Friday 29 January 2010

World marks liberation of Auschwitz 65 years ago

REUTERS, TVP - The 65th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz was commemorated at ceremonies with survivors, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish leaders attending on Wednesday (January 27).
On January 27, 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the largest and most notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, near the village of Oswiecim in southern Poland, where up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished during World War Two.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony at Brzezinka along with Poland's leaders and government ministers from nearly 30 other countries.

The theme of the commemoration at Auschwitz, held in subzero temperatures and attended by around 150 death camp survivors, was the education of young people about the Holocaust.

A few thousand people attended the ceremonies, including some international groups of students.

"I think it's very good that we can see the people and this place. That we have the chance to see the people they were here, and have (speaks German) life today. And yes, I think it's very good and special." said Julia Hausner, a student from Germany.

Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz during Nazi Germany's wartime occupation of Poland.

"We remember who shivered to death and if they didn't freeze to death they were gassed and burnt in a horrible conflagration." Netanyahu said at a closed ceremony in Brzezinka.

"The worst was the humiliation." remembered former prisoner Marian Turski, who was 16 when he was sent to Auschwitz in 1942.

"The fact, that you were not treated like a human being. Especially if you were Jewish and especially because you were Jewish. You were not even treated like an animal, but like an insect." Turski said.

Jewish groups have expressed concern about what they see as a rise in anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia and racism in some European countries and have called for increased education about the Holocaust.

Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before World War Two. The vast majority perished in the Nazi camps.

The museum that now runs the Auschwitz site will house an exhibition chronicling the camp's liberation by the Red Army.

Russia was represented on Wednesday by its education minister after President Dmitry Medvedev declined an invitation

from Kaczynski to attend.

Zimbabwean court issues eviction notice for four white farmers

Zimbabwean farmer speaks of his struggle to hang on to his farm, after a Zimbabwean court gave notice to four white farmers to vacate their properties.

BEATRICE, ZIMBABWE (RECENT) REUTERS- A Zimbabwean magistrate court on Tuesday (January 26) gave four white farmers 24 hours to vacate their properties, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said.
The mainly white CFU, which last week criticised the power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to end chaos in the farming sector, said the magistrate ruled that the four farmers were guilty of refusing to vacate their properties.

The Union said the farmers were slapped with an 800 US dollar fine each and ordered to immediately move out of their homes and vacate their farms by Wednesday (January 27) evening, in a ruling that highlights worsening fortunes for Zimbabwe's white farmers who have also come under increased attacks from Mugabe's supporters since the formation of the coalition government.

"I grow 50 hectares of tobacco, similar hectarage of maize and we run, my wife owns a Tuli cattle stud, a pedigree Tuli herd of about 150 breeding females," said Kevin Cooke, a tobacco farmer.

The evicted farmers are Algernon Taffs of Chirega Farm, Dawie Joubert of Stilfontein, Mike Odendaal of Hillcrest Farm, Mike Jahme of Silverton Farm - all from the southeastern district of Chipinge.

"It's been quiet up until recently, of late there has been a new offer letter issued on the farm and so we are back in court looking to defend our case, we've actually been in and out of court for four different hearings now," said Cooke adding, "Our situation now is that we go to court on the 10th of March, that will begin the trial. We have no pressure on the ground. We haven't been told to move off the farm immediately, but if we are to lose the court case we would have to move off at short notice."

According to the CFU, the magistrate said if the four failed to vacate their properties as ordered by the court they would spend the next two years in jail but the Union indicated that the farmers were preparing to appeal against the eviction orders.

Under the Constitution of Zimbabwe everyone has the right to appeal but the magistrate denied them this right saying there was no doubt in his judgement.

According to the CFU, urgent applications are currently taking place in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on behalf of the evicted farmers and their families are moving

their life's belongings into the local Dutch Reformed Church for safety.

"The action that is taking place and the inaction that is trying to stop what is happening seems to confirm to us that the government of National Unity does not want any white commercial farmers in this country, if that is the case, they should come out and tell us and we can then inform our members," said Deon Theron, the Commercial Farmers Union President.

The Unity government of Mugabe and Tsvangirai has watched as members of the security forces and hard-line activists of Mugabe's ZANU PF party intensified a drive to seize all land still in white hands in recent weeks, causing deep frustration among the farmers.

In a strongly worded statement last week, the farmers labelled the ongoing farm seizures as a "crime against humanity" and called on the coalition government to act to end lawlessness on farms in keeping with the 2008 power-sharing agreement that gave birth to the administration.

Under the power-sharing agreement Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is the third signatory to the pact, promised to restore the rule of law in the farming sector, including carrying out a land audit to weed out multiple farm owners - nearly all of them senior ZANU PF officials who have hoarded most of the best farms seized from whites.

The coalition government is yet to act to fulfil the promise to restore law and order in the key agricultural sector, while more farms - including some owned by foreigners and protected under bilateral investment protection agreements between Zimbabwe and other nations - have been seized over the past few months. To make matters worse, according to the CFU, police and judicial officers who are supposed to enforce the rule of law were also among the beneficiaries of the free-for-all land grab.

Thursday 28 January 2010

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Obama call for bipartisanship embraced by Congressmen

Members of Congress hail U.S President Barack Obama's call for bipartisanship during his first State of the Union address.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 27, 2010)POOL - Members of Congress came out in support of U.S President Barack Obama's call for bipartisanship, but some questioned the president's agenda.
In his first State of the Union address on Wednesday (January 27) Obama told a full chamber of Republican and Democratic lawmakers that the change he campaigned on -- will only be realized if both parties change the tone of political debate.

Democratic Congressman John Lewis said described Obama's speech as "hard-hitting"

"He didn't bite his tongue, he was very strong, solid and he really stuck it to members of the United States Senate. He said, in effect, that the House...we did our work, we did uplifting, now it's time for the Senate to act," Lewis said.

With two of his major initiatives in trouble -- legislation to revamp healthcare and stem global warming -- Obama told lawmakers that Americans expected Democrats and Republicans to work together.

"I thought the president struck the perfect tone, making it clear he understands the gravity of the challenges that we face, but leaning into them, not at point saying, woe is me, these are tough things, we are going to go into reverse....he basically laid out a pretty challenging, forward leaning agenda and that's what a good State of the Union does," said New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Obama's appeal for bipartisanship was met with scepticism by members of the GOP.

Florida's Republican Senator George LeMieux said he was looking for "real solutions."

"Well, I thought there was a lot of good rhetoric, but unfortunately, I didn't think there were a lot of good solutions. I come from a state where there is very high unemployment, almost 12 percent, and I hope there will be some real solutions to get people back to work," LeMieux said.

"I am hoping again, those words turn into action because Republicans are ready. I am a Republican, I am ready. I want to work on healthcare, I want to work to get these jobs and the economy moving again," said Republican Congressman Dave Reichert.

Obama spoke one week after Republicans won a special election in Massachusetts, costing Democrats their 60th vote in the Senate needed to clear procedural roadblocks.

The election immediately jeopardized much of Obama's agenda, gave Republicans new clout and sent a rush of fear through Democrats facing tough races in this November's congressional election.

Jet set Davos looks to go green

The 40th edition of the World Economic Forum is making a stronger effort at environmental awareness, once the global power brokers arrive from the airport and helipads.

Every year the streets of Davos are lined with bumper to bumper limousines, while private helicopters fly in to transport the world's most important people. This year, however, organisers of the World Economic Forum have launched a pro-active initiative to "Go Green." Reuters Insider's Leanne Clark reports.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Museveni marks 24 years in power

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni celebrates 24 years in power.

MBALE DISTRICT, UGANDA (JANUARY 26, 2010) REUTERS - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) celebrated his 24 years in power in Tuesday (January 26) in the town of Mbale, in eastern Uganda.
Trade minister Kahinda Otafire said celebrations in the town were significant because of its historic contribution in the the 1981-1985 bush war.

Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962 under Prime Minister Milton Obote. A coup led by Idi Amin toppled Obote in 1971 and ushered in a bloody era until a Tanzanian invasion ousted him in 1979.

Museveni led a 1981-86 revolt from the bush against a second Obote government, before seizing power.

East Africa's third largest economy has enjoyed political and economic stability over the last two decades after years of ruinous civil war during the 1970s and 80s.

Museveni has been praised for his macroeconomic reforms and poverty reduction.

But critics, including some Western donors, have accused him of rights abuses, high-level corruption and the political repression of opponents.

Museveni and his allies maintain that the country is better off with him at the helm.

"On the side of security of persons and property, we have professionalised the army. The army of Uganda today is one of the most disciplined, I don't want to say in Africa only but in the whole world," Museveni told supporters at the celebration ceremony.

Museveni, 64, won re-election in February 2006 after he changed the constitution in 2005 to let him stand for a third term.

He is widely expected to stand for a third term in 2011 in a likely rematch with opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was defeated in the last two multi-party polls.

But Museveni's hold on power has angered many in the country and critics accuse him of trying to be president-for-life.

In June last year, he dismissed an opposition call for electoral reform that would have blocked him from standing for another term.

"He has not thought about handing over power to anyone else apart from himself and he has indicated over the last three elections that he is not ready to hand over power to someone else, should he lose in an election," said political analyst, Charles Mwangauhya Mpagi in Kampala.

"From the perspective of his own political party, the National Resistance Movement, he has not prepared a succession party within the party. He has not allowed the party to function as an institution that can be able to build the necessary frameworks to be able to keep power either within the party or to allow someone else to take over power," Mpagi added.

Museveni's National Resistance Movement ran Uganda as a one-party state until a referendum that brought back multi-party politics in 2005.

Opposition politicians hope to capitalise on cracks within his party over the prospect of another term, as well as high-level corruption scandals as Museveni's share of votes dwindled in the last two elections, despite retaining a majority in past polls.