That Kony video has everyone talking

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Did you watch it, what did you think, and has the criticism (if you didn’t share it initially) changed your opinions?

Blank map of Africa

Click on Uganda

Ancient American” blogger Brian Henry Connor had many of the misgivings and questions as me after watching:

I watched “Kony 2012”, today, guys. Its not often that something spurs me to write. Something really has to bother me to get the Ancient American treatment.
Let me just start by saying, whoa! Am I the only who thinks that, for a video about the plight of African children at the hands of a ruthless warlord, there is very little about the children and an awful lot about this guy and his kid and their organization and the great things they’ve done? Well, no, I’m not. In the latter half of the day criticism of “Kony 2012” swept the Internet with the same force and determination that the video had as it swept Facebook and Twitter throughout the morning. And I’m glad I’m not the only one.
“Kony 2012” is a puzzling video and accompanying social media campaign put out by Invisible Children, a top-secret military invisibility-technology research corporation and a non-profit that advocates for “stopping Kony.”
What caught my attention in the whole Kony tsunami, and I have not see widely publicised, is this release from AFRICOM, Note the date, 22 Feb:
The United States will continue to support the governments and people of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan as they work to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a vicious insurgent group that has terrorized central Africa for more than 25 years.
“The U.S. is working to pursue a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy to help the governments and people of this region to end the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Karl Wycoff said in a telephone briefing February 22, 2012.”
 US State Department and military are part of a global effort on this;
The United States is cooperating closely with multilateral organizations, including the African Union, European Union and United Nations, as well as with the governments of the affected countries, as part of a unified effort to defeat the LRA.
Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan are seeing results from their efforts to fight the LRA:
“With our support, these four military forces continue to make progress in reducing the LRA’s numbers and keeping them from re-grouping,” [Wycoff] said. “We believe it is critical that the militaries in the region continue to work together to keep the pressure on the LRA and protect their own citizens. In the long run, it is Africans who are best-suited to address African security matters. In this case, four nations decided that they wanted to work together to address a common security challenge, and we’re glad to help.”
They don’t only want to capture Kony, the entire LRA is targeted, which, by definition, must include child soldiers:
“Military efforts to capture the LRA constitute only one part of a broader strategy, and must be nested within a program of civilian programmatic efforts,” [Wycoff] said.
It seems AFRICOM is “partnering” with Invisible Children, since both claim to be working on and funding the High Frequency Radio Early Warning System:
“In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Wycoff said, the U.S. and African governments are partnering with civil society and nongovernmental organizations across the four countries to develop early warning systems and increase information about LRA movements. He said they are funding projects to help remote communities in LRA-affected areas develop protection plans, install mobile towers to increase telecommunications capacity and establish a high-frequency radio network to enhance information sharing.”
To summarise: Anyone who thinks this is a campaign about the need to persuade US Military to continue funding operations in Africa that target the LRA/Kony because it is at imminent risk of being withdrawn is completely wrong. Anyone who thinks this is a campaign to save children in Uganda from Joseph Kony is mostly wrong. Anyone who says Invisible Children is not linked to US military operations in Africa needs to explain the AFRICOM statement above. Anyone who is now thinking about problems in Africa and how to combat them is at least doing something right.
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9 Jan 2012 World News Digest #Iran #Yemen #Syria

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Börzen Zeitung reports Germany and France kick-off high-level discussions in Berlin today aimed at laying the groundwork for a crunch EU summit on the eurozone debt crisis at the end of the month. It is the first in a series of monthly mini-summits between Merkel and Sarkozy, who want toughen up the rules governing countries which use the single currency. The draft pact, which has been obtained by Sky News, proposes using the European Court of Justice to ensure eurozone countries keep their national debt and budget deficits within agreed limits. The mini-summit will also examine the introduction of a financial transaction tax, which Britain also strongly opposes.

Al Ahram reports that Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo have demanded that the Syrian government cease its bloody crackdown on protesters but affirmed its commitment to monitoring the situation in the country, despite criticism that monitors have been ineffectual at stopping violence. The move defied opposition politicians and activists who want to halt the mission and refer the issue to the UN Security Council. Many of them are calling for international military intervention.

Sanaa Radio announces that Yemen’s cabinet has approved a draft law which grants President Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution as part of a Gulf-brokered transition deal. The law is still to be approved by the country’s parliament. On Friday, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay criticised the deal, saying those who committed abuses during a crackdown on the civil unrest unrest must face justice.

Akhbar Al Youm reports aid groups were mounting a “major emergency operation” in rural South Sudan after tribe-on-tribe violence sent tens of thousands fleeing and killed an unknown number of people. The UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator in South Sudan, Lise Grande, said aid groups were responding to a call for help from South Sudan’s central government after a column of 6,000 armed men from the Lou Nuer ethnic group marched into Pibor in Jonglei state to target the Murle community in late December and early January.

Manila Times quotes President Benigno Aquino of the Philippine warnng of a possible terrorist attack during today’s annual procession of a centuries-old image of Jesus Christ known as the Black Nazarene. Aquino said several terrorists planning to disrupt the religious procession, that may draw more than a million devotees, had been sighted in the capital. He asked devotees not to take mobile phones or weapons to the event.
Abrar quotes Iran’s top nuclear official announcing that the country was on the verge of starting production at its second major uranium enrichment site – the Fordo plant, near the city of Qum. The new facility, buried deep underground on a well-defended military site, is considered far more resistant to airstrikes than the existing enrichment site at Natanz, limiting what Israeli officials, in particular, consider an important deterrent to Iran’s nuclear aims.

Raw Story reports US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has confirmed that Iran is not developing its nuclear programme to make weapons.

News also from Iran today that former US Marine Amir Hekmati has been sentenced to death on charges of espionage. He has 20 days to appeal.

US Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has come under fire from fellow contenders ahead of Tuesday’s primary vote in the state of New Hampshire. At a nationally televised NBC debate, the former Massachusetts governor’s economic programme was called “timid” and his conservative credentials were also questioned.
New Straits Times reports Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been acquitted of sodomy after a two-year trial. Anwar, 64, had consistently denied the charges and called them a government bid to cripple his political ambitions and influence. He was jailed for sodomy in 1999 but the conviction was overturned. He had faced up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Jerusalem Post says The Bill to Prevent Infiltration, a central tenet of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new policy on illegal immigration, is expected to pass its second and third (final) readings in the Knesset late Monday night. The new law could mean indefinite detention for refugees.

Japan camera maker Olympus is suing it’s president Shuichi Takayama and other senior executives for concealing details of $1.7billion of fraudulent deals over a period of 13 years. The former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford was fired from his post after confronting Takayama.

Voice of Nigeria quotes President Goodluck Jonathan admitting for the first time that sympathisers of the Islamist Boko Haram group were in his government and security agencies. His comments come amid a wave of violence blamed on Boko Haram which has left dozens of people dead in the north, most of them Christians. Boko Haram, wants to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state, has warned southerners, who are mostly Christian and animist, to leave the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria. A senior Christian cleric has warned that the country is sliding towards civil war.

SwissInfo reports the new Libyan government decided on Sunday to lift sanctions against Switzerland and Lebanon, which Moammar Gaddafi had enacted several years ago.

Times of Malta reports that Police in Norway cut in half a traffic fine for a Swedish trucker on the grounds that Swedes earn less than Norwegians. Oslo newspaper VG reports that Ulf Ander Andersson, 61, was driving a lorry for his Norwegian employer in March when he was stopped by police, who found his brakes were not in order. He was fined £857 ($1,323) but last month got a letter saying the sum had been reduced due to his nationality. Mr Andersson told VG he was grateful, though he found it “very strange”.

 


‘Alarming malnutrition’ in Sudanese conflict zones: UN official

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  Jan 4, 2012 – 3:43 PM ET

U.N. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos speaks during a joint news conference with Sudanese Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohamed (not pictured) in Khartoum January 4, 2012 - REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

KHARTOUM — The United Nations has received alarming reports of malnutrition in two Sudanese border states where the army is fighting insurgents, a senior UN official said on Wednesday.

Fighting broke out in June between the Sudanese army and SPLM-North rebels in South Kordofan and spread in September to the state of Blue Nile. Both states border newly independent South Sudan.

The violence has already forced about 417,000 people to flee their homes, more than 80,000 of them to South Sudan, the United Nations estimates. Locals have faced air raids and sporadic ground fighting, according to rights groups and refugees.

“I received alarming reports with respect to malnutrition and the food situation, particular in areas that are controlled by SPLM-North,” Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Khartoum.

She urged Sudan to lift a ban on international UN staff traveling to both border states.

Since the outbreak of fighting UN agencies and aid groups have only been able to keep small teams of local staff on the ground and the government has stopped any aid workers visiting areas where there has been fighting.

“We need to ensure that the UN capacity, which is there to support government efforts, is made up of a mix of UN staff, national and international, to make sure we have the right skill set of support,” Amos said after talks with Sudanese officials.

Social and Welfare Minister Amira Fadhil told journalists the ban was there to protect foreign workers and would stay in place.

“We fear for the security of foreigners. That’s why we think the presence of a Sudanese organization makes sense. But we want to grant access as soon as possible,” she added.

South Sudan declared independence in July, under the terms of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the Khartoum government.

Both Blue Nile and South Kordofan contain groups who sided with the south in the civil war and say they continue to face persecution inside Sudan.

SPLM-N is one of a groups of rebel movements in underdeveloped border areas who say they are fighting to overthrow Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and end what they see as the dominance of the Khartoum political elite.

Sudan and South Sudan, who still have to resolve a range of issues including the sharing of oil revenues, regularly trade accusations of supporting insurgencies on each other’s territory.

Their armed forces clashed at Jau in a region claimed by both sides last month in a rare direct confrontation.

Reuters >>