Michael Jackson’s Memorial Tickets Mayhem

July 5, 2009

Micheal performing on stage

Micheal performing on stage


THE 1.6 million Michael Jackson fans who entered the worldwide online lotto for a place at the dead superstar’s blockbuster memorial will learn today if they have won a ticket to the send-off.

The entertainer’s army of followers are already spoiling for a fight, accusing one another of making futile grabs for tickets.

“What a crazy situation. I have applied for tickets knowing full well I could not afford a flight,” wrote one fan on a global fan club website.

Another snapped back: “What is aggravating is so many people have registered knowing that they can’t go or may not be able to go. So now you’re registering and taking the chance away from fellow fans that can go.”

Only 8750 pairs of tickets will be handed out for the Wednesday event and officials have warned against scalping.

Organisers had limited tickets to US residents only, but yesterday opened the pool to fans worldwide.

Promoter AEG has been criticised for limiting access to memorial venue the Staples Centre in central LA during the show.

The event will be televised, but footage will not be shown on giant TV screens outside the centre.

“I don’t see why we can’t come down here and be part of it, it’s not fair,” said Jordi, 24, of Virginia.

Jennifer Hudson is expected to be among the performers at the event and Jackson’s friend Elizabeth Taylor has been tipped to read the eulogy.

Australian guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, 24, who had been part of his comeback tour show, will also play.

The Jackson family has yet to announce full details of the memorial.

Half a million mourners applied for a ticket to the event within seven hours of entries opening.

The memorial website attracted hits at a rate of 120,000 a second for the first 90 minutes.

Over the 32-hour window before registrations closed, 1.6 million people around the world entered the draw.

Winners will be selected at random by computer.

Organisers received 13,000 requests for media accreditation from news organisations around the world. Only 3000 will be allowed into the event.


Nigeria Marks 10 Uninterrupted Years of Democratic Rule Friday

May 29, 2009

Friday is ‘democracy day’ in Nigeria as the country marks 10 uninterrupted years since the return to civilian rule in 1999.

Nigeria had been ruled by the military for 32 of its 49 years since gaining independence in 1960. But in 1979, former military leader Olusegun Obasanjo was elected to once again usher in civilian rule.

Some say the restoration of democracy has put Nigeria back on the track of becoming one of the economic powers of Africa. Yet some Nigerians say they have very little to celebrate because the democracy dividends that they had hoped for have yet to be attained.

Professor Kabiru Mato, head of the political science department at the University of Abuja told VOA the occasion is not worth celebrating because the democratic aspirations of Nigerians have yet to be met.

“I think this is civil rule day. I don’t think it is yet a democracy day because most of the attributes of democracy are not yet on the ground in Nigeria. The issue that is worth celebrating actually is that this is the first time in the history of Nigeria since independence in 1960 that we are having 10 years of uninterrupted rule by civilians,” he said.

Mato described as arbitrary many things that he said have happened in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007.

“We have seen manipulation of the political processes by way of emasculating political parties by reducing them to mere instruments in the hands of those people in authority. We have also seen to a great extent the failure of the political establishment to abide by the rule of the game by ensuring elections which could be categorized as above average,” Mato said.

He said he does not think Nigerians have done well either during the last 10 years under democratic rule.

“If you look at all the development indexes that are available, the relationship between Nigerians and poverty is still really on the high side. Social infrastructure is basically lacking in the country, educational system is in crisis, our health service is also in shamble, roads are still bad…so if you want to really put in perspective, it would be very difficult for you to say that we have achieved anything positive in the last 10 years,” he said.

Almost every election in Nigeria since the return to democratic rulehas been disputed, including the recent election re-run in Ekiti State. Some blamed the problems on the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mato said the country will need a truly independent electoral commission if Nigerians are to have free and fair elections in 2011,

“What we are having in Nigeria is that there is a concerted effort on the part of the citizens calling for electoral reform. You will recall that as soon as President Yar’Adua found himself in office in May 2007 he did promise Nigerians and the world all over that he was going to ensure that an electoral reform is conducted. So he set up a committee and the committee came up a very far reaching recommendations that were accepted and friends of Nigeria. Unfortunately the president is not willing to accept most of the critical recommendations of that electoral reform committee,” Mato said.

Mato said Nigerians cannot talk about democracy without an electoral system that will guarantee the citizenry that their right that they have the right to vote and be voted.

He said the restoration of democracy has helped in some respect in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. But Mato said Nigerians must take the fight to a new level by looking at corruption as a social problem that requires social solutions.

 Sourced from VOA News

First Hispanic Nomination: Sotomayor by Obama

May 26, 2009

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor and President Barack Obama

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor and President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, praising her as “an inspiring woman” with both the intellect and compassion to interpret the Constitution wisely.

Obama said Sotomayor has more experience as a judge than any current member of the high court had when nominated, adding she has earned the “respect of colleagues on the bench, the admiration of many lawyers who argue cases in her court and the adoration of her clerks, who look to her as a mentor.”

Standing next to Obama at the White House, Sotomayor recalled a childhood spent in a housing project in the Bronx as well as her upper-echelon legal career: “I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.”

Barring the unexpected, Senate confirmation seems likely, given the large Democratic majority. If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court, the third in history. She would succeed retiring Justice David Souter.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., issued a statement saying he looked forward “to working with both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to confirm Judge Sotomayor as the first Hispanic and the third woman to sit on the court.”

Senate Republicans pledged to give her a fair hearing, and some questioned whether she would base decisions on her personal feelings, rather than constitutional principles. Given her background, any effort to filibuster her nomination could carry political risks, since Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population and an increasingly important one politically.

Sotomayor would be unlikely to alter the ideological balance of the court, since Souter generally sides with the liberals on key 5-4 rulings. But at 54, she is a generation younger that Souter, and liberal outside groups hope she will provide a counterpoint to some of the sharply worded conservative rulings.

Introducing his choice, Obama said, “Along the way, she’s faced down barriers, overcome the odds and lived out the American dream that brought her parents here so long ago.”

Sourced from Yahoo News

Ban Ki Moon Demands Release Of Suu Kyi

May 21, 2009


The United Nations Secretary General promised to go to Burma to demand the release of political prisoners as the authorities resumed their closed trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning democracy leader, a day after briefly admitting journalists and foreign diplomats.

“I’m deeply concerned about what has been happening in Myanmar, in terms of democratization and I’m going to urge again the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi,” Ban Ki Moon said, using the new name for Burma, favoured by the country’s military dictatorship. “I’m going to visit Myanmar as soon as possible.”

A visit by Mr. Ban would counter claims by opponents of the military regime that the UN has done too little to put pressure on the country’s leader, Than Shwe, and his junta.

“When I go there in person, I’ll discuss with senior General Than Shwe and other government officials on this matter,” Mr. Ban promised. “We are again deeply concerned about the detention. She’s a democracy believer. We have a full support and trust in her. And also, she is an indispensable patron for reconsidering the dialogue in Myanmar.”

Ms Suu Kyi appeared in the court inside Insein Prison in Rangoon for a fourth day today, charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by giving shelter to John Yettaw, an eccentric American well wisher who secretly swam to her heavily guarded house across a lake.

On Wednesday 30 diplomats and ten Burmese journalists were unexpectedly allowed to attend the hour-long afternoon session, apparently as a sop to domestic and international sympathy for Ms Suu Kyi. But today they were excluded, as usual in trials of political prisoners.

In Wednesday’s hearing the lawyer for Mr. Yettaw, 54, suggested that his client had experienced a “vision” of the assassination of Ms Suu Kyi, which motivated him to make his visit to the house where she has spent a total of 13 years under house arrest.

It emerged in court testimony that he has told police during his interrogation: “In my vision, Daw [Madam[ Aung San Suu Kyi will be assassinated, so I came here.”

A report published by Harvard Law School recommended that the UN Security Council establish a special tribunal for prosecuting human rights abuses in Burma, like those set up for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

“With Burma, there has been no such action from the UN Security Council despite being similarly aware of the widespread and systematic nature of the violations,” the report said.

Rajoelina vows not to run for Madagascar president

May 13, 2009
President Andry Rajoelina

President Andry Rajoelina


Madagascar leader Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in March, said Tuesday he would not run as a candidate in promised presidential elections, a French diplomatic source said.

“Andry Rajoelina announced Tuesday to the diplomatic community that he would not stand in the next presidential election,” the source told journalists in Paris.

Madagascar has been embroiled in a political crisis since March when Rajoelina ousted president Marc Ravalomanana with the backing of the Indian Ocean island’s military.

The African Union said last month, at the end of a meeting on Madagascar’s worsening political crisis, that Rajoelina’s administration had indicated it was ready to hold elections by the end of the year.

Soon after seizing power Rajoelina’s regime said the first presidential poll would not be held until 2010, drawing an angry response from the United Nations Security Council.

Sworn in by the constitutional court as transitional leader, Rajoelina was condemned internationally for leading a coup and Madagascar was suspended from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Ravalomanana has upped his counter-offensive from exile, claiming to still be the African island nation’s only legitimate leader — despite resigning — and forming a parallel government to challenge Rajoelina’s administration.

Ravalomanana’s appointee as prime minister was arrested on April 29 by soldiers loyal to Rajoelina, marking a new escalation between the new leader’s army-backed regime and loyalists of the former president.

After initially allowing Ravalomanana loyalists to vent their disappointment, Rajoelina’s regime has begun to tighten the screw, banning rallies and unleashing security forces on transgressors.

Two civilians were killed in on April 24 when security forces cracked down on protesters defying the ban, bringing to four the number of dead in just one week of anti-Rajoelina demonstrations.

Southern African nations on Monday named former Swaziland prime minister Absalom Themba Dlamini, current head of SADC’s security organ, as a new special envoy to Madagascar in a move to help facilitate the return of democratic rule.

The international community has so far refused to recognise the transitional administration and called for the return of constitutional order.

Sourced from AFP

Zuma Calms Markets With New Cabinet

May 11, 2009
 South Africa’s new President Jacob Zuma has taken the bold step of replacing the world’s

Jacob Zuma Accompanied By His First Wife To The Presidential Inauguration Day

Jacob Zuma Accompanied By His First Wife To The Presidential Inauguration Ceremony

longest-serving finance minister in his first announcement since being sworn in on Saturday.

But, if anything, Mr Zuma has made the widely respected Trevor Manuel even more powerful, by naming him head of the new national planning commission in the president’s office, as he announced his new cabinet.

The new commission will draw up the entire government strategy, Mr Zuma said.

And he has moved to avoid a repeat of the market jitters when Mr Manuel announced his resignation last year – only to be immediately reappointed – by naming his successor as Pravin Gordhan.

“He is an excellent choice,” Chris Hart, chief economist at Investment Solutions, told the BBC.

Overall, South Africa’s new president has struck a careful balancing act between the conflicting demands of his millions of poor black supporters, who want more state spending, and the powerful business community.

Although Mr Zuma has always denied planning to change economic tack, his support base lies on the left of the economic spectrum and he enjoys the full backing of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the trade union grouping, Cosatu.

Although Mr Zuma has always denied planning to change economic tack, he owes his position to massive support among poor black South Africans.

He also enjoyed the full backing of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the trade union grouping Cosatu.

This led some analysts to predict that President Zuma would be less business-friendly than his long-time rival, former President Thabo Mbeki, and that he might succumb to pressure from his supporters to massively increase state spending.

Mr Hart thinks the markets will not be fazed by the nomination of Mr Gordhan, who until now has headed the South African Revenue Service, where he has increased income and made the administration more efficient.

“He is quite capable of standing up to any ‘loonyness’ in terms of economic policy,” said Mr Hart.

But Mr Zuma will be under pressure from millions of poor South Africans to have a bit of “loonyness” – if that means more government jobs and spending on things like better schools and provision of water, housing and electricity.

“He knows the poor of this country – we are hoping for a lot from him,” South African resident Nkompela Xolile told the BBC shortly before Mr Zuma took the oath of office on Saturday.

They take heart from the fact that Mr Zuma grew up in poverty and started out herding goats in his village of Nkandla.

Following the SACP’s support for his candidacy, Mr Zuma did name its leader Blade Nzimande as higher education minister.

“He will try and influence economic policy,” said Mr Hart, who remains slightly concerned about the direction economic policy could take in the future.

“The National Planning Commission sounds like something you’d find in the Soviet Union or North Korea.

“The fact that Manuel is in charge is encouraging but that you have it at all is a concern.”

Furthermore, Mr Zuma named veteran union leader Ebrahim Patel to head the new economic development department.

The precise division of power between Mr Patel, Mr Manuel and Mr Gordhan remains unclear.

Mr Hart will no doubt be relieved though that the new president has resisted calls to bring veteran left-winger Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela into cabinet.

She has recently been extremely visible next to Mr Zuma and was loudly cheered by ANC activists at Saturday’s presidential inauguration.

When asked about the direction of economic policy, Mr Zuma said that it would be reviewed by the new team and he did not want to “jump the gun”.

After announcing the cabinet, Mr Zuma warned his new team: “We will not tolerate laziness or incompetence.”

And he appointed a new “cabinet enforcer” in his office – Collins Chabane – to evaluate and monitor the performance of the rest of the cabinet.

The appointment of Mr Chabane and Mr Manuel means the new president has moved to concentrate more power in his office.

Various wives

But the soap opera of Mr Zuma’s various wives refuses to go away.

On Saturday, he had his first wife Sizakele Khumalo at his side, while his two other spouses were also present at the inauguration ceremony.

There had been speculation that Mr Zuma may be unable to include his ex-wife, outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in his cabinet. Relations between the pair are described as “frosty”.

Instead she has been moved sideways, to the still powerful position of home – not domestic – affairs.

It might be that on South African mothers’ day, he did not want to spark a row with the mother of four of his at least 18 children.

South Africa has the world’s biggest HIV pandemic, with some 5.5 million people carrying the Aids virus.

So some will be alarmed that Mr Zuma has moved to change his health minister.

Barbara Hogan was appointed last year to widespread acclaim following years of antagonism between her predecessor and Aids activists.

But Mr Zuma dismissed suggestions that his appointment of Aaron Motsoaledi was “strange” and said he had a lot of experience at provincial level.

He also noted that he had not sacked Ms Hogan, merely switched her to public enterprises.

Cup of rooibos tea

In the long term, the most significant appointment apart from Mr Gordhan, could be that of Tokyo Sexwale.

Like Mr Zuma and Nelson Mandela, Mr Sexwale was imprisoned on Robben Island for his role in the fight against white minority rule.

After the end of apartheid in 1994, he became the influential premier of the Gauteng Province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

He then left politics to concentrate on his extensive business affairs.

Although his post of minister of human settlements is not glamorous, it is crucial in South Africa, where millions are waiting for affordable housing, which they expect the ANC to provide.

His return to politics means he is already being talked about as a future president.

Although he has been given the lowly post of minister of human settlements, his return to politics means he is already being talked about as a future president.

Especially as Mr Zuma, 67, has said he will only serve one five-year term.

Asked by the BBC what would be the first thing he would do in office, Mr Zuma replied: “Drink a cup of rooibos tea, with honey and lemon.”

And then, it’s down to work for Mr Zuma and his team.

 Sourced from the BBC

Jacob Zuma Plans $12m Party As Unemployment Soars

April 28, 2009


JACOB Zuma will spend $12 million to celebrate his inauguration as President of South Africa, where the financial downturn is expected to drive unemployment to 43 per cent.

As crashing commodity prices cripple his country, Mr Zuma has invited kings and presidents to be among 4000 people at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on May 9.

Opposition leader Helen Zille vowed yesterday that she would watch Mr Zuma’s African National Congress party “like a hawk” for signs of corruption and complacency after last week’s election win.

“My message to him would be that South African voters are voting more and more on the basis of issues and not blind loyalty (to the ANC),” she said. “This is the ANC’s last chance to rely on the loyalty vote, because we are becoming a mature democracy.”

As Ms Zille prepares for the first sitting of the new parliament, another leading white woman in South African politics will be a happy spectator.

Perth-born Suzanne Vos, known as the “White Zulu”, has lost her seat after 15 years as an MP for the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party.

But she has few regrets. “I’m free at last,” said Ms Vos, 63.

The former journalist for West Australian Newspapers entered parliament in the 1994 “freedom” election that overturned apartheid rule and installed Nelson Mandela in power as the first black president.

“It’s been an extraordinary time. It has been fantastic,” she said. “But now it’s time to move on to do other things. There’s work to be done on the rape crisis and many gender-related issues as well as drugs and gangsterism.”

Sourced  from The Australian