“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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Researchers mourn killing of Cecil the lion's cub

Yahoo – AFP, July 21, 2017

Cecil was killed by American dentist and trophy hunter Walter Palmer. Researchers
now confirm that a trophy hunter has shot dead one of his cubs (AFP Photo)

Johannesburg (AFP) - A trophy hunter in Zimbabwe has shot dead a cub of Cecil the lion whose death in 2015 caused worldwide outrage, researchers tracking the pride confirmed Friday.

Xanda, a six-year-old lion fitted with a radio collar, was killed on July 7 in northwest Zimbabwe, close to where US dentist Walter Palmer shot Cecil with a high-powered bow and arrow two years ago.

"Xanda was shot by a trophy hunter on a legally sanctioned hunt in a hunting area outside Hwange National Park," Andrew Loveridge from Oxford University's zoology department told AFP.

"As researchers we are saddened to lose a well-known study animal we have monitored since birth."

In 2015, Cecil's killing triggered fierce controversy as he was a popular attraction for visitors to the famed Hwange National Park.

Both Cecil and Xanda wore electronic GPS tracking collars in a project run by Oxford University's wildlife conservation research unit.

But they had strayed out of the park boundaries and into a legal hunting area.

The trophy hunter has not been named, but many hunters are from the United States or South Africa, paying tens of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to kill lions and other wild animals.

Pro-hunt groups say hunting provides an essential economic incentive to promote long-term conservation and that the income pays to safeguard wildlife and catch poachers.

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper named the hunt's professional expedition leader as Zimbabwean Richard Cooke, and said that the hunt was legal as Xanda was six years old.

It added that Cooke had handed in the collar after discovering it on the dead animal, who was the head of the pride with two lionesses and several cubs.

Palmer, who shot Cecil, a 13-year-old male, was hounded on social media and went into hiding after demonstrations outside his dental practice.

He was reported to have paid $55,000 for the hunt.

No charges were brought against Palmer or the local guide as the hunt was also found to be legal.

Scientists, who say that Hwange has a healthy population of about 550 lions, are pushing for a 5-km (3-mile) hunting exclusion zone to protect lions who wander outside the park's boundaries.

Cecil had at least 12 surviving cubs last year, according to the Oxford research project.

Related Articles:

Hunt: Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed
1,977 houbara bustards in just 21 days while
on holiday



Spain's King Juan Carlos poses in front of a dead elephant
on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target
Press/Barcroft Media


Spain's king ousted as WWF honorary president
Spain's King Juan Carlos under fire over elephant hunting trip



Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rapper Akon to buy 50% of African music download service

Yahoo – AFP, July 15, 2017

Akon, whose real name is Aliaune Badara Thiam, announced in Dakar he would
 become the majority shareholder in the service, describing Musik Bi as 'the
platform of the future' (AFP Photo/John Muchucha)

Dakar (AFP) - Senegalese-American rapper Akon announced Saturday he would purchase 50 percent of African music download service Musik Bi, as the platform struggles to gain a foothold after its launch 18 months ago.

Africa's first home-grown platform for legal music downloads, Musik Bi launched in Senegal in February 2016 with a mission to promote African artists, pay them properly, and fight internet piracy.

Akon, whose real name is Aliaune Badara Thiam, announced in Dakar he would become the majority shareholder in the service, describing Musik Bi as "the platform of the future".

"It's not just a platform for Senegal but for Africa," he added, refusing to be drawn on what he had paid for the transaction.

Best known for his singles "Locked Up" and "Smack That", Akon has devoted more of his time in recent years to his Lighting Africa solar energy initiative and other charitable pursuits.

He launched his latest single "Khalice", a collaboration with Senegalese superstar Youssou Ndour, exclusively on Musik Bi.

More than 200 internationally famous musicians, along with younger rappers, jazz artists and Christian and Muslim vocalists, initially agreed to put their music on Musik Bi, where users can download it using their phone credit.

CEO Moustapha Diop, whose company Solid pioneered the project, said ongoing disputes with phone companies over their cut of takings had hindered Musik Bi's reach.

"We have the ambition of developing across Africa and being 'the' musical distribution platform in Africa," Diop told journalists.

"The profit made by the operators is problematic because it goes against the interests of the artists and the platform in general. We will keep pushing to get a reasonable deal," he added.

After mobile operators took their share, artists keep 60 percent of their income from the service, while Musik Bi take the remaining 40 percent.

The platform also hopes to broaden into a music festival, television channel and a streaming service, Akon said.

Piracy and changing consumer habits have seen record sales drop across the continent, with illegal downloads tempting African consumers looking online for music while copyright enforcement remains relatively weak.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

West Africa's fight to keep bad medicine off shelves

Yahoo – AFP, Jennifer O'Mahony and Emilie Iob, July 11, 2017

Fake drugs from China and India are awash in west African markets, with
sometimes deadly consequences

As West Africa declares war on the market for expired and counterfeit medicines, start-ups are putting quality control in the hands of patients to stop them risking their lives trying to get well.

Not only can such drugs fail to treat the diseases they are bought to combat, experts say, but they may encourage resistance to antibiotics and even cause death as diseases continue to course unchecked through the body.

At an April meeting in Liberia, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced a region-wide investigation into the trafficking of expired and counterfeit drugs, and a public awareness campaign.

Traffickers in bad medicine prey on some of the world's poorest and most in need, who also face high costs for health care and often lack insurance, said Adama Kane, who founded the health start-up JokkoSante in Senegal to tackle the problem.

Perversely, piles of perfectly good medication go unused in Senegal, Kane noted -- a problem that JokkoSante tackles by organising the collection of unused drugs from people who are awarded points in exchange to obtain other medicines later.

Handing in asthma medication at an exchange point in a health centre in Passy, central Senegal, JokkoSante user Marie Gueye is one of those to benefit.

"My family and I no longer have problems getting medication. All we have to do is come here and collect the points," she told AFP.

Rewards

For Senegal's rural households, up to 73 percent of health-related expenses go on medication, according to JokkoSante research. Half the overall population has no health insurance coverage.

"Our app is used by hospitals, pharmacies and health centres," Kane said, adding it was still at the pilot stage with 1,500 users so far. People create an account and operate the points system all via their mobile phone.

For those too poor to buy drugs at all, JokkoSante has teamed up with large company sponsors, including phone operator Sonatel, who cover the cost of providing patients with free medicine.

Again, the system operates through a mobile app.

For Senegal's rural households, up to 73 percent of health-related expenses go
 on medication and half the overall population has no health insurance coverage

At Diamniadio children's hospital, near Senegal's capital, Dakar, Yacina Ba described the fear of coming to the end of the 50,000 CFA Francs ($85, 75 euros) she scraped together to buy treatment and medication for her sick six-month-old baby, finally begging a doctor for help.

"She had rashes all over her arms," Ba told AFP, explaining how the free treatment sponsorship scheme made all the difference.

'Most vulnerable people'

A health worker at the hospital, who asked not to be identified, conceded that a lack of specialists meant medics often over-prescribe medication to those able to pay.

This can lead to stockpiles of unused, expired drugs which may then fall into the wrong hands.

"Fake drugs are usually bought by the most vulnerable sections of society," said JokkoSante's Kane, who now oversees a small network of pharmacies using his platform, while the government considers a nationwide rollout.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in Sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or cheap copies.

China, India drive trafficking

Counterfeited drugs from China and India are awash in west African markets, according to the Paris-based International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM).

And they are often indistinguishable from the genuine item, it warned.

A joint IRACM and World Customs Organization (WCO) seizure of medical supplies at 16 African ports late last year yielded no fewer than 113 million items of fake medication, 5,000 medical devices and even veterinary products.

Everything from fake cancer drugs to fake sutures for operations can be found in such hauls.

IRACM is working with MPs on drafting legislation to crack down on trafficking in west Africa, but two innovative companies have already taken the matter in hand.

Battling fakes

Sproxil, an anti-counterfeiting start-up established in 2009, works by attaching a scratch panel to drug packets.

Consumers can check their product is the real deal by sending an SMS verification code to the company, which confirms the authenticity.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

G20 launches plan to fight poverty in Africa

Yahoo – AFP, July 8, 2017


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks with South Africa's President Jacob
Zuma in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AFP Photo/John MACDOUGALL)

Hamburg (AFP) - G20 nations launched an unprecedented initiative Saturday at the group's summit in Germany to fight poverty in Africa, but critics called the plan half-hearted.

Under German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "Investment Compacts", an initial seven African countries would pledge reforms and receive technical support in order to attract new private investment.

More than half of Africans are under 25 years old and the population is set to double by mid-century, making economic growth and jobs essential for the young to stop them from leaving, Merkel has said.

Germany's partner nations are Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tunisia, while Ethiopia, Morocco, Rwanda and Senegal are also taking part. Far poorer nations such as Niger or Somalia are so far not on the list.

"We are ready to help interested African countries and call on other partners to join the initiative," said the G20 in their final communique.

The plan, as well as multinational initiatives on helping girls, rural youths and promoting renewable energy, would help "to address poverty and inequality as root causes of migration".

Some 100,000 people, most of them sub-Saharan Africans, have made the dangerous journey to Europe across the Mediterranean in rickety boats this year as the migration crisis shows no sign of abating.

Anti-poverty group ONE said that the investment compacts "promised much, but too many G20 partners missed the memo and failed to contribute.

"The flimsy foundations must now be firmed up, follow through and improved, especially for Africa's more fragile states."

The group's Jamie Drummond said that "this will be the African century and Chancellor Merkel wanted the G20 to get on the right side of history, but internal strife and division scattered the G20 away from this visionary path."

Oxfam judged that the plan "rests on the dangerously naive assumption that boosting private investment will automatically help the poorest in the continent.

"If left unchecked, the Compact might simply line the pockets of wealthy foreign investors."

Related Article:



… The Future of the Illuminati

Now, I want to tell you something that you didn't expect and something I've reported only one other time. What about all of the money that the Illuminati has? There are trillions and trillions of euro in banks, under their control, waiting. What are they going to do with it and where are they going to use it? It's still here. They're waiting.

This group is waiting for something to happen that they know is going to happen, for they see it coming as much as I do. However, I would like to tell you something that they don't expect. With awareness comes generational shift. Those in charge of this money will not always be elders. The indigos eventually will have it.

They are waiting for something to happen in Africa - the building of a new civilization, a continent that has nothing to unlearn. Once Africa is cured, once it's ready, a new civilization can be created from the ground up. Africans will be ready to learn everything about building a foundation for the most advanced civilization ever and will do it with the most modern and inventive systems available. Eventually, this new continent will even beat the economics of China.

This is the prediction and always has been, and the Illuminati's money will fund it. Did I say the Illuminati will fund it? [Kryon laugh]The Illuminati's money will fund it, but there is a difference from the past, dear ones. The ones who inherit the positions in the Illuminati will be a different consciousness. Listen, they are not suddenly going to be the ones who have the good of everyone in their hearts - hardly. They want to make money, but what they will see instead is a way to make a great deal of money through this investment. In the process, it will automatically help hundreds of thousands, and they will be at the beginning, the foundation, that builds the new Africa. The new African states of unification eventually will create a continent stronger than any of the others, and it will have one currency. The resources alone will dwarf anything in the world.

"Wow, Kryon, how long is that going to take?"

The Humans in the room control that and those listening later and reading. When you leave this room, what are you going to do? Go home, report this, rub your hands together, and wait for it to happen? It won't. For the Humans in the room and the old souls hearing and reading have got work to do, and I've told you this before. You've got work to do.

There's an alliance that you're going to have to create with one another and with another group - the young people of Earth. The youth of this earth are changing the way things work. Can you see it? You're not supposed to sit around and watch them either, because they need you, old soul.

It's time for you to align with the indigos and the concepts of the youth of the planet. Do not think for a moment that their age shows their wisdom. These two attributes are not commensurate with one another; they're not linear. These young people may be older souls than you are! Don't think that because they've got technology that you don't understand that you can't be one with them. Their technology is social networking, the very thing we are talking about, where everyone can talk to everyone. The new consciousness on the planet starts in two areas - the children and the old souls.. …



Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit.. ...."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Widows in Dutch court, Shell may face legal action over activists’ deaths

DutchNews, June 29, 2017 

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The widows of four activists executed by Nigeria in the 1990s are in court in The Hague on Thursday, hoping to force the prosecution of oil giant Shell for complicity in their deaths. 

In particular, they say Shell helped the Nigerian authorities suppress demonstrations against drilling for oil in the Ogoniland area of Nigeria at the beginning of the 1990s. 

Nine men who had campaigned against Shell’s involvement in the region and the military regime were hung in 1995. Their number included the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. 

The civil case has been brought by Esther Kiobel, the widow of Barinem Kiobel, and three other women. She accuses Shell of complicity in the unlawful arrest and detention of her husband; the violation of his personal integrity; the violation of his right to a fair trial and his right to life, and her own right to a family life. 

‘Shell encouraged the government to stop Ken Saro-Wiwa and MOSOP, knowing this was highly likely to result in human rights violations being committed against them. Shell had plenty of evidence that the Nigerian military was responding to the Ogoniland protests with abuse,’ said Audrey Gaughran, senior researcher at Amnesty International, which is supporting the women. 

Shell has always denied any involvement in the case.

‘The executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogonis in 1995 were tragic events that were carried out by the military government in power at the time. We were shocked and saddened when we heard the news of the executions. SPDC appealed to the Nigerian government to grant clemency,’ the company said in an emailed statement. 

‘SPDC did not collude with the authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria.  In fact, the company believes that dialogue is the best way to resolve disputes.’ 

Esther Kiobel first filed a case against Shell in New York in 2002, but in 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the US did not have jurisdiction. She now hopes that the case can be heard in the Dutch legal system.

Related Articles:


Monday, June 19, 2017

In Rome, C. Africa govt inks peace deal with rebel groups

Yahoo – AFP, June 19, 2017

L-R: National Convergence Kwa Na Kwa party general secretary Bertin Bea,
Republic of Central Africa foreign minister Charles Armel Doubaned and
Central African president political advisor George Isidore Alphonse Dibert
pose on June 19, 2017 in Rome (AFP Photo/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

Rome (AFP) - The Central African Republic's government on Monday signed an "immediate ceasefire" deal with rebel groups at a meeting in Rome aimed at ending violence in the strife-torn country.

The accord, negotiated over five days, was hailed as a precious chance to stabilise one of the world's most volatile and poorest countries.

Under it, armed groups will be given representation in the political arena in exchange for an end to attacks and blockades, and their members will be brought into the country's armed forces.

"We commit to the immediate implementation by political-military groups of a country-wide ceasefire, to be monitored by the international community, as a fundamental step on the way to definitive peace," the deal read.

"The government undertakes to ensure military groups are represented at all levels" and are "recognised as part of the reconstruction efforts", it said.

The accord was brokered by the Community of Sant'Egidio, a group rooted in the Catholic church that promotes dialogue with other religions and non-believers. It has been an active mediator in many African conflicts.

The rebel groups pledged to ensure "the free movement of people and goods by removing illegal barriers as an immediate consequence of the ceasefire".

State authority

The signatories also committed to "restoring the (authority of the) state across the national territory."

One of the world's poorest nations, CAR has been struggling to recover from a civil war between the Muslim and Christian militias that started in 2013 when President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka.

They in turn were ousted by a military intervention led by former colonial ruler France.

Those events sparked the bloodiest sectarian violence in the country's history as mainly Christian militias sought revenge.

Christians, who account for about 80 percent of the population, organised vigilante units dubbed "anti-balaka", in reference to the machetes used by the rebels.

The signatories of Monday's agreement included various factions of the Seleka as well as Christian and animist groups.

Members of armed groups will be "integrated" into the country's armed forces, "in line with pre-established criteria" and after an "upgrade," according to the deal.

Sant'Egidio's president Marco Impagliazzo described the accord as "an historic agreement, a deal full of hope".

CAR's foreign minister, Charles Armel Doubane, echoed those remarks, speaking of a "day of hope" for the country.

The UN's special representative on CAR, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon, who is also head of the UN's stabilisation force there, attended the talks. Several heads of CAR political parties also took part.

The agreement announced on Monday comes against a backdrop of mounting concern.

Last month, the UN's humanitarian coordination agency OCHA reported on an "alarming" rise in violence, with "clashes (that) have taken an increasingly religious and ethnic connotation,."

It said the number of internally displaced people is now over half a million for the first time since August 2014, while a further 400,000, out of a population of 4.5 million, had fled to neighbouring countries.

The country's armed forces are estimated to number about 8,000, backed by 900 French troops and 10,000 troops and 2,000 civilians serving in a UN force called MINUSCA.

They have stabilised the situation, but around half the country -- which covers almost 623,000 square kilometres (241,000 square miles), a little less than Afghanistan or Chile -- remains outside government control.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Egypt parliament agrees island transfer to Saudi Arabia: state TV

Yahoo – AFP, June 14, 2017

The deal to hand over the Red Sea islands of Tiran (foreground) and Sanafir
(background) to Saudi Arabia provoked accusations that Cairo had "sold"
the strategic islands (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt's parliament approved on Wednesday a controversial maritime agreement with Saudi Arabia that transfers two Red Sea islands to the kingdom, state television and a lawmaker said.

The deal, which is still under challenge in court, had sparked rare protests in the country with the opposition accusing the government of selling Egyptian territory to its Saudi benefactors.

The vote came after days of heated debate in parliament with opponents even interrupting one committee session with chanting.

Courts had struck down the agreement, signed in April 2016, but a year later another court upheld it.

Lawyers are now challenging the deal before the constitutional court.

The accord had sparked rare protests in Egypt last year, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accused of having traded the islands of Tiran and Sanafir for Saudi largesse.

The government has said the islands were Saudi to begin with, but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

Opponents of the agreement insist that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian.

On Tuesday evening dozens of journalists protested against the agreement in central Cairo, before being dispersed by police, journalists' union official Gamal Abdel Rehim told AFP.

Several were briefly arrested before being released but "three reporters are still detained, and contacts are being made with the interior ministry to get them released," he said.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Netanyahu woos West African leaders at Liberia summit

Yahoo – AFP, June 4, 2017

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu told ECOWAS head Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:
'Israel is coming back to Africa' (AFP Photo/Zoom DOSSO)

Monrovia (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday joined West African leaders at a summit in Liberia, where they hailed peacekeeping efforts in the region but warned about threats to stability.

Netanyahu, who had visited east Africa in July 2016, vowed that they had "no better partner" than his country after he was received by Liberian President and outgoing head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

"Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise," said the Israeli leader.

"Africans are seizing the future. Israel wants to seize this future with you. You truly have no better partner for this mission than Israel," he added.

Sirleaf hailed the contribution of ECOWAS forces in restoring peace in her country, wracked by a bloody civil war from 1989-2003.

"This marks a turning point in the post-conflict recovery in the reconstruction of our country," she said. "Many ECOWAS citizens made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives for the uninterrupted peace we continue to enjoy.

But she warned "Today, terrorist attacks are endangering the stability in our regions."

On Saturday a Gambian protester died of gunshot wounds after being shot as supporters of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh clashed with ECOWAS forces, deployed in the country since January.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thousands rally in Morocco for release of protest leader

Yahoo – AFP, May 31, 2017

Demonstrators in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region hold pictures of arrested
protest leader Nasser Zafzafi during a night-time rally in the city of Al-Hoceima
on May 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

Al Hoceima (Morocco) (AFP) - Several thousand people took to the streets in Morocco after dark on Tuesday to demand the release of the leader of months of protests in the neglected northern Rif region.

The region has been shaken by social unrest since the death in October of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, 31, who was crushed in a rubbish truck in the fishing port of Al-Hoceima as he protested against the seizure of swordfish caught out of season.

Nasser Zefzafi, who has emerged as the head of the grassroots Popular Movement, was arrested on Monday after three days on the run.

Demonstrators came out near the centre of Al-Hoceima for a fifth straight night at around 10 pm (2200 GMT), after the breaking of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

The protesters shouted slogans including "We are all Zefzafi" and "End militarisation", with hundreds of them brandishing photographs of the detained leader.

Anti-riot police attempted to disperse the protest, but pulled back following a tense but non-violent standoff with the demonstrators.

A similar demonstration took place in the neighbouring town of Imzouren, with a strong police presence, images on social media showed.

Demonstrators in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region crowd the streets of 
the city of Al-Hoceima on May 30, 2017, gathering for a fifth straight day
(AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

Smaller protests were held in the capital Rabat and the commercial capital Casablanca but were broken up by police, Moroccan media reported.

Zefzafi's arrest was ordered after he allegedly interrupted a preacher at a mosque on Friday and called for further demonstrations.

Prosecutors charged that he had "obstructed, in the company of a group of individuals, freedom of worship" at the mosque in Al-Hoceima.

He was arrested on Monday "along with other individuals" and transferred to Casablanca, prosecutors said.

As of Monday evening police had arrested 40 people in connection with the disturbances in Al-Hoceima, according to officials.

Human rights groups gave higher figures.

The mainly ethnically Berber Rif region has long had a tense relationship with Morocco's central authorities, and was at the heart of Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011.

The protests subsided following a series of political reforms including constitutional changes that saw King Mohamed VI give up some of his wide-ranging powers.

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.