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Archive for December 16th, 2008

The Chief Editor avails himself tonight to discus with the readers the recent events that led to Obama’s direct intervention on the Michelle Obama tape and Imam document

Posted by African Press International on December 16, 2008

API has gone through a process and the latest process has been a difficult one and that has resulted in a decision to meet the readers and seek advice on the final leg in the issue.

API has closed comments but has decided to enable interested posters to meet the Chief editor tonight and discus the touchy issues that has been going on around the tape and the discussions that took place in Oslo and to be continued in the US in the next few days.

The outcome of the discussions between the Chief editor and the readers on the site tonight is very critical to the decision to be taken on whether a joint press conference between Obama’s advisor and API Chief editor is to take. It is important for API to stick to its promise to make the tape public and the talks held in Oslo has impacted on what should be made public and what should be kept confidential.

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Biwott’s new party could pose serious threat to both ODM and KANU in 2012 elections

Posted by African Press International on December 16, 2008

Political Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo

Kenyans from all walks of life seemed to have wholeheartedly welcomed the newly formed National Vision Party of Kenya (NVPK}

Given his experience, enormous resources and god contact countrywide, Biwott, the former confidant of the retired President Daniel Arap MOI is the man to watch.

The partys interim leaders is no one but most influential former cabinet Minster in the previous KANU regime Nicholas Kiprono Biwott alias Kornet alias powerman

NVPK is already attracting huge following in the South Rift even long before it gained registration at the office of the Registrar of political parties and it is likely to be a double edged knife which could cut deep into the flesh of both ODM and KANU respectively if not tamed in time.

The rumour that the NVP has the blessing of the former President Daniel Arap Moi could not be confirmed or the truth establishes immediately.But it is equally important to note and to remember that Biwott at no time in his political career has ever public disagreed with Moi, his mentor.

Mois political associates believes and maintains that the self-proclaimed professor of politics in Kenya still maintains unswerving support of KANU a party which his favorite son Gideon had recently gained a position of influent only two weeks ago when the party held its AGM and filled all vacant positions.

Gideon became KANU first vice National Chairman and will be deputizing to Mr.Uhuru Kenyatta. Gideon,s latest role has placed him only one step behind the party helm.

At the same time Mois favourite and loyal political protege in Kispsigis land and the son of his lifetime political friend the late Isaack Kipkorir Solei, Mr. Nick Salat a former Bomet MP was promoted to the coveted position of the partys secretary general.

But all agreed in principles that and moved that would cut William Ruto the ODM MP for Eldoret North and ministers for Agriculture in the grand coalition could be very much feasible to Mzee Moi who is said to be increasingly worrisome of Rutos rising political star in the expansive Rift Valley Province.

Ruto is said to have defied his political mentor (Moi} persistence pleas that he (Ruto) severed links with the ODM and by extension Raila Amolo Odinga.

Mois loyalists are pleased that Nicholas Biwott heeded the former Presidents call and campaigned for his re-election as the Keiyo South KANU MP but lost to ODM. This they say ,was after the grand old man of Kenya politics had successfully brokered a peace deal between him (Biwott) and KANU national chairman Mr. Kenyatta. The relations between the two had deteriorated ever since the year 2004 when the two campaigned against each other for the position of the party national chairman ,which Kenyatta eventually won under high suspect circumstances when the party held its Dem at the Kasarani sport complex.

And thereafter Biwott who had latterly complained that his delegates were locked out and that Kenyatta had rigged the election later led a splinter group called New Kanu.

Biwott a political operator but excellence has a large following in parts of Rift Valley ,Nyanza,Western and Coast Province and given the prevailing political circumstances in the South Rift region could upset both KANU and ODM parties in 2012.

Our investigations has revealed that a host of the current MPS and the immediate former MPs who lost their seats in December 2007 especially those from the Rift Valley ,Western ,Nyanza ,Eastern and north eastern provinces are weary o f the seemingly endless squabbling in the ODM,particularly Raila Odinga political acumen and machinations.

Majority of the equally not comfortable with where Kenyatta leadership especially his latest learning towards PNU perhaps may be for the purpose of heaping to harvest votes in the Mt.Kenya region to safety his future presidential ambition.

It is true and safe to say that ever since Moi went out of power in 2002 William Ruto remain kalenjin political kingpin and its this what Moi-Biwott axis is not comfortable with NVPK, however need to spread the wing to cover all the regions of Kenya as the matter stands now its main interim officials seemed to have come mostly in the north Rift region ignoring other regions. Let the party not appear as exclusively a Kalenjin political house.

Already the United Democratic Movement is making major inroads in the same region. The party which was previously thought to be the soft landing for William Ruto in the event of a major fallout with Raila Odinga is now safely under the leadership of pro-Raila elements like the former deputy Chief of general Staff (CGS) Lt Gen (rtd) John Koech appeared to have sealed off its gate for Ruto.

Informed sources say Biwott is in good books with ODM leadership and could easily collaborate together and successfully edge out Rutos influence e in the South Rift Region.

In this region Ruto is being accused of having made appointments in the parastaatals which is in his ministerial docket in favour of the Nandi and other Kalenjins sub-tribes in the North Rift ignoring the populous Kipsigis sub-tribe, which gave the ODM a total of 9 MPs and close to 1.5 million votes in 2007.

Biwott also stand to gain in the South Rift due to the existing mutual mistrust and misunderstanding between the Kipsigis leaders and the PM Raila Odinga over the planned eviction of 20,000 families from the Mau Forest Complex by the government He only need to deployed sharp propaganda machinery to persuade the seemingly frustrated Kipsigis leaders that all will be well in the NVPK..

Non-appointments of the Kipsigis MPs to the cabinet is also partly blamed on Ruto whose ODM party had at the initial stages gave his community a row deal by appointing only the late Kipkalya Kones to the cabinet with two assistant Ministers Charles Keter (Belgut) and the late Lorna Laboso (Sotik)

Kones and Laboso jointly perished in a plane crash accident in June 2007 and thereafter the by-election were held and their seats filled by the new MPs Mrs. Beatrice Kones (Bomet) and Dr.Joyce Laboso Abonyo (Sotik) but also for no fresh appointments his being made to fill the vacant positions in the grand coalition cabinet. This is cousing a lot of panicking among the Kipsigis MPs.

The residents of the South Rift are left wondering about the President Kibakis uncalled delays in filling the vacant ministerial slots with a number of Kipsigis MPs, though the much awaited by-elections were completed in June last year.

What is obvious is that the Kipsigis community will never back KANU with where Kenyatta at the top though the party has now acquired a facelift with Gideon Moi and Nick Salat at the helm. And for KANU to regain its lost former glory. Mr. Kenyatta must relinquish its Chairmanship.

Political pundits in Kericho and Eldoret Township are of the opinion that Gideon Moi and Salat should either take over KANU leadership or join Biwott NVPK because KANU under Mr. Kenyatta leadership is now viewed as an extension of PNU.

Moi whose influence in Kenyas political life is still very enormous, said the obvious should advice his son Gideon and Nick Salat to abandon Mr. Kenyatta or else join Biwott NVPK. They are predicting that KANU under Mr. Kenyatta leadership would come out empty handed in the next general elections and even its 15 parliamentary strength will dwindle to a zero if Mr. Kenyatta continues to be its leader.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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Scientists and environmentalists say time is running out – new deal on climate change a must

Posted by African Press International on December 16, 2008

GLOBAL: Talks and more climate change talks in 2009


Photo: UNFCCC
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s role will be crucial in the talks next year

JOHANNESBURG, 15 December 2008 (IRIN) – Maldives, an archipelago off the southeastern coast of India, told the climate change conference in Poznan, Poland, that even a 2C rise in temperature would take the world into the “danger zone” of irreversible climate change.

The world’s 50 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) – some of which are among the most vulnerable to climate change – urged a limit of 1.5C temperature rise and greenhouse gas concentrations of no more than 350 parts per million (ppm), as well as 40 percent emission reductions by developed countries by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

New studies, including by eminent scientists like James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, are warning that even the 2-degree threshold may not be safe enough to avoid “global disaster”.

But was anyone listening? There was less talk of greenhouse gas emission cuts than before, andhardlyany of money to help poor countries adapt to the impact of global warming, leaving most feeling “bitter” and “sour” when the two-week conference ended on 13 December.

“It was really a missed opportunity,” remarked Antonio Hill, senior policy advisor at Oxfam, the UK-based development agency. “There is going to be a huge amount of work that needs to be done next year.”

“Irresponsible” was how Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental affairs and Tourism, described the rich countries. “Rather than coming forward with clear numbers and adopting a range for mid-term emission reduction targets in a timely manner, as previously agreed, some developed countries are still playing hide-and-seek with the climate.”

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hosted the conference, told reporters that the talks had “caused some bitterness”, but noted that “from now on, it’s for real.”

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian policy research organisation, the “rapidly worsening global financial situation” might have engendered a lack of enthusiasm among the rich countries.

“Many [delegates] were concerned about climate policy falling victim to the [financial] crisis, and even the most optimistic were expecting the crisis to have some impact on the process.”

Some conference participants “felt that uncertainty about the US position in 2009 [with Barack Obama as president] caused other countries to refrain from making significant political advances in Poznan, and few expect developing countries to make significant moves before developed countries have clarified their positions on emission reductions and financing,” the bulletin commented.

''Understandably, some participants left Poznan somewhat worried, feeling that while scientific evidence on climate change is strengthening, the “spirit of Bali” [where the last major climate change conference was held in 2007] is weakening''

So why is everyone unhappy?

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The world has until December 2009, when the next climate change summit will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a new agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, to become effective after 2012, is expected to be approved. The Poznan conference was a half-way mark to the Copenhagen Summit.

A new agreement is needed because the first commitment phase of the Kyoto Protocol – made by developed countries in 1997 to cut their discharge of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and help poor countries cut theirs – ends in 2012. Scientists and environmentalists say time is running out.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organisation and the UN Environment Programme, has suggested greenhouse gas emission cuts of between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020 to avoid a 2Celsius increase in global temperature.

An increase of this magnitude is expected to destroy 30 percent to 40 percent of all known species, generate bigger, fiercer and more frequent heat waves and droughts, and more intense weather events like floods and cyclones.

In papers published in 2008, Hansen said that if atmospheric CO2 concentrations were not kept below at least 350ppm the results could be disastrous. The current level of atmospheric CO2 is 385ppm, and could exceed 450ppm, which the world is heading for “within decades, barring prompt policy changes”.

“Business-as-usual will almost certainly cause a sea level rise of at least one to two metres by the end of the century, and quite likely five metres or more, as West Antarctica is very vulnerable,” Hansen told IRIN. The European Union has set a target of 550ppm.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin commented: “Understandably, some participants left Poznan somewhat worried, feeling that while scientific evidence on climate change is strengthening, the “spirit of Bali” [where the last major climate change conference was held in 2007] is weakening, along with the determination to fight climate change, in light of the serious economic crisis.

Adaptation Fund up but no money

As a success story from Poznan, De Boer noted that the Adaptation Fund had become operational and would be able to disburse money to countries affected by climate change from 2009. The Fund is expected to raise money from a levy of about two percent on credits generated by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the Kyoto Protocol.

The mechanism allows industrialised countries to earn trade emissions credits by implementing projects in either developed countries or developing ones, and put the credits towards meeting their greenhouse gas emission targets.

NGOs and developing countries noted that there was hardly any money to be disbursed. “There cannot be a new global climate deal without billions of dollars to pay for it all,” said Ilana Solomon from ActionAid US. “Rich countries have turned up here with their wallets empty and their purses bare.”

Van Schalkwyk noted that at Bali in 2007, “we agreed to conclude negotiations on extending the so-called share of proceeds levy on the CDM to other flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. This would have mobilised significant additional funding for adaptation in vulnerable developing countries.

“Unfortunately our negotiating partners arrived here unwilling to negotiate on this critical issue, leaving us developing countries with a sense of disillusionment. This situation does not bode well for trust-building as we enter the next phase of negotiations.

“The implication is that, though the Adaptation Fund has been fully operationalised, it is virtually empty the funding from developing countries themselves is simply not enough, given the size of the need.”

In August 2008, the developing countries put forward fresh proposals for greater sharing of clean technology, but there was no “constructive response from the developed countries”, noted Oxfam’s Hill.

“We came to Poznan well prepared with constructive and substantive proposals, ready for serious negotiations,” said Van Schalkwyk. “Many of our negotiating partners from the developed world appear to have arrived in Poznan inadequately prepared and unwilling to engage in real negotiations on the important issues.”

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin noted optimistically: “Some veterans who are more used to the ups-and-downs of international negotiating processes also suggested that Poznan’s modest outcome could be a positive thing in the larger scheme of things.

“In the words of one observer, ‘delegates needed to be reminded that success is not inevitable, and that without strong political will it is quite possible that they will fail to make the historic breakthrough needed in Copenhagen.'”

What’s next?

The work programme of the conference calls for proposals in February and a negotiating document by June; heads of state will meet in September at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

“The role of the UN Secretary-General will be crucial, working with heads of state who are committed to an ambitious agreement, including vulnerable countries,” said Oxfam’s Hill.

“If there is not significant convergence in positions by March, there will need to be a Conference of the Parties [to the UNFCCC] around mid-year, in order to finally … [bring countries on board]”

jk/he
Source.Irinnews

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In February some 40 people died in Cameroon in riots triggered in part by the high cost of living.

Posted by African Press International on December 16, 2008

CAMEROON: Boost maize production or face food crisis, local NGO warns


Photo: Reinnier Kaz/IRIN
Maize production is the main source of income for some three million small-scale farmers in Cameroon

DOUALA, 15 December 2008 (IRIN) – Still saddled with high food prices, most Cameroonians are turning to maize as the most affordable staple. But a local NGO says a combination of increasing demand and high production costs – allegedly complicated by embezzlement could trigger severe food insecurity.

A local NGO is calling on the government to help boost maize production, warning in a recent report: Cameroon will see its most grave food crisis ever in 2009 unless the country increases production by 120,000 tonnes. The figure is based on Agriculture Ministry estimations of national food needs, a ministry official confirmed.

The Citizens Association for the Defence of Collective Interests (ACIDC) said in its report: If nothing is done to hike the production of maize, the entire country will suffer further increases in the cost of living, with a strong likelihood of more food riots.

An Agriculture Ministry official is also worried. We have been calling this to the governments attention for many months now, Sikapin Paul, coordinator of the ministrys maize programme, told IRIN.

In February some 40 people died in Cameroon in riotstriggered in part by the high cost of living.

The government subsidises maize production but experts say the support falls far short of needs. Overall the government allocates 2.4 percent of the national budget to agriculture.

The most widely cultivated cereal in Cameroon, maize is consumed regularly by about 12 million people or two-thirds of the population.

The price of maize has doubled over the past year, to about 230 CFA francs (47 US cents) per kilogram.

Given that the prices of most foods have gone up, maize remains among the most affordable staples for families. I prefer to buy 2kg of maize, which is enough to make a meal for four people, rather than 500 CFA francs ($1) worth of potatoes, homemaker Damen Nicole told IRIN.

Animal feed

Maize also makes up 70 percent of feed for poultry.

The demand for animal feed shot up this year, after poultry production – which had plummeted because of a bird flu scare in 2006 – resumed in March. ACDIC said the demand for maize for poultry feed shot up 40 percent in less than a year.


Photo: Reinnier Kaz/IRIN
A man carrying a sack of maize in Cameroon’s commercial capital Douala

Some poultry farmers have had to slaughter some of their animals because they can no longer feed them. The number of chickens at my farm has gone down 30 percent, Douala-based poultry farmer Djeukeu Patrice told IRIN. With the same level of revenue I can no longer afford to feed as many as before.

ACDIC said maize was the main source of income for more than three million small-scale farmers in Cameroon. But, the group said that with the high cost of fertilisers and pesticides and the lack of modern equipment, farmers revenues from maize were meagre.

Corruption?

The fraudulent use of agricultural funds was further squeezing resources for maize producers, the local NGO charged in its report.

The group alleged that of 805 million CFA francs ($1.6 million) in subsidies for maize production, 62 percent had been misappropriated by employees of the Agriculture Ministry.

ACDIC said it investigated a list of recipients and learned that some of the groups on the list did not exist, while others received less than stated in government records. Certain civil servants in the Agriculture Ministry created fictional [cooperatives] to divert these funds, said Bernard Njonga, the ACIDC president.

The Agriculture Ministry denies the charge. These are false and offensive allegations, Sikapin told IRIN.

On 11 December security forces arrested and detained for several hours Njonga and several other activists who had marched in the capital, Yaound, to protest against corruption in the Agriculture Ministry.

rk/np/cb

source.irin

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Posted by African Press International on December 16, 2008

SENEGAL: Curbing crime through traditional wrestling


Photo: Ebrima Sillah/IRIN
Youths in training at Balla Gaye School, a centre for traditional wrestling in the Senegalese capital Dakar

DAKAR, 16 December 2008 (IRIN) – Former pickpocket Hadim Diane* spends much of his time these days in the sand wearing a loin cloth, fighting to pin down opponents in traditional wrestling matches. He recently opened a shop with his earnings from the sport.

Attending [wrestling school] has allowed me to adopt a new way of life, outside of crime, Diane told IRIN.

This is one of the stated objectives of Balla Gaye School, one of the training centres for traditional wrestling in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

The high rate of crime in many neighbourhoods of Dakar is due to the fact that most of the young people have no jobs and they are from poor families, so they are easily manipulated and influenced by their peers into crime, Balla Gaye, the schools founder and a former professional wrestler, told IRIN. And that is why we make it a priority to encourage these young people to take up wrestling.

On its website the school, created in 2002, states among its objectives: Combatting youth unemployment through sport and fighting juvenile delinquency. In recent years, after an alarming rise in crime in Dakar, the school began to focus more on engaging with unemployed youth in the capitals poor, crime-ridden suburbs.

Youths are pulled in by the chance of national glory and big money; for a match that can last just a few minutes, these days winnings can be up to US$200,000.

Diane told IRIN in his first contest in February, which lasted about three minutes, he won 250,000 CFA francs (US$520), and about 12 times that in a later bout.

Some observers are concerned that while wrestling can be a way out of delinquency and poverty for some, it should not be seen as a sustainable means of fighting youth unemployment and crime.

Wrestling cannot be a definite solution to completely eradicate crime in poor suburbs of Dakar, said Pape Idrissa Diop, who lectures in sociology at Dakars Cheikh Anta Diop university. The professional life span of wrestlers is short and more importantly not all wrestlers can be assured of having regular contests.

He said: What is needed is for the government to put in place viable and sustainable projects to address poverty and youth crime.

But promoters of the sport as a way to beat crime say there is more to the training than a get-rich-quick mentality, and that the youth benefit not only in monetary terms.


Photo: Ebrima Sillah/IRIN
Youths watch a training session at Balla Gaye School. Many say traditional wrestling can be a path out of crime and poverty for Senegal’s youth

The beauty of this scheme is that it inspires young people to be self-reliant and also serve as role models in their communities, Gaye said.

Thug-turned-traditional wrestler Diane told IRIN: At first I was sceptical about joining the wrestling academy but I realised that this is something I can do. When I contacted the management of Balla Gaye School I was accepted with open arms. He added: Looking back I regret going into crime in the first place, because there are jobs out there that one can do and earn a decent living instead of mugging people.

Impact

A police official responsible for recording criminal activity said he could not provide any crime statistics for Dakars poor suburbs to gauge the impact of the wrestling centres.

But residents of the Pikine neighbourhood of Dakar, where Balla Gaye School is located, said the institution makes a difference.

Things are changing for the better, Maget Thiam, a parent in Pikine, told IRIN. Many of those young unemployed youth who used to be part of criminal gangs are now enrolled in wrestling schools where they are training hard to become national champions.

She added: At least they have something to hold on to.

Three years ago Thiams daughter received multiple stab wounds in a mugging in Pikine.

Obsessed?

Some worry that too great a focus on wrestling feeds what they call childrens obsession with traditional wrestling, which they say can hamper their studies. Malick Thioune, a primary school teacher in Pikine, said: If you ask students who their hero is in life the majority will give you the name of a wrestling champion. This worries me because in the end the children might not take their education seriously.

Thiam also said that while helping youth develop their muscles and wrestling prowess the wrestling schools should advocate formal education.

Still, the Pikine parent added, Anything that will keep our young people from the streets is more than welcome.

*not his real name

es/np/cb

source.irin

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