Forget nothing, learn something

 The recent "folie" to mark the 250th anniversary
of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham makes
a joke of the motto on Quebec licence
plates: Je me souviens --I remember.

Clearly, not well. The collective memory

of Quebec's history, in this instance,

is selective and disturbingly distorted.

A few noisy separatists first managed

to get the cancellation of a re-enactment

planned to commemorate the epic battle

in which the British defeated the French

in 1759.

Now, a new event includes the reading of

the FLQ manifesto, as part of a 24-hour

reading marathon supposedly to celebrate

the poetry and literary works of Quebec artists,

and historical figures.

The added insult is in how the same

sovereigntists --outraged by the re-enactment

of one historical event --are now

defending the inclusion of the FLQ

manifesto as part of their history.

The manifesto, written by the kidnappers

of British trade commissioner James Cross,

was first read on Radio-Canada television

as one of the kidnappers' conditions.

"There is nothing dishonourable in

looking history straight in the eye,

" former PQ premier Bernard Landry

told newspaper Le Devoir.

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe

screamed "censorship" in reference

to any objections about

the manifesto being read.

How rich coming from the leader who

demanded the cancellation of

the historical reenactment.

That event would have seen

2,500 history buffs --not politicians

or federalists -- travel to Quebec City

to stage what PQ leader Pauline Marois

called the "profoundly tragic" events of 1759.

The separatist agenda has once again

rewritten history, with the battle of the Plains

taking on mythic qualities.

Quebec flourished after the so-called

conquest, as the strength of their language

and culture attests to, to this day.

Battlefield Quebec, a documentary airing

on Sunday's anniversary on History Television,

concludes "France lost the battle

but Quebecers won the war."

To suggest the French would still control

Quebec to this day had Louis-Joseph de

Montcalm triumphed over British General

James Wolfe, is sheer fantasy.

The British would have either subsequently

won later, or the U. S. would have

absorbed Quebec.

If the sovereigntists want to know

what life under American rule looks like,

they should visit Louisiana.

Historians travel far and wide to participate

in reenactments of important battles

that take place all the time,

throughout the western world.

Even children who play cowboy games

get it: Battles have winners and losers.

Just because the British lost the Battle

of Hastings in 1066 doesn't stop them

from commemorating it every year as part

of their proud history.

So why is the loss of the French in Quebec

any different, or any more tragic than

the murder of a Quebec cabinet minister

at the hands of the FLQ?

The separatists are correct in saying

the October Crisis is a part of their

history (a dark chapter indeed) and should

never be forgotten.

Seldom does politics lead to murder

in Canada.

But remembering it on the 250th anniversary

of the historic battle on the Plains

is inappropriate and out of context.

Further, inviting Jacques Lanctot,

co-author of the manifesto, to come

and read the turgid prose amounts

to celebrating and glorifying the racist text.

Thankfully Lanctot refused but the hypocrisy

is no less astounding.

The FLQ terrorists kidnapped and killed

Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre Laporte.

They committed murder.

The manifesto is an offensive diatribe

that incites violence and calls upon

the use of "every means, including arms

and dynamite, to rid ourselves of

these economic and political bosses,

who are prepared to use every sort of

sordid tactic to better screw us."

Quebecers saw it for what it was at the time,

and rejected it.

There's even less of an audience

for that type of extremism today.

The commemoration of the definitive

battle on the Plains was hijacked

by a separatist agenda

from the beginning.

But, the raucous protest has backfired.

A younger generation of Quebecers

has been given a history lesson in

the radical terrorist movement

of the FLQ. And, the rest of the country

has been reminded of the immaturity

that still exists among

certain insecure separatists in Quebec.

After 250 years, one would have hoped

they would finally grow up and

realize Quebec is no oppressed society.

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Angered by the low prices, milk producers decided to "open the tanks"

Le Monde

For Patrick Feron, there is only one
solution: "open tanks.
The dairy farmer has come to Paris for
the launch of the milk strike,
Thursday, September 10, and was
determined on returning home
the same evening at Asnieres-en-Bessin,
Calvados, milking the cows and then
throw his milk in the manure pit.

There is still a year, Patrick Feron was still
adhering to the "Federation", FNSEA, the main
French farmers' union, opposed the strike.
This Thursday, the T-shirt of the Association
of Milk Producers independent (APLI) it carries.
The movement was born less than a year, and finds
its supporters in the ranks of non-union members
or those who are ill protected by their union.

Feron Patrick toured its neighbors. "Of the seven
dairy farmers in my county, we will be six to strike,"
said this former bar owner.
How long can they hold?
That it takes, meet the strikers. "The milk prices
collapsed, so if I compare my pay that
I touched last year, it's as if I was ten days
of strikes per month," explains Jean-François Duruel,
farmer in Channel.
The milk will be given to consumers in the city
or directly to the farm,
and the remainder will be discarded.

The strikers were demanding "a fair price,
400 euros per tonne of milk (cons 260
to 280 now), an amount that reflects"
the cost of production and working hours
"and they want a" new dairy policy European ",
the end of the liberalization of the sector,
which should see the quotas disappear in 2015.
They also demanded that the European
Commission will lower European production
so that prices rise again.

But nobody knows for now if the strike will ... and pay.
First, it would have to be European.
For the moment it is launched by the French,
who hope that their European colleagues to follow.
The organizers are affiliated with the European
Milk Board, a union that includes more minority
organizations in different countries of Europe.

Especially in France alone, the strike is far
from unanimous. Alongside the APLI, one union,
the Organization of Milk Producers (OPL),
a branch of the Rural Coordination,
calls for action.
Organizers hope however that, initially,
30% of farmers have responded to the call,
30 000 producers, and then
the movement will snowball.

If the Peasants' Confederation does not call
a strike, whereas producers are too difficult
to give up being paid, it "will do nothing to break
the movement.
FNSEA, she is strongly opposed.
It is "an aberration", Judge Jean-Michel Lemetayer,
its chairman, who said Thursday on BFM radio
that the strike "will be followed shortly.

The OPL APLI and know they need to cast
a wide net so that the movement has
a real impact. "I urge all farmers to forget
any label (union) to become
a European dairy strike," said Pascal Massol,
president of APLI Thursday on the Esplanade
des Invalides in Paris, where the strike
been launched, seeking support as
"consumers, suppliers and banks.

In rays, dairy products should not miss at least
the first few days. Given that demand is sluggish,
and that the offer has not fallen so far,
manufacturers have a stock they can sell.

They were able to get a first idea of the number
of strikers in the day Friday, September 11,
and provide more precise figures Monday 14.
In fact, as and when the trucks pass
in dairy farms, where milk is collected
every two to three days, it will be possible to
know how many farmers deliver their produce,
and how many are on strike.

Data of interest to companies,
but equally FNSEA.


Pour Patrick Féron, il n'y a plus

qu'une solution : "ouvrir les tanks".

Cet éleveur laitier est venu à Paris pour le

lancement de la grève du lait, jeudi 10 septembre,

et était bien décidé, en rentrant chez lui

le soir même à Asnières-en-Bessin,

dans le Calvados, à traire ses vaches

puis jeter son lait dans la fosse à lisier.

Il y a encore un an, Patrick Féron était

encore adhérent de la "Fédé", la FNSEA,

le principal syndicat agricole français,

opposé à la grève.

Ce jeudi, c'est le T-shirt de l'Association

des producteurs de lait indépendants (APLI)

qu'il porte.

Le mouvement est né il y a moins d'un an,

et trouve ses sympathisants dans

les rangs des non-syndiqués ou de ceux

qui se trouvent mal défendus par leur syndicat.

Patrick Féron a fait le tour de ses voisins.

"Sur les sept éleveurs laitiers de ma commune,

nous serons six à faire grève", dit cet ancien

patron de bar.

Combien de temps pourront-ils tenir ?

Celui qu'il faudra, répondent les grévistes.

"Le prix du lait s'est effondré, alors si

je compare ma paye à ce que je touchais

l'an dernier, c'est comme si je faisais

dix jours de grève par mois", explique

Jean-François Duruel, éleveur dans la Manche.

Le lait sera donné aux consommateurs,

dans les villes ou directement à la ferme,

et le surplus sera jeté.

Les grévistes revendiquent "un prix juste,

400 euros la tonne de lait" (contre 260 à

280 aujourd'hui), soit un montant

qui tient compte "des coûts de production

et des heures de travail" ; ils veulent

une "nouvelle politique laitière européenne",

soit la fin de la libéralisation du secteur,

qui doit voir les quotas disparaître en 2015.

Ils réclament aussi que la Commission européenne

fasse baisser la production européenne,

pour que les prix remontent.

Mais personne ne sait pour l'heure si

la grève prendra... et paiera.

D'abord, il faudrait qu'elle soit européenne.

Pour l'instant, elle est lancée par des Français,

qui espèrent que leurs collègues européens

suivront. Les organisateurs sont affiliés

à l'European Milk Board, un syndicat

qui regroupe des organisations plutôt

minoritaires dans les différents pays d'Europe.

Surtout, rien qu'en France, la grève est

loin de faire l'unanimité.

Aux côtés de l'APLI, un seul syndicat,

l'Organisation des producteurs de lait (OPL),

une branche de la Coordination rurale,

appelle à agir.

Les organisateurs espèrent cependant que,

dans un premier temps, 30 % des éleveurs

auront répondu à l'appel,

soit 30 000 producteurs, et qu'ensuite

le mouvement fera boule de neige.

Si la Confédération paysanne n'appelle pas

à la grève, considérant que les producteurs

sont trop en difficulté pour renoncer

à être payés, elle "ne fera rien

pour casser le mouvement".

La FNSEA, elle, y est fortement opposée.

C'est "une aberration", juge Jean-Michel Lemétayer,

son président, qui a estimé, jeudi sur BFM Radio,

que la grève "sera peu suivie".

L'APLI et l'OPL savent qu'elles ont besoin

de ratisser large pour que le mouvement

ait un véritable impact.

"J'appelle tous les éleveurs à oublier

toute étiquette (syndicale) pour devenir

un gréviste laitier européen", a déclaré

Pascal Massol, président de l'APLI, jeudi,

sur l'esplanade des Invalides à Paris,

d'où la grève a été lancée,

souhaitant aussi un soutien

"des consommateurs, des fournisseurs

et des banques".

Dans les rayons, les produits laitiers ne

devraient pas manquer, en tout cas

les premiers jours.

Vu que la demande est atone, et que

l'offre n'a pas baissé pour autant,

les industriels disposent d'un stock

qu'ils pourront écouler.

Ils devaient pouvoir se faire une première

idée du nombre de grévistes dans

la journée de vendredi 11 septembre,

et fournir des chiffres plus précis lundi 14.

En effet, au fur et à mesure que

les camions des laiteries passeront

dans les fermes, où le lait est collecté

tous les deux à trois jours, il sera possible

de savoir combien d'éleveurs

livrent leur production,

et combien font grève.

Des données qui intéresseront

les entreprises, mais tout autant la FNSEA.

Laetitia Clavreul

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Low-cost bed nets prove priceless

Malaria, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes,

is common among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa

and is a major contributing factor to low birth weights

and infant deaths in that region.

UNC-CHAPEL HILL—Giving insecticide-treated

bed nets, at a cost of only about $6 each,

to nearly 18,000 mothers at prenatal clinics

in the Democratic Republic of Congo prevented

hundreds of malaria-related infant deaths,

a new study finds.

"This is an extremely cost-effective intervention,"

says Sylvia Becker-Dreps, assistant professor

of family medicine in the University of North

Carolina School of Medicine and

lead author of the study.

"In fact, it approaches the cost effectiveness

of measles vaccination and is far more

cost effective than prevention measures

that are routine in the U.S."

When costs for transporting and distributing

the nets and educating people how to use

them are factored in, it cost just over

$411 for every infant death prevented,

Becker-Dreps says.

In addition, the intervention prevented

an estimated 587 low birth weight deliveries,

which in turn reduced long-term disability.

The study stems from a project Becker-Dreps

worked on while pursuing her Master

of Public Health degree in the UNC Gillings

School of Global Public Health.

Andrea Biddle, associate professor in

the Gillings Schools, mentored

Becker-Dreps and was a coauthor of the study.

Study coauthor Frieda Behets, associate

professor of epidemiology at

the Gillings School, helped 28 clinics

in Kinshasa, the capital and largest city

in the Democratic Republic of Congo,

implement a program to prevent

mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

As part of that program, nearly

18,000 pregnant women were given

long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets for free.

Malaria, which is transmitted to humans

by mosquitoes, is common among

pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa and

is a major contributing factor

to low birth weights and infant deaths in that region.

"The goal of this study," Becker-Dreps

explains, "was to find out the costs and

impact of giving bed nets to pregnant women

in prenatal clinics before their babies

were born. The pregnant women could then

use the bed nets during their pregnancies

to reduce preterm deliveries and then

use it to protect their young infants after birth."

Questionnaires administered to the mothers

found that 84 percent reported sleeping

under the bed net every day or almost

every day, six months after delivery.

Interviewers who visited a sample of

the mothers reported that 70 percent

had their bed nets hanging in the

correct position in their homes.

Becker-Dreps and colleagues combined

this data with actual infant mortality and

low birth weight data from clinics in the region

and then performed statistical analyses

that enabled them to produce

their estimates.

They concluded that bed net distribution

is a cost-effective addition to prenatal

services in the region.

Researchers from the School of

Public Health and the Salvation Army,

both in Kinshasa, contributed to the study,

which was published in the September

issue of the American Journal of Tropical

Medicine and Hygiene.

UNC-Chapel Hill news: http://uncnews.unc.edu

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7 Reasons Websites Are No Longer Safe

Click here to find out more!
By Bill Brenner

CSO — Conventional wisdom is that
Web wanderers are safe as long as
they avoid sites that serve up pornography,
stock tips, games and the like.
But according to recently gathered
research from Boston-based IT security
and control firm Sophos, sites we take
for granted are not as secure as they appear.

Slideshow: 11 Security Companies to Watch

Among the findings in Sophos' threat report

for the first six months of this year,

23,500 new infected Web

pages -- one every 3.6 seconds -- were

detected each day during that period.

That's four times worse than the same

period last year, said Richard Wang,

who manages the Boston lab.

Many such infections were found

on legitimate websites.

In a recent interview with CSOonline,

Wang outlined seven primary reasons

legitimate sites are becoming

more dangerous.

1. Polluted ads

Many legitimate sites rely on paid advertisements

to pay the bills.

But Wang said recent infection statistics

gathered by his lab show that they

are often hiding malware, without

the knowledge of the website owner

or the user.

"A lot of sites supported by advertisers,

rather than contracting directly with

the advertiser, work through ad agencies

and network affiliates," Wang said. "Some

of these affiliates are less than

diligent in reviewing content for flaws

and infections."

Ads that incorporate Flash animation and

other rich media are often rife with

security holes attackers can exploit.

When the user clicks on the ad,

the browser can be (and often is) redirected

to sites that download malware in

the background while the user

is reading the legitimate site.

Someone in the ad-providing supply chain

can be the culprit, though tracing a

compromise back to them can be

exceedingly difficult, Wang said.

Whatever the case may be, a

downloaded Trojan is then free to gather up

usernames, passwords and

other sensitive banking data.

2. SQL injection attacks

SQL injection attacks are among the

most popular of tactics and have been

used in several high-profile incidents

in the last couple of years.

For example, see "SQL Injection Attacks

Led to Heartland, Hannaford Breaches."

SQL injection is a technique that exploits

a flaw in the coding of a Web application

or page that uses input forms.

A hacker might, for example, input SQL

code into a field that is intended

to collect email addresses.

If the application doesn't include

a security requirement to validate

that the input is of the correct form,

the server may execute the SQL command,

allowing the hacker to gain control

of the server.

"The hacker essentially takes advantage

of flaws related to shoddy site development,"

Wang said.

3. User-provided content

It doesn't take a genius to write a comment

to a blog posting or something they see

on a social networking site like Facebook

or Twitter.

The bad guys know this and are therefore

taking the opportunity to pollute discussion

threads and other sources of

user-supplied content with

spam-laden links. (See "Seven Deadly

Sins of Social Networking Security".)

"You can get comment spam, completely

irrelevant comments including links

to sites trying to sell you stuff," Wang said.

"They can also try posting full links

to malicious sites or work in a little scripting,

depending on the filter they are trying

to work around."

4. Stolen site credentials

Using the types of malware and social networking

tactics described above, as well

as other means, attackers can steal

the content provider's log-in credentials.

From there it's no sweat logging into the site

and making changes.

It typically is a change so subtle and small

that it escapes notice.

The tiny bits of code added in can then

steal the site visitor's credit card or other data.

5. Compromised hosting service

This one is similar to number 4, where

the credentials of the content provider

are stolen and hackers log in to make

sinister changes.

Through this vector, Wang said the bad guys

could potentially poison thousands of sites

the provider is hosting in one strike.

6. Local malware

The website you visit may be perfectly safe,

but if there's malware hidden on your

own machine you can unwittingly become

part of the attack, Wang said.

For example, the user can visit their online

banking site, and when typing in a

user name and password the Trojan is

there to record that information and

pass it back to the attacker, allowing him

to go in later and empty out

your account or that of others.

7. Hacker-engineered fakes

Finally, there's the problem of hackers trying

to sell you fake merchandise that includes

phony security software.

If a box appears warning that your machine

may have been infected and that you

must immediately download a particular

security tool to remove it--a common

occurrence if you have visited a site

that surreptitiously downloads malware

onto your computer--it's a sure sign of trouble.

"You spend your $39.95 and you get a

worthless piece of software, and at the

same time you have given them your

credit card data," Wang said.

What is one to do if their website relies on
ads and open access?

Wang suggested IT security administrators
use security scanners against anything coming
in by way of third-party hosts and,
for in-house apps and other online property,
that developers redouble efforts
to write more ironclad code

For those who heavily rely on third-party forums,

a wise practice is to take a daily scan

of vulnerability reports that may affect

those providers and to keep up to date

on security patches that will harden

your own environment against

these threats, he added.

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Think Again: Why Can’t the Media Explain Our Woes (and Why Other Countries Don’t Have Them)?

SOURCE: AP/Jason Reed

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress on health care at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on September 9, 2009. Obama is right: We do have a health care system that is unsustainable in the long term, and it comes up short compared to European systems.

The most moving part of President
Barack Obama's powerful speech Wednesday
night was undoubtedly the letter from which
he read, sent to him from "our beloved friend
and colleague" Ted Kennedy.
Kennedy had asked, back in May when he
wrote it, that the letter should not be
opened until after his death.
As Obama reported, Kennedy "expressed
confidence that this would be the year
that health care reform—'that great
unfinished business of our society,'
he called it—would finally pass," and in
doing so, define "the character of
our country."
Indeed, it is amazing that while Kennedy
served for more than four decades in the Senate
and dedicated much of his energy and
superb legislative skills to the passage of
just such a program,
the problem has only gotten worse over time.

Given the degree of the problem, it can be

difficult to understand, writes Serge Halimi,

editor of France's prestigious Le Monde

Diplomatique, why Barack Obama,

who has established himself as one

of America's most effective diagnosticians of w

hat ails our health care system,

is proposing so modest a reform to address

its failures.

As the president told a Montana town hall

meeting this past August,

"We are held hostage by health insurance

companies that deny coverage, or

drop coverage, or charge fees

that people can't afford for care

they desperately need …

We have a health care system that too

often works better for the insurance industry

than it does for the American people."

Halimi answers his own question: "American

politics is so poisoned by money flowing

from industrial and financial lobbies

that the only proposals ensured a

smooth ride through Congress are

those that cut taxes."

Indeed, according to BusinessWeek,

in 15 states more than half of

the "market" is held by one private

health care company, and this kind of

monopoly profit is not going to go off

quietly into the night.

And yet this essential fact is often

missing from a media debate

that focuses on nonexistent,

often crazy issues like imaginary

"death panels" and whether or

not Sarah Palin would be forced

to murder her own child.

Late in the dog days of August,

The Washington Post published a piece

by T.R. Reid, a reporter who has left

the paper and written a book called

The Healing of America: A Global Quest

for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care,

delineating what he called "five myths

about health care around the world."

It's worth reading the piece, not only for

the information it offers, but for the picture

of just how far our debate has drifted

from reality.

Barack Obama is right.

We do have a health care system that is

not only unsustainable in the long term,

but a great shame on the heads of

those of us who can afford to buy

the health care we need whenever we need it.

Not only are the alleged horror stories

about "socialized medicine" untrue,

but its superiority to our own system

is largely absent from our debate.

In addition to the issues Reid raises—I have

not yet read his book—I did some research

on this question while writing Why

We're Liberals, and I found the following:

  • The United States and South Africa are
  • the only two developed countries
  • in the world that do not provide
  • health care for all of their citizens.

  • Nationally, 29 percent of children had
  • no health insurance at some point in the
  • last 12 months, and many get
  • neither checkups nor vaccinations.

  • The United States ranks 84th in the
  • world for measles immunizations and
  • 89th for polio. These figures are
  • particularly shocking given that
  • Americans spend almost two and a
  • half times the industrialized world's median
  • on health care, nearly a third of
  • which is wasted on bureaucracy and administration.

  • Americans have fewer doctors per capita
  • than most Western countries.
  • We go to the doctor less than people
  • in other Western countries.
  • We get admitted to the hospital less
  • frequently than people in other
  • Western countries.
  • We are less satisfied with our health care
  • than our counterparts in other countries.
  • American life expectancy is lower than
  • the Western average.
  • Childhood-immunization rates in
  • the United States are lower than
  • average.
  • Infant-mortality rates are in the 19th
  • percentile of industrialized nations.
  • Doctors here perform more high-end
  • medical procedures, such as coronary
  • angioplasties, than in other countries,
  • but most of the wealthier Western countries
  • have more CT scanners than the
  • United States does, and Switzerland,
  • Japan, Austria, and Finland all have
  • more MRI machines per capita.
  • Nor is our system more efficient.
  • The United States spends more than
  • $1000 per capita per year—or close
  • to $400 billion—on health care-related
  • paperwork and administration,
  • whereas Canada, for example,
  • spends only about $300 per capita.
  • And, of course, every other country in
  • the industrialized world insures all
  • its citizens; despite those extra hundreds
  • of billions of dollars we spend each year,
  • we leave 45 million people
  • without any insurance.

  • Meanwhile, the Finns, for instance,
  • devote less than half of what we do
  • to medical care, as a percentage of GDP,
  • and yet their infant mortality rate is
  • half that of the United States—and
  • one-sixth that of
  • African-American babies—while their life
  • expectancy rate is greater.
  • The United States ranked 42 in life expectancy
  • behind not only Japan and most of Europe
  • but also Jordan, Guam, and
  • the Cayman Islands, according to
  • the most recent census figures.

Conservatives, members of the American medical

industrial complex, and other defenders of

the U.S. status quo frequently berate

the European health care alternative

because they say the care that patients

receive there is both less responsive

and less advanced than that available

to Americans, however much more we may

have to pay for ours.

But American patients wait longer,

on average, for routine treatments than

those in France and Germany.

Moreover, hospitals in those two nations

also provide new mothers more than

four days to recover, while insurance

companies insist that doctors

send American mothers home after only two.

Swedes enjoy better success rates

treating cervical and ovarian cancers.

The French best the American system

when it comes to stomach cancer,

Hodgkin's disease, and

non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The French also benefit from more

cancer radiation equipment than Americans.

And despite so many American boasts

on exactly this topic, Germans get the most

hip replacements.

In the area where one hears the loudest

cheers for the American system—making

new cancer treatments available to patients

as quickly (however expensively) as possible,

the United States is merely tied

with Austria, France, and Switzerland.

I could go on—almost indefinitely.

And perhaps there are good reasons why

we cannot match the performances

of all of these countries when it comes

to providing decent health care to

our citizens despite being the wealthiest

nation in the world.

But the arguments related to economic

efficiency are demonstrably false.

Conservatives so consistently denigrate

the amazing achievements of

21st-century Europeans that one can't help

but wonder what has them so worried.

"If you want a lower standard of living,"

conservative policy experts Grace-Marie

Turner and Robert Moffit argued in a

December 2006 op-ed, "the Europeans

have the right prescription."

Their argument echoes views, as The New

Republic's Jonathan Cohn noted,

that are popular across the conservative

spectrum, from Newsweek's Robert Samuelson

("Europe is history's has-been") to The

National Review's Jonah Goldberg ("Europe

has an asthmatic economy") to The New

York Times pundit David Brooks

("The European model is flat-out unsustainable").

Conservatives have been making exactly

these arguments for roughly

five decades now, yet these same European

nations have by almost every

measurement—individual rights and

community, capitalist enterprise and

social solidarity, and even personal

mobility—demonstrated results that

Americans can only envy.

(You can find the details supporting

these claims in chapter one of

Why We're Liberals.)

In the meantime, shouldn't we be

able to at least discuss these issues,

instead of largely ignoring them and

focusing on the shouts and screams

of hysterical crazy people who accuse

our president of being a racist,

a Communist, and a Nazi, only to be

rewarded with guest appearances (and

even their own shows) on Fox?

Can America have fallen so far that this

is our answer to Ted Kennedy regarding

the content of our character?

Barack Obama gave one answer

last night but, let's face it, it rested on

"hope." Congress and the American

people will give a more final answer

in the coming months; let's hope

it demonstrates a different form of

"character" than that on display

on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, alas.

Eric Alterman is a Senior Fellow at the

Center for American Progress and

a Distinguished Professor of English

at Brooklyn College. He is also

a Nation columnist and

a professor of journalism at the

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

His seventh book, Why We're

Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring

America's Most Important Ideals,

was recently published in paperback.

He occasionally blogs at http://www.thenation.

com/blogs/altercation and is a regular

contributor to The Daily Beast.

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Procurement Consultant
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Three seized over UN lawyer's death

By JOSH KRON, NATION Correspondent

KIGALI, Rwanda, 

Nearly one month after the death of a

high-ranking United Nations lawyer, the arrest

of three men in Arusha,

Tanzania hopes to shed light on

inconsistent claims he died of natural causes.

Few pieces of information have been

collected on the last hours of

Shyamlal Rajapaksa's life, a prosecuting lawyer

for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,

in Arusha, Tanzania, leading police investigators

and the United Nations to backtrack

and backtrack again on how he died.

At different times throughout the investigations,

police and other officials have claimed

Mr Rajapaksa died of drug overdoses, murder,

and most recently, a natural causes.

"He died of a stroke," says Bocar Sy, a information

officer for the ICTR in Arusha.

"What caused that?

We don't know.

We don't yet have access to the final

medical report."

But the police aren't so sure.

The subsequent arrest of three men last week

hopes to clarify his last moments.

"We're still looking for more clues on the death.

It's only after investigations are complete that

we can conclusively say what killed him,"

Arusha police commander Matei Basilio said.

Mr Rajapaksa was found dead in his living room,

face-down in a pool of his own blood on

the morning of August 11, by a housemaid.

Police collected samples of narcotics from the room

that initial reports said he was taking

with two men the night before.

Police first said he had likely died of a drug overdose,

and a search was on for his companions,

who, a resident guard said, had never been

there before.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations and

police officials claimed that Mr Rajapaksa,

a nephew of Sri Lanka' Prime Minister

Mahinda Rajapaksa, was murdered,

possibly by the two unknown assailants.

The United Nations backtracked last Monday

on the details, saying instead he had died

of natural causes.

They said it was conclusive.

No reason was given for the reversal.

As for the two people he was with the night

before he died, there had been no trace of them,

until they, and another were taken into custody

last Thursday.

Their identifications remain undisclosed.

Police say they are still awaiting results from

the forensics test in Dar es Salaam to tell, exactly,

how Mr. Rajapaska died, but his family

says little weight should be given to those words.

Mr Rajapaska's mother has told media in Tanzania

and Sri Lanka that her son was murdered

over a report he was allegedly writing

on the Rwandan genocide, and that

the United Nations is behind a cover-up.

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Building Self-Sufficiency Through Vocational Training Centres


Peninnah Gathoni


Kigali — In an era where all governments are

fighting against poverty, particularly as they pursue

their set Millennium Development Goals (MDG's),

education is vital.

Today, not all Rwandans are able to afford all school

dues as a result of prevailing financial constraints.

Statistics in Rwanda show that out of every children

who starts school, only less than

one percent make it to University.

The rest drop out of school, and embark

on agricultural tasks while others

move to the city in search of odd jobs.

These will provide alternative education to school

dropouts to attain meaningful employment

so as to live productive lives.

WDA Deputy Director General Fatima Mukarubibi

views vocational training as an important

factor in the drive to enhance

Rwanda's productivity.

This she said will raise people out of poverty

despite people's negative mentality

that continues to hinder its success.

"Parents need to stop thinking that

a good child is one who goes to university

and that one who joins vocational training

is lost.

Students from VTCs are able to get jobs

just as their counterparts who join

higher institutes of education,"

Mukarubibi said.

WDA is mandated to facilitate skills development

programmes that ensure hands-on training that

is different from the traditional theoretical

knowledge passed on by

most educational institutions.

Since inception, the Integrated Polytechnic

Regional Centre (IPRC) popularly known as

Kavumu, located about two hours from

Kigali in Rwanda's Southern Province,

youth have been equipped in

various occupational skills.

Francis Muhizi is a 23 year- old a S.3 drop out

who has enrolled for vocational training at

the centre because his parents can no

longer pay his secondary school fees.

"I am from Mutara, I heard people talking about

Kavumu and the skills that they taught.

I thought of the skills I would acquire if

I decided to come because I knew that

my parents could no longer pay

my secondary school fees," Muhizi said.

He adds that, "It's easy to study from here

because we are provided

with meals and hostels to stay in."

At Kavumu, Muhizi successfully

joined the Automotive Electricity class.

"I have always fancied cars, and I am

determined to acquire skills that will

assist me to get a job later," he said.

In Muhizi's class, a make shift car and

demonstrative equipments are on top

of the table as the trainer assists

his students to understand the mechanism

of automobile cars.

The attentive students periodically

interrupt him with various questions

as they seek for answers.

The trainer uses Kinyarwanda, French

and English because students

do not share a common language.

"I will be here for as long as I am able

to understand all these machines.

I studied human sciences in school so it's

not very hard for me to understand

all the new machines," says Muhizi.

For other students like Muhizi the training centre

will serve as a bridge to self sufficiency

and a niche in the current job market.

In the 'Machine Tools' class a few blocks away,

Faustin Munyengabe, a trainer progresses on

with his lesson and this time,

there are little interruptions.

The blackboard is covered with different formulas

as Munyengabe makes an effort to explain

the complex theories of machine functioning.

"We try all we can to make the training

as practical as possible.

This helps the students to understand

the hard concepts behind machine operations,"

Munyengabe said.

However, Munyengabe admits that training

is quite tasking since students do not share

a common language.

He said that some are francophone

while others only understand Kinyarwanda.

"Having all the needed equipments assists

to make the classes more practical," he said.

As a prerequisite of joining the classes,

the vocational centre expects students to have

a background of sciences and mathematics

that makes understanding easier.

Munyengabe assured that as soon as

his students graduate, they are able to work

for any firm that manufactures tools and

equipment or start small businesses.

"This institution takes students who have dropped

out of senior three and are at least 18 years old.

After enrolment we facilitate their training in a field

of their choice.

Their school fees are affordable and it

includes boarding fees.

Upon completion we invite employers to review

their achievements for placement," Rudahunga explained.

Rudahunga notes that though several campaigns

have been made to attract women into the institution,

very few have enrolled for training.

"I understand that some courses we offer

especially engineering and automotive mechanics

are perceived not to be lady-like.

Women don't want to be associated with them.

However, we have beauty and cooking courses

that still attract very few of them.

It seems we still have to work on raising

awareness to encourage women to join,"

said Rudahunga.

IPRC provides training in priority fields

like; electricity, plumbing, construction, publicworks,

automobile mechanics, welding, cookery,

machine maintenance, hair and beauty.

The courses provide a platform for students

at to compete favourably in the labour markets

According to Rudahunga, the school has

four levels that were completed after 6 years.

The students contribute Rwf 45,000 for the courses,

the most expensive is automotive mechanics

that costs Rwf 185,000.

These expenses cover food and

housing for the students

The Belgium Technical Co-operation (BTC) is one

of the partners attached to the institution.

They have availed state-of-the-art machinery

and equipments for practical training in the school.

"Our partners such as BTC have provided us

with equipments that have made learning

very interactive.

As a result statistics show that a huge percentage

of our students have good jobs," Rudahunga affirms.

Against this background, Rwanda's youths who

have dropped out of school are encouraged

to go to VTC's in order to be trained

on relevant skills for the evolving needs

of employers as they contribute to

the country's economic development.

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Uganda water sector clogged by corruption

A water supply point in Fort Portal. Picture: Morgan Mbabazi 

By MALINGHA DOYA  (email the author)

The policy debate on establishing an independent

water regulator has re-emerged after the sector

woke up to a survey finding last week that

between $5 million and $10 million meant

to improve access to safe water for drinking

in Uganda is lost to corruption annually.

A World Bank sponsored baseline survey

on integrity in Uganda's water supply

and sanitation sector found that between

10 and 20 per cent of money given

to contractors is spent on kickbacks,

which significantly reduces the extent to which

the contract can deliver on improving

access to safe water and sanitation.

Some 54 per cent of private water operators

said they paid 10 per cent of the value of

the contract to win it, while 46 per cent

of urban consumers confessed

to paying extra charges to be

connected to the water supply network.

Going by the fact that national budgetary

allocation to the water sector is an average

of about Ush130 billion ($65 million) over

the past five years, the country could

have lost about Ush65 billion ($32.5 million)

to corruption in that time.

The national effort to improve water supply

and sanitation facilities equitably is

also distorted by interference

with budget allocations to favour areas

where politicians hope to gain

political mileage — another form

of corruption an independent regulator

could check.

To address outright corruption as well

as influence peddling by politicians,

some stakeholders are advocating

an independent regulator, and introduction

of integrity pacts between the government

and contractors, to be monitored

by civil society.

The idea of establishing such a body first

emerged in 2003 after a series

of corruption cases — notably the valley dams

project, which former vice president

Specioza Kazibwe was accused of

mismanaging leading to the loss

of Ush4 billion ($2 million) to the taxpayer.

Corruption at the time was so pronounced

in the sector that some donors

like the Swedish government withheld funds.

The Ministry of Water and Environment

believes in the concept and indeed

sent officials on a study tour

to Germany to learn from the experience there.

However, the National Water and Sewerage

Corporation (NW&SC) argues that

a regulatory body would only

increase water tariffs in the likely

event that players under regulation

fund the watchdog's budget.

Besides, there is no competition in

that segment of the sector meaning

that the regulator's eye will be

fixed on NW&SC only.

"We have set up a unit within the ministry

already to try out the regulatory idea

we learnt from Germany because they have

one of the best water regulation

systems in the world," said State Minister

for Water Jennifer Namuyangu.

An independent regulator would ensure

adherence to procedures in

procurement — where most corruption

cases were reported; operations and


It could also set performance targets

and approve tariffs for the water utility,

which is used to doing these things

on its own.

Currently, regulation is done by performance

contracts only, drafted with anti-corruption

components, although these are understood

to be ineffective because the unit

that awards a contract to, for instance

construct boreholes in the countryside,

is the same party that supervises

the work, and is responsible

for the assets.

With pressure to perform from the top,

there is a tendency for supervisors

to appraise positively even when

work is shoddy.

The management of NW&SC is instead

advocating a regulatory framework with

guidelines to be implemented by a select

committee and supported by the existing

accountability institutions such as

the ombudsman and the procurement regulator.

"It is very costly to put up a regulatory body,

and it is the consumer who will meet

this cost," said Dr William Muhairwe

managing director at NW&SC.

However, the national water utility, although

making a surplus, dedicates most of its

internal income on recurrent expenditure

while money for development spending

is usually provided by capital injections

from the government and donors.

In 2007 a process was begun for the could

to convert a debt of about $90 million

the company owed it into equity,

so that the money can be invested in water

infrastructure rather than paid

to the exchequer.

The move will also clean the water utility's books

of old debts, and enable it to access

funds on a commercial basis by issuing

a bond on the stock exchange,

or making outright application for

long-term loans from financial houses.

Therefore, requiring it to forgo some

income by contributing money to fund

a regulator's budget is not a welcome idea.

Observers also point out that existing

regulatory authorities have not exactly

reduced the amount of corruption

or improved efficiency

in their respective sectors.

The World Bank survey was commissioned

following the Inspectorate

of Government's National Integrity

Survey in 2008, which recommended

that sector studies on corruption be done.

These studies will bring out a representative

picture of how much is lost

to corruption across all sectors.

Unlike some sectors, water does not have

a regulatory authority, leaving regulation

to be done by contracts only, and some

bureaucrats and development partners

think that its establishment will reduce

corruption and improve efficiency.

"It is important for us to have integrity

in the sector because we do not want

to have a situation like we had in 2004

when Sweden withheld funds due

to corruption in the sector,"

said Helen Holm, first secretary in charge

of Water and Sanitation

at the Swedish Embassy in Uganda.

At a meeting where results from the survey

were presented, a notable recommendation

from the consultant was to establish

an independent regulatory authority

with urgency.

The meeting, which The EastAfrican received

exclusive media access to, did not discuss

the matter at length, officials said,

because policies are not made at workshops,

but from the golf club, through

presidential round tables

and on to the Cabinet.

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             J-L K.
Procurement Consultant
Gsm:    (250) (0) 78-847-0205 (Mtn Rwanda)
Gsm:    (250) (0) 75-079-9819 (Rwandatel)
Home:  (250) (0) 25-510-4140
    P.O. Box 3867
  Kigali - RWANDA
    East AFRICA
Blog: http://cepgl.blogspot.com
Skype ID: kayisa66