June 26, 2019  

Two new flags will be flying high at the Olympic Games in Rio.

For the first time, South Sudan and Kosovo have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo, which was a province of the former Yugoslavia, will have 8 athletes competing; and a good shot for a medal in women's judo: Majlinda Kelmendi is considered a favorite. She's ranked first in the world in her weight class.

(South Sudan's James Chiengjiek, Yiech Biel & coach Joe Domongole, © AFP) South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, will have three runners competing in the country's first Olympic Games.

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus


(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)



Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler



CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au)


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Entries in Kano (3)


Nigeria Under Attack (NEWS BRIEF)

(UPDATED JAN 21 1900GMT) - A series of coordinated bomb attacks on Friday aimed at key government installations in the northern Nigerian city of Kano has killed more than 150 people, with death tolls still rising.An eyewitness photo of one of the attacks in Kano. CREDIT: Vanguard Newspaper

Eyewitness reports said among the installations hit were the police headquarters for the north and the passport office.

Channels Television, an independent broadcaster based in Lagos, said in a Twitter message that its Kano correspondent, Enenche Akogwu, 31, was shot dead in the mayhem by suspected members of Boko Haram.

The apparently coordinated attacks represent one of the worst and most brazen assaults on the country, and follows a Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic church near Abuja and another on the UN headquarters in the capital in August, which killed more than 20 people.

"The nature of these attacks has sickened people around the world...There is no place in today's world for such barbaric acts," said UK Foreign Secretary William J. Hague.

A BBC correspondent in Kano said he would be surprised if the death toll was anything less than 100. A mortuary official quoted by the BBC said exact casualty figures were hard to come by as many people were likely still buried under rubble.

Al Arabiya, quoting a hospital source, said 162 bodies were brought to area morgues.

In the Kano attack, at least six explosions could be heard. Eyewitnesses writing on Twitter said security forces moved in as firefighters struggle to bring some blazes under control. An immediate 24-hour curfew has been imposed.

And, in an unprecedented move, Nigeria closed its borders Saturday with Cameroon and Niger, ostensibly because militants move freely from those countries into Nigeria.

With more than 9-million people, Kano is the most populated city in Nigeria after Lagos and is the capital of the predominantly Muslim north. The BBC, which has a correspondent in nearby Kaduna, said the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has taken responsibility.

The attacks come on the tail end of labour disruptions that virtually paralyzed the nation for several days.

As news of the Kano attack spread, the exasperation of ordinary Nigerians came through on many tweets. Wrote a Twitter subscriber named Isha72 in Zaria, Nigeria: "Lord we may never have it as clueless as this again in Nigeria. How much can we take?"

Tweeted another user named Matt: "Where we are headed is not pretty."

One reader writing on the Vanguard Newspaper website said the violence shows it is time for the North and South - respectively predominantly Muslim and Christian - to go their own, separate ways: "When will the Southern leadership stand up and say: 'Enough with this marriage with the core North?'"

Several foreign governments, including Canada, have re-issued advisories against travel to Nigeria.

- HUMNEWS staff


Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan Re-elected Amidst Riots in Some Northern States (NEWS BRIEF)

A polling station in Nigeria. Courtesy: EU Observer Mission- by Josephine Kamara in Kano

(HN, April 19, 2011) - An uneasy calm has returned to some northern Nigerian states after security quelled demonstrations by irate youths, protesting the outcome of last weekend’s presidential election.

The incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, a politician from the mainly Christian south, received more than 25 per cent of the votes in at least two-thirds of the states - a requirement to avoid a run-off between him and his main challenger, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. 

According to the Nigerian Red Cross, about 17,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in eight northern states. About 360 are being treated for injuries.

“I appeal to those involved in the riots to stop this unnecessary and avoidable conduct”, Jonathan said, “More so at this point in time when a lot of sacrifice has been made by all the citizens of this great country in ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections.”

President Jonathan has also called on "all our political leaders, especially the contestants, to appeal to their supporters to stop further violence in the interest of stability, peace and the well-being of this great country". 

Young supporters of Muhammadu Buhari, who is popular in the north, have been clashing with the police and military. They feel that the elections have been rigged in some areas of the south.

In Kano, the largest city in the north, homes displaying posters of Mr. Jonathan were set ablaze, and enraged young men roamed the streets shouting "Only Buhari!"

In Kaduna, where a 24-hour curfew has been declared, election monitors say shops were closed and people were fleeing to their homes through streets barricaded with burning tires. Youths clashed with police and the military in areas to the north and south of the city, with the security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition. 

Some eyewitnesses spoke about deaths, maiming and burning of homes, churches and mosques in Kano.

President Jonathan’s party, the PDP has won presidential elections since 1999 – that’s when Nigeria returned to civilian rule. Pre-election polls expected the PDP to win, as the opposition appeared to command support in less than 15 states.

Jonathan, 53, is the first president from the main oil-producing Niger Delta region. He occupied the post after the death of the country's elected Muslim leader, President Musa Yar’Adua.

According to the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), the final vote count for the two front-runners is 12,214,853 for Buhari and 22,495,187 for Jonathan.

The elections for Parliament, the Presidency and some state governors have been staggered over three weeks, with the latter scheduled for April 26.

With about 150-million people, the oil-producing nation of Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa.

HUM correspondent Josephine Kamara is based in Abuja


Chronic Power Shortages Plunge Sub-Saharan African Cities Into Darkness (Updated)

KADUNA/KANO, NIGERIA (HN March 30) While millions of people around the world observed Earth Hour by switching off lights, residents of many cities and towns in sub-Saharan Africa toiled in 24-hour blackouts Saturday due to a longstanding and persistent power shortages.

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, for example, the day Earth Hour was observed - Saturday, March 27 - passed like any other day - without a kilowatt of electricity. The lucky homes and business owners have generators, which send plumes of dark diesel smoke into the dusty air.

Earth Hour is a climate change initiative of the  World Wildlife Fund, one of the worlds’ largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.

Yet in Kano - Nigeria's second largest city - there is no need to switch off the lights at night because there are no lights. The owner of the Moons Hotel says that since about New Years, he has been running his generator 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. "When I have no guests I switch off the generator to save money," he said, adding that it costs about NGN25,000 ($160)-a-day to run the generator.

A taxi driver who identified himself as Babba Tropicana held up his hand and counted off seven fingers when asked how many days-a-week his family goes without power. He expressed concern about how ordinary people will cope with the upcoming hot season just around the corner.

Ironically, Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest energy producer - yet the country of more than 150 million people wont be able to generate enough electricity until much later in the decade, according to analysts. This is despite the efforts of the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to pump $16 billion into the country's energy sector.

The rolling blackouts in Nigeria are attributed to an acute shortage of petrol at the thermal generation stations across the country, which have idled at least six stations.  The available electricity volume on the national grid dropped from 3, 710 megawatts (MW) in December 2009 to 2, 543 MW in mid-March. The Ministry of Power puts available electricity generation capacity in the country at over 5000 MW per hour. People here hope that the new acting President, Goodluck Jonathan will be able to rise above political squabbles and restore a reliable energy supply.

Nigeria is the continent’s most populous nation and third largest economy - after South Africa and Kenya - but power shortages, rampant corruption, a brain drain and red tape, threaten to slow economic growth. In nearby Ghana, where offshore oil reserves have been recently discovered, people there are reported to be hoping that - unlike Nigeria - the country's newfound wealth will go into infrastructure improvements like new roads and schools.

To be sure, Nigeria is not the only African country to be afflicted by power shortages. In South Africa - host to this year’s FIFA World Cup finals - lack of power has forced gold mines to shut down. One African writer has suggested that power shortages could negatively impact on the World Cup - darkening stadiums and interrupting broadcasts.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2007 alone, nearly two-thirds of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa experienced an acute energy crisis with frequent and extended electricity outages. While conflict and drought can be blamed, the main reason is that demand has simply outstripped supply. Many power generation facilities rely on traditional fuels, which are in short supply, especially in non-producing African nations.

The IMF says that due to the slower-than-expected process of electrification, only about a quarter of the region’s population has access to power. In Angola, only about 15 percent of people have access. However, new, massive hydro-electric projects - such as a $7-billion, 400MW joint Angola-Namibia dam on the Kunene River - will eventually help to alleviate the crippling energy shortage on the continent. The region has a population of over 800-million - 80 percent of which live on less than a dollar-a-day - yet its installed generation capacity is no more than that of Spain.

Many analysts say the power crisis could hold the continent back in achieving ket Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Electrical energy is not only crucial to commerce and industry, but also holds the key to poverty alleviation,” writes Peter Kagwanja of African Insight. “Energy being critical to the provision of clean water, sanitation, health services, irrigation, telecommunication, industrial development and development of infrastructure, its absence means poverty and therefore, it should be central to transforming the rhetoric of "African Renaissance" into a socio-economic reality.”

Michael Bociurkiw reporting