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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

US deploying troops to 35 African countries

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 25, 2012

embassy-states-arrive.nThe United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.

Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.

Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.

According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much. Read the rest of this entry »

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Educating the World – No More Excuses

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 29, 2012

By Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; UN Special Envoy for Global Education

This September, five and six year olds in the western world have enjoyed their first day at school. In the developing world, however, a total of 61 million school-age girls and boys around the world will not go to primary school at all.

While if you visited the classrooms of New York, London or Paris you would find happy young children beginning their educational journey, if you visit the mining regions of Mali, West Africa, you’ll find children as young as 10 working in tunnels 30 meters underground. Visit the cocoa growing areas of neighboring Côte d’Ivoire and you’ll see young boys of primary school age working with machetes.

This tragic picture of child labor repeats itself across the developing world: new figures show that 91 million girls and boys are currently engaged in child labor. On current trends, there will be as many as 170 million child laborers in 2020, who, instead of acquiring the basic literacy and numeracy skills that we in the western world often take for granted, are engaged in grueling and often dangerous work.

In Africa alone, the number of children aged between five and 14 involved in child labor is projected to increase by some 19 million. Growing numbers of children forced into the workplace, and so denied the opportunity to prosper in the classroom. This endless cycle of poverty begetting poverty through lack of opportunity is ready to repeat itself if nothing is done.

Contrast this with the western world, where education has taken its rightful place amongst the priorities of government, with centuries of investment in teaching and infrastructure. In ten years’ time, 800 million of the world’s citizens, primarily in wealthy countries, are set to have university degrees. Read the rest of this entry »

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What If Rich Countries Shut the Door on Immigration?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 21, 2012

They would start to look like North Korea, says an Oxford professor
image: An Italian coastguard boat carrying migrants of an undetermined nationality sails into the island port in Lampedusa, Italy, Aug. 24, 2011.

TULLIO M. PUGLIA / GETTY IMAGES
An Italian coast-guard boat carrying migrants of an undetermined nationality heads to the island port in Lampedusa, Italy, on Aug. 24, 2011

This is a “what if” interview from the World Economic Forum’s Risk Response Network. To view the rest of the series, click here.

Amid a global recession, catastrophic rates of unemployment in developed countries and a rising tide of xenophobia, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with TIME, speaks with Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School and a professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford, about the likelihood of anti-immigrant policies coming to the fore. Goldin warns that such policies would not only harm communities the world over, but be counterproductive.

Are we in the throes of a global backlash against immigration?
We’re seeing an increasing focus on immigration in response to the severe economic crisis, rising unemployment and falling living standards. As has happened throughout history, there’s a tendency to blame immigrants for these problems. Politically, it’s an easy option, but it’s never worked out too well as a strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lioness Attacks Crocodile To Protect Pride (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 27, 2012

Lioness Attacks Crocodile

In a instant, a tense situation escalated to an attack, and one lucky wildlife photographer managed to catch a violent moment between a lioness and a crocodile.

“The sequence of six pictures of the real action were taken in one second,” photog Pia Dierckx told The Daily Mail.

Dierickx, 48, was observing the lioness and her pride as they prepared to cross a riverbed in Botswana. When a threatening crocodile appeared, the lioness sprung into action and grabbed the animal by its mouth. The two engaged in a quick but fierce battle, each biting the other, until the lioness ran off relatively unscathed, save for a cut to her lip.

Dierckx reportedly told BPNS that it happened so quickly, she didn’t even notice it.

“It was only when I downloaded my pictures later that I saw what had happened,” said Dierickx.

This isn’t the first time a lioness has been spotted protecting cubs. Last year, a mother lion was photographed rescuing her cub struggling on a slippery slope.

In another precious moment caught on film this year, a lion trainer visiting four young lions on his last day of work was overwhelmed by their outpouring of love for him.

Unfortunately, some lions are threatened by indiscriminate killing and habitat loss, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Read the rest of this entry »

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Must-Reads From Around the World: April 26, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 26, 2012

PETER DEJONG/AFP/GettyImages/Pool

PETER DEJONG/AFP/GETTYIMAGES/POOL
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor takes notes at the start of the judgement hearing of his trial on charge of arming Sierra Leone’s rebels who paid him in “blood diamonds,” on April 26, 2012 at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in Leidschendam outside The Hague

Life For Death? – The five-year trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, accused of 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other offenses, is finally coming to a close in The Hague on Thursday, with a possible life sentence for the ousted leader. The Guardian, live-blogging the verdict from the tribunal, noted that Taylor is “clearly listening with care,” as it is read out. And judges found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war.

New Front in Drone War – The White House expanded the authority of the Pentagon and CIA to carry out drone strikes in Yemen, which is widely believed to be a safe haven for al-Qaeda operatives, the New York Times reports. U.S. Defense Secretary LeonPanetta has defended the strategy, the Guardian says, but international legal experts argue that drone strikes amount to execution of suspects before trial, making them illegal – especially when carried out in Yemen where the U.S. is not engaged in war.

Questioning Misogyny – Following the fierce debate over its cover story, “Why Do They Hate Us?“ which casts Arab societies as deeply misogynistic, Foreign Policy shares critiques and commentary from six Muslim observers, including the senior editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English-language website. Also chiming in is The Atlantic’s Max Fisher, who argues that while misogyny is a problem in Arab countries, it’s not a distinctively Arab problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Education Without Borders

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 18, 2012

By Gordon Brown, former prime Minister of Britain

Every child has a right to an education. Yet millions of children are living in countries where that right is systematically violated as a result of armed conflict. It is time for the international community to stop this state of affairs by getting serious about its responsibility to protect education in all countries, irrespective of the barriers created by armed conflict.

Education seldom figures in media reporting from conflict zones. Yet the effects are devastating. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the education system has collapsed in the face of mass displacement and ongoing violence, over 1 million children are out of school. When the surge in refugees driven from Somalia by hunger and violence arrived in camps in northern Kenya last year there was no provision made for additional education. And the conflict in Yemen has pushed tens of thousands of children out of school. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sahel Drought 2012: One Million Children At Risk Of Starvation

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 6, 2012


Comment: Certain percentage of war expense could be enough to sort out this problem:

1 million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in Africa’s Sahel region, a 1000-kilometer belt between the Sahara and the Sudanian Savannas, UNICEF warns.

According to UNICEF, over 15 million people in eight African countries are directly affected by the crisis. Oxfam reports that malnutrition levels in some regions rise beyond the emergency threshold level of 15 percent. “If we are not able to mount the appropriate response, it could reach up to 1.4 million severely malnourished children, so we’re talking about a lot of lives which are at stake here,” UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs, Louis-Georges Arsenault, said in a statement.

“Millions of people are on the threshold of a major crisis. All signs point to a drought becoming a catastrophe if nothing is done soon. The world cannot allow this to happen. A concerted aid effort is needed to stop tens of thousands dying due to international complacency,” said Mamadou Biteye, Oxfam Regional Director for West Africa.

According to the World Food Program, the combination of drought, high food prices, displacement, and chronic poverty may lead to a full-scale nutritional crisis. In addition, many families have not yet fully recovered from past crises in 2005, 2008, and 2010.

Food shortages are common in the Sahel — the region annually fights shortages in the time between harvests and reports show that even during good harvest years parts of the population are undernourished. Yet aid agencies warn this year’s scarcity could develop into a full humanitarian crisis and it is crucial to take swift action. Read the rest of this entry »

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5,000-strong brigade to hunt down Joseph Kony

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 25, 2012

Joseph Kony (C), (AFP Photo / The Monitor / Stringer)

Joseph Kony (C), (AFP Photo / The Monitor / Stringer)

The African Union says it will create a special force to track down notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony in the heart of central Africa. The announcement follows a viral video campaign that courted controversy around the world.

The Uganda-led mission will commence in South Sudan on Saturday, United Nations and African Union officials said at a news conference in Uganda, AP reports.

The 5,000-strong brigade tasked with bringing down Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) will consist of regional troops whose countries have been affected by the rebel group’s activities.

“We need to stop Kony with hardware – with military hardware in this case,” the African Union’s special envoy on the LRA, Francisco Madeira, said on Friday. “We are on a mission to stop him.”

The announcement follows the Kony 2012 Internet movie sensation created by the US advocacy group Invisible Children. Invisible children say the video, which has now garnered more than 100 million views, was created “to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD SPEAKING DURING A RAMADAN IFTAR BANQUET IN HONOR OF MUSLIM CLERGYMEN, IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA, 24 AUGUST 2011. (PHOTO: SANA / EPA)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why You Should Feel Awkward About the ‘Kony2012′ (Video)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 8, 2012

Stuart Price / AFP / Getty Images

STUART PRICE / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, answers journalists’ questions in Ri-Kwamba, southern Sudan, Nov. 12, 2006.

Most Americans began this week not knowing who Joseph Kony was. That’s not surprising: most Americans begin every week not knowing a lot of things, especially about a part of the world as obscured from their vision as Uganda, the country where Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commenced a brutal insurgency in the 1980s that lingers to this day.

A viral video that took social media by storm over the past two days has seemingly changed all that. Produced by Invisible Children, a San Diego-based NGO, “Kony2012″ is a half-hour plea for Americans and global netizens to pay attention to Kony’s crimes — which include abducting over 60,000 children over two decades of conflict, brutalizing them and transforming many into child soldiers — and to pressure the Obama Administration to find and capture him. Within hours of the slick production surfacing on social media, it led to #StopKony trending on Twitter, populated Facebook timelines, was publicized by Hollywood celebrities and has been viewed some 10 million times on YouTube. Suddenly, a man on virtually no Westerner’s radar became the international bogeyman of the moment.

(VIDEO: The Lord’s Resistance Army Hunts Children in Sudan)

It’s an incredible public relations coup for the NGO, which congratulates itself in the film for spurring U.S. Congress last October to send 100 military “advisers” to aid Ugandan forces in their war against Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA is without a doubt a nasty outfit, responsible for massacres of civilian populations, mass rapes, contemptible acts of mutilation and, most notoriously, the creation of an army of child soldiers, forced to perform gruesome deeds. In 2005, the International Criminal Court in the Hague put Kony at the top of its most wanted list, indicted on 33 counts including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sure, the U.S. remains in the minority of nations yet to officially recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, but that, Invisible Children’s members would likely argue, ought not change the need for a moral clarion call: Kony must be brought to justice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Destination Persian Gulf? US nuclear sub and destroyer enter Red Sea

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 31, 2012

Greece: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Annapolis is escorted by a US Naval Support Activity harbor security boat as she departs Souda harbor in Souda Bay, Greece on March 30, 2010. (AFP Photo / Paul Farley)

Greece: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Annapolis is escorted by a US Naval Support Activity harbor security boat as she departs Souda harbor in Souda Bay, Greece on March 30, 2010. (AFP Photo / Paul Farley)

Two ships of the US Navy, the nuclear submarine USS Annapolis and the destroyer USS Momsen have passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. Although their destination is confidential, they are now getting dangerously close to the Persian Gulf.

The ships’ passage was a major operation for the Suez administration as due to safety reasons they had to close off the canal to all other traffic and even shut down the bridge, disrupting the link between the banks for some four hours. The traffic on the roadways alongside the canal was also restricted, Interfax news agency reports.

There are no reports regarding the destination of the vessels, but the news come amid the ongoing crisis in the relationship between the US and Iran. There is mounting speculation that the Annapolis and the Momsen are heading to the Persian Gulf to reinforce the US naval forces already present in the region.

Currently the US has two aircraft carrier groups in the region headed by USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Carl Vinson. It is expected that another aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, will join the strike force in March. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Gods must be crazy: Metal ‘Teletubby head’ falls near Namibian village

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 23, 2011

Namibia, Desert Region : A handout photo provided by the National Forensic Science Institute shows a giant metallic ball of 1,1 metre in diameter weighing some 6 kilograms that fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency (ESA) on December 21, 2011. AFP Photo / National Forensic Science Institute)

Mystery surrounds a 13-pound unidentified flying object which fell from the skies in northern Namibia. Despite efforts by researchers to identify its composition and origins, nobody has been able to establish where the metal sphere came from.

Mystery surrounds a 13-pound unidentified flying object which fell from the skies in northern Namibia. Despite efforts by researchers to identify its composition and origins, nobody has been able to establish where the metal sphere came from.

The ball, weighing 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms) and measuring 14 inches (35 centimeters) in diameter hit the ground next to the Namibian village of Omanatunga in the Omunsati region in the north of the country.

Locals reported hearing a series of loud explosions before the sphere was found by a farmer sometime between November 15 and November 20. The metal ball was found some 60 feet (1.5 meters) away from a small crater it is assumed to have created when it fell.

Ever since, local officials and researchers have been kept busy investigating the origins and make-up of the mysterious ball. Local police chief Vilho Hifindaka was quick to calm everyone down by saying the object did not pose any danger, as it was hollow inside.

The director of the Namibian National Forensic Science Institute, Paul Vidik, said the two sides of the ball appear to be welded together and that the sphere contains a metal alloy used in spaceships. He rejected the idea that it could be an extraterrestrial object and said such findings are commonplace throughout the southern hemisphere – in South America, Africa and Australia.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Putin: Who gave NATO right to kill Gaddafi?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 22, 2011

Then what was the real reason for NATO attacking Libya?

Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 21, 2011

By  and 

The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said.

One of the installations is being established in Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country. Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of “hunter-killer” drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.

The U.S. military also has flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from bases in Djibouti, a tiny African nation at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In addition, the CIA is building a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen.

The rapid expansion of the undeclared drone wars is a reflection of the growing alarm with which U.S. officials view the activities of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, even as al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan has been weakened by U.S. counterterrorism operations.

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The negotiations that preceded the establishment of the base in the Republic of Seychelles illustrate the efforts the United States is making to broaden the range of its drone weapons.

The island nation of 85,000 people has hosted a small fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force since September 2009. U.S. and Seychellois officials have previously acknowledged the drones’ presence but have said that their primary mission was to track pirates in regional waters. But classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the unmanned aircraft have also conducted counterterrorism missions over Somalia, about 800 miles to the northwest. Read the rest of this entry »

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The world’s top ten most desolate countries

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 13, 2011

by Justin Delaney (RSS feed)

most desolate


According to a Harvard study
, the earth’s population will hit seven billion humans in a few months. Earlier this summer, Gadling labs profiled the effects of increasing populations on finite land resources by showcasing the world’s most crowded islands. The earth is, in its own way, an island, and 21st century humanity will be presented with the challenge of adapting to rising population levels and static resources.

While countries like India have wrestled with the conundrum of feeding and housing booming population levels in Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the countries on this list bear no similarities to the billion strong Indian subcontinent. These countries are the ones with open space – lots of it. Countries like Greenland and Mongolia may someday be utilized for their vast expanses of open terrain, but today they are simply great places to go when you have tired of other human beings.

So while this extraordinarily hot summer may have included elbowing your way through thronged midtown Manhattan in 100 degree heat or hesitantly inhaling the stink rising off the sweaty crowd at Bonnaroo, this list is intended to take you way away from the crowds. From riding a horse through the empty steppes of Mongolia to exploring the glacial highlands ofIceland, each of these countries offers exercises in sweet sweet solitude. None of these countries have more than ten people per square mile.

10 Mauritania
Location: Northwest Africa
Population: 3,069,000
Population density: 8.2 humans per square mile
Primary Airport: Nouakchott International Airport
Primer: Mauritania is a sand swept country offering desolation and one of the lowest GDPs on the African continent. Even the well-traveled must consult an atlas to correctly place the country on their mental map. Heavily mined in the east with empty beaches in the West, the country is one of the least visited locations on the planet. Credit cards are not readily acceptable, rain is scarce, and desert covers over half of this one time French occupation. Throw in strained African/Arab relations and you get a very challenging country to visit.

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