Saturday, December 6th, 2008


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By NEBERT MULENGA

WORLD acclaimed award-winning music group, Hillsong United, this week put up a larger than life performance at the Lusaka Showgrounds where thousands of Christian faithfuls braved the showering evening for four hours of praise and worship.

The K20,000-per-head show, initially scheduled to run from 18:00 hours to 20:00 hours, started around 19:00 hours and went on and on until a few minutes before mid-night, as fans kept shouting for more from the band that has distinguished itself as an all-encompassing gospel group.

The venue was filled to capacity with only small portions remaining at the far end of the field, where it was darker.

Literally, every available space was taken up, and just a few minutes after the start of the show, the VIP gate was closed and patrons that had initially bought the tickets in advance had to end up using the main arena gate.During the show, the group belted several popular tunes such as Everyday, We look to You, Hosanna, and Amazing Grace.

The audience danced their lungs out, raised hands in adoration and bowed knees in worship as the song leaders churned out one tune after the other.

It was an all-inspiring night that did not need one to know the lyrics of the song in order to sing along.

Two huge plasma screens placed at the far end of the stage simultaneously showed the lyrics and live pictures of the concert proceedings as one worship leader after the other took to the stage.

The stage itself was magnificently befitting for this significant gospel musical concert that could not just seem to have quenched the thirst of the Zambian fans, who have over the years been fed on sub-standard shows without an option.

The stage, which was flown in and mounted a few days before the show, was as high as 15 metres with psychedelic lights flashing all over the field.

“This is the first concert of its kind. I have never seen such a professionally organised concert in Zambia,” commented a female fan as she looked lost in the mammoth crowd. “We have a long way to go before we can get to this level in Zambia.”

Earlier, gifted singers Ephraim Mutalange and Stanley Chipuma, had ably delivered a curtain-raiser that stirred the hunger of the people, and seemingly prepared the audience for the things to unfold later in the evening.

Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha, who graced the occasion, commended the organisers, Doxa Music, for bringing the international group in the country and assured that “Zambia will always remain a Christian Nation”.

© 2005 Times Printpak Limited. All Rights Reserved.
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By Hans Nichols

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama promised to make the “single largest new investment,” in America’s roads, require public buildings to be more energy-efficient, and to modernize health care with electronic medical records.

Using his weekly radio address to unveil five components of his plan to save or create 2.5 million jobs, Obama pledged that he would not “do it the old Washington way.”

“We won’t just throw money at the problem,” he said. “We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve — by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.”

The incoming 44th president opened his address by saying that yesterday’s Labor Department report of 533,000 lost jobs in November was “another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing.”The economic slowdown has been exacerbated by the worst credit crisis in seven decades and is compounded by potential collapse of the U.S. auto industry. Congress will return next week to decide whether to rescue the Big Three car companies.

In addition to investing in infrastructure, requiring energy standards on public buildings and updating health-care practices, Obama said that he will launch a “sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings,” and will boost broadband deployment across America.

Passing Plan ‘Immediately’

“These are a few parts of the economic recovery plan that I will be rolling out in the coming weeks,” he said. “When Congress reconvenes in January, I look forward to working with them to pass a plan immediately.”

On infrastructure, he said his investment would be the largest since the creation of the federal interstate highway system in the 1950s. To the states that will be the conduits for the funding, he had a simple message: “use it or lose it.”

“If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money,” he said.

Obama’s plan to make public buildings more energy efficient should reduce the government’s energy bill, which he called the highest in the world. He plans to replace heating systems and install energy-efficient light bulbs.

He vowed to make schools more energy efficient, while also putting new computers in classrooms.

Obama also plans to upgrade Internet infrastructure, calling it “unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption.”

Modernizing health care was the final component of the plan. By introducing new technology and electronic medical records, he said health-care workers could “prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

Obama, in Chicago for the weekend, has no public events scheduled for today. Tomorrow, he will mark the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor with a news conference in Chicago, according to a statement from his transition team.

The press conference is scheduled begin at 1:00 p.m. Chicago time tomorrow. No further details were provided.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Chicago at hnichols2@bloomberg.net

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PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has said that former intelligence chief, Xavier Chungu, who surrendered to the police on Wednesday after four years in self-imposed exile, will be treated in accordance with the law.

Mr Banda told journalists before his departure for Burundi yesterday that he was aware that Chungu was in detention but declined to comment further as law enforcement agencies were handling the matter.

“We got a report that Mr Chungu arrived in the country, the law will take its course. To that effect, I cannot comment further,” the president said in response to a question on what he thought about Chungu’s arrest.

Before he fled the country, Chungu was appearing in court with high-profile figures including former president Frederick Chiluba on offences involving theft of Government resources.

Chairperson of the Task Force on Corruption, Max Nkole on Wednesday said no deal had been struck with Chungu, who voluntarily returned to Zambia.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has challenged the law enforcement agencies to firmly but fairly handle the case of Chungu and advised against cutting any deal with him.

Welcoming Chungu’s return after being on the run for four years, TIZ executive director, Goodwell Lungu said in Lusaka yesterday that there should be no short-cut deals in handling the case.

Mr Lungu said in an interview that Chungu had done well to return home and now the challenge was on the law enforcement agencies and the Government to determine how they would proceed with the case.

“While we are mindful of the fact that any suspect is innocent until proven guilty, we would like the law enforcement agencies to firmly and appropriately apply the law in this matter and bring it to its logical conclusion in court,” he said.

Chungu was arrested on Wednesday for contempt of court, having jumped bail while facing charges of theft by public servant and theft of motor vehicles.

He said Chungu’s return triggered further concern about the long period cases took to be disposed of, noting that most of the current corruption cases had been running for the past seven years.

Mr Lungu said there was need for the authorities to speed up the cases so that justice was not delayed.

He said expeditious disposal of cases would be in the interest of everyone including the suspects, the State, the tax payers and the justice system.

Copyright © 2008 The Times of Zambia. All rights reserved.

 

 

By Shigeru Sato

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) — Chubu Electric Power Co., Japan’s third-biggest utility, has agreed to prepare a power infrastructure development plan for Zambia.

The utility won a 81.8 million yen ($885,000) contract with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which has agreed with the African nation’s government to set out a master plan to develop hydroelectric and thermal power plants and other infrastructure, including transmission lines, Chubu Electric spokeswoman Emi Kawashita said by telephone from Nagoya City.

Power development consulting is part of Chubu Electric’s plan to diversify outside its home base, the company said on its Web site. Hydroelectric generation produces 94 percent of Zambia’s power demand, which is forecast to grow at 3 to 4 percent annually, according to the utility.

Chubu Electric is sending 11 engineers to Zambia and conducting the first round of its research work tomorrow, Kawashita said. The contract lasts until October.

This is the ninth consultation contract for Chubu Electric in Africa, with previous businesses in Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique, Kawashita said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shigeru Sato in Tokyo at ssato10@bloomberg.net

 

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Police Now Probing Possibility of Some Level of Indian Involvement
By Rama Lakshmi

NEW DELHI –The ongoing probe into last week’s Mumbai attacks widened late Friday night as Indian police began investigating the possibility of local support groups with the arrest of two new suspects in New Delhi and the eastern city of Calcutta.

Police arrested two men identified as Tausif Rehman,28, and Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh, 35, for buying cell phone cards using forged documents. Officials now want to investigate whether the gunmen in Mumbai used these cards to make calls during their attacks last week.

“We are questioning them about procurement of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards used in Mumbai,” Jawed Shamim, the deputy commissioner of police in Calcutta, told news agency Reuters. Mumbai police officials had earlier traced some of the SIM cards used in the Mumbai attack to the state of West Bengal, whose capital is the city of Calcutta.

At least 174 people were killed and 230 injured when ten gunmen struck India’s financial capital of Mumbai and laid siege to two luxury hotels and one Jewish prayer center after attacking people at a restaurant and a train station.

Police on Saturday removed a bomb that was wrapped in a black plastic bag at a private hospital in Nagpur, a city 330 miles from Mumbai, after a doctor received a phone call that there would be an explosion.

Security was also heightened across India on Saturday, the 16th anniversary of the demolition of a medieval mosque by Hindu radicals in the north Indian town of Ayodhya, the epicenter of Hindu-Muslim tensions in the past decade.

According to the police, one of the suspects arrested in Calucutta, Rehman, had allegedly supplied at least 22 SIM cards to the second suspect, Sheikh, a man of Kashmiri origin. The two men were remanded to police custody until December 19th.

“Thirteen such SIM cards were bought by Tauseef which were passed on to Sheikh. Some of these cards were used by terrorists involved in the attack in Mumbai,” the public prosecutor in Calcutta, S. Pathak told the Press Trust of India.

In Mumbai, Rakesh Maria, a senior Mumbai police officer, said a dairy was found aboard the fishing trawler Kuber, which was hijacked by militants. The diary sketched out plans for November 21 to 25, just one day before the November 26 attacks and was proof, Maria said, “that there were only ten gunmen on the boat”.

The diary named 10 people and described each person’s task — some would watch out for the coast guard, others would cook, others would steer the boat. But it was clear there were 10 from the diary.”

Maria also said they were still searching in India, “for anyone here or elsewhere in India who might have aided the attackers.”

Police initially had dismissed the involvement of any Indian support network in the three-day siege, which New Delhi has accused Pakistan of aiding. But in the past three days, they have begun to look for leads that would determine evidence of Indian complicity in providing logistical help to the gunmen.

On Friday, Mumbai police decided to again question Fahim Ansari, who is in Indian custody, for his links to last week’s operation. Ansari was arrested in February this year and had told the police that he had conducted reconnaissance of several locations in Mumbai for a Pakistan-based outlawed militant group called Lashkar -i-Taiba.

The fallout of the attacks hassoured ties between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-armed neighbors that have fought three wars in the past.

An e-mail message received by the police authorities on Thursday warned that airports across India were a target for attacks. A high alert was announced at Indian airports with several tiers of security checks added by the government.

© 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive