…And with all the polution currently being experienced,will the world also be footing the health bill of the Chinese?

looking beyond borders

“We are moving away from a U.S. – or Europe-led world to a world led by China,” writes Stephen King, Chief Global Economist at HSBC in a report. HSBC’s Emerging Market Index for the last quarter of 2012 tells investors to think of the global economy in terms of “two separate narratives.” The first is the “old world” consisting of the U.S. and Europe, which continue to experience an ongoing deleveraging. The second is the “new world” consisting of the “structurally dynamic” emerging markets in general, but China in particular.

Read Here – The Diplomat

 

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Different Challenges in Central African Rep., Mali


Associated Press. January 4, 2013

Two land-locked, desperately poor African countries are gripped by rebellions in the north that have left huge chunks of both nations outside of government control. Neighboring countries are rushing troops into Central African Republic only a few weeks after rebels started taking towns but Mali’s government is still awaiting foreign military help nearly one year after the situation there began unraveling.

Self-Declared State of Azawad in Mali | Fragile States Resource Center

Here’s a look at why there’s been quick action in one country, and not in the other.

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THE INSURGENTS

 

Rebels in the Central African Republic, defying mediation efforts, on Saturday seized another town.

The simple answer lies in the vastly different challenges faced by intervention forces. Northern Mali is home to al-Qaida-linked militants who are stocking weapons and possess stores of Russian-made arms from former Malian army bases as well as from the arsenal of toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The local and foreign jihadists there are digging in and training forces in preparation for jihad and to repel an invasion. Central African Republic, by contrast, is dealing with home-grown rebels who are far less organized and have less sophisticated weapons.

The numbers of troops being sent to Central African Republic are relatively small — Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon are each sending about 120 soldiers. The rebels stopped their advances toward the capital on Dec. 29, perhaps at least in part because of the presence of the foreign troops who have threatened to counterattack if the rebels move closer to Bangui, the capital. In Mali, it will take far more than the 3,000 African troops initially proposed for a military operation to be successful in ousting the militants, analysts say.

Central African Republic .JPEG
The final contingent of reinforcements under current deployment plans, a group of around forty soldiers from Cameroon, departs by truck after arriving to bolster the multinational central-african regional force known as FOMAC which now numbers around a thousand troops, at the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Facing an insurgency by a new rebel coalition, Central African Republic President Bozize consolidated military power under his control Thursday after dismissing his own son as acting defense minister along with his army chief of staff. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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THE MISSION

The military objectives are also a stark contrast. In Central African Republic, neighboring nations have a mandate to help stabilize the region between rebel-held towns and the part of the country that is under government control. The intervention force will fire back if fired upon, but so far are not being asked to retake the towns already in rebel hands.

The mission in Mali that foreign forces are slowly gearing up for is far more ambitious. It involves trying to take back a piece of land larger than Texas or France where militants are imposing strict Islamic law, or Shariah. Making things even more complicated there: A military coup last year that created chaos and enabled the rebels to more easily take territory has left the country with a weak federal government and the country’s military with a broken command-and-control structure, and with its leaders reluctant to give real power to the civilians.

“In Mali you have a very undefined mission. What does it mean to retake the country and give it back to government forces that were not able to hold it in the first place?” noted Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Central African Republic’s situation “is a more limited, defined and frankly somewhat easier mission in the military sense,” she said.

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THE TERRAIN

Northern Mali is a scorching desert that is unfamiliar to many of the troops who would be coming from the West African regional bloc of countries known as ECOWAS. By contrast, Central African Republic’s neighbors already have been pulled into past rebellions in the country.

Chadian forces helped propel President Francois Bozize into power in 2003 and they have assisted him in putting down past rebellions here”These forces — particularly the Chadians — have been there before,” Cooke said. “They know the players, they have an interlocutor in Bozize however fragile he is. This is familiar territory to them.”

The Economic Community of Central African States, or ECCAS, also already had established a peacekeeping force in Central African Republic known as MICOPAX.

“From the beginning, they knew that they needed to have troops on the ground. MICOPAX was already there, had already been deployed there. There was already a structure in place,” said Thierry Vircoulon, project director for Central Africa at the International Crisis Group.

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DIFFERING MOTIVATIONS

Central African Republic.JPEG
A Chadian soldier fighting in support of Central African Republic president Francois Bozize, sits on a truck in a convoy of other Chadian soldiers near Damara, about 70km (44 miles) north of the capital Bangui, Central African Republic Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. After troops under Bozize seized the capital in 2003 amid volleys of machine-gun and mortar fire, he dissolved the constitution and parliament, and now a decade later it is Bozize himself who could be ousted from power with rebels having seized more than half the country and made their way to the doorstep of the capital in less than a month. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The rebels in Central African Republic are made up of four separate groups all known by their French acronyms — UFDR, CPJP, FDPC and CPSK. They are collectively known as Seleka, which means alliance in the local Sango language, but have previously fought one another. For instance, in September 2011 fighting between the CPJP and the UFDR left at least 50 people dead and more than 700 homes destroyed. Insurgent leaders say a 2007 peace accord allowing them to join the regular army wasn’t fully implemented and are demanding payments to former combatants among other things. Rebel groups also feel the government has neglected their home areas in the north and particularly the northeast, said Filip Hilgert, a researcher with Belgium-based International Peace Information Service.

Mali’s Islamist Rebels Vow To Bring “Banner Of Mohammed”

In northern Mali, the Islamist rebels are motivated in large part by religion. Al-Qaida fighters chant Quranic verses under the Sahara sun , displaying deep, ideological commitment. They consider north Mali as “Islamic territory” and say they will fight to the death to defend it. They also want to use the territory to expand the reach of al-Qaida-linked groups to other countries. This would seem to make other countries more motivated to intervene in Mali than in Central African Republic, but the challenges are so steep and convoluted that an intervention mission is still on the drawing board.

Rebels in C. African Republic seize another town


Associated Press.Jan 5, 2013

                                     Several hundred protesting merchants, one holding a placard using the french acronym of the country's name, hold a demonstration calling for peace as negotiators prepare for talks with rebels from the north, in downtown Bangui, Central African Republic Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The U.N. Security Council urged rebels in the Central African Republic on Friday to halt their military offensive, withdraw from cities they have seized, and take part in negotiations to find a political solution to the impoverished country's longstanding problems. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Several hundred protesting merchants, one holding a placard using the french acronym of the country’s name, hold a demonstration calling for peace as negotiators prepare for talks with rebels from the north, in downtown Bangui, Central African Republic Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The U.N. Security Council urged rebels in the Central African Republic on Friday to halt their military offensive, withdraw from cities they have seized, and take part in negotiations to find a political solution to the impoverished country’s longstanding problems. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Rebels in Central African Republic seized control of another town on Saturday, just days before they are to begin negotiations with the government in nearby Gabon.

Alindao town was taken by rebels of the Seleka alliance, who now control 11 cities and towns, according to residents of a nearby community.

‘‘In the early morning hours the attackers burst into Alindao without meeting any resistance from the Central African armed forces,’’ said Jean Balipio, speaking by telephone from the neighboring town of Bangassou.

Alindao is not on the path to Bangui, the capital of 700,000 which is heavily fortified by Chadian troops and other forces sent from neighboring countries. Alindao is located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Bambari, the third largest city which is already under rebel control.

The insurgents have taken 11 towns and cities within a month. They had previously said they would halt their advances pending talks with President Francois Bozize’s government, which are set to begin in Gabon on Tuesday. The new move by rebels on Saturday casts doubt on the possible success of the talks. Already the rebels said they are seeking Bozize’s departure but the president said he does not intend to leave office before his term ends in 2016.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council urged the rebels to withdraw from the towns they hold and take part in the negotiations in Libreville, Gabon ‘‘without preconditions and in good faith.’’

Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Masood Khan, the current council president who read the press statement, was asked whether the talks would definitely take place given uncertainty about participation of all the rebels in the alliance and other groups.

‘‘Right now preparations are being made and we’re hoping the talks will take place — and all parties are being urged in that direction,’’ Khan said. ‘‘The talks are important to reduce tension and de-escalate the situation and look towards diplomatic solutions.’’

Seleka, which means alliance in the local Sango language, is made up of four separate groups which have previously fought one another. Bozize has offered to form a government of national unity but the rebels have questioned his sincerity and demanded that he relinquish power.

The rebels also want the Bozize government to respect previous peace accords providing for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former rebels into society.

Central African Republic is a desperately poor, landlocked nation that has suffered numerous rebellions since independence from France in 1960. Bozize himself came to power in 2003 through a rebellion that was backed by Chadian forces. He has since won two elections.

Despite the nation’s wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, the government remains perpetually cash-strapped and many of the 5 million people depend upon subsistence agriculture.

Kenyan Election to cost Sh25 billion


By JOHN NGIRACHU.SATURDAY  NATION. January 4  2013

  The cost of the March 4 General Election will be Sh24.9 billion, three times that of the last poll, the Finance ministry has revealed in a document tabled in Parliament.

The bulk of this cost was for the procurement of the biometric voter registration kits (Sh6.6 billion), recruitment and remuneration of election officials (Sh4.8 billion) and procurement of election materials and equipment (Sh3.8 billion).

File | Nation Youth take part in a procession dubbed ‘One Nation, One People for Peace’ in Nakuru town on December 13 last year. The march sought to educate the public on the need to register as voters and hold peaceful elections.

 

The defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya spent Sh8 billion to organise the last General Election in 2007.

Outright majority.

Overall, says the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update tabled by Finance minister Njeru Githae in Parliament on Thursday, Kenya currently cannot afford a run-off in case any of the presidential candidates fails to garner an outright majority.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission needs Sh11.2 billion to effectively manage a run-off.

But the update says that “IEBC has no budgetary allocation to cater for the conduct of a presidential run-off”.

The money would be used to cater for the cost of increased materials, labour and security, as well as legal expenses arising from the competition between the two leading contenders for the presidency.

As he asked MPs to approve the Supplementary Budget Estimates in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Githae said the Treasury has set aside Sh5 billion for the Civil Contingency Fund, which caters for unforeseen expenditure, including expenses for a run-off.

Backbenchers on Thursday morning conspired to frustrate debate on the Sh58 billion Supplementary Budget Estimates.

But even if they pass the estimates next week, the fiscal update suggests Kenya could be Sh6.2 billion short of the money needed to finance a run-off.

This means that IEBC chairman Issack Hassan was wrong when he told the Nation in an interview on Thursday morning that the money allocated in the Supplementary Estimates could be enough.

Mr Hassan said IEBC would recall the same security and electoral officers employed and trained in the first round to oversee the run-off.

In case of a run-off, IEBC would have to provide ballot boxes that are different from those used in the first round. It would also have to order an additional batch of 14.3 million ballot papers.

Mr Githae suggested that Kenyans ought to prevent a  a run-off when they go to the polls in two months. 

Plug a shortfall

“My request to Kenyans is: Please, make your decision. Give one of the coalitions votes in good and sufficient number to avoid a run-off,” he said.

“It is for the Kenyans to decide whether it is Jubilee, CORD or the Third Force or whatever it is. Please, Kenyans, if you want to save me from spending Sh5 billion, make up your mind. Give one of the coalitions all the votes to avoid a run-off. It would make me very happy. I can then use that money to tarmac new roads instead of it being wasted in a run-off, which is not necessary.”

Treasury plans to borrow Sh30.7 billion to plug a shortfall in the Supplementary Budget.

The General Election is considered a crucial test for Kenya considering that there was violence after the last one. With voters electing at least six people, Kenya will also embark on establishing a devolved form of government.

The Treasury says in the update that an unsuccessful transition to the decentralised system of government poses a risk to the country’s economic outlook as it could weaken investor confidence and slow down growth.

 

Under the new Constitution, the president retains the power to appoint the place and date of the first sitting of Parliament 30 days after its members are elected.

Work restarts on China’s biggest nuclear power plant


Reuters.JAN 5,2013

Work on China’s largest planned nuclear facility has restarted, state media said on Saturday, a sign that the thaw in the country’s nuclear industry is gaining pace after it was frozen in response to Japan’s Fukushima atomic crisis in 2011.

Building of the Shidao Bay nuclear plant in coastal Shandong province, eastern China, resumed on December 21, Xinhua news agency reported.

Beijing – in common with many governments worldwide – suspended work on nuclear projects after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 which triggered a radiation disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex.

More recently it has softened its stance on nuclear energy. In October last year, China announced revised plans for the sector and said it would start approving new reactors, though at a slower pace than pre-Fukushima.

Before the Japanese disaster, many in the industry had expected China to set a 2020 capacity target of around 80-90 gigawatts (GW), but that target was scaled back to 58 GW.

The Shidao Bay plant is expected to start supplying electricity to the grid by the end of 2017, and ultimately to have the capacity to supply 6,600 megawatts, Xinhua said.

Initial investment in the project, led by power producer Huaneng Power International Inc., is planned to be 3 billion yuan ($481.52 million), Xinhua said.

($1 = 6.2303 Chinese yuan)

China shuts website of leading reformist magazine


Reuters.Fri Jan 4, 2013.

China shut the website of a leading pro-reform magazine on Friday, apparently because it ran an article calling for political reform and constitutional government, sensitive topics for the ruling Communist Party which brooks no dissent.

“Yanhuang Chunqiu” (China Through the Ages) is an influential Beijing magazine that features essays from reformist retired officials.

In a message posted on its official Sina Weibo microblog, the magazine said that it had been informed on Thursday that the site’s registration had been canceled and that it had not been given a reason.

“The magazine is trying to find out details,” it said.

Wu Si, the magazine’s chief editor, did not answer calls seeking comment.

Attempts to open the website (www.yhcqw.com) bring up a cartoon picture of a policemen holding up a badge and the message that the site has been closed.

However, the article which seems to have offended the censors, written in the form of a new year’s message, is still up on the magazine’s microblog.

“In more than 30 years of reform, the abuses caused by political reform lagging economic reform have become daily more visible, and the factors for social instability have gradually accumulated. Promoting reform of the political system is an urgent task,” the piece says.

Analysts have been searching for signs that China’s new leaders might steer a path of political reform, whether by allowing freer expression on the internet, greater experimentation with grassroots democracy or releasing jailed dissidents.

But the party, which tolerates no challenge to its rule and values stability above all else, has so far shown little sign of wanting to go down this path, despite president-in-waiting and party chief Xi Jinping trying to project a softer and more open image than his predecessor.

Weibo users flocked to offer their support for the magazine and to excoriate Xi.

“People who are putting their hopes in Xi need to wake up,” wrote one.

Xi, who became party boss in November, takes over from Hu Jintao as president at the annual meeting of parliament in March, part of a generational leadership change.

Last month, a prominent group of Chinese academics warned in a bold open letter that the country risks “violent revolution” if the government does not respond to public pressure and allow long-stalled political reforms.

Ghana leader appeals to rivals for unity before inauguration


 

 
By Kwasi Kpodo.Reuters.Jan 4, 2013

Ghanaian newly elected president John Dramani Mahama gives a speech as he attends a victory rally to thank the supporters of NDC (National Democratic Congress), the party of the late president John Atta Mills, in Accra December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Ghanaian newly elected president John Dramani Mahama gives a speech as he attends a victory rally to thank the supporters of NDC (National Democratic Congress), the party of the late president John Atta Mills, in Accra December 10, 2012.Credit: Reuters/Luc Gnago

Ghana’s president called for political unity on Friday, reaching out to rivals who are contesting his election due to suspicions of vote rigging.

John Dramani Mahama, a former vice president who took office in July after the death of President John Atta Mills, won a December 7 election and is due to be sworn in on Monday along with a new parliament.

“For the long-term survival of our nation, we must agree and commit to a multi-partisan process,” Mahama said in a speech to parliament. “Whatever our differences, whatever our politics, we must pull together and rise to meet these challenges.”

International and local election observers said the December election – in which Mahama won 50.7 percent of the votes – was free and fair despite delays and technical problems that forced voting into a second day.

Ghana’s main opposition party launched a legal challenge on December 28, saying the poll involved enough irregularities to affect the outcome.

The opposition NPP party, whose leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, came second with 47.7 percent, has threatened to boycott Mahama’s inauguration.

Ghana is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and has maintained three decades of peace, making it a favorite among international investors and an anomaly in a region better known for coups and civil wars.

Mahama said economic growth in the cocoa, oil and gold exporting nation was between 8.5 and 9 percent in 2012, but that political unity was required to ensure the rising productivity resulted in development.

Ghana became Africa’s newest oil exporter in 2010 with the startup of Tullow Oil’s offshore Jubilee field, propelling economic growth to 14.4 percent in 2011. Mahama said he expected 2012 growth to be between 8.5 and 9 percent.

“We have not only held down inflation and maintained macro-economic stability, but we have also worked to ensure discipline in the government’s fiscal regime to avoid unbudgeted expenditures that could distort the economy’s performance,” Mahama said.

Inflation in Ghana has held under 10 percent.