Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

Managing anger in the Niger delta

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Much of the news that comes out of the Niger Delta, the vast network of creeks home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, is generated either by militant leaders claiming spectacular attacks on oil industry installations or by the military, keen to publicise its victories flushing out crude oil thieves from camps nestled deep in the mangroves.

 

Rarely heard are the voices of the "boys" who have taken up arms and make up the rank and file of the militant gangs. Oil theft on an industrial scale or kidnappings for ransom make some of their bosses rich. Peace negotiations see others rewarded with the veneer of political legitimacy and a comfortable new government-funded lifestyle. But the grunts tend to share little of the spoils.

 

So an initiative to take them out of the militant camps and send them abroad to be immersed in the teachings of non-violent activists from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela raised - after the initial scepticism - a strong dose of curiosity. After the attempt to "reorientate their psyches", the candidates would be schooled in skills meant to make them employable once they returned back home.

 

Would they be convinced that they could renounce violence and still fight for their rights? Did they really believe that theirs was a political struggle or were they simply interested in emulating some of their leaders and growing rich from stolen crude, ransom money and government pay-offs?

What should the world do about Somalia?

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Islamist militants imposing a strict form of Islamic law are knocking on the doors of Somalia’s capital, the country’s president fears his government could collapse — and now pirates have seized a super-tanker laden with crude oil heading to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

Chaos, conflict and humanitarian crises in Somalia are hardly new. It’s a poor, dry nation where a million people live as refugees and 10,000 civilians have been killed in the Islamist-led insurgency of the last two years. A fledgling peace process looks fragile. Any hopes an international peacekeeping force will soon come to the rescue of a country that has become the epitome of anarchic violence are optimistic, at best.

Does Algeria now have a president for life?

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After the Algerian parliament changed the constitution to lift presidential term limits, north Africans are asking whether Algeria now has a president for life.

 

In making the change, Algeria has followed a route taken in recent years by other African countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Uganda, all of which removed the limit of two presidential terms.

Nigeria: Will someone turn on the lights?

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Returning to Nigeria for the first time in five years, nothing is more striking than the mobile phones ringing wherever you go.

 

The phone signal barely drops on a drive some five hours out of Abuja, through countryside where the only people visible are hoeing the red earth and balancing unwieldy stems of sugar cane on bicycles. A growing number of village households now have phones.

The Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

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The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Russia is sending a heavily armed nuclear-powered cruiser and other ships, aircraft and troops for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first big manoeuvres in the United States’ self-declared backyard since the end of the Cold War.

Gaddafi – No longer “Mad Dog” of Middle East

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Libyan leader Gaddafi listens to a speaker at the African Union summitOnce called the “mad dog of the Middle East” by President Ronald Reagan, Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi will meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week.

Senior State Department official David Welch told reporters he had met Gaddafi — “a person of personality and experience” — several times. 

What’s next in the Russia-West crisis over Georgia?

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South Ossetian servicemen fire their weapons and wave South Ossetian (C) and Russian flags as they celebrate Russia's recognition of their state as an independent state in Tskhinvali August 26, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Tuesday that Moscow had decided to recognise two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states, setting it on a collision course with the West. REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinThe people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were celebrating on Tuesday after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognising the independence of the two regions. 

Western leaders responded with harsh words. U.S. President George W. Bush said it increased world tensions and Britain called for “the widest possible coalition against Russian aggression in Georgia,” where the two regions lie. 

Can the Caucasus flames be controlled?

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ossetia.jpgThe Caucasus tinderbox is alight again. How far will the flames spread this time and what can the outside world – the United States, the European Union, NATO – do to extinguish them?

The strategic significance of this mountainous region stretches back through history.

Why is Kirkuk such an obstacle for Iraq?

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kirkuk.jpgIraq’s leaders have overcome many hurdles in their struggle to rebuild their country after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.  But agreeing on the fate of the “ethnic tinderbox” of oil-producing Kirkuk is a particularly testing one.

Why has Kirkuk proven to be such an obstacle? For many, settling its fate seems to be an easy task.

Should G8 leaders tighten their belts?

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G8 leaders are debating the interconnected themes of climate change, food and fuel. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for less food waste in the rich world. The World Bank has said rising food prices threaten 30 million Africans with poverty. VIP menus at the G8 summit in Japan have been lavish – hairy crab, asparagus, lamb, all manner of vegetables and wild leaves.  And of course regional sake rice wine. Newspapers printed the menu in full. Britain’s The Guardian heaped scorn: “the most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs.” Is it fair criticism?

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