Thursday, December 01, 2011

Experts at Congressional Hearing Warn of Threat to U.S. from Nigeria's Boko Haram

1 Dec 2011 00:56 Africa/Lagos

Experts at Congressional Hearing Warn of Threat to U.S. from Nigeria-Based Boko Haram, Link to AQIM

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011

Cite danger of expanding terrorist ties across Africa's Sahel, flooded by Libyan arms

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a hearing today of the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, experts warned that the Nigeria-based militant group, Boko Haram, is posing an emerging threat to U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland. The panel also heard compelling evidence that Boko Haram has established links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is expanding a broad network of terrorist ties to militant groups across Africa's Sahel, including Somalia-based al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and members of the separatist Polisario Front based in Algeria.

"The U.S. intelligence community has underestimated the threat potential of terrorist organizations in the recent past," said a bipartisan report released at the hearing: Boko Haram – Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland . "Boko Haram's attacks are occurring at their greatest frequency since the sect emerged from hiding in 2010." The report warns, "AQIM is making a focused attempt to extend its area of operations and sphere of influence into the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa." An alliance between Boko Haram, AQIM, and other militant groups, the report concludes, could "prove costly for the stability of Africa, the Sahel, and American interests."

The hearing was convened by Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, who also authored the bipartisan report.

The report cites a recent warning by U.S. General/AFRICOM head Carter Ham that a potential alliance of AQIM with Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and other militant groups in the region "would be a very, very dangerous outcome" for the U.S. Recent news of Libyan arms smuggled to the Sahel and evidence of AQIM "outsourcing" abductions and other terrorist acts to Polisario members in Algeria add urgency to the threat.

Testifying at the panel, Peter Pham, Director, Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council, said "the fact that Boko Haram in recent months has been able to simultaneously expand its operations beyond its base in northern Nigeria and dramatically upgrade its tactical capabilities ought to be a wake-up call to both the Nigerian government and the international community." Of reported Boko Haram-AQIM links, Pham said "AQIM has a history of contracting out kidnappings to mercenary groups and disaffected groups in the region, including Polisario fighters." He cited Boko Haram, AQIM, al-Shabaab, and the Polisario as the most problematic militant groups in the region.

Lauren Ploch, Specialist in African Affairs, at the Congressional Research Service told the panel that "Boko Haram or AQIM may try to acquire weapons systems from former Libyan stockpiles, including surface-to-air missiles, which some reports indicate may be flowing south through Niger" and into Nigeria. She noted that Nigeria is one of only a few West African countries with direct flights by U.S. airlines to and from the U.S.

In a letter submitted to the Committee for the hearing, Robert Holley, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy, cited serious concerns "about the growing ties between AQIM and the refugee camps administered by the Polisario Front near Tindouf, Algeria," which "have become an obvious recruiting ground for AQIM and their allies like Boko Haram." He noted that AQIM's recent kidnapping of Western aid workers from the Polisario-run camps, reportedly with Polisario insider help, mirrors AQIM's hiring of Polisario veterans to kidnap Spanish nationals in 2009, which is documented by Mauritania court records.

** To view a video playback of the hearing, go to:

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. For more, please visit

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy

CONTACT: CONTACT: Garth Neuffer, +1-202-470-2055,

Web Site:

30 Nov 2011 19:11 Africa/Lagos

When it Comes to Risky Sexual Behavior, Americans Top the List
Durex Global Survey Data Released for World AIDS Day

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2011

NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Durex announced the findings of its 2011 Durex Sexual Wellbeing global survey -- and many of the implications are shocking. Among the more eye-opening observations is the fact that overall, U.S. men and women are practicing the riskiest sexual behavior in many measures. In fact, six out of 10 U.S. men and women (60 percent) didn't use any form of protection against HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when they lost their virginity.

The Durex Sexual Wellbeing global survey, conducted annually since 2006, has examined the sexual attitudes and behaviors of more than 29,000 people across 36 different countries with a goal of identifying areas where safety and protection can be improved.

Durex, a global expert in sex and sexuality, released the survey data to support the 23rd annual World AIDS Day ( taking place on Thursday, December 1, 2011. The theme of World AIDS Day 2011 is "Getting to Zero," and the global community has committed to zeroing in on three targets: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. The survey finds that people around the world are not being as smart as they could -- and should -- be in taking steps to be safer when having sex. And Americans are the biggest risk takers of all, according to the poll results.

So what did the Durex Sexual Wellbeing global survey find?

1. Six out of 10 U.S. men and women (60 percent) didn't use any form of protection against HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when they lost their virginity. This number is startlingly high when compared to the lower rates in other countries such as Mexico (49 percent) and Colombia (47 percent).
2. Among those who risked not practicing safer sex, the largest proportion of U.S. men and women (49 percent) say they were confident their sexual partner was free of STIs, although one in five (20 percent) of all those in a relationship admit they are unsure of their partner's experience.
3. And close to a quarter of all U.S. women (24 percent) who have taken a risk say it was a mistake they regretted.
4. U.S. men claim to have an average of 20 different sexual partners in total -- fewer than the men in Canada (27) or Australia (24) but more than in France (19), Britain (17) or Mexico (15).
5. Meanwhile, U.S. women have had 10 partners on average, the same number as women in Britain and France but more than in Canada (9) and Italy (8).

"It is of great concern to discover how many sexually active American adults are putting their health, and that of their partners, at risk," commented Kevin Harshaw, Marketing Director, U.S. Personal Care, Reckitt Benckiser. "The findings highlight how important it is to continue the efforts to inform and educate sexually active Americans of all ages.

The survey was commissioned by Durex, the world's No. 1 condom brand[1], which carries out a range of health promotion initiatives to encourage better and safer sex. It was conducted online in 35 countries and face to face in Nigeria by Harris Interactive among a total of 29,003 adults (aged 18+) in 36 countries between Sept. 6 and Oct. 3, 2011. The U.S. results had a base of 1,019 respondents. The complete survey findings will be released in March 2012.

For more information and statistics from the survey, please visit

About Reckitt Benckiser

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is a world leader in household, health and personal care. It is an FTSE top 25 company, and since 2000, net revenues have doubled and the market cap has quadrupled. Today, it is globally ranked first or second in the majority of its fast-growing categories, driven by an exceptional rate of innovation—typically about 35 percent of net revenue comes from innovations launched in the prior three years. It has a strong portfolio led by 19 global power brands, which account for 70 percent of net revenue: Airwick, Bang, Calgon, Clearasil, Dettol, Durex, Finish, French's, Gaviscon, Harpic, Lysol, Mortein, Mucinex, Nurofen, Scholl, Strepsils, Vanish, Veet and Woolite. RB people are at the heart of the company's success. They have an intense drive for progress and action and a desire to outperform wherever they focus, including in CSR, where the company has the most ambitious corporate responsibility program in the industry through its Carbon 20 initiative. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, the company employs about 25,000 people worldwide, with operations in more than 60 countries and sales in almost 200 countries. For more information visit

About World AIDS Day

The theme for World AIDS Day, Dec 1, 2011, is "Getting to Zero." After 30 years of the global fight against HIV and AIDS, this year the global community has committed to focusing on achieving 3 targets: "Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths." Progress towards meeting these targets has already started. Annual new HIV infections have dropped by 15 percent since 2001 and AIDS-related deaths have declined from 2.2 million in 2005 to 1.8 million in 2010. The achievements of individuals, communities and political leaders over the last 30 years are reflected in the impressive gains that can be seen today. However, getting to zero requires the global community to continue its commitment to universal access to antiretroviral treatment, to delivering HIV and AIDS education and to eliminating all forms of stigma and discrimination. Play your part in the global action against HIV and AIDS, take the AVERT AIDS Challenge and raise awareness by sharing it this World AIDS Day.

[1] Based on global Nielsen unit share data for the 52 weeks ending 1/1/11

Cindy Tanenbaum
Euro RSCG Worldwide PR

SOURCE Reckitt Benckiser

Web Site:

30 Nov 2011 11:56 Africa/Lagos

Media Alert: Launch of the African Diaspora Marketplace / Western Union and USAID invite you to an online press conference to launch the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) II

ABUJA, November 30, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Western Union and USAID are going to held an online press conference on Monday, December 5th, at 13:00GMT (Time Converter), for the launch of the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) II.

African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) II ( is the second phase of a successful initiative, which encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African Diaspora entrepreneurs. The ADM II offers grants to implement ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa in high priority, high-impact sectors, including agribusiness, renewable energy, and information and communication technology (ICT).

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-funded foundation that promotes the competitiveness of the African private sector, is joining the ADM II partnership, designed to create entrepreneurial solutions to economic and social challenges.

In 2010, the African Diaspora Marketplace awarded more than a dozen matching grants of $100,000 each to winning business entries in seven countries.


Barbara Span, VP, Public Affairs at Western Union from Washington D.C.

Jeff Jackson, Senior Private Sector Advisor, Africa Bureau at USAID from Washington D.C. .

Dr. Wiebe Boer, CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation from Lagos, Nigeria

WHEN: Monday, December 5th, at 13:00GMT (Time Converter:

Languages: English

How it works: This service is FREE and only requires a computer connected to the internet.

HOW TO JOIN: Simply click on this link to register:

Contact: +41 22 534 96 97 – Email:

Distributed by the African Press Organization for Western Union.

Source: Western Union

30 Nov 2011 06:46 Africa/Lagos

West Africa / Ericsson and Sony Ericsson partner to run competition for application developers in West Africa

ABUJA, November 30, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Ericsson Gives West African developers a global stage

• Ericsson and Sony Ericsson partner to run competition for application developers in West Africa

• Local developers are invited to submit innovative ideas and mobile applications

• Application entries will be automatically registered for the global competition with a chance to win a €15,000 cash prize.

Ericsson ( in partnership with Sony Ericsson has announced plans to run a regional competition for application developers on the Android platform. The competition titled ‘Apps for Africa' is to run under the aegis of the 2012 Ericsson Application Awards (EAA 2012) - an ongoing annual competition for application developers worldwide organized by Ericsson Research.


‘Apps for Africa' is designed to promote the development of innovative ideas and mobile applications from a variety of environments and situations peculiar to the region. These are expected to enable new opportunities for people to collaborate, innovate, learn, care and participate in more efficient ways that positively impact our environment.

This competition is an amazing opportunity for local talent to showcase their capabilities in the global community of innovators and developers said Gary Dewing, Country Manager of Ericsson Nigeria “It reflects our reflects our ambition to use technology to change lives for the better”.

Members of the winning teams in each region will each receive a Sony Ericsson Xperia phone, while teams in second place will receive Business Experience Packs (incl. Sony Ericsson MW600, office pro, McAfee, and a micro USB cable).

Jorgen Berg, Head of Market Unit Africa at Sony Ericsson comments, “Our objective for Sony Ericsson is to be the preferred choice for Android devices by delivering the most entertaining smartphones and adding value to people's lives. We are thrilled to run this Android Application Competition which will bring about innovative solutions to enrich the user experience of our Xperia handsets.”

The competition is open to students and to small and medium sized enterprises in Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Interested developers in are required to register teams of two to four people online at before February 01, 2012 and submit either a video of idea or an Android based application that addresses the theme and makes use of at least one Ericsson Labs API (e.g. Mobile Location or Text To Speech) before February 28th, 2012.

The competition will be rolled-out across Sub Saharan Africa in November. All application submissions will be automatically entered into the global competition - EAA 2012 - ‘Apps for the Networked Society', for the chance to win a €15,000 cash prize.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Ericsson.

Notes to editors:

About EAA 2012 - Apps for the Networked Society

The EAA 2012 awards themed ‘Apps for the Networked Society', will run till May 2012, the competition provides a unique opportunity for developers to gain exposure within the telecommunications world and a chance to reach out to customers via Ericsson's distribution channels in addition to the opportunity to win the latest top of the range Sony Ericsson phones and €15,000 in prize money.

More information on the Ericsson Application Awards:

Guest Blog from one of the 2011 winners:

News release announcing 2011 years winners:

Interviews on Youtube:

What's in my kitchen application demo:

Our multimedia content is available at the broadcast room:

Ericsson ( is the world's leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. Ericsson is the leader in 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technologies, and provides support for networks with over 2 billion subscribers and has the leading position in managed services. The company's portfolio comprises mobile and fixed network infrastructure, telecom services, software, broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and the media industry. The Sony Ericsson and ST-Ericsson joint ventures provide consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices.

Ericsson is advancing its vision of being the “prime driver in an all-communicating world” through innovation, technology, and sustainable business solutions. Working in 180 countries, more than 90,000 employees generated revenue of SEK 203.3 billion (USD 28.2 billion) in 2010. Founded in 1876 with the headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, Ericsson is listed on NASDAQ OMX, Stockholm and NASDAQ New York.


Ericsson Corporate Public & Media Relations

Phone: +46 10 719 69 92


Ericsson Investor Relations

Phone: +46 10 719 00 00


Source: Ericsson

30 Nov 2011 05:13 Africa/Lagos

Nigeria urged to halt bill banning same-sex relationships

LONDON, November 30, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Amnesty International today reiterated its call on Nigerian authorities to scrap a harsh bill that if passed into law would attack basic rights and criminalize relationships between people of the same gender.

Nigeria's Senate passed the “Same-Gender Marriage” bill today. It will now go before the House of Representatives for approval, after which it will be sent to the President.

By broadly defining “same-sex marriage” as including all same-sex relationships, and targeting people who “witness”, “aid” or “abet” such relationships, the bill threatens the human rights of a large number of people.

“Nigeria's House of Representatives should show leadership and uphold the rights of all in Nigeria by rejecting this reprehensible bill,” said Erwin van der Borght, director of the Africa Programme.

“If passed, this measure would target people on the basis of their identity, not merely their behaviour, and put a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions for exercising basic rights and opposing discrimination based purely on a person's actual or presumed sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Under the bill passed by the Senate today, an individual in a same-sex relationship could face criminal penalties of up to 14 years' imprisonment, an increase compared to the earlier draft. The bill also seeks to impose up to 10 years' imprisonment and a stiff fine on anyone who “witnesses”, “aids” or “abets” same-sex relationships.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations previously outlined a range of concerns over the bill's potential human rights impact.

It would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders and anyone else – including friends, families and colleagues – who stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Nigeria.

Individuals could face imprisonment based on nothing more than their actual or assumed sexual orientation or gender identity, or stemming from allegations about their relationship status or consensual sexual conduct.

Amnesty International also raised concerns that the bill would contravene Nigeria's efforts to prevent HIV transmission by driving people already suffering stigma for their identity or consensual sexual behaviour still further underground.

“This bill would have a chilling effect on a range of civil society organizations and events while inciting hatred and violence against anyone suspected of practicing same-sex relationships, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” said Erwin van der Borght.

“By aiming to single out and deprive the rights of one group of people, this bill threatens all Nigerians by violating the country's Constitution and international human rights obligations.”

Source: Amnesty International

30 Nov 2011 12:02 Africa/Lagos

World AIDS Day 2011: panel discussion at the African Union

ADDIS ABABA, November 30, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Invitation to the journalists

Journalists are invited to take part in a Press Conference organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) on the occasion of the Commemoration of World AIDS , tomorrow, Thursday 1st December 2011 in the African Union Headquarters.

World AIDS Day this year is about "Getting to Zero." Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.

The press conference will take place from 3:00 to 3:00pm in the Media Center of the AU Conference building, immediately after the Panel Discussion on the theme of the 2011 World AIDS Day.

Journalists are invited to cover the opening ceremony of the Panel Discussion and participate at the Press Conference at 3:00 – 3:30 pm.

Attached is the program of event on 1st December at the African Union Headquarters.

For more information, visit the AU website:


World Aids Day Commemoration 2011


December 1st, 2011, 2:00-5:30pm African Union Commission Conference Center

2:00 Introductions from Meeting Chairperson: H.E. Commissioner Bience Gawanas

2:15 World Aids Day Commemoration Speech: MrsJan Beagle UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director

2:30 ECA World Aids Day Commemoration Speech: H.E. AbdoullieJanneh

2:45 World Aids Day Commemoration Speech: H.E. Chairperson Jean Ping

3:00-3:30 Joint Press Conference- Media Room

Group Photo

Tea Break- Congo Hall

3:30-5:00 Panel Discussion on the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission

Chaired by H.E. Commissioner Bience Gawanas

Presentation on Draft African Plan:Dr Benjamin Djoudalbaye


UNAIDS: Deputy Executive Director, MrsJan Beagle

Minister of Health of Chad, Honorable Dr. TouptaBoguena

UNICEF Representative to the AU & ECA, Mrs. AkilaBelembaogo


CSO/HIV Burundi : Mme. Consolée Kamaro,

5:00-5:30 Question & Answer Session

5:30-7:00 Reception by invitation

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)

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