(Jeremy Lovell, Reuters, July 6, 2005)
Riot police clashed with protesters close to the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland on Wednesday after a demonstration against Group of Eight (G8) leaders ended in chaos. . . . Around 100 officers in full riot gear mounted a baton charge to drive protesters away from a security fence surrounding the hotel where US President George Bush and his G8 counterparts were due to meet. . . . Demonstrators from a range of anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation and anarchist groups scattered across a field when the police charged. . . . By 16h00 GMT, hundreds of protesters were still in the field, facing police, who were reinforced with units flown in by helicopters that rattled the windows of the summit hotel. Officers on horseback were also brought in to restore order. . . . The clashes erupted after an otherwise peaceful march from the small town of Auchterarder in central Scotland to within a few hundred metres of the nearby hotel. . . . The clashes echoed violence earlier in the day in towns close to the heavily fortified summit venue. . . . Protesters also put up impromptu barricades and threw obstacles on the roads around Gleneagles, blocking parts of the main highway in central Scotland for more than four hours. . . . Police needed cutting gear to remove some activists who chained themselves together across the north-south highway.

posted by Lorenzo 2:02 PM

Africa takes tough stand on coups
(Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 2004)
The cast list of the alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea reads as if straight out of a cold-war thriller: An aging mercenary determined to organize his last big job, the corrupt leader of a tiny oil-rich nation, and the playboy son of the former leader of a world power. . . . The titillating story, which first came to light with the detention of 70 men on the runway of a Zimbabwean airport on March 7, hit international headlines again last week with the arrest by South African police of Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He is accused of partially financing the overthrow of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the strongman of Equatorial Guinea, a small country on Africa's west coast. The plot allegedly planned the takeover of the continent's third-largest oil producer. . . . "We've entered a new era," says John Stremlau, head of the international relations department at the University of Witwatersrand here. "Around the region over the last few years, you've seen an increased willingness to be more assertive in the face of this kind of action." . . . Postcolonial Africa has been hobbled by illegitimate political takeovers. According to research by Patrick McGowan, a professor of political science at Arizona State University in Tempe, in sub-Saharan Africa between 1956 and 2001 there were 80 successful coups, 108 failed coup attempts, and 139 reported coup plots. There have been 11 attempted or successful coups since then. . . . "With the new activity we've seen from the African Union and other organizations, it's going to be increasingly difficult to topple a government and take its place," says Angela McIntyre, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, a South African think tank. . . . She points to several recent instances where the African community has intervened after attempted coups or other military takeovers. . . . Mr. Stremlau says there has been a genuine change in heart, led by South Africa. In particular, Stremlau says he is gratified to see that the old Organization of African Unity (OAU), long seen as a club for despots and dictators, did more than change its name when it became the AU. The OAU usually made little noise when its members were overthrown and simply welcomed new military leaders into its fold. Idi Amin of Uganda and Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, both of whom took power in coups, hosted OAU summits. . . . Still, the Equatorial Guinea plot shows that South Africa has much work to do to clean up the remnants of its old security forces, which remain a threat to African security. . . . With the end of apartheid, South Africa's surplus of out-of-work security forces became a major source of guns for hire. . . . Additionally, hundreds of South Africans are now working for private security firms in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . The Equatorial Guinea plot promises to be a major test case for the law and South Africa's commitment to cleaning up its former security sector. Many of the 89 men facing trial in Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea could face charges in South Africa even if acquitted in their current trials. And it's the latest questionable chapter in the life of Mr. Thatcher, who has been dogged for years by allegations of shady deals and capitalizing on his famous name. . . . But as South African police spokesman Sipho Ngwema told media after Thatcher's arrest: "We refuse [to let] South Africa be a springboard for coups in Africa and elsewhere."

posted by Lorenzo 8:50 PM

Myths blunt Africa’s fight against AIDS
(Steve Swindells, Reuters, 02 Dec 2003)
[COMMENT: This story was called to my attention when I received an email from a friend in Cape Town. Here is what he said: You may have already heard that there is a myth in South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. The younger the virgin, the more potent the cure. This has led to an epidemic of rapes by infected males, with the corresponding infection of innocent kids. Many have died in these cruel rapes. Recently in Cape Town, a nine month old baby was raped by 6 men.]

Babalwa Tembani is proof that the myths surrounding AIDS can be as deadly as the epidemic itself. When she was 14, she was raped by an uncle who thought he could cure himself of the disease by having sex with a virgin. . . . The crime left Babalwa, now 21, HIV-positive and dependent on antiretroviral AIDS drugs to prolong her life. . . . The myth that sex with a virgin is a cure for HIV/AIDS is one of many that make the fight against an epidemic that has struck 40 million people worldwide -- nearly two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa -- even more difficult. . . . South African-based health workers and researchers point to other myths that undermine efforts to encourage condom use, one of the key planks in public health campaigns to promote safer sex. . . . These include the belief that condoms have been deliberately infected with the virus by foreign governments or aid organisations or even African governments intent on killing their own people. . . . Researchers also point to myths that AIDS is caused by witchcraft and HIV is transmitted by touch, both of which fuel the stigma and ignorance surrounding the disease. . . . But perhaps the biggest myth remains the belief that AIDS can be cured or that it always happens to someone else. . . . The belief that HIV/AIDS is a problem limited to drug users and homosexual men is also common. . . . A survey of 260 African truck drivers showed that over a third of respondents believed that sleeping with a virgin could cure the disease, putting girls and young women at great risk. . . . These are obstacles that still urgently need to be overcome in sub-Saharan Africa, the epicentre of the global AIDS epidemic. . . . efforts need to be maintained to provide people with accurate information regarding HIV/AIDS and to dispel the myths as they arise.” . . . That is what South Africa’s Love Life group ( aims to do by educating young people about the disease and sexual health matters. . . . Love Life carries the message that young people in South Africa have a greater probability of getting HIV than young people anywhere else in the world, and that more than half of today’s teenagers will have HIV before they are 25 if they do not practice safe sex.

posted by Lorenzo 1:33 PM

Thriving on Death
(Mabvuto Zulu,, February 1, 2004)
To pass through any market or street in any Zambian town reveals an unusual industry that is thriving when many others in the country are collapsing. . . . "Business is good and in the next few years, it is going to be even better," he says as he attends to his next clients. . . . Bupe sells coffins, and his is just one of the several businesses that have sprung up around the country to serve the ever-growing number of deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria claim more lives every day. . . . It is estimated that malaria claims about 37 percent of Zambian deaths, while the rest are TB/AIDS-related. And according to Family Health International, only 10 percent of the predicted AIDS-related deaths have yet occurred – the vast majority of people with AIDS in the country are still living with the disease, with new infections every day. Family Health International estimates that Zambia will face more than 200 AIDS-related deaths each day in 2004. Annually, 40,000 new TB cases are reported. In this country, where 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, death rates from TB are very high as well. . . . Plagued by widespread unemployment, many youths have taught themselves the art of making low-cost but impressive headstones and caskets that they sell at street corners, markets and hospitals. Today, many youths are enrolling for carpentry lessons at local colleges for the sole purpose of specializing in making coffins. It is a big industry. . . . "We used to treat death as something unusual. But look around. There is death everywhere," Tembo says. . . . Indeed there is death at every other fifth house in the country. . . . Even mourning families say the fly-by-night operators provide a useful service in their time and grief. On the street, a good, well-decorated coffin fetches between $150 and $200, while the same would cost twice as much at a registered funeral parlor. . . . The sad fact is there is enough business for everyone. Bupe, for instance, says he sells at least 90 coffins in a good month, and predicts that sales will increase throughout 2004. . . . It may be the only business that finds itself in good health. With the HIV infection rate at 27% in urban areas and 13% in rural areas, the illegal coffin industry will continue to grow – while economic uncertainties and a shrinking labor force spell doom for conventional businesses.

posted by Lorenzo 11:09 AM

Left behind to starve
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, March 18, 2003)
As the US prepares to spend some $12 Billion a month on bombing the Iraqis, it has so far offered only $65 million to provide them with food, water, sanitation, shelter and treatment for the injuries they are likely to receive. A confidential UN contingency plan for Iraq, which was leaked in January, suggests that the war could expose around one million children to "risk of death from malnutrition". It warns that "the collapse of essential services in Iraq could lead to a humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN agencies and other aid organisations". Around 60% of the population is entirely dependent on the oil for food programme, administered by the Iraqi government. . . . But even before the first troops cross the border, the impending war has caused a global humanitarian crisis. As donor countries set aside their aid budgets to save both themselves and the US from embarrassment under the camera lights in Baghdad, they have all but ceased to provide money to other nations. The world, as a result, could soon be confronted by a humanitarian funding crisis graver than any since the end of the second world war. . . . As a result of this unprecedented failure by the rich nations to cough up, the people of the forgotten countries will, very soon, begin to starve to death. The UN has warned that "a break in supplies" to Eritrea "is now inevitable". The World Food Programme has started feeding fewer people there, but will run out of food within two months. In Burundi it can, it says, continue feeding people "for another four weeks". Beans will run out in Liberia this month; cereals in May. One hundred thousand refugees in Guinea could find themselves without food by August. Yet neither of the two governments which are about to launch a "humanitarian war" appear to be concerned by the impending humanitarian catastrophes in the world's poorest nations. . . . The Afghan government, which has an annual budget of just $460m - or around half of what the US still spends every month on chasing the remnants of al-Qaida through the mountains - is effectively bankrupt. At the beginning of this month the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, flew to Washington to beg George Bush for more money. He was given $50m, $35m of which the US insists is spent on the construction of a five-star hotel in Kabul. Karzai, in other words, has discovered what the people of Iraq will soon find out: generosity dries up when you are yesterday's news. . . . If, somehow, you are still suffering from the delusion that this war is to be fought for the sake of the Iraqi people, I would invite you to consider the record of the prosecuting nations. We may believe that George Bush and Tony Blair have the interests of foreigners at heart only when they spend more on feeding them than they spend on killing them.

posted by Lorenzo 11:25 AM

The Truth About Zimbabwe
Democracy, as understood by the "free" world, no longer exists in Zimbabwe. Huge swathes of the countryside have been turned into "no go" areas by the ruling party's thugs who are now known as "war veterans". This means that no news, other than Government spin doctoring, comes forth. When the ugly truth finally does come out, the world will be horrified. The truth is that there is absolutely no rule of law. The elections which were held in March 2002 were rigged by the ruling party. Currently, ZanuPF are illegitimately "ruling" the country. Human rights abuses have continued unabated. . . . The starvation currently being experienced in Southern Africa is a direct result of ZanuPF's policies. It is common knowledge that Zimbabwe was the food basket of Southern Africa. Neighbouring countries have always relied on Zimbabwe to top up their staple food requirements because they have rarely, if ever, been self sufficient. Reports and statements made by certain media, analysts and politicians that the cause is drought is simply not correct. Southern Africa is renowned for it's frequent droughts. However, on the ground, this "drought" is a misnomer because all the dams in Zimbabwe are full but irrigation equipment is lying idle. The reality is that this "drought" is man-made as a result of experienced farmers being prevented from doing what they do best - farming to feed Southern Africa. It is notable that South African farmers, who have not been subjected to the same treatment, have produced good grain yields under the same climatic conditions. This further re-enforces the argument that this food shortage is NOT caused by drought. . . . On 8th August 2002, 93% of Zimbabwe's commercial farmers have been ordered (by an illegal regime) to leave their farms, their homes and their livelihoods. The downstream impact is that 1,500,000 people (men, women and children) will become unemployed economic refugees with nowhere to go. . . . The ramifications of this madness are going to affect the well-being and food security of Southern Africa for years to come. The worst is still to come.

You may well ask what you can do to help. If you live in a free and democratic country, all Zimbabweans would ask is that you make your concerns known to your representatives in Government and urge them to put pressure on the government of Zimbabwe.

posted by Lorenzo 11:07 AM

Congo, Rwanda sign peace pact
(, 9 January 2003)
The presidents of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a peace agreement aimed at ending a devastating war in which up to two million people have died in the heart of Africa. . . . Rwanda's Paul Kagame pledged to withdraw thousands of troops from eastern Congo, while Congo's Joseph Kabila undertook to help disarm Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for the slaughter of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. . . . Among Kinshasa's backers, Namibia has withdrawn most of its soldiers. Kinshasa regards forces from Zimbabwe and Angola as guests of the government who will depart as soon as the latest peace accord is seen to be operating successfully it feels they are no longer needed. . . . US ambassador-at-large for war crimes Pierre-Richard Prosper said the United States wanted to take a bigger role in the poor continent but would not send troops to help secure peace in the Congo. [Editor's note: I guess we'd rather use our troops to kill people in Iraq.] . . . The agreement calls for all Rwandan forces to pull out within 90 days and to provide a detailed programme for doing this within five days. It also calls for the repatriation of former Rwandan soldiers opposed to their government and the Hutu gunmen within 90 days. . . . Hutu rebels saidthey would resist attempts to force them back to their country. . . . Scepticism mingled with war-weariness in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. "Whatever the content of the agreement, we are simply tired of the war," shopowner Paul Mushaidi said. . . . Most Rwandans have little idea there is such an accord because state media news reports have not given it prominence, although that may change now that the pact has been signed.

posted by Lorenzo 7:54 AM

Sahara desert frontiers turn green -- Satellite pictures of northern Africa show that areas lost to the Sahara desert during decades of drought are turning green again.

Analysis of images show deserts retreating in a broad band stretching from Mauritania to Eritrea, according to research in British magazine New Scientist.

The driving force behind the retreat of the deserts is believed to be increased rainfall.

Better farming methods have also played a critical role, according to researchers.

Twenty years ago, severe droughts turned much of northern Burkina Faso into a desert.

But satellite surveys of the region have shown that vegetation is returning to the country - and, indeed, across the southern edge of the Sahara desert.

Reclaiming farmland

The surveys were funded by Dutch, German and American aid agencies, and will be presented to ministers in Burkina Faso later this year.

And new comparisons with archived images also show increasing grassland and forest vegetation in southern Mauritania, north-western Niger, central Chad, as well as in Sudan and parts of Eritrea.

And the researchers say that while overall improvements have been steady, dramatic progress has been made in particular villages and areas, particularly those where donor agencies have invested consistently in soil and water conservation.

One particularly successful farming technique is known as "contour bunding". It consists in placing lines of stones along slopes and contours on the land to help rainfall soak in, and to stop topsoil washing away.

And that is helping to transform thousands of hectares into productive fields - where nothing grew just a decade ago.

posted by West 7:58 AM

Congo, Uganda Sign Peace Deal
LUANDA (Reuters) - The leaders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a deal to help bring peace to the former Zaire, where four years of civil war have left around two million dead. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila signed the accord late on Friday in the presidential palace in Angola's capital Luanda, witnessed by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Diplomats said the accord committed Uganda to withdrawing its remaining troops from the central African country of Congo, where they have been fighting alongside rebels opposed to the Kinshasa government. Congo, in turn, pledged to take action against rebels based in the east of the huge, mineral-rich country who are hostile to the Kampala government. "The government and I myself have the firm determination to cultivate this friendship so that the generations to come can find the normal strengthening of the ties between peoples and nations," Kabila said in quotes carried by the Portuguese news agency Lusa. "This is an important accord," Museveni said. "Africans need work, to increase the tax base, to develop education and health -- objectives that cannot be attained while there is war."

posted by West 9:13 AM

Zambia Finally Rejects Transgenic Food Aid
LUSAKA, Zambia, August 19, 2002 (ENS) -- The Zambian government has made a decision to reject a donation of transgenic maize (corn) from the United States after a protracted national debate over safety of the food. Announcing the decision on a national television broadcast late Friday, chief government spokesman Newstead Zimba said government will not allow importation of genetically modified (GM) maize despite the current food shortage and hunger in the country. "All genetically modified foods, including the maize grain already in the country, should not and will not be consumed or distributed," Zimba said.

posted by West 5:41 PM

Botswana Bushman fights for survival -- In Botswana the Bushmen, or San, face destruction as a separate ethnic group. President Festus Mogae once described them as 'Stone Age creatures' for whom there was no place in the modern world, and the Bostwana Government is chasing them off their traditional hunting-lands. Diamonds, the curse of modern Africa, have been discovered there. But when I travelled to the distant north-east of Namibia, bordering Botswana, I found conditions there rather better. Not that the San are entirely safe - an Australian mining company thinks it has found diamonds under Tsumkwe East, the area where the Bushmen have found their safest sanctuary in Namibia. But at present they are able to live and hunt in their traditional ways, after a century of being hunted and forcibly removed, first by German colonists, and then by the apartheid regime in South Africa.

posted by West 1:28 PM

Congo and Rwanda Agree on Peace Deal
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (Reuters) - Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo struck a deal on Monday aimed at ending four years of war in the Congo, officials said. Delegates from the two countries have been meeting in the South African capital Pretoria since Thursday to try to resolve the conflict which has killed an estimated two million people since 1998, mostly from starvation and disease. "We have reached an understanding and agreement at a technical stage," said South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who chaired the talks. A Rwandan government official told Reuters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi the two sides had signed a memorandum of understanding restating their commitment to the Lusaka peace agreement of 1999.

posted by West 8:51 PM

Africa Needs Green Growth to Fight Pollution-UN
KAMPALA (Reuters) -- Africans are likely to suffer increasing pollution, ill-health and loss of farmland unless the continent adopts "clean" technologies and the world does more to fight global warming, the United Nations said on Thursday. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), releasing what it called the most authoritative assessment of Africa's environment ever produced, said many African countries were trying hard to protect their farms, coasts, jungles and deserts.
"But a far bigger effort, by countries within and outside the continent, is needed," said a U.N. statement on the report. The report, Africa Environment Outlook (AEO), said growing populations, wars, debt, natural disasters and disease had damaged the continent's rich environment over the past 30 years. In the next 30, poverty, pollution and disease were likely to be worsened by climate change, the unchecked spread of species from outside Africa, the uncontrolled growth of cities and pollution from cars and industry, UNEP said.

posted by West 9:21 AM

Faith: Africa grapples with Romans 13
WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- As evangelical Christianity is becoming the dominant force in sub-Saharan Africa, the key New Testament passage dealing with the relationship between church and state has taken on paramount importance. At last weekend's international conference titled, "The Bible and the Ballot Box: Evangelical Faith and Third-World Democracy," no other Biblical text came up more frequently than Romans 13:1-7, which reads in part: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God ... Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed." It's a troubling text because, depending on how you interpret these words, they might lead to the assumption that a Christian must not resist injustice.

posted by West 3:41 PM

G-8 Summit Sidelines Africa
(Ross Crockford,, June 27, 2002)
As both summit delegates and activists point out, African nations face problems of epidemic proportions. One-half of the continent's population of 680 million people live on an income of less than $1 per day. More than 12 million have died in wars in the past decade. More than 25 million have AIDS, and 2.4 million died of the disease last year. One hundred and forty children out of every 1,000 don't live to see their fifth birthday. . . . But Africans hoping for a firm international commitment from the G-8 received a slap in the face -- delivered principally by George W. Bush. Bush essentially steered the agenda at the summit away from Africa, focusing instead on drumming up support for his new Mideast peace plan and the war on terrorism. . . . An economic-justice group based in Washington, D.C., called 50 Years is Enough noted that the G-8 insist (through the World Bank) that African countries eliminate all their agricultural subsidies -- even though the G-8 themselves have given $500 billion in subsidies to their own farmers this year alone. . . . Although the G-8 leaders announced $1 billion in new debt relief this week, African nations still send more money to G-8 bankers to service their debts every year than they receive in aid. The debt drains what little funds they have for health care and education. Worse still, almost no new money was set aside to fight AIDS. . . . Even the $6 billion in aid vaguely promised at this week's summit will be distributed over several years. "Another 10 million people will have died before we reach those levels of assistance," he said.

posted by Lorenzo 8:13 PM

Control of South African Internet
(Hacktivismo, June 20, 2002)
mixter writes "This one comes straight from slashdot..."

In an end-run around the South African government's plans to seize control of the .za domain , administrator Mike Lawrie took pre-emptive action and moved the primary .za zone file offshore. Revealing their naivete, parliamentary committee chairman Nkenke Kekana accused him of destabilising the net! Then again, the opposition think he's a hero. :-)"
In a nutshell: South Africa's parliament wants control of the .za domain. Such a move would give the government complete control over its country's domain name infrastructure, right down to determining who gets to have new domains and who gets to keep existing domains.

Bravo to Lawrie for having the balls to make such a pre-emptive and protective move.

posted by Lorenzo 4:39 PM

Africa is forced to take the blame for the devastation inflicted on it by the rich world
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, June 25, 2002)
It is traditional, when empire celebrates, that its vassal states come to pay tribute and beg for deliverance. This time, the African leaders who will be admitted to the summit on Thursday are prepared to suffer the final humiliation by blaming themselves for the disasters visited upon them by the G8. . . . Nepad accepts that colonialism, the cold war, and "the workings of the international economic system" have contributed to Africa's problems, but the primary responsibility rests with "corruption and economic mismanagement" at home. Few would deny that these have played a significant role, but nowhere in the document on which the plan is based is there any mention of the far more consequential corruption and mismanagement by the nations to whom they are appealing. . . . Nowhere is any context given: that Africa's deficit is merely one component of a vast and growing global debt, affecting consumers and nations in the rich world as well as nations in the poor world. The US, for example, owes $2.2 trillion: almost as much as the entire developing world's debt put together. No mention is made of the debt-based banking system which has caused this crisis, and which ensures that the only way debts can be discharged is through the issue of more debt. . . . This system granted the rich world complete economic control over the poor world. The power that nations wield within the IMF is a function of their gross domestic product: the richer they are, the more votes they can cast. The World Bank is run entirely by "donor" states. These two bodies, in other words, respond only to the nations in which they do not operate. . . . Self-determination is an admirable goal, but without control over economic policy it is bombast.

posted by Lorenzo 5:20 PM

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