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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Extend migrants’ benefits says EU

Category : Business, World News

The European Commission will unveil plans on Wednesday to extend the length of time home states must support their own citizens seeking work in other EU countries.

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Skype now available for Outlook.com

Category : Business

Microsoft says its email service Outlook.com will now support Skype, allowing users to make audio and video calls from their inbox.

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Canada Remains Global Leader in Polio Eradication

Category : Stocks

Harper Government increases support to global immunization and child health

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Research Presented at Tissue Viability Society Meeting Shows Benefits of Using Wellsense’s M.A.P(TM) in the Prevention of Pressure Ulcers

Category : World News

Results Demonstrate Improved Patient Outcomes and Support UK’s NHS Mandate for Zero Pressure Ulcers

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Heineken Selects Triple Point Strategic Planning and Procurement Solution to Manage Commodity Price Volatility

Category : World News

Europe’s Largest Brewer Standardizing on Triple Point to Support Global Commodity Procurement

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Why Blair and Buffett are wrong about giving international aid to Rwanda

Category : Business

By criticising the UN expert report, the former British prime minister is hampering the peace process in the eastern Congo

When a UN Group of Experts report found that Rwanda was supporting rebels fighting a deadly conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a number of countries including the US and Britain cut or suspended foreign aid in protest.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame steadfastly denied supporting the Congo militias that have been wreaking havoc along the Rwanda-Congo border, but the evidence was strong enough to convince even some of Kagame’s biggest supporters that the western powers needed to send a message of disapproval.

That didn’t include Howard Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son, or Tony Blair. Buffett and Blair argued against the move, contending that reducing aid to Rwanda would just cause more harm than good to the unstable Great Lakes region of central Africa.

“Cutting aid does nothing to address the underlying issues driving conflict in the region, it only ensures that the Rwandan people will suffer — and risks further destabilizing an already troubled region,” Blair and Buffett wrote in a recent Foreign Policy article

This was followed by a report from the Howard G Buffett Foundation echoing the same points. The report went further by questioning the reliability of the UN experts – the group that originally reported evidence that the Rwandan government was supporting rebels in the eastern DRC.

It’s worth noting that the Buffett Foundation report was written by unknown authors and using unnamed sources. It attacks the UN experts and then makes the case that pointing fingers is counterproductive. Says the report; “Our Foundation is not interested in apportioning blame for what we view is a fundamental failure in the GoE process in 2012….”

“We will let the report – and the information on our website – speak for itself,” replied the foundation’s chief of staff, Ann Kelly when asked about the unnamed contributors.

Lake Partners Strategy Consultants and the Crumpton Group LLC are listed as organisations that worked on the report, but they too were unwilling to talk about the report or how they reached their conclusions.

So, I spoke to regional experts about the report both on and off the record and a consensus emerged. The Buffett Foundation report is simply inaccurate, they said. Despite its imperfections, the UN expert report provides sufficient evidence to prove Rwanda’s connection to the armed rebels in the DRC. Since the US and British governments have long been big supporters of Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, it’s reasonable to conclude it would have taken convincing evidence to prompt a suspension of foreign aid.

Many east Africa experts say Rwanda continues to destabilise the region and sap resources for reform. The actions by the international community and the ongoing UN peace talks and framework provide an opportunity to engage in meaningful change for the DRC, many say. Ensuring its success means preventing rebellion and holding all supporters accountable, these experts told me.

Meddling in the DRC

Accusations have been leveled at Rwanda in the past for its meddling in the region. Former Rwandan ambassador to Washington, Theogene Rudasingwa, explained to Newsweek in a January article how the Rwandan government extracted money out of the DRC:

“After the first Congo war, money began coming in through military channels and never entered the coffers of the Rwandan state,” says Rudasingwa, Kagame’s former lieutenant. “It is RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame’s party) money, and Kagame is the only one who knows how much money it is—or how it is spent. In meetings it was often said, ‘For Rwanda to be strong, Congo must be weak, and the Congolese must be divided.’”

In 2012, the anonymous group of UN experts found evidence that the M23 rebels benefited from coordination with and support from the Rwandan military. Further, the report cited that the level of support went all the way up to the Rwandan defence minister. The UK reacted promptly by withholding £16 million in aid promised to Rwanda. International development secretary Justine Greening announced the suspension of £21m in planned budget support for Rwanda at the end of November.

Military aid totaling $200,000 was withheld by the United States when the information first emerged in July, but sanctions stopped there. Human Rights groups joined members of Congress in December imploring the Obama Administration to put pressure on Rwanda. Germany held back €21 million in planned aid and the EU suspended €70 million in planned budgetary support.

“This is not a matter of aid stopping because of advocacy efforts, explained Aaron Hall, associate director of Research for the Enough Project. “Aid stopped because there was credible information from state intelligence reports that showed these connections are real and that Rwanda was in violation of the UN Arms Embargo on Congo and implicated in destabilising a neighboring state.”

A reliance on aid likely affords Rwanda the opportunity to spend money on arming and supporting the M23 rebellion, said academic Laura Seay in a blog post responding to Blair and Buffett’s FP article.

Blair and Buffett also ignore the fact that having so much aid support frees up other resources for the Rwandan government to use in its military adventures in the Congo. Were Rwanda not wasting money on supporting the M23, Kigali would be able to fund many of the excellent development initiatives that were previously funded with aid dollars.

Other nations reacted to the report by withholding or delaying portions of aid to Rwanda. For a country that relies on foreign aid to account for over 40% of its budget, the cuts were a significant action by the international community. According to experts that I spoke with, the disruption in aid flows to Rwanda are working to the extent that Rwanda is no longer supporting the M23 rebels and is participating in the regional peace framework.

The aid cuts are having a direct economic impact. The Rwandan finance ministry revised its GDP growth expectation down from 7.8% to 6.3%, reported the Economist.

Too Much Finger Pointing?

The Buffett Foundation report makes it clear that it does not have interest in assigning blame.

“Our Foundation is not interested in apportioning blame for what we view is a fundamental failure in the GoE process in 2012; we will leave the point-counterpoint on questions of fact to others,” says the only bold section in the report’s introduction.

It calls for the cooperation between regional, state and international actors in order to resolve the many problems that exist in the DRC. Kagame has taken a similar tactic when asked about the issue of Rwanda’s involvement in the M23 rebellion.

“The blame game doesn’t help anyone,” said Kagame to Christiane Amanpour when she confronted him about Rwanda’s involvement. “It’s not just an issue of M23 or one other problem. It’s a number of problems that are together that we need to sort out.”

Former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazer made the same case to Al Jazeera saying, “I think the key issue here is to look forward and see how to resolve this. The pointing of fingers has never helped to resolve the crisis in the Great Lakes region.”

According to the Buffett Foundation report, the UN experts place too much attention on the role of Rwanda and not enough on the systemic problems in the region. Hall refuted this, saying that the mandate of the UN experts is to track illegal arms trafficking and trade to rebel groups.

Jason Stearns, director of the Rift Valley Institute’s Usalama Project, agreed with Hall, adding: “The (report) does place most weight on the M23, but I think that is fair, given that this rebellion was the largest source of instability in the region in 2012. But the GoE does spill a lot of ink discussing criminal networks within the Congolese army, as well as support to other armed groups.”

Stearns added that there are questions to be raised about the lack of collaboration with the UN peacekeeping mission and the governments of Uganda and Rwanda. However, the Buffett Foundation does nothing to carry out a “serious” evaluation of the UN report. There is room for improvement in the report, he says, but the broad conclusions are basically sound.

The Buffett report also points to the breakdown of the relationship between the UN experts and the governments of Rwanda and Uganda. “It is not significant who was first to withdraw cooperation,” it says. “The failure in process undermines the credibility of the findings, limiting potential policy prescriptions that could reduce violence in the Great Lakes region.”

Stearns refuted this, saying that the breakdown of the relationship may have been tied to the fact that the experts uncovered information that Rwanda and Uganda did not like. Journalist David Aronson took a stronger tone in accusing Rwanda for the breakdown in its relationship with the group:

“[T]here’s zero doubt about who broke off the relationship between the GoE and the Rwandan government. The Rwandans did,” wrote Aronson in his blog.

The Way Forward

The attempt to discredit the experts’ report and shift the conversation away from Rwanda’s involvement in the DRC has worked to some extent. Donors are responding by channeling aid through non-government actors. Greening announced at the start of March that £16 million in UK aid money will make its way to humanitarian groups working in Rwanda rather than the government. Germany also reversed course and unblocked the $26 million it suspended in 2012.

Critics of the Buffett Foundation report agree that the causes of instability in the DRC are multifaceted and require a host of solutions. “The Congolese government has certainly played a very negative role in the conflict, often arming armed groups and failing to crack down on criminal networks within its own security forces,” explained Stearns.

That means that any lasting peace deal will require engagement from a diverse sets of interests with the Congolese government. “It appears as if the government in the first line is not interested in reforms. The non-existence of any meaningful security sector reform approaches tells the tale,” said Christoph Vogel, Mercator Fellow on international affairs.

“I have not witnessed any peace effort in DRC so far, that has tried to – either by carrots or sticks – seriously embrace political elites that have been engaging in incitement, funding, or protection of illegal and armed activity in the DRC.”

Congolese experts argue that the continued rebellions make it difficult for such reforms. “[I]gnoring Rwanda’s role in the Kivus as a source of conflict will make the situation worse, not better. And continuing to fund a government that spends its own resources on rebels who rape women and conscript child soldiers is unconscionable for most taxpayers in donor states,” said Seay.

A UN led regional framework was signed in Addis Ababa by 11 African countries, including the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, in February. Despite the challenges, there is a feeling of optimism in response to the UN framework. With neighbouring countries participating and the global community engaged, it appears that now is the time to take permanent steps towards peace.

“There is a unique opportunity given the engagement locally, regionally and internationally to change the security situation in the DR Congo through the UN framework,” says Hall.

Jebsen & Jessen Communications Recognised for Outstanding Service Quality

Category : Stocks, World News

Avaya Service Assessment Returns High Scores on JJC Support Service Model

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Changes begin for disability benefit

Category : Business, World News

The new system of disability benefits begins for new claimants in some areas, as critics express fears that support will be reduced.

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Redknee Closes Acquisition of Business Support Systems From Nokia Siemens Networks

Category : Stocks

TORONTO–(Marketwire – Mar 30, 2013) – Redknee (TSX: RKN), a leading provider of business-critical monetization and subscriber management software solutions for communications service providers, is pleased to announce the closing of its acquisition of Nokia Siemens Networks’ Business Support Systems (BSS) business unit. Redknee announced its intent to acquire Nokia Siemens Networks’ BSS business unit on December 5, 2012.

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Deep Down, Inc. (DPDW: OTCQX U.S.) | Deep Down Announces 2012 Earnings Conference Call And Webcast

Category : Stocks

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Deep Down Announces 2012 Earnings Conference Call And Webcast

PR Newswire

HOUSTON, March 29, 2013

HOUSTON, March 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Deep Down, Inc. (the “Company”) (OTCQX: DPDW), will hold a conference call and webcast on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 to discuss the Company’s 2012 financial results.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121204/LA23242LOGO)

The teleconference will begin at 4:30 Eastern time (3:30 CDT) and will be hosted by Mr. Ron Smith, President and CEO, and Mr. Gene Butler, Executive Chairman and CFO. The related press release was issued on March 27, 2013.

To participate in the teleconference, please dial (877) 293-5456 a few minutes before the scheduled start time. International callers are invited to call (707) 287-9357. Please refer to confirmation code 31029532. A replay of the call will be available one hour after the completion of the call through April 8, 2013. To access the replay, please dial 855-859-2056, or if you are calling internationally, dial 404-537-3406. Please refer to confirmation code 31029532. The live webcast and archived replay also can be accessed on the Company’s web site at www.deepdowncorp.com.

About Deep Down, Inc.

Deep Down, Inc. is an oilfield services company serving the worldwide offshore exploration and production industry. Deep Down’s proven services and technological solutions include distribution system installation support and engineering services, umbilical terminations, loose-tube steel flying leads, installation buoyancy, ROVs and tooling, marine vessel automation, control, and ballast systems. Deep Down supports subsea engineering, installation, commissioning, and maintenance projects through specialized, highly experienced service teams and engineered technological solutions. The company’s primary focus is on more complex deepwater and ultra-deepwater oil production distribution system support services and technologies, used between the platform and the wellhead. More information about Deep Down is available at www.deepdowncorp.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

Any forward-looking statements in the preceding paragraphs of this release are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties in that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. In the course of operations, we are subject to certain risk factors, competition and competitive pressures, sensitivity to general economic and industrial conditions, international political and economic risks, availability and price of raw materials and execution of business strategy. For further information, please refer to the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, copies of which are available from the Company without charge.

SOURCE Deep Down, Inc.

Original post: Deep Down, Inc. (DPDW: OTCQX U.S.) | Deep Down Announces 2012 Earnings Conference Call And Webcast

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