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Hostile Intent Technology April 14, 2007

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The Department of Homeland Security is developing new biophysical sensors and detectors designed to detect “hostile intent” on the part of people crossing borders.

The novel program, named “Hostile Intent,” is geared towards detecting and gauging physiological and behavioral indications of deception and bad intentions. These include signs of nervousness, such as body head, perspiration and certain facial movements.

Source: prisonplanet.com

It is not clear what part the new screening technology will play in the overall decision on whether a person would be allowed to enter the country. It is worth noting that a number of physiological conditions, such as hypo- and hyperglycemia could mimic some of the symptoms of “hostile intent.”

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Ethiopia Accused of Genocide in Somalia April 14, 2007

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The Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia’s transitional government today accused Ethiopia of genocide through its intervention in Somalia.

The accusations came from Hussein Aideed – a former Somali warlord who is the deputy prime minister of the transitional government.

Ethiopia dismissed Mr Aideed’s comments as an absolute fabrication.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Aideed is highly placed in the transitional government and as Robert Walker notes in this report, his statements are in effect a measure of the dissatisfaction and disunity within the provisional government. Ethiopia invaded Somalia in December to dislodge the Union of Islamic Courts. But the opposition is growing and now it includes:

militias from the Hawiye clan – and they are supported by a groundswell of popular anger towards the Ethiopians.

Many in Mogadishu are opposed to any foreign military presence – and view neighbouring Ethiopia in particular as a longstanding rival.

An offensive by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu last month has only increased that opposition.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

The Ethiopians promised to be out in a matter of weeks, but show no signs of drawing down troops after five months of gritty urban warfare.

Tags: warlord | transitional | opposition | Minister | Government | genocide | ForeignAffairs | Deputy | Comments | arrived | accused | Somalia | somali | Politics | Mogadishu | HUSSEIN | Foreign Affairs | ethiopian | ethiopia | Aideed

Chavez: Castro Nearly 100% April 13, 2007

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Like the rumors of Mark Twain’s death, the early reports of Fidel Castro’s demise appear to have been exaggerated. Reports from Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Foreign Minister indicate that the chief is almost well, although they are not too specific as to what that means.

Almost totally recovered is the very reliable information that I keep receiving,” Mr. Chavez said.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Roque, travelling in Vietnam, said Mr. Castro had improved steadily

Source: theglobeandmail.com

It is important to consider the source here, but the Cuban transition cannot come fast enough for Castro’s enemies, and will not be as abrupt as his friends might have feared.

Tags: Walks | Totally | leader | illness | ForeignAffairs | VENEZUELAN | Venezuela | president | Politics | hugo | friday | Fidel | cuban | Cuba | chavez | castro | Caracas

Zimbabwe Journalist Slain April 7, 2007

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Police in Zimbabwe’s capital city have opened a murder investigation into the death of independent journalist Edward Chikombo, whose body was found March 31. Chikombo  died from injuries inflicted by an unknown assailant.

, a cameraman who had left his position at the state run television network for the more perilous career of freelancing, may have been the source of many of the images of Zimbabwe’s unrest recently appearing in the world’s media. He was rumored to be the source of the footage of the assaulted opposition leader Morgan Tsavangirai. Those photographs, some from the intensive care ward where Tsavangirai ended up for a suspected skull fracture, helped to bring unprecedented scrutiny to the political unrest. That Chikombo helped to get the word out has not been confirmed by Zimbabwe officialdom:

No confirmation was available on reports Chikomba, who left the state broadcaster in 2002, had sold footage of last month’s political unrest to foreign media organisations, including images of the injuries of assaulted opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other pro-democracy activists.

Source: int.iol.co.za

Gift Phiri, another independent journalist, was freed on bail on Thursday and according to his lawyer was tortured while in custody. He is now undergoing tests.

Phiri was charged with writing “falsehoods” and working as a journalist without a government license and for The Zimbabwean and for writing for an unnamed online news service.

Tags: injuries;censorship; | Bvudzijena | Reports | police | Media | ASSAULTED | Zimbabwe | Politics | march | HARARE

The U.S . in Secret Ethiopian Jails April 5, 2007

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With financial and military support from the United States, Ethiopia invaded Somalia in December, 2006. The objective was to dislodge the Islamic Courts Union from the country and to move toward elections. But involvement extended beyond money and helicopter gunships to interrogations in secret Ethiopian prisons. Anthony Mitchell reports:

CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaida militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

Source: guardian.co.uk

According to Mitchell, “Human rights groups, lawyers, and several Western diplomats believe that “hundreds of prisoners” have been moved illegally from Kenya and Somalia to Ethiopia, ” where they are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families.”

The U.S. admits interrogations took place, but maintains that under a hundred prisoners were interrogated within the confines of applicable law.

Related Links:

Ethiopia Somalia Timeline

Somalia’s Islamic Courts

Tags: torture | terrorism | Suspects | prisons | Notorious | MILITANTS | Lawyers | investigation | INTERROGATING | hunting | countries | al-Qaida | Agents | according | Abuse | Somalia | Politics | Nairobi | Kenya | horn | ethiopia | Associated | Africa

Coffee Wars: Ethiopia Vs. Starbucks April 3, 2007

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The Ethiopian government filed patent applications in 2005 to trademark the names of their world-famous coffee, and this week Ethiopia announced it would issue invitations to build a distribution network of distributors and promoters. The government claims that having the trademark will allow groups of growers to negotiate with buyers directly. Starbucks has been enthusiastically trying to hold on to the right to bargain with individual farmers. The combination trademark/union Ethiopian plan could change the way many commodity producers, some of the poorest people in the world, do business:

Ethiopia is looking to trademark coffees in the EU to benefit its poor farmers, in the face of opposition from Starbucks in the U.S.

The Ethiopian move provides lessons for an African market that could be worth billions of dollars.

Source: allafrica.com

Tags: Trademark | opposition | Looking | farmers | Benefit | Yirgacheffe | Starbucks | sidamo | Politics | Japan | harar | ethiopian | ethiopia | coffee | Canada | brings | Aroma

Ending Mugabe’s Threats April 2, 2007

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Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsavangiri regards President Robert Mugabe as a threat, and with good reason. Mugabe’s thugs gave him a merciless beating which resulted in a fractured skull and a beside news conference that brought Zimbabwe to the world’s front pages. Tsavangirai wants South Africa to end Mugabe’s threats.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on South Africa’s leader to act quickly and decisively to halt political violence in his country

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Mugabe acknowledged Tsavangiri’s first beating, but said “he asked for it.”

Tags: decisively | violence | opposition | leader | Halt | called | Zimbabwe | tsvangirai | Sa | president | Politics | movement | MORGAN | Johannesburg | DEMOCRATIC | Africa

Zim Meeting Disappoints: Mugabe Endures March 30, 2007

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The SADC emergency meeting on the Zimbabwe crisis is winding up, and Robert Mugabe is pleased with the results. Although he reportedly received a behind the scenes scalding over his mismanagement of Zimbabwe’s economy and the latest wave of human rights abuses, the dictator came out better than many had hoped and predicted:

Leaders of 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) have called on the West to lift sanctions on the Zimbabwean government and urged negotiations between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Source: zimbabwejournalists.com

Having passed what many thought would be a trial by fire, Mugabe today faces critics back home in a politburo meeting. He goes to the meeting not with the backing of the SADC members, but still with their qualified support and no firmly backed regional time lines for change. But what appears as a mild degree of criticism from SADC is still a slight deviation from the usual compliments and unqualified support that Mugabe has received in the past. Mbeki has tried to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis before, to little avail. Much depends on his effectiveness now, but it is hard to see what will make this time different, other than the SADC endorsement, the power of which is now strictly rhetorical.

Mugabe is a past master at political survival, and now he has all the time he needs to bring his party into line. His critics in ZANU-PF would do well to be wary. This would not be the first time Mugabe has escaped from a corner.

Tags: urged | Sanctions | opposition | Negotiations | Government | dialogue | CALLS | ZIMBABWEAN | Zimbabwe | ZANU | tsvangirai | tanzania | southern | Sadc | president | Politics | Mugabe | movement | HARARE | Development | DEMOCRATIC | Community | African

SADC : Tough,Soft, and Smart with Mugabe March 30, 2007

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Discontent with Robert Mugabe’s chaotic rule over Zimbabwe was almost  strong enough to break a wall of traditional silence today at the emergency summit on Zimbabwe today. Regional leaders criticized Mugabe, but he was allowed to edit an important communique.  South Africa’s President Mbeki will mediate talks between ZANU-PF and the opposition .

The leaders strongly condemned Mugabe behind closed doors and Mugabe was uncomfortable with a harsh communique prepared earlier and had it softened after he said it will please the western countries and the leaders bowed to his demands to issue a statement that was favorable to his position as a president.

Source: zimdaily.com

Public criticism is still muted, but change is on the agenda. South Africa will offer Mugabe a negotiated out if at all possible, and will prepare the country for elections.

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Zim Leader Released: Nine Others Arrested March 29, 2007

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The Zimbabwean police have released high profile opposition leader Morgan Tsavangirai, but have detained at least nine other opposition members in a campaign against “terrorism”.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader was freed from several hours in police custody, but nine others detained in a raid were charged Thursday in what the government alleged was a terror campaign, opposition officials said.

Source: washingtonpost.com

In a report for the Associated Press, Angus Shaw writes from Harare that the government claims to have discovered to have discovered  “explosives, detonators, and two handguns” at the homes of two of the arrested opposition leaders. The Movement for Democratic Change  claims that police planted the weapons in an ongoing smear campaign.

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