Showing posts with label news from around the world. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news from around the world. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Obama Plans To End U.S. Troop Presence In Afghanistan By 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined a plan to withdraw all but 9,800 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and pull out the rest by the end of 2016, ending more than a decade of military engagement triggered by the September. 11 attacks on the United States.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Egypt: Court sentences ex-President Mubarak to 3 years for graft

AN Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced deposed president, Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison on corruption charges, in one of two trials after the 2011 uprising that ended his rule.
His sons, Alaa and Gamal each received four-year jail terms, and four other defendants were acquitted.

They were accused of embezzling more than one hundred million Egyptian pounds (about $14 million, 10 million euros) earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.

Mubarak, 86, wearing a grey suit, sat on a wheelchair in the caged dock for the verdict. His sons, in white prison issue clothing, stood beside him.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Chinese Premier arrives Nigeria on official visit

Mr Li Keqiang,Chinese Premier
The Chinese Premier, Mr Li Keqiang, arrived in Abuja  on Tuesday for an official visit to Nigeria.
The visit is part of a four-nation tour of Africa.

The Chinese premier, who arrived at Nmandi Azikiwe International Airport at 7.15pm, was received by the FCT Minister Sen. Bala Mohammed and Foreign Minister Alhaji Aminu Wali .
The premier, who is being accompanied by his wife and a 129-member delegation, was treated to some cultural dances as part of reception ceremony.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ferry mishap, South Korean PM steps down

The prime minister will remain in office until the ferry accident is under control.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has resigned over his government’s handling of the sinking of a passenger ferry that killed more than 100 people and left more than 300 missing.
He apologized for not preventing the tragedy and for not being able to respond properly to it, saying that the “cries of the families of those missing still keep me up at night”.
Mr Chung will stay in his post until the disaster is under control.
“I offer my apology for having been unable to prevent this accident from happening and unable to properly respond to it afterwards,” he said.

“I believed I, as the prime minister, certainly had to take responsibility and resign.” President Park Geun-hye accepted her prime minister’s resignation. The PM would leave his post once the ferry disaster was under control, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported
The Sewol passenger ferry, capsized April 16 with 476 people on board. Many of the passengers were schoolchildren.
The confirmed death toll from the tragedy stood Sunday at 187, with 115 unaccounted for.

All 15 surviving crew members responsible for sailing the vessel are now in custody and face charges ranging from criminal negligence to abandoning passengers. The government has been severely criticised over its handling of the rescue operation.
The prime minister said the right thing “for me to do is to take responsibility and resign as a person who is in charge of the cabinet.”
He added: “There have been so many varieties of irregularities that have continued in every corner of our society and practices that have gone wrong. I hope these deep-rooted evils get corrected this time and this kind of accident never happens again.”
-(PREMIUM TIMES)

Friday, 25 April 2014

Time’s 100 most influential list, Dangote, Okonjo-Iweala makes list

Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, have been named among the 100 most influential persons on earth by the Time Magazine.

Microsoft Founder and Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, Mr. Bill Gate, wrote a tribute in honour of Dangote in commemoration of his listing by the magazine.

While Gate was lavish in his praises of timely response of Dangote to the need for a health alliance by the private sector, Buno, a lead singer of U2 and co-founder of One and (RED) wrote Okonjo-Iweala’s tribute.

Gate dwelled extensively on the philanthropic gestures of the President of the Dangote Group in the areas of health, especially polio eradication and job creation.

Gates wrote about Dangote, “His business activities drive economic growth across the continent. That’s impressive, but I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and public health. It’s for that reason he helped create the Nigeria Private Sector Health Alliance. And it’s for that reason he is an advocate for agricultural research and malaria control.”

Dangote was classified in the Titans category, which boasts of eminent world personalities such as the former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; Jeff Bezoz, Tony Fadell and Janet Yellen.

Those in the Pioneers category are Jason Collins, Natalie Massenet, Mary Jo White and Edward Snowden, among others.

Barbara Brown Taylor, Robin Wright, John Green and Kerry Washington were in the Artists category; while Jerry Brown, Okonjo-Iweala, John Kerry and Angela Merkel were listed in the Leaders category.

In the Icons category were Pope Francis, Alice Waters, Marina Abramovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carl Icahn, among others.

The Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world assembled by the American news magazine.

First published in 1999 as the result of a debate among American academics, politicians and journalists, the list is now an annual event.(Punchng)

Friday, 21 March 2014

Crimea, Sevastopol officially join Russia as Putin signs final decree

(Moscow)

The upper chamber of the Russian parliament has ratified an international treaty with Crimea, which accepts the former Ukrainian region as a new part of Russia. 155 senators present at the meeting voted unanimously.

They also passed a bill amending the Russian constitution to allow for the addition of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the list of administrative parts of the Russian Federation.

The expected move comes a day after members of the lower chamber passed the two documents, with only one MP voting against.

The treaty and the bill were submitted for the approval of Russian lawmakers on Tuesday by President Vladimir Putin, following last week’s referendum in Crimea, which showed the overwhelming support of the peninsula’s residents for joining Russia.

The Russian senators also requested the United States to add them to their sanction lists. The statement to that effect brands the American move and a similar measure by the EU “an unprecedented move of political blackmail.”

“We are ready for the entire corps of the Federation Council, all senators to joint that sanction list,”Speaker Valentina Matvienko said. She personally is already targeted by the US sanctions.

The senators’ request follows a similar move by members of the lower parliamentary chamber.

The statement also says that senators are baffled by the fact that Washington and Brussels treat an armed coup in Ukraine as a legitimate act of the people while consider a free referendum in Crimea illegal.

“It’s time not for imposing sanctions, but to act urgently and offer targeted help to the Ukrainian people, so that Ukraine did not fall further into political and economic abyss, preserved as a civilized European nation” the senators said.

The statement expresses hope that “common sense eventually prevails and together with the Ukrainian people a path to political resolution of the Ukrainian situation based on Russia’s proposals is found.”

(RT)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

END TIME!! Man, 20, ra*pes 8-yr-old boy

DUTSE — The Jigawa State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, says it has arrested a 20-year-old man for allegedly ra*ping an eight year old boy in Dutse Local Government Area of the state.

The Commander, Mr. Muhammad Gidado, disclosed this yesterday.

Gidado said that the suspect was arrested in the Jigawa Tsada quarters of Dutse town on Sunday following intelligence report. He said that the suspect allegedly lured the boy into his room and committed the offence.

Gidado added that a medical report by Rashidi Shekoni Specialist Hospital, Dutse, had confirmed that the boy was raped.

He said that the suspect confessed to have committed the offence with the boy on previous occasions, and that he lured the child with N20 each time. Gidado said that the suspect would be charged to court.(VANGUARD)

Putin orders approval of Crimea’s request to join Russia

MOSCOW (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin has backed the approval of a draft agreement which would incorporate Ukraine’s region of Crimea into Russian territory, according to an official instruction published Tuesday.
Putin instructed the organs of power in Russia to approve Crimea becoming part of Russia and said it was “expedient to sign… the agreement at a high level,” according to the Kremlin instruction published on the official legal information website.

Malaysia plane’s flight path changed by cockpit computer

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The turn that diverted the missing Malaysian Airlines plane off its flight path was programmed into the aircraft’s computer navigation system, probably by someone in the cockpit, the New York Times reported late Monday.
That reinforces the increasing belief among investigators that the aircraft was deliberately diverted, the newspaper said, quoting US officials.
Rather than manually operating the plane’s controls, whoever altered Flight 370′s path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer situated between the captain and the co-pilot, according to officials.
The computer is called the Flight Management System. It directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight.
It is not clear whether the plane’s path was reprogrammed before or after it took off, the Times said.
Flight 370 vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysia said Saturday it believed the plane had been diverted because its transponder and other communications devices had been manually turned off several minutes apart.
But confusion has taken hold over the timeline of events before ground controllers lost contact with the aircraft.
Malaysia on Monday said it was the co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid who was the last person in the cockpit to speak to ground control.
Identifying the voice had been deemed crucial because officials initially said the words were spoken after one of the Boeing’s two automated signalling systems — Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) — had been manually disabled.
But Malaysia Airlines director Ahmad Jauhari Yahya contradicted that chronology, saying that the ACARS could have been switched off before or after Fariq spoke.
The Times said the changes made to the plane’s direction through the Flight Management System were reported back to a maintenance base by ACARS, according to an American official.
This showed the reprogramming happened before the ACARS stopped working, at about the same time that oral radio contact was lost and the airplane’s transponder also stopped. This fuels suspicions that foul play was involved in the plane’s disappearance.
Investigators are scrutinizing radar tapes from when the plane first departed Kuala Lumpur because they believe the tapes will show that after the plane first changed its course, it passed through several pre-established “waypoints”, which are like virtual mile markers in the sky, the Times said.
That would suggest the plane was under control of a knowledgeable pilot because passing through those points without using the computer would have been unlikely, it added.

Monday, 17 March 2014

'Most Valuable Tweet in History' Donates $11,000 Worth of Dogecoin to Kenyan Water Charity

An anonymous benefactor has donated 14 million dogecoin to a campaign to provide drinking water for parts of drought-stricken Kenya.

What is being called the "by far the most valuable tweet in history" has seen the Doge4Water campaign reach its goal of 40 million dogecoin well ahead of its end date of 22 March - which coincides with World Water Day.

The current value of 14 million dogecoin is $10,920 (£6560) meaning that every character of the tweet which donated the virtual currency to the fundraising campaign was worth just over $106.

The identity of the person who donated the dogecoin is unknown, with him/her simply going by the name Hood on Twitter and Reddit. And while some people on the dogecoin thread on Reddit have criticised others for seeking to identify him/her, the anonymous benefactor has said:

"Not to worry about my identity, Reddit friends. I live in the world of proxies, disposable devices, and roaming vehicles."

"I'm here for the greedy"

The mysterious person used @tipdoge to send the 14 million dogecoin to the Doge4Water campaign. Hood's Twitter account was only created on 14 March, with his opening tweet indicating just what his intentions were:

"I am here for the greedy. Taking the crumbs and spreading them to those in need." He went on to say the dogecoin community had "pure intentions" and he wanted to help them out.

“The first ever $10,000 tweet demonstrates the power of digital currency and social media to make the world a better place”
- Jackson Palmer, dogecoin founder
Dogecoin founder Jackson Palmer said this latest effort by the dogecoin community showed just what could be achieved with cryptocurrencies:

"I'm really proud of the Dogecoin community for using the money they've made to change the lives of others instead of hoarding it. The first ever $10,000 tweet demonstrates the power of digital currency and social media to make the world a better place."

Doge4Water

The Doge4Water campaign was the brainchild of digital currency entrepreneur Eric Nakagawa who has teamed up with the New York-based non-profit water:charity to try and raise funds to support a remote region in Kenya near the Tana River.

The money raised will go towards buying two drilling wells in Kenya as well as helping to provide access to water and provide locals with the tools to retrieve and store water.

The video below produced by water:charity shows just how harsh the conditions some Kenyans experience on a daily basis just to secure clean water.
source: ibtimes.

Couple kicked out of McDonald’s for sitting ‘too long’ offered free meals for life

87-year-old Carl and 81-year-old Barbara Becker of Rixeyville, Virginia made headlines when news of their letter to the editor, detailing an episode at the Culpeper McDonald’s, spread and eventually got them free meals for life. The couple says that fast food employees kicked them out of the restaurant because they were sitting “too long.”
The pair were enjoying their regular routine of a mid-afternoon McDonald’s snack they call “scrunch” (between supper and lunch), when they were stopped by an employee cleaning up. Ms. Becker told WTTG Fox 5, “The dust started kicking up and it was just flying everywhere and she says, ‘Does this bother you?’ And I said, ‘Only if you like to eat dirt does it not bother me.’” After the incident with the Mickey D’s employee, the manager approached. “He says, ‘You two have to leave. Your half hour’s up and we have to clean this floor,now,’” recalled the great-grandmother of 16. Carl told WJLA ABC 7, ”I never had an experience like that in my life.” WTTG reported that they found no signs at the McDonald’s indicating a 30-minute time limit.
The couple left the restaurant and kept their attitude of going with the flow and laughing things off, but not before Barbara let the manager know he needed some additional training. When they returned home, Carl drafted his letter to the editor and sent it off to the Culpeper Star Exponent.
Once the letter was printed, the story quickly spread across social media. One of the people who saw the Beckers’ story was Shawn Moss, owner of Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ in Culpeper. Moss says he believes strongly in customer service and wanted to do something for the couple. He decided to offer the octogenarians free “scrunch” one day a week, for life. Remembering that Carl was a World War II veteran, Moss said, “We’re also going to do a ‘Scrunch Day’ on Wednesday, and offer free coffee to all seniors and veterans.”
As an apology, McDonald’s corporate offered the couple two free small coffees, but Ms. Becker sent the coupons back. The Culpeper McDonald’s franchise owner, Bob Drumheller, issued a statement which read, “I care deeply about the comfort and satisfaction of my customers. My organization takes these matters seriously, and is investigating the customer’s claims. I have also reached out to the customer to extend my apologies for this misunderstanding. Our focus will continue to be on serving our customers and providing them a welcoming experience.”
The Beckers received a call from Drumheller and Barbara explained, “They said they intend to continue the training and he says he wants me to be a part of his training so that I can help him do it right. I said, ‘I’m doing it right now.’ This is the training.” The couple say they will still eat at McDonald’s, just not the Culpeper location.

How Kenyan woman Infected 324 Men With HIV – Female Student Reveals

A female student in Kenya has revealed that she has infected a total of 324 men with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
The HIV positive girl, who attends the Kabarak University in Nakuru, is said to have been infected by a man at a party.
The unidentified 19-year old is allegedly aiming to infect a total of 2000 men in revenge.


According to reports:
The girl allegedly contacted Kenyan Scandals on Facebook and claimed she had something to confess.
After she was assured her identity was going to be protected (the Kenyan Daily Post, however, published a picture from her Facebook profile along with the article) she wrote: “Sep 22nd 2013 is a day I”ll never forget, we went clubbing in town and got drunk with some senior students then went back hostels for party round 2″.
She then explained that when she woke up, the morning after, she realised a boy called Javan had had s*x with her while she was drunk.
“I only asked if he used a condom and he said yes, however when taking bath I noticed sperms down there, I wanted to commit suicide, I feared getting pregnant and HIV.”
When she discovered she was HIV positive, the girl confronted Javan who insisted he was clean.
“I was so depressed and took alcohol to die, I even bought poison, the pain was just unbearable how was I gone face the world, I let my parents down, I gave up on the world and just wanted to end my life. My future had been ruined, somehow someone had to pay,” the girl said.
“I accepted my fate and promised to make all men I come across suffer, I know I’m attractive and men both married and unmarried chase me left right and centre.
“I buried the good girl in me and became the bad girl, my goal was to infect as many as possible,” she explained.
The girl then confessed she had already infected 324 men, 156 of which are students at the Kabarak University where she studies, the rest are married men, lecturers, lawyers, celebrities and politicians.
“Not a day passes without me having s*x, mostly 4 people per day,” she continued in her confession. “Your day is coming, you men destroyed my life and I will make you and your people pay for it”

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pope Francis misspoke, Accidentally Drops The F-word


Pope Francis was speaking from a window in St. Peter's Square when he misspoke and used an Italian curse word.

On the completely innocent subject of sharing one's wealth with others as Catholicism teaches, Pope Francis had this to say, "If each one of us does not amass riches only for oneself, but half for the service of others, in this [expletive]."

The Argentinean Pope was delivering his blessing in Italian — a language he is not used to speaking — when he said cazzo instead of caso, which means "example" or "case." Cazzo is the equivalent of "f*ck" in Italian, but can also be interpreted as "c*ck" or "d*ck."

The Pontiff recognized his mistake and immediately corrected himself.But the moment would be remembered forever.

"In this case the providence of God will become visible through this gesture of solidarity," he continued and recovered from the gaffe.

The Pope seems to be forgiven for the sin, with many people commenting on the viral video with, "I love you, Pope Francis!"(silverbirdtv.com)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

S. Korean missionary arrested in North makes 'confession'


A South Korean missionary arrested in North Korea in October said Thursday he had sought to establish underground churches while operating under the orders of South Korea's intelligence agency.
At a news conference staged in Pyongyang, Kim Jeong-Wook, wearing a dark suit and in apparent good health, read a statement which detailed a number of anti-government activities.
No questions were taken at the event, footage of which was broadcast on South Korean television.
Foreigners arrested in North Korea are often required to make a public "confession" which can then expedite their eventual release.
"I thought that the (North's) current regime should be brought down and acted ... under directions from the (South's) National Intelligence Service," Kim said.
"I met with North Koreans and introduced them to the NIS," he added.
When Kim was first arrested, the North simply announced that it had captured a South Korean "spy" and ignored repeated requests from Seoul to properly identify the detainee.
It later emerged that he was Kim Jeong-Wook, 50, a Baptist evangelist who for seven years had been providing shelter and food to North Koreans living in China's northeastern border city of Dandong.
Fellow activists said he had crossed the Yalu border river in October to establish the whereabouts of some North Korean refugees who had been arrested in Dandong by Chinese authorities and repatriated.
In his statement, which he read, seated alone at a small table, Kim said he had told North Koreans he met that statues to the country's ruling Kim dynasty should be smashed, and churches built in their place.
"I also vilified and insulted the North's leadership with extremely colourful language," he said.
The news conference came a week after North Korea arrested an Australian missionary, John Short, 75, after he left a Christian pamphlet in a Buddhist temple.
Although religious freedom is enshrined in the North Korean constitution, it does not exist in practice and religious activity is severely restricted to officially-recognised groups linked to the government.
North Korea is also holding US citizen Kenneth Bae, described by a North Korean court as a militant Christian evangelist.
Bae was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour on charges of seeking to topple the government.
A number of US missionaries have been arrested in the past, with some allowed to return home after interventions by high-profile US figures.
(GUARDIAN,AFP)

Venezuelan opposition spurns government crisis talks


VENEZUELA'S President Nicolas Maduro opened a national peace conference Wednesday after three weeks of sometimes deadly street protests, but most of the opposition stayed away, with one leader calling it a photo op.
Dueling demos of pro- and anti-government protesters took to the streets in a sign of the deep polarization of this oil-rich but economically and social troubled country, where three weeks of demonstrations have left 14 people dead.
As he opened the conference Maduro said "we cannot just sit by and wait for events to escalate."
The conference held at the presidential palace was attended by religious and business groups, intellectuals and governors mainly from the pro-government Chavismo movement named after the late populist leader Hugo Chavez.
Some opposition figures did show up. But the main umbrella opposition grouping known as MUD stayed away.
Maduro got an earful from the head of the business federation Fedecamaras, Jorge Roig.
"Mr. President, our country is not well. We Venezuelans are killing each other and that is not acceptable. As head of state you are the one mainly responsible for calming things down," Roig told the gathering.
The opposition's main leader Henrique Capriles did not attend, dismissing the talks as a government photo op.
Venezuela has been swept by student-led protests since February 4, posing the greatest challenge yet to Maduro's 11-month-old government.
Those who are on the streets say public anger over shortages of food and other basics, soaring inflation and rampant crime have served as kindling for these protests.
"Unless we all get out there and protest, we are not going to be able to get out of this really complicated situation," said university student Andres Contreras, out on a Caracas street.
Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday they had arrested five intelligence agents for suspected ties to killings during protests against Maduro's government.
On Monday, nine people were arrested in the same case including three SEBIN intelligence service members, and the rest police.
"Why should we have to live like this?" demanded demonstrator Adriana Diaz, a 48-year-old lawyer banging on a cooking pot, one of the symbols of opposition defiance.
"The government should listen to people, and hang the economic system."
Maduro has responded to the street protests with force, arresting scores of demonstrators as well as a prominent opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.
Caracas was relatively peaceful Wednesday after a night of occasional clashes in the capital.
But the opposition and the government staged separate marches, in a vivid display of the polarization roiling a country with the world's largest oil reserves.
Several thousand women dressed in white marched through the city to a military barracks to demand "an end to the repression and violence by the security bodies."
"We know that it's the Cubans, an invading army, who are giving the orders," said a document the women brough to the barracks. "Don't let them." Communist Cuba is Venezuela's main political ally.
Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, led the march with opposition deputy Maria Corina Machado.
Meanwhile, thousands of government supporters marched toward the presidential palace to rally for "peace" and against what Maduro insists is an opposition "coup d'etat."
Maduro has sought to deepen the socialist, anti-American policies of his charismatic predecessor and mentor, the late Chavez.
The United States voiced some optimism.
"We're prepared to have a change in this relationship, this tension between our countries has gone on for too long in our view," US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
"But we are not going to sit around and be blamed for things we have never done," he added.
On Tuesday, the United States announced it would expel three Venezuelan diplomats, a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of three Americans by Caracas last week.
The US action came the same day that Maduro's government named a new ambassador to Washington.
The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, reflecting the bad blood that has prevailed between the two trade partners since Chavez came to power in 1999.
(GUARDIAN,AFP)

Ukraine interim leaders warn of 'unpopular steps' ahead


UKRAINE'S acting President Olexander Turchynov and PM-designate Arseniy Yatsenyuk have warned of the need for "unpopular" steps to help restore the country's economy and politics.
Mr Yatsenyuk told the BBC the central challenge for the newly named government was to "stabilise" Ukraine.
Ukrainian MPs are expected to vote later on the new cabinet line up.
Meanwhile, the regional parliament and government headquarters in Crimea have been seized by armed men.
The two buildings in the regional capital Simferopol were seized overnight by a group of at least 50 pro-Russian men who were preventing government workers from entering, regional Prime Minister Anatoliy Mohilyov told AFP news agency.
The Russian flag was seen flying over both buildings.
Fears over economy
Mr Yatsenyuk and Ukraine's other new ministers were presented to a large crowd at Kiev's Independence Square, the Maidan, on Wednesday evening.
Mr Yatsenyuk, who was one of the main protest leaders, was greeted with cheers.
But the announcement of some other heads of ministries, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, prompted booing from the crowd, who said the candidates were not worthy of government posts.
Other ministers include career diplomat Andriy Deschytsya as foreign minister, a former deputy head of the central bank Oleksander Shlapak as finance minister and Andriy Paruby as secretary of the National Security and Defence Council.
"We are to undertake extremely unpopular steps as the previous government and previous president were so corrupted that the country is in a desperate financial plight," Mr Yatsenyuk told the BBC after the cabinet was announced.
"We are on the brink of a disaster and this is the government of political suiciders. So welcome to hell," he added.
The 39-year-old, who is a former speaker of parliament and foreign minister, is expected to lead the cabinet until early presidential elections on 25 May.
Interim President Turchynov warned the crowds the new government would "have to pass unpopular decisions".
"The government will be criticised, treated like dirt. But they must fulfil their obligations and work to the bone for the sake of Ukraine."
He has promised to resign once the country is back on its feet.
Acting government officials predict Ukraine needs $35bn (£21bn) in bailout loans to get through the next two years.
On Wednesday, the US said it was considering offering Ukraine's struggling economy - which faces default - loan guarantees of up to $1bn.
Meanwhile, Mr Yanukovych has been put on the international wanted list.
The fugitive former president - whose whereabouts are unclear - is accused of being behind last week's deaths of more than 100 protesters at the hands of riot police in and around the Maidan.
Crimea unrest
In Simferopol, armed men seized the Crimean government buildings after the city saw clashes on Wednesday between Ukrainians who support the change of government and pro-Russian activists.
An elderly man died from a suspected heart attack after scuffles between members of a pro-Russian rally and a second rally involving Crimean Tatars and supporters of the new government.
Asked in a BBC interview whether Ukraine would stay united despite the growing tensions, Mr Yatsenyuk said: "In Crimea we always had different sentiments and forces who try to split the country and proclaim separatism." But he said Ukraine "could cope".
Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954.
Russia, along with the US, UK and France, pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine in a memorandum signed in 1994.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has again warned Russia any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake".
His remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a snap drill to test the combat readiness of troops in central and western Russia, near the border with Ukraine.
Amidst heightened tensions between Russia and the West, Nato has issued a statement saying it would continue to support Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Unrest in Ukraine first erupted in November, following Mr Yanukovych's last-minute decision to reject a landmark association and trade deal with the European Union in favour of Russia's bailout offer.
Months of anti-government protests reached a tipping point last week when, according to health ministry figures, at least 88 people were killed in clashes between protesters and police.(GUARDIAN,AFP)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Tiger kills zookeeper while cleaning cage

SHANGHAI (AFP) – A Chinese zookeeper was killed by a tiger while cleaning out his cage, officials from Shanghai Zoo said Wednesday. The nine-year-old tiger mauled the man to death, said a message on the zoo’s official microblogging page on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. The Shanghai Daily said the victim was a 57-year-old man surnamed Zhou, who had been due to retire from the zoo in three years. The man was mauled by the tiger before it had been fed, it added, but quoted a zoo official ruling out hunger being a motive behind the attack. “It is not likely the tiger killed Zhou because of hunger, as tigers in the zoo are fed once every day except Friday to train tigers’ ability to hunt food by imitating the wild environment,” said Tu Rongxin, director of the feeding division of the zoo. Zhou had taken care of the tiger for three to four years, the newspaper said, citing Tu. The tiger was named in reports as Yingying and was born at the zoo, in China’s commercial hub. “Shanghai Zoo discovered a zookeeper was bitten to death at 10.30 am,” said the message on the zoo’s Weibo page. “He was dead when we arrived at the scene,” it said, adding that an investigation has been launched. The zoo also said the tiger had no previous history of aggression. Reports said it will not be destroyed as a result of the attack.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

S'Africans mourn Mandela with songs

Reuters – South Africans united in mourning yesterday for Nelson Mandela. But while some celebrated his remarkable life with dance and songs, others fretted that the anti-apartheid hero’s death would make the nation vulnerable again to racial and social tensions. As the country’s 52 million people absorbed the news that their beloved former president had departed forever, many expressed shock at the passing of a man who was a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. South Africans heard from President Jacob Zuma late on Thursday that the statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the presence of his family after a long illness. Despite reassurances from public figures that Mandela’s passing, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa’s advance away from its bitter apartheid past, some still expressed unease about the absence of a man famed as a peacemaker. “It’s not going to be good, hey! I think it’s going to become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and chase foreigners away,” said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from Tembisa township as she headed to work in Johannesburg. “Mandela was the only one who kept things together,” she said. Flags flew at half mast as South Africa entered a period of mourning leading up to a planned state funeral for its first black president next week. Trade was halted for five minutes on the Johannesburg stock exchange, Africa’s largest bourse, out of respect. But the mood was not all sombre. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela’s home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, many singing songs of tribute and dancing. The crowd included toddlers carrying flowers, domestic workers still in uniform and businessmen in suits. Many attended church services, including another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. He said that like all South Africans he was “devastated” by Mandela’s death. “Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one,” Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral. An avalanche of tributes continued to pour in for Mandela, who had been ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony. The loss was also keenly felt across the African continent. “We are in trouble now, Africa. No one will fit Mandela’s shoes,” said Kenyan teacher Catherine Ochieng, 32. For South Africa, the death of its most beloved leader comes at a time when the nation, which basked in global goodwill after apartheid ended, has been experiencing labour unrest, growing protests against poor services, poverty, crime and unemployment and corruption scandals tainting Zuma’s rule. Many saw today’s South Africa – the African continent’s biggest economy but also one of the world’s most unequal – still distant from being the “Rainbow Nation” ideal of social peace and shared prosperity that Mandela had proclaimed on his triumphant release from prison in 1990. “I feel like I lost my father, someone who would look out for me,” said Joseph Nkosi, 36, a security guard from Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Referring to Mandela by his clan name, he added: “Now without Madiba I feel like I don’t have a chance. The rich will get richer and simply forget about us. The poor don’t matter to them. Look at our politicians, they are nothing like Madiba.” The crowd around Mandela’s home in Houghton preferred to celebrate his achievement in bringing South Africans together. For 16-year-old Michael Lowry, who has no memory of the apartheid system that ended in 1994, Mandela’s legacy means he can have non-white friends. He attended two schools where Mandela’s grandchildren were also students. “I hear stories that my parents tell me and I’m just shocked that such a country could exist. I couldn’t imagine just going to school with just white friends,” Lowry said. Shortly after the news of Mandela’s death, Tutu had tried to calm fears that the absence of the man who steered South Africa to democracy might revive some of the ghosts of apartheid. “To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames – as some have predicted – is to discredit South Africans and Madiba’s legacy,” Tutu said in a statement on Thursday. “The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next … It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on,” Tutu said. Zuma and his ruling African National Congress face presidential and legislative elections next year which are expected to reveal discontent among voters about pervasive poverty and unemployment 20 years after the end of apartheid. But the former liberation movement is expected to maintain its predominance in South African politics. Mark Rosenberg, Senior Africa Analyst at the Eurasia Group, said that while Mandela’s death might even give the ANC a sympathy-driven boost for elections due next year, it would hurt the party in the long term.

Updates on funeral rite of Mandela

Nelson Mandela, the late former South African president, is to be buried December 15 at his ancestral home of Qunu,in the Eastern Cape, President Jacob Zuma announced yesterday. A week of national mourning would include an open-air memorial service at Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium – the site of the 2010 World Cup final – on December 10, Zuma said. It was at that stadium that in July 2010, Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final. Spectators rose to their feet and paid tribute to the then 92-year-old who some had feared might be too infirm to attend the event. Details of the burial are expected to be confirmed in the days ahead, but a report from South Africa yesterday said within the first four days of his passing, elders from Mandela’s Thembu ethnic group would gather for the first ceremony, a tradition called “the closing of the eyes.” This event will take place either at his home or in the mortuary. Throughout the ceremony, the elders will be talking to Mandela, as well as to his ancestors, to explain what’s happening at each and every stage to ease the transition from life to beyond. After the ceremony, it is believed Mandela’s body will be embalmed at the mortuary which is reportedly a military hospital in Pretoria. On December 15, a military aircraft will leave a Pretoria airbase and fly South to Mthatha, the main town in the Eastern Cape. Thembu elders and members of the Mandela family will make the journey with Mandela’s casket. Thousands of mourners are expected to line the streets from the Mthatha airport to watch as the military transports Mandela’s casket on a gun carriage to the remote village of Qunu where the former leader spent his childhood years. Along the way, the procession is expected to pause for prayers to allow ordinary South Africans to pay their respects. Once at Mandela’s house, the military will formally pass responsibility for his remains to his family. The funeral and burial will be on the grounds of Mandela’s Qunu home where thousands of people, including dozens of heads of state, are expected to gather for the funeral. The funeral will take place under a large tent nestled in the hills where Mandela ran and played as a child. The event will be broadcast to an audience of millions around the world. At midday – when the summer sun is high in the sky – Mandela will be buried into the rocky soil of his homeland. Only a few hundred close family members will bid that final farewell to Mandela as he is laid to rest. The burial area has been specially built for him; some of Mandela’s long deceased family members are already buried at the site. It will be, according to custom, a homecoming. His grave site is surrounded by rocky outcrops, hardy grass used for the grazing cattle and bright orange aloe plants. The aloes are indigenous succulents which are hardy, drought-resistant, medicinal plants that bloom across the bushveld when all else is dry and dull. A symbolic floral gesture to a man whose life was filled with sacrifice and tragedy, but who triumphed with a tenacity of spirit and hope in even the darkest of days. President Barack Obama of the USA and many other world leaders are expected at the funeral. The world heard from Zuma late on Thursday that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had died peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the presence of his family after a long illness. “We will spend the week mourning his passing. We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived,” Zuma said. Despite reassurances from public figures that Mandela’s death at 95, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa’s advance from its apartheid past, there were those who expressed unease about the absence of a man famed as a peacemaker. “It’s not going to be good, hey! I think it’s going to become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and chase foreigners away. Mandela was the only one who kept things together,” said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from Tembisa township. Flags flew at half mast across the country, and trade was halted for five minutes on the Johannesburg stock exchange. But the mood was not all somber. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela’s home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, many singing songs of tribute and dancing. The crowd included toddlers carrying flowers, domestic workers still in uniform and businessmen in suits. Another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, said like all South Africans, he was “devastated” by Mandela’s death. “Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one,” Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral. Tributes continued to pour in for Mandela who had been suffering for nearly a year from a recurring lung illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the Robben Island penal colony. The flags of the 193 United Nations member states along First Avenue in Manhattan, New York were lowered at 10 a.m. in honour of Mandela. The U.N. General Assembly observed a minute of silence. Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, an old ally of Mandela’s in the fight against apartheid, hailed him as “a great freedom fighter”.- THE NATION

Mandela’s village awaits the return of their son

QUNU – In Nelson Mandela’s childhood village of Qunu residents are solemnly preparing for the final return of their beloved son, who will be laid to rest among them a week from now. Elderly men in the picturesque village dotted with traditional round huts bow their heads and lower their voices when they speak of the anti-apartheid hero who has “returned to his ancestors”. Here there has been no explosion of public emotion as seen in Johannesburg, no singing to celebrate Mandela’s 95 years, no all-night vigils. His home, overlooking the hills and valleys of the Eastern Cape — where Mandela said he spent his happiest childhood days — is sombre and eerily quiet. “We are in mourning, he deserves our greatest last respects,” said Chief Mfundo Mtirara, Mandela’s nephew. Mtirara had the difficult task of breaking the news of Mandela’s death to some close relatives. “A great man is gone, we are deeply saddened, even though we knew that this day would come,” he said. “He deserved our respects while he was still alive, we are going to continue to give him that respect even in death,” said Mtirara, who lives near Mandela’s homestead. The town will next week hold a public memorial service for the revered leader, affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba. Mtirara said a delegation from the village, including Dalindyebo, the king of Mandela’s Thembu clan, will travel to Johannesburg on Saturday to meet members of the Mandela family and hear about burial plans. At the estate that Mandela built after his release from prison in 1990, armed soldiers and policemen stand guard. The busy road near the house has been closed to traffic in preparation for the influx of luminaries and mourners expected to descend on this rural village. Motorists have been diverted to dusty back roads. Pipe-smoking old men idled along the village’s many footpaths, often stopping to chat to peers about Madiba’s passing. “He was given to us by the ancestors, now he has returned to them,” Albert Njokweni while herding his sheep. “The old man lived a long and difficult life, but it was that difficulty that brought us freedom. Now it’s time for him to rest amongst his people,” he said. “I don’t think this village will ever see a person like him again. We are thankful to have called him one of our own,” Njokweni said. In the nearby town of Mthatha, where Mandela went to school and which has a museum dedicated to him, flags are flying at half mast, with posters of him hanging from lamp posts. A local supermarket displayed a large image of the anti-apartheid icon with the message: “Rest in peace Nelson Mandela. You were a legend, a father and most of all our leader.” Despite his global icon status and years of isolation at Robben Island prison, Mandela never lost touch with his traditional roots. Of royal lineage, he once arrived in court during his Rivonia trial decked out in full Xhosa regalia. Mandela returned after 27 years in prison as a free man to Qunu, where his parents and children are buried in a family graveyard. President Jacob Zuma announced a 10-day mourning period for Mandela. His body will lie in state in Pretoria for three days after that before the burial in Qunu on December 15. That is the day his villagers say will be the hardest. (AFP)