Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zimbabwe Arms Shipment Turned Away By Angola

Zimbabwe Arms Shipment Turned Away By Angola Edit Delete
My dear readers, a happy May Day celebration to all of you. I always loved this holiday when I lived in the Republic.

I come with wonderful news for all of you. Angola has joined the chorus of other countries that have now refused to allow off loading of arms destined for Zimbabwe. Now the arms will go back to China.

The arms will now return to China. They are getting ready to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. They are very sensitive about their public image and human rights record around the world.

China will now give Zimbabwe a refund or send other products that will help the people of Zimbabwe rather than killing and maiming them.

All of you wonderful people of COSATU and other humble South Africans stood up to President Mbeki and the cabinet. Your loud voice of protest sent a strong message to the whole world.

If I was not an American, I would want to be a South African. All of you are wonderful!!!! You showed the whole world what democracy is all about. Please never forget the words of that classic song as follows:

"one voice singing in the darkness..

all it takes is one voice."

Reform Candidate Wins Popular Vote In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai wins vote: sources
Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:58pm EDT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe's presidential election, winning 47 percent of the vote against the president's 43 percent, senior government sources said on Wednesday.

One source, declining to be named like the others, told Reuters a run-off would be needed because Tsvangirai did not win enough votes for an outright victory.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said he won the March 29 vote outright and accuses Mugabe -- in power for 28 years -- of delaying results to rig victory.

The standoff over the election has raised fears of widespread bloodshed.

The MDC said on Wednesday 20 of its members had been killed by pro-government militias in post-election violence and that soldiers had taken part in the attacks. "Only over the past two days five MDC activists have been killed," it said.

The government has denied waging a violent campaign against the opposition and accuses the MDC of carrying out attacks.

Tsvangirai has said there is no need for a second round because he won outright but has also suggested he could take part if there were international observers led by the U.N..

If Tsvangirai refused to take part in a run-off, Mugabe would be declared the winner, according to election rules.

The MDC leader, who has been touring Africa seeking support, says he is a prime target for Mugabe's security forces but would return home when conditions were right.

There was no immediate comment from the Electoral Commission or opposition officials on the leaked result. The commission has invited candidates to start verifying the count from Thursday.

A top official in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said: "Those figures are in line with the official figures and the MDC knows that the official tally is more or less around that but they have been inflating their numbers to claim a false victory."


Zimbabweans had hoped the election would ease economic turmoil. Instead, severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening and there are no signs an inflation rate of 165,000 percent -- the world's highest -- will decrease.

The MDC and human rights groups allege ZANU-PF has embarked on a violent campaign to scare Zimbabweans into voting for Mugabe in a run-off, accusations the government denies.

Earlier, Mugabe's government dismissed the United Nations' first session on Zimbabwe's election crisis as "sinister, racist and colonial" and said it would have no impact on the country.

At the U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Western powers pressed for a U.N. mission or envoy to visit Zimbabwe.

"For us, this (U.N. session) is a sign of desperation by the British and their MDC puppets," Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told Reuters.

European countries, Latin American U.N. members and the United States supported sending an envoy, diplomats said, but South Africa, which currently holds the council presidency, said such a move was not a matter for the council.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has come under attack at home and abroad for his softly softly approach to Zimbabwe.

Former colonial ruler Britain has been at the forefront of international pressure on Mugabe. It is seeking an arms embargo on Zimbabwe, an investigation into post-election violence, and has called for the election results to be issued immediately.

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe and Nelson Banya in Harare and Charles Mangwiro in Malema; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

There's Gold In Them Thare Hills!

There's Gold In Them Thare Hills!!!!! Edit Delete
To all of my readers, I live in Northern California. I am not that far from where gold was discovered in the 1840's. This lead to the great California gold rush.

Please read my previous blog entry. We will have another god rush starting in Zimbabwe soon. Three centuries ago, Baron Rotschild made the profound comment as follows:

"When the streets run red with blood, INVEST! INVEST! INVEST!"

I have made a substantial investment in Zimbabwe. Everyone except my wife thought I was crazy. I know it has hit absolute bottom. When you get that low, there is only one way you can go--back up!!!!!

I have been lucky to be working with Guy Algeo and the incredible team of investment specialist at Imara S.P. Reid in Johannesburg ( They have been around 50 years. Most of the senior management comes from Zimbabwe. They have an office in Harare. If you are ready to make an investment in Zimbabwe, these people are the experts who can make it happen for you. You can email Guy Algeo at

Mugabe`s days numbered regardless of vote, mining industry bets

Production in Zimbabwe`s mining industry has fallen, despite booming metals prices
Production in Zimbabwe`s mining industry has fallen, despite booming metals prices

Zimbabwe`s mining industry, with the world`s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves, should be booming amid record prices. Instead, production has fallen.

Ferrochrome output alone has slumped by 15% since 2000. The industry and investors are betting that better times lie ahead. The key: the political future of President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe`s 84-year-old leader, whose economic policies have led to 80% unemployment and the world`s fastest inflation, is facing more candidates than ever as he runs for re-election March 29. Even if he wins, he`ll be pressed by his own party to step down, said Anne Fruehauf, an analyst at Control Risks in London.

"There are investment funds waiting in the wings`` should Zimbabwe`s leadership change and the economic outlook improve, said Mark Wellesley-Wood, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Metallon Corp, Zimbabwe`s biggest gold producer. "We are hunkered down. It`s been survival and preparation.``
A leadership change might set the stage for a rebound from the country`s decade-long recession and 100,580% inflation rate. Metallon and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd already are prepared to expand. Zimbabwe has some of Africa`s best roads and best-educated workforce, and the remnants of a manufacturing industry that once lagged behind only South Africa in the continent`s southern region.

To be sure, Mugabe has confounded expectations of his departure before. He said several times in the past few years that he intended to retire, without setting a date. He told the state-controlled Herald newspaper in April 2005 that he would retire at his term`s end this year, only to say in a February 2007 interview with the state-owned TV-One that "there`s no vacancy" as ruler of the country.
The March 29 election pits Mugabe against two principal foes: opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a rebel from his own Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, Simba Makoni. Opposition and human-rights groups accuse Mugabe of intimidating his opponents and preparing to rig the outcome.
Economic progress might come rapidly should Mugabe lose, or win and be pushed out. "I am certain that if there is political change, the turnaround will be quick,`` Greg Hunter, chief executive officer of Central African Gold plc, which bought two Zimbabwean gold mines last year and is considering expansion, said from Johannesburg.

Relatively little investment is needed to rehabilitate the industry, Hunter said. Power production could be ramped up at Zimbabwe`s coal-fired plant at Hwange in the northwest and the Kariba South Hydropower plant with minor equipment replacements. Many of the country`s gold mines aren`t closed. Instead, they have been maintained even while they were idled or had production cut.
For now, Impala Platinum is delaying portions of an expansion plan in Zimbabwe valued at US$750 million in 2005. As recently as 1999, Anglo American plc planned to boost its gold production 10-fold in Zimbabwe. Instead, it has sold ferrochrome smelters and nickel mines.
Zimbabwe last year produced 7.5t of gold, according to the Chamber of Mines, compared with 29t in 1999. Gold production is at the lowest level since 1907, according to John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare.
Mugabe`s seizure of white-owned commercial farms to redistribute to black subsistence farmers and allies has slashed export earnings needed for diesel and equipment to keep mines running. On March 7, Mugabe approved laws to compel foreign companies to sell 51% of assets to black Zimbabweans.

"They have the mineral resources; it`s only the presence of Mugabe that makes the West uncomfortable,`` said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst at Eurasia Group, a New York political-risk firm. "Once he has gone, there will be a sense of relief.``
Amos Midzi, Zimbabwe`s mines minister, didn`t return calls to his Harare office.
Impala, the world`s second-biggest platinum producer, now is limited to boosting annual output to 160,000oz by 2010 from just under 100,000oz last year, about 5 % of the company`s total output.
"The investment climate is a tricky one,`` Impala chief executive officer David Brown said in an interview. "Zimbabwe is a country that has a lot going for it. It needs stability.``

(Bloomberg, March 27)

Related Articles
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Miners cautious over Zimbabwe

Saturday, April 26, 2008

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dangers We Miss

Dear David:

    All of my friends who know me well know that I love World War II history. As a matter of fact, I wish I had lived at that time rather than now except for the fact I never would have met my dear wife Elena!!!

    My mind goes back to 1941 and Singapore. A couple of Japanese armies were moving down the Malay peninsula to capture the city. The Royal Navy had been rendered helpless with their major capital ships sunk by Japanese air attacks. The RAF had been reduced to a few planes with no fuel or ammunition. The RAF pilots were being evacuated by ship to Australia. The small British garrison knew that it had no hope of defeating the massive Japanese armies.

    Were the people of Singapore like the people of London or Stalingrad? Were they prepared to fight to the last man or woman to defeat the Japanese? No they were oblivious to what was going on nearby. There were grand parties being held all over town. People were dancing in the streets. You know the old saying: "Nero fiddled while Rome burned."

      Now let us move forward 67 years to now. Let us focus on the finances of the USA as follows:

1) A deficit approaching $9 trillion dollars. In addition you have trillions of dollars in unfunded Social Security, Medicare and pension liabilities.

2) A gigantic trade deficit that averages $168 billion per year or more.

3) State and local liabilities going into the trillions.

4) A war that will end up costing trillions.

5) A subprime loan crisis that could end up with bank losses of $1 trillion US dollars.

      The whole thing is now a house of cards waiting for somebody to pull one card out of place. The whole thing would collapse. The dollar would crash. We would no longer have the reserve currency of the world (The Euro would take that honor). We would slip into sovereign bankruptcy, as Argentina did in 2001.

      Asian investors buying US government bonds keep the whole charade going. It is mutual assured destruction. If they stopped US dollar investments, they would suffer massive losses.

      David we have not seen any of the three major presidential candidates "come clean" with the American people and say the following:

"Folks we are broke. We have to roll up our sleeves and work together to recover our money."

       Everyone in the market hopes that this mess will quietly "blow over" and the American economic machine will "right itself." They grab onto to any piece of good news as proof that everything is going to be all right. They move out of the safety of gold in the false assumption that everything once again is OK.

      As I work on putting together my new company all day long, I listen to Bloomberg TV in the background. Yesterday there were several experts, most saying that Gold was passed it prime. One major investment manager admitted all of his funds were in gold and cash because he wanted safety. Need I say more?

with kindest regards,
- Show quoted text -

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

South Africa's Elon Musk Scores Triumph With NASA!!

Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

April 22, 2008
NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to SpaceX
WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, a NASA Launch Services contract for the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

The NASA Launch Services contracts are multiple awards to multiple launch service providers. Twice per year, there is an opportunity for existing and emerging domestic launch service providers to submit proposals if their vehicles meet the minimum contract requirements.

The contract is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract where NASA may order launch services through June 30, 2010, for launches to occur through December 2012. Under the NASA Launch Services IDIQ contracts, the potential total contract value is between $20,000 and $1 billion, depending on the number of missions awarded.

The contract seeks a launch capability for payloads weighing 551 pounds or heavier into a circular orbit of 124 miles at an orbital inclination of 28.5 degrees. Payloads would be launched to support three NASA mission directorates: Science, Space Operations and Exploration Systems.

Because an IDIQ contract has been awarded to SpaceX, it can compete for NASA missions using the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles as specified by the NASA Launch Services contract process.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for program management. This award to SpaceX adds to the stable of launch vehicles available to NASA under previously awarded contracts. The original request for proposal was issued in 1999.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Open Letter To President-Elect Morgan Tsvangirai

An open letter to President-elect Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC Edit Delete
Dear President Tsvangirai:

        Like South Africa decades before, the will of the people has been heard. An obstinate and out of date power structure is blocking your ascension to power, as was the case of President Mandela in the 1980's. Fortunately you are not languishing in prison as President Mandela was.

        Please use Nelson Mandela and the ANC as a model for your resistance and fight on the stage of world public opinion. The ANC was the most successful national liberation movement of the 20th century. On any given day, their bank balance averaged $600 million US dollars. Despite the fact that many of their members and leaders were Marxist and labor union supporters, they enjoyed support across the whole political spectrum around the world. They were loved everywhere!!

      What was their secret? They called for a true democracy with human rights for every person living in South Africa. They called for a prosperity based on a partnership with government and business to build a dynamic economy. Their idea of income redistribution was not to take from the rich. Rather they saw the way was to create a much larger pie so everyone would have more. They kept violence in moderation. They did not frighten people.

      President Tsvangirai you are man like President Ignacio Lula in Brasil. You came from humble beginings. You worked with labor unions for decades. Now you find yourself on the centre of the world stage. Everyone is watching everything you do and say. This is your golden opportunity to sell yourself, your party, and your vision for Zimbabwe to the entire world.

      Please copy Nelson Mandela. Please be magnanimous. Please be positive. Please do not resort to violence or fear to make your points. Please make sure you are meeting with important people around the world every day. Please copy the email campaign that Senator Barack Obama has used to raise so much money in his race for the presidency of the US. Please learn how to use other internet tools like Facebook, etc.

     A lot of good people are out there to help you. They will open their hearts and their wallets to you.Please keep your deceny and your humanity as you fight seemingly impossible odds to get justice and a future for your people.

Best of Luck To You!
-Jack Waldbewohner
Elena E. Torello, MD

Stephen Hawking Calls For Moon And Mars Colonies

Stephen Hawking calls for Moon and Mars colonies
  • 23:56 21 April 2008
  • news service
  • David Shiga
Printable versionEmail to a friendRSS FeedSyndicate
Hawking spoke at George Washington University in Washington, DC, US, in honour of NASA's 50th anniversary (Image: NASA)
Hawking spoke at George Washington University in Washington, DC, US, in honour of NASA's 50th anniversary (Image: NASA)
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ten People Die In Zimbabwe Post Election Violence

Zimbabwe opposition: 10 people die in postelection violence

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer 30 minutes ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe - An opposition leader said Sunday that 10 people have been killed in violence since last month's disputed presidential election and 3,000 families have been forced from their homes.


Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, also said key members of the opposition's administration had been arrested along with more than 400 supporters.

Biti appealed to U.N. organizations present in Zimbabwe, saying the situation had escalated from a political crisis into a humanitarian one.

"They should move as a matter of urgency. They should move because Zimbabwe is a war zone," he told a news conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Zimbabweans are still awaiting results of the presidential election held three weeks ago alongside parliamentary voting. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he won the presidency outright and that the delay in reporting results is part of an attempt to steal the election by longtime President Robert Mugabe.

Biti said that violence since the March 29 elections had forced 3,000 families out of their homes. He said hundreds of people had been hospitalized with injuries and 10 people killed.

It was impossible to verify the claims, although doctors groups inside Zimbabwe have reported an upsurge in injuries needing treatment in recent days. There was no official comment from the Zimbabwe government. Media restrictions make it impossible for journalists within the country to investigate the situation in rural areas.

In addition to the limbo surrounding the president race, the opposition's landmark victory in the parliamentary vote also was being called into question over the weekend.

Electoral officials on Saturday began recounting ballots for a couple of dozen legislative seats being challenged — an exercise that could overturn the opposition's majority win. Most of the seats being recounted were declared for opposition candidates, including in Mugabe's home district of Zvimba.

Biti said the recount was rigged and the ruling ZANU-PF had tampered with tally sheets and ballot boxes.

"They created fresh ballot papers," he said. "It is quite clear the dictatorship will do everything ... to try to reverse the people's victory."

State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. said the full recount would take up to three days. The opposition called that yet another ploy to delay the publication of the presidential results. Tsvangirai claims he won more than 50 percent of the vote, but independent observers said it is unlikely he received an absolute majority.

Biti said that Mugabe's government had arrested more than 400 opposition supporters out of desperation, but that the opposition wasn't giving up.

"He (Mugabe) can delay ... but he will go," Biti said. "He hasn't stolen this election. We are still fighting."

Biti and Tsvangirai say they cannot immediately return to Zimbabwe as they face arrest. Mugabe's government has accused Tsvangirai of treason and plotting a regime change with former colonial power Britain.

Meanwhile, international pressure on Mugabe to release the election results continued to mount.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis with other African leaders on the sidelines of a five-day U.N. trade meeting that opened Sunday in Ghana.

Tsvangirai, who is trying to muster more diplomatic support in Africa, was due to travel to Nigeria and then Ghana and hoped to meet Ban.

Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general from Ghana who helped broke a peace deal after contested elections in Kenya, on Saturday questioned whether leaders on the continent were doing enough to help Zimbabwe resolve what he called "a rather dangerous situation."

"Where are the Africans? Where are the leaders and the countries in the region? What are they doing? How can they help resolve the situation?" he told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"It's a serious crisis that will impact beyond Zimbabwe and we do have a responsibility to work with them to find a viable solution," said Annan, who met with Biti on Friday.


Zimbabwe Arms Not Shipped!!!

Ship Ladened With 70 Tonnes Of Arms For Zimbabwe Sails Out Of South African Waters Edit Delete
IN 1994, the ANC came forward with a demand for the National Party. They wanted South African permanent residents to be given the right to vote in the country's first democratic election. President de Klerk (who is normally a very decent and humane man and a friend of mine) declined this request. The ANC organized protests. Some turn into violent confrontations. Finally the government relented and allowed permanent residents to vote.

It was the proudest moment in my life when I went to vote in April, 1994 in South Africa's first all-race election. On my death bed, I will treasure the memory of that sunny fall day in Port Elizabeth as the proudest moment of my life.

Now a few determined South African people have made me proud again. A ship loaded with 70 tonnes or arms destined for Zimbabwe landed at the Port of Durban. President Mbeki and the South African cabinet approved the shipment of the arms to Zimbabwe. They described the transaction as a normal shipment between sovereign states.

A few people imagined how many innocent people could be killed and maimed with all of those AK-47's and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. (Such weapons were used against me in Vietnam. I understand their killing power.)

The longshoremen at the Port of Durban refused to off load the arms. The Durban legal profession mounted a High Court challenge to the arms shipment. (I suspect they did this without receiving any compensation.) Their application was turned down.

But the protest lead to the ship with all the arms leaving South African waters. The ship tried to land in Mocambique. They were refused entry. They are now attempting to get landing rights in Angola. I suspect that the Angola government will turn them away also.

Dear readers this is democracy in action. It is proof that a few determined people can stand up and stop an injustice from happening.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Barack Obama Pulls Ahead In The Polls

Ongoing nomination fight hurting Clinton more than ObamaBy CHARLES BABINGTON and TREVOR TOMPSON, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a dramatic reversal, an Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll found that a clear majority of Democratic voters now say Sen. Barack Obama has a better chance of defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in November than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While Obama and Clinton are both sustaining dents and dings from their lengthy presidential fight, the former first lady is clearly suffering more. Democratic voters no longer see her as the party's strongest contender for the White House.

Voters of all types have gotten a better sense of Obama, who was an obscure Illinois legislator just four years ago. As more people moved from the "I don't know him" category in the AP-Yahoo! News poll, more rated Obama as inexperienced, unethical and dishonest. And 15 percent erroneously think he's a Muslim, thanks in part to disinformation widely spread on the Internet.

But Obama's positive ratings have climbed as well, while Clinton — widely known since the early 1990s — has been less able to change people's views of her. And when those views have shifted, it has hurt her more than helped.

The New York senator's ratings for being honest, likable, ethical and refreshing have fallen since January, and Obama scores higher than she does in all those categories.

Gains and Losses. Who has the best chance to win?

In late January, before Obama scored 11 straight primary and caucus victories, 56 percent of Democrats saw Clinton as the stronger nominee, compared to 33 percent for Obama. Now, Obama leads on that question, 56 to 43 percent.

Still, the poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, contains some worrisome signs for the first-term senator. Those rating him as "not at all honest," for example, jumped from 18 percent last fall to 27 percent in April. It came as he was put on the defensive over incendiary comments by his former pastor. But many holding such views are Republicans or conservative independents, who would be unlikely to vote in a Democratic primary or support a Democrat in the fall, anyway.

The most encouraging sign forObama is that many Democrats who previously saw Clinton as their party's best hope now give him that role. About one-third of them still prefer Clinton, but they have lost confidence in her electability.

"I would love to vote for Hillary," said Nancy Costello of Bellevue, Ky., one of the more than 1,800 randomly selected adults whose opinions are rechecked every few months. "I'm 67, and I'll probably never get another chance to vote for a woman."

But Obama now appears to be the stronger candidate, she said, and electing a Democrat in November is paramount. If McCain wins and continues many of President Bush's economic and foreign policies, Costello said, "I think I would just sit down and cry."

By tracking the same group throughout the campaign, the AP-Yahoo! News poll can gauge how individual views change. It suggests that Clinton has paid a price for hammering Obama since early February on several issues as she tries to overcome his lead in delegates and the popular vote. Among those Democrats who no longer consider her the more electable of the two, most now see her as less likable, decisive, strong, honest, experienced and ethical than they did in January.

Meanwhile, those same voters are more likely to see Obama as strong, honest and refreshing than before.

Beulah Barton of Leesburg, Fla., said she initially backed Clinton, partly because she liked Bill Clinton's record as president.

"But the more I hear her talk, and the more I hear him talk, the more put off I am," said Barton, 69. "I think she's brash, I think she's rude. I get the feeling that she feels she deserves to be president" and doesn't need "to earn it."

Barton said she likes Obama, and ignores e-mails suggesting that he refuses to salute the flag or is somehow threatening "because of his name."

"People try to make him look like a traitor," she said. "I think he has risen above most of that stuff."

Some misinformation sticks, however. The great majority of the poll's participants said this month they did not know the religious affiliation of Clinton (a Methodist) or Obama (United Church of Christ). But 15 percent ventured that Obama, whose father was Kenyan, is a Muslim.

That group includes more Democrats than Republicans, and it doesn't necessarily worry them.

Randi Estes, a Democrat from Ada, Okla., said she prefers Clinton but feels Obama is likely to win the nomination. "He's gotten very strong media coverage, and Bill Clinton's not helping her a bit," said Estes, 36, who has four children under the age of 6.

Speaking of Obama, she said, "I have a sense he's a Muslim."

If Obama wins the nomination, the poll indicates he will need to mend his image a bit as he battles McCain for independents and soft Republicans. His favorability rating among all voters has declined, with those ranking him as "very unfavorable" growing from 17 percent in January to 25 percent in April. Most of them are Republicans and independents.

In January, 30 percent of Republicans rated Obama very unfavorably. That grew to 43 percent in April. Among the coveted independents, 12 percent had a very unfavorable view of Obama in January. That has nearly doubled to 23 percent.

Obama would be the first black president, and the survey detected some evidence of racial discomfort in voters' minds. It found that about 8 percent of whites would be uncomfortable voting for a black for president. It produced an estimate of about 13 percent of Republicans who would feel that way, but suggested very few if any Democrats would now be uncomfortable. In November, about 5 percent of Democrats indicated discomfort at voting for a black person for president.

For Allen Lovell, a moderate Democrat in Everett, Wash., race is unimportant, but replacing Bush with a Democrat is vital. And lately he has concluded that Obama probably has the better chance of beating McCain.

"I am leaning towards him, not because he's black — because I'm white — but because we definitely need a change," said Lovell, 50.

He said the Democratic campaign has lasted too long, but there is one topic he'd like to hear more about. Lovell, who guessed that Obama is "either Christian or Muslim," said: "I don't think we're getting enough information on religion" from the candidates.

The survey of 1,844 adults was conducted April 2-14 and had an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. Included were interviews with 863 Democrats, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.3 points, and 668 Republicans, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 points.

The poll was conducted over the Internet by Knowledge Networks. It initially contacted people using traditional telephone polling methods, and followed with online interviews. People chosen for the study who had no Internet access were given it for free.

— AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Mugabe Orders Military Intimidation In Zimbabwe

Mugabe Orders Military Intimidation in Zimbabwe (Update1)

By Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe deployed the army, police and intelligence officers to intimidate voters in rural areas to ensure he wins a presidential run-off vote, two top members of his party said.

The officials, who belong to the ruling Zanu-PF party's politburo, said the security forces are working with youth militia loyal to the party and groups who describe themselves as veterans of Zimbabwe's 1966-1979 liberation war against a minority white-led government.

Mugabe, 84, sought to extend his 28-year rule of Zimbabwe in the March 29 presidential election, which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it won. While the results are yet to be released, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party officials have said none of the four contenders, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, attained the majority needed to avoid a second round. The MDC says it will only compete if international observers are allowed to monitor the election.

``The violence being perpetrated against rural Zimbabweans has reached epidemic proportions,'' George Sibotshiwe, a spokesman for Tsvangirai, said in an interview from Gaborone, Botswana, today. ``People are being beaten and even killed, women are being raped, children abused and houses burned to the ground.''

Zimbabwean police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the MDC is responsible for violence in rural areas and has western backers.

Regional Allies

Mugabe will also lobby regional allies such as Angola, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique to forestall international pressure on the government, the politburo members said. He will also seek financial support from China, which backed Mugabe during the 1970s civil war, and Iran, they said.

The officials were among those who had urged a settlement with the opposition, including the departure of Mugabe, at politburo meetings held this month. They declined to be further identified.

Support for Mugabe has withered after a failed land redistribution program from white commercial farmers to black farmers, many of whom only grow food for themselves. The program spawned a decade of recession and the world's highest inflation rate, 164,900 percent.

Earlier this month supporters, some of them veterans of the liberation war, occupied white-owned farms. The invasions are similar to incidents that helped him prevail during an election campaign in 2000.

Land Issue

Land is a sensitive issue for rural Zimbabweans. Ninety years of white rule saw half the country's arable land transferred to British colonizers, with black Zimbabweans mostly confined to remote, crowded and unfertile areas. During the liberation war, Mugabe relied on the support of land-deprived rural black Zimbabweans. The campaign led to peace talks in 1979.

At least 157 people have been injured in organized violence since the poll, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, based in the capital, Harare, said on April 15.

The South African government has meanwhile drawn criticism from opposition parties in the country, including the Democratic Alliance, after it said yesterday that it couldn't interfere with a shipment of arms destined for Zimbabwe that arrived in the port of Durban. The ship came from China and opposition parties want the shipment to be blocked.

South Africa's Transport and Allied Workers Union is refusing to have its members unload the ship or transport its contents to Zimbabwe by truck, the union's general secretary, Randall Howard, told Bloomberg Television.

UN Court

It would be difficult for South Africa to stop weapons traversing its territory, government spokesman Themba Maseko told reporters yesterday in Pretoria.

Separately, the MDC today called on the United Nations to set up a special court to try Mugabe and his allies for human- rights abuses.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai said South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki should quit his role as mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis and hand over to Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa because the crisis has gone on too long. Mwanawasa rejected the call today, a government spokesman said.

Last year, Mbeki was mandated by Southern African Development Community, a group of 14 countries, to mediate in the Zimbabwean political crisis. He pursued a low-key policy he dubbed ``quiet diplomacy.''

The South African leader was criticized by South African opposition parties after meeting Mugabe in Harare on April 12. He said then there was no crisis in the country, ahead of a SADC summit on the issue in Zambia later that day. Mbeki said his comments were taken out of context.

The ruling Zaniu-PF lost its parliamentary majority in last month's ballot for the first time since it came to power in 1980. The Electoral Commission says it hasn't announced the outcome of the presidential vote because of logistical problems.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham via Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.netAntony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at

Last Updated: April 18, 2008 07:47 EDT

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sasol An African Success Story

Black gold's gains pushes Sasol ^ TOP

Black gold heads higher and higher. Today it touched $115. George Soros was quoted as saying that commodities are in a bubble, but the bubble is still growing. Does this mean that Sasol, one of South Africa’s foremost technology companies is a good investment?

On the 8 April the company had a comprehensive investor day in New York. Timing of these investor "show and tell" days are always important and with crude prices at new highs, Sasol times this to perfection.

The date also coincided with Sasol’s 5 year anniversary of its listing on the New York stock exchange main board.

The investor day was designed to update analysts of the company’s strategic, operations and financial progress as well as an update to opportunities.

Sasol is the world’s leading provider of synthetic fuels and chemicals. As the price of fuel trends sharply up, Sasol’s technology taps into coal and natural gas in order to convert this to clean diesel, petrol and jet fuel.

Sasol has a powerful business model with 50 years of technological innovation, operating and continuously improving its large synfuels and chemical plants all using its proprietary technology to the Fischer Tropsch process.

They have 206 PhD’s on their staff.

Sasol’s SA operations remain the biggest contributor to earnings at 86%.

Internationally the business units are Sasol Synfuels International (SSI), Sasol Chevron and 50/50 Joint venture and Sasol Petroleum International (SPI)

Their presentation revealed some interesting statistics:

o 80% of world oil in 9 countries, representing just 5% of world population and 5% of GDP.
o 80% of world coal in 6 countries representing 45% of world population and 46% of GDP
o 80% of world gas in 13 countries, representing 12% of world population and 26% of GDP.

Sasol has a large pipeline of projects at various stages. Shorter term is the Oryx operation in Qatar, gas to liquid (GTL) in Nigeria.

Medium term is China coal to liquid (CTL), an increase of the Qatar footprint

Longer term is possible projects in US and India (CTL) and Australia (GTL)

Sasol Technology is at the heart of Sasol. Its here where Sasol employs 100 PhD’s, 2000 technical and support personnel and has filed about 590 patentable innovations of which more than 300 are in force in many countries around the world.

Staffing up is a big project in it own right, given in the war for talent.

In addition Sasol has recently announced the Sasol Inzalo black economic empowerment deal, which will effectively see 10% of Sasol owned by various groupings, in a total transaction valued at R25,9 billion.

4% will be at the employee share ownership level, where in the broad scheme 24 500 staff will benefit with an indicative value of R310 000 per person. 235 senior black management will receive 0,3% of Sasol with an indicative value per participant of between R2m and R9,8m.

The company’s year capex plan is R50 billion with financial 2008 estimated at R12 billion.

The cash generated by operations in the first half was up just 4% to R14,1 billion.

Sasol has indicated some sensitivities, which are useful to note:

o Should crude oil price increase by US$1/bbl then Sasol’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) will improve by R300m
o Should the rand weaken by 10c against the US$, then Sasol’s EBIT will improve by R600m.

The price tracked largely sideway for 2 years from 2003 – 2005. Then up sharply to around R250 at the end of 2005. Then sideways until 3rd quarter 2007 before shooting up again sharply to around R450. Should it get to targeted R500, it would have been in a relatively short space of time.

A great SA success story.

Kind regards

Ian de Lange

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brasil Moves To The Top 10 Of Oil Producers

Oil and Brazil

What lies beneath

Apr 16th 2008

Is there really an ocean of oil off Brazil?

JUST how much oil is there off the coast of Brazil? Until recently, Brazil’s oil reserves were thought to be relatively modest: about 12 billion barrels at the beginning of 2007, according to BP, or about 1% of the world’s total. But last year, Petrobras, Brazil’s partly state-owned oil firm, announced the world’s biggest oil discovery since 2000: the Tupi field, which it hopes will produce between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels. Now the head of Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency (ANP) says another nearby discovery might hold as much as 33 billion barrels, which would make it the third-largest field ever found. That alone would be enough to raise Brazil to eighth position in the global oil rankings—and there is talk of further big discoveries. But the peculiar way in which the information came to light is casting doubt on its significance.

The ANP, which regulates the oil industry in Brazil, was quick to distance itself from the remarks of its boss, Haroldo Lima. His comments were of a personal nature, it said, and were based on past reports in the media. It helpfully cited an article from a magazine, World Oil, that had mentioned the magic figure of 33 billion barrels in February. Petrobras and its partners in the field, BG of Britain and Repsol-YPF of Spain, said that they had not yet done enough tests to determine exactly how much oil it contained.

But no one dismissed the estimate as preposterous. That, plus the fact that a senior official had given any credence to such a dramatic number, caused the share prices of the three firms to jump, despite the fact that Mr Lima claims he does not even know where the stockmarket is, and certainly did not intend to influence it. At one point Repsol’s was up by 14%. The shares of Hess, an American firm which is part of a consortium looking for oil nearby, posted their biggest gain since 1981.

Both Tupi and the field mentioned by Mr Lima, Carioca-Sugar Loaf, lie far below the seabed, beneath a thick layer of salt that is some 800km long and 200km wide. José Sérgio Gabrielli, Petrobras’s boss, has hinted that there are vast reserves of oil to be found in this “pre-salt” formation. At any rate, Petrobras has struck oil every time it has drilled there. It is currently assessing the reserves of yet another nearby discovery, Jupiter, which appears to be very similar in scale to Tupi. The firm’s head of exploration says “there is practically no exploratory risk” in the area. While this does not necessarily transform Brazil into an oil power on a par with Venezuela or Saudi Arabia, as Dilma Rousseff, the chairman of Petrobras’s board and chief of staff to Brazil’s president, has excitedly proclaimed, it suggests that the volumes of oil involved are very big.

Nonetheless, the immediate impact of the “pre-salt” discoveries will be small. It will be several years at least before any of the new oil comes to market. What is more, it will be expensive to produce. The fields are all far out at sea, deep under ground that is itself far below sea level. Simply drilling the first test well at Tupi cost $240m, and costs are likely to rise, thanks to fierce inflation throughout the oil industry. As if to underscore the point, the oil price hit a new record, of $114.41 a barrel, a couple of days after Mr Lima dropped his bombshell.

Even if there is an ocean of oil off Brazil’s coast, it will not necessarily be of much benefit to big oil firms, which have struggled to gain access to promising territory for exploration of late, thanks to growing nationalism in oil-rich countries. Brazil had been a heartening exception. But after Petrobras announced the discovery at Tupi, the ANP cancelled a planned auction of rights to explore for oil in several adjacent areas. Mr Gabrielli, the boss of Petrobras, says that the state’s relatively low share of the revenues from oil production in Brazil should be increased to reflect the decreasing risks and increasing profitability of exploration.

The discoveries do suggest that the gloomiest pundits are wrong to predict that the world will soon run out of oil. It is not that there are still lots of huge oil fields out there: the number of mammoth discoveries is declining, Tupi (and perhaps Carioca-Sugar Loaf and Jupiter) notwithstanding. But the new finds do illustrate how the technology with which oil firms hunt for, extract and process fossil fuels is constantly improving. Petrobras’s recent success is only possible thanks to recent advancements in seismic surveys, drilling, and offshore platforms. Other technological developments are allowing a greater proportion of the oil found around the world to be recovered and are even expanding the definition of oil, as firms conjure liquid fuel from the solid tar-sands of Canada, for example, or from coal and natural gas. Indeed, among the shares that rose in the wake of Mr Lima’s comments were those of the firms that supply Petrobras with all its clever kit.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Justice At Its Worst

Lawsuit against prosecutors heads to Supreme Court Man who was wrongly convicted is seeking redress

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

(04-15) 04:00 PDT Los Angeles -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a man who served 24 years in prison before his murder conviction was overturned can sue two former prosecutors, including a former California attorney general, for allegedly violating his civil rights.

Thomas Goldstein, 59, was convicted of a 1979 murder on the strength of a jailhouse informant's testimony that Goldstein had confessed to the crime. The informant testified that he received no benefit in return, but evidence that came to light later suggested he had struck a deal to get a lighter sentence.

Two federal judges and a federal appeals panel eventually ruled that Goldstein was wrongly convicted and he was freed in 2004.

Prosecutors generally enjoy immunity from suits so they can make decisions without fear of legal retaliation. But Goldstein sued former District Attorney John Van de Kamp and his former chief deputy, Curt Livesay, claiming that as managers they had a policy of relying on jailhouse informants even though the practice sometimes produced false evidence.

Van de Kamp later became California attorney general. He still practices law in Los Angeles and chairs the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, set up by state lawmakers to look at ways of preventing wrongful convictions.

Van de Kamp and Livesay appealed to the Supreme Court after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, said Goldstein's lawsuit could proceed. The case will be argued in the fall.

"This is an issue that needs to be resolved," Van de Kamp said. "I don't draw any conclusions on how they are going to rule."

If Goldstein ultimately is successfully in suing, the case could lead to senior managers in other prosecutors' offices being held liable for the conduct of their prosecutors in the courtroom, Van de Kamp said.

A message left at Livesay's law firm in Long Beach was not immediately returned.

Goldstein was a college student when he was arrested for the Nov. 3, 1979, shotgun killing of John McGinest in Long Beach. Goldstein lived nearby, but no physical evidence implicated him and the weapon was never found.

The informant, a convicted felon named Edward Floyd Fink, made a deal with prosecutors in which he testified that Goldstein told him in a jail cell that he shot McGinest over an unpaid debt.

Fink, who testified that he had not received any benefit in return for his testimony, received 48 days in jail after pleading guilty to a grand theft charge, said his defense lawyer, Ronald Owen Kaye. These details never emerged during Goldstein's trial.

"He made a bald face lie in front of the jury and said he got no benefit," Kaye said.

Fink had testified in more than 10 cases that people confessed crimes to him while sharing a jail cell. Another eyewitness in Goldstein's case later recanted testimony identifying Goldstein as the gunman.

Van de Kamp is being represented by Los Angeles County in the case. He said he is unsure if he would be held personally financially liable if Goldstein prevails.

The case is Van de Kamp and Livesay vs. Goldstein, 07-854.

This article appeared on page A - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle