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Follow Friday: @ClairMacD, our woman in Monrovia

What’s an Australian journalist doing in Liberia? Clair MacDougall is fascinated by the “deeply complex” nation and coverage of Africa broadly. The intrepid freelance is worth a follow.

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How South Sudan fell apart so quickly — and how it might be saved

South Sudan has been in a vulnerable position since its independence in 2011, and there is no clear end in sight to the sectarian violence. How does the fledgling nation move forward?

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No exemptions: bribes are bribes, from Murdoch to African miners

Corruption kills, slows development and undermines governments. Yet mining companies demand the right to keep bribing, write Crikey’s Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane.

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Miners’ African fantasies drowning in violence

Fantasies of an African mining nirvana claimed by the likes of Gina Rinehart are at odds with a bloodier reality: strikes are crippling South Africa’s mining industry.

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Saving the Murray-Darling

Crikey readers have their say.

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UNHCR data reveals the shifting burden of asylum seekers

It’s easy to be misled by asylum claim figures. The global numbers don’t matter as much as where asylum seekers are coming from.

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Surrounded by famine, Kenya gets a finger lickin’ option

The news from East Africa is focused on the dire famine, but a story at the other end of the food spectrum is quietly unfolding, with the opening of East Africa’s first KFC. Kirsten Drysdale went down for a burger.

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Economist | ECONOMY|

The hush-hush oil syndicate between China and Africa

Over the last seven years the ‘Chinese International Fund’ has, while shrouded in secrecy, signed contracts worth billions of dollars for oil and minerals from Africa, says The Economist.

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Boston Globe | LINKS|

Skeletal, scared and dying: Somalian refugees flee to Kenya

A truly eye-opening photo gallery examining the malnutrition and starvation currently being experienced — by predominantly young children and the elderly — in the Horn of Africa.

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Telegraph (UK) | LINKS|

Horn of Africa hunger crisis affects 12 million

An extremely severe drought and rising global food prices means a famine is likely to be declared across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. More than a quarter of children in parts of Kenya are malnourished, says aid agencies.

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Dictator Watch: Ethiopian despot hides behind snakes, dogs and guns

Behind the gates of this ‘luxury villa’ in Harare lives another member of the World’s Worst Dictator club — or so says our special Zimbabwe correspondent, who wasn’t mad enough to brave the snakes, dogs and guns and knock on the door to say G’day.

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Crikey Blogs | FOOD & TRAVEL|

A touch of cricket in the Maasai Mara

Imagine playing a cricket match with wildcats prowling the edges of the field and 600kg antelopes trying to nuzzle up to you. Rafiq Copeland indulges in some colonial cricket in the Masaai Mara Reserve, Kenya.

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Letter from: Togo, a forgotten nation trying to forget its past

Liberation Day in the forgotten African nation of Togo celebrates a coup led by a solider who four years earlier was involved in the assassination of the nation’s first democratically-elected president. Clair MacDougall reports from Lomé on the simmering tensions.

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The Guardian | LINKS|

Al-Bashir is just a big, bad, black bogeyman for the West

Sudan president Omar al-Bashir may be accused of international war crimes and genocide in Darfur, but isn’t as evil as progressives like to claim, declares Simon Tisdall, as he explains al-Bashir’s role in the Sudanese elections.

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Letter from: Nairobi, where crimes against humanity set the mood

It is understandable that the mood in Nairobi was tense. It is not every day that a country’s political elite is accused of crimes against humanity, writes Rafiq Copeland from Nairobi.

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Crikey Blogs | COMPANIES|

Karaoke + $412 in bar tabs = missed flights

The fact that Rafiq Copeland was at a karaoke bar singing Africa by Toto will testify to his drunkness. Yet it came as a shock to wake up and realise he’d missed his flight to Johannesburg. God bless Ian from the Qantas customer call centre.

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Crikey Blogs | LINKS|

How millions of older people in Africa have HIV/AIDS

Older adults’ access to HIV-related services and information in Africa is limited and data suggests they have low levels of condom use. It’s time to address this and the broader HIV/AIDS epidemic, writes Joel Negin.

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The Guardian | LINKS|

Congo: still the rape capital

The mass rape of 300 women, men and children in a village in Congo has sparked a UN investigation into the incident. Even government troops sent to protect the victims have been accused of raping and looting.

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Crikey Blogs | FOOD & TRAVEL|

A Saharan crossing

It was the “Mauritanie” scrolling across the bottom of the screen that caught my eye. I then spotted the word “touriste” and finally “mort”. My grasp of the language was far from being fluent, but I knew enough for it to send an alarm bell ringing, writes Dave Keetch.

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Economist | ADVERTISING|

How to sell Africa

Africa isn’t just shacks, poverty and hungry children. Now the best of Africa’s marketing brains are coming together to figure out how to rebrand the continent, from .africa domain names to focusing on a fun MTV-style music and beautiful women image.

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The Atlantic Wire | LINKS|

Should Sudan split?

The split of Sudan into two different states is inevitable, says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But should the US encourage the divisions? Atlantic Wire examines the different coverage.

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Christian Science Monitor | LINKS|

Bombshell UN report: ‘crimes of genocide’ against Hutus

A massive UN report, detailing war crimes in the Congo between 1993-2003, has finally been leaked to the press. The most controversial claim: that the massacres and attacks by Rwandan and Congolese troops against Hutus were an act of genocide.

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Zimbabwe: chance in a lifetime goes begging

All is not beautiful as spring arrives and our chance in a lifetime constitution making process has turned into a shambles, writes Cathy Buckle, from Zimbabwe.

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US oil spill a disaster — but more oil is spilt in Nigeria every year

One small positive that may come out of the Deepwater Horizon spill is the slender beam of reflected light cast on the fascinating, tragic story of oil drilling in the Niger Delta, writes Rafiq Copeland.

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Zimbabwe: ongoing illegal evictions of farmers

Farmers with legal rights to their land are being moved on at gunpoint, writes C.M. Jarrett, chairman of the South African Commercial Farmers Alliance, in Zimbabwe.

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