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Archive for August 3rd, 2011

US Situation today: President Barack Obama’s America

Posted by African Press International on August 3, 2011


By Nancy, RightBias – USA

Free Cell Phones Are Now a Civil Right

Pennsylvanians on public assistance now have a new ‘civil right’ — free cell phones. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to pay higher cell bills as a result. New York Post

Chinese Agency Cuts U.S. Debt Rating Again

Chinese credit-rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. on Wednesday again downgraded U.S. sovereign debt and warned of further such moves Market Watch

Class Warfare Obama Declares End For Tax Breaks For Wealthiest Americans

 Obama declared war on tax breaks for wealthy Americans after emergency legislation to avoid an economy-rattling government default was finally passed in the Senate yesterday afternoon
Daily Mail

Moody’s Affirms U.S. Rating, Lowers Outlook

The outlook for the U.S. grade is now negative, Moody’s said in a statement yesterday after President Barack Obama signed into law a plan to lift the nation’s borrowing limit Bloomberg


Losses to Top $1 Billion After Congress Fails to Reach Deal on FAA

The government is likely to lose more than $1 billion in airline ticket taxes because lawmakers have left town for a month without resolving a partisan standoff over a bill to end the partial shutdown of the Fox

Ron Paul Sounds Alarm on ‘Disturbing’ Super Congress

Congressman Ron Paul warns that the all-powerful new “Super Congress” created by the vote on the debt ceiling will be used to fast-track tax increases while concentrating more power in the hands of the Washington elite. Infowars

Obama Dedicates Another $95 Mil To “Social Equity” Program

While Congress raises the nation’s debt limit to accommodate Obama’s manic spending, the commander-in-chief keeps hurling big chunks of taxpayer dollars at new government programs that aim to bring “social equity” to underserved communities Judicial Watch

Ohio U. Voted Top Party School

Ohio University has been named the nation’s No. 1 party school. The school in Athens pushes the University of Georgia down a slot in the 2011 Princeton Review student survey released Monday WBNS


Fiscal Conservatives Barred from Supercommittee 

Three Republican Senate sources say that senators who vote against the deal will be ineligible to serve on the so-called “supercommittee” for deficit reduction that the legislation creates Weekly Standard

MSNBC Hosts Unanimously Predict Obama’s Re-Election

When three MSNBC hosts forecast the winner of next year’s presidential race, their choice isn’t surprising, considering the network’s liberal tilt. AP

Navy Prepares Submarines For 1st Female Officers

Officials have been working to prepare the submarine crews —- and the sailors’ wives —- for one of the most dramatic changes in the 111-year history of the Navy’s “silent service.” North County Times

Indian Tribe in Wash. Approves Same-Sex Marriage

An American Indian Tribe in Washington state has adopted a law recognizing gay marriage, making it only the second tribe in the country known to do so AP



Here’s How Your Senators Voted on the Debt Deal

Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Senate passed the debt ceiling bill Tuesday with a vote of 74-26. Here is a look at which lawmakers voted for or against the debt plan Christian Post

Whole Foods Celebrates, Monetizes Ramadan

Whole Foods has become the first prominent supermarket chain to run a Ramadan marketing campaign–and they’re hoping Muslim customers will return the favor as they break fast Fastcompany

California’s New … ‘ Out-of-the Closet Atheists..’

They call themselves ‘Backyard Skeptics.’ One of their ads, includes the saying ‘ Out of the Closet Atheists..” They’re spending thousands of dollars to put-up 30 bus-shelter ads from Anaheim to Mission Viejo CBS

State Bans Teachers From Contacting Students Online

A controversial new law in Missouri designed to protect students from sexual misconduct bans direct contact between educators and students on social networking websites Fox


Illegal Immigrants Decline in Some California Counties

The population of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles County fell by 8,000 between 2001 and 2008, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California Los Angeles Times

Saudi Plan World’s Tallest Tower

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal announced plans to build the world’s tallest building in Jeddah less than two years after the Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai at a height that many thought wouldn’t be surpassed for years. Wall Street Journal

Holder Wants to Keep Secrets in FBI Mosque Suit

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion. Fox

Majority of Americans Against Debt Deal

A majority of Americans disapprove of the deal struck Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders that will raise the country’s legal borrowing limit CNN


Claim: Most of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter Followers Are Fake

Newt Gingrich laid out a new argument for why he should be the GOP presidential nominee: He’s got the most Twitter followers. But according to a former Gingrich staffer, he bought them Gawker

Health Dept Approves Free Birth Control

Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications USA Today


GM (Finally) Confirms Slow Chevy Volt Sales

GM spokeswoman, Michelle Bunker, was quoted as saying that the Volt was “virtually sold out” and only a “few” were available nationwide. This statement is not entirely truthful NLPC

Obama Administration Reviving Abu Ghraib Scandal

The Obama administration is reviving the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, with a pending determination about whether a former leader of the CIA interrogation team at the facility will be charged with war crimes Worldnetdaily


Windows XP Market Share Dips Below 50%

After a healthy 10-year run, Windows XP may finally be losing its overwhelming grip on computer users. XP’s market share among all operating systems finally dipped just below the 50% mark CNet

Federal Appeals Court: Saying “Jesus” During Public Prayer is Unconstitutional

 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed that prayers unconstitutionally advance Christianity if references to Jesus are more than isolated, or if the content is otherwise too Christian for the court’s taste. Washington Examiner


Daily Presidential Tracking Poll: Obama At -18

23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing his role as President. 41% Strongly Disapprove giving him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18



Kelsey Grammer Wants To Run For Office

Heads up Alec Baldwin, there’s another actor with his eye on a political career. The New York Post reported Sunday that Kelsey Grammer intends to run for office in the future, perhaps in NY Politico

Rescuers Sue Woman [They] Saved From Burning Vehicle

Two men honored as heroes for rescuing a woman from her burning sport utility vehicle after it crashed have sued her, claiming they’re physical and emotionally scarred

Air Conditioned Clothes Hit Japanese Market

As far as summer fashion goes, clothes with built-in electric fans leave a little something to be desired.

Biden Charging Secret Service For Cottage Rental

The U.S. Secret Service does more than protect Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the agency also pays him rent. Washington Times


Who Knew?

5 Health Benefits of Smoking

Should smokers be fortunate enough to dodge all that cancer, heart disease, emphysema and the like, they will be uniquely protected — for reasons unexplained by science — against a handful of diseases and afflictions. Live Science

Baseline Budgeting Makes Real Cuts Impossible in Washington

For those of you that don’t know what the baseline is and how baseline budgeting works, let me give you the real quick explanation of it.

Facebook Director Calls For An End to Internet Anonymity

Facebook’s marketing director has called for an end to on-line anonymity, saying internet users would “behave a lot better” if everyone had to use real names when surfing or posting on the interne
Daily Mail

Late Show Top Ten

Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Letting Your Monkey Get Married

1. “Does Men’s Wearhouse rent urine-proof tuxedos?” 2. “Would he rather go to New York and have a gay monkey marriage?” RightBias Humor


The New Spider Man is Black – And He Could Be Gay

He started life as a white science geek living with his uncle. But now to reflect the racial changes in America Spider Man has been given a makeover – as a half black half Latino teen Daily Mail

Strange Stuff

Swede Held For Building Nuclear Reactor In His Kitchen

Swedish police have detained a 31-year-old man in Western Sweden who was discovered after he sought advice from authorities on the legality of building a nuclear reactor in a domestic kitchen The Local

Essential Trivia

D.C. Adults Top Alcohol Abusers in Country

A new report says that adults in Washington D.C. abuse alcohol more than anyone else in the country. NBC

Who Knew?

Half of European Men Share King Tut’s DNA

Up to 70 percent of British men and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, geneticists in Switzerland said. Reuters

Strange Stuff
Man Says He Can Hear His Eyeballs Move
Doctors were baffled when a British man told them, “I can hear my eyeballs moving.” They finally diagnosed that Stephen Mabbutt had a rare ear condition in which sounds inside the body are heard very loudly, Fox

Charlie Sheen’s “Men” Character To Get Screen Funeral?

Charlie Sheen’s “Two and A Half Men” character will not only be killed off, he will be given a funeral when the TV series returns in September, according to entertainment industry Reuters


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Former president Hosni Mubarak wheeled into the court on corruption and murder charges

Posted by African Press International on August 3, 2011

By API in Cairo.

Egypt, Cairo, 03.08.2011, Hosni Mubarak was wheeled in to the court today morning for trial on corruption and murder charges, The former president has been humiliated and his former subjects, the people he ruled for many years are now rejoicing to see him brought to justice.

Many leaders in the continent who rule mercilessly are now watching what is happening in Egypt. They know if they continue their corrupt and murderous ways, they may end up being treated like Mubarak when they no longer have the power.

Leaders all over the world should respect the people they rule, allowing them their rights if they expect to be treated humanly when they fall from grace.

When Mubarak was president, he had many friends who are still leaders in their countries. All of them have now turned their back on him, leaving him struggle to save his face from total humiliation. These leaders are not even appealing to the new leadership in Egypt to allow justice to prevail in this case. This is a clear message to leaders worldwide that political friendship is useless. When worse comes to worse, every leader will have to stand alone and answer for crimes committed.

When in court today, he denied the charges. His two sons are also on trial in the same court.

The hearing continues.


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The West bank city of Ramallah is undergoing an upgrade to its infrastructure

Posted by African Press International on August 3, 2011

Analysis: Donor aid boosts West Bank infrastructure despite impediments

The West bank city of Ramallah is undergoing an upgrade to its infrastructure

RAMALLAH, 29 July 2011 (IRIN) – West Bank infrastructure projects have increased as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) state-building efforts and increased donor funding, although significant barriers to implementation remain, report officials from Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad’s office, PA ministries and donors.

Infrastructure, intertwined with economic development, is seen as the backbone of a future state under the framework of the 2008 Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP), the government’s comprehensive effort to prepare for an independent Palestinian state by September 2011.

The PA has succeeded in connecting almost all residential areas to the electricity grid (99.8 percent of the population now connected), repair thousands of kilometres of roads, as well as improve the water and sanitation networks since 2008.

In Ramallah a year-long US$2.5 million “Rehabilitation of the City Centre” project, funded by the PA and the municipality and ending in August, will see upgrades to the city’s water and electricity network, roads and communications infrastructure. The project is in Area A, where the PA has full control.

However, PA ministries say permits for project related construction and rehabilitation, particularly in Area C, are not forthcoming and projects are frequently destroyed by Israeli authorities, hindering their ability to deliver essential public services.

Israel retains military authority and full control over the building and planning sphere in Area C; 70 percent of the area is classified as a firing zone, settlement areas, or nature reserves, and is inaccessible to Palestinians; 60 percent of the West Bank is in Area C.

“Restrictions in Area C affect the total population,” spokesperson from Fayyad’s office Ghassan Khatib told IRIN. “For example, a proposed Nablus sewage treatment plant between Nablus and Tulkarem is located in Area C, but serves the Nablus population in Area A.” Public infrastructure like sewage and solid waste management facilities cannot be located near population centres, making Area C the only option available, say Palestinian officials.

The project has yet to be approved by the Israeli authorities after nearly 10 years of delay, said Khatib.

The PA has managed to close unsafe landfill sites and to create two new landfills in the Tulkarem and Hebron governorates, with plans for a Southern West Bank Landfill serving the Bethlehem and Hebron governorates. “It took nearly eight years of negotiations with Israeli authorities to obtain the necessary permission to access areas for the landfills,” said Khatib. Several more are urgently needed.

Ramallah, a sprawling urban centre in the West Bank, needs a new landfill to serve its residents and 10 surrounding municipalities, said Ramallah Municipality spokesperson Maha Shihadeh. “The population is too close to the dumping site, and it must be moved to avoid potential health effects.”

Restricted access

Officials from the PA ministry of planning and administrative development (MoPAD) say infrastructure and services must be adapted to the geography imposed by occupation, despite the high cost.

Areas A and B are not contiguous, so many projects like roads and utility networks extend into Area C, less than 1 percent of which has been planned for Palestinian development by the Israeli Civil Administration, reports the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Photo: Erica Silverman/IRIN
New squares and monuments are appearing in Ramallah

In the first half of 2011, 342 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in Area C by Israeli authorities, according to OCHA, while over 3,000 demolition orders are outstanding.

Israel says it has approved a greater number of PA infrastructure projects over the last year aiming to upgrade Palestinian water and sewage infrastructure, agriculture, and the electricity network.

Increased donor funding

An increase in donor funded development projects since 2008 prompted the PA planning ministry to develop an aid information management system, DARP, an inclusive database that currently contains about 1,500 ongoing or completed donor funded projects in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including projects from Arab donors.

Over the past 20 years the PA received about US$20 billion in donor funds, $7.7 billion of which came in the last three years, according to a senior planning ministry official.

OPt, with a population of about 4.1 million (2.5 million in the West Bank and about 1.6 million in Gaza) had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $7 billion in 2010. Net official development assistance to oPt was $2.5 billion in 2010, which amounts to 36 percent of GDP, reports the planning ministry.

In 2010 about $1.148 billion of the assistance went to budget support; about $755 million to development projects from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and non-OECD donors; and about $585 million was for humanitarian projects, including the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) general fund for the West Bank and Gaza and the UN-NGO Consolidated Appeals Process, according to the planning ministry.

A recent report by aid watchdog Development Initiatives said humanitarian aid to oPt in 2009 was $1.3 billion, making it the second largest recipient in the world.

Project implementation challenges

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its $300 million Infrastructure Needs Program in 2008, including construction and rehabilitation of roads, water and wastewater systems, schools, and other required facilities as the PA prepares for its role in a future Palestinian state.

Major challenges USAID faces include “protracted GOI [Government of Israel] approvals to transport materials and equipment into the West Bank,” and “Delays in PWA [Palestinian Water Authority] land acquisition for funded projects.”

USAID declined to comment on these development challenges.

The European Union (EU), the main donor and partner to the PA, supports a number of major public infrastructure programmes in the areas of transportation, electricity, water access, wastewater treatment and solid waste management.

After addressing urgent needs linked to rehabilitation of the Palestinian basic infrastructure from 2005 to 2010 (total $166.6 million), the EU is focusing on sector-concentrated interventions, said John Gatt-Rutter, deputy head of the EU Delegation in Jerusalem.

In 2011, the EU expects to invest $31.5 million in the water and sanitation sector. “We are implementing our projects in a total partnership with the PA,” said Gatt-Rutter, and “we do use our contacts with the Israeli government to try to facilitate the implementation of some projects.”

About 43 percent of donor assistance to the Palestinians is from the EU and EU member countries; about 25 percent from the USA and its agencies; about 25 percent from Arab countries and their agencies; and about 7 percent from other donors, like Australia, Japan, Canada and Norway, says the planning ministry official.

Quartet coordination efforts

Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) Tony Blair continuously negotiates with Israeli officials to try and coordinate donor projects.

“Part of the OQR’s work is helping to facilitate infrastructure projects, most of which are donor funded, that are fulfilling the requirements of PM Fayyad’s state building Plan [PRDP],” a spokesperson from the OQR Jerusalem office told IRIN.

“It’s not just about political negotiations; there must be progress on the ground as well for Palestinians to realize improvement in their day-to-day lives,” he said.

es/cb source

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Uganda: The Kwoyelo trial sends mixed messages to current LRA fighters and commanders

Posted by African Press International on August 3, 2011

GULU, 29 July 2011 (IRIN) – The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former rebel
in Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the first such case before the
Ugandan High Court’s International Crime Division (ICD), is eliciting
mixed reactions. Analysts say that while it may satisfy northerners’
desire for justice, there are concerns over its impact on future LRA

Kwoyelo was charged with war crimes, including murder and kidnapping in
various northern Uganda locations, on 11 July in Gulu. He denied the

“The Kwoyelo trial sends mixed messages to current LRA fighters and
commanders,” Ashley Benner, a policy analyst with the Enough Project,
told IRIN in an email.

“On the one hand, the Amnesty Act guarantees amnesty for the LRA, and
leafleting and radio programmes provide assurances that they can defect
without fear of prosecution. On the other hand, the Amnesty Commission
has been inconsistent in granting amnesties, and the Ugandan High Court
has begun prosecuting a mid-level LRA commander who has been refused

Kwoyelo’s amnesty application was referred to Uganda’s Constitutional
Court for interpretation on 25 July.

The Amnesty Act
he_Amnesty_Act.doc>  provides that people who meet the amnesty
requirements, including renouncing and abandoning involvement in the war
or armed rebellion, cannot be prosecuted or punished for crimes covered
by the act in Uganda.

Benner added: “In order to make real progress toward diminishing the
size and strength of the LRA, Kampala should fully resume granting
amnesties, publicly clarify the application of the Amnesty Act and
reinstate formal channels for joining the Ugandan army.”

Echoing this, Ned Dalby, analyst at International Crisis Group (ICG),
said: “Unfortunately, the trial does little to reassure LRA fighters
still in the bush in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] and the CAR
[Central African Republic] that if they surrender they will be offered
amnesty and be able to return home.

“LRA combatants need to see escape and return as a viable option to
fight and flee.”

According to a new Oxfam survey, LRA attacks continue in the DRC,
resulting in 26 deaths and 23 kidnappings in June alone.

The head of Oxfam in DRC, Pauline Ballaman, said: “Small mobile groups
of hungry LRA fighters continue to viciously target the most isolated
and forgotten people in northeastern DRC. Despite past military
operations and increased international attention, the LRA is still able
to wreak havoc in neglected communities and is responsible for
widespread killings, abductions and displacement.”

There have also been concerns about whether the ICD court, set up in
2007 after the incorporation of the International Criminal Court’s Rome
Statute, lacks the required international procedures to provide Kwoyelo
a fair trial and sufficiently protect witnesses.

However, ICD presiding Judge Dan Akiiki-Kiiza said: “We are going to
ensure justice is delivered; the court is competent to handle cases of
such magnitude.”

According to Stephen Oola, head of research and advocacy at the Refugee
Law Project, Kwoyelo’s trial is important as it brings about a
“semblance of justice”.

“The challenge is [what] about [the] other senior LRA commanders who
have been let off the hook? What we need is to achieve our goal of
accountability and reconciliation and this should mean justice should
not be selective,” said Oola.

The Ugandan government appeared to be using the Kwoyelo trial to show it
is taking on board the need for justice and accountability in the
aftermath of the northern Uganda conflict, said ICG’s Dalby.

“It [the case] is high profile and very visible both at home and abroad.
“It may well satisfy some northerners’ desire for justice at the
national level but is unlikely to speed up the slow process of
reconciliation between aggressors and victims within and between
communities. This is the real challenge facing the government and people
of Uganda,” he said.

Kwoyelo is accused of attacking an internally displaced persons camp in
Pagak where several civilians were killed between 1992 and 2005, laying
ambushes along the Gulu-Juba road, destroying civilian property and
abducting children in the Awer, Bira, Oputure and Pogo villages.

In August 2010, he was charged with wilful killings, hostage taking and
extensive destruction of property in Amuru and Gulu districts.

However, a former LRA major, John Ogil, said Kwoyelo’s LRA duties mainly
involved manning the sick bay in Kilak with limited field operations.

Under orders

Former LRA high-ranking commanders, such as Brig Kenneth Banya and Otto,
have all received amnesty under the act over the last several years,
according to Human Rights Watch
<> .

Kwoyelo’s mother, Roselina Oyella, told IRIN her son was acting on the
orders of his superiors. “My son was abducted when he was barely 15
years [old]; he committed the crimes on [the] orders of commanders like
Vincent Otti, [Kenneth] Banya and others.”

At least 60 witnesses, most of them war-crime survivors in the north,
are expected to give evidence at the trial, which according to the
defence lawyer, Caleb Alaka, will help in healing the affected
communities, albeit with “an impact on amnesty”.

ca-aw/mw source

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