Random News from the Rest of the World

Reply Sun 30 Dec, 2018 05:33 am
DR Congo goes to the polls after troubled odyssey
AFP / Luis TATO, December 30, 2018

Kabila voted at a polling station in the capital along with his family
Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo went to the polls on Sunday in elections that will shape the future of their vast, troubled country, amid fears that violence could overshadow the ballot.

Millions of electors are choosing a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is stepping down two years after his term limit expired -- a delay that sparked bloody clashes and revived traumatic memories of past turmoil.

The vote gives DR Congo the chance of its first peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

But analysts say the threat of violence is great, given the many organisational problems and wide-ranging suspicion of Kabila.

The election's credibility has already been strained by repeated delays, the risk of hitches on polling day and accusations that electronic voting machines will produce a rigged result.

On the eve of the vote, talks between key candidates to avert post-election violence broke down.

Opposition frontrunners Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi refused Saturday to sign a proposed peace pledge, saying election officials had failed to make suggested changes to the text.

The announcement came after the pair had met with the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) as well as Kabila's preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The UN, the United States and Europe have loudly appealed for the elections to be free, fair and peaceful -- a call echoed on Wednesday by the presidents of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and the neighbouring Republic of Congo.

- Opposition chance? -

Polling stations opened in the east of the country a little after their scheduled time of 0400 GMT and an hour later in Kinshasa and the west.

Kabila voted in the capital along with his family, just minutes before Shadary also cast his ballot in the same polling station.

"I feel liberated, freed," said Victor Balibwa, a 53-year-old civil servant and one of the first voters to cast his ballot in Lubumbashi, the country's mining capital in the southeast.

"I'm excited to vote, to be able to choose at last. It's my first election," an 18-year-old student named Rachel told AFP in the eastern city of Goma, an opposition stronghold.

Some polling stations opened late in Goma and elsewhere.

In one, electoral officials were still adjusting voting machines and in another a technician needed to restart a machine that had broken down, an AFP reporter saw.

The last polls are due to close at 1600 GMT. Provisional results are due on January 6.

Frontrunners: Tshisekedi, Shadary and Fayulu

Twenty-one candidates are contending the presidential election, which is taking place simultaneously with ballots for the national legislature and municipal bodies.

The frontrunners include Kabila's champion Shadary, a hardline former interior minister facing EU sanctions for a crackdown on protesters.

His biggest rivals are Fayulu, until recently a little-known legislator and former oil executive, and Tshisekedi, head of a veteran opposition party, the UDPS.

If the elections are "free and fair," an opposition candidate will almost certainly win, according to Jason Stearns of the Congo Research Group, based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

The presidential election is taking place simultaneously with ballots for the national legislature and municipal bodies.

Opinion polls indicate Fayulu is clear favourite, garnering around 44 percent of voting intentions, followed by 24 percent for Tshisekedi and 18 percent for Shadary, he said.

However, "the potential for violence is extremely high," Stearns warned.

Between 43 and 63 percent of respondents said they would not accept the results if Shadary is declared winner, he said.

And between 43 percent and 53 percent said they did not trust DRC's courts to settle any election dispute fairly.

However, Kabila said he was confident "everything will go well on Sunday".

"I want to reassure our people that measures have been taken with the government to guarantee the safety of all sides, candidates, voters and observers alike," he said in his end-of-year address broadcast Saturday.

0 Replies
Reply Mon 7 Jan, 2019 03:05 pm
DR Congo on edge as presidential election results delayed

and yet

Congo's Catholic church says it knows election's clear winner
Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2019 08:31 am
Norway Embarks On Its Most Ambitious Transport Project Yet
Reply Wed 9 Jan, 2019 01:45 pm
Nageshwar Rao, a vice chancellor at Andhra University in South India, said that Ravana, a demon god with 10 heads, had 24 kinds of aircraft of varying sizes and capacities — and that India was making test-tube babies thousands of years ago.

Speakers At Indian Science Congress Say Newton Was Wrong, Ancient Demon Had Planes
Reply Wed 9 Jan, 2019 03:41 pm
Some people push the post truth thing very far.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 26 Jan, 2019 04:20 am
Interesting end of electoral sequence in DRC:

Felix Tshisekedi Confirmed as President of the DRC

By Frédéric Couteau, RFI
Posted on 21/01/2019 - 18:34

The post-election wrestling match has turned in favor of Felix Tshisekedi, confirmed winner of the presidential election this weekend by the Constitutional Court. End of suspense and end of the Internet shutdown in the country. Most Congolese newspapers, muzzled for twenty days, are now available online.

And what many want to remember from this chaotic and contested electoral process is the advent of a peaceful transition at the head of the country, a first since independence in 1960. Including Le Potentiel, which does not hide its satisfaction: "End of the long march for the UDPS "[the main opposition party], headlines the Congolese daily [close to Kabila]. [...]

"A peaceful democratic transition is now effective. Moreover, a former soldier [Joseph Kabila] has ceded the presidential chair to a civilian, and opponant of the regime, after a democratic election. [...] All hopes are allowed," clairons Le Potentiel.

For Cas-Info, "the new Congolese president has built his strategy on a quiet change of tone. By suddenly restoring the image of Joseph Kabila, qualified in the final stretch of the electoral campaign no more of 'dictator' but of 'partner of democratic transition in the DRC', Felix Tshisekedi even went so far as to call 'criminal' any attempt to attack the outgoing president."

"From that moment, notes this websit specialized in Congolese news, there was no longer the shadow of a doubt about the outcome of this election. [...] Felix Tshisekedi serves as a shield against the opponents of Joseph Kabila [...]. "

But, concedes Cas-Info, "all this may be less important if for the majority of Congolese the essential has been obtained, that is to say, the first peaceful transition at the head of the country."

For a large part of the West African press, the real winner of the vote is the outgoing president, Joseph Kabila ...

"The one who is about to hand over the baton to Felix Tshisekedi has just demonstrated that he is a fine political tactician," said Djely in Guinea. "Covered everywhere and relegated to the ban of the international community [for trying to stay in power], he managed the feat of leaving while staying."

"Certainly, complete Le Pays in Burkina Faso, he will have to pack his bags and leave the marble palace of Kinshasa, but the probability is strong that he still retains control over the institutions of the Republic in view of the 'brilliant' results garnered by his side in the legislative elections [the current pro-Kabila majority won 337 seats out of 500] and the provincial ones."[...]

Widespread violence is unlikely, says Afrikarabia, "because the population still feels like they won two small victories in this election, fraudulent though it may be."

The Congolese first succeeded, thanks to the pressure of the demonstrations, to avoid a new candidacy of Joseph Kabila. They then managed to get rid of a candidate [the ruling coalition] they did not want, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. "

"Finally, the specialized site still points out, even if the new president will have little power and will remain under the thumb of the 'Kabilia', he is still from the opposition and represents a 'change' expected by many Congolese. It is therefore not sure that the population, tired of too long a political crisis, will go down in the streets to demonstrate against Felix Tshisekedi."

"The new president has also reached out to all Congolese in his first words on Sunday. Felix Tshisekedi has advocated a Congo 'that will not be a Congo of hatred, tribalism and division, but a Congo of reconciliation.'"

Lire l'article original:
Reply Sun 27 Jan, 2019 09:26 am
To Keep African Swine Fever Out, Denmark Is Planning A Southern Boar(der) Fence

Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2019 10:23 am
Meanwhile in other bullsh!t news:
Russia is considering a plan to temporarily disconnect from the Internet as a way to gauge how the country's cyberdefenses would fare in the face of foreign aggression, according to Russian media.

Russia Is Considering An Experiment To Disconnect From The Internet
0 Replies
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2019 01:21 pm
How Nigeria's fear of child 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

Abandonment, persecution, violence: Childhoods lost as young Nigerians are branded as witches.

by Marc Ellison, Al Jazeera, 14 Nov 2018

From a distance, the children look like scarecrows as they slowly scour the waist-high piles of rubbish for plastic bottles.

Their ragged clothing hangs loosely from their emaciated frames, their gaunt shrink-wrapped faces are deadened by the drugs they took at dawn.

It is hard to believe that these children are "witches".

And yet this is exactly why several hundred skolombo - or street children - are now living at the Lemna dumpsite on the outskirts of Calabar in southeastern Nigeria.

"My grandmother was sick and her leg became very swollen," says Godbless. "She said I was the one responsible, that I was a witch."

The 14-year-old boy is sat in the makeshift hut at Lemna that he now calls home.

He shares this stuffy wooden hovel with half a dozen other boys who are now outside, smoking the cannabis that will get them through the day.

Godbless was taken to the family's local church where a pastor confirmed his grandmother's worst fears - he was indeed a witch, the pastor claimed.

His relatives demanded he leaves the house, but he refused.

Godbless rolls up the leg of his shorts to reveal a long, blackened scar on his upper thigh.

"This is what my auntie did to me when I did not go," he whispers. "She heated up a knife in the fire and put it on me."

Two years after he ran away, Godbless and his gang make money by recycling plastic soda bottles and cans.

These are weighed, and if he is lucky, he says, he can make a couple of dollars a week to buy food, clothing and medicine.

"When relatives throw these children out of the house, it's as good as killing the child," says Adek Bassey.

Bassey is a student who helps run Today for Tomorrow - a small Nigerian volunteer organisation that once a week meets the children near the dump to feed them, and address any health concerns.

She complains that the state's Ministry of Sustainable Development and Social Welfare is not doing anything despite apparently having a pot of money with which to tackle the skolombo issue.

"Nobody from the Cross River government is coming out to feed these children, nobody is coming to send these kids to school, nobody is teaching them trades."

"I don't know if it's corruption, or intentional negligence," she says. "Or whether they have just given up on these street kids, that they think they will never change."

Bassey alleges she has also received anonymous phone calls after a colleague posted photos on Facebook of their work at the Lemna dump.

"'Who gave you the right to snap in that place?', one person said," recalls Bassey. "You better pipe yourself down before you get into trouble."

"Someone even told me that they would arrest me for child trafficking."

Her mother has pleaded with Bassey to stop her work, but she has refused to do so.

"They can lynch or kill me," she says. "But I won't stop."
Manipulating fears

In the Niger Delta, where an extreme form of Christianity has taken root and blended with indigenous beliefs, an alarming number of children have been accused of practising witchcraft with malicious intent.

The accusations have created a generation of outcasts who live at the mercy of a system ill-equipped to protect them.

It is a relatively recent phenomenon that exploded across the region in the 1990s, fuelled partly by popular films and self-professed prophets looking to manipulate people's fears to make a quick buck.

The epicentre of these accusations is in Nigeria's southwestern states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River.

A report in 2008 estimated that 15,000 children in these two states had been accused.

And while there is no definitive figure for the number of skolombo in Calabar, a 2010 survey found that in one region of Akwa Ibom state, 85 percent of street children like Godbless had been accused of witchcraft.

More: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/nigeria-fear-child-witchcraft-ruins-young-lives-181112055349338.html

Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2019 02:04 pm
Snake On A Plane: Unsuspecting Woman Traveling From Australia Brings A Passenger
0 Replies
Reply Sat 2 Mar, 2019 02:28 am
Reply Mon 4 Mar, 2019 11:42 am
lmur wrote:

Laughing Surprised Laughing Surprised

On the flipside... of crime.
Filipino Authorities Find More Than 1,500 Smuggled Turtles And Tortoises
0 Replies
Reply Tue 5 Mar, 2019 04:18 am
UK ordered by International Court to hand back Chagos Islands to Mauritius

The UK has been ordered to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible” after the United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal.

Although the majority decision by the international court of justice in The Hague is only advisory, the unambiguous clarity of the judges’ pronouncement is a humiliating blow to Britain’s prestige on the world stage.

The case was referred to the court, which hears legal submissions over international boundary disputes, after an overwhelming vote in 2017 in the UN assembly in the face of fierce opposition from a largely isolated UK.

Delivering judgment, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.

“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added. “The UK has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible and that all member states must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.” [...]

The UK retained possession of the Chagos archipelago, which includes the strategic US airbase of Diego Garcia, after Mauritius gained its independence in 1968, effectively paying Mauritius more than £4m for the islands.

The government refers to it as British Indian Ocean Territory or BIOT. About 1,500 native islanders were deported so the largest island could be leased to the US for the airbase in 1971. They have never been allowed to return home.

In its submission to the ICJ last year, Mauritius argued it was coerced into giving up the Chagos Islands. That separation was in breach of UN resolution 1514, passed in 1960, which specifically banned the breakup of colonies before independence, lawyers for Mauritius said.

The UK government argued that the court it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The ruling will be referred back to the UN general assembly, where it will be debated.

The assembly vote in 2017, following the Brexit referendum, revealed the UK’s international influence to be on the wane, with many EU countries failing to support a fellow member state and even traditional allies such as Canada abstaining.

The UN general assembly is now expected to deal with the question of the resettlement of the Chagos Islanders who have been expelled.

The judgment represents a significant defeat for the UK on virtually every point it contested in the hearing last September.

By a majority of 13 to one, the court found that the decolonisation of Mauritius had not been lawfully completed and that it must be completed “as rapidly as possible”. The only judge dissenting from the main opinion was an American.

The court’s recommendations are expressed in remarkably forthright terms and represent a fresh challenge to the UK’s standing in the UN.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment. Of course, we will look at the detail of it carefully. The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy.”

Welcoming the ruling, the Mauritian government said it was a “historic moment in efforts to bring colonialism to an end, and to promote human rights, self-determination and the international rule of law”.


Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2019 05:54 pm
Very large demonstration in Algiers against Boutlefika

0 Replies
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2019 07:05 pm
Olivier5 wrote:

UK ordered by International Court to hand back Chagos Islands to Mauritius

The Chagos Islands include Diego Garcia, an otherwise uninhabited island,which is the site of a major U.S. Naval Base. I doubt seriously that either the UK or the US will give it up.
Reply Sat 9 Mar, 2019 03:19 am
The UK ain’t a rogue state yet; I expect them to abide to this ruling, keep the base and pay a rent for the place.
Reply Sat 9 Mar, 2019 12:52 pm
Perhaps you should look at a Map of the southern Indian ocean, noting the distance from the Chagos Islands to Maurtitius .

The UN "Court" has no compulsory jurisdiction or authority, and the UK is free, under international law, to ignore it.
Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2019 04:27 am
It’s closer from Mauritius than from the UK... but yes, it’s a non binding opinion, point well taken.
Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2019 11:29 am
Olivier5 wrote:
It’s closer from Mauritius than from the UK...

Laughing Well that's certainly true ! Diego Garcia (and the companion islands) are tiny reefs in a particularly empty section of the South Indian ocean. I've been to Diego Garcia several times, and once took an aircraft carrier into the, then poorly charted, but large lagoon anchorage. It is a leg shaped reef with a North/South axis of ~ 8 miles and about 2 miles wide with a large enclosed deep water lagoon. The max elevation is about 1m. There's a coconut plantation on the South side and a naval base & airfield on the North - that's it.

It is a forward base for rapid deployment forces for us, just as is the large base in Djibouti for the French.

Interestingly we did joint operations in the Indian Ocean with the French forces (mostly operating out of Djibouti) on a routine basis, though the French insisted on no press releases. I took on aviation fuel from a French naval tanker ( FNS Var) on a regular basis, and we coordinated our air operations with those of the French Carriers usually operating nearby. Exchanged lunches at sea (by helo) with the CO of the French carrier, ( Foch or Clemenceau), were a regular event.

Reply Mon 11 Mar, 2019 01:43 am
I trust la Royale treated you well. :-)

Been to Djibouti once, found it depressing...

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