Only one slap?

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Illegal logging in Africa threatens the future of its forests. / REUTERS

Ever get so tired of the rot that you feel like hitting someone? That’s apparently what happened to a Delhi businessman, who confronted India’s 70-year-old agriculture minister at a literary gathering and slapped him in the face.

The young man, Harvinder Singh, shouted, “They are all thieves! I will rip them apart,” after he smacked the minister, Sharad Pawar. When security guards tried to seize him, he pulled out his kirpan, a small ceremonial knife carried by Sikh men, and threatened to cut his wrists.

Four days earlier, he’d been briefly detained after a similar outburst. Then, he kicked the country’s former telecommunications minister, Sukh Ram, at the courthouse where the 86-year-old Ram was convicted of corruption.

Upon hearing of the outburst, Anna Hazare, India’s most prominent anti-corruption activist, quipped, “Only one slap?”

Sweep to Businessman slaps Indian minister

Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has long taken a public stand against logging in his country, and the government has outlawed the practice more than once.

But undercover reporters for Al Jazeera’s investigative news magazine, Africa Investigates, have both tracked down illegal logging in Sierra Leone, and traced corruption that stretched from local officials straight to the Vice President’s office.

In the first part of the investigation, a Sierra Leonean journalist, Sorious Samura, posed as a customer seeking to export hardwood, which is outlawed in Sierra Leone.  Local officials offered to sell him the illegal wood, and to introduce him to senior government officials who could clear the way for export.

In the second part, Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas met with Vice President Samuel Sumana and two associates. After the meeting, the associates asked for cash to help win the vice president’s support to export the illegal timber.

The vice president later denied any involvement, and said he had received no money from the men.

Sweep to Anas: Office of Sierra Leone’s Veep caught in illegal timber business

A Ugandan tax court has ruled that Heritage Oil and Gas, the British oil exploration company, will have to pay $435 million in taxes on the sale of two oil fields in 2010.

The company sold the fields for $1.5 billion, but argued that it should not have to pay any tax on the sale to Ugandan authorities. The case was being closely watched as a bellwether for Uganda’s right to tax companies extracting natural resources.

Heritage Oil, which contends that the case should be heard in an international tribunal based in London, has vowed to appeal.

Sweep to URA wins tax case against Heritage Oil

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.
Diana Jean Schemo

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