Saturday, May 17, 2003
This doesn't have anything particularly to do with Africa, but I think it's pretty cool:
General Electric Co. is injecting some pinstriped corporate muscle into the still evolving world of wind power.

A year after its purchase of Enron Corp.'s wind turbine business, GE expects the operation to generate more than $1 billion in revenue this year and expand about 20 percent annually. GE Wind Energy has landed several major orders, including turbines for a project that would be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

I'm still not sure I understand the economics of wind power very well. I think in most countries (probably including the US) wind power has to be heavily subsidized in order to remain competitive. This piece published by GE mainly glosses over the economic issues, although GE probably wouldn't be in the business if they didn't think they could make money. It notes that wind power is expected to account for 6% of US production in 2020. Also it says that GE's largest wind turbine (1.5 MW) is 330 feet tall with a rotor diamer of 231 feet! I had no idea they were so big. Here's the website for GE's Wind Energy division.

Who's distracted? The war on terrorists continues in East Africa:
U.S. and British marines today combed Kenya's borders with Somalia and Sudan and monitored Western targets here in the capital as fears of an attack by a suspected al Qaeda operative caused nervousness at airports, embassies and foreign residences.

In what was described as a low-key but serious mission, an undisclosed number of troops were deployed to Kenya from posts in Djibouti and elsewhere around the Horn of Africa.

In Nairobi, home to more than 50,000 Westerners, U.S. Marines in plain clothes could be seen in the vicinity of embassies and so-called soft targets, including foreign residences clustered in several upscale neighborhoods and an outdoor shopping center frequented by Westerners. More than 1,800 U.S. troops are operating in the Horn of Africa as part of an anti-terrorism task force.

And West Africa:
David Crane, the American prosecutor for the Special Court on Sierra Leone, said in an interview that Taylor poses a threat not just to West Africa but to the rest of the world. Crane, a former inspector general at the Pentagon and assistant general counsel for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said his investigations of Sierra Leone's civil war had uncovered evidence of al Qaeda's network operating in West Africa, principally to buy diamonds.

"Diamonds fuel my conflict, and diamonds fuel the war on terrorism," Crane said. "Charles Taylor is harboring terrorists from the Middle East, including al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and has been for years. It is time for the world to know this and who Charles Taylor really is. He is not just a regional troublemaker; he is a player in the world of terror and what he does affects lives in the United States and Europe."

I've posted on Taylor's links with al Qaeda several times before (including here), so it's good to see this getting some high profile attention. Taylor IS the terror master of West Africa (This is the first time I've seen him associated with Hezbollah.) and that makes him an enemy of the United States. My advice: Let's base those NATO troops in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

UPDATE: Then there's also this article which suggests that al Qaeda is moving back to Sudan:
In particular, Al Qaeda has returned to East Africa, where it flourished in the mid-1990's. Two senior counterterrorism officials said the group had begun to train new recruits in Sudan, where American officials have complained they have had limited cooperation from the government in fighting terrorism.

A senior American official said that at least one Qaeda training camp had been established in Sudan perhaps others in recent months.

I hope the guys at the State Department are paying attention to this.

More and more speculation about Mugabe's future:
"We are working on a plan to help Zimbabwe in the transitional period, which will occur within the next eight months at the very latest."

The diplomat added: "President Robert Mugabe might not finish his term of office - that is the information we have in the diplomatic community. In fact, he might step down by the end of the year given the slide the country is experiencing. Our plan is based on this information."
According to diplomats, the international community is prepared to offer an economic package to a transitional government that will be mandated to ensure that Zimbabwe holds free and fair elections that will lead to the "restoration of democracy in the country".

One diplomat said: "Our economic package is based on the need to get Zimbabwe working and that there be stability during the tenure of the transitional period before elections are held."

Under the financial arrangement, international lines of credit would be reopened as a way to trigger inflows of foreign currency into Zimbabwe.

Billions of dollars in international aid? That might be enough to convince Mugabe's supporters that he has become too much of a liability. But the oppostion will still need assurances that they won't be trading one dictator for another.

Head Heeb reports that a bunch of appeasers are attempting to undermine Uganda's war on terrorists:
Foreign aid donors are reportedly insisting that the Ugandan government resume peace talks with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, insisting that the "government must get to the underlying cause of the conflict" rather than pursuing a military solution. I'm not given to hyperbole, but this strikes me as one of the most wrongheaded positions since the United Nations ignored General Dallaire's warning of an incipient genocide in Rwanda.

That sums it up nicely...

Next thing you know, these aid donors will be petitioning the UN to stop the Ugandan massacre of the LRA freedom fighters and send UN peacekeepers to Uganda to support the peace process. Museveni should ignore them, and fortunately for Ugandans, he probably will.

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Britain cancels Kenya flights due to terror warning:
The decision -- taken after a suspected senior al Qaeda member was spotted in neighboring Somalia -- could cripple the region's tourist industry, already hit hard by bombings in Nairobi, Mombasa and Tanzania in recent years.
The U.S. embassy in Nairobi was destroyed by a truck bomb in 1998. Last November, an Israeli-owned resort hotel was blown up in the seaside town of Mombasa and militants fired two missiles that just missed an Israeli charter plane.

The man spotted in Somalia -- Fazul Abdullah Mohammed -- is suspected of masterminding those attacks. A Comoros islander, he is on the United States' list of most wanted suspects.

"Given that this fellow has been sighted in Mogadishu and the information gathered is that he has been coming in and going out (of Kenya), then we have to be on high alert," Kenya's National Security Ministry spokesman Douglas Kaunda said.

There's no telling what this means, but if the reaction is any indication, there must be some fairly specific intelligence. Abdullah Mohammed is definitely a big fish in the African division of al Qaeda. Besides planning the attacks mentioned above, he has also been involved with West African diamond and weapons smugglers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Nick Cohen writes in The Observer about GM foods:
It's too early to be certain, but GM food has been around for about a decade in America and there's an embarrassing shortage of diners dropping dead and genetically modified superweeds rampaging across the prairies. Last week, the Royal Society, Britain's national academy of science, told the Government's review of GM crops that there was no evidence that they created allergic reactions or damaged health or reduced the nutritional quality of food. I would guess that the scientists failed to convince a single discerning eater. Just as the wised-up were certain that computers were going to crash at one minute past midnight on New Year's Day 2001, so they are now certain that GM food is unsafe and inferior.

I wonder how these issues will be handled when it comes to liberalizing agricultural trade...

(Via The Corner.)

In oil news, ExxonMobil is being investigated for paying bribes to the "president" of Equitorial Guinea, supposedly to secure drilling rights.

The BBC also posts these two little stories about why oil is bad...

I wouldn't go so far as to say that oil is always bad, but the abuse of oil resources and oil revenue does seem to be a nasty habit common to many dictators and tyrants. It's especially messy when oil companies start trying to get sweetheart deals with bribes as has apparently been the case in Equitorial Guinea. The French appear to have been pretty good at this sort of thing as well.

Here's a blog written by a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. Drop by and say hi.

The Zimbabwean opposition says that they are nearly ready for a "final push":
Addressing an estimated 20 000 people who thronged the White City Stadium in Bulawayo, Tsvangirai said the party would soon announce a date for mass action against the government, which he said will take the form of street protests.

"For the past three years Zimbabweans have made many sacrifices in the fight for democracy. Some have been killed, others have been arrested or imprisoned. The time has come for everyone, including the suffering Zanu PF members, to get ready to make the final push and finish this business. When we call on you to come out, everyone, except for the sick and elderly, should come out and take for the streets," said Tsvangirai, to deafening applause from the crowd.

The people who are organizing this are putting themselves in danger every day in order to build a better Zimbabwe. It's a degree of bravery and self-sacrifice that's foreign to those of us who have lived our whole lives in freedom and peace. The people of Zimbabwe deserve the support of the rest of the world. Let's hope they receive that.

Here's an update on last month's Somaliland election.

Monday, May 12, 2003
More downward spiral in Zimbabwe:
Shortages of the largest denomination, the 500 Zimbabwe dollar bill, left banks without enough cash for regular withdrawals.

A box of matches costs 15 Zimbabwe dollars, or two U.S. cents at the official exchange rate of 800 Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S. dollar. The black market rate is 1,400-1.
Industrial production is estimated to be 60 percent below capacity as Zimbabwe faces its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980. Inflation has soared to a record 228 percent this year and unemployment is nearly 70 percent.
Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its power requirements.
Foreign aid, investment and loans dried up in protest at political violence, state-orchestrated human rights abuses and disputed presidential elections last year that independent observers said were rigged.

Foreign funding accounted for nearly half the hard currency inflows. The rest came from tobacco harvests, tourism and mining, all now sharply depleted.

Any of those things is bad individually, but together they constitute a crisis. I suppose Mugabe can hang on even in the case of a complete economic meltdown, but one would think it would raise some questions in the minds of other ZANU members.

Well, things in UN-controlled eastern Congo have gotten nasty even faster than I thought they nasty that even Instapundit is blogging about it.

Then there's also this rather silly opinion piece from the Boston Globe:
[T]he massacre in Congo, and the almost totally unseen war that is raging there, raises inevitable questions about when and where the international community should direct its attention. And it provides important perspective on the true reasons for intervention in Iraq -- a war that may have had the effect of improving human rights but clearly was not begun for humanitarian reasons.

If the international community can barely look at, let alone justify, military action to stop the massacres in Congo, then it cannot reasonably claim that Hussein offended the world simply by violating human rights. And all the talk-show hosts who, lacking evidence of weapons of mass destruction, support the Iraq war as a blow for democracy might consider where else the torch of freedom should be carried.

I think what this piece is trying to say is that George Bush does not care as much as he should about human rights. From this perspective, since human rights were cited as a justification for war in Iraq, the US armed forces must go fight everywhere that human rights are violated, simply for the sake of this columnist's idea of consistency.

Speaking of consistency, if I had to guess I'd say that this Boston Globe reporter was screaming two months ago that the blood of 10,000 American casualties in Iraq would be on Bush's he's arguing that we need to rush headlong into a war in the Congo--a much messier proposition than the worst scenarios in Iraq.

Something else sneaky here is the constant references to the "international community." For the record, the international community DID NOT confront Saddam Hussein for violations of human rights or any other reason. In fact, the international community NEVER would have confronted Hussein. Forget Congo -- the UN could "barely look at, let alone justify, military action to stop" Saddam Hussein by military action. Hussein ouster came solely because of self-interested American resolve, decisiveness and excellent execution. The result is that Saddam is gone, and that's something that can be celebrated by Americans and recently freed Iraqis alike.

Now all the sudden this guy's talking about how Saddam offended the "international community" for violating human rights. As I remember it, the international community (the UN at least) bent over backwards to save Saddam, human rights violations and all. The thing that most offended the international community was the "uninlateralist American agression."

So if you're counting on the UN to agressively defend human rights in the Congo or anywhere else, you're bound to be disappointed.

Back in the real world, our president makes foreign policy decisions based on the best interests of the American people, just as all democratically elected leaders must. And when the situation in the Congo is resolved, it won't be through any UN action. Instead, it will be resolved by the decisive and self-interested actions of sovereign states in the region.

One other thing: No one would deny that the current situation in Congo is terrible, but this column does a really bad job of making a case for action. To make matters worse, he even quotes bogus numbers of casualties in the Ituri "massacre." Pretty sad.

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