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Yusuf Alli – Cii News | 16 May 2014

News that made headlines on various newswires around the world.

MONDAY

A showdown is loomed on South Africa’s restive platinum belt as leaders of AMCU maintained that most of their roughly 70 000 striking members were not happy with the latest wage offer.

Meanwhile, world no 3 platinum producer Lonmin said to its workers that it anticipated a “mass return to work” on Wednesday at its strike-hit South African operations.

According to an internal company memo to employees, managers and supervisors were returning from leave and ramp plans are in place for a safe return.

It further stated that Lonmin wass gearing up for a serious back to work offensive on Monday 12 May in anticipation of a mass return to work on 14 May

Lonmin and larger rivals Anglo AMerican Platinum and Impala Platinum were taking wage offers directly to employees in a bid to end a 15-week strike after talks with Amcu collapsed.

The strike is the longest and costliest ever on South Africa’s mines, highlighting discontent among black miners who feel they are still not reaping the benefits of the country’s mineral wealth two decades after apartheid ended.

—–

Julius Malema said South Africa’s fifth Parliament was in for a rude awakening when overalls- and hard hats clad new kids on the block the Economic Freedom Fighters are sworn in as members

The EFF leader said the party had already worked out its first order of business when Parliament comes into session, from challenging certain regulations, starting with the dress code, to tabling various motions that would deal with land and expropriation without compensation.

Malema seemed to live up to his dress code threat when he arrived at the IEC results centre for the final results announcement in Pretoria on Saturday wearing a red overall, despite a formal dress code.

He said they will no longer be sleeping in Parliament because everybody will be awake ready to receive what the Economic Freedom Fighters are ready to say.

 

According to Malema, some people in Parliament were “hiding their stupidity behind ties”.

He said the EFF should be congratulated for making history by being the only political organisation in Parliament and the country led by a 33-year-old.

—–

The South African National Roads Agency Limited has warned Gauteng residents about hoax e-mails claiming that money can be taken directly from e-toll users’ bank accounts.

It said the hoax e-mails started out as an April Fool’s joke but had since spiraled out of control.

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said: “The April Fool’s joke has gained momentum, and many people are concerned that Sanral is illegally taking money from road users.

SANRAL are trying to assure the public that Sanral acts strictly within the confines of the e-tolling legislation.

Mona said a similar situation occurred in January when false reports were spread about alleged roadblocks in Gauteng where road users were forced to purchase e-tags.

International efforts have widened to trace more than 200 schoolgirls who were allegedly abducted in Nigeria.

France has called for African leaders to hold a summit focused on the issue.

Israel also joined the bid to find the abducted 223 schoolgirls allegedly by Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria’s restive northeast four weeks ago,

However Washington said US troops would stay out of any rescue mission.

Britain, the United States and France have already sent specialist teams and equipment to help Nigeria’s military in the search concentrated in the remote northeast, which has been hit by five years of deadly violence.

—–

The only South African Muslim party, the Al jammah party have blamed the Ulema for there not achieving a single seat in parliament.

The party narrowly missed a seat by reciving approximately 4000 votes of the threshold.

Party representative Imraan Mukaddam in particular labled the Western Cape based Muslim Judicial Council of supporting the African national Congress

—–

The African National Congress (ANC) said it plans to restore investor confidence with stable policies after its landslide victory in last weeks elections.

Secretary general Gwede Mantashe committed to “being clear on the policies of the ANC”, pointing toward the government’s far-reaching National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP envisages major infrastructure projects and rejects the nationalisation of key sectors such as mining.

President Jacob Zuma said the ANCs strong showing at the polls gives it a clear mandate to forge ahead with the programme, after securing 62.15% of votes.

Analysts say South Africa needs much more foreign investment to boost the economy and tackle unemployment, which stands at more than 25%.

—–

Thousands of Syrians returned to Homs over the weekend after an agreement signed this week which allowed rebels to leave the besieged city and regime forces to take over.

The Syrian army entered the city on Friday for the first time in nearly two years thanks to an unprecedented agreement with the Free Syrian Army fighters.

State television broadcasted live scenes of families checking the ruins of what were once their homes.

A few of them said that they were grateful for being able to return home.

The last group of rebel fighters left Homs on Friday as the regime army took control of the city, except for Alwa’er neighbourhood where tens of thousands of displaced people live.

The Syrian regime and rebels are said to have been engaged in talks to reach a similar agreement to surrender the neighbourhood to the government.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the city of Homs had witnessed the longest period of siege by regime forces in the country.

More than two thousand people were killed over the course of the conflict.

—–

Iran unveiled a domestically produced version of a sophisticated US drone it captured back in 2011.

The stealth drone was unveiled in an exhibition at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Forces’ Central Command, attended by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Other Iranian drones, including the so called Shahed 129 and 125, were also on display at the exhibition.

The aircraft was downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit on December 4, 2011, while flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar.

At the time, US military officials tried to play the incident down, saying Iran did not have the technology to decipher its secrets.

However, Iranian experts successfully decoded data extracted from the unmanned aircraft.

Iran later released decoded video recordings obtained from the stealth drone.

—-

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman dismissed Western accusations against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

It said Washington and Brussels were not doing enough to prevent the raging violence in the country.

Speaking to broadsheet Kommersant Dmitry Peskov called US and EU accusations of Russia fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine “absolute nonsense”.

He said the most important thing for them was to conduct elections and put an end to the legal issue about the legitimacy of the coup they have organised.

Ukraine is gearing up to hold snap presidential elections on May 25 after protests in February forced out pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

The West says that if Russia disrupts the vote it would face a new round of sanctions.

—–

Boko Haram released a new video claiming to show the missing Nigerian schoolgirls, alleging they had converted to Islam and would not be released until all militant prisoners were freed.

The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, speaks on the video obtained by AFP before showing what he said were the girls, praying in an undisclosed rural location.

A total of 276 girls were reportedly abducted on April 14 from the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, which has a sizeable Christian community.

Some 223 are still believed to be missing.

In the video, Shekau appears in front of a lime green canvas backdrop wearing combat fatigues and carrying an automatic weapon.

Shekau does not appear in the same shot as the girls at any point during the 27-minute video.

Speaking in Hausa and Arabic, he restates his claim of responsibility made in a video released last Monday and said the girls had converted to Islam.

——

Three mine workers were reportedly killed in South Africa’s restive platinum belt, as efforts intensified to break a strike that is now in its fourth month.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said the National Union of Mineworkers members were killed while on their way to work, or attacked at their homes.

Police said one was hacked to death, a second one was burnt to ashes in his house, while a third was found strangled to death along with his wife in their shack.

Six others were stabbed while walking to work, but survived.

The attacks appeared to bear the hallmarks of inter-union violence, but police could not confirm the motive.

——

The Turkish Red Crescent said it could remain unresponsive to a humanitarian crisis that has left half the Central African Republic’s population of 4.6 million vulnerable.

Mehmet Güllüoğlu, director general of the organization, said the tragedy is escalating in the region, where it is difficult to deliver humanitarian aid due to geographical conditions and logistics.

He said they dont want the CAR to turn into Rwanda, referring to the approximately 800,000 people who were killed in Rwanda during its 1994 civil war in which the international community was late to intervene.

Güllüoğlu also asked international organizations such as the United Nations and the EU not to remain unresponsive to serious violence in conflict-torn CAR, urging them to provide assistance in delivering aid.

Since last December, thousands of mostly Muslim people have been killed in sectarian clashes throughout the country.

According to the UNHCR refugee agency, more than 173,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence, while another 37,000 have fled the county.

—–

Tribal sources said at least six people have been killed in an airstrike carried out by a US drone in northern Yemen.

The raid took place after the unmanned aircraft targeted a car near al-Husun Village in Yemen’s Marib Province.

The victims were reportedly so called al-Qaeda suspects.

Last month, at least 50 people were killed in three days of US drone strikes in southern Yemen.

The US administration claims that its unmanned aircraft attacks target al-Qaeda militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned airstrikes.

Last October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said US drone strikes in Yemen had led to the death of many civilians over the past years in a blatant violation of international law.

—–

TUESDAY

North West police said no violence was reported overnight in the Rustenburg platinum belt where three non-striking miners were killed.

Brigadier Thulane Ngubane said nothing new happened in the area, after 6 non-striking miners were also stabbed while on their way to work on Monday.

Three mineworkers, and one of their wives, were killed in separate incidents since Sunday.

Fears of friction between striking miners and those wanting to resume work arose when the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union objected to employers approaching miners with their wage offer directly in a bid to end the strike.

Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum, and Lonmin had called on Amcu to exercise responsible leadership.

—–

KwaZulu-Natal police said the driver of a bakkie that plunged into a dam while carrying 29 school children had been arrested for murder.

Five children died in the accident in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Monday.

The 24-year-old man was driving along the D532 road in the Rietvlei area, near Elsmore Farm transporting 29 school children in his Colt bakkie.

He allegedly lost control of the vehicle which plunged into a farm sludge dam.

Twenty four children managed get out of the dam alive and five bodies were recovered by the police search and rescue unit.

The man faced charges of murder, attempted murder, and reckless and negligent driving.
—–

The former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery.

Olmert’s spokesperson said he would appeal to the Supreme Court and ask to be freed on bail until it had ruled.

His lawyer had asked the court in Tel Aviv to give him community service.

The 68-year-old was convicted in March over a real estate deal that took place while he served as mayor of Jerusalem.

Olmert would be the first former head of government in Israel to be jailed.

Judge David Rozen found him guilty of two bribery charges.

Olmert served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, until a flurry of corruption allegations led to his resignation.

He was acquitted of most of the major charges eventually brought against him by prosecutors but was also found guilty of breach of trust and given a one-year suspended jail sentence.

—–

Heavy fighting broke this week between rival groups in Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting concentrated on the eastern parts of Deir el-Zour province.

Many tribesmen joined the battle on the side of the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate known as the Nusra Front, which is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The infighting comes ahead of a presidential election on June 3 that current President Bashar Assad is expected to win.

No side has made major gains since last week’s capture of much of the western parts of the province by the Islamic State.

Last week, tribal leaders called on both sides to agree on a truce that would begin Saturday.

The Nusra Front agreed while the Islamic State gave no answer, many tribes consequently turned against them.

The head of Al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri is siding with the Nusra Front.

He has urged ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to withdraw his men and ordered the establishment of an independent Islamic court to settle the issue.

—–

The Muslim Brotherhood praised the Brussels Declaration which was announced last week by a number of leading Egyptian political figures.

The initiative seeks to unite all the revolutionary forces to pursue the objectives of the 25th January Revolution and end the rule of the military coup.

The Brotherhood says the restoration of the democratic process clearly means respecting the will of the Egyptian people.

It further stated that the will of the people was expressed through the electoral processes that were fair, as witnessed by the world and from which emerged the first elected civilian president.

The movement also praised the continued efforts of the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance for its leading role in national efforts of collaboration between the revolutionary forces,

—–

He Pentagon says The United States has been flying “manned” missions over Nigeria to track down more than 200 abducted schoolgirls

A senior administration official told AFP news agency they they are flying manned ISR, surveillance and reconnaissance assets over Nigeria with the government’s permission.

The official said they have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians.

It was not immediately clear what kinds of aircraft were being deployed, nor where they had come from.

A 30-strong US team arrived on the ground last week in Nigeria to help growing efforts to find the girls aged between 16 to 18, supposedly snatched from their boarding school in the northeast of the country on April 14.

—–

The mystery of the woman mercilessly hacked with an axe and assaulted by a mob had deepened.

Despite speculation that the attack took place on election day, police were not convinced.

A video of the assault has gone viral. It has even made it onto a website that depicts murders.

The website says that the woman is a COPE supporter who was “killed” by ANC members.

Police spokesman Lieutenant- General Solomon Makgale said the SAPS was probing the authenticity of the footage.

The video shows a woman lying on the ground surrounded by a mob – a few in what look like ANC T-shirts. They take turns kicking her head. A man then uses an axe to hack at the woman repeatedly.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said it is a police matter and they must get to the bottom of it.

—–

The video showing a young woman being attacked by a mob had sparked many questions, with many asking whether it was politically motivated as claimed.

There is a belief that the video is an old mob justice killing that has been rebranded as a political act.

Former journalist Adriana Stuijt claimed that a friend recorded the video and insisted it was a politically motivated attack.

However, Cope rejected Stuijt’s claims saying they don’t know anything of that nature.

The video was circulated worldwide and is also on the CNN and BBC websites. CNN has captioned the video “ANC supporter violence”.

Stuijt, who lives in the Netherlands, has refused to say where this incident happened or who the person attacked was, except to say it was somewhere in Gauteng.

——

A wave of car bombings in mainly Shia areas of Baghdad  killed at least 19 people.

The latest surge in violence has been the most serious challenge to the government’s efforts to achieve stability across Iraq.

The attacks came as people were celebrating the so called birthday of Imam Ali (RA), the cousin and son-in-law of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to media.

According to the United Nations, 8,868 people were killed in Iraq last year, the country’s highest death toll since the peak of sectarian bloodletting in 2007 and 2008.

—–

The former head of Egypt’s armed forces and the current presidential candidate, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, said if his potential presidency triggers protests, he will resign.

In an interview with Sky News Arabia he said if people go down to protest, he is at their service, and cannot wait until the army asks him to resign.

Commentators say Sisi’s remarks reminisce those of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, prior to the presidential election of 2012, and the comments are in direct contradiction with Sisi’s support for a new law that strongly restricts freedom of assembly.

Sisi last week warned newspaper editors not to press for freedom of speech. He said demands for greater freedom would jeopardize national security.

He called on senior editors not to press for dramatic reforms in state institutions by exposing corruption.

On May 6, the former Egyptian commander declared that there will be nothing called the Muslim Brotherhood during his tenure.

Anti-government demonstrators have been holding protests on an almost daily basis since the army toppled Morsi.

The demonstrators demand reinstatement of Morsi, who is the first democratically-elected president of the country.

Rights groups say 1,400 people have been killed in the violence since Morsi’s ouster in July last year.

—–

South African Police Service deployed additional officers to the platinum belt to protect miners returning to work this week.

This cames as producers pushed ahead with plans to end the country’s longest and most costly strike.

Police spokesperson, Thulani Ngubane, said police set up park-and-ride facilities around the platinum mines to handle the arrivals.

It was unclear how many workers would be coming back but the three big platinum firms said a majority of the 70 000 strikers they have contacted directly want to end the strike.

Ngubane said they are prepared for any eventuality, although it will be difficult to provide security for the miners in the shanty towns that ring the main mines

Four miners were killed in the area over the last three days.

Lonmin said it expected more miners to start returning to work tomorrow after it made its wage offer directly to employees, sidestepping Amcu.

Implats was still conducting an SMS vote on its offer, which was expected to be concluded today, and Amplats also said its workers wanted to return to work.

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the main reason they are not coming to work is because they are being intimidated.

The producers say the strike has to date cost them R17bn in lost revenues and employees have lost nearly R8bn of earnings.

—–

A top EU court had ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called “right to be forgotten”.

The European Union Court of Justice said links to “irrelevant” and outdated data should be erased on request.

The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy.

Google said the ruling was “disappointing”.

Backers of the “right to be forgotten” were celebrating this ruling.

EU Commissioner Viviane Reding called it “a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans”.

The search engine says it does not control data, it only offers links to information freely available on the internet.

It has previously said forcing it to remove data amounts to censorship.

—–

The ANC in Gauteng asked its provincial election team to do an in-depth analysis of the election results, as echoed by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba at the weekend.

The ANC Gauteng PEC reportedly met last night in Johannesburg to receive a high-level election report.

Its spokesman Nkenke Kekana said the PEC tasked the PET to do an in-depth analysis and report back in one week.

Gigaba said that a thorough analysis of the general election would be carried out to look at voting patterns across the country.

Kekana said the party was concerned by the party’s drop in support.

——

The Economic Freedom Fighters said it plans to donate R50 000 to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s strike fund.

The fund was created to help platinum mineworkers who have been on a wage strike since 23 January.

Amcu has donated R1m to the fund’s account, which was opened in April.

A total of R50 000 was donated by union officials and staff members.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa donated R10 000 to Amcu during his election campaign in Freedom Park, Rustenburg, on 26 April.

The EFF called on all South Africans and the international community to also contribute in solidarity with workers.
—–

The two main Palestinian political factions of Hamas and Fatah began talks to form a transitional government.

In another step toward reconciliation and unity, the talks between senior officials from the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas and Fatah party leaders started in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Reports said that acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas ordered his delegation to strike a deal with Hamas on the new government.

Salah al-Bardaweel, a spokesman for Hamas, said earlier in the day that Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of Fatah, would arrive in the Gaza Strip from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The two sides have reportedly exchanged lists of ministerial candidates so far.

On April 23, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which includes Fatah, pledged to settle their differences and form a unity government.

Under the long-awaited deal, Hamas and Fatah are to establish the unity government within five weeks and hold national elections six months later.

The Israeli regime reacted to the act of reconciliation among the Palestinians by canceling the so-called peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and threatening sanctions against it.

—–

WEDNESDAY

About 1 000 stick-wielding strikers gathered outside Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, preventing workers from breaking the longest and costliest bout of industrial action the sector’s history.

Some of the protesting strikers, clad in the green shirts of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said they were there to block anyone from reaching the shafts.

The rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said its members are unable to return to work because of Amcu intimidation.

Four people were murdered around the platinum mines in the last few days although police have made no arrests.

North West police on Wednesday morning began escorting buses to mines on the platinum belt as some striking miners returned to work.

A police spokesperson told the eNCA television channel that officers were out in force and were on hand to escort those who wished to return to the mine gates.

The companies have been taking their latest wage offer directly to Amcu’s members after wage talks with the union collapsed three weeks ago.

The strike has halted 40% of normal global output and dented the country’s already sluggish growth. It has cost the companies about R14bn in revenue and workers have lost over R6bn in earnings.

Lonmin warned that it might implement restructuring that could lead to a loss of jobs if striking mineworkers failed to return to work today.

The company set May 14 as the deadline for employees to end the almost four-month-old strike.

—–

An explosion and fire in a Turkish coal mine killed 201 people.

The death toll could rise with hundreds more still trapped.

Speaking to reporters at the scene of the disaster, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 workers were inside the mine when the blast hit a power unit.

Another 76 people were injured and hospitalised.

Yildiz said most of the deaths were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mining accidents are common in Turkey, which is plagued by poor safety conditions.

Turkey’s worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

—–

The Gauteng education department expressed concern about the treatment of some matric pupils at an Ekurhuleni school who were reportedly suspended for complaining about not having a maths teacher.

The Times reported that five matric pupils from Eden Park Secondary School were suspended for leaving during school hours to complain to officials at the Gauteng education department about their plight.

The last time the pupils had a maths lesson was on 4 February.

After being unable to get a meeting with their principal the pupils decided to leave school premises and speak to Gauteng education officials.

A department spokesperson said the suspension was concerning and that it will be speaking to the school’s governing body about the situation.

—–

Former KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge, accused of fraudulently presenting a fake matric certificate when he joined the police, was expected to appear in the Durban Regional Court.

He faced three charges of fraud.

Two of Mdunge’s fraud charges relate to his presentation of the alleged fraudulent certificate to the SA Police Service when he joined the police in 1987.

He resigned last year, after the allegation surfaced in September, and was arrested in October.

The third fraud charges relates to his presentation of the alleged fraudulent certificate to the University of South Africa to obtain admission for a course to obtain a National Diploma in Police Administration.

—–

Extremist MK Miri Regev, from the ruling Likud Party and Knesset internal committee chairwoman, submitted a draft bill calling to officially divide al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews.

The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage says such a draft proposal is a bad omen and has serious implications for Al-Aqsa, which has been increasingly targeted by IOA.

According to the Foundation, the so-called Regev proposal is a flagrant call to desecration break-ins watched over by Israeli laws.

Penalties for attempts to protect al-Aqsa from such blatant offenses were put at 50-thousand-shekel fines (around 150 thousand rands).

According to Regev the law will be granted constitutional immunity and cannot, in any possible way, be called off under emergency laws.

The Foundation called on the Muslim and Arab masses to rally round al-Aqsa and stage more sit-ins inside it as a means to save the Mosque from Israeli sacrilege plots.

—–

An ambush by pro-Russian separatists has killed at least six Ukrainian soldiers.

This was the heaviest loss of life for government forces in a single clash since Kiev sent soldiers to put down a rebellion in the country’s east.

Yesterday Ukraine’s defence ministry and state security service said the troops were killed and seven others wounded when their armoured column was ambushed near the town of Kramatorsk.

The town is one of several hot spots in the largely Russian-speaking east where the army has had scant success against the rebels.

All the dead and injured have since been evacuated.

—–

Nigeria’s government said it was ready to hold talks with Boko Haram to secure the release of more than 200 girls abducted from their school last month.

Special Duties Minister Taminu Turaki told the AFP news agency that the window of negotiation was still open.

Turaki, who last year headed a committee pursuing an amnesty pact with some Boko Haram fighters, said “Nigeria has always been willing to dialogue with the insurgents.”

The minister’s statement came a day after the Boko Haram released a video in which its leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls abducted last month from a secondary school would be released once Nigeria freed all the Boko Haram prisoners it had in custody.

However that proposal was rejected by the Nigerian government.

—–

The SA National Roads Agency Limited said the transport department had extended the grace period for e-toll road users to settle their accounts and benefit from the discount.

CEO Nazir Alli said the extension was granted to allow users to register an e-toll account and settle the discounted outstanding amounts in full.

Users would be discounted for the period of December 3 2013 to February 28, without the alternate user tariff being applied.

He said they are doing this because they have taken note of the fact that some might have unintentionally fallen into arrears because this is a new system they are not familiar with.

Sanral has faced defiance over e-tolls in Gauteng among road users who refuse to register or pay for e-tolls in the province, in spite of threats of legal action against them.

—–

Lakhdar Brahimi has announced his resignation from his position as the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, largely out of frustration at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s plans to hold an election in June

Al Jazeeras James Bays filed this report

—–

The president of Amcu, Joseph Mathunjwa, urged members to remain united and strong in the face of efforts by the three major platinum companies to force miners to end a 16-week stoppage.

Acknowledging the difficulties, he urged the miners to hold each other by the hand and stay strong.

Mathunjwa was addressing thousands of strikers at a rally near the Marikana operations of Lonmin.

He said the spirit of the miners would not be broken by companies taking the offer directly to them.

Mathunjwa said the strike would continue because members still did not accept the latest wage offer.

—–

US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions against the former Central African Republic leaders Francois Bozize and Michel Djotodia and three other officials.

The move comes on the heels of UN sanctions announced by the Security Council against three of the same five men.

The Security Council sanctions also targeted the leader of the anti-Balaka militia, Levy Yakete,  and the Seleka militia’s number two Nourredine Adam.

The White House said in a statement that the sanctions aimed to send a powerful message that impunity will not be tolerated, and that those who threaten the stability of the CAR will face consequences.

They urged all parties to end the violence, to ensure justice and accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Forces loyal to Bozize have become involved in reprisal attacks against CAR’s Muslim population

Yakete was accused of having organized the distribution of machetes to young, unemployed Christians to attack Muslims.

Adam, who headed the intelligence services under the new regime, was accused of arbitrary arrests, torture and summary executions.

According to the United Nations At least 2,000 people have died in the fighting, and 2.2 million others, which is about half the country’s population need humanitarian aid

—–

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance warned Gauteng e-toll road users to think before being “seduced” by SANRALS offer to register for e-tags.

OUTA spokesman John Clarke said Sanral is desperate to get the over 1.3 million non-compliant freeways users to play on their turf by signing their terms and conditions.

Sanral announced today that the grace period for e-toll road users to settle their accounts and benefit from the discount had been extended.

Users would be discounted for the period of December 3, 2013 to February 28, without the alternate user tariff being applied.

The alternate rate is three times the standard toll tariff and is for unregistered users.

Outa described the move as a strategy to persuade road users to register so the agency could solve its financial problems.

The alliance’s chairman Wayne Duvenage said Outa predicted that Sanral would re-commence its hook, crook, and spook tactics as soon as the elections were over.

He said the alliance believed the discount offer would be followed by a summons case to scare the public into compliance.

—–

A thief who has been dubbed the dumbest in Johannesburg was caught after stealing high-end CCTV security cameras.

According to a report in The Star, he hadn’t figured out that the cameras record his face before they are removed.

According to the report a picture of the crook’s face has been posted on the eBlockwatch Facebook page, with the organisation’s founder declaring him the “the dumbest crook in Johannesburg”.

The man who put up the picture, said This man is an idiot because he just walks up to the camera without covering his face,”

Fareed Hoosen, told the newspaper that footage of the man was taken around 3pm on Saturday from a home on 4th Avenue in Linden.

With the suspect so openly identifying himself, Hoosen hopes an arrest is made soon.

—–

Platinum producer Lonmin declined to say how many of its employees had returned to work in the platinum belt in the North West, maintaining it was “a process”.

Spokesperson Sue Vey said People were returning to work but there has been intimidation.

Lonmin had warned that it may implement restructuring that could lead to job losses if striking mineworkers failed to return to work today.

The company set today as the deadline for employees to end the almost four-month-old strike.

The deadline did not apply to Impala Platinumand Anglo-American Platinumworkers.

North West premier Thandi Modise called for calm in the area.

She said parties involved in the wage dispute in the platinum belt should act responsibly to avoid violent confrontations at all costs.

—–

At least 21 people were killed in an incident of rioting over the Chinese construction of an oil rig in disputed waters.

Five Vietnamese people and 16 others described as Chinese were reported to have been killed in the latest incident of rioting

The violence camehours after mobs burned and looted a number of foreign-owned factories at industrial parks near the capital Ho Chi Minh City.

The protests by workers are against China’s recent placement of an oil rig in the disputed Southeast Asian waters.

Vietnam sent ships to confront the rig which are engaged in a tense standoff with Chinese vessels protecting it.

Police said 440 people had been detained since Tuesday over the violence.

—-

Dozens of Israeli conscripts and settlers desecrated the plazas of the holy Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said in a statement that 45 settlers entered the Aqsa via Mahgareba Gate under strict police protection.

It said that the settlers toured the Mosque’s various courtyards and tried to perform Talmudic rituals, an attempt that was confronted by guards and worshipers.

At the same time, 90 male and female conscripts raided the holy site in their military uniform in three groups and listened to explanations on the alleged temple.

Hundreds worshipers were angered at the tours and chanted Allahu Akbar.

Israeli policemen arrested two brothers for reiterating the Takbir and threatened all those who do so with arrest.

Israeli policemen at the gates of the Aqsa confiscated IDs of students wishing to enter the Mosque and denied access for some of them.

——

 

THURSDAY

The National Union of Mineworkers said it had told its members to stay clear of strike-hit platinum mines because of intimidation by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

NUM’s regional secretary on the platinum belt Sydwell Dokolwana said they must stay away until conditions are safe and the intimidation stops.

Reuters reporters outside the Marikana mine of platinum producer Lonmin said there was little activity with virtually no one showing up to work.

Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum have also been affected by the strike.

Yesterday, Amcu strikers prevented others from returning to Lonmin’s shafts, thwarting the company’s efforts to end the strike.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa vowed to crack down on violence against those who wanted to return to work and arrest “within hours” strikers he said were behind a campaign of intimidation.

—–

The EFF walked out of a breakfast briefing hosted by The New Age (TNA) because it said it was was “hoodwinked” into attending.

According to the party’s Dali Mpofu, normally the EFF would not have been invited to the breakfast before the elections, but now that elections are over, they were invited .

Mpofu went on to attack The New Age, ANN7 and SABC, who broadcast the debate on SABC2, saying it was being used by the ANC.

He said because of the false information by TNA, the EFF would walk out of the briefing.

The group of about six members, brightly clad in red EFF attire, then stood up and briskly walked out to the astonishment of guests.

—–

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said an investigation in to teacher unions selling senior posts at schools would take place.

Reports emerged recently that Sadtu members were selling principal and deputy principal positions at schools for upwards of R30 000 each.

President Jacob Zuma has approved the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry into the allegations.

Numerous unions could be involved in alleged job promotion racketeering.

—–

DA MP Tim Harris denied that his decision to leave Parliament is linked to the resignation of DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.

DA shadow minister of finance announced on Wednesday that he had been appointed head of investments for the City of Cape Town,

According to Die Burger, Harris denied that this move was related to Mazibuko’s decision to resign from her position in order to study at Harvard University in the US.

Harris reportedly said he had been in talks with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for the past six months on this new position.

He added that the two developments “have nothing to do with each other”.

Harris also praised Mazibuko as a tough opponent for President Jacob Zuma in Parliament.

—–

Iran welcomed a move by Saudi Arabia to strengthen ties between the two middle east powers.

The move is surprising as the muslim world continues to polarize between the Shia and Sunni schools of thought.

Iran is the supreme seat of Shiasm and Saudi Arabia is home to Sunni Islam’s holiest cities.

The two countries have also been at odds over Syria’s civil war and the fallout from unrest in Bahrain.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said he invited his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to visit the kingdom.

Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said they were yet to receive Riyadh’s formal invite, but a meeting is expected.
——

The Haram in Makkah Mukarramah now has a new sound system.

The system, which conforms to the latest available standards, was recently inaugurated by Makkah Emir Prince Mishaal Bin Abdullah.

The head of the operations department at the Grand Mosque, Faris Al-Saadi, said a certain system was chosen, and extensive tests were conducted by specialists at the operation department.

The system has won the approval of Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Masaajid.

The new sound system was first put to use during the Maghreb prayers last Sunday.

—–

The EFF’s Dali Mpofu says the ANC should be worried by the EFF winning 10% of the votes in Gauteng in the general election.

He said the Economic Freedom Fighters was the fastest growing party in the country.

Mpofu said the reality is that the ANC has lost 15 seats, the DA gained 22 seats and the EFF gained 25 seats so they are the fastest growing party in South Africa.

He said the African National Congress needed to learn how to govern differently.

After listening to opinions from a panel of political analysts, Mpofu said the election results should be looked at in a proper perspective.

He said the EFF could not be compared to the Congress of the People, which came third in the 2009 election and was the new party at the time.

—–

A car bomber and a suicide bomber have struck a busy area in Baghdad’s commercial district, reportedly killing at least nine people and wounding 19.

Baghdad security spokesman Brigadier-General Saad Maan said the first attack was a self car bomb between the court and a police base.

He was quoted by AFP news agency that after a few minutes, another human bomber blew himself up.

The area is a busy commercial district where also some government offices are located, including courts and a hospital.

Since last year, Iraq has been seeing the worst level of violence since sectarian violence in 2008.

The UN has says nearly 9000 people were killed in 2013, and more than 1,400 people were killed in January and February of this year.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

—–

Israeli forces shot and killed a young Palestinian man and a teenage boy during a protest rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba west of Ramallah in the central West Bank.

According to medical sources, the victims were shot by live ammunition in the chest.

Their bodies were evacuated to Ramallah Medical Complex.

Medics said three teenagers were also injured by live bullets.

One was struck in the chest, one in the foot, and one in the leg.

Doctors say they are in stable condition.

Participants in the rally near Ofer detention center said they also wanted to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held without trial who have been on hunger strike for 22 days.

Palestinians across the occupied territories and elsewhere are commemorating the Nakba, or catastrophe, of the founding of the State of Israel.

During the Nakba, more than 760,000 Palestinians estimated today to number more than 5 million with their descendants fled or were driven from their homes in 1948.

—–

Eskom issued an urgent call to customers to switch off as much as possible to avoid loadshedding.

In a statement Eskom said the power system was severely constrained today due to the unavailability of some of their generating units.

The power utility called on consumers to urgently switch off electrical heaters, geysers, pool pumps and all non-essential appliances.

Eskom said it had noted demand rising during peak hours as the cold weather set in with the approach of winter.

It said it needed voluntary savings of at least 10 percent in order to manage demand.

Should the demand not decrease, load shedding would be implemented as a last resort to protect the national grid from a total shutdown.

Eskom’s load shedding tables are on its website and municipal tables are on the municipal websites.

—–

At least 17 people were killed when a car bomb went off at a northern Syrian border post on the frontier with Turkey.

The explosion occurred at a garage near the Bab al-Salameh border crossing in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

Some activists reported that the casualty count could be as high as 30 with scores wounded.

Pictures sent by activists showed burnt cars and charred corpses and body parts in the area.

Syria’s conflict began with largely peaceful protests calling for reforms and transformed into an armed uprising and eventually a civil war following a ferocious military crackdown on protesters.

More than 150,000 people have died since March 2011, and hundreds of thousands of people have been wounded, while millions have been displaced.

Explosions around Syria have killed and wounded thousands of people over the past years.

—–

Labour union Numsa had resolved to form a political party for workers, said on Thursday.

The organizations secretary general Irvin Jim said the working class needed its own political party, adding that the working class is leaderless

For now the party would be referred to as the United Front, and its name would be finalised next year.

Jim said workers were not in a hurry to get to Parliament, and were not opportunistic in planning to form their own political party.

Deputy secretary general Karl Cloete said the party would contest the 2016 local elections if up and running by then.

Jim said anyone who wanted to defend the workers was welcome in the UF.

—–

The U.N. Security Council condemned the killing of a French journalist who was reporting from the violence-racked Central African Republic.

CNN reports say French troops found the body of Camille Lepage during the search of a vigilante group’s vehicle in a western region of the country.

The office of French President Francois Hollande reportedly said that all necessary means would be employed to shed light on the circumstances of this assassination and to find Lepage’s murderers.

The U.N. Security Council said that “those responsible for the killing shall be held accountable.”

Lepage’s body was found in an anti-balaka vehicle in the region of the western town of Bouar.

Humanitarian groups have warned that the country risks descending into genocide.

The anti-balaka rebel group, which translates to anti-machete, have also carried out deadly reprisals on Muslim communities.

——

Government announced that it will take Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to court over her report on the controversial upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams says Ministers in the security cluster say some of the findings trespass the separation of powers doctrine.

Eyewitness News reported that they also said that some of the findings were irrational and contradictory.

The state’s legal team is already compiling court papers and government expects them to be filed at the high court within the next week.

Madonsela announced in March that she found that Zuma unduly benefitted from the R246m upgrades.

An ad-hoc Parliamentary committee that was set up to consider the report was put on hold until after the elections.

—–

FRIDAY

Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas visited Venezuela to seek support for observer status in three Latin American regional organizations.

Abbas is scheduled to hold talks with President Nicolas Maduro on Palestinians relations with Latin American countries.

Abbas is also planning to garner support for Palestinian Authority’s quest to be granted observer status in the Union of South American Nations,the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America,and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

The visit comes days after Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which includes Abbas’ Fatah party, agreed to resolve their differences and form a unity government.

The PA won observer status at the United Nations in November 2012 despite fierce opposition from Israel and the United States.

—–

The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has called its predicted landslide win in India’s election a “people’s victory”.

Party president Rajnath Singh said it marked “a new era” for India.

Votes counted so far suggest the BJP is on course for the most resounding victory by any party for 30 years, trouncing the outgoing Congress Party.

After a decade of rule by Congress, the BJP is expected to steer India sharply to the right.

But many Indians still have profound concerns over Mr Modi because of claims he did little to stop the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, in which at least 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims.

The election result will be a crushing blow to the Congress party, which is led by the Nehru-Gandhi family and has dominated Indian politics since independence.

—–

The United Nations warned of an “alarming deterioration” of human rights in eastern Ukraine, where an armed insurgency by pro-Russian separatists is threatening a presidential election just over a week away.

In a new report, the UN’s rights chief catalogued a litany of “targeted killings, torture and beatings, abductions, intimidation and some cases of sexual harassment” which it said was carried out by anti-government groups in the east.

With the May 25 vote rapidly approaching, Kiev’s interim leaders are battling to keep Ukraine from disintegrating further after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March.

Government forces are pressing on with a military offensive to put down the bloody rebellion in Ukraine’s industrial belt where well-armed insurgents have already seized over a dozen towns and cities in just a few weeks.

—-

Gautrain users will have to pay R10 more to get to the OR Tambo International Airport.

The fare increase was announced by Bombela, the company which runs the high-speed trains.

The current prices for airport-service fares range from R125 to R145 depending on the length of the journey.

Bombela said all fares would increase by between five and 16%, with incentives for off-peak travel under a multi-tiered fare structure called Gausave, which was being introduced on June 1.

Bus fares for train users will remain unchanged.

The daily parking tariff will increase R3, from R15 to R18, for one to 24-hours.

A three-day stay would go up from R100 to R110.

Fare tables are available on www.gautrain.co.za.

—–

The more favourable rand exchange rate and stable international petroleum prices could result in a fuel price drop in June.

The Automobile Association of SA says that the current data was indicating a drop of between 26 and 30 cents per litre for petrol, and between 20 and 22 cents per litre for diesel

The AA statement said it hopes that the current trends will continue so that the reductions will be bigger by the end of May.

The AA said the price of illuminating paraffin could drop by 14 cents a litre.

On May 7, the price of all grades of petrol dropped by 15 cents a litre, diesel decreased by 29.78 cents a litre, illuminating paraffin by 25 cents, and LP gas by four cents.

—–

At least 15 people were killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan’s southeast.

The deadly attack took place yesterady in the province of Paktika.

Afghan officials claim that the victims were members of the Taliban, but the freedom fighters have made no comments on the incident so far.

The US carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in several Muslim nations such as Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.

The United Nations says the assassination drone strikes are “targeted killings” that flout international law.

—–

Impala Platinum has described the impact on its employees of a 16-week strike at its key South African operations as “devastating”.

I added that it had lost 131 000 ounces of production to the stoppage in the March quarter.

It said the human tragedy that is unfolding as a result of their employees not earning any income and the violence and intimidation being experienced on the platinum belt is devastating.

The strike is centred on the platinum belt town of Rustenburg and Implats said the reopening of its mine there “will only be considered when the risk of violence and intimidation can be eliminated”.

Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin  have also been hit by the wage strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and their attempts to woo workers back have been met this week by violence.

Four miners were killed last the weekend.

Impala says during the period of the strike to date, it has lost approximately 246 000 ounces of platinum production, equivalent to R5.4bn of revenue, while employees have forfeited wages of approximately R1.4bn.

—–

The European Union’s Home Affairs commissioner has strongly criticized the bloc’s member states for failing to offer safe havens to Syrian refugees.

Cecilia Malmstrom says only a few countries in the EU have stepped forward to give refuge to Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country.

Malmstrom said that 14 European countries have so far refused to resettle any refugees from Syria.

The developments come as Syrian conflict has forced millions of people to flee their country to neighboring nations and beyond over the past three years.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered more than 2.1 million refugees in Syria’s four neighboring countries, namely Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

The UNHCR office said hundreds of thousands more people are living outside Syria’s borders with no access to aid.

Amnesty International has also lashed out at European Union countries for their “pitiful” response to the plight of the Syrian refugees fleeing the bloody crisis in their homeland.

According to statistics compiled by the UN, more than 150,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced due to the turmoil.

—–

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, says that that the number of South Sudanese refugees fleeing the conflict in their country has risen to about 80 thousand people since mid-December.

OCHA noted in its weekly report that nearly 13.000 Southern Sudanese have fled their country last week meaning that more than a thousand people were displaced during the past week.

It said the displaced refugees are in dire need to receive humanitarian aid including “food, shelter and health”.

The United Nations announced on May, 8 the displacement of more than 67 thousand Southern Sudanese because of the continued fighting in their country.

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