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The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor's of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.
The government filed a civil complaint late Monday against S&P, the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency related to the financial crisis.
S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing. It says the government also failed to predict the subprime mortgage crisis.
But the government's lawsuit paints a picture of a company that misled investors knowingly, more concerned about making money than about accurate ratings. It says S&P delayed updating its ratings models, rushed through the ratings process and was fully aware that the subprime market was flailing even as it gave high marks to investments made of subprime mortgages. In 2007, one analyst forwarded a video of himself singing and dancing to a tune about the deterioration of the subprime market, with colleagues laughing.
Ratings agencies like S&P are a key part of the financial crisis narrative. When banks and other financial firms wanted to package mortgages into securities and sell them to investors, they would come to a ratings agency to get a rating for the security. Many securities made of risky subprime mortgages got high ratings, giving even the more conservative investors, like pension funds, the confidence to buy them. Those investors suffered huge losses when housing prices plunged and many borrowers defaulted on their mortgage payments.
This arrangement has a major conflict of interest, the government's lawsuit says. The firms that issued the securities could shop around for whichever ratings agency would give them the best rating. So the agencies could give high ratings just to get business.
The government's lawsuit says that "S&P's desire for increased revenue and market share ... led S&P to downplay and disregard the true extent of the credit risks" posed by the investments it was rating.
For example, S&P typically charged $150,000 for rating a subprime mortgage-backed security, and $750,000 for certain types of other securities. If S&P lost the business – for example, if the firm that planned to sell the security decided it could get a better rating from Fitch or Moody's – then an S&P analyst would have to submit a "lost deal" memo explaining why he or she lost the business.
That created sloppy ratings, the government said.
"Most rating committees took less than 15 minutes to complete," the government said in its lawsuit, describing the process where an S&P analyst would present a rating for review. "Numerous rating committees were conducted simultaneously in the same conference room."
According to the lawsuit, S&P was constantly trying to keep the financial firms – its clients – happy.
A 2007 PowerPoint presentation on its ratings model said that being "business friendly" was a central component, according to the government.
In a 2004 document, executives said they would poll investors as part of the process for choosing a rating.
"Are you implying that we might actually reject or stifle `superior analytics' for market considerations?" one executive wrote back. "...What is `market perspective'? Does this mean we are to review our proposed criteria changes with investors, issuers and investment bankers? ... (W)e NEVER poll them as to content or acceptability!"
The lawsuit says this executive's concerns were ignored.
A 2004 memo said that "concerns with the objectivity, integrity, or validity" of ratings criteria should be communicated in person rather than through email.
Also that year, an analyst complained that S&P had lost a deal because its criteria for a rating was stricter than Moody's. "We need to address this now in preparation for the future deals," the analyst wrote.
By 2006, S&P was well aware that the subprime mortgage market was collapsing, the government said, even though S&P didn't issue a mass downgrade of subprime-backed securities until 2007. One document describing the performance of the subprime loans backing some investments "was so bad that analysts initially thought the data contained typographical errors," the government lawsuit said.
In March 2007, one analyst who had conducted a risk ranking analysis of 2006 mortgage-backed securities wrote a version of "Burning Down the House": "Going - all the way down, with/Subprime mortgages."
A video showed him singing and dancing another verse in front of S&P colleagues, who laughed.
Another analyst wrote in a 2007 email, referring to ratings for mortgage-backed investments: "The fact is, there was a lot of internal pressure in S&P to downgrade lots of deals earlier on before this thing started blowing up. But the leadership was concerned of p(asterisk)ssing of too many clients and jumping the gun ahead of Fitch and Moody's."
The government filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely, and said that S&P's alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. .
If S&P is eventually found to have committed civil violations, it could face fines and limits on how it does business. The government said in its filing that it's seeking financial penalties.
The action does not involve any criminal allegations. Critics have long complained about the government's failure to bring criminal charges against any major Wall Street players involved in the financial crisis.
Criminal charges would require a higher burden of proof and carry the threat of jail time.
McGraw-Hill shares rose 25 cents to $50.55 in Tuesday's premarket session, after plunging nearly 14 percent the day before on the expectation that a lawsuit would be filed.
Shares of Moody's Corp., the parent of Moody's Investors Service, another rating agency, rose 31 cents to $49.45 before Tuesday's opening bell, after closing down nearly 11 percent on Monday.
US planning to establish a drone base in Africa for better surveillance of region’s militants
Plans to base unarmed American surveillance drones in the African nation of Niger highlight the Obama administration’s growing concern about extremist influences in the volatile region. They also raise tough questions about how to contain al-Qaida and other militant groups without committing U.S. ground forces in yet another war.
In the short run, a drone base would enable the U.S. to give France more intelligence on the militants that French troops are fighting in neighboring Mali. Over time it could extend the reach not only of American intelligence gathering but also U.S. special operations missions to strengthen Niger’s own security forces.
The U.S. and Niger in recent days signed a “status of forces agreement” spelling out legal protections and obligations of American forces that might operate in Niger in the future.
Pentagon spokesman George Little acknowledged the agreement, but declined Tuesday to discuss U.S. plans for a military presence in Niger.
“They expressed a willingness to engage more closely with us, and we are happy to engage with them,” Little said, adding that the legal agreement was months in the making and saying it was unrelated to the recent fighting in Mali.
The U.S. has found some of its efforts to fight extremists hobbled by some African governments, whose own security forces are ill-equipped to launch an American-style hunt for the militants yet are reluctant to accept U.S. help because of fears the Americans will overstay their welcome and trample their sovereignty.
At France’s request, the U.S. has flown 17 Air Force transport flights to move French troops and their equipment to Mali in recent days, Little said. U.S. aircraft also are conducting aerial refueling of French fighter jets based in Mali, he said, and those operations will continue.
Other U.S. officials said the Pentagon is planning a new drone base in northwestern Africa — most likely in Niger — but the plans are not yet complete. It would provide more extended U.S. aerial surveillance of militants in the region without risking the loss of air crews. The main U.S. drone base in Africa is in Djibouti in East Africa.
Niger has accepted the idea of hosting unarmed U.S. drones as well as conventional and special operations troops to advise and assist Niger’s military on border security, but it has not endorsed armed U.S. Predator strikes or the launching of U.S. special operations raids from their territory, according to a senior U.S. military official briefed on the matter. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
Africa is increasingly a focus of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, even as al-Qaida remains a threat in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. The recent terrorist attack on a natural gas complex in Algeria, in which at least 37 hostages and 29 militants were killed, illustrated the threat posed by extremists who have asserted power propelled by long-simmering ethnic tensions in Mali and the revolution in Libya.
"As a nation, we are firmly committed to turning the tide on the 30-year-old fight against AIDS. That’s why I proudly announced last year that creating an AIDS-free generation is a new policy imperative for the United States. To be clear, we still face enormous challenges. Far too many people are dying from this disease. We need
to reach more people with both prevention and treatment services. But today, thanks to remarkable scientific discoveries and the work of countless individuals, organizations and governments, an AIDS-free generation is not just a rallying cry—it is a goal that is within our reach.
At the International AIDS Conference this past July, I asked our Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, to prepare this blueprint outlining our path to helping create an AIDS-free generation. I want the next Congress, the next Secretary of State, and all of our partners here at home and around the world to understand everything we’ve learned and to have a road map for how the United States will contribute to an AIDS-free generation.This blueprint should make one thing clear: the United States is and will continue doing our part. But creating an AIDS-free generation is too big a task for one government or one country. It requires the world to share in the responsibility. We call on partner countries, other donor nations, civil society, faithbased organizations, the private sector, foundations, multilateral institutions and people living with HIV to join us as we each do our part.
Together, we can deliver a better future to millions across the globe. A future where children are not born with HIV… where teenagers and adults are at far lower risk of contracting the virus… where those who do have the virus get lifesaving treatment. A future where every child has the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential."
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State
Pepfar Blue Print http://www.pepfar.gov/documents/organization/201386.pdf
Since the 1973 oil embargo imposed on United States by Arab oil producing nations, United States has not relented in pursuit of strategies to make America energy secured and sufficient. The energy security was paramount to United States because of its dependency on foreign oil especially in the troubled Middle East. American modern industrial complex is run on oil and she cannot afford to be vulnerable to the instability in Middle East, its primary source of oil. Finally, the formulated strategy is bearing fruit in a big way and United States has apparently reached the promised land of energy sufficiency and it will soon export crude oil by 2014.
Earlier, United States strategic interest was extended to Nigeria where the supply of sweet ebony crude oil was more reliable. Nigeria was a good alternative to Middle East where political insecurity and instability are threat to oil shipment to United States. The energy policy makers and business community in America does not want to rely solely on the Middle East oil. Therefore looking beyond Middle East was a smart strategic move, not that they abandon oil supply from that part of the world but they diversify their sources of oil supply to include Mexico, Canada, Nigeria, Venezuela and many other places in southern hemisphere.
But even with the myriad sources of oil supply to America, it has not abandon oil drilling and exploration within continental America. It is a goal and principal task among oil explorers in United States to make a quantifiable difference in supply of energy for internal consumption. With innovative technology, strategic planning and implementation, they are beginning to win the battle. The technology and cost that hampered local exploration of oil deposits have been improved and scientifically uplifted. The cost of production is managed brilliantly with insight and innovations that are now bearing fruits.
With intensive research and development, United States has struck gold with discovery of fracking process for recovery of ‘lost’ oil embedded on rock formations in deep underground. Since 1951 US discovered a large oil deposit at Bakken formation which is at the landscape which encompassed Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan. But the rock formation was difficult to extract oil from but with fracking procedure US will soon become an oil exporting nation that will rival Saudi Arabia and OPEC. The 1920 Mineral Leasing Act which restricted oil export in United States may be abrogated.
Chris Swann, Reuters Breaking views columnist, writing on this subject put it this way:
“America’s energy boom is spurring a clash between the realms of politics and economics. Meaningful exports of oil have been banned for almost a century. But with output surging and crude fetching a 20 percent discount at home, producers want to ship it overseas. BP, Royal Dutch Shell and four others have applied for limited licenses to do just that. Unblocking trade could benefit everyone.
The 1920 Mineral Leasing Act allows producers to sell only tiny amounts of black gold abroad. Even shipments to Canada require a special license – BP has just secured one. At present America exports just 47,000 barrels a day, against imports of over 8 million barrels. Yet production has shot up 32 percent since 2008.
The output surge has been gradually helping to make America more energy self-sufficient. The only drawback is that there’s not as much demand at home for the light sweet crude generated by new fields – and many U.S. refineries are configured to process heavy sour crude. On top of that, the pipeline network for transporting domestic crude is inadequate.”
At the Bakken formation there is a reliable crude oil deposit up to 4.3 billion barrels and together with other oil spots in America, there will be no need for America to import sweet light crude from Nigeria because the land mass at Bakken Formation contain essentially sweet light crude.
At the present United States imports 15 percent of its oil from Nigeria and it was projected to import about 25 percent of its oil consumption from Nigeria by 2015. But with discovery of fracking process and with the large deposit of crude oil at Bakken, Nigeria has to look for another market for its oil export and consumption.
Energy security and sufficiency has been United States priority and it can now join the family of oil exporting nations. United States did a great job in energy conservation, together with Natural Liquefied Gas, and other energy alternatives in a mix; it propelled US to achieve energy sufficiency.
Nosedive of price and oil glut
Nigeria policy makers and National Assembly were squabbling over $75 pegging of oil benchmark for 2013 budget but they come short of realistic strategic econometric forecasting of oil price by 2014. In the next couple of years the price of oil will come down but no expert can say for sure how much it will be but there are chances that price of oil will dramatically nosedived with United States exporting oil and competing with OPEC on the world stage.
Another leverage United States will enjoy over Nigeria and OPEC nations is its ability to refine its own crude oil. Although, many of the oil refineries in United States were technologized to process high sulfur oil; but US will overcome the shortcomings by building refineries geared for sweet light crude refining, while simultaneously getting a helping hand from nearby Canada.
Nigeria will feel the heat and may lose more than other OPEC members because she failed to diversify her economy and leverage oil generated revenue for development. The Nigeria’s economy still depended on oil for 95 percent of its foreign exchange; the economy is not diversified but rather ridden with 'chop chop' corruption. The economy lacks the incentive that it needs to attract a large and enduring capital that will make a difference in the life of an average Nigerian. The core social and physical infrastructures that enable the wealth creation to be sustainable are absent because Nigeria failed to have a clear cut priority. Buying private jets, drinking expensive wines and siphoning money abroad will not cut it. Nigeria cannot boast of uninterrupted supply of water and electricity for a full day. That is incredible!
Nigeria does not have seasoned leaders and patriots to turn the country around. As the President Jonathan said, one person cannot do it alone but at same time Nigerians must not be waiting to be invited to build their own nation.
Nigeria‘s future Market
The appropriate thing to do is to look for market in Far East especially in China, Japan and India. These nations are already doing business in Nigeria; China for one is not a stranger in Nigeria, where she is playing an important role in oil exploration. This can also be said of India; the truth is that things are going to change because United States will not abandon those markets for Nigeria and OPEC nations. With all the internal insecurity bubbling in Nigeria: the kidnappings, killings, corruption, unreliability; China and India may even prefer to buy oil from United States that is more reliable, without rancor and instability.
Therefore Nigeria must stop and look at internal market for its energy consumption especially within Nigeria and West Africa. But, first and foremost, building more refineries are quite essential to cease refining oil abroad. Nigeria has the internal market for its energy consumption. Building electricity plants that are run with its own energy which are in ample supply is the way forward. The good thing coming out of this, is that the time has come for Nigeria to look inward and appease the energy demand in the economy rather than sending those resources off shore.
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
January 24, 2012
The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in the city of Kano and Bauchi state in Nigeria over the past several days. We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this senseless violence. We call for a full investigation of the attacks and for those responsible to be held accountable.
This is a time for all Nigerians to stand united against the enemies of civility and peace. Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity is a source of strength for the country and those who seek to undermine that strength with divisive tactics cannot succeed.
The United States remains strongly committed to working with Nigerian officials to find a way to bring peace to the north through both security and political responses and to work with the Nigerian government and others in the international community to promote greater economic development and long-term growth throughout northern Nigeria. We reiterate the importance of protecting innocent civilians in any law enforcement response to such attacks. These issues are at the center of the regional security cooperation working group meeting taking place in Abuja January 23-24, as a part of the U.S. – Nigeria Binational Commission.
Echoing the words of the late President J. .F Kennedy, "We will go to the moon and do other things, NOT because they are easy but because they are HARD." In a nutshell that is what raising United States debt limit is all about, if it was an easy issue there will be no need for the politicians to be scrambling for more favorable positions. It may not be as difficult as going to the moon but it may require same willpower.
The economic impact of not raising debt ceiling and subsequent default by United States may have domino effect on Nigeria and Africa as a result of AGOA and NEPAD. Most African countries have their reserve in US dollar which may depreciate in value if United States's AAA credit rating is downgraded. Many African countries receive foreign assitatnce from United States which may be slashed or be cut off when economic hardship continues in America. The key aspect of this is that America is a major trading partners to Nigeria and South Africa in particular and Africa in general.
The elected politicians of both Republican and Democrat parties can politicized the issue of debt limit from Washington to Timberakutu, but the reality is that there is no easy solution. One thing for sure, debt limit will be raised and failing to so come with untold hardship that will shake American economic foundation. Another thing is not just raising the debt limit but there is also a time factor. It is must be raised at the due time which was said to be August 2.
There is time and place for politics but this one in particular is not for it. Hey, no one can blame the politicians for not trying but it is time for them to quit dancing around and sit down and do the business of the people. Politicians are looking back at their constituencies and home base to determine what and how to negotiate. That is all good and dandy to seek support from your base, but in finality an elected politician be it the president or the speaker must make the tough decision. That is why they were elected in the first place to represent the people and make decision that is good for the country.
The die is cast and the Federal debt limit must be raised at the allotted time and failing to do so will come with economic ramification that will thicken economic hardship for the American people. Both the Wall Street and Main Street will not escape the economic woes that results due to the failure to raise the debt limit. Even the political elites – the elected politicians in Washington DC will not escape the frustration of the American people when they failed to deliver on debt limit. The voting public will definitely start once again with a clean slate by throwing away most politicians in 2012 election.
American greatest economic asset is the confidence that global economic players have in it. Investors are always trusting in putting their scarce resources in America by buying T bills and bonds knowing quite well that it will be redeem at the due time. Therefore when United States defaults on their financial obligations by not servicing and paying interest on their debt that will be a great disappointment, a big blow and the end of trust.People have come to take this for granted the confidence they and rest of the world have in US economy. But this confidence was not built in day; it takes years of accumulated hard work and sacrifices by great men and women of this country, framers, leaders and hard working tax payers who endeavor assiduously to solidify and consolidate this confidence and trust.
United States economic wellbeing might be at stake when Moody Rating and Standard & Poors’ downgrade the credit rating of the country if United States defaults. The AAA rating US has enjoyed since 1917 that justify American Super power economy may be downgraded. What it actually means that it be more difficult for American government to borrow money. In this case to borrow money the United States has to induce prospective buyers of treasury bills and bonds with higher interest rates. The greatest peril with such a scenario is that US cannot afford to pay higher interest rates on debts because they do not have the money and with $14 trillion debt, the debt servicing will take a big chunk of the budget expenditure. That in turn will threaten the welfare programs provided by the government. The American people will be faced with shift austerity measures as a result of downgrading of the credit rating. Subsequently, most of the programs offered by the government will be terminated or greatly slashed and cut down drastically.The government will resort and compel the Federal Reserve Bank to print more money and that is a fertile ground for higher inflation.
The greatest disaster that will come with the inability for the government to raise the federal debt limit will be a rising inflation resulting from printing of paper currency (dollars) in order for the government to meet its financial obligations. The making of higher inflation with lower credit rating will make life difficult for American people as it comes with higher unemployment, higher interest rates on credit cards and depreciation of standard of living.
Momentarily, the heat of inflation is beginning to show is ugly face gradually. But when the raising of debt limit falls apart, the surging inflation will make life difficult because dollar will worth less for domestic consumption. In this case employers will let go of more workers as result of economic slowdown and households with fixed incomes will not meet up paying their bills and providing for their loved ones. Economists are predicting a fresh recession not just double dip. All the gains made by this administration will fall apart and economic suffering will mightily increased.
Compromise is the Answer
In actuality lifting the debt ceiling is more of a fiscal problem than political but it needs political management. The executive and legislative arms of the government must do something real fast and come to some sort of agreement. There should be a meeting of the minds and there must be the ‘c’ word which is compromise.
President Obama and Speaker Boehner playing golf
President Obama and Speaker Boehner must find a common ground to strike a deal in order to avert the ramification that will come with the inability to raise the debt limit. This is a serious business and compromise is the answer. Politicians from both parties must be willing to leave their comfort zones and loosen their ideological nets to make the great compromise and save the day.
With these words, "We, the democratically elected representatives of the people, based on the will of the people of South Sudan, and as confirmed by the outcome of the referendum of self-determination, hereby declare South Sudan to be an independent and sovereign nation," James Wani Igga the South Sudan’s parliament speaker on Saturday announced and proclaimed the Independence of a new country in Africa. The news network AFP reported the following from Juba, Souhern Sudan: "The independence declaration was read out in front of dozens of heads of state, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and foreign dignitaries as well as tens of thousands of cheering southerners. South Sudan’s national flag was then raised, to wild applause, tears and song. "We shall never, never surrender," the crowd chanted, as people whistled and wiped tears from their eyes."I should cry for the recognition of this flag among the flags of the world," shouted one tearful man. "We have been denied our rights. Today, no more shall that happen," he added. The declaration affirmed the new state’s democratic and multi-ethnic and multi-confessional character, and its commitment to friendly relations with all countries "including the Republic of Sudan", Igga said. The parliament speaker said that as a "strategic priority," South Sudan would seek admission to the United Nations, the African Union, the east African bloc IGAD and other international bodies. Southern leader Salva Kiir then signed the transitional constitution and took the oath of office as the new state’s first president, swearing to "foster the development and welfare of the people of South Sudan." Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, the first foreign dignitary to speak, declared that his country "fully recognises" South Sudan. AP Egypt, another key regional power, also officially recognised the Republic of South Sudan, Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Oraby said on his arrival in Juba for the celebrations, the official MENA news agency reported. President Barack Obama announced that the United States formally recognised the new state. "I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011," Obama said in a statement. The head of the visiting US delegation, Susan Rice, told the people of South Sudan: "Independence is not a gift you were given, but is a prize you won." "We salute those who did not live to see this moment — from leaders such as Dr. John Garang, to the ordinary citizens who rest in unmarked graves. We cannot bring them back. But we can honor their memory," she said. UN chief Ban Ki-moon, also speaking at the ceremony in Juba, said it was an important day for the United Nations, which has been in engaged promoting peace in Sudan for many years. "Today we open a new chapter when the people of South Sudan claim their freedom and dignity that is their birthright," he said. Ban commended Kiir and Bashir for the "difficult decisions and compromises" but noted key unresolved provisions of the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan’s devastating north-south civil war. He called on South Sudan to build its nation, saying sovereignty was "both a right and a great responsibility." Ethiopia’s President Meles Zenawi said his country recognised South Sudan’s sovereignty and looked forward "to welcoming you as a full member of IGAD." China’s special envoy extended President Hu Jintao’s "warmest congratulations" to the "young Republic" of South Sudan, while noting the ongoing negotiations between north and south. He said Beijing, Sudan’s main trading partner and the largest investor in its key oil industry, hoped the two sides could be "good neighbours, partners and brothers forever." British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that London also recognised the new state. The World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick also congratulated South Sudan, pledging to be "a strong partner as we help transform a day of independence into a decade of development."
With these words, "We, the democratically elected representatives of the people, based on the will of the people of South Sudan, and as confirmed by the outcome of the referendum of self-determination, hereby declare South Sudan to be an independent and sovereign nation," James Wani Igga the South Sudan’s parliament speaker on Saturday announced and proclaimed the Independence of a new country in Africa.
The news network AFP reported the following from Juba, Souhern Sudan:
"The independence declaration was read out in front of dozens of heads of state, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and foreign dignitaries as well as tens of thousands of cheering southerners. South Sudan’s national flag was then raised, to wild applause, tears and song.
"We shall never, never surrender," the crowd chanted, as people whistled and wiped tears from their eyes."I should cry for the recognition of this flag among the flags of the world," shouted one tearful man. "We have been denied our rights. Today, no more shall that happen," he added.
The declaration affirmed the new state’s democratic and multi-ethnic and multi-confessional character, and its commitment to friendly relations with all countries "including the Republic of Sudan", Igga said.
The parliament speaker said that as a "strategic priority," South Sudan would seek admission to the United Nations, the African Union, the east African bloc IGAD and other international bodies.
Southern leader Salva Kiir then signed the transitional constitution and took the oath of office as the new state’s first president, swearing to "foster the development and welfare of the people of South Sudan."
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, the first foreign dignitary to speak, declared that his country "fully recognises" South Sudan.
Egypt, another key regional power, also officially recognised the Republic of South Sudan, Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Oraby said on his arrival in Juba for the celebrations, the official MENA news agency reported.
President Barack Obama announced that the United States formally recognised the new state. "I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011," Obama said in a statement.
The head of the visiting US delegation, Susan Rice, told the people of South Sudan: "Independence is not a gift you were given, but is a prize you won."
"We salute those who did not live to see this moment — from leaders such as Dr. John Garang, to the ordinary citizens who rest in unmarked graves. We cannot bring them back. But we can honor their memory," she said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, also speaking at the ceremony in Juba, said it was an important day for the United Nations, which has been in engaged promoting peace in Sudan for many years.
"Today we open a new chapter when the people of South Sudan claim their freedom and dignity that is their birthright," he said.
Ban commended Kiir and Bashir for the "difficult decisions and compromises" but noted key unresolved provisions of the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan’s devastating north-south civil war.
He called on South Sudan to build its nation, saying sovereignty was "both a right and a great responsibility." Ethiopia’s President Meles Zenawi said his country recognised South Sudan’s sovereignty and looked forward "to welcoming you as a full member of IGAD."
China’s special envoy extended President Hu Jintao’s "warmest congratulations" to the "young Republic" of South Sudan, while noting the ongoing negotiations between north and south.
He said Beijing, Sudan’s main trading partner and the largest investor in its key oil industry, hoped the two sides could be "good neighbours, partners and brothers forever."
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that London also recognised the new state. The World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick also congratulated South Sudan, pledging to be "a strong partner as we help transform a day of independence into a decade of development."
President Barack Obama has invited his Nigerian counterpart President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan to White House on official visit scheduled for June 8th, 2011. This is an important invitation and has strategic implications as President Jonathan commenced to assume responsibilities as president of Nigeria. This invitation is beyond drinking of tea and other diplomatic niceties at White House, it is essentially rested on developing and consolidating relationship for mutual interest.
As an emerging nation and giant of Africa, Nigeria is playing a vital role in the continent supplying the largest peace keeping force for peace making and conflict resolutions in Africa. And with increasing Nigerian prestige, together with the last successful election, Washington is extending a solid hand of continuing friendship recognizing quite well that China is becoming a key business partner in Nigeria and Africa.
President Jonathan in White House
From any point you look at it, Nigeria is a force for good in Africa. South Africa's economic power notwithstanding, Nigeria is the most important country in Africa. Apart from being the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria with her economic reform and accelerating economic growth is poised to become the richest and largest economy in Africa in the near future.
Nigeria is the sociological and cultural leader in the African world; defining and setting trends on what it means to be an African in 21st century. Most importantly, Nigeria is making waves in scientific innovations, business, sports and arts with the help of Nigerian Diasporas in US and around world, together with the help of ever growing and influential Nollywood .
Nigeria needs United States of America and vice versa. This is a meeting of mutual respect that will enable a better understanding of the world largest economy America and a vibrant emerging nation Nigeria. America needs a partner in Africa to tackle many issues of trade, terrorism, health and climate changes. Nigeria with its ample human and natural resources can able to do it with a well-discipline leadership found in President Jonathan.
The intrinsic point to make here is that Mr. Jonathan's hand is strengthened as a leader democratically elected by the people, as his mandate came from the consent of the populace. What took place in Nigeria in the last election gave President Jonathan a resounding victory and it was anything short of historic. Both local and international observers accepted the election process and outcome to be relatively free and fair. Some have even called it the freest and fairest election in Nigeria.
The internal politics and state of affairs of countries are significant because it becomes a barometer to quantify respect that a president is accorded by the outsiders especially in this case of Nigeria's leader invitation to the White House. It is good for President Jonathan because he represents a new face of the emerging democratic Nigeria.
President Jonathan won his election by going to the people and asking for their votes and mandate; and America respects a leader who understand the power of the people and who honors the genuine wishes of the people. In other means the president coming to Washington is an invitation based on merit and mutual interest.
The policy makers and leaders of most dynamic democracy, United States will listen to the words of the Nigerian president for they know quite well that he is speaking for the entire people of Nigeria for he was truly elected by the people of Nigeria. The election of a leader by the ballot papers is very important because it is a mark of advanced civilization and respect of rule of law.
President Obama knew quite well that President Jonathan is a serious and discipline leader. When Mr. Jonathan uttered the right words and asked thatnobody should rig for him in the past election. President Jonathan lived up to his utterance by rejection election riggings and shenanigans. By so doing he formulated a bright and enriched future for his nation.
At the dawn of 21st century Nigeria needs friends like America who will be willing to offer a true friendship based on mutual respect as they tackled African existential problems in particular and global problems in general. Therefore the second outing of President Jonathan to Washington is a good thing for it will enable both parties to forge and further a partnership that will aid to further peace, co-operation, capitalism and democracy in Nigeria and Africa.
USA 5 : China 1 : Africa 0. It's Time to Get Our Game On
Team China has exactly one objective in Africa: the Chinese want to capture as much of the natural resource base as is possible to continue to fuel China's economic growth. Because the Chinese are singularly focused on this objective, they are incredibly efficient. Their development policy, their trade policy, their above board payments, and even their corruption are all perfectly aligned. They are a formidable opponent on this continental battlefield.
Team US is in disarray. Part of this stems from the fact that U.S. citizens are among the most generous people in the world. As a result, we have a multitude of agendas in Africa. We are interested in eliminating disease, decreasing poverty, improving education, and putting an end to child slavery. We are interested in ending the rape crisis in the Congo, saving the gorillas in Uganda, stopping the genocide in Somalia, and eradicating malaria across the continent.
We are interested in these things while simultaneously recognizing that we too can benefit from Africa's vast natural resources. Our cheap cell phones, our stunning diamonds, our superior Gibson guitars, not to mention some oil, are all made possible by the same natural resource base that China is trying to make away with.
In fact, US tops Germany and China by about 200 billion as the world's top exporter. Frankly, we simply don't have a domestic natural resource base that is large enough to maintain that level of production over the long term so we have to source the supplies from developing countries.
But, our interest in Africa isn't all work and no play. Have you ever been on a safari? It is fabulous. Mind blowing. Life changing. We want to visit Africa, spend our tourist dollars, photograph people, hunt wildlife, check off birds on our bird lists, buy souvenirs, and accrue fantastic stories. We spend billions of dollars to do these things.
Finally, we need an African continent that is reasonably stable because it has direct bearing on our own national security. The Department of Defense spends more than a few dollars in ensuring that poverty and disease don't translate into more terrorism training camps.
In summary, we have economic, development, philanthropic, recreational and security interests in Africa all of which are predicated on the same thing the Chinese want: the natural resources.
The problem is that while China has the singularly focused, narrowly honed strategy, we have absolutely no coherent policy on natural resource management whatsoever. Effectively, our right hand doesn't know what our left hand is doing. Sometimes our right hand doesn't even know there is a left hand.
For example, in Tanzania, the famed Serengeti generates over $1 billion in tourist dollars a year and employs 600,000 people. The Chinese are financing a road that will run right through the middle of the park threatening the tourism industry.
Simultaneously, Tanzania is in the middle of a drought and the Tanzanians are upping their development aid requests to the U.S. This 11th hour battle makes no sense: the Tanzanians are going to work with the Chinese to destroy one of their biggest revenue sources and then ask us for money to save their poor who are facing a seemingly interminable drought. What is especially mind blowing is that the Tanzanians have been asking for help to build a road, any road, for the last 14 years, but we couldn't get our act together to come up with a coordinated plan -- and we still can't.
Further afield, the South Pacific Tuna treaty collapsed last week because several businessmen were able to co-opt the playing field, and the natural resource management community was nowhere to be seen.
In short, Papua New Guinea wanted tuna to be more sustainably sourced because catch data shows a steep decline in the numbers of fish left. Bigeye Tuna catches, for example, are down over 50 percent.
A couple of U.S. businessmen, who own Taiwanese companies, thought it would be handy if they flew the U.S. flag on 25 of their Taiwanese vessels allowing them to dodge rules such as boats should be built in the U.S., vessels should carry U.S. crews, and tuna should be canned in the United States or U.S. territories.
While returning little value to the U.S. taxpayer and/or consumer, the businessmen benefited from treaty perks such as a $1600 per U.S. vessel cost to fish as compared to Japan's $6000. The treaty fell through because the conservation folks, Commerce, Department of Defense, and State Department have absolutely no idea what their position is and taxpayers are left with a fishery on the verge of collapse, 25 years of hard work in shambles, and millions of U.S. philanthropic and taxpayer dollars wasted.
What do we do about this quandary? Three things:
First we encourage the US Government to get organized. One way to do this is build a unit that coordinates efforts between departments. While this is a new idea as pertains to management of natural resources, it has precedents in different shapes and sizes. Such coordination in effort won't cost more, in fact, it will save money. Efforts to do this are underway and should be supported.
Second, civil society, including NGOs, foundations, and corporations, need to work across sectors to plan, implement, and monitor efforts. There are a lot of organizations trying to make a lot of good things happen. All it takes is one Chinese road through a project area to undermine the thousands, in some cases millions of dollars that are being invested. The only way to garner enough strength to stop the Chinese is to combine financial and technical resources and work together as a team.
Finally, we have to recognize that careful use of natural resources and smart economic planning are necessary to help developing countries climb their way out of poverty. This means listening to the needs and objectives of developing countries and ensuring that solutions are found that support the big picture. It is hard to see the big picture when your citizens are dying from famine, disease and drought. Our generosity and economic policies can help bridge the divide between the short term needs and long term goals that poor countries often face.
If we are going to play this game we have to play smarter and faster than the Chinese. These natural resources in Africa, and elsewhere, are finite. The solutions are there, the money is there, the technology is there, we just have to get our lineup in order.
Jamie Bechtel is an American citizen and the Co-Founder and CEO of NEW Course and is a highly regarded leader in international conservation. Her work has led to strategic advances in the fields of conservation, sustainable finance, and biology.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sends congratulory message
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I applaud the people of Nigeria for their enthusiastic and orderly participation in the April 16th presidential election. This historic event marks a dramatic shift from decades of failed elections and a substantial improvement over the 2007 presidential election.
While this election was a success for the people of Nigeria, it was far from perfect. We urge the Independent National Electoral Commission to transparently review and take appropriate and transparent action on all allegations of "under-age" voters, violence and intimidation, ballot stuffing, and inordinately high turnout in some areas of the country.
The United States condemns the acts of violence related to elections and we call upon all candidates, political parties, and supporters to respect the results of the election and channel any grievances or challenges peacefully through established, administrative and legal redress. The international community will closely watch the upcoming gubernatorial elections and we call on all Nigerian stakeholders to support a credible and peaceful electoral process.
We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission and Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega along with many others across government and civil society for their strong collaboration and dedication to democracy. They provided a real opportunity for the Nigerian people to select their most senior leaders and will position Nigeria to build its democracy through strong governance, transparent institutions, and economic development.
The United States congratulates President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his election and wishes him well in meeting the many challenges facing Nigeria and in providing the good governance Nigerians deserve. This election represents a positive new beginning for Nigeria.