“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stiff new licence fees threaten Tanzanian blogosphere

Yahoo – AFP, April 14, 2018

Magufuli -- pictured on a campaign billboard for the 2015 president elections --
has been accusing of seeking to muzzle dissent (AFP Photo/Daniel Hayduk)

Nairobi (Kenya) (AFP) - Tanzanians have to pay $900 for a permit to blog, a staggering amount for many in the country, say critics who see the fee as a further bid by President John Magufuli to gag dissident voices.

A sweeping new law covering a broad range of online activity was signed in mid-March.

Under it, the operators of online platforms such as blogs, podcasts and live streaming services will have to pay stiff fees to operate.

To launch a blog, for example, a user must pay over two million Tanzanian shillings ($900, 750 euros) in fees to get a license. A renewal fee of over $400 is due every three years thereafter.

"The simple creation of a platform represents several months' salary for a blogger," said Arnaud Froger of the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

"Tanzanian authorities want to get rid of the blogosphere and they couldn't have chosen a better way to do it," he said in a statement.

"The climate of fear and self-censorship that has already affected traditional media is now reaching online media, where many journalists found refuge."

Tanzania has a vibrant blogging community, whose members report or comment extensively on news, entertainment and music, as well as sport, lifestyle and travel.

Under the new law, a blogger can face fines of up to $2,200 for publishing content considered "indecent, obscene (or) hate speech", or even just for causing "annoyance".

The legislation broadly defines a blog as "a website containing a writer's or group of writers' own; experiences, observations, opinions including current news, events, journals, advertisements and images, video clips and links to other websites".

Getting rid of critics

Magufuli, 58, took office in 2015 as a corruption-fighting "man of the people".

But he has earned criticism for his authoritarian leadership style, with detractors saying he has clamped down on opposition and freedom of expression.

Under his rule, numerous opposition members have been arrested or jailed, critical media shut down and people arrested for perceived "insults" to the president.

On February 26, a Tanzanian court handed two five-month jail terms to two opponents of the regime, including a lawmaker, for allegedly defaming the president.

A new law introduced in 2016 required journalists to register themselves as such, seen as a further bid to curtail the media.

In March police arrested a driver and a farmer accused of calling for anti-government protests on social media.

For many in the online media fraternity, the latest law governing web content is just another nail in the coffin of media freedom.

"Most bloggers will not be able to find this money. But the problem is bigger than the financial aspect," said Maxence Melo, founder of the Jamii Media blog who has previously been taken to court for refusing to reveal the identity of a critical contributor to his site.

"The government's objective is to get rid of sites which are already considered critical. Because paying a fee doesn't mean you will have a licence, the relevant government department can still refuse this permit."

During a public discussion last week over the new law, the secretary general of the Tanzania Bloggers Network, Frantz Mwantepele, said many would struggle to "fulfill the conditions in the law".

"The fees that we are supposed to pay for licenses far surpass the revenues of many bloggers," he said.

Mike Mushi, who also works for Jamii Media, asked why the government was imposing fees when it is not the owner of the internet as a means of publication.

When it comes to traditional radio and television "we know that the government is the owner of the frequencies they use. But is the government the owner of the internet?"

Saturday, April 14, 2018

'Illegal to be who I am' - Daley urges change in same-sex laws

Yahoo – AFP, Robert SMITH, April 13, 2018

Britain's Tom Daley has voiced his concerns about the treatment of homosexuals
 in large parts of the Commonwealth, whose athletes are gathered on Australia's
Gold Coast for the ongoing Games (AFP Photo/Anthony WALLACE)

Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) - English world champion diver Tom Daley on Friday urged Commonwealth nations who outlaw homosexuality to relax their anti-gay stance.

Openly gay Daley, who is expecting a child with his partner through a surrogate, grasped the opportunity of his gold medal triumph in the 10m synchro event to push for change.

Daley, who won gold with team-mate Daniel Goodfellow, said sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex are criminalised in 37 Commonwealth countries.

Daley voiced his concerns about the treatment of homosexuals in large parts of the Commonwealth, whose athletes are gathered on Australia's Gold Coast for the ongoing Games.

"Hopefully, I know this might sound a bit political, but by the next Commonwealth Games (in Birmingham 2022), there are 37 countries in the Commonwealth where it's currently illegal to be who I am, so hopefully we can reduce that number between now and then," Daley told reporters.

"Coming to the Gold Coast and being able to live as an openly gay man is really important and to be able to feel comfortable in who you are when you are standing on that diving board.

"For 37 countries that are here participating that's very much not the case."

Daley said it was time for those Commonwealth countries to change their anti-gay laws.

"You just have to face those things and try and make change," he said.

"There are lots of things that are going to take a long time to change, but I feel with the Commonwealth I think we can really help push some of the other nations to relax their laws on anti-gay sex."

Commonwealth Games Federation CEO David Grevemberg said his organisation was proud of its record on inclusivity.

"At the time of Glasgow 2014, 43 Commonwealth countries criminalised same sex activity, but today, that number has been reduced to 37," Grevemberg said Friday.

"We hope that the Commonwealth sports movement is playing a meaningful role in the wider global conversation around tolerance, empowerment and legal recognition for all."

Daley's comments were backed by New Zealand boxer Alexis Pritchard, who wore rainbow socks in support of gay rights in her 57kg semi-final on Friday.

"I think it's particularly sad that people cannot love who they want to love," she told AFP.

"It's important that each and every individual has rights to receive love and give love to the people that they choose.

"I find it absolutely sad that we are not open to that in so many nations."

The penalties for private, consensual sexual conduct between same-sex adults remain harsh in a number of Commonwealth countries, including imprisonment, hard labour and in some cases flogging.

The Commonwealth countries that outlaw homosexuality include Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tonga.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The path to court: Zuma and the arms deal

Yahoo – AFP, April 6, 2018

South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, pictured,
said there were 'reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma'
(AFP Photo/WIKUS DE WET)

Johannesburg (AFP) - Here is a timeline of major events in the corruption charges against South African former president Jacob Zuma:

Red flag

- November 1998: The cabinet approves an arms deal at a price tag of $2.5 billion. On the same day Zuma, then a provincial minister, meets with his personal financial advisor Schabir Shaik and an official from French arms dealer Thomson-CSF. The auditor-general soon raises a red flag over the deal as "high-risk".

- June 1999: Thabo Mbeki is elected president of South Africa with Jacob Zuma as his deputy.

- September 1999: An opposition lawmaker Patricia de Lille alerts parliament that the arms deal could be graft-ridden and calls for an inquiry.

- December 1999: Finance Minister Trevor Manuel seals the deal at 29.9 billion rand.

- February 2000: The serious economic crimes offences police unit known as the Scorpions launch investigations.

- October 2004: Trial of Zuma's adviser Shaik opens.

President Zuma

- June 2005: Shaik is convicted and jailed for 15 years for fraud and corruption. Four years later he is released on medical parole in 2009, the year Zuma becomes president.

Zuma is accused in court of having had a "generally corrupt" relationship with Shaik. Mbeki fires him as deputy president.

Zuma was forced to resign as South African president by his party in the wake of
mounting corruption scandals (AFP Photo/MUJAHID SAFODIEN)

- December 2007: Zuma is elected president of the ruling African National Congress party. Ten days later Zuma is slapped with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges.

- April 2009: Acting chief prosecutor Mokotedi Mpshe withdraws charges against Zuma based on the phone conversation of the so-called "spy tapes" that suggest the charges were politically motivated.

- May 2009: Zuma is sworn in as South Africa's president.

Mounting scandal

- April 2016: The inquiry clears all government officials of corruption over the arms deal. But days later, the High Court in Pretoria rules that the 2009 decision to drop the charges was "irrational" and that charges must be reinstated.

- October 2017: The Supreme Court of Appeal rules that Zuma is liable for prosecution.

- February 2018: Zuma is forced to resign as South African president by his party in the wake of mounting corruption scandals.

- March 2018: Prosecutors decide he should face 12 counts of fraud, two of corruption, one of racketeering and one of money laundering.

- April 2018: Zuma appears in Durban High Court for preliminary hearing, with the case adjourned until June 8.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sudan's 'sister coach' takes love of football to field

Yahoo – AFP, Jay Deshmukh and Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, April 3, 2018

Salma al-Majidi has been acknowledged by FIFA as the first Arab and Sudanese
woman to coach a men's football team in the Arab world (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

Gadaref (Sudan) (AFP) - In Sudan, where a women's national football team remains a distant dream, Salma al-Majidi knew the only way to take part in her beloved sport was to coach... and that the players had to be men.

Majidi, 27, acknowledged by FIFA as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men's football team in the Arab world, is a pioneer in a sport that dominates the region.

"Why football? Because it is my first and ultimate love," said Majidi, clad in sports gear and a black headscarf, as she led players of the Al-Ahly Al-Gadaref club at a practice session in the town of Gadaref, east of Khartoum.

"I became a coach because there is still no scope for women's football in Sudan," said Majidi, who is affectionately called "sister coach" by her team.

Daughter of a retired policeman, Majidi was 16 when she fell in love with football.

It came about as she watched her younger brother's school team being coached. She was captivated by the coach's instructions, his moves, and how he placed the marker cones at practice sessions.

"At the end of every training session, I discussed with him the techniques he used to coach the boys," Majidi told AFP, as she watched her own players practising on a hot day at a dusty ground in Gadaref.

"He saw I had a knack for coaching... and gave me a chance to work with him."

Soon Majidi was coaching the under-13 and under-16 teams of Al-Hilal club in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum on the west bank of the River Nile.

Majidi says she became a coach "because there is still no scope for women's 
football in Sudan" (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

Limits on women players

Questions like whether she understood football or had the skills to coach men were all put to rest over time, said Majidi, speaking in a soft but confident tone.

Named in the BBC's 2015 list of "100 inspirational women", Majidi has coached the Sudanese second league men's clubs of Al-Nasr, Al-Nahda, Nile Halfa and Al-Mourada.

Nile Halfa and Al-Nahda even topped local leagues under her coaching. She currently holds the African "B" badge in coaching, meaning she can coach any first league team across the continent.

The only other woman to have gained recognition in Sudan's footballing world was Mounira Ramadan, who refereed men's matches in the 1970s.

Sudan joined FIFA in 1948 and established the Confederation of African Football (CAF) along with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa. It won the CAF trophy in 1970.

Women's football has faced an uphill task since the country adopted Islamic sharia law in 1983, six years after which President Omar al-Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.

There is no legal ban on women's football in Sudan, but a conservative society coupled with the Islamist leanings of the government have left it in the shadows.

Women do play football but there are no competitions or women's clubs, and they do not play much in public.

"There are restrictions on women's football, but I'm determined to succeed," Majidi, whose dream is to coach an international team, said, as her players kicked up clouds of dust practising free kicks.

Questions like whether she understood football or had the skills to coach men 
were all put to rest over time, Majidi says (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

'Kids of Salma'

Majidi's journey has not been easy.

"Sudan is a community of tribes and some tribes believe that a woman's role is confined only to her home," said Majidi, a university graduate in accounts and management.

"There was this one boy who refused to listen. He told me he belongs to a tribe that believed men should never take orders from women," she said.

It took months before he finally accepted her as coach. "Today, he is a fine player," said Majidi, who works full-time and receives a salary that is equivalent to that of a male coach.

At first, "people in the streets used to call us 'Salma's kids!'" said Majid Ahmed, a striker and an ardent fan of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

"In school we have female teachers, so what's the problem having a female coach?"

Majidi said her entrance to what was a male preserve is just a start.

"My message to men in general is to give women a chance to do what they want," she said as she prepared tea after a gruelling practice session.

'She was different'

Coming from a traditional family, it was a challenge for Majidi to prove herself to their relatives, recalls her father, Mohamed al-Majidi.

"Then one day, her uncle who used to criticise her saw crowds shouting 'Salma! Salma!' during a match," he told AFP at the family's mud-and-brick home in Omdurman.

"These same relatives now pray to Allah to support her."

From early on, Majidi's mother knew her daughter was different.

"She always preferred wearing trousers... And even when crossing the street, she would watch the boys playing football," said Aisha al-Sharif.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Mandela dies at 81

ChannelNewsAsia – AFP, 02 Apr 2018

Winnie Mandela, the ex-wife of South African anti-apartheid fighter and former
president Nelson Mandela, died on Apr 2, 2018 at the age of 81, her spokesman
 said. (Photo: AFP/Gulshan Khan)

JOHANNESBURG: Winnie Mandela, the former wife of South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, died on Monday (Apr 2) aged 81, triggering an outpouring of tributes to one of the country's defining and most divisive figures.

She died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, family spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement.

Winnie Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, played a high-profile role in the struggle to end white-minority rule but her place in history was stained by controversy and accusations of violence.

"It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday," said a statement issued by her family.

"She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones."

Leading the tributes, anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu described Winnie Mandela as "a defining symbol" of the struggle against oppression.

"She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment," he said.

"Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists."

In the ruling African National Congress (ANC), head of policy Jeff Radebe described her as "an icon of the revolutionary struggle."

LIVES APART

Most of Winnie's marriage to Nelson was spent apart, with Nelson imprisoned for 27 years, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone and to keep alive his political dream under the repressive white-minority regime.

But her reputation came under damaging scrutiny in the twilight years of apartheid rule.

In 1986, she was widely linked to "necklacing", when suspected traitors were burnt alive by a petrol-soaked car tyre being put over their head and set alight.

In 1990 the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked out of prison - hand in hand with Winnie.

The following year, she was convicted of kidnapping and assault over the killing of Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old boy.

In 1992, the Mandelas separated, and then divorced in 1996, after a legal wrangle that revealed she had had an affair with a young bodyguard.

During her old age, she re-emerged as a "mother of the nation" figure who was feted as a living reminder of the late Mandela and of the long struggle against apartheid.

Just last month, she was shown in television footage joking with Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly-appointed president who paid a courtesy call at her home in Soweto, the township where she lived for decades.

Dressed in full ANC colours of yellow, black and green, she asked Ramaphosa, who is known for his morning runs, "Why don't you get tired?"

"We can't get tired when you have given us work to do'" Ramaphosa said, paying fulsome praise to her appearance.

She had also expressed support for the current leadership of the ANC (African National Congress) party - which her husband led to power in the euphoric post-apartheid elections of 1994.


Ethiopia's new PM, in key speech, reaches out to opposition and Eritrea

Yahoo – AFP, Chris Stein, April 2, 2018

Abiy Ahmed offered an olive branch to the opposition and to rival Eritrea after
he was sworn in as prime minister (AFP Photo/ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, apologised to people harmed in recent political unrest and reached out both to the political opposition and longtime rival Eritrea at his swearing-in on Monday.

Abiy is the first ethnic Oromo to be selected by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) as prime minister in its 27 years of rule.

In a parliamentary session, Abiy formally replaced Hailemariam Desalegn, whose surprise resignation in February came after more than two years of anti-government protests led by the Oromo.

"Ethiopians living abroad and Ethiopians living here, we need to forgive each other from the bottom of our hearts," Abiy said in a speech after he was sworn in.

He had earlier exchanged a copy of the constitution and a hug with Hailemariam, who has stepped down from all party leadership positions.

It is the first time power has been transferred from one sitting prime minister to another in modern Ethiopia.

"In this peaceful transfer today, we are beginning a new chapter. This is a historic day," Abiy said in his remarks.

Abiy, left, held up the Ethiopian flag with his predecessor, Hailemariam Dessalegn,
 after being sworn in. He is the first ethnic Oromo to be named prime minister in the
ruling party's 27-year rule (AFP Photo/ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER)

The 42-year-old former minister of science and technology takes the reins of one of Africa's fastest-growing and most-populous economies amid hopes that he will change the EPRDF's authoritarian style of governing.

More than 1,100 people are being held without trial under a state of emergency declared after Hailemariam's resignation.

They include dissidents who had been freed just months earlier in a mass prisoner amnesty ordered by Hailemariam.

'Brothers, not enemies'

While he made no mention of the emergency decree in his speech, Abiy reached out to the country's opposition politicians, many of whom were incarcerated during Hailemariam's time.

"We will not be seeing you as enemies, but be seeing you as brothers," Abiy said.

Unrest among the Oromos started in late 2015 over a government development plan they decried as unfair, and soon spread to the country's second-largest ethnicity, the Amhara.

A two-year war between Ethiopia and Eritrea left thousands dead -- the dispute, over
the border demarcation, remains unresolved (file picture) (AFP Photo/MARCO LONGARI)

The protests resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of arrests and only stopped after Ethiopia was placed under emergency rule for 10 months from October 2016.

Referring to people who were hurt or jailed in the protests, Abiy said "I apologise from the bottom of my heart."

Northern rival

He also extended an olive branch to Ethiopia's arch-rival Eritrea, a one-time province that declared independence in 1993.

A two-year war broke out between the countries in 1998 over the demarcation of their shared border that killed tens of thousands.

The dispute remains unresolved, and Ethiopia and Eritrea accuse each other of supporting anti-government groups.

"For the common good of the two countries, not only for our benefit but for the two nations which are tied by blood, we are ready to solve our differences with discussion," Abiy said.

"We invite the Eritrean government to show the same sentiment."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Heineken pledges to act on new claims of sexual abuse in Africa

DutchNews, March 26, 2018


Brewing giant Heineken has pledged to do more to protect its sales agents in Africa after NRC published allegations of widespread sexual abuse in 10 countries where it operates. 

Around 2,000 women work for the Amsterdam-based multinational firm as ‘promotional girls’ on the continent as part of a global sales force numbering 15,000 women, according to internal research carried out in 2007. 

Their work involves going round bars, cafes and restaurants with promotional crates to persuade owners to stock Heineken brands. NRC said many of the recruiters were sexually assaulted or propositioned by cafe staff in the course of their work. In some cases prostitutes combined beer promotion with their regular work to win new clients for both themselves and the brewery. 

One Nigerian-based promoter, named as Sylvia by the newspaper, said the sales teams were warned not to make a fuss about unwanted sexual advances. ‘They warned us that we would come across men with bad intentions. You have to tolerate it because you want to make more sales and strengthen the brand.’ 

Her colleague, named as Peace, said she encountered unwanted sexual attention on a nightly basis. ‘It’s a public place so it doesn’t get as far as rape. That only happens if the girls go with the clients, but that’s their choice. Our employer says: if you can’t stand being touched, go and find another job.’ 

Outsourced 

Heineken said it was difficult to monitor the work because most of it was outsourced, but pledged to step up its efforts to cut out abuse of its agents. ‘The practices described are totally at odds with what we stand for as a company and we condemn these abuses in the strongest terms,’ the company said in a statement.

‘This subject deserves more attention in Africa than it has received in recent years from us and other interested parties. Together with our local workers’ councils, promotional agencies and other relevant parties we will take further steps to tackle these abuses and prevent them happening in future.’ 

Sylvia and Peace were not directly employed by Nigerian Breweries, Heineken’s subsidiary in Lagos, but via an agency that was hired through another subcontractor, making the chain of command unclear. On average they were paid the equivalent of €7 for a night’s work. 

They estimated that around half their colleagues earned extra money through sexual services. ‘Those girls couldn’t live on their wages and were desperate. Sex earned more,’ said Peace.

‘High risk’ 

Emeka Dumbili, of the Alcohol and Drugs Research Institute in Benin City, told NRC Heineken was still recruiting young women in Nigerian provincial cities in order to use their bodies to sell the company’s products. ‘It’s a marketing strategy to sell beer: it reinforces drinking beer as a masculine, heterosexual activity.’ 

Heineken carried out an internal study in 2007 which led to 70 markets being labelled ‘high risk’ for women working to sell their brands, but the findings prompted too few active measures, former personnel staff member Katinka van Cranenburgh told NRC. 

She said: ‘A few improvements were probably made in some countries, but head office has taken a hands-off approach and isn’t on top of the situation. I noticed that the guidelines are no longer online with other company policies, as if it’s no longer an issue.’ 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mugabe's wife Grace under probe for ivory smuggling

Yahoo – AFP, 25 March 2018

Zimbabwe's former first lady Grace Mugabe allegedly "spirited large consignments
of ivory to China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States"

Zimbabwean police are investigating former ruler Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, accused of smuggling ivory worth millions to underground foreign markets, a state-owned weekly reported Sunday.

The Sunday Mail said investigators from the parks and wildlife authority handed documents to police showing that the former first lady “spirited large consignments of ivory to China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States among other destinations.”

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba confirmed receiving a report but declined to elaborate when questioned by AFP.

The Sunday Mail said the report accused Grace Mugabe of ordering officials to grant her permits to export the ivory as gifts to the leaders of various countries.

“Once outside Zimbabwe, the 'gifts' would be pooled together with other consignments of the product and routed to black markets,” The Sunday Mail reported.

A senior official in the presidency, Christopher Mutsvangwa, told the paper the government was tipped off by an unnamed whistleblower.

“Police and whistleblowers laid a trap for suppliers believed to be working for Grace Mugabe,” Mutsvangwa said.

“The culprits were caught and that is how investigations started. When we were confronted with so much evidence, there is no way we could ignore.”

The paper said police may question the former first lady soon.

Grace Mugabe was tipped alongside the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe since independence from British colonial rule in 1980 until he was forced to step down in November 2017 following a military takeover.

She earned the sobriquet “Gucci Grace” for her lavish lifestyle.

Zimbabwe has suffered rampant poaching of elephants, targeted for their ivory tusks which are used for ornaments and medicines.

At least 400 elephants died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange, Zimbabwe’s biggest national park in the northwest of the country, between 2013 and 2015.

But parks director-general Fulton Mangwanya said poaching had declined since Mugabe’s ouster.

“Poaching levels have dropped sharply in Hwange because the market has been disturbed,” The Sunday Mail quoted him as saying.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

French ex-president Sarkozy held in Libya financing probe

Yahoo – AFP, Mehdi CHERIFIA and Adam PLOWRIGHT, March 20, 2018

Prosecutors are probing claims that Moamer Khadafi financed the presidential
election campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy, pictured here, right, with the late Libya
leader in July 2007 (AFP Photo/Patrick KOVARIK)

Paris (AFP) - French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning on Tuesday over allegations the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi financed his 2007 election campaign, including with suitcases stuffed with cash, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

Sarkozy, 63, was taken into police custody early Tuesday morning and was being questioned by officers specialising in corruption, money laundering and tax evasion at their office in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre.

AFP's source said that Brice Hortefeux, a close ally who served as a senior minister during Sarkozy's presidency, was also questioned Tuesday as part of the inquiry.

The case is France's most explosive political financing scandal and one of several legal probes that have dogged the rightwing politician since he left office after one term in 2012.

Since 2013, investigating magistrates have been probing media reports, as well as statements by Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, that claimed funds were provided for Sarkozy's run at the presidency.

"Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign," Seif told the Euronews network in 2011 as NATO-backed forces were driving his father out of power.

Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations as the rantings of vindictive Libyan regime members who were furious over France's military intervention in Libya that helped end Kadhafi's 41-year rule and led to his death.

He has also sued Mediapart, which has led media coverage of the Libyan allegations since 2012 when it published a document allegedly signed by Libya's intelligence chief showing that Kadhafi had agreed to fund Sarkozy to the tune of 50 million euros ($62 million).

Hortefeux, seen here on the left, was also questioned by police, as well 
as Sarkozy, pictured right (AFP Photo/Eric Feferberg)

The case drew heightened scrutiny in November 2016 when a Franco-Lebanese businessman admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader in 2006 and 2007 as contributions towards Sarkozy's first presidential run.

In an interview, again with Mediapart, Ziad Takieddine claimed he dropped 1.5 to 2 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes each time and was given the money by Kadhafi's military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.

When asked about the allegations during a televised debate in 2016, Sarkozy called the question "disgraceful" and said the businessman was a "liar".

The legal investigation is looking into these allegations, as well as a 500,000-euro foreign cash transfer to Sarkozy ally Claude Gueant, and the sale of a luxury villa in 2009 in the south of France to a Libyan investment fund for an allegedly inflated price.

Ties to Libya

Sarkozy, who takes a hard line on Islam and French identity, was nicknamed the "bling-bling" president during his time in office for his flashy displays of wealth.

He failed with a bid to run again for president in November 2016 and has stepped back from frontline politics since then, though he remains a powerful figure behind the scenes at the rightwing Republicans party.

Takieddine admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan
leader in 2006 and 2007 as contributions towards Sarkozy's first presidential
run. (AFP Photo/PHILIPPE LOPEZ)

The Republicans party offered its "full and complete support to former president Nicolas Sarkozy" in a statement, adding: "We wish to remind everyone about the principle of the presumption of innocence that is valid for everyone."

Seven months after his 2007 presidential victory, Sarkozy invited Kadhafi to Paris and clinched major arms and nuclear energy sales to the oil-rich north African country, which has since descended into civil war.

The Libyan autocrat was allowed to pitch his Bedouin-style tent on a lawn in central Paris and attended a dinner at the presidential palace, which was boycotted by several of Sarkozy's ministers.

Tuesday's detention was not the first for Sarkozy: he became the first French president to enter police custody in July 2014 over a separate inquiry into claims that he tried to interfere in one of the several investigations targeting him.

The summons on Tuesday came after another former associate, Swiss businessman Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London in January.

Other cases

Investigating magistrates have recommended Sarkozy face trial on separate charges of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid.

The prosecution claims Sarkozy spent nearly double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros ($24 million) on his lavish campaign, using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion.

He faces up to a year in prison if convicted, but he is appealing the decision to send him to trial, claiming he knew nothing about the fraudulent practices that Bygmalion executives have admitted to.

Only one French president -- Jacques Chirac -- has been tried in France's Fifth Republic, which was founded in 1958. He was given a two-year suspended jail term in 2011 over a fake jobs scandal.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Dead Sea's revival with Red Sea canal edges closer to reality

Yahoo – AFP, Marie WOLFROM, March 18, 2018

Evaporation ponds at the southern part of the Dead Sea where both sodium
chloride and potassium salts are produced (AFP Photo/MENAHEM KAHANA)

Ghor al-Haditha (Jordan) (AFP) - Israel and Jordan have long pursued a common goal to stop the Dead Sea from shrinking while slaking their shared thirst for drinking water with a pipeline from the Red Sea some 200 kilometres away.

Geopolitical tensions have stalled efforts to break ground on the ambitious project for years, but the end of the latest diplomatic spat has backers hoping a final accord may now be in sight.

The degradation of the Dead Sea, on the border of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian West Bank, began in the 1960s when water began to be heavily diverted from the Jordan River.

"Before 1967, the water was just a 10-minute walk from my house," said Musa Salim al-Athem, a farmer who grows tomatoes on the banks on the Jordan side.

"Now it takes an hour," he said, standing amid the resulting lunar landscape of spectacular salt sculptures, gaping sinkholes and craters.

"Only the sea can fill up the sea."

"Since 1950, the amount flowing in the Jordan has dropped from 1.2 billion cubic metres per year (42 billion cubic feet) to less than 200 million," said Frederic Maurel, an engineering expert at the French development agency AFD.

Heavy production of potash, used for making fertiliser, has also accelerated evaporation that has seen the sea's surface area shrink by a third since 1960.

Experts say water levels are falling one metre (three feet) a year, and warn it could dry out completely within 30 years.

Palestinian refugees at the al-Baqa'a refugee camp near Amman. Jordan is
determined to press ahead with the project to cope with the needs of a rising population
which has been swelled by about one million refugees fleeing war in Syria (AFP Photo/
Khalil MAZRAAWI)

'Economic treasure'

Already 100 years ago, Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, had envisaged filling the Dead Sea via a canal dug to the Mediterranean.

The sea's natural beauty and mineral-rich black mud have also provided a source of tourism revenue.

"The Dead Sea has historical, biblical, natural, touristic, medical and industrial values that make it an invaluable cultural, environmental and economic treasure," said Avner Adin, a specialist in water science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

After years of studies, the $1.1 billion Red Sea "Peace Conduit" deal was signed by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities in 2013.

The project, located entirely on Jordanian territory, includes a desalination plant near Aqaba.

After producing drinking water, the remaining highly saline liquid will be sent by pipeline to fill the Dead Sea, powering two hydroelectric plants along the way.

A subsequent 2015 deal would see Israel get 35 billion cubic metres of potable water from the desalination plant for its parched southern regions.

The mostly desert Jordan, for its part, would get up to 50 billion cubic metres of freshwater from the Sea of Galilee.

Israel also agreed to sell 32 billion cubic metres to the Palestinian authorities.

Jordan announced in November 2016 that it had chosen five international consortiums to build the first phase of the canal.

But talks on how to finance the deal, which calls for $400 million of public funding, and geopolitical flare-ups have kept the project from moving forward.

Experts say water levels are falling one metre a year, and warn it could dry out 
completely within thirty years (AFP Photo/MENAHEM KAHANA)

'Diplomatic hazards'

Some $120 million has already been pledged by donors including the US and Japan, while France's AFD agency has secured the backing of the EU and some member states for $140 million in preferential loans to Jordan.

Talks were frozen last year after an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy in Amman, prompting a diplomatic standoff that ended only in January.

"We have never been so close to starting the project," Maurel said. "It only needs a final push by the Jordanian and Israeli authorities."

A diplomatic source in Amman said the project remained essential for the region given the environmental and economic stakes, "but it's still at the mercy of diplomatic hazards."

For Adin at the Hebrew University, "It seems to be that the situation is improving. The main obstacle in my mind could be financial."

Officials in Jordan say they are determined to press ahead with or without Israel to cope with the needs of a rising population which has been swelled by about one million refugees fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria.

"We are proceeding with the project because desalination eventually is the future of Jordan when it comes to water," said Iyad Dahiyat, secretary general of the country's water authority.

"Water is part of the stability of the kingdom itself," he added. "It's a national security issue."