All Things Must Fight to Live

War correspondent Bryan Mealer tells a dark tale of his time in Congo.

By Jina Moore | August 9, 2008 edition

All Things Must Fight to Live By Bryan Mealer Bloomsbury 320 pp. $24.99

In Congo brutality seems to be everywhere: history, war, politics; in the landscape and the poverty and the desperate chug of locals' day-to-day lives. It's difficult to know whether this vision is about the country itself, or the way foreigners have chosen, since Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," to imagine it.

In his first book, Bryan Mealer sets himself the impossible task of giving us a different choice. On assignment for news agencies, and then as an independent adventurer ferrying the Congo River and riding its repaired rails, he tries to find the Congo we haven't seen. In All Things Must Fight to Live, he opts, rather bravely, to chronicle his failure.

His determination takes him to a small town in eastern Congo beset with ethnic violence emblematic of Congo's larger war and, later, to the streets of Kinshasa. There death is so routine that he and a colleague make a pact: " 'If you wait, I'll wait,' we'd say, just to finish our food like normal people … repeat[ing] our sacred news-grunt mantra: 'If we don't file, it doesn't exist.' "

Mealer is sensitive to this and other powers of being a white foreigner, and he's unashamed of sharing those moments in which he misunderstands that power. When random killings become a nighttime norm in Kinshasa, Mealer's housekeeper asks for an advance to buy a television.

"I refused again and again, hating the idea of his family not eating for weeks because Kasango wanted to watch TV."

Only later did he learn that Kasango's daughter hiked two miles each night to watch TV at a friend's. "Buying the television was Kasango's way of keeping her safe at home."

War-correspondent memoirs rely heavily on heroic storytelling tropes; Mealer's willingness to depart from that standard and to self-deprecate, to fear, to appear helpless or just flat-out wrong, puts him clearly on the side of the people he's writing about.

Though it's hardly a criticism to be leveled by anyone who hasn't worked, as Mealer has, in the literal crossfire, it somehow disappoints that we hardly get as close to the Congolese as we do to him. For example, Mealer explains the complicated politics and history of the country as it rumbles toward its first democratic elections.

But we never hear Congolese citizens telling us what they think their vote might mean for their country.
Even expats who aren't intimately involved in the action of the moment are overlooked.

When Mealer and his photographer are trapped by election-day violence in a building in Kinshasa, the photographer's wife calls repeatedly over several days, each time reporting the worsening of the violence near their home.

After the last call, Mealer writes, "He was thinking what we were all thinking. Tonight the gunboys would get drunk and go marauding through the neighborhood … just as we'd always written about."

But he never tells us whether she survived the siege or how (we infer her survival from the epilogue) – an oversight which makes raising the specter of rape seem somehow cruel.

If the nature of his work limits the kinds of story he might tell, Mealer's talent for detail, deftly rendered, lifts his material toward the sublime. Gun battles and city sackings can sound blearily similar, but Mealer slips in images that surprise: "Everywhere you looked," he writes of one battle-scarred town, "there were empty sandals."

These are the true gems of Mealer's book, the moments when he reaches over the razor wire and through the clichés to offer a way of imagining Congo's tragedy that can only come from someone who's thrown himself so thoroughly into the place: "So much copper was bulging under the surface in Katanga that the earth actually glowed from space."

Later, on his train trip through the countryside, he recalls that families were "laid to rest without ceremony in hand-dug graves along the trail, and the dead who are buried like this do not glow like the fields of copper."

One wishes for more of this, even if it means less of Mealer and the expat circles that surround his work. Then again, this may be precisely the point.

For more than a hundred years, Congo has been the object of white outsiders: first the Belgians, then the United Nations, and always the countless foreign diplomats or aid workers or reporters trying to make sense of it all. "People are now saying … 'Bring back the white man because we can't do it ourselves,'" Fabien Mutomb, a local leader, tells Mealer.

His book suggests the white man can't, either. From the bungled UN interventions he witnesses to his own failures as a reporter and an adventurer, Mealer chronicles the defeat of the well-intentioned, and the loss of the optimism which took him there in the first place.

"There is no more dream in this country, no more ambition," Mutomb tells him. "The dream is dead."

Jina Moore is a freelance journalist in Rwanda.

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Report Warns of Oil Supply Crunch

08 August 2008

Maphosa report - Download (MP3) audio clip
Maphosa report - Listen (MP3) audio clip

A new report warns of a serious oil supply crisis that could push prices above $200 a barrel unless there is a dramatic drop in demand.  As we hear from Tendai Maphosa in London, a British "think tank," Chatham House, predicts that a "supply crunch" could impact global markets in the next five to 10 years.

Oil refinery
Oil refinery
The report blames inadequate investment by international oil companies and oil producing nations for the projected shortfall in supply.

Chatham House's Paul Stevens, who wrote the report, says while there is plenty of oil in the ground, companies and governments are failing to invest enough to ensure production.

He adds that oil firms prefer to return profits to shareholders rather than reinvest them in more production capacity.

"For the international oil companies they are effectively in thrall to their shareholders and in order to keep their shareholders happy they have to increase dividends, they have to push the share price up by buying back their own shares and this effectively represents a flowing out of funds from the investment pot for the industry," he said.

Stevens says what he calls "resource nationalism" adds to the problem, explaining that some countries exclude international oil companies from coming in and helping increase production capacity.

He adds that the OPEC oil cartel's failure since 2005 to achieve its planned capacity expansion goals will contribute to the supply shortfall.

Prices at a gas station on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, 23 May 2008
Prices at a gas station on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, 23 May 2008
Oil prices have risen sharply recently. Last month U.S. crude hit a record of more than $147 a barrel. Prices have since eased back to about $120.

Stevens says barring a deep recession that would cut demand or a dramatic change in energy policy, not much can be done to avert the projected shortage.

"There's very little that can be done because of the lead times," he said. "For example, in July President Bush announced that he was going to remove the restriction on exploration on the U.S. outer continental shelf. Even if that happened tomorrow it would be eight to 10 years before the first barrels were coming on shore because of the long lead times involved in the projects so in the short run there is little that can be done."

Suggestions in Stevens' report include allowing OPEC to join the International Energy Authority's emergency sharing plan.

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Chinese Attacker Kills 1 American, Injures Another in Beijing

09 August 2008

Ho report - Download (MP3) audio clip
Ho report - Listen (MP3) audio clip

A Chinese man attacked two American tourists in Beijing, killing one and seriously injuring the other, before taking his own life.  Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.          

The U.S. Olympic Committee's Darryl Seibel says the American couple and their Chinese tour guide were attacked Saturday while sightseeing in Beijing.

Chinese policeman (L) takes pictures of crime site on Drum Tower in Beijing, 09 Aug 2008<br />
Chinese policeman (L) takes pictures of crime site on Drum Tower in Beijing, 09 Aug 2008
"They were at the Drum Tower. They were stabbed in the attack. And shortly after the attack, the assailant took his own life. That's really the extent of what I know about the attack itself," explained Seibel.

The attacker was 47-year-old Tang Yongming, a man the U.S. Embassy in Beijing says was from the eastern province of Zhejiang.

The stabbing occurred on the very high second level of the Drum Tower, which is only accessible by a steep stairway. Afterwards, Tang committed suicide by jumping off the monument.

Official Chinese media give no motive for the attack. Attacks on foreigners in China are very rare. And security in Beijing has been especially tight because of the Olympics, which opened Friday.

The U.S. Olympic Committee's Seibel says the victims were family members of a coach for the U.S. Olympic men's indoor volleyball team. But he says he does not believe they were specifically targeted.

"My understanding is that the individuals who were attacked were not wearing apparel that obviously or automatically identified them as members of the United States delegation or in any way connected them to the United States delegation," said Seibel.

He says the U.S. Olympic Committee is in touch with Chinese and U.S. authorities about the case.

President Bush, who is in Beijing to attend the Olympics opening ceremony and several sporting events, expressed his condolences.

"Laura and I were also saddened by an attack on an American family and their Chinese tour guide today in Beijing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," he said.

The U.S. Olympic men's indoor volleyball team plays its first match Sunday.

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Two witchdoctors promised to provide magic concoction with ground albino organs
Daily News; Saturday,August 09, 2008 @20:02
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  • Mushi: Did the idea to cover why albinos are killed originate from you?

    Ntetema: On 17th December 2007 after filing my report to BBC World Service that since September it was feared that four albinos had been brutally murdered and also that one body was exhumed and limbs chopped off, I knew it was a serious problem which needed some form of investigation. My focus was on two areas: Who was responsible for these grisly murders? What is being done to stop it? But the 19th victim in March 2008 and the inaction of law enforcers even after the endless pleas by Tanzania Albino Society to protect the albino community and the arrests of the killers made me stop everything and start the investigation into the murders. How can anybody keep quiet after listening to a statement like this one here below from an albino?

    Christopher Dandendekye: "Even if the police would take up the case and arrest the culprits, it won't help. It will be just like pruning the trees but the roots are still intact. So what we are saying is that we want to ensure that the root is destroyed. We have to identify the witchdoctor who has evidence that albino body parts can bring wealth. And if this proves to be true, and bearing in mind that the economy of this country is poor, then we the albinos will sacrifice ourselves in order for our fellow Tanzanians to get rich."

    Q: How did you prepare yourself before leaving for Mwanza and Shinyanga?

    A: It was a difficult job just like looking for a needle in a haystack. Four things gave me a hint on where to start. Firstly, looking at the compass - north was the Lake Victoria Zone where most murders were committed and Mwanza had the highest number of these atrocities. Secondly, the main occupations in these areas are farming, livestock keeping, fishing and mining. The last two seem to be associated with the superstitious beliefs. The message from the witchdoctors is that one could prosper if albino body parts are mixed with a special magic potion. Thirdly, statistics show that Mwanza region has the highest number of witchdoctors with at least 3,000 registered sangomas of all types. And fourthly, I had come across a man called Shilinde, 41, who had confessed in a Sengerema Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania that he had been a wizard since he was three and that he had killed his first victim his contemporary aged eight in Magu. He said he was living in Gambusi Kuzimu (sometimes known as Gambosi or Gambushi) where he could not go back because his fellow sorcerers and witches are angry with following his first church repentance. But Shinyanga was a bonus for me. Accompanied by my host Osoro Nyawangah, a Magu freelance journalist and George Komba, a trustworthy Mwanza taxi driver I was going from one village to another looking for notorious voodoo men and women in Gambusi Kuzimu. In Magu I was told that the Gambusi Kuzimu had vanished many years ago, but if I wanted to see it, the heavies in the witchcraft could give me some medicine which will lead me into the village which Shilinde who wants to be called Daniel now says they have all professionals, all means of transport and everything you would find in a modern city. I was intrigued. But there is a limit to everything and I had to draw the line there. My task was to find the witchdoctors who are pedalling albino killings and NOT looking for the city of wizardry.

    However, not satisfied with day one of my investigation, and driving on my companions and I found ourselves in Gambusi village – the ordinary rural community with ordinary human beings but with a very famous witchdoctor (name withheld). There was a promising catch here! But then that was Bariadi in Shinyanga Region.

    Q: Was it difficult to get relevant sources to help you in your work?

    A: This was not a major task. Sources ranged from local government police, religious and traditional leaders, fellow reporters, victims' families and the general public. Would it surprise you if I said the speech by President Jakaya Kikwete when he condemned albino killings and ordered a crackdown of witchdoctors, their clients and hired killers? Here is what he said in March: "Experience shows that those who are being killed for witchcraft beliefs are elderly women who are accused of bewitching people and killing others. Such murders are deeply rooted in the Lake Zone in Mara, Mwanza, Shinyanga and even Tabora regions. They are carried out by a group of hired gangs and those who have been instructed by witchdoctors after tarot reading or fortune-telling… that their relatives are sick or have died because these old women have bewitched them. And the victims' families decide to take revenge against those who have bee named by the witchdoctors.

    "Some of the killings are instigated by superstitious beliefs that one can be a very successful businessman or woman and also in mining or fishing activities if they use human organs in their rituals. Others even believe that if one puts a child's arm when producing local alcoholic brew then the beer will be sold like hot cakes at a pub. This is ABSOLUTE RUBBISH!"

    Q: How many were A: I was the only one who faced the music in the witchdoctors' huts and taking you in the investigation?

    All the craps from these juju men and women. But I was accompanied by Osoro Nyawangah, the Magu freelance journalist and Mwanza taxi driver George Komba. They were waiting for me outside giving me assurance that they can raise the alarm in case of emergency or if I am harmed by the witchdoctors. At least they will explain what might have happened to me. The car was there ready for a quick gateway.

    On my second trip, the BBC TV Crew of three was there but did not get close to the witchdoctors. I had to do both the secret audio and film recording and for both our Radio and television programmes.

    Q: Did the witch-doctors discover or sensed your mission as you were conducting investigation?

    A: None of the ten of witchdoctors I visited from Sengerema, Bariadi, Magu. Lamadi to Nasa realized who I was and why I was there. I thank not only my stars but Almighty God. I have heard how ruthless some of them are when they are cornered. However, I think two of them were restless and declined from conducting the fortune telling and were quick to condemn albino killings. One of them, a lady, said as I was leaving her compound and this was after the second visit, "You are investigators, aren't you?" And another time when I thought I was about to be caught red-handed with my recorder was when my handbag fell as I was taking consultations fees from my purse. Phew, that was a close shave!

    Q: Can you explain the surroundings (house/environment) of these witch doctors?

    A: You will easily recognise the witchdoctors' compounds by the structure of their tiny round huts made of mud or sticks and grass or dry rice stalks and corn stems or reeds with thatched roofs. Most compounds are fenced with green sticky plants known as Minyaa or Minyala or jatropha trees.

    There are apache type miniature structures made of sticks and tied together with forest ropes at the front and back entrance and also in the middle of the complex. The apex of each structure is adorned with either animal horns or sea cowries. Many of them have grain barns and animal pens. They are always full of people whether they are patients, clients or what the witchdoctors call 'medicine children' (these are people who continue to work there for the witchdoctors after failing to pay for their treatment or services rendered to them). In urban areas witchdoctors live and operate in concrete or oven-baked bricked modern houses with corrugated iron roofs. But they will still have a compound with those tiny traditional huts.

    Q: Do (witches) take albinos as human beings?

    A: I do not think that these witchdoctors, wizards and witches have any regard for any human beings. Why would they ask their clients to bring albino organs if they valued other people's lives? After talking to some of them, as long as they get their money the life of any other human being is immaterial.

    Q: Can you explain your encounter with the witch doctors and what they wanted from you?

    A: Posing as a businesswoman interested in getting rich in the fishing and mining trade, I presented my case to the witchdoctors. The consultations included talking to a hedge and telling my problems to a chicken regarded as intermediaries between the witchdoctor, their ancestors and the spirits, or "jinns".

    They used old German and English coins with holes in the middle, cowry shells, pebbles, nails, nuts and bolts, screws, crosses with the little figure representing Jesus, and beads which they would shake in a red or white cloth and throw on the ground, while incense burned from all around. One by one was scrutinised and the sangomas told me what they meant. Some of them said that my parents and their ancestors were praying for me.

    Others said that I was being bewitched by my aunt who had six daughters. (In reality my only aunt who died in early 1990s had two sons). One juju woman told me that the Sukumas were blocking my progress. Another witchdoctor said that I my two close friends who live and eat with me in the same house were bewitching me. Another one said that I am being harmed by relatives who quarrelled with me in the past.

    I had to spit on a tiny chicken's head, back, tail and on my hand. It was then slaughtered, skinned and the investigation started. In other cases sticky green stems or old money notes are put between pages from the Koran. Then the witchdoctors would speak in Arabic and the local Sukuma language and translate or use an interpreter to get the message through to me. I presented the same case to all of them and got different solutions. The consultation fee ranged from $20 to $100 per session. All of them gave me different suggestions of who my enemies were - not by name but by description, but no one was able to reveal my true identity and mission.

    Things we do for investigative journalism! Never in my life had it occurred to me that I would one day be sitting in front of a witchdoctor. Coming from a religious family, it was unimaginable to approach or even go near the compound of such people. I met a registered traditional healer who uses African herbs to cure ailments in Magu in Magu district and the much praised hub of wizardry. This man condemned the way "conmen and foreign witchdoctors" lured locals into trusting them, before hiring murders to organise raids on homes of albinos just after sunset.

    Two witchdoctors promised to get me a magic concoction mixed with ground albino organs. The starting price was $2,000 for the vital organs. Another boasted that the police were among his customers and that he could make a special potion mixed with ground male and female private parts to enable people to commit armed robbery without being caught. The encounter with witchdoctor number three was in a village called Gambusi, the most feared area in the region. The compound had about eight huts around the outside, with a more elaborate structure in the middle. A forty something man in a white T-Shirt and khaki trousers with a mobile phone on his belt laughed at me when I told him that I did not come with the chicken. He demanded $2 for a tiny three-week-old chicken and $3 for the fortune-telling. He asked for $200 for the consultations and said I should spend two nights there before completing the process.

    But when I told him that I had only $30 he told me spend two nights there for half the treatment. I declined and he told me to go away and return when I had the full amount. When I went back with other BBC colleagues, his nephew was there to receive me. He had been groomed to inherit his father's throne which his uncle was warming for him. He said he knew what I wanted and said he would find me albino blood, hair, leg and palms for $2,000. I was charged me $55 for the initial consultations and asked me to return with the rest of the money.

    In Lamadi a tiny rural town which lies at the junction of the roads leading to Kenya and Uganda the witchdoctor charged me $100 for the first session and said that in August he would give me the magic potion with albino and other human organs for a price. He said that I was one day late as the vital organs have gone to another witchdoctor for a client in Bariadi. While I was there, a man came for a consultation - the witchdoctor said he was a police officer but he was wearing civilian clothes. He was made to wait until my session was over. I later was informed that the policeman told the witchdoctor that I was involved in a special investigation operation. That is when the threats started.

    Q: Were you shocked or pyschologically affected during the interviews?

    A: Shock cannot even begin to describe the situation I found myself in during and after the interviews. Grieving parents, relatives and friends, scared and frightened albinos, graves built with concrete, stones and metal bars within days of the burial, mutilated bodies of innocent albinos, including infants, charred bodies of suspected wizards, … the plea to be protected by of people like Winifrida Rutatiro and her six year old son after the murder of his brother in Misungwi, and the sobs of the mother of the late Wazia murdered on her way from school and who is worried about her other albino daughter going to the same school in Sengerema, the little girl in a Geita hospital who is not only maimed by her attackers who left with one of her legs but also very scared that they may come back for her … the brother of the murdered ten year old Rebecca who lives in hiding after murderers massacred the whole family when they tried to defend her… and then the laughter of witchdoctors when talking about the price of albino organs, and the mention of the police collaborating with the sangomas who would stop at nothing when it comes to looking for riches, inefficiency of some police quarters or failure to act promptly on information provided by victims or their families... These are the images that cannot be erased in my memory. But that is part and parcel of our job as journalists.

    Q: How much did it cost you to accomplish your mission?

    A: This is the most difficult question of all. Let me see, I need to count all the pennies: mobile phone top up vouchers, tickets car hire, accommodation, meals, hospitality for hosts, fixers, victims' families, secret audio and visual recording equipment, tapes, batteries, cables, internet access fees, fixer fees, fist aid kit, my replacement, time, psychological and physical pain endured in the course of duty, production, transmission, etc, etc…What about the anxiety that my family went through when I was away and also denying them that quality time they deserve? It is not easy to put a figure on the cost of my mission. A successful outcome is more valuable than the amount of shillings and cents spent on this trip.

    Q: You have been receiving death threats. Do you think your life is in danger after that job?

    A: I would not say death threats because no one said they were going to kill me. But I received a total of four phone calls with chilling messages such as, "What have you done now? We thought you were our genuine client! Watch your back!" And sometimes I got anonymous callers saying nothing on the line. Consider the following: I have stepped on people's toes… I have denied some witchdoctors their only means of generating income putting them out of service… I have audio evidence which states that some police officers are involved in witchdoctors' criminal activities,… I have exposed some of the illegal dealings and operations of the juju men and women including albino killings,… some Tanzanians depend on these sangomas for riches, treatment, bewitching
    others, and fortune telling,…. Some families may feel that they are humiliated by my report because their parents, spouses, siblings and relatives have been exposed and could be brought to book,... etc. The list is long and after receiving the scary phone calls don't you think that my life is in danger? But also experience shows that when journalists are successful results from their investigative reports, they may face threats and sometimes are attacked. My colleagues from the MwanaHalisi paper have scars to show that although investigative journalism is what the media should embark on if we are to bring about change in Tanzania, be it good governance, accountability, a corrupt-free government and society, peace and harmony or protecting human rights, there are those selfish few who would always oppose the progress in order to protect their interests. These are the enemies of the people of Tanzania and not adversaries of journalists.

    Q: Have you informed security organs about your threats and what has been their reaction?

    A: As soon as I came back from the villages, I briefed all relevant authorities at the regional level before even the BBC report went on air. I am disappointed to say that the police dragged their feet. But once the matter reached the national level, namely the DPP and the DCI, I am impressed with the speed at which operations have been conducted. They have assured me that no harm will come to me and they will ensure that those witchdoctors who feature in the investigation and their accomplices will be dealt with in accordance with the law without infringing their rights. They have also told me that their doors are open.

    Q: Will threats retard your efforts to do other kinds of investigative journalism?

    A: I would like to shout on top of my voice, "NO, [UTF-8?]NEVER!" I am even more determined now than ever.

    Q: Whom would YOU like to thank explicitly for what your have achieved in your work?

    A: I would like to thank God the Almighty who gave me the courage and protection throughout the trip, the albino community whose tears touched me and made be embark of this dangerous journey without fear, my editors in London who believed in me and gave me all the moral, financial and technical support, my colleagues at the Dar es Salaam office for their encouragement, my family and my mother who supported me and prayed for me, my Osoro and George who accompanied me to remote villages, and all BBC listeners. What I want to stress here is team effort and spirit are the key to a successful investigative journalism. One cannot work alone even if they originated the idea.

    Q: Do you think good financial resource for a journalist is an essential component in doing investigative journalism?

    A: Of course one has to be well prepared financially, morally and technically. But money should not hinder one from making a proposal to their media houses or editors indicating the intention and outcome of the investigation. I believe that professional editors will always support their journalists when the issue to be investigated is of benefit to the society. Sometimes it is worth exploring who else (in the print and electronic media can benefit from your story) will be interest in a joint venture so that you share the costs.

    Q: Any advice that you would like to communicate to journalists interested in investigative journalism?

    A: I will try my best to respond to this question without sounding as if I am in a classroom.

    Timing is of the essence and working in a team in vital. One has to ask themselves whether what they are pursuing is of interest to the public and whether the outcome will bring about any changes to the society. Apart from maintaining the basics such as the 5 Ws and 1 H, journalists should avoid compromising journalistic ethics even if the bare truth of atrocities affects them in one way or another. Before embarking on an investigative task journalists should take the initiative, study their topics very well, plan ahead, have an open mind, take in different views and sift those, be ready to learn, be creative, should refrain from being judgemental, always maintain the truth, balance the story and take the neutral ground (impartial). But most importantly, be ready for any eventualities, consulting lawyers when the topic is sensitive and could lead to prosecution and make sure that your idea is sellable to your editors as they are the ones who will
    support you morally and financially.

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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    Land for Bio - fuels
    Daily News; Saturday,August 09, 2008 @20:03
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  • Dar drivers for unique rally
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  • Introduction

    ALL land practitioners have got to address the issue of land for bio-fuels. In Tanzania concern has already been raised both in Parliament and by a number of commentators that we are giving away too much land, valuable land, to foreign investors for growing plants for bio-fuels. A good starting point to address this issue is to understand what bio-fuels are and whether bio-fuel growing is good, bad or ugly for a poor country like Tanzania. There is a lot of literature now on bio-fuels with arguments on both sides of the fence; some arguing for, and some arguing against bio-fuels. Addressing the question of bio-fuels has taken on an urgent need in view of the escalating (fossil) oil prices and in view of the need to protect the environment. Once heralded as the alternative fuel source of the future, bio-fuels have come under scrutiny recently with a number of reports suggesting they cause more harm to the environment than originally thought, and that they cause fundamental socio-economic problems affecting access to land for the world poor.

    What are bio-fuels?

    Bio-fuels are any kind of fuel made from living things, or from the waste they produce i.e. from any organic source that can be rapidly replenished. The list from which bio-fuels can be made is long and diverse and includes: wood, wood chippings and straw; pellets or liquids made from wood; biogas (methane) from animals' excrement; and ethanol, diesel or other liquid fuels made from processing plant material or waste oil. In recent years, the term "bio-fuel" has come to mean the last category -- ethanol and diesel, made from crops including corn, sugarcane, jatropha, palm and rapeseed. Bio-ethanol is an alcohol which is usually mixed with petrol, while bio-diesel is either used on its own or in a mixture. They are considered more renewable and sustainable sources than fossil fuels, and are one of the few technologies with the potential to displace oil for use in transport. Ethanol for fuel is made through fermentation, the same process which produces it in wine and beer. Bio-diesel is made through a variety of chemical processes. There is interest in trying bio-butanol, another alcohol, in aviation fuel.

    Bio-fuels are not a new invention. Pioneers such as Henry Ford and German Engineer Rudolph Diesel designed cars and engines to run on bio-fuels. The diesel engine, invented by Rudolf Diesel in 1892, was first made to run on peanut oil. In the early 1900s, Henry Ford designed one of his very first vehicles to run on ethanol. Before World War II, the UK and Germany both sold bio-fuels mixed with petrol or diesel made from crude oil. Cheap crude oil, especially from the Middle East, diverted interest and research away from bio-fuels. Oil's low price gave it dominance in the market.

    There is renewed interest in bio-fuels for a number of reasons including growing concerns over climate change, rising oil prices and insecurity of supply. These reasons mean that governments and industry are desperately searching for alternative fuels. There is also the possibility of high economic returns.

    Advantages of Bio-fuels

    In principle, bio-fuels are a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional transport fuels. Burning the fuels releases carbon dioxide; but growing the plants absorbs a comparable amount of the gas from the atmosphere. However, energy is used in farming and processing the crops, and this can make bio-fuels as polluting as petroleum-based fuels, depending on what is grown and how it is treated. A recent UK government publication declared that bio-fuels reduced emissions "by 50-60% compared to fossil fuels". There is thus a general consensus that bio-fuels are much more climate-friendly than are fossil fuels.

    The plants and by-products used to make bio-fuels are renewable (as fresh supplies can be produced as needed) so in theory there is an unlimited amount and secure supply. It also helps that bio-fuels are not restricted to a certain number of countries that can control supply. Another plus is that they can be easily used within existing car and lorry engines.

    One other advantage cited for bio-fuels is their ability to revamp rural areas which have been relying for long on normal agriculture which is subsidised or whose products fetch low and fluctuating prices. It is argued that rural people in developing countries will get employment, rural infrastructure may be improved, and rural poverty may be reduced.

    Where are bio-fuels produced and used?

    Production of ethanol doubled globally between 2000 and 2005, with bio-diesel output quadrupling. Brazil leads the world in production and use, making about 16 billion litres per year of ethanol from its sugarcane industry. Sixty per-cent of new cars can run on a fuel mix which includes 85% ethanol. European governments and the US have set themselves targets to increase the use of bio-fuels in the next five years. Investors in agriculture for bio-fuels are now eyeing Asia and Africa

    What are the disadvantages of bio-fuels?

    From the environmental point of the view, the big issue is biodiversity. With much of the western world's farmland already consisting of identikit fields of mono-cultured crops, the fear is that a major adoption of bio-fuels will reduce habitat for animals and wild plants still further. Asian countries may be tempted to replace rainforest with more palm oil plantations, for example and this is possibly already happening in Indonesia. If increased proportions of food crops such as maize or soya are used for fuel, that may push prices up, affecting food supplies and therefore the cost of living, for less prosperous peoples.

    The mixed picture regarding the climate benefit of bio-fuels leads some observers to say that the priority should be reducing energy use; initiatives on bio-fuels detract attention from this, they say, and are more of a financial help to politically important farming lobbies than a serious attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions. There are few problems technically; engines can generally cope with the new fuels. But current technologies limit production, because only certain parts of specific plants can be used. The big hope (and the smart money) is the so-called second-generation of bio-fuels, which will process the cellulose found in many plants meaning that all parts of the plants are used. This should lead to far more efficient production using a much greater range of plants and plant waste.

    The rising appetite worldwide for bio-fuels means that there are economic incentives in destroying wetlands, rainforests and other commons to provide more plantation land. Vast amounts of greenhouse gases are released in this clearance and some scientists say this is enough to negate any of the intended future benefits. This also has a major impact on the conservation of plants and animals living in these areas, as well as water patterns and soil protection.

    It is now recognised that there are also harmful social and economic impacts. Food shortages are on the rise in poorer countries, as farmland traditionally used for food and animal feed has been turned over to grow crops suitable for bio-fuels. Added to this is the fact that the increase in demand for crops, such as rice, maize or soya, which can be used as both food and bio-fuels, has forced the cost up, pricing people in poorer countries out. Riots have already taken place in several parts of the world after the price of maize quadrupled, pushed up by the demand for bio-fuels.

    Are some bio-fuels better than others?

    The best performing bio-fuels, such as ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil, can deliver 10 times more energy than that required to produce them, and release a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to their fossil fuel equivalent.

    In contrast, the worst performing bio-fuels deliver significantly less energy, and contribute indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions through forest fires and clearing to make way for plantations. Bio-diesel produced from palm oil in Indonesia is often cited as an example of 'bad' bio-fuel.

    Tanzania cannot avoid addressing the question of bio-fuels. Already thousands of hectares in the country are reported to have been allocated for the purpose. Next week we will survey the literature on bio-fuels from the point of view of access to land.

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    Nous, Laurent MONSENGWO PASINYA, par la grâce de Dieu et la bienveillance du Siège Apostolique, Archevêque Métropolitain de Kinshasa ;

    Aux lecteurs du présent décret, salut et bénédiction dans le Seigneur ;

    Considérant les longs mandats de plusieurs curés dans certaines paroisses ainsi que celui de certains prêtres dans d'autres services de l'Archidiocèse ;

    Considérant aussi la vacance intervenue dans certaines fonctions au sein de l'Archidiocèse ;

    Considérant l'urgence de procéder à certaines nominations par suite de cette vacance ;

    Vu la nécessité d'insuffler un esprit nouveau, un nouvel élan, un engagement et un dynamisme renouvelés dans les paroisses, les doyennés, les CEVB, les différents services et dans tout l'Archidiocèse ;

    Eu égard à notre droit de pourvoir librement à la collation des offices ecclésiastiques dans l'Archidiocèse (Can 157) ;

    Après consultation de personnes sages et avisées ;

    En vertu de notre pouvoir ordinaire et par la teneur des présentes ;



    Art 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    01. Abbé BAZA BAMBOMA Pierre, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Albert
    02. Abbé BLKO François Xavier, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Cyprien
    03. Abbé BILE MBOMPETI Justin, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Muzey
    04. Abbé BOBO KATSHIABALA Jean Freddy, Curé de Notre Dame de la Sagesse
    05. Abbé BOLA LIOBO Jean, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Théophile
    06. Abbé IZWA MPULU Henri, Curé de la Paroisse Christ Roi
    07. Abbé KABAMBU MUKWABIHIKA, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Vincent de Paul
    08. Abbé KADIMA MPINGA Faustin, Curé de la Paroisse Bienheureux Isidore Bakanja
    09. Abbé KAL A BAM$A Stanislas, Curé de la Paroisse de la Résurrection
    10. Abbé KAMOTOKOLO NA BULA Joseph, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Gyavira
    11. Abbé KIAZAYILA KINGENGO Pierre, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Pierre
    12. Abbé KONGOLO MUNIOKA Edouard, Curé de la Paroisse Sainte Famille
    13. Abbé KUKONDA NKONO Ephrem, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Martin
    l4. Abbé LUKELU N. Joseph, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Charles Lwanga
    15. Abbé LUMU DJIM MUTOMBO Pierre, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Michel
    16. Abbé MANGALA GUDEMINA Adolphe, Curé de la Paroisse Sainte Marthe
    I7. Abbé MASSAMBA NZEZA Vincent, Curé de la Paroisse Sainte Thérèse
    18. Abbé MATITI WABA Jean, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Marc
    19. Abbé MUSUA MIMBARI Matthieu, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Luc
    20. Abbé MUTOMBO ILUNGA Symphorien, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Jacques
    21. Abbé MUZIE KIWA Stéphane, Curé de la Paroisse Sainte Trinité
    22. Abbé NDONGISILA NDOMBELE Hugues, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Rombaut
    23. Abbé NDUNGU BULA Noël, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Pie X
    24. Abbé OKA MBALA Delphin, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Raphaël
    25. Abbé NSEMBANI Marcel, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Noé Mawaggali
    26. Abbé TATAA MBO Charles, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Alphonse
    27. Abbé TSHOMBA TSHAMBA Vincent, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Augustin
    28. Abbé YUKU LADZU Bavon, Curé de la Paroisse Saint François
    29. Abbé ZINDO Simon, Curé de la Paroisse Saint Gabriel


    Art. 1er : Sont nommés fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    0l. Abbé MAMBULU Simon, Vicaire à Saint Raphaël et professeur au Collège Saint Raphaël
    02. Abbé MATUMONA Daniel, Vicaire à Sainte Marie Goretti et professeur à l'école paroissiale
    03. Abbé MAFUTA Floribert, Vicaire à Sainte Alphonse
    04. Abbé MATETA Paul, Vicaire à Sainte Trinité
    05. Abbé LUMUENE Péguy, Vicaire dominical à Sainte Marie Goretti avec résidence à la Propédeutique


    Art. 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    0l. Abbé LUYEYE LUBOLOKO François, Directeur du Centre Lindonge et Vicaire dominical à Saint Augustin,avec résidence à Saint Raphaël
    02. Abbé KUNDA MATUNGA Simon, Directeur adjoint et Vicaire dominical à Saint Michel, avec résidence à la Communauté Bakanja.


    Art 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms le prêtre et le frère suivants :

    0l . Abbé MICHEL Gérard, Coordinateur diocésain de Kinshasa
    02. Frère NSAMU TSMAMA Boniface, Coordinateur diocésain adjoint l'administration.


    Art 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    0l. Abbé LUS A Aimé, envoyé au Complexe Scolaire Mgr More où son poste d'affectation lui sera communiqué
    02. Abbé MBADINGA Pierre, Directeur de l'École primaire privée Saint Raphaël et Coordonnateur prise en charge des Séminaires


    Art 1er : Est nommé fonctions en regard de son nom le prêtre suivant :

    Monsieur l'Abbé NZUNGU NZANGA Bruno, Directeur du Bureau diocésain de Caritas Développement.


    Art 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    0l . Abbé BOSANGIA IZE BONGONDA, Econome général
    02. Abbé MONYENE MOSEMOLONGO Eric, Econome adjoint chargé des constructions
    03. Abbé NGAMPUTU MALEO TSHUM Stéphane, Econome adjoint chargé du personnel, du développement et des projets
    04. Abbé KILAKI Christian (Diacre), stagiaire aux services de comptabilité et de prise en charge des Séminaristes


    Art. 1er : Sont nommés ceux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    01. Abbé MOKO EKAINGA José, Recteur et du Curé de la Paroisse Saint Léopold
    02. Abbé YUNGA NDOSIMAU Julien, Vice Recteur
    03. Abbé KUNDA MATUNGA Simon, Directeur spirituel
    04. Abbé ZOLA Maurille, Directeur des études
    05. Abbé COLA LUB A (Diacre), Econome
    06. Abbé NGAZAIN Christian (Diacre), Membre de l'équipe

    01. Abbé BODIKA MANSIYAYI Timothée, Recteur
    02. Abbé MAFUTA ILUNGA Floribert, Directeur spirituel
    03. Abbé ISANGO COMY Edouard, Directeur des études
    04. Abbé KONDE Jean Marie (Diacre), Econome
    05. Abbé MAMVEA Clay, Membre de l'équipe
    06. Abbé MOMBO Damien (Diacre), Membre de l'équipe

    Ol. Abbé BUNGIENA NZONZI Thomas d'Aquin, Recteur
    02. Abbé FWAMBA Pierre, Directeur spirituel
    03. Abbé BAHELANYA MANENO Louis, Directeur des études
    04. Abbé TUMBU (stagiaire), Econome


    Art. 1er : Sont envoyés aux études en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    0 l. Abbé TSHLBANDA Jean de la Croix, études de DEA en théologie aux Facultés Catholiques de Kinshasa
    02. Abbé MOBIALA John, études de DEA en théologie aux FCK
    03. Abbé DOMONGO Denis (Diacre), études de philosophie aux FCK
    04. Abbé KILAKI Christian (Diacre), études de philosophie aux FCK


    Art 1er : Sont nommés aux fonctions en regard de leurs noms les prêtres suivants :

    01. Abbé BOYINDOMBE MOZU Espérance, Secrétaire Chancelier
    02. Abbé MUDINZAMBA Jean Luc, Secrétaire Chancelier adjoint


    Art. 2 : Tous ces décrets entrent en vigueur à la date de leur signature.

    Art. 3 : La vacance de la loi court .jusqu'au 31 août 2008, date à laquelle toutes les personnes nommées doivent occuper leur nouvelle fonction.

    Art 4 : Dans les vingt jours, les personnes promues feront la passation des services (administratifs, financiers et pastoraux), certains avec leurs prédécesseurs et d'autres avec leurs successeurs.

    Fait à Kinshasa, en notre Curie épiscopale, le sixième jour du mois d'août de l'année deux mille huit. En la fête de la Transfiguration du Seigneur.


    Dans la Foi en la Vérité

    Archevêque de Kinshasa



    Par mandement de lArchevêque

    Abbé Jean-Freddy D. BOBO
    Secrétaire-Chancelier de Kinshasa




    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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    Quebec's young Liberals sure know how to pique their elders

    DON MACPHERSON, The Gazette

    Published: 5 hours ago

    Young Quebec Liberals never learn: In the change-resistant politics of this province, points are not awarded for originality, but rather are deducted.

    Other parties' youth wings serve mainly as candidate farms and launching pads for policy trial balloons for their respective parties. But the young Quebec Liberals seem to be free of the control of their elders, whom they occasionally cause to squirm uncomfortably by expressing new ideas.

    Three years ago, the Quebec Liberal youth wing tried to start a discussion of the pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases resulting from teenage sexual activity.

    But any hope of a discussion of a need for more and better sex education was drowned out by laughter at another of the solutions proposed at the same meeting: an "anti-thong" proposal to ban revealing clothing from schools.

    Ridicule often kills in politics, but the Liberal youth wing lived to fight the sclerosis of Quebec politics another day.

    And this year, the reaction was not ridicule but near rage at some of the ideas proposed by the young Liberals at their 2008 convention last weekend.

    Even before the convention ended, representatives of student and labour organizations and the youth wings of other parties were making pilgrimages to the site of the convention in Sherbrooke to denounce some of the young Liberals' proposals.

    These included doubling university tuition fees and introducing English immersion in French elementary schools.

    Certainly, these ideas were flawed.

    Doubling tuition fees, to about $6,000 a year, would make a university education less accessible to needy students unless bursaries were also increased. It might even encourage graduates to leave the province, since the extra payment would be deferred until graduation, when it would be collected gradually through a Quebec income surtax.

    And there simply aren't enough teachers fluent in English to teach every subject in that language for half the year in Grade 6 in French schools, as proposed.

    Many of the young Liberals wanted to go even farther. An amendment that would have extended the half-year English immersion through all six years of French elementary school was narrowly defeated.

    That's just as well, since, as noted, there aren't even enough qualified teachers for the existing English classes in French schools. Not only is there a shortage of specialists in teaching English as a second language, Radio-Canada television program Enjeux reported two years ago, many of those considered specialists can't actually speak English themselves.

    But if the young Liberals' solutions were flawed, they did have the merit of trying to address some real problems.

    There's a connection between the under-financing of Quebec universities and the fact that the province has the lowest tuition fees in Canada, which mainly benefit students who could afford to pay more. And there was little opposition to the decision last year, by Jean Charest's government, to lift the freeze on tuition fees while increasing bursaries for needy students.

    And even though the Charest government has started the teaching of English in French schools two years earlier, in Grade 1, French-speaking parents apparently continue to lack confidence in the quality of this instruction, especially in the public schools. So the better-off ones send their children to predominantly English summer camps, or to subsidized private French schools, which have a better reputation for teaching English. The wealthiest pay the five-figure fees at unsubsidized English schools, to which admission is not restricted by Bill 101. The less fortunate must settle for English-language child care or extracurricular activities, at least in the Montreal area.

    Yet Charest preferred this week to emphasize his government's "sacred" duty to protect French - apparently against the youth wing of his own party.

    And he said that before the young Liberals' ideas reach his government, they would have to work their way through the party's "instances" - where they will probably be lost somewhere along the way.

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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    And now, an update from New Hampshire

      By Alex Beam Globe Columnist / August 9, 2008

    WOLFEBORO, N.H. - So where's Carla? I came up here assuming that if I couldn't see the Eddie Haskell of American politics - vice presidential wannabe Mitt Romney, who vacations nearby - I would at least catch a glimpse of Carla Bruni, the World's Most Beautiful and Accomplished Woman, Ever. Just last year, her husband, piratical French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was plying the waves of Lake Winnipesaukee in his powerboat, fending off the international paparazzi, after they snapped those flattering, bare-chested photos, of course.

    But that was pre-Carla. After a coup de foudre (thunder-struck) courtship and a whirlwind marriage, the happy couple has opted to spend this summer's vacation on the French Riviera. In between interviews with Barbara Walters and launching fabulously successful new CDs, the couple is dividing their time between Bruni's family villa and the breathtaking Fort Bregancon, which belongs to the French Republic.

    Nicolas, Carla: Don't forsake us! Didn't you know that the local bookstore has just opened up a new beanery, called Crepes Ooh La La! Not authentique enough for you? Helas!

    New subject: Where Men Are Men
    Who knew? New Hampshire claims to be the only state that has a Commission on the Status of Men. Lots of states have commissions fretting about women, says Dr. Joseph Mastromarino, but only the Granite State has the CSM. You can read its mission statement on the Web at www.nh.gov/csm. The commission is an outgrowth of the "men's rights" movement, which has lobbied for more equitable treatment of fathers in family court, among many other issues.

    I never thought of New Hampshire as a place where men needed any kind of special protection. I was here in June for Laconia Bike Week, when super-manly motorcycle enthusiasts swarmed the highways, their pudgy legs wrapped around their ferocious, smoke-belching "hogs," a female appendage inevitably attached to the rear of their Harley. Tough guys don't drive Priuses, Alex!

    The New Hampshire legislature also seems unconvinced that their men merit any special treatment. After creating the Commission on the Status of Men in 2002, they have never funded it, nor enacted any of its suggested legislation. I read the CSM's most recent report, which seemed to be filled with unconvincing statistics. I told chairman Mastromarino that CSM's assertion that "men, whose average life expectancy was formerly on a par with that of women, are now dying on average 10 years sooner" sounded fishy to me.

    He said it was true, but earlier this year the National Center for Health Statistics reported that "life expectancy for women was 80.7 years, and for men, 75.4 years," according to The Washington Post. "The disparity between the sexes - 5.3 years - has been declining since it peaked at about eight years in 1979." How very inconvenient, factually speaking.

    Mastromarino then launched into a beef about breast cancer getting more funding than prostate cancer, to which I replied: Yeah, because there's more of it. (The American Cancer Society will gladly confirm this for you.) Likewise, I found their data "proving" that New Hampshire public schools underserved boys, relative to girls, not exactly deal-sealing. "You can always take statistics and skew them any way you want," Mastromarino told me. Finally, a statement on which we agree.

    New subject: "Clark Rockefeller," breakaway Episcopalian!
    Reporting by my friend John Gregg in the Lebanon (N.H.)-based Valley News reveals that, in addition to his other oddities, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter/Christopher Chichester/Clark Rockefeller bankrolled a new, conservative Episcopal parish in his former hometown of Cornish, N.H.

    According to the Valley News, Rockefeller gained control of the historic, dormant Trinity Church in return for a $110,000 donation to the town. At his request, Trinity, which had been mainstream Episcopalian, joined the Anglican Church of America, a conservative offshoot of "God's Frozen People." The Anglicans don't like the "new," 1979 Book of Common Prayer, they don't like the lady preachers, and they don't like the idea of gay men preaching from the pulpit, to say nothing of gay marriage.

    In 2004, Rockefeller told the newspaper that the 1979 prayer book reminded him of "bell bottoms and lava lamps . . . I just got disaffected with the Episcopal Church after the '79 book came out." The current rector, Dr. Brian Marsh, told me that his congregation plans to stay in the building, currently administered by Rockefeller's ex-wife, for the foreseeable future.

    It is a tribute to the great state of New Hampshire that both avowedly gay Bishop Gene Robinson and this little church full of Anglo-Catholic throwbacks can co-exist in relative harmony within its border

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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    One big act

    Tyrant, romantic, hypochondriac, slacker - Jean-Luc Godard has played an astonishing array of roles both away from and behind the camera. His greatness is not in doubt, says Chris Petit, but are his films any good?

    Jean-Luc Godard

    'The important thing is to be aware that one exists' ... Jean-Luc Godard. Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

    Godard wrote his own epitaph early, in Alphaville (1965): "You will suffer a fate worse than death. You will become a legend." There is no bigger personality cult in terms of film director as artist, and Godard has always been an assiduous curator, understanding the need, as Warhol did, of making a spectacle of himself. But while professing openness he remains opaque and, in a sense, the film-maker known as Jean-Luc Godard may not exist, any more than the musician known as Bob Dylan does, except as several simulacra. For this reason, the scattered asides in Richard Brody's exhaustive new biography, Everything is Cinema, perform the book's most useful task, catching the less canny, unguarded Godard.

    1. Everything is Cinema
    2. by Richard Brody
    3. Faber,
    4. £30
    1. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop

    He suffers from vertigo (how appropriate). He admits to having no imagination and taking everything from life. When he was given a camera to use by film-maker Don Pennebaker, Pennebaker was touched by his incompetence, which included the beginner's mistake of zooming in and out too much. He was introduced to the fleshpots of Paris in the 1950s by an early mentor, film director Jean-Pierre Melville. Financial transactions with prostitutes were treated as potential mises en scène (Vivre sa vie, Sauve qui peut); cinema as whore. His handwriting features in many of his films; ditto his voice. He plays tennis, or did (he's nearly 80 now). When he passed on production money from a film to Italian revolutionaries, they used it to open a transvestite bar. He smoked a fat version of Gitanes called Boyards. In his Marxist days, he still travelled first class. He tried to avoid writing scripts whenever possible. His once great friend François Truffaut called him "the Ursula Andress" of the revolutionary movement. He is Protestant in temperament and an unforgiving moralist. He drops names. He lay in a coma for a week after a motorcycle accident. He can be nasty. He has been known to suffer hopeless crushes. In late adolescence he was committed by his father into psychiatric care. His on-set tantrums are legendary. He is the Saint Simeon Stylites of cinema, atop his pillar, or, as Truffaut described him, nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal. For all his utopian ideals, conflict and rejection are the dominant impulses of his life and work.

    In A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema, David Thomson has Godard emerge from the darkness of the Cinémathèque rather than any plausible biographical background. Brody restores the biography and takes the life and work in order - not necessarily the most rewarding way of approaching a subject who has declared that films require a beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order.

    The facts are plain enough. Godard was born in 1930 into a rich, prestigious Swiss-French Protestant family, against whom he rebelled by turning to cinema and falling in with a like-minded crowd. In these days of image-glut, it is hard to imagine a fanatical coterie taking film so seriously. This was partly to do with catching up, after the German occupation, on previously unavailable Hollywood films; partly fashionable existentialism. Writing in Cahiers du cinema, these young filmmakers-in-waiting found moral codes in the work of men such as Howard Hawks and Hitchcock, and began to identify films by directorial signature. Steeping themselves in US cinema was also a way of sidestepping politics and the embarrassment of France's wartime collaboration (members of Godard's family had sided with Vichy France and Godard himself could be provocatively pro-German).

    Godard's criticism was a mix of hyper-enthusiasm, vicious sniping, fawning and name-dropping, with cinema regarded as a matter of life and death. It also offered an obvious direction: "When we saw some movies we were finally delivered from the terror of writing. We were no longer crushed by the spectre of the great writers." He and his friends wrote their way into films via Cahiers du cinema. Photographs of the Cahiers crowd show straight young men in suits, looking like apprentice bankers, a rightwing bunch whose real target was the stuffy, inflexible French film establishment. As Godard put it: "We barged into cinema like cavemen into the Versailles of Louis XIV." He watched colleagues and rivals, Claude Chabrol and Truffaut, get their features made first. He stole from his family to finance Jacques Rivette. Of the Godard family he has said approvingly that they were like foxes. The same was said, disparagingly, of him and his business practices; he liked deals with a bit of a kick to them. In a way, his artistic career can be read in terms of what he would steal or scavenge by way of reference - the magpie thief.

    Godard's first feature, À bout de souffle (1960), was from a back-of-an-envelope sketch by Truffaut, and most of those involved, including the leads, were sure they were making a dog. Its success now looks like a combination of fluke - a long-odds bet by Godard on his own talent, which paid off - and something willed. On the one hand, he trusted his saturation in cinema to guide him. On the other, he pushed what he was doing to the limits. Not everyone was charmed by the result, but Godard was lucky with his lead, Jean-Paul Belmondo, who did charm and whose sinuous athleticism drives the film.

    Godard also ripped up the rule book, brattishly challenging the notion that cinema needed to be a polite and conformist medium in pursuit of an illusion of reality. The most pertinent critical comment was that À bout de souffle made Truffaut's Les 400 coups (1959) look like an obedient schoolboy's homework, and Chabrol's films the product of a perfect academicism. Godard was also a brilliant publicist, with an adman's talent for reducing ideas to captions. His two great riffs were the impossibility of love, and death. He charged on, working cheap, careering between success and failure. Les Carabiniers (1963) was a spectacular flop. When his future collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin went to see it, the cinema refused to show it unless someone else turned up. Godard was restless, not given to repetition: he reworked the gangster film, musicals, science fiction, changing styles as he went along. The notorious jump cuts that were his signature in À bout de souffle were little used again.

    But false premise (and promise) became a recurring motif in a career sustained less by its triumphs than by cul-de-sacs, professional crises and personal breakdowns, many self-inflicted as a way of inducing an artistic response. "Breathless" applies to his initial, prolific output of 15 features in seven years, until he ran out of steam and threw himself into Maoist dogma with the same blind vigour and instinct for the zeitgeist. It seemed a remarkable volte-face for a man whose early political views had been described as virtually fascist, but he was really only swapping one authoritarian form for another. He acquired a student wife (his second, Anne Wiazemsky, whose attraction was having played the lead in Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar of 1966) and a collaborator, Gorin, whose radical influence helped him realise greater autonomy on his return to production proper, with the repentant Sauve qui peut (1980). The revolutionary phase now seems less Maoist than Lennonist; Gorin declared at the time, "I am the Yoko Ono of cinema." Then as now, politics seemed to be one part of a more complex personal agenda. Even an ostensibly political film from the first period such as Le Petit soldat (1963), about an extreme-right death squad in the Algerian conflict, views more like a Swiss holiday (shot in Geneva to avoid French censorship) and love letter to Anna Karina, who would become his first wife, in their first film together.

    The surprise in Brody's account is the thoroughness with which Godard strip-mined his life to feed the films. The opening marital row in Vivre sa vie (1962), prompted by a confession of infidelity by a wife (Karina), sounds so raw it could have been a rehash of the previous night's argument, provoked by Godard for the sake of the scene. In a cinematic version of Stockholm syndrome, Karina remained a prisoner in his films long after their marriage was over. Their psychosexual dynamic probably finds its most accurate summary not in something written about them at all, but in Terence Blacker's biography of Willie Donaldson, You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: "She sensed that what really excited him was sexual jealousy and . . . was prepared to go as far as he wanted, taunting him, betraying him with other men and then returning to face his ecstatic rage."

    The real reason for Godard's bust-up with Truffaut was because Truffaut was more successful at seducing actresses. But in Truffaut's films an actress, had by him or not, remains an actress, where in Godard's hands Karina became transcendent, thereby making herself redundant (her career barely survived Godard). Few have appeared more exposed by the camera, flayed even. In Vivre sa vie she was cast as a prostitute while Godard, salacious and prudish, Nosferatu and pimp, remained reluctant to share her and expected her at all times to be well-mannered and demure.

    Just as Godard has played with cinema, he has constructed multiple versions of himself before and behind the camera, leasing out the character of JLG to actors and sometimes acting himself: cinephile, tyrant, tardy, silver-tongued, Professor Pluggy, politico, foxy businessman, smutty Uncle Jean, fraud (a history of youthful theft), romantic, classicist, dandy, hypochondriac and slacker. A cold reading of the man suggests hysteric, obsessive, depressive, leavened by the schoolboy who was remembered for playing the fool. An early collaborator told me they fell out because "He's a liar and, what's more, he knows I know he is a liar!" "Je suis un con," Belmondo says at the beginning of À bout de souffle, a clear enough mission statement for the general cinematic conduct to follow and the recurring, underlying question of how much of a shit is it necessary to be in life and film.

    Godard eventually swapped a private life with actresses for one with a director, Anne-Marie Miéville, under whose stern eye he appeared in two features as a man racked by jealousy, bookish, remote, endlessly bickering and so berated by his partner (played by her) that, in another variation of the Stockholm syndrome, with the boot on the other foot now, he is the one who breaks down, sobbing; jailer turned captive.

    "Film is a battleground," said US director Sam Fuller in his cameo in Pierrot le fou (1965), which was shot by Godard's regular cameraman Raoul Coutard - tough, fast and a veteran of the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Whether by fluke, design or incompetence, Godard the genius and Coutard the hero set their own rhythm from the start, Godard writing on location with cast and crew waiting. Using little or no additional lighting, they learned to push stock exposures to the limit (there were thousands of feet of night shooting on Alphaville). Conditions permitting, they dumped lighting, tracks, sync sound, hair and makeup and, above all, continuity, shooting as much as possible on the hoof - and if anyone looked at the camera, so what.

    Characteristic of the method, usually to do with running over budget, was a loose series of scenes followed by an incredibly long one, shot fast in a single space in extended takes, in an effort to recoup costs, during which a man and woman fail to resolve their relationship. What Godard had grasped was that film didn't have to pretend to be real.

    He admitted his laziness shooting À bout de souffle, the clever slacker who gets by on reading the first and last page of a book. Elia Kazan, visiting the set of Vivre sa vie, was uncomprehending when told that Godard never shot a scene from more than one angle. Melville, a more classic and scrupulous director than Godard, criticised his sloppiness, as a result of which their friendship ended.

    Coutard told a fellow crew member on Alphaville that what Godard would really like would be "to swallow the film whole and process it out his ass - that way he wouldn't need anybody". Given that his creative process is to manipulate everything, himself included, it is tempting to brand Godard as a sophisticated high-class soap, a product based on a tailored understanding of market and media. As his audience diminishes, his reputation is enhanced through careful cultivation of, and endorsement by, art establishments and academia. Once ahead of his time, embracing new technology (video) and surfing the zeitgeist as someone might browse the internet, he now denounces digital as death and takes refuge in history, in anticipation of posterity's judgment.

    Talking about Luchino Visconti's Senso (1954), Godard said: "Each time, I want to know what Farley Granger says to Alida Valli, bang! - fade out." The same is true of Brody, and often one wants more than what's offered - on the French intellectual climate in general (he remains much more comfortable with American responses to Godard) and, given Godard's animosity, on established feuds. Brody also fails to mention his own snubbing when in Switzerland in 2000 to profile Godard for the New Yorker. In a typical Godardian move, the director terminated the interview by note, blaming Brody for being vague and unfocused, which was the last thing he probably was. Also typical, Godard and Miéville, a scary pair at best, made a point of dining at Brody's hotel that evening and blanking him.

    Godard remains stubbornly silent about the darkness surrounding many relationships. He describes his childhood as idyllic, which is disingenuous when the career is so full of acts of surrogate patricide, and what would a shrink make of one of the first lines of À bout de souffle, when Godard's surrogate sings "Pa-Pa-Patricia!"? The disturbed adolescence, the stealing, suicidal tendencies, the committal for psychiatric inspection, a period that lasted some months - none is adequately explained. Nor is the effect of his parents' break-up around the same time and his mother's death two years later in a road accident. Nor are his unexplained absences, Karina's and his unborn child, her suicide attempts, let alone his return from the dead, or how they all fed into the films.

    Godard has remained prolific, if less seen. There are more than 100 credits altogether, but since the mid-1980s the films have been harder to see, as audience and critical interest dwindled and distribution became erratic. Brody considers Sauve qui peut Godard's second great "first" film, but if memory serves, an earlier return with Numéro Deux (1975) was bolder in its use of film and video, and its analysis of family life, grubby ordinariness, sexual economics and the relentlessness of male desire.

    With age, Godard came to regard cinema, which he had once taken for his secular bible, in increasingly biblical terms, its fall marked by the rupture of the second world war and cinema's failure to record the Holocaust as it happened. He turned on Hollywood, particularly Steven Spielberg. His later work is self-consciously that of a crabby iconoclast and old master. In Éloge de l'amour (2001), the black and white stock is treated with a painterly reverence worthy of Rembrandt, the pellicule or grain of the film as important to the character of the piece as the story (which is deliberately fractured) or movement of the actors. Despite Brody's exhaustive shot synopsis, the film remains elusive because Godard resists conventional summary: it is a question of textures and associations, animated by his knowledge that a form of cinema understood by him (35mm black and white) has become redundant. Focus in Godard has always been on what remains unsaid and spatial distance, particularly that between the audience and the screen. I often switch off to what the films are about, entranced instead by the abstract interplay of elements and the astonishing achievement of taking an industrial process and fooling around with it like it were miniDV.

    Cinema comes down to something shown. Godard said as much in 1965: "The important thing is to be aware that one exists. For three-quarters of the time during the day one forgets this truth, which surges up again as you look at houses or a red light, and you have the sensation of existing in that moment." He repeated the point years later with reference to Hitchcock: "We forget why Janet Leigh stops at the Bates motel . . . what Henry Fonda was not entirely guilty of and exactly why the American government hired Ingrid Bergman. But we remember a glass of milk, the blades of a windmill, a hairbrush."

    Subscribing to Godard, it is hard not to develop a personal and argumentative relationship, and watching any Godard is a more subjective experience than viewing, say, Carol Reed's The Third Man. Because the films rarely offer more than perfunctory closure, cartoonish even in death, they remain open, functioning more like books. Godard spans cinema, being of a generation that grew up with and followed its arc, and in his Swiss-Protestant way he was its Reformation. Brody's linear approach pays off in showing how Godard has in effect been making one big film, a life's work and a reference map of cinema. But one unanswered question remains: we know he was great, but was he any good?

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
    Procurement Consultant
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    France: Constitutional reform strengthens presidency

    By Antoine Lerougetel and Alex Lantier
    9 August 2008


    On July 27 at Versailles, the combined membership of the French National Assembly and Senate approved a reform proposed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to the constitution of the Fifth Republic. Despite a limited increase of the formal powers of the National Assembly, largely at the expense of the prime minister, the net effect of the reform is to strengthen the already powerful office of the presidency.

    Sarkozy included a call for reforms to the constitution in his 2007 election campaign, as part of his broader attempt to co-opt left-wing sentiment and work out a deal with sections of the Socialist Party (PS), which has historically been associated with calls for constitutional reform. Having arrived in power on the basis of appeals to national unity and law-and-order sentiment, Sarkozy named several PS officials to top government positions, notably Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and recruited PS ex-minister Jack Lang to help draft the constitutional reform.

    The main goal of Sarkozy's presidency is to dismantle what remains of the post-war welfare state and carry out a massive reduction in the living standards of the working class—cutting pensions, health care spending, unemployment compensation, etc.—while preparing for a more aggressive assertion of French imperialist interests abroad.

    This has been the essential policy of a succession of French governments, starting in the 1990s. However, these governments have foundered on mass strike movements by the French working class, which have undermined their legitimacy and led to retreats on planned social "reforms." Attempts to carry out pension cuts in 1995, 2003, and 2007 led to strikes that shattered the authority of the Juppé, Raffarin, and Fillon governments. Labor law reforms and other social cuts led to strike movements against de Villepin in 2006 and again this year. The current government is highly unpopular, with Sarkozy's approval ratings under 40 percent in all recent polls.

    The constitutional changes strengthening the position of the president are aimed at facilitating these social attacks and bolstering the ability of the state to suppress popular opposition. The aim is not to rebalance political power between the different branches of government, but to rebalance the state apparatus to assert these more fundamental class interests.

    Constitutionally and traditionally, the presidency is responsible for foreign policy, while the prime minister, who is answerable to the president, carries out the government's domestic policy. Since coming to office, Sarkozy has sought to limit the influence of Prime Minister François Fillon and directly oversee both foreign and domestic policy. This allows Sarkozy to wrap his social cuts in the mantle of French sovereignty and his status as head of state, in line with the nationalist, law-and-order atmosphere he has sought to encourage since his election.

    Under the present constitutional system, the president has substantial power over other branches of government. After legislative elections, he nominates the prime minister and approves a cabinet of ministers nominated by the prime minister. The president can dissolve the legislature at any time.

    The immense powers granted to the president in the Fifth Republic's constitution stem from its origins, in a 1958 coup d'état organized against the Fourth Republic by General Charles de Gaulle's supporters in the army of occupation in Algeria, variously called "the velvet coup" or the "democratic coup."

    Amid growing popular opposition to the war in Algeria, army forces in Algiers who were in contact with de Gaulle's associate Léon Delbecque organized army rebellions against government authority in Algeria and Corsica. Plans were made for parachutists to airdrop into Paris. De Gaulle told the National Assembly that the only way to avoid a direct confrontation with the army was to grant him powers to write a new constitution and institute a Fifth Republic.

    De Gaulle considered that the proportional representation in parliament and weak presidency of the Fourth Republic, which had emerged from the liberation of France from the Nazis, hampered the effective protection of French imperialist interests. In drafting the constitution, de Gaulle created a highly powerful presidential office, which he planned to occupy, in order to stabilize the political situation and enforce continued French rule in Algeria.

    The constitution has proved highly unpopular ever since, and the Constitutional Council records no less than 19 successful attempts to amend it since 1960.

    The president's power vis-à-vis the parliament grew after the 2000 constitutional reform, which shortened the president's term from seven to five years. Since legislative elections now take place every five years, just after the presidential elections, the president is virtually guaranteed to begin his term with a majority from his own party, especially as the winning party receives extra seats in parliament.

    The newly amended constitution limits the president to two five-year terms. It provides some minimal measures to increase the powers of the legislature, including giving a parliamentary committee the right to vote down the president's nominations to important legal posts. It also gives the National Assembly the right to set its own agenda on 50 percent of working days. Previously, the agenda was set entirely by the prime minister and cabinet.

    The reform marginally limits the prime minister's ability to use the controversial Article 49-3 to impose legislation on the National Assembly. Up to now, the prime minister has been able to use the measure to require the parliament to either pass a bill or vote a motion of "no confidence" in his government, which causes it to fall. In practice, the National Assembly, as a result of the invocation of Article 49-3, almost always approved the bill in question. The current reform specifies that the prime minister can freely use article 49-3 for laws on state budgets and social security, but only once per parliamentary session for other business.

    The constitutional reform places certain limits on the president's emergency powers, which were assumed most recently by former President Jacques Chirac after the 2005 riots against police brutality. It specifies that after 30 days of presidential emergency rule, the leaders of both houses of parliament can jointly require the Constitutional Council—the body that rules on the constitutionality of law—to rule on whether the president should continue to exercise these powers. After that, they can jointly refer the question to the Constitutional Council every 60 days.

    The reform also requires the government to obtain parliamentary approval for military action. The modified text adds: "When the length of the intervention exceeds four months, the government submits its prolongation to the authorisation of parliament." No such limits existed previously. This measure, which aims to provide a veneer of democratic legitimacy to French imperialism's actions abroad, suggests that plans for more aggressive French military operations are well advanced.

    These amendments still leave the president with immense powers and increase them in some respects. He may now address the parliament in joint session and have his speech debated—a right which French heads of state have not enjoyed since the nineteenth century.

    The current constitution's attempt to present the president as above partisan politics was a major factor in the decision to keep the president from addressing parliament. Speeches to parliament were the prerogative of the prime minister.

    In a measure aimed directly against Turkey, the constitution as amended requires an endorsement by referendum of any European proposals to accept new countries into the European Union. However, the president can propose a waiver of this provision.

    Sarkozy worked strenuously to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament for the constitutional reform. The outcome was unclear ahead of the vote, which proceeded largely along party lines. Significantly, Sarkozy decided not to submit the changed constitution to a popular referendum.

    The required margin, achieved with two votes to spare, was hailed as a victory by Sarkozy's supporters. PS leaders blamed Jack Lang, the only PS deputy who voted with the government, for handing Sarkozy a victory.

    Sarkozy convinced the PRG (Left Republican Party) deputies, who usually work with the opposition PS, to support the reform by promising to reduce to 15 the number of deputies required to form an official parliamentary group.

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
    Procurement Consultant
    Gsm: +250-08470205
    Home: +250-55104140
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