Mauritania’s World Bank Bubble


Shameful waste! “Consultancy Project to recruit a Technical Assistant” the grand sum of $250,000 was apparently awarded in 2003 to a contractor, GEOIDD in Tunisia, for this basic recruitment service. But then follow the link from that page, and the project name is listed as Rajasthan, India. Are they just insanely sloppy or cooking the books?

Now it's Mauritania

Now it’s Mauritania

and now it's Rajasthan

and now it’s Rajasthan

Here is another – a “study” worth $246,000 awarded to a company “TANSITEC” in Switzerland, which also links to Rajasthan, not Mauritania.

Almost half a million dollars on two items, and what is there to show for it?

Even a cursory examination of the “consultancy” and “study” and “audit” costs, over the life of this 11 year development programme, will show money being squandered on costly but nonsensical projects like the ones above, with little or no immediately apparent or tangible benefits. This programme began before General Aziz staged his military coup in 2008, continuing after he came to power, and it indicates widespread mismanagement and/or corruption on an international scale.

Just one example of a questionable Mauritanian infrastructure and development project was for urban development in Atar, where Mauritanian company Macoba TP (part of the AZIZI group) and Spanish construction company Franjuan were appointed to work with local contractors. Seven local firms were reportedly involved, and they engaged 100 labourers – including some from Mali – to install 46,600 square meters of paving covering 4km of drainage pipes and gutters. The news item posted 7 October 2011 about this project on has “vanished” (still visible via the Internet Archive here). Mention of labour from Mali is a big clue for the story disappearing – this project was supposed to create work for Mauritanians, not Malians.

Don't mention the workers from Mali

Don’t mention the workers from Mali

Also missing is the World Bank website page about the contract which went to Macoba-Franjuan (still visible on a Chinese site that published a copy, here). The decision to remove evidence of this project may indicate that World Bank prefers not to have anyone look too closely at the bid and tender process for standards compliance. We can be sure that China would be more than interested, since they bid on many construction projects in Mauritania.

Some of the images from the October news item are missing but you can see some photos on the Adrar info site here, from January 2012, when the mayor was chuffed with himself about how well the project was going, and here in August the same year, when several snags and unfinished areas were highlighted.

This paving project was part of a larger, long-term, Urban Development Programme with a total budget of almost US$100  million funded by various international organizations via the World Bank . The project closed 30 June 2012, and the details page and reports are available here in English. The stats, such as exist, are baffling. Atar is the regional capital of the state of Adrar and boasts a population of more than 24,000, who celebrated completion of the drainage project on 28 June 2012. This begs the question why there is such a small increase reported (8,305 – from 17,000 in 2011 to 25,305 in 2012) in the number of people, in all urban capitals across the country, provided with improved drainage services.

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

My current theory is this: they don’t care about the numbers, or where the money seems to be going, or even whether some of the projects are imaginary, because the purpose of the entire shambolic scam is to line the pockets of corrupt officials whose companies, and those of their cronies, profit from contracts to undertake the various “improvements”. This buys the required mix of compliance and silence so that, once real estate prices have been boosted by roads, drainage, etc, even more financial shenanigans can take place, as the already wealthy endlessly shuffle their ill-gotten gains around.

I further assume this is the reason for evicting tens of thousands of the poorest people in Mauritania from their hovels. In a recent example, dozens of families in Leimghetty [ar] have been left homeless for over a month after the national guard sent in bulldozers to destroy their huts – over their heads in some cases. All this happened even as the government was issuing advice to citizens to “stay indoors” during the hottest parts of the day, as temperatures soared to 50 degrees Celsius. The homeless families have been completely ignored by officials from the interior ministry, who are under orders to clear the land and to hell with the people, even the most vulnerable such as the elderly, infirm, and mothers with babies, who are slowly being grilled into oblivion under the scorching sun. Don’t think for one moment that the World Bank is not aware of this. They are aware and they do not care. In fact, they want these slums demolished, and they note that :

“The amount paid by low-income people to have access to land property rights is very low as compared to the existing land market value. Depending on local conditions, additional arrangements needs to be put in place to ensure that only targeted people are benefitting from such programs, and will keep this benefit.”

No doubt they are looking forward to a property price boom.


Nothing is sacred: Rustling #India’s holy cows


The story of the annual smuggling of an estimated 1.5 million cattle says much about modern India – about the sometimes hypocritical treatment of supposedly sacred cows, the political power of right-wing Hinduism and the corruption that allows the £320m illegal trade to flourish. But ultimately this story is about supply and demand. Hindu-majority India has an estimated 280 million cows but killing and eating them is legal in only a handful of states. Meanwhile, Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where beef is eaten with relish, suffers from a shortage of cattle. Half of the beef consumed in Bangladesh comes from its large, western neighbour.

The snaking border that divides the two countries runs for 1,300 miles. Here in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal, 150 miles north-east of the state capital Calcutta, large sections of it are unfenced. It is a lure both for human traffickers and gangs from both sides of the border smuggling cows.

Villagers, who claimed not to know any smugglers but appeared to know the intricacies of the operation, said cattle were brought by truck from states across eastern India such as Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. Some may even be brought from further away. Despite the effort involved, the mathematics is persuasive. An animal that might sell for £60-£80 in the country’s cow-belt hinterland will here fetch £130. Once inside Bangladesh, they could change hands for £225 or more.

Read the whole story: Nothing’s sacred: the illegal trade in India’s holy cows – Nature – Environment – The Independent.

News from Iran Week 06 – 2012


Week 06

News of the Prisoners


  • Student/political activist Naeem Ahmadi has been transferred to Meshkin Shahr prison to start serving his 6 month sentence.
  • Younes Soleimani violently beaten by guards in Ardebil prison further to his hunger strike; he was transferred to prison’s clinic.
  • Pan-Iranist member Shahin Zeinali was transferred from Evin 350 to Rejaei Shahr prison.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • In past 2 weeks; 3 killed, 49 arrested among Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan province.
  • Salar Abidavi, Jajah Chanaei, Ebrahim Heidari, Jafar, Hamid, Jasem, Karim, Khadijeh, Mohammad, Sajjad Kaabi, Adel, Ahmad, Ashour, Faisal, Kazem Dabat , Ali Kanani , Mehdi Khosraji, Moslem Mezravi , Morteza Mousavi, Hassan and Mehdi Navaseri, Ahmad and Osman Zegheibi all recently arrested in Shush.
  • Ahmad and Hossein Afravi, Majid Bavi, 25 years old, two legs paralyzed, Abdolvahed Beit Siah, Walid Hammadi, Towfigh Heidari, Ghazi Hendali Farahani, 37 years old, Jamal Hezbavi, 44 years old, Hamid Khanfari Betrani, Saeed Khazarji, Taher Ma’avieh, Jasem Moravani , Mohammad Na’ami, Seyyed Ahmad Nazari, 65 years old, Ali Sharifi, Saadoon Silavi, Khalaf Zeibidi, 45 years old, Amir Sorkhi, Adnan, all recently arrested in Ahwaz.
  • Ali Akbar Amini, protester who climbed atop a crane last 25 Bahman was arrested again.
  • Student activist Parsa Bahmani arrested in Shiraz for implementation of his 6 months sentence.
  • Reza Jelodarzadeh, editor-in-chief of the recently banned “Sobh-e Azadi” magazine was arrested.
  • Mehdi Konjareh, web activist and freelance journalist, arrested in Tehran.
  • Hasan Manabi Salehi was recently arrested in Hamidieh.
  • Farid Emadi, Noorah Falah, Samitra Momtazian, Iman Rahmat Panah, Faezeh Tashakkor, Payam Taslimi and Farshid Yazdani, all Baha’i were arrested in Shiraz on February 5th and taken to Intel detention center.
  • Dr. Behrooz Rashidiani, candidate for the Majlis elections rejected by the Guardians’ Council, arrested last month and sent to Khorramabad prison.
  • Nasir Sha’arian arrested last month in Tabriz for writing a letter to Obama.Iran arrests several PPL over alleged links to British Broadcasting Corporation’s Farsi-language service.
  • 10 newly converted Christians were arrested in a home in Shiraz that was used as a church.


  • Student and labor activist Meysam Nejati has been released on bail after 37 days in Evin ward 2-A (IRCG).
  • After 25 days in 209 solitary, Gonabadi Dervishes member Simin Nematollahi has been released on bail.
  • Hamed Yazerloo freed at the end of his three years sentence.
  • Babolsar political activist Yaser Yousefzadeh has been released

D-Other News

  • Jafar Afshari has been on a hunger strike in Orumieh prison since 2/2 protesting his 5 years sentence.
  • Kouhyar Goudarzi is kept in solitary.
  • Political activists and families of political prisoners met with hunger striking Dr. Khazali’s family.
  • Sociologist and National-Religious activist Dr. Madani has had no contact with his family since his arrest a month ago.
  • Disabled war veteran, Mousavi supporter Ahmad Miri taken to court handcuffed.
  • Political Activist Fazlollah Salavati was stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving the country.

News of injustice in Iran

  • Reza Kermani, previous leader of Pan Iranist party, sentenced to 4 additionnal months in prison.
  • Dr. Mehdi Khazali has been sentenced to 14 years in prison in Barazjan (Boushehr), 90 lashes and 10 years exile in Barazjan.
  • One of the three people killed in Khouzestan is Mohammd Kaabi in the city of Shush.
  • Shamim Zaeinolabedin has been summoned by to receive her 50 lashes sentence.
  • Four executions in Qom prison.

University  – Culture

  • Roozegar Daily banned from publication, for quoting a top ranking reformist.
  • Iran bans Simpson dolls.
  • Following the shut-down of House of Cinema, Authorities launch Iran Cinema Organization.
  • The license of the magazine Ayeene Goftegoo (Ethics of Dialogue), supported by former President Mohammad Khatami, was cancelled after its first issue.
  • Mousavi’s daughter banned from continuing her studies in the University.
  • Iran reportedly blocking https secure access to Google, Yahoo and other sites.
  • Keyan Hashemi Dehaj expelled from Tehran University for being a Baha’i.

Economy in Iran

  • Prices for dairy products rose 9%.
  • Oil Minister: Iran will stop oil exports to certain EU countries; rejects India and China’s request for discount on exported oil.
  • Central Bank opens rupee account in India.
  • Malaysian exporters halt palm oil supply to Iran.
  • Strategic alliance between China and Iran to develop Iran’s oil and gas fields worth over $50 billion.
  • Sanctions imposed on Tehran prevent Indian merchants from receiving payment for 200,000 tons of rice exported to Iran.
  • IMF Iran is 17th largest economy in the world.
  • 15 stores in Isfahan, which sold clothing that is “symbolic of western culture,” have been closed down.
  • Price of rice has gone from $2 to $5 per kilo since last year.
  • US dollar back at 1900 tomans.
  • Japan to reduce its oil imports from Iran by 20%.
  • Red meat selling for 40,000 tomans ($33) a kilo.


  • More than 100 Tehran policemen protest in front of parliament.
  • A group of teachers in Kermanshah launch strike due to delay in payment of their salaries.

Iran  abroad

  • EU planning sanctions against Iran telecoms sector.
  • Following imposing ban on road travel; Iran bans nationals from travel by train to Syria.
  • Iranian warships dock at Saudi port.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian has arrived in Damascus.
  • Saudi Arabia blocks Khamenei’s website.
  • Vice President for International Affairs, Ali Sa’idlu, has left Tehran for Belarus.
  • 25 Canadian senators called for immediate release of 25 political prisoners in Iran, including Saeed Malekpour on death row.
  • Israel teams with terror group People’s Mujahedin of Iran to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, US officials say.
  • Hamas ends its relations with Syria and Iran.
  • Iranian ‘engineers’ abducted in Syria freed.

Politics in Iran

  • Parliament to summon Ahmadinejad for questioning.
  • Majlis submits draft resolution to restrict movement of European citizens to Iran, prohibit the import of merchandise from countries participating in the embargo.
  • Majlis closed from February 11 until after the March 4 elections.
  • Mousavi’s daughters have been threatened with arrest.
  • 3 pro-reform groups to release lists of candidates.
  • Death Penalty for those under 18  is prohibited according to the new Islamic penal code approved by Parliament.


  • Wastewater of some towns entering Anzali Wetland.
  • Drought threatens existence of Kani Brazan wetland of Western Azerbaijan province and Parishan wetland.
  • Gotvand-Olya Dam reservoirs to be inundated again within 48 hours; Papila ancient bridge will go completely under water.
  • Another IRGC commander, Ahmad Sodagar, 50 years old, has passed away from a heart attack; he is 5th commander to die of cardiac arrest in past 2 weeks.

#Google’s Dirty Secret outsourcing the evil…

English: Orthographic projection map of Kenya ...

Google’s Dirty Secret: outsourcing the evil..

A scandal has broken after Google was caught outsourcing a scam operation from Kenya, later moved to India.

Only one company is involved at the moment, Kenyan start-up Mocality, but we should expect there to be many, many more that are either unaware or have not come forward for whatever reason.