archives : June 2010


Panafrica - Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, like most developing African countries burdened with the yoke of authoritarian oppression, force-feeds citizens with policy prescriptions only meant to satisfy political egos of ruling elite. Imposing government ministries of ‘small and medium enterprises’ and ‘indigenisation’ would not suddenly turn Zimbabwe into an industrialised country. - Thursday 24 June 2010

Burundi - Kenya - Uganda - Rwanda - Tanzania
The recent deployment of the SEACOM broadband cable off the coast of east Africa has sparked “the dawn of a new era” in Internet communications in the region. - Thursday 24 June 2010

Ghana - Germany
Germany set up a last 16 showdown with England courtesy of a 1-0 win over Ghana at Soccer City, with the Black Stars also going through. Milovan Rajevac can be satisfied: his team is the only African team in the second round. Just like in 2006. - Wednesday 23 June 2010

Algeria - United States
Brave Algerian fails to find the back of the net as a late goal from Landon Donovan pulls the US into the final 16. An incredible finish from Michael Bradley’s men who, once more, showed their capacity to react to adversity. They even manage to top their group, ahead of England. The Desert Foxes go home, last of group C with a bitter sweet taste left in their mouth. - Wednesday 23 June 2010

The death toll following a train crash which occurred Monday night in Yanga, 60 km from Pointe-Noire on the Chemin de Fer Congo-Ocean (CFCO), has risen to at least 76. Officials indicate that between 400 and 700 people were injured. Over-speeding and "behavioral problems" have been blamed for the rail disaster. - Wednesday 23 June 2010

Zimbabwe’s Prime Minsiter Morgan Tsvangirai is on Wednesday expected to pull a shocker by firing "incompetent ministers" from his MDC party. Speculations are rife in Harare that Tsvangirai will reshuffle his cabinet team in an exercise aimed at purging several key ministers accused of incompetence. - Wednesday 23 June 2010


The discovery of an AIDS-like virus in koalas is raising newfound fears the animal may soon face extinction. KIDS, or Koala Immune Deficiency Syndrome, decimates the koala’s ability to fight off infection and disease.

Dr. Jon Hanger, the researcher who discovered the virus points out a very sick koala with the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia, and now her doctors fear she may have developed the retrovirus that causes koala AIDS.

"These ulcers in the mouth are one of the hallmarks of this sort of AIDS condition," Hanger said. "From the patient stand point, it has similarities with human AIDS patients that undergo a prolonged and sad decline."

He says disease now poses as great a risk to these iconic marsupials as habitat loss from development, drought and fires. "Even within protected habitat, we’re now understanding that those populations are now not secure, because disease is rife in them. And that they’re not sustainable," he said.

The Australian government estimated in 2006 that koalas numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with some areas of the country experiencing over-population.

But that was before koala AIDS and a devastating drought, and last November, the government adopted a new National Koala Conservation Strategy in order to stabilize and manage the dwindling population.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

Israel - International

Israel has launched a surveillance satellite that will be used to spy on Iran’s nuclear programme, reports say.

The satellite’s high resolution camera would significantly boost Israel’s intelligence gathering, officials told local media.

Israel’s defence ministry said the Ofek 9 was launched from Palmachim air force base on its south coast near Tel Aviv.

It is one of at least four Israeli spy satellites currently orbiting the Earth.

"This provides Israel with greater operational flexibility, since we now have another set of eyes on a target," Chaim Eshed, the director of Israel’s military space programme, told The Jerusalem Post.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010


A continent away from Kyrgyzstan, Africans like myself cheered this spring as a coalition of opposition groups ousted the country’s dictator, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. "One coconut down, 39 more to harvest!" we shouted. There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on this list alone. There are plenty of coconuts to go around.

The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial. The end of the Cold War was also supposed to be the "End of History" — when democracy swept the world and repression went the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, Freedom House reports that only 60 percent of the world’s countries are democratic — far more than the 28 percent in 1950, but still not much more than a majority. And many of those aren’t real democracies at all, ruled instead by despots in disguise while the world takes their freedom for granted. As for the rest, they’re just left to languish.

Although all dictators are bad in their own way, there’s one insidious aspect of despotism that is most infuriating and galling to me: the disturbing frequency with which many despots, as in Kyrgyzstan, began their careers as erstwhile "freedom fighters" who were supposed to have liberated their people. Back in 2005, Bakiyev rode the crest of the so-called Tulip Revolution to oust the previous dictator. So familiar are Africans with this phenomenon that we have another saying: "We struggle very hard to remove one cockroach from power, and the next rat comes to do the same thing. Haba!" Darn!

I call these revolutionaries-turned-tyrants "crocodile liberators," joining the ranks of other fine specimens: the Swiss bank socialists who force the people to pay for economic losses while stashing personal gains abroad, the quack revolutionaries who betray the ideals that brought them to power, and the briefcase bandits who simply pillage and steal. Here’s my list of the world’s worst dictators.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

"The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is, ’What does a woman want?’ "

This was Sigmund Freud’s response in 1925 to a female protégé, Marie Bonaparte, who sought his guidance. Bonaparte, then in her early 40s, suffered in her own words, from "frigidity."

His question is alive today: Last week, a Food and Drug Administration panel reviewed the efficacy and safety of a new drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder — lack of sexual desire. (The panel did not recommend approval.) I’ll come back to this in a minute.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

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