Thursday, June 30, 2005

New Statesman threatens a blogger - Defending Oxfam and Barbara Stocking's rebuttal

This afternoon, I contacted American blogger and journalist Curt Hopkins after receiving an email from Kathryn Corrick, Online Manager at the New Statesman (a UK magazine on political, cultural and current affairs) telling me to cut the majority of a post entitled "In Darfur, Sudan 700,000 people rely on Oxfam to survive" published at my blog Sudan Watch 2 June 2005.

Curt is director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers. They have good connections with Media Bloggers Association which has as its General Counsel the Coleman Law Firm.

The email from the New Statesman does not explain what they propose to do if I ignore it, so I emailed Curt at the address given at his blog Morpheme Tales.

See the post NEW STATESMAN THREATENS BLOGGER that Curt published today in response. I would have liked to have written a more in-depth post on this but will have to make do for now with posting just the link to Curt's post. I've overdone my time online today and am over tired.

By the way, the folks that do great petitions for the Committee to Protect Bloggers are at Sudan Activism Blog



Joe Trippi's blog announces ONE blog is alive

American readers might like to follow ONE Blog which covers the Live 8 event in America. Just like Live Aid concert 20 years, Live 8 is being held on the east coast of America, in Philadelphia.

[via Joe Trippi's Blog ONE is alive with thanks]
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Great links and images at Live 8 Concert - live 8 - with thanks to Live 8 Concerts for sharing the pointer in the comments at Congo Watch post entitled "The Greatest Show on Earth July 2: Geldof's Live 8 concerts to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History Campaign."
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Buzztone promotes Live 8: The world's largest interactive event

A few minutes ago I received an email from Nick Lezin of Buzztone saying he is working on promoting Live 8. Buzztone, The Change Agency, is smart looking marketing firm with a perfect sounding pitch.

Nick says, on Saturday, Live 8 will become the largest interactive event the world has ever seen:
"Worldwide concerts featuring the biggest names in music-U2, Destiny's Child, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw, Madonna, Sting and more-along with one million spectators and millions of viewers. All coming together with one purpose-to make poverty history. You can check out all of your favorite performances, on-demand throughout the summer-available to everyone, only at AOL

Make sure to check it out and add your name to the live 8 petition. If you would like to help spread the word about this great cause, go to for a variety of Live 8 content that you can host on your blog or website. We have banners, blurbs about Live 8, and the official press release available."
If you are a blogger and can put something up, please send Nick [nick AT buzztone DOT com] a link so he can check it out. Thanks.

Note, a BBC news report June 23, 2005 says AOL which has exclusive rights to broadcast the Live 8 event on the internet, also licensed it to North American TV and radio stations. Also, the report says AOL will screen the five main concerts on the internet and make them available for download six weeks after the event.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Africa Calling Live 8 at Eden in Cornwall, England, UK

Live 8 - Africa Calling

The Eden Project in Cornwall, England is to stage a major Live8 concert on 2nd July under the banner of "Africa Calling" presented in association with WOMAD and its co-founder Peter Gabriel, together with Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour.

The evening itself will be hosted by Peter Gabriel, who has championed World Music for the past 25 years. Youssou N'Dour and Peter Gabriel have invited many of their favourite African artists to perform at the event.

Live 8 Africa Calling at Eden in Cornwall

The concert will be held on the stage in the Eden arena with the world's biggest greenhouses providing a spectacular backdrop in the crater.

This outstanding line-up will bring the spectacular Eden site alive with unbeatable African party spirit. Transmissions will be made from the event by the BBC as part of the Live8 celebration.


This Week's Good Idea - Send a message to the G8

Snippets from Keith's insightful post:

Next week is the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY festival in Edinburgh before the start of the G8 summit. Even if you can't go, you can send a message to the G8 leaders.

When you live around people who are struggling to provide for their families day by day, much of the political posturing, and criticism of Live 8, "Saint Bob", and stuff is really hard to listen to. There is injustice in the status quo, resulting in millions of people dying. The answer can never be charity alone, if we don't address the fundamental injustices. How can we not fight to change it? We need to recognise that for the poor to get a good deal, we need to be willing to pay a price, and that international structures and decisions should reflect this. Surely this is an expression of righteousness - to help others at our own cost. You too can send a message to the G8 leaders to tell them you want them to act for the poor.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Global Call to Action Against Poverty July 1 - International White Band Day

July 1, the first Global White Band Day will see people around the world wearing their white bands and wrapping public buildings in white to send a message to the G8 world leaders that they demand action on trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid. International White Band Day will prove to be one of the largest global actions ever taken.

Below are just some of the White Band events planned. More will be announced soon. For more information or to get in touch with national coalitions, please visit the GCAP Country Coalitions section.

July 1 International White Band Day
Source: GCAP - United Kingdom Coalition against Poverty: Make Poverty History.

Massive white bands will be wrapped around buildings across the world, including:

- The Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa, a group of shacks will be wrapped in a white band, to symbolise perpetuating poverty in Africa.
- In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree, planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded, will be draped in a white band.
- In Senegal, the slavery archway will be wrapped in a white band.

From June 30 to July 14 the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in Australia, will be wrapped in a white band, with the Australian coalition's slogan "Make Poverty History" across it.

- The Coliseum in Italy.
- The Brandenburger Tor in Germany.
- In Paris, France, the Trocadero's buildings which sit either side of the Eiffel Tower, will be wrapped with two white bands.
- In Spain, bridges will be wrapping on the main highways of Spain.
- In Georgia all the trees along the Central Avenue of the capital, Tbilisi, will be wrapped in white bands.

[via White Band Blog with thanks]


Friday, June 24, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth July 2: Geldof's Live 8 concerts to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History Campaign

50,000 people are dying, needlessly, every day of extreme poverty. Everyday, poverty kills 30,000 children in Africa alone. Another 100 will have died in the time that it takes you to read this post.

Live Aid July 13, 2985 logo

Image: Live Aid concerts were staged on 13 July 1985 to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. It is estimated the concerts reached an audience of 2 billion people, raised $140 million and saved 1-2 million lives.

Once again, the ball is rolling on tackling extreme poverty and after many years of hard work by the British Government, Sir Bob Geldof (of Live Aid fame), Bono (leader of the Irish rock band U2) and many others involved in the Commission for Africa things are starting to come to fruition that could, eventually, lead to the scrapping of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

With only eight days left before the Live 8 concert is beamed to billions of people around the globe on July 2, things are hotting up here publicity wise in Britain. The countdown is beginning to the greatest concert on Earth.

There are just 13 days to go before the G8 Summit takes place at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, UK July 6-8.

LIVE 8 concerts

This year, the UK -- as well as holding the presidency of the European Union (EU) for the second half of the year starting next week -- holds the presidency of the G8, which is why the summit is hosted in Britain with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the chair.

Tony Blair's Commission for Africa

Tony Blair has travelled to the countries of the G8 leaders to garner support for initiatives on the environment and to help make poverty history.

Tony Blair in Ethiopia at his Commission for Africa

Photo: Mr Blair last year in Ethiopia at a meeting of his Commission for Africa

Britain's Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was born in Scotland, UK where the G8 summit is to be held July 6-8 at the famous Gleneagles Hotel. He and Tony Blair have spent several years lobbying hard to help countries such as Africa. They have worked closely with Bob Geldof, Bono and many others on the Commission for Africa which, after initial meetings in Ethiopia chaired by Mr Blair, produced its first report 11 March 2005.


Photo of Bono by Barry Brecheisen. [See article "Bono Assembles an Army" and Bono's DATA campaign website Debt AIDS Trade Africa.]

Britain's Make Poverty History campaign brings together a cross-section of over 100 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups, church leaders and celebrities who are united by a common belief that 2005 offers a unprecedented opportunity for global change.

At last year's G8 summit, Tony Blair came close to getting Britain's proposal for cancelling the debts of the world's poorest nations accepted, but US President George W. Bush rejected it. This year, the historic proposal succeeded. On June 11, 2005, following a meeting of G8 finance ministers held at Gleneagles, Scotland, Gordon Brown announced the world's richest countries had agreed to write off the debt owed by 18 mainly African countries. This is just the beginning.

Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown

Photo: Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown [see below copy of Mandela's poverty speech given ahead of the meeting of G8 finance ministers June 11, 2005]

On Saturday 2 July, as the leaders of the G8 summit gather, tens of thousands of people will attend a rally in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, to demand trade justice, debt cancelling and more and better aid for the world's poorest countries.

Bob Geldof and friends have generated global publicity for Live 8, G8 summit and Make Poverty History campaign, sponsored by America Online, BBC, Nokia Nseries, 95.8 Capital fm, O2.

British TV news reports say the British police, coastguards and security forces were alarmed when Geldof used the media to call for one million people to turn up in Edinburgh. He launched Sail 8 and called for those with access to a boat to set sail on July 3 and recreate D-Day to be part of the Long Walk to Justice. He even called for sailors to bring over as many French as possible to support the protest action against poverty.

Sir Bob Geldof and Sail 8

Photo: Bob Geldof calls for sailors and boat owners, to form a massive flotilla across the English Channel in July as part of the global call for action against poverty (GCAP). Dame Ellen MacArthur is supporting the Make Poverty History campaign and international transport and travel companies have pledged their support by providing planes, trains, coaches to get people to Edinburgh by Wednesday 6 July when world leaders arrive for the G8 meeting.

Henry Northover of Make Poverty History says:
"It is imperative that thousands turn out on the streets of Edinburgh on 2 July to demand action from the G8 that they fulfill their promises to halve poverty by 2015."
Bob Geldof, with the help of some great supporters, is chief organiser of the Live 8 concerts. Unlike Live Aid in 1985, Live 8 is not about raising funds for charity, it is about raising awareness of extreme poverty and the G8 Summit 2005. Live 8 aims to reach as many people around the world as possible. Geldof has spent the last few months browbeating top names in the rock business to participate. Groups like The Who and Spice Girls may reform for the special event that will be beamed by satellite all over the world and reach an audience of 2 billion. There is even talk of Status Quo, the band that opened Live Aid with "Rockin' All Over the World".

The aim of the global Live 8 concerts is to fight world poverty. Live 8 will take place on July 2, ahead of the G8 summit July 6-8 . So far, the latest concert locations are: Johannesburg, Tokyo and Toronto which add to a growing list of venues that includes London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Cornwall. According to the BBC, Geldof, who originally co-ordinated five main concerts in Europe and the US, said he decided to arrange more after the European Union agreed to double its development aid to poorer nations. He said he hoped former South African president Nelson Mandela - who has also campaigned for the alleviation of poverty in Africa - would head the Live 8 Africa concert.

British blogger and journalist Stephen Pollard, in a May 23 article in the Times, suggests activists campaign for property rights and the rule of law - in other words: for better governance which is what I have said here in many previous posts. Another point he made is for campaigns to focus on:
"...not to abolish free trade but to extend it - attacking, for instance, the EU Common Agricultural Policy and its immoral tariff barriers against the developing world. The EU spends EUROS 2.7 billion a year subsidising farmers to grow sugar beet; at the same time it imposes high tariff barriers against sugar imports from the developing world. And the EU’s agricultural tariffs average 20 per cent, rising to a peak of 250 per cent on certain products. The European market remains barely open to the majority of low-cost textiles from the developing world."
The Live 8 concerts around the globe on July 2 will mark the start of The Long Walk To Justice. It will be watched and listened to by more than 2 billion people.

Find out more, including where the concerts are taking place, how to get tickets and who is performing: Apparently, there may be arrangements to allow hundreds of thousands more into the London concert at Hyde Park on the day.
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Educ8 The G8

Does your school want to hold a MAKE POVERTY HISTORY day or week of events during the G8 summit? You can dowload lesson plans to introduce the G8 here. The lessons are suitable for a variety of subjects, and help pupils critically engage with the concept of the G8, as well as the themes of Africa and Climate Change.

Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan1 (suitable for ages 10 to 13)
Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan 2 (suitable for ages 13 to 16)
Assembly ideas and suggestions for getting involved.
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Live 8 List

Wherever you are located in the world, you can add your name to The Live 8 message addressed to the 8 most powerful leaders in the world:
"At this year's G8 summit meeting, it is within your power to put an end to this tragedy. It is an extraordinary opportunity which it would be shameful to ignore. We urge you to take these 3 steps to make extreme poverty history...

- double the aid sent to the world's poorest countries,
- fully cancel their debts,
- change the trade laws so that they can build their own future."
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Bloggers talking about Live 8

See Joi Ito's post Technorati Live 8 launches re tags, badges and tracking what bloggers are saying.
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Make Poverty History Campaign

What is Make Poverty History campaign? BBC explains about the campaign that bids to end poverty trap.

Click here to get the code for a whiteband on your website and here for white bangles.
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Mandela's poverty speech

Via BBC News online: the full text of Nelson Mandela's speech in London's Trafalgar Square for the campaign to end poverty in the developing world.
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'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'. - Nelson Mandela
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Bono launches ONE campaign
Photo: ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - ONE by ONE - to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. The campaign was launched at a rally in Philadelphia with the help of U2's Bono.

Readers, especially those from America, might like to follow the ONE Campaign and Joe Trippi's blog.


Monday, June 20, 2005

World Refugee Day

Refugee Day

Photo and caption via Reuters: "A Sudanese refugee girl sits in the shadow of her hut as they celebrate Refugee Day at Ikafe camp in northwest Uganda near the borders of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo June 20, 2005. Marking World Refugee Day with his first overseas trip in the role to Ikafe camp, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Monday that nations like Uganda that host hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring African conflicts should serve as a lesson to the West, where asylum policies are increasingly restrictive. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)"

Note, "celebrate" is not a word I would use in connection with World Refugee Day. Not sure what the new UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres is getting at when he says Sudanese refugees in Uganda should serve as a lesson to the West. What is he suggesting, that millions of people from the Sudan, DR Congo, and Uganda, to name a few countries in Africa, be given residency in tiny countries like England with the British taxpayer footing the bill?

I suggest the lesson lays with African people and their leaders - not the West. African countries are rich in oil and other natural resources. Billions of dollars of taxpayers money have gone from the West to Africa. It is the fault of corrupt African leaders and African people not getting their act together for so many years that is the problem. For too long poor people in Africa have been marginalised and denied access to the law and land/property ownership. And too many are coming to the West to get educated and not returning home to spread their knowledge, training and skills. The fault lays with African people and their leaders, not the West. They need to wake up. The population of Africa will double in 27 years time. If Africa does not pull itself up by its bootstraps like many Asian countries have done so admirably, it will become unmanageable for the rest of the world. African people must get educated and get rid of despotic dictators who spend Africa's wealth on arms and decades of continual war.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

New danger from Ugandan rebel group ADF based in DR Congo? ADF leader Jamil Mukulu next Bin Laden of Africa?

June 6, 2005 report via ReliefWeb from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) by Fawzia Sheikh in Kampala, Uganda:

An Islamic guerrilla group previously thought to be a spent force is regrouping and rearming, according to Ugandan security officials.

Security officials in Uganda are warning that the country faces a real threat from an Islamic group that many believed had been defeated.

Most foreign reporting on Uganda's security problems focuses on the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, a guerrilla force which professes Christian values but has pursued a particularly brutal insurgent war in northern Uganda for two decades.

But there is growing concern about another group, the Allied Democratic Forces, ADF, a resurgence of which could again threaten Uganda's southwestern flank.

The ADF's base in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, places it among the many cross-border security problems facing the Great Lakes region.

The fact that the United States government is planning to help monitor the activity of armed Ugandan and Rwandan factions operating out of the DRC seems to reflect the growing concern in the White House about the potential for African instability to breed international terrorism.

US interest in Great Lakes security grew after the 1997 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and a failed plot to attack its Kampala mission.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US government added the LRA to its list of terrorist organisations. It subsequently established the 100-million-dollar East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative, intended to provide regional states with a range of tools from police training to methods of countering money-laundering and other financial abuses by illegal organisations.

"There is a general interest on the part of the United States and members of the international community to help reduce the level of internal violence in Africa," said Dr Calestous Juma, professor of international development at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Concerns over the spread of terrorism are only a part of the equation."

Yet while it is still concerned about the LRA, the US recently dropped the Islamic ADF from its list of designated terrorist organisations.

From 1996 onwards, the ADF grew into an increasingly potent rebel force - assisted by the Sudanese government - but in 1999 the Ugandan armed forces began to gain the upper hand and by 2001, they had effectively defeated the group.

Now it's back, according to security officials interviewed by IWPR.

"The long absence of a central government in Congo [DRC], hampered by a UN peacekeeping force without a strong mandate to disarm and reintegrate fighters, has given the ADF time to regroup there," said Lieutenant-Colonel James Mugira, Uganda's acting chief of military intelligence.

According to Mugira, the ADF has been receiving funding, operational training, and weapons such as Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and bomb-making equipment from Islamic fundamentalist groups in Muslim countries.

Captain Joseph Kamusiime, operations officer in charge of Uganda's joint anti-terrorism unit, says that while the ADF has reportedly received help from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, one of its main supporters is Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the Sudan-based National Islamic Front.

Kamusiime believes Turabi wants to see the "Islamicisation" of Sudan's neighbours including Uganda.

Earlier this year, the ADF's leader, Jamil Mukulu, began distributing tape recordings of religious sermons in which he incited members to attack the government of President Yoweri Museveni, and criticised ADF members who had surrendered to the army.

Captain Kamusiime said the sermons preached that "Muslims should kill non-Muslims, and kill also Muslims who are not fighting for jihad".

In another recording, continued Kamusiime, Mukulu takes aim at the West, saying, "Let curses be to Bush, Blair, the president of France - and more curse goes to Museveni and all those fighting Islam."

Kamusiime concluded, "This is mujahedin kind of propaganda, and we think it's dangerous, especially if the message is conveyed to someone who's not educated." He added that 50 per cent of Uganda's population is illiterate.

Kamusiime estimates that there between 650 and 1,000 armed ADF fighters based at two camps in eastern DRC, and said that Mukulu has recently sent funds to these groups to help them recruit new members.

The United Nations mission in DRC is less convinced about the threat posed by the Ugandan rebel group. It comes up with a similar estimate of 1,000 fighters in the country, but its deputy spokesman Mamadou Bah says that "some of them are camp-followers or other kinds of people who make the ADF fighters seem much more than they actually are".

Under a tripartite agreement designed to disable the various DRC-based insurgent forces, the US, Uganda and Rwanda share information about rebel activity both with each other and with the DRC government. The groups under scrutiny include the Interahamwe, the remnants of the Hutu forces responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Within Uganda, the US government remains especially concerned about the LRA, which Ugandan intelligence and army sources say received military training at al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's farm in Sudan in the mid-Nineties.

The US provides Museveni's government with non-military assistance such as vehicles and radios to help it combat the LRA.

Even though the LRA is avowedly Christian in outlook, it has received backing from Sudan's Islamic government, which has traditionally been opposed to Museveni because it alleged he was helping the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the rebel force which made peace with the Khartoum government only this year.

Despite the fact that the LRA still has a place on the US list of terrorist organisations while the ADF no longer does so, Ugandan officials insist that Mukulu's group is may be more of a menace to the international community as well as to the country itself.

"The LRA is an insurgent group which is using terrorist targets to further their cause. They're not targeting Americans [or] Israelis," said Kamusiime.

"The ADF, however, is motivated by Islamic fundamentalists - more in line with al-Qaeda ideology like other African terrorist organisations with global reach, such as the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and Somalia's Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya."

Four years ago, the Ugandan government unsuccessfully tried to get an international arrest warrant issued for Mukulu, and now it plans to post his photo on the internet in a bid to capture him.

"We know he's going to be a very, very dangerous person," said Mugira.

"We think he'll become the next Bin Laden of Africa."

Fawzia Sheikh is a Canadian journalist based in Kampala.

[Cross-posted at Uganda Watch blog]

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Uganda, Congo and Khartoum facing war crimes probe

A BBC report today confirms the International Criminal Court at The Hague is to launch an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Darfur, western Sudan.

The ICC plans other trials later this year against alleged perpetrators of war crimes in two other African nations, Uganda and Congo, a BBC correspondent says.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Castrate the rapists or do something to stop rape being used as a weapon of war

The following comments were received from Cynthia and an anonymous person in response to a recent post here at Congo Watch entitled Women take brunt of human rights abuse: Amnesty.

As the post also appeared at my other blog Uganda Watch, I have today cross-posted this at Uganda Watch. My reply to the comments took as long to write as a post, so I am using it as an entry for today's post here. Thanks to Cynthia and the anonymous poster. Much appreciated. Although, goodness knows what they or any other readers will think of my reply. I bashed it out quickly and posted it right away without a second thought, incase I talked myself out of publishing it.

Cynthia said...
I agree too that women should rule the world since men have made an utter mess of things. There is no way women can do worst...

6:23 AM
Anonymous said...
I am a man and am so sick of hearing how we should send billions of dollars to Africa to treat AIDS. Very simple: if someone rapes or molests a woman - castrate them! Women are under enormous pressure to have sex even by husbands, and when the husband carries aids from his girlfriend, of course women will be infected at higher rates. How does throwing more money at simple BAD BEHAVIOR change the problem????? Wake up people! I'm sick of paying for crap like this.

12:14 AM
Cynthia said...
You know Mr. Anonymous, I looked at the AIDS number, and they don't add up. African behavior is no worst than all the crap that Americans and Europeans do and they are not bombarded with these fictitious numbers that canĂ¢€™t even be verified. The Internet can attest to these facts. I, on the other hand, get so sick and tire of all the inappropriate moral outrage about things that are not even true. It's all propaganda.

6:31 AM
Ingrid said...
Hey anonymous: castrate them yay! In the olden days there used to be eunuchs. And I've read somewhere that Salt Peter used to be given to prisoners, sailors and troops to stop their "urges". What I am saying here is, now that such actions against men have ceased, what is the alternative within today's society?

I wish more men would speak up about rape like you have but I guess nothing will be sorted because it's not in mens' interest. Imagine if it were the men getting raped by men - no doubt things would get sorted quickly.

Cynthia, if you ever get time to look deeper into what you have just written, I would be interested in writing a post on it. There is so much propaganda around in other spheres, especially when it comes to Africa, I am not surprised it might be used with AIDS too.

It seems to me the sources of propaganda stem from those with a vested interest commercially - and activists - mainly from America. Every day I get steamed up reading American news reports especially when they are connected somehow to organisations that are based on the East Coast of America - to such an extent that I am actually trying to avoid reading American news now.

These days, whenever I read a piece by religious and/or political led organisations, Washington Post, NY Times, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and London-based Amnesty International, I start questioning the degree self interest and political motivation behind each story. UN and aid agencies add to the caucophony of outpourings of emotion in their quaterly fundraising drives.

Please understand, I am not suspecting these organisations of not having good intentions - what I am saying is if you follow the money you will find them on the trail and things get mighty blown out of proportion on the way, sort of like a Chinese Whisper, where everyone adds in their own two cents and interepretation along the way and it gets read as fact.

Much worse things - and the death toll is much greater - in Uganda and DR Congo than is currently happening in Darfur Sudan and yet the spotlight is still on Darfur and hardly alight on the world's worst/most neglected humanitarian crises in northern Uganda and DRC where for starters at least four million people have perished.

These days one has to be so careful talking about Arabs, Muslims, Jews and Africans for fear of being misinterpreted or accused of being racist - it is more trouble than it is worth. [So in a sense, it seeems to me they are suppressing freedom of speech] Frankly, I am starting to add Americans into that mix.

Within the blogosphere I've noticed over the past two years, most Americans take any sort of criticism of their blinkered and insular thinking as an afront to everything they stand for - like an attack on everything that is great and good about America - they get pretty aggressive about it and hold grudges. Sort of reminds me of the story of the Emperor and his clothes...

The point I am making here is there is so much political propaganda in the American media that Americans aren't even aware because they can't be told anything. Sorry, that's putting it bluntly but I have felt this way for the past year.

Another thing too is, this mushrooming of do-good agencies and chartitable organisations and PR companies issuing press releases to mainstream media has to be seen to be believed. I am starting to see people that probably wouldn't fit in elsewhere, starting on a issue, getting donations, and creating a little world for themselves that essentially lines their own pockets, puts food on their table. In some cases I see it as exploitation of people's emotions and misfortunes.

The other point I am making here is in answer to Anonymous: **how does throwing more money at simple bad behaviour change the problem?** It doesn't but it certainly lines a lot of peoples pockets on the journey to Africa. Humanitarian relief supplies and aid workers represent a multi billion dollar industry that nobody is really looking at. "So, what?" I ask myself - what does it matter, at least someone is providing relief to those who are most in need. My answer is, well yes, if it was true. Aid is not reaching those most in need. There is a great deal of super fantastic work being done - but there is a lot of incompetence too that causes wastage like money grows on trees. I get annoyed at the waste and easy come, easy go attitude with nobody questioning it. It's like they are unaccountable.

Right now for Darfur the UN World Food Programme is talking about using costly air drops of food because of lack of trucks and problems of insecurity related to the trucks.

This has now been going on a year. Who knows if the amount of money they'd spent on air drops last year could have been used to buy trucks accompanied by its own security minders. They used air drops last year because, and they admitted this themselves, they were too slow to react before the annual rainy season.

This year, after a whole year of warning and planning, they are using air drops again. China and Russia on the UN Security Council are blocking taking action against Sudan (because they have oil and arms interests in Sudan) and the genocidal regime in Khartoum is blocking African Union troops from being armed to protect civilians (because Khartoum sees foreign troops as a threat to its power base).

In essence, what I am saying here is, when it comes to Africa there is a whole load of corruption and propaganda when it comes to Africa - from within and outside Africa.

It's time people in Africa (and Africans living outside of it too) start working hard and putting their backs into sorting it out themselves and stop taking from the West.

Seems they love meeting and chewing the cud and sitting around talking - or fighting. They need to realise that without education they are going nowhere. If they would stop fighting and stop spending all their wealth on arms, they could afford to get educated over the next 15 years.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

HRW on DR Congo: Gold fuels massive human rights atrocities

Johannesburg, June 2, 2005 Human Right Watch report. Excerpt:

The lure of gold has fuelled massive human rights atrocities in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published today. Local warlords and international companies are among those benefiting from access to gold rich areas while local people suffer from ethnic slaughter, torture and rape.

Corporations should ensure their activities support peace and respect for human rights in volatile areas such as northeastern Congo, not work against them.

The Curse of Gold Report

HRW June 2 - The 159-page report, "The Curse of Gold," documents how local armed groups fighting for the control of gold mines and trading routes have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity using the profits from gold to fund their activities and buy weapons.

The report provides details of how a leading gold mining company, AngloGold Ashanti, part of the international mining conglomerate Anglo American, developed links with one murderous armed group, the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), helping them to access the gold-rich mining site around the town of Mongbwalu in the northeastern Ituri district.

The Human Rights Watch report also illustrates the trail of tainted gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to neighboring Uganda from where it is sent to global gold markets in Europe and elsewhere.

The report documents how a leading Swiss gold refining company, Metalor Technologies, previously bought gold from Uganda. After discussions and correspondence with Human Rights Watch beginning in December 2004, and after the report had gone to press, the company announced on May 20 that it would suspend its purchases of gold from Uganda. The Metalor statement was welcomed by Human Rights Watch. Read full report.