Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Iranian Bloggers Protest Government Crackdown

Iranian Bloggers Protest Government Crackdown on Reformist News Sites

"Uhh-Ohh! I think they are on to us (bloggers)?! Oh Schei--- !"

... and you thought that I was only going to write and post about Africa. Hah, fooled you didn't I?

Look, bloggers are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with, online and offline (like in the streets). All kinds of people are trying to follow and understand this fast-developing phenomenon of free speech from the people available for free___ or at least at low cost, requires lot's of sweat-equity from the author(s) & publisher(s) though.

So if you are blogging from behind enemy lines or from within countries where free speech makes the folks-in-charge kinda nervous, watch your step and cover your behind. Pay attention to articles like this one from the Online Journalism Review, an excellent website of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism.

"You could be next, Buster, so watch what you say in our country!"

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Millennium Development Goals 101 - Lesson 1

Social and sustainable economic development for the world, now there is a subject you can sink your teeth into. Thanks to a reader comment on my last posting "U.N. Delegation from Uganda" I have been "yanked-away" from breathing fire at Khartoum and made to focus on a topic which is one of the basis points for starting this blog in the first place. Thanks Mshairi.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) is probably one of the most comprehensive initiatives to come out of the U.N. and its member nations for decades. As Mshairi has so eloquently pointed out in her comment, it is extremely important that we (we = the Whole World) successfully fulfill our promises and responsibilities as set forth in the MDG's for 2015___ and beyond.

I became interested in some MDG progress reports myself after Mshairi brought it up in her comment, so I did a little search (using Google of course, since they support us
Blogger bloggers big time). Here is what I was able to find on Google in like 0-comma-zip seconds:

The UNDP (
U.N. Development Programme) has all kinds of very good websites, and one of them is focused on Human Development Reports (HDR's). The Human Development Report 2003 has a lot of detailed information on where we (we = the Whole World) are at the moment on the MDG 2015 performance scale and timeline. The complete HDR 2003 is massive folks (6.5+MB pdf-file download) so watchout if you only have a dial-up internet connection, you'll be downloading all day. The report is also broken-down into smaller parts for easier digestion and downloading, fortunately. Smart and very considerate of the web design team at UNDP.

Note also that this UNDP site has some very interesting facts listed on their
Do you know webpage. Here is one little factoid from this cool mini-site for your reflection:

Did you know that...
A baby born in Zambia today can have a life expectancy of just 32 years. A baby born in Japan can expect to live until the age of 82. (Ref. HDR 2004)

So, have fun on these excellent UNDP sites, although there is nothing funny about the subject matter. Don't miss the
HDR Statistics site and the National HDR sites. Maybe we need to work on making careers in this field not only fulfilling, but also a lot of fun, and economically rewarding.

Hey, I see the UNDP design team is using Macromedia Cold-Fusion for their web development. I wonder what kinda database their running? Ummm, what is this HDR toolkit button... ___ ooh! Online learning courses too, cool.......... .

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The U.N. Delegation from Uganda

The U.N. Delegation of the Future from Uganda
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Just doing a bit of dreaming about what the future could hold for the kids in the photos I'm posting today. What the future could hold for them in this century if we get behind 'em and get serious about all that talk at the U.N. this week. I wonder what these children dream about in regards to their future? Simple needs or really big dreams?

I wonder how many of my readers have ever heard about the Millinneum Development Goals or the Millinneum Challenge Account? I bet my two new blogger friends from Kenya, Mshairi and Kui, know what these programs are all about. Now the challenge is, how do we make it work for these kids?

The Concierge at the Waldorf

The Concierge at the Waldorf
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

O.K. for this kid that might be quite a stretch. However, where I come from there are plenty of Rags-to-Riches real life stories, so why not for this little guy? He already has the "warm greetings" part of the job down pat.

The Dance Teacher

The Dance Teacher
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Respect for the Rule of Law

Addressing UN Assembly, Annan urges nations to restore respect for rule of law

Are you following the events in New York at the opening session of the 59th U.N. General Assembly? If not, you should be, because your very life may depend on what happens there, and what does or does not happen afterward.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was in top form while delivering the opening address. You have to respect and admire this man who sincerely cares so much for all people around the world. Annan's speech was very moving and should make everyone do some deep, serious thinking about our responsibilities and actions. Annan is a valuable gift for an undeserving world.

I would suggest that we all not let him down, again. That goes for you too, Omar. We saw your U.N. delegation taking a serious toungue-lashing while they were looking for a hole to crawl into under their seats. 'Aint no hiding places on the floor of the General Assembly when the eyes of the world are upon you. Eyes fed by TV news cameras running live feeds and connected to satellite uplinks and downlinks around the globe.

Now I saw Dr. Condelezza Rice sitting in the General Assembly surrounded by representatives from just about every country in the world, and neither she nor Colin Powell looked none too happy when the subject of Darfur came up. President Bush of the U.S.A. is the only head of state to my knowledge who has had the "canollis" to call the situation in Sudan genocide, and he has done it before the whole world at this U.N. General Assembly. Correct me if I am wrong now. What you whispering about there in the back? Yeah, you!

Dr. Susan Rice from the Brookings Institute (now this Dr. Rice has a real mean streak in her, Omar, she is not so soft-spoken like Condelezza) has called the latest U.N. resolution on Darfur "toothless" on live T.V. yesterday, and she is working for the U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry! Things just aren't looking too rosey for your government over there in Khartoum, so oder so. Better straighten' up over there, quick.

Plenty of good reading at the U.N. News Centre website. Click on their Homepage link to get a rundown on who said what at the 59th General Assembly this week. Oh yeah, here is the latest news on activities of the U.N. special envoys and investigators and what have you on the ground in Sudan today. Ummph, umm, ummm.

Let's see which leaders and nations are going to back up their words with real action; otherwise, there might be some more "serious consequences" coming down the Pike real soon.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Big Vote is In on Darfur

Of course I followed the events at the U.N. Security Council Saturday re: the vote on the new resolution for Darfur. As a matter of fact, I stayed up late to watch the proceedings LIVE on TV (guess what channel?). A vote of 11-0-4 'aint bad, but what will really count is what happens next, and when it happens.

While we wait about 333.333 people a day are dying there, so let's see how fast everyone can get busy. I totally enjoyed the comments of U.N. Ambassador Danforth (Right-On Bro!), thought that the abstention speeches from China-Pakistan-Algeria were a total cop-out and something we all need to remember "down-the-line" when these guys need something, and I threw my shoe at the TV when the Sudanese Ambassador started to speak, then turned the thing off to conserve energy.

On a more positive note re: Sudan I want to let you know that I again attempted to contact the teacher/photographer Tom Gething in Khartoum today in regards to his wonderful photos and commentaries. As a "really nice guy treat" for my readers here is the link to Tom's digital photography portfolio at
TrekEarth . There are more online images from Tom, but one link at a time folks. "Don't push and get in line over there, Bub".

Lastly, I want to thank a new visitor and fellow blogger Mshairi for her comment today and direct you to her very nice blog by the same name Mshairi . I think that she is just getting started with Blogger since August and I want to welcome her to the Blogosphere and encourage my readers to visit her weblog. Poetry from a modern Kenyan woman blogger, that should be interesting.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

What You Can Do About Darfur

In case you didn't have a chance to read some of my earlier posts on Darfur stating what you can do as an ordinary World Citizen (a.k.a. a mushroom... always kept in the dark and fed a diet of chicken poop), click on the link above to the HRW website.

Don't miss their Crisis in Darfur jumpage for the latest from the HRW point-of-view, which isn't so left of center from my own except for some of the "wimpy" suggestions they have for government and world leaders. I'm a bit more Hawkish (hmmph!, Eagle-ish) than the folks at HRW on most issues of this nature.

You say you don't have any time to write these guys? How much time does it take you to send an email? If the leaders of our respective governments and particularly the bozos in Khartoum get enough email from around the world that could start to really piss them off! It might even motivate them to do something about Darfur and maybe even go after Public Enemy Nr. 1, SPAMMERS!

Today U.N. Votes on Darfur - Again

BBC NEWS Africa Darfur crisis divides press

Well, today is the day when the U.N. Security Council votes on the latest U.S.-sponsored resolution on the Crisis in Darfur. Don't expect much to happen so oder so, but it's worth mentioning.

In the meantime, it may be interesting for you to check out what the leading news media in the region (Sudan, Egypt) are saying about the situation. I was impressed on how open some of Sudan's journalists are expressing their views on the crisis in their country. Checkout the links above for more information.

Here is an excerpt from a Sudan news commentary of particular note:

"Whatever the UN Security Council's verdict is today, the issue, from beginning to end, is a Sudanese one, and is the result of our failure to solve the crisis... We have to work hard and find a comprehensive solution to the Sudanese problem, and to Darfur in particular, as soon as possible."

Commentary by Kamal al-Sadiq in Sudan's al-Ayyam

Don't miss the links to the various newspapers online and to the Arab Leagues backing of the Government of Sudan's position. And these guys claim to be friends and partners with my country? Do we really appear to be that stupid to these guys?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Is she from Darfur?

A beautiful young Sudanese girl in Khartoum.
Photo by Tom Gething, Sudan 2004

She is from the south of Sudan and lives in a refugee camp in or near the city of Khartoum. There are millions of Sudanese just like her living a life of subsitence thousands of kilometers away from their homes which have been destroyed by more than 20 years of war and atrocities such as we can all now clearly see happening in the Darfur region.

Her beauty and dignity as so wonderfully depicted in this photo is a testament to her worth not only to her country but to the whole world. Knowing that the photographer wanted to take her picture, she rushed to dress in her very best for the experience. This photo makes her immortal.

As I promised, there are some real treats coming soon to the blog regarding Sudan and its people and culture. Just waiting for Tom Gething, a teacher and amateur photographer working in Khartoum, to get back to me in regards to his excellent photo portfolios on the country. This is just a sneak preview which I could not resist but to share with you today.

Still Waiting on the U.N...Darfur

I’ve been waiting on the U.N. and the “International Community” along with the rest of the world as patiently as I can. In the meantime I continue to research and archive more information about Sudan and the Tragedy in Darfur for use on this blog. As mentioned in an earlier posting I came across some very interesting material that I want to share with you on the people and history and cultures of Sudan. It's coming so just keep your pants on, Buster.

I want to compose something clever and motivating for my readers in regards to Darfur today but to be honest I cannot. I don’t know if it is my own personal frustration and depression over the situation there or the lack of action within the U.N. Security Council and from governments and peoples around the world, or maybe it is just “writers block”, or just mark "All of the Above".

So I am not going to say (write) much today, just wait and see what our world leaders do this week at the U.N. The talks down in Nigeria under the auspicies of the African Union (AU) or already a bust, but I do appreciate the efforts by President Obansanjo of Nigeria and other African leaders working there. You can’t negotiate any kind of agreement of substance with a regime like that in Khartoum. You are just plain stupid if you would believe otherwise.

The WHO (World Health Organization) just released a report on Darfur where they estimate that between 6,000 and 10,000 people (mainly women and children) are dying in the Darfur region each month now____ dying of what would normally be curable disease and illness if it weren’t for the acute overcrowding in the camps, people dying of continuing violence from Janjaweed militias and the Khartoum regime’s military and para-military attacks, dying from despair and hopelessness while they wait on someone, anyone, to come to their aid.

While we all just sit and wait and watch them die.

NEWS - the latest news from my two favorite online news sources:
BBC News:
U.S. Watersdown Draft Resolution for SC “Chumps”
BBC News:
Darfur Peace Talks Collapse
BBC News: Analysis – Defining Genocide
CNN News: Colin Powell Tells It Like It Is – “It is Genocide!”
CNN News:
WHO Comes Up with the Numbers 333.333 People A Day

World Health Organization: Darfur Health Emergency September 2004
WHO: Health for the People of Darfur w/ Photo Essay

Friday, September 03, 2004

Waiting for the U.N. - Sudan

I told you in my post from yesterday that they (U.N. Security Council) would screw this up! I mean not even Kofi Annan understands what happened in there yesterday___ are there going to be sanctions, are troops (oops!, peacekeepers I mean) going in, is Omar getting the message or what??

Mr. Pronk, the U.N. Special Envoy for Darfur tried to slide that wishy-washy report of his through in the best U.N. diplomatic BS style and almost got away with it. Before everybody could adjourn for the day and slip out of the meeting room without accomplishing anything, U.N. Ambassador Danforth from the United States of America made a frontal assault on Mr. Pronk and his findings by stating something on the order of:
"... in regards to your statements re: the Government of Sudan showing improvements by not supporting the various militia groups who continue to attack innocent civillians in Darfur, You Are Flat Wrong!".

This is the equivalent of calling the man a damn liar in American English diplomatic language. U.S. Senator Frist (Senate Majority Leader) who has also visited the region recently (see Sudan - The Crisis in Darfur) was even more blunt about what could and should be the next steps for everyone after yesteday's Security Council meeting, but we don't want to get Omar too nervous while he's seriously thinking about his next move (which is hopefully headin' for the exit).

Today I found some very interesting historical and cultural information on Sudan and ancient Nubia, the Pyramids at Meroe, history of the indigenous tribes of Sudan, and all kinds of really fascinating stuff I want to share with you in the next weeks. It should help throw some more light on the country and its peoples, much of it fascinating. It's part of my own "Carrot and Stick Strategy" for Omar and the Gang. In the meantime, checkout the latest news links below. BBC's Barnaby Philips piece is a real laugh, but follow down the path he has so skillfully laid out in the story for some real historical and cultural surprises. Ciao.

CNN: U.N. Envoy Reports Militias Still Killing Folks
CNN: Interview with the Prez of Sudan, Christianne Gets Cozy with Omar over lunch. Note: I saw this interview on CNNI - Europe August 12th. President Omar al-Beshir was not a happy camper during this interview. Must've been the smell of death from the refugee camps in Darfur still clinging to Christianne's clothing or something.

Sudan Rejects Darfur Peace Force (What did you expect?)
BBC: Spotlight on Sudan's Red Tape by Barnaby Philips

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Time is up, Omar!

The latest deadline given to the GoS (Government of Sudan) by the United Nations expired on the 30th of August. I was tempted on that day to begin raging and ranting again about the continuation of atrocities by the Sudanese Army and Police and the Janjaweed Militias against the people of Darfur, but I decided to wait and follow the developing news reports made available by a myriad of institutions and international agencies.

It's a good idea (sometimes) to wait and get all of the facts you can before you criticize and condemn people about a situation as dire and serious as that in Darfur. Taking the time to read reports and news articles can be helpful in understanding what is going through the minds of people like Omar al-Beshir and his many henchmen and international supporters. However with the regime in Khartoum you can get the same insights on how their minds work by reading Stephan King or the psychiatric profiles of famous mass murderers throughout history.

So I have read hundreds of pages and watched hours of Live TV news reports over the past few months. And after all of that reading and watching and hoping and praying I keep coming up empty on Omar's point of view. All that I can see and understand is that we have another outlaw criminal regime led by some self-serving despot idiot deadbent on murdering and slaughtering people in Africa. Below are some new links to the latest news and reports on the Crisis in Darfur. Perhaps you (my readers) can find something positive about the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed Militias that I have missed___ I just can't find anything like that. Sorry.

CSM on the China / Russia connection: Sudan's Key Ties at the U.N.
HRW latest scathing reports on Sudan:
Crisis in Darfur jumpage
BBC article w/ Security Council Report:
Deal to Boost Darfur Aid
BBC articles: Sudan's Lost Boys and The Lost Girls of Sudan
International Crisis Group (ICG) latest report: Darfur Deadline

Today the U.N. Securtiy Council is supposed to meet in order to decide what are the next steps to take in regards to Sudan. Mr. Kofi Annan and the U.S. government and the African Union and zillions of people around the world (especially black folks) want to see some serious protection put into place for the peoples of Darfur and refugees in eastern Chad, now. Right Now! Since this is the U.N. Security Council we are talking about, don't expect much in terms of a United World Community Front against Genocide and Slavery. Just check their track record, 'aint much hope there.

So I am going to wait some more before I lash out at Omar and his boyz. Perhaps a miracle will happen today on Manhattan's east-side at the U.N. I am real interested to find out what the 15 member council will do, to see who will truly stand up for justice on behalf of the peoples of Darfur and people throughout the continent of Africa____ and who will stand up only for their own self-serving exploitive interests and historically-proven murderous greed.

I want to also call attention to the excellent reporting on Darfur by the journalists Hilary Anderson of the BBC and Christianne Ammanpour of CNN and the many professional photojournalists, humanitarian organization workers, and even civic leaders who have worked so hard to get the story of the Crisis in Darfur out into the open for the World. Thank you from those who care.

Time is up Omar! Your time to get it together has expired, buddy.