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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The kernel of the future – the projected five world leaders – are in trouble. With the US and China in a tiff because of Taiwan (arm sales by US manufacturers) and Tibet (a visit with the Dalai Lama), now South Africa, one of the three IBSAs that met with the G2 in Copenhagen, shows sings of 21st century immaturity. You just cannot go on living by Zulu rules if you want to lead your people out of poverty. Tiger Woods learned that very very fast that the limelight of world media will do you in, and even oil rich monarchs do not father now 20 children anymore. The stories about Zuma’s ascent in South Africa were plenty and his people we know told us so when it was rumored that he is in line to take over his country’s helm. It seems that Mandela’s South Africa deserves better – so does the 15 States group of Southern Africa { www.sadc.int }, and black Sub-Sahara Africa at large. We said before, South Africa is the third IBSA not alone, but as the symbol of all that immense Sub-Sahara black chunk of resources rich land and its one billion people that have the potential of evolving into next great consumers market to drive their own economy and the world economy. To this mass of people, the South African President must be an example and our prejudice that we knowingly attempt to show by this posting, calls for an exemplary leader for South Africa – someone fit to try on Mandela’s shoes.

This week the African Union rejected the attempt of Libya’s rambling Gaddafi to hold on to the chairmanship of Africa for another year, and voted instead to give the position to Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika. We attach the story about that event at the end of this posting, as we focus on the further ramblings by a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders from an unnamed French speaking African country, who crowned Qaddafi “King of Kings.” Africa seems to react indeed with understanding to the fact that the world is changing into a 7 to 10 countries structure and that Africa wants one of its own, and that means not Qaddafi, to be part of this structure – a modern man rather then a traditional chieftain – neither do they think anymore that the position of leader in Addis Ababa belongs to a Mediterranean North African settler. They want a black leader – but hiding under a Zulu mantle, and invoking rules of the desert, simply  can not do anymore.

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South Africa’s President Sows (Another) Sex Scandal.

Theunis Bates
 aol.com Contributor, February 2, 2010.
John Edwards might have reason to feel a little jealous of Jacob Zuma right now. The South African president has faced many accusations of sleazy behavior during his 20-year-long political career, from corrupt business dealings (the charges were withdrawn) to having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman (which he admitted). Yet his popularity in South Africa appears to be surviving even the latest addition to his scandal sheet: the revelation that last year he fathered a child – rumored to be his 20th – with a woman who is neither his fiancee nor one of his three current wives.

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, Sonono Khoza, 39 – the daughter of Irvin Khoza, the chief organizer of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa and a close friend of Zuma’s – gave birth to a girl in October, three months before the president wed for the fifth time. The paper added that Zuma was believed to have paid his former lover “inhlawulo,” a traditional Zulu form of compensation handed over when a child is born out of wedlock.

The African National Congress issued a statement Monday confirming that Jacob Zuma, pictured, fathered a daughter out of wedlock. The child, born last year, is rumored to be the South African president’s 20th offspring.

Opposition politicians condemned the African National Congress leader’s bed-hopping antics as unpresidential. “We recommend Zuma goes for sex addiction therapy as Tiger Woods did,” said Christian Democrat Kenneth Meshoe.

Other parliamentarians pointed out that Zuma is sending the wrong message to his fellow countrymen and women, about 5 million of whom are infected with HIV/AIDS – the highest number of any nation in the world. Although the president was praised for increasing the availability of lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs after his election last year, opposition parties say his behavior is now undermining campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of condom use and faithfulness.

“South Africa now has a president who, both through his words and actions, is doing similar damage to the struggle against HIV/AIDS – a life-and-death struggle for millions of South Africans,” said Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance. “President Zuma’s behavior directly contradicts the government’s campaign against multiple sexual partners, and the inherent AIDS risk in having unprotected sex.”

Zuma, who defends his right to have more than one wife as part of his Zulu culture, has yet to comment on the revelations, although the ANC issued a statement Monday confirming that he had fathered a child.

“There is nothing wrong that the president has done. There is nothing shameful when two adults have a relationship,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “By being involved with any other person, President Zuma is not guilty of any offense and he has not breached our constitution or any of our laws.”

With Zuma’s approval ratings still sitting comfortably above 50 percent, most ordinary South Africans seem disposed, at least for now, to agree with that verdict.

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After Losing a Post, Qaddafi Rebukes the African Union
February 1st, 2010, abbaymedia.com/News/?p=3699
By JASON McLURE

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state Sunday after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa.

“I do not believe we can achieve something concrete in the coming future,” said Colonel Qaddafi, before introducing President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as his successor at the African Union’s annual summit meeting, held in Addis Ababa. “The political elite of our continent lacks political awareness and political determination. The world is changing into 7 or 10 countries, and we are not even aware of it.”

South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries opposing Colonel Qaddafi’s attempts to form a continental government, which many view as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.

Colonel Qaddafi argued that individual African states are too weak to negotiate with major powers like the European Union, the United States and China. His efforts to become the first African leader to win another one-year term as chairman of the African Union were thwarted by a push for Mr. Mutharika, 75, by the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

The Libyan leader also complained that such summit meetings were boring, that his colleagues were too long-winded and that he often was not informed of African Union decisions.

Colonel Qaddafi did not leave the lectern before giving the microphone to an unnamed representative of a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders who had crowned him “King of Kings” in a ceremony in 2008.

The representative, bearing a golden scepter and trailed by an aide fanning him with a large feather, spent much of his address praising Colonel Qaddafi.

“You have the African people with you,” said the man, who spoke in French and did not identify himself. “This is what is important, not politicking. It is politicians who have destroyed us.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From www.FT.com

Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.He had been the first…
Aug 20 2008, By Tom Burgis, Financial Times
Zambian president dies in France

Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who was laid low by a stroke hours before he was…would like to inform the nation that our president, his Excellency Dr Levy Mwanawasa, died this morning at 10.30am at Percy Military Hospital,” Rupiah Banda…
Aug 19 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
Zambian leader’s health worsens

The health of Levy Mwanawasa, the ailing Zambian president who has been a sharp critic of Robert Mugabe, his Zimbabwean counterpart, has deteriorated, his deputy…
Aug 18 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
Zambian mystery

The fate of Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, was last night shrouded in confusion amid reports that he had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, Financial Times
Zambia refutes rumours of president’s death

Zambia on Thursday moved to end the confusion surrounding the fate of Levy Mwanawasa, dismissing reports that the president had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke.”These are false and malicious rumours…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
International pressure on Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
International pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
Global pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll. In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 23 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, FT.com site
Africa must act to avoid being engulfed by Zimbabwe’s disaster

…President Paul Kagame is among the first to raise his head above the parapet, joining Botswana’s Ian Khama and Zambia’s Levy Mwanawasa in a growing band of African leaders who are prepared to condemn a tyrant. Not only has Robert Mugabe put southern…
Jun 25 2008, By Michael Holman and Greg Mills, FT.com site
Harare buffeted by winds of change blowing through region

…sea-change in the thinking of the 14- nation Southern African Development Community.Regional diplomats indicate that Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, and Ian Khama, Botswana’s new leader, are impatient with the region’s traditional reverence for…
May 01 2008, By Alec Russell in Cape Town, Financial Times

***

Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind.

By Tom Burgis

Published: August 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 20 2008 03:00

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.

He had been the first to break the longstanding deference of African rulers towards Robert Mugabe, condemning the abuses that had culminated in the Zimbabwean autocrat claiming victory in a discredited election. As early as March last year, Mwanawasa had referred to the “sinking Ti-tanic” that was Zimbabwe’s inflation-battered economy.

Now, as the serving chair of the southern African bloc, the retiring former lawyer would carry the hopes of many Zimbabweans into an African Union summit in Egypt at which Mr Mugabe would try to stare down his counterparts into legitimising his flawed triumph.

For a man most at ease in small gatherings, assiduously reading his briefing papers or escaping to the family farm for the planting season, the ordeal ahead was immense. Alphabetical seating by country was to have put him next to Mr Mugabe.

It proved too much. Always in poor health since the car crash 17 years earlier that left him with slurred speech, Mwanawasa suffered a stroke. Even as he was flown to the Paris hospital where he would die seven weeks later, the summit was welcoming Mr Mugabe back to the fold, thwarting the efforts of a handful of Mwanawasa’s like-minded peers.

The second son of 10 siblings, Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira, near the Congolese border, in 1948, 16 years before Zambia’s independence from Britain.

A crusading legal career established his public profile. When the one-party state of Kenneth Kaunda unravelled into elections in 1991, Frederick Chiluba, the victorious leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, appointed Mwanawasa as vice-president.

In 2001, disillusioned with the pervasive corruption of the Chiluba regime, Mwanawasa turned on – and ousted – his mentor. Within weeks he had stripped his predecessor of immunity from prosecution. A London court later found that Mr Chiluba had salted away $46m (€31m, £25m) of public funds.

Mwanawasa’s anti-graft offensive won him the allegiance of international donors who flooded state coffers with aid. China came calling too, tempted by some of the world’s richest copper deposits. Economic growth rose from just over 3 per cent a year when he took office to 6 per cent last year.

Yet, as his critics point out, about seven in every 10 Zambians still live on less than $2 a day. “Wealth has trickled downwards but it has not trickled outwards to the rural areas,” said a European diplomat in Lusaka. “That challenge is only just beginning.”

It is not clear who will take up that challenge. Mwanawasa avoided anointing an heir. His death has thrown his party into turmoil as cabinet ministers who thought they had three more years to jockey for position face an election within three months. The discord may open a window for Michael Sata, the opposition leader who came second when Mwanawasa won a second term in 2006 and who has lambasted the government’s fiscal orthodoxy.

Those who knew Mwanawasa, who had six children with his wife Maureen and two from a previous marriage, describe a man whose unspectacular oratory masked a deep conviction.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, yesterday lamented the death of “a good friend and comrade”. He added: “Sadly, he has left us at this most trying time.”

zambia032.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING IS EYE OPENING AND A FURTHER GOOD LAUNDRY-LIST OF WHAT IS WRONG WITH PROMISES OF FOREIGN AID THAT LEADS NOWHERE. THESE TWO PRESENTERS SHOW THAT AFRICA STARTS FROM POINTS BELLOW ZERO. BUT WHAT CAN THE G8 ACHIEVE IN THREE DAYS WHEN THE PROBLEMS ARE THAT THERE IS INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM NEGLECT, AND AFRICA’S OWN LEADERSHIP HAS NO CONSIDERATION FOR THE UN RULE   – “THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT.”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

G8 COUNTDOWN: G8 blind to Africa’s true needs, farmer says.

By JANICE TANG
Kyodo News

Zambian farmer Joyce Mwanje landed in Japan after a long journey across half the globe, leaving her husband and seven children to tend to the fields where they till the land with hand hoes to grow maize, soybeans, vegetables and other crops.

Mwanje has come with the important mission of representing fellow African peasant farmers to make their voices heard by the leaders of the Group of Eight countries who will meet in Hokkaido from Monday for their annual summit.

Mwanje, 47, who heads her community’s farmers development club in the rural area of Chibobo in Serenje, central Zambia, wants to ensure that the G8 nations not only live up to their aid pledges, but also realize Africa’s true needs.

“In my village, we produce mainly staple food with occasional or no surplus sold,” Mwanje said in an interview in Tokyo. “The majority of people cultivate less than 2 hectares of rain-fed land using simple techniques and cultivation practices, and produce mainly maize, groundnuts, roots and tubers for their own consumption.”

“The problem we have is we can only use hand hoes for plowing our land. We don’t manage to have much harvest for income,” she said.

Joseph Ssuuna, secretary general of nongovernmental organization PELUM Association, accompanied Mwanje to Japan. He said aid provision is complex and flawed.

“When world leaders meet to talk about the food crisis in the world, they have to look at the means of production that people have at their disposal,” he said.

Ssuuna, whose group promotes ecological land-use management, criticized the developed nations’ emphasis on introducing new seeds and increasing the amount of fertilizers and agrochemicals in their push for the so-called Green Revolution for Africa.

He said that what is really needed to transform the lives of African farmers is access to basic farming machinery and micro-financing.

“People don’t want aid as such. People want to live meaningful lives, to earn their own living,” said Ssuuna, a 46-year-old Ugandan residing in Zambia. “Farmers want to farm, but we need to make sure that the systems and institutions that support farming are functional.”

In Mwanje’s village, where the size of the average family is eight people and agriculture has been the source of livelihood for generations, a Zambian NGO called the Green Living Movement has been promoting sustainable agriculture since 2000.

Mwanje said she and other farmers have adopted the practice of agroforestry, in which nitrogen fixing tree legumes are planted in their fields for soil fertility instead of using synthetic fertilizers. The method has helped improve her productivity and her income base, she said.

Even so, efficiency is relatively low due to a lack of basic farming machinery, electricity and irrigation — she still has to draw water from a well and waters the crops with a jerrycan, and pound harvests of maize and soybeans manually with sticks.

Each year, she harvests about 25 to 30 bags of maize, the main crop for income, at 50 kg each. Most is consumed by her family with only an average of five bags left for sale, and each bag fetches 34,000 Zambian kwachas, or approximately $10.

Ssuuna explained that although the recent surge in global food prices should in theory be an opportunity for African farmers, in places like Zambia, where crop prices are set by the Food Reserve Agency and rural farmers have poor access to open markets, the price hikes only profit the agency and middlemen traders while farmers get paid little for their produce.

Japan, to show its leadership as this year’s G8 chair, has pledged to double aid to Africa by 2012 and help double rice production on the continent as part of medium- to long-term assistance in tackling the food security issue.

But both Mwanje and Ssuuna expressed doubt about promoting rice in Africa.

“I once tried to grow rice in our field, but the harvest was not good and we didn’t get any rice grains to eat. May be water was not enough,” Mwanje said. She added that while she tried for one season because she liked rice, she never went back to growing it again.



Ssuuna noted that while consumption of rice in Africa has risen in recent years, it was partly because rice producers like Japan and other Asian countries have offloaded their large surpluses in Africa. In some cases, the dependence on rice imports have triggered food riots, such as in Sierra Leone, amid the price surges.

“What do we learn from that? If you disrupt people’s production systems and you make them dependent on other production systems for their food, you are creating a catastrophe,” he said.

“I think a more sustainable support system should focus on African indigenous crops that have already been localized and are suitable to the ecosystem in these places,” Ssuuna added.

Mwanje and Ssuuna, with the support of Japanese NGOs, will be in Hokkaido to meet Japanese and international press when the three-day G8 summit begins Monday at the Lake Toya resort.



“We are here to remind the leaders of their failure to meet commitments made in the last several G8 summits,” Ssuuna said. “It’s also important for them to know that when they make these commitments, there are so many people’s hopes and lives that now focus on them.”

“A failure to meet those commitments means they are failing so many people who do not have the voice to represent themselves in the G8, who do not have the means to change their own lives.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On photo of rape-seed plants, it says “Biofuels are responsible for 75 percent of recent food price rises, according to a secret World Bank report.”

Food and fuel crises pushing world into ‘danger zone’, says World Bank’s Robert Zoellick.

LEIGH PHILLIPS, for the EUobserver, July 4, 2008.

As the head of the World Bank warns world leaders that the planet is entering the “danger zone” with millions thrown into extreme poverty by the twin food and fuel crises, a leaked report from his organisation shows that biofuels have pushed up global food prices by 75 percent – a much bigger role in the disaster than previously thought.

In a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, ahead of next week’s G8 summit, and copied to other G8 leaders, World Bank president Robert Zoellick has called on them to act immediately to address the “man-made catastrophe” of soaring food and oil prices.“What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster – a silent tsunami or a perfect storm. It is a man-made catastrophe and as such must be fixed by people,” he said in the letter.

There has been an 82 percent rise in food commodity prices since 2006, with the crisis worsening since April, Mr Zoellick warned.

This has pushed an additional 100 million people worldwide into extreme poverty, he said, noting that some 41 countries have lost three to ten percent of their GDP from rising food, fuel and commodity prices since January 2007. Over 30 countries have been hit by food riots, as the impact of the crisis reaches the household level, said Mr Zoellick.

He described the current situation as an “unprecedented test” for the international community and called on wealthy countries to stump up €6.4 billion ($10 billion) in immediate short-term emergency aid for the countries hardest hit by the crisis.

Over the medium term, an additional €2.2 billion ($3.5 billion) is needed for agricultural supports and social programmes for the poor in a further 50 countries, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Zoellick’s organisation has produced a confidential report leaked to a UK newspaper that says that the rush for biofuels, particularly by the EU and US, is responsible for 75 percent of the rise in global food prices.

Until now, the US has claimed that biofuels policies have resulted in only three percent of the rise in food prices, while European Union officials have repeatedly claimed their policies have had a “negligable” impact, without attaching any percentage.

Other international institutions have assigned considerably more blame to such policies. The UN Food and Agriculture organisation says that biofuels explain 10 percent of recent price rises.

The International Monetary Fund puts this figure at 30, the same number reached in assessments from the International Food Policy Research Institute.

“Without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate,” the report says.

EU and US leaders have argued that it is not biofuels, but rather higher demand from India and China as incomes there rise, alongside increased oil costs and droughts in parts of the world such as Australia.

The World Bank report, produced by Don Mitchell, a senior economist at the institution, argues that emerging economies are not to blame. “Rapid income growth in developing countries has not led to large increases in global grain consumption and was not a major factor responsible for the large price increases,” reads the report, adding that droughts in Australia have had a marginal impact.

Higher energy and fertiliser prices were responsible for an increase of only 15 percent says Mr Mitchell, while biofuels have been responsible for 75 percent of the price rise of 140 percent between 2002 and February 2008.

This happened in three ways, the report explains: the diversion of grain from food to fuel; the encouragement of farmers to set aside land for biofuel production; and the speculation in grains.

The report also says that other estimates of the role of biofuels have come to smaller estimates because they analysed the crisis over a longer period. Mr Mitchell instead studied food price rises month by month.

Separately, international development NGO ActionAid on Tuesday (1 July) published a report that claims that the “biofuels juggernaut” is responsible for leaving some 290 million people hungry or at risk of chronic hunger.

Additionally, on Thursday at a Brussels conference hosted by the French EU presidency, John Holmes, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, called on the EU to “look again” at its target that would see biofuels to fuel 10 percent of vehicles by 2020.

www.SustainabiliTank.info has argued for a long time that agricultural-land set-asides were invented to “support” prices of the commodities. The bio-fuels can thus safely be produced from putting back into production those already existing set-asides.

If the World Bank would like to do something for the world’s poor, it would start helping those poor directly with microcredit type of lending rather then seeking out large corporate-based government credit-seekers. Go out and study Malawi – learn how help comes only for those that are ready to help themselves – not their Mugabe kind of despots. Zoelick, Don Mitchell, and George Bush are doing disservice to humanity by not laying bare a reality study and instead talk of symptoms rather then the underlying cancer. US and EU agriculture have caused the destruction of autonomous production in places like Africa – first by underselling them, then by keeping them dependent of “benevolent” hand-outs when teaching to fish is much more important then shipping away free fish. NGOs’ help has also been misconstrued so it makes the philanthropists feel good by having around dependent poor – why in the world don’t you go to Malawi and learn how to make a whole country independent? Why don’t you not simply say to Africa – if you do not get rid of your Mugabes we will not dish food to you anymore. Without your Mugabes we are ready to come help you organize your self-help – and by god – we are really intent to help you this time.

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In total 15 EU states (out of 27) have nuclear power plants, accounting for nearly a third of electricity generated in the EU. So, 12 States do not have nuclear plants, but being part of the European grid get their electricity from such plants anyway.
Support for nuclear power in Europe growing, says commission survey
RENATA GOLDIROVA, from Brussels, for the EUobserver, July 3, 2008

Although nuclear energy continues to be a “strongly” divisive subject in the European Union, support for the controversial source of electricity generation has grown “significantly” over the last three years, a new European Commission survey suggests. A “permanent, safe solution” to managing radioactive waste seems to be the decisive factor when it comes to a possible shift in opinion about nuclear energy.

Should such a solution be found to safely storing the waste, some 39 percent of people say they would change their mind about nuclear energy, according to the poll released by the commission on Thursday (3 July). { What about the decommissioning of these plants when time has come for their closing? Do you have any solution for this problem ? }

Dutch, Belgians, Lithuanians, Britons, the French, Slovenians and Finns are the most open to new arguments. Half the opponents in these countries would change their view regarding nuclear energy should a solution to waste be developed.

However, 48 percent of Europeans – mainly in Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal and Germany – would stick to a firm No irrespective of any solution to waste. Eight percent are convinced there is no solution to be found. The European Commission itself stopped short of saying what a permanent and safe solution should be, saying it instead is promoting expert discussion on the issue.

Brussels has recently set up a high-level group designed to establish common criteria on ways how radioactive waste should be treated. One of the possible methods discussed has been “geological storage facilities”, currently used in Finland, the commission spokesperson said.

He also referred to a piece of EU legislation on radioactive waste that “is still on the table of the council [representing EU capitals] and has not been addressed”.

According to the survey, 93 percent of Europeans say a solution for high level radioactive waste “should be developed now and not left for future generations”.

In general, some 44 percent of Europeans express support for nuclear energy, while a nearly identical number, 45 percent, oppose it. The figures represent quite a shift in views compared to 2005, when 37 percent of people were in favour and 55 percent were against nuclear power.

There is a clear link between the level of citizens’ support and whether their home country operates nuclear power plants. The Czechs, Lithuanians and Hungarians are most in favour.

Currently, 15 EU states have nuclear power plants – something that accounts for nearly a third of the electricity generated in the EU.

The current European Commission, under the leadership of Jose Manuel Barroso, has not shied away from supporting the nuclear path, a controversial option in many parts of Europe. Brussels says that nuclear energy has a role to play in meeting the EU’s growing concerns about security of supply and CO2 emission reductions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Food Crisis Accelerates Africa’s Rural-Urban Drift, UN Says.
By Eric Ombok

June 19 (Bloomberg) — Stagnating agricultural production in Africa is fueling a population drift from rural areas to the cities that may lead to civil unrest, the head of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, Anna Tibaijuka, said.

“If we do not secure the African farming system, all these people will be heading to urban areas,” Tibaijuka told a regional meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization today in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “Where are the hungry? Where are the rioters? You will find most of them in urban areas.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the Food Security Summit this month in Rome that the world needed to spend as much as $20 billion a year on agriculture to tackle a 60 percent rise in food prices over the past 18 months that has sparked riots in more than 30 countries.

The percentage of Africans living in urban areas will rise to 60 percent in the next two decades, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki told the meeting. That compares with about 37 percent as of 2004, according to the UN settlements program, known as UN- Habitat.

“Those engaged in agricultural production will be fewer than is the case today” and will be expected to feed more people, Kibaki said.

He called for greater investment in developing irrigation and water-supply systems, which he said could triple crop production on the continent.

Water Resources

About 4 percent of Africa’s renewable water resources have been harnessed for irrigation, hydropower and domestic and commercial use, compared with between 70 percent and 90 percent in industrial nations, he said.

“While the African continent is considered to be a water- deficit region, we have some of the largest global water basins which are yet to be fully exploited,” Kibaki said.

Right now, most of Africa agriculture depends on “unreliable rainfall,” FAO Executive Director Jacques Diouf told the meeting.

Most African governments are failing to meet the commitment made at a 2004 meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to spend 10 percent of their national budgets on farming, Kenyan Agriculture Minister William Ruto said. He also called for increased research into high-yield, drought-resistant seeds and the production of fertilizer.

“Unless we invest in and finance agriculture, we are unlikely to change the tide” of food insecurity, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi via Johannesburg at  pmrichardson at bloomberg.net.

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We must repeat – go to Malawi and learn how it is done. Start with a government that wants to do it.       In case of crisis, remember, sending out food rather then teaching how to grow the local food – is just a temporary crutch that makes the recepient even more dependent on crutches.  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Malawi cultivates cash gains for its farmers.
By Alan Beattie, The Financial Times, June 10 2008

Try walking 25 kilometres carrying a 50-kilogramme bag of fertiliser on your head, as farmers in Malawi do, and you might get a sharper appreciation of the difficulties in building agricultural supply chains in Africa.

It is hard to find a country that more embodies the struggles to improve African farming. Landlocked, crowded, one of the poorest countries on earth, Malawi’s 10m semi-subsistence smallholders coax harvests of corn from poor soils in family plots averaging just half a hectare. { BUT THEY DO IT – A success story! }

Yet a nationwide experiment, and a more intensive local pilot operating as part of an international trial, have shown the gains possible from giving farmers access to inputs that their counterparts elsewhere in the world would regard as routine.

A widely-watched government subsidy scheme, which gives smallholders vouchers to buy seed and fertiliser, helped to double the harvest between 2004-05 and 2005-06, and has just helped produce another rich corn crop.

Meanwhile, in the south of the country near the high Zomba plateau, a cluster of settlements that is home to about 35,000 people has become part of the international “millennium villages project” inspired by Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and backed by the United Nations.

The millennium villagers receive intensive help across a wide range of areas such as education, healthcare and setting up small businesses. On the agricultural front they get seeds and fertiliser on a more generous basis than the nationwide government scheme, and advice to help them diversify into cash crops such as groundnuts, cabbages, tomatoes and fish farming.

Glenn Denning, who helps run the project as director of the Millennium Development Goals Centre in Kenya, says that the villages should reach sustainably higher output in five to 10 years, though the Malawi one is likely to take longer. Currently, the corn cribs in the villages are overflowing with the second successive year of bumper harvests, two or three times the national average yield, which is helping to support the project’s other aims. A school-feeding programme giving corn porridge to pupils has increased attendance at the local primary school from 380 children to 500, the headmaster says.

Esnart Kaphesi, a farmer in the millennium village, used to harvest about eight 50kg bags of corn from planting traditional varieties of seed. Having been given higher-yielding hybrid seed and 100kg of fertiliser, her crop is now 21 bags and counting.

“This year is the best yet,” she says. Her first priority is an iron roof for her house to replace the thatch. If she continues to generate surpluses she wants to open a sideline trading rice.

Connecting farmers to the cash economy requires overcoming considerable challenges in itself.

Although the Zomba villages are closer to the nearest town than many in Malawi, some farmers still have to walk or cycle 25km to buy inputs or sell produce. Some club together to hire pick-up trucks to take their crops to the market. Cecilia Natchengwa, another villager, says that the rising cost of fuel is cutting into the money to be made from selling cabbages, although they remain her most profitable cash crop.

Whether the schemes of subsidised inputs are sustainable, or indeed applicable, elsewhere in Africa, remains in question. The national voucher scheme will be repeated for next year’s harvest. But global fertiliser prices, which largely reflect the cost of energy used to make it, will increase by 70 per cent. Ms Kaphesi estimates that, after keeping enough for her family to eat, she will be able to sell 10 bags of corn this year to raise 15,000 kwacha ($110, €70, £57).

Last year, that would have been enough to buy the seed and fertiliser she was given, suggesting the scheme could be self-supporting. This year, fertiliser prices have doubled to K9,000 for 50kg, meaning she would not break even without the free inputs.

Experts say that it is tricky to design large-scale government interventions that correct market failures rather than add to them.

A recent review of the national subsidy programme led by Andrew Dorward, a UK academic, was generally positive – especially since the scheme now encourages private markets to develop by allowing farmers to buy their fertiliser from agro-dealers rather than the government procuring it centrally.

But Prof Dorward says great care is needed when translating lessons from Malawi to other areas in Africa such as, say, western Kenya, which have better access to ports and more scope for agribusinesses to penetrate rural areas on their own.

“Input subsidies may also be appropriate here, but would need to be implemented very carefully to build on and strengthen the existing demand and supply systems,” he says.

Mr Denning is enthusiastic about the Malawian voucher scheme, but refers to the experience as “an inspiration rather than a model”.

The UK’s Department for International Development is one of Malawi’s biggest donors, and after much internal debate has continued to support the programme.

However, it is cautious about replicating it. Douglas Alexander, international development secretary, says: “I would not at this stage say the lesson is to increase agricultural subsidies across Africa.”

{ ??? – are the donors to stop short from getting Africa on its feet ? Is this because of OECD economies actually liking it if others are not able to become potential competitors? The halt-back attitude by those depicted in this article make us feel sick.  www.SustainabiliTank.info comment)}

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Hunger spreads to Ethiopia’s adults as food crisis worsens: Chronic drought, global food prices deal double blow.

Tariken Lakamu, 6, has been living on one meal a day. “I’m weak,” the child said. “I feel sick. I don’t get any food.”
 www.boston.com/news/world/africa/…

SHASHAMANE, Ethiopia – Like so many other victims of Ethiopia’s hunger crisis, Usheto Beriso weighs just half of what he should. He is always cold and swaddled in a blanket. His limbs are stick-thin.

But Usheto is not the typical face of Ethiopia’s chronic food problems, the scrawny baby or the ailing toddler. At age 55, he is among a growing number of adults and older children – traditionally less-vulnerable groups – who have been stricken by severe hunger due to poor rains and recent crop failure in southern Ethiopia, health workers say.

“To see adults in this condition, it’s a very serious situation,” Mieke Steenssens, a volunteer nurse with Doctors Without Borders, said as she registered the 5-foot-4 Usheto’s weight at just 73 pounds.

Aid groups say the older victims suggest there is an escalation in the crisis in Ethiopia, a country that drew international attention in 1984 when a famine compounded by communist policies killed 1 million people.

This year’s crisis, brought on by a countrywide drought and skyrocketing global food prices, is far less severe. But while figures for how many adults and older children are affected are not available, at least four aid groups said they noticed a troubling increase.

“We’re overwhelmed,” said Margaret Aguirre, a spokeswoman for the International Medical Corps, an aid agency based in Santa Monica, Calif. “There’s not enough food and everyone’s starving, and that’s all there is to it.

“Older children are starting to show the signs of malnutrition when normally they might be able to withstand shocks to the system,” she added. “What’s particularly concerning is that the moderately malnourished are soaring. It’s increasing so much that it means those children are going to slide into severe malnutrition.”

Ethiopia is not alone in suffering through the worldwide food crisis, which is threatening to push the number of hungry people in the world toward 1 billion. Last week, a UN summit of 181 countries pledged to reduce trade barriers and boost agricultural production to combat rising food prices.

But in Ethiopia, food production is hampered by drought, meaning the country has been hit with a double blow. Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land. Agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and 85 percent of exports.

Sending more food is one solution, but there already is a global crunch as rising fuel prices drive up the cost of fertilizers, farm vehicle use, and transport of food to market. Biofuels, which are made from crops such as sugar cane and corn, are another contentious issue, with critics saying they compete with food crops.

The problem is echoed across Africa, from Kenya and Somalia and farther west. Exacerbating the global rise in food prices, which has sparked protests and riots in several West African nations, is an annual decline in food reserves across the high desert-like region called the Sahel, just below the Sahara Desert.

The so-called lean season that begins around June is marked by near-empty grain stores, with the next harvest not due until around September. Locust invasions and poor rains in recent years have only worsened the condition, which leads to deadly malnutrition among young children.

Aid agencies in Ethiopia are issuing desperate appeals for donor funding, saying emergency intervention is not enough. Ethiopia receives more food aid than nearly every other country in the world, most of it from the United States, which has provided $300 million in emergency assistance to relief agencies in the past year.

But despite the international help, the country is again facing hunger on a mass scale. Part of the reason, according to John Holmes, the top UN humanitarian official, is the country’s climate, chronic drought, and the large population of 78 million people.

The UN children’s agency has characterized this year’s food shortage – in which an estimated 4.5 million people are in need of emergency food aid – as the worst since 2003, when droughts led 13.2 million people to seek such aid. In 2000, more than 10 million needed emergency food.

Studies by the International Medical Corps in southern Ethiopia – the epicenter of the crisis – indicate that up to one in four young mothers is showing signs of moderate malnutrition.

Ethiopia’s top disaster response official, Simon Mechale, insists that the food situation is “under control” and will be resolved within four months. But in the countryside, there are signs that drought has taken a more serious toll.

At a recent food distribution in a village some 155 miles southwest of the capital, more than 4,000 people showed up for free wheat and cooking oil, but only 1,300 rations were available.

Harried health workers picked through the impatient crowd, sorting out the sickest children. Frantic mothers proffered their withered infants, hoping the children’s poor state would earn some food for the family.

Ayelech Daka said her 6-year-old son, Tariken Lakamu, has been living on one meal a day for the past three months.

“He was very fat three months ago,” said his mother, Ayelech said. “He was normal.”

Now, he’s skin and bones; he vomits just seconds after taking a bite of a ration offered by an aid worker. “I’m weak,” the child said. “I feel sick. I don’t get any food.”

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Amid food crisis, a growing focus on local farmers: Poor countries were discouraged by development experts for decades from pouring too much resources into agriculture, instead being told they would be wise to focus more on manufacturing, tourism and other industries and then buy a lot of imported food from rich countries. But the ongoing food crisis is changing this mindset, with poor nations now increasingly being urged to invest more in local farming to become more self-sufficient. This is a self criticism in today’s The Wall Street Journal – June 10, 2008. THAT IS THE TRUTH !!!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Defiant Mugabe threatens to expel US ambassador: “I’ll kick him out of the country.”

By Cris Chinaka, for the Independent of London, as per Reuters.
Monday, May 26, 2008

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REUTERS
Robert Mugabe: ‘I’ll kick him out of the country’ – this about the US Ambassador.

The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, accused the United States of political interference and threatened to expel its ambassador yesterday, as his party, Zanu-PF, began its campaign for next month’s election run-off.

Mr Mugabe also said the US State Department’s top diplomat for Africa had behaved like “a prostitute” by suggesting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the elections on 29 March.

Mr Mugabe’s attacks on the American Ambassador, James McGee, and Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, signalled the start of his campaign for the run-off on 27 June against Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round but fell short of an absolute majority.

“He [Mr McGee] says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out,” Mr Mugabe said at a campaign rally. “As tall as he is, if he continues to do that, I will kick him out of the country.”

Of Ms Frazer, he said: “You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act.”

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since the end of white rule in 1980, routinely accuses the US and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000. He told supporters in Harare that the Western allies wanted to control Zimbabwe’s resources.

He also promised land to Zimbabweans who returned from South Africa. Some 3.5 million people have fled the country to escape poverty in an economy where inflation is more than 165,000 per cent; four in five adults have no job; and food and fuel are in desperately short supply.

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Tsvangirai returns and calls on Mugabe to “set the people free:” Zimbabwe’s opposition leader tells the President that attacking his supporters will not stop them voting.

By Angus Shaw in Harare
Sunday, 25 May 2008


Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home quietly yesterday after an absence of more than a month, stopping first to visit supporters in hospital who were targeted in an onslaught of state-sponsored violence. He then called on President Robert Mugabe to “set his people free”.

Mr Tsvangirai left six weeks ago to warn the world about impending violence. He first tried to return last weekend, but called that off after his party said he was the target of a military assassination plot. The former union leader has survived at least three assassination attempts.

Last week, a meeting of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare and a rally had been planned for his return. In the end, he came back in typically low-key style, speeding off in a three-car convoy to a Harare hospital where victims of political violence were being treated. “I return home to Zimbabwe with a sad heart,” he said afterwards. “I have met and listened to the stories of the innocent people targeted by a regime seemingly desperate to cling to power.”

Mr Tsvangirai faces a presidential run-off against Mr Mugabe on 27 June. Independent human rights groups say opposition supporters have been beaten and killed by ruling party thugs to ensure the 84-year-old President, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, wins the second round. He trailed the MDC leader in the first round on 29 March.

“Mugabe once led our people to freedom,” Mr Tsvangirai said. “He can now set his people free from poverty, hunger and fear” by stepping down.

The violence poses questions about whether the run-off can be free and fair, but the opposition candidate did not expect his supporters to stay away from the polls. “If Mugabe thinks he has beaten people into submission, he will have a rude shock on the 27th,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said farewell to his family in Johannesburg, and said it was not clear when his wife and six children would join him. Among the assassination attempts the 56-year-old has survived was one in 1997 by unidentified assailants who tried to throw him from a 10th-floor window. Last year, he was brutally assaulted by police at a “prayer rally”, and images seen around the world of his bruised and swollen face came to symbolise the plight of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

When Mr Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe early in April, he said he wanted to present regional leaders with information that Mr Mugabe planned attacks on the opposition. He then embarked on an international tour to rally support for democracy in his country. “I’m sure that we have managed to ensure an African consensus about the crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said yesterday, adding it was now time to turn his attention to rallying his supporters at home.

Since the first round of voting, 42 of his party’s “most dedicated, brightest and strongest” supporters and activists had been killed.

The MDC leader says he won the first round outright, and that official results released on 2 May, showing a run-off was necessary, were fraudulent. Asked whether he thought Mr Mugabe would be any more likely to step down in June than he was in March, Mr Tsvangirai said the run-off result would be “definitive”.

Saying that he was looking ahead to the difficult task of healing a nation “traumatised” by political violence, Mr Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans who have fled political and economic collapse to return. At least four million Zimbabweans are abroad, most in South Africa, where they have been among the main targets in a deadly wave of anti-foreigner violence. This could also be blamed on Mr Mugabe, he said yesterday, adding: “Our crisis in this country is impacting on [neighbours’] economies and societies. The entire… region awaits a new Zimbabwe.”

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Mbeki says South Africa ‘disgraced’ by xenophobic riots as death toll rises to 50.
By Ian Evans in Cape Town
Monday, 26 May 2008

President Thabo Mbeki admitted last night that South Africa had been “disgraced” by the wave of anti-foreigner violence which has convulsed the nation.

Facing intense criticism over his government’s ineffectual handling of the attacks, Mr Mbeki said in a televised address that South Africans’ heads were “bowed” and reminded his countrymen that their economy rested on the work of migrants from across Africa.

His intervention came as police raised the official death toll from the spree of violence from 43 to 50 and said that 35,000 people had been left homeless in the fortnight since armed gangs in the squatter camps and informal settlements in the main urban centres of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town began killing, raping, beating, stabbing and burning nationals from other African countries.

Mr Mbeki has come under fire for travelling to Tanzania for an African Union summit on Wednesday and for waiting until the same day before ordering the army on to the streets to help the police. He has also been criticised for being too out of touch to realise that the violence was in part fuelled by the lack of adequate housing and jobs for the poorest South Africans.

A front-page editorial in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper said: “Throughout the crisis, arguably the most grave, dark and repulsive moment in the life of our young nation, Mbeki has demonstrated that he no longer has the heart to lead.”

Moeltsi Mbeki, of the South African Institute of International Affairs, who is Thabo Mbeki’s brother, said the government had lost credibility.

“Even a strong statement by somebody who has such weak authority will not convince the people. This crisis is the result of the failure of their foreign policy against Zimbabwe and they don’t want to admit that,” he said.

The Johannesburg area has borne the brunt of the trouble and most of the deaths, but seven of the nine South African provinces have reported attacks against immigrants.

Thousands of refugees and economic migrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other countries are making their escape from South Africa from bus and train stations in the transport hub of Johannesburg. But even there, armed police are guarding them from marauding gangs armed with axes and knives.

Mozambique said yesterday that 20,000 of its nationals had fled South Africa, a reverse influx which has prompted authorities there to declare a national state of emergency.

In South Africa, makeshift tented refuges have sprung up in the big urban centres to take in some of those fleeing their attackers. In Cape Town alone, 10,000 people have been displaced. Some refugees have been put up at police stations, community halls and churches, also with armed police protection, but voluntary groups complained yesterday that they, rather than the authorities, were bearing a disproportionate burden of the humanitarian relief and emergency response.

On Saturday, 400 people arrived at a Cape Town race track looking for a place to shelter after a nearby settlement was targeted. Hundreds of Zimbabweans and Somalis chased from Cape Town into the surrounding Cape Peninsula have been put up in giant marquees on a beach on the Atlantic coastline. Volunteers and local government workers have been providing blankets, clothing and food to the community at Soetwater, which police claim is too remote for local South Africans to attack.

The violence has been waged by poor South Africans who claim the refugee population, which some estimate to be as high as five million, take their jobs and dwellings and commit crime. However, police and politicians say there is also a significant element of thuggery and criminality with shops and homes looted for personal gain.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC leader and the man tipped to succeed Mr Mbeki as president, visited townships around Johannesburg yesterday. He told a rally of some 5,000 people in Johannesburg yesterday: “Fighting won’t solve your problems but will instead exacerbate them and they will therefore remain unsolved. Peace should prevail and we must engage each other on whatever issues there might be.”

On Saturday, 2,000 people marched in central Johannesburg to protest against xenophobia. Risking violence themselves, the crowd held aloft posters saying “xenophobia hurts like apartheid” and “we are all Zimbabweans”.

The president of the United Democratic Movement party, Bantu Holomisa, said yesterday that Mr Mbeki’s inquiry into the outbreak of violence needed to reveal whether a so-called “third force” was responsible for stoking the crisis. He said: “The key here would be to remove any kind of suspicion that this thing was unleashed deliberately and orchestrated by whoever. Ministers are already telling us there is a third force. Let them bring that evidence to the commission.”

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The Independent Leading article: Lessons for Mbeki.
Memorial Day in the US, Monday, 26 May 2008.

There is a terrible irony in the recent tragic events that have gripped parts of South Africa, where township residents have been turning on economic migrants, killing some and driving away thousands of others.

It lies in the fact that Thabo Mbeki’s government has bent over backwards to remain onside with the Mugabe regime in Harare, downplaying its criminal folly and blunting initiatives to rid Zimbabwe of its dictator. South Africa is now suffering the consequences of Mbeki’s policy, as Zimbabwe’s misery ripples outwards to encompass its neighbours and as millions of Zimbabweans flee their country in search of jobs and livelihoods.

Of course, there are other elements to this grim saga, starting with the inexcusable xenophobia of the men behind the violence. It is notable that not all the incomers who have borne the brunt of these thuggish attacks have been Zimbabweans. But the huge number of Zimbabwean migrants present in South Africa, estimated to be at least 3 million, is a factor in the bloodshed, placing enormous strain on the bonds holding the townships together and adding to the competition for resources.

And when the question is asked, as it should be, about why so many Zimbabweans have left their country for its neighbour, part of the answer is that the Mugabe regime remains in power, and is busy completing the ruin of Africa’s former breadbasket, with the South African president’s apparent complicity.

Loath to bow to the former colonial powers, Mbeki has shielded Zimbabwe’s venal and selfish old leader from criticism, blind to the consequences. Now that the wretched condition of Mugabe’s dissolving state has been brought to his door, one must hope the president sees this as a reminder of the need for South Africa to play a more constructive role in helping its once flourishing neighbour get back on its feet.

It is especially urgent that South Africa changes its tune on Zimbabwe now, as Mugabe heads into a run-off presidential election with his nearest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change returned to Zimbabwe for the campaign yesterday.

Arguably, this election should not be taking place; because Tsvangirai appeared to win the first round. But we are where we are. As Zimbabwe prepares to vote a second time, Mbeki must stop making excuses for his ally and start expediting rather than blocking change in Harare. If he does not, the impact of Zimbabwe’s collapse will continue to have repercussions for South Africa, and we may see more shameful scenes in South Africa’s already fragile, hard-pressed townships.

At www.SustainabiliTank.info we saw all of this coming when we watched that May 2007 Friday night, in Room #4 of the UN New York Headquarter’s Basement how South Africa led the Africans to self-immolation and the tearing down of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development by fighting for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to take over the CSD Chairmanship for one year.

Now that year is over. The CSD is still in the pits, Mugabe is on the roll – but South Africa is in deep …. and my friends tell me that it will only get worth. They did not like what Thabo Mbeki did to it, and say that Zuma will be worse. They even told me that the Soviet Union under Stalin will be the model for next phase of the SA – that will still be led by this intermediate generation that did not study leadership through the academy of Robin Island – but still is not led by people that are true Nationalists. The problem is called corruption.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The UN Is Incapable Of Helping Solve The World’s Food Problems Like It Was Incapable To Solve Many Other Problems – This Simply Because Of Vested Interests That Will Not Allow It To Do So. The Case in Point is that When The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon was instrumental in Getting The ECOSOC President, Mr. Leo Merores from Haiti to hold May 20, 21, and 22, 2008 a three days meeting “On The Global Food Crisis,” Lots Of Presentations Were Made, But The Most Positive Ray of Hope That Could Have Been Gleaned From The Case Of Malawi, Was Relegated To A Foot-Note.

We will deal with the other stuff later, but our approach is to put up in front the positive example of Malawi, to us the poster-case of success that puts to complete shame all the other spokespeople.

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So what happened to Malawi? Seemingly they decided that to succeed they must undertake self help. They stopped spending on arms, instead designed a program where they will subsidize the supply of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides to their small farmer. They knew not to give out things for free. Farmers had to pay something, but it was calculated so, that what they got for their money will be showing profit if they put in the work. And by God, work they did, and the enterprise turned into great success. Now the President of Malawi can teach the UN how to go about making Africans independent of the hand-out industry. In effect – free food that comes in as foreign aid – had the side effect of destroying the local agriculture in the first place. US and EU subsidized exports also have the same effect of making impossible the marketing of local produce.

Some countries prefer to fight the dragons, talk about Doha, and unfairness. Malawi stopped talking and went instead to work, telling the world – keep your handouts.

Having presented the Malawi case, let me now mention the May 15, 2008 panels at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development “Food Commodity Crises Caught World Napping, Say Speakers.” The meeting was chaired by Minister Francis Nhema of Zimbabwe – a neighbor of Malawi that used to be Africa’s Bread Basket and is now Africa’s Basket-Case. There the Head Of State, President Magus preferred to destroy the agriculture, being motivated in games he was playing against the land holders. He did not invent hunger, this was produced earlier by Stalin who starved the Ukrainians for exactly the same reasons. But South Africa led the other Africans to make Zimbabwe Chair of the CSD for exactly the session for which they showed least talent – the session on Land Use and Agriculture. What we got out of this was Ms. Kathleen Abdallah showing up at the UN Briefings to The Press and saying that the production of biofuels causes hunger. Neigh, hunger was there for completely independent reasons – look into the cases of Malawi and Zimbabwe for understanding.

But this is not the issue, the issue is that biofuels cut into the use of oil – and oil-sales-people do not like the concept.

If what I said in the last line looks strange to you – here what the Representative from Colombia said May 21, 2008 at the second day of the ECOSOC meeting: “Fuel prices were a big factor in pushing up food prices and generalizations about biofuel production could be misleading. Colombia produced biofuel from crops like sugar cane and palm oil which did not entail replacing food crops grown on fertile land or reducing the national food supply. On the contrary, biofuel production had dynamized the agricultural sector, generating thousands of new rural jobs, stimulating investment, research and technological development, and promoting higher productivity in under-utilized lands – he said.” These are all arguments we dealt many times on this website. what we want to note now is that this story about the biofuel-production being the culprit for the food riots, is being told now at every UN event by eager NGOs that could represent any interest you can think of. One such intervention I just described at www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/05… happened on May 21st, and another one, that I will be describing also (not done yet) happened on May 22nd.

The bottom line is that short term emergency aid is important – but this is not the solution to the problems of the survivors. For that, it seems the UN is lacking the capacity, because it is lacking in staff that is ready to do the right thing that is guaranteed to put them out of business.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

January 31, Thursday Text | video-4.gif

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UN Briefings archive

31 January 2008

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Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.
{as provided by the UN.}
{We, at www.SustainabiliTank.info will insert into the material names of people that asked questions as per what we saw on UNTV. The attached webcast will validate that we do not make mistakes. We will also point out a couple of significant differences between the UN transcript and the original webcast – as we believe that “doctored” transcripts do not make for honesty! We will highight or underline important points.}

Briefing by the Associate Spokesperson of the Secretary-General

Good afternoon

**Secretary-General in Addis Ababa:

The Secretary-General today addressed the opening session in Addis Ababa of the African Union Summit, and he drew attention to the alarming developments in Kenya, calling on the gathered African leaders to urge and encourage the leaders and people of Kenya to calm the violence and resolve their differences through dialogue and respect for the democratic process.

He later told reporters at a press conference that he would travel tomorrow to Nairobi to give his full support to the Panel of Eminent African Persons, led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said he would meet with Raila Odinga, some civil society leaders and visit UN staff as well. And he urged the Kenyan people: “Stop the killings and end the violence now, before it is too late!”

We have his speech to the AU and his opening remarks to the press conference upstairs.

Following the press conference, the Secretary-General met with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, and encouraged him to move toward a quick resolution of the crisis. They discussed the humanitarian situation in the country and the situation of internally displaced persons, as well as the Secretary-General’s trip tomorrow.

Earlier, the Secretary-General had spoken by phone with Kofi Annan to commend his role in the negotiations. They talked about the serious impact of the violence on Kenya’s economy.

The Secretary-General also had bilateral meetings with several other leaders gathered for the African Union Summit. He met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and said that he was encouraged by the arrangements agreed to between Algeria and the United Nations for the forthcoming investigative panel looking into the 11 December Algiers attack.

He later met with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro of Côte d’Ivoire, with whom he discussed the Ouagadougou Accords and the elections that are to take place this June, which the United Nations will support.
In a meeting with President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, the Secretary-General talked about the President’s nomination to head the Economic Community of West African States, as well as Burkina Faso’s role in the Security Council and the situations in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.

The Secretary-General also has meetings scheduled today with the Prime Ministers of Somalia and Guinea, and the Presidents of Benin and South Africa.

**Security Council:

The Security Council, after receiving a briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo yesterday afternoon from Associate Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Dmitry Titov, approved a resolution that authorizes the UN Mission in that country to provide assistance to the Congolese authorities in the organization, preparation and conduct of local elections.

In a presidential statement, the Security Council also congratulated President Joseph Kabila and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the organizers of and participants in the Goma Conference for Peace, Security and Development in North and South Kivu, on the success of that event.

The Security Council also adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea by six months, until the end of July.

Council members yesterday also discussed Kenya in their consultations, and afterward, the Council President, Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi of Libya, said that Council members deplored the continuing violence following disputed elections there. They welcomed the convening of a national dialogue under the mediation of Kofi Annan and urged both sides to engage fully and constructively to secure a political solution.

Today is the last day of Libya’s Council Presidency, and Panama will assume the rotating Presidency of the Council tomorrow.

** Chad:

A series of armed attacks on the UN refugee agency and other aid organizations has forced UNHCR to evacuate most of its staff from its office in Guereda in eastern Chad.

In the last 72 hours, five vehicles belonging to UNHCR, its non-governmental organization partners and Médecins Sans Frontières Suisse were stolen at gunpoint. The UNHCR compound in Guereda was entered by armed men two nights in a row — on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tensions between opposition forces and the Chadian National Army have been mounting since Monday, leading to increased security incidents, especially in Guereda, about 165 km north-east of Abeche.

There is a UNHCR press release with more details.

Meanwhile, the UN Team in Chad is concerned over the looming shortage of food aid in Chad. The UN is expecting that, due to the logistics reasons, there will be shortcomings of food supplies to refugees and internally displaced persons over the month of February.

**Meeting of Troop-Contributing Countries

This morning, as planned, a meeting of troop and police contributors to three UN missions — UNAMID in Darfur, MINURCAT in Chad and the Central African Republic, and MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — was held.

General Per Five, the military advisor for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, briefed on all three missions.

On UNAMID, he flagged the shortfalls in military aviation assets, namely helicopters, and underlined challenges to timely deployments in Darfur, including cross-border raids into West Darfur.

Associate Secretary-General and Officer in Charge of the Department of Field Support, Jane Holl Lute, noted the importance of moving ahead on the successful deployment of UNAMID and its linkage with the neighbouring mission in Chad and Central African Republic, saying that the mission in Chad will not succeed if the mission in Darfur does not succeed.

** Gaza:

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, or UNSCO, reports that yesterday more than 70 trucks went into Gaza from Israel through the Karni and Sufa crossings. But all supplies in Gaza are still dwindling, UNSCO says.

At 11 last night, the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and the World Food Programme (WFP) were told by the Israelis that they could bring trucks into the Kerem Shalom crossing today. WFP only had time to prepare one truck, but UNRWA managed to get 12 trucks, containing milk and rice, ready to go. However, when they arrived at Kerem Shalom this morning, it was closed, and all 13 trucks had to return to Ashdod. Returning the trucks cost UNRWA more than $8,000.

{ The Transcript was “doctored” – originally the Spokesperson made the mistake of saying that it was $8,000 per truck which he later corrected to $8000 total. This is petty – but a transcripts calls for verity and hype creates a nurturing atmosphere for bigotry. In Effect at this point the spokesperson, as per webcast, said clearly $8000 per Truck – and we feel that this is like throwing Fuel on a fire.}

UNSCO also reports that fuel is going through as planned. But electricity cuts continue and approximately 40 per cent of the Gazan population still doesn’t have regular access to water.
** Myanmar:

The Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, Ibrahim Gambari, today concluded his consultations in New Delhi in the context of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate for Myanmar.

During his trip, Mr. Gambari met with Indian Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari; Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, in continuation of earlier consultations to explore how India could, in concrete terms, support the Secretary-General’s good offices. Mr. Gambari is encouraged by these consultations and by India’s support for the Secretary-General’s good offices on Myanmar.

** Nepal:

Over in Nepal, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kang Kyung-wha, today visited Nepalgunj, where she met with civil society organizations, lawyers and representatives of the Nepal Police in the city.

In the meetings, she discussed issues of gender and discrimination, which are the focus of her visit to the mid-western region.

The Deputy High Commissioner also visited the National Human Rights Commission’s regional office to discuss cooperation between the two organizations, and she is expected to meet with representatives of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).

**Climate Change:

Out on the racks today is the Secretary-General’s report on UN activities in relation to climate change. It was prepared in response to a General Assembly resolution requesting a comprehensive overview of such activities ahead of its upcoming debate on that topic, which is scheduled for 11 and 12 February.

In the report, the Secretary-General reviews recent developments in this area, including the December high-level meeting in Bali, as well as ways to support global, regional and national action and make the UN itself climate-neutral.

In order to place the world on a sustainable energy path, global investments of between $15 and $20 trillion may be needed over the next 20 to 25 years, the Secretary-General says {sayd}. He notes that, if those choices are based on a solid economic rationale and sound scientific evidence, they can unlock a huge potential for change and put the world onto a sustainable energy path.

{This is obviously the most interesting topic for our media outlet – and the fact that we were excluded from room S-226 clearly interfered with our coverage of this subject in particular, and of the UN in general. We already posted February 2, 2008 on the A/62/644 UN document.}

**Mangroves:

Environmental and economic damage caused by the alarming loss of mangroves in many countries should be urgently addressed, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. In that context, FAO called for better mangrove protection and management programmes.

FAO added that, if deforestation of mangroves continues, it can lead to severe losses of biodiversity and livelihoods, in addition to increased salt in coastal areas and the build-up of soil around coral reefs, ports and shipping lanes. Tourism would also suffer.

And we have more on that upstairs.

And right after this, we will have Janos Tisovszky, the Spokesman of the President of the General Assembly, who will talk to you. Are there any questions before that?
**Questions and Answers:

Question from Benny Avni of The New York Sun: On those trucks, do you know first of all whether that incident happened after the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision or before?

Associate Spokesperson: That would have happened afterwards. They were informed at 11 p.m. yesterday. In other words, considerably after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Follow-up Question: Do you believe that it is related to the Supreme Court’s decision?

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t think that we have made a connection. At this stage, all that we have done is prepare for the opening of the crossings. And when the crossings did not open, the trucks went back, and, like I said, that did entail waste.

Follow-up Question: And to follow up on this, is there any thinking about one more time trying to get those trucks through the much wider opening now in Rafah?

Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, we are trying to use whatever crossings are available to us.

Follow-up Question: Rafah is available to everyone.

Associate Spokesperson: I mentioned the crossings through Israel that we have been working on and we will continue to explore all options to get aid into the country.

{Benny Avni was trying to say that with the walls around the Rafah crossings down – there is no problem geting UN provisions – milk and rice into Gaza – just go from the other side. But this probably would have invalidated this reason on banging on Israel’s reluctance to do business with Hamas.}

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Question from Masood Haider, Accredited to the UN for the Daily Dawn of Pakistan, and UN Correspondents Association President During The Years 2005 and 2006: I mean, in remembrance of the Holocaust, there is an exhibition going on here and all the condemnation of atrocities that happened to the Jews. What is happening at this point in time is tantamount to genocide and what have you, and the Secretary-General, all of the United Nations and the Security Council has been totally unable to do anything about it or to call for action. If the Secretary-General offers, can do something to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza, is there something that he can explore?

Associate Spokesperson: We are doing all that we can concerning Gaza. I just mentioned the humanitarian efforts.

{ the webcast has here further – “just to note on these trucks, the $8,000 figure is for the total and not per truck.”}

But to get back to your question: The Secretary-General has been in touch with a number of leaders on this. In fact, just this morning, I didn’t highlight this, but he had also talked with Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and one of the topics they discussed was the situation in Gaza. He has been in touch, as you know, just a few days ago with President Shimon Perez and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Israel. He is continuing to press on all sides to make sure that the desperately needed humanitarian aid can be sent into Gaza. He has been pressing on that daily.

There was, by the way, recently, within the past couple of hours, a teleconference by the principal members of the Quartet, that is to say: the Secretary-General; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; Dimitrij Rupel, the Slovenian Foreign Minister who represents the EU presidency; Javier Solana, the European Union High Representative; European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner; and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair. So they have all been discussing issues in the context of the Quartet, and one of the topics clearly that came up with that was the situation in Gaza.

{“Benny Avni asked out of turn – Was There Anything on Genocide here?“} And Masood Haider followed up: There was also a report by Human Rights Watch that also mentioned this. Does he have any response to that?

Associate Spokesperson: We don’t have any direct response to this. Like I said, the basic point is that we are doing everything we can to make sure that the humanitarian conditions in Gaza improve.

{Now, Masood Haider’s bigotry is not the issue that stood up our hair when we watched these exchanges on TV. As we shall see – it did not stop with his throwing the words Holocaust and genocide at Israel not letting milk and rice from his side of the border into Gaza. As we shall see further – it was eventually the incomprehensible lack of appropriate reaction of UN employee Farhan Haq – that has become the issue.}

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Question From Mr. Abdelkadder Abbadi, a former UN employee, accredited now for The Independent: The current situation in Kenya with over 1,000 people have died. And the Secretary-General said he would not let the situation evolve to genocide. Francis Deng, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the Prevention of Genocide spoke loud a few days ago. And a US diplomat says that there is now ethnic cleansing. And yet, when the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs was here a few weeks ago, and when I asked him a question about the possibility of the situation sliding into violence like in Burundi and Rwanda, he did not want to hear that. My question: Is Humanitarian Affairs underestimating the situation in Kenya? And two, are all the Departments going to put into practice preventive diplomacy, or is this [inaudible] exclusively for the Political Department?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as those questions go: No, I don’t believe that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is underestimating the problem. They are there, as a matter of fact, on the ground trying desperately to provide humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of people who have been dislocated by the recent violence. So they are well aware of what the nature of the problem is. As Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said to reporters at the stakeout yesterday — he was asked about whether what was happening was ethnic cleansing or something else — his basic point has been: it doesn’t matter now how you label it. What is important is to get pressure to bear on all the sides to alleviate the situation right now. What we are trying to do is prevent worse things from happening, to prevent mass atrocities or anything worse than that. Beyond that, we are not characterizing what the nature of the situation is, and when the Secretary-General is on the ground tomorrow, he will have a chance to see first-hand for himself what the situation is like and also to be in touch with Kofi Annan, who is the person who is currently in charge of the diplomatic efforts that the international community is bringing to bear.

Follow-up Question: If I may, I was not asking about the dimension, I was asking about the possibility of anticipating the situation turning onto massive violence such as in Burundi and Rwanda. And the second question was: are all the Departments of the United Nations going to implement the policy of preventive diplomacy, or is this reserved exclusively for the Political Department?

Associate Spokesperson: To the extent that they can, all of the UN offices are doing what they can to prevent the situation from worsening, yes. As far as that goes, they are all committed to making sure that we can prevent the crisis from spiralling out of hand. Whether it involves deploying humanitarian assistance to parties on the ground, whether it involves supporting the diplomatic efforts, including the one by the Eminent African Personalities, we are trying to do what we can to prevent, indeed, something worse from happening. And the Secretary-General, in his comments today, made it very clear that he will not tolerate another Rwanda happening.

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Question from Jonathan Wachtel, from Fox TV News: Louise Arbour found herself in a bit of a stir over seemingly lending her support to what appears an Arab initiative to try to equate Zionism to racism. And I am just wondering, is there any talk of that, what exactly is her position on this?

Associate Spokesperson: Louis Arbour actually put out a statement yesterday. We can provide you with that statement when you go upstairs. But it makes very clear that there was language in the Arab Charter {the webcast shows Arab Covenant on Human Rights} on Human Rights that had to do with Zionism that she did not support. She did not endorse that language, which is in contradiction with the relevant resolution of the General Assembly. And we have more details, like I said, in a press release upstairs.

Follow-up Question from the Correspondent: One of the things that people have been complaining about this issue is that she has not reprimanded those individuals who allowed it to get as far as it did. Even that something like this would come to the surface…

Associate Spokesperson: No, no, her position on this is very clear and you can see it in the press release. She does not support that language.

{Now, that is plain cover-up on the part of the UN Spokesperson. Ms. Arbour did nothing until serious proding came from UN Watch. In effect she is not the person that should deal with this sort of questions of Human Rights. There is already a decision on UN books that it is forbidden to equate Zionism and Racism. Sure, some Arabs find ways to come back and try to reintroduce the subject under guises of democratic institutions that are nothing more then operations set up by bigots. We wrote about the Louise Arbour flap on January 30, 2008.}

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Question from a lady correspondent for Saudi Press: I know I have asked this several times during the briefing, but any update on the UN investigation into the Algiers bombing — the negotiations between the UN and the Algerian Government [inaudible] not being consulted?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, the Secretary-General, among leaders he met with today, did meet with the President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and they did discuss the panel. And the Secretary-General is encouraged by the progress that has been made on this. I hope that we will be able to tell you a little bit more about the panel sometime hopefully next week. But certainly, the Secretary-General has been encouraged by his discussions.

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A different lady correspondent: My question is about Western Sahara. A few days ago Marie said that Peter van Walsum will be making a trip to the region before the next round of talks in Manhasset. Do you have any more information on that? When is his trip going to be and what the agenda is?

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t believe we have the dates announced yet. But it should be happening sometime in February. We will try and get you some more details on that.

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Question from Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: Is this report about the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) peacekeeping mission there finding that peacekeepers had vandalized longstanding art in Western Sahara? I wonder, can you tell us what battalion or what contingent the peacekeepers were from, and what the UN is going to do about it?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, I can tell you that the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has launched a formal inquiry into this matter and has taken action to prevent any further vandalism.

While not all the damage appears to have been done by UN peacekeepers, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has requested UNESCO’s assistance in evaluating the damage to the two sites and recommending what, if any, repair measures can be taken. UNESCO is currently putting together a group of qualified experts to travel to the area as soon as possible. UNESCO is also prepared to provide material for peacekeeping training programmes on the protection of cultural property.

And just to let you know also that the UN remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of conduct among peacekeepers and to respecting fully the local customs and property of the territory in which they operate.

Follow-up Question: What action is being taken to prevent this? Are there gates being fenced off? When you say actions are being taken, what is being done?

Associate Spokesperson: They are taking remedial measures, and like I said, they are also putting into place an inquiry to find out who precisely has done this and what needs to be done. They will take whatever follow-up measures are warranted.

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Question from Hans Janitchek from the Austrian Kronen Zeitung: Now that the attention has shifted from Gaza to Kenya, the UN has been mobilized, while at the same time the Security Council failed to take any action in that regard to the crisis in the Gaza, there are stories or reports that this may be shifted to the General Assembly, may be talking about a resolution. Is there any truth to that?

Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, I don’t have anything to say. However, my colleague from the General Assembly may speak to you about this after I am done.

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Question from Jonathan Wactell of Fox TV News: George Clooney mentioned a need to get the UN more engaged in Darfur and resolve the crisis there. Is Ban planning any sort of trip soon or any discussions with Bashir to get things rolling?

Associate Spokesperson: The Secretary-General spoke with President Bashir just yesterday. I think we gave you a readout about that and I can give you that. One of the things that they emphasized was the need to move forward on UNAMID deployment. Meanwhile, Mr. Guéhenno has been in Khartoum and also in Addis Ababa recently, trying to move forward on the status-of-forces agreement. We are hoping that will be signed very soon. So we are doing all we can on the peacekeeping front, and of course, our humanitarian efforts also continue.

Follow-up Question: What was the response from Bashir that was not shared, in terms of whether he is now going to follow through with some of the things that he had agreed with?

Associate Spokesperson: What I got from Michèle was in fact that he agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to move forward as quickly as possible with the deployment of UNAMID.

Follow-up Question: You mentioned, George Clooney did, that he was scheduled to speak before the troop-contributing countries meeting and he seemed somewhat miffed. He said, “I was going to do it but now I am not, so I am briefing you.” Can you explain to us what — I know yesterday — Marie said he was going to speak to the troop-contributing countries meeting — what happened between yesterday’s noon briefing and today?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, due to procedural issues, Mr. Clooney did not attend the briefing, and instead he went directly to the press conference. The troop contributors’ meeting continued as scheduled, as we mentioned. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations says it is continuing to look for opportunities for Mr. Clooney to continue to engage with the peacekeeping community, including the troop-contributing countries and the police-contributing countries, as far as they can arrange these things in the future.

Follow-up Question: What were the procedural issues? Did any member of the Council object to his participation?

Associate Spokesperson: As you know, any time individual experts, people who will speak under their own expertise, meet with Member States, there have to be consultations with Member States. This was something that was part of the whole effort to get Member States consulted. I am not aware of what the precise problems were, but ultimately, you can only speak once the consultation stage with Member States has been carried out.

{Pitiful – not many people were saved in Darfur because of talks at the UN – we reported this week on the Cloony flap. The man has good intentions and wil not let the UN misuse him.}

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Question fromm Benny Avni of The New York Sun: Two questions. One, is there a shortlist on the independent committee on Algiers, and who will lead it?

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have anything to say on the names of people on Algiers right now. Yes, we are gathering people together. I do hope, possibly early next week, to be able to tell you something about it. We are moving very close. I think we are actually close to figuring out who will head that, but we are still a few days away, I think.

Follow-up Question: Okay, one more question. Since the word was mentioned here. In the consultations you mentioned among the Quartet and all those involved in the Gaza thing, did anybody mention the word genocide in this context?

Associate Spokesperson: I am not aware of that, but I would still have to wait for any readout or communiqué following the Quartet.

Follow-up Question: Is that the word the Secretary-General supports in any way?

Associate Spokesperson: You know, the purpose of this briefing is not to settle disputes between different journalists. You and Masood can talk about your differences outside of this room.

Follow-up Question:
[inaudible] by Security Council members, so I need to know whether the Secretary-General supports that. One member of the Security Council in a speech said it was genocide, and then he said it was a crime against humanity. I have to ask whether the Secretary-General supports in any way those characterizations.

Associate Spokesperson: That is not a term we have used. At the same time, these definitions tend to be made by Member States or bodies of Member States, and we leave it to them to make the call.

{ Now this is a very weak answer by the UN Spokesperson – he seemingly does not know about UN General Assembly Resolutions that recognize Holocaust as a very special event that happened to the Jewish people and forbid the denial of the holocaust at the UN. It is not enough to hide behind groups of states that may throw around the word genocide with impunity. The Spokesperson, like Ms. Louise Arbour, have the obligation to reprimand anyone who makes allusions to these terms for factional reasons – this includes the correspondent Massod Haider – sitting in front of him}


Follow-up Question: I wanted to ask for some detail on the trucks with the milk and the rice. When you said there was some waste, does that mean that … did the milk spoil? I assume, with the rice, they can bring it back another time. Is that the case with the milk?

Associate Spokesperson: Some of the things hopefully can be brought back. Certainly there was some spoilage that resulted from the fact that they were sent back from the closed border crossing.

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Question from a correspondent: I need some clarification. What exactly is the difference between a “Messenger of Peace” and a “UN Goodwill Ambassador”? Is the Goodwill Ambassador just for agencies, or…?

Associate Spokesperson: The Messengers of Peace are people who are appointed by the Secretary-General for different causes. Different agencies do have their own Goodwill Ambassadors. There is a wider network of that. But the Messengers of Peace are selected by the Secretary-General.

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Question from Masood Haider accredited by The Dawn of Pakistan: The Amnesty International today issued a report saying there were crimes against humanity committed by Israel in the war against Lebanon, against the Hizbullah in Lebanon. Is there any comment on that?

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any comment on that. There are a number of reports on Lebanon, including one that was released by the Winograd Commission in Israel itself. We would need to study those before we comment on any of them.

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Question from Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: I guess this is a question about UN policy. In this issue where UN officials or staff of the UN are not supposed to take benefits or housing subsidies from Governments, what safeguards are in place to ensure that by payments or housing subsidies to spouses of UN officials or staff, that that is not an indirect form of subsidies? What review is done by the Ethics Office, and what policy do you have in place on this?

Associate Spokesperson: The Ethics Office does review, not just senior officials, but also the monies and properties that their spouses own. So they are vetted. There is a vetting process.

Follow-up Question: Does that include rental property? They seem to list property they own, but if a Mission to the UN pays rent…

Associate Spokesperson: I believe someone from the Ethics Office might talk to you about this in the future. But I don’t go into all these details of how the vetting process is conducted, but there is a vetting process.

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Here there was a question from Mr. Abbadi about UNCTAD that was left out from the transcript.

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Question from Mr Abdelkader Abbadi: Concerning Myanmar, there are indications that some restrictions have been lifted around the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Can you confirm that?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, we do welcome the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet again with the Executive Committee of her party, as well as with Liaison Minister Aung Kyi. However, the concerns that have been expressed underline the need for the authorities to seize every opportunity to engage in a meaningful and time-bound dialogue that produces substantive results, as called for repeatedly by the Secretary-General and by Mr. Gambari. And of course, one of the things we have repeatedly called for in that regard is the lifting of all restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Question: Is there any sort of communication from NLD or Aung San Suu Kyi after the meeting was over?

Associate Spokesperson: We have not seen the full statement attributed to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We have only seen press reports quoting an NLD spokesperson. However, Mr. Gambari looks forward to returning to Myanmar as soon as possible in order to follow up on this and all the other issues which he has discussed with all concerned.

Question from Matthew Russell Lee: Is Mr. Gambari coming back, or is he going to China?

Associate Spokesperson: He is coming back first to New York. He will go back to China in the coming month, but the dates have to be arranged around the Chinese New Year.

Question: There is a report by the Tamil Tigers, which I am sure you can pronounce better than I, have written to Ban Ki-moon, raising issues about a bombing of a school bus, but also a request saying that “we urge you to reconsider recognizing Tamil sovereignty”. Has he received such a letter, and also what steps would he take on a hybrid letter that both alleges Government responsibility for a bombing and asks for sovereignty?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, first we have to wait to see whether we have received the letter before we can determine a response. So we will have to check on that.

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Question from Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: The construction that is taking place on the North Lawn is supposedly for a concert next week? I would like to know what is the admission charged to that event and what percentage of the funds are going to something called “Raising Malawi”, and is it the UN’s understanding that it is in fact a non-profit? All of the funds will go to Malawi?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, I will refer those questions to UNICEF. UNICEF has been involved. Some of the arrangements are made by the US Committee for UNICEF. They do have a press release that we have upstairs that has some details on this for you. But beyond that, I think you should communicate with UNICEF directly.

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Question from Mr. Hans Janitchek of the Austraian Kronen Zeitung: Mr. Norbert Darabos, the Austrian Minister of Defence, a conscientious objector by the way, would be visiting the UN next week. I understand that a meeting has been scheduled with the Secretary-General regarding the Chad mission, in which Austrian troops will participate — a highly controversial matter in Austria. Would you mind commenting on the significance of an Austrian contribution to this effort?

Associate Spokesperson: Not of any particular country’s contribution. Certainly, we appreciate the contributions that all countries have been making, trying to help stabilize the situations both in Chad and the Central African Republic, and we encourage Member States to step forward and do so.

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And with that, Janos? Here Mr. Farkhan Haq from the office of the Spokesperson to the UNSG, turned the proceedings over to Mr. Janos Tisovsky – the Spokesman for the PGA (President of the UN General Assembly)
Briefing by Spokesperson for General Assembly President.

Thank you very much. Good afternoon, good to see you. I promised I would come as often as I can, or rather as often as I have something to say. To give you a little bit of an update on what is going on — and today happens to be a day -– even though there are a lot of things happening -– that I do have something to say as far, as the General Assembly is concerned, and also give you a little update on what will be happening.

Let me start with the President.

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim sent a message to the African Union Summit, which –- as you all know — opened this morning.

In that message, President Kerim noted that the African Union, and all its member States, had an impressive history of constructive participation in the General Assembly’s work. The sixty-second session of the UN General Assembly had been marked by a more responsive, cooperative and substantive approach to the five priority issues on its agenda: accelerating achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; reviewing implementation of financing for development; addressing climate change; counter-terrorism; and advancing United Nations reform.

He stressed that the strong emphasis on development served the cause of a more comprehensive multilateralism, where the African Union had a crucial role to play. He added that, in particular, he was looking to the AU leadership for a way forward on the pressing need to make progress on Security Council reform, including in the form of intergovernmental negotiations.

And the full text of the message is available for you upstairs. {And} Before you ask me on Security Council reform, which I just mentioned in the context of this message, let me say that I have no new developments on that to report, as consultations are ongoing. According to the way it was discussed when the Open-Ended Working Group first met, I think it was on the 14th of December. And the President’s timetable is still the one that will be followed, according to which, there is supposed to be focused debate of the Open-Ended Working Group sometime in late February or early March, then possibly in April, and then in June.

Let me go back to something that Farhan flagged for you already, and that is the Secretary-General’s (report on) climate change {report}. It is an overview of UN activities in relation to climate change. For those of you really into the symbols and numbers, it is A/62/644. And Farhan noted that this was based on a request by the General Assembly in a resolution that was adopted on 19 November. That resolution is 62/8, and it is a resolution proposed by the President of the Assembly.

As I have said many times, of the main priorities — the five priorities that I have mentioned in the context of the message to the AU — one of the (“key” – the webcast does not have this word) priorities for President Kerim, one that he calls his flagship issue, is climate change. It is in this context that the Secretary-General’s report was requested to give an overview to Member States on the UN system response to climate change -– and assist the General Assembly as it will discuss this issue on 11-12 February in an informal thematic debate, which was convened by the President.

I think I have mentioned this also before to you, but I will reiterate it again, that the programme and background for this two-day meeting — which could go {in the webcast it says drag-on}into a third day based on already what we hear from Member States as far as their interest is in addressing this issue — is available to you on the President’s website. Next week we will have a little bit more information in the form of a media advisory for you. On the day of the 11th, we will also try and get some kind of stakeout or some kind of a press briefing for you. Some of the key people who will be coming include Sir Richard Branson and also Mayor Michael Bloomberg {will be here}.

This will be the second thematic debate on climate change within the General Assembly. Some of you will remember that the first was in July and August last year. That was convened under the sixty-first session and that basically focused on awareness raising and reviewed national strategies. This (upcoming) {summary} February debate is about triggering collective action on all levels: Member States, business, NGOs, UN system, not just individually, but also collectively.

The whole idea of this informal thematic debate is to {gain synergy} give support to the Bali road map process and also to stimulate the UN system to create synergies and create institutional support for the Bali road map negotiations.

The idea is to bring in various stakeholders. On the first day of the debate, on the 11th, there will be two panel discussions. The first one will bring in participation from business, NGOs, media, regional organizations, civil society. The second panel in the afternoon will bring in various UN system actors. The second day, the 12th {will have Membe States Presentations} — and maybe the 13th — will have Member States addressing this same issue.

Let me finally just say one word on something that already came up in the briefing that Farhan had, and something that is in the news. The so-called General Assembly Special Session or emergency special session in the context of what may happen as far as the Gaza issue is concerned. I am going to address it just from the procedural perspective, so I am not pre-judging anything on this.

But what you must know is that, in addition to the normal regular sessions that the Assembly has, it may also meet in special and so-called emergency special sessions. So far, there have been 27 special sessions held by the Assembly and ten emergency special sessions. The rules on this are pretty well stated in the General Assembly rule book, they are from rule 7 to 11 on how they are supposed to be convened.

However, there is also a possibility, and this is what we are talking about most likely in this context, or at least, this is what the news has been about, is that Member States also have the possibility to choose to request the resumption of the so-called tenth emergency special session, which was temporarily adjourned in July 2004. The General Assembly then decided to authorize the President of the General Assembly to resume the session upon request from Member States. A request from one M ember State should be sufficient to do this. It would then be up to the President to accede to the request. Please note, however, that the tenth emergency special session is to consider the following topic: “illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Originally it was convened in 1997. Since then, it had several meetings and, as I said, in 2004 it ended without formally closing, but with the possibility to resume. In fact, during the sixty-first session, it was resumed twice, as some of you may remember. And the last related resolution on this issue, which is –- again for those of you who are into numbers –- it is A/RES/ES-10/17 (for emergency special session)-10 (for the tenth)/17 (that is the seventeenth resolution concerning this special session) -– concluded with the following last paragraph. It says it: “Decides to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly at its most recent session to resume the meeting of the special session upon request from Member States.” So again, that is the legal basis for you.

Please also note that any decisions taken in the course of that emergency special session would require two thirds majority of Members present and voting, as they would be considered as decisions on “important questions” within the meaning of so-called Article 18 of the Charter –- that relates to international peace and security.

Let me also mention again — although some of you who cover this issue may remember — that the last time when this emergency special session was resumed, it was based on a request from one Member State on behalf of the League of Arab States and another Member State on behalf of the members of the Non-Aligned-Movement.

Again, still on procedure, if the President receives such a request, it would be up to him, as I said, to accede to the request. In the event that he decides to resume the session, he would then send a letter to the entire membership informing them of his decision and notifying them of the date and time of the resumed meeting.

That is what I have on that as far as procedure is concerned.

And a little bit of update of what may be happening and what has happened.

The last time I talked to you I did mention that the Assembly did continue with its so-called informal briefings, which it had in November and December. In November, it was the Secretary-General who briefed, in December it was Ibrahim Gambari on Myanmar. On 29th of January, so two days ago, the Chair of the PBC, the Peacebuilding Commission, did an informal briefing.

As regards next week: there is going to be a resumption of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on General Assembly Revitalisation. That is going to have its first meeting in the framework of the sixty-second session, most likely on 7 February. That is a closed meeting.

The President is expected to brief NGOs on a variety of different issues as far as the work of the General Assembly is concerned. That should be also on 7th February.

I did mention already to you that there is a meeting on system-wide coherence with the idea of general stock taking, looking at the report emanating from the sixty-first session on 8 February. That is also a closed meeting.

So, that is what we are looking at as far as the Assembly is concerned. As I said, the big event, the first big event, upcoming, open and important, is the 11-12 –- and possibly 13 — February informal thematic debate on climate change.



That’s what I have. Mr. Abadi, please.

**Questions and Answers:

Question from Mr. Abdelkader Abbadi: Thank you. You mentioned five priority areas that the President listed for the General Assembly. There is an important subject, that is, disarmament that we don’t hear much about. Since disarmament would potentially release a lot of financial resources for financing development, does the President of the General Assembly consider that disarmament is a priority area?

Spokesperson: I think he definitely does, especially, as you mentioned, as it relates to financing for development, or as it may relate to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But I think disarmament may also come up in the context of this part of the work of the Assembly -– the second so-called major part as opposed to the main part of the session where disarmament was part of the First Committee deliberations. In the second part of the session, I think where disarmament may feature is amongst one of the topics that the President of the Assembly is taking up and is going to carry forward in the form of another thematic debate, and that is human security. In that context, I’m sure that disarmament will feature.

Follow-up Question: So he doesn’t consider disarmament as a high priority area?

Spokesperson: He does consider it as a very important topic, yes, as a continuously important topic of the Assembly.

————–

Question from Mr. Hans Janitchek of the Austrian Kronen Zeitung: Thank you so much for explaining the procedural aspects of the General Assembly’s involvement with the Council issue. I just have a procedural question in that context. There has been no request so far, obviously, although one country would suffice.

Spokesperson: That’s correct.

Follow-up Question: As far as the President is concerned, of course, it’s his decision, under all circumstances, or does it depend on the number of Member States that request an emergency session? Is there any regulation in that respect?

Spokesperson: If we’re talking about requesting an emergency special session — not the resumption of the tenth emergency special session, but another one -– that is convened by the majority of Member States or through the Security Council. That would be a new one; that would be the eleventh (emergency special session). If we’re talking about the resumption of the tenth, then the request from one Member State should be enough to trigger the process. It would be up to the Member States. Obviously the President would consult and would work with other Member States, etc., and then would make his decisions. Matthew, it’s not about “sole source”, right?

———–

Question: No.

Spokesperson: Just kidding. Go ahead, it can be about it.

Question from Matthew Russell Lee of The Inner City Press: It’s about the Fifth Committee, though. I’ve heard the Bureau of the Fifth Committee is meeting to determine the agenda for March.

Spokesperson: That is correct. Yes. The Bureau is meeting to determine the agenda for the March resumed Session.

Follow-up Question: The question I wanted to ask is whether the proposed restructuring and increased funding to the Department of Political Affairs is on the agenda or is it contingent on similar restructuring being to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs? Has it already taken place or is it yet to take place?

Spokesperson: My understanding is, I think, that it is actually happening today, that the Bureau is meeting. In regard to your question, we can only be sure after the Bureau meeting to see exactly what happened.

Question: [inaudible]

Spokesperson: I knew that you’d be asking so I’m tracking the process, and whatever I can extract and I’m at liberty to reveal, I will definitely make available to you.

Question: And the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, is this on your bailiwick?

Spokesperson: I don’t have anything on that. I can certainly follow up and see what….

Question: They’re supposed to have deferred action on something called the Democracy Coalition Project. It’s a US-based NGO that fell under a lot of questioning about what democracy is and whether democracy is consistent with the UN. I don’t know if you can get a read-out on it. It says deferred, but I don’t know if that means that it’s….

Spokesperson: I’ll try to find out something and see what we can get you. I’ve not been following it.

————-

Question: On the activities of the President of the General Assembly. He met with the Albanian Foreign Minister Monday?

Spokesperson: That is correct, yes.

Question: On Balkans…

Spokesperson: It wasn’t Monday, it was Sunday. We put out the statement Monday morning.

Question: Given that the topic was Balkan stability, did the issue of Kosovo come up and, if so, in what context, and what’s the President’s view of the Kosovo situation?

Spokesperson: Well, first of all, regional stability came up in its broad context. It was a very brief meeting. The President has known the Foreign Minister for some time, actually, because, as you may know, the President in his previous capacity did function as Foreign Minister of his country. That’s the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. So they knew each other from the past. It was a brief meeting, but I think, as the press statement mentioned, apart from regional stability, one of the key topics there was system-wide coherence and delivering as one, since Albania is one of the pilot countries in that process. You may remember, there are eight of them and Albania is one of them. And the President is pretty keen on this issue of system-wide coherence -– delivering as one -– to see how that works. That is also one of the issues on his agenda amongst the management reform issues. So that was more of the focus of attention. On Kosovo, the President has always maintained that he would like to see a solution that is acceptable to all sides soon, that would be very good for regional stability and, in turn, that would be good for international stability.

He knows that this issue is with the Security Council and with the Secretary-General, so he’ll leave it at that. Mr. Abadi, yes.

—————-

Question from Mr. Abbadi: I know you have said that there is nothing new to report on the reforms of the Security Council and that the Ad-Hoc Working Group will meet [inaudible] sessions in February, April and June.

Spokesperson: That’s the plan; let’s see how that actually works out.

Question: In the meantime, I have a question: Has the President of the Assembly received any concrete propositions [inaudible] regarding the reforms of the Security Council?

Spokesperson: I’m not aware of any new proposals apart from what emanated from the meeting that was held on 14 December, and I think we gave a pretty good, detailed background on that. He himself talked afterwards; he had a press briefing on the 18th. There’s nothing more on that.

Thank you very much.

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 webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/pr…

January 31, 2008, Thursday video-4.gif

{The text makes it obvious that the Spokesperson’s job is difficult. Even though most Correspondents are in that room in order to get information for their reporting, nevertheless, there are people in that room that are propaganda-people for the interests that sent them to the UN. The UN DPI is yet to look at what those people produce based on their questions at the UN. With more objectivity, the DPI staff could improve the UN atmosphere by weeding out these propagandists – but this would assume that the staff does not side with their point of view – and we just witnessed that this might not be the case.}

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Subject: Fukuda, Japan’s Premier, Wants To Pick Up From Where Kyoto Left, and In 2008 To Bring China Into The Fold; but More – Japan Wants To Strengthen Bilateral Relations With The Growing China, and Must Also Compete With China’s Political and Economic Expansion in The Pacific and Africa. This Year’s G8 is a Catalyst. Japan Has A Full Agenda.

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007

Fukuda to make pitch on energy, environment to Chinese leaders.
Kyodo News

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda plans to make a proposal to top Chinese leaders concerning environmental and energy issues when he goes to Beijing this week, but he isn’t saying what that proposal will be, a government official said.

In an interview with Chinese media prior to his visit that begins Thursday, Fukuda said he also wants to discuss bilateral issues, including the dispute over gas and oil exploration rights in the East China Sea, as well as topics of international concern, such as North Korea’s nuclear threat.

“I believe we must think not only about bilateral cooperation between Japan and China, but also how we can cooperate and be of use in bringing about the stability and advancement of this region and the world, so I want to discuss these things,” Fukuda was quoted by the official as saying.

Fukuda made the remarks in a joint interview with the Tokyo bureau chiefs of China’s official Xinhua News Agency, the state-run China Central Television and the People’s Daily, which is the Communist Party’s newspaper.

Fukuda is scheduled to leave Thursday for the four-day trip. He will meet with President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other leaders, and visit regional sites, including Tianjin and Qufu, the hometown of Confucius.

Regarding climate change, Fukuda said he wants to continue cooperating with China on improving the efficiency of coal thermal power plants, preventing water pollution and building a recycling-oriented economic system, the official said.

Fukuda said such assistance will be made possible using technology, knowledge and experience that Japan has in the fields of energy conservation and environmental improvement.

Fukuda said he hopes to “see and feel” the growth of China by visiting a development zone in Tianjin, which has deep economic relations with Japan.

He said he is looking forward to his first trip to the Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, a World Heritage site, to look back on the exchanges between Japan and China from ancient times to the present.

“Confucianism has had a big influence on Japan and other countries in Northeast Asia,” the official quoted Fukuda as saying. “In advancing diplomacy, I think we must think about the development of history, culture and bilateral exchanges with the other country.”

Fukuda said China’s rapid economic growth is an opportunity for Japan, and emphasized that the further deepening of economic cooperation between the two countries is important for the healthy advancement of their economies as well as the stability and development of Asia and the world.

————————————

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007

Japan to open six embassies Jan. 1, 2008.
Kyodo News

Six new Japanese embassies will be opened on New Year’s Day, including in the African nations of Botswana, Malawi and Mali, to strengthen Tokyo’s diplomatic presence internationally as well as bilateral relations with the countries concerned, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Mitsuo Sakaba said Wednesday.

The new embassies, which will also be established in Micronesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lithuania, were approved in the budget for this fiscal year.

They will bring the total number of Japanese embassies worldwide to 123.

Japan, which will take the rotating presidency of the Group of Eight nations next year and host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, is seeking to open five more embassies in the next year, including another two in Africa.

“We are working toward a goal of having 150 embassies,” Sakaba said.

The new embassies reflect Japan’s eagerness to catch up with other major nations in the number of diplomatic posts around the world amid the aggressive expansion of China’s presence, especially in Africa.

On the new Micronesian embassy, the Foreign Ministry said, “It is important to further strengthen Japan’s relations (with Micronesia) in the international arena amid China’s growing influence on Pacific island nations.”

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