Daily Archives: February 3, 2009

Freezing temperatures cause cold snap across Europe


An ice storm in Versoix near Geneva in Switzerland rendered cars immovable  Photo: COLIN SHEPHERD

Freezing temperatures have caused chaos across Europe as ice and snow have brought traffic to a halt and closed roads.

Telegraph | Feb 1, 2009

Switerzland, France and Spain were just some of the countries to be hit by unusually low temperatures.

In Versoix near Geneva in Switzerland cars were rendered immovable after being covered by icicles.

Icicles also hung danergously from trees and lamposts.

Snowfall snarled traffic in several parts of Spain including the capital, Madrid, on Sunday, while a storm in the south disrupted ferry travel from the port city of Algeciras to Morocco, authorities said.

Sections of two highways in the Madrid region were temporarily closed to vehicles triggering traffic jams, the National Travel Administration Department (DGT) reported.

Parts of central and southwestern Spain also reported long queues, before traffic returned to normal in most areas by midafternoon.

Spanish airports, however braved the conditions and reported normal operations, with the cold snap causing just a few delays.

Snow was also expected to hit northern France late on Sunday, where 32 departments have been placed under orange alert including the Paris region, Meteo-France announced.

The French weather service did not expect major accumulations of snow, but icy rain may make transportation difficult, it said.

The cold snap comes shortly after both Spain and France were hit by violent storms late last month that killed 25 people and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

Muammar Gaddafi vows to create ‘United States of Africa’


Gaddafi is one of Africa’s longest-serving dictators, having taken power in a coup at the age of 29 in 1969. Photo: REUTERS

The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to create a ‘United States of Africa’ after his election as head of the African Union.

Telegraph | Feb 3, 2009

Colonel Gaddafi, 66, was elected to lead the 53-nation AU for a year in a closed-door vote during a summit in Addis Ababa.

Dressed in a gold robe and cap, he made clear his intention to push for an alternative “USA” – a plan he has outlined before and that has met with resistance among fellow African leaders.

“I hope my term will be a time of serious work and not just words,” he said in his inaugural speech.

“I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa,” he said, admitting that African leaders were “not near to a settlement” on the issue.

“We are still independent states. It is your decision to respond to the call for unity, to push Africa forward towards the United States of Africa.”

Gaddafi is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, having taken power in a coup at the age of 29 in 1969.

A natural showman known for his flamboyant attire, he has succeeded in getting traditional African leaders to bestow on him the title “King of Kings” in preference to the rather ordinary “chairperson” as his predecessor, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, was known.

He lobbied hard for the post, flying to numerous African capitals to campaign for his election.

The Libyan leader was for years ostracised by the West but has since been cautiously rehabilitated.

As part of his return to the international scene, Col Gaddafi has championed greater unity in Africa to boost the continent’s profile, and by default, his own influence.

He was a key architect of the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union in 2001.

At the summit in the Ethiopian capital, he has pushed for even closer ties among African nations, to create a federation under a “union government”.

But many African leaders are loathe to relinquish any of their sovereignty, and during closed-door talks on Sunday they again blocked moves towards his dream of closer union.