Friday, June 29, 2007


Egypt forbids female circumcision
By Magdi Abdelhadi BBC Arab Affairs Analyst.

Suzanne Mubarak campaigned to ban the practice. Egypt has announced that it is imposing a complete ban on female circumcision, also known as genital mutilation.
The announcement follows a public outcry after a young girl died during the operation.
A ban was introduced nearly 10 years ago but the practice continued to be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
A health ministry spokesman said no member of the medical profession would be allowed to perform the operation in public or private establishments.
Those who broke the law would be punished, the spokesman said.
Psychological violence
The new ban cancels out a provision that allowed the operation to be performed by qualified doctors in exceptional cases only.
But the death of a 12-year-old girl in Upper Egypt a few days ago triggered an angry barrage of appeals from human rights groups to both the government and the medical profession to act swiftly and stamp out the practice.
The doctor who carried out the operation has been arrested.
Egypt's first lady, Susanne Mubarak, has spoken out strongly against female circumcision, saying that it is a flagrant example of continued physical and psychological violence against children which must stop.
The country's top religious authorities also expressed unequivocal support for the ban.
The Grand Mufti and the head of the Coptic Church said female circumcision had no basis either in the Koran or in the Bible.
Recent studies have shown that some 90% of Egyptian women have been circumcised.
The practice is common among Muslim as well as Christian families in Egypt and other African countries, but is rare in the Arab world.
It is believed to be part of an ancient Egyptian rite of passage and is more common in rural areas.
Conservative families believe that circumcision is a way of protecting the girls' chastity.



Olli Heinonen said a timetable had to be agreed by the six nations. The UN's nuclear watchdog says it has reached an "understanding" with North Korea on how it will monitor the closure of a major nuclear reactor.
The head of an International Atomic Energy Agency team said the terms of a deal had been agreed "in principle".
Olli Heinonen said he would report to the IAEA board next week but any further terms had to be agreed by the five nations in talks with Pyongyang.
North Korea agreed in February to shut the plant in return for foreign aid.
The deal was agreed between North Korea and its partners in nuclear disarmament talks - the US, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
The Yongbyon nuclear site, about 100km (65 miles) from the capital, is the centrepiece of North Korea's nuclear programme.


N Korea to "shut down and seal" Yongbyon reactor, then disable all nuclear facilities
In return, will be given 1m tons of heavy fuel oil
N Korea to invite IAEA back to monitor deal
Under earlier 2005 deal, N Korea agreed to end nuclear programme and return to non-proliferation treaty
N Korea's demand for light water reactor to be discussed at "appropriate time"

Mr Heinonen told the AP news agency in Pyongyang that the IAEA had agreed the terms of a deal to monitor Yongbyon's closure.
"We have concluded this understanding, what our monitoring and verification activities are in principle," he said.
He did not give any more details.
He is quoted as saying his team plans to submit its report to the IAEA board next week.
However, he said, the ultimate timing of the reactor's closure would have to be agreed by the six nations involved in the disarmament talks.
"This is for the six parties to decide. You have to ask them the time scale," he is quoted as saying.
'Active obligations'
Mr Heinonen earlier said his team was "satisfied" with a tour of the Yongbyon reactor site.
"We were able to see all of the places we wanted to see. I'm satisfied with the inspection," Japan's Kyodo News agency quoted Mr Heinonen as saying.
"The North Korea side has been extremely co-operative," he said at the conclusion of the two-day inspection.
Pyongyang invited the four-member delegation to discuss details of the closure of the reactor under an international deal agreed in February.
Speaking on Thursday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she hoped for swift action.
"We hope for now rapid progress given the beginning, we believe, of the North Korean efforts to meet their initial action obligations," she said.
Monitoring officials were expelled from Yongbyon in December 2002, after which the reactor went into operation, allegedly producing enough plutonium for up to 12 nuclear devices.



Ivorians mourn royal killed in Iraq
By James Copnall BBC News, Abidjan.

Firmin Emolo, to be buried on Saturday, is one of the most unusual casualties of the war in Iraq.

Specialist Emolo was fondly remembered by his comrades. Specialist Emolo, a member of the 82nd airborne division, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in April - just like hundreds of other US soldiers.
But Emolo's origins, as his name suggests, were not in Detroit or San Francisco, but in Ivory Coast. The 33 year old was a close cousin of Nanan Boa Kouassi III, king of the Agni ethnic group in the east of the West African country.

So how did a member of an Ivorian royal family end his days as a US soldier?
Paratroopers he served with remember him as always vigilant in his duties, one of the most physically fit soldiers, extremely proud to be in the army -Major Gen David T Zabecki.
"Like many of our young men, he went to America to study," explains family friend and local member of parliament Boa Thiemele Edjampan.
"Then he married an American, got American nationality, and joined the military."
Unusually, the US military flew Specialist Emolo's remains back to Ivory Coast, so he could be buried in his home town of Abengourou.
Emolo was not well known in Ivory Coast, but some Ivorians have been surprised to learn that one of their countrymen died in Iraq.
US Major Gen David T Zabecki accompanied the body as it arrived at Abidjan airport and paid tribute to the Ivorian-American soldier.
"As a soldier Specialist Emolo was one of the best.
I will always remember his smile, he had a beautiful smile"-Sabine Emolo.
Other paratroopers he served with remember him as always vigilant in his duties, one of the most physically fit soldiers, extremely proud to be in the army and even prouder of becoming an American citizen."
US soldiers in crisp green uniforms carried his coffin onto a plinth bearing an Ivorian flag, a potent symbol of the young man's dual loyalties.
Some 100 friends and family members wept at the airport gathering, as trumpets played in his honour.
Sabine Emolo, Firmin's sister, spoke, in a voice that trembled slightly with emotion, of the money Firmin sent home to his family, and his pride in being a soldier.
"I can't regret him joining the army," she told the BBC.
"I can only regret that he went so soon."
Dog tags
She insisted that he should be buried in Ivory Coast, a decision the king is thought to have approved of wholeheartedly.
The king lead the tributes to his relative in the death notices in the local newspapers.
"The king is a very important man in Abengourou and throughout all of Ivory Coast," says Mr Thiemele Edjampan.
"Even in the current political situation, when the king says something it is very important, because it is always for peace and reconciliation."
Wearing a T-shirt with a photo of her brother, and his military dog tags around her neck, Sabine said she would never forget him.
"I will always remember his smile, he had a beautiful smile."
Firmin Emolo's great objectives in life were to become American, and serve in the military.
He achieved them both, but he didn't live long enough to enjoy the achievement.



Mr Ghedi says the government is committed to peace talks. The prime minister of war-torn Somalia has asked for UN peacekeepers to take over from the African Union mission.
"Failure to act at this critical period will be very costly in the future," Ali Mohamed Ghedi told the UN Security Council, AP news agency reports.
But diplomats say council members were cautious about the proposal, wanting first to see progress through the reconciliation summit due next month.
Only 1,600 troops of a proposed 8,000-strong AU force are in Somalia.
There are deadly attacks on civilians, government officials and Ethiopian troops almost every day in the capital, Mogadishu.
Islamists and gunmen from the Hawiye clan - the largest in Mogadishu - are believed to be responsible.
Ethiopian troops are also in the country to back government troops.
Together they ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamist group that controlled most of Somalia for six months last year, in December.
A national reconciliation conference has been delayed several times and Islamist leaders and a growing number of other Somali groups say they will not take part in any peace negotiations until the Ethiopians leave their country.
'Not fair'
The UK's UN ambassador said Emyr Jones Parry said the reconciliation conference was key to finding peace in Somalia.
"There's a window of opportunity to move forward on the political [front] and my worry is if that isn't grasped vigorously enough, the country will spiral down into further conflict and chaos," he told reporters.

Some 1,600 AU troops are in Mogadishu "We can only do so much. You can't put peacekeeping troops in if there's no peace to keep, that's the reality," he said.
Mr Ghedi said his government was fully committed to the reconciliation conference.
And he agreed with Mr Jones Parry that it was important to reinforce AU troops on the ground, but voiced his disappointment that UN troops were not in the offing.
"It's not fair to say: 'Make peace and I will come and keep it,'" he told reporters after the UN Security Council session.
Nigeria, Burundi and Ghana have all promised to contribute to the AU force which began its deployment in March with the arrival of some 1,600 Ugandan soldiers.
Last week, the authorities in Mogadishu ordered a night-time curfew in the capital in order to end a wave of violence.
The UN refugee agency say more than 3,500 people have fled the city this month amid an escalation of attacks.
It says only 123,000 of the estimated 401,000 civilians who fled the heavy fighting that raged in Mogadishu between February and May have returned to the capital.
Meanwhile, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has ordered the release of 200 prisoners being held in the central jail in Mogadishu.
Central prison governor General Abdulahi Moallin Ali told the BBC he had received orders to free the prisoners, who had been rounded up after the transitional government took control of the capital at the end of last year.
No explanation has so far been offered for the decision.



The four-week strike brought large parts of the country to a standstill. South African newspapers welcome the end of a four-week strike by the main trade unions, which closed most of the country's schools and hospitals. The strike was the biggest since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Some papers worry about the effect the bitter industrial dispute will have on relations between the unions and the African National Congress (ANC) government. Others voice concern at the heavy financial losses incurred by workers over the course of the strike.
A business daily says people's alienation from the political process contributed to the length of the dispute.

Hallelujah. The strike is over, public servants can get back to work and continue providing the services we all need so desperately... Serious socioeconomic problems should never again be turned into a stage for political posturing while the whole country is held to ransom.

Government negotiators who made their 'final offer' last week have been taken to task for breaching the constitution of the public sector bargaining council, which prohibits ultimatums... Unions have been concerned that a political agenda has shaped the strategy and timing of the strike plan... For many of their members, the extra loss of income is a massive cost they cannot afford.

Was the lengthy strike worth it for the workers, who are faced with the prospect of "no work, no pay"?... The union leaders, on the other hand, have hopefully learned a valuable lesson, which is that industrial action should not last for as long as this one did. The government, on the other hand, has been accused of trying to bulldoze its way during the wage negotiations. But that said, now is the time for the hard work to begin.

It is because people are excluded from the policy-making process that the public service strike has gone on for so long. It is why sporadic community protests over provincial borders that were unilaterally drawn up have gone from strength to strength. Since the Africa National Congress (ANC) party is so dominant and the opposition parties so irrelevant, a lack of democracy within the ANC and weak democratic institutions outside it will become a brake on future economic growth and reduce the quality of our democracy.

Nevertheless, the strike exposed deep dissatisfaction within the teaching profession which the government ignores at its peril. But we wonder whether the violent behaviour of some strikers - tearing up exam scripts and threatening private schools - will not permanently undermine the status of teachers... Some healing lessons will need to be placed on timetables when schools reopen.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


Not all of the accused were given jail sentences. A court in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan has found 21 medical workers guilty of causing an HIV outbreak which has so far killed 10 children.
At least 119 children and babies contracted the virus after receiving treatment in hospitals in Shymkent.
The judge said that the accused had acted recklessly, and that corruption and malpractice led to the outbreak.
The HIV outbreak was first discovered last year, but the number of cases is still rising.
The night before the verdict, another child died. He was two years old.
This trial is over but the Shymkent HIV problem is not, says the BBC's Natalia Antelava in the town.
Unnecessary transfusions
The judge announced that all 21 medical workers on trial were guilty. But for each defendant he announced a different punishment.
Medical workers accused of trading illegal blood were sentenced to eight years in prison.
Several doctors were sentenced from three to five years.
But the former head of the regional health department and four of her deputies had their sentences suspended.
Mothers of the victims wailed and shouted as they heard that one woman, who many local people hold responsible for the outbreak, would not be jailed.
Many said that this was not the kind of justice they were hoping for, and added that they would appeal.
An investigation into the outbreak found that many children had unnecessary and often multiple blood transfusions.
Medical equipment was often not sterilised properly.
One boy, who is now aged two, contracted the virus after receiving a blood transfusion prescribed to treat pneumonia.
The prosecutors alleged that the doctors were selling blood to make money.
It is unclear why the suspected infected transfusions affected only children.



Madeleine has been missing since 3 May. An Italian man has been arrested in southern Spain over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, reports say.
Spain's El Pais newspaper says the man was arrested in Algeciras - a few hours drive from the Portuguese resort where Madeleine disappeared on 3 May.
The paper says a woman, who they believe could be the man's wife, was also arrested.
A spokesperson for the Spanish National Police says that, at this stage, they cannot confirm the information.

The Spanish interior ministry told the AFP news agency that the man was arrested after the authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him.
"Police are examining the possibility of a link" with the Madeleine case, the spokesman told AFP.
El Pais said the national police had arrested an Italian man and a woman at a property in Cadiz province, who they suspected could be linked to Madeleine's disappearance.
The newspaper's website said the operation started at about 0500 in a town near Algeciras in Cadiz province.

Officers from the specialist and violent crimes unit searched a property for several hours, according to a local resident.
But the police were being cautious and refusing to give details about the man arrested, said the website.
Portuguese Chief Inspector Olegario de Sousa told BBC News that he did not believe the arrests were directly connected to Madeleine's kidnapping.
He added that he could not confirm reports that the arrests were connected to charges of attempting to extort money from the McCanns.
'Hopes dashed'
A spokeswoman for the McCanns said the family were not commenting directly on the potential development.
"They will be looking to the Portuguese police to advise them on any developments.
"They treat everything fairly and they look to the Portuguese as to what is given more weight and what is given less weight," said the spokeswoman.
Madeleine's great uncle, Brian Kennedy, had not heard about the potential development in the investigation until he was contacted by the media.
He said the family was trying not to get its hopes up too much because they had so frequently been dashed.
The McCanns went to Spain last month to ask for assistance to help find Madeleine.
They think it is one of the places she might have been taken because of its proximity to Portugal.
Border controls were not put on alert for the first 12 hours of Madeleine's disappearance.
Madeleine was taken from her apartment as she slept in the Algarve village of Praia da Luz on 3 May.



Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's first leader. The High Court in Kenya has reinstated Uhuru Kenyatta as chairman of the country's oldest party, the Kenya African National Union (Kanu).
This follows a fierce battle for control of the party between two rival camps, which culminated in a leadership coup last year.
Nicholas Biwott secured the Kanu leadership after his faction held elections in November 2006.
The party split over whether to join an opposition alliance.
Mr Biwott, a close ally of former President Daniel arap Moi, was opposed to Kanu joining the Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM).
The ODM-Kenya is set to announce a single candidate for this year's presidential elections on Friday.
However, Mr Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, has not handed in his nomination papers to represent the opposition alliance. The deadline is Saturday 30 June.
There has been conflict within ODM on how to pick the torchbearer, with one camp supporting nomination through consensus and the other demanding that party delegates elect the candidate.
Although President Mwai Kibaki is yet to formally announce whether he is vying for a second term, he is widely expected to seek another term in office.
Kanu was in power for almost 40 years after independence in 1963, until President Kibaki defeated Mr Kenyatta in 2002 elections.



Tuesday 26 June is the UN's Day Against Torture. Twenty years since the UN convention against the use of torture came into force, a Ugandan victim of torture, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells the BBC how he was picked up in the capital, Kampala, by government security forces after being accused of robbery.
He said he was tortured in a so-called "safe house" for about eight days before he passed out and woke up in a military hospital. He remained in custody for 11 months until the case against him collapsed about three years ago.
Uganda's government, once hailed as a democratic model, is now increasingly being accused of repressive methods against its perceived enemies and criminal suspects.
But it says it is working the country's Human Rights Commission, which paid out $160,000 to torture victims last year, to ensure all reported cases of torture are dealt with.

There was a lot of torturing in that place. They would beat everyone there.
I don't think I will ever be the same again -Ugandan victim of torture.
They would use each and everything - tying, flat irons, pliers to remove fingernails...
They did it to me in my foot.
They pulled my toe nails out with pliers.
They used a hosepipe to push water in my ears.
My left ear drum was perforated and I am still suffering.
They beat me terribly.
In fact, I have got scars all over my left side.
And then, they left me for dead.
I don't think I will ever be the same again.
I don't think so because at times, the sores I have ooze with pus.
I use eye drops, swallow some tablets, get some injections...
But still, all my left side is not functioning like it should.



Gen Buyukanit said a military offensive could inflict a blow on the PKK. The head of the Turkish armed forces has repeated his view that a military incursion into northern Iraq would help to defeat Kurdish rebels based there.
General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters at a news conference that the military needed guidelines from the government for any such cross-border operation.
Gen Buyukanit stressed the need for parliamentary approval for a serious incursion into northern Iraq.
The government says its priority is defeating rebels in Turkey itself.
BBC correspondents say attacks in Turkey by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have increased recently, sometimes carried out by rebels based across the border in northern Iraq.
'Legal basis'
Gen Buyukanit's comments put pressure on Turkey's government to allow a military operation, just weeks before parliamentary polls in which security and terrorism issues will be high on the agenda.
"I have said that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits. I repeat this view now," he said.
"We have to conduct our fight on a legal basis. We cannot go beyond the laws," he added.
Turkey's parliament, now in recess ahead of the 22 July elections, would have to reconvene to authorise any serious cross-border military operation.
Political analysts say the generals are trying to portray the Islamist-rooted ruling AK Party as weak on terrorism.
AK, which denies any Islamist agenda, is widely expected to win re-election in July.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters last week that military action would be taken if necessary.
But any incursion would strain relations with Washington and Iraq, which oppose unilateral Turkish action.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and rebels of the outlawed PKK since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.



Desertification could displace up to 50m people over the next decade. Tens of millions of people could be driven from their homes by encroaching deserts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, a report says.
The study by the United Nations University suggests climate change is making desertification "the greatest environmental challenge of our times".
If action is not taken, the report warns that some 50 million people could be displaced within the next 10 years.
The study was produced by more than 200 experts from 25 countries.

See map of projected human impact on deserts

This report does not pull any punches, says BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath.
One third of the Earth's population - home to about two billion people - are potential victims of its creeping effect, it says.

Tree-planting schemes may put pressure on scarce water resources
"Desertification has emerged as an environmental crisis of global proportions, currently affecting an estimated 100 to 200 million people, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of a much larger number," the study said.
The overexploitation of land and unsustainable irrigation practices are making matters worse, while climate change is also a major factor degrading the soil, it says.

Re-thinking Policies to Cope with Desertification(1.75MB)
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Download the reader here

People displaced by desertification put new strains on natural resources and on other societies nearby and threaten international instability, the study adds.
"There is a chain reaction. It leads to social turmoil," said Zafaar Adeel, the study's lead author and head of the UN University's International Network on Water, Environment and Health.
The largest area affected was probably sub-Saharan Africa, where people are moving to northern Africa or to Europe, while the second area is the former Soviet republics in central Asia, he added.
Way forward
The UN report suggests that new farming practices, such as encouraging forests in dryland areas, were simple measures that could remove more carbon from the atmosphere and also prevent the spread of deserts.
"It says to dryland dwellers we need to provide alternative livelihoods - not the traditional cropping based on irrigation, cattle farming, etcetera - but rather introduce more innovative livelihoods which don't put pressure on the natural resources," Mr Adeel said.
"Things like ecotourism or using solar energy to create other activities."
Some countries like China have embarked on tree-planting programmes to stem the advance of deserts.
But according to the author, in some cases the trees being planted needed large amounts of water, putting even more pressure on scarce resources.



Christians protest over Eritrea.
By Martin Plaut BBC Africa analyst.

A service has been held in London to protest against the treatment of the head of the Eritrean orthodox church.
Patriarch Antonious is the head of two million orthodox believers and is a high-profile prisoner of conscience.
He was removed from his position earlier this year, after criticising the Eritrean government for interference in church activities.
Amnesty International says Eritrea displays one of the most extreme forms of religious persecution in the world.
The meeting heard that this was only the latest example of religious repression.
Health fears
In 1994, followers of Jehovah's Witness - who refused military service on religious grounds - were stripped of all rights, including citizenship.
Then in 2002 the crackdown was extended to the evangelical churches.
And now the patriarch of the orthodox church, to which most Eritrean Christians belong, has been removed from his post and imprisoned after objecting to Eritrean government attempts to stop a bible-reading group.
The head of the British Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Seraphim, told the BBC he was very worried about his health.
"He's 79. He is known to have diabetes. And he's been kept in a darkened room in his residence and he complained on one occasion he was unable to even read his Bible."
Eritrea has a history of considerable religious tolerance between its Muslim and Christian communities, but the government comes from a Marxist-Leninist tradition.
The church says it believes quiet pressure has failed, and it will now take the issue of Patriarch Antonios to the British government.



The military has been helping out in South African hospitals. South Africa's main trade unions have ended their four-week strike, which has closed most of the country's schools and hospitals.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has decided to accept the government's offer of a 7.5% pay rise - they had demanded 9%.
The government had originally offered 6%, while the unions had wanted 12%.
Correspondents say it has been the biggest strike since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Cosatu said the strike, which involved hundreds of thousands of people, had been a "historic turning point in the lives of public-sector workers".
"This combination of unity and militancy means that never again will the employer dare to treat us with the callous indifference they have displayed in the past and during this dispute, until they were forced to compromise when confronted by the militancy and determination of their workforce," it said.
Before the decision was announced, one union official told the Business Day newspaper that teachers wanted to end the strike, as school holidays had started.

In pictures: SA strike
Strike voices
Unions flex their muscles

But a Cosatu statement said that teaching unions were not prepared to sign the deal and would continue talks with the government.
On Monday, two independent unions pulled out of the strike, accusing Cosatu of being "greedy and opportunistic", saying the 7.5% offer was "fantastic".
The labour movement accuses the government of promoting big business at the expenses of poor South Africans.
BBC correspondent in Johannesburg Peter Biles says the strike has been hugely disruptive and many workers are beginning to feel the impact caused by the loss of wages.
Economists estimate that the cost to South Africa's economy could be as much as 3bn rand ($418m).
Inflation fears and resulting interest rate hikes have prompted the central bank to warn against large wage increases.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The US military said the dead were al-Qaeda gunmen. A group of villagers in Iraq is bitterly disputing the US account of a deadly air attack on 22 June, in the latest example of the confusion surrounding the reporting of combat incidents there. The BBC's Jim Muir investigates:

On 22 June the US military announced that its attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen who had been trying to infiltrate the village of al-Khalis, north of Baquba, where operation "Arrowhead Ripper" had been under way for the previous three days.
The item was duly carried by international news agencies and received widespread coverage, including on the BBC News website.
But villagers in largely-Shia al-Khalis say that those who died had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They say they were local village guards trying to protect the township from exactly the kind of attack by insurgents the US military says it foiled.
The incident highlights the problems the news media face in verifying such combat incidents in remote areas.

'Al-Qaeda gunmen' killed

They say that of 16 guards, 11 were killed and five others injured - two of them seriously - when US helicopters fired rockets at them and then strafed them with heavy machinegun fire.
Minutes before the attack, they had been co-operating with an Iraqi police unit raiding a suspected insurgent hideout, the villagers said.
They added that the guards, lightly armed with the AK47 assault rifles that are a feature of practically every home in Iraq, were essentially a local neighbourhood watch paid by the village to monitor the dangerous insurgent-ridden area to the immediate south-west at Arab Shawkeh and Hibhib, where the al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed a year ago.
US account
Here is the version of the incident issued by the US-led Multinational Forces on 22 June:
"Coalition Forces attack helicopters engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen southwest of Khalis, Friday.
"Iraqi police were conducting security operations in and around the village when Coalition attack helicopters from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and ground forces from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village.
"The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using."

Iraqi version
This is the story as told to the BBC by several local villagers:
At around 2am on Friday morning, the village guards were at their usual base in an unfinished building on the edge of the Hayy al-Junoud quarter about 2km (1.2 miles) south-west of al-Khalis village centre.

Jassem Khalil, the Mukhtar of Hayy al-Junoud
Abbas Khalil, his brother
Ali Khalil, his other brother
Kamal Hadi, their cousin
Shaker Adnan
Abdul Wahhab Ibrahim
Mohammad al-Zubaie
Abbas Muzhir Fadhel
Jamal Hussein Alwan
Abdul Hussein Abdullah
Ali Jawad Kadhem

They were surprised when a convoy of Iraqi police suddenly turned up, headed by the commander of the Khalis emergency squad, Col Hussein Kadhim.
The police told them they were about to raid a suspect house in nearby al-Akrad Street and asked for the village mukhtar (headman) to accompany them.
The Mukhtar of Hayy al-Junoud, Jassem Khalil, and his brothers Abbas and Ali, went with the police. Some of the other guards, about half altogether, also offered to go along.
The raid turned out to be a false alarm - there was nothing suspicious at the house in question.
But as the police and guards began to return, the police received an urgent radio message from the Joint Operations Centre saying that US helicopters were about to raid the area.
The police disappeared immediately. But before the guards could even get to their own car, they were hit by a rocket strike by American helicopters which suddenly appeared overhead.
So too were the remainder of the guards, still at their base in the unfinished building nearby.

The rocket attacks were followed by a prolonged period of strafing by heavy machinegun fire from the helicopters.
"It was like a battlefront, but with the fire going only in one direction," said a local witness. "There was no return fire".
When frightened villagers ventured out at first light, they found 11 of the village guards dead, some of their bodies cut into small pieces by the munitions used against them.
Those who survived with injuries were Bashir (an off-duty policeman), Alwan Hussein, Abu Ra'id, Salam, and Saif Khalil, the son of Abbas Khalil who died.
Questions raised
The families of those who died are seeking a meeting with the head of the al-Khalis town council. They are incensed that the village guards should be described as "al-Qaeda gunmen".
All but two of those killed were Shia and they have been buried at Najaf. The other two who were from the local minority Sunni community.
A spokesman for the US-led Multinational Forces said they were investigating the incident in the light of the allegations.
If the villagers' account is true, the incident would raise many questions, including:
On what basis did the US helicopters launch their attack that night?
How many other coalition reports of successes against "al-Qaeda fighters" are based on similar mistakes, especially when powerful remote weaponry is used?
The incident also highlights the problems the news media face in verifying such combat incidents in remote areas where communications are disrupted, where direct independent access is impossible because of the many lethal dangers they would face, and where only the official military version of events is available.



Darfur tests new French resolve
By Jonah Fisher BBC News, Paris.

Millions of people have been displaced by the fighting in Darfur. After appearing to care little about Darfur for the last four years - five weeks of the Sarkozy presidency have thrust France into the centre of efforts to resolve the conflict.
"Silence kills," Nicholas Sarkozy told a day long conference in Paris. "We want to mobilise the international community to say that's enough."
More than two million people have been displaced from their homes since the conflict began - and it's thought that at least 200,000 people have been killed.
Eighteen countries were represented at the talks, as well as the heads of the United Nations and the Arab League.
More noticeable through were the absentees.
None of the conflict's protagonists - Sudan, Chad or the Darfur rebels - were invited.
And most surprising of all, the African Union, the region's current peacekeepers, declined to attend.

African Union peacekeepers have been unable to end the fighting.
Evidently not everyone is thrilled about France's sudden wish to get involved.
Two weeks ago, Sudan gave it's approval for a joint United Nations-African Union force to be deployed into Darfur.
If it was expecting a few verbal pats on the back it was to be disappointed.
"We can no longer afford a situation in Darfur in which agreements are made and then not kept," US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said.
"The United States will continue to argue that there must be consequences for Sudan if it does not live up to the obligations that it has undertaken."
There is still plenty of scope for Sudan to delay the deployment.

The ball is actually in the court of the UN - Lam Akol, Sudan foreign minister.
The make-up of the hybrid African Union-United Nations force has yet to be finalised - with details such as the exact composition of the force unresolved.
It is not even the first time that Sudan has agreed to this force. In November last year they gave it their approval before proceeding to reject almost every detail that was proposed.
"We are ready to have the force deployed at any time - the matter is on the other side," Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol told the BBC.
"The ball is actually in the court of the United Nations to expedite the operation."
But despite Mr Akol's lofty title - his thoughts are rarely the final word on Khartoum's policy.
It is the ministers controlling Sudan's security apparatus who have the real power - and they are likely to assert their views only when the actual mechanics of troop deployment are discussed.
Roadmap to nowhere?
Even with Sudan's complete acquiescence it is likely to be 2008 before most of the troops arrive.
Three thousand UN troops are expected this autumn followed by up to 10,000 the following year.
"It's cumbersome," said UN special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson. "But the most pressing issue is that we establish a political process so that when the peacekeepers do arrive there is actually a peace for them to keep."
Mr Eliasson has made four trips to Sudan this year - and has drawn up a roadmap towards planned negotiations in August.
So far there has been no indication that anyone else is using the same map.
One of the biggest hurdles is the state of Darfur's rebel movements.
When the conflict started in 2003 there were just two rebel groups. Now there are at least 10.
Rival commanders with widely ranging aspirations now control most of Darfur's arid countryside.
For peace talks to take place - the rebels will have to unite around a negotiating team and some common objectives.
Up until now there has been little sign of that taking place. The Sudanese government faces a crisis of credibility.
It signed a peace agreement with one rebel faction in May 2006 but has implemented few of its provisions.
If a lasting peace deal is to be made Khartoum will have to convince whoever they negotiate with that they are genuinely committed to sharing wealth and power.



The CIA reveals it spied on opponents of the Vietnam war. The CIA has made public the details of its illicit Cold-War-era activities, including spy plots, assassination attempts and experiments with drugs.
Documents declassified on its website include plans to use Mafia help to kill Cuba's Communist leader Fidel Castro.
They reveal the extent to which the CIA spied on US journalists and dissidents and on the Soviet Union.
They are part of a report commissioned by a former CIA chief in 1973 in response to the Watergate scandal.
Press reports from the period had implicated the CIA in the burglary which took place at Democratic Party offices at the Watergate Hotel.
A newspaper investigation into the burglary eventually led to the downfall of the Republican President, Richard Nixon.
The spy agency's former director, James Schlesinger, responded by ordering all "senior operating officials" to report on all activities, past and present, "which might be construed to be outside the legislative charter of this agency".
The CIA is barred by law from conducting spy activities within the US.
'Unflattering history'
CIA officers in service in 1973 largely used their memory to compile the 693-page report for Mr Schlesinger.
The abuses and illicit activities listed within date from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The CIA tried to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro (left)The documents were initially referred to as "skeletons" by Mr Schlesinger's successor at the CIA, William Colby. They were later nicknamed the "family jewels" and have been referred to as such ever since.
Much of the information contained within them was already known.
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in the New York Times newspaper in 1974 that the CIA had been spying on anti-war dissidents and civil rights campaigners.
However, the documents declassified on Tuesday provide a more comprehensive accounts of events.
Last week, CIA chief Michael Hayden announced the decision to declassify the records, saying the documents were "unflattering but part of CIA history".
The documents detail assassination plots, domestic spying, wiretapping, and kidnapping.
The incidents include:
the confinement of a Soviet KGB defector, Yuriy Ivanovich Nosenko, in the mid-1960s
attempts to use a suspected Mafia mobster, Johnny Roselli, in a plot to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro
the wiretapping and surveillance of journalists, including in 1972 columnist Jack Anderson who broke a string of scandals
Among the documents is a request in 1972 for someone "who was accomplished at picking locks" who might be retiring or resigning from the agency.
'Soviet succession'
Another set of documents, also just declassified, is known as the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers.
This is an 11,000-page analysis, done between 1953 and 1973, on Soviet and Chinese internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations.
Among the papers are an analysis of the Soviet leadership completed some four months after the death of Josef Stalin in 1953.
The CIA's report, stamped "Top Secret", said the Soviets carried out a hasty shake-up of top posts to head off possible "panic and disarray" following Stalin's death.
"It is strongly suggested that the leaders in this moment of crisis had moved swiftly to show their unity and to gird themselves for any battle that might be coming from inside and out," the CIA report said.



Deadly attacks occur almost daily in Mogadishu. A huge roadside bomb has gone off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least five people.
The bomb was hidden under a pile of rubbish in the main Bakara market and four of those killed were women cleaning the streets, witnesses say.
The bomb follows a fierce gun battle between heavily armed insurgents and police in the north-east of the city.
A BBC correspondent says residents feel that last week's dusk-to-dawn curfew has failed to curb the violence.
The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says that hundreds of police officers have sealed off the area after the market bomb.
"It was an ugly scene with blood everywhere. I could not count the dead, I just glanced at once and ran away for my life," businesswoman Hawa Jama told Reuters news agency.
Food aid deaths
The gun battle was sparked by an ambush on a police patrol in north-eastern Mogadishu - seen as an insurgent stronghold.
Our reporter says that most of the area's residents have fled.
This is the first time there have been face-to-face clashes since the curfew was imposed last week.

Bakara market is normally the busiest in the capital. There are no details yet of any casualties from the fighting, in which insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.
The insurgents are believed to be Islamist fighters and gunmen from the Hawiye clan - the largest in Mogadishu.
On Monday, at least three people were killed after security forces opened fire at a crowd demanding food aid in Mogadishu.
Hundreds of people tried to storm a police station where food was being handed out, they say.
"Police opened fire and killed five people," said Abdiqadir Mohamed Ilbir, as he wept for his brother, who was among the dead.
Meanwhile, the 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia have reportedly been paid.
They had been unhappy at a delay in their payments since they were deployed as the first contingent of a proposed 8,000-strong African Union force.
Somalia has been racked by violence since it last had a government in 1991.
Ethiopian and government troops ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamist group that controlled most of Somalia for six months last year, in December.
The government is planning a national reconciliation conference next month but Islamist leaders and a growing number of other Somali groups say they will not take part in any peace negotiations until the Ethiopians leave their country.



CAR refugees are jumping from the frying pan into the fire of Sudan. Armed gangs are seizing children for ransom payments in the lawless north of the Central African Republic, human rights body Amnesty International says.
Some parents have paid up to $4,000 for their children to be freed - other minors have been killed, Amnesty says.
The region is a "free-for-all" for rebels, soldiers and armed bandits, a researcher who has just returned says.
CAR has accused neighbouring Sudan of backing the rebels, with attacks coming from Darfur. Sudan denies the charges.
Some families have had their children kidnapped seven times, says Amnesty researcher Godfrey Byaruhanga.
"News is clearly spreading to criminal elements throughout the region that they can have free rein in northern CAR, as there is an almost total absence of any authority," he said.
Civilians were fleeing "from the frying pan into the fire" by heading to Chad and Sudan, he said.

Map of Darfur conflict zones

More than 280,000 people have fled their homes in the past year.
Rebels killed anyone who refused to fight with them, while government soldiers killed suspected rebel sympathisers, he said.
Presidential spokesman Cyriaque Gonda denied that the army was killing civilians.
"This is not true, this is a ridiculous accusation and those accusations not founded at all," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"What the government troops are doing is first of all to protect themselves when they are being attacked and to go after the rebels who are keeping the population under terror."
Mr Byaruhanga said the government was failing to protect the population and only controlled the capital, Bangui.
Mr Gonda renewed a call for the UN to send peacekeepers - an idea also supported by Mr Byaruhanga.
"This situation is too dangerous and simply cannot wait," he said.



President Toure was hailed after ending military dictatorship. Five journalists and a teacher have been found guilty of insulting Mali's president over a school essay. All were given suspended jail terms at a closed door trial in the capital.
Teacher Bassirou Kassim Minta asked his final-year secondary school class to write a humorous essay about the mistress of a fictional African leader.
He was arrested, along with a journalist who wrote about the task. The arrests have been condemned by press freedom organisations.
The BBC's Salif Sanogo in Bamako says that about 300 people turned up for the trial before being told they were barred.
He says that security was tight around the court.
Defence lawyers boycotted the proceedings.
"We want to show by our absence that the freedom of the press is being violated in Mali," defence lawyer Mamadou Gakou told the AFP news agency.
'Another age'
Journalist Seydina Oumar Diarra wrote an article, called The Mistress of the President of the Republic, in the Info-Matin newspaper about the essay.
Police then arrested him and Mr Minta.
They were given suspended sentences of eight months each.

Mali leader's life in pictures

Following the detentions, the article was reprinted in other newspapers, leading to the arrest of four more journalists and editors.
They were given suspended three month sentences as accomplices.
After the trial, all six were taken back to prison to carry out the formalities before being freed.
Reporters Without Borders last week urged President Amadou Toumani Toure to release those detained.
"The result of a prosecutor's absurd zeal, these two arrests are worthy of another age and are clearly an abuse of authority," the press freedom group said.
"Mali was hailed as an example of democracy in Africa, but as this case goes from bad to worse, it is looking more and more like an authoritarian regime, crippled by taboos and dangerous for those who show a lack of respect for an untouchable president."
Earlier this month, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) urged African countries to scrap their laws on insulting leaders at a congress in South Africa.
Its declaration said such laws, which are in force in 48 out of 53 African countries, were "the greatest scourge" of press freedom on the continent.
President Toure was last month re-elected for a second five-year term in first-round presidential elections.
International monitors said the vote appeared to have gone smoothly, but opposition candidates alleged fraud.
Mr Toure, known as "ATT", was hailed after ending Mali's military dictatorship with a coup 16 years ago and then stepping down after organising elections.


Monday, June 25, 2007


The military has been helping out in South African hospitals. Two of South Africa's independent unions have broken ranks with the main labour movement, calling off their three-week old strike.
Their leaders accused unions affiliated with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) of being "greedy and opportunistic".
This follows Cosatu's rejection of a pay offer worth 7.5%.
The breakaway unions from the education and health sectors represent about 25% of civil servants in Cosatu.
Independent teachers' union Naptosa decided to "suspend participation in the strike... in the interests of our children." said its leader Henry Hendrick.
Cosatu was holding other workers "hostage", said President of the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa, Hospersa, Gavin Moultrie, who described the government's offer as "fantastic".

In pictures: SA strike

Strike voices

Workers had originally wanted a 12% increase.
Cosatu has indicated they are still holding out for at least a 9% increase.
The labour movement accuses the government of promoting big business at the expenses of poor South Africans.
BBC correspondent in Johannesburg Peter Biles says the strike has been hugely disruptive and many workers are beginning to feel the impact caused by the loss of wages.
The strike, entering its fourth week, has shut many schools and has left many hospitals reliant on army medical staff.
Economists estimate that the cost to South Africa's economy could be as much as 3 billion rand ($418 million).
Inflation fears and resulting interest rate hikes have prompted the central bank to warn against large wage increases.
The government's offer will remain on the table for another month, says Public Services and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.



Robert Mugabe aims to give more ownership to indigenous people. President Robert Mugabe's government has published a bill to move majority control of "public companies and any other business" to black Zimbabweans.
The goal is to ensure at least a 51% shareholding by indigenous black people in the majority of businesses.
Critics say it could hurt investor confidence in Zimbabwe, suffering from the world's highest inflation and food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
Now the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill will go to parliament.
'Financing of acquisitions'
It is expected to back the bill, which stipulates that no company restructuring, merger or acquisition can be approved unless 51% of the firm goes to indigenous Zimbabweans.
The empowerment bill says that "indigenous Zimbabwean" is anyone disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on race grounds before independence in 1980.
It also provides for the establishment of an empowerment fund which will offer assistance to the "financing of share acquisitions" from the public-owned firms or assist in "management buy-ins and buy-outs."
And all government departments and statutory bodies will be asked to obtain 51% of their goods and services from businesses in which controlling interest is held by indigenous Zimbabweans.
Dual listings
"For a start, it's not very clear how they are going to implement this, but going by their record it could be another chaotic and disastrous exercise," Zimbabwean economic consultant John Robertson told Reuters news agency.
"Those [companies] already here are likely to hold back on any expansion programmes, while possible new foreign investors are likely to also hold back to watch how this is going to work."
Some firms dually listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and London Securities Exchange firms include Old Mutual, NMB bank and Hwange.
Multi-national firms that may be affected by the new policy include Barclays Bank, Bindura Nickel Corporation and miner Rio Zim.



Victims suffered headaches, vomiting and breathing difficulties. Victims of last year's toxic waste scandal in Ivory Coast have rejected the government's offer of compensation.
The families of 16 people who died when the waste was dumped in Abidjan were offered $200,000 (£100,000) each, with smaller sums to thousands who fell ill.
Victims' groups dismissed the offer as cynical. The amount is less than half the total allocated to the government.
The Dutch company which chartered the vessel said it would pay $198m (£102m) for a clean-up and investigation.
The oil-trading group Trafigura agreed to pay the money in February but said it was not liable for dumping the waste.
'Huge tension'
Several victims' associations complained they had not been consulted about the pay scheme, announced by President Laurent Gbagbo on Friday.
The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says the victims are incensed that those who were made sick by the toxic waste will receive only $408.
Instead of being incinerated the waste was dumped.
Aime, one of the thousands of victims, said the payout was not enough to cover the health costs over a prolonged period.
"Many efforts have been made by the victims to stay alive, so the government must recognise the efforts," she told the BBC.
Under the scheme the families of the dead were allocated $200,000 each, the 75 people who were hospitalised about $4,000 and $408 for those who fell ill.
However, about two-thirds of the compensation payments will be made to the state and local government to improve health and sanitary facilities and reimburse a clean-up operation.
One angry victim said he could not believe money he felt he should have received would go to what he called "development projects".
Our correspondent says the toxic waste scandal has been a source of huge tension in Ivory Coast and that looks set to continue for some time.
Local company
Trafigura first attempted to discharge the chemical slops from one of its tankers, the Probo Koala, in the Dutch port of Amsterdam in early August 2006.
But the company that was to dispose of the waste suddenly increased its charges dramatically - asking for more to treat the waste. Trafigura refused, and the tanker proceeded to Nigeria.
There it failed to reach an agreement with two local firms about offloading the waste and only in Ivory Coast did it find a company to handle the waste.
On 19 August the waste was discharged near Abidjan. Two weeks later the first complaints arose. Instead of being incinerated as it should have been, the waste had been dumped.
Trafigura said it had been given to a local accredited company in Abidjan's main port to deal with properly.



Many Nigerians buy their fuel on the black market. Nigerians formed long queues for fuel and transport on Monday morning as they returned to work after a four-day general strike.
A BBC reporter in Lagos says many commuters were stranded at bus stops.
Businesses and schools reopened for the first time since the stoppage began last Wednesday.
Trade unions called off their strike over recent rises in petrol prices and value-added tax, after talks with government officials on Saturday.
Union leaders said they had accepted the government's proposal to freeze petrol prices for at least a year at the compromise price of 70 naira (55 US cents) per litre.
'No winner'
Some filling stations have yet to reflect the new price on the pumps but the government says the new prices would soon be posted everywhere.
The government had already agreed to reduce its increase in prices as one of a series of offers made before the strike began on Wednesday.

President Umaru Yar'Adua has survived his first test Unions had called the strike over rises in fuel prices and value-added tax and the sale of two major oil refineries.
The unions were angry at a series of measures pushed through in the last days of the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, who stepped down last month.
The price of petrol was increased from 65 naira (51 US cents) a litre to 75.
"There is no winner or loser," Babagana Kingibe, who led the negotiations for the government, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
"If there's a loser, it's the Nigerian people."
The BBC's Alex Last in the biggest city, Lagos, says the deal can be seen as a victory for the unions but not a total one.
He says the price of fuel is a sensitive issue in the country because it is one of the few benefits Nigerians get from the government, which receives billions of dollars in oil revenues but fails to provide even basic amenities.
New President Umaru Yar'Adua has emerged from this first major test just about intact, our correspondent says.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but has to import most of its petrol because of the poor state of its refineries.



Food aid for Somalia has been blocked in Kenya. At least three people have died after Somali security forces opened fire at a crowd demanding food aid in the capital, Mogadishu, witnesses say.
Hundreds of people tried to storm a police station where food was being handed out, they say.
"Police opened fire and killed five people including my brother," said Abdiqadir Mohamed Ilbir, as he wept for his brother, who was among the dead.
Somalia has been racked by violence since it last had a government in 1991.
Earlier this year, up to a third of the population of Mogadishu fled their homes, with aid agencies unable to get enough food for them all.
Some 140 trucks carrying food aid have been stranded at the Kenyan border for more than a month, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) says.
Kenya closed its border with Somalia in January to people and commercial traffic but humanitarian assistance has previously been allowed across.
Police attacked
"The people were waiting for food aid that was to be distributed by a local organisation. This is cold-blooded murder," said witness Halimo Abdullahi.
There have also been two attacks on police officers patrolling elsewhere in Mogadishu.
The government has been trying to collect guns from Mogadishu.
A grenade was thrown at a patrol in the central Bakara market. The police then opened fire, killing a woman waiting for a bus, witnesses say.
And a policeman was fatally shot dead by a gunman.
The government last week imposed a curfew in order to reduce the violence.
The attacks are believed to be carried out by both Islamist fighters and gunmen from the Hawiye clan - the largest in Mogadishu.
Ethiopian and government troops ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamist group that controlled most of Somalia for six months last year, in December.
The government is planning a national reconciliation conference next month but Islamist leaders and a growing number of other Somali groups say they will not take part in any peace negotiations until the Ethiopians leave their country.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cathy Buckle's weekly letter from Zimbabwe !


Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing this letter late at night when the electricity is on because supplies during the day, both in the week and at weekends, are now very sporadic. At any time, without warning the power goes off, sometimes for just an hour or two but more often it is for solid chunks of 8 or even 10 hours at a time. When all these power cuts began we were told that it was because all the electricity we had was going to go to the wheat farmers who needed to irrigate the crop for the nation's daily bread. Some people sort of half heartedly believed that story but not for long. As it was last year and the two previous years - the growing wheat crop is just not there for us to see.

This week the propaganda peddlers began preparing the way for yet another disaster. As always they treat us like complete idiots! Ignoring the fact that we are all sitting in the cold and dark because they'd told us all the electricity was irrigating wheat, this week they told us that the projected crop is going to be far less than anticipated. This is apparently because the wheat farmers can't irrigate because of the electricity cuts.

Even this ludicrous irony doesn't ring true because for most of us the last report we saw on the winter wheat crop was in the government sponsored Herald newspaper and that took the Emperors clothes off for all to see. Written just ten days before the last date for planting wheat in late May, the report said that Secretary for Agriculture Dr Shadreck Mlambo had addressed a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. The report stated, and I quote : "of the projected 76 000hectares, only 8 000 hectares have so far been put under wheat."

It's hard to believe that a massive 68 thousand hectares of wheat were planted in those last few days of May - before it was too late - but now, another new spin is emerging. Government agricultural voices have begun warning that quelea birds are preparing to decimate the country's winter wheat crop - the crop that either wasn't planted in the first place or hasn't been watered because there's been no electricity for the irrigation pumps. We are told that there is only one aeroplane in the country that can be used to spray the birds and apparently four are needed to "cover the whole crop". Its not being said if the whole crop consists of 8 thousand hectares spread out in lots of little squares or if its actually 76 thousand hectares.

Keeping up with both the facts and the propaganda about events in Zimbabwe has become almost impossible as electricity cuts silence all but the most determined and innovative lines of communication. It took a message from outside of Zimbabwe to tell me what our Minister of Lands said this week and for millions of cold, tired and hungry Zimbabweans, they are sickening words. Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa said: "The position is that food shortages or no food shortages,we are going ahead to remove the remaining whites. We would all rather die of hunger but knowing full well that the land is in the hands of black people."

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 23 June2007.www.cathybuckle.comMy books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available


Friday, June 22, 2007


President Toure has been urged to free those detained. Journalists in Mali have held a protest march after six people were arrested over an article about a school essay which allegedly insulted the president.
The five journalists and the teacher who set the essay to his class are due to appear in court next Tuesday.
Teacher Bassirou Kassim Minta asked his final-year secondary school class to write a humorous essay about the mistress of a fictional African leader.
The arrests have been condemned by Reporters Without Borders.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the arrests "outrageous".
Journalist Seydina Oumar Diarra wrote an article called The Mistress of the President of the Republic, in the Info-Matin newspaper about the essay.
Police then arrested him and Mr Minta.

Mali leader's life in pictures

Following the detentions, the article was reprinted in other newspapers, leading to the arrest of four more journalists and editors.
Reporters Without Borders has urged President Amadou Toumani Toure to release those detained.
"The result of a prosecutor's absurd zeal, these two arrests are worthy of another age and are clearly an abuse of authority," the press freedom group said.
"Mali was hailed as an example of democracy in Africa, but as this case goes from bad to worse, it is looking more and more like an authoritarian regime, crippled by taboos and dangerous for those who show a lack of respect for an untouchable president."
Earlier this month, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) urged African countries to scrap their laws on insulting leaders at a congress in South Africa.
Its declaration said such laws, which are in force in 48 out of 53 African countries, were "the greatest scourge" of press freedom on the continent.
President Amadou Toumani Toure was last month re-elected for a second five-year term in first-round presidential elections.
International monitors said the vote appeared to have gone smoothly, but opposition candidates alleged fraud.
Mr Toure, known as "ATT", was hailed after ending Mali's military dictatorship with a coup 16 years ago and then stepping down after organising elections.



Sudan has the world's largest refugee population, the UN says. There is little hope of peace in war-ravaged Sudan unless it addresses widespread environmental damage and climate change, a UN study has found.
The conflict in Darfur is spreading deserts and deforestation, threatening to raise ethnic tensions, it found.
But it says drought helped spark the Darfur conflict, as African farmers and Arab nomads fought over water and land.
At least 200,000 people have died and more than 2.4m have fled amid rape and looting in the four-year Darfur crisis.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said climate change was partly to blame for the conflict in Darfur in an editorial for US newspaper The Washington Post.
'Fight for resources'
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report says competition over oil, gas, water, timber and land use are behind the "instigation and perpetuation" of decades of fighting throughout Sudan.
Ignoring these environmental issues will ensure that some political and social problems remain unsolvable
UN's Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment.

Read the UN report in full

It says environmental degradation is one of the root causes of the conflicts - alongside economic, political and social issues - as these natural resources are depleted.
With more than five million internally displaced and international refugees, Sudan has the largest refugee population in the world today, the UN says.
It points to the spread of deserts by an average of 100km in the last 40 years, a loss of almost 12% of forest cover in 15 years and overgrazing of fragile soil.
"Ignoring these environmental issues will ensure that some political and social problems remain unsolvable and even likely to worsen, as environmental degradation mounts at the same time as population increases," the report said.
Oil revenues
Refugee camps set up to provide shelter and care for the 2.4 million people who fled their homes amid the ongoing violence are causing further damage, the report says.
Boreholes dug to provide much-needed water supplies are depleting underground water reserves, and forests are disappearing as trees are chopped for firewood used by the refugees.

And as families attempt to rebuild their lives when the conflicts end, there will be a further drain on scarce resources such as land and wood.
The report also warns that the tragedy in Darfur could be repeated throughout North Africa and the Middle East as growing populations fight for limited water supplies.
The UN recommends Sudan work to reduce the environmental impact of its oil industry and agricultural practices, and prevent local conflicts over natural resources. It says rising oil revenues mean the country should be able to invest in these practices.
It also says all UN aid projects in the country should improve environmental practices in their operations.
The violence in Darfur started in early 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated government.
The rebels said the government was oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs amid tensions over water, land and grazing rights between the groups.



The US Central Intelligence Agency is to declassify hundreds of documents detailing some of the agency's worst illegal abuses from the 1950s to 1970s.
The papers, to be released next week, will detail assassination plots, domestic spying and wiretapping, kidnapping and human experiments.
Many of the incidents are already known, but the documents are expected to give more comprehensive accounts.
It is "unflattering" but part of agency history, CIA chief Michael Hayden said.
"This is about telling the American people what we have done in their name," Gen Hayden told a conference of foreign policy historians.
The documents, dubbed the "Family Jewels", offer a "glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency".
The full 693-page file detailing CIA illegal activities was compiled on the orders of the then CIA director James Schlesinger in 1973.
He had been alarmed by accounts of CIA involvement in the Watergate scandal under his predecessor and asked CIA officials to inform him of all activities that fell outside the agency's legal charter.
Ahead of the documents' release by the CIA, the National Security Archive, an independent research body, on Thursday published related papers it had obtained.
These detail government discussions in 1975 of the CIA abuses and briefings by Mr Schlesinger's successor at the CIA, William Colby, who said the CIA had "done some things it shouldn't have".
Among the incidents that were said to "present legal questions" were:
the confinement of a Soviet defector in the mid-1960s
assassination plots of foreign leaders, including Cuba's Fidel Castro
wiretapping and surveillance of journalists
behaviour modification experiments on "unwitting" US citizens
surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971
opening from 1953 to 1973 of letters to and from the Soviet Union; from 1969 to 1972 of mail to and from China
The papers also convey mounting concern in President Gerald Ford's administration that what were dubbed the CIA's "skeletons" were surfacing in the media.
Henry Kissinger, then both secretary of state and national security adviser, was against Mr Colby's moves to investigate the CIA's past abuses and the fact that agency secrets were being divulged.
Accusations appearing in the media about the CIA were "worse than in the days of McCarthy", Mr Kissinger said.



Afghan civilians are suffering unnecessarily, Mr Karzai says. Some 25 civilians have died during aerial bombing by foreign forces in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, local residents and senior police say.
The Nato-led force (Isaf) said a small number of civilians may have been killed, possibly by insurgents.
President Hamid Karzai told the BBC this week that civilian deaths caused by foreign forces would have to stop.
If not, Mr Karzai warned that Afghans might turn against those countries with a military presence in Afghanistan.
He added, however, that people were still grateful for that involvement.
'No consultation'
Speaking to the BBC's correspondent in southern Afghanistan, people from the village of De Adam Khan, near the town of Gereshk in Helmand, said heavy bombings of the area had resulted in the civilian deaths.

This week, BBC News is taking an in-depth look at the challenges facing Afghanistan's people and the peacekeepers. Stories include: the state of the Taleban; corruption; the drugs problem; and attacks on schools.
Taleban interview in full
Afghanistan in-depth
Can Afghanistan be won?

They said nine women and three children were among those killed.
The accounts were backed by the district police chief, and the provincial police chief, Mohammed Husain Andiwal.
Mr Andiwal said Taleban fighters attacked Nato forces first.
"Last night, around 01:30, Nato forces bombed the village... as a result of the bombing 25 people were killed. They included women, three babies between 6 to 10 months one, one mullah of a mosque and other elders."
Mr Andiwal alleged that foreign forces had launched air strikes on the village without consulting with their Afghan counterparts.
Isaf says it is investigating the reports.
An Isaf statement said its forces were attacked on Thursday night near Gereshk and responded with small arms fire and an air strike.
It said that up to 30 insurgents were believed to have occupied a compound and that most of them were subsequently killed.
Isaf said it was trying to determine whether "a small number of civilians" were killed or injured by either insurgents or Isaf action.
In the neighbouring province of Uruzgan, Isaf has said that days of fighting appeared to have caused civilian deaths, some of which might have come from air strikes against Taleban insurgents.
Worst year
There are two international missions in Afghanistan: Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), with 37,000 troops from 37 countries including the US. Its aim is to help the Afghan government bring security, development and better governance.
The US-led coalition - under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom - is a counter-terrorism mission that involves mainly special forces.
The south of the country has this year seen the worst violence since the Taleban were ousted from power in 2001 by US-led troops.



Ms Herold is considered one of the prosecution's key witnesses. Phil Spector was probably standing within two feet of actress Lana Clarkson when she was shot, the record producer's murder trial has heard.
Evidence given by forensic expert Lynne Herold to a Los Angeles court suggests blood splatter on Mr Spector's white jacket proves he could have shot her.
She also said the gun may have been wiped before police found it.
Mr Spector, 67, denies murdering Ms Clarkson, who was found dead at his Los Angeles home in February 2003.
The defence claim Ms Clarkson, best known for her role in the film Barbarian Queen, shot herself.
'Mist-like stains'
Ms Herold said blood spatter on the front and back of Mr Spector's white jacket suggested he was standing within two feet of Ms Clarkson, with his hands raised, at the time of the shooting.
She said: "Most of the bloodstains on the jacket are mist-like. You can barely see them."
But when magnified 60 times, Ms Herold said they showed that the "piece of fabric was within two to three feet of the bloodletting event".
Mr Spector faces between 15 years and life in prison if found guilty.
She added that the jacket was on Ms Clarkson's right-hand side and was "forward-facing and the arms had to be raised so the spatter could get on the back".
Ms Herold's opinion is expected to come under attack by the defence, which maintains the same scientific data points to Mr Spector being six feet away from Ms Clarkson at the time of the shooting.
"Are you aware of German research that shows that backspatter can go five to six feet?" asked defence lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden.
"No," said Ms Herold.
Ms Herold also offered analysis of bloodstains on Mr Spector's trousers, a piece of bloodied cloth found in the bathroom, as well as blood smearing on the gun used to kill Ms Clarkson.
"Something bloody came in contact with the inside of the left pants pocket," she said, suggesting it could have come from Mr Spector placing the gun in his trouser pocket.
She also said there was "smeared blood" on the .38-caliber revolver that killed 40-year-old Ms Clarkson.
"It indicates to me there was some movement. There are places on the gun that would show some of the blood was moved or removed," said Ms Herold.



Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan have been staging protests over the UK's decision to confer a knighthood on the author Salman Rushdie.
They have held small-scale demonstrations in the southern port of Karachi, the eastern city of Lahore and in the capital, Islamabad.
Around 300 people in Islamabad chanted "Damn Rushdie" and "Down with Britain".
Sir Salman's 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, was condemned by Islamic states as insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
'Deserve death'
"Giving an award to such a big criminal is an insult to the entire Muslim world," Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, a pro-Taleban cleric and parliamentary opposition leader, said.
Religious leaders across the country echoed his views.
Sir Salman has said he is thrilled by the honour.
"Rushdie hurt the feelings of the Islamic world by writing a blasphemous book. Awarding the knighthood is an attempt to weaken the ongoing dialogue between religions," Liaquat Baloch, parliamentary leader of the radical MMA alliance of religious parties, told the AFP news agency.
The Speaker of the Punjab provincial assembly, Chaudhry Mohammad Afzal Sahi, said that he would kill Sir Salman Rushdie if he came face to face with him.
"Such blasphemers deserve death. Islam does not allow suicide attacks but it would be justified in the case of a blasphemer, who is worthy of death," he said.
Some protesters also called on Pakistan to expel the British high commissioner, a demand which correspondents say is unlikely to be met.
Giving an award to such a big criminal is an insult to the entire Muslim world
Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, Pakistani opposition leader
The chief minister of southern province of Sindh, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, said he was so enraged by the decision to honour Sir Salman that he was returning medals won by his grandfather and other relatives to the British High Commission.
Meanwhile the Pakistani parliament has renewed a call to withdraw for Britain to withdraw the knighthood.
"The British government has not withdrawn the title which has not only disappointed the entire Pakistani nation but has also hurt it," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi told the assembly.
"This august house again calls on the British government and its Prime Minister Tony Blair to immediately withdraw the title... and tender an apology to the Muslim world."
'Clear misunderstandings'
Britain has defended the knighthood - which entitles the author to be known as Sir Salman - arguing that it upholds free speech and is part of its desire to honour Muslims in the British community.
Protests called by religious and militant groups have also been held in Indian-administered Kashmir, where a shutdown is being observed in the capital Srinagar and other towns.
The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says that shops in most parts of the capital are closed and traffic has been affected.
On Thursday, a group of Pakistani Islamic scholars said they had awarded their highest honour to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in reaction to the British move.
The Ulema Council said it had awarded Bin Laden the title of "Saifullah", or "the Sword of Allah".
The Pakistani religious affairs minister said that he hoped to go to the UK soon to help "clear misunderstandings" about the Rushdie affair.
He said earlier this week that extremists could justify suicide attacks because the knighthood insulted the Prophet Muhammad.



The stranded food would feed 100,000 people for three months. The UN has appealed to Kenya to allow food aid for more than 100,000 people through its border to war-torn Somalia.
The 140 trucks have been stranded on the border for nearly a month, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) says.
Kenya closed its border with Somalia in January to people and commercial traffic but humanitarian assistance has previously been allowed to across.
Thousands have fled continued unrest around the capital, Mogadishu, where a curfew comes into force on Friday.
Sea routes to Somalia plagued by pirate attacks
WFP's Peter Goossens
Ethiopian and government troops ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamist group that controlled most of Somalia for six months last year, in December.
The UN has warned of rising malnutrition rates in Somalia where it plans to assist more than 1m people.
The WFP says their contracted trucks left the Kenyan port of Mombasa and were unexpectedly stopped when trying to cross at El-Wak.

"The Kenyan overland route was chosen because of major problems with sea routes to Somalia plagued by pirate attacks," said the WFP's Peter Goossens.
"Delays in distributing food this month to 108,000 people in Gedo district risks further aggravating the alarming rates of malnutrition that are already reported there."
Many trucks have waited so long at the border that they have been unloaded in recent days and the food moved to a local warehouse, the UN says.
In Gedo region, which borders Kenya, acute malnutrition rates of 15-20% were reported in April.
Earlier this month, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that malnutrition was increasing in the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions - areas around the capital.
Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, a huge roadside bomb exploded near the main seaport killing four policemen and one civilian on Friday morning.
The curfew, which will run between 1900 (1600 GMT) and 0500 (0200 GMT), comes into effect on Friday and will continue indefinitely.
Ethiopian troops are conducting a weapons' search in city's main Bakara market where eight people were killed on Thursday.
Correspondents say five people died on Friday morning in fierce fighting in Kismayo between clan militia seeking control of the southern port.
Explosions have also been reported in the central Bay and Hiraan regions.
BBC Africa analyst Mary Harper says the overall picture for southern and central Somalia is of a country collapsing into conflict.
The area previously controlled by the UIC is fragmenting into a patchwork of unstable regions, each beset with insecurity, she says.
The violence does not appear to be co-ordinated and it is rare for anybody to claim responsibility for the attacks.
It is unlikely that a national reconciliation conference due to start in Mogadishu next month will have an immediate effect on the situation.
Islamist leaders and a growing number of other Somali groups say they will not take part in any peace negotiations until the Ethiopians leave their country.



Hyperinflation has made food expensive to produce and buy. Zimbabwe's hyperinflation will force President Robert Mugabe from power, the US ambassador to the country has said.
Speaking to a UK newspaper, Christopher Dell predicted that inflation will leap to 1.5m% by the end of the year.
He said political discontent at Mr Mugabe's "disastrous economic policies" meant Zimbabwe was "committing regime change upon itself".
Zimbabwe has 80% unemployment and independent economists say inflation is running at 11,000% per year.
On Thursday, the value of the Zimbabwean dollar plummeted with black market exchange rates reaching 300,000 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar. The official rate is 15,000 to one.
'Lost faith'
"I believe inflation will hit 1.5m% by the end of 2007, if not before," Mr Dell told the Guardian newspaper, adding that he believed this was a "modest forecast".
He said prices were going up twice a day and people were turning to bartering rather than using rapidly devaluing cash.

Inflation: 4,500% (official estimate)
Unemployment: 80%
4m need food aid
Life expectancy: 37 (men), 34 (women)

Mobiles to beat fuel queues

"It destabilises everything. People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means they have completely lost faith in the government that issues it."
Mr Mugabe, 83, has already made it clear that he wants to stand for re-election but Mr Dell said he thought change would come sooner.
"Things have reached a critical point. I believe the excitement will come in a matter of months, if not weeks. The Mugabe government is reaching end game, it is running out of options."
On Thursday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai made similar predictions of an impending end to Mr Mugabe's rule.
"He's got an economy that's down on its knees, he knows he cannot sustain it," Mr Tsvangirai told the Associated Press.
"He knows he has an army that is jittery. He knows all his popular pillars of support are up against him."



Recent grisly murders have shocked Kenyans. The former leader of Kenya's outlawed Mungiki sect has been jailed for having an illegal gun and drugs.
John Kamunya, alias Maina Njenga, was sentenced to five years in jail by a Nairobi court for possessing a gun and nearly 5kg of marijuana.
After the sentencing, his two wives became hysterical, shouting insults at the police and pushing reporters.
Kamunya, now a Christian convert, was last month freed on another charge of recruiting Mungiki members.
The sect is blamed for beheading some 30 people in Nairobi and central Kenya last month.
Protection fees
A crackdown by the police in slums on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi and central Kenya has netted about alleged 1,000 followers of the Mungiki sect in the past month.


Banned in 2002
Thought to be ethnic Kikuyu militants
Mungiki means multitude in Kikuyu
Inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s
Claim to have more than 1m followers
Promote female circumcision and oath-taking
Believed to be linked to high-profile politicians
Control public transport routes, demanding levies
Blamed for revenge murders in the central region

Profile: Mungiki sect

"Credible witnesses who are police officers have proved the case against you and I have no choice but to sentence you for the crimes committed," magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka said.
Assistant Internal Security Minister Peter Munya told parliament this week the government was determined to wipe out the gang.
Mungiki followers have been demanding protection fees from public transport operators, slum dwellers and other businessmen in Nairobi.
Those who refuse are brutally murdered.
The Mungiki are thought to be militants from Kenya's biggest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.
Some commentators have linked them to politicians wanting to cause unrest and fear ahead of December elections.
The sect promotes female circumcision and oath-taking and was outlawed in 2002.



In response to a recent report suggesting the health service has collapsed in Zimbabwe, the BBC News website asks a dental surgeon (name withheld for safety concerns), 55, about how he keeps his private practice going. Inflation is already 3,714% - the highest rate in the world, and just one adult in five is believed to have a regular job.

The dental surgeon's wife travels to Dubai to buy basic supplies It has become extremely difficult to practise normal dental procedures that require a quotation because what you quote today will have changed by the time you start the procedure.
The only practical thing is to quote a patient in US dollars.
We take this approach because the currency is so unstable.
Obtaining materials, equipment, spare parts and replacements is very hard to do because there are no suppliers in the country.
One cannot buy foreign currency from the government. Buying from the parallel market is the only way.
I have to send anything that needs repairing to South Africa and payment has to somehow be arranged between myself and the company there... getting the money to them is a real nightmare.
Limited treatment
Basic things like local anaesthetic, sutures and bandages are always scarce. My wife travels to Dubai to buy my supplies.

Our most current problem is my staff not being able to afford their transportation to work
Dental surgeon, 55Harare, Zimbabwe
We are operating under difficult circumstances indeed.
But I am determined to carry on. We Zimbabweans, we persevere.
Despite what some say, Zimbabwe's health system has not collapsed completely. I say this because patients can still visit hospitals where they will receive treatment, albeit limited.
And there is much lacking.
Qualified personnel have immigrated en masse. Then there's the issue of post-operative care... because of the lack of drugs and other items necessary that specialised care requires many operations are not possible at government-funded hospitals here anymore.
Private clinic and hospitals are still operating though.

Carrying out normal dental procedures is extremely difficult
Our most current problem is my staff not being able to afford their transportation to work and then back home again each day.
It is the most recent difficulty. So far we are getting round it by subsidising. I can't keep increasing their salaries outright because then they will just get taxed at a higher bracket.
Instead we call it a travel allowance.
A lot of my colleagues have left and gone to neighbouring countries or overseas. But if you have been in practise a long time - 27 years, like me - you own your own practise, your home... What does one do?
You can't just pack your bags and leave. I can't. Who will look after everything I have worked so hard to get?
Poor country, poor family
I trained overseas and then I came home because I felt I had a contribution to make.
The worst scenario I have in my personal life is that I cannot provide for all of my children's needs.
When I was at college overseas I used to tell my friends that I was poor. I came from a poor country and a poor family.
All my father owned was a bicycle.
But, I would tell them don't worry, once I am a professional I will go back to my country and become successful and wealthy. Life would be good.
But now, because of the situation in Zimbabwe, I find that I am calling on those same friends of mine again to help with my children's tuition fees.
It is very hurtful to feel that you can't look after your own children.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cathy Buckle's weekly letter from Zimbabwe !


Dear Family and Friends,

I stood for over forty minutes in a line at the bank to withdraw my own money this week - its not unusual to have to queue for even longer than this. There was no electricity - again - so the ATM machines were not working - again. Even if the ATM's were working, those queues often need an hour and a half to get to the front. Because of the oppressive, iron-fist regulations from Harare, individuals are only allowed to withdraw one and a half million dollars at a time from the bank - even if they have just deposited a hundred times that amount the same day. The bank charges a 'handling fee' for the withdrawal of amounts of one and a half million dollars or less but you can cannot withdraw more without applying for permission from the Reserve Bank in Harare. To put all these figures in perspective, let me explain! You have to stand in a queue in the bank for four days in a row - each day drawing out the maximum amount, each day paying the 'handling fee," in order to purchase one tank of fuel for your car. Three days of maximum withdrawals will give you enough for one filling at the dentist. By the time you've got enough money together, the prices will have gone up again but for most of us all these things are just dreams anyway because now even a visit to the dentist has become an unaffordable luxury. Who would ever have imagined that a dental visit would be thought of as a luxury!

A combination of iron fist regulations, prices going up by an estimated 10 percent every day, and a government which appears completely clueless about what to do next, I think it would be accurate to say we have reached rock bottom. Thisweek the legislation enabling the government to read our emails, listen to ourphone calls and intercept our letters sailed through parliament and it producedbarely a ripple. Everyone is now only looking at the day to day human suffering and major national and international groupings have begun issuing the most frightening warnings.The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said recently :"It can no longer be said that the health service is -near collapse, It has collapsed."The International Committee of the Red Cross said that our health delivery system has collapsed to such levels as to be comparable to "a war situation."A Heads of Agencies Contact Group which includes 34 major organisations such asthe U N and Oxfam said: "economic collapse is expected before the end of 2007."They warn that by that time our currency will have become unusable and shops and services will have stopped operating. The Contact Group said: "it is inevitable,not just a possibility."And so how do we survive this last stretch? Frankly most of us don't know. Thisweek I heard the grim news from a friend whose wife is eight months pregnant. She lives in a rural area and has been told at the nearest health clinic that in addition to the financial charge, she must also bring a twenty litre container of water with her when she comes to give birth or they will have no choice but to turn her away. This is the reality of what we all hope is finally rockbottom.
Thanks for reading, until next week, love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle16 June 2007.www.cathybuckle.comMy books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:orders@africabookcentre.