Jun. 30th, 2011

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Egypt Rejects IMF Conditions

CAIRO, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - Egypt has cancelled plans to borrow 3 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund because of conditions that violated the country’s national sovereignty and a public outcry that warned against terms that were blamed for impoverishing many Egyptians.

According to several Egyptian newspapers, General Sameh Sadeq, member of the country’s ruling military council, said the country turned down the loans, and those under discussion with the World Bank, because there were "five conditions that totally went against the principles of national sovereignty." Gen. Sadeq didn’t detail what these conditions were.

The IMF loan would have made Egypt the first recipient of funding in the Middle East since the so-called Arab Spring movement against Western-backed dictatorships began late last year.

At a Group of Eight summit last month in Deauville, France, the IMF announced that it could make available as much as 35 billion dollars in loans to the countries of the Middle East over the next few years.

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick in May announced 6 billion dollars in funding over the next two years for Egypt and Tunisia, the two countries where the Arab uprisings started, to help the two post-revolutionary nations modernise their economies. Egypt’s share would have been 4.5 billion dollars.

General Sadeq’s statements on Tuesday contradict statements by the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his Finance Minister Samir Radwan, who both served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, that the new loans came with no conditions. Both officials have advocated publicly for more loans to ward off the specter of a budget deficit, a staple argument in many countries for IMF and World Bank loans.MORE


At this point, NO COUNTRY SHOULD BE BORROWING FROM THE IMF. NONE.
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Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Bill

DOHA, Qatar, Jun 29, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - The Greek parliament has passed an austerity package by a slim majority to slash 40 billion dollars off the national debt.

Wednesday's vote saw 155 members of parliament vote in favour, 138 against and five abstentions.

The package of taxes, spending cuts and privatisations has angered many Greeks, with thousands taking to the streets as part of a 48- hour national strike protesting against the bill.

Parliament will hold a second vote on Thursday aimed at changing a law allowing the measures to be implemented.

George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, has said the second bailout will be roughly equal a previous package last year.

Papanderou expelled a Greek ruling party deputy who voted against the austerity packagae.

The five-year austerity package will allow Greece to secure a second bailout of 17 billion dollars of emergency loan funds on top of last year's 157-billion-dollar bailout. MORE


Clearly, the gov't doesn't give a fuck about the will of the people. Next step?
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KAZAKHSTAN:Workers Fight Massive Crackdown

ASTANA, Jun 29, 2011 (IPS) - Workers striking in what has been described as the biggest organised threat to Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime in the last decade are being beaten by hired thugs as the government ignores pleas for basic international labour rights to be observed.

Thousands of workers at gas and oil facilities are protesting, some even mutilating themselves, over what activists have called the exploitation of Kazakh workers in heavy industry projects largely financed by foreign capital the government has been keen to attract in recent years.

But the protests have taken on a wider social significance. Opposition groups have begun to publicly support the workers, and their strike has apparently inspired similar action in different cities across the country.

And there are fears that authorities are muzzling protests and breaching basic human rights following the arrest and continuing incarceration of a lawyer, Natalia Sokolova, who was representing the workers.

International rights groups are now calling on the International Labour Organisation and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to press the Kazakh regime into addressing the workers’ demands.

Lyudmyla Kozlovska of the Open Dialog Foundation which has been campaigning to raise international awareness of the issue, told IPS: "The most important demand of the workers now has become the release of Natalia Sokolova.

"We are afraid that if the workers’ demands are ignored then the social tensions caused by these strikes could turn violent."

The protests began on May 11 when a few hundred workers at the Karazhanbas oil field near Aqtau went on strike. As word spread of their actions, workers at other companies also downed tools. Transportation workers at the nearby OzenMunaiGaz company went on strike, affecting oil deliveries. They have been backed by other miners' and gas workers' unions, and thousands are now on strike.MORE
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via: fyeahafrica Today, June 30th marks the 51st Independence Anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Colonial Rule

Belgium colonized DRC in 1877, when King Leopold II commissioned journalist Henry Morton Stanley to explore the Congo, secure treaties with local chiefs and establish the contacts needed to form a commercial monopoly of the land. Leopold named this area the Congo Free State and immediately began exploiting its natural resources. To keep this colony profitable, torture and execution were used to force native Africans to work in the mines. This oppressive regime was the setting of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness.

Belgian rule in the Congo included missionary efforts to civilize and Christianize native Africans, and many Congolese citizens were educated at the secondary level or higher. In the early 1950s, these educated individuals - known as evolues - became unhappy with how they were being treated and petitioned the colonial government for reform. The evoluee demand for independence erupted into riots in 1959.

Although the Belgian government was reluctant to let go of the Congo’s vast resources, it realized it had neither the force nor the authority to maintain control. At the Brussels Round Table Conference of 1960, the Belgian government granted Congo its independence. In May of that year, national elections were held. Joseph Kasavudu was elected president of DRC, and Patrice Lumumba was named prime minister.

Independence

Congo's government was troubled from the beginning. Merely five days after independence was granted, violent conflict erupted between Belgian and Congolese citizens, as well as among Congolese ethnic groups. Lumumba asked the United Nations to intervene. The U.N. Security Council authorized a military force to remove Belgian troops and restore order to the land. When they were unable to do so quickly, Lumumba asked the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for help. It provided Lumumba's troops with weapons and military training.

Under the guise of fighting the spread of communism, the U.S. backed rebel Mobutu Sese Seko in a military coup that resulted in Lumumba's seizure, torture and execution. Because this move was motivated more by U.S. interests in the vast mineral resources of this area than in securing a peaceful future for DRC, U.S. efforts to establish a stable government after the uprising were half-hearted. So What Happened?
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U.N. Women's Agency Being 'Strangled at Birth'


UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.

But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.

Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.

"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.

Addressing the first regular meeting of the 41-member executive board of UNW early this week, he said: "We must not be oblivious of the fact that activities enumerated in the Strategic Plan need resources."

The Strategic Plan envisages financial requirement of nearly 1.2 billion dollars in 2011-13.

"If we have to ensure that U.N. Women stands for action, the donor community has to make generous contributions to U.N. Women," said Ambassador Puri.
MORE
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2009 The failed promise of aid in Africa: Review of Dead Aid and Ending Aid Dependence

Ama Biney reviews two recent books, united in their call for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency, but with sharply contrasting ideological visions for how to do this and to what end: Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa and Yash Tandon’s Ending Aid Dependence.

What these two books have in common is firstly that they have exceptionally compelling titles for those interested in their subject matter. Secondly, is the obvious fact that they are concerned with aid and Africa. Thirdly, these books will interest those students, policymakers and government officials who ostensibly claim to be interested in eradicating aid. However, this is where their similarities end. The two authors have sharply contrasting ideological visions for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency. This is indisputably on account of their backgrounds. Moyo has worked at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, studied at Harvard and Oxford universities, whereas Tandon is a radical scholar, public intellectual and former director of the South Centre (an intergovernmental think tank of the developing countries). In other words, their different experiences not only inform their analysis of aid, but their wholly differing prescriptive solutions to Africa’s myriad problems, which they agree are rooted in aid dependency.

Both authors eloquently illustrate how aid has failed to deliver the promise of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Africa. Moyo’s caustic attack is greater than Tandon’s. She forcefully argues that not only has aid often been stolen by corrupt governments, it has often been unproductive; it has led to indebtedness and as President Paul Kagame of Rwanda poignantly states, since 1970, much of the US$300 billion allocated to Africa was spent on creating and sustaining client regimes of one type or another, with minimal regard to developmental outcomes on the continent (p. 27). Moyo claims that aid ‘is the silent killer of growth’ (p. 48). In chapter four she gives a cogent critique of the damaging effects of aid in that it reduces savings and investment as a result of the ‘crowding-out effect’ of aid; it discourages private finance capital; causes inflation; stifles the export sector and inculcates an aid dependent psychology in African people (pp.61-66).

On the other hand, Tandon’s ‘aid taxonomy’ is a far greater analytical breakdown of the five different types of aid, compared to Moyo’s simplistic three forms (humanitarian or emergency aid, charity aid and bilateral/multilateral forms of aid). Using a colour classification Tandon identifies purple aid as based on the principle of solidarity; green/blue aid encompasses humanitarian aid and transfer of technical assistance; yellow aid is given on the principle of geo-strategic and security interests; orange aid are concessionary grants given for commercial gain – and in Tandon’s opinion should not be considered as aid – and lastly red aid is given on the basis of ideological principle to influence countries to implement the policies of the Washington Consensus (pp. 18-22). Tandon contends that it is this latter aid that permeates and dominates the kinds of aid given by the DCD-DAC. MORE





2009 Why Aid to Africa must Stop



Ending aid dependence: Asserting national autonomy: Yash Tandon

Read more... )



Humanitarian Aid 101: #1 – Aid cannot and will not fix anything


Read more... )

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