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 protests (5)


Wave of Political Unrest Reaches Syria (News Brief) 

photo courtesy of CNSNews(HN, March 23, 2011) -- It may be too early to call the demonstrations in the small city of Daraa a “revolution”. However, it is clear that the wave of political unrest in the Middle East has reached this southern Syrian city.

For nearly a week now protests have been ongoing there with demonstrators calling for freedom and for the end of corruption - the protests have been met with violence from security forces that have so far claimed the lives of five innocent civilians.  

Rights activists in Syria say security forces carried out a deadly attack near a mosque where anti-government protesters have gathered opening fire near the mosque where demonstrators have gathered. However state media said "an armed gang" was behind violence in the southern city of Daraa early Wednesday.

Syria's state news agency SANA quotes an official source as saying the gang attacked an ambulance near the city's Omari mosque, killing a doctor, a paramedic and a driver. The report says security forces confronted the attackers and "hit and arrested" some of them. A member of the security forces was also reported killed in the incident.

HUMNews has not been able to immediately reconcile the conflicting reports.  

Security forces killed four demonstrators in Daraa when protests erupted on Friday. Another demonstrator was killed on Sunday, and an 11-year-old boy died Monday after suffering tear gas inhalation.

In an attempt to contain the unrest, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Tuesday fired the governor of Daraa Province. But his dismissal failed to quell popular anger as protests reached several neighboring towns.

Authorities have also ramped up detentions across the country. A Syrian rights organization said police arrested a prominent activist Tuesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Loay Hussein, a former political prisoner who had spoken out in favor of the protests, was taken from his home near the capital, Damascus. Rights groups have reported dozens more "arbitrary and random arrests."

Protesters are demanding Assad end Syria's emergency law, which has been in place since 1963 when the Baath party took power, banning any opposition to its rule. In addition protesters are demanding Syria curb its pervasive security apparatus, free thousands of political prisoners and allow freedom of expression. Activists have so far not called for the end of his government.

Assad was popularly elected by 97% of all votes in 2000. He pledged to fight corruption, guarantee his people more freedom of expression and would adopt a more liberal market policy.

It became clear a few years into his rule that he has failed miserably on the first two and partially succeeded on the later pledge.

Last year, Human Rights Watch published an extensive report about the human rights situation in Syria in which the organization concluded that Assad's decade in power was marked by repression.

Assad belongs to the ruling Alawite minority party whose members have full control over military and intelligence posts. The rest of the Syrian population is made up of a Sunni majority, Christians, Kurds, Ismailis and Duruz. There are also over 1 million Palestinian immigrants and more recently over 1 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria.

The United States and the United Nations have called for an independent investigation into the recent violence.

- HUMNews staff 


EGYPT'S EVOLUTION: View from Cairo. What We Couldn't Show You.  

(HN, 2/2/11) - HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw had arrived in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday, January 27, 2011 from an assignment in Africa.  His hotel, the Four Seasons on the First Residence in Cairo had been about 65% full when he checked in, about 10% full when he left this past Monday 1/31/11.  Throughout his stay with Egyptian friends who live in the country, Bociurkiw, who had been to Cairo many times - even living there for four months in recent years - toured the city as demonstrators took to the streets in ever larger numbers as the days of protests for Egypt's future wore on. He had no internet or SMS for the length of his stay, only hard line phone and a mobile phone in later days. 

He has since been evacuated by the Canadian government (you can see his report below) through a chaotic airport experience to Frankfurt, Germany and now onto assignment in Africa.  Internet in Egypt has been sporadically restored just today inside the country, and with Bociurkiw out we are able to share his photographs of the historic Friday protests across Cairo, and bring you his eyewitness video report. 

-- HUMNEWS staff. 


(Report) - Fleeing Egypt Tourists Leave Chaos In Their Wake. `Million Person March' Planned. 

(HN-1/31/11) Cairo, Egypt.  The Cairo International Airport was mass chaos today as many countries evacuated citizens to their home countries and many Egyptians attempted to make their way back to their home towns from major cities such as Cairo and Alexandria.

Many foreign citizens, regardless of whether or not they wanted to leave, even given the dangers of staying, almost have to go. After a foreign citizens home government issues a travel warning and then an evacuation order, often times the citizen is essentially giving up the security and concern of their consulate offices and are on their own. In fact many insurance companies will not support claims of citizens who have defied their own governments orders. 

And, in the case of Egypt, even if your home government issues an order to evacuate, you may even have to pay for the privilege of leaving.  Canadian citizens who arrived at Cairo’s airport today for their flights out were told they needed to sign a waiver for a bill that would later be sent to them of $400 so they could leave the country and make it just as far as Frankfurt, Germany. While they may make their flights, they were told their luggage may not; and many did not have much with them as the call for evacuation came only with hours to pack.

Today, Lufthansa had many of the flights out of Cairo after Delta and several other major carriers stopped operations into and out of the Egyptian capital.

Michael Bociurkiw, our correspondent in Cairo stated that, “On the way here to the airport from the Four Seasons hotel on the First Residence, the taxi driver took another way around to avoid Tahrir Square.  In one part of the city I saw at least 40-50 tanks lined up in a column.  Many intersections were still being guarded it looked as though by private militia, and I saw absolutely no national police in the streets.”  He added, “Almost all of the legendary historical sites that I could see such as the Cairo Zoo and the entrance to the Pyramids at Giza were being guarded by Egyptian military vehicles”.

Bociurkiw goes on to say that the “Four Seasons hotel on the First Residence was operating at only 10 percent today. The manager stated they are not going to close because once you close its very hard to open again. And I spoke to a construction company owner early this morning who said he had to lay off close to 1000 men because his projects are no longer going forward with the crisis on. The impact on businesses in the country is staggering”.

Once he arrived at the Cairo airport, Bociurkiw spoke with many of those waiting in long lines at the airport to find out how they were getting out of the country.  All had been told that everything was being done to get them out of the country by 7pm local time tonight, even though a new curfew was put into place today restricting people's movements from 3pm to 8a.

A CBC television crew who Bociurkiw was interviewed by, told him that they were already aware of the 6 Al Jazeera journalists who had been arrested and then later released without their camera equipment and that many reporters they were in contact with had taken to shooting still photos on their blackberries and Iphones as a way to document the crisis.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the opposition in Egypt has called for a `Million Man’ style march in order to show their displeasure with the steps the Mubarak government has taken so far in addressing the demonstrators concerns and this morning the Egyptian Army issued a statement essentially endorsing the protesters rights to demonstrate.  

 ---HUMNEWS staff


Mubarak says a new government will be appointed but, shows no signs that he is stepping down (News Update) 

Egyptian President Hosini Mubarak tried to diffuse enormous discontent among the Egyptian people Friday night by announcing that a new government is on the way. He gave no indication that he himself planned to step down, despite increasing calls for him to do so. 

Mubarak, who assumed power in Egypt 30 year ago and is now 82 years old, made the announcement that a new government would begin being formed on Saturday following a day of widespread protest, demonstrations and violence.

-HUMNEWS staff


The turning point in Egypt (Breaking News Report) 

(HN, January 28, 2011) Clouds of acrid smoke are rising over central Cairo as thousands of protesters, men, women and children from all walks of life continue to take to the streets of Egypt.

The protests, which began in earnest, at the conclusion of the Muslim Friday prayers, around 1pm local time, started with a few thousand people taking to the streets in and around Tahrir square. – Thahrir  square is the main square in Cairo and center of government buildings.

The government security forces were clearly prepared stationing thousands of well armed riot police in strategic locations around the city – specifically around bridges and government buildings.

At first many Egyptians took in the events from little coffee shops watching the protest unfold on Al Jazeera as they decided whether or not to join in. – It was so quiet at first that it appeared that perhaps the disconnecting of the Internet and mobile phones by the Egyptian government may have actually succeeded in destabilizing the protests.  

As the afternoon has worn on it is clear that Egyptians have decided to take to the streets as the swell of protesters continues to grow well into the early evening hours in Cairo.

From HUMNEWS’ current vantage point in Giza a non-stop stream of demonstrators continues to grow carrying signs and shouting anti-Mubarak slogans as they march towards the bridge crossing the Nile in an attempt to cross into central Cairo and head to Tahrir square.

The number of riot police has also increased as has the number of water cannon trucks and use of tear gas. HUMNEWS observed police utilize, with no provocation, water cannons and tear gas on demonstrators as they stood stoically and got completely soaked.

Plainclothes secret policemen dragged protesters out of the crowd, kicking and beating them as they were loaded into lorries and driven away.

A protester in his 40’s named Mohammed who works as an importer/exporter spoke with HUMNEWS blocks away from Tahrir square, when asked what he hoped would happen he echoed the comments of many other interviewed saying: “I hope the government goes away.” When asked if that was realistic he clasped his hands together to illustrate the collaboration between the government, police and military forces and shrugged.

Demonstrators encountered by HUMNEWS have been exceedingly friendly and helpful at times protecting foreigners from tear gas and other obstacles and making way for photographers and cameramen to capture the historical events taking place – with the Interent being shut down images are more difficult to get out of the country - was witnessed by the lack of photos in this article.

As the day is now turning into evening there are reports that foreign journalists are being targeted and rounded up and taken “elsewhere” by police. As one BBC reporter said the police have set many red lines today so that if you breath you have crossed the line.

Egypt is now different - there is no doubting the dynamic on the street.

 - Reported by HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw in Cairo, Egypt