Friday, November 30, 2007

U.S. Banks Near A Plan to Freeze Subprime Rates; Morgan Stanley Executive Latest Casualty

U.S., Banks Near A Plan to Freeze Subprime Rates

November 30, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration and major financial institutions are close to agreeing on a plan that would temporarily freeze interest rates on certain troubled subprime home loans, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

An accord could reassure investors and strapped homeowners, both of whom are anxious as interest rates on more than two million adjustable mortgages are scheduled to jump over the next two years. It could also give a boost to the Bush administration, which is facing criticism for inaction amid the recent housing turmoil.

The plan is being negotiated between regulators including the Treasury Department and a coalition of mortgage-related companies including Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. People familiar with the talks say the individual members have agreed to follow any agreement reached by the coalition, which is called the Hope Now Alliance.

Details of the plan, which could be announced as early as next week, are still being worked out. In general, the government and the coalition have largely agreed to extend the lower introductory rate on home loans for certain borrowers who will have trouble making payments once their mortgages increase.

Many subprime loans carry a low "teaser" interest rate for the first two or three years, then reset to a higher rate for the remainder of the term, which is typically 30 years in total. In a typical case, the rate would rise to around 9.5% to 11% from 7% or 8%. That would boost an average borrower's payment by several hundred dollars a month.

Exactly which borrowers will qualify for the freeze and how long the freeze would last are yet to be determined. Under one scenario, the freeze could run as long as seven years. The parties are developing standard criteria that would determine eligibility. The criteria should be finalized by the end of year.

Mortgage servicers -- the companies that collect loan payments -- are a key part of the coalition, because they are the companies that deal directly with borrowers. Often the servicer is different from the company that originally made the loan. Citigroup and Countrywide are among the nation's biggest mortgage servicers. The mortgage servicers in the coalition represent 84% of the overall subprime market. The coalition also includes lenders, investors and mortgage counselors.

The Bush administration has been looking for ways to stem the fallout from the mortgage crisis. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson helped assemble the coalition so that government officials could have a single counterpart with which to discuss terms of a plan.

While the government can't force the industry to modify loans, Mr. Paulson and other administration officials have been using moral suasion to push for workouts, telling the companies it is in their interest to avoid foreclosure since most parties can lose money when that happens. A similar plan to freeze interest rates temporarily was recently announced by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and four major loan servicers, including Countrywide.

Among the holdouts have been investors, who typically hold securities backed by mortgages. If interest rates are frozen, they would lose the potential benefit of higher payments. But investors have cautiously moved toward cooperation, likely on the grounds that it's better to get some interest than none at all.

At a meeting at the Treasury Department yesterday, coalition members told Mr. Paulson and other regulators that they are on track to announce the new industry guidelines by year's end, according to a senior Treasury official. Among those attending were representatives of Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Citigroup and the American Securitization Forum, a group whose members issue, buy and rate securities backed by bundles of mortgages.

"There has been a convergence of thought on this," said William Ruberry, spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision, which is also involved in the discussions.

A spokeswoman for the American Securitization Forum, which earlier resisted a broad approach to changing loan terms, said: "We support loan modifications in appropriate circumstances and are working to establish systematic procedures to facilitate their delivery."

Treasury officials say financial institutions are likely to set criteria that divide subprime borrowers into three groups: those who can continue to make their payments even if rates rise, those who can't afford their mortgages even if rates stay steady, and those who could keep their homes if the maturity date of their mortgages were extended or the interest rates remained at the teaser rates. Only the third group would be eligible for help.

The creditors are likely to look at whether the borrowers have equity in their homes, despite falling house prices, and whether their incomes are holding steady.

Mr. Paulson, who is philosophically opposed to federal meddling in markets, at first rejected a sweeping approach to loan modifications when the idea was floated by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair. But he shifted his position recently. He told The Wall Street Journal last week that it would be impossible to "process the number of workouts and modifications that are going to be necessary doing it just sort of one-off."

As a drumbeat of bad news about housing has continued -- including news of fewer home sales, falling prices and higher foreclosures -- the Bush administration has come under pressure to be seen as actively addressing the problem.

"There seems to be a vacuum in terms of leadership," said Brian Bethune, U.S. economist at Global Insight, a research firm. Mr. Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke need "to build up the public's confidence that they will do what is necessary to avoid recession," said Mr. Bethune.

Officials in Washington have been cautious about steps that would be seen as rescuing borrowers, lenders and investors from the consequences of their own bad decisions. That is why few are suggesting direct support for borrowers who can't afford their loans. Mr. Paulson has decided his best option is to prod the markets to sort matters out themselves, as long as companies bear in mind the public interest in keeping people in their homes. "There's not some silver-bullet piece of legislation out there," a senior Treasury official said.

Mr. Paulson, who spent 32 years at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has been on the phone nearly every day in recent months with the heads of financial institutions such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. He has talked to chief executives to find out what they're doing to help borrowers and get their take on the extent of the losses and accompanying credit crunch roiling Wall Street.

"Where I'm spending most of my time is in the mortgage market," Mr. Paulson said in another interview this week. He convened a 7 a.m. staff meeting the Monday after Thanksgiving "to find out what are we learning."

"If I ever saw a role for government, it bring the private sector together when innovation has really outrun our ability to deal with it," Mr. Paulson said. He is expected to talk about the administration's approach to the housing crisis at a conference Monday.

Interest rates are set to reset next year on $362 billion worth of adjustable-rate subprime mortgages, according to Banc of America Securities. An additional $85 billion in such mortgages is resetting during the current quarter. The estimates include loans packaged into securities and held in bank portfolios.

Borrowers whose loans are resetting are likely to have a tougher time sidestepping the rising payments by refinancing or selling their homes. Lending standards have tightened and many borrowers can't qualify for refinancing. And falling home prices mean that many borrowers have little or no equity in their homes. Some owe more than their homes are worth.

Top Treasury officials fear that unless creditors agree to relax the terms on many of those mortgages, borrowers will default at a higher pace. About 6.6% of subprime mortgages were in foreclosure as of August, the most recent data available, according to First American LoanPerformance.

--James R. Hagerty and Ruth Simon contributed to this article.

Write to Deborah Solomon at deborah.solomon@wsj.com4 and Michael M. Phillips at michael.phillips@wsj.com5

URL for this article:

Subprime crisis claims top Morgan banker

By David Wighton in New York
November 30 2007 01:51

Zoe Cruz, the most senior woman on Wall Street, on Thursday became the latest high-profile casualty of the US subprime mortgage meltdown when she lost her job as co-president of Morgan Stanley.

The ousting came three weeks after Morgan Stanley revealed it had lost more than $3.7bn on a subprime mortgage bet that went disastrously wrong.

The turmoil of recent months has already claimed the jobs of the chief executives of UBS, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. Ms Cruz’s counterpart at Bear Stearns has also been ousted.

In an unrelated move, Robert Scully, an experienced banker who was co-president with Ms Cruz, will move to a newly created office of the chairman where he will focus on key clients, particularly sovereign investors.

The new co-presidents are Walid Chammah, a former head of investment banking who recently moved to London to head Morgan Stanley International, and James Gorman, who joined from Merrill Lynch last year and now heads the wealth management arm.

John Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chairman and chief executive, initially decided to take no action against Ms Cruz after discussing the matter with his board.

But after a longer “post-mortem”, he concluded that changes were needed, according to someone familiar with his thinking.

The market has deterioriated further in recent weeks, increasing the potential loss on Morgan Stanley’s remaining mortgage-linked investments.

However, insiders say no further problems have been uncovered and the maximum potential loss from its subprime exposure remains at the stated $6bn.

In a broad shake-up, Neal Shear has been removed as Morgan Stanley’s head of trading and will return to the highly successful commodities business he helped to build as chairman. Tony Tuffariello, who was head of securitised products, is leaving the company. Michael Petrick becomes head of trading.

Mr Mack said Ms Cruz, 52, had made enormous contributions to the company in her 25 years of service. “She has helped to build some of our most important and successful businesses and worked tierlessly to strengthen and grow our global franchise.”

Before Morgan Stanley announced its losses, Ms Cruz is understood to have been approached about becoming chief executive of Merrill Lynch, a job that went to John Thain.

Ms Cruz, who ran Morgan Stanley’s fixed income business, was made co-president in 2005 by Philip Purcell, fuelling the revolt that eventually led to his ousting as chairman and chief executive.

Her promotion prompted the departure of Vikram Pandit, who had been her boss, and several other senior executives who refused to return following Mr Purcell’s departure unless she was removed. Mr Mack resisted the pressure to sideline the widely respected Ms Cruz.

Starbucks to Promote Speciality Coffee and Open Africa Center in Ethiopia

Starbucks to Promote Specialty Coffee Company to Open First Africa Center

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
30 November 2007
Addis Ababa

Ethiopia and world coffee giant Starbucks said on Wednesday they were determined to strengthen partnership with the view to making Ethiopia a leading force in the global specialty coffee marketplace.

This was disclosed at a joint press conference held following discussions between Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and visiting Starbucks Corporation Chairman Howard Shultz.

Prime Minister Meles and Mr. Schultz said their discussions reflected a deepening relationship between Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and Starbucks, one of the world's largest specialty coffee companies.

They said they worked out ways to expand the branding and marketing of Ethiopia's world-renowned fine coffees in order to achieve better prices for farmers and improved opportunities for the millions of Ethiopians who depend on coffee for their livelihood.

"We will be working closely with Starbucks to bring badly needed investment and technology to our coffee industry, as well as brand recognition and promotion for our high-grade Arabica beans," Meles told reporters at his office immediately after his discussions with high level delegation led by Chairman Shultz.

"These measures will afford Ethiopia new leverage in the global coffee market. I am extremely encouraged that Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz shares our belief in a bright future for Ethiopia's coffee economy," the Premier added.

Schultz on his part said his company would open a Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Addis Ababa in 2008.

To be the first in Africa, the soon-to-be established centre aims to enable the company to work collaboratively with Ethiopian farmers to raise both the quality and production of the country's high quality specialty coffees.

The Farmer Support Centre will also provide resources and ongoing support to coffee communities with the goal of improving coffee quality and growing practices and increasing the number of farmers participating in the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, Starbucks' sustainable coffee buying guidelines.

After lengthy wrangling with the Ethiopian government over trademark, Starbucks earlier this year signed a distribution, marketing and licensing agreement with Ethiopia and agreed to assist in expanding consumer awareness of Ethiopia's famed coffee brands- Sidamo, Harar/Harrar and Yirgacheffe.

The joint press briefing was followed by a roundtable discussion among the visiting Starbucks officials and government officials, coffee farmers, exporters and other coffee stakeholders yesterday where they shared ideas on how to strengthen the partnership and improve the Ethiopian coffee industry.

Later in the day, Schultz is expected to address leaders of the Ethiopian business community and young entrepreneurs.

Between 2002 and 2006, Starbucks increased its Ethiopian coffee purchases by nearly 400 percent.

Today, Ethiopian coffee can be found in nearly all of Starbucks' U.S. stores. In 2008 Starbucks plans to intensify its promotion of Ethiopian coffees.

Other Starbaucks senior officers accompanying Shultz are: Cliff Burrows, President Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Dub Hay, Starbucks senior vice president of Coffee & Global Procurement, and Sandra Taylor, Starbucks senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nigeria Rejects United States 'Africa Command' (AFRICOM)

Nigeria rejects US’ Africa Command

Daily Trust
Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The United States government’s decision to establish an Africa Command (AFRICOM) as a military mechanism for "resolving" Africa’s internal crises in pursuit of its "war on terror" was received by most African pundits with concern or resignation, but little surprise. Whether viewed as a strategy for hegemony or self-defence, the establishment of such commands worldwide is but the logical outcome of the US push for global dominance.

There being no corner of the world where US interest or honour lies beyond the reach of "evil-minded forces," the whole aim of the "global war on terror" – which foresees an unlimited number of indecisive battles - may be no more than to so menace the governments and peoples of the world with an endless series of imaginary enemies as to compel them to rely on US support for survival and provide façades behind which Uncle Sam could rule the planet unchallenged.

That is standard twenty-first century imperialism whose grace notes are "free market," "human rights," and a democracy enforced by awesome military power.

The strategy of all imperial masters has always been to impose norms of right and wrong, possibility or impossibility, sanity or insanity and good or bad on their subjects, the majority of whom conform without question on account of their herd mentality. The masters then manipulate these norms to divide the masses into diverse factions, thus gaining the leverage to create conflicts or restore order among the masses at will.

While parallel US efforts to destroy all established traditions in promoting worldwide regional integration are but parts of its ploy to create a US-dominated global economy and administration, we remain supremely confident that the good people of the United States and its allied countries are neither militaristic enough nor rich enough to condone the endless bailouts, police actions and wars which their governments’ hegemonic aspiration would entail.

What the US and its allies really care about is to establish a military presence at the heart of every resource-rich region in order to control the supply of hydrocarbon fuels as global capitalism becomes increasingly overwhelmed by crises of overproduction and overcapacity. It is logical that they should seek to strengthen their military presence in Africa as China and India begin to cast furtive glances at our continent’s resources.

They are easily capable of manipulating the conflicting claims by Nigeria and Cameroon of sovereignty over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to justify intervention on the side of whichever country "plays ball" and make life unpleasant for the country that may elect to follow its own path just as they currently subject Iran, the Hamas government of Gaza, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea to enormous pressures for failing to toe the line.

A serious challenge to the US scheme could come from "Islamic fundamentalism," which could exploit the pervasive hostility to US foreign policy and Israel’s continuing humiliation of the Palestinians to undermine US interests in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere. Barring the emergence of a genuinely powerful Islamic state in the region however that challenge lacks a geopolitical core and can therefore be restricted to expressing itself through diffuse violence, albeit on a global scale that could even conduce to increasing US’ hegemonic influence.

What are the prospects for Africa? Much depends on the African leaders’ ability to distinguish the real from the spurious, change their vision from "can’t do" to "can do," from miniscule to limitless horizons, and above all to question every received wisdom as they rid their minds of the fears that blind them to the immense demographic and material potentials of the globally dispersed communities of Africans.

Accordingly we welcome the recent decision of our Council of States to reject AFRICOM as a neo-colonial imposition and work instead towards the establishment of an African Standby Force to address whatever crises may arise in African countries.

Bakassi: I didn’t act alone– Obasanjo

Written by Abdul-Rahman Abubakar
Thursday, 29 November 2007

Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday denied that he took unilateral action last year in the decision to hand over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, allegedly in respect of the verdict given by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Obasanjo was reacting to a recent decision of the Senate to cancel the peninsula’s transfer, saying he did not seek for ratification as provided for by the 1999 Constitution.

A statement signed by the Media Assistant to the former President, Mr. Adeoba Ojekunle said: "The last Senate and the House of Representatives under the leaderships of Senator Ken Nnamani and Hon. Aminu Bello Masari were duly served the Green Tree Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon on the ceding of Bakassi Territory for ratification by the National Assembly."

But speaking to Daily Trust on telephone yesterday, former Senate President Nnamani said if the Senate failed to ratify the agreement at that time, "It means we did not deem it appropriate."

He said, "I cannot say if we received such letter or not, but that can be checked at the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly. If we received it and did not treat it, that was because we didn’t deem it appropriate. We were not rubber stamps."

Asked if he advised the former president on the matter, Nnamani said: "I was not in his legal adviser."

Obasanjo’s statement claimed to have sought for ratification from the National Assembly, "contrary to the widely held view that the last Assembly was kept in the dark concerning the agreement."

The former president, who attached to his statement a copy of the letter dated June 13, 2006 and addressed to Senate resident Ken Nnamani, did not however include any proof of Senate ratification for ceding of Bakassi Peninsula.

Obasanjo however said the letter was received on June 15, 2007 and duly acknowledged by the two chambers.

Former Senate President Nnamani however advised his colleagues to approach the Bakassi issue with caution saying, "I don’t want anything that will heat the polity and disrupt the stability we are enjoying now. The matter is a judgement of the ICJ. We should tread with caution."

The Senate recently nullified the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula and other parts of Nigeria’s territory to the Republic of Cameroon by former President, Obasanjo in respect to the ICJ ruling.

Consequently, it requested President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua "to forthwith stop any further transfer of any part of this country unless the agreement is ratified by the National Assembly."

The motion, which was moved by Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw (Cross River South), was sponsored by twenty one other senators, including eleven ranking senators who were in the Senate during the reign of Obasanjo.

The lawmakers condem-ned the action of the former ruler saying, "Notwith-standing the widespread national disaffection and concerns expressed over the ICJ verdict, and despite his own earlier promise not to cede the territory to Cameroon, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have signed an agreement at the Green Tree, New York on June 12, 2006 in which he agreed to surrender the peninsula to Cameroon."

Deputy Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) insisted that in enforcing the ICJ ruling on Bakassi, the National Assembly ought to have been involved.

"Bakassi is mentioned in the first schedule of the Constitution of Nigeria and for us, full implementation of the ICJ judgment cannot be considered until during the constitution amendment," Ndoma-Egba added.

Another senior senator, Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, queried Obasanjo for not involving the parliament in the implementation of the ICJ ruling on Bakassi. He said, "Everything that was done was supposed to have involved the parliament because that is what divides democracy from autocracy. If you leave out the parliament, what you have is autocracy. Just like the Europeans shared out Africa as an international cake, Bakassi was shared out as a national cake."

Mamora described as unfortunate the action of former President Obasanjo in signing the agreement to cede part of Nigeria on June 12, 2006, "a day that is celebrated as a day for consolidation of democracy by many Nigerians."

CIA Operation "Pliers" Uncovered in Venezuela; Plan Designed to Disrupt Elections

CIA Operation "Pliers" Uncovered in Venezuela

November 28th 2007, by Eva Golinger

Last night CNN en Español aired an image, which captions at the bottom "Who Killed him?" by "accident". The image of President Chavez with the caption about killing him below, which some could say subliminally incites to assassination, was a "production error" mistakenly made in the CNN en Español newsroom.

The news anchor had been narrarating a story about the situation between Colombia and Venezuela and then switched to a story about an unsolved homicide but - oops - someone forgot to change the screen image and President Chavez was left with the killing statement below. Today they apologized and admitted it was a rather "unfortunate" and "regrettable" mistake. Yes, it was.

On a scarier note, an internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister - almost fantastical, were it not true - plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days.

The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the US Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a Regional Affairs Officer.

The internal memorandum, dated November 20, 2007, references the "Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers", and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela. The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on December 2nd.

The Electoral Scenario, as it's phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday, December 2nd, and that the SI (YES) vote in favor of the constitutional reform has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the NO vote. The CIA estimates abstention around 60% and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.

Officer Steere emphasizes the importance and success of the public relations and propaganda campaign that the CIA has been funding with more than $8 million during the past month - funds that the CIA confirms are transfered through the USAID contracted company, Development Alternatives, Inc., which set up operations in June 2002 to run the USAID Office for Transition Initiatives that funds and advises opposition NGOs and political parties in Venezuela.

The CIA memo specifically refers to these propaganda initiatives as "psychological operations" (PSYOPS), that include contracting polling companies to create fraudulent polls that show the NO vote with an advantage over the SI vote, which is false.

The CIA also confirms in the memo that it is working with international press agencies to distort the data and information about the referendum, and that it coordinates in Venezuela with a team of journalists and media organized and directed by the President of Globovision, Alberto Federico Ravell.

CIA Officer Michael Steere recommends to General Michael Hayden two different strategies to work simultaneously: Impede the referendum and refuse to recognize the results once the SI vote wins. Though these strategies appear contradictory, Steere claims that they must be implemented together precisely to encourage activities that aim toward impeding the referendum and at the same time prepare the conditions for a rejection of the results.

How is this to be done?

In the memo, the CIA proposes the following tactics and actions:

Take the streets and protest with violent, disruptive actions across the nation
Generate a climate of ungovernability
Provoke a general uprising in a substantial part of the population
Engage in a "plan to implode" the voting centers on election day by encouraging opposition voters to "VOTE and REMAIN" in their centers to agitate others
Start to release data during the early hours of the afternoon on Sunday that favor the NO vote (in clear violation of election regulations)
Coordinate these activities with Ravell & Globovision and international press agencies
Coordinate with ex-militar officers and coupsters Pena Esclusa and Guyon Cellis - this will be done by the Military Attache for Defense and Army at the US Embassy in Caracas, Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO)

To encourage rejection of the results, the CIA proposes:

Creating an acceptance in the public opinion that the NO vote will win for sure
Using polling companies contracted by the CIA
Criticize and discredit the National Elections Council
Generate a sensation of fraud
Use a team of experts from the universities that will talk about how the data from the Electoral Registry has been manipulated and will build distrust in the voting system

The CIA memo also talks about:

Isolating Chavez in the international community
Trying to achieve unity amongst the opposition
Seek an aliance between those abstentionists and those who will vote "NO"
Sustain firmly the propaganda against Chavez
Execute military actions to support the opposition mobilizations and propagandistic occupations
Finalize the operative preparations on the US military bases in Curacao and Colombia to provide support to actions in Venezuela
Control a part of the country during the next 72-120 hours
Encourage a military rebellion inside the National Guard forces and other components

Those involved in these actions as detailed in the CIA memo are:

The CIA Office in Venezuela - Office of Regional Affairs, and Officer Michael Steere
US Embassy in Venezuela, Ambassador Patrick Duddy
Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO) at the US Embassy in Caracas and Military Attache Richard Nazario
Venezuelan Political Parties:

Comando Nacional de la Resistencia
Accion Democratica
Primero Justicia
Bandera Roja


Alberto Federico Ravell & Globovision
Interamerican Press Society (IAPA) or SIP in Spanish
International Press Agencies


Pena Esclusa
Guyon Cellis
Dean of the Simon Bolivar University, Rudolph Benjamin Podolski
Dean of the Andres Bello Catholic University, Ugalde
Students: Yon Goicochea, Juan Mejias, Ronel Gaglio, Gabriel Gallo, Ricardo Sanchez

Operation Tenaza has the objective of encouraging an armed insurrection in Venezuela against the government of President Chavez that will justify an intervention of US forces, stationed on the military bases nearby in Curacao and Colombia. The Operation mentions two countries in code: as Blue and Green. These refer to Curacao and Colombia, where the US has operative, active and equipped bases that have been reinforced over the past year and a half in anticipation of a conflict with Venezuela.

The document confirms that psychological operations are the CIA's best and most effective weapon to date against Venezuela, and it will continue its efforts to influence international public opinion regarding President Chavez and the situation in the country.

Operation Tenaza is a very alarming plan that aims to destabilize Venezuela and overthrow (again) its legitimate and democratic (and very popularly support) president. The plan will fail, primarily because it has been discovered, but it must be denounced around the world as an unacceptable violation of Venezuela's sovereignty.

The original document in English will be available in the public sphere soon for viewing and authenticating purposes. And it also contains more information than has been revealed here.

Source URL:
Source URL:
Printed: November 29th 2007
License: Published under a Creative Commons license (by-nc-nd). See for more information.

"Color Me Butterfly" Deals With Over Six Decades of Domestic Violence

A True Story About Four Generations of Mothers & Daughters Who Suffered and Survived 60+ Years of Domestic Violence and Abuse Wins the 2007 National 'Best Books' Award

Washington, DC ( - Since its release in April 2007, not only has it received rave reviews, but on November 1, 2007, L.Y. Marlow's riveting, emotionally-charged and inspiring Color Me Butterfly became the winner of the 2007 National "Best Books" Award.

L.Y. Marlow is the third generation of her family to have been a victim and survivor of domestic violence: a violence that almost took her own life and the life of her unborn child. In her debut book, Color Me Butterfly, she tells the poignant and endearing story of four generations of mothers and daughters: the true story of her grandmother, her mother, herself, and her daughter; and the dispiriting impact intergenerational domestic violence and abuse has had on her family for over 60+ years.

I was just sixteen years old the first time my eye was blackened, my lip split, Marlow says. I knew my grandmother had gone through it. I knew my mother had gone through it. And now it was my time to go through it. I felt I had no choice. It was our 'normal'.

I wish I could say that my story ended that fateful day when the swelling started to rise. I wish I could say that I had never heard of or been exposed to domestic violence since I was sixteen. I wish I could say that this phenomenon did not exist in my family before I was a stitch in my family's fabric line, a seed in my mother's womb.

I wish I could say that 60+ years of domestic violence and abuse has not prevailed my family; but those wishes are just that -- wishes. I come from a legacy of women -- four generations to be exact -- where every kind of domestic abuse has been at the hem of my family's fabric.

Color Me Butterfly is sparking dialogue across the country. L.Y. Marlow has turned her family's pain into a crusade to raise awareness through the Saving Grace Campaign. "This campaign is about ensuring that everyone understands the seriousness of domestic violence and the impact it has on our communities," Marlow shares. "It's about spreading the word. It's about effecting 'Change.'"

L.Y. Marlow has spoken before many civic groups, churches, and colleges. She has been interviewed on various national and syndicated television and radio programs such as the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Wendy Williams Experience and the Doug Banks Show.

She has also been featured in several magazines including Jet and Today's Black Woman. And in addition to the National "Best Books" Award, "Color Me Butterfly" has also won the following awards:

S'Indie Award for Literary Excellence, Quality and Originality -- Winner

The Indie National Excellence Book Award -- Finalist

Hollywood Book Festival Award -- Honorable Mention

Visit to learn more about Color Me Butterfly, the author, and the Saving Grace campaign – a campaign that also provides unlimited resources and support to help victims of abuse.

Rediik Harris

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Detroit Public Meeting on the Foreclosure Crisis, Saturday, December 8, 1:00pm

For Immediate Release

Media Advisory

Event: Public Meeting on the Foreclosure Crisis
Saturday, December 8, 2007, 1:00pm
Location: Central United Methodist Church, 23 East Adams
at Woodward (Grand Circus Park, Downtown)
Contact: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War &
Injustice (MECAWI)
Phone: 313.319.0870

Build a Fight Back Movement to Declare a State of Economic Emergency in Michigan to Halt Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs; Come to a Public Meeting in Downtown Detroit

The poor and working people of Michigan desperately need emergency relief from the economic disaster that has hit our state. An emergency moratorium to stop foreclosures, utility shut-offs, evictions, school shutdowns, plant closings and lay-offs would give the people a chance to survive during the economic catastrophe while we strategize on how to fight to rebuild our state and guarantee the right to jobs, housing, health care and quality education for all.

During the 1930s, the State legislature utilized its emergency powers to pass the Mortgage Moratorium Act, Act No. 98, Pub. Acts 1933. The Act extended the redemption period during which homeowners could not have their property taken from them after foreclosure from six months, to 5 years.

The State of Michigan is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis. It is time for Governor Granholm to take emergency measures to protect the health and welfare of the poor and working families of Michigan in the midst of the economic disaster that has hit our state.

Come out to the public meeting organized by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice on Saturday, December 8 beginning at 1:00pm.

For more information on this issue and the movement to reclaim our economic rights, just contact the number and web site listed above.

MECAWI Demonstrates Against Closed Mayor's Meeting on Foreclosure Crisis in Detroit

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kilpatrick: Lenders will help borrowers

David Josar
The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Kwame Kilpatrick, flanked on Tuesday by a handful of mayors from across the United States, unveiled a short-list of strategies aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Lenders, Kilpatrick announced after the meeting at the MGM Grand Detroit, pledged they would fund public service announcements that tell borrowers facing foreclosure where to go for help, and the Mortgage Bankers Association agreed to establish a database for city officials that would indicate which financial institutions were responsible for individual foreclosed properties that have been vacated.

"These are not people who are deadbeats. These are people who work hard every day," said Kilpatrick, who spent most of Tuesday meeting with the mayors, representatives of the banking industry and several nonprofits in a closed-door meeting. He said the group was told 72 percent of people in foreclosure could take steps to avoid losing their homes.

"This is an economic tsunami we have to make sure people can stay in their homes and contribute to the economy," he said

As details are worked out over how the service announcements will be funded and how the database would be instituted, the mayors said Wall Street financiers -- which had been blamed for creating a market that tolerated so many risky loans in the first place -- should somehow help in abating the crisis.

"The industry knows what they have done," Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer said. "Wall Street made a bunch of money off those people and the time has come for them to pay the piper too."

Several banks agreed to help fund the "Hope Hotline," (888) 995-HOPE, where callers are advised on ways to get on track with mortgage payments and other strategies.

Kilpatrick, Palmer and other members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors held a special meeting in Detroit on foreclosures.

Meanwhile a report released Tuesday by the group predicted the ongoing wave of foreclosures will slow consumer spending, impede home construction and cause more people to lose their jobs.

During the meeting, about a dozen members of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice marched outside the casino, upset that the mayors -- including Kilpatrick -- weren't doing enough to help people who were losing their homes.

Jerry Goldberg, who coordinated the protesters, said the meeting should be public -- especially because the elected mayors were meeting with bankers.

"Homeowners have a right to hear what is being said," said Goldberg, a resident in the city's East English Village neighborhood. "This is a good start but more must be done."

According to the group's report, prepared by economic and financial analysis firm Global Insight, the Detroit region ranks seventh in the nation in terms of metro areas that have suffered the greatest loss of economic activity due to foreclosures.

The report pegs the value of lost goods and services here at $3.2 billion.

The outlook is expected to worsen, the report said, as mortgages -- both conventional and those with higher interest rates given to applicants with spotty credit -- readjust to higher interest rates.

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or

Who Killed Jimi Hendrix?: Rock Culture, COINTELPRO and the Continuing Legacy of Guitar Greatest

Who Killed Jimi Hendrix?: Rock Culture , COINTELPRO and the Continuing Legacy of Guitar Greatest

PANW Editor's Note: This article is being published in honor of the 65th birthday of Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942-September 18, 1970). This research report raises critical questions which debunk the "official theories" surrounding his mysterious death in 1970 in London.

Plus for a wonderful version of the classic anti-war composition "Machine Gun" just log on to the following URL:

Chapter seven from the book: "The Covert War Against Rock"

by Alex Constantine
Published by Feral House, 2000

I Don't Live Today: The Jimi Hendrix Political Harassment, Kidnap and Murder Experience

"I don't believe for one minute that he killed himself. That was out of the question."
— Chas Chandler, Hendrix Producer

"I believe the circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious and I think he was murdered."
— Ed Chalpin, Proprietor of Studio 76

"I feel he was murdered, frankly. Somebody gave him something. Somebody gave him something they shouldn't
— John McLaughlin, Guitarist, Mahavishnu Orchestra

He didn't die from a drug overdose. He was not an out-of-control dope fiend. Jimi Hendrix was not a junkie. And anyone who would use his death as a warning to stay away from drugs should warn people against the other things that killed Jimi—the stresses of dealing with the music industry, the craziness of being on the road, and especially, the dangers of involving oneself in a radical, or even unpopular, political movements. COINTELPRO was out to do more than prevent a Communist menace from overtaking the United States, or keep the Black Power movement from burning down cities. COINTELPRO was out to obliterate its opposition and ruin the reputations of the people involved in the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement, and the rock revolution. Whenever Jimi Hendrix's death is blamed on drugs, it accomplishes the goals of the FBI's program. It not only slanders Jimi's personal and professional reputation, but the entire rock revolution in the 60's.
—John Holmstrom. "Who Killed Jimi?"(1)

As the music of youth and resistance fell under the cross-hairs of the CIA's CHAOS war, it was probable that Jimi Hendrix—the tripping, peacenik "Black Elvis" of the '60s—should find himself a target.

Agents of the pathologically nationalistic FBI opened a file on Hendrix in 1969 after his appearance at several benefits for "subversive" causes. His most cutting insult to the state was participation in a concert for Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Bobby Seale and the other defendants of the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial,(2) "Get [the] Black Panthers," he told a reporter for a teen magazine, "not to kill anybody, but to scare [federal officials]....I know it sounds like war, but that's what's gonna have to happen. It has to be a war....You come back to reality and there are some evil folks around and they want you to be passive and weak and peaceful so that they can just overtake you like jelly on bread....You have to fight fire with fire."(3)

On tour in Liesburg, Sweden, Hendrix was interviewed by Tommy Rander, a reporter for the Gotesborgs-Tidningen. " In the USA, you have to decide which side you're on," Hendrix explained. "You are either a rebel or like Frank Sinatra."(4)

In 1979, college students at the campus newspaper of Santa Barbara University (USB) filed for release of FBI files on Hendrix. Six heavily inked-out pages were released to the student reporters. (The deletions nixed information "currently and properly classified pursuant to Executive Order 11652, in the interest of national defense of foreign policy.") On appeal, seven more pages were reluctantly turned over to the UCSB students. The file revealed that Hendrix had been placed on the federal "Security Index," a list of "subversives" to be rounded up and placed in detainment camps in the event of a national emergency.

If the intelligence agencies had their reasons to keep tabs on Hendrix, they couldn't have picked a better man for the job than Hendrix's manager, Mike Jeffrey. Jeffrey, by his own admission an intelligence agent,(5) was born in South London in 1933, the sole child of postal workers. He completed his education in 1949, took a job as a clerk for Mobil Oil, was drafted to the National Service two years later. Jeffrey's scores in science took him to the Educational Corps. He signed on as a professional soldier, joined the Intelligence Corps and at this point his career enters an obscure phase.

Hendix biographers Shapiro & Glebeek report that Jeffrey often boasted of "undercover work against the Russians, of murder, mayhem and torture in foreign cities....His father says Mike rarely spoke about what he did—itself perhaps indicative of the sensitive nature of his work—but confirms that much of Mike's military career was spent in 'civvies,' that he was stationed in Egypt and that he could speak Russian."(6)

There was, however, another, equally intriguing side of Mike Jeffrey: He frequently hinted that he had powerful underworld connections. It was common knowledge that he had had an abiding professional relationship with Steve Weiss, the attorney for both the Hendrix Experience and the Mafia-managed Vanilla Fudge, hailing from the law firm of Seingarten, Wedeen & Weiss. On one occasion, when drummer Mitch Mitchell found himself in a fix with police over a boat he'd rented and wrecked, mobsters from the Fudge management office intervened and pried him loose.(7)

Organized crime has had fingers in the recording industry since the jukebox wars. Mafioso Michael Franzene testified in open court in the late 1980s that "Sonny" Franzene, his stepfather, was a silent investor in Buddah Records. At this industry oddity, the inane, nasal, apolitical '60s "Bubblegum" song was blown from the goo of adolescent mating fantasies. The most popular of Buddah's acts were the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Ohio Express. These bands shared a lead singer, Joey Levine. Some cultural contributions from the Buddha label: "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy," "Simon Says," and "1-2-3 Red Light."

In 1971, Buddha Records' Bobby Bloom was killed in a shooting sometimes described as "accidental," sometimes "suicide," at the age of 28. Bloom made a number of solo records, including "Love Don't Let Me Down," and "Count On Me." He formed a partnership with composer Jeff Barry and they wrote songs for the Monkees in their late period. Bloom made the Top 10 with the effervescent
"Montego Bay" in 1970. Other Mafia-managed acts of the late 1960s were equally apolitical: Vanilla Fudge ("You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Bang, Bang"),(9) Motown's Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Curtis Mayfield.(10) In the '60s and beyond, organized crime wrenched unto itself control of industry workers via the Teamsters Union. Trucking was Mob controlled. So were stadium concessions. No rock bands toured unless money exchanged hands to see that a band's instruments weren't delivered to the wrong airport.(11)

Intelligence agent or representative of the mob? Whether Jeffrey was either or both—and the evidence is clear that a CIA/Mafia combination has exercised considerable influence in the music industry for decades—at a certain point, Hendrix must have seen something that made him desperately want out of his management contract with Jeffrey.

Monika Dannemann, Hendrix's fiancé at the time of his death, describes Mike Jeffrey's control tactics, his attempts to isolate and manipulate Hendrix, with observations of his evolving awareness that Jeffrey was a covert operator bent on dominating his life and mind:

Jimi felt more and more unsafe in New York, the city where he used to feel so much at home. It had begun to serve as a prison to him, and a place where he had to watch his back all the time.

In May 1969 Jimi was arrested at Toronto for possession of drugs. He later told me he believed Jeffrey had used a third person to plant the drugs on him—as a warning, to teach him a lesson.

Jeffrey had realized not only that Jimi was looking for ways of breaking out of their contract, but also that Jimi might have calculated that the Toronto arrest would be an easy way to silence Jimi.... Jeffrey did not like Jimi to have friends who would put ideas in his dead and give him strength. He preferred Jimi to be more isolated, or to mix with certain people whom Jeffrey could use to influence and try to manipulate him.

So in New York, Jimi felt at times that he was under surveillance, and others around him noticed the same. He tried desperately to get out of his management contract, and asked several people for advice on the best way to do it. Jimi started to understand the people around him could not be trusted, as things he had told them in confidence now filtered through to Jeffrey. Obviously some people informed his manager of Jimi's plans, possibly having been bought or promised advantages by Jeffrey. Jimi had always been a trusting and open person, but now he had reason to become suspicious of people he didn't know well, becoming quite secretive and keeping very much to himself.(12)

Five years after the death of the virtuoso, Crawdaddy reported that friends of Hendrix felt "he was very unhappy and confused before his death. Buddy Miles recalled 'numerous times he complained about his managers." His chief roadie, Gerry Stickells, told Welch, "he became a lot of people around him."(13)

Hendrix was obsessed with the troubles that Jeffrey and company brought to his life and career. The band's finances were entirely controlled by management and were depleted by a tax haven in the Bahamas founded in 1965 by Michael Jeffrey called Yameta Co., a subsidiary of the Bank of New Providence, with accounts at the Naussau branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Chemical Bank in New York.(14) A substantial share of the band's earnings had been quietly drained by Yameta. The banks where Jeffrey opened accounts have been officially charged with the laundering of drug proceeds, a universal theme of CIA/Mafia activity. (The Chemical Bank was forced to plead guilty to 445 misdemeanors in 1980 when a federal investigation found that bank officials had failed to report transactions they knew to derive from drug trafficking.(15) The Bank of Nova Scotia was a key investor in the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, BCCI, once described by Time magazine as "the most pervasive money-laundering operation and financial supermarket ever create," with ties to the upper echelons of several governments, the CIA, the Pentagon and the Vatican.(16)

BCCI maintained warm relationships with international terrorists, and investigators turned up accounts for Libya, Syria and the PLO at BCCI's London branch, recalling Mike Jeffrey's military intelligence interest in the Middle East. And then there were bank records from Panama City relating to General Noriega. These "disappeared'' en route to the District of Columbia under heavy DEA guard. An internal investigation later, DEA officials admitted they were at a loss to explain the theft.(17)

Friends of Hendrix, according to Electric Gypsy, confiscated financial documents from his New York office and turned them over to Jimi: "One showed that what was supposed to be a $10,000 gig was in fact grossing $50,000."

"Jimi Hendrix was upset that large amounts of his money were missing," reports rock historian R. Gary Patterson. Hendrix had discovered the financial diversions and took legal action to recover them.(18)

But there was another factor also involving funds.

Some of Hendrix's friends have concluded that "Jeffrey stood to make a greater sum of money from a dead Jimi Hendrix than a living one. There was also mention of a one million dollar insurance policy covering Hendrix's life made out with Jeffrey as the beneficiary." The manager of the Experience constructed "a financial empire based on the posthumous releases of Hendrix's previously unreleased recordings."(19) Crushing musical voices of dissent was proving to be an immensely profitable enterprise because a dead rocker leaves behind a fortune in publishing rights and royalties.

Roadies couldn't help but notice that Mike Jeffrey, a seasoned military intelligence officer, was capable of "subtle acts of sabotage against them," reports Shapiro. Jeffrey booked the Experience for a concert tour with the Monkees and Hendrix was forced to cancel when the agony of playing to hordes of 12-year-old children, and fear of a parental backlash, convinced him to bail out.

As for the arrest in Toronto, Hendrix confidantes blame Jeffrey for the planted heroin. The charges were dropped after Hendrix argued that the unopened container of dope had been dropped into his travel bag upon departure by a girl who claimed that it was cold medicine.(20)

In July, 1970, one month before his death, at precisely the time Hendrix stopped all communications with Jeffrey, he told Chuck Wein, a film director at Andy Warhol's Factory: "The next time I go to Seattle will be in a pine box."(21)

And he knew who would drop him in it. Producer Alan Douglas recalls that Hendrix "had a hang-up about the word
'manager.'" The guitarist had pled with Douglas, the proprietor of his own jazz label, to handle the band's business affairs. One of the most popular musicians in the world was desperate. He appealed to a dozen business contacts to handle his bookings and finances, to no avail.(22)

Meanwhile, the sabotage continued in every possible form. Douglas: "Regardless of whatever else Jimi wanted to do, Mike would keep pulling him back or pushing him back....And the way the gigs were routed! I mean, one nighters—he would do Ontario one night, Miami the next night, California the next night. He used to waste [Hendrix] on a tour—and never make too much money because the expenses were ridiculous."(23)

The obits were a jumbled lot of skewed, contradictory eulogies: "DRUGS KILL JIMI HENDRIX AT 24," "ROCK STAR IS DEAD IN LONDON AT 27," "OVERDOSE." Many of the obituaries dwelt on the "wild man of rock" image, but there were also many personal commentaries from reporters who followed his career closely, and they dismissed as hype reports of chronic drug abuse. Mike Ledgerwood, a writer for Disc and Music Echo, offered a portrait that the closest friends of Jimi Hendrix confirm: "Despite his fame and fortune—plus the inevitable hang-ups and hustles which beset his incredible career—he remained a quiet and almost timid individual. He was naturally helpful and honest." Sounds magazine "found a man of quite remarkable charm, an almost old-world courtesy."

Hendrix biographer Tony Brown has, since the mid-'70s, collected all the testimony he could find relating to Hendrix's death, and finds it "tragic" but "predictable":

"The official cause of death was asphyxiation caused by inhaling his own vomit, but in the days and weeks leading up to the tragedy anyone with an ounce of common sense could see that Hendrix was heading for a terrible fall. Unfortunately, no one close to him managed to steer him clear of the maelstrom that was closing in. Brown sent a report based on his own investigation to the Attorney General's office in February, 1992, "in the hope that they would reopen the inquest into Jimi's death. The evidence was so strong that they ordered Scotland Yard detectives to conduct their own investigation." Months later, detectives at the Yard responded to Sir Nicholas Lyle at the Attorney General's office, rejecting the proposal to revive the inquest.(24)

The pathologist's report left the cause of death "open." Monika Dannemann had long insisted that Hendrix was murdered. At the time of her death, she had brought media attention to the case in a bitter and highly-publicized court battle with former Hendrix girlfriend Kathy Etchningham. On April 5, 1996, her body was discovered in a fume-filled car near her home in Seaford, Sussex, south England. Police dismissed the death as a "suicide" and the corporate press took dictation. But the Eastern Daily Press, a newspaper that circulates in the East Anglian region of the UK, raised another possibility: "Musician Uli Jon Roth, speaking at the thatched cottage where Miss Dannemann lived, said last night: 'The thing looks suspicious. She had a lot of death threats against her over the years....I always felt that she was really being crucified in front of everybody, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.' Mr Roth, formerly with the group The Scorpions, said Miss Danneman 'is not a person to do something to herself.'" Roth threw one more inconsistency on the lot: "She didn't believe in the concept of suicide."

Devon Wilson, another Hendrix paramour, in Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell's view, "died under mysterious circumstances herself a few years later."(25)

Red, Red Wine

Was Hendrix murdered while under the influence? Stanton Steele, an authority on addiction, offers a seemingly plausible explanation: "Extremely intoxicated people while asleep often lose the reflexive tendency to clear one's throat of mucus, or they may strangle in their vomit. This appeared to have happened to Jimi Hendrix, who had taken both alcohol and prescription barbiturates the night of his death."(26)

Evidence has recently come to light clarifying the cause of death—extreme alcohol consumption aggravated by the barbiturates in Hendrix's bloodstream—drowning. Hendrix is said to have choked to death after swallowing nine Vesperax sleeping tablets. This is not the lethal dose he'd have taken if suicide was the intent—he surely would have swallowed the remaining 40 or so pills in the packets Dannemann gave him if this was the idea—as Eric Burdon, the Animals' vocalist and a friend of Hendrix, has suggested over the years.

Hendrix was not felled by a drug overdose, as many news reports claimed. The pills were a sleeping Haid, and not a very effective one at that. The two Vesperax that Dannemann saw him take before she fell asleep at 3 am failed to put him under. He had taken a Durophet 20 amphetamine capsule at a dinner party the evening before. And then Hendrix, a chronic insomniac with an escalated tolerance level for barbiturates, had tried the Vesperax before and they proved ineffective. He apparently believed nine tablets would do him no harm.

At 10 am, Dannemann awoke and went out for a pack of cigarettes, according to her inquest testimony. When she returned, he was sick. She phoned Eric Bridges, a friend, and informed him that Hendrix wasn't well. "Half asleep," Bridges reported in his autobiography, "I suggested she give him hot coffee and slap his face. If she needed any more help to call me back." Dannemann called the ambulance at 18 minutes past eleven. The ambulance arrived nine minutes later. Hendrix was not, she claimed, in critical condition. She said the paramedics checked his pulse and breathing, and stated there was "nothing to worry about."

But a direct contradiction came in an interview with Reg Jones, one of the attendants, who insisted that Dannemann wasn't at the flat when they arrived, and that Hendrix was already dead. "It was horrific," Jones said. "We arrived at the flat and the door was flung wide open...."I knew he was dead as soon as I walked into the room." Ambulance attendant John Suau confirmed, "we knew it was hopeless. There was no pulse, no respiration."(27)

The testimonies of Dannemann and medical personnel at the 1970 inquest are disturbingly contradictory. Hendrix, the medical personnel stated, had been dead for at least seven hours by the time the ambulance arrived. Dr. Rufus Compson at the Department of Forensic Medicine at St. George's Medical School undertook his own investigation. He referred to the original medical examiner's report and discovered that there were rice remains in Hendrix's stomach. It takes three-four hours for the stomach to empty, he reasoned, and the deceased ate Chinese food at a dinner party hosted by Pete Cameron between the hours of 11 pm and midnight, placing the time of death no later than 4 am.(28) This is consistent with the report of Dr. Bannister, the surgical registrar, that "the inside of his mouth and mucous membranes were black because he had been dead for some time." Dr. Bannister told the London Times, "Hendrix had been dead for hours rather than minutes when he was admitted to the hospital."(29)

The inquest itself was "unusual," Tony Brown notes, because "none of the other witnesses involved were called to give their evidence, nor was any attempt made to ascertain the exact time of death," as if the subject was to be avoided. The result was that the public record on this basic fact in the case may have been incorrectly cited by scores of reporters and biographers. Tony Brown: "Even [medical examiner] Professor Teare made no attempt to ascertain the exact time of death. The inquest appeared to be conducted merely as a formality and had not been treated by the coroner as a serious investigation."(30)

In 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky (1996), Bill Henderson describes the inquest and its aftermath: "Those who followed his death....noticed many inconsistencies in the official inquest. It has been an open and shut affair that managed to hide its racist intent behind the public perceptual hoax of Hendrix as a substance abuser....As a result, millions of people all over the world thought that Hendrix had died that typical rock star's death: drug OD amid fame, opulence, decadence. But it seems that Hendrix could very well have been the victim not of decadence, but of foul play."(31)

Forensic tests submitted at the inquest have been supplemented over the years by new evidence that makes a reconstruction of the murder possible. In October, 1991, Steve Roby, publisher of Straight Ahead, a Hendrix fanzine, asked, "What Really Happened?": "Kathy Etchingham, a close friend/lover of Jimi's, and Dee Mitchell, Mitch Mitchell's wife, spent many months tracking down former friends and associates of Hendrix, and are convinced they have solved the mystery of the final hours." Central to reconstructing Hendrix's death is red wine. Dr. Bannister reports that after the esophagus had been cleared, "masses" of red wine were "coming out of his nose and out of his mouth." The wine gushing up in great volume from Hendrix's lungs "is very vivid because you don't often see people who have drowned in their own red wine. He had something around him—whether it was a towel or a jumper—around his neck and that was saturated with red wine. His hair was matted. He was completely cold. I personally think he probably died a long time before....He was cold and he was blue."(32)

Henderson writes:
The abstract morbidity of Hendrix's body upon discovery may indicate a more complex scenario than has been commonly held. Hendrix was not a red wine guzzler, especially in the amounts found in and around his body. He was known to be moderate in his consumption. If he was 'sleeping normally,' then why was he fully clothed? And how could the ambulance attendants have missed seeing someone who was supposed to be there? The garment, or towel, around his neck is totally mysterious given the scenario so widely distributed. But it is consistent with the doctor's statement that he drowned. Was he drowned by force? In a radio interview broadcast out of Holland in the early '70s, an unnamed girlfriend answered 'yes' to the question, 'Was Hendrix killed by the Mafia?'"(33)

Tony Brown, in Hendrix: The Final Days (1997), correlates the consumption of the wine to the approximate time of death: "It's unlikely that he drank the quantity of red wine found by Dr. Bannister.... Therefore, Jimi must have drunk a large quantity of red wine just prior to his death," suggesting that the quantity of alcohol in his lungs was the direct cause.(34)

The revised time of death, 3-4 am, contradicts the gap in the official record, and so does the revelation that Jimi Hendrix drowned in red wine. While it is common knowledge that Hendrix choked to death, it has only recently come to light that the wine—not the Verparex—was the primary catalyst of death. Hendrix was, the evidence suggests, forced to drink a quantity of wine. The barbiturates, as Brown notes, "seriously inhibited Jimi's normal cough reflex." Unable to cough the wine back up, "it went straight down into his lungs....It is quite possible that he thrashed about for some time, fighting unsuccessfully to gain his breath."(35) It is doubtful that Hendrix would have continued to swallow the wine in "massive" volumes had it begun to fill his lungs.

One explanation that explains the forensic evidence is that Jimi Hendrix was restrained, wine forced down his throat until his thrashings ceased. All of this must have taken place quickly, before the alcohol had time to enter his bloodstream. The post mortem report states that the blood alcohol level was not excessive, about 20mg over the legal drinking limit. He died before his stomach absorbed much of the wine. Jimi Hendrix choked to death. That much of the general understanding of his demise is correct, and little else.

The kidnapping, embezzling and numerous shady deceptions would make Jeffrey the leading suspect in any proper police investigation. And his reaction at the news of Hendrix's death did little to dispel any suspicions that associates may have harbored. Jim Marron, a nightclub owner from Manhattan, was vacationing with Jeffrey in Spain when word of the musician's death reached him. "We were supposed to have dinner that night in Majorca," Marron recalls.

Jeffrey "called me from his club in Palma saying that we would have to cancel....I've just got word from London. Jimi's dead." The manager of the Hendrix Experience took the news completely in stride. "I always knew that son of a bitch would pull a quickie," Jeffrey told Marron. "Basically, he had lost a major property. You had the feeling that he had just lost a couple of million dollars—and was the first to realize it. My first reaction was, Oh my God, my friend is dead."(36) But Jeffrey reacted coldly, comparing the fatality to a fleeting sexual romp in the afternoon.

His odd behavior continued in the days following the death of Hendrix. He appeared to be consumed by guilt, and on one occasion "confessed." On September 20, recording engineer Alan Douglas received a call from Jeffrey, who wanted to see him. Douglas drove to the hotel where Jeffrey was staying. "He was bent over, in misery from a recent back injury. We started talking and he let it all out. It was like a confession."

"In my opinion," Douglas observed, "Jeffrey hated Hendrix."

Bob Levine, the band's merchandising manager, was perplexed by Jeffrey's response to the tragedy. First, Hendrix's manager dropped completely out of sight. "We tried calling all of Jeffrey's contacts....trying to reach him. We were getting frustrated because Hendrix's body was going to be held up in London for two weeks and we wanted Jeffrey's input on the funeral service.

A full week after Hendrix's death, he finally called. Hearing his voice, I immediately asked what his plans were and would he be going to Seattle. 'What plans?' he asked. I said, 'the funeral.' 'What funeral?' he replied.

I was exasperated: 'Jimi's!' The phone went quiet for a while and then he hung up. The whole office was staring at me, unable to believe that with all the coverage on radio, print and television, Jeffrey didn't know that Jimi had died." As noted, Jeffrey had been notified and almost grieved, in his fashion. "He called back in five minutes and we talked quietly. He said, 'Bob, I didn't know,' and was asking about what had happened. While I didn't confront him, I knew he was lying."(37)

It was reported that Michael Jeffrey "paid his respects" sitting in a limousine parked outside Dunlap Baptist Church in Seattle. He refused to go inside for the eulogy.(38) Hendrix was buried at the family plot at Greenwood Cemetary in Renton.

Screenwriter Alan Greenberg was hired to write a screenplay for a film on the life of Jimi Hendrix. He traveled to England and taped an interview with Dannemann shortly before her death in April, 1996. In that interview, Dannemann sketched in more details of Jeffrey's skullduggery, which continued after Hendrix's death and has long been concealed behind a wall of misconceptions. On the Greenberg tapes, Dannemann denied allegations of heroin use, as do others close to Hendrix: "You should put that into the right perspective since all of the youngsters still think he was a drug addict.

The problem was, when he died, I was told by the coroner not to talk until after the inquest, so that's why all these wild stories came out that he overdosed from heroin." The coroner found no injection tracks on Hendrix's body. That he snorted the opiate, a charge advanced by biographer Chris Welch in Hendrix, is disputed by Jimi's closest friends. He indulged primarily in marijuana and LSD. The popular misconception that Hendrix was a heroin addict lingers on but should have been buried with him. One of rock's greatest talents was maliciously smeared by the press on this count.

At times, he public has been deliberately misled about Hendrix's drug habits. Kathy Etchingham, a former girlfriend, was deceived into giving an article about Jimi to a friend in the corporate media, and it was snatched up by a newspaper, rewritten, and the story that emerged depicted the guitarist as a violent and drug-infested lunatic. The editor later apologized in writing to Kathy for falsifying the record, but failed to retract in print.(39) Media swipes at Hendrix to this day are often unreasonably vicious, as in this transparent attempt to shape public opinion from London's Times on December 14, 1993:

Not only did [Hendrix] leave several memorable compositions behind him; he left a good-looking corpse. Kathy Etchnigham, a middle-class mother of two, who used to be one of Hendrix's lovers, still mourns his passing and is seeking to persuade the police that there is something suspicious about the circumstances in which he died. Quite why she should bother is hard to say. Perhaps she is bored.

Hendrix, we are advised, "lived an absurdly self-indulgent life and died, in essence, of stupidity."

Close friends of Jimi Hendrix suggest that Jeffrey was the front man for a surreptitious sponsor, the FBI, CIA or Mafia. In 1975, Crawdaddy magazine launched its own investigation and concluded that a death squad of some kind had targeted him: "Hendrix is not the only artist to have had his career sabotaged by unscrupulous sharks and leeches." The recent memory of the death of Average White Band drummer Robby McIntosh from strychnine-laced heroin circulating at a party in L.A. "only serves to update this fact of rock-and-roll life. But an industry that accepts these tragedies in cold blood demonstrates its true nature—and the Jimi Hendrix music machine cranks out, unencumbered by the absence of Hendrix himself. One wonders who'll be the next in line?"(40)

On March 5, as if in reply, Michael Jeffrey, every musician's nightmare, was blown out of the sky in an airplane collision over France, enroute to a court appearance in London related to Hendrix. Jeffrey was returning from Palma aboard an Iberia DC-9 in the midst of a French civil air traffic control strike. Military controllers were called in as a contingency replacements for the controllers. Hendrix biographer Bill Henderson considers the midair collision fuel for "paranoia."

The nature of military airline control "necessitated rigorous planning, limited traffic on each sector and strict compliance with regulations. The DC-9 however was assigned to the same flight over Nantes as a Spantax Coronado, which 'created a source of conflict.' And because of imprecise navigation, lack of complete radar coverage and imperfect radio communications, the two planes collided. The Coronado was damaged but remained airworthy; no one was injured. The DC-9 crashed, killing all 61 passengers and seven crew . . . ." There are [theories] that Jeffrey was merely a tool, a mouthpiece for the real villains lurking in the wings, that he was "the target of assassination."(41)

A quarter-century after Hendrix died, his father finally won control of the musical legacy. Under a settlement signed in 1995, the rights to his son's music were granted to 76-year-old Al Hendrix, the sole heir to the estate. The agreement, settled in court, forced Hendrix to drop a fraud suit filed two years earlier against Leo Branton Jr., the L.A. civil rights attorney who represented Angela Davis and Nat King Cole. Hendrix accused his lawyer of selling the rights to the late rock star's publishing catalogue without consent.

Hendrix, Sr. filed the suit on April 19, 1993, after learning that MCA Music Entertainment—a company rife with Mafia connections—was readying to snatch up his son's recording and publishing rights from two international companies that claimed to own them. The MCA deal, estimated to be worth $40 million, was put on hold after objections were raised in a letter to the Hollywood firm from Hendrix. By this time, Experience albums generated more than $3-million per a Ênnum in royalties, and $1-million worth of garments, posters and paraphernalia bearing his name and likeness are sold each year. All told, Al Hendrix received $2-million over the next 20 years.(42)


1. John Holstrom, "Who Killed Jimi?" Lions Gate Media Works, Dont_Live_Today.html.

2. John Raymond and Marv Glass, "The FBI Investigated Jimi Hendrix," Common Ground, University of Santa Barbara, CA student newspaper, vol. iv, no. 9, June 7, 1979, P. 1.

3. "Jimi Hendrix, Black Power and Money," Teenset, January, 1969.

4. Tony Brown, Hendrix: The Final Days, London: Rogan House, 1997, p. 43.

5. On Mike Jeffrey's undefined politics, see: John McDermott with Eddie Kramer, Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight, New York: Warner, 1992, p. 180.

6. Harry Shapiro and Ceasar Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, New York: St. Martin's, 1990, p. 120.

7. Bill Henderson, "IT'S LIKE TRYING TO GET OUT OF A ROOM FULL OF MIRRORS," Jimi Hendrix web page, http://www.rockmine. html.

8. Fredric Dannen, Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Industry, New York: Times Books, 1990, p. 164-5.

9. Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy, New York: St. Martin's, 1990, p. 294. The Fudge once booked a tour with Jimi Hendrixs, per arrangement between the band's mobbed-up management and Michael Jeffrey, Hendrix's manager.

10. Dannen, p. 165.

11. Shapiro and Glebbeek, p. 295.

12. Monika Dannemann, The Inner World of Jimi Hendrix, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995, pp. 76-8.

13, John Swenson, "The Last Days of Jimi Hendrix," Crawdaddy, January, 1975, p. 43.

14. Ibid., p. 488 ff.

15. "Banks and Narcotics Money Flow in Suth Florida," U.S. Senate Banking Committee report, 96th Congress, June 5-6, 1980, p. 201.

16. Jonathon Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA, New York: Touchstone, 1987, p. 153.

17. Josh Rodin, "BANK OF CROOKS AND CRIMINALS?" Topic 105, Christic News, Aug 6, 1991.

18. R. Gary Patterson, Hellhounds on Their Trail: Tales from the Rock-n'-Roll Graveyard, Nashville, Tennessee: Dowling Press, 1998, p. 208.

19. Ibid.

20. Shapiro and Glebbeek, p. 473.

21. Shapiro and Glebbeek, p. 477.

22. Swenson. In Crosstown Traffic (1989), Charles Murray reports that Hendrix "began consulting independent lawyers and accountants with a view of sorting out his tangled finances and freeing himself from Mike Jeffrey" (p. 55).

23. Henderson Web site.

24. Brown, p. 7.

25. Mitch Mitchell with John Platt, Jimi Hendrix—Inside the Experience, New York: St. Martin's, 1990, p. 160.

26. Stanton Steele, "The Human Side Of Addiction: What caused John Belushi's death?" U.S. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, April 1982, p. 7.

27. David Henderson, 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, New York: Bantam, 1996, pp. 389-90.

28. Brown, p. 164.

29. Henderson, p. 392.

30. Brown, p. 163.

31. Henderson, p. 388.

32. Ibid., p. 392.

33. Henderson, 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, p. 393. If the Mafia did indeed participate, Hendrix wasn't the first Afrifcan-American musician to have a contract on his head. In May 1955, jazz saxman Wardell Gray was murdered, probably by Mafia hitmen. Gray had toured with Benny Goodman and Count Basie in 1948. His remarkable recording sessions of the late 1940s, especially with Dexter Gordon, brought him fame. Bill Moody, a jazz drummer and disk jockey, published a novel in 1996, Death of a Tenor Man, based on the life and death of Grey. "It's strange," a publisher's press release comments, "that 1950s Las Vegas, a town in which the Mob and corrupt police worked hand in glove, became the home of the first integrated nightclub in the country. The Moulin Rouge was owned by blacks and had the honor of being the only casino hotel in Vegas that allowed African-Americans to mingle with white customers. On opening night, Nat 'King' Cole and Frank Sinatra sat in with Benny Carter's band. The second night, Wardell Gray, a black sax player in the Carter band with a growing reputation, was beaten to death. The police said he overdosed and 'fell out of bed,' dying later 'of complications.' Some suspected Gray's death was the Mob's way of telling the African-American businessmen who backed the Moulin Rouge that 'this town isn't big enough for the both of us.' Gray's murder has never been investigated. It "hung over the Moulin Rouge like a storm cloud" and remains unsolved. The casino went out of business a few months later.

And the 1961 attempt on the life of soul singer Jackie Wilson has never been rationally explained. Wilson was shot in the stomach by a fan supposedly trying to "prevent a fan from killing herself." He recovered from the assault and went on to release "No Pity (In the Naked City)," and "Higher and Higher."

The Halloween, 1975 murder of Al Jackson, percussionist for Booker T. and the MGs, at the age of 39, also appeared to be a premeditated hit. Barbara Jackson, his wife, was the sole eyewitness. She told police, according to Rolling Stone, that she "arrived home on the night of the shooting and was met by a gun-wielding burglar who tied her hands behind her back with an ironing cord." Al Jackson, who'd been taking in a closed circuit telecast of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, arrived an hour later. Any burglar would have collected valuables in the house and fled by this time, but he waited a full hour for Jackson to return home. Babara Jackson was freed from the ropes and the "burglar" ordered her at gunpoint to open the door for him. "After confronting Jackson and asking him for money, the intruder forced him to lie on the floor. He then shot Jackson five times in the back and left." (Rolling Stone, November 1975)

34. Brown, p. 165.

35. Brown, pp. 165-66.

36. McDermott and Kramer, pp. 286-87.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid.

39. Shapiro and Glebeek, p. 474.

40. Swenson, p. 45.

41. Henderson Web site.

42. Chuck Philips, "Father to Get Hendrix Song, Image Rights," Los Angeles Times (home edition), July 26, 1995, p. 1. Also named as defendants were producer Alan Douglas and several firms that have profited from the Hendrix catalogue since 1974 under contracts negotiated by Branton: New York-based Bella Godiva Music Inc; Presentaciones Musicales SA (PMSA), a Panamanian corporation; Bureau Voor Muzeikrechten Elber B. V. in the Netherlands; and Interlit, based in the Virgin Islands.

Branton negotiated two contracts in early 1974—signed by Al Hendrix—that relinquished all rights to his son's "unmastered" tapes for $50,000 to PMSA and all his stock in Bella Godiva, his son's music publishing company, for $50,000."PMSA and the other overseas companies were later discovered to be part of a tax shelter system created by Harry Margolis," reported the L.A. Times, "a Saratoga attorney whom federal prosecutors charged but never convicted of tax fraud. The tax shelter plan collapsed after Margolis' death in 1987, and also [prompted] complaints from the estates of other entertainment clients, including singer Nat King Cole, screenwriter Larry Hauben as well as from followers of New Age philosopher Werner Erhard, who allegedly stashed revenues from his EST enterprise in the foreign account."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Judgement Yet in Chieftaincy Challenge Among the Valoyi

No judgement yet in chieftaincy tussle

Jenni O'Grady
Johannesburg, South Africa
27 November 2007 03:30

Two cousins took their battle for chieftaincy of the Valoyi tribe to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday, in a case that challenges customary law in their tribe that says only men may be chiefs.

Tinyiko Shilubana and Sidwell Nwamitwa each insist that they are the rightful head of the Valoyi tribe in a dispute sparked by the death of Shilubana's father, Hosi Fofozwa, in 1968.

Fofozwa did not have a male heir, so his title was passed to his brother Richard Nwamitwa, and his son Sidwell had expected to take over from him when he died.

However, in later years, while Nwamitwa was still alive, the tribe decided that it was unconstitutional to exclude women from succession and agreed that Shilubana should become chief and that the Fofozwa line be reinstated.

The Pretoria High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal later found in favour of Nwamitwa, so Shilubana took the matter to the Constitutional Court on a point of gender equality.

The Commission for Gender Equality, the National Movement of Rural Women and, at the last minute, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa were appointed friends of the court in the matter.

Women and men in bright traditional Shangaan attire filled the court on Tuesday, spilling over into the press gallery to participate in the proceedings.

"I have been following this on the radio, but today I have come to hear it with my own two ears," said Shadrack Ntimbani, wearing a T-shirt saying "Bayethe Ndhabezitha [We salute the chief] -- his royal highness Ndhabezitha Nwamitwa". T-shirts in support of Shilubana were twinned with skirts and head-dresses made from swathes of fluorescent pink, violet and green patterned cloth.

Shilubana and Nwamitwa sat in the front row, he in a sober dark suit, she in a black intricately beaded traditional dress and head-dress, and listened carefully to the questioning from the semicircle of judges before them.

Shilubana's lawyer, Ishmael Semenya, said the Constitution, which does not allow gender discrimination, is the highest authority in this matter. He rejected Nwamitwa's claim that chieftaincy was determined at the time he was born, before the Constitution was in place.

"When she was born, her father was chief," he said. At the time of Sidwell Nwamitwa's birth, his father was not a chief.

The Commission for Gender Equality told the court that to accommodate a female chief in accordance with customary rules on heirs, Shilubana, who is married with children, would have a "candle wife" who would bear the next heir to the throne for her with the help of a man selected for this purpose.

Geoff Budlender, appearing for the Rural Women's Association, said that the tribe had decided to align itself with the Constitution.

Customary law did allow for making choices and for changing circumstances, and in this case the principle of constitutionality was the circumstance. "The principal of equality is a part of our life. It is a part of our nation, it is a part of our community," he said.

He said Nwamitwa's case was not about gender equality, but about the fact that in 1968 custom decided that the chief would be the eldest son. "Those rights were vested at the moment he was born. The rights were passed on then ... Everybody was happy."

He urged the court not to redress an injustice with an injustice.

He said that, going forward, chieftaincy should be placed in the Nwamitwa house, and his children, regardless of their gender would become eligible for future succession.

If Shilubana's argument were to be applied, the position of Fofozwa's sister, who was also overlooked at the time of succession, would have to be reviewed.

After judgement was reserved, a group of women accompanied Shilubana down the court steps, singing "She has done nothing wrong, she must take his place," before settling under the court's thorn trees for a packed lunch. -- Sapa

Chadian Conflict Between Rebels and Government Leaves Hundreds Reported Dead

Both Chad army and rebel group claim to have killed hundreds

November 26, 2007 | 8:12 PM ET
The Associated Press

Chad's army and a rebel group both claimed to have killed hundreds of fighters on the opposing side in fighting Monday in the country's east, an area in turmoil from domestic unrest as well as spillover conflict from the neighbouring Darfur region in Sudan.

The violence at Abougouleigne, about 96 kilometres east of the town of Abeche, left "several hundred [rebels] dead, several injured and several prisoners of war" in military custody, according to a statement from Chad's general staff.

"The fighting lasted four hours and ended in the total and definite annihilation of this column" of rebels, said the statement read on state radio and television by an unidentified officer.

He did not say if any Chadian soldiers were killed or injured, but said the statement was a preliminary report on the fighting.

A statement from one of Chad's rebel movements, the Forces for Development and Democracy, claimed its fighters killed more than 200 government soldiers.

"Loss of human life on the enemy side, more than 200 dead, including division Gen. Dirmi Haroun and Col. Guende Abdramane," said the statement posted a Chadian opposition website.

The Chad army did not give any figures of its own casualties, but rebels claimed that only 20 of its fighters were killed.

It was not possible to independently confirm either side's claims, but if proved close to accurate, the fighting would be the worst since a separate rebel group tried to take the capital in April 2006. At the time, the government said it killed over 300 rebels.

Chad has struggled in the face of several rebellions in the east, with some insurgents saying President Idriss Deby has not given enough support to their kinsmen in Darfur.

The government did not say which rebels were involved in Monday's battle.

Four rebel groups signed a peace deal last month involving President Idriss Deby's government. But one of four, the Union of Forces for Development and Democracy, expressed dissatisfaction last week with the pace of implementing the agreement and its fighters clashed with government troops over the weekend. There are no details about casualties from that fighting.

UN officials estimate about three million people have been uprooted by conflicts in the region, including the fighting in Darfur and the unrelated rebellions in Chad and Central African Republic.

Aid workers say recruiters for Chad's rebel groups and the government have visited refugee camps trying to lure children into their forces.

EU offers to send its force to Chad

The European Union has offered to send a 3,700-soldier force to Chad and Central Africa Republic to help protect refugees displaced by the four-year conflict in Darfur. The force has been held up, however, by a lack of air transportation and medical and supply units.

A meeting last week at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, failed to get more commitments, raising the possibility that the EU mission might not be able to deploy in December as planned.

Chad, a largely arid country that is one of Africa's newest oil producers, has been convulsed by civil wars and invasions since independence from France in 1960.

The most recent conflict is intertwined with the one in Darfur. Chad's president is from the same ethnic group as some of the African rebels who have rebelled against Sudan's Arab-dominated government, and each country accuses the other of supporting rebel groups on the other's soil.

Hundreds of army officers and members of Deby's own family defected in 2005 after they accused him of not providing enough support to the rebels in Darfur.

Once a fight between nomadic Arab tribes and settled African farmers, both the Darfur and Chadian conflicts have grown increasingly complicated as rebel groups splintered, formed new alliances and received defectors over the years.

Armed bandits have taken advantage of the lawlessness to attack civilians, and local politicians have used ethnic rivalries to fan the violence.

Instability has increased ahead of a planned UN-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur and the announcement of the EU mission for Chad and Central African Republic.

The EU force is widely seen as strengthening Deby's regime, which has also benefited from high oil prices that has allowed it to buy more weapons. In 2005, a referendum lifted constitutional term limits and Deby won a third term in elections boycotted by the opposition.

Chadian army clashes with rebels

Tue, 27 Nov 2007

The Chadian army said on Monday it had killed several hundred rebels in clashes close to the border with the strife-torn Darfur region, bringing to an end a one-month lull in fighting.

In a provisional toll broadcast on public radio, the army chief said there were "several hundred dead" and "several injured" among the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) rebels.

But the secretary general of the UFDD, Abakar Tollimi, disputed the army toll, saying only 17 rebels had been killed.

"We have killed more than 100 from among the army ranks," he told AFP by telephone from Libreville.

The heavy fighting ended after several hours with each side claiming to have routed the other.

The clashes took place about 10 kilometres from a major camp for refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan, aid groups said, in a zone where European Union peacekeepers are scheduled to be deployed.

UFDD leader Mahamat Nouri told AFP by satellite telephone the clashes took place between the main eastern city of Abeche and the frontier with Sudan.

The fighting came after this weekend's collapse of a month-old peace accord between the government, the UFDD and another rebel group, the Rally of Forces for Change.

Humanitarian workers at the Farchana refugee camp said they heard heavy artillery being fired.

Nouri accused President Idriss Deby Itno of ordering the attack on his fighters, saying: "Now that the fire has started, there is no more ceasefire."

His remarks appeared to contradict a joint statement from the rebel groups released on Monday in Khartoum in which they said they wanted to "save" the 25 October peace deal, which expired at midnight on Saturday.

In the statement, the UFDD, the RFC and the UFDD-F (UFDD-Fundamental) claimed "their readiness to renew with all the arrangements the mediators (Sudan and Libya) judge necessary to save the accord" to save lives.

At the same time, the rebels said they would hold the Chadian government responsible for whatever followed due to its "irresponsible attitude."

The government accused the UFDD and the RFC of breaking the preliminary peace accord, signed in Syrte, Libya, on 25 October, by crossing the Sudan border to attack the gendarmes.

Nouri and the RFC chief Timam Erdimi in turn accused Deby's government of failing to keep promises in the peace accord.

As has happened before when tensions were rising, Deby moved closer to the frontline last weekend, visiting Abeche, sources said.