The madness of Robert Mugabe
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|Polls Suggest Close Race Between Obama, McCain|
| By Jim Malone |
20 June 2008
Recent public opinion polls in the U.S. presidential race give Democrat Barack Obama a lead over Republican John McCain. But the lead is less than expected given some Democratic advantages this election year. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
|Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama listens during a meeting of Democratic Governors at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, 20 June 2008|
|Republican presidential candidate John McCain addresses the Economic Club of Canada, in Ottawa, Canada, 20 June 2008|
Rwanda: World Getting Smaller for Genocide Suspects
The Nation (Nairobi)
20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008
In just a spell of five months since the year begun, three of Rwanda's genocide fugitives have been arrested, some four who have been hiding in the United Kingdom (UK) under false identities are awaiting extradition to Rwanda and one has voluntarily handed himself over to the authorities.
On Tuesday, four Rwandan army officers accused of crimes committed while battling the 1994 genocide were charged in a Rwandan military court.
After a decade of reluctance to point the finger at army officers, seen by many as heroes, Rwanda showed her commitment to bring justice to all those found to have committed any kind of crimes during the genocide.
The officers would be tried in courts of law for killing 13 clergymen.
The trend of events in the past few months clearly indicates that as the Internationals Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) begins to work on its exit plan in the next six months, the world in which genocide criminals are living in is getting smaller and smaller.
Just a week ago, a British court made a landmark ruling that gave a positive nod to Rwanda's request to extradite genocide fugitives back to their motherland.
Judges of the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London backed this request to allow the transfer of four Rwandans wanted in Kigali on charges of inciting mass murder in the course of the genocide.
The four including a former powerful local government official are: Dr Vincent Bajinya, Mr Charles Munyaneza, Mr Celestin Ugirashebuja and Mr Emmanuel Nteziryayo. They have been fighting this extradition request in the British courts of law since their arrest in December 2006.
According to the designated judge, Anthony Evans, despite the fact that Rwanda has no extradition treaty with the UK, the British Extradition Act 2003 gives the British Secretary of State powers to issue a transfer certificate if he believes the right transfer arrangements have been made between the two countries.
The ruling would mean that all genocide fugitives intending to use the UK to seek refuge will no longer find it a safe haven for hiding their criminal past.
Mr Evans' ruling said: "Apart from the logistical and practical ditties of bringing witnesses both prosecution and (the) defence from Rwanda, it is the correct course of action for the trials to take place in Rwanda."
This ruling also came just a few days after France, in a surprise move decided to deport Mr Dominique Ntawukuriryayo another genocide suspect to the ICTR in Tanzania.
Mr Ntawukuriryayo had comfortably lived in the town of Carcassonne since 1999. France in the past, has been found to be protective of genocide fugitives.
The biggest fish still at large is Félicien Kabuga, alleged to be the financier of the genocide.
Meanwhile, as the the ICTR runs out of time, the tribunal's prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow last week asked the UN Security Council to extend the tribunal's mandate beyond December 2008 to allow the tracking team to get to those still in hiding and also allow completion of 28 cases still in progress.
Refugees have often been victims of rape
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war.
The document describes the deliberate use of rape as a tactic in war and a threat to international security.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said violence against women had reached "unspeakable proportions" in some societies recovering from conflict.
The UN is also setting up an inquiry to report next June on how widespread the practice is and how to tackle it.
Human rights groups hailed the resolution as historic.
The BBC's Laura Trevelyan said China, Russia, Indonesia and Vietnam had all expressed reservations during the negotiations, asking whether rape was really a matter for the security council.
But the US-sponsored resolution was adopted unanimously by the 15-member council.
It's a very effective weapon, because the communities are totally destroyed
Maj Gen Patrick Cammaert
Former UN peacekeeper
It described sexual violence as "a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group".
The document said that the violence "can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security".
During the debate in the council, Mr Ban said: "Responding to this silent war against women and girls requires leadership at the national level."
"National authorities need to take the initiative to build comprehensive strategies while the UN needs to help build capacity and support national authorities and civil societies," he added.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the world now recognised that sexual violence profoundly affected not only the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability of their nations.
Other speakers identified the former Yugoslavia, Sudan's Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Liberia as regions where deliberate sexual violence had occurred on a mass scale.
The former commander of the UN peacekeeping force in eastern Congo, Maj Gen Patrick Cammaert, told the BBC he had personally witnessed its impact.
"It's a very effective weapon, because the communities are totally destroyed," he said.
"You destroy communities. You punish the men, and you punish the women, doing it in front of the men."
In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, some 40 women are raped every day, our correspondent says.
Sometimes women are even raped by peacekeepers who are supposed to be protecting them, she adds.The question is whether those in conflict zones who use rape in war will be at all deterred by the new measures, she say
Sophie Marceau tells Benjamin Secher about her new role as a spy in an era that is still taboo in France
'I feel like an old man," says Sophie Marceau, flashing the kind of disarming smile that makes old men feel young again, "or like an ancient turtle that's been in this world for 300 years."
It certainly feels as if an age has passed since Marceau, the daughter of a truck driver and a shopkeeper, first stormed French cinemas as the pretty, pouting, 13-year-old star of Pinoteau's 1980 teen hit La Boum (The Party).
In the years since, she has appeared in more than 30 films - from blockbusters such as Braveheart and Bond to the kind of art-house curios that few people see - and even directed a couple of her own features. She has also written an autobiographical novel, had two children (with different fathers), and been voted by the male readers of Paris Match the woman with whom they would most like to have an extramarital affair.
Yet somehow, even after all that, the dark-haired French woman sitting in front of me today, her legs tucked childishly beneath her on the sofa, looks like someone barely touched by life, and far younger than her 41 years. When she talks, she moves - puffing her fringe off her high forehead in faux exasperation, or clapping her hands to punctuate a joke. "I'm not a theoretical person," she says. "I like to touch things, to experience things with my body. That is why I act, because it's physical; it's like having a fever. It can really plunge you into terrible things".
For her latest role, in Female Agents, Marceau is plunged into things rather more terrible than most: as the leader of a gang of female spies sent into occupied France during the Second World War, she is shot at, imprisoned, betrayed, tortured, and her husband is killed. Inspired by the true story of the women employed by the Special Operations Executive to serve undercover during the war, Jean-Paul Salomé's gripping film suggests you don't have to be male to be a hero and that, used cunningly, lingerie and lipstick can be as deadly as any weapon.
Refreshingly, the film allows most of its beautiful stars to stand alone as strong, independent women, resisting the temptation to pair them off with dashing beaux. "Well, there is not much time for romance when you are fighting to survive," says Marceau, "although love can help with that too, by the way."
Essentially a rollicking adventure, Female Agents nevertheless prods at an uncomfortable question that continues to haunt the French, more than 60 years after war ended: who resisted and who collaborated? "It still hasn't been spoken about properly in France," says Marceau. "If people - or their families - collaborated, they don't tell you, they keep silent. And I think that has nourished a kind of complex. The French are weird sometimes: they can be a real pain in the ass."
In Female Agents, for the first time in her career, the former child star was the most senior actress on set. "I felt like the boss," she says, "and I loved it." Her youngest co-star - the formidable 21-year-old Déborah François - wasn't even born when the teenage Sophie Maupu landed the lead role in La Boum and renamed herself after the Parisian avenue she drove down on her way to sign the contract. "I think unconsciously I was a very determined child," she says, "but if you had asked me what I was determined about, I wouldn't have known. I didn't really know what I was looking for.
"When you start working that young, a lot of stuff happens that can be really damaging. You become a famous person, a public person, when really you are still just a kid that is not finished yet. You can be reshaped like clay, before you have even worked out who you are."
At the age of 18, in what looked like a bid for shelter and stability, she embarked on a relationship with Andrzej Zulawski, a Polish auteur 24 years her senior, and withdrew to his house in the Polish countryside. "That [relationship] was one of the main choices of my life," says Marceau. "It was not as entertaining as being a teenager and having friends and all that stuff, but I thought I had to protect myself so I isolated myself a little bit."
Their pairing - which Marceau now recognises as being "a little bit Pygmalion" - provoked a stir, not least when he cast her in a film as a teenage prostitute. But they remained together for 17 years and, in 1995, Marceau gave birth to their son. Seven years later she had a daughter, to Jim Lemley (an American who helped produce Marceau's Anna Karenina) and she has now settled with Christopher Lambert, the Highlander star, whom she directed in her last film.
Her career to date has been a little hit and miss, but the fact that she has scarcely been seen on screens outside France in recent years seems not to bother her. "I'm terrible with my career," she admits. "It's my own fault: I hardly ever call my agent. But then I've already achieved more than I ever thought I would."
There is an appealing ease about Marceau's manner, a lack of the kind of neurosis that drives so many actors. "I feel more comfortable being myself in this world than I used to," she says. "It's good to get older: everything gets easier."
What really happened
The French director Jean-Paul Salomé was inspired to make Female Agents after reading an obituary of Lise Villemeur, the second woman to be parachuted into occupied France by the Special Operations Executive. After landing in the Loire valley on the night of September 24 1942, Villemeur assumed a false identity ("Odile") and installed herself in a flat in Poitiers from which she ran a safe house for agents.
She later told of the precariousness of this time, how every minute was spent "trying not to do the wrong thing". She became adept at talking her way out of sticky situations. One day she returned to her room to find a German soldier sitting on her parachute-silk sleeping bag.
On another occasion, she cycled back from Paris to Normandy, a journey of three days, during which she had to sleep in roadside ditches. In 1945, Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, head of the SOE's French section, described her as "a very courageous, very diplomatic woman [who] played a large role in the liberation".
"Oh no," she would counter when asked about her heroism, "I am just an ordinary person." She died on March 28 2004, aged 98.
East African leaders set to hold summit in Rwanda next week
|www.chinaview.cn 2008-06-21 16:36:40|
NAIROBI, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from the East African region are due to meet in Kigali, Rwanda, for the ninth summit of the regional economic bloc next week.
A statement from the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat said on Saturday that the five Presidents -- Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete ofTanzania, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi will attend the Jun 26 summit meeting.
During the summit, the EAC leaders will receive a progress report of the council of ministers of the EAC on the activities of the regional economic bloc undertaken over the past year period.
The statement said the regional leaders will also review the overall program of the EAC in the period ahead of the implementation of the 3rd EAC Development Strategy (2006-2010) and also make appointments of new Judges of the East African Court of Justice.
"The Heads of State Summit will be immediately followed by a Summit Retreat which will focus on the development of regional infrastructure which the EAC has prioritized in its program," the statement said.
The regional council of ministers has adopted plans of action which will be discussed at the Summit Retreat in Kigali, examining in depth the infrastructure deficits in the region and determining the ways and means to address the deficits expeditiously.
"The plans of action encompass modernization, extension and development of railways and road networks, lake transport on Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, ports and harbors, civil aviation, telecommunications and energy," the statement said.
Ivorian BCC Chiefs Arrested on Cocoa Fraud Charges
Abidjan, June 19 - Police in Ivory Coast arrested top officials of the Coffee and Cocoa Bourse (BCC) marketing body on Thursday in a widening crackdown on fraud in the cocoa sector, court and police sources said.
The West African country is the world's top cocoa grower, producing more than a third of world supply.
BCC President Lucien Tape Do and Managing Director Tano Kassi Kadio were arrested on Thursday morning, a day after two other leading cocoa sector officials were arrested.
The four are among 23 leaders of Ivorian cocoa and coffee industry bodies facing charges in an anti-graft investigation ordered by President Laurent Gbagbo.
The investigation followed allegations in the local media of the embezzlement of more than 100 billion CFA francs ($236 million) meant to help develop the sector, whose murky finances have become even less transparent since a 2002/03 civil war.
"Tape Do was arrested a few minutes ago over the accusations contained in the chief public prosecutor's report. He was questioned briefly by the investigating judge who then had him arrested," a court source told Reuters.
Shortly afterwards, the same source said Kadio had also been arrested. Police said the pair would be transferred to the main jail in the commercial capital Abidjan.
Henri Kassi Amouzou, head of the Fund for the Development and Promotion of the Activities of Cocoa and Coffee Producers (FDPCC), and the fund's Director General Theophile Kouassi were already at the jail after being arrested on Wednesday.
Gbagbo, who is widely expected to seek another term in post-war elections on Nov. 30, told Reuters last week the investigation would lead to prosecutions and jail terms for those found guilty.
Since years before the war started, foreign donors have complained about reports of corruption in the cocoa sector administration, which levies hefty charges on each kilogram of cocoa exported.
Cocoa smuggling is rife on the borders of Ivory Coast and foreign diplomats and analysts say Gbagbo's government has been slow to tackle persistent reports of corruption.
A joint World Bank and International Monetary Fund mission to the former French colony in 2006 called for more transparency on how revenues from the cocoa sector are spent.
Farmers' representatives have repeatedly called for the leaders of the cocoa industry bodies to be replaced and have staged numerous strikes and demonstrations in past months, some of which have temporarily disrupted cocoa exports.
Ivory Coast liberalised its cocoa sector in 2000, ending a system of guaranteed prices and scrapping the state-run Caistab which controlled the sector, but leaving in place a system of agencies and subsidies to promote and regulate production.
Ivory Coast usually produces more than 1 million tonnes of cocoa beans a year and cocoa accounts for around 40 percent of export revenue and around 15 percent of gross domestic product.
By SETH SUTEL – 1 hour ago
NEW YORK (AP) — A news discussion site and The Associated Press have resolved a dispute over an AP demand that the site remove some of the news agency's content.
In a statement Friday, Rogers Cadenhead said he is "glad" the dispute over his site, the Drudge Retort, has ended. He said a larger conflict remains between AP's view of acceptable use of its content and the practices of many bloggers. Cadenhead declined to comment further, referring all questions to his attorney.
An AP statement Thursday night said the company had provided additional information to Cadenhead about posting its material online, and both sides considered the matter closed. It also said the AP was having a "constructive exchange" with a "number of interested parties in the blogging community" about the relationship between bloggers and news providers, and intended to continue the dialogue.
Earlier this month the AP sent a legal notice ordering Cadenhead to take down seven entries on the Drudge Retort, his takeoff on the Drudge Report. The news agency said the postings were violating the AP's copyright.
Cadenhead highlighted the disagreement in his personal blog, http://www.Cadenhead.org, and prominent bloggers rallied behind him, saying the posts in question were protected under the "fair use" provision of copyright law. That allows quotation of copyright material for commentary and certain other purposes without asking permission.
In response, the AP said it was working to develop guidelines for what it considered permissible use of its content by bloggers.
Cadenhead said in his blog post that he wouldn't reveal details of his discussion with AP attorneys about their specific objections to the blog entries until the AP releases guidance for online use of its content.
The AP's plan for such guidelines was met with new criticism from some bloggers, who said it was an attempt by the AP to create its own legal definition of what constitutes "fair use" of copyright material. AP has said it had no intention of trying to define a legal standard, and will seek to protect AP content without discouraging bloggers from legitimately quoting from it.
"I think it would be helpful for bloggers and users of social news sites to know what the AP believes to be fair use of their copyrighted work," said Cadenhead's lawyer, Wade Duchene. "I hope that any guidelines that are issued are not interpreted as an agreed definition of fair use" under copyright law, he added.
Duchene said he expected disputes between news organizations and bloggers over permissible use of copyright material online to continue, but he also said he was "hopeful that future disagreements can be handled in a less confrontational manner."
AP spokesman Paul Colford declined to elaborate on the news cooperative's statement.
AP is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by its member news organizations.
June 20, 2008
His Excellency Symphorien Mutombo Bakafua Nsenda
Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of Congo
c/o Embassy of the DRC to the United States
1800 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Via facsimile: (202) 234-2609
Dear Mr. Nsenda,
We are deeply alarmed by the ongoing imprisonment of newspaper editor Nsimba Ponte and his assistant Davin Tondo. A government prosecutor said this week that their months-long pre-trial detention was illegal, and yet the two have been denied bail and were not charged until June 6, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED). In addition, Ponte is in poor health.
Ponte and Tondo were detained for questioning at the Congolese National Intelligence Agency after plainclothes security agents picked them up, respectively on March 7 and on March 29, according to local journalists. The two were held incommunicado for several weeks by state security agents—without charge or access to a lawyer—in violation of their fundamental constitutional rights.
We are concerned about Ponte's health. He has been diagnosed with symptoms of meningitis and stomach ulcers and referred to specialized medical care, according to an official medical certificate issued by a prison doctor on June 9 and obtained by CPJ. Ponte, 57, reported headaches and fainting twice while in state custody, according to Ponte. Speaking to CPJ via telephone from prison this week, Ponte said he was being held in a cell with some 20 other inmates.
Ponte, managing editor of the biweekly L'interprète, and assistant Davin Tondo were formally charged on June 6 with spreading false rumors, threatening state security, and offending the head of state in connection with a series of political articles, according to defense lawyer Godefroid Kabongo. The November 30, 2006, edition of L'interprète included stories critical of President Joseph Kabila's leadership while several articles in the February 29 edition discussed Kabila's health, according to CPJ research.
As an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting our colleagues worldwide, we call on you to use the mandate of your office to uphold the rule of law and respect fundamental human rights to ensure the two men have access to adequate medical care and a fair and transparent judicial process. We believe that the ongoing detention of these journalists under the circumstances is a setback for the government's stated commitment to judicial reform.
A Human Rights Assessment report released by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in DRC found that "violations of the 48-hour constitutional period for keeping detainees in a holding cell are systematic." In 2005-2006 for instance, newspaper editors Jean-Marie Kanku of L'Alerte and Patrice Booto of Le Journal and Pool Malebo were also abducted by state security agents in Kinshasa, held incommunicado for days and weeks, and subsequently charged for stories critical of the government, according to CPJ research. We urge you now to use your influence to end DRC's longstanding pattern of extrajudicial arrests and unconstitutional detention of journalists.
Earlier this year, reporter Maurice Kayombo of the Kinshasa monthly Les Grands Enjeux spent 34 days in jail on criminal charges after he sought out comment from a mining official who faced allegations of corruption. The charges were eventually thrown out. We ask that you to put an end to the arbitrary imprisonment and criminal prosecutions of critical journalists and work to end impunity for officials and security forces responsible for these arbitrary arrests. Such practices run counter to the country's transition to democracy.Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your reply.
Congo-Kinshasa: South Kivu - Monuc Sensitizes New Fardc Integrated Brigades in Luberizi
20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008
In collaboration with UN agencies and the Congolese government, MONUC began a week long sensitization campaign on June 19, 2008 in Luberizi camp (60km north of Uvira), for the new FARDC integrated brigades as part of their training course. Nearly 1,800 soldiers will be educated in issues such as child protection, human rights, sexual violence and the role of military justice.
The training lies not only within MONUC's mandate of support to the reform of the security sector in the DRC, but as part of the new zero tolerance campaign on the recruitment of children into armed groups, which Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, launched last week.
The first day was devoted to child protection training. A delegation from MONUC's Bukavu office came to support MONUC Uvira to sensitise some 1,800 FARDC soldiers.
MONUC Uvira child protection officer Rashin Kanu explained the applicable legal texts in the DRC relating to the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups. He also explained the laws on sexual violence in the DRC and the rights of the child in the DRC constitution.
Other subjects included Security Council resolution 1612 on children associated with armed groups, the competence of military justice in this field and the laws against any form of torture.
These new brigades commenced a 12 week professional training course, and the training of the integrated brigades in Luberizi is ensured by the Pakistani Blue Helmets On the whole, 27 soldiers, including 15 officers, ensure the training of the FARDC troops which includes courses in military tactics, weapons handling, logistics and professional ethics.
This will contribute to improving the behaviour of the FARDC, often accused by the international community of not respecting human rights, of recruiting children and using rape as a weapon of war.
Upon completion of training, these new troops will become part of the14th and 15th Divisions under the authority of the 10th military region. They will be deployed in South Kivu to contribute to the reestablishment of state authority, in an area preyed upon by Congolese and foreign armed groups.
All journalists wishing to attend this hearing are kindly required to confirm their attendance by email to PublicAffairs.Unit@icc-cpi.int.
The courtroom proceedings can also be followed on the ICC website at:
- English: http://livestream.xs4all.nl/icc1.asx
- French: http://livestream.xs4all.nl/icc2.asx
Please note that there will be a 30-minute delay in transmission of the public hearing.
The hearing schedule may be modified by Chambers at any time, therefore please regularly consult the hearing schedule on the ICC website.
N.B. All hours noted refer to local time in The Hague.
SOURCE : International Criminal Court (ICC)
Congo-Kinshasa: Drcongo - New Polio Threat Prompts Mass Vaccination Campaign
20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008
Seven million children in nine of the 11 provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being vaccinated against polio, a disease thought to have been eradicated in the vast country.
"Provinces the Congo river crosses are the most threatened and the river is the epicentre of the disease," said UN World Health Programme spokesman Eugene Kabambi.
DRC Health Minister Makwenge Kaput said the polio threat came from the neighbouring Central African Republic.
"As the epidemiological situation evolves in the central African region with the reappearance of the wild polio virus, the virus has entered several health zones and propagated in Equateur and Orientale provinces," he said.
The only unaffected provinces in the country are Kasai Oriental and Kasai Occidental.
Kabambi said 56 new cases of polio had been recorded since 2006. According to the Health Ministry, no cases of polio were recorded at all between 2000 and 2005. Since January 2008, two cases have appeared, one in a camp for displaced people in Rutshuru, in North Kivu, the other in Oriental Province.
The campaign, which began on 19 June, targets children up to the age of five, the age group worst affected by polio. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, according to the WHO.