Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The idiocy of religion

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with the HIV virus deliberately.

Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people".

"Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose," he alleged, refusing to name the countries. "They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century's time."

"We've been using condoms for years now, and we still find them safe," prominent Mozambican Aids activist Marcella Mahanjane told the BBC.
The UN says anti-retrovirals (ARVs) have proved very effective for treating people with Aids. The drugs are not a cure, but attack the virus on several fronts at once.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Africom - the big secret in the USA

No. 3 on the top 25 censored media stories :-

3 AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
Source: 2/21/2007 Title: “Understanding AFRICOM”Author: Bryan Hunt
Student Researcher: Ioana LupuFaculty Evaluator: Marco Calavita, Ph.D

In February 2007 the White House announced the formation of the US African Command (AFRICOM), a new unified Pentagon command center in Africa, to be established by September 2008. This military penetration of Africa is being presented as a humanitarian guard in the Global War on Terror. The real objective is, however, the procurement and control of Africa’s oil and its global delivery systems.

The most significant and growing challenge to US dominance in Africa is China. An increase in Chinese trade and investment in Africa threatens to substantially reduce US political and economic leverage in that resource-rich continent. The political implication of an economically emerging Africa in close alliance with China is resulting in a new cold war in which AFRICOM will be tasked with achieving full-spectrum military dominance over Africa.

AFRICOM will replace US military command posts in Africa, which were formerly under control of US European Command (EUCOM) and US Central Command (CENTCOM), with a more centralized and intensified US military presence.

A context for the pending strategic role of AFRICOM can be gained from observing CENTCOM in the Middle East. CENTCOM grew out of the Carter Doctrine of 1980 which described the oil flow from the Persian Gulf as a “vital interest” of the US, and affirmed that the US would employ “any means necessary, including military force” to overcome an attempt by hostile interests to block that flow.

It is in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa that the US military force is most rapidly increasing, as this area is projected to become as important a source of energy as the Middle East within the next decade. In this region, challenge to US domination and exploitation is coming from the people of Africa—most specifically in Nigeria, where seventy percent of Africa’s oil is contained.

People native to the Niger Delta region have not benefited, but instead suffered, as a result of sitting on top of vast natural oil and natural gas deposits. Nigerian people’s movements are demanding self-determination and equitable sharing of oil-receipts. Environmental and human rights activists have, for years, documented atrocities on the part of oil companies and the military in this region. As the tactics of resistance groups have shifted from petition and protest to more proactive measures, attacks on pipelines and oil facilities have curtailed the flow of oil leaving the region. As a Convergent Interests report puts it, “Within the first six months of 2006, there were nineteen attacks on foreign oil operations and over $2.187 billion lost in oil revenues; the Department of Petroleum Resources claims this figure represents 32 percent of ‘the revenue the country [Nigeria] generated this year.’

Oil companies and the Pentagon are attempting to link these resistance groups to international terror networks in order to legitimize the use of the US military to “stabilize” these areas and secure the energy flow. No evidence has been found however to link the Niger Delta resistance groups to international terror networks or jihadists. Instead the situation in the Niger Delta is that of ethnic-nationalist movements fighting, by any means necessary, toward the political objective of self-determination. The volatility surrounding oil installations in Nigeria and elsewhere in the continent is, however, used by the US security establishment to justify military “support” in African oil producing states, under the guise of helping Africans defend themselves against those who would hinder their engagement in “Free Trade.”

The December 2006 invasion of Somalia was coordinated using US bases throughout the region. The arrival of AFRICOM will effectively reinforce efforts to replace the popular Islamic Courts Union of Somalia with the oil industry–friendly Transitional Federal Government. Meanwhile, the persistent Western calls for “humanitarian intervention” into the Darfur region of Sudan sets up another possibility for military engagement to deliver regime change in another Islamic state rich in oil reserves.

Hunt warns that this sort of “support” is only bound to increase as rhetoric of stabilizing Africa makes the dailies, copied directly out of official AFRICOM press releases. Readers of the mainstream media can expect to encounter more frequent usage of terms like “genocide” and “misguided.” He notes that already corporate media decry China’s human rights record and support for Sudan and Zimbabwe while ignoring the ongoing violations of Western corporations engaged in the plunder of natural resources, the pollution other peoples’ homelands, and the “shoring up” of repressive regimes.

In FY 2005 the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative received $16 million; in FY 2006, nearly $31 million. A big increase is expected in 2008, with the administration pushing for $100 million each year for five years. With the passage of AFRICOM and continued promotion of the Global War on Terror, Congressional funding is likely to increase significantly. In the end, regardless of whether it’s US or Chinese domination over Africa, the blood spilled will be African. Hunt concludes:-

“It does not require a crystal ball or great imagination to realize what the increased militarization of the continent through AFRICOM will bring to the peoples of Africa.”

Update by Bryan Hunt

By spring 2007, US Department of Energy data showed that the United States now imports more oil from the continent of Africa than from the country of Saudi Arabia. While this statistic may be of surprise to the majority, provided such information even crosses their radar, it’s certainly not the case for those figures who have been pushing for increased US military engagement on that continent for some time now, as my report documented. These import levels will rise.

In the first few months following the official announcement of AFRICOM, details are still few. It’s expected that the combatant command will be operational as a subunit of EUCOM by October 2007, transitioning to a full-fledged stand-alone command some twelve months later. This will most likely entail the re-locating of AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany, where EUCOM is headquartered, to an African host country.

In April, US officials were traversing the continent to present their sales pitch for AFRICOM and to gauge official and public reaction. Initial perceptions are, not surprisingly, negative and highly suspect, given the history of US military involvement throughout the world, and Africa’s long and bitter experience with colonizers.

Outside of a select audience, reaction in the United States has barely even registered. First of all, Africa is one of the least-covered continents in US media. And when African nations do draw media attention, coverage typically centers on catastrophe, conflict, or corruption, and generally features some form of benevolent foreign intervention, be it financial and humanitarian aid, or stern official posturing couched as paternal concerns over human rights. But US military activity on the continent largely goes unnoticed. This was recently evidenced by the sparse reporting on military support for the invasion of Somalia to rout the Islamic Courts Union and reinstall the unpopular warlords who had earlier divided up the country. The Pentagon went so far as to declare the operation a blueprint for future engagements.

The DOD states that a primary component of AFRICOM’s mission will be to professionalize indigenous militaries to ensure stability, security, and accountable governance throughout Africa’s various states and regions. Stability refers to establishing and maintaining order, and accountability, of course, refers to US interests. This year alone, 1,400 African military officers are anticipated to complete International Military Education and Training programs at US military schools.

Combine this tasking of militarization with an increased civilian component in AFRICOM emphasizing imported conceptions of “democracy promotion” and “capacity-building” and African autonomy and sovereignty are quick to suffer. Kenyans, for example, are currently finding themselves in this position.It is hoped that, by drawing attention to the growing US footprint on Africa now, a contextual awareness of these issues can be useful to, at the very least, help mitigate some of the damages that will surely follow. At the moment, there is little public consciousness of AFRICOM and very few sources of information outside of official narratives. Widening the public dialogue on this topic is the first step toward addressing meaningful responses.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kenyan Corruption

Socialist Banner notes the self-aggrandisement of the politicians in Kenya to award themselves a financial bonus . They have voted to award themselves a $22,000 bonus each at the end of their five-year term . Kenya's 222 MPs already earn more than $10,000 a month in salaries and expenses, much of which is tax-free, in a country where most people live on less than $1 a day. To rub salt into the wound these MPs had the gall to have originally wanted a bonus of $98,000 each but the finance minister declined to cooperate .

We are , of course , not surprised since thay are after all primary representatives of the master class and naturally each MP aspires to join the ranks of their capitalist masters .

While looking out for their own mercenary futures , the MPs also watched their backs and barred the investigation of corruption cases which occurred before 2004.

The move to pardon corruption cases which happened before 2004 effectively stops any investigations or attempts to recover funds looted in the multi-million dollar Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing scandals.

Recently a report was found to have been suppressed that alleged that £1 billion was corruptly syphoned off by family and friends of the previous Moi government . The 110-page report by international risk consultants Kroll details assets still allegedly owned by the Moi family and their entourage in 28 countries, including hotels and residences in South Africa and the United States, a 10,000-hectare ranch in Australia, three hotels in London, a £4 million house in Surrey, and a £2 million penthouse flat in Knightsbridge. It claims the Moi family laundered $400 million through a complex web of accounts in Kenya, Geneva and Frankfurt. It also alleged that they and a handful of associates own a bank in Belgium that was used to launder money from Kenya and uncovered a web of secret bank accounts, shell companies and dummy trusts registered in tax havens, including the Cayman Islands. Moi’s sons, Philip and Gideon, were reported to be worth £384m and £550m respectively.

Unless the Kenyan people join together with the peoples of all nations and take control of their own destinies , we fear that one discreditable elite will only be replaced by another as equally disreputable bunch of self-serving parliamentary parasites.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Millenium Goals

The United Nations agreed a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, with a view to tackling global poverty. Now, half-way to that deadline, the UN has produced a report showing how progress in meeting the goals .

Sub-Saharan Africa still trails behind other regions, with only 70% of children attending school.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest child mortality rate at 166 per 1,000, with Aids likely to be a major contributing factor.

In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman's risk of dying from complications during childbirth in her lifetime is 1 in 16, compared with 1 in 3,800 in the developed world. Many of these deaths could be prevented by access to skilled healthcare staff.

Deaths from Aids are still increasing in sub-Saharan Africa. By the end of 2006, 39.5 million people across the world were living with HIV, many in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to Aids treatment remains patchy, particularly in Africa.

Efforts to combat malaria and tuberculosis are making progress, although sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind in both.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the absolute number of people without access to sanitation has actually increased.

Foreign aid to the least developed countries has, in effect, stalled since 2003 - despite the G8 agreement at the 2005 Gleneagles summit to double aid to Africa by 2010.

The number of people living on less than $1 a day fell , sub-Saharan Africa having made less progress.

In Malawi , Director for the UN Millennium Campaign, Salil Shetty, addressing a press briefing in Lilongwe said Malawi is among countries with the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.Shetty also bemoaned lack of progress on issues of human rights and status of women in the country.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

African poverty

From the latest International Labour Organization report :-

Percentage of population who earn less than $2 a day

Uganda (2002) 95.7
Nigeria (2003) 92.3
Tanzania (2000) 90.2
Rwanda (2000) 87.8
Madagascar (2001) 85.1
Zambia (2004) 84.9
Nicaragua (2001) 81.6
Swaziland (2000) 77.7
Ethiopia (2000) 76.6

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Further to our previous report on South Africa we have now veterans of the anti - apartheid movement making comparisons of present-day South Africa with "Bantustans" .

From a Fort Hare University seminar

Poet and activist Professor Dennis Brutus , who worked in the same chain gang with Mandela on Robben Island, labelled the country’s new elite “Bantustanis”.

The country met three conditions to qualify as such an entity:

“You set up a bunch of leaders who become your political stooges;
You have large reserves of cheap labour; and
You create your own elite who are beneficiaries of the system.”

Brutus continued by saying that the majority of South Africans were living under worse conditions than those experienced during apartheid. “The whole process of transformation is meaningless,” he said.

Outspoken East London doctor Costa Gazi, sitting in the audience, said “Our government is acting like a Bantustan government because they are protecting the rights of the privileged.”