Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Imagine a young woman with courage trying to change the paradigm of terror in the Horn

Dear Global Citizens and Friends of Africa/Ethiopia

I could not help but appreciate the courage of a 34 years old Ethiopian female, Birtukan Mideksa, to change the culture of violence in the Horn. This courageous woman looks meek but has strong will and imagination, especially after so much of male dominated terror and famine ravaging the continent for so long.

At the bottom of the power, terror and famine food chain are women and children, who make up the majority of the population. Is is high time that women stand up and take their fair share of decision making roles. Women in Africa are taking their future in their hands and demanding a share in the world of governance and leadership at this crucial time in history.

Just imagine, the Somali Shabab and AlQaeda operatives paying attention to a woman leader like Birtukan Mediqsa. They just managed to ston a young woman of 23 to her death for alleged sexual activity outside their perceived norms. Liberia in the West Africa was run by a criminal who ran away from the legal system in the New York area and managed to terrorize Liberia and the neighboring region for decades. Today, Liberia is being led to constructive development by the new popular woman president. So, it is possible, like Liberia women have to say enough of this none sense of displace male ego and incompetence.

Imagine, the women of the Horn standing up to all terrorists (Al-shabia, Al-shabab, AlQaeda and all searies of liberation fronts masquerading as religious/ideology zealots and Sheiks. These self declared people of the law (Sharia) are nothing but criminals posing as keepers of the evil system they worship; and want to give it dignity by calling it Sharia law. There is no law but death and destruction as the rest of the world has observed for the last few decades.

It is in this highly volatile environment that a former Judge demands attention. She has experience of leading coalitions not so successful in the first round, but women learn from their mistakes and we all hope she will surpass every ones expectations.

I am impressed and I do pay attention and trust against all odds that she will make it.

All the same, the world should pay attention to the plight of young women being stoned to death under the pretext of sex, imagine men who have ten raped wives claiming that a young woman needs to pay with her life for the simple life functions of sex. Sex, when they have it with ten or more people with or without their consent. It is such a tragedy, and I wish Mideksa all the best as she tries to change the paradigm of hopelessness once for all

Women of Africa, the Horn and Ethiopia, rise up, you have nothing to fear but foolish men stoning you after they consume their passion. You do count and Mideksa is showing the way. Do stand up for your rights and the rights of your fellow human beings.

Who, knows the greedy men of the west collapsing under their own greed might pay attention and even support you.

Please read this sad saga in the Horn that is taking place with no attention from the world, even when the Pirates are stealing and asking for ransom from over 60 ships owned by the richest and most powerful nation on earth.

You have potential allies in all decent humans across the world. IPS October 29, 2008 POLITICS-ETHIOPIA: A Career In Dissent
Michael Chebsi

Mideksa -- "The values that guide me are truth and fairness"

Credit: Michael Chebsi/IPS

ADDIS ABABA - Frozen in disbelief on the steps of the courthouse where she presided as a federal judge, Bertukan Mideksa watched as a man she had just ordered released on bail was detained by plain-clothes police with no warrant and no apparent regard for the law.

That was in 2001. She next saw that man when she became a fellow inmate at Kaliti Federal Prison in 2004, charged with crimes serious enough to have her imprisoned for life: treason, outrage against the constitution, inciting, organising or leading armed rebellion, obstruction of the exercise of constitutional powers, impairing the defensive power of the state and attempted genocide.

She claims her only true transgression was dissent.

"I couldn't stand the lack of human dignity," said Mideksa, seated behind her desk at her poorly furnished office in central Addis Ababa.

Mideksa is unique among Ethiopia's politicians. At 34 years old, she is exceptionally young; she was still in high school when rebels toppled the country's brutal military regime in 1991. And she is a woman, the first ever to head a political party in this notoriously patriarchal country.

Fewer than 22 percent of the country's 547 lawmakers are women. The only female cabinet member -- predictably -- is in charge of women's affairs. Mideksa became the exception to the rule in September, when she was elected to head Ethiopia's newest political party, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party. She has since become the leading spokesperson for the opposition.

At a press conference on Oct. 10, Mideksa, flanked by her fellow party leaders, announced her party's plan to open 117 regional offices in a bid to mobilise the public across the country. Her party has also joined a forum of other opposition parties to forge a joint platform ahead of the 2010 elections, where the coalition hopes it will fare better than in the past.

In November 2004, leaders of two long-standing opposition groups and two newly-formed political parties formed an electoral coalition. The strategy helped the opposition to win significant gains in the parliament, but fell short of a majority.

Pointing to reports by international observers of irregularities at the polls, the opposition claimed that there were significant instances of expulsion and harassment of poll workers, incidents of intimidation, multiple voting and ballot stuffing.

The political conflict turned into violent clashes on the streets, and when some of the coalition members refused to assume their elected posts, the coalition fractured acrimoniously.

The newly-constituted administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi detained over 100 leaders of the opposition and jailed tens of thousands of their supporters in the ensuing crackdown. Mideksa, then vice president of the coalition, was among the detainees. She was convicted on July 16, 2007 by the Federal High Court.

Mideksa and 34 others were sentenced to life imprisonment while three others were handed jail sentences that range 18 months to 18 years. The same day, they appealed for amnesty, which was later accepted by the pardon board and endorsed by President Girma W. Giorgis.

"It was the greatest challenge of my life," Mideksa told IPS. "It's strengthened me though."

Mideksa was not discouraged by the experience. She cites as one of her inspirations the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma (Myanmar). "I marvel at her courage and determination," she says.

Her party, however, will need more than mere determination to prevail.

In the April local elections, the Ethiopia People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) scored an overwhelming victory, with pro-government candidates outnumbering opposition candidates by 500 to 1. Irregularities in voter registration and difficulties in the result and complaints processes combined to reduce the legitimacy of the election. Recent legislation affecting political parties, the press and civil societies threatens to narrow the political space even more.

Mideksa believes she can help broaden the political space through a series of public dialogues with the media. Her party has also announced that it has allocated close to 750,000 dollars to mobilise supporters from the four corners of the country in the run-up to the election.

But observers doubt that Mideksa has the leadership skills to bring together the fractious opposition.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1974, Mideksa went to public schools for her primary and secondary educations. She joined the law school at Addis Ababa University, and graduated with an LLB degree in 1996.

Prior to her entry into politics, she served as a Judge at the Federal First Instance Court for close to seven years, before she resigned, claiming that there is government interference in the judiciary.

"The values that guide me are truth and fairness," she says.

She first entered politics running as an independent parliamentary candidate back in 2000. Neither her friends nor her mother supported the decision, warning her against the dangers of politics. After eight years, however, she is content with her decision.

"It is a great success for me personally," says Mideksa, adding with a shrug and a smile, "and I guess for Ethiopian women too." __________________________ bombers kill at least 28 in Somalia
Wed 29 Oct 2008 Hussein Ali Noor

HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters) - A wave of suicide bombings killed at least 28 people across northern Somalia on Wednesday in attacks that snatched attention from political crisis talks taking place in neighbouring Kenya.

The five synchronised blasts killed some 25 people in Hargeisa and another three in Bosasso.

No group immediately claimed responsibility. But in recent months, Islamist insurgents fighting Somalia's Western-backed interim government and its Ethiopian allies have launched attacks to coincide with international efforts to end turmoil in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

The bombers hit as leaders of the interim government met regional heads of state for talks in Nairobi. The four-year-old administration is under pressure to solve the chaos and share some power with moderate opposition figures.

Washington, and its closest ally in the region Ethiopia, say Somalia's Islamists are linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

"It is the work of the usual terrorists who try to create instability. I assure you they will not be left to get away with it. They will be brought to justice," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin told reporters at the meeting.

In Hargeisa, in the breakaway Somaliland region, witnesses said three bombers attacked the president's office, a U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) compound and the Ethiopian embassy.

Journalist Ali Jama Mohamed was walking past the presidency when a car crashed into its doors.

"There was a big explosion and I saw many people, mostly pedestrians and some security guards, thrown to the floor. Some were dead and others wounded," Mohamed told Reuters.

Witnesses said three people were killed at the presidency, while at least 20 died at the shattered Ethiopian mission. Two people were killed at the UNDP building.


In Bosasso, in neighbouring semi-autonomous Puntland, two suicide bombers detonated explosives-laden cars inside the Intelligence Service compound, killing two soldiers and a woman and wounding several other people.

"The two cars and their drivers were blown to pieces," Muse Gelle, the governor of Bari region, told Reuters. "It is too early to know all the casualties. Tensions are high and Puntland soldiers have surrounded all government institutions."

Puntland and Somaliland had been relatively quiet compared to southern Somalia, where the government and its Ethiopian military allies have been battling rebels waging a campaign of roadside bombs, artillery strikes and assassinations.

The violence has killed nearly 10,000 civilians and an unknown number of combatants since the start of last year. More than a million people have been driven from their homes.

The rebels have previously launched big attacks during mediation efforts in a move analysts say is calculated to show the interim administration who is in control on the ground.

When government officials and some opposition figures signed a peace pact at U.N.-led negotiations in Djibouti in August, hardline al Shabaab insurgents seized the strategic southern port of Kismayu in fighting that killed at least 70 people.

The Shabaab have since consolidated their control of the area, and on Monday they stoned to death a 23-year-old woman accused of adultery -- the first such public killing by the Islamists for about two years.

EU envisages year-long anti-piracy operation
Tue 28 Oct 2008BRUSSELS, Oct 28 (Reuters) - An EU air and sea operation against pirates off Somalia is expected to last a year from its planned December launch and will aim to coordinate its role with other international forces, EU officials said on Tuesday.

Somali pirates have been causing havoc in one of the world's busiest shipping areas connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East, taking millions of dollars in ransoms, raising insurance costs, and threatening humanitarian supplies.

Ten EU nations have said they will contribute to the EU operation, which is expected to involve four to six ships at any given time as well as several maritime surveillance aircraft.

"It will involve five to 10 assets (planes and ships), naval and aerial, four to six ships," one of the officials told a briefing, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that the operation was planned to last for a year.

The EU force is expected to get the final green light from the 27 EU states at a meeting of foreign ministers next month and to be officially launched in December. It will have its headquarters in Northwood in Britain and British Vice Admiral Philip Jones has been proposed as its commander.

The EU officials said the force could include European ships that have been taking part in a NATO anti-piracy operation already underway off the Somali coast.

It would aim to coordinate its work with third-country warships, including from Russia, Asia and the Gulf states to avoid duplication of efforts, the officials said.

Several EU ships are already taking part in the NATO operation. Two French frigates, a Dutch warship and a Spanish aircraft have also been involved in anti-piracy duties.

NATO said on Monday alliance ships had begun anti-piracy operations off Somalia.

Some European politicians have criticised the push by the French EU presidency to deploy the EU force, saying it would draw on the same ships as NATO and was politically motivated to press a French drive for a stronger EU military role.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Economic Bailout: Corporations seeking bankruptcy protection- Does it help to incorporate to survive the current crisis.

Dear Global Citizens and friends of Africa/Ethiopia:

Lessons on how to seek Bankruptcy Protection a case of WorldSpace - A Global Sateelite Radio Service based in Silver Spring, MD

Re: Corporations increasingly seeking bankruptcy protection, is this the way forward in the new world of Economic Meltdown and Bailout?

A new technology firm owned and managed by an Ethiopian American lawyer is seeking bankruptcy protection. Here is a very interesting story of a new Diaspora story, from rags to riches and at last being cauhgt up in the Global Economic Meltdown.

Our weekly global radio broadcast at Voice of the Patriots (Hager-Fiker), we have been discussing the potential impact of the Financial Meltdown on new immigrants, specially those engaged in service industry like hotels, restaurants, transportation and even health care.

We never thought that well entrenched technology corporations funded in Billions like World Space will be the first to declare for bankruptcy protection.

It is becoming interesting that even technology companies that have satellite products and not terrestrial ones will be the first ones to seek bail out.

What are the lessons of this interesting bankruptcy protection.

I. Business Fact Sheet

Business: XM Satellite Radio Broadcast
Owner: Noah Samara (47% share holder)
Base: Silver Spring MD, USA
Amount: $2.12 Billion in Debt
Rescue plan: Court Appointed Bankruptcy Protection.

II. The Protection Plan

1. An attempt to seek a buyer at this critical time and paying employees in the transition period.
2. Trying to get funding from its creditors of up to $2 million initially and get funding with #13 million in debtor-in-possession for up-to 90 days.
3. A reorganization of existing company while it seeks a buyer for its operations or assets.
4. Worldspace files bankruptcy, listing $2.12 billion in debt

III. The lesson

1. The company, which intends to sell off its assets or recapitalize the business, is seeking court approval of a $13 million bankruptcy loan provided by a group of hedge funds to continue operating while under bankruptcy-court protection.

2. Worldspace was founded in 1990 with the intent to provide satellite radio services to the emerging markets of Asia and Africa.

3. Current Assets: The company has two satellites currently in orbit and a third in storage.The company, which broadcasts its satellite radio services to more than 170,000 paid subscribers in 10 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, sought Chapter 11 protection in the U.S Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

4. Asset/liabilities. It listed assets of $307.4 million and liabilities of $2.12 billion

5. The planned bailout: The company, which broadcasts its satellite radio services to more than 170,000 paid subscribers in 10 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, sought Chapter 11 protection in the U.S Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. It listed assets of $307.4 million and liabilities of $2.12 billion.

6. The Stakeholders.

6.1 Yenura Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based company controlled by Mr. Samara, is WorldSpace's largest unsecured creditor, owed
$55.2 million.
6.2 Number 2 is Micronas GmbH, owed $18.2 million, and

6.3 Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, owed $4.4 million.

6.4 Mr. Samara is the largest shareholder of the Silver Spring, Md. company, owning 47.15% of the firm.

6.5 Aletheia Research & Management Inc., owning 37% percent, and

6.6 Natixis Asset Management Advisor LP, owning 5.25%, are the other major shareholders of WorldSpace

The most critical lesson is that corporations have a much more secure protection environment compared to individuals and it is in our best interest to incorporate ourselves as business stakeholders if we want to survive the Global Economic Meltdown. The Bailout is not designed to help individuals be it home owners defaulting or those with bad credit history. It is designed to help out corporations.

Citizens of the USA and Globe, incorporate fast yourselves and your families if you want to survive the current economic crisis.

It helps to incorporate in times of crisis and opportunities. That is the lesson of WorldSpace and its challenges in todays economic climate.

Worldspace gets court approval for bankruptcy protection
By BizJournal | October 23, 2008

Satellite radio pioneer Noah Samara (Photo: Addis Tribune) BizJournal - Satellite radio broadcaster WorldSpace Inc. has won bankruptcy court approval for a plan that will let it continue paying employees and seek a buyer.

The Silver Spring-based company, which filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection last week, will get funding from its creditors of up to $2 million initially. Creditors have agreed to fund the company with $13 million in debtor-in-possession financing for up to 90 days. WorldSpace says it will be seeking court approval to access more of those funds in coming weeks.

State Street Bank has been appointed as the company’s financial adviser.

WorldSpace says it has begun the process of finding a buyer for its operations or assets. It hopes to raise sufficient capital to repay senior secured notes and convertible notes. A reorganization of the existing company remains an option.

Worldspace files bankruptcy, listing $2.12 billion in debt
By Eric Morath, Dow Jones

WorldSpace Inc., a Maryland-based operator of satellite radio services overseas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday after repeated failures to meet debt obligations and to pay its employees.

The company, which broadcasts its satellite radio services to more than 170,000 paid subscribers in 10 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, sought Chapter 11 protection in the U.S Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. It listed assets of $307.4 million and liabilities of $2.12 billion.

The bulk of that debt, some $1.8 billion, is a contingent obligation under a royalty deal if the company's pretax earnings reach a certain level, according to company spokeswoman Judith Pryor.

In court papers, Chief Executive Noah A. Samara said the company was forced to file for bankruptcy after seeking four forbearance agreements with its noteholders since June.

In addition, WorldSpace has failed to pay some of its workers for two months, causing "significant employee attrition," Mr. Samara said. The company owes 50 "critical employees" $1.35 million in back pay.

"As a result of WorldSpace's growing concern regarding its inability to make timely payments to critical employees and other essential creditors, WorldSpace determined that it is in its best interests and the best interests of its subsidiaries and stakeholders to file these chapter 11 proceedings," said Mr. Samara, one of the key figures in the early stages of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

The company, which intends to sell off its assets or recapitalize the business, is seeking court approval of a $13 million bankruptcy loan provided by a group of hedge funds to continue operating while under bankruptcy-court protection.

Worldspace was founded in 1990 with the intent to provide satellite radio services to the emerging markets of Asia and Africa. The company has two satellites currently in orbit and a third in storage.

Among the WorldSpace's so called first-day motions the company is asking to secure the bankruptcy loan and use some of that funding to pay its employees. The company is also seeking the continued use of its bank accounts.

Without the bankruptcy financing, the remaining critical employees will likely depart, which would "impair" WorldSpace's ability to operate the satellites and continue as a going concern, Samara said.

Yenura Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based company controlled by Mr. Samara, is WorldSpace's largest unsecured creditor, owed $55.2 million. Number 2 is Micronas GmbH, owed $18.2 million, and Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, owed $4.4 million.

Mr. Samara is the largest shareholder of the Silver Spring, Md. company, owning 47.15% of the firm. Aletheia Research & Management Inc., owning 37% percent, and Natixis Asset Management Advisor LP, owning 5.25%, are the other major shareholders of WorldSpace.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pre-empting a terrorist with new technology

Security experts reckon the latest technology can detect hostile intentions before something bad happens. Unless it is perfect, though, that may be bad in itself

MONITORING surveillance cameras is tedious work. Even if you are concentrating, identifying suspicious behaviour is hard. Suppose a nondescript man descends to a subway platform several times over the course of a few days without getting on a train. Is that suspicious? Possibly. Is the average security guard going to notice? Probably not. A good example, then—if a fictional one—of why many people would like to develop intelligent computerised surveillance systems.

The perceived need for such systems is stimulating the development of devices that can both recognise people and objects and also detect suspicious behaviour. Much of this technology remains, for the moment, in laboratories. But Charles Cohen, the boss of Cybernet Systems, a firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is working for America’s Army Research Laboratory, says behaviour-recognition systems are getting good, and are already deployed at some security checkpoints.

Human gaits, for example, can provide a lot of information about people’s intentions. At the American Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, a team of gait analysts and psychologists led by Frank Morelli study video, much of it conveniently posted on the internet by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They use special object-recognition software to lock onto particular features of a video recording (a person’s knees or elbow joints, for example) and follow them around. Correlating those movements with consequences, such as the throwing of a bomb, allows them to develop computer models that link posture and consequence reasonably reliably. The system can, for example, pick out a person in a crowd who is carrying a concealed package with the weight of a large explosives belt. According to Mr Morelli, the army plans to deploy the system at military checkpoints, on vehicles and at embassy perimeters.

Some intelligent surveillance systems are able to go beyond even this. Instead of merely learning what a threat looks like, they can learn the context in which behaviour is probably threatening. That people linger in places such as bus stops, for example, is normal. Loitering in a stairwell, however, is a rarer occurrence that may warrant examination by human security staff (so impatient lovers beware). James Davis, a video-security expert at Ohio State University in Columbus, says such systems are already in use. Dr Davis is developing one for America’s Air Force Research Laboratory. It uses a network of cameras to track people identified as suspicious—for example, pedestrians who have left a package on the ground—as they walk through town.

As object- and motion-recognition technology improves, researchers are starting to focus on facial expressions and what they can reveal. The Human Factors Division of America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for example, is running what it calls Project Hostile Intent. This boasts a system that scrutinises fleeting “micro-expressions”, easily missed by human eyes. Many flash for less than a tenth of a second and involve just a small portion of the face.

Terrorists are often trained to conceal emotions; micro-expressions, however, are largely involuntary. Even better, from the researchers’ point of view, conscious attempts to suppress facial expressions actually accentuate micro-expressions. Sharla Rausch, the director of the Human Factors Division, refers to this somewhat disturbingly as “micro-facial leakage”.

There are about 40 micro-expressions. The DHS’s officials refuse to describe them in detail, which is a bit daft, as they have been studied for years by civilian researchers. But Paul Ekman, who was one of those researchers (he retired from the University of California, San Francisco, in 2004) and who now advises the DHS and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and elsewhere, points out that signals which seem to reveal hostile intent change with context. If many travellers in an airport-screening line are running late, telltales of anguish—raised cheeks and eyebrows, lowered lips and gaze—cause less concern.

Supporters of this sort of technology argue that it avoids controversial racial profiling: only behaviour is studied. This is a sticky issue, however, because cultures—and races—express themselves differently. Judee Burgoon, an expert on automated behaviour-recognition at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who conducts research for America’s Department of Defence, says systems should be improved with cultural input. For example, passengers from repressive countries, who may already be under suspicion because of their origins, typically display extra anxiety (often revealed by rigid body movements) when near security officials. That could result in a lot of false positives and consequent ill-will. Dr Burgoon is upgrading her software, called Agent 99, by fine-tuning the interpretations of body movements of people from about 15 cultures.

Another programme run by the Human Factors Division, Future Attributable Screening Technology, or FAST, is being developed as a complement to Project Hostile Intent. An array of sensors, at a distance of a couple of metres, measures skin temperature, blood-flow patterns, perspiration, and heart and breathing rates. In a series of tests, including a demonstration last month with 140 role-playing volunteers, the system detected about 80% of those who had been asked to try to deceive it by being hostile or trying to smuggle a weapon through it.

A number of “innocents”, though, were snagged too. The trial’s organisers are unwilling to go into detail, and are now playing down the significance of the testing statistics. But FAST began just 16 months ago. Bob Burns, the project’s leader, says its accuracy will improve next year thanks to extra sensors that can detect eye movements and body odours, both of which can provide further clues to emotional states.

Until proved innocent
That alarms some civil-libertarians. FAST, they say, amounts to a forced medical examination, and hostile-intent systems in general smack of the “pre-crime” technology featured in Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Minority Report” and the film based on it. An exaggeration, perhaps. But the result of using these devices, according to Barry Steinhardt, the head of technology and liberty at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, DC, will inevitably be that too many innocents are entangled in intrusive questioning or worse with “voodoo science” security measures.

To the historically minded it smacks of polygraphs, the so-called lie-detectors that rely on measuring physiological correlates of stress. Those have had a patchy and controversial history, fingering nervous innocents while acquitting practised liars. Supporters of hostile-intent systems argue that the computers will not be taking over completely, and human security agents will always remain the final arbiters. Try telling that, though, to an innocent traveller who was in too much of a hurry—or even a couple smooching in a stairwell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Political Space narrows as poverty and terrorim expands in the Horn

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Africans/Ethiopians:

Re: Narrowing Political Space as the terrorism and poverty space expands

It is becoming apparent from the experience of the Horn, that good governance can shrink in circumstances where crime and lawlessness expand.

It also becoming apparent that those who are expected to protect the law and security of their respective communities can in effect be the very people who create insecurity and break the law.

It is with this unfortunate environment that two key allies of Ethiopia, Britain and US sent their most senior Development and foreign relations officials to Addis and both gave more or less similar assessments.

The message is simple. The laws in the books are not being kept as it relates to law and order and justice. Secondly, the new law that is being drafted appears to be not relieving the problem as it is making it impossible for witnesses to testify about the level of corruption, crime and most of all lack of good governance in the area of even distributing emergency food aid to acutely impacted communities.

First, the law in the books are not being followed. So, adding another set of laws is not going to solve the problem but adds additional responsibility without the appropriate accountability. How can the government or executive enforce additional new laws when it cannot do so appropriately the current set of laws.

The most critical impression given is that the current set of laws seem to be designed to discourage accountability and the mechanism for seeking it by making the process of identifying the problem, i.e reporting it a crime in itself. Of course, the government insists this law will make every one accountable, both those criticized for breaking it and those reporting it.

It appears which ever way it is translated, more laws does not hurt, but are there more accountable systems in place to monitor these laws in their implementation process.

Surely, we have enough rules both in the cultural base and administrative tradition of this ancient civilization. After all, the Great Commandment or law is "Love your God and Your Neighbor as thyself" Imagine, crime if the person does not love himself in the first place. That appears to be the challenge of those newly mushrooming suicide bombers. So, the law ensures that one loves himself first and then others. That is where the big disparity is. Can the law make you love or respect yourself?

I believe there is space for dialogue and that is what is missing big time across the globe and the Horn with its pirates, and new laws and shrinking political space can still begin to dialogue with itself and its neighbors as well as the international community.

Global Financial Contagion and Global Terror Pandemic demand our immediate attention and we need to dialogue fast!

with regards and seeking your alternative perspective, I remain

Dr B Jesus (GlobalB)
VOA October 21, 2008
US Says Draft Ethiopian NGO Law Would 'Close Political Space'
Peter Heinlein
Addis Ababa

The top U.S. official for human rights and democracy issues has met Ethiopia's leaders to express concern about pending legislation that critics say would curtail political freedoms. VOA's Peter Heinlein in Addis Ababa reports Ethiopian officials flatly reject the criticisms, arguing that the rights of citizens are being protected.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights David Kramer says he came to Ethiopia this week to ask Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to reconsider provisions in a draft law that would criminalize many activities of foreign non-governmental organizations. The bill is set for presentation to parliament in the coming days.

The so-called Charities and Societies Proclamation would give the government oversight authority over NGOs receiving at least 10 percent foreign funding, including money from Ethiopians living abroad. It prohibits these NGOs from promoting the advancement of human and democratic rights, gender equality or the rights of children and the disabled.

After what he described as a 'useful and productive' two-hour meeting with the prime minister, Assistant Secretary Kramer told reporters he had expressed U.S. concerns about a number of issues, including the conduct of recent local council elections and a newly-passed law limiting press freedom.

"I did convey to him concerns that we have and we have heard from others about some trends that would point to a closing of political space. When you look at the April election earlier this year, when you look at the media law that was passed. When you look at the draft CSO legislation, and we had a discussion about that," he said.

Kramer says he is worried about provisions in the draft legislation that could force the closure of several aid projects funded by the U.S. government. "My bureau for example funds programs that deal with issues of women's empowerment, with media, with conflict resolution, and based on my understanding of the latest version of the proclamation that I've seen so far, those programs could be adversely affected," he said.

Ethiopian officials have staunchly defended the draft law, saying it will not jeopardize the rights of Ethiopians. In a recent VOA interview, senior government adviser Bereket Simon dismissed criticisms that the proposal would constitute a blow to democracy.

"This is simply a ridiculous assertion. Since we're promoting democracy, I don't think any genuinely democratic NGO shall be afraid of empowering our people. We are empowering our people.

Nothing has been taken from the right of the people, and that's what concerns us most, and if these NGO critics are really interested in what is taking place in Ethiopia, in empowering the public, I think there should be no concern or fear," he said.

Assistant Secretary of State Kramer declined to speculate on what impact passage of the Charities Proclamation might have on the level of U.S. aid to Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa country is currently the third largest recipient of U.S. aid in Africa, after Egypt and Sudan.

During fiscal year 2008, U.S. assistance to Ethiopia totaled nearly $800 million, most of it humanitarian food aid.

There are an estimated 3,000 NGOs currently operating in Ethiopia. Their combined budgets are believed to be more than $1 billion a year.



October 22, 2008

Somali pirates 'hard to defeat'
The commander of Nato's anti-piracy patrol due to start soon off Somalia says it will be difficult to defend ships from pirate attacks.

"The time that a pirate unveils himself to the time that he's onboard ship is such a short period of time," Admiral Mark Fitzgerald told the BBC.

Earlier, he said rules of engagement were still being debated by Nato.

More than 30 ships have been seized this year in the busy shipping lanes near Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

Nato is sending seven frigates to support US navy vessels already there, while India and several European countries have said they will also mount anti-piracy patrols.

How do you prove a guy's a pirate before he actually attacks a ship?
Admiral Mark Fitzgerald

Admiral Fitzerald said Nato's mission was primarily to protect ships carrying UN aid to Somalia where more than three million people - almost half of the population - are in need of food aid.

But he hoped the Nato vessels would be able to protect other ships - around 20,000 vessels pass by Somalia each year.

"We're there to try to deter the pirates," he told the BBC.

However, given the amount of traffic, he said, it was difficult to spot who was a pirate.

"From a military standpoint, we certainly are limited by what we can do," he told Reuters news agency.

"How do you prove a guy's a pirate before he actually attacks a ship?"

He also said that the North Atlantic Council was still drawing up the rules of engagement for pirates.

"All we've been told is to prepare a plan to go down there. So [the rules] are going to have to be debated."

Earlier this month, Nato spokesman James Appathurai told the BBC the Nato war ships would be able to use force if necessary in accordance with international law.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is estimated to have cost up to $30m (£17m) in ransoms so far this year, according to a recent report.

Authorities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland say they are often powerless to confront the pirates, many of whom are based in the town of Eyl.

Most vessels are freed after their owners pay the hefty sums, but about 10 are still being held, most notably the MV Faina - a Ukrainian ship loaded with 33 tanks and ammunition headed for Kenya.

Human Rights Watch says Somalia is the most ignored tragedy in the world.

Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991 and has been afflicted by continual civil strife.

UNHCR asks Yemen to explain Ethiopian entry ban

Tue 21 Oct 2008GENEVA, Oct 21 - The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is seeking clarifications from Yemen over a decision to bar Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees from entering the country, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The UNHCR also said it was concerned about the fate of 112 Ethiopian refugees believed to have been detained in Yemen over the past two weeks.

The UNHCR said the Yemeni Interior Ministry has announced that Ethiopians and Eritreans would be denied entry to the country, which still grants immediate refugee status to Somalis fleeing their war-torn homeland.

"While recognising the generosity already shown by Yemen to refugees and asylum seekers, we are seeking clarification from the government on any changes in policy," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.

The agency also said that some 87 Ethiopians were known to have been detained in Yemen over the past two weeks, while Yemeni authorities removed a further 25 Ethiopians from a vehicle transporting them to the UNHCR reception centre of Ahwar on Monday.

"We don't know where they are but fear they were arrested and are being detained somewhere," UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid Van Genderen Stort told Reuters.

The UNHCR urged Yemen, a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to maintain access to asylum procedures for all those in need of international protection.

The poor Arab country is struggling to cope with an growing number of asylum seekers smuggled from the Horn of Africa in risk-filled voyages across the Gulf of Aden.

A total of 37,333 people have arrived in Yemen so far this year on smugglers' boats, and 616 died or were reported missing, according to the UNHCR. The current total is already more than 50 percent higher than in 2007, when 23,000 made it to Yemen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting Spcial Edition

Special World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings Edition

News | Publications | Events & Discussions | Regional News and Projects I Newly Disclosed Documents I Business & Career Opportunities | On the Blogs I Take a Look | Did You Know?

* Bank – IMF Annual Meetings Spotlighted by Global Financial Crisis
* Food, Fuel and Financial Crises Haunt Developing Countries
* Australia Contributes to Global Food Crisis Response Program
* Restoring Confidence in Global Grain Markets
* New Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls
* Fund to Facilitate South-South Development Knowledge Sharing
* Zoellick Says Financial Crisis Not to Impact Bank Lending
* Bank Prepares Climate Change Report
* Results Demonstrate MIGA’s Niche in Challenging Environment
* Bank Partners with Russia to Improve Education Quality
* Books - Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
* World Food Day 2908
* Business - A Step toward Reducing Cost of Remittances
* Opening – Winter Internship Program now Open
* Blog – A Return to State Intervention?
* US$50 Billion Lost by Marine Fishing Each Year


Bank – IMF Annual Meetings Spotlighted by Global Financial Crisis
The 2008 Annual Meetings of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund took place at a critical time for the global economy, with financial markets experiencing unprecedented turmoil. Developing and transition countries, many of them already hit hard by current high prices for energy and essential foodstuffs, risk very serious setbacks to their efforts to improve the lives of their populations from any prolonged tightening of credit or sustained global slowdown.

The poorest and most vulnerable groups risk the most serious damage. At the opening news conference of the meetings, Bank President Robert B. Zoellick pledged that the Bank will join with the IMF and others to draw on the full range of our resources to help developing countries strengthen their economies, bolster their financial systems, maintain growth, and protect the most vulnerable groups against the impact of the current crises. Read more…

See photo gallery of the event
See transcript of Bank President’s Opening Remarks
See transcript of Development Committee Press Briefing

Food, Fuel and Financial Crises Haunt Developing Countries
Developing nations faced a sudden convergence of food, fuel and financial crises as development and finance ministers gathered for the Bank and IMF Annual Meetings. Countries already suffering food and fuel price inflation may now also see declines in exports, trade and investment as a result of financial turmoil that is becoming increasingly global, said Bank President Robert B. Zoellick.

“While people in the developed world are focused on the financial crisis, many forget that a human crisis is rapidly unfolding in developing countries. It is pushing poor people to the brink of survival,” said Zoellick. A new Bank report says the number of malnourished people globally will grow by 44 million, to 967 million, in 2008, after several countries experienced double-digit food inflation. Read more…

See multimedia gallery on effects of triple crises
See press release on growing number of malnourished

Australia Contributes to Global Food Crisis Response Program
The Bank welcomed the Australian government’s AUD$50 million contribution to a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund created by the Bank to address the danger of high and volatile food prices. The Trust Fund was created to facilitate the involvement of a broad range of development partners to support the Bank’s Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP).

The GFRP was approved by Bank’s Board of Directors in May and is a rapid financing facility providing technical advice and access of up to $1.2 billion of financial support to countries affected by the food crisis. The World Bank has committed and is preparing more than US$850 million in projects for agriculture and social protection in 32 countries. Read more…

Restoring Confidence in Global Grain Markets
A new report on malnutrition finds that the high food and fuel prices that prevailed until recently will increase the number of malnourished people in the world by about 44 million to a total of 967 million. Young children who do not receive proper nutrition will suffer the health effects of early malnutrition well into adulthood.

Also, many poor families have been forced to cut back on education costs in order to feed themselves. At a recent roundtable discussion, Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin said the food crisis highlights the need to restore confidence in global grain markets,” said Lin, “The recent price fluctuations reflect a collapse in market confidence, not just a temporary imbalance in supply and demand.” Read more…

Zoellick Says Financial Crisis Not to Impact Bank Lending
Bank President Robert Zoellick told a press conference that the current global financial crisis will not affect the Bank’s ability to help emerging markets. Loans for middle income countries are made under the IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) lending scheme. Speaking in a press briefing at the Annual Meetings, Zoellick said that with over US$40 billion of capital, the Bank is in a “very good position” to continue lending to developing countries through the IBRD framework. Read more…

New Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls
The Bank joined governments and the private sector to launch the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) to promote the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in poor and post-conflict countries. The AGI is being piloted in Liberia through a partnership with the Nike Foundation and the governments of Liberia and Denmark. It will be expanded in the coming year to include Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda, South Sudan and a sixth country to be identified. The initiative provides funding of US$3 - 5 million per country, and is a new way for the Bank to engage with the private sector. Read more…

Fund to Facilitate South-South Development Knowledge Sharing
The Bank launched a financing facility to provide a simple, low cost way for developing countries to share their knowledge and expertise in overcoming poverty. The South-South Experience Exchange Facility is a new multi donor trust fund that promotes the idea that the development successes in one country can pull people out of poverty in another.

Through the first grant from the new facility efforts are underway to repeat India’s dairy revolution in Africa. India’s unique program, popularly known as “Operation Flood”, revolutionized the country’s dairy industry. At the request of the Tanzanian government, the Indian model has now been introduced to Africa, with the South-South trust funding visits to India by some African dairy farmers. Read more…

See multimedia gallery of the launch ceremony

Bank Prepares Climate Change Report
Ten industrialized nations meeting at the Bank in Washington pledged $6.1 billion to two new Climate Investment Funds. The funds scale up energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies such as wind power and solar energy, and pilot new approaches to building climate resilience in countries threatened by climate change, as well as forest investments and renewable energy. Such strong support for efforts to fight climate change “in the middle of financial turmoil” is encouraging, says a Bank official. Climate change was a key topic at the Annual Meetings of the Bank and International Monetary Fund this week. Read more…

Results Demonstrate MIGA’s Niche in Challenging Environment
Fiscal year 2008 was marked by turmoil in the global financial markets. High energy and food prices had devastating effects on the lives of poor people. In this very difficult environment, the Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) ramped up its support for member countries with the largest amount of guarantees (political risk insurance) issued in its history. As governments face the challenge of protecting the most vulnerable of their citizens in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner, they need to rely on private sector investment and FDI to support economic growth. Read more...

Bank Partners with Russia to Improve Education Quality and Financial Literacy
The Bank and the Russian Federation committed to improve the quality of basic education through the US$32 million Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund, and in support an international program in financial literacy and financial education through the $15 million Russia Financial Literacy program. The READ Trust Fund will support a joint Russia-Bank 5 year program to help low-income countries improve the quality of basic education and learning outcomes.

The Russia Financial Literacy program is initiated by the Ministry of Finance as a follow-up to Russia’s G8 Chairmanship in 2006. This international joint program with the World Bank and OECD on financial literacy and financial education would be supported by $15 million from Russia’s Trust Fund administered by the Bank. Read more…


Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
The Bank launched the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook, the product of a three-year collaborative effort with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Through case studies and best practices, the Sourcebook addresses the development reality that persistent underinvestment in women and agriculture together with gender disparities in knowledge, technology, access to credit, and land result in less food being grown, less income being earned, higher levels of poverty, and greater food insecurity.

In addition to knowledge for practitioners, the Sourcebook speaks to policy makers with recommendations to increase analytical work on gender in agricultural programs, to strengthen female representation in public and private institutions, and to invest more in developing the capacity of women farmers through education and skills formation. Read more…

See photo gallery of sourcebook launch

FOR A FULL LIST of available publications:


World Food Day 2008
October 16 – Global – Rarely has World Food Day assumed greater meaning than at the present time, as rapidly rising food prices risk increasing the number of hungry people. “World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy” is the theme of this year’s World Food Day on 16 October, the day that FAO was founded in 1945, and now observed annually in some 150 countries.

With the number of undernourished people currently estimated at more than 850 million, high food prices are not only putting at greater risk the hungry but those also on the brink of poverty. WFD activities aim at expanding global awareness in an effort to reduce the effects of increasingly severe climate patterns on agriculture and the impact of biofuels on food production. Read more…


Summary of proposed projects in all regions:


Public-Private Partnerships to Invest in Infrastructure
In the run up to this year’s International Monetary Fund-World Bank Annual Meetings, the Bank’s Africa Region Vice President called for strong private-public partnerships to help finance infrastructure projects across Africa. “Africa’s infrastructure needs are indeed very daunting,” Obiageli Ezekwesili told attendees of the annual U.S.–Africa Infrastructure Conference, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, a Washington-based nonprofit that seeks to connect the American business community with its counterparts across Africa.

There are pressing needs in many areas, such as transportation and telecoms, but "nowhere is the deficit more prevalent than in the power sector," she said, noting that the 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a total population of 600 million people had a combined power generation capacity no more than that of Argentina alone, a country of 30 million people. Read more…

Building African Markets to Counter the Global Financial Crisis
A seminar yesterday between African bankers and international investment analysts, held under the auspices of the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, discussed how the current global financial crisis might affect Africa and what countries can do to protect themselves. Sub-Saharan Africa already has seen some effect as a result of the crisis. Stock markets in Africa’s larger economies are mirroring those of developed markets, and international bond issues that were growing have slowed. The small size of African markets also means that even limited withdrawals could have significant impact and, although major capital withdrawal from foreign investors is unlikely, as the current crisis deepens, it could have an effect. Read more…

Finance Ministers Keep Close Eye on Current Financial Crisis
African Ministers of Finance have urged developed countries to maintain pledged levels of aid to African countries despite the volatility of the international financial markets. At a press conference in Washington, ministers from three countries said their governments were still studying the possible implications of the financial markets meltdown in order to prepare to take steps to mitigate any potential fallout. They urged donors to offer flexible programs in support of Africa’s development efforts. The African Development Bank is expected to organize a seminar in November to explain how the crisis could affect Africa. Read more…

Bank and African Union Mobilize the African Diaspora
It is estimated that over four million voluntary immigrants of African origin reside in the West. This “voluntary” Diaspora is distinct from the vastly larger “involuntary” Diaspora that populates North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Brazil. In recent years, the Africa Union has provided the impetus and framework for the study and analysis of the African Diaspora, its interaction with Africa, and the consequences of that interaction.

The continental body views the step as necessary to help Africa achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals identified by the United Nations to help alleviate poverty by the year 2015. In response, the Bank launched its African Diaspora program in September 2007 and has been using its convening power and information and technology resources to help Africa engage its Diaspora. The Bank is also keen to engage with other development partners to help further Diaspora efforts on the continent. Read more…

Bringing India’s Dairy Revolution to Africa
During a period of 25 years (1970-1996), a unique program, popularly known as Operation Flood, transformed a chronically milk-deficient India into the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world. Under a new multi-donor trust fund, practitioners from the small town of Anand in the state of Gujarat are visiting Tanzania and Uganda to demonstrate first-hand how to replicate India's "white revolution." Seven donors have already pledged support to the fund, and others have expressed strong interest. Read more…

Zambia National Response to HIV/AIDS
One of Africa’s best performing health projects, the Zambia National Response to HIV/AIDS, successfully concluded its work in August after meeting all of its development targets. The US$42 million project, financed by a grant from the Bank’s International Development Agency, began work in 2002 to help Zambia fight its worst enemies, HIV and AIDS. The project design was based on a new approach to addressing HIV/AIDS: supporting and strengthening community-based responses to the epidemic, nationwide. The strategy proved to be highly successful. It included government commitment and ownership through the Ministry of Health, and high levels of public participation. Read more…

For more regional information:


Mission Confirms Progress on Lao Government's Reform Agenda
A joint review mission of the Poverty Reduction Support Operation (PRSO) concluded with a meeting of senior Government and donor representatives on Thursday in Vientiane. The PRSO is supporting the implementation of the sixth National Socio Economic Development Plan through reforms around two pillars, investment and business, and public finance management and service delivery.

Development Partners are supporting Government development policies by providing funds directly into the government budget following the achievement of agreed actions. The implementation of the PRSO has so far been very successful in promoting close collaboration between government ministries, as well as increased donor coordination as envisaged by the Vientiane Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Read more…

INDONESIA - School Operational Assistance Knowledge Improvement for Transparency and Accountability (BOS-KITA) - US$600 million to improve access to quality education for all children of ages 7 to 15 strengthening school based management and community participation, improving existing fiduciary arrangements for greater transparency and accountability of the program, and consequently, bringing about better utilization of the funds. Read more…

Press release

For more regional information:


Countries Not Immune to Financial Crisis
Bank officials warned that countries in the region are not immune to the turbulence of the ongoing global financial crisis, with most countries in the region likely to experience slower economic growth. “In this fast moving worldwide crisis, the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are feeling the effects along with the rest of the world,” said Shigeo Katsu, Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, during the Bank/IMF Annual Meetings.

Katsu added that a prolonged slowdown in Western Europe would reduce demand for exports from countries in the region, particularly those that trade heavily with the 15 original member countries of the European Union. Also, a downturn in Western Europe, as well as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, would hit low income economies by slowing migrants’ remittances. Read more…

For more regional information:


VP Says Region is Part of the Climate Change Solution
Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will suffer greater than average effects of global warming, with devastating consequences for the environment and economy, and as a result are actively working to halt global warming and mitigate its effects, Pamela Cox, the Bank’s Vice President for the region told the World Conservation Congress. Given the region’s central role in the global ecosystem, repercussions from these effects will be felt worldwide unless significant action is taken soon to reduce global warming and mitigate its effects, according to a preview presentation of the flagship report from the chief economist of the region. Read more…

Bank Ready to Help Latin America Cope With Crisis
In a coordinated move with regional financial institutions the Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), announced that Latin American and Caribbean countries facing the impact of the global financial crisis will be able to use additional funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) --the lending facility for middle-income countries-- and the IFC to sustain jobs, social gains and inject liquidity.

This is especially relevant to Latin America as the region has accounted for 35-40 percent of IBRD lending. Countries that are tightly linked to the U.S. economy, such as Mexico and Central American countries, are already feeling the impact through decreases in remittances, exports and tourism. Those countries more linked to other regions, such as Argentina, Peru and Brazil, will see a somewhat mitigated and delayed impact as long as China’s growth remains robust. Read more…

For more regional information:


Support for Regional Focus on Sustainable Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction
During fiscal year 2008, the Bank enhanced its support to MENA’s growth and development priorities. During fiscal year 2008, ending June 30, the Bank committed US$1.77 billion in loans and grants to countries across the region. The recipients are using these funds in more than 29 projects designed to build the climate for investment and empower the poor while mitigating the risks associated with global challenges. Read more…

For more regional information:


A Culture of Seismic-Resistant Construction Takes Root in Pakistan
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit north Pakistan in 2005 destroyed and damaged around 600,000 rural houses, leaving more than 73,000 dead and over 3 million people without shelter in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. In the city of Muzaffarabad, over 10,000 died and around 50 percent of the buildings were destroyed. The scale of the destruction and a difficult mountainous terrain made reconstruction a daunting task. The government formed the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority and, and with the financial and technical support of the Bank, launched an ambitious US$1.5 billion owner-driven rural housing rebuilding program. Under the program, homeowners were provided with a range of seismically-resistant and culturally-acceptable structural design options and grants in four installments to finance the reconstruction. Read more…

For more regional information:


A Step toward Reducing Cost of Remittances
Remittances from migrant workers are important sources of family income and a key factor for growth in developing economies, representing a large portion of the GDP of many receiving countries. Given the current economic crisis, the smooth flow of remittances could become even more critical. As a step toward helping reduce the cost of remittances, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Bank have launched the first global database of remittance prices that is expected to benefit low-income migrant workers and households in developing countries. Read more…

Opening – Winter Internship Program Application Period Now Open
The application period for the Winter Internship Program 2008 opened on September 1. The Program is open to students who are nationals of the Bank's member countries and attracts a large number of highly qualified candidates. The goal of this Internship Program is to offer successful candidates an opportunity to improve their skills as well as the experience of working in an international environment. Interns generally find the experience to be rewarding and interesting. To be eligible for the Internship Program, candidates must possess an undergraduate degree and already be enrolled in a full-time graduate study program. Read more…

For a full list of open positions and scholarships


A Return to State Intervention?
In a very recent post on the AfriCan blog, Shanta reports that: “At a recent videoconference with journalists, I was asked the question in the title of this post several times. Does the fact that private banks in the United States are going bankrupt mean that the free market system is a failure? Does the fact that the United States government is bailing out these banks and in some cases “nationalizing” them mean that state intervention is back? In a word, “No.” First, any financial system needs some form of government intervention, a point lucidly made by Bob Shiller. The problem with some aspects of the financial system in the U.S. is not that there was no government intervention, but that it was flawed. The solution is to improve government regulation of the system. This however takes time. Meanwhile, there is a danger of the system collapsing, which is why the government is bailing out various institutions.” Join the conversation…


US$50 Billion Lost by Marine Fishing Each Year
Economic losses in marine fisheries resulting from poor management, inefficiencies, and overfishing add up to US$50 billion per year, according to a new World Bank-FAO report. Taken over the last three decades these losses total over $US2 trillion. Titled “The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform,” the report also argues that well-managed marine fisheries could turn most of these losses into sustainable economic benefits for millions of fishers and coastal communities. Strengthened fishing rights can provide fishers and fishing communities with incentives to operate in an economically efficient and socially responsible manner. Phasing out subsidies that enhance redundant fishing capacity and harvesting effort will improve efficiency. Greater transparency in allocation of fish resources and greater public accountability for fisheries management and health of fish stocks will help eco-labeling initiatives to certify sustainable fisheries. Read more…


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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time line of the Credit Crisis: Could it be salvaged?

Timeline: Global credit crunch

A year ago, few people had heard of the term credit crunch, but the phrase has now entered dictionaries.

Defined as "a severe shortage of money or credit", the start of the phenomenon has been pinpointed as 9 August 2007 when bad news from French bank BNP Paribas triggered sharp rise in the cost of credit, and made the financial world realise how serious the situation was.

The problems, however, started much earlier.

After a two year period between 2004 and 2006 when US interest rates rose from 1% to 5.35%, the US housing market begins to suffer, with prices falling and a rise in homeowners defaulting on their mortgages.

Default rates on sub-prime loans - high risk loans to clients with poor or no credit histories - rise to record levels.


The credit losses associated with sub-prime have come to light and they are fairly significant...Some estimates are in the order of between $50bn and $100bn of losses

Ben Bernanke, Chairman US Federal Reserve, speaking on 20 July 2007

New Century Financial, which specialises in sub-prime mortgages, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cuts half of its workforce.

As it sold on many of its debts to other banks, the collapse in the sub-prime market begins to have an impact at banks around the world.


Investment bank Bear Stearns tells investors they will get little, if any, of the money invested in two of its hedge funds after rival banks refuse to help it bail them out.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke follows the news with a warning that the US sub-prime crisis could cost up to $100bn (£50bn).

9 August 2007

BNP's statement is scary, to put it mildly

BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston

Read Robert's 9 August blog
BNP Paribas' statement

Investment bank BNP Paribas tells investors they will not be able to take money out of two of its funds because it cannot value the assets in them, owing to a "complete evaporation of liquidity" in the market.

It is the clearest sign yet that banks are refusing to do business with each other.

The European Central Bank pumps 95bn euros (£63bn) into the banking market to try to improve liquidity. It adds a further 108.7bn euros over the next few days.

The US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of Japan also begin to intervene.

17 August

The Fed cuts the rate at which it lends to banks by half of a percentage point to 5.75%, warning the credit crunch could be a risk to economic growth.

21 August

UK sub-prime lenders begin to withdraw mortgages or put up the cost of borrowing for UK homeowners with poor credit histories.

28 August

German regional bank Sachsen Landesbank faces collapse after investing in the sub-prime market; it is sold to larger rival Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.

3 September

German corporate lender IKB announces a $1bn loss on investments linked to the US sub-prime market.

4 September

The rate at which banks lend to each other rises to its highest level since December 1998.

The so-called Libor rate is 6.7975%, way above the Bank of England's 5.75% base rate; banks either worry whether other banks will survive, or urgently need the money themselves.

13 September

The fact that it has had to go cap in hand to the Bank is the most tangible sign that the crisis in financial markets is spilling over into businesses that touch most of our lives

Robert Peston, BBC business editor

Read Robert's 13 September blog

The BBC reveals Northern Rock has asked for and been granted emergency financial support from the Bank of England, in the latter's role as lender of last resort.

Northern Rock relied heavily on the markets, rather than savers' deposits, to fund its mortgage lending. The onset of the credit crunch has dried up its funding.

A day later depositors withdraw £1bn in what is the biggest run on a British bank for more than a century. They continue to take out their money until the government steps in to guarantee their savings.

18 September

The US Federal Reserve cuts its main interest rate by half a percentage point to 4.75%.

19 September

After previously refusing to inject any funding into the markets, the Bank of England announces that it will auction £10bn.

1 October

Swiss bank UBS is the world's first top-flight bank to announce losses - $3.4bn - from sub-prime related investments.

The chairman and chief executive of the bank step down. Later, banking giant Citigroup unveils a sub-prime related loss of $3.1bn. A fortnight on Citigroup is forced to write down a further $5.9bn. Within six months, its stated losses amount to $40bn.

30 October

Merrill Lynch's chief resigns after the investment bank unveils a $7.9bn exposure to bad debt.

29 November

The Bank of England reveals the number of mortgage approvals has fallen to a near three-year low.

30 November

The Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) issues the starkest warning yet of the impact of the credit crunch on the mortgage market, saying that without more funding available on financial markets, mortgage lenders will not be able to offer as many mortgages.

6 December

US President George W Bush outlines plans to help more than a million homeowners facing foreclosure.

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percentage point to 5.5%.

13 December

The US Federal Reserve co-ordinates an unprecedented action by five leading central banks around the world to offer billions of dollars in loans to banks.

The Bank of England calls it an attempt to "forestall any prospective sharp tightening of credit conditions". The move succeeds in temporarily lowering the rate at which banks lend to each other.

17 December

The central banks continue to make more funding available.

There is a $20bn auction from the US Federal Reserve and, the following day, $500bn from the European Central Bank to help commercial banks over the Christmas period.

19 December

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgrades its investment rating of a number of so-called monoline insurers, which specialise in insuring bonds. They guarantee to repay the loans if the issuer goes bust.

There is concern that insurers will not be able to pay out, forcing banks to announce another big round of losses.

9 January 2008

The World Bank predicts that global economic growth will slow in 2008, as the credit crunch hits the richest nations.

18 January

A rush to withdraw money from its commercial property funds forces Scottish Equitable to introduce delays of up to 12 months for investors wanting to take their money out.

It blames the rush of withdrawals on concerns about the US sub-prime mortgage collapse, recession worries and interest rates.

21 January

Global stock markets, including London's FTSE 100 index, suffer their biggest falls since 11 September 2001.

22 January

The US Fed cuts rates by three quarters of a percentage point to 3.5% - its biggest cut in 25 years - to try and prevent the economy from slumping into recession.

It is the first emergency cut in rates since 2001. Stock markets around the world recover the previous day's heavy losses.

31 January

A major bond insurer MBIA, announces a loss of $2.3bn - its biggest to date for a three-month period -blaming its exposure to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

7 February

US Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke adds his voice to concerns about monoline insurers, saying he is closely monitoring developments "given the adverse effects that problems of financial guarantors can have on financial markets and the economy".

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percent to 5.25%.

8 February

Some investors forgot the golden rule of financing: 'Don't buy things that you don't understand'

FSA chief executive Hector Sants, speaking on 27 February

In the UK, the latest CML figures show the number of homes repossessed in the UK rose to 27,100 in 2007, its highest level since 1999.

10 February

Leaders from the G7 group of industrialised nations say worldwide losses stemming from the collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market could reach $400bn.

17 February

After considering a number of private sector rescue proposals, including from Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the government announces that struggling Northern Rock is to be nationalised for a temporary period.

7 March

In its biggest intervention yet, the Federal Reserve makes $200bn of funds available to banks and other institutions to try to improve liquidity in the markets.

17 March

Wall Street's fifth-largest bank, Bear Stearns, is acquired by larger rival JP Morgan Chase for $240m in a deal backed by $30bn of central bank loans.

A year earlier, Bear Stearns had been worth £18bn.

28 March

Nationwide predicts UK house prices will fall by the end of the year, revising its previous forecast of no change in prices.

2 April

Moneyfacts, which monitors financial products, says 20% of mortgage products have been withdrawn from the UK market in the previous seven days.

I have a deep sense of shock at how deeply our successful industry has already been hit by these unprecedented funding market conditions

Steven Crawshaw, chairman of the Council for Mortgage Lenders, speaking on 11 April 2008

Five days later the 100% mortgage disappears when Abbey withdraws the last home loan available without a deposit.

8 April

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which oversees the global economy, warns that potential losses from the credit crunch could reach $1 trillion and may be even higher.

It says the effects are spreading from sub-prime mortgage assets to other sectors, such as commercial property, consumer credit, and company debt.

10 April

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percent to 5%.

11 April

A warning is issued by the CML that the amount of funding available for mortgages in the UK could be cut in half this year.

It calls on the Bank of England to kick-start the money markets and ease the effects of the credit crunch.

The effects of the credit crunch are likely to be broader, deeper and more protracted than previously expected

IMF global stability report, 8 April 2008

15 April

Confidence in the UK housing market falls to its lowest point in 30 years in March, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, because of the "unique liquidity blight".

But it does add that the situation is good news for buyers with large deposits who can buy property that was previously out of reach.

21 April

The Bank of England announces details of an ambitious £50bn plan designed to help credit-squeezed banks by allowing them to swap potentially risky mortgage debts for secure government bonds.

22 April

Royal Bank of Scotland announces a plan to raise money from its shareholders with a £12bn rights issue - the biggest in UK corporate history.

The firm also announces a write-down of £5.9bn on the value of its investments between April and June - the largest write-off yet for a British bank.

25 April

Persimmon becomes the first UK house builder to announce major cutbacks, citing the lack of affordable mortgages and a fall in consumer confidence.

It adds sales have fallen by a quarter since the beginning of the year.

Because of the uncertainties in the global economy and the UK lending environment, it is difficult to predict when the [housing] market will improve

House builder Persimmon

Read the full story from 25 April

29 April

The CML says the number of new mortgages approved in March slipped 44% to 64, the lowest monthly number since records began in 1999.

30 April

The first annual fall in house prices for 12 years is recorded by Nationwide.

Prices were 1% lower in April compared to a year earlier after a "steep decline" in home buying over the previous six months.

Later in the week, figures from the UK's biggest lender Halifax, show a 0.9% annual fall for April.

2 May

More than 850 companies went into administration between January and March, government figures show, a rise of 54% on the previous year. Retail and construction firms are hardest hit.

22 May

Swiss bank UBS, one of the worst affected by the credit crunch, launches a $15.5bn rights issue to cover some of the $37bn it lost on assets linked to US mortgage debt.

19 June

There are significant developments in two major credit crunch-related investigations in the US, which it is hoped will restore confidence in the credit markets.

The FBI arrests 406 people, including brokers and housing developers, as part of a crackdown on alleged mortgage frauds worth $1bn.

Separately, two former Bear Stearns workers face criminal charges related to the collapse of two hedge funds linked to sub-prime mortgages.

It is alleged they knew of the funds' problems but did not disclose them to investors, who lost a total of $1.4bn.

25 June

Barclays announces plans to raise £4.5bn in a share issue to bolster its balance sheet.

The Qatar Investment Authority, the state-owned investment arm of the Gulf state, will invest £1.7bn in the British bank, giving it a 7.7% share in the business. A number of other foreign investors increase their existing holdings.

8 July

The gloomy findings of a survey of its members prompt the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to suggest that the UK is facing a serious risk of recession within months.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 stock index briefly dips into a "bear market", in which the market suffers a 20% fall from its recent highs.

The outlook is grim and we believe that the correction period is likely to be longer and nastier than expected

British Chambers of Commerce, 18 July 2008

Read the full story

13 July

US mortgage lender IndyMac collapses - the second-biggest bank in US history to fail.

14 July

Financial authorities step in to assist America's two largest lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As owners or guarantors of $5 trillion worth of home loans, they are crucial to the US housing market and authorities agree they could not be allowed to fail.

The previous week, there had been a panic amongst investors that they might collapse, causing their share prices to plummet.

21 July

Just 8% of HBOS investors agree to take up the new shares offered in its £4bn rights issue, because they are priced higher than existing shares are trading on the stock market.

But HBOS still gets the £4bn it wanted, as the unsold new shares are bought by the issue's underwriters.

31 July

UK house prices show their biggest annual fall since the Nationwide began its housing survey in 1991, a decline of 8.1%.

The average home now costs £169,316. That is nearly £15,000 cheaper than in the same month last year.

Meanwhile, HBOS reveals that profits for the first half of the year sank 72% to £848m, while bad debts rose 36% to £1.31bn as customers failed to repay loans.

4 August

Global banking giant HSBC warned that conditions in financial markets are at their toughest "for several decades" after suffering a 28% fall in half-year profits.

Of Europe's top banks, HSBC has among the heaviest exposure to the troubled US housing and credit markets.

22 August

The bad news continues with revised figures from the ONS revealing that the UK economy is a standstill.

28 August

Nationwide reveals that UK house prices have fallen by 10.5% in a year.

A day later Bradford and Bingley posts losses of £26.7m for the first half of 2008, blaming surging mortgage arrears for a rise in impairment.

Looking ahead, it warned it expected arrears to remain at high levels for the rest of the year.

30 August

Chancellor Alistair Darling warns that the economy is facing its worst crisis for 60 years in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, saying the current downturn would be more "profound and long-lasting" than most had feared.

1 September

Official figures from the Bank of England show a slump in approved mortgages for July.

Meanwhile, while the pound falls to record lows of 81.21 pence against the euro and two-year lows of $1.80.

2 September

In an effort to kick-start the UK housing market the Treasury announces a one year rise in stamp duty exemption, from £125,000 to £175,000.

But there is more bad news, as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that the UK will be in a full blown recession by the end of the next two quarters. A day later the European central bank cuts growth forecast 2009 to 1.2% from 1.5%.

4 September

The Bank of England leaves rates on hold at 5% while the latest figures from the Halifax show that house prices in England and Wales continue to fall.

5 September

A raft of negative news from around the world sees the FTSE notch up its steepest weekly decline since July 2002.

The US labour market figures - which showed the unemployment rate rising to 6.1% - were a further jolt to investors who have had to swallow a slew of poor economic data in recent days.

6 September

The Halifax warns that the impact of the credit crunch will be felt well into 2010. Chief executive Andy Hornby explains that British banks will continue to suffer major problems in offering loans until they can raise significant sums on wholesale markets, something that will not be possible until US house prices recover.

7 September

Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - which account for nearly half of the outstanding mortgages in the US - are rescued by the US government in one of the largest bailouts in US history.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the two firms' debt levels posed a "systemic risk" to financial stability and that, without action, the situation would get worse.

At the same time, in the UK, the Nationwide announces it will merge with two smaller rivals, the Derbyshire and Cheshire Building Societies.

9 September

More bad news emerges for the UK economy as the ONS reveals manufacturing output fell by 0.2% between June and July, raising a real fear of recession.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium reports UK retail sales values fell by 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from August 2007.

On the housing front, there were more negative headlines with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors published figures showing house sales were at their lowest level for 30 years, while the CML reported that the number of first-time buyers has hit its lowest level since its survey began in January 2002.

10 September

Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers posts a loss of $3.9bn for the three months to August.

The announcement comes against a background of further dire economic warnings from the European Commission, which warned that the UK, Germany and Spain will go into recession by the end of the year.

15 September

After days of searching frantically for a buyer, Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the first major bank to collapse since the start of the credit crisis.

Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan dubs failure as "probably a once in a century type of event" and warns that other major firms will also go bust.

Meanwhile fellow US bank Merrill Lynch, also stung by the credit crunch, agreed to be taken over by Bank of America for $50bn, the latest twist in a dramatic turn of events on Wall Street.

16 September

The US Federal Reserve announces an $85bn rescue package for AIG, the country's biggest insurance company, to save it from bankruptcy. AIG gets the loan in return for an 80% public stake in the firm.

17 September

Britain's biggest mortgage lender HBOS is taken over by Lloyds TSB in a £12bn deal creating a banking giant holding close to one-third of the UK's savings and mortgage market. The deal follows a run on HBOS shares.

25 September

In the largest bank failure yet in the United States, Washington Mutual, the giant mortgage lender which had assets valued at $307bn is closed down by regulators and sold to its JPMorgan Chase.

The group was hit by mortgage defaults the collapse of the US housing market after its expansion into sub-prime lending.

28 September

The credit crunch hits Europe's banking sector as the European banking and insurance giant Fortis is partly nationalised to ensure its survival. It is seen as too big a European bank to be allowed to go under.

Authorities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg agree to pour in 11.2bn euros ($16.1bn; £8.9bn). Fortis' share price has fallen sharply amid concerns about its debts.

In the US lawmakers announce they have reached a bipartisan agreement on a rescue plan for the American financial system.

The package, to be approved by Congress, allows the Treasury to spend up to $700bn buying bad debts from ailing banks.

It will be the biggest intervention in the markets since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

29 September

In Britain the mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley is nationalised. The British government takes control of the bank's £50bn mortgages and loans, while its savings operations and branches are sold to Spain's Santander.

The Icelandic government takes control of the country's third-largest bank Glitnir after the company had faced short-term funding problems.

Wachovia, the fourth-largest US bank, is bought by its larger rival Citigroup in a rescue deal backed by the US authorities. Under the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $42bn of Wachovia losses.

The US House of Representatives rejects a $700bn rescue plan for the US financial system - sending shockwaves around the world.

It opens up new uncertainties about how banks will deal with their exposure to toxic loans and how credit markets can begin to operate more normally. Wall Street shares plunge, with the Dow Jones index slumping 7% or 770 points, a record one-day point fall.

30 September

Dexia becomes the latest European bank to be bailed out as the deepening credit crisis continues to shake the banking sector.

After all-night talks the Belgian, French and Luxembourg governments said they would put in 6.4bn euros ($9bn; £5bn) to keep it afloat.

Separately, the Irish government says it will guarantee all deposits in the country's main banks for two years.

In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the government is planning to raise the limit on guaranteed bank deposits from £35,000 to £50,000.

1 October

Stock markets stabilise ahead of a vote in the Senate, which eventually approves an amended $700bn financial rescue bill.

Market confidence that Lloyds TSB's takeover of HBOS will not be derailed by stock market volatility sees HBOS shares rise 20%.

A report says that French Finance Finister Christine Lagarde calls for an emergency EU bail-out fund for banks threatened with failure.

The EU says it is looking at whether Ireland's full guarantee of saving deposits is anti-competitive.

3 October

The US House of Representatives passes a $700bn (£394bn) government plan to rescue the US financial sector.

The 263-171 vote was the second in a week, following its shock rejection of an earlier version on Monday.

The UK's City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) raises the limit of the amount of deposits that are guaranteed should a bank go bust to £50,000.

6 October

Germany announces a 50bn euro ($68bn; £38.7bn) plan to save one of the country's biggest banks

The deal to save Hypo Real Estate, reached with private banks, is worth 15bn euros more than the first rescue attempt, which fell apart a day earlier.

World stock markets react badly to the ongoing turmoil.

The German government says it will not pass new legislation to provide extra protection for savers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's had earlier said that no German savers would lose any money. But it emerges that this was a was a political pledge, rather than one which would see it change laws on banking deposits.

However Denmark had already responded by giving a 100% guarantee on savings, while Sweden increased its protection levels.

Iceland announces part of a plan to hammer out a financial package to shore up its troubled banking sector. The country's largest banks agree to sell off some of their foreign

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oil Prices and Pirate hostage prices are coming down any connection?

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Africa:

Re: The new downturn of oil prices and pirate hostage prices any connection?

Whose holding the world hostage with escalating prices for oil and pirates of the Gulf of Aden?

Any connection here? Should the world see the real picture of how oil and piracy is being used to destabilize the world economic and security order.

Now is the time to connect the dots and see clearly for improved alternative energy and security strategy.

Pre-emption, prevention and proactive engagement at all levels is critical for our survival.

Dr B

AP October 7, 2008 Somali pirate says ransom reduced to $8 million MOGADISHU, Somalia -

A Somali pirate on a hijacked cargo ship transporting tanks reduced the ransom Tuesday to $8 million (euro5.87 million), but it was unclear if he was speaking officially for the bandits holding the Ukrainian vessel.

A man who identified himself as Jama Aden and spoke by satellite phone Tuesday is not the usual spokesman for the pirates. He answered the telephone of the spokesman, Sugule Ali, and said Ali was not immediately available.

"There are high hopes we will release the ship within hours if they pay us $8 million," Aden told The Associated Press. "The negotiations with the ship owners are going on well."

The pirates originally demanded $20 million (euro14.67 million).

Aden said a small boat was resupplying the vessel with food and qat, a narcotic leaf popular in Somalia. "The crew is doing well," he added.

Six U.S. warships are surrounding the Faina, which was hijacked late last month with 21 crew on board. Officials in Moscow say the ship's Russian captain died of a heart condition soon after the hijacking nearly two weeks ago.

A Russian frigate also is headed toward the standoff. The U.S. Navy warships have been tracking the ship amid fears its weapons might fall into the hands of al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Somalia.

The Faina's hijacking, the most high-profile this year, illustrates the ability of a handful of pirates from a failed state to menace a key international shipping lane despite the deployment of warships by global powers. More than two dozen ships have been hijacked off Somalia's coast this year.

Somalia's government has given foreign powers the freedom to use force against the pirates, raising the stakes significantly. Russia, whose warship is not expected for several days, has used commando tactics to end several hostage situations on its own soil, but hundreds of hostages have died in those efforts.

Somalia, a nation of around 8 million people, has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991 and then turned on each other. A quarter of Somali children die before age 5 and nearly every public institution has collapsed. Fighting is a daily occurrence, with violent deaths reported nearly every day.

Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaida have been battling the government and its Ethiopian allies since their combined forces pushed the Islamists from the capital in December 2006. Within weeks of being driven out, the Islamists launched an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Ahmed Jama said the government wants world powers to coordinate their approach to Somalia's insecurity.

It is not an issue "that is going to go away. There are a number of dimensions, whether it is pirates, whether it is humanitarian issues, whether it is counterterrorism," Jama said at a news conference in Kenya's capital.
_________________________ UN council calls for action against Somalia piracy
Tue 7 Oct 2008Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday urged countries with naval ships deployed around the Horn of Africa to stamp out piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The 15-nation council passed a similar resolution in June that gave countries the right to actively combat a surge in ship hijackings around Somalia for ransom. But pirates have continued to capture vessels in what is now one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

The legally-binding resolution, which the council adopted unanimously, "calls upon States interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft."

The new resolution has no time limit but otherwise differs little from the one passed in June.

Last month's capture of the Ukrainian ship MV Faina with 33 T-72 tanks aboard -- this year's most dramatic hijacking -- prompted the resolution.

Pirates have attacked scores of vessels this year, reaping millions in ransoms and pushing up insurance costs for boats traveling near the lawless country.

For the Faina and its 20-member crew, they are demanding $20 million. Other gangs are holding about a dozen ships with some 200 crew members close to the Somali coast.

South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo sharply criticized the French-drafted resolution, saying it was a stop-gap measure taken because a few major powers were annoyed with the rise in piracy. He said those powers were unwilling to deal with the root causes of the problem.

He said hijackings would continue until there was stability in Somalia. But stability would not come until the council sends peacekeepers, which it has been reluctant to do in the face of escalating violence.

"It's just an excuse to sink a few boats," Kumalo told reporters about the new resolution.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters he was in talks with countries that might offer troops to a U.N. peacekeeping mission but gave no details.

"We need to set to work on a plan for deploying a viable multinational force to help secure a peace, or at the very least sustain its people," he said.

An understaffed and struggling African Union peacekeeping mission has also urged the United Nations to take over.

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said the European Union would start planning for a joint naval force that could be ready for deployment by the end of the year.

Such a force would bolster existing efforts by French and other navies to escort World Food Program aid shipments, on which some 3.5 million Somalis are dependent, he said.

________________________ BBC October 7, 2008Hijacked tanks 'for South Sudan' Contract numbers include the initials GOSS, thought to be government of South Sudan.
Enlarge Image

The BBC has seen evidence suggesting that the Ukrainian ship being held by pirates off Somalia is carrying weapons and tanks destined for South Sudan.

A copy of the freight manifest appears to show contracts were made by Kenya on behalf of South Sudan's government.

Kenya has repeatedly said the weapons on board the MV Faina are for its army. A South Sudanese official said South Sudan had nothing to do with the tanks.

The MV Faina is currently surrounded by warships monitoring the situation.

Last week, the Somali government said the ship's owners were involved in direct negotiations with the pirates, who are demanding a $20m (£11m) ransom.

'Diplomatic embarrassment'

A copy of the MV Faina's manifest given to the BBC appears to confirm that the contract was issued on behalf of South Sudan, although the Kenyan defence ministry is named as the consignee.

Contract numbers for tanks, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns contain the initials GOSS, which military sources tell the BBC is a reference to the Government Of South Sudan.

Kenya could be seen as playing the same role as Cuba did during the Angolan civil war
Helmoed Heitman
Jane's Defence Weekly
This is an acronym commonly used in Sudan.
But Francis Nazario, head of South Sudan's mission in Brussels, said he had seen the manifest and it did not prove anything.

"What I know is that we have nothing at all to do with the content of this ship, and the ship was not heading for South Sudan," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"I think if there was anything like that we would not hide it because constitutionally we have the right to do so, to bring arms from anywhere."

The Kenyan government has not yet commented on the document but it has been presented to the defence and foreign relations committee of Kenya's parliament.

Kenya has repeatedly insisted that the shipment was part of a programme to restock its military.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says that this will be a huge embarrassment to the Kenyan government.

Although the import of military hardware is not illegal, it does put Kenya in a tight spot diplomatically, our correspondent says, not least because it was Kenya which helped broker an end to the civil war between South Sudan and the government in Khartoum in 2005.

Meanwhile, a Kenyan court has ordered the release of Andrew Mwangura, a spokesman for the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, who had been arrested after he said the tanks were bound for South Sudan.

Mr Mwangura was charged with making alarming statements and illegal possession of marijuana.

The MV Faina is currently moored off the coast of Somalia, close to the town of Hobyo. There have been conflicting reports about where its cargo was destined for since it was captured two weeks ago.

Military balance

Last week, Western military experts told the BBC that the tanks on board the MV Faina were going to Sudan and that the shipment indicated an arms race between North and South Sudan had begun.

The pirates want a $20m ransom for the MV Faina and its valuable cargo
They are reported to both be building up their forces ahead of a referendum on independence for the South in 2011.
The military experts, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a previous delivery of tanks had taken place last November.

Helmoed Heitman, Africa correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly, also said he had reports that more than 100 T-72 and T-55 Russian tanks have been received by the southern Sudanese in recent months.

"If these reports are true, they could change the regional military balance," he told the BBC.

"Kenya could be seen as playing the same role as Cuba did during the Angolan civil war - when they armed the MPLA."

The experts said the tanks would most likely be dug in along Sudan's north-south border, with the tanks using their guns to protect military installations.