January 2008 Archives

January 30, 2008

Is Kenya Entering the Abyss?

"Kofi Annan has rarely been blunter, more heartfelt or more anguished in his appeal," argues Times Online in its January 30, 2008, leader, adding:

Kenya, he told its leaders yesterday, was in turmoil, its people suffering, its land untilled, its tranquillity  rapidly descending into chaos. The former United Nations Secretary-General knows that he is racing image_thumb3against time in his desperate attempt to halt the downward spiral. No one, he said, could stand by and allow the violence and the killings to go unchecked. Kenya's leaders had to lead, to take charge and to act  with urgency.

What he and the world have seen is the terrible example of what happened before, just across Kenya's borders. At the beginning of April 1994, Rwanda similarly stood at the abyss. Gangs of youths, armed with clubs and machetes, roamed the streets. Families were slaughtered in the streets, burnt alive in churches and refuges, hunted down and clubbed to death. French, Belgian and US troops tried, feebly, to intervene but were overwhelmed.

The Times said, "In hindsight, Mr Annan and the UN realised that they failed to heed the alarm from Kigali. The did too little, too late."

If you want to read the entire article, "see "At the Abyss."

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January 29, 2008

Is U.S. Base In Afghanistan Ready for Pakistan Missions?

Asia Times Online's well-connected South Asia correspondent, Syed Saleem Shahzad, reported January 30, 2008, that, "Another piece of the United States' regional jigsaw is in place with the completion of a military base in Afghanistan'simage Kunar province, just three kilometers from Bajaur Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas." See "US homes in on militants in Pakistan."

Mr. Shahzad said, "Pakistani intelligence quarters have confirmed to Asia Times Online that the base, on a mountain top in Ghakhi Pass overlooking Pakistan, is now operational. (This correspondent visited the area last July and could clearly see construction underway. See A fight to the death on Pakistan's border Asia Times Online, July 17, 2007.)

"The new US base is expected to serve as the center of clandestine special forces' operations in the border region," according to Mr. Shahzad.

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The World is Not Letting the Kenyan Crisis Fade

"The one thing that Kenya has going for it right now, it seems, is that the world is refusing to let the crisis fade into the background," TIME magazine Correspondent Nick Wadhams reported January 29, 2008, from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. See "A New Burst of Killings in Kenya."

He reported that, "The African Union has promised to consider the issue in a summit that begins on Thursday [Januaryimage 31, 2008]. And the special U.N. adviser on preventing genocide, Francis Deng, has warned that Kenya's politicians could be held responsible for any violation of international law." Wadhams said, "That came just days after the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report concluding [Orange Democratic Movement Party leader Raila] Odinga is popular."

"There are evidently hidden hands organizing it now," Britain's Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown said as he stopped in Kenya to lend London's weight to the mediation efforts. "The targeting is very specific."

Mr. Odinga has accused Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the December 27, 2007, elections, an event that sparked widespread protest that degenerated into ethnic killings. It also exposed to the outside world long-standing grievances among Kenyan. See "Problem deeper than the polls."

 

Additional News and Opinion on the Kenyan political Crisis

African Opinion

Unity and respect can save Kenya -- Daily Nation, Kenya

S.Africa says Kenya turmoil could damage Africa -- Reuters South Africa, South Africa

The US or other outsiders will not save Kenyan democracy -- Daily Nation, Kenya

Kenya: Africa Union Can Save Us From Turmoil -- AllAfrica.com, Washington, USA

Kenya makes for a tense AU Summit -- SABC News, South Africa

Kenya: Kibaki And Raila Launch Negotiations -- AllAfrica.com

SA fears 'very serious crisis' in Kenya Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa

 

Asia

Cry For Kenya -- OhmyNews International, South Korea

EU deplores worsening situation in Kenya -- Xinhua, China

Assassination deepens crisis in Kenya -- Taipei Times, Taiwan

 

European Reporting

Kibaki 'stole' Kenyan election through vote-rigging and fraud -- Independent, UK

Kibaki must give back Kenya's stolen election -- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom

Annan resumes mediation in Kenya -- Radio Netherlands, Netherlands

Kenya opposition urges AU to impose arms embargo on government -- Journal Chrétien, France

'Forced circumcision': the latest weapon in Kenya's ethnic strife -- AFP. France

Kenya's blooming industry is facing hard times -- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom

 

USA Reporting

Opposition Politician Is Killed in Kenya -- New York Times, USA

How can Kenya avoid ethnic war? -- Christian Science Monitor, USA

Kenya's infamous Mungiki sect gears up for reprisal killings Christian Science Monitor, USA

Prayer for Kenya -- Christian Science Monitor, USA

 

Pacific and Oceania

Australia to limit ties with Kenyan govt -- The Age. Australia

Aust Govt staying neutral on Kenya -- ABC Online, Australia

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January 27, 2008

Kenyan Bloggers Show How Technology Can Shape Politics'

Kenyan Journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo,  writing in the January 28, 2008, edition of The East African of Kenya, made the following observation:

One of the things that brought a lethal edge to the Kenyan election is that, unlike Ugandans, Kenyans are among Africa’s most avid bloggers. There were over 600 blogs that were hot on the elections, some spewing shocking tribal vitriol.

That, and the hate speech on some FM stations and SMSs gave insights into how new technologies can shape politics in poor countries and fragile democracies.

Onyango-Obbo said, "If Kenya teaches us anything, it is that in African countries where ethnic rivalries are still strong, these messages find very many people waiting for their worst prejudices to be reinforced."

To read his entire post, see "Low-tech political class losing control to savvy hate merchants."

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January 19, 2008

Crackers Have Caused Multi-City Power Outages: CIA:

Reports in newspapers and blogs say the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has confirmed that crackers have caused multi-city power outages in unnamed cities around the world. It reminds me of Live Free or Die Hard  and how cyberterrorist Thomas Gabriel attempted a fire sale with the aim of eventually taking out the U.S. power grid, to accomplish him goal. Gabriel showed his skills and intent by causing brief power outages, traffic malfunctions, a stock market crash, etc, as part of a revenge/extortion/power play scheme.

In the movie, Matthew Farrell, played by Justin Long of Mac vs. PC ad fame, describes a fire sale as a  three-stage,image well-coordinated attack on a nation's transport, telecommunications, financial, and utilities infrastructure. Utilities are the last to go.

The CIA is usually secretive about such things. So why talk about this? Could it be the CIA is seeking the public's help in identifying the perpetrators? Maybe

According to a January 19, 2008, report at the SANS Institute's  SANS NewsBites website, "On Wednesday [January 17, 2008], in New Orleans, US Central Intelligence Agency senior analyst Tom Donahue told a gathering of 300 US, UK, Swedish, and Dutch government officials and engineers and security managers from electric, water, oil & gas and other critical industry asset owners from all across North America," that:

We have information, from multiple regions outside the United States, of cyber intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands. We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge. We have information that cyber attacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the United States. In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet.

By the way, for crackers to pull off such a feat, months of social engineering had to take place. Bribery usually play a role in such situations.

To read the entire SANS NewsBites report, see "CIA Confirms Cyber Attack Caused Multi-City Power Outage."

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A Few Links on the Political Crisis in Kenya

I recommend Paul Canning's "This is Web power · Kenyans need blogs" for Diplomatic Times Review readers looking for blogs reporting and commenting on the unfortunate, deadly and economically wasteful political crisis in Kenya, East Africa, that grew out of allegations that President Mwai Kibaki stole the December 27, 2007, Kenyan Presidential election from opposition leader Raila Odinga. See "Who won? US rejects Kenyan election."

Canning provides links to several Kenyan and expatriate bloggers and comments on Kenyan's attitudes about political leaders whose power plays ignited the furor which seems to be split along tribal lines and allegiances.

Below are Links about the Kenyan Crisis from various African and international sources. The Diplomatic Times Review Online has no first hand knowledge about the current Kenyan situation.

VIDEO

Video: Security forces crack down on Kenya protests - 18 Jan 08  --- AlJazeera, English

 

AFRICA

East African bloc calls for Kenya vote probe --- Reuters

Uganda maintains it has not deployed troops in Kenya --- Daily Nation, Kenya

Nigeria: Kenya - FG Ready to Evacuate Nigerians --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

Kenya: Go to international court - spokesman --- AfricaNews, Netherlands

 

ECONOMY

Kenya: Aid Freeze May Hurt Economy --- AllAfrica.com

Kenya: Businesses Suffering in Election's Wake --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

Where Have All the Tourists Gone? ---TIME, USA

UK tourism to Kenya ban extended --- BBC News, UK

Kenya: UN Appeals for $42 Million to Help 500000 Crisis-Affected ... AllAfrica.com

Kenya: Airlines Face Turbulence Flying Into Political Turmoil ---AllAfrica.com

 

 ELECTIONS

Electronic voting will greatly enhance democracy in Kenya --- Daily Nation, Kenya

Polls groups lift the lid on tallying mess --- Daily Nation, Kenya

Kenya officials pre-determined election result --- Peninsula On-line

Africa: Rigged Polls, Violence Are All 'Part' of Democracy --- AllAfrica.com

Western Kenya's Kikuyus blame tribal rhetoric for violence --- Agence France Presse, France

Kenya’s Opposition Switches Its Tactics --- New York Times, USA

 

EDUCATION

Uganda: Kenya Crisis Affecting Education - Don --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

 

OPINION

How post election violence has ruined the lives of Kenyans ---Daily Nation, Kenya

Commentary: Conflict in Kenya: Another African genocide in the making? --- Caribbean Net News, Cayman Islands

Desperately seeking a Mahatma --- Daily Nation, Kenya

The Madhouse Called 'Home' (Kenya) --- OpEdNews, PA

ANALYSIS - Kenya's Kibaki sheds gentleman image --- Reuters South Africa

Kenya needs to nurture culture of non-violent mass action --- Daily Nation, Kenya

Gambia: America's Peculiar Role in the Kenyan Debacle --- African Path, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

The Kenya Effect --- Atlantic Online

Kenya’s Post-election Crisis: mayhem, fatalities, rebuttals and ... African Path, Minnesota, USA

Kenya: Lobby Condemns Police Brutality And Slide to Anarchy --- AllAfrica.com

Kenya: Raila Odinga's Orange Revolution --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

Kenya: a Test for Democracy in Africa? --- The Epoch Times Ireland, Ireland

Kenya: World Police Impotent --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

Do not dishonour Martin Luther King Jr --- Daily Nation, Kenya

Kenya: What Are the Lessons? --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

 

FOREIGN COVERAGE

China hopes Kenya will resolve disputes through dialogue ---Xinhua, China

West urge Kenya to halt civilian killings --- Independent Online, South Africa

Genital Mutilation a Weapon in Kenya --- The Associated Press

 

PRESS

Kenya: 'Parachute' Journalists And the Crisis --- AllAfrica.com, Washington

Live-Blogging Kenya's Crack-up

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January 7, 2008

Washington Post: 'Obama's Rise Sidelines Bloggers'

The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas, writing in a January 7, 2008, post at The Trail. "a daily diary of Campaign 2008," contends that:
As Sen. Barack Obama continues a strategy of appealing to Republicans and independents, an influential and vocal group within his own party -- the liberal blogosphere -- faces an identity crisis of sorts. At the heart of the tension lies an important challenge for a growing community that has helped redefine and re-energize the left wing of the Democratic Party. What happens to the brawling, highly partisan netroots movement when the party's leading candidate campaigns on bipartisanship -- and wins on it?
For answers from political operatives and bloggers Vargas reviewed, see "Obama's Rise Sidelines Bloggers," a post with a misleading headline, which suggests that all bloggers of any political persuasion are upset with the presidential candidate. Vargas most likely didn't write the headline.

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January 3, 2008

'Pakistan's Political History Crammed with Unexplained Killings'

While reading an article in the January 8, 2008, edition of The Economist headlined "A country on the brink," the following caught my attention:

Despite the investigation that Mr. [Pervez] Musharraf has promised [into the December 27, 2007, assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto], the truth may never out. Pakistan's political history is crammed with unexplained killings. They include the violent deaths of Miss Bhutto's two brothers, Murtaza and Shah Nawaz, whose bodies also lie in the family's meringue-like mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh. (Mr. [Asif Ali] Zardari (Bhutto's husband) was charged with ordering the death of Murtaza in a storm of police gunfire in 1996. He was later exonerated.)

The Economist said, "Another mystery surrounds the death of General Zia ul Haq, the dictator who toppled, then hanged, Miss Bhutto's father. One day in 1988 the general's plane, which was also carrying America's ambassador to Pakistan, fell to earth."

This last sentence prompted me to recall that, in September 1989, Journalist and author Edward Jay Epstein had a fascinating article in Vanity Fair headlined " Who Killed Zia?" It's just as relevant today as it was then, especially since a major beneficiary of Zia's death was Benazir Bhutto.

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'The Politics And Economics of Post-Election Violence' in Kenya

"The violence that has rocked Kenya following the disputed December 27 [2007] General Election is the worst the country has witnessed since the Mau Mau days, according to several analysts," reports Charles Onyango-Obbo in a Daily Nation article posted January 3, 2008, at allAfrica.com.

"But is a rigged election of itself enough to cause such violence?" he asks.

That's an appropriate question. For Mr. Onyango-Obbo's answer, please see "Kenya: What Others Say - the Politics And Economics of Post-Election Violence."

For more on the Kenyan political crisis, see allAfrica.com's roundup of news about Kenya.

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Kenya's Daily Nation: 'Save Our Beloved Country'

"Our beloved country, the Republic of Kenya, is a burnt-out, smouldering ruin. The economy is at a virtual standstill and the armies of destruction are on the march in the Rift Valley and other places." Those powerful words are from a January 3, 2008, commentary in the Kenyan publication Daily Nation, which also told readers:

In the midst of this, leaders — who are the direct cause of this catastrophe — are issuing half-hearted calls for peace, from the comfort of their hotels and walled homes in Nairobi, whence they are conveyed in bullet-proof limousines.

Daily Nation said, "It is unbelievable foolishness for Kenyans to destroy their economy, their homes and their entire way of life in the name of politics and on behalf of people whose lives of comfort and luxury are going on normally."

I concur. As the saying goes: "When elephants fight the grass suffers." And folks, the grass is needlessly suffering in Kenya.

To read the entire article, please see "COMMENT: Save our beloved country."

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January 2, 2008

New York Review of Books Looks at McClatchy's Iraqi Bloggers

Journalist and author Michael Massing has a gripping report in the January 17, 2008, edition of the New York Review of Books on McClatchy Newspapers' valuable Iraqi bloggers. They publish the Inside Iraq blog.

"About a year ago," Massing writes, McClatchy "set up a blog exclusively for contributions from its Iraqi staff (which "currently has five Iraqi members—former teachers, doctors, and office managers who, joining the staff as translators and "fixers," have received on-the-job training as reporters"). "Inside Iraq," it's called, and several times a week the Iraqi staff members post on it about their experiences and impressions (the blog can be found at washingtonbureau.typepad.com/iraq)," Massing adds.

"It's an opportunity for Iraqis to talk directly to an American audience," Massing quotes Leila Fadel, the current bureau chief, whose father is from Lebanon and whose mother is from Michigan, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, and who is all of twenty-six years old, as saying. "As such, the blog fills a major gap in the coverage," he writes

I read the article and some of the posts at Inside Iraq. You definitely get a view of the war you don't get in most American newspapers. That's because the blog concentrates on how the war affects ordinary Iraqis, whereas most publications in the states are concerned about how American soldiers in Iraq are faring.

If you want to read Massing's entire report, see "As Iraqis See It.

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Daily Telegraph: 'Kenya's Bloggers Plead for Peace'

On January 1, 2008, Damien McElroy, foreign affairs correspondent at Telegraph.co.uk. noted that, "Kenya’s bloggers have provided eyewitness accounts of violence, issued pleas for an end to slaughter and even turned despair into poetry as riots swept the country after the country’s “stolen” election."

He provides links to a few blogs. The posts are heart-rendering and provides graphic accounts of  the near civil war conditions in the East African nation..

If you care to read more, see "Kenya's bloggers plead for peace."

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January 1, 2008

Bhutto's Death is an Opportunity for the PPP to Reform

Journalist, author and filmmaker Tariq Ali, whose most recent book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power, is scheduled for publication in 2008, made an important observation in a December 28, 2007, commentary in The Guardian of London that put the December 27, 2007, assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in perpsective. Opined Mr. Ali:

It is difficult to imagine any good coming out of this tragedy, but there is one possibility. Pakistan desperately needs a political party that can speak for the social needs of a bulk of the people. The People's party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was built by the activists of the only popular mass movement the country has known: students, peasants and workers who fought for three months in 1968-69 to topple the country's first military dictator. They saw it as their party, and that feeling persists in some parts of the country to this day, despite everything. Benazir's horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation. The People's party needs to be refounded as a modern and democratic organisation, open to honest debate and discussion, defending social and human rights, uniting the many disparate groups and individuals in Pakistan desperate for any halfway decent alternative, and coming forward with concrete proposals to stabilise occupied and war-torn Afghanistan.

Mr. Ali said, "This can and should be done. The Bhutto family should not be asked for any more sacrifices," he added.

Yet, the Bhutto dynasty is set to continue, at least for a while, with the naming of Ms. Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zadari Bhutto  as leader of the PPP. His father, Asif Ali Zardari, will most likely be calling the shots from behind the scene. I wonder how long before some PPP functionary steps up and challenge the father and son for party leadership.

To read Mr. Ali's entire post, please see "A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy

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Will Benazir Bhutto's Death Offer New Hope For Pakistan?

"Despite the prevailing opinion," former Pakistan Peoples Party leader Benazir Bhutto's December 27, 2007, death "may offer new hope for democratic values: rights, the rule of law, and law enforcement" in Pakistan," asserts Lahore, Pakistan-based Journalist Imaduddin Ahmed in a January 1, 2008, post in The Boston Globe, a New York Times company-owned publication in Boston, Massachusetts.

To read the entire post, which I found refreshing and informative, see "The true colors of Benazir Bhutto."

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