Call for release of the US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi

first_imgNews Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said at a press conference yesterday that she had been “arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in detention in Evin prison,” adding that he did not know in which section of the prison she was located. Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020 IranMiddle East – North Africa Call for Iranian New Year pardons for Iran’s 21 imprisoned journalists Follow the news on Iran RSF_en Saberi’s arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States on 1 March as a result of a call it received from her father on 10 February. The day after the NPR report, the Iranian authorities confirmed she was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison but did not say what she was charged with, although foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working “illegally” in Iran. “Saberi’s arrest is a violation of both Iranian law and international legal standards,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Her lawyers must be told the reasons for her detention and must be allowed to visit her. We urge the Iranian authorities to say what charges have been brought against her and to release her pending an investigation, as laid down in the law.” March 4, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Call for release of the US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the detention of Roxana Saberi, a journalist with American and Iranian dual citizenship. The date of her arrest and exactly where she is being held are not yet known. Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she has not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and information as she did not have press accreditation. “Her writings were just personal notes and comments about cultural and literary subjects with a view to writing a book about Iran,” he said, adding that “she had been concentrating since 2006 on studying Farsi and Iranian culture at a Tehran university.” IranMiddle East – North Africa Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has lived for the past six years in Iran, where worked as a stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News. Newscenter_img June 11, 2021 Find out more News It is very common in Iran for journalists and bloggers to be arrested arbitrarily and held in unknown locations. Blogger Hossein Derakhshan, for example, has been held in an unknown location since 1 November. His arrest was confirmed by Jamshidi, the judicial authority spokesman on 30 December, after it had already been reported in the media. At his press conference yesterday, Jamshidi said he had “no precise information on the subject of Hossein Derakhshan.” to go further News June 9, 2021 Find out more Iran is stepping up pressure on journalists, including foreign journalists, in run-up to election Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the detention of Roxana Saberi, a journalist with American and Iranian dual citizenship. The date of her arrest and exactly where she is being held are not yet known. Several Iranian journalists working for international news media have been interrogated by intelligence ministry agents since December and held in unknown locations. They have been accused of spying and working illegally despite having accreditation. Several of them reported being physically mistreated during interrogation. They and their families are constantly harassed. Help by sharing this information Organisation Receive email alerts March 18, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

New media legislation needed after president vetoes digital TV law

first_img RSF_en ChileAmericas The Digital Terrestrial Television Act received final approval by the Senate on 15 October but its enactment has been halted by the president. The main broadcasting groups aside, its critics have been harsh. The legislation theoretically allocates 40 percent of the new capacity to regional or local broadcasters. However, observers point out that these have no real autonomy. “Most are appendages of the main national broadcasters,” said Mosciatti. “The market will decide.”In the view of officials of the alternative television station Señal 3 La Victoria: “This law is designed only to extend the existing media establishment. There is no redistribution.” Chile’s media oligopoly, which was the target of social protests in 2011, has yet to be overhauled. This will entail the abolition of Pinochet’s legacy, which still haunts the country and its journalists. November 26, 2019 Find out more News News Lost illusionsOn 13 August this year, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination heard testimony from Mireya Manquepillan, the head of Kimche Mapu, a radio station of the indigenous Mapuche community. She spoke of the plight endured by her people, including in the field of news and information. Help by sharing this information Follow the news on Chile to go further July 6, 2020 Find out more News November 26, 2013 – Updated on January 20, 2016 New media legislation needed after president vetoes digital TV law Chile’s outgoing president has vetoed the Digital Television Act, a law that would have opened the way to modest progress in broadcasting in Chile despite being criticized for not going far enough to redistribute frequencies.Reporters Without Borders regards the arguments deployed by the president’s office in a 19 November paper defending the veto as a misuse of the concept of “pluralism” to defend the economic interests of a few at the expense of real pluralism.New broadcast media legislation must be a priority for Chile’s next president, who will be chosen during the second round of the presidential elections that is scheduled for 15 December.Those most affected by the presidential veto are community media because the proposed law would have reserved a portion of the country’s broadcast frequencies for them and for local and regional media. It would also have prevented religious broadcasters from being treated as community media.“This is a disaster for real community media,” said Maria Pia Matta (photo), head of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). “Evangelical groups will be able to use the ‘community broadcaster’ label even if they provide no information. This is a setback both for pluralism and for our status.”The veto also puts paid to a reform under which state-owned Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) would have been given a second frequency at the regional level, which it could have used to broadcast not only its own programming but also content produced locally by those who do not have the resources to broadcast it themselves.As a result, TVN will continue to have just one frequency in the name of “pluralism,” meaning “for the sake of the interests of leading commercial media close to the current government that did not want any reinforcement of the already weak state broadcast sector,” one observer commented.Another controversial effect of the veto will be its limitation of cultural programming to four hours instead of “at least four hours” under the proposed law.“For a vote to override the presidential veto and reinstate the original law, the constitution says you need a quorum of two thirds of the deputies and senators at the moment of voting in each house,” Pia Matta said. “In the face of such a obstacle, the only option is a new law.”_________26.11.2013: Next president must grasp the nettle of media democratisationOn the eve of Chile’s presidential election on 17 November, Reporters Without Borders urges the candidates to give a firm commitment to democratising information and communications. We appeal especially to the two main contenders Michelle Bachelet, who served previously as president from 2006 to 2010, and Evelyn Matthei. Unlike neighbouring countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, Chile never repealed the regulation framework established under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. In the 21 years since the return to democracy, governments run by the Concert of Parties for Democracy, including the one headed by Bachelet, have not reformed the system based on concentrated private ownership, which is anathema to pluralism. The mechanisms that perpetuate such a system must be dismantled urgently. In first place is the government subsidies paid to the print media, of which the duopoly El Mercurio and Copesa – owners of 95 percent of print titles — are the sole beneficiaries. Second is the 1982 general law on communications, passed during the Pinochet era, and its section 36B, which was added later and provides for a custodial sentence for broadcasting on an illegal frequency. This legislation has turned broadcasting into a closed shop, at the expense of small, independent and community-based radio and television stations, which have been waiting for years to be granted official status. The law passed in May 2010, providing for the establishment of community and citizens’ radio broadcasting services, must be applied. The transfer or reallocation of frequencies must also be imposed, since the consortium Iberoamericana Radio Chile, which holds 60 percent of them, refuses to abide by the 2012 agreement between broadcasters and the telecoms regulator Subtel. Reporters Without Borders has submitted these recommendations, as well as the decriminalisation of press offences which is still in abeyance, to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is due to discuss Chile at its Universal Periodic Review session in January and February next year. Will they be taken into consideration? The circumstances do not necessarily point in that direction. News Immediately after she spoke out, the government announced a plan for indigenous radio stations for 2014-2016. “We were promised 30 new stations, a budget of 10 million pesos (about 15,000 euros) and a pilot project at the end of October which Kimche Mapu was to have undertaken,” Manquepillan told Reporters Without Borders. “Since then, there’s been nothing. It was all talk.” During a recent visit to Chile by Reporters Without Borders, Tomas Mosciatti, the manager and co-owner of the radio station Bío Bío, also expressed his concerns: “The 2010 law opened up community radio only slightly and just for those who put out municipal propaganda or preach the Gospel, who are ‘community’ in name only.“In general terms, the radio audience has declined significantly and there is little hope that digital television, which will generate very few new channels, will be its salvation.” ChileAmericas Journalists face archaic sanction of capital punishment in some parts of the world Organisation Receive email alerts Chile: RSF calls for exemplary investigation into Chilean photographer’s murder November 11, 2020 Find out more Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics”last_img read more

US Honors Defense Contractor Killed by FARC in Colombia

first_img Janis was a veteran Soldier with more than three decades of distinguished service, including tours in Vietnam, Korea, Panama and Germany. Three other U.S. citizens who survived the crash landing: Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes were also kidnapped and held hostage by the FARC for more than five years before being rescued by Colombian forces in 2008. By Dialogo April 03, 2013 Janis was praised for the skillful crash landing in rugged jungle terrain that saved the lives of the four-person civilian crew and a Colombian Soldier. Janis and Colombian Army Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz were later kidnapped and murdered by armed members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). center_img Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, presented the Defense of Freedom Medal to the family of Thomas Janis on March 27 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Janis was a U.S. defense-contracted pilot killed by narcoterrorists in the jungles of Colombia in 2003 after an in-flight emergency forced him to crash land a small aircraft during a routine aerial mission to detect cocaine crops over southern Colombia. last_img read more

Freeport Teen 4th Charged in Gym ID Thefts

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A fourth teenager has been accused of working with three others who authorities said broke into fitness club lockers to steal victims’ credit and bank account information across Long Island.Suffolk County police Thursday arrested 17-year-old Kewon Brandon of Freeport on charges of unlawful possession of a skimming device, unlawful possession of personal identification information, assault and petit larceny.Andre Clayton, the first of three 19-year-old suspects previously arrested in the same case, was also charged with additional counts of identity theft Friday.Long Island’s $2 Million-a-year Counterfeiting ProblemPolice said all four broke into lockers at various gyms, used a portable skimmer to steal victims’ credit and debit card information, photographed the victims’ driver’s licenses and then used the personal and account info to clone the credit and debit cards.The teens then allegedly used the cloned cards to buy gift cards and other items at BJ’s Wholesale and Home Depot, police said. Suffolk police said the group is being investigated for identical thefts in Connecticut and New Jersey.Clayton was released without bail after his initial arrest in the case in December. He and Brandon are expected to be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Central Islip on the latest charges along with their codefendants, Latique Oates, of Freeport, Rameez Senior, of St. Albans.last_img read more

Nina Seigelstein: Helping Mothers on Two Continents

first_imgBy Judy O’Gorman AlvarezLITTLE SILVER – As an obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Nina Seigelstein has helped countless women in the Two River area become mothers. This year, Seigelstein began a new trend: Raising funds to help mothers in Sierra Leone, Africa.Dr. Nina Seigelstein, an obstetrician/gynecologist, Danielle Yoos, a scrub technician from Riverview Medical Center, and Dr. Michael Karoly, an ob/gyn, performed gynecologic surgeries at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone, Africa, on a GYN mission in January.Seigelstein founded One World Women’s Health, a nonprofit organization, and is working with Africa Surgery, Inc. to build a maternity ward at Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone.In 2006 Seigelstein, who has volunteered and worked in places such as Kashmir, Ghana, and a Navajo reservation, left her position at a lucrative ob/gyn practice to help women in Sierra Leone, a place with no running water, where residents were recovering from a civil war, and where many women suffer from debilitating and life-threatening conditions such as fistulas, pelvic masses and ruptured uteruses. Many had never seen a doctor, much less a gynecologist.Children and the medical team at Makeni, Sierra Leone.With a little courage and a big heart, Seigelstein, along with two friends who are also doctors, spent two weeks visiting two Sierra Leone hospitals, treating ob/gyn patients and performing surgeries.“This was right after the war and we didn’t know what we were walking into,” Seigelstein says.The doctors’ visit was so unprecedented, it warranted a mention on the radio in Sierra Leone – there are only five ob/gyns in the entire country. Patients came from rural villages miles away and lined up for hours, suffering from everything from fibroid tumors to prolapsed uteruses.Many of the women were having trouble getting pregnant; they had been raped multiple times, had sexually transmitted diseases and were infertile. Some had endured prolonged labors resulting in obstetrical fistulas. Almost all had lived through physical and emotional pain and grief.Dr. Seigelstein, founder of One World Women’s Health, israising money to build a maternity ward in a Sierra Leonehospital.Mindful to be sensitive to various Christian, Muslim and tribal beliefs, and with the help of translators and gestures, the doctors communicated with a variety of languages, including English, Portuguese, Creole, Pidgin English and multiple tribal languages.At Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Seigelstein found medical personnel willing to help and women in desperate need of care. “The hospital was well run but dirt poor,” she says.  “There was no maternity ward.”Within a year Seigelstein had formulated the plan to build a maternity ward.After establishing One World Women’s Health, a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, Seigelstein, who now works as an assistant surgeon for ob/gyn surgeries at Riverview Medical Center, spread the word to raise money for the building project. She also enlisted other medical professionals to accompany her on ob/gyn missions to Makeni.“We come in for two weeks and operate on as many people as we can safely,” she says.During her most recent mission in January, Seigel­stein, Dr. Michael Karoly, an ob/gyn with a practice in Little Silver and Hazlet, and Danielle Yoos, scrub technician from Riverview Medical Center, performed 22 life-altering gynecologic surgeries in 12 days. They repaired severe uterine prolapses, removed fibroid tumors and performed perineal reconstructions, among countless other procedures.The medical team from the Two River area performed 22 gynecologic surgeries in 12 days.While volunteers travel at their own expense, Riverview Medical Center donated all the surgical supplies.Life is not easy on these missions – there are malaria precautions, unfamiliar dishes and limited cold showers – but the work is rewarding. “None of us slept well,” Seigelstein says. “We’re out of sorts, jet lagged, wrapped in mosquito nets at night.”However, she said, the discomfort is  worth it “because you feel like you can make a change.”The visits can put a strain on the hospital when the doctors arrive because the new patients fill the wards.“We pay for the surgeries and the electricity that we use,” she says. “We don’t want to bankrupt the hospital.”The afflictions that these patients suffer from are a far cry from the cases the doctors treat in their everyday U.S. suburban practices. “These women have far worse problems, and they’ve been living with them for years,” says Seigelstein, who has treated women suffering for 20 years from severely prolapsed uteruses, a condition that occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken, providing inadequate support for the uterus.Since she’s been involved with Holy Spirit Hospital, Seigelstein says there has been slow progress. Water is still pumped from a well, limited electricity is run on generators, but there’s hope. The hospital now can accommodate doctors who arrive on a rotating schedule to perform reconstructive surgeries, treat orthopedic injuries and war injury burns.Women in Sierra Leone suffer from one of the highest mortality rates in the world.With the help of Inger Nielsen, a Danish midwife from Massachusetts, the foundation has built a relationship with the Midwifery School of Makeni, which just graduated its first class. The new midwives will be a welcome addition to the maternity ward. In addition, arrangements are being made with Tufts Medical Center in Boston, to establish a program to bring rotating ob/gyn residents and medical students to the hospital.In the meantime, Seigel­stein has shared her stories and photos of the women of Makeni and One World Women’s Health with many area residents who have made donations. The first phase of construction of the maternity ward is beginning and Seigelstein looks forward to her next visit.“It takes courage for these women to come to a hospital that you don’t understand and have strangers operate on you,” she says.The women, who live in leaf and mud huts that wash away every rainy season, often live continuously with pain and loss. “There’s a feeling of resignation among the women.”Seigelstein says she watched mothers who have just lost their newborns struggle only briefly. “They’re so used to death being a part of life. They know you’re just supposed to move on.” Women in Sierra Leone suffer from one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.“I know I’m looking at them through Western eyes and I see a lot of strength,” Seigelstein says. “It feels very good to help them.”For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to help make a life-changing difference in a mother’s life, visit read more

RBR Will Offer Afternoon Pre-School Program Fall 2016

first_imgLITTLE SILVER – Red Bank Regional (RBR) has announced it will double the pre-school capacity in its Little Bucs Preschool program by adding an afternoon session next fall. The program is free of charge to residents in the RBR sending-school towns of Little Silver, Red Bank and Shrewsbury, as well as surrounding towns, in conjunction with the high school’s Early Childhood Development Program. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2016-2017 school year. The tentative start date is Oct. 5, and runs through the first week of June 2017. If interested, contact preschool director Susan Eads at: [email protected] or call 732-842-8000 ext. 331. Please provide your name, your child’s name and age, your email, phone number and address.The ratio of student teachers to pre-schoolers will be one-to-one. There is a one-time activities fee of $125 to fund holiday events, photos, and school outings. The morning session runs from 8:45 to 10:20 a.m. The afternoon session runs from 11:50 a.m. to 1:25 p.m.Eads, an RBR Family and Consumer Science teacher states, “The program provides a mutual benefit for both ends of the age spectrum. The high school students get an incredible hands-on teaching opportunity while the preschoolers receive a wonderful early-learning and socialization experience. A strong bond develops between the children and the high school students and I am always impressed by the leadership and creativity of my students in their role as teachers. And, of course, it is a joy working with the children!”last_img read more


first_imgTARA’S TANGO: Owned and bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Stables, LLC, this 4-year-old filly by Unbridled’s Song broke slowly, attended the pace and went on to a convincing half length win in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Santa Maria Stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer here on Feb. 13. Off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares, Tara’s Tango has been favored in five out her nine starts. With three wins to her credit, the Santa Margarita will be her first Grade I assignment, and like Taris, her first attempt beyond a mile and a sixteenth. ARCADIA, Calif. (March 16, 2016)–Sharp local stakes winners Taris and Tara’s Tango take on eastern invader Penwith as a competitive field of seven older fillies and mares will contest the 79th running of the Grade I, $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles this Saturday at Santa Anita.First run in 1935, the prestigious Santa Margarita has been won by some of America’s greatest distaffers, including: Busher (1945); Two Lea (1950); Bug Brush (1959); Silver Spoon (1960); Gamely (1968); Princessnesian (1969); Turkish Trousers (1972); Tizna (1974 & 75); Taisez Vous (1978); Glorious Song (1980); Lady’s Secret (1986); Bayakoa (1989 & 90); Paseana (1992 & 94); Azeri (2002), and Zenyatta (2010). PENWITH: Based in South Florida and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Penwith comes off an impressive three length win in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Feb. 13 and is bidding for her third consecutive victory. A 5-year-old mare by Bernardini, she is owned by Godolphin Racing, LLC and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith. Best suited when she presses or makes the early lead, Penwith is one of several who figure to ensure a lively early pace on Saturday. With one win from five starts at a mile and one eighth, she has five wins from 13 starts and has earnings of $404,635.THE GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA STAKES FIELD IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTSRACE 9 (of 11)                                    Approximate post time, 4:35 p.m. PDTLiving The Life – Flavien Prat – 118Tara’s Tango – Rafael Bejarano – 118Penwith – Mike Smith – 118Lavender Chrissie – Victor Espinoza – 118Moyo Honey – Drayden Van Dyke – 118All Star Bub – Martin Pedroza (Alt) – 118Taris – Gary Stevens – 118First post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at    10:30 a.m.center_img TARIS: Trained by Simon Callaghan, this 5-year-old mare by Flatter followed up on her 2 ½ length score in the Grade III, one mile Go For Wand Handicap Nov. 27 at Aqueduct with a rousing 5 ¼ length win here in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles La Canada Stakes Jan. 16. A multiple graded stakes winner sprinting, Taris has an abundance of tactical speed and appears to be at the peak of her powers. Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier, Taris will be ridden back by Gary Stevens, who has guided her to a pair of stakes wins from five engagements that include a close third in the Grade I, seven furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint three starts back on Oct. 31. She has seven wins from 11 starts and earnings of $807,700.last_img read more

SA swimmers on song in World Cup

first_imgLe Clos, who won gold in the 100m and 200m butterfly at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona in August, claimed another three gold medals in Dubai, but was pushed all the way by Thomas Shields of the USA in the 100m butterfly. In a very tight race, the South African star emerged victorious by just two-hundredths of a second in a time of 49.14 seconds. South Africa’s Roland Schoeman occupies sixth place on the log with 147 points, followed by fellow South African Myles Brown, in seventh, on 105 points. A rare lossIn Doha, Le Clos suffered a rare loss to Thomas Shields in the 100m butterfly as the American set a United States record of 48.80 seconds, with Le Clos in second in 49.05. Brown was third in a very competitive 200m freestyle, only 11-hundredths-of-a- second behind the winner, Pawel Korzeniowski. and one-hundredth behind Robert Hurley. South African recordMyles Brown smashed Ryk Neethling’s South African record for the 1 500 metres, clocking 14:36.19 to defeat Oussama Mellouli and Gregorio Paltrinieri, who had got the better of him in Dubai. He was edged out of a third title by Vladimir Morozov, who lifted the 50m freestyle crown in 21.03, with Schoeman second in 21.04. Schoeman, who remains one of the world’s top sprinters at the age of 33, won by almost a second in the 50m breaststroke, clocking 25.96 to second placed Hendrik Feldwehr’s 26.95. Comfortable victoryIn the 200m individual medley, Le Clos enjoyed a comfortable victory, even though he was down on Kenneth To after 150 metres. A typically fast finish, though, took the Olympic champion in the event to the title in 1:53.21, with To in second in 1:54.68. Roland Schoeman, however, once more defeated Le Clos over the 50 metres distance, winning their butterfly showdown by the narrowest of margins, one- hundredth-of-a-second, in 22.27 seconds. The 21-year-old from Durban enjoys a convincing lead at the top of the standings, with 332 points to his name. Russia’s Vladimir Morozov is in second place with 240 points, followed by Kenneth To of Australia on 192. Three South Africans are in the top 10 of the overall rankings of the Fina Swimming World Cup after back-to-back events in Dubai and Doha, which ended on Monday, with Chad le Clos in first place. 23 October 2013 Myles Brown appeared on the podium three times after second place finishes behind Robert Hurley in the 200m and 400m freestyle and third behind Gregorio Paltrinieri and Oussama Mellouli in the 1 500m. Schoeman again held the edge over his younger rival in the 50m butterfly, capturing the title in 22.30 to the 22.41 of Le Clos, who placed second again. The South African quickly bounced back to winning ways in the 200m individual medley, taking victory in 1:53.32. He also added another win in the 200m butterfly in a time of 1:50.39. Schoeman also went unchallenged in the 50m breaststroke once more, finishing well clear of Florent Manadou 25.89 seconds. World Cup stopsThree more World Cup stops are scheduled – in Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing – and take place within the space of 10 days, starting on 5 November and finishing on 14 November. He was dominant in the 200m butterfly, touching the wall in 1:49.07 after a blistering final 50 metres, to win by more than two second over Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski and finish only three-hundredths-of-a-second outside of the world record he set in Eindhoven in August. He was also second to Hurley in the 400 metres, narrowly missing out on Ryk Neethling’s national record over the distance.last_img read more

Electrify Africa: bringing light to the dark continent

first_img“So, a light where currently there is darkness; the energy needed to lift people out of poverty — that’s what opportunity looks like,” President Obama said launching his Power Africa initiative. (Image: • Andrew Herscowitz Co-ordinator USAid [email protected] • New African energy projects leapfrog outdated technologies • Cooperation, trade and education key to Africa’s success – Coleman • Global perceptions key to competitiveness and foreign investment • Simple solar solution for rural Africa • Middle class Africa: meet the new African consumerSulaiman PhilipEarly in May, a year after being introduced in the US House of Representatives, the Electrify Africa Bill, HR 2548, passed with support from Democrats and Republicans. This is just the first hurdle in the bill becoming law, but it is a step closer to providing power to 500 million Africans by 2020.The Electrify Africa Bill is one of the first programmes in President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. The American plan – in co-operation with international and African business, the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank and African governments – envisions a continent generating enough electricity to provide light and power for all its inhabitants.As Africa’s economy grows and its population multiplies, a lack of electricity is stunting development. For the seven out of 10 Africans – 589 million people – who do not have access to any electricity, a reliable supply would really change their lives. It would allow communities to create more jobs through a flourishing private sector, make it possible for students to study long after dark and for hospitals to safely store lifesaving vaccines and expand the reach of medical services.Without access to electricity, Africans are forced to pay ever larger percentages of their income on expensive and unhealthy alternatives. Diesel fumes running generators have increased the rate of respiratory disease and uncontrolled harvesting of wood has increased the rate of deforestation on the continent. The dark continent, this graphic shows power use across the globe today. (Image: modelWhen he announced the programme in a speech at the University of Cape Town in June 2013, Obama said: “We are moving beyond the simple provision of assistance, foreign aid, to a new model of partnership between America and Africa, a partnership of equals that focuses on your capacity to solve problems, and your capacity to grow.”At least $7-billion (about R73-billion) has been earmarked by the US government in loan guarantees, financial support and the cost of the support and expertise of 12 American government agencies. The International Energy Agency says that it will take $300-billion in investment to supply all of Africa with a safe, regular power supply. Ideally small businesses as well as large corporations should benefit from the American investment but language in the Electrify Africa legislation and the Power Africa initiative is loaded in favour of multinationals.The programmes will be run by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic), an independent government agency set up to advance US foreign policy by aiding American corporations to invest in new or difficult markets.Africa is a minefield of regulations and legal frameworks governing the use of natural resources. Companies have very often been shy of doing business in some African markets because local standards of good governance have not provided the transparency required and have meant they run the risk of sanctions under European and American foreign trade practice legislation. In essence, it means a chief executive could be held legally responsible if his company knew of or could reasonably expected to know that profits and royalties from their operations were being diverted to enrich a few connected individuals.Legislation issuesThe Power Africa initiative is designed to smooth the legal and legislative path for western corporations. Projects certified by Opic, it is believed, will ensure that the people of Africa enjoy the benefits of oil, gas and green energy powered projects.Andrew Herscowitz, the Power Africa co-ordinator, explains that the involvement at government level has made it easier for projects to get off the ground. He points to a project in Tanzania that almost died. “The standard length of Tanzanian power purchasing agreements was 15 years, short enough to give many investors cold feet. With some pressure from Power Africa and from other donors, the government agreed to extend the term from 15 years to 25 years.”One, an advocacy group founded by Irish singer Bono, has spoken out against an understaffed Opic and its one size fits all policy, especially when it comes to investment in Africa. The group has expressed concerns that the Electrify Africa legislation, while acknowledging the viability of renewable energy in Africa, is weighted to give large corporations an easier path to new reserves of oil and gas in Africa.The group points out that the bill highlights green and off the grid projects but just $2-million has been allocated to the latter; and just 0.3% of the overall budget is allocated to preparation and development of renewable energy projects. One would like to see more resources and investment directed towards alternative energy sources. By tapping into green sources of energy – sun, wind, water or heat from the Earth’s core and Africa’s untapped natural gas supplies – power generation could be immediate.Traditional versus renewablesFor now, Opic is concentrating on large traditional projects that require the construction of infrastructure. These are projects that take years and huge investment before any power is generated.Ben Leo, an analyst at the Centre for Global Development and a former director of African affairs at the White House, has argued for time for the staff running the Power Africa project to find its feet. Some African governments – Tanzania, which is enjoying a boom in natural gas discoveries, and Nigeria, which is heavily dependent on oil, for instance – are not willing to listen to arguments for clean options. “If the Power Africa initiative is going to meet its generation and access targets, then it’ll need to take a flexible approach. That means supporting renewables in some places and non-renewable in other places.”As the US and its large corporations compete with China for influence in Africa, many NGOs have expressed concerns that gigantic energy corporations have influenced the investment choices made by Opic. Moving away from innovative green technologies will affect rural communities the most, according to Innovation: Africa, an Israeli NGO that is electrifying rural schools and clinics using solar power.The group said that Power Africa was “a ‘win-win’ – helping to combat energy poverty while providing new investment opportunities for US businesses but small, innovative projects that could bring power to communities off the grid, which is especially important since rural populations are worse off in terms of electricity access, should not be neglected”.Going geothermal in EthiopiaThe Ethiopian town of Corbetti is the first site to benefit from the US plan to leverage private sector expertise to build power grids across Africa. The Corbetti geothermal project is a partnership between the Ethiopian government and the Icelandic company Reykjavik Geothermal and will be among the largest geothermal projects in the world. Once completed, it should generate 1 000MW of power in a country that generates just 2 000MW through its hydroelectric facilities.For Ragassa Sekako, who faces a six-hour trek to get clean water from Lake Awassa, the geothermal project holds the promise of clean water on tap in Corbetti. It will mean electrically powered appliances to cook with and light to study by after dark. “This project will benefit the people. We hope they are going to build a road and bring us jobs as well.”  For the people of Corbetti the Power Africa geothermal project would mean an end to a 6 hour trek to clean water. (Image: USAid)last_img read more

Guts ‘N’ glory: Gagan makes nation proud, fetches first medal for India

first_imgManisha Malhotra, CEO, Mittal Champions TrustThe monkey is finally off our back. At least the critics can rest for a few days since Gagan has silenced the entire nation?for now! His stellar performance under immense pressure does alleviate a little bit of the pressure that was building up around the Indian contingent.Since we don’t come from a contingent that wins too many medals, every medal provides a huge boost in momentum for the other athletes and makes them relax a little that they don’t have to win the nation its first medal. There is a new sense of purpose around the athletes and seeing Gagan Narang deliver has made them believe they can, too. This is something that has been imperative for successful games for the Indian contingent. The interesting fact is that the Air Rifle–the 10m kind–has won us our biggest medals in the last two Olympics. So what is the secret to our success?It is not a main stream sport that people would have probably heard of before Abhinav Bindra, so how come we are managing to beat world results? While there are several interesting scenarios out there, that the sport doesn’t require that much physical prowess (which is not true), or that it is a precision sport and we are very good at precision sports (so why didn’t we ever win before?), and other off-the-wall ones like our athletes practise this sport full time and everywhere else (except China) they have to supplement it with a day job. The truth, however, is that we actually have depth. Not only do the 10m nationals attract more than 200 entries, we now have a healthy rivalry among the competitors. There is nothing that can motivate an athlete more than competition and this is the precise scenario with both Gagan and Abhinav who have been pushing each other to higher limits.advertisementThey now set their sights on bigger and loftier goals that in turn raise the level of their games. That is the reason we are have been able to get a steady stream of results over the last 7 years in the Air Rifle event. Maybe the other sports need to take a page out of this book and start creating more players who can challenge the game. It is only then that we will have a sustainable and steady cycle of results.Well done, Gagan?you have made a nation proud.last_img read more