Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Around the World in Five Minutes

Thousands Take to Streets in SA

Thousands of South Africans have taken part in demonstrations against a new road toll introduced by the government. The marches, organised by the Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu), took place in 32 towns and across cities. Cosatu says the proposed system will place a burden on the poor and has threatened nationwide rallies if it is not removed. The government has responded by saying the impact of the road toll on the poor has been exaggerated.
The electronic tolling planned for roads between Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, comes after government upgraded roads in and around Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup.

Yemen to Launch Anti-Measles Campaign

The Yemeni government is planning to roll out the first phase of anti-measles vaccinations in response to an outbreak. Vaccinations will begin on 10 March in seven of the worst affected areas, namely: Abyan, Aden, Lahj, Shabwa, Dahmar, Al Bayda, and Sa’dah.
 The vaccination campaign follows a rise in the number of children afflicted and killed by the disease. A report from the country’s health ministry at the end of February confirmed  126 children had died from measles since the middle of 2011, and there were more than 3,000 confirmed measles cases. Seventy percent of these cases, and all of the deaths, were among children under the age of five. 
UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health, WHO, and the US Agency for International Development, will launch the first vaccination outreach. The second phase of the campaign will broaden vaccination across the country, but is dependent on additional funding.
Dev Countries Achieve Safe Water Goal

The UN said on Tuesday developing countries have already achieved their 2015 goal of halving the number of people without regular access to improved drinking water, though much of the credit lies with India and China. However, the report noted some regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, are lagging behind. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the report. "Many rural dwellers and the poor often miss out on improvements to drinking water and sanitation."
 Overall in the developing world, 86 percent have regular access to safer water. But in the poorest countries - those labeled as "least developed" - only 63 percent have better water. That means that the drinking water target has not been met for more than 780 million people, the report said.
Cuba Unveils New AIDS Vaccine

Cuba has revealed a new AIDS vaccine which has successfully been tested on mice, and is now ready to be tested on humans. The Teravac-HIV-1 vaccine designed to fight AIDS is the result of cutting edge genetic engineering techniques and has been presented to scientists from 38 countries at the International Biotech Congress in Cuba. The vaccine will initially be tested on a small group of AIDS patients in the primary stages of the disease. About 15,400 registered AIDS patients live in Cuba currently, making it one of the countries with the lowest rate of infection worldwide.  
First Int'l Airline Returns to Somalia after 20-year Break

The first major commercial airline flight into Somalia’s capital in more than 20 years has touched down safely. Turkish Airlines' maiden flight to Mogadishu was the first from outside east Africa since the country descended into anarchy and war. 
Bekir Bozdag, the Turkish deputy prime minister, was among a high-profile delegation on board the flight from Istanbul's Atatürk airport. He was welcomed by Somalia's president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and other high-ranking government officials. Bozdag said: "After 20 years of a lack of international flights to Europe, Asia and America, the Turkish government has facilitated for the Somalis to travel by Turkish Airlines to the world again." 

Somalia has been engulfed in chaos and conflict for more than 20 years. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that fighting, famine and disease have killed up to a million people since the last government collapsed in 1991.


  1. Thanks Fresher Angle, Good to see some good news at last! Congrats to the Somalis. It's a nice change to see an indication in the country of a transition from anarchy to organisation.
    As for the action of the South African government, I do not blame the country's citizens for being irritated. From all indications it looks like they are being made to pay for debts left over from hosting the World Cup. As for the impact being exaggerated: please give me one example of where a government toll put in place has been reduced? Nope, they are always increased. My advice to COSATU is to rigorously resist road tolls now else, roads being the principal means of transport in SA, it will lead to increased prices in other goods and services also.

    1. I appreciate your comment on the demonstrations by COSATU in South Africa. Personally I have no problem with a tolling system on major roads. Tolling is one way of clawing back infrastructural investment by governments. The N1 freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria has received huge upgrades running into millions of Rands. The ANC government has been consulting on the introduction of toll gates.obviously not everyone agrees but the effects on users have been exaggerated by COSATU, who lately have been engaged in anti establishment protests in a bid to undermine the efforts of the central government. The inflammatory rhetoric by COSATU sec Gen Zwelimanzi Vavi has been unhelpful to say the least.

    2. Nice to see U back Will. As a national of South Africa you're in a better position to discuss what's best for the country in practical terms. So I'll abide by your advice on the tolling system for SA. The only other point I noted from your suggestions is that like most other governments it seems that SA has fallen for the trap of basing infrastructural development on debt, rather than spending within its budget. Let's hope all of us governments, especially in Africa, apply more wisdom.

  2. Well done Cuba, though it seems that in its present form the vaccine can only help the early stages of AIDS, it represents a major advancement. The challenge for Cuba is how not to allow their invention to be high-jacked by monopolist companies in the USA. 'Cos the latter companies will be the ones able to pay the most for such technological innovations and it will be sold to them resulting in very expensive drugs.
    As for Yemen I was rather suprised that they were talking about vaccination depending on the availability of funding as I had always thought of Yemen and other Arab countries as comparatively rich. Or what is the oil money obtained by them spent on?

  3. As for the incapability of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide themselves with simple drinking water, one cannot but begin to wonder again if such data is not a confirmation of an inability to simply organise themselves amongst the Africans? Yes there are historical reasons, etc. But surely simply organising ones own backyard should not prove too difficult? What does the African need to organise himself? External supervision or internal principles suggested are welcome.

  4. Dlaw, thanks for being such a faithful poster! I agree with everything you've said. I'll just point out that Yemen is not among the oil-rich Arab states. It is one of the poorest and least developed Arab country.

    I wish I could answer the question about Africa. Its problems are too convoluted to explain away. It's little wonder many Africans would rather settle for the hypothesis that Africans are descendants of a cursed man. Once again, I appreciate your comments.