Why Afghanistan’s election campaign may look familiar to American TV viewers
By Wajahat S. Khan, Producer, NBC News
American-style debates, polling and current affairs programming are bringing a whole new level of political punditry to Afghanistan as the country prepares to elect a new president.
Campaign managers, TV producers and pollsters are hot commodities in Kabul as live “town halls” and meet-and-greet interviews aimed at driving the democratic debate forward are getting more attention than ever before.
Despite a stubborn insurgency and an economy that the World Bank has warned will shrink as the U.S. and other Western powers begin their military withdrawal in 2014, the country’s 30 national and more than 20 regional TV channels are thriving ahead of April’s election.
Ugandans fear curse of oil wealth as it threatens to blight ‘pearl of Africa’
Oil drilling may bring benefits in healthcare and education, but critics are concerned about corruption and the effect on wildlife
The Observer, Sunday 29 December 2013
Most of Uganda’s oil is in the Albertine Graben region in the west of the country, an expanse of lush green vegetation that is home to about half of Africa’s bird species. There are also baboons, antelopes and elephants.
A visit to Murchison Falls, one of five national parks in the region and the biggest game reserve in Uganda, reminds one why Winston Churchill thought the nation was the pearl of Africa. But tucked away behind all this startling beauty are 13 oil wells, right inside the national park. Drilling for oil in Uganda is caught between the demands of nature, public interest and commerce.
Erdogan points fingers in corruption scandal
As Turkey’s corruption scandal engulfs more members of his party, Prime Minister Erdogan is placing blame in several directions. He has denounced a parallel state steered from abroad as well as last summer’s protesters.
On Saturday (28.12.2013), thousands of people were gathered in Manisa, a town in Turkey’s Aegean region, to greet and support Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he fights to redeem his administration from the multimillion-dollar corruption and bribery investigation that has implicated senior government members. Many have speculated that Erdogan’s political rivals in the Gulen movement, headed by preacher Fethullah Gulen, used associates in the judiciary and police to bring the scandal to light.
“With your support and if God allows, we will win this struggle. There are only 90 days until [local] elections, and I want all of you to show everybody who owns the national will in this country,” Erdogan told voters in Manisa. His address came 10 days after news of the scandal began to break.
Russian screening of Pussy Riot film blocked by authorities
December 29, 2013 – 4:09PM
Moscow: The first public screening in Russia of a documentary about the activist group Pussy Riot was canceled by the government at the last minute Saturday, organisers said.
The film, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, was to have been screened in Moscow on Sunday afternoon, less than a week after two members of Pussy Riot were released from prison. Their two-year sentence, on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for performing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral, was commuted under an amnesty from the Kremlin on Monday.
But on Saturday, the directors of the Gogol Center, a state-financed theatre, received a call from the authorities threatening their jobs if they screened the documentary, said Maxim Pozdorovkin, who directed the film with Mike Lerner. A letter from the Department of Culture in Moscow formally banning the screening followed.
Africa a booming market for stolen cars
If luxury cars have become a more common sight on African roads, that is in part due to it becoming a prime destination for cars lifted off European streets.
Sapa-AFP | 29 December, 2013 10:04
Africa, along with Russia, is believed by Interpol to be the top destination for the quarter of a million unrecovered stolen vehicles in Europe in the past five years.
According to Sebastian Schmucker, in charge of combatting the trafficking of stolen vehicles at the international police agency, cars stolen in northern Europe usually end up in Russia, while those in southern Europe are shipped to Africa.
Century-old photo negatives found in Antarctic explorer’s hut
December 29, 2013 — Updated 0805 GMT (1605 HKT)
By Ralph Ellis, CNN
While a Russian-flagged vessel remains stuck in Antarctic ice, recently discovered photo negatives remind us this cold continent has been stopping explorers in their tracks for a century.
New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust found the negatives in an expedition hut from Capt. Robert Falcon Scott’s failed 1912 quest to become the first man to reach the South Pole.
The photos were taken during Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, another failed exploration whose members were forced to live in Scott’s hut after their ship blew out to sea.