African Press International (API)

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Archive for November 29th, 2008

Having your say: Will the Michelle Obama tape be aired anytime soon?

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Strong feelings has risen due to the Michelle Obama tape and the Imam document on Mr Obama. The way the situation has been handled by API since the Michelle tape story broke out has made the readersto be divided in two groups. Those who believe the tape will be released and those who do not. All kinds of assurances by API has made no difference in the situation.

The two groups have different agendas. Those who would like to see Obama not getting inaugurated on the 20th of January 2009 as the US President and those who would like to ensure, by whatever meansObama takes theoath of office on that day.

API’s job is tobring news and stories to the readers and do notengage in activities that may be seen andconcludedas taking sides. API’s tape is not supposed to raise tempers amongst the American people, causing the people of the only powerful nation in the world to hate one another.

API has a dilemma to deal with and will do so bravelyfor the sake of press freedom, after receiving55,519 emails discussing the significance of the tape and what it might do to the country if the timing of the release of the tapeis not well calculated.

As much as API wants to release the now “Golden Tape”, we do not wish to be connected with any riots, if any, after we tell the truth to the world and the Americans in Particular.

We are no longer struggling to convince people of the existence of the tape, – they have to believe or not believe. We are no longer using our energy to be concerned withAPI’s credibility or no-credibility. But we are concerned onwhat to do to get to the finishing line in what we started on the 15th of October, and yet we will not accept to be swayed by any party dictated by self interest or political gain in their efforts to make API do the regrettable – things that may connect us to civil disobedience of any kind.

API will now contact a number of people who have been actively involved in this from the start and agree with them on how to salvage the situation and come to a close.

We seek advise also from any one willing to give us advise today because we will sit down in the next few hours and make a final decision. Concerned readers may send to us advise by sending a direct mail to the Chief Editor usingthis personal mail address below, and while doing so, put yourself in our shoesconcerning the security because we know things will change in our lives dramatically, after the tape is aired, an act that will definitely force us to re-sought to some underground safety measures.

korir@getmail.no

Tell the Chief Editor what you think must be done now. We seek for specific advise.

We will also be able to post comments later tonight and discus our way forward to the final countdown.

Appearing before a hearing in Congress.

The reason we come to the readers for advice is because word has come that it may become necessary to be summoned to appear before a Congress hearing. Our fear is to accept such a hearing in Washington and then we put our lives in direct danger. API will insist to be heard in a secret location, but we may face a problem if it is not accepted. We may stand weak because we do not know how the American laws are practised as concerns hearings by Non-America citizens.

We expect open-hearted advice from our readers who have so much shown interest in the developments of this Michelle Obama tape-situation.

Chief Editor Korir – API

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How Barack Obama met Chicago poet/union activist Davis

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

November 29, 2008

The Dream Begins: How Hawai’i Shaped Barack Obama is the first book to explore President-elect Barack Obama’s friendship with Chicago union organizer-poet Frank Marshall Davis.

In 1948, Davis, an African American, and his wife, a white Chicago socialite named Helen Canfield Davis, visited Hawaii on a tip from Paul Robeson. They stayed the rest of their lives. Davis had been an editor with the Associated Negro Press in Chicago and wrote for the Gary (Ind.) American. In Hawaii, he became a champion of ethnic union workers while living in “The Waikiki Jungle” — a cluster of dense housing near the Diamond Head end of Waikiki.

“Barry’s grandfather brought him here to see Davis,” author Stu Glauberman says during a drive through the neighborhood.

Davis was an ally of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that was organizing Hawaii’s plantations and docks.

API/Source.ChicagosunTimes

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Europe: Russia praises US on Nato

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Russia’s president has welcomed a decision by the US government against speeding up Nato membership to Georgia and Ukraine, two former Soviet republics.
Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday he was “satisfied [that] common sense prevailed” in Washington’s decision not to fast-track Tblisi and Kiev through the membership process of the Western military alliance.

Whatever the reasons, European pressure or whatever else, the main thing is that they [Washington] no longer push ahead with their previous ferociousness and senselessness,” he said in Havana, where he held talks with Cuban leaders.
Thecomments came a day after Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, decided not to offer Georgia and Ukraine a formal roadmap to join Nato.

Washington led a push for the alliance to allow them in through a so-called Membership Action Plan, or MAP.

Britain has proposed investigating other ways to bring them into the alliance, Rice says.

Cuba visit

Moscow strongly opposes giving Nato membership to Georgia and Ukraine, saying that Russia’s security would be threatened if the two neighbours join the alliance.

Medvedev was in Havana to discuss energy, military and trade deals, having already visited Venezuela, itself a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Raul Castro, Cuba’s president, and Medvedev held talks on the global financial crisis and economic and military ties.

“We have a systematic dialogue. Our relations have been generally good, but in the past six months they have become especially intense,” Medvedev told reporters after meeting with Castro.

Medvedev is the first Russian leader to visit Havana since Vladimir Putin, then president, closed down Russia’s Lourdes intelligence base in 2001.

The closure of the base led to a souring of relations between the countries and the visit by Medvedev appears aimed at improving the bilateral relationship.

New markets

While Havana is looking diversify its trading partnerships, Russia is thought to be looking for new markets so that it can ride out the worldwide financial crisis.

The trip to the Cuban capital comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s war with Georgia in August and US plans for a missile defence shield.

Moscow has said that Washington should abandon its economic embargo of Cuba, which was imposed in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro took power in an armed revolution.

Havana received economic and military support from Moscow during the Cold War but the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union badly damaged Cuba’s economy.

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API/Source.aljazeera

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Middle East: Livni calls on Olmert to step down

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, has called on Ehud Olmert, the actingprime minister, to stand down immediately due to corruption charges.
Livni made the call on Thursday after authorities announced that they would press charges against Olmert.

“The prime minister has to take a leave of absence, there’s no other choice,” Livni said at a meeting of theruling Kadima party in the Tel Aviv satellite town of Petah Tikva.
“Israel cannot tolerate a situation where he is acting as prime minister after a decision to indict him. This is a moral test, this is a question of values and a practical test.”

Israel’s attorney general wants to try Olmert for alleged double billing of Jewish groups for trips abroad.

Olmert said in July that he would step down as prime minister and not contest parliamentary elections scheduled for February, to fight corruption allegations. He is currently head of a caretaker government

However, Livni has said that he should not wait untillthe electionsto resign.

His exit would allow Livni to become acting prime minister until the elections.

Livni became leader of the Kadima party in September after an internal election.

But she was unable togather support of enoughlegislators to forma new ruling coalition, prompting February’s early vote.

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API/Source.aljazeera

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Asia-Pacific: Maid abuse draws 18-year sentence

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

maid-abuse<Nirmala’s abuse four years ago is theworst-ever reported case in the country [AFP][AFP]A Malaysian mother of four has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for abusing herIndonesian domestic worker.

Judge Akhtar Tahir sentenced Yim Pek Ha, 40, on Thursday after she was found guilty of inflicting horrific wounds on Nirmala Bonat, who was working forher in a Kuala Lumpur condominium in 2004.

“Nirmala Bonat has been consistent in her statements that her lady boss injured her, from the time she was found by a security guard,” said the judge when passing the sentence.

Yim, a former flight attendant, was charged on three counts of causing injury to Nirmala, and had faced prison sentences of up to 20 years on each count.

Nirmala, who was then 19, suffered severe burns and bruises over much of her body after Yim repeatedly pressed a hot iron on her back and breasts and scalded her with boiling water in the worst-ever case of maid abuse reported in the country.

‘Sadistic behaviour’

Rejecting Yim’s defence that the injuries were self-inflicted, the judgesaid he wanted to impose a “deterrent sentence” to show that “sadistic behaviour cannot be tolerated in civil society”.

“This will serve as a deterrent to future cases”Eka Suripto, Indonesian diplomat in Kuala Lumpur

Jagjit Singh, Yim’s lawyer, said hewouldappeal against the sentence which he described as “excessive” because there was “no loss of life, no disfigurement, no scars”.

The case sparked national outrage that focused attention on the plight of migrant domestic workers following photographs published in Malaysian newspapers in 2004 of Nirmala’sinjuries.

Nirmala said she was beaten and burned for mistakes she made during her five months in Yim’s home.

She said that on one occasion her employer took a hot iron and pressed it against her breasts after complaining that clothes had not been properly ironed.

Nirmala has since left Malaysia.

maids
Abuse of Indonesian maids in Malaysia have sparked protests in Jakarta [EPA]

Indonesia, which has asked Malaysia to do more to protect its workers in the country, said it was pleased with the ruling.

“This will serve as a deterrent to future cases,” said Eka Suripto, an Indonesian diplomat in Kuala Lumpur.

Indonesian diplomats say at least 1,500 maids seek help at their offices across Malaysia each year, most of them complaining of unpaid wages but some reporting physicalabuse.

Nirmala’s plight even drew the attention of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, and led to street protests outside the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta.

Malaysia is home to up to two million foreign workers, mostly Indonesians who often take up jobs as domestic helpers, construction workers and plantation labourers.

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API/Source.aljazeera

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Asia: Japan to end air mission in Iraq

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Japan has announced that it will end its air support for US-led coalition forces in Iraq by the end of the year because the mission had achieved its goal.

Taro Aso, the prime minister, said the national security council issued the order, which was anticipated for months, because there was progress in Iraq’s security situation and its move towards democracy.
“Iraq has demonstrated a steady effort to install a democratic government and the country’s security has improved while the Iraqi people are now making their own effort to rebuild their country,” he said in a statement.

Japan has airlifted equipment and troops since 2006 from Kuwait to Iraq, including Baghdad, in support of the US-led forces.

Aso said that Japan will continue economic aid and technology support to Iraq.

The UN Security Council resolution authorising the presence of US troops in Iraq expires later this year.

Iraq is also reviewing the activities of multinational forces in the country.

Debating role

Japan is now debating whether to continue its anti-terrorism maritime mission in the Indian Ocean, which also expires in December.

The refuelling mission began in 2001 to support US-led forces in Afghanistan but Japan had to suspend it late last year after the political opposition blocked its extension in parliament.

The Iraq and Afghan missions have tested the limits of Japan’s pacifist constitution and divided public opinion.

Critics oppose them as a violation of the nation’s charter written in 1947 by the US, which bans Japan from engaging in warfare.

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API/Source.aljazeeraEng

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Africa: Somali pirates seize another tanker

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Somali pirateshave seizedanother shipin the Gulf of Aden, despite increased foreignpresence in the region.
Five pirates on fishing boats attacked a Liberia-flagged Biscaglia tankerand boarded the vessel witha ladder, Jean-Marc LeQuilliec,commander of a nearby French frigate, said on Friday.

Three crew members were fished out of the water by a German navy helicopter afterthey jumped overboard to escape the pirates.
The French frigate was escorting anothertanker andhad attracted at least 17 shipsin its wake seeking protection but the Liberian tanker had stayed onits course.

Undeterredpirates

The piratesfreed a Greek freighter on Friday, leaving17 ships still in their hands despiteforeign warships stepping up their efforts tofight the piracy.

The pirates are still holding the giant Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star which they hijacked on November 15. A ransom of$25 million has been demanded by Sunday to free the vessel.

Undeterred by international actions since thesuper-tanker was captured, the pirates have continued to roamSomalia’s waters and beyond, seizing half a dozen ships over thepast two weeks.

With European, US and other navy ships rushing to the IndianOcean and Gulf of Aden, international shipping companies are hopingsafety can be guaranteedon the shortest route between Asia and Europe.

A detour via the Cape of GoodHope adds at least three weeks and significant extra costs for the shipping industry.

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API/Source.aljazeeraEng

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Africa: UN says Zimbabwe cholera spreading

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Cholera has killed 389 people in Zimbabwe to date and the disease is also spreading into neighbouring Botswana and South Africa, the United Nations says.
A total of 9,463 cases have been recorded in the impoverished southern African country, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday.

OCHA warned of an “alarming regional dimension” and said the health ministries of South Africa and Zimbabwe were working on co-ordination efforts together with the World Health Organisation.
“The rapid deterioration of the health service delivery system in Zimbabwe, the lack of adequate water supply, and lack of capacity to disposesolid waste and repair sewage blockages in most areas will continue to contribute to the escalation and spread of the outbreak,” Elisabeth Byrs, the OCHA spokeswoman, said.

UN efforts

UN humanitarian agencies are working on the ground to ensure the delivery of medical supplies, clean drinking water and water purification kits.

Byrs said that basic hygiene kits comprising a bucket or jerry can, soap and water treatment tablets have been distributed to at least 4,000 households in the capital Harare.

Veronique Taveau, a Unicef spokeswoman, said that unlike previous outbreaks that mainly hit rural areas, the current epidemic is affecting densely-populated urban centres, “which leads to its rapid expansion and makes it harder to fight against the disease”.

South Africa has reported seven cholera deaths over the last two weeks, all Zimbabweans or people whorecently came from the country.

Phuti Seloba, health department spokesman in the South African border town of Musina, said that dozens of cholera patients from Zimbabwe enter the country every day.

South African health authorities have set up five cholera treatment centres along the border to handle the influx, he added.

Zimbabwe belatedly changed its tune on Thursday and asked for international help to fight the outbreak after long insisting that the situation was under control.

“With the coming of the rainy season, the situation could get worse,” Edwin Muguti, deputy health minister, said.

“Our problems are quite simple. We need to be assisted.”

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API/Source.aljazeeraEng

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Indian troops end Mumbai siege – Terrorism in the rise

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

Indian commandos have killed the last remaining gunman at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel, ending the siege there and bringing to a close an ordeal that started with a series of attacks acrossthe city three days ago.
Indian officials said on Saturday that all of the attackers had now been killed or captured, about 59 hours after the attacks began.

“All [combat] operations are over,” Hasan Gafoor, Mumbai’s police chief, said.
Officials said that 195 people had been killed in the attacks. They included141 civilians, 22 of whom were foreigners.

Other reports put the death toll at over 200 and there were concerns that it could further rise as emergency services combedthe rooms at the Taj Mahal hotel for more bodies.

Twenty policemen were killed in the attacks,that also left another 295 people injured, officials said.

Taj siege

Indian commando units emerged from the smoke-filled Taj hotel and firemen moved in to douse a fierce blaze on Saturday morning.

Sniffer dogs were later taken into the hotel as security forces made a final sweep through the rooms of the building.

James Bays, Al Jazeera’s correspondent at the scene, said some Indian news journalists had been allowed into the hotel amid the clean-up operations.

“The media have been allowed a lot closer to the hotel to see what has gone on here. When you look up close you can really see the kind of battle that has taken place here. You can see glass on the ground, bullet holes … parts of the hotel are burnt out,” he said.

The Mumbai attacks began on Wednesday night, when armed men attacked 10 locations around the city, later taking hostages at the Taj Mahal and Trident-Oberoi hotels and at a Jewish centre at the Nariman House.

Special forces ended the sieges at the Nariman House and the Trident-Oberoi hotel late on Friday.

At the Trident-Oberoi hotel, commandosfound 24 bodies after gaining control of the building, while the bodies ofseveral hostages, including the rabbi who ran the Jewish centre, were recovered from Nariman House.

Commandos were said to have rescued a total of 610 people from the three siege locations.

Indians mourned the dead and began cremating those who lost their lives. Thousands turned up at the funeral of Hemant Karkare, Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad chief, who was killed in the attacks.

Attacker captured

There was speculation about how many attackers had taken part in the deadly, co-ordinated attacks across India’s financial capital.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, state chief minister for Maharashtra, said that there were 10 attackers.

“Nine were killed and one was captured,” he said. “We are interrogating him.”

There was speculation that the attacks had been carried out by two co-ordinated groups.

One group entered Mumbai by boat, while others were believed to have rented property in the city, stockpiling arms and explosives, before the attacks were launched.

A previously unknowngroup calling itself the Deccan Mujahidin had claimed responsibility for the attacks, suggesting the origins of the attacks were from inside India.

But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman was from Pakistan, hinting at a possible cross-border link.

R R Patil, Deshmukh’s deputy, identified the captured attacker as Mohammad Ajmal Qasam, a Pakistani national, and said that the attackers had sophisticated equipment and used “GPS, mobile and satellite phones to communicate”.

He also said: “They were constantly in touch with a foreign country,” but refused to give further details.

‘Pakistan role’

The Indian media, citing unidentified police investigators, reported that three alleged attackers had confessed to being members of Lashkar-e-Tiyaba, a Pakistan-based group which aims to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Tiyaba had earlier denied any role in the attacks.

In a speech on Thursday, Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, blamed “external forces”, a phrase sometimes used to refer to Pakistan-based fighters.

For its part, Pakistan has condemned the attacks and said it will fully co-operate with an Indian investigation.

However, Islamabad has abandoned its earlier decision to send the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] directorate to India.

“A spokesman of the Prime Minister’s House has said that a representative of ISI will visit India instead of the Director General of the ISI to help in investigating the Mumbai terrorism incident,” a government statement, released on Saturday, said.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, vowed the “strictest” action if Pakistani involvement was shown but warned India against any “over-reaction” following the attacks.

“Let me assure you that if any evidence points to any individual or any group in this part of the world, I shall take the strictest of action in the light of this evidence and in front of the world,” Zardari said in an interview with Indian CNN-IBN television.

“Whoever is responsible for the brutal and crude act against the Indian people and India are looking for reaction. We have to rise above them and make sure ourselves, yourself and [the] world community guard against over-reaction.”

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API/Source.aljazeeraEng

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