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Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:51am On Aug 15, 2011

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 10:03am On Aug 15, 2011
Riot claims see cops turn on PM David Cameron

A TOP British police commander has hit back at David Cameron after the Prime Minister accused police of serious tactical errors during a week of rioting which has left five men dead.

[b]Hugh Orde, a frontrunner to become the next head of Scotland Yard, rejected attempts by Mr Cameron to claim credit for the tougher police response.

"The fact that politicians chose to come back (from holiday) is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing," Sir Hugh told the BBC yesterday.

"The more robust policing tactics you saw were not a function of political interference; they were a function of the numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics."

Sir Hugh, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, dismissed the repeated claim by Home Secretary Theresa May that when she rushed back from her holiday two days into the riots, she personally ordered the cancellation of all police leave.

The Home Secretary has "no power whatsoever" to order the cancellation of leave, Sir Hugh said, adding that police commanders made the important decisions.

The spat between top cops and the Conservative-led government over who should get the credit and the blame for the past week could have long-term implications because police are increasingly lining up with the officers' union and Labour MPs against unprecedented cuts to police spending planned for the next four years.

Sir Hugh has been seen as a strong contender to replace the former Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson, who resigned last month over the News of the World phone hacking scandal, but his chances could have been damaged by his tiff with Mr Cameron and Ms May.[/b]

The Prime Minister insisted yesterday that his government's planned cuts to police funding were equivalent to only 6 per cent and would not hurt the response to future crises if police resources were used more effectively.

But Sir Hugh said the cuts amounted to 20 per cent after inflation and "that will lead to less police officers (meaning) we need to have some very honest conversations with government about what we stop doing if we are to maintain frontline service delivery at current levels".

Mr Cameron angered police chiefs yesterday by telling parliament that commanders had got it wrong in their initial response to the riots, which began in Tottenham, north London, following the police killing of a suspected drug dealer. While officers had worked bravely, "there were simply far too few police deployed on to our streets and the tactics they were using weren't working", Mr Cameron said.

"Initially, the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue, rather than essentially one of crime. The truth is that the police have been facing a new and unique challenge with different people doing the same thing - basically, looting - in different places all at the same time."

The situation was brought under control in London after the number of police on the streets was increased from 6000 to 16,000 on Tuesday night.

That shifted the focus of the riots to northern cities such as Birmingham and Manchester, which had joined two dozen other British police forces in sending officers to help in London.

The following night, police mounted a second surge into those northern cities and with thousands of police on foot patrols on what seems to be every major road in London, the effort has shifted to tracking down offenders.

Police in Birmingham yesterday arrested two youths, aged 16 and 17, and a 26-year-old man over the hit-and-run killing of three men of Pakistani descent on Wednesday. A 32-year-old black man who had already been arrested on suspicion of triple murder was released on bail.

On Monday, Trevor Ellis, 26, from Brixton Hill, was shot in the head and killed during a car chase that police believe was part of a tussle over looted goods.

The latest fatality was Richard Bowes, 68, who died yesterday after being attacked by arsonists while trying to put out a fire near his home in Ealing, west London.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 10:09am On Aug 15, 2011
British police slam Cameron's recruitment of US crime-fighting guru; riot arrests top 2,100

Police slam Britain's wooing of US crime adviser

[b]Police tensions flared Saturday over Britain's recruitment of a veteran American police commander to advise the government on how to combat gangs and prevent a repeat of the past week's riots and looting.

Leaders of the police unions in London and the northwest city of Manchester criticized the appointment of William Bratton, former commander of the police forces in Los Angeles, New York and Boston, as an insulting stunt.

Their criticism follows rising friction between Prime Minister David Cameron and senior British police officers over whether the government, or the police, deserve credit for bringing four days of riots under control.

"America polices by force. We don't want to do that in this country," said Paul Deller of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents more than 30,000 officers in the British capital.

Deller, a 25-year Met officer, accused the government of not being serious about following Bratton's recipe for reducing crime.

"When Mr. Bratton was in New York and Los Angeles, the first thing he did was to increase the number of police on the street, whereas we've got a government that wants to do exactly the opposite," he said, referring to Britain's commitment to slash law enforcement spending as part of debt reduction efforts.

Ian Hanson, chairman of the federation's Manchester branch, said local officers knew better how to police their own communities than "someone who lives 5,000 miles away."[/b]

Police have been on the defensive over their slow initial response to riots that rapidly spread Aug. 6 from the north London district of Tottenham to several London flashpoints and, eventually, to several other English cities. Cameron also criticized their tactics as too passive and announced Friday his government would receive policy advice from the 63-year-old Bratton, who resigned as Los Angeles police commissioner in 2009 after overseeing strong reductions in gang-related crime in all three of his commands.

Five people were killed during England's riots, including a 26-year-old man shot to death in his car and a 68-year-old man beaten to death after arguing with rioters and trying to extinguish a fire they had set.

In England's second-largest city of Birmingham, police said Saturday they had arrested two more men on suspicion of murdering three Pakistani men during street clashes there Wednesday. The arrests rose to five the number of men, aged 16 to 27, being interrogated over the killing of Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31. The trio were fatally struck by a speeding car that appeared to be driven deliberately into a crowd of South Asian vigilantes protecting a strip of family-owned shops in west Birmingham.

The father of the youngest victim, 46-year-old Tariq Jahan, told journalists at a Birmingham news conference he had received thousands of letters from well-wishers worldwide. He received national praise for declaring, just hours after his son's killing, that he bore no anger toward his killers, the police or the government, and for appealing to young Muslims in his neighborhood not to retaliate against the black gang members believed responsible. His repeated public appeals appeared to deter any retaliatory violence.

"I would like to thank the community, especially the young people, for listening to what I have to say and staying calm," Jahan said.

Scotland Yard said that, as of Saturday night, 1,276 suspected rioters and looters have been arrested, of whom 748 have been charged with various crimes.

Nationwide, more than 2,100 people have been arrested. Courts in London, Birmingham and Manchester have stayed open around the clock since Wednesday to process the cases.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:32am On Aug 15, 2011

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:54pm On Sep 05, 2011
When natural disasters become political disasters
By Julian E. Zelizer, CNN ContributorAugust 29, 2011 -- Updated 1115 GMT (1915 HKT)

Editor's note: Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush's administration, published by Princeton University Press.

Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- As Hurricane Irene gathered force, moving its way up toward the populated areas of the East Coast, politicians in both parties scrambled to prepare. President Obama cut short his vacation on Martha's Vineyard to return to Washington. Governors and mayors in all the affected states issued warnings, with mandatory and voluntary evacuations, and state officials mobilized.

Every politician, red and blue, realized the stakes involved. The failure to prepare and respond effectively to this disaster could be politically devastating to the standing of any politician. The failure to clean up the damage from the hurricane in the next few days, swiftly and effectively, could undercut any political future.

Some presidents have been very effective at handling natural disasters. One of the famous cases took place with Hurricane Betsy in Louisiana in September 1965. Democratic Sen. Russell Long called the president to urge him to visit. When Lyndon Johnson hesitated because of his busy schedule, the canny Long said: "If you go there right now, Mr. President, they couldn't beat you if Eisenhower ran!"

Johnson, motivated by a mix of humanitarian and political incentives, went right away. He traveled the streets, talking to residents and inspecting the damage. Johnson leaned on Robert Phillips from the Office of Emergency Planning to take quick action and to do what was necessary to provide relief.

During one phone conversation, with Long on the line, he said: "Now, in times of distress, it's necessary that all the members of the family get together and lay aside any individual problems they have or any personal grievances and try to take care of the sick mother, and we've got a sick mother on our hands. And as I said the other night when I was there, we've got to cut out all the red tape. We've got to work around the clock. We've got to ignore hours."

Relief arrived, and Congress also passed the Flood Control Act of 1965, which helped to rebuild the area.

Julian ZelizerOther presidents have not done as well. President George H.W. Bush famously stalled in providing relief to Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Following the devastating storm that ripped through the region, Bush did declare a state of emergency and promised that help was on the way. But the help did not come for days.

Indeed, Bush was not even aware at first of the full extent of the damage.

One frustrated emergency official in Dade County asked, on national television, "Where in the hell is the cavalry on this one?" When government assistance finally arrived, many Floridians were angry and frustrated, blaming the president personally for what had happened. The laggard response cost him approval ratings going into the election.

But the event that looms largest in political circles is Hurricane Katrina. In late August 2005, the hurricane devastated Louisiana and Mississippi. President George W. Bush, who had handled 9/11 with such masterful political effect, stumbled. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, under the direction of Michael Brown, who many felt was not qualified for the position, had immense trouble overseeing the response.

The contrast to President Bill Clinton, who had effectively used FEMA to deal with a series of hurricanes, made the situation even more embarrassing. The suffering that took place in New Orleans was immense, and it was broadcast on national television.

The problems in the post-Katrina moment raised questions about President Bush -- his ability to govern, his competence and about cronyism -- that lingered for years. Given the high percentage of African-Americans living in the city, the weak response weakened the president's claim to be a "compassionate conservative" who reached out to minorities. While many people blame the war in Iraq or controversial counterterrorism policies for Bush's downfall, Katrina was an equally important turning point.

Obama suffered early in his presidency with the slow and halting response to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. While he recovered as the cleanup took place, the crisis was one of the first events to raise questions about how much better Obama was doing with some problems such as the environment than his predecessor.

Coming at a low point in his presidency, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene will be even more important. Obama can't afford to have any more situations that raise questions about his skill as a leader.

The challenge extends to others as well, including potential presidential candidates New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. When Christie was at Disney World during a massive snowstorm earlier this year, the media was unrelenting in its criticism. This time, Christie told state residents to "get the hell off the beach."

Congressional Republicans will also be in the spotlight. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's remark that the GOP would increase funding only if other spending cuts were made will sound harsh to many Americans -- and not exactly like a model of how to govern in times of crisis.

Natural disasters hurt all Americans -- rich and poor, black, white and Latino, male and female. Therefore, they are one of the few times when many Americans -- red and blue -- tend to turn to government for help and put aside their political biases.

How leaders respond to these crises, particularly after Katrina, can determine how the public sees them in the years to come.

The current crop of executives must show in that they can effectively manage through the post-emergency period, mobilizing and distributing resources so that Americans can rebuild their lives quickly. Rather than sparking more fear, they must also inspire those who are suffering to regain the confidence they need to move forward.

If they don't, as President George W. Bush learned, their failure will come back to haunt them in the court of public opinion.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:57pm On Sep 05, 2011
FEMA funding faces now familiar congressional wrangling

Washington (CNN) -- As rescuers raced Tuesday to free people trapped by floodwaters caused by Hurricane Irene, Washington politicians bickered over how to pay for it.

The same budget arguments that nearly brought the first government default in history earlier this month now raise questions about whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will have enough money to deal with Irene's aftermath.

FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund has less than $800 million remaining, and given the pace of operations in the wake of Irene, could run out before the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.

With conservative House Republicans calling for spending cuts to offset any increase in emergency funds -- a condition opposed by many Democrats -- the ability of Congress to act quickly on the issue remains uncertain.

"The notion that we would hold this up until Republicans can prompt another budget fight and figure out what they want to cut, what they want to offset in the budget, and to pit one section of the country against the other and to delay this and create this uncertainty, it's just the latest chapter and I think one of the most unsavory ones of our budget wars," said Rep. David Price, D-North Carolina.

Irene first made landfall on the U.S. mainland in North Carolina, devastating some coastal areas. Price said GOP efforts led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of neighboring Virginia to offset additional emergency funds amount to "an untenable position and one that simply is unresponsive and insensitive to the kind of situation we face."

Cantor's spokesman, however, noted that an appropriations bill already passed by the House and awaiting action in the Democratic-controlled Senate includes additional money to replenish the FEMA disaster fund.

"That funding was offset," said the spokesman, Brad Dayspring. "The Senate has thus far failed to act on that legislation."

While the appropriations bill is for fiscal year 2012, which begins October 1, the money could be used for disasters that occurred in fiscal 2011.

"People and families affected by these disasters will certainly get what they need from their federal government," Dayspring said. "The goal should be to find ways to pay for what is needed whenever possible. That is the responsible thing to do. "

States can request FEMA Disaster Relief Fund assistance once the president declares a federal disaster within their borders. Most of the Eastern and Northeast states hit by Irene already have that designation.

Federal officials say they don't yet know how much money will be needed for all the emergency operations associated with Irene. After a series of destructive tornadoes earlier this year, including one that leveled a large swath of Joplin, Missouri, FEMA announced Monday that it was not approving new long-term reconstruction projects in order to ensure it has enough money for immediate emergency funding needs.

"Historically, when the balance in our Disaster Relief Fund has been under the range of $1 billion, we have employed this strategy," a FEMA statement said.

Rachel Racusen, a FEMA spokesperson, said in a statement that the revised funding strategy "prioritizes the immediate, urgent needs of survivors and states when preparing for or responding to a disaster."

"This strategy will not affect the availability of aid that any disaster survivors are receiving for recent disasters, such as tornadoes or flooding, or our response operations for Hurricane Irene or any event in the coming weeks or months," Racusen said.

Missouri legislators worried that FEMA was shifting priority from Joplin's recovery to focus on Irene because of the funding crunch.

"Recovery from hurricane damage on the East Coast must not come at the expense of Missouri's rebuilding efforts," Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement Monday. "If FEMA can't fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that's unacceptable, and we need to take a serious look at how our disaster response policies are funded and implemented."

To Price, the problem is the Republican demand for spending offsets, which he said ended up pitting regions against each other for needed emergency funding.

"I'm just very impatient and I think the American people are going to be impatient with any attempt to hold these funds hostage to political objectives," he said.

A Democratic Senate appropriations aide told CNN on condition of not being identified that the FEMA disaster fund was at $772 million on Tuesday morning, and that it would be about a week before the agency can estimate the costs associated with Hurricane Irene.

The House appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, will come up in the Senate Appropriations Committee on September 6, according to the Senate aide.

It doubled the original $1.8 billion requested by President Barack Obama for fiscal 2012, adding $850 million for emergency funding that was offset by cuts in other DHS programs including the Coast Guard, first responders and FEMA, the aide said.

In addition, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, added another $1 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund that was offset by cutting funds for a fuel-efficient vehicles program, according to the aide.

Democrats take issue with cuts to Homeland Security funding to offset additional emergency funding, the aide noted. In July, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, who chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, criticized the House appropriations bill as "short-sighted."

Even the White House got involved in the fracas, with Press Secretary Jay Carney telling reporters Tuesday that he wished Cantor and other conservative Republicans had the same commitment to spending offsets "when they ran up unprecedented bills and never paid for them" during the administration of President George W. Bush.

That prompted a quick response from Cantor's office, which said: "The goal should be to find ways to pay for what is needed when possible. In the face of a $14 trillion national debt, that is the responsible thing to do."

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:04pm On Sep 05, 2011
[size=18pt]Obama's problem? No one fears him[/size]

(CNN) -- The White House loves to trumpet that one of President Barack Obama's greatest virtues is that he operates above the fray, choosing not to waste time with the political battles in the trenches.

"No Drama Obama" is what we heard during the 2008 presidential campaign -- that his cool, calm demeanor is his biggest asset. But as I look at how the GOP forced the president's hand on extending the Bush tax cuts; created political hay out of the debt ceiling, helping lead the nation to lose its AAA credit rating; and committed the gross disrespect of rebuffing the president's request to speak to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, it's fair to ask: When will this president strike back and exert some presidential muscle?

There is no doubt that President Obama has taken an aggressive position in going after al-Qaeda. We have taken out far more of the terror group's leaders than under President George W. Bush, including killing Osama bin Laden and the group's No. 2 leader. Even the hawkest of hawks can't complain about his decisions in Libya and Afghanistan.

But the 2012 election will not be decided on foreign policy. The economy will trump all that, and on that note, President Obama looks like a man with all the trappings of the most powerful position in the world, but one who uses little to none of the power.

Gergen: How Obama could be the leader in the room

This unwillingness to flex his muscle was first seen when Democrats were ready to tar and feather Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman for his stern opposition to then-Sen. Barack Obama in his battle against Sen. John McCain.

Democrats wanted to strip Lieberman of his committee assignments, but Obama quashed that, saying it wasn't necessary. How did Lieberman repay the president for his support? By being a thorn in his side during the health care debate. I would think that when you saved someone's butt, you might want to lean on him when you need to.

Didn't happen.

When the obscene AIG bonuses became public in early 2009, the American people reacted angrily, wanting to punish Wall Street executives. The White House reacted late with righteous indignation; then did nothing.

The president talks tough with banks one day, then has an olive branch for them the next. All while the banks screw Americans out of their homes, even though the American people kept the fat cat bankers from losing their own multiple million-dollar homes across the nation with billions of dollars in bailouts.

What did JP Morgan Chase leader Jamie Dimon do? Rip the president for picking on bankers, saying it was wrong to keep blaming them, even though their destructive plans of jacking up quarterly stock prices with foul schemes nearly destroyed the world financial system.

So the president helps fatten their balance sheets and they still dump on him? Has he jumped on the banks for refusing to modify loans? Nope. Their plan of action, according to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, is voluntary.

It is abundantly clear that President Obama is unwilling to fire back at his critics, who disrespect him and the office of the president. He wants to take the high ground, while his critics are ripping the ground out from underneath him. Instead of taking charge of his agenda, he is willing to let others blow him off to pursue their own.

When he came into office, President Obama decried the ways of Washington, saying voters don't want to see the acrimony. But they sure as hell want to see a president fight for what he believes in, even if that means losing a battle.

The White House bowed to Republicans in the Senate in not appointing Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Protection Bureau. She was considered enemy No. 1 for them. So by appointing Richard Cordray, the Obama administration hoped the Senate would recess, allowing them to make his appointment effective during the recess. There was one tiny problem: The only thing the GOP hated more than Warren was the bureau itself. They didn't recess, and now Cordray will be put through the wringer on Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Has the president made a stink about the GOP refusing to allow his appointees to move forward? Every now and then, but it is nothing close to the heat President George W. Bush and his supporters put on the Senate when his conservative judges and appointees were being held up.

Maybe White House senior adviser David Plouffe and campaign manager Jim Messina think the tactic the president is taking is appealing to independent voters. But the unwillingness to go to the mat on anything has angered some of his ardent supporters, who feel the White House will leave them hanging in the wind when it's time to fight.

After his Martha's Vineyard vacation, President Obama signaled he was ready to do battle leading up to the 2012 re-election. But the bungling, and eventual capitulation, over when he would address a joint session of Congress to present a jobs plan shows that we have seen more of the same: a decisive action taken by Obama, only to back down and acquiesce to the GOP.

After Obama buckled to Speaker John Boehner by postponing the speech to Thursday, a hardcore Democrat, who hates anything the GOP does and has never voted for a Republican for president, texted me the following: "Does the POTUS need back surgery? I think he does. He needs a spine transplant."

President Obama's feeble attempt to engage his foes is angering those who are ready to do battle and have his back. I've heard it from folks in the labor movement, civil rights leaders, women and young folks. And don't be surprised if polling shows that independents want a president who will stick to his guns, even if they disagree with him on policy.

Americans respond to decisiveness. They respond to a leader who makes clear what he wants and will use the power of the presidency to lead his troops up the hill to take on those who oppose him.

Right now, it appears President Obama is working to not lose, as opposed to fighting to win. And that simply ain't gonna cut it.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 1:16pm On Sep 23, 2011
Imperial overkill
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

For anybody who lives in New York, the United Nations General Assembly is a nightmare. It means lots of traffic, snarl-ups, blockades, and policemen stopping people every time the foreign minister of some small country decides he wants to go to some diner for breakfast. But nothing compares with when the President of the United States decides to leave his hotel - or even, for that matter, to stay in his hotel.

I was trying to get to a restaurant two blocks away from where President Obama was staying. I ended up being half an hour late for my meeting because the President was going from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel straight up Park Avenue to a fundraiser. You would think this would be a pretty easy logistical challenge. But, instead, it seemed like half the New York police force had come out. Something like 30 blocks were sealed off. There were at least 100 vehicles involved in the motorcade blockading side streets - all so he could travel 40 blocks uptown.

I understand the need for security, but it’s worth pointing out that when you travel around the world, even the presidents of Russia and China and other very big countries have nowhere near the kind of obsessive security that the President of the United States has. I understand the challenge. Nobody wants to be the guy who signs off on lowering the security levels for the President, because if something happens, that’s the person who’s going to be blamed. But we have to get a grip on this ever-expanding security apparatus.

The imperial air of these cordons and enormous motorcades is incredibly off-putting. It really has become a joke at this point with other diplomats talking about it all the time. It is worth quoting at length from the extremely well-written memoirs of British diplomat Chris Patten (who is ardently pro-American), recounting his experiences as Europe's Commissioner for External Relations.

"Attending any conference abroad, American cabinet officers arrive with the sort of entourage that would have done Darius proud. Hotels are commandeered; cities brought to a halt; innocent bystanders are barged into corners by thick-necked men with bits of plastic hanging out of their ears. It is not a spectacle that wins hearts and minds."

This is coming from a guy who was effectively the Foreign Minister of Europe and was the Governor of Hong Kong. He is used to pomp and splendor. All this American security has the feeling of the Roman Empire at its full height, obsessively worried about massive shows of strength and logistics.

By the way, there’s also a huge incentive for local authorities to maintain it. UN General Assembly week is the best week for overtime for the New York Police Department. If you ask, “Do you really need the 500 policemen on every side street around where the President is 24/7?” I’m sure they wouldn’t argue against it. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that President Obama's visit to New York is a great opportunity for lots of overtime.


Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 2:29pm On Sep 23, 2011
"If you cross the North Korean border illegally, you get 12 yrs. hard labor.

If you cross the Afghanistan border illegally, you get shot.

Two Americans just got eight years for crossing the Iranian border.

If you cross the U. S. border illegally
you get a job,
a drivers license,
food stamps,
a place to live,
health care,
housing & child benefits,
& a tax free business for 7 yrs.

What is wrong with this picture?"

--Kathleen Dalzell

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:23pm On Oct 04, 2011
Desmond Tutu attacks South African government over Dalai Lama ban

Furious archbishop warns ruling ANC to 'watch out' after Tibetan spiritual leader is denied visa to attend birthday party

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, visibly shaking with anger, compared the South African government unfavourably with the apartheid regime and threatened to pray for the downfall of the African National Congress (ANC) yesterday after the Dalai Lama said he was forced to pull out of Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations because he had not been granted an entry visa.

"Our government is worse than the apartheid government because at least you would expect it with the apartheid government," Tutu told a press conference in Cape Town. "Our government we expect to be sensitive to the sentiments of our constitution."

In a tirade that stunned South African journalists, he went on: "Let the ANC know they have a large majority. Well, Mubarak had a large majority, Gaddafi had a large majority. I am warning you: watch out. Watch out.

"Our government – representing me! – says it will not support Tibetans being viciously oppressed by China. You, president Zuma and your government, do not represent me. I am warning you, as I warned the [pro-apartheid] nationalists, one day we will pray for the defeat of the ANC government."

Tutu had invited his fellow Nobel peace laureate to deliver a lecture to mark his milestone birthday in Cape Town on Friday. Officials from the archbishop emeritus's office started the visa application processin June but met a series of bureaucratic delays.

On Tuesday the Dalai Lama's office finally gave up on the application for the 76-year-old. "His holiness was to depart for South Africa on 6 October, but visas have not been granted yet," a spokesperson for the office said. "We are, therefore, now convinced that, for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa to … the Dalai Lama."

Tutu said he was still struggling to make sense of what had happened. "I have to say I can't believe it, I really can't believe it," he exclaimed. "Wake me up and tell me this is actually happening here. It's quite unbelievable. The discourtesy they have shown to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama!

"The Dalai Lama, anywhere in the world, they have problems finding a venue that can contain the people who want him. He goes to New York and Central Park is overflowing. The discourtesy is mindblowing."

Asked if he felt the Tibetan spiritual leader had in effect been banned from the country, Tutu replied: "To all intents and purposes, yes. This is the Dalai Lama. Incredible.

"Many, many people are appalled in many parts of the world, especially people who supported us during the struggle. They are weeping and saying, 'South Africa? It can't be.'"

Tutu's daughter, Mpho, said the government's actions had not matched "what we dreamed we would be, who we hoped we would become as a country and as a people". Clearly overcome with emotion, she added: "It is with great sadness that we sit here."

A candlelit vigil outside the South African parliament in Cape Town on Monday drew about 250 people demanding the Tibetan spiritual leader be allowed into the country. There was bitter disappointment on Tuesday morning when it was announced that the eight-day trip had been called off. Civil rights activists blamed the government.

Ela Gandhi, who planned to present the Dalai Lama with a peace prize in the name of her grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, said: "I'm very disappointed. We were looking forward to him coming and to presenting the award. I really feel the whole situation has been handled so badly. It's discourteous for a person of his stature to be told to wait for so long. For a person of peace to be treated like this is wrong."

She added: "Everybody thinks this is because of pressure from China. It's very sad another country is allowed to dictate terms to our government. It's going back to apartheid times. I am ashamed of my own country."

South African foreign ministry officials have consistently denied accusations they have been bowing to pressure from Beijing. Asked for his reaction to the Dalai Lama's decision, a spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said: "We don't have a reaction. He's cancelled his trip and that's it. We have not said no. We've not refused him a visa; the visa was still being processed. It's only on 20 September that he submitted his full paperwork. In some countries a visa can take two months. I don't know why people are criticising the government."

The Dalai Lama visited South Africa in 1996, meeting Nelson Mandela, but was prevented from attending a Nobel laureates' conference in the country two years ago, when the government said his visit would distract from World Cup preparations. At the time, Tutu called the decision disgraceful, and accused the authorities of bowing to pressure from China.

South Africa's official opposition has added its voice to the criticism of the stalled visa.

Stevens Mokgalapa, shadow deputy foreign minister for the Democratic Alliance, said: "The inescapable conclusion is that the South African government has predictably strung the Dalai Lama along to make it impossible for him to plan his trip. That way it could avoid making a decision that would either upset the Chinese or upset millions of peace-loving South Africans and citizens around the globe.

"But by delaying [the visa decision] the government made its choice: it allowed China to dictate foreign policy. This is a sad day for those of us who believe in a sovereign foreign policy based on ubuntu [a humanist philosophy] and human rights. It is not acceptable that the government has allowed a breach of this sovereignty by bowing to pressure from a foreign power."

While the Dalai Lama is excluded, other leading international activists will join three days of birthday events. The U2 singer Bono is expected to speak at the launch of a biography, Tutu: The Authorised Portrait, in Cape Town on Thursday.

Bono has also reportedly been invited to join former the US president Jimmy Carter, the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and the British businessman Richard Branson at a picnic at a vineyard on Friday. A public church commemoration will be held earlier that day.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:03am On Nov 14, 2011
End of an era: Italy's Berlusconi resigns
NICOLE WINFIELD - Associated Press | AP – Sat, Nov 12, 2011

ROME (AP) — A chorus of Handel's "Alleluia" rang out Saturday as Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Italian premier, ending a tumultuous 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing the country back from the brink of economic crisis.

Berlusconi stepped down amid jeers, cheers and heckles of "Buffoon" from thousands of people who packed downtown Rome to witness his government's downfall after a stunning week of market turmoil that upended his defiant hold on power and threatened to tear apart the eurozone.

Respected former European commissioner Mario Monti remained the top choice to try to steer the country out of its debt woes as the head of a transitional government. But the job is Herculean, given the enormity of reforms required and Italy's often-paralyzed parliament.

President Giorgio Napolitano will hold consultations Sunday morning with each of Italy's main political forces before proceeding with the expected request that Monti try to form a new government.

Napolitano has scheduled back-to-back, 10-minute meetings all morning, indicating the talks won't drag on and that by the open of markets Monday, Italy may well have charted a new political course.

Late Saturday, Berlusconi's party said it would support Monti, albeit with conditions.

In front of Napolitano's office, where Berlusconi handed in his resignation late Saturday, protesters uncorked sparkling wine and danced in a conga line, shouting "We're free!" Several dozen singers and classical musicians — complete with music stands and chairs — performed Handel's "Alleluia" to rejoice in the end of Berlusconi's scandal-marred reign and welcome Monti into office.

"I think he (Monti) is going to bring trust back to Italian people who are losing it, are a bit fed up with what's going on and have lost the trust and the respect" they had for Berlusconi, said Sophie Duffort of France, who was in the piazza Saturday night.

Berlusconi supporters were also out in force, some singing the national anthem, but they were vastly outnumbered.

His resignation was set in motion after the Chamber of Deputies approved economic reforms demanded by the European Union which include increasing the retirement age starting in 2026 but do nothing to open up Italy's inflexible labor market.

The Senate approved the legislation a day earlier and Napolitano signed it into law Saturday afternoon, paving the way for Berlusconi to leave office as he promised to do after losing his parliamentary majority earlier in the week.

Berlusconi stood as lawmakers applauded him in the parliament chamber immediately after the vote. But outside his office and in front of government palazzos across town, thousands of curiosity-seekers massing to witness his government's final hours heckled him and his ministers.

"Shame!" and "Get Out!" they yelled, many toting "Bye Bye Silvio Party" posters as they marched through downtown Rome in a festive indication that for many Italians, like financial markets, the time had come for Berlusconi to go.

It was an ignoble end for the 75-year-old billionaire media mogul, who came to power for the first time in 1994 using a soccer chant "Let's Go Italy" as the name of his political party and selling Italians on a dream of prosperity with his own personal story of transformation from cruise-ship crooner to Italy's richest man.

While he became Italy's longest-serving post-war premier, Berlusconi's three stints as premier were tainted by corruption trials and accusations that he used his political power to help his business interests.

His last term was marred by sex scandals, "bunga bunga" parties and criminal charges he paid a 17-year-old girl to have sex — accusations he denies.

In the end, his downfall came swiftly: Just last week Berlusconi boldly told a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, he was the only one who could steer Italy out of its economic morass. A week of battering on the markets and the defection of several party members later, his fate was sealed.

Italy is under intense pressure to quickly put in place a new and effective government to replace him, one that can push through even more painful reforms and austerity measures to deal with its staggering debts, which stand at euro1.9 trillion ($2.6 trillion), or a huge 120 percent of economic output. Italy has to roll over a little more than euro300 billion ($410 billion) of its debts next year alone.

Markets battered Italy this past week amid uncertainty that Berlusconi would really leave and questions over whether Italy's divided parliament could rally around a replacement. But Italy's borrowing rates pulled back after Napolitano made clear he intended to tap the politically neutral economist Monti to try to head an interim government to push the reforms through.

The yield on benchmark Italian 10-year bonds fell to 6.48 percent Friday, safely below the crisis level of 7 percent reached earlier this week.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal all required international bailouts after their own borrowing rates passed 7 percent. The Italian economy would not be so easy to save. It totals $2 trillion, twice as much as the other three countries combined.

An Italian default could tear apart the coalition of 17 countries that use the euro as a common currency and deal a strong blow to the economies of Europe and the U.S., both trying to avoid recessions.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Saturday that Italy's political transition over the next few days should send a "clear sign of clarification and of credibility" that the country is now on the right path to get its finances back in order.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Lagarde had high praise for Monti, saying she had great esteem for the "quality" economist with whom she had long enjoyed a "extremely warm" and effective relationship.

The IMF has a key role to play over the next few months in overseeing Italy's efforts to pull itself back from a Greek-style economic disaster, monitoring how it implements reforms to rein in debt and spur growth, which is projected at a scant 0.6 percent this year and 0.3 percent next year.

Amid market turmoil last week, Berlusconi was forced to ask for IMF monitoring of Italy's finances, a humiliating prospect for the eurozone's third-largest economy and an embarrassment for the long-defiant Berlusconi.

By Saturday, he was resigned to reality and held a working lunch with Monti in a clear sign the political transition was already under way, news reports said.

While the euroskeptic Northern League remained opposed to Monti's nomination, some lawmakers suggested they could support a Monti-led government for a few months to enact the additional EU-demanded reforms before elections are held in early 2012.

In a statement issued late Saturday, Berlusconi's Peoples of Liberty party said its members would support Monti, but added that they would also ensure that Monti's Cabinet, legislative agenda and the timeframe of his government meets their requirements.

Napolitano appealed for lawmakers to put the good of the country ahead of short-term, local interests — an indirect appeal to members of Berlusconi's party and the allied Northern League to work with the new government.

"All political forces must act with a sense of responsibility," he said.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:23am On Nov 14, 2011
Just A Coincidence

Let us consider two recent developments within the €urozone …

    George Papandreou, elected prime minister of Greece, ‘resigns’ and is ‘replaced’ by the unelected Lucas Papademos, an economist who was Vice President of the European Central Bank from 2002 to 2010 prior to becoming an ‘advisor’ to the Greek government.

    Silvio Berlusconi, elected prime minister of Italy, ‘resigns’ and is ‘replaced’ by the unelected Mario Monti, an economist who was European Commissioner for Competition from 1999 to 2004 prior to becoming an ‘advisor’ to the Italian government.

Just a coincidence?

Or is there a pattern developing here?

Just asking.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:30am On Nov 14, 2011
Graph Of The Week

I came across an interesting little gadget on the Google Books website … it’s called an Ngram Viewer. It enables you to search for any word or phrase, contained amongst the books in its vast library, over a set period of time. It will then produce a graph showing the prevalence of your chosen words or phrases in comparison to each other.

Just for fun (?), I decided to do a comparison between the phrases of ‘democratic government’ and ‘European Union’, during the 50 year period from 1958 through to 2008*.

Interesting result, eh.

* I wanted to do the last 50 years back from 2011 but 2008 is the latest year it will go to


Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 1:14pm On Nov 14, 2011

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 4:04pm On Nov 14, 2011
That EU Referendum Debate

Here’s an exclusive photo of David Cameron in his office, preparing for the EU referendum debate in Parliament today. His ridiculous insistence on imposing a Tory three line whip* will mean that any attempt at a rebellion, by Conservative back bench MPs, will be met with threats to end any future promotion within the government.

David Cameron knows best.

Yeah right!

Whatever happened to an MP being able to represent the views of the constituents that voted for them. It’s a rhetorical question of course. There’s no such thing as a ‘free vote’, no matter which political party you belong to. Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dem et al. They really are all in it together.

Democracy is dead in the UK.

Welcome to the EUSSR.

With knobs on.


* three line whip – A tool used in the British Parliamentary system to undermine democracy

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:28pm On Nov 15, 2011
15 November 2011

Philippines: Gloria Arroyo stopped from boarding plane

The Philippine government has defied a Supreme Court ruling that allowed former President Gloria Arroyo to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Mrs Arroyo, who says she is suffering from a bone disease, was prevented from boarding a plane at Manila airport.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court ruled that a travel ban imposed by the government was unconstitutional.

Mrs Arroyo faces corruption claims, and the government fears that if she leaves the country she will never return.

The 64-year-old arrived at the airport in an ambulance and - wearing a neck brace - was taken by wheelchair to the departure hall within hours of the Supreme Court ruling.

Mrs Arroyo and her husband had reportedly been due to fly out to Singapore and then on to Spain where she would receive treatment for a life-threatening bone disease, following three unsuccessful spine operations this year.

But immigration officials were ordered to prevent the couple from getting on a plane. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government intended to appeal the court decision.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Arroyos would be treated with dignity but "we will be firm in our decision not to allow them to leave the country".

"This is all high drama. They want the public to sympathise with them," he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

Mrs Arroyo's lawyer Raul Lambino accused the government of inflicting "inhumane, cruel punishment" on his client.

Fugitive fears

Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez earlier told reporters the judges had ruled by eight votes to five that the ban was unconstitutional because Mrs Arroyo had not yet been charged with any crime.

He said the court's decision to overturn the ban was "consistent with the constitutional presumption of innocence".

But the decision was in direct contravention of the wishes of current President Benigno Aquino, says the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila.

One of his key priorities since coming to power has been to investigate claims of corruption and electoral fraud during Mrs Arroyo's term in office.

He denied her travel request because of concerns she might never come back to face any charges that were laid against her, offering instead to provide her with the necessary care at home.

But most of the Supreme Court judges were hired during Mrs Arroyo's term, and it is not the first time the court has overruled the current president.

Last year he tried to set up a Truth Commission to investigate Mrs Arroyo's administration, but the court ruled that such a panel would be unconstitutional


Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:41am On Nov 21, 2011
Given the recent hoopla about the National Honours List, consider this . . .

Labour donors '10,000 times more likely to receive knighthood'
By TIM SHIPMAN, Daily Mail
Last updated at 19:11 21 July 2006

Labour has sold honours for as little as £50,000 according to a new study which has been sent to Scotland Yard detectives probing the cash for honours scandal.

It also reported donors are 1,657 times more likely to receive an honour than those who have not given money to the party, a staggering 7,000 times more likely to get a peerage and 10,000 times more likely to get a knighthood than any other member of the public.

The report by the right of centre think tank the Bow Group found that anyone handing £50,000 to Labour had a better than 50-50 chance of receiving an MBE, OBE, CBE, knighthood or peerage.

That compares with one in every 2,857 members of the population as a whole who are recognised for their public service. The report found that peerages are for sale for around £1million a piece. It accuses Tony Blair and his chief henchmen of a 'blatant abuse' of the honours system that is 'bebasing' politics.

The study of Labour donations since 2001 shows that one in ten major Labour donors has received a peerage, one in four a knighthood and one in seven a CBE.

More damning is a clear correlation between the size of the donation given and the importance of the honour. Most donors awarded or nominated for peerages over the past five years gave between £1million and £2million. The Bow Group study found that a knighthood 'cost' £750,000 and a CBE £675,000, while the average for a peerage was £1,065,000.

That figure does not include the Sciernce Minister Lord Sainsbury, Labour's biggest donor, who has given the party more than £16m since 2001 when new laws made it necessary to register donations with the Electoral Commission.

The results suggest that Mr Blair is charging half as much for a peerage as David Lloyd George, the former Liberal Prime Minister who notoriously had a price list for the sale honours. Adjusted for inflation, Lloyd George sold peerages for £1.9m.

His bag man Maundy Gregory is the only person convicted under the 1925 Act outlawing the sale of honours, under which Mr Blair is expected to face questions later this summer.

His chief fundraiser Lord Levy has already been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives probing how four millionaires who made secret loans to Labour were then nominated for peerages shortly afterwards.

Sir Gulam Noon, Sir David Garrard, Barry Townsley and Dr Chai Patel had their nominations rejected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission when the financial transactions came to light.

The report's author Chris Philp said he yesterday sent the dossier to John Yates, the Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, who is in charge of the cash for peerages probe, which is also considering possible conspiracy charges against No 10 officials. He said: "It is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Labour Party has been selling honours, including places in the House of Lords.

"This practice is utterly reprehensible. It debases and devalues the honours system, most recipients of which are genuinely deserving. It undermines the integrity of public life.

"It corrupts the independence and stature of the House of Lords. And it suggests a level of dishonesty and venality amongst our leaders that calls into question their fitness to govern honestly and in the interests of all in society.

"This blatant abuse of the honours system is symptomatic of Labour?s general lack of concern for standards in public life. This is especially surprising given that Blair came to office promising to be "whiter than white".'

The Bow Group report recommends that "distribution of Honours should be placed in the hands of an Independent Honours Commission, who apply published criteria."

Anti-sleaze campaigner and Tory MP David Davies said: "This latest evidence makes it blindingly obvious that the government have been selling peerages to the highest bidder. The only surprise is that they don't publish a price list and stick it on the Internet."

The Labour Party and Downing Street have repeatedly denied selling peerages. In an interview last week Mr Blair said: "Nobody in the Labour Party to my knowledge has sold honours or sold peerages."

He claims he is entitled to nominate Labour supporters as 'working peers' to bolster his party's position in the Lords. Lord Levy is also under fire after it emerged that his former secretary was awarded the MBE for working for charities he heads.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "It takes approximately two seconds to see through this rehashed so called research - actually a set of statistically misleading inferences - undertaken by a Tory think tank."

Labour donor over £50,000
Peerage 9.76 per cent
Knighthood 24.39 per cent
CBE 14.63 per cent
OBE 9.76 per cent
Total 58.54 per cent

Member of the public
Peerage 0.001 per cent
Knighthood 0.002 per cent
CBE 0.009 per cent
OBE 0.022 per cent

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:49am On Nov 25, 2011
Businessman slaps Indian minister over inflation and corruption

November 24, 2011 |  8:25 am   

REPORTING FROM NEW DELHI -- It was the slap heard around India.

An angry Delhi businessman hauled off and cuffed India’s septuagenarian agriculture minister on the cheek Thursday, sending hyperactive news programs into overdrive.

Video of the incident showed the irate businessman, Harvinder Singh, giving Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar the whack as he attended a literary event. “They are all thieves,” Singh yells. “I will rip them apart.” Then as security guards grab him, he takes out a kirpan, the small knife carried by adherents of the Sikh religion, and threatens to slit his own wrists in protest. Pawar appeared to lose his balance, but quickly regained his footing before heading out of the hall.

Singh, who was subsequently arrested, said he’d come with the intention of landing the slap and was angry about rising prices and corruption. Four days earlier, he’d been questioned and released after kicking octogenarian former telecom minister Sukh Ram outside the court where he was sentenced in a corruption case.

Pawar later said the incident was silly and he didn’t make much of it.

While analysts and ordinary citizens decried the use of violence, some said it underscored the growing frustration Indians feel at price rises, weak government and a wave of corruption scandals. These have surfaced in the telecommunications, sports, real estate and mining sectors in recent months, purportedly amounting to billions of dollars.

“The reality is, people on the street welcome this,” said Abeer Vajpayee, founder of a small media production company. “In India, the general perception is that all leaders are corrupt, and you need to elect the least corrupt out of the bunch of thieves.”
Asked about Thursday’s incident, anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare responded: “Only one slap?” to laughter, before clarifying later that hitting people was wrong.

A spokesman for the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the attack on Pawar before adding that the government wasn’t doing enough to stem price increases in gasoline and food.

“I don’t think it’s the right way to behave; violence begets violence,” said Debkanya Dhar Vyavaharkar, a Mumbai-based employee at a publicity firm. “But a lot of people are angry. People are throwing shoes at politicians, this is the latest of these.”


Photo: Indian Harvinder Singh looks out from inside a vehicle after being detained by policemen in New Delhi after slapping India's agriculture minister Sharad Pawar in the face, apparently to draw attention to corruption and rising prices. Credit: Associated Press

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 12:17pm On Nov 25, 2011
22 November 2011 Last updated at 19:49 GMT

Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai breaks wedding taboo

By Brian Hungwe BBC Africa, Harare
Morgan Tsvangirai hinted to his supporters at a rally over the weekend that a wedding was on the cards

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has broken a local taboo and married in November.

Culturally it is feared a November wedding will bring a couple bad luck.

But the PM wed businesswoman Locadia Tembo in a traditional ceremony on Monday, paying a bride price of $36,000 (£23,000) and 10 cows.

His first wife, Susan, died when they were involved in a car crash not long after he had joined President Robert Mugabe in a unity government in 2009.

The two leaders signed a coalition pact following the previous year's disputed elections, which were marred by widespread violence.

White wedding request
The first hint that Mr Tsvangirai was thinking of tying the knot came at a weekend rally of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in Chitungwiza, just outside the capital, Harare.

The MDC leader, 59, joked with the crowd that journalists were always writing about him having girlfriends.

Why Zimbabweans won’t wed in November
"But can a bachelor be denied that right?" he asked to a roar of laughter and applause.

Ms Tembo, 39, is a commodity trader and sister of an MP in Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party - a source of controversy among some in the MDC.

But most MDC supporters seem happy for their leader, saying that with elections tentatively set for next year, a presidential candidate will benefit from having the help of a wife and companion on the campaign trail.

On the streets of Harare there were dissenting views, however, with some people concerned about the issue of a November wedding, which is considered a bad omen amongst Zimbabwe's majority Shona group - of which Mr Tsvangirai is a member.

"As an elder he should have led by example - they are the ones that are telling us not to marry in November," one man told the BBC.

After paying the bride price, known as lobola, to Ms Tembo's relatives at the traditional ceremony in Christon Bank, about 25km (15 miles) north of Harare, Mr Tsvangirai reportedly requested a white wedding to follow the traditional ceremony.

It is this celebration that may adhere more to Zimbabwean tradition, with indications that it will be held over the Christmas holidays.

Jameson Timba, a minister of state in the prime minister's office, told the BBC that Mr Tsvangirai would "make an appropriate announcement on his marriage plans at the right time".

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 2:42pm On Nov 25, 2011
Office Of Sierra Leone’s Vice-President Caught In Illegal Timber Business

November 23, 2011

Journalists working for Al Jazeera English have uncovered corruption in the office of Sierra Leone’s Vice-President, Samuel Sumana. The detailed undercover investigation features in the documentary Timber!, broadcast at 22h30 GMT on Wednesday 23 November 2011 as part of Al Jazeera’s Africa Investigates series.

A 2006 European Union report identified logging as the leading cause of environmental degradation in Sierra Leone. According to the Sierra Leone Forestry Ministry, unless immediate action is taken against logging, all of the country’s forests – as well as the many endangered animal and plant species they support – could disappear by 2018. The President, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, has made no secret of his concern about logging and his desire that it should cease. The government of Sierra Leone has officially outlawed the practice several times.

Emmy award-winning Sierra Leonean journalist Sorious Samura discovered illegal felling of rare hard wood in several parts of the country. In a number of meetings with illegal loggers, Samura posed as a businessman interested in illegal timber exporting. Despite laws prohibiting felling of trees without license, he found illicit logging taking place in all the forest areas he visited. He also met local officials all too willing to supply him with illegal wood. In one instance a local Paramount Chief not only offered to sell him several tons of illegally cut wood, but also to introduce Samura to high level contacts within the Sierra Leonean government to help him breach the ban on timber exports.

In the second half of the investigation, Samura’s colleague, the multiple-award-winning Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, visited the Vice-President’s office undercover. Anas and a colleague, againposing as businessmen, met with His Excellency The Vice-President Samuel Sumana and two of his friends, who claimed to be official advisors.

Later the two men, Alex Mansaray and Momoh Konte, sought and accepted cash payments from the ‘businessmen’, which they claimed would help secure the Vice-President’s support for a timber export business that the undercover reporters wished to establish.

Vice-President Sumana later admitted to Al Jazeera that he knew the men but said their claims to be his advisors were false and that he hadn’t received any money solicited by them on his behalf.

Of one attempt by Alex Monsaray to extract $50,000 from the undercover team, Vice-President Sumana said, “Alex was acting solely on his own accord without any prior discussion with me.”

His statement did not explain how Mansaray and Konte came to be using his office to secure bribes in the first place.

Commenting on the outcome of the investigation, Samura said, “As in many parts of Africa, timber has become the new diamonds. The country’s forests are at risk of being completely wiped out. For unscrupulous foreign investors their ultimate goal is getting their wood and making maximum profit. For the corrupt Sierra Leoneans, it’s about lining their pockets without any care for the future consequences for the innocent people who will have to pay the price.”

Timber! is the third of six investigations in the Africa Investigates series that puts flesh on Al Jazeera’s ambition to give voice to the voiceless. In a world-first, Africa Investigates gives some of Africa’s best journalists the opportunity to pursue high-level investigative targets across the continent – using their unique perspective and local knowledge to put corruption, exploitation and abuse under the spotlight.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 2:50pm On Nov 25, 2011
Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 3:34pm On Dec 01, 2011
Former “sheriff of the year” arrested and sent to jail named after him

By Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow – 22 hrs ago

Every civil servant wants to experience his or her legacy firsthand--but not the way that onetime Arapahoe Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. has. Sullivan, a nationally renowned law enforcement leader, was arrested on drug charges and is now being detained in the Denver area jail that bears his name.

Local news station CBS4 began an investigation of Sullivan last month on a tip that he had agreed to meet a male informant, providing drugs in exchange for sex. He was subsequently arrested by the South Metro Drug Task Force and is currently being held on a $250,000 bond.

And in an incredible twist of fate, Sullivan now cooling his heels at The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility, named in his honor.

"The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing," said Grayson Robinson, Arapahoe County's current sheriff. "While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, no one, and particularly a former peace officer, is above the law. This is the most shocking thing I've ever been involved with."

Sullivan, 68, has been retired for nine years, but had been serving as director of safety and security for Cherry Creek Schools.

"This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and our community," Robinson said. The CBS4 report also found that for several years Sullivan has posted bond for multiple suspects held in drug cases at jail facilities across the state.

As recently as 2008, Sullivan was an active participant in state and local methamphetamine task forces, helping Colorado draft a plan to deal with the surge in meth-related crime.

In 1995 President Bill Clinton named Sullivan to the National Commission on Crime Prevention and Control. According to a 1995 White House news release, Sullivan was a consultant to U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime and served on two advisory councils affiliated with the Department of Justice.


Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by AjanleKoko: 3:36pm On Dec 01, 2011
As interesting as this thread is, it remains a study in soliloquy.
Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:04pm On Dec 01, 2011
Zambia’s former labour minister pleads not guilty
2011-12-01 15:13

Lusaka – Zambia’s former labour minister, Austin Liato, pleaded not guilty today to receiving stolen property after authorities found more than $400 000 (R3 266 358) in cash buried on his farm.

His arrest yesterday came one month after Zambia’s newly elected president, Michael Sata, vowed to weed out corruption.

Authorities last week found 2.1 billion kwacha (R3 397 012) in cash buried on his farm, but have given no indication as to how Liato might have obtained the money.

“I understand the charge and I plead not guilty,” Liato told the court today.

He was granted bail of 50 million kwacha and ordered to return to court on December 22.

His appearance caused scuffles at the court as his relatives beat photographers who tried to take his picture.

Since taking office after his September election victory, Sata has moved to strengthen anti-corruption legislation by putting back on the books the offence of abuse of office, which the previous government had repealed.

One of Sata’s first acts was to sack the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Godfrey Kayukwa, who had been accused of bungling graft investigations and was perceived as close to former president Rupiah Banda.

- Sapa - AFP

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:07pm On Dec 01, 2011
Police charge Liato over K2.1bn

By Times Reporter

POLICE in Lusaka have charged and arrested former Labour Minister, Austin Liato, for receiving stolen property.

Mr Liato, who has remained in police custody since Tuesday after turning himself in, will appear in court today. Investigative wings had no knowledge of Mr Liato’s whereabouts since last week when a combined team of officers from the[b] Zambia Police, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) unearthed K2.1 billion cash from his farm in Mwembeshi area.[/b]

Zambia Police Service spokesperson, Elizabeth Kanjela, confirmed Mr Liato’s arrest in an interview yesterday, saying the charge on the former minister was in accordance with provisions of Section 318 (1) of the Penal Code of the Laws of Zambia.

“Yes the former minister who was detained at Woodlands Police last night, was this afternoon officially arrested and charged with receiving stolen property which is contrary to Section 318 (1) of the Penal Code of the Laws of Zambia. He is expected to appear in court tomorrow,” said Ms Kanjela.

Security wings have been carrying out investigations, including interviewing a number of people, since the discovery of the money which was stashed underground.

Mr Liato was driven to his house in Kalundu soon after reporting at the Task Force offices on Tuesday where officers searched the premises for more than two hours.

The party later drove to Lusaka’s Woodlands Police Station where Mr Liato was detained awaiting charges. On Tuesday, Ms Kanjela had indicated that Mr Liato would only be charged and arrested after further investigations and once it had been established that there was reason for the police to do so.

Mr Liato, who has since been disowned and suspended as national executive committee member by his party, the MMD, arrived at the Task Force offices in the company of his lawyer, Nellie Mutti, Joseph Mulyata, family members and friends.

On Friday last week, a combined team from the Zambia Police Service, ACC and DEC raided Mr Liato’s farm at number 44, Mpampa Settlement Scheme in Mwembeshi area where they conducted an operation and dug out K2.1 billion cash.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 3:32pm On Dec 05, 2011
Russian parliamentary elections: rousing from a long slumber

If Vladimir Putin's popularity is on the wane, that of the party he created, United Russia, is in a nosedive

Editorial guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 December 2011 19.49 GMT

Vladimir Putin made it crystal clear what he expected out of yesterday's parliamentary election – a national show of loyalty. Parliament was no place for the opposition. He told shipyard workers in St Petersburg: "If someone wants to watch a show, then they need to go to the circus, the movies or theatre." This is akin to the Duma speaker's comment that parliament was no place for debate. Putin naturally thought he would get his way. To combat a boycott of the Duma elections as a popular protest option, he needed to ensure a respectable turnout. It came. It always will, if you tell every bureaucrat, every public sector worker, every regional and local government, student, teacher, policemen, soldier that their job or regional grant or piece of tarmacked road depends on it.

[b]Golos, an EU and US financed Russian vote-monitoring group, clocked up more than 5,300 electoral violations and put them on a map, kartanarusheniy.ru, before that was taken down yesterday by a denial of service attack. Also crippled yesterday were the websites of Ekho Moskvy, Snob.ru, New Times, Livejournal and anyone else wishing to publish real-time evidence about how the vote was being rigged in favour of the ruling party, United Russia. Golos, in particular, faced a concerted campaign of harassment because it showed it was serious. It had 3,000 observers in about half of Russia's 83 regions. On Saturday its director was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for 12 hours and had her laptop confiscated. The Russian deputy ambassador to Berlin issued a grovelling apology when summoned by the German foreign ministry last month, after a respected German political scientist who had helped Golos was refused entry at the same airport and put in a detention centre, even though he had a valid invitation and visa. But it is all part of the same campaign. Putin compared Golos to Judas, which makes him, by extension, Jesus.[/b]

Putin has no serious rivals, except the growing national fatigue with the semi-authoritarian system he created. Even those who welcomed the leadership he provided to stabilise Russia in his first two terms of president are growing weary at the prospect of another two terms, when he will be re-elected in March next year. If Putin's popularity is on the wane, that of the party he created, United Russia, is in a nosedive. In elections in 2007 it secured a landslide majority of 64.3% of the vote or 315 seats in the Duma. That majority was enhanced by the sort of vote rigging which was out in force yesterday, but if that had been entirely absent, pollsters and independent political analysts say their natural support would today be about 30% – way below what Putin needs to ensure a majority in a quiescent Duma. As it is, three exit polls last night showed a marked drop in support for United Russia. A poll for Russian TV showed 48.5% of support, which would give Putin's party 220 seats, and two polls, from Vtsiom and the Fom group gave United Russia 48% and 46% respectively.

If confirmed, this spells trouble. United Russia should lose its constitutional majority. Even after the bullying and blatant manipulation (election posters for United Russia bore an uncanny resemblance to the official posters of the Central Election Commission) ordinary voters were unwilling to play ball. It is not as if they trust anyone else. Anyone who thinks that the forlorn band of Yeltsin-era democrats will benefit from this is deluding themselves. Russians will take a long time to forget who created the system that turned government into a massive takeaway. But an electoral embarrassment could herald the breakup of United Russia as a party. It is quite possible for Putin to turn on his own creation. Although he was their presidential candidate, he himself never became a member. In the words of Marx (Groucho) he never joined a club that would have him as a member. The Duma should become an unexpectedly lively place.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:01pm On Dec 05, 2011
Putin's phoney election

What lies behind this weekend's sham parliamentary election
Nov 29th 2007 | moscow and tver

“MARIA”, a teacher in Tver, near Moscow, felt ashamed when she told her 15-year-old pupils to join a rally in support of President Vladimir Putin before this weekend's parliamentary election. The order came from the local administration, staffed by members of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. “I would not have lost my life or even my job if I had not followed the order. But I felt I could not refuse it, perhaps because I am not a free person. Ten years ago I would have told you my real name,” she sighs. Her pupils were given Russian flags to wave, but the sound system was so bad they could not hear the speeches. It was not until later that they learnt from television that they had joined in an “outburst of patriotic feeling”.

Tver was chosen because it is the land of Mr Putin's forebears, but similar “voluntary” demonstrations have been staged all over Russia. A local theatre in Tver hosted a council of pro-Putin groups. Anyone who is for Mr Putin is for United Russia, they decreed. Or, to put it the other way round, anyone who is against United Russia is against Mr Putin. When the president decided to head United Russia's party list, its poll rating jumped from 50% to 63%.

Yet Mr Putin is not even a member of United Russia. The party is no more than a vehicle. If the advertising banners hung across streets in every Russian town are a guide, most of the country will vote for their president on December 2nd, even though he is not up for election. Indeed, the exercise is not really an election at all. It is not about political competition and does not have fair rules. It is about confirming that power in Russia lies with Mr Putin, who has presided over an oil-driven bonanza for his country.

Only candidates approved by the Kremlin are allowed to take part. Besides United Russia, which could secure 70% of the vote, these include the toothless Communist Party (which may get 12%) and the Liberal Democratic Party, a clownish far-right party set up in the late 1980s with the help of the KGB. (Its party list includes Andrei Lugovoi, the ex-KGB officer accused of poisoning his former colleague, Alexander Litvinenko, in London last year.)

The results were fixed months ago, when the Kremlin changed the rules. To keep the opposition out of parliament, the Kremlin raised the threshold for seats to 7%, and banned small parties from forming coalitions to meet this requirement. The minimum turnout rule was abolished, as was the option to vote against all candidates. Regional parties and single-mandate seats that let in independent deputies were scrapped. Opposition leaders have been harassed or arrested and their financing blocked. Television has given blanket coverage to United Russia and dished dirt on all opposition. This propaganda has been so effective that, despite United Russia's refusal to participate in TV debates, 8% of viewers believe they have seen it win them. The opposition Union of Right Forces (SPS) has not been allowed to air an advertisement warning the country against a return to the Soviet past.

Why have a people used to Soviet elections, when they had only one candidate, found the Kremlin's machinations so palatable? One reason is that Russian economic growth, sparked by the privatisations of the 1990s and kept going by the oil-price boom, has brought rising living standards and a new sense of stability. This, as well as his control of television, has made Mr Putin genuinely popular. Even the teacher from Tver says her life has improved.

The sense of stability is based largely on hopes that the crises of the 1990s will not return. Opinion polls suggest that half the people do not expect anything from this election; most believe that elections serve only those in power. Most voters say the results will be rigged anyway. Only 5% of Russians are ready to protest. “Nothing depends on us,” says one woman. Yet she will vote for Mr Putin—who else? Even those who once backed the SPS will stay at home: what is the point if they are bound to lose? Worse, some 35% of Russians prefer the Soviet political system. Two-thirds of Russians consider the concentration of power in Mr Putin's hands to be a good thing. Most would like him to stay for a third term. The strength of the Kremlin lies in the lack of any resistance to it, says Lev Gudkov, head of the Levada Centre, an independent pollster. Indeed, the only danger for the Kremlin is the possibility of an embarrassingly low voter turnout.

To guard against that, Mr Putin recently gave a rousing speech at a stadium in Moscow, broadcast on every television channel. Standing on a neon-lit catwalk in a black turtle-neck jumper, surrounded by thousands of flag-waving Putin youths, the president said Russia was in danger from ill-wishing foreigners and thieving liberals. “Those who oppose us need a weak, sick state, a disorientated, divided society, so that behind its back they can get up to their dirty deeds and profit at your and my expense,” he said. “Unfortunately there are jackals inside the country who sponge off foreign embassies.”

The message is clear. Russia's enemies are the liberals who in the 1990s squandered its wealth, cut defence spending and led people into poverty. They are now the candidates and sponsors of the opposition. The security services and police took Mr Putin's words as an instruction. When the opposition gathered in Moscow and St Petersburg as part of the Other Russia movement, which has not been allowed to register for this election, many people, including journalists, were beaten up and arrested. These scenes, broadcast around the world, were not shown on Russian television. Russians did not hear opposition speeches; they were not told that candidates had been unlawfully detained by the police; nor that Garry Kasparov, leader of Other Russia, was forbidden to meet his lawyer and jailed on bogus charges.

Equally, Russian television has largely ignored angry anti-government demonstrations in Ingushetia, a republic next to Chechnya where a six-year-old boy was killed recently in a skirmish between Russian commandos and local militants. Three journalists and a human-rights campaigner who came to cover the protest were abducted from their hotel and beaten up. What viewers have seen instead were pictures of fountains in Chechnya and of polite policemen in Moscow helping old ladies and children.

The paradox is that the Kremlin would surely have won even had this weekend's election been free and fair. Its heavy-handed tactics betray the nervousness linked to the transition of power in any authoritarian system. A power struggle is clearly taking place within the Kremlin, as shown by the arrests of senior officials in different camps. Mr Putin needs to retain power after his second term expires next March, but at the same time to preserve legitimacy. It is not an easy task.

This is why the parliamentary election has been turned into a ceremony of approval for him. A score of 70-75% of the vote, on a turnout of 60%, as planned by the Kremlin, would strengthen his claims to continue to lead the country. If Mr Putin cannot stay as president because the constitution bars him from a third consecutive term, he should take power with him wherever he goes. Dmitry Peskov, his spokesman, is adamant: Mr Putin will not be president after next March. But his every word will still be awaited, his every written statement demanded by newspapers. A servile president handpicked by Mr Putin and elected with a majority of, say, 51% will be unable to compete with Mr Putin's “legitimacy”, says Mr Peskov.

Some Kremlin insiders think Mr Putin could make himself head of the powerful Security Council, whose functions may then be pumped up. Others suggest he could become prime minister, with extra powers, before returning to the Kremlin to replace the president, who could conveniently fall ill. The only problem of Mr Putin's system is that stepping aside even for a short time could be lethal for him and his cronies. And that is why Russia, despite the predictability of this election, feels like a country heading towards crisis.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:35pm On Dec 07, 2011
Moshe Katsav, Former Israeli President, Enters Prison

JERUSALEM -- Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav entered a minimum security prison on Wednesday to start serving a seven-year sentence for violation, but not before defiantly accusing the state of Israel of "executing" an innocent man.

The day was a bittersweet one for Israel, both shameful because the former holder of a lofty office was going behind bars for such a heinous crime and at the same time, a point of honor because it showed that even a president is equal before the law in Israel.

Katsav, 66, was convicted last December of Desecrating a former female employee when he was a Cabinet minister and of sexually harassing two other women when he was president from 2000 to 2007. The former president, who repeatedly has professed his innocence, remained free while he appealed his case, but the Supreme Court upheld the conviction last month and ordered him to prison.

"They are sending an innocent man to jail, period," Katsav told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

"In my case there is no proof – just version against version," he said. "You can't judge a person based on impressions ,  Some evidence, some proof, must be presented ,  In these cases you need to bring more evidence, more proof, witnesses from real time, someone who saw something, bring DNA,  there is nothing."

TV footage on Wednesday showed Katsav entering the Maasiyahu prison in central Israel, where he became the highest-ranking Israeli official ever to spend time behind bars.

Earlier in the day, Katsav looked agitated and overwhelmed as he ventured from his house in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi to address the hordes of journalists who had gathered there before he set off on the hourlong drive to Maasiyahu prison. In a brief statement, Katsav accused authorities of ignoring evidence that he said could clear him but predicted that one day, "the truth will come to light."

"The state of Israel is executing a man today on the basis of impressions, without real time testimony, without evidence," Katsav railed. "One day, consciences will prick and you will see that you buried a man alive."

In the absence of forensic evidence, prosecutors built their case almost entirely on witness testimony. Legal experts say the similarities in the accounts of victims who did not know each other likely led to the conviction, in which the judges accused Katsav of lying.

Immediately after reaching the prison, Katsav was put through the same paces other new inmates go through: registration, meetings with a social worker, intelligence officer and section warden, and a medical checkup, according to prisons service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman. Most of the time he will be able to wear civilian clothes like many other inmates do, she said.

Katsav has been assigned to a special section of Maasiyahu reserved for observant Jews and likely will share a cell with Shlomo Benizri, a former Cabinet minister convicted of accepting bribes, she added.

Inmates in the religious section are woken at 4:30 a.m., attend morning prayers and spend five to six hours in religious study. They have no access to television but can use a public pay phone. They can receive family visits every two weeks, beginning early next week, she added.

After serving a quarter of his sentence, Katsav could become eligible for short furloughs and even apply to have his term shortened.

Officials said security would be beefed up around the former president – both as part of a suicide watch placed on all new prisoners and to prevent other prisoners from harming him. Katsav's lawyers have expressed concerns that the distraught politician might try to harm himself.

Israel's presidency is a largely ceremonial office, typically filled by a respected elder statesman expected to rise above politics and serve as a moral beacon. That made the allegations against Katsav all the more shocking.

The case broke in 2006 after Katsav, still the sitting president, told police one of his accusers was trying to extort money from him. The lurid details stunned Israelis who had tended to see him more as a bland functionary than a predatory boss who repeatedly used his authority to force intimate favors.

The twists and turns of the case both riveted and appalled the country. In one memorable moment, the Iranian-born Katsav held a news conference to accuse prosecutors and the media of plotting his demise because he didn't belong to the country's European-descended elite.

Katsav reluctantly resigned two weeks before his seven-year term was to expire in 2007 under a plea bargain that would have allowed him to escape jail time. He then stunned the nation again by rejecting the plea bargain and vowing to prove his innocence in court.

He has said he did not regret that decision because it would have meant he confessed to a crime he says he did not commit.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:41pm On Dec 07, 2011
7 December 2011 Last updated at 15:59 GMT

Russia protests: Gorbachev calls for election re-run

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has said Sunday's Russian parliamentary election was marred by fraud and has called for a re-run.

"The country's leaders must admit there were numerous falsifications and rigging and the results do not reflect the people's will," he said.

Protesters were planning new rallies for Saturday as arrests in Tuesday's crackdown in reached 800 across Russia.

Key figures in the protest movement are starting 15-day jail sentences.

State TV channels have ignored the protests, giving coverage only to rallies in support of the government.

The centre of Moscow saw its biggest protest against the rule of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his allies in years on Monday, when several thousand people came out to condemn widely reported fraud at Sunday's parliamentary elections.

An attempt to hold a smaller rally on Tuesday was quickly broken up by riot police, while rival rallies by Putin supporters were allowed to proceed.

The big question now is whether the fledgling protest movement can maintain its momentum, the BBC's Daniel Sandford reports from Moscow.

While the movement began as a protest against the election results, most of the slogans have been against Mr Putin, our correspondent adds.

The Russian prime minister, who formally registered on Wednesday to stand in the March presidential election, has played down losses by his party, United Russia, which saw its support drop sharply to just under 50% of the vote.

Destination Revolution

OSCE monitors have said the polls were slanted in favour of United Russia, noting apparent manipulations such as the stuffing of ballot boxes.

A Facebook page is organising Saturday's Revolution Square rally Mr Gorbachev told Russian news agency Interfax in Moscow: "I think they [Russia's leaders] can only take one decision - annul the results of the election and hold a new one."

The former leader, 80, initiated democratic reforms in the final years of the USSR but rapidly lost popularity and influence after the emergence of the new Russian state under the late Boris Yeltsin.

"Literally by the day, the number of Russians who do not believe that the declared election results were honest is increasing," he said.

"In my opinion, disregard for public opinion is discrediting the authorities and destabilising the situation."

Messages on Twitter and other social media, used to co-ordinate the earlier protests, are fixing Saturday as the date for the next demonstrations.

Revolution Square, just 200m from the Kremlin, was named as the venue in Moscow.

Unconfirmed reports in the Russian media on Wednesday said the city authorities were planning to shut down the square's metro station of the same name "for repairs".

According to the Russian news website lenta.ru, the Solidarity opposition party has received permission from the city authorities to hold a rally on the square limited to 300 people.

However, the party's Facebook page "Rally For Honest Elections" had received nearly 16,000 requests to attend the rally as of Wednesday afternoon.

Police also broke up a rally in St Petersburg on Tuesday
Plans are being discussed for rallies in 69 Russian towns and cities, from Saratov on the Volga to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

Nikita Batalov, a journalist for Russian commercial radio station Kommersant FM, has been blogging on his Twitter account about a pro-government rally on Wednesday on Moscow's Pushkin Square.

Quoting a mother, he said schoolchildren had been taken out of class and brought in for the event without parental consent.

In custody

Moscow police sources have told Russian media the number of arrests at Tuesday's opposition rally on Triumphal Square was 569, suggesting the gathering was much bigger than originally thought.

Hundreds turned out for Tuesday's Moscow rally Many remained in custody on Wednesday morning, Russian media said.

Some 230 arrests were also reported in the second city, St Petersburg, and 25 in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.

Veteran liberal politician Boris Nemtsov, who was detained at Tuesday's rally in Moscow, was freed after three hours in custody, he confirmed on his Twitter account.

Two key figures at Monday's rally, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and Solidarity activist Ilya Yashin, were both jailed for 15 days on charges of obstructing police.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:49pm On Dec 07, 2011
Aging in office: U.S. presidents often outlive peers

By Julie Steenhuysen | Reuters – 4 hrs ago, Email

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Judging by their "before" and "after" photographs, U.S. presidents appear to age before our eyes, adding wrinkles and gray hair with each year in office.

But contrary to conventional wisdom, a few years in the White House do not appear to cut short the lives of U.S. presidents, and most live longer than their peers, according to a new study released on Tuesday.

"Just because they experience what would appear to be accelerated aging outwardly, doesn't mean they will die any sooner,
" said S. Jay Olshansky, a demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Olshansky became interested in the subject earlier this summer when President Barack Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in Chicago, their shared hometown.

Media coverage highlighted "before" and "after" pictures focused on the 44th U.S. president's graying hair and deepening wrinkles, and repeated the common refrain that the commander in chief tends to age at twice the rate as the rest of us.

"That would imply that they died sooner than the rest of us," Olshansky said in a telephone interview.

He decided to test that theory.

Olshansky calculated how long U.S. presidents would have been expected to live based on their age and the year in which they were inaugurated and compared it to how long they actually lived. The four presidents who were assassinated were excluded from the study.

To estimate the toll serving as U.S. president took, he subtracted two days for every one day in office, approximating the effects of aging at twice the normal rate. At that rate, a four-year term would cut a president's estimated remaining lifespan by eight years.


Olshansky found that 23 of the 34 U.S. presidents who died from natural causes did not appear to have their lives cut short by the stress of leading the nation. They lived longer than men of their same age and era - and in many instances far longer.

For example, the average age of the first eight presidents at their time of death was 79.8 years - during a time when life expectancy at birth for men was less than 40.

The reason is likely the effects of advanced education and better access to healthcare, Olshansky said.

"All of these presidents benefited from the trifecta of exceptional wealth, almost all were highly educated and all of them had access to medical care," said Olshansky, who noted that there was no scientific way to directly measure the rate of biological aging.

At the time of inauguration, the average age of presidents in the study was 55.1, which means they managed to avoid illness and infectious disease long enough to reach that age and run for office.

"They have survived the early perilous decades of life," Olshansky said. "That is not trivial."

He said the most recent eight presidents who died of natural causes lived an average of 1.8 years longer than the first eight. Olshansky attributed that finding to advances in medical care.

As for the before and after photographs, Olshansky said stress may increase the visible signs of aging, but it does not shorten a president's lifespan.

"It is a very clever way of expressing an important principle of what we call successful aging," Dr. William Hall, an aging expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a telephone interview. Hall was not involved in Olshansky's research.

But not all the presidents included in the study fared so well, according to Olshansky, who said 11 died earlier than expected at an average age of 62.1 years, compared to an estimated lifespan of 67.8 years. Many of these presidents held office between the years of 1841 and 1923, he noted.

"For some reason, in that window of time those presidents didn't do that well," Olshansky said.

Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:41pm On Dec 09, 2011
Le snub! Moment Sarkozy dodges Cameron's handshake with a swift body swerve after PM says Non to treaty changes
By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 1:51 PM on 9th December 2011

[b]This is the moment that Nicolas Sarkozy demonstrates exactly what he really thinks of David Cameron's veto of the EU Treaty change.

After a gruelling all-night sitting in Brussels, Mr Cameron approaches the French president with his hand outstretched, as if ready to shake and show there are no hard feelings.

But not only does Mr Sarkozy refuse to acknowledge the PM, he actually does a swift swerve aside, waving pointedly to someone - anyone - on his right.

Mr Cameron, roundly snubbed, uses the rejected hand to give Mr Sarkozy a seemingly affectionate - if awkward - pat on the shoulder, and moves on, head held high, with a pained smile fixed to his face.

Mr Sarkozy's snub came after all-night talks in which the leaders of the 17 countries that use the euro, plus six others, agreed to a new treaty enforcing stricter budget rules seen as crucial to solving Europe's debt crisis.

Efforts by Germany and France to persuade all 27 EU countries to agree to treaty changes failed, in large part because of Mr Cameron's refusal to give up some of Britain's powers.

Mr Sarkozy laid the blame for the failure squarely at Mr Cameron's feet.[/b]

Speaking shortly before dawn, after what he called a 'difficult' night, he said: 'David Cameron made a proposal that seemed to us unacceptable, a protocol to the treaty that would have exonerated the United Kingdom from a great number of financial service regulations.'

Mr Cameron defended his stance.

'What was on offer is not in Britain's interest so I didn't agree to it,' he told reporters in Brussels.
'We're not in the euro and I'm glad we're not in the euro.'
'We're never going to join the euro and we're never going to give up this kind of sovereignty that these countries are having to give up.'

What was that all about? Cameron appears to be quizzing a sheepish President Sarkozy as they finally shake hands at a photocall to mark Croatia's signing of an EU accession treaty

An agreement on fiscal discpline is considered a critical first step before the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others would commit more financial aid to help countries like Italy and Spain.

Even after the long-awaited deal, watched by governments and markets worldwide, the European leaders have huge hurdles still ahead.

They are meeting again later today to work out what exactly their new treaty will contain and how violators of its strict budget rules will be policed. They want it written by March.

Britain led the push against the revised treaty tying all 27 EU countries to tighter fiscal union. The others that didn't sign on were Hungary, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

Mr Cameron argued that the revised treaty would threaten Britain's national sovereignty and London's financial services industry.
Most EU countries had pushed for an EU-wide accord to avoid a split, but Germany and France made clear that a deal among the 17 euro countries and whoever else wanted to join was better than nothing.

The governments signing onto the new treaty will have to agree to allow unprecedented intervention in national budgets by EU-wide bodies.


Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:42pm On Dec 09, 2011

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