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Your World This Past Week

 

 

9-09 TO 13-09

A Weekly Update of news that surfaced on various newswires around the world

MONDAY

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad warned the US against striking his country.

In an interview with the US broadcaster CBS, Assad said an attack by international forces may prompt retaliation from Syria’s allies.

The Syrian president denied that he was behind the chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people and said evidence was not conclusive that there had been such an attack

Meanwhile In another media report, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag paper said Syrian government forces may have used chemical weapons without the personal permission of Assad.

According to radio messages intercepted by German spies, Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, but permission had always been denied.

Bild said the radio traffic was intercepted by a German naval reconnaissance vessel, the Oker, sailing close to the Syrian coast

—–

Details emerged of how the SA National Roads Agency Limited intended cracking down on Gauteng motorists who buck the e-tolling system.

It emerged that motorists will have little time to pay their fines before being dragged into court.

Sanral communications manager Vusi Mona said once the system got the go-ahead from President Jacob Zuma, road-users would have seven days, from the first gantry pass, to pay their e-tolls.

If they fail to pay within seven days they will be referred to Sanral’s violations processing centre [the division that deals with overdue tolls].

——

City Power management will continued with its plan to change the shifts of its workers despite an illegal strike by its workers to block the move.

An unprotected strike by more than 100 City Power employees led to almost 30 suburbs being without electricity the previous week.

The power outages were blamed on sabotage, allegedly by striking workers.

By Saturday, power had been restored across Johannesburg.

City Power spokesman Sol Masolo the police were investigating, as they believed the issue was a national security matter involving the sabotaging of the city.

——

A matriculant from Bushbuckridge died when he fell more than 200m off a vertical cliff at the Three Rondawels in the Blyde River valley.

Thulani Sithole, a pupil at the Inyamande High School, was among a group of 50 pupils on a day visit to the area at the weekend.

According to a witness, some of the school boys had alcohol, shortly before the group would have left the area.

Sithole climbed over the viewing platform and stood on the edge of the precipice.

He lost his balance and fell to his death in front of a friend.

—–

Hundreds of troops were deployed to quell deadly riots and clashes between rival communities in northern Indi.

The clashes were sparked by the killing of three villagers who had objected when a young woman was being harassed.

Indian television station NDTV said at least 28 people had been killed in two days of violence in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh state.

This came as armed gangs of Jats, a group practicing Hinduism, stormed a mosque and a village with Muslim residents.

Soldiers were going door to door to search for weapons.

A state of high alert was declared for the entire state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of 200 million people.

—–

At least 200 people were taken hostage in southern Philippines after rebels rampaged through coastal communities, leaving at least six people dead.

The fighting happened after troops backed by tanks blocked Moro National Liberation Front rebels from marching into Zamboanga city to raise their flag at a city hall

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996, but has accused the government of failing to implement the accord.

MNLF leader Nur Misuari recently revived the call for an independent Islamic state in the southern region of Mindanao, alleging that the government has ignored the group’s grievances.

—-

A handful of members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa gathered in Randburg in northern Johannesburg ahead of their march over a wage dispute with fuel retailers.

Workers demanded a double digit increase of around R30 per hour while employers have offered 9.5 percent.

Numsa expected as many as 40,000 of its members to join the strike mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

—–

The UN human rights chief told the 47-nation Human Rights Council that there is little doubt that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

However she did not say which of the combatants was suspected of using them.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay opened the council’s month-long session telling diplomats that all the circumstances and responsibilities remain to be clarified.

She added that the use of chemical weapons is one of the gravest crimes that can be committed.

——

A 4-year-old girl was found hanged in Katlehong, Johannesburg.

The half-naked body was found by a passer-by hanging on a tree in an open veld.

Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini said Police would determine whether she was raped before being killed

Dlamini said the girl went missing, but was not reported missing by her parents.

—–

TUESDAY

A 56-year-old magistrate burnt to death in her Vereeniging home after she was trapped by her bedroom’s burglar bars.

Her neighbours and friends rushed to her aid and tried to douse the flames with a hose before the fire brigade arrived on the scene, but their efforts were in vain.

According to the local fire chief, Hannes Steyn, a preliminary investigation indicated that there was a power problem in the house and that the fire was caused by a short circuit.

——

A team was tasked with finding ways to improve safety on the ill-fated road in Pinetown where a crash claimed 22 lives.

Truck driver Sanele Goodness May was charged with 22 counts of murder and reckless and negligent driving.

The case was postponed until 16 September. May would remain in custody at the Pinetown police station holding cells.

The task team was given a one-week deadline.

—–

Residents of a Midrand country estate are turning to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in a bid to force Eskom to dismantle electricity infrastructure over their properties.

They claim electromagnetic fields emanating from exposed power cables increase the risk of children contracting leukaemia.

According to a report, residents wanted the power utility to replace the new line with an underground power cable, which should be installed at a suitable depth and appropriately encased.

—–

The four defendants in a gang-rape case in Inda’s capital, New Delhi, were found guilty for raping and killing a 23-year-old student in December.

V.K. Anand, a defence lawyer for one of the four men would appeal the guilty verdict, claiming his client was simply driving the bus.

The seven-month trial in Delhi had heard more than 100 witnesses, including 85 for the prosecution.

—–

A collision between two buses in Iran killed 44 people and injured 39 others.

Police official Colonel Ardeshir said the driver of a bus travelling from Isfahan lost control of his vehicle after one of his tyres burst.

He hit a car before finding himself in the oncoming lane, where he hit another bus, and the two vehicles caught fire immediately.

—–

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa general secretary has criticised the ANC’s Gwede Mantashe and the SACP’s Blade Nzimande, accusing them of dividing Cosatu.

The times reported Irvin Jim saying Mantashe and Blade are doing everything to divide Cosatu unions.

Speaking at a Numsa march in Randburg, Jim said Numsa would not seek advice from ANC secretary general Mantashe and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande on federation matters.

Vavi was suspended last month on accusations of bringing Cosatu into disrepute after he admitted to having an affair with an employee.

—–

US President Barack Obama said he would consider a Russian diplomatic offer for Syria to give up its chemical weapons and that military strikes would “absolutely” be put on hold if that were to happen.

Obama said on CNN that the Russian plan was “a potentially positive development”, while on NBC he said it could be a “significant breakthrough”.

Meanwhile the Senate majority leader Harry Reid delayed a vote scheduled for tomorrow on military action, citing international discussions.

Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin released statements calling for the Russian solution to be considered.

—–

At least 43 people including several new born babies were killed after a bus plunged off a steep cliff in western Guatemala.

Rescue workers said the bus was destroyed and more than 40 people were taken to hospitals for treatment.

The bus plunged off of a paved highway about 60km northwest of Guatemala City

A volunteer firefighter at the site said said 38 people died at the scene, including six children and 12 women. Five more died at hospitals.

——

The industrial action by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union at South African Airways Technical, the maintenance subsidiary of South African Airways, came to an end.

The company and Satawu signed an agreement on the terms of returning to work with effect from today.

SAA thanked staff members who it said made immeasurable sacrifices to ensure that the integrity of the airline’s contingency plans was not compromised

—–

A Jordanian member of parliament reportedly opened fire inside one of the halls of the parliament building in Amman, releasing a single shot from his weapon.

There were no injuries reported in the incident in which MP Talal Al Sharif allegedly fired his automatic weapon at MP Qusai Al Dmeisi after a dispute.

The incident happened during a closed session of parliament, which was surrounded by riot police shortly after the shooting.

Another reading of the incident said that Al Sharif went down to his car after the dispute and brought his fire arm.

As he was walking back into Parliament and while security guards were confiscating his weapon by force, the trigger was pulled and a stray bullet hit the wall of the Parliament hall.

—–

Numsa’s application to have Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s suspension overturned was postponed by the High Court in Johannesburg after an application by opposing unions to intervene was allowed.

The matter is likely to be set down for October 8.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA was expected to file an opposing affidavit by October 2.

The intervening unions are the National Union of Mineworkers, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Finance Union, and the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union.

In court papers, Numsa called Vavi’s suspension unconstitutional and unprecedented.

Fawu and the SA Football Players’ Union are listed as co-applicants in Numsa’s court action.

—–

Troops in the Philippines surrounded six villages in the south of the country where hundreds of fighters linked to the Moro National Liberation Front held at least 170 hostages.

At least six people, including a naval soldier, were killed when the Philippine navy tried to block the rebels and about 220 civilians were initially taken hostage by the fighters, after the pre-dawn attack.

Abdul Sahrin, secretary-general of the MNLF, blamed the faction led by Nur Misuari for carrying out the attack.

Misuari is a former MNLF leader, who previously entered into a peace agreement with the Philippine government.

Emmanuel Fontanilla, a spokesman for Misuari, blamed the military for the attack: “We did not attack. If there was no offensive, there would have been no clashes.”

Fontanilla said the group had planned protest action in Zamboanga, similar to last week’s gathering in the city of Davao, which ended peacefully.

—–

The Syrian government accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a possible US military strike.

Interfax quoted Foreign minister Walid al-Muallem as saying that they had very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons.

Muallem further stated that they agreed to the Russian initiative.

He said Syria had agreed because this would remove the grounds for American aggression.

The diplomatic push over Syria’s chemicals weapons gathered momentum, after the Russian foreign minister suggested the measure for averting US plans for a military strike against Syria.

France said it will start the process for a new UN Security Council resolution, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is militarily enforceable.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the resolution would propose putting any Syrian chemical weapons under international control before moving to dismantle it.

—–

WEDNESDAY

Violent service delivery protests erupted in the Protea area outside Randfontein.

Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela described the scene as chaotic as hundreds of community members from the Waterworks informal settlement clashed with police.

He said the demonstrators were throwing stones and rocks at police and motorists making their way past.

More than 100 protesters were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property.

——

The Chamber of Mines said three of the four unions in the gold industry signed a two-year wage agreement with gold producers.

The Chamber of Mines chief negotiator Elize Strydom said in a statement that the wage settlement was reached at levels that were more than employers would have preferred.

She said that they took the view that the agreement has helped secure stability in the industry for a two-year period.

It was signed by Solidarity, Uasa and the National Union of Mineworkers, which represent about 72% of workers, but not by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction, which represents 19% of workers.

—–

The nationwide petrol attendant strike has seen calls for big oil companies to consider installing self-service pumps at their petrol stations.

Self-service pumps were first introduced in the 1970s. Initially the system was built on trust, with motorists filling up before paying at the station’s shop.

But this quickly made way for the credit card-based system which has been proposed for South Africa.

According to the Cape Chamber of Commerce’s Michael Bagraim, the “swipe system” would be best for the country.

This would see pumps activated by the swipe of a credit, debit or dedicated petrol card before motorists could manually refuel their cars.

However industry experts have warned that adoption of the pumps locally could result in widespread unemployment.

—–

US President Barack Obama postponed his request for congressional authorisation for strikes on Syria to pursue a diplomatic solution but he warned the US military would stay on alert to respond should talks fail.

—–

Rebel fighters holding scores of hostages in the southern Philippines have demanded international mediation.

The rebels, enraged by a broken peace deal with the government, are held the civilian hostages near the port city of Zamboanga.

Troops surrounded the Moro National Liberation Front members and their hostages in four coastal villages.

—–

Indian prosecutors demanded the death penalty for four men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist, who was attacked on a bus in New Delhi last December.

Public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan says  he “extreme brutality” of the crime justified the maximum penalty of hanging.

The men had used a metal rod and their hands to pull the woman’s organs from her body after raping her.

Judge Yogesh Khanna, who found the four guilty of “cold-blooded” murder, heardarguments from the prosecution and defence on sentencing.

The minimum sentence the men could receive is life in prison.

——

The family of a four-year-old Katlehong girl who was raped, murdered and found hanged say they cannot believe someone they know would do this to their child.

Keabetswe Tshabalala’s half-naked body was discovered hanging inside an old building on Monday morning.

The child went missing on Sunday.

She was last seen by neighbours with a family friend.

The 37-year-old man, who had since been arrested, led community members to the building where her body was found hanging with her pants, underwear and shoes off.

He has been charged with murder and rape and is expected to appear in court soon.

This family relative says they’re battling to come to terms with how the child’s life was taken.

——

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) said a strike by petrol attendants is not expected to have a big impact.

Thousands of members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa prepared to hold marches in three provinces.

A strike by petrol attendants, panel beaters and car and spare part dealers officially kicked off on Monday.

The industrial action, led by Numsa, is as a result of a breakdown in wage talks with employers.

The metalworkers union handed over memorandums to the Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) and RMI offices in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

——-

A Grade R teacher at Bankfontein Combined School in Middelburg was fired after allegedly forcing a pupil to eat her own faeces.

The Mpumalanga Education Department Spokesman Jasper Zwane said the teacher could appeal to the MEC within five days.

Zwane said this outcome will send a clear message that government cares for children and will, in terms of the law, deal with anyone who abuses children..

The teacher was suspended in July after forcing the pupil to eat her waste.

——–

At least four soldiers were killed and 15 others injured in car bomb explosions at an intelligence facility in Rafah in Egypt’s Sinai.

Two cars driven by bombers drove into the outside gates of the military intelligence service building in the Imam Ali area in Rafah .

One of the cars exploded at the check point outside the building, the other one exploded further inside.

The attacks come just days after a group in the peninsula claimed credit for a Cairo bombing that targeted the interior minister last week, pledging more attacks.

—–

Six rockets hit the United States’ Bagram Air Base, the largest military base for US troops in Afghanistan, which is situated near the capital, Kabul.

The incident reportedly took place in Parwan Province the previous night with the Taliban immediately claiming responsibility for the attack.

The US military has also confirmed the attack. However, US officials say the rockets were not effective.

Meanwhile, Afghan military sources say a US-led air strike killed six people in the country’s eastern city of Ghazni.

The Talibans website said Mujahideen attacked the base with missiles yet again four times since the day before, causing the enemy fatal losses and heavy damages.

—–

A car bomb exploded near a Shia place of worship in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least 33 people and wounding up to 55 others.

The apparent sectarian attack took place in Baghdad’s northwestern Kasra district.

Worshippers were leaving the mosque after evening prayers when the car bomb exploded, and as onlookers rushed to help the wounded, a bomber blew himself up in their midst.

Policemen reportedly saw a second man fumbling to detonate an explosive belt and managed to stop him, but an angry mob overcame them and stabbed him to death.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack, but Sunni Muslim groups have been blamed for recent attacks.

—–

More than 400 warders at Mangaung Prison in Bloemfontein, run by the security company G4S, went on strike.

The stand-off between prison management and workers became more entrenched when the prison’s human resources director, Stephen Page, refused to accept a petition listing grievances and demands.

The workers, all union members, marched to the entrance of the prison, where the police barred access and told them they would be arrested for trespassing if they tried to enter.

The warders’ most pressing concern is the lack of protection for the unarmed guards in the highly violent prison, where gangs regularly stab, maim and rape the guards.

Their calls for help have gone unheard for years.

THURSDAY

The DA apologised for printing election pamphlets misrepresenting the ANC during recent by-elections in Tlokwe, in the North West.

The party admitted in Parliament it distributed false ANC posters carrying disparaging messages that denounced ANC mayoral candidate Maphetle Maphetle.

The ANC had called on the Independent Electoral Commission to investigate and punish the Democratic Alliance.

DA North West leader Chris Hattingh acknowledged the mistake and blamed the printing of the posters on an over-enthusiastic staff member.

—–

The survivors of the Marikana shooting marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand state funding for their legal team at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

The hearings resumed without Advocate Dali Mpofu who was representing the miners who were arrested and injured at last year’s shooting at the commission.

He had withdrawn from the hearings while he tries to secure funds.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma after 44 people, including police officers, were killed during illegal strike action at Marikana last year.

—–

Russia issued a stark warning that unilateral US military action could destroy world order, as the rival great powers discussed a plan to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.

In a bid to appeal directly to US voters and policy-makers over the head of President Barack Obama, Kremlin leader President Vladimir Putin wrote his comments in the New York Times.

His article appeared at the same time as US Secretary of State John Kerry took off for Geneva, where he was to work with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on a plan to neutralise Syria’s chemical arsenal.

Putin welcomed Washington’s willingness to engage with the Moscow initiative, but he rebuked Obama for his previous threat to launch US military strikes to punish Bashar Assad’s regime.

He warned that carrying out such a move without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, where Moscow wields a veto, would destroy the credibility of the world body.

——

Rebels attacked a second town in the Philippines while they continued to hold scores of hostages in a standoff with government forces in a nearby city.

Roderick Furigay, the vice-mayor of Lamitan in Basilan province said that rebels attacked the town, claiming five people were missing and two had been wounded in the fighting.

Troops have surrounded the fighters and their hostages in four coastal villages.

The fighting left at least nine people dead and several wounded.

The MNLF signed apeace accord with the government in  1996, but many of its fighters held on to their weapons and accused officials of breaking a promise to develop an autonomous region for minority Muslims in the south of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

——

A general strike called by opposition political parties to oppose government plans for elections in November has shut down Nepal’s capital, closing schools and markets.

Vehicles stayed off the streets and shops were shut down in Kathmandu because of the one-day strike.

An alliance of 33 opposition parties is demanding that Constituent Assembly elections set for November be cancelled, and polls instead be conducted by a new government that has representation from all the political parties.

An interim government led by the Supreme Court chief justice was appointed earlier this year to carry out the elections.

Nepal’s first national elections since the abolition of the 239-year-old monarchy is being planned to be held on November 19.

—–

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir imposed a curfew in parts of the troubled region to quell violent protests over a deadly shooting by paramilitary forces.

A man was killed yesterday when paramilitary forces fired pellets at protesters.

However Residents insist the troops were firing bullets at the crowd protesting near a police camp in Shopian district, about 50km south of the territory’s main city of Srinagar.

After the shooting, hundreds of residents hurled stones, shouted anti-India slogans and demanded the police camp be dismantled.

Police used tear gas and batons in response.

—–

Al Jazeera threatened legal action against Egypt’s military-backed government over what the media network said was a “sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation” against its journalists in the country.

The Qatar-based network said that since deposed President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July, a large number of its journalists have been arrested and detained, either without charge or on what it calls politically-motivated charges.

Al Jazeera’s offices had been raided and closed, equipment confiscated, correspondents deported and its transmission jammed by signals coming from military installations.

In a statement on Thursday, Al Jazeera said it had instructed London-based lawyers, to take action in international courts and before the United Nations to protect its journalists and their right to report from Egypt.

—–

EWN reported that President Jacob Zuma referred the secrecy bill back to Parliament, saying it won’t pass constitutional muster in its current form.

The Protection of State Information Bill was approved by the National Assembly earlier this year.

Zuma was expected to sign the bill into law this month.

A number of civil society groups and opposition parties opposed the bill, claiming it could strangle media freedom by preventing the press form reporting on certain issues.

Earlier this year, the Right2Know campaign and other groups vowed to take the matter to the Constitutional Court if Zuma signed the bill into law.

The proposed law changed significantly over time, but organisations said it still lacked the vital public interest defence clause and threatened South Africa’s democracy.

—–

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has appeared on Russian TV to confirm that his country’s chemical weapons would be placed under international control.

Assad said the move was a result of a Russian initiative and not the threat of US military action.

The comments came as the Russian and US foreign ministers prepare for key talks in Geneva.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier outlined three main phases of Moscow’s proposal:

  • Syria joins the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production and use of the weapons
  • Syria reveals where its chemical weapons are stored and gives details of its programme
  • Experts decide on the specific measures to be taken

Lavrov was due to discuss the plan in Geneva with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who would first hold talks with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

——

A five-year-old boy burnt to death in his sleep as his father battled bravely to save him and his siblings from a devastating blaze.

Zishoun Lemore was burnt beyond recognition when their home went up in flames this weekend.

The boy’s heartbroken father, Kiyaamodien Allen, put his own life at risk to save his young children who were sleeping when the flames erupted.

Allens three year old daughter Kashiefa, and six-week-old Zeenat were both lucky to be alive because they were saved in time.

Kiyaamodien and his wife Desiree Lemore, believed the fire started when a candle fell over.

When he got home his wife was already standing outside with the baby.

The hero father says couldn’t see anything when he went inside and didnt care about the flames or himself, but he just wanted to save his children.

As he ran out, his three year old daughter  who was already burning, called for him and tugged on his pants prompting him to save her

After saving his little daughter, Kiyaamodien ran into the house two more times to find his son, then started breaking down the Wendy house with a friend

As they were busy, the devastated dad saw his son on the bed still laying in the same position as he was sleeping, but just lay there and he was burnt pitch black.

Police have opened an inquest docket and say the matter is still under investigation.

—–

A controversial US pastor was arrested in Florida after announcing plans to burn nearly 3,000 copies of the Quraan on the anniversary of 9/11.

Terry Jones, was stopped by police while driving a truck that was towing a large barbecue grill filled with the kerosene-soaked Muslim holy books.

He had said he planned to burn the 2,998 copies at a Tampa Bay park in recognition of the victims of 9/11.

Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Quraan in 2010 sparked widespread outrage.

His congregation at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, did burn a Quraan in 2011, which led to violent and deadly protests across the Middle East and in Afghanistan.

Terry Jones was detained – along with his associate pastor Marvin Sapp Jr – as they drove through the town of Mulberry.

As well as towing a trailer carrying the grill and the Korans, the pastor was also reportedly carrying extra bottles of kerosene inside his truck.

Both men were charged with transporting fuel illegally and Jones was also charged with openly carrying a firearm.

—–

According to the latest leak from whistleblower Edward Snowden, The United States shares with Israel unfiltered data taken from telephone and internet communications including information on its own citizens.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, The National Security Agency agreed on a secret deal with Israel allowing for the routine sharing of raw intelligence.

The agreement does not require the NSA to filter and remove information belonging to US citizens, including data within emails and telephone calls.

And the deal reportedly places no limits on how Israel may use the material.

While the contents of emails and phone calls involving most US citizens are fair game to be collected by Israeli intelligence, elected officials are spared from international surveillance

The NSA assured the British newspaper that any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights.

FRIDAY

At least seven people have died and 17 others injured in an apparent Taliban attack targeting the United States consulate in Herat, Afghanistan.

Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat province, said that the attack began with a powerful car bomb explosion about 60m from the consulate compound,

Local sources told Al Jazeera there were five attackers, four of whom were killed by police or by detonating bombs.

NATO’s ISAF force later said on Twitter that it had secured the consulate and security forces had defeated the attackers, and the US said none of its staff was injured.

——

Philippine officials tried to negotiate a surrender of Muslim rebels who were holding more than 100 civilians hostage.

President Benigno Aquino III warned that his government would not hesitate to use force to end the five-day standoff.

On Friday Aquino visited troops and some of the 15,000 displaced people in southern Zamboanga city, where about 200 fighters from a Muslim rebel faction stormed into several coastal communities earlier this week and took residents hostage.

Reports say at least 22 people have been killed and 52 wounded in five days of fighting, while 19 of the gunmen have surrendered or been captured.

Military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagalasaid that lines of communication with the rebels remain open and they are still refusing to surrender.

—-

A fire at a Russian psychiatric hospital has killed 37 people.

Reports said the bodies of 10 of the 37 victims were recovered from the ruins of the building that burned down in a pre-dawn fire

The fire in the one-storey hospital in the village of Luka in the northwestern Novgorod region erupted this morning and quickly engulfed the mostly wooden structure.

Emergency officials said that 23 of 60 people who were in the building when the blaze broke out were evacuated.

—–

Chained-up patients were removed following a raid on a church-run mental health and drug rehabilitation centre in Moletjie Mabokelele, in Limpopo.

The Church of Christ Assemblies was raided by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), police and social development officials on Wednesday.

Supervisors at the facility said prayer, rather than medication, was used to rehabilitate the patients.

SAHRC Limpopo manager Victor Mavhidula said they found people that were chained, and that is something which is against human rights.

Bruises on some of the patients’ backs indicated that they may have been beaten.

The recovering drug addicts say they did not object to being chained up.

A 25-year-old patient says here they don’t cut the tree from the top; they dig the roots out and eliminate nyaope cravings through prayer.

—–

The National Union of Mineworkers A three-week strike in the construction sector has come to an end.

Yesterday the SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors agreed to grant workers in the sector increments of up to 12 percent.

Spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement says that the construction companies had earlier entered into a wage agreement with the Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) for an increase of between eight and 10 percent which the NUM rejected.

Seshoka said all workers in the sector would receive the higher increase negotiated by NUM.

This agreement wouldoverride the agreement reached with BCAWU because NUM is the majority union in the sector.

He dismissed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa’s demands for R12 500 for entry level workers, saying the Amcu president continues to promise workers a milk and honey R12 500, but delivers none.

—–

A priest whose case led to a criminal conviction against his bishop will likely spend the rest of his life in a federal prison after being sentenced to 50 years for producing or trying to produce child pornography.

The Rev. Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty in August of last year to five counts – one for each of his five young victims

He was charged in May 2011 after police received a flash drive from his computer containing hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.

The 47 year old Ratigan apologised to his victims and their families before learning his punishment and

He then asked the judge for the statutory minimum sentence of 15 years for each count, with the terms to all run at the same time.

Assistant US Attorney Katharine Fincham described Ratigan as a serial sex offender who was arrogant and had a sense of entitlement he thought would keep him from getting caught.

She said he deserved the long sentence because he violated the trust of his victims and their families by using his position as a clergyman to get close enough to them to take illicit photos of the children.

—–

According to a report, death rates for children under five have halved in some regions since 1990, but about 6.6 million still are thought to have died last year.

Currently some 18 000 children under five die every day.

The UN Children’s agency says the highest death rates are in Africa and Asia and nearly half of all children who die are in five countries: Nigeria, Congo, India, Pakistan and China.

In West and Central Africa, there has been virtually no change in the number of children who die every year since 1990.

According to a report by UNICEF, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, around 6.6 million children died before their fifth birthday last year, compared to 12.6 million in 1990.

But 45% of the deaths could be linked to undernutrition.

—–

Two roadside bombs have exploded outside a mosque in the Iraqi city of Baquba, killing 30 people, as worshippers were leaving the building following prayers.

A further 25 people were wounded in the blasts, which happened shortly after midday prayers.

The second of the two explosions injured people who had rushed to help those hurt in the first.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility forthe attack.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in violent attacks in the country since the start of April, including 804 just in August, according to United Nations figures.

Baqouba itself was hit with deadly violence just this week.

Three car bombs targeting outdoor markets killed at least 10 civilians and wounded more than 30 there on Tuesday.

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More than 35,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims are known to have fled Myanmar this year.

Most of them pay thousands of dollars to Thai human smugglers to help them escape discrimination and violence, but the refugees are often abused and exploited.

While Rohingyas who have lived these ordeals speak out, thousands of unsuspecting asylum seekers head towards these transit points

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An international human rights group on Friday accused Syrian government forces and pro-regime militias of carrying out summary executions earlier this year that left at least 248 people dead in two predominantly Sunni Muslim towns along the Mediterranean coast.

The allegations by Human Rights Watch came as intense negotiations by top American and Russian diplomats were underway in Geneva over securing President Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal implicated in the alleged chemical attack near Damascus last month that killed hundreds.

It was the Aug. 21 attack in the sprawling Damascus suburb of Ghouta that prompted the US to threaten Assad’s forces with a military strike.

Washington and its allies said Syrian government troops fired warheads that contained a nerve agent into the suburb, most likely sarin.

The US says more than 1,000 people were killed in the attack, other estimates put the death toll at 500, at the least.

More than 100,000 people have been killed so far in Syria’s civil war.

The New York-based group said in its new report, released Friday, that mass killings took place in the towns of Bayda and Banias on May 2 and 3.

It said the report was based on accounts of people and witnesses who saw or heard government and pro-government forces detain and then kill their relatives.

The group’s activists interviewed 15 Bayda residents and five from Banias, as well as survivors and local activists to compile a list of names of 167 people killed in Bayda and 81 in Banias.

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Compiled: Yusuf Alli – Cii News

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