Political Sarah Palin Gives Up

July 5, 2009
Palin quits politics

Palin quits politics

 
 

Sarah Palin has hinted she might take on a wider political role in the US, one day after abruptly announcing she was resigning as governor of Alaska.

“I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

The former Republican vice-presidential candidate said earlier she would resign as Alaska governor on 26 July.

There have been speculation that she might be preparing to make a bid for the White House in 2012.

But the fact Mrs Palin did not reveal what she intended to do after leaving office, and did not give an explicit reason for her decision not to run for re-election, prompted speculation there might be another reason for her stepping down.

One report on NBC news suggested that Mrs Palin intended to get out of politics “for good”.

‘Proud’

In her Facebook posting, Mrs Palin said she urged Americans to “join me” in looking how “we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint”.

Sourced from The BBC

 
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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad In Defeat Scare as Late Surge Gives Rival Hope

June 11, 2009

Bolanle Talabi.

LoveWorld Newsrooom.

An Ahmedinejad Supporter Waves A Poster At A Rally

An Ahmedinejad Supporter Waves A Poster At A Rally

Amidst the high wired elections fever, tensions flared in Tehran last night as thousands of protesters marched to the state television centre, enraged by the discovery that President Ahmadinejad was being given far more airtime than his opponents.

The demonstration came as a leading conservative accused reformists of fomenting a “velvet revolution”. Yadollah Javani, a leader of the hardline Revolutionary Guards, said that reformists were going to claim vote-rigging if their candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, loses in tomorrow’s presidential elections. He vowed to crush any post-election violence.

In another remarkable intervention, about 50 clerics from Qom, Iran’s religious nerve-centre, also rebuked Mr Ahmadinejad, stating in an open letter that “accusing people in a session when they are not present is contrary to our religion.” Such conduct would “spread disappointment among the people and make our enemies happy”.

These developments expose deep splits within a ruling establishment that never normally airs its disagreements in public and come on the eve of a landmark election in which Mr Mousavi, a relative moderate, could become the first challenger to defeat an incumbent president in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history.

There are no reliable opinion polls in Iran, but Mr Mousavi has visibly gained momentum in recent days and his exuberant supporters have flooded on to the streets of Tehran in huge numbers. The usual restrictions on dissent have been largely swept aside as the regime has loosened — or lost — its grip ahead of the election.

The election has also exposed the deep divide within Iranian society. Mr Mousavi’s candidacy has galvanised the urban middle-classes, and he also has the support of Mohammed Khatami, the popular reformist President from 1997 to 2005, and Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani, who was defeated by Mr Ahmadinejad in the presidential election of 2005.

Mr Ahmadinejad enjoys strong support among the rural poor and religiously devout, and is thought to have the backing of the Supreme Leader as well as the Revolutionary Guards and the volunteer Basij militia.

Rightly or wrongly, they adore this man who presents himself as the champion of the oppressed, the scourge of Iran’s corrupt elite with its loose morals, a leader who has stood up to the bullying West and restored their country’s pride. Even though the rampant inflation and chronic unemployment have made their lot much worse; he is their man.


Shell settles Nigeria deaths case

June 9, 2009

Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose execution sparked a global outcry

Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose execution sparked a global outcry

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a $15.5m (£9.7m) out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria.

 

It was brought by relatives of nine anti-oil campaigners, including author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were hanged in 1995 by Nigeria’s then military rulers.

The oil giant strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a “process of reconciliation”.

The case, initiated 13 years ago, had been due for trial in the US next week.

It was brought under a 1789 federal law which allows US courts to hear human rights cases brought by foreign nationals over actions that take place abroad.

The case alleged that Shell was complicit in murder, torture and other abuses by Nigeria’s former military government against campaigners in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others were members of the Ogoni ethnic group from the Niger Delta. They had been campaigning for the rights of the local people and protesting at pollution caused by the oil industry.

They were executed after being convicted by a military tribunal over the 1994 murder of four local leaders.

The activists’ deaths had sparked a storm of international protest.


Gabon’s Bongo, confirmed dead

June 8, 2009

 

Late Gabon President, Omar Bongo

Late Gabon President, Omar Bongo

 Monday 8th June, 2009.

 

 

Gabon President Omar Bongo, the world’s longest-serving president whose 42-year rule was a throwback to an era when Africa was ruled by “Big Men,” has died of cardiac arrest in a Spanish hospital. He was 73.

Doctors at the Quiron Clinic in Barcelona announced Bongo’s death around 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT, 8:30 a.m. EDT) Monday, Gabonese Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong said. Bongo was admitted to the hospital last month.

Only hours earlier, Ndong had said he saw the president and declared him “alive and well.” Gabonese officials have become increasingly belligerent with journalists, including calling a meeting with the French ambassador in Gabon in order to discuss the coverage of the president’s death by French media outlets.

Bongo, who was believed to be one of the world’s wealthiest leaders, became the longest-ruling head of government , a category that does not include the monarchs of Britain and Thailand , when Cuba’s Fidel Castro handed power to his brother last year.

The country’s constitution calls for the head of the Senate, Rose Francine Rogombe, to assume power and organize presidential elections within 90 days of Bongo’s death. But there has been speculation that one of Bongo’s sons would try to seize power upon his father’s death, as happened in nearby Togo.

Bongo had kept a tight grip on power in the oil-rich former French colony since he became president in 1967, and his ruling party has dominated the country’s parliament for decades. Opposition parties were only allowed in 1990, amid a wave of pro-democracy protests.

Elections since then have been marred by allegations of rigging and unrest.

While most Gabonese genuinely feared Bongo and there was little opposition, many accepted his rule because he had kept his country remarkably peaceful and governed without the sustained brutality characteristic of many dictators.

Bongo, meanwhile, amassed a fortune that made him one of the world’s richest men, according to Freedom House, a private Washington-based democracy watchdog organization, although nobody really knows how much he was worth.

Earlier this year, a French judge decided to investigate Bongo and two other African leaders on accusations of money laundering and other alleged crimes linked to their wealth in France.

The probe followed a complaint by Transparency International France, an association that tracks corruption. French media have reported that Bongo’s family owns abundant real estate in France, at one time owning more properties in Paris than any other foreign leader.

Born Albert Bernard Bongo on Dec. 30, 1935, the youngest of 12 children, Bongo served as a lieutenant in the French Air Force, then climbed quickly through the civil service, eventually becoming vice president. He assumed the presidency Dec. 2, 1967, after the death of Leon M’Ba, the country’s only other head of state since independence from France in 1960.


NKorea hands 12 years jail sentence to US journalists

June 8, 2009
Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Laura Ling and Euna Lee

LoveWorld News room.

Monday, June 8th, 2009.

SEOUL – North Korea’s top court has convicted two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in a prison, intensifying the reclusive nation’s confrontation with the United States.

The sentencing came amid soaring tensions fueled by the North’s latest nuclear and missile tests. Many believe Pyongyang is using the journalists as bargaining chips as the U.N. debates a new resolution to punish the unpredictable country for its latest military threats.

In a cryptic report, the state news agency said Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36 were sentenced after the five-day trial ended today. They were guilty of a “grave crime” against the nation and of illegally crossing into North Korea. The court “sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labor,”

Ling and Lee, working for former Vice President Al Gore’s California-based Current TV, cannot appeal because they were tried in North Korea’s highest court, where decisions are final. The court “sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labor.”

Some analysts however believe negotiations will now begin that will likely lead to the journalists’ release. North Korea refused to release them ahead of a court ruling because such a move could be seen as capitulating to the United States, said an informed observer who is a Professor of international relations and an expert on North Korea at the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

But now “North Korea may release them on humanitarian grounds and demand the U.S. provide humanitarian aid in return,” he said. “North Korea will certainly use the reporters as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States.”

Tensions have been running high since the North held its second underground nuclear blast May 25th and followed it up with several missile tests. U.S. officials have said the North appears to be preparing to test another long-range missile at a new launch pad.

The circumstances surrounding the trial of the two journalists and their arrest March 17th on the China-North Korean border have been shrouded in secrecy, as is typical of the reclusive nation. The trial was not open to the public or foreign observers, including the Swedish Embassy, which looks after American interests in the absence of diplomatic relations.

The two were reporting the trafficking of women at the time of their arrest, and it’s unclear if they strayed into the North or were grabbed by aggressive border guards who crossed into China.

Another American who was tried in North Korea in 1996 was treated more leniently. Evan C. Hunziker, apparently acting on a drunken dare, swam across the Yalu River — which marks the North’s border with China — and was arrested after farmers found the man, then 26, naked. He was accused of spying and detained for three months before being freed after negotiations with a special U.S. envoy.

The North Koreans wanted Hunziker to pay a $100,000 criminal fine but eventually agreed on a $5,000 payment to settle a bill for a hotel where he was detained.

 

 


Obama’s Cairo speech lauded by UN Chief

June 5, 2009

 

   

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday commended U.S. President Barack Obama for the speech he delivered at Cairo University in Egypt.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the speech outlined Mr. Obama’s vision for reconciliation and cooperation between the Muslim world and the West.

In a statement issued at the UN headquarters in New York,

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

  Mr. Ban said: “President Obama’s message will herald the opening of a new chapter in relations between the U.S. and the Islamic World.”

“I am strongly encouraged by the speech and also strongly welcome its message of peace, understanding and reconciliation,” the statement quoted Mr. Ban as saying.

“The secretary-general believes that President Obama’s speech is a crucial step in bridging divides and promoting intercultural understanding, which is a major objective of the UN,” it said.

“His message reaffirms our shared commitment to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, as enshrined in the Preamble of the UN Charter.

“I hope that this will have a positive impact on the peace process in the Middle East and the resolution of a number of conflicts in the Middle East and beyond,” the statement further quoted Mr. Ban as saying.

NAN reports that quoting from the Qur’an, Mr. Obama, in his speech, called for a “new beginning between the U.S. and Muslims,” saying “together, we could confront violent extremism across the globe and advance the timeless search for peace in the Middle East.”


Emotional funeral for S Korea’s Roh Moo-hyun

May 29, 2009
Ex South Korean President, Late Roh Moo-hyun

Ex South Korean President, Late Roh Moo-hyun

 

A sea of wailing mourners filled the streets of Seoul for the funeral Friday of ex-President Roh Moo-hyun, whose suicide six days earlier amid a deepening corruption probe by the government plunged South Korea into grief and anger.

Heads bowed, thousands took part in a solemn ceremony in the courtyard of the 14th-century Gyeongbok Palace before the hearse carrying Roh’s body headed to a grassy plaza outside City Hall for emotional public rites attended by a reported 500,000 people. Police in riot gear later moved in as the crush of mourners prevented the hearse from leaving the capital for a few hours.

Police dispatched some 21,000 officers to quell any protests by Roh supporters who accuse conservative political opponents led by President Lee Myung-bak of driving the liberal ex-leader to his death with the bribery investigation.

The criticism comes as Lee faces an increasingly belligerent North Korea, which just two days after Roh’s death carried out a nuclear test in a move widely condemned as a violation of international law.

Roh, 62, died May 23 after throwing himself off a cliff behind his home in the southern village of Bongha. Roh, president from 2003 to 2008, recently had been questioned about claims he and his family accepted $6 million in bribes during his presidency.

He denied the bribery allegations, but the accusations weighed heavily on a man who prided himself on his record as a “clean” politician in a country struggling to shake a deeply rooted culture of corruption.

Roh’s suicide stunned the nation of 49 million, where the outspoken Roh — a self-taught former human rights lawyer who swept into office on a populist tide — was celebrated as a leader for the people and was a favorite among young South Koreans. Though many were critical of his antiestablishment ways, others rallied around his efforts to promote democracy, fight corruption and facilitate rapprochement with North Korea.

Roh’s body was to be cremated outside Seoul before being returned to his home village. But mourners, some screaming “Down with Lee Myung-bak,” prevented the hearse from leaving the capital late Friday afternoon. Police in full riot gear began moving in to try and force the crowd to disperse, and the hearse finally drove away.

South Koreans mourned online, too, with some portals carrying “live” broadcasts of the funeral and users flooding bulletin boards and Roh’s own Web site with hundreds of thousands of condolence messages.

“I will remember you forever,” read one message. “Go in peace,” read another.