“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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Quality of life on rise for many Africans, report says

Yahoo – AFP, David ESNAULT, May 22, 2017

Despite advances, about 544 million Africans still live in poverty, according
to a report by the African Development Bank (AFP Photo/ALBERT
GONZALEZ FARRAN)

Abidjan (AFP) - Africans are seeing a steady improvement in the quality of their lives, with some countries even nearing world averages, says a wide-ranging report out Monday on the continent's future.

While large portions of the continent's 1.2 billion people live in poverty, many of Africa's 54 nations have made significant progress in health, education and standard of living.

"At least a third of African countries have now achieved medium to high levels of human development," said the report published by the African Development Bank, referring to a composite measure of a nation's condition.

"North Africa has the highest levels, approaching the world average, but all sub-regions have seen steady improvement" since the turn of the 21st century, it added.

Despite the advances, some 544 million Africans still live in poverty, according to the report titled "African Economic Outlook 2017".

Rwanda recorded the most progress, followed by Ghana and Liberia in the fight against poverty since 2005. One of Rwanda's key efforts was a community-based health insurance system that by 2010 had covered nearly 9 in 10 of its people.

At the same time, north African nations Egypt and Tunisia have health insurance systems that cover 78 percent and 100 percent respectively of their residents.

Spending on education, which is considered key for development, is above six percent of gross domestic product in South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique and Tunisia. While Nigeria puts less than one percent of its GDP into schooling.

According to World Bank figures, European Union nations spent an average of 4.9 percent of their GDP on education in 2013.

A report by the African Development Bank highlighted education as one of the
 bright spots in moves to improve African development (AFP Photo/Gianluigi GUERCIA)

'Potential for prosperity'

In central Africa, where school completion rates for girls are the lowest on the continent, the gap with boys is increasingly narrowing. Nearly three times as many girls finished secondary education in 2014 than a decade prior.

Gender equality is on the rise in several nations -- including Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda -- where women "achieve almost equal levels of human development as men," the report said.

While there are bright spots in Africa's move toward better income, education and health, serious challenges remain in the fight against poverty.

One of the main ones is the lack of access to cooking fuel, electricity and sanitation. The needs may not come as a surprise given some 645 million people in sub-saharan Africa live without electricity.

The future is also not very bright for many of the continent's young people, nearly half of whom are unemployed. One of the key problems is that many receive an education that does not give them marketable skills.

"The greatest contributor to economic growth is not physical infrastructure, but brainpower, what I refer to as 'grey matter infrastructure'... Stunted children today leads to stunted economies tomorrow," African Development Bank President Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina said in 2016.

The report sees reasons to be hopeful for the economy this year, predicting a 3.4 percent expansion after weak 2.2 percent growth in 2016.

However, the future rebound assumes that "the recovery in commodity prices is sustained, the world economy is strengthened and domestic macroeconomic reforms are entrenched," the report said.

East Africa remains the continent's economic powerhouse, driven in large part by Ethiopia. Overall, Africa remains the second most dynamic region in the world behind developing nations in Asia.

The continent's middle class, which the report estimates at 350 million people, "represents a vast source of potential for prosperity."


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Morocco's Christian converts emerge from the shadows

Yahoo – AFP, Hamza Mekouar, April 30, 2017

Mustapha, the son of an expert on Islamic law in Morocco, says he converted
to Christianity in 1994 to 'fill a spiritual void' (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

Agadir (Morocco) (AFP) - Moroccans who secretly converted to Christianity are demanding the right to practise their faith openly in a country where Islam is the state religion and "apostasy" is condemned.

At an apartment in a working-class part of the southern town of Agadir, Mustapha listened to hymns emanating from a hi-fi under a silver crucifix hung on the wall.

The 46-year-old civil servant, son of an expert on Islamic law from nearby Taroudant, was once an active member of the banned but tolerated Islamist Charity and Justice movement.

He said he converted in 1994 to "fill a spiritual void".

"I was tired of the contradictions in Islam," said Mustapha.

"I became interested in Christianity through a long correspondence with a religious centre in Spain in the late 1980s."

He went on to qualify as a Protestant pastor and received a certificate from the United States after taking a correspondence course.

Mustapha kept his faith secret for two decades, but a year and a half ago he published a video online in which he spoke openly about his conversion. The reaction was immediate.

"Family and close friends turned their backs on me, I was shunned at work. My children were bullied at school," he said.

Converts to Christianity form a tiny minority of Moroccans. While no official statistics exist, the American State Department estimates their numbers at between 2,000 and 6,000.

In Morocco proselytising is punishable by law and anyone found guilty of
 'attempting to undermine the faith of a Muslim or convert him to another 
religion' can be jailed for up to three years (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

'Persecution'

Over the Easter weekend, Mustapha and a dozen fellow converts met for an "afternoon of prayers" in the living room of Rachid, who like Mustapha did not wish to give his full name.

Rachid, who hails from a family of Sufis -- a mystical trend of Islam -- embraced Christianity in 2004 and eventually became a Protestant pastor.

A father of two, Rachid said he became interested in Christianity when he was a teenager after listening to a programme broadcast by a Paris-based radio station.

He researched Christianity at a cyber-cafe, contacted a specialised website and they sent him a copy of the Bible.

"I read the entire thing, studied the word of God, took courses," he said. "At the age of 24, I was baptised in a Casablanca apartment."

In April, Mustapha, Rachid and other Moroccan converts submitted a request to the official National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) calling for "an end to persecution" against them.

"We demand the right to give our children Christian names, to pray in churches, to be buried in Christian cemeteries and to marry according to our religion," Mustapha said.

Islam is the state faith of Morocco but the country's 2011 constitution, drafted after it was rocked by Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations, guarantees freedom of religion.

Foreign Christians and the country's tiny Jewish community -- of about 2,500 people -- practise their faiths openly.

Moroccan authorities boast of promoting religious tolerance and a "moderate" form of Islam, and the country's penal code does not explicitly prohibit apostasy -- the act of rejecting Islam or any of its main tenets.

Rachid says he is 'Moroccan before being Christian' (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

'Ultra-sensitive'

But in Morocco proselytising is punishable by law and anyone found guilty of "attempting to undermine the faith of a Muslim or convert him to another religion" can be jailed for up to three years.

"The subject is ultra-sensitive because it relates to the history of colonisation and to the idea that Christianity constitutes a danger to the unity of Morocco," a sociologist of religion told AFP.

But Rachid said the lines are shifting.

"The arrests have almost stopped, which is a big step," he said. "Harassment has become scarce."

Rachid, who says "I am Moroccan before being Christian," practises his faith openly and lives a normal life in a working-class district of Agadir alongside his Muslim neighbours.

Most Moroccans who have converted to Christianity live in Agadir and the central city of Marrakesh, and the majority have said they are Protestants.

With the exception of local Jews, Moroccans are automatically considered Muslims and King Mohamed VI holds the official title of Commander of the Faithful.

Mustapha said the 2011 constitution and actions by the king "in favour of tolerance and coexistence" have helped bolster human rights in Morocco.

But "the penal code, political parties and society have not followed suit", he said.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pope Francis pleads for 'holy' peace during Egypt visit

Yahoo – AFP, Samer Al-Atrush and Catherine Marciano, April 28, 2017

Pope Francis and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chat with officials
after meeting in Cairo on April 28, 2017 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

Cairo (AFP) - Pope Francis pleaded for peace in a visit to Egypt on Friday as he attended a service in solidarity with the embattled Coptic minority at a church bombed by the Islamic State group.

The pontiff walked to the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church in Cairo in a procession led by standard-bearing clergy, after meeting Coptic Pope Tawadros II at his headquarters.

Security forces in the capital were on high alert under a state of emergency following a series of church bombings claimed by IS.

On April 9, the jihadists bombed two churches in the Arab world's most populous country, killing 45 people in the deadliest attack on Copts in recent memory.

Last December, the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church was itself targeted by a suicide bomber in an attack that killed 29 people.

Francis had earlier met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of the Al-Azhar institution, one of Muslim world's leading authorities, to push for dialogue between the two faiths.

In a speech to a Muslim-Christian conference, the 80-year-old pontiff denounced violence and populism.

"Peace alone... is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his name," Francis said.

He criticised what he called "demagogic forms of populism... on the rise", saying they were unhelpful to peace.

Francis shuttled from one engagement to another in a closed car under heavy guard on the first day of his tightly scheduled 27-hour trip.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Francis embrace
 during his visit to the prestigious Sunni Muslim institution in Cairo on April 28, 
2017 (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

'Innocent blood'

Police and soldiers stood guard outside the Vatican residence in Cairo and armoured cars were stationed outside the Coptic Orthodox Saint Mark's Cathedral, where Tawadros II's headquarters are located.

Francis met the Coptic pope at his offices where the two exchanged gifts.

"Our church and nation has been through a painful experience in the past few months when the sinful hand of terrorism reached out to murder praying innocents," Tawadros said in a speech at the meeting.

"Their innocent blood unites us," Francis said in turn.

They signed an ecumenical agreement to no longer require Catholics to be rebaptised if they choose to become Orthodox, as often happens in Egypt.

He and Tawadros then walked in procession to the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church, where they sat near the altar as a choir sang hymns to clashing cymbals.

Hours before the church visit, Francis became the first Roman Catholic pope to visit the head of Al-Azhar in his Cairo headquarters, sealing a recent improvement in relations between Catholicism and Islam.

In another speech with Sisi in the audience, Francis expressed support for Egypt's military campaign against IS which bombed the churches and has also killed hundreds of police and troops.

But he also insisted on "unconditional respect for inalienable human rights such as equality among all citizens, religious freedom and freedom of expression".

Sisi has faced heavy criticism from rights groups for abuses since he led the military ouster of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Security is extremely tight in Cairo for the pope's visit (AFP Photo/
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

'Pilgrim of peace'

Before disembarking from his aircraft in Cairo, Francis had told reporters his visit was a "journey of unity and fraternity. Less than two days but very intense."

His meeting with Tayeb, he said, would "be an example and a model for peace precisely because it will be a meeting of dialogue".

"Please pray for my journey tomorrow as a pilgrim of peace to Egypt," Francis tweeted on the eve of his departure.

Before his visit, some roads had been festooned with posters showing Francis against the backdrop of the Pyramids, with a message that read: "Pope of peace in the Egypt of peace."

John Paul II was the last pope to have visited Egypt in 2000, with his arrival also coming weeks after anti-Christian violence that killed about 20 Copts in January that year.

Vatican dialogue with the Muslim world, a priority for this pope, was set back significantly when Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI made a speech in 2006 in which he was seen as linking Islam to violence.

The now-retired German pontiff's 2011 comments condemning an attack on a Coptic church prompted Al-Azhar to denounce Benedict for meddling in Egypt's affairs.

On Saturday, the pontiff will preside over a mass for the country's small Catholic community, estimated to number around 272,000 spread across various rites.

Egypt's Copts, who make up about 10 percent of the country's population of 92 million, are the Middle East's largest Christian minority and one of the oldest.

But they have suffered attacks throughout the years and many complain that they feel like second-class citizens.

burs-se/srm


Africa rejects Europe's 'dirty diesel'

Ghana and Nigeria are the first countries to respond to reports of European companies exploiting weak fuel standards in Africa. Stricter limits on the sulfur content of diesel will come into force on July 1.

Deutsche Welle, 29 April 2017


Governments in West Africa are taking action to stop the import of fuel with dangerously high levels of sulfur and other toxins. Much of the so-called "dirty diesel" originates in Europe, according to a report published by Public Eye, a Swiss NGO, last year.

The report exposed what Public Eye calls the "illegitimate business" of European oil companies and commodities traders selling low quality fuel to Africa. While European standards prohibit the use of diesel with a sulfur content higher than 10 parts per million (ppm), diesel with as much as 3,000 ppm is regularly exported to Africa.

From July 1, diesel being sold at the pumps in Ghana and Nigeria will have to meet a maximum 50 ppm standard.

"We're very happy to see this change in policy," Public Eye's Oliver Classen told DW. "We are still hoping that other West African countries will follow suit, such as the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo or Mali."

Health risks of dirty diesel

During an investigation spanning three years, Public Eye tested the fuel for sale at gas stations in eight African countries, five of which were in West Africa. They found that more than two thirds of the samples taken had a sulfur level 150 times the European limit.

Africa's cities are growing quickly. Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, has a population of 21 million, and estimates suggest this number could almost double by the year 2050. Bigger cities mean a much greater risk from air pollution. While rapid urbanization and the poor quality of the largely second-hand car fleet in the region are partly responsible for the high levels of air pollution, low quality diesel also has a significant impact.

Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, already has a population of 21 million

Fuel pollutants have been linked to the development of asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The Public Eye report claimed that switching to low sulfur fuel in Africa, as well as introducing cars with modern emissions control technologies, could prevent 25,000 premature deaths in 2030 and 100,000 in 2050.

"Double standards"

Classen explains that Public Eye has been driving a "two-fold campaign" in order to force change in the fuel industry.

"Our partner organizations in West Africa made sure that this strong message from the people who are suffering from these sulfurous emissions on the ground is heard by their governments," he says. "In Switzerland we put pressure on the companies that take advantage of these double standards - shamelessly, ruthlessly, systematically."

The report focuses on Swiss trading companies that use a process known as "blending" to combine low and high specification fuel, creating a mixture that complies with weak African regulations. As the report explains, "the closer to the specification boundary the product lies, the larger the potential margin for the trader."

The harmful effects of diesel have been well publicized in Europe in recent years

This sub-standard product, known in the industry as "African Quality," could not be sold in Europe, but it is not illegal for it to be sold elsewhere. The blending process - which takes place either in European ports or en route to Africa, via a "ship-to-ship" transfer - complicates the matter, because fuel from various suppliers can be mixed into one product.

According to Public Eye, Swiss companies also own, or are major stakeholders in companies that own, a great deal of the "downstream" infrastructure used for blending, transporting and distributing fuel - such as ships, storage tanks, petrol stations and pipelines.

Despite having significant oil reserves, West Africa lacks sufficient refinery resource to process its own higher quality oil and has therefore welcomed cheaper imports from abroad.

Whose responsibility?

Following the report, governments in five West African countries were quick to pledge an overhaul of fuel regulations. Ghana and Nigeria are the first to follow through on this promise. But what about the commodities traders in Europe?

"They actually didn't respond at all," Classen says. "We brought up a petition here in Switzerland, and 20,000 people signed that petition asking those commodities giants to stop selling dirty diesel to Africa. But nothing happened. Zero."


The two main commodities companies implicated in the report were Trafigura and Vitol. Both told DW that, while they accepted that the problem of high sulfur fuel needed to be dealt with, the onus was on the governments in Africa to ensure the quality of diesel being sold at the pumps.

Vitol added that, under current regulations, European companies cannot be certain that what they supply to importers from a certain country will then be sold in that country. "If Vitol, or any other supplier, were to supply EU-specification (at a financial loss) to an importer, there is nothing to stop the importer from reselling the cargo, at a profit, and sourcing a cargo with a cheaper specification for local use."

Pressure on the middle men

Around 50 percent of the European oil that ends up in West Africa flows through the ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, known as the ARA region. Public Eye called on these "export hubs" to ban the export of fuel that does not meet European standards.

"There's a huge public debate going on in the Netherlands and Belgium," Classen explains. "There have been parliamentary motions and a whole lot of media coverage on the issue, and there's pressure on their governments there. We are hoping to see some change of mind which would put Swiss commodity traders under sever pressure to change their business practices."

In response to concerns about tougher regulations pushing up fuel prices, Public Eye points out that five East African countries adopted low sulfur fuels in January 2015 "with no impact on prices at the pump."

Ghana has significant oil reserves but only one refinery, the state-owned
Tema facility

Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President of Ghana, said that the introduction of the new regulations would see Ghana "moving to be at the same level as the western countries or the East African countries."

He added that the changes "will reduce respiratory diseases triggered by fuel toxins with higher sulfur content."

Nigeria has also announced plans for all domestically produced fuel to meet the 50 ppm standards by 2020. At a meeting of African fuel producers in February, Ndu Ughamadu, the spokesperson for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, said that the installation of equipment to cut sulfur emissions was already underway or planned at three of Nigeria's four refineries.

Related Articles:



A lorry near Accra. Photo: Carl De Keyzer – Magnum


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Israel uncovers ancient Roman history at Mediterranean port

Yahoo – AFP, April 26, 2017

People sit next to an ancient aqueduct in the Roman-era city of Caesarea which
is set for renovation as part of a multi-million-dollar project (AFP Photo/Jack GUEZ)

Caesarea (Israel) (AFP) - Israeli archaeologists working on a major Roman-era port city on Wednesday unveiled new discoveries including an altar dedicated to Augustus Caesar and a centuries-old mother-of-pearl tablet inscribed with a menorah.

The finds at Caesarea, a complex on the Mediterranean coast 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Tel Aviv, were the result of "one of the largest and most important conservation projects ever undertaken in Israel," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Caesarea was established some 2,030 years ago by Roman-appointed King Herod the Great, who ruled what was then Judea.

Today, the ruins are a popular tourist destination where concerts are still held in the remains of an ancient Roman theatre.

Archaeologists say a small tablet engraved with a seven-branched menorah, 
discovered during at the ancient harbour of Caesarea, indicates Jewish presence
at the site dating back to the fourth or fifth centuries (AFP Photo/JACK GUEZ)

Archaeologist Peter Gendelman, leading a tour of the site, said the preservation work was perhaps the most "complicated and interesting" project he had worked on in his 30-year career.

Some of the finds are "completely changing our understanding of the dynamics of this area", he said.

Authorities are planning to finish the excavations within months and open a visitors' centre built into ancient vaults to illustrate the city's history.

Guy Swersky, vice chairman of the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, said Caesarea was a major city from Roman times right through to the Crusader era.

"This was by far the most important port city in this area of the Middle East," he said.

A picture taken on April 26, 2017 shows part of an ancient synagogue in the
Roman-era town of Caesarea on the Israeli coast (AFP Photo/JACK GUEZ)

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation and local authorities have allocated more than 100 million shekels ($27 million, 25 million euros) for the project.

The site, which contains ruins from later periods including the Byzantine, Muslim and Crusader eras, has been the focus of major excavation work over the decades but recent work has revealed new secrets.

The project also aims to preserve the remains of an ancient synagogue and a nearby aquaduct.

Officials said a small mother-of-pearl tablet engraved with a menorah was testimony to an ancient Jewish presence at the site.

Archaeologists said it likely dates to the fourth or fifth century AD.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dutch businessman found guilty of war crimes in Liberia

DutchNews, April 21, 2017

Photo: Depositphotos
A Dutch businessman has been found guilty of war crimes and smuggling weapons into Liberia by the appeal court in Den Bosch in the latest twist in a legal case dating back over 10 years. 

Guus Kouwenhoven, now 74, had been earlier found not guilty of the charges but the Supreme Court in 2010 ordered the case be heard again. Judges sentenced him to 19 years in prison, one year less than the public prosecution department had demanded. 

On Friday Kouwenhoven was found guilty of delivering weapons to Liberian dictator Charles Taylor in 2000 and 2002 in return for special treatment for his timber company. The weapons deliveries broke international embargoes. 

Some 150,000 people were killed during the Liberian civil war. Taylor was eventually deposed in 20013 and sentenced to 50 years in jail. 

Kouwenhoven was first sentenced to eight years in prison for breaking the UN arms embargo on Liberia in 2006. That sentence was later overturned on appeal in 2008. 

Then in 2010, the Supreme Court said later the appeal court was wrong to refuse to hear two key witnesses who could only give evidence anonymously and ordered the case to be heard again. 

Kouwenhoven, who is in poor health, was not in court to hear the verdict. He has always denied the charges.


Former Liberian President Charles Taylos was sentenced to 
50 years in prison in 2013

Related Articles:


Friday, April 14, 2017

Superyacht seized in Den Helder port as part of corruption probe

DutchNews, April 14, 2017

A 75 meter long superyacht, worth €113m, has been placed in sequestration in Den Helder port after a judge in Zwolle ruled that the vessel be held while its owner is investigated under charges of corruption in Switzerland and France. 

The ‘Ebony Shine’ is owned by Teodoro Obiang, son of the long-serving president of the tiny West African state of Equitorial Guinea, the NRC said on Friday. 

Teodoro Obiang is being charged on a number of points including money laundering and stealing from the state treasury. The yacht was seized while it was in a Den Helder dockyard for regular maintenance. Obiang claims it is the property of the state of Equitorial Guinea. 

Obiang serves as vice president of the country and has an annual salary of €100,000. Equitorial Guinea has a population of 800,000 and is a former colony of Spain. 

The vessel, built by Feadship in Makkum, has two jaccuzis, a spa, a pool and gym, a helipad, several jetskis and a cinema seating 12. 

Equatorial Africa is one of the richest countries in Africa due to its oil income which amounts to about €3.7bn a year. Only 2% of of this goes for health care and 3% to education. Apart from a small elite, most of the country lives on less than €2 a day.



Dutch court upholds mayor’s Eritrean conference ban

DutchNews, April 14, 2017

Opponents of the conference demonstrate on Thursday. Photo: Bram Saeys v HH

The decision by Veldhoven’s mayor to ban a conference by the only political party permitted in Eritrea was upheld by a court in Den Bosch on Friday afternoon. 

The organisers of the conference went to court to have the ban against their meeting at a conference centre in Veldhoven lifted. 

Mayor Jack Mikkers said on Thursday evening he would not allow the meeting to go ahead, after police arrested over 100 demonstrators who had gathered outside the conference centre where the gathering was due to be held. 

The 128 people arrested were all released from custody on Friday morning and the public prosecution department has yet to decide if any of them should face charges, broadcaster NOS said. 

The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, the only political party permitted in Eritrea, had planned to hold its annual youth European conference in the Netherlands this weekend. 

Despite the ban, local broadcaster Omroep Brabant said the meeting had started on Friday afternoon. According to the conference Facebook page, some 500 people are in attendance. 

However, a spokeswoman for the conference centre told the broadcaster that an alternative programme of music is taking place instead. 

Provocation

Many Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands regard the conference as an act of provocation, Tilburg University professor Mirjam van Reisen told NOS earlier this week. ‘The government wants to show the Eritrean community that it still rules in the Netherlands,’ she said. 

Eritrea has been condemned by the UN for crimes against humanity and the UN estimates hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled the country in recent years. 

Dutch government ministers said earlier this week they were unhappy about the meeting being held on Dutch soil but that there were no grounds to ban it in advance.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Remains of ancient pyramid found in Egypt

Yahoo – AFP, April 3, 2017

Part of the remains of an ancient Egyptian pyramid discovered near the bent
pyramid of King Snefru in Dahshur, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Cairo
(AFP Photo/HO)

Cairo (AFP) - The remains of an Egyptian pyramid built around 3,700 years ago have been discovered near the well-known "bent pyramid" of King Snefru, the antiquities ministry announced on Monday.

The pyramid from the 13th dynasty was found in Dahshur's royal necropolis, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Cairo, it said.

"An alabaster... block engraved with 10 vertical hieroglyphic lines" was among the finds, the ministry said, citing Adel Okasha, director general at the necropolis.

It said granite lintel and stone blocks were discovered that would show more "about the internal structure of the pyramid".

Excavation is still in its early stages and the size of the pyramid has not yet been established.

Blocks of stone and the beginning of a corridor which were discovered can be seen in photos provided by the ministry.

The corridor "leads to the interior of the pyramid, extended by a ramp and the entrance to a room", the ministry said.

"All the discovered parts of the pyramid are in very good condition and further excavation is to take place to reveal more parts," it said.

Egypt, home of one of the world's earliest civilisations, boasts 123 ancient pyramids, Zahi Hawass, former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told AFP.

Hawass, who took part in the last discovery of a new pyramid in Egypt in 2008 at Saqqara, just south of Cairo, said the remnants in Dahshur appeared to indicate that the monument belonged to "a queen buried near her husband or her son".

A block engraved with lines of hieroglyphics found among the remains of an 
ancient Egyptian pyramid discovered in Dahshur, some 30 kilometres (20 miles)
south of Cairo (AFP Photo/HO)

"The hope now is to find any inscription which can reveal the identity of the owner of this pyramid. To find the name of a previously unknown queen would be an addition to history," the archaeologist said.

Egypt's ancient treasures include the world-famous Pyramids of Giza, constructed around 4,500 years ago.

The Khufu pyramid, or Great Pyramid, is the largest of the three in Giza, standing at 146 metres (480 feet tall), and the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Khufu and Khafre in Giza along with the Bent and Red pyramids in Dahshur are part of Operation ScanPyramids, with teams scanning the structures in search of hidden rooms and cavities.

The project to unearth still hidden secrets of the pyramids applies a mix of infrared thermography, radiographic imaging and 3D simulation -- all of which the researchers say are non-invasive and non-destructive.

In October last year, the team announced that two additional cavities had been found in the Great Pyramid after another scan a year earlier found several thermal anomalies.

At a conference in 2015 dedicated to King Tutankhamun and his world-famous golden funerary mask, Egyptian authorities said new technology was needed to determine whether his tomb contains hidden chambers which a British archaeologist believes could contain Queen Nefertiti's remains.

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