Home | Global News | Your World This Week – 31 January 2014

Your World This Week – 31 January 2014

 

Yusuf Alli – Cii News | 31 January 2014/29 Rabi ul Awwal 1435

A look at news that made headlines on various networks around the world

MONDAY

Operations at the SA National Roads Agency Limited were back to normal after its building was the target of a bomb threat over the weekend.

Electronic Toll Collection spokesperson Nicole Wood said they hope that this week would go well so that business can continue peacefully.

On Sunday, the building had to be evacuated after a bomb threat was reported.

This brought to three the number of incidents had been reported at the Sanral building in Midrand.

The premises was also evacuated on Tuesday and Friday after a suspicious powder, initially thought to be anthrax, was found.
—–

A Johannesburg metro police officer was expected to appear in the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto on for raping a woman last week.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate said the officer was alleged to have raped the woman on Wednesday and was arrested in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The suspect allegedly used drugs in front of the complainant after which he raped her using a condom.

The woman alleged that the metro officer then assaulted her and prevented her from leaving.

He allegedly raped her several times.

The woman fled the officer’s house when he fell asleep and alerted metro police who were driving around in the area.

The man was arrested by his colleagues.

—–

Top members of the rebel coalition loyal to the Central African Republic’s former president left the capital Bangui, as eight people were reported killed in mob violence.

The convoy carrying members of the mostly Muslim Seleka coalition was guarded by Chadian peacekeepers, Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert said on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear why they were leaving the capital or where they were heading.

Many Seleka fighters, a large number of whom came from neighbouring Chad and Sudan, have abandoned the capital in recent months following the deployment of French troops.

Chadian peacekeepers have been accused of supporting Seleka throughout the conflict, which began when the Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in March.

——

According to a Libyan government official, Five Egyptian diplomats and an embassy employee kidnapped in Tripoli have been released as part of a swap.

The release on Sunday came after Sabaann Hadia, a prominent commander in the rebellion that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, who was arrested in Alexandria, announced his own release on television.

The kidnappings had forced Egypt to evacuate its Tripoli embassy and its Benghazi consulate.

The alleged kidnappers, calling themselves Libyan revolutionaries, had contacted Dubai-based Al Arabiya television channel to demand the release in 24 hours of Hadia, and put one of the Egyptian diplomats on the line.

A Libyan security official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said the kidnappers freed the six as part of a deal between Tripoli and Cairo.

The Operations Room for Libya Revolutionaries had formally denied it was involved in the Egyptians’ kidnappings, but on Friday it gave warning that there would be a strong response if Hadia was not released.

—–

Limpopos provincial health department said at least 45 people were admitted to hospital after contracting diarrhoea in.

Officials were attending a workshop at a lodge when they were taken to hospital, severely affected.

The departments spokesperson Macks Lesufi said nine of those admitted to hospital were in a critical condition, while 36 were treated and discharged from the Voortrekker Hospital on Sunday.

Contaminated water or food was suspected to be the source of the outbreak at the lodge.

Lesufi advised those with diarrhoea symptoms not to panic but to visit their local health institutions.

The province is prone to disease outbreak, especially during rainy seasons.

Cholera and malaria cases have recently been reported in parts of the province.

—–

A new task force was to be set up by the City of Cape Town to combat gangs and drugs, effectively going over the heads of the police in an effort to help tackle the scourge.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the new task force was set to ramp up the existing drug unit to focus on the gang and drug problem in a more targeted way.

The provincial police department said it had noted the city’s intention to set up a local gang task force, but added that it had been making strides in the attempt to eradicate gangs.

Smith said he had reached out to provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer two years ago about the matter, but had been constantly told to back off as it was not the city’s role.

He added that while the 700-strong metro police force would continue its duties it could not “continue to compensate for SAPS apparent shortcomings”.

—–

Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour announced that Egypt would hold a presidential election before parliamentary polls.

This changed a political “road map” laid down after the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi in a Military coup last year.

The long-expected change could pave the way for the swift election of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the defence minister who many expect will run for the presidency.

The “road map” called for parliamentary elections first, but many of Egypt’s political parties say they will not be ready for a legislative vote this spring.

The president did not announce a date for the vote, but said it must be held no less than 90 days after the constitution was adopted.

This would require a ballot before mid-April.

—–

Tunisia’s national assembly has approved the country’s new constitution, three years after the overthrow of the North African country’s long-time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.Sunday’s vote by an overwhelming majority of assembly members marked another crucial step to getting the democratic transition back on track in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.The vote came close on the heels of an announcement by Mehdi Jomaa, the prime minister, of a new caretaker cabinet to govern the country until elections.Islam was not mentioned as a source of legislation, although it is recognised as the nation’s religion and the state was committed to “prohibiting any attacks on the sacred”, while freedom of conscience was guaranteed.There was some criticism of restrictions on freedom of speech.

Attacking religion and accusing people of being nonbelievers is illegal.

——

Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said most of the country’s problems with water supply are small issues which can easily be fixed.

Eyewitness News said it found that many communities around the country had problems with supply as a result of corruption, pollution and lack of administration from government.

Millions of people do not have access to water while many others queue for hours to fill up buckets.

EWN’s investigation also found that many people in communities around the country made money from selling clean water to others.

The crisis came to light when four people were killed, allegedly by police, in violent protests in Brits.

Molewa visited the community and promised to have water supply returned to the affected areas.

—-

Former president Thabo Mbeki might return to Parliament as an MP if certain branches of the ANC in Gauteng have their way.

The star reported that Mbeki’s name appeared on the province’s list of 200 candidates for the National Assembly.

The newspaper said the list was filled with names of people said to be President Jacob Zuma’s political rivals.

Gauteng also nominated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to be an MP.

Members of Mbekis Cabinet – former public works minister Thoko Didiza and former provincial and local government minister Sydney Mufamadi – also made the list.

The ANC’s national list conference was being held in Irene, south of Pretoria.

—–

Durban Deep residents have demanded that a case of four police officers accused of the fatal shooting of a Roodepoort protester be heard in the local court.

Four police officers were expected to appear.

Residents confronted court staff in a passage leading to the prosecutor’s office and complained that they had arrived early in the morning.

They were frustrated because the docket was not ready.

Earlier Durban Deep Community spokesperson Anton Mankgabe said bail should not be granted to the police officers.

Scores of people were protesting outside the court earlier, some of them wearing DA T-shirts.

—–

A man accused of treason and terrorism for an alleged planned attack on the ANC’s 2012 elective conference in Bloemfontein pleaded not guilty.

Johan Prinsloo appeared in the Bloemfontein High Court on charges of treason, conspiracy to take part in terrorist acts and possession of illegal ammunition.

The State alleged Prinsloo illegally tried to overthrow the South African government by trying to get weapons and ammunition to attack national leaders on December 16, 2012.

The planned attack was apparently aimed at President Jacob Zuma and other Cabinet members at the party’s national election conference.

—–

Thai police said they rescued hundreds of Rohingya Muslims from a remote camp in a raid prompted by a Reuters investigation into human trafficking.

Police detained 531 men, women and children in Sunday’s raid at a camp near the town of Sadao, on a well-established route for human smugglers near Thailand’s border with Malaysia.

This was the first raid on illegal Rohingya smuggling camps since January 9, 2013.

The police said they were following up on a December 5 Reuters report that Rohingya were held hostage in camps hidden near the border with Malaysia until relatives pay ransoms to release them.

Some were beaten and killed.

The Rohingya are mostly stateless Muslims from Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Deadly clashes between Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar last year, leaving 100s dead,  and making 140,000 people homeless, most of them Rohingya.

Since then, tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled from Myanmar by boat and many arrive off southwest Thailand.

Last week UN human rights agency says it had information of 48 Muslims killed in Rakhine by Buddhist mobs, the deadliest in a year.

The United Nations said At least 48 Muslims were killed when Buddhist mobs attacked a village in an isolated corner of western Burma earlier this month.

It called on the government to carry out a swift, impartial investigation and to hold those responsible accountable.

—–

Government-brokered talks between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the world’s top three platinum producers began in a bid to end a strike that has hit half of global output of the precious metal.

Hopes for an immediate resolution to the strike, which began on Thursday, remained low, given Amcu’s uncompromising approach to negotiations and with the two sides poles apart over wages.

No ministers, nor chief executives from Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum nor Lonmin were present. Neither was Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa.

South Africa’s rand lost more than 1% in early trade to hit new five-year lows against the dollar as the strikes coincided with an emerging-market selloff.

This dealt a double blow to investor confidence in Africa’s biggest economy.

“It’s a perfect storm. Aside from the offshore factors which are beyond our control, locally we have the strikes, a general election in a few months and a weak economy. So there is no good news for the rand at the moment,” said Christie Viljoen of NKC Independent Economists.

Platinum’s spot price climbed slightly to $1 425.00 an ounce, approaching 2½-month highs, on concerns about the impact the stoppages will have on the metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.

Under the populist battle cry of a “living wage”, Amcu is demanding minimum entry-level pay of 12 500 rand ($1 100) a month from the three platinum producers – a more than doubling of current levels.

Companies say they can ill afford this as they grapple with soaring costs and depressed demand for platinum, especially in key markets such as Europe.

—–

At least 50 protesters were shot dead by riot police during nationwide anti-coup protests on the third anniversary of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution.

The ministry of health statement added that at least 167 protesters were injured, some of them critically.

The ministry of interior announced the arrest of hundreds of anti-coup protesters who it described as rioters in different places across the country.

The Muslim Brotherhood, labeled as a terrorist organization by the military-backed government in the aftermath of the coup, has issued a statement vowing to continue protests to restore all rights, reverse the coup and prosecute the killers of peaceful protesters

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is promoted to the highest military position, paving the way for him to run for president.

—–

The Syrian peace talks in Geneva were deadlocked over the divisive issue of transferring power to a transitional government.

The Syrian government team reportedly presented a “declaration of principles” that did not mention transfer of power, and it was rejected by the opposition.

The sides could not agree on the future role of President Bashar al-Assad.

There has been no progress reported either on allowing aid convoys into besieged areas of the city of Homs.

The Geneva 2 peace talks, mediated by UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, have so far focused on humanitarian issues.

—–

A ladysmith Islamic school teacher who took a group of students hiking at the drakensburg mountains has gone missing with his son after failing to return to the group after the walk

Moulana Aslam Shaik, who regularly takes students in Ladysmith on outings such as fishing and hiking took a group of students to the Drakensburg this weekend for a hike.

Upon return, the Aalim and his son Ahmed, were unaccounted for.

Search teams were formed to locate Moulana Aslam.

The two were finally located between to cliffs and were air lifted to hospital.

Both Moulana and his son were said to be doing fine.

 

—–

TUESDAY

US President Barack Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to use all his executive powers to push his agenda if Congress doesn’t agree with his priorities.

In his address before a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans watching on television, Obama put urgency behind his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

He said with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Obama vowed during his 2008 presidential campaign to close the prison with his first year in office, but he never followed through on the pledge.

Over 150 detainees were imprisoned in the US-run detention center in Cuba, many of them without charge or trial for more than a decade.

Last February, Guantanamo’s detainees began a hunger strike to protest against the harsh conditions of their incarceration.

—–

The Philippines military said it killed 17 rebels opposed to a peace deal between the government and the country’s main Muslim opposition group, in fighting which raged for two days.

More than 1,500 troops were involved in the offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in remote farming areas of the south

Seventeen BIFF members had been confirmed killed in this week’s clashes, while two soldiers and one civilian were wounded

The assault was launched yesterday, two days after the successful end of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aimed at ending a decades-long conflict that has killed tens of thousands.

After 18 years of negotiations, the Front and the government agreed on Saturday to the final parts of a planned peace accord aimed at creating a Muslim autonomous region.

—–

A Toekomsrus lady was standing trial for the murder of an unsuspecting woman who visited her Randfontein, home to receive the gift of a pram for the baby girl she was carrying.

Valencia Behrens visited Loretta Innocentia Cooke at her where she was promised a pram for her baby.

A few hours later, paramedics and police were called to Cooke’s house. They found Behrens’s abdomen cut open, her uterus missing, and the baby removed from it and lying in a passage in the house.

Behrens had bled to death. Her newborn daughter, who sustained minor cuts, was first rushed to a local clinic and later a hospital. She survived.

Cooke was later charged with murder and attempted murder.

During the post-mortem it was found that the deceased was brutally attacked and that the baby was removed from her body by an illegal procedure.

Accompanied by family members, she appeared at the Johannesburg High Court yesterday, where her case was postponed.

Cooke, who was out on bail, would be back in court next week.

—–

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov had offered his resignation in a bid to ease Ukraine’s deadly two-month crisis as politicians debated key reforms.

Under the constitution, the departure of the prime minister means the resignation of the entire government.

The resignation came a day after the president, Victor Yanukovych, offered to repeal a law banning protests in an attempt to ease tensions.

The initial introduction of the law increased the intensity of demonstrations in Ukraine and led to rising violence.

Yanukovych on Saturday had also offered the opposition posts in government and to make changes to the constitution that would reduce the powers of the presidency.

——

A Number of students who were protesting at the University of Johannesburg were arrested for public violence.

Police reportedly cracked down on a protest which was not organized by any student group.

Students were protesting a limit of funding from national student financial aid schemes, which would see some students turned away.

A protester who spoke on condition of anonymity said that universities need to play an active role in enrolling students who can’t afford fees, and called on police to release their colleagues.

—-

Talks between platinum producers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), aimed at resolving the costly strike in the sector, resumed in Pretoria.

Amplats CEO Chris Griffith, Implats CEO Terence Goodlace and Magara had said a prolonged strike would probably further damage South Africa’s reputation as an attractive business and investment destination.

It was unclear whether the chief executives of the platinum producers were at the talks today.

In a statement issued after the first round of talks with the CCMA on Friday afternoon, Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the strike was causing lost platinum production of about 4 000 ounces per day at the affected mines.

This equated to around R100m lost revenue per day at market prices.

—–

The post mortem of a woman found dead near the Swartruggens shopping complex, confirmed that her heart and lungs were removed, police said on Tuesday.

North West police Captain Pelonomi Makau said it could not be determined if she was raped.

On Sunday, the woman’s body was found by a passerby. Her abdomen had been cut open.

Makau said at the time, her face was smashed with a stone, Her breasts were cut off and her private parts slightly cut with an unknown sharp instrument.

The post mortem was carried out on Monday.

The victim is unknown and police are appealing to anyone with information of a missing person to contact the Swartruggens police station.

—–

Mexico announced that it captured a leader of the Knights Templar, a violent drug cartel that has created a major security problem for President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The attorney general’s office says that security forces arrested Dionisio Loya Plancarte, known as “El Tio” or ‘The Uncle’, a top member of the Knights Templar.

He is the most senior member of the gang to be arrested.

The knights templar has clashed with vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan this year.

Plancarte is suspected of being the gang’s liaison with corrupt security and justice officials.

Mexico’s government, which this month replaced top security officials in Michoacan, had offered a 30 million peso or around 25 million rand reward for information leading to Plancarte’s arrest.

—–

South Africans have until the end of February to comment on the proposed amendments to the national policy for determining school calendars for public schools.

In a notice published in the Government Gazette in November 2013 Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the school calendar may change next year to limit disruptions caused by public holidays.

Interested parties and organisations have until February 28 to submit their comments.

In essence, the changes call for a school year of about 200 days, divided, as far as possible, into four terms of equal schooling days of 50 days per term.

However, for educational reasons, it was deemed desirable that the third term be longer than the fourth term.

The proposals allow for a maximum of two special days a year to be set aside for schools to use as sporting or cultural events.

These days could also be used for religious observances but the majority of pupils must come from a particular faith.

Religious minorities will be allowed to miss school on certain days but cannot be “academically disadvantaged”, and examinations and tests must not be administered on such days that pupils are absent.

—–

The Syrian opposition said it was willing to lift a siege on three pro-government villages in the north of the country as part of a wider agreement to relieve besieged towns on both sides.

The opposition’s spokesman Louay al-Safi said at the Geneva talks that Free Syrian Army fighters were willing to relieve pressure on the Shi’ite Muslim villages of Nubl, al-Zahra and al-Foua.

However he said President Bashar al-Assad’s government had not agreed to lift the siege on the rebel-held Old City of Homs, seen as crucial for the success of any deal.

The opposition said they asked the regime to lift the siege from all cities as they agreed to lift any siege by the FSA from any town and city in Syria.

There are three that are surrounded by the FSA because they have been used as a launching pad from the regime to attack Aleppo.

—–

According to reports, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai suspected that Washington had been undermining the government in Kabul through conducting ‘insurgent-style’ attacks.

The Washington Post quoted a senior Afghan presidential palace official as saying that President Karzai has provided a list of several attacks, in which he said Washington may have been involved, including the recent bloody assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, where over 20 people, including 13 foreigners, were killed.

The January 17 bombing and shooting attack on the restaurant was attributed to the Taliban, though Karzai said it is one of the many attacks that may have been orchestrated by the United States in order to undermine Afghan government’s abilities in maintaining security and pave the way for keeping its soldiers in the country beyond 2014.

He added that such attacks might have been aimed at distracting attentions from the civilian casualties caused by the US drones.

Washington has been pressuring the government in Kabul to sign the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement, which allows thousands of US soldiers to stay in the war-torn country after the planned 2014 withdrawal.

Karzai said he would not sign the deal if Washington does not guarantee peace in Afghanistan.

——

DA leader Helen Zille had announced that Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele would stand as the DA’s presidential candidate in the 2014 general election.

The DA and Agang SA made the announcement at a Cape Town hotel this morning.

DA leader Helen Zille said she was happy to announce that Ramphele has accepted the DA’s invitation to stand as presidential candidate in the 2014 general election.

She added that this is a game-changing moment for South Africa.

Ramphele said she was honoured to accept the invitation extended by the Democratic Alliance to stand as its presidential candidate.

She said she believes this decision is in the best interests of South Africa.

—–

WEDNESDAY

Besieged since June, nearly 20 000 people in Damascus’ Yarmuk Palestinian camp are so desperate for food that many eat stray animals to survive, and some women have resorted to prostitution.

A Yarmuk resident named Ali, who was a university student when Syria’s revolt erupted in 2011 saidmany have slaughtered and eaten cats and dogs, and even a donkey.

One man who killed a dog couldn’t find any meat to eat on its body, because even the dogs are starving.

In June, the Syrian army imposed a total blockade on Yarmuk, which covers an area of just over two square kilometres.

Seven months later, food and medical supplies have all but run out, with prices skyrocketing to up to $100 for a kilogram of rice.

The situation is so desperate that women are selling their bodies to men who stocked up food before the siege was imposed, for just a cup of rice or bulgur.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Seventy-eight people, including 25 women and three children, have died as a result of the shortages,.

—–

Two men were shot dead by police during a protest in Relela outside Tzaneen, Limpopo.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the two men, aged between 25 and 40, were killed last night near the police station in the area.

About 1 500 violent protesters armed with petrol bombs and stones attacked the police at the station.

Fifteen officers were injured, three critically so, and 19 police vehicles were damaged.

Mulaudzi said the intentions of the protesters were clear and the officers did what anyone would have done to protect themselves.

Nine people were arrested for public violence.

The community had been protesting since Thursday after the body of a woman was found in the area.

Mulaudzi said two people were taken in for questioning but later released.

Their houses were burned on Saturday by angry community members.

—–

AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele faced an internal revolt, with angry officials and regional leaders vowing to fight her for using and betraying them.

Vowing not to follow her into the DA because it was a white party, they accused Ramphele of abandoning Agang for selfish reasons.

They said she had not been transparent about her secret merger talks with the DA.

The talks culminated with DA leader Helen Zille naming Ramphele as the DA’s presidential candidate for the elections.

Eight Agang leaders and senior party officials told The Star they would not accept Ramphele’s move.

——

Bolivia President Evo Morales declared a state of emergency to assist victims of the country’s deadly rainy season.

So far it has claimed 41 lives and left 20 000 people homeless according to provisional figures.

Morales’ office issued the declaration in a move which will mobilise funds, resources and troops to help those worst affected over the five-month period.

On Saturday, torrential rain triggered a landslide in the town of Rurrenabaque, a popular tourist spot north of La Paz, killing 10 people.

The government has not released the official toll totals for the rain-related deaths.

But local media have tallied 41 dead this season.

In Morales’s home region of Chapare, authorities said 11 rivers have burst their banks this week alone.

Bolivia’s rainy season spans five months, starting in late September.

—–

A leaked copy of the ANC’s secret election candidates list revealed that President Jacob Zuma and his closest allies dominate the top positions.

The Star published what it said was a leaked copy of the list, which was reportedly confirmed by several sources.

It was compiled during the ANC’s lekgotla and national list conference over the weekend and Monday.

Zuma topped the list, followed by deputy ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was sixth on the list, followed by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Public Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan came in at number 13.

Yesterday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe declined to reveal the party’s candidate list until the election date was announced, saying it was preferable to release the list once it was registered with the Independent Electoral Commission.

—–

Agang SA’s provincial structures called on party founder Mamphela Ramphele to discuss her decision to join the DA with them.

The parties Gauteng chairperson Andries Tlouamma said that they were the custodians of this party, and that the merger is going to be their decision, not hers,

He said there are structures in a party, and that there were processes to follow to arrive at certain decisions.

Earlier the National Union of Mineworkers said Ramphele was trying to project herself as a “messiah” who was above everyone else by joining the Democratic Alliance.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni in a statement said that she was a political tourist, political opportunist and a rented black.

—–

A trial looking into the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history was set to begin in the capital, Lilongwe.

At least 68 prominent figures stand accused of stealing funds in what has been dubbed ”Cash Gate” by the media.

It is estimated that more than $100m over a 10-year period has been lost.

President Joyce Banda, who has appointed international investigators to probe the allegations, has said that about 30 percent of the country’s budget could have been looted.

Donor countries are withholding millions of dollars in financial aid pending the investigation.

—–

Chinese officials were taking measures to prevent the spread of H7N9, a deadly strain of bird flu that has already killed 22 people this year.

According to reports in official media, local authorities are set to close live poultry markets in major cities.

Live poultry trading will be halted in cities in coastal Zhejiang province from February 15, and neighbouring Shanghai will stop trading for three months beginning on Friday.

According to an AFP news agency’s tally of reports by local authorities, So far this year, China has confirmed 110 human H7N9 cases, including 22 deaths.

According to official figures, there were 144 infections and 46 deaths in all of 2013.

—–

Mamphela Ramphele is insisting that she is still a member and the leader of Agang SA.

This comes after party members at a media briefing asked her to explain her decision to run as the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate.

In reports on Wednesday, it was claimed that many Agang members only found about Ramphele’s move via her media briefing yesterday.

Ramphele says there has always been an understanding that Agang will participate in a realignment in SA politics.

She says her track record as a leader and freedom fighter made her fit to be president of the country.

—–

Libya’s state news agency has said that the country’s deputy prime minister, has escaped an assassination attempt in Tripoli, the capital.

LANA said that Al-Sadik Abdel-Karim was heading to a meeting of the interim parliament when he came under fire from unidentified gunmen.

The car was damaged but he survived.

Officials told the Reuters news agency, however, that the attack happened as he was about to enter the interior ministry, which he also heads.

—-

The department of justice had dismissed reports that journalists were barred from entering the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court where EFF leader Julius Malema was appearing.

Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said according to their officials, no journalists were barred from covering the court case.

Security guards at the door told the media they were instructed not to allow them inside the court where Malema was appearing.

After a Sapa reporter told Mhaga that he was stopped by the security guards after seeing his laptop in his bag, Mhaga said it could be attributed to miscommunication.

Malema was down to appear on charges of reckless or negligent driving.

He was arrested in December for allegedly driving at 215km/h in a 120km/h zone.

—–

Ukraine’s first post-independence president had warned the country was on the “brink of civil war” as parliament debated an amnesty for protesters.

Leonid Kravchuk, president from 1991 to 1994, opened the debate in parliament by urging everyone involved to act with the greatest responsibility.

President Viktor Yanukovych wanted any amnesty to be conditional on protesters leaving official buildings, a proposal rejected by the opposition.

Opponents want Mr Yanukovych to resign.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters – many wearing helmets and carrying baseball bats and other makeshift weapons – have taken to the streets in Kiev again.

They won significant concessions yesterday after parliament scrapped a controversial anti-protest law and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned.

—–

THURSDAY

The correctional services department said the so-called “Waterkloof Four” would be released on parole in February.

According to legislation, when an offender completes 50% of their jail term, they can be considered for parole on condition that they completed internal correctional programmes and are well behaved.

Spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said Reinach Tiedt, Gert van Schalkwyk, Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez would be released on 11 February

They were sentenced to 12 years each for murdering a man in a Pretoria park in 2001.

Wolela said the four were well behaved and had completed internal programme.

—–

The body of a 3-year-old child who went missing with two others was found in a car in Kubjana village near Relela, in Limpopo.

Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the body was discovered last night after the car owner called the police.

The three had locked themselves in the car while playing for hours and they were found by the owner when he got back from work.

Ngoepe said the owner noticed that the car lights were on and he called the police.

Two of the children were unharmed.

An inquest case was opened and police are investigating.

—–

Philippine troops killed at least 37 Muslim fighters and captured a rebel stronghold with a bomb-producing facility.

Military officials said that troops seized a key rebel stronghold that spans two villages in Maguindanao province following a two-day offensive, and confiscated materials used for making explosive devises.

One soldier was killed and 12 others were wounded by bombs hidden around a mosque during the fighting, according to Colonel Dickson Hermoso, regional military spokesman.

President Benigno Aquino III said the military launched the assault to protect villages after Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement fighters staged attacks in the province.

Abu Misry, a rebel spokesman, admitted part of the group’s stronghold had been taken by government forces, but denied statements that any fighters had been killed or captured, adding that seven fighters had been wounded by army shelling and rocket fire.

—–

Ukraine’s parliament adopted a law that offers amnesty to dozens of arrested anti-government protesters.

But this would happen only if opposition demonstrators vacate most of the government buildings they occupy and demolish their barricades.

The legislation, supported by 232 members of parliament last night, gave protesters 15 days to meet the conditions of the authorities.

Two politicians abstained from voting and 11 others went against it.

The politicians had been debating about the move since Tuesday, but did not reach the agreement.

On Wednesday they agreed not to leave the parliament building until the final decision was made.

—–

The Hawks had confirmed that a man was arrested in connection with a spate of anthrax and bomb scares at the roads agency’s operations centre.

The centre was evacuated three times, with some employees taken to hospital and receiving counseling.

According to Eyewitness News,the 28-year-old man arrested was a disgruntled call-centre agent.

Sanral insisted that the man arrested in connection with threats against the company was technically not one of its employees.

SA National Roads Agency Limited spokesperson Vusi Mona said the building where the man was arrested was occupied by Electronic Toll Collection.

The man as expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges relating to acts of terrorism.

—–

A Limpopo widow whose husband was killed in Relela near Tzaneen said all he wanted was to meet Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

Dikeledi Selebe, said her husband Stanley Selowa, was killed around 6pm on Tuesday while on his way to an EFF meeting at the village.

Selowa heard rumours that Malema was visiting Relela to address protesters.

She said He didn’t even care about what the villagers were protesting about.

All he wanted was to meet Malema face to face for the first time in his life but he didn’t know that would be his last day.

Selowa was the third to die in the protests that started on Saturday morning when community members protested against police delays in a gruesome murder case.

—–

Thailand’s army said it would increase the number of troops in the capital on standby to 10,000 ahead of Sunday’s election.

Anti-government protesters said they would disrupt the election as part of their campaign to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The government’s decision to press ahead with the February 2 election had inflamed tensions in the capital, Bangkok, where the protesters have blockaded main intersections and forced many ministries to close their doors this month.

Protesters said they plan to fill the streets through the election on Sunday in Bangkok and in other polling centers around the country as part of its boycott of the vote.

Opposition leaders planned to set up stages in public places like city halls to disrupt the vote, but they say they would not physically prevent anyone from voting at the polls.

—–

Ukraine’s opposition vowed further protests after defiantly rejecting an amnesty bill to free activists and ease the ex-Soviet country’s worse crisis since independence.

The parliament passed an amnesty bill yesterday with backing from the ruling Regions Party, but the opposition rejected its conditions and a breakthrough appeared unlikely.

President Viktor Yanukovych had granted several concessions to protesters who packed the centre of Kiev for the last two months, including accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

However the opposition wants the head of state to go.

Protesters, some from right-wing radical groups, remained camped out in much of the city centre of Kiev and have now erected wooden watchtowers at their barricades.

They were still occupying key municipal buildings including the Kiev city hall.

—–

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said a new wage offer by platinum mines would not be accepted by its striking members

The union was expected to brief its members on the platinum belt in Rustenburg in the North West on the new offer, but insisted it will not be accepted.

AMCUs national coordinator Evans Ramokga said workers earn R5000, and that the union suggested that the R7500 gap be closed over a three year period after which workers would ultimately earn the proposed R12,500.

He says the employers’ offer does not address their demands, and it will not be accepted by their members.

The union will take a new mandate from the workers and table a proposal to the platinum companies when they meet on Friday.

—–

An employee of a McDonald’s restaurant in Pittsburgh was charged with selling heroin in child-oriented Happy Meals to customers using the coded request “I’d like to order a toy.”

Authorities made the arrest after an informant told them that an employee was selling the drug.

District Attorney Mike Manko saidCustomers looking for heroin were instructed to go through the drive-thru and say, “I’d like to order a toy.”

The customer would then drive to the window, hand over the money and get a Happy Meal box containing heroin in exchange.

Undercover agents set up a drug buy and arrested Shania Dennis, 26. Dennis denied wrongdoing to reporters as she was being led away in handcuffs.

Authorities said they found 10 bags of heroin in a Happy Meal box and recovered another 50 bags from the suspect.

—-

Higher Education and Learning Minister Blade Nzimande said another R1bn had been added to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme.

He said his department has made available an additional amount of R1bn sourced from National Skills Fund to all universities to cover the 2013 and 2014 shortfall.

According to Nzimande, the NSFAS had a shortfall of R2.6bn in 2013.

He said his department had also approached the Sector Education and Training Authorities to support student at universities.

More than 430 000 students will be assisted by NSFAS in 2014 across 25 public universities and 50 public further education and training colleges.

—–

Israeli forces razed down an entire Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.

According to reports, the demolition took place in the village of Khirbat Jamal earlier in the day.

Over a dozen families living in the area had been displaced after Israeli bulldozers destroyed their homes.

The Israeli military prevented human rights activists from visiting the area and helping the villagers.

Demolitions are commonplace in the Jordan Valley as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its policy of settlement expansion in the area.

Over 90 percent of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control.

On January 9, Israeli military forces backed by bulldozers entered the village of Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah and destroyed the entire village, leaving over two dozen locals homeless.

In October last year, Israeli bulldozers backed by military jeeps entered the village of Makhool north of the Jordan Valley and destroyed the village.

—–

While some Muslims continue to idolize pop star Justin Bieber, he could be deported back to Canada after over 100 000 people signed a petition to have him removed from the US.

The 19-year-old singer – who is from Ontario – may be asked to leave the country and have his green card revoked by the White House after an official “We the People campaign” against him received more than 100 000 signatures in just six days.

The government promises to review and respond to a petition once it receives more than 100 000 signatures in 30 days.

The campaign comes after he was arrested last week in Miami for driving under the influence, driving with an expired license and resisting arrest.

The petition says people of the United States would like to see the dangerous, destructive, and drug abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked.

It said he is a terrible influence on their nation’s youth.

The group requested to remove Justin Bieber from their society.

—–

Armed men stormed an office of Iraq’s transportation ministry in northeast Baghdad, killing at least 20 people and briefly taking a number of civil servants hostage, security officials have said.

Aolice and an interior ministry official said the attack was mounted by eight armed men

Four out of the eight are believed to have been killed in clashes with security forces.

Security forces sealed off the surrounding area, which is home to other government offices, including the headquarters of the transport ministry and a human rights ministry building.

No group claimed responsibility for the assault, but fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have in the past mounted similar armed attacks on Iraqi government buildings.

Elsewhere in the Iraqi capital, bombings near a market and a restaurant in the Shia-majority neighbourhoods of Kasra and Talbiyah killed six people, security and medical officials said.

—-

A Bangladeshi court had sentenced Matiur Rahman Nizami, the leader of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, and 13 others to death for arms smuggling.

Today’s sentencing in front of a full courtroom comes just weeks after Bangladesh held general elections that were marred by violence.

Jamaat-e-Islami is part of an anti-government coalition under former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia that has been calling on the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign and boycotted the January elections, which Hasina’s coalition won amid street fighting, a boycott and low turnout.

The case goes back to 2004, when police seized 10 truck-loads of weapons in a raid on a state-owned jetty in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, when they were being unloaded from fishing boats.

The origin of the arms has never been established publicly, but according to documents they were believed to have been bound for fighters in India belonging to the United Liberation Front of Asom.

—–

FRIDAY

Murder suspect Shrien Dewani has lost his bid to block his extradition to South Africa, where he’s accused of arranging the murder of his new wife, Anni, during a honeymoon trip to Cape Town in 2010.

The case has drawn attention in both countries, and has been dragged out by legal wrangling in Britain over whether Dewani is fit to be removed from the country.

Dewani denies the charges, and his lawyers argue that he suffers post-traumatic stress and depression and should not be extradited.

Britain’s high court on Friday approved Dewani’s removal so long as South African authorities could give a guarantee as to how long he would be kept there without trial.

The court had been told the South Africans were willing to do so.

—–

Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters have marched through the capital Bangkok as part of a three-day push to show their opposition to elections due on Sunday.

Carrying whistles and waving large flags, protesters marched down streets with Suthep Thaugsuban, the protest leader, greeting supporters and collecting money as he walked.

The government had vowed to push ahead with the general election despite threats by anti-government protests

Protesters say they will disrupt the polls in an attempt to stop the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and her Puea Thai party from returning to power.

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said the protesters had prevented ballot boxes from being delivered to polling booths and that the election was likely to be “severely disrupted”.

—–

A Ukrainian anti-government activist who disappeared a week ago has appeared on television, his face badly beaten and with wounds to his hands, saying his abductors had “crucified” him.

Dmytro Bulatov, 35, who was one of the leaders of anti-government protest motorcades called ‘Automaidan’, was taken to hospital after he appeared on Ukrainian TV 5th channel.

He says they crucified him, punctured my hands, cut off his ear, and slashed his face.

The spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, called for an investigation into claims of torture in Ukraine.

Bulatov was reported missing on January 23.

He was involved in several motorcade protests in which scores of cars would drive to the homes of Ukrainian leaders.

Bulatov’s reappearance came two days after the prime minister, Mykola Azarov, offered his resignation in a bid to ease the two-month crisis.

—–

The South Sudanese government had signed a peace agreement with a rebel group in Jonglei state, ending nearly three years of the rebellion that has left hundreds of people dead.

The deal with the South Sudan Democratic Movement was agreed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The ceasefire was signed with rebels who took up arms after soldiers loyal to the president, Salva Kiir, clashed with those backing his former vice president, Riek Machar, in what the government dubbed a coup.

The ceasefire could help restore peace in Jonglei, which is Machar’s home state and where some of his ethnic Nuer had taken up arms after the December 15 deadly clashes in the capital Juba.

The peace accord says the supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the agreement will be carried out by the Church Leaders Mediation Initiative, which was instrumental in bringing the two sides to a negotiating table.

—–

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the union is not an ANC trade union like some other unions in the country

Cloete said the membership of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA was not dependent on the political party someone supported.

He said Numsa members belonged to every political party “under the sun” in the country.

At its national special congress in December last year Numsa resolved not to support the African National Congress in this year’s general election.

Cloete described the congress as ground-breaking and said some people felt the union had made a courageous decision.

—–

The UN Arab League envoy to Syria said that rival Syrian delegations could return for a second round of peace talks on February 10, to build on the “modest beginning” and “very slow” progress of closed-door negotiations.

Lakhdar Brahimi said that the talks between Syria’s regime and opposition have made slim progress, but have raised hopes for a solution to the country’s civil war.

After a week of closed-door negotiations wrapped up in Geneva he said  there are some elements that can offer a beginning, and ground to stand on.

The UN envoy said that getting the government and the main opposition bloc to talk to each other for the first time in three years was a feat in itself.

Brahimi said he saw some positive steps and common ground but the gaps between the sides “remain wide”.

The opposition delegation has already agreed to a February 10 date, but the government said it would need to consult with Damascus first.

—–

The Democratic Allianceand Agang SA will next week formalise the integration of the two parties following Mamphela Ramphele’s decision to stand as the official opposition’s presidential candidate.

Ramphele and DA leader Helen Zille said they would embark on a road show on Tuesday to muster support for the merger, starting with a march on employment creation in Johannesburg.

From there they will travel across the country to engage with South Africans in all communities, to showcase their shared vision of the future

In the meanwhile, the two parties would work out the technical details of how they will integrate.

A year after launching Agang SA, Ramphele announced on Tuesday that she would front the DA’s 2014 election campaign in a bid to change the country’s political landscape and consign race politics to “the dustbin”.

Zille conceded that the decision had not been canvassed with the parties’ grassroots structures.

A press conference will be held on Monday to welcome Ramphele, a former World Bank director and prominent academic, to the DA.

—–

The United Nations has expressed concern about the “increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks” on journalists in Egypt,

IT singled out three Al Jazeera reporters held for more than a month.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the clampdown on the media by Egyptian authorities was hampering the ability of journalists to operate freely.

The UNHCR said it was concerned about the Egyptian Prosecutor-General’s intention to bring to trial 16 local and three foreign journalists working for Al Jazeera, on charges including “aiding a terrorist group” and “harming the national interest”

Correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been held in custody more than a month without charge.

Human rights groups say conditions for journalists in Egypt have become difficult since former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was removed in a coup on July 3, 2013.

——

The case against the man arrested in connection with acts of terrorism against the SA National Roads Agency Limited was struck off the roll.

Accordint to reports, charges against the man were dropped, after it was decided that the man would not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

It was initially reported that the man was a Sanral employee but the company denied this.

The man was arrested in connection with a spate of anthrax and bomb scares at the roads agency’s operations centre.

The centre was evacuated three times, with some employees taken to hospital and receiving counseling.

—–

South Africa’s last white president took a swipe at the ruling African National Congress, saying they discriminate against people based on race.

FW de Klerk was speaking at a speech to mark 20 years of democracy in Cape Town.

He says the policies in the ANC’s second phase of transitionare overtly directed against South African citizens on the basis of their race.

The former president called it unconstitutional and said it was the antithesis of the goal of national reconciliation.

De Klerk, who unbanned the ANC and released South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela from 27 years in prison in 1990, said South Africa had failed to provide decent education and jobs for its people.

 

 

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