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February 04 2014


‘Emerging Markets’ Take A Hit

“Emerging markets” around the world — Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, more – were supposed to be the next big wave of economic energy. Now, they’re in trouble. We’ll ask why.

The going rate of U.S. dollars and euros is displayed outside a foreign exchange business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. The Argentine government announced Friday Jan. 24, it was relaxing restrictions on the purchase of U.S. dollars. The measure would start taking effect Monday, allowing Argentines to buy dollars for personal savings, reversing a 2012 restriction. (AP)

The going rate of U.S. dollars and euros is displayed outside a foreign exchange business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. The Argentine government announced Friday Jan. 24, it was relaxing restrictions on the purchase of U.S. dollars. The measure would start taking effect Monday, allowing Argentines to buy dollars for personal savings, reversing a 2012 restriction. (AP)


Mike Regan, editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. (@Reganonymous)

Scheherazade Rehman, professor of international business, finance and international affairs at George Washington University. (@Prof_Rehman)

Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group. Author of “Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers In a G-Zero World.” (@ianbremmer)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Economist: China loses its allure –”For the past three decades, multinationals have poured in. After the financial crisis, many companies looked to China for salvation. Now it looks as though the gold rush may be over.”

Wall Street Journal: Gobal Companies Address Latin American Risk — “Drooping currencies in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have reduced the value of sales there in dollar terms, while inflation has made it hard for many consumers to afford much beyond necessities. Argentina’s heavy government spending and a loose money policy have fueled inflation estimated at more than 25% a year. In Venezuela, inflation is running at more than 50%, and price controls are creating shortages.”

Reuters: Weak U.S. data sends dollar, equities lower — “Emerging market stocks extended a two-week selloff as weak Chinese manufacturing and services data weighed, while the Turkish lira and South African rand weakened after policymakers poured cold water on expectations of higher local interest rates.”

January 31 2014


'Spirit Of Family' Unites Ladysmith Black Mambazo : NPR

South Africa's award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been singing its message of peace and unity for 50 years. The group joins host Michel Martin for a special performance chat. http://www.npr.org/2014/01/30/268839609/spirit-of-family-unites-ladysmith-black-mambazo

December 29 2013


The Future of Human Rights-Beyond Nuremberg

On November 13, 2013, the Stanford Human Rights Center hosted the latest discussion in its Human Rights Speaker Series "The Future of Human Rights-Beyond Nuremberg: The Historical Significance of the Post-Apartheid Transition in South Africa with Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani. Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia and has also been listed as one of the "Top 20 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine in 2008.

December 11 2013


The Music Of Liberation: Steven Van Zandt And Danny Schechter On ‘Sun City’ | Here & Now

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST: It's HERE AND NOW. And this week, we've heard a lot about the debate in Congress in 1986 over whether or not to impose sanctions against the brutal white regime in South Africa. But that debate was propelled by a cultural movement. Let's back up. British artists were the first to boycott South Africa after the 1960 massacre of blacks by whites in Sharpeville. But the name of Nelson Mandela wouldn't be well-known outside South Africa until the 1980s. It was activist Stephen Biko, who died in police custody in South Africa, who first inspired song from Tom Paxton, and in 1980, Peter Gabriel. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIKO") PETER GABRIEL: (Singing) Oh, Biko, Biko, because Biko. ROBIN ROBERTS, HOST: Also in 1980, the U.N. established a cultural boycott against South Africa. Then in 1984 came The Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela." (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREE NELSON MANDELA") THE SPECIAL AKA: (Singing) Free Nelson Mandela. YOUNG: Also in 1984, Bruce Springsteen band member Steven Van Zandt and then-ABC News producer Danny Schechter teamed up. The result, "Sun City." (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUN CITY") ARTISTS UNITED AGAINST APARTHEID: (Singing) You got to say I, I, I ain't gonna play Sun City. YOUNG: "Sun City" was a scathing indictment of a luxurious, whites-only casino resort, a song written by Van Zandt and recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid. We wanted to hear more about the song and the history. Danny Schechter, known as the news dissector at rock station WBCN here in Boston, journalist and creator of the show "South Africa Now." He's new book about Mandela is "Madiba A to Z." He joins us. Danny, welcome. DANNY SCHECHTER: Pleasure. YOUNG: And with you, Steven Van Zandt, E Street Band guitarist, actor, of course, in "The Sopranos," and activist. Steven, welcome to you as well. STEVEN VAN ZANDT: Hi. Good to be here. YOUNG: Well, start with you. What inspired the song? ZANDT: Well, I had been doing research on American foreign policies since World War II, and left the E Street Band to do that for 10 years or so. And South Africa was on my list of engagements. We were involved with - which I felt our government was on the wrong side of. And I heard - by then, I had heard Peter Gabriel's "Biko," which was just a terrific inspiration. I would later discover Gil Scott-Heron's "Johannesburg." (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOHANNESBURG") GILL SCOTT-HERON: (Singing) Somebody tell me what's the word? Tell me brother, have you heard from Johannesburg? Don't get over the top, you all now. SCHECHTER: What's incredible, if I can jump in. Steven's perspective was not just the perspective apartheid is bad. This is a racial problem, like the American South. No. His perspective was really framed in the context of the relocation of native peoples in our country. And one of the central ideas of "Sun City" was forced relocation. And so the song went much deeper than simply opposing the government of the day. It really tried to explain what the system was. YOUNG: Well, Danny, explain a little more about that, because Sun City was this resort in the middle of what the South African regime called free states, where they relocated blacks. SCHECHTER: Well, Sun City is a resort, a big hotel complex, but it was in a place called Bophuthatswana, which was a homeland of South Africa. South Africa created these fictional homelands that were really controlled by the people in Pretoria. But to the rest of the world, they appeared to be independent states. And, in a sense, this was part of the whole plan there, which was to separate people according to their nationalities, their ethnicities and their backgrounds. And so, opposing the homeland system was a central attack on apartheid. Nobody here was really talking about it until Steven came along with "Sun City." ZANDT: The idea was to bring the native African black people out of South African proper into these phony homelands, and then declare them as independent countries, and then bring the black workers back as immigrant labor, at that point, declaring South Africa a democracy. I mean, it was as brilliant as it was evil. And as Danny suggests, it was based on our Indian reservation policy here. YOUNG: Well - and I know, Danny, initially, you wanted Steven to include in the song artists who had played at Sun City to shame them, but that didn't happen. But you, Steven, invited all sorts of artists to sing with you on it. ZANDT: I spoke with some of them who had gone there and, you know, they had been fooled, you know. And so we gave everybody the benefit of the doubt, because there was a lot of publicity and marketing to get people to go, pretending it was a separate country. SCHECHTER: What we wanted to do was break down the apartheid in music in our own country by having musicians, international artists - rap, rock, Motown, jazz - that were usually segregated in America. You know, there would be a black station, a white station, a jazz station and the like, and put all of these currents on one album as a united statement against apartheid. Fifty-eight stars agree to be part of it. And the fact is, many more wanted to be part of it when they found out about it. There were no more lines for them to sing. ZANDT: Yeah. And it was a bit controversial at that time. You know, we crossed that line from social concerns, and everybody was fine with feeding people and all that. But for us, you know, we named Ronald Reagan by name at the time, at the height of his popularity, which, you know, was a very controversial thing at that time. YOUNG: Some stations wouldn't play "Sun City" because of, I think, the line that Joey Ramone sang about Ronald Reagan. And to remind ourselves, this is when Ronald Reagan was fighting members of his own party. He was against any sanctions. Let's listen to that line that some stations said, you know, was a deal breaker, wouldn't play the song. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUN CITY") JOEY RAMONE: (Singing) Constructive engagement is Ronald Reagan's plan. JIMMY CLIFF AND DARYL HALL: (Singing) Meanwhile people are dying and giving up hope. DARLENE LOVE: (Singing) Well, this quiet diplomacy ain't nothing but a joke. YOUNG: Jonathan Demme eventually made a video. You also had a hard time getting that on television stations initially. I want to pick up on, Steven, something you just said and let's just touch on this. One artist who did record in - famously recorded in South Africa during the boycott was Paul Simon. He made part of the "Graceland" album there. And he still defends it to this day. He says to the ANC, which, you know, many South Africans were unhappy that he came. He says, is this the kind of government you're going to be? You're going to tell me what I, you know, tell artists what they can do? He believe, in essence, that art and politics be kept separate. And his defenders include Philip Glass, Paul McCartney, Oprah - they all appear in a documentary. And they say, you know, without him, Ladysmith Black Mambazo wouldn't be known. There would be no human face on apartheid. That was a huge debate at the time, and it still lingers. ZANDT: Yeah. Where to begin with this? Well, first of all, I was trying to - even when I was down there, I was trying to defend him, actually. I had met with some very serious people, called the Azanian People's Organization, AZAPO. And he was on a hit list, OK? You know, they're going to kill him, you know? And I insisted on him being taken off this list. I went - and I spoke to the U.N. about having him take him off the U.N. list, the blacklist. You know, having said that, you know, he gave me that line, you know, that art transcends politics. And I said, Paul, all due respect, but not only does art not transcend politics, but art is politics. So we agreed to disagree at the time. By now I would've thought he would, you know, have a little bit of mea culpa. But not Paulie, no. YOUNG: We'll leave it at that. Steven Van Zandt, Danny Schechter, on the '80 protest song "Sun City." You're listening to HERE AND NOW. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) YOUNG: It's HERE AND NOW. South African artists have long paid tribute to Nelson Mandela in song. Here's a mash-up. (SOUNDBITES OF SONGS) YOUNG: But as we've been hearing, in the early 1980s, artists outside of that country recorded music in protest of Mandela's imprisonment and the brutal system of apartheid he'd fought against. Bono wrote "Silver and Gold" in his hotel room in one day. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SILVER AND GOLD") BONO: (Singing) Chains no longer bind me. No shackles at my feet. Outside are the prisoners. Inside the free. Set them free. YOUNG: "Silver and Gold" became one of the contributions to the album, which was an outgrowth of the song "Sun City," written by E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt, produced by Arthur Baker. It was recorded by dozens of artists, from Bob Dylan and Lou Reed to Pat Benatar and Bonnie Raitt. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUN CITY") BOB DYLAN: (Singing) Relocation to phony homelands. PAT BENATAR: (Singing) Separation of families I can't understand. EDDIE KENDRICK: Twenty-three million can't vote because they're black. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: We're stabbing our brothers and sisters in the back. APARTHEID: (Singing) We're going to say I, I, I ain't going to play Sun City. We're going to say I, I, I ain't going to play Sun City. YOUNG: Sun City came during a U.N. cultural embargo against artists traveling to South Africa and as the U.S. considered economic sanctions. In an extraordinary move, Republicans joined Democrats in Congress in overturning President Reagan's veto of sanctions. We've been hearing about the song's impact from Steven Van Zandt and journalist Danny Schechter, who had encouraged Steven to make the song a social movement. And Steve, tell us more about that. You were in South Africa to do research when you realized you agreed with Danny. ZANDT: I sat down there in South Africa and thought about it. At first it was just going to be a song on my next album. And I remember the moment. I was doing research and I was still hoping to find these reforms that were supposedly being put in place. And I remember being in a taxi one day, and a black guy stepped off the curb, and the cab driver went out of his way and tried to hit him, you know? I was like in shock, like, did I just witness that, you know? And so at that moment I said, you know what, this has got to come down. This government's got to go. And so I decided, you know, I just thought about it for a minute, and I realized the sports boycott was very, very effective. And I said, you know, how do we get to the home run? The home run, of course, is the economic boycott. Well, we need to get the cultural boycott in place in between. If we can get that to work, the economic boycott will then take hold, you know, and we will - then we can topple this government, you know? So I came back, and I met with Danny. And I told him the basic idea. I said, you know, first we're just going to have one person from every genre, have six or seven people. But as Danny said, people just started coming in, you know. SCHECHTER: I mean this inspired so much passion. You know, the people in the studios wanted Miles Davis, but they were afraid to ask him because he had, you know, a reputation for, you know, tremendous temper and difficult to deal with, et cetera. So I was the one who had to call him up. So I called him up. And he said, when do you want me? I said, I don't know. When will you be available? He says, how about now? Twenty minutes later, he was in the studio recording with us. Everybody was shocked, but he was great. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUN CITY") ZANDT: In the end, we measured our success by - really simple - by having Reagan's first veto overturned. That was the key to us - for us, OK? We get these sanctions through, and of course Reagan vetoed it. And for the first time, I believe, in his administration the veto was overturned. And at that point we said, you know what, that's success. SCHECHTER: And how did that happen? Not just lobbying; pressure from below - you know, "Sun City" was the soundtrack of this whole anti-apartheid movement, and it galvanized student activism, it galvanized community pressure. ZANDT: Many congressmen told me that their kids, you know, their sons and daughters were coming to them, seeing the video on MTV and on BET and saying, Dad, you know, what is this? What is the South Africa thing, you know? So it was the actual children of these congressmen and senators, you know, that was getting to them right in their homes. YOUNG: Well, it also helped open floodgates that were beginning to open with other music. You had Stevie Wonder. His song "It's Wrong (Apartheid)." (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S WRONG (APARTHEID)") STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) You know apartheid's wrong, wrong. Like slavery was wrong, wrong. Like the holocaust was wrong, wrong. Apartheid is wrong. YOUNG: And then in South Africa, Johnny Clegg and Savuka - he also started a similar movement in South Africa. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASIMBONANGA") YOUNG: But, Steven, I just - before I let you go, I have to ask one question. What did Nelson Mandela tell you, if anything, he thought of this song? ZANDT: Well, he didn't specifically talk about the song as much as just talking about the importance of music. And, you know, he talked about just how music was universal. And it was a universal way to communicate, and he really did appreciate what we had done. You know, this was a remarkable human being. I know you've heard this a million times by now from everybody you talked to. But, you know, he really - it was meeting like a - like more of a religious figure than a politician. I mean, he had an aura that - I've met everybody in the world, and I never met anybody like him. I mean, honestly. It was like, you know, in the old days, running into the Buddha or, you know, John the Baptist. You know, he had that kind of vibe about him, you know? Just like... SCHECHTER: And also, when he was invited by Artists United Against Apartheid and the companion organization, Filmmakers Against Apartheid, to come to a dinner at the Tribeca Grill here in lower Manhattan, he said yes immediately. He showed up, so did many athletes, so did many other artists. It was an incredible event. It raised a lot of money for the ANC when they needed money to build a war chest for the election that was still to come. So, you know, I think he showed his appreciation by being with us. He was extremely complimentary to Steven and to all the other artists who where there. YOUNG: I just - well, I can't help but note too that - it was music and one song in particular, "Sun City," the one we've been talking about, that really helped spearhead a movement, Danny, as you've been saying, from the ground up. But it was also a - for a man who so obviously loved music, whenever you see him - saw him, he was never standing still if there was music. SCHECHTER: Yeah. I mean I think you can see it now. And the way people are reacting in South Africa, I mean we would all be in mourning in America. You know, we would be, you know, with black veils and, you know, everybody... You know, the press crying. And they're dancing and, you know, celebrating that spirit of his life rather than the passing, you know? So it's one - it's a wonderful cultural difference that he carried with him, you know? YOUNG: Steven Van Zandt and Danny Schechter, I want to thank you both so much. SCHECHTER: Our pleasure. ZANDT: Thank you, Robin. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) YOUNG: And we'll leave you with some of the sounds of that celebration at today's memorial for Nelson Mandela. For more on the song "Sun City," go to hereandnow.org. From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Robin Young. JEREMY HOBSON, HOST: I'm Jeremy Hobson. This is HERE AND NOW. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/12/10/anti-apartheid-music

Africa: Post-Mandela

After Mandela, a look at the challenges and opportunities of sub-Saharan Africa.


Sean Jacobs, editor of the blog Africa is a Country. Assistant professor of international affairs at the The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. Editor, “Thabo Mbeki’s World: The Politics and Ideology of the South African President.” (@AfricaIsACountry)

Vera Songwe, World Bank country director for Senegal, Cape Verde, Gambia, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau and lead economist. Non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative.

Mike Obel, markets editor for the International Business Times. (@MikeObel)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Mandela’s Death Takes Heat Off Zuma – “It is a sharp turnabout for a president who has been under fire during much of his nearly five years in office. The most recent public flap relates to a probe by the government’s anticorruption watchdog into a $20 million security upgrade at his rural home in the village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province. South African lawmakers accuse the president of lying about the upgrades and have threatened a motion of impeachment if the watchdog, the Public Protector, finds that Mr. Zuma used public money for nonsecurity improvements at his home.”

Foreign Affairs: A Cure for Africa’s Common Cold — “The main challenge is coalescing political will to do the job. Despite its tremendous burden on affected societies, malaria, in the most heavily infected places, is considered a ‘relatively minor malady,’ in the words of a 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) report. That might seem counterintuitive, but it is a matter of simple risk perception. In places such as Malawi, where the average rural villager receives hundreds of bites from malaria-infected mosquitoes a year, a child might suffer 12 episodes of malaria before the age of two.”

The Atlantic: Is China Transforming Africa? – “There are both very positive and negative aspects to the Chinese presence in Africa. I think arguments that China’s involvement in Africa is a form of neo-colonialism are both simplistic and prejudiced, but there also plenty of people looking at Chinese economic and political ties to Africa through rose-tinted glasses. It is certainly refreshing for African countries to deal with an enthusiastic new global player with deep pockets and little interest in pushing an ideology. It is up to African political and business leaders to make sure that their own countries do not get a raw deal.”

December 07 2013


Johnny Clegg on his relationship with Nelson Mandela (NPR Morning Edition)

Renee Montagne talks to South African musician Johnny Clegg about his relationship with Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95. Clegg says his banned 1980s song that named Mandela and became an anthem came to him one day when he woke to gunshots and wondered "who can bridge you and me, every South African."

Marketplace: Nelson Mandela's economic legacy for South Africa...

December 06 2013


Remembering Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

We remember South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, father of a nation.


Peter Wonacott, Africa bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.

Janet Heard, assistant editor and head of news at Cape Times.

Douglas Foster, journalist and author of “After Mandela: The Struggle For Freedom In Post-Apartheid South Africa.”

Penelope Andrews, President and Dean of Albany Law School. South African native and author of “The Post Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law.”

Heinz Klug, professor of law at the University of Wisconsin. South African native and former member of South Africa’s ANC Land Commission.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR: Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95 — “From his childhood as a herd boy, Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress’ struggle against the racially oppressive, apartheid regime of South Africa. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, after Mandela was elected president in South Africa’s first democratic elections, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shook with elation as he welcomed Mandela to a rally in Cape Town.’One man inspires us all. One man inspires the whole world,’ Tutu said at the time. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow South Africans, welcome our brand new state president — out of the box: Nelson Mandela.’”

Bloomberg News: Nelson Mandela, Who Led South Africa Past Apartheid, Dies at 95 – “Released from prison in 1990, Mandela negotiated a peaceful end to the old regime with leaders of South Africa’s white minority government. Three years later, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as president from 1994 to 1999, before stepping down voluntarily. Mandela came to symbolize proof that seemingly intractable disputes could be resolved. Former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao and warring factions in Burundi all asked him to help mediate conflicts. On his part, Mandela never wavered from espousing non-violence after the settlement talks began.”
Wall Street Journal: Nelson Mandela Dies at 95 – “It was as a prisoner that Mr. Mandela first became a rallying point for opponents of apartheid. After he was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, he spent more than a quarter-century behind bars, much of it in a maximum-security prison on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.By the time he was released from a different prison in 1990, the tables had been turned. South Africa had become a pariah nation and Mr. Mandela would lead his country’s re-embrace of a world that had spurned its racist government.”

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95 : NPR

From his childhood as a herd boy, Nelson Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress' struggle against South Africa's racially oppressive apartheid regime. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, he became his country's first elected black leader. Mandela died on Thursday. He was 95. http://www.npr.org/2013/12/05/136590582/nelson-mandela-inspiration-to-world-dies-at-95

November 25 2013


How Johnnie Walker Is Chasing The World's Middle Class : NPR

The Scotch whisky is the ninth best-selling brand of distilled spirit in the world. Journalist Afshin Molavi says it has grown globally by appealing to the expanding middle classes in places like Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and India. http://www.npr.org/2013/11/24/245646271/how-johnnie-walker-is-chasing-the-worlds-middle-class

January 28 2012


The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting - Hindsight - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Oral history has been part and parcel of the democratisation of history since the Second World War. Through interviews with historians from many different countries, and archival material from seminal oral history projects, we chart the international oral history movement, paying special attention to the role of oral history in Aboriginal historiography, and in post-Apartheid South Africa. Historians have always relied on oral history. Think of Homer and Thucydides and their reliance on eyewitness accounts and oral tradition. It was only in the 19th century when history as a discipline became professionalised, and historians started to think of their discipline as a 'science', that a total reliance on documentary sources developed. From the 1950s onwards, historians became interested again in personal testimony. In the US it was an archival project, an effort to get the reminiscences of 'movers and shakers' on the record, great men who were too busy to write their autobiographies. But in the UK and Europe, historians with a socialist ethos like Paul Thompson were keen to get the experiences of ordinary people on the record, in order to write 'history from below'. This impulse emerged from the inclusive social movements of the 1960s. In the decades since, oral history has been a democratising force in historical work, and a crucial means of achieving cultural and political recognition for marginalised groups. In countries with recent histories of trauma and political instability, oral history has urgent applications in restorative justice processes and national reconciliation. In 'The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting', we explore some of these. Contributors include Inga Clendinnen, Paul Thompson, Peter Read, Heather Goodall, Sean Field and Bonnie Smith. Archival oral history material featured in the program relates to apartheid South Africa, the Stolen Generations in Australia, Aboriginal cattle drovers in the Northern Territory, British nuclear tests in South Australia, and working people in Edwardian England. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/the-struggle-of-memory-against-forgetting/3658718

March 04 2011


Special Report on South Africa - The Economist

This is a quick documentary made by The Economist magazine, looking ahead to the world cup in South Africa. It's from early last year.
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