Friday, October 15, 2021

Ethiopia Expresses Readiness to Cooperate with AU in Conflict Resolution

October 15, 2021

 • 39th Ordinary Session of AUC Executive Council kicks off

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia is ready to cooperate with the African Union (AU) in the latter’s efforts of applying African solutions to African problems, so said Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

Demeke made the remark during the 39thOrdinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union Commission (AUC). The two-day ordinary session of foreign affairs ministers and delegations of the AU member countries was officially kicked off yesterday.

During the session, Demeke briefed participants on the current situation in Ethiopia and its efforts and readiness to solve the problems on its own.

He also thanked the African Union for sending a team to observe Ethiopia’s sixth General elections. Demeke further said that the election was free, fair, and democratic.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Ambassador Dina Mufti also told journalists that the 39thOrdinary Session of the Executive Council of the AUC is of great importance for Ethiopia, adding that Ethiopia will use the session to convey the reality about the current situation of Ethiopia.

Alongside the meeting, efforts are being made to clarify Ethiopia’s stance regarding the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the situation in the northern part of the country, Ambassador Dina stated.

He also reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen held talks with members of delegation of Benin, and the delegation has made a request to open the country’s embassy in Ethiopia.

He further noted that Demeke will discuss with the delegations of Algeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Angola, Burundi, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

According to Ambassador Dina, the main agendas of the meeting are challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines, strengthening the CDC, solutions to be taken in the future regarding the pandemic, as well as the need to reorganize the structures of the African Union, and ways in which African countries being self-sufficient in a budget that allows them to solve their problems on their own.

In his opening speech, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has posed a great threat in the continent.

He further urged participants of the ordinary session to deliberate on ways to effectively combat the pandemic and gear up the efforts of the CDC.

He also insisted that African countries should strengthen multi-sectoral cooperation to build a strong and prosperous Africa.



Security Forces Foil Separatists in Algeria


Oct 14, 2021 04:38 PM

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune (File photo: Xinhua)

Algerian security services said Wednesday they had foiled armed attacks planned by a separatist group with foreign help, local media reported.

The DGSN security agency said police this week broke up a network linked to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), a group that seeks independence for the restive Kabylie region and which Algeria considers a "terrorist" organization, according to a statement carried by local media.

The statement said 17 people were detained across the northeastern Kabylie region, accused of planning "armed acts aiming to harm the country's security, with the complicity of domestic parties advocating separatism."

The suspects admitted to having been "in constant contact via the internet with foreign parties operating under the cover of civil society associations and organizations" based in Israel and a North African country, it said. It did not identify which North African country was allegedly involved, but Algeria has accused its regional rival Morocco of supporting the separatist MAK and in August cut ties with the kingdom, accusing it of "hostile actions."

The move came after Morocco's envoy to the United Nations in July expressed support for self-determination for Kabylie, a stronghold of the Amazigh (Berber) minority.

Algiers strongly opposes any independence aspirations in the region. Long tense relations between Algeria and Morocco have deteriorated of late as conflict in the disputed Western Sahara flared in 2020 after a long cease-fire.

DR Congo Starts Ebola Vaccinations


Oct 14, 2021 05:43 PM   

Medical workers disinfect the coffin of a deceased unconfirmed Ebola patient inside an Ebola Treatment Centre run by the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), in Beni on August 13, 2018. Photo: VCG

Vaccination against the deadly Ebola disease began on Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC)'s eastern city of Beni, the WHO said, five days after reports of a new case.

The fresh case was reported in North Kivu, the same province where the vaccination program began.

"People at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders will receive the doses as the health authorities move to curb the spread of the virus," said a World Health Organization statement.

The new case, confirmed on October 8, was of a 2-year-old boy who had died two days earlier in a local clinic, the statement added. He was from the same community where three family members had died in September after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms.

Around 1,000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine were delivered to the eastern city of Goma for distribution, said the WHO, and Kinshasa had more if required.

The government in Kinshasa announced the return of the disease in the east of the country on Friday.

In May, the DRC declared the end of its Ebola outbreak, during which 12 cases were reported, with six deaths and hundreds of people vaccinated.


The Egyptian Modeling Agency Changing the Face of Fashion

‘Decolonizing’ beauty standards


Oct 14, 2021 04:43 PM

Egyptian fashion model Mariam Abdallah poses during a photo session at the studio of the UNN Model Management agency in Cairo on March 15. Photo: AFP

Between the frenzied rush of wardrobe changes and photographers readying for shoots, Iman Eldeeb's agency is slowly breaking new ground for Egypt's fashion scene by hiring a diverse lineup of models.

Eldeeb forged an international career in European fashion capital Milan, where photographers told her she was "the first Egyptian model they had ever seen."

Seven years later, she returned to Egypt in 2018 and set about shaking up a fashion scene where old stereotypes prevail.

In the Arab world's most populous nation, modelling has long been dominated by "girls from Eastern Europe, with fair complexions," said Eldeeb.

The 28-year-old said such "obsolete" standards have made it difficult for Egyptian and Arab models to break into the industry.

"Beauty cannot be limited by the appearance and shape of a face and so on. I feel this is a misconception of beauty," Eldeeb told AFP.

"Hair color, eye color, all these things were part of a very old understanding of beauty and this is something we are moving away from as much as we can," she added.

According to The Fashion Spot, a website specializing in the industry, "models of color" accounted for more than 43 percent of those on global catwalks in fall 2021 - making it "the most racially diverse season on record."

Traveling the world as a model, Eldeeb said she sensed a new trend of more diverse faces and bodies was emerging.

Back in Egypt, she and her sister Yousra then founded UNN Model Management - the name meaning "rebirth" in the language of the black Nubian minority.

The agency offers a platform for budding talents in Egypt who lack support in the fiercely competitive industry.

"The fashion industry is still developing in the Arab world," said Eldeeb. 

Today, UNN oversees around 35 contracts with top brands including Louis Vuitton, Adidas and Levi's, making it a leader on the nascent Egyptian scene.

Mohsen Othman, a freelance photographer also known as Lemosen who works with UNN regularly, praised the agency for its "daring" approach.

In the industry in Egypt, "we have creative people but we lack the means, and training remains old-fashioned," he said.

For Sabah Khodir, an Egyptian activist against gender-based violence, UNN is a force for "decarbonizing beauty standards" and "deconstructing internalized racism."

"Being more represented in fashion, on-screen or elsewhere, can save lives. It humanizes you in the eyes of the world," Khodir said of the situation for under-represented women.

Adhar Makuac Abiem, a model from South Sudan, has long endured racial taunts and insults in the unforgiving streets of Egypt's bustling capital Cairo.

When she settled in Egypt as a refugee in 2014, she never imagined she would be hired by a local agency.

Often she was told that she was "too black" or "too ugly" to get any work, she said.

But since 2019, the 21-year-old has managed to build a career as a model working with UNN.

Egypt is similar to "the West where prejudices persist about dark-skinned" people, said Marie Grace Brown, a University of Kansas researcher who authored a book on women's fashion in Sudan.

But that has not stopped Abiem from trying to "become a positive role model" for young black women in the industry.

Mariam Abdallah, 22, who was busy styling her hair before a photoshoot, said she has been doing more modeling overseas than in Egypt.

"We're not very interested in 'exotic' top models," she told AFP.

Abdallah left Egypt for the first time recently thanks to the contracts she now has with around a dozen agencies in Europe and the US, giving her a sense of independence and purpose.

China Urges Space Players to Watch Out for Space Debris, Protect Chinese Taikonauts' Safety

By Deng Xiaoci in Jiuquan and Fan Anqi in Beijing

Oct 15, 2021 12:35 AM

Photo: CAST

China urged relevant foreign space agencies and organizations to pay attention to the data on the Chinese spacecraft that are kept updated on the website of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) to avoid possible space collisions and ensure the safety of Chinese taikonauts, a spokesperson of the CMSA said on Thursday during a press briefing prior to Shenzhou-13's launch.

"China welcomes astronauts from other countries to come onboard China's space station and conduct flight cooperation. We believe we could see more of such cooperation after the space station enters the full operational and utilization phase," Lin Xiqiang, CMSA spokesperson announced. 

Lin added that manned space exploration is the common cause of mankind requiring full cooperation and the China Space Station is an integral part of building a community of shared future.

"Considering the increasing risks of space collision, the official website of China's manned space project has been updating China's space station's orbit parameters and we hope relevant agencies and organizations of other countries will pay attention to these data and avoid collisions when their spacecraft makes orbital maneuvers, as well as jointly safeguard order in space and the safety of astronauts," Lin noted at the conference.

Lin referred to the taikonauts as envoys representing all mankind in outer space. 

Song Zhongping, a military expert and space observer, told the Global Times on Thursday that such remarks are pointing at the US, as it is constantly promoting the militarization of outer space, which increasingly puts the orbiting spacecraft from other countries as well as space assets at stake. 

The US has been hyping the military use of robotic arms on the China Space Station baselessly, while the actual menace to all are US space weapons such as the X-37B. 

It is only legit for China's authorities to reiterate the international principle of peaceful use of space before the Shenzhou-13 mission, and urge relevant countries to abide by the international consensus, Song told the Global Times on Thursday.

China's manned missions have not been hit by space debris previously. However, the longer the mission, the greater the risks of hitting debris while in orbit, observers noted. 

In June this year, the International Space Station was hit by fast-moving space junk but did not cause too much damage, according to media reports. Space junk hurtling towards the station smashed into one of its robotic arms leaving a hole.

China's space authorities announced on Thursday that the launch window of the Shenzhou-13 flight mission targets at 0:23 am on Saturday morning local time, which would conclude this year's space construction mission series and mark the final of the six launches for the verification period of the space station's technology.

MoU on China-Bhutan Boundary Talks 'Breaks Deadlock Caused by India, Paves Way for Diplomatic Ties'

By Cao Siqi, Liu Xin and Bai Yunyi

Oct 15, 2021 06:27 PM

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China

China and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Three-Step Roadmap to help speed up boundary talks that have been heavily delayed, during a virtual meeting held on Thursday. The MoU is of historic significance and is the result of years of joint efforts and sincere cooperation between the two sides, analysts said, noting that it points out the direction for breaking the current deadlock and laying a foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Bhutan. 

Unlike what it did in the Doklam standoff in 2017, India may have less chances or excuses to make troubles over border areas when there is significant improvement on boundary talks between China and Bhutan, and it may choose to set blockades for Bhutan and China when the negotiations enter the crucial period, experts warned.  

The Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Wu Jianghao, and the Foreign Minister of Bhutan, Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, signed the MoU on the Three-Step Roadmap for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations at the virtual signing ceremony.

Wu said the traditional friendship between the two peoples goes back to ancient times. It is expected that the MoU will make a meaningful contribution to speed up the negotiation on demarcation and promote the process of establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Foreign Minister of Bhutan, Lyonpo Tandi Dorji said that Bhutan will work with China to implement the MoU, unswervingly push forward the negotiation on demarcation and be committed to strengthening bilateral relations, Xinhua reported. 

A milestone 

Chinese experts reached by the Global Times hailed the inking of the MoU, saying that negotiations on boundary issues between China and Bhutan started in 1984 and previously had no breakthroughs after more than 20 rounds of talks. The MoU is a milestone and would help break the deadlock. 

Bhutan is one of two countries that have land boundary issues unsolved with China, but signing the MoU is significant as it represents a big step forward for the two countries in solving the issues, Wang Shida, deputy director of the South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania Research Institute of Contemporary International Relations Research Academy of China, told the Global Times. 

The boundary issue between China and Bhutan is special because it not only relates to Bhutan but also has become a negative factor for China-India ties. Unsolved China-Bhutan boundary issues were used as an excuse by India to attack China during the Doklam standoff in 2017. If China and Bhutan make progress in solving boundary disputes, India will have fewer chances and excuses to make troubles on border areas, said Wang Shida.

On June 18, 2017, Indian border troops crossed the China-India boundary in the Sikkim sector and advanced more than 100 meters into Chinese territory. Indian troops' illegal crossing of a delimited boundary and entering the territory of China violated China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but India has invented various excuses to justify its illegal action, including claiming to protect Bhutan from China. 

According to a list of facts released by the Xinhua News Agency, the 1890 Convention has made it clear that the China-India boundary in the Sikkim sector commences at Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen on the Bhutan frontier. Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen is the eastern starting point of the China-India boundary in the Sikkim sector and it is also the boundary tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan.

The Indian troops' trespassing occurred at a place on the China-India boundary in the Sikkim sector, more than 2,000 meters away from Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen. Matters concerning the boundary tri-junction have nothing to do with this incident. There is no dispute in this section of border.

As Chinese experts hail the MoU on a roadmap between China and Bhutan, India has also paid close attention to it, because it has long stood in the way of China and Bhutan's negotiations on boundary negotiations by wielding influence on Bhutan's defense and diplomacy. 

In response to whether India has been informed by Bhutan about the MoU, the spokesperson of Indian's Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said that India noted the MoU, the Times of India reported on Friday. It also noted that it is inconceivable that Bhutan would not have discussed the MoU with India. 

Some Indian media said that India's "cautious response" was "understandable" due to its fraught relations with China over border disputes. 

India has always been the reason for the delay in negotiations on boundary issues between China and Bhutan. After previous rounds of talks, the two sides have reached a consensus on some issues, but India believes these would undermine its interests, especially about the western section of the China-Bhutan border, which India thinks could pose a threat to the Siliguri Corridor, Wang Se, an assistant professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. 

When India puts pressure on Bhutan, it makes it difficult for China and Bhutan to push for border negotiations. After the Doklam standoff, China and Bhutan did not hold a meeting for border talks for a long time, which shows India was exerting great influence on Bhutan, Wang Se noted. 

So far, no details of the three-step roadmap have been revealed. Wang Se said the roadmap might be similar to the principle of China-India border talks, which means they will first establish basic political principles of boundary demarcation, then solve specific disputes and finally, sign an agreement and draw the boundary demarcation. 

Experts noted that India will interfere when the roadmap is implemented to make concrete protocols. "Signing the MoU is not as sensitive as signing a concrete agreement. It is highly possible that India would exert great pressure to Bhutan when Bhutan's negotiations with China are at a crucial point to prevent its final success, or India may mess up the negotiations," Wang Shida said. 

Experts warned that there may be changes over the negotiations between China and Bhutan due to India's possible interference.

The timing of the MoU also raised concerns from some Indian media as it comes at a time when the India-China border talks on their 17-month-old standoff at the Line of Actual Control appear to have hit an impasse this week. The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command issued a statement on Monday, slamming India for its unreasonable and unrealistic demands and the new incidents the latter sparked along the eastern section of the border recently. 

An expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times that signing the MoU shows Bhutan's sincerity in solving problems with China and its willingness to get rid of India's interference to gain more independence of diplomacy for Bhutan's own national interests.

Given India frequently makes troubles in the border areas, China also wants to take the initiative along border areas by promoting boundary talks with Bhutan as well as solving China-India border disputes, the expert said.  

Due to geographic and historical reasons, India has great influence over Bhutan's diplomatic policies and internal affairs. The Global Times reporters went to visit Bhutan during the Doklam standoff in 2017 and saw India's influence in the country in every field. 

For example, in Haa, a place of great strategic and military importance in west Bhutan, the India army has dominated. Residents have complicated feelings over India as although they want to have a powerful neighbor like India but they also fear about India's stirring up of confrontations with China, which may drag Bhutan into the abyss. Some educated individuals think that India is lying by saying "protecting" Bhutan. 

Wang Shida said that India has shored up its influence along the Himalayas and neighboring countries, especially to Bhutan. Land-locked Bhutan relies heavily on India to import oil, food and other basic necessities, which means India is able to interfere in Bhutan's internal and external policies. 

But some experts pointed out that with the rising of China, Bhutan has an increasing drive to improve relations and form diplomatic ties with China. 

Mutual benefits

The MoU also shows China's sincerity in resolving boundary issues with its neighbors through peaceful consultations, which is in contrast with the false accusations made by some Indian media that China is engaging in expansionism and bullying its neighbors, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. 

China's ways of solving boundary issues also pose a sharp comparison to India, which is still having disputes with many of its neighbors, including China, Pakistan and Nepal, experts noted. 

Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said India should take note from the China-Bhutan MoU as India has repeatedly undermined peace and tranquility in the border areas between China and India, violated the agreement and undermined the development achievements of China-India relations over the years.

A field investigation into the China-Bhutan border areas shows herdsmen and farmers on both sides enjoy a peaceful and stable living environment. The roadmap could be beneficial for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and development of China's border regions.  

Experts also believe the landmark agreement will push for the establishment of diplomatic relations in China and Bhutan.  

Since 1985, Bhutan has begun to establish diplomatic relations with many countries and maintained trade relations with China. Since China's boycott of the Dalai clique in the Himalayan region, Bhutan also made a firm attitude to support China. Therefore, the Tibetan exile has a small impact on the country, Zhang said. 

However, due to interference by the Indian government, there are many difficulties for Bhutan on the road of establishing diplomatic relations between China. In a certain sense, the three-step negotiation on the boundary issue could be an important foundation for diplomatic relations between the two sides, Zhang said.

Shenzhou-13 Taikonauts on the Way to China’s Space Station, to Verify Tech for Next Phase During 6-month Stay

By Deng Xiaoci in Jiuquan and Fan Anqi in Beijing

Oct 16, 2021 12:27 AM

Editor's Note: From the tropical island of South China's Hainan Province to the already freezing cold Gobi Desert in Northwest China's Gansu Province, Global Times reporters have witnessed the two recent China space station launch missions for Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft and Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft on the spot. 

What impressed us the most was how every participant of the country's most ambitious space program to date has always kept their composure and calmness and how they got down to business preparing for the next one right away after the brief hooray of each mission's success.

To execute the plan and always deliver what it has promised, China's manned space missions serve as a benchmark showcasing China's comprehensive advancement in all social-economic domains. After all, the sky's no longer the limit.

China's Tianhe space station core module will soon receive its second batch of taikonauts, the Shenzhou-13 crew led by mission commander Zhai Zhigang, and host their six-month stay in orbit - a new record for the longest duration of any single manned flight mission in the country's history, after the manned spacecraft mounted on the Long March 2F rocket blasted off early Saturday morning from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft blazed steadily to preset orbit and unfolded its solar panels shortly after taking off from the launch pad. The spacecraft separated with the launch vehicle some 582 seconds after liftoff, representing a full success of the launch mission, the Global Times learned from the China Manned Space Agency on Saturday. 

Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu rode the Shenzhou-13 craft to space and are expected to live and work in China's space station for a record-long six months. 

The average age of the Shenzhou-13 crew is 45.6 years old, a significant seven years younger than the Shenzhou-12 crew. All three taikonauts are members of the Communist Party of China.

Wang Yaping will fly the mission as the first female astronaut to enter China's space station. Trending on the search list of China's microblogging platform Sina Weibo, Wang has become an inspiration to millions of women as they gaze upon the stars with an indescribable pride for the growing strength of women.

The date of the Shenzhou-13's launch falls on the same day as China detonated its atomic bomb in 1964 exactly 57 years ago. Also, on the same date as launching Shenzhou-12, China's first hydrogen bomb was detonated in 1967. "This is the Chinese-style of romance, commemorating our past glories," netizens said. 

Wei Dongxu, a space observer and TV commentator who also came to the launch event, told the Global Times that the ability for continuous launches have shown the maturity of Chinese technologies in manned space programs. 

Song Zhongping, a military expert and space observer, noted that the Shenzhou-13's swift launch, less than one month after Shenzhou-12 returned, reflects "China speed" and indicates the country's progress to becoming a global space leader. 

"It also suggests that China's space station and manned space technologies have completed the testing and verification phase, and entered the application phase. This is the biggest highlight of this launch," Song told the Global Times.

Shenzhou-13 was rolled out to the launch pad together with Shenzhou-12 and served as an emergency backup craft to fly into space in case problems occur to taikonauts in the space station. "This time, Shenzhou-14 will also serve as a backup plan to safeguard the Shenzhou-13 crew, showing that China puts taikonauts' safety on top of all else," Song said.

Chang Wuquan, chief designer of the Long March-2F rocket system, told the Global Times that two launches every year [for the Long March-2F] would be a new routine in years to come.  

The Shenzhou-13 manned spaceflight mission is the second of its kind in the Chinese space station's building period, following the epic three-month-long Shenzhou-12 mission, which concluded in September.

The Saturday launch marks the last one scheduled for this year toward building China's space outpost, and Shenzhou-13 is expected to draw a conclusion to the technology verification period of China's space station building period before it enters a more complicated actual construction phase to form a three-module complex around 2022. 

The six-month stay of the Shenzhou-13 crew will become the new normal for future China Space Station manned missions. It also suggests that the Shenzhou-13 crew will celebrate a special, unforgettable Spring Festival in space.

Major tasks and challenges ahead

The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has revealed that the spacecraft would meet its first challenge right after the launch, as it needs to execute an automatic docking and rendezvous with the Tianhe core module from the radial direction, instead of the orbiting craft's front and rear docking point as Shenzhou-12, Tianzhou-2 and -3 cargo spacecraft all did.

According to the spacecraft developers with the China Academy of Space Technology, they have designed a new rendezvous path and circling flight mode to support such fast-docking fashion, and the success of this method would be another display of China's spacecraft docking capabilities.

The Shenzhou-12 practiced such R-Bar docking technology shortly after its detachment from the core module in September, the Global Times previously reported.

The Global Times learned from mission insiders that the Shenzhou-13 mission will also attempt a fast automatic rendezvous and docking with the Tianhe core module, just as the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft did, which would take place about six and a half hours after the launch.

The Shenzhou-13 crew is expected to carry out two to three extravehicular activities, better known as spacewalks. According to the CMSA, they would be tasked with installing transfer gears linking the big and small robotic arms and related suspension gears, in order to make preparation for future construction work.

Their six-month stay itself would verify the performance of relevant technologies to sustain taikonauts' wellbeing and support their highly efficient work in orbit.

Science and technology experiments in the field of space medicine and microgravity physics, and conducting a variety of science popularization events are among other goals of their stay. 

Huang Weifen, the Chinese astronaut training chief, revealed to the Global Times on Thursday that the mission, which will be China's longest manned mission in space, poses some tough challenges for the crew, as the enclosed, confined room in the cabin, and vibration, noise, and gravity-free space environment will be intertwined, adding complexity to their normal work and life. 

Their physical and mental health will face far more challenges than during the previous mission, and the weightless impact on their musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems will be more prominent, Huang noted. 

It may lead to sleep disorders, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders and cardiovascular dysfunction among other problems, and the crew will also be prone to irritability and other adverse psychological reactions, she added.

Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based space expert and retired researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology, told the Global Times that in light of such challenges, psychological compatibility was an important factor considered in the selection of the crew. 

"Taikonauts can also use psychological relief methods such as listening to music, watching TV, or communicating with ground-based psychologists and their families to adjust and improve their mental states," Pang noted.

Welcoming all 

Hours ahead of the launch, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the Shenzhou-13 mission, which comes less than a month after Shenzhou-12's return, "vividly illustrates the spirit of Chinese manned spaceflight, that is especially able to endure hardship, to fight, to tackle problems, and to dedicate." It also reflects the spirit of all Chinese in the nonstop pursuit of dreams and exploration into space, Zhao said. 

"The Shenzhou-13 mission serves China's new efforts and contributes to the common cause of mankind in manned space exploration. China will continue to increase the depth and width of international cooperation in the field and make positive contributions to the peaceful use of space and the building of a community with a shared future," he noted. 

Sending his blessings for a smooth journey, Zhao expected that, "We look forward to hearing from our compatriots from space on the eve of the Spring Festival."

In the field of astronaut selection and training, the taikonauts participated in training in Russia and Shenzhou-13 crew member Ye took part in a caves training in Italy, where six astronauts from China, the US, Russia, Spain and Japan all trained together, CMSA spokesperson Lin Xiqiang said ahead of the launch.

After the Shenzhou-13 mission completes a comprehensive evaluation of each operational system, the space station project will enter the construction phase, which is expected to last until 2022. 

A total of six launches are scheduled during this phase. First, the Tianzhou-4 supply mission and Shenzhou-14 manned mission will be launched. During the Shenzhou-14 crew's stay, the Wentian and Mengtian experiment modules will be delivered to the station, completing the three-module combination by the end of 2022.

The Tianzhou-5 cargo craft and Shenzhou-15 manned mission will then arrive subsequently at the station to give an overall assessment of its working conditions, after which China's space station will enter the operational phase. Later, the Xuntian optical telescope will be launched to conduct independent flights on the same orbit with the space station.

GT Voice: Political Solution Can Hardly Resolve US Supply Chain Crisis

By Global Times

Oct 14, 2021 09:29 PM

Photo: IC

It is not uncommon to see US politicians propose a self-reliant industry policy as a solution to the supply chain crunch, but it is such kind of misguided approach built on protectionism and economic politicization that has actually allowed a short-term supply chain bottleneck to ferment into a real crisis.

In order to avert a supply chain crisis that is threatening to disrupt America's most important holiday season, US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that the Port of Los Angeles, and the Port of Long Beach, two of the countries' busiest ports, as well as big retailers like Walmart and Target, will rev up operations to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

In a speech detailing the supply chain efforts, Biden emphasized that Americans need to be able to make critical products in the US homeland, and should not "rely too heavily on one company or one country or one person in the world, particularly when the countries don't share our values."

This is not the first time the Biden administration has revealed an ambition to politicize supply chains, but his efforts underpinned by the wrong strategy will prove to be in vain. 

The supply chain crisis the US is experiencing is unprecedented and worth reflecting on. The IMF on Tuesday lowered its 2021 growth forecast for the US by one full percentage point to 6 percent amid severe supply-chain disruptions. 

In late September, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said, "I've never seen these kinds of supply-chain issues, never seen an economy that combines drastic labor shortages with lots of unemployed people and a lot of slack in the labor market."

There is no doubt that the Biden administration needs to focus on fixing its supply chain mess, but it must be done using the right approach, not with wrong-headed policies based on ideological bias. 

While it is understandable that the supply scarcity may have contributed to political calls for self-reliance and protectionism, the deterioration of US supply-chain woes over the past few months is a vivid demonstration highlighting the disruptions wrong policies could bring to the market.

A few months ago, economists generally thought that the bottlenecks across US supply chains, shipping and the labor market could all be explained by "temporary" factors caused by the pandemic, but the reality now appears to be that supply chain bottlenecks have deteriorated instead of easing. 

Why? Instead of being really pragmatic toward solving its supply-chain issues, US politicians have been busy advocating bringing back manufacturing back to the US homeland solely out of geopolitical considerations. 

Political orientation that go against the law of market dynamics affects the decision-making of producers, traders and logistical companies, adding difficulties for those market players to make the right judgment.

What happened surrounding the global chip shortage is a clear case study of the market disruption caused by US politicized economic and trade practices. It is because the US government, intentionally, cut Chinese companies off its chip supplies that forced chip-makers to reduce production, then resulting in a global chip shortage several months later.

The world economy and manufacturing are closely intertwined. The US eagerness to boost self-reliance reflects its anxiety about the hollowing-out of its industrial chain, and the lack of capacity to rebuild its manufacturing supply chain. Going against the global economic patterns to pursue decoupling and confrontation may only hurt itself in the end.

China Space Station: Shenzhou-13 Delivers 2nd Crew to Tianhe Module

By Deng Xiaoci in Jiuquan and Fan Anqi in Beijing

Oct 16, 2021 07:11 AM

Photo: CASC

Only six-and-a-half hours after the launch, the Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft successfully docked with China's Tianhe space station core cabin on Saturday early morning, after quick autonomous rendezvous, or as researchers call it, the 'space waltz.'

The rendezvous and docking happened at 6:56 am on Saturday morning, six-and-a-half hours after traveling on a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

Docked at the bottom of the Tianhe core cabin from a radial direction, the spacecraft safely and smoothly delivered the second batch of residents to China's space station. 

A combination flight has been formed, consisting of the Tianhe core cabin at the center, and Shenzhou-13 manned craft, Tianzhou-2 and -3 cargo craft on the side, the CMSA said.

According to the spacecraft developers with the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), they have designed a new rendezvous path and circling flight mode to support fast-docking in the radial direction.

As beautiful as the "space waltz" was, it was a lot more difficult than the front and rear docking with the Tianhe core cabin as the Shenzhou-12, Tianzhou-2 and -3 missions had exercised. "For front and rear dockings, there is a 200-meter holding point for the craft, enabling them to maintain a stable attitude in orbit even when engines are not working. However, radial rendezvous does not have such a midway stopping point, and it requires continuous attitude and orbit control," the CAST said in a note to the Global Times.

It added that during the radial rendezvous, the spacecraft needs to turn from level flight to vertical flight with a wide range of attitude maneuvers, posing tough challenges for the "eyes" of the craft to see the target in time and ensure that the "eyes" will not be disturbed by complex lighting changes.

The success of this new docking method would be another sign of China's spacecraft docking capabilities, experts noted. 

The Shenzhou-12 used the R-Bar docking technology shortly after its detachment from the core module in September, the Global Times previously reported.

The Shenzhou-13 mission crew, led by Zhai Zhigang and taikonauts Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, will stay in space for six months, double the time of the Shenzhou-12 crew. 

They are expected to return to earth next spring, which means they will celebrate a special, unforgettable Chinese Lunar New Year in space. 

They are tasked to carry out two to three extravehicular activities, better known as spacewalks. Wang Yaping will participate in at least one spacewalk, becoming the first Chinese woman to achieve such a feat, the Global Times learned from mission insiders.

According to the CMSA, they are also expected to install transfer gears linking the big and small robotic arms and related suspension gears for future construction work.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Free Alex Saab Delegation at the African Bar Association

By John Philpot and Roger D. Harris, Free Alex Saab Committee 

An international Free Alex Saab delegation attended the October 3-7 annual meeting of the African Bar Association in Niamey, Niger. Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab has been under arrest in Cabo Verde since June 2020 by orders of the US and is fighting extradition to Miami. His “crime” is organizing humanitarian missions to procure food and medicine for Venezuela in “violation” of the illegal US blockade. 

The Free Alex Saab delegation was composed of Canadian John Philpot, a lawyer specializing in international law, who represented the American Association of Jurists and regularly attends AFBAR conferences; Cabo Verdean-American Bishop Filipe Teixeira, who traveled to Cabo Verde in June in support of Mr. Saab; Venezuelan Laila Taj El Dine, a diplomat to the United Nations, lawyer, university professor, and international analyst; and Venezuelan Pedro Carvajalino, media specialist. 

African Bar Association welcomes the international Free Alex Saab delegation 

The Free Alex Saab delegation was well received by the conference, attended by many honored African leaders, including President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum along with the former presidents of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Some conferees were already familiar with the egregious US judicial over-reach, which resulted in Mr. Saab being seized from his airplane, when it made a fuel stop in Cabo Verde on its way from Caracas to Tehran. 

The fifty-year-old African Bar Association (AFBAR) is as a professional body uniting individual lawyers and national legal associations in Africa. The association brings together the five African sub-regional associations spread over the continent. AFBAR seeks to foster policies to better the continent’s socio-economic and political development. 

AFBAR President Hannibal Uwaifo delivered the opening address on respecting the Rule of Law in strong opposition to military coups. A theme running through the conference was the importance of resolving African problems in Africa free from western interference. For example, AFBAR will not support cooperation with the International Criminal Court investigation of the Nigerian military and Boko Haram unless the investigation includes how Boko Haram is financed. 

One participant, a young lawyer, explained that independence requires full national economic and military control. In his opinion, with French and especially US military presence in many countries, politicians may take their orders from the outside powers. 

Some African countries are independent such as Algeria, which rigorously controls its own borders and its economy without neo-colonial control. Evidently Cabo Verde, one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world, finds it difficult to resist US pressure regarding Mr. Saab. 

Conference upholds ECOWAS Court decision to free Alex Saab 

The regional Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Court had ordered Cabo Verde to not only release but pay $200,000 in damages to Mr. Saab. That was on March 15, 2021, and Cabo Verde has still not complied with the court order. Nevertheless, Cabo Verde had signed and ratified the treaty creating the court, attended the hearings, is a full member of ECOWAS, and has at least one judge on the court. 

As the AFBAR conference reaffirmed, it is the duty of the bar associations to advocate for the ECOWAS Court. The conference session on the ECOWAS Court explained clearly that it was not an appeal court, but an international court of primary jurisdiction created by treaty. The Saab delegation was afforded full status at the session, where delegates Felipe Teixeira and Laila El Dine spoke with AFBAR President Uwaifo in attendance. 

Free Alex Saab press conference and Sanctions Kill report 

The international Free Alex Saab Delegation held a press conference, presenting the case to local media for freeing the Venezuelan diplomat. 

John Philpot presented and distributed copies of the “We don’t deserve this - the impact and consequences of US Sanctions” report, which addresses more broadly the unilateral coercive measures imposed on some three dozen countries – 15 of which are in Africa – comprising a third of humanity. Philpot, along with Rick Sterling and David Paul, authored the comprehensive report for the Sanctions Kill Coalition. A free PDF of the report is available online. 

At a session on contemporary legal problems and the Rule of Law, Laila El Dine and John Philpot presented the Alex Saab case raising issues which go to the substance of his illegal detention. AFBAR President Uwaifo once again spoke of the need to take positive action to ensure respect for March 15 ECOWAS Court decision. 

John Philpot stressed that these critical cases can be won, citing the recent campaign release of Meng Wanzhou. She had been illegally detained by Canada for more than 1000 days on an attempt to extradite her concerning a transaction between a Chinese bank and Iran, allegedly in violation of US sanctions on Iran. US judicial overreach can threaten diplomats and businesspersons worldwide if this tendency is not terminated. 

The closing session included resolutions followed by two press conferences, where the Free Alex Saab issue was further discussed and supported. The AFBAR press conferences, presided by Mr. Uwaifo, presented the Alex Saab defense issues including respect for the ECOWAS Court decision. International delegates El Dine, Philpot, and Teixeira spoke at the second press conference. 

AFBAR has taken the issue the ECOWAS Court seriously, although the vice president of the court lamented the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Proposals were offered such as imposing sanctions against Cabo Verde officials, which would be legally constructed as a function of the regional ECOWAS community and not illegally as with the unilateral US sanctions. Other measures considered were expelling Cabo Verde from the ECOWAS and special legal procedures. A committee was formed to take this issue on actively, presided by Chief Prosecutor of Liberia Sayma Syrenius Cephis.

TPLF Has Plans to Destroy Economic Pillars of Households in Amhara Region, Says Government

October 12, 2021 


A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, which was published on Tuesday, says the TPLF has intent to destroy economic lives of households in the areas it occupied in the Amhara region of Ethiopia namely North Wollo and Gondar. 

The full statement from the Ministry reads as follows :


Press Release

TPLF’s deliberate destructions of the economic foundations of the people in North Wollo and Gondar of the Amhara region

The TPLF has continued with its dangerous attempt of holding on to political power by subjecting people to fear and want. The sheer number of people still under a safety net program in Tigray, despite its leadership of the country for the last 27 years, is a demonstration of its utter disregard for the welfare of the people of Tigray. In areas of North Gondar and Wollo that the group has invaded by rejecting the Unilateral Humanitarian Ceasefire of the Government, the TPLF has proved, once again, of its enmity to the Amhara people.

Reports from occupied North Wollo and Gondar adjacent areas indicate that the TPLF is intent on devastating the economic lives of many households. As farmers in occupied territories recently reported, the terrorist TPLF soldiers and their co-opted peasant followers are stealing ready harvest. What is worse is that the TPLF soldiers already having consumed the stockpiled food of farmers in occupied areas have destroyed the rest. The terrorist group did not even spare food-aid warehouses and forcibly taking distributed assistance from recipients in these areas. The livelihood of farmers in Ethiopia is highly dependent on livestock for food, farming, and biofuel. Sadly, these also have not been spared from the destructive actions of the TPLF.

The destruction of the lives of people also goes beyond individuals, but communities as a whole. In many places, the group did not spare Day Care centers, schools and colleges, banks, health centers, hotels, and other institutions. The ongoing Awash Woldia / Hara Gebeya railway project has unfortunately been targeted by this irresponsible group.

These deeds of the TPLF will not contribute to the advancement of the people of Tigray but rather foster hostility and resentment between the people of Amhara and Tigray. The atrocities the TPLF has committed and still is committing in Wollo and Gondar could only be explained as a last-ditch attempt to stay politically relevant.

The government of Ethiopia calls upon the international community to give due attention to the plight and needs of the people in north Wollo and Gondar, as part of its repeated request for accelerated provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by these acts of the TPLF in all the areas currently under occupation.

Ethiopians React as United Nations Fires IOM Representative

October 12, 2021

Maureen Achieng, a Kenyan and United Nations Migration Agency representative in Ethiopia, on “administrative leave” following her remark over the conflict in the Northern part of Ethiopia 

Maureen Achieng ( Photo : SM)


Ethiopians on social media reacting as the United Nations’ Migration Agency put head of Ethiopia office,Maureen Achieng’ on “administrative leave” on grounds of “unauthorized interviews” in which she remarked about the TPLF terrorist group – a group that seems to get some form of support by the UN agencies, as indicated in recent leaked information. 

In a  leaked video clip last week she had an interview with Jeff Pearce, who described himself as Historian, novelist, career surrealist, as seen from his social media profile page on Twitter. 

The audio was first shared on Twitter by an Ethiopian Mesay Kebede, Ethiopian Satellite Television journalist based in the US, but was later removed as Jeff claimed that the audio was stolen. 

She talked about how the UN Ethiopia staff on the ground was sidelined after the UN deployed colleagues from elsewhere. Leaked information published by borkena on October 1 said that the UN officials were deployed with a preconceived view about the conflict in Tigray. 

Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopians took the matter to social media to condemn the UN. 

ለምለሚቱ Ethiopia tweeted “I am deeply saddened to learn that the departure of Maureen Achieng, Ethiopia chief of UN’s migration agency. Her only crime was telling the truth about #TPLFTerroristGroup. For that she is paying a heavy price. Shame on you 

@un. Shame on you. @UNmigration” 

Dr. Ir. Middle Lander (@LanderMiddle) wrote, “UN Recalls Ethiopia Migration Head Maureen Achieng because she exposed the mess @UNEthiopia and the role of  @DrTedros  et al. in destabilising #Ethiopia. @antonioguterres clean your house! 

You should fire Kwesi not her…”

Another user who uses the name “Defend Ethiopia Spain” (uses the handle @EthiopiansInSP) wrote : “The UN has kicked her out from her job for fighting irregularities and falsification of reports in Ethiopia. Antonio Gutiérrez, we demand explanations now! @antonioguterres @jeffpropulsion @UNEthiopia @UNOCHA @_anapastor_ @_AfricanUnion

@ABC ”

There are those who also seem to see the UN decision as a racist one. 

Sultan Abba Gissa, apparently an MP, said “While free world  leaders celebrating #GirlsDay The @UN @antonioguterres Fired  #BlackWoman from  @IOMEthiopia director position just for being unbiased on #Ethiopia issue ! #IamMaureenAchieng”

Some Ethiopian diaspora organizations have criticized the United Nations leadership over its decision of firing Maureen as head of IOM Ethiopia. 

Ethiopian American Civic Council said “Today @MaureenAAchieng IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Rep. to AU and UNECA has been removed from her post by UN officials in New York for exposing TPLF’s crimes. Shame on to UN which morphed back in becoming the League of Nations. EACC asks for credible investigation. @UN”

The hashtag #IamMaureenAchieng is trending on Twitter.

Ethiopians have launched a petition on calling for the United Nations to Reinstate Maureen Achieng as IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia. Within hours after it was created, hundreds of Ethiopians have signed the petition. 

Ethiopia 'Ready' for GERD Talks: Ethiopian Foreign Ministry

Ahram Online 

Thursday 14 Oct 2021

Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti said on Thursday that Ethiopia is ready to resume talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

In statements to Sky News Arabia, Mufti said that Ethiopia expects the current chair of the African Union, DR Congo, to send delegations soon to Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to hold talks on the GERD issue. 

In September, the United Security Council issued a presidential statement calling on the three countries to resume the GERD talks as soon as possible according to a specific timeframe to reach to a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam under the auspices of the African Union.

Egypt and Sudan welcomed the statement but Ethiopia slammed it at the time.

The talks between the three countries reached a deadlock in April after a failed round in Kinshasa, followed by Addis Abba's unilateral decision to commence with the second filing of the dam despite the rejection and warning of the downstream countries.

Pan-African Film Fest Defies Pandemic and Jihadists


Thursday 14 Oct 2021

Africa's biggest film festival kicks off on Saturday in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, delayed eight months by the Covid-19 pandemic and overshadowed by a brutal six-year-old jihadist insurgency.

 Joel Karekezi

Rwandan director Joel Karekezi, winner of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga in 2019 for The Mercy of the Jungle. The trophy is named after a beast in Burkinabe mythology AFP

Seventeen feature-length works are in the main competition for the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the biggest date in the continent's cinema and TV industry.

Held every two years, the hugely popular festival was initially set for February 27-March 6 but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The impoverished landlocked country is also battling jihadist gunmen who have killed around 2,000 people since 2015 and forced 1.4 million to flee their homes.

"We are aware of the (safety) situation and every measure has been taken," the festival's director Alex Moussa Sawadogo said.

To stage the event, he said in remarks last month, demonstrates that Africa "continues to create, to dream, to be able to confront the ills that sap our societies."

Launched in 1969, FESPACO is closely followed by the US and European movie industries, which scout the event for new films, talent and ideas.

Under its rules, films chosen for competition have to be made by Africans and predominantly produced in Africa.

The 17 full-length films, selected from among 1,132 entries, are vying for the coveted Golden Stallion of Yennenga -- a trophy named after a mythical beast in Burkinabe mythology.

Their directors hail from 15 countries across Africa, although there is just one from the host nation.

Egypt has two contenders, and there is one each from Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania and Tunisia.

A 17th is from Haiti -- reflecting this year's theme "Cinemas of Africa and the Diaspora."

The short film category includes 29 entries, both fiction and documentaries, with five from Burkina Faso and four from Senegal.

Sankara portrayal 

One of the documentaries is especially timely.

"Thomas Sankara, the Human," by Burkinabe journalist Richard Tiene, takes a look at the life of the the country's revolutionary icon, who was gunned down during a coup in 1987 -- a traumatic episode that reverberates today.

The piece is being screened just days after Sankara's alleged killers went on trial in Ouagadougou. The accused includes ex-president Blaise Compaore, Sankara's friend and comrade-in-arms, who ruled for 27 years before being toppled by a popular uprising and fleeing to Ivory Coast.

The festival kicks on Saturday evening at the Palais des Sports complex, in ceremonies attended by Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, with Senegalese music stars Baaba Maal and Didier Awadi topping the bill.

Films will be screened in cinemas around Ouagadougou, including an open-air venue in the Square of the Nation in the heart of the city, Sadowogo said.

An international jury headed by Mauritanian producer Abderrahmane Sissako, who won France's coveted Cesar in 2015 for "Timbuktu," will select the prizewinner on October 23.

After the festival winds up, a "mini FESPACO" will tour the jihadist-hit north of the country to screen films for local people.

WHO Honors Henrietta Lacks, Woman Whose Cells Served Science


Thursday 14 Oct 2021

The chief of the World Health Organization honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge during the 1950s and ended up providing the foundation for vast scientific breakthroughs, including research about the coronavirus.

The recognition from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus came more than a decade after the publication of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot’s book about the discrimination in health care Black Americans faced, the life-saving innovations made possible by Lacks’ cells and her family’s legal fight over their unauthorized use.

“What happened to Henrietta was wrong,” Tedros said during a special ceremony at WHO Geneva headquarters before handing the Director-General’s Award for Henrietta Lacks to her 87-year-old son Lawrence Lacks as several of her other descendants looked on.

Lacks died of cervical cancer on Oct. 4, 1951 at age 31. The tissue taken from her at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore provided the first human cells to be successfully cloned. Reproduced infinitely ever since, HeLa cells have become a cornerstone of modern medicine, including the development of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and even COVID-19 vaccines.

Tedros noted that Lacks lived at a time when racial discrimination was legal in the United States and that it remains widespread, even if no longer legal in most countries.

“Henrietta Lacks was exploited. She is one of many women of color whose bodies have been misused by science,” he said. “She placed her trust in the health system so she could receive treatment. But the system took something from her without her knowledge or consent.”

“The medical technologies that were developed from this injustice have been used to perpetuate further injustice because they have not been shared equitably around the world,” Tedros added.

The HeLa cell line — a name derived from the first two letters of Henrietta Lacks’ first and last names — was a scientific breakthrough. Tedros said the cells were “foundational” in the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which can eliminate the cancer that took her life.

As of last year, WHO said, less than 25% of the world’s low-income countries and fewer than 30% of lower-middle-income countries had access to HPV vaccines through national immunization programs, compared to over 85% of high-income countries.

“Many people have benefited from those cells. Fortunes have been made. Science has advanced. Nobel Prizes have been won, and most importantly, many lives have been saved,” Tedros said. “No doubt Henrietta would have been pleased that her suffering has saved others. But the end doesn’t justify the means.”

WHO said more than 50 million metric tonnes (55 million tons) of HeLa cells have been distributed around the world and used in more than 75,000 studies.

Last week, Lacks’ estate sued a U.S. biotechnology company, accusing it of selling cells that doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital took from her without her knowledge or consent as part of “a racially unjust medical system.”

“We stand in solidarity with marginalized patients and communities all over the world who are not consulted, engaged or empowered in their own care,” Tedros said.

“We are firm that in medicine and in science, Black lives matter,” he added. “Henrietta Lacks’ life mattered -- and still matters. Today is also an opportunity to recognize those women of color who have made incredible but often unseen contributions to medical science.”

Egypt Military Court Upholds Life Sentences for 32 Defendants over Plot to Kill President Sisi: Lawyer


Wednesday 13 Oct 2021

Egyptian military's high appeals court on Wednesday upheld life sentences for 32 people accused of plotting to kill President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and a former Saudi crown prince, their lawyer said.

The court decided to reject all appeals and uphold the verdict for all but two defendants, whose sentences were reduced to 15 years, Khaled El-Masry wrote on Facebook.

A life sentence in Egypt is capped at 25 years' imprisonment.

In June 2019, a military criminal court handed down life sentences to the 32 defendants in the case. Of the more than 290 defendants originally appearing in the case, 264 were sentenced to between three and 15 years in jail.

The defendants were charged with setting up terrorist cells that committed crimes including planning to assassinate El-Sisi and Saudi Arabia's former crown prince and interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef.

Excerpts from a public prosecutor's investigation in 2016 published in local media revealed the defendants were plotting to assassinate El-Sisi and the former crown prince while they were on pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca in 2014.

It became locally known as the "El-Sisi assassination" case.

The suspects were arrested on charges of belonging to an affiliate of the terrorist-designated Islamic State group in North Sinai, where security forces have for years fought against terrorists.

Some were charged with the targeted killing of three judges in North Sinai in 2015, while others were charged with the targeting of tourists and security forces.

Terrorists in North Sinai attacked Egyptian forces after the 2013 ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood amid mass protests against his rule.

Since February 2018, the authorities have been conducting a nationwide operation against terrorists in North Sinai and the country's Western Desert.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online

Sisi Congratulates Tunisian President on Formation of New Cabinet

Ahram Online 

Wednesday 13 Oct 2021

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi congratulated during a phone call on Wednesday his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied on the formation of a new Tunisian cabinet, said presidential spokesman Bassam Rady.

El-Sisi reiterated Egypt's support of all steps that lead to preserving stability in Tunisia, and hailed "the brotherly and deeply-rooted ties binding the two countries' governments and peoples."

President Saied thanked the Egyptian president, reaffirming his keenness on enhancing cooperation with Egypt.

Saied also praised "Egypt's permanent support of Tunisia and its vital role in boosting mechanisms of Arab and African action in the face of regional challenges."

On Monday, Tunisia's President Kais Saied said in a statement that he had approved a new government, nearly two months after he sacked the government of Hichem Mechichi and suspended the activities of parliament.

The Tunisian president announced a number of drastic decisions in late July, suspending the parliament, dominated by the Islamist party Ennahdha, and relieving his prime minister in a step that sparked demonstrations for and against the decision.

Egypt has repeatedly affirmed its support for Saied following his actions in July, calling them “historic” and reiterating its trust in Saied’s “wise leadership.”

The new government took the oath two weeks after the appointment of Najla Bouden as the country’s prime minister.

Bouden, a 63-year-old geophysics university professor, is the first ever female prime minister in Tunisia and the Arab world.

Bouden's government features a record number of women ministers; nine out of 24 ministers are women.

Egypt to Construct 500 MW Wind Power Farm in Gulf of Suez Region

Ahram Online 

Thursday 14 Oct 2021

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and a multinational consortium signed two agreements on Wednesday planning a wind power farm with a capacity of 500 megawatts in the Gulf of Suez region.


Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly witnesses the signing of two agreements between Electricity Ministry and a consortium of Orascom Construction, French ENGIE, and Japan's Tsusho Corporation in Cairo to Develop a Wind Farm in the Gulf of Suez. 

According to a statement by the cabinet on Thursday, the consortium consists of Egypt’s Orascom Construction, France’s ENGIE, and Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

The project will cost around $600 million, the statement quoted Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker, who attended the signing ceremony, as saying.

The commercial operation of the project is expected to start in 2024, the minister noted.

The project will achieve carbon dioxide (CO2) savings estimated at about one million tons annually, Shaker said.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Japan’s Ambassador to Cairo Masaki Noke and Deputy French Ambassador in Egypt François Legué attended the signing ceremony.

The project will also secure 1,100 direct job opportunities during the construction phase in addition to a large number of other job opportunities in related services, Shaker noted, adding that some of the project’s equipment will be locally manufactured.

Orascom revealed in a statement on Thursday it would carry out construction of the wind farm and will have a 25% stake in the project. It said that it would develop, construct and operate for 20 years the wind farm located in Ras Ghareb, Red Sea governorate.

Orascom added the project would triple the consortium's wind energy capacity to more than 750 MW.

In late 2019, the same multinational consortium inaugurated a 262.5 MW wind plant in Ras Ghareb, Egypt’s first private and largest wind farm.

The electricity ministry’s cooperation with the private sector is part of Egypt’s strategy to raise the country’s electricity generation capacity from renewable sources to 42 percent by 2035, Shaker affirmed.

Egypt inaugurated in 2018 a 220 MW wind plant at Gabal Al-Zeit in the Gulf of Suez, financed by soft loans from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Egypt has taken big steps to increase the total energy produced from renewables, including the establishment of one of the world's largest solar parks at Benban in Upper Egypt’s Aswan.

Egypt has advanced from 26th place in 2020 to 20th in 2021 among the world’s top 40 markets in the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), which was released in June.

The Egyptian Modelling Agency 'Decolonising Beauty Standards'


Thursday 14 Oct 2021

The agency offers a platform for budding talents in Egypt who lack support in the fiercely competitive industry

Egyptian models

File Photo: Egyptian models Zeina Ehab (l) and Mariam Abdallah during a photoshoot at the studio of the UNN Model Management agency, taken on March 15, 2021 in Cairo. AFP

Between the frenzied rush of wardrobe changes and photographers readying for shoots, Iman Eldeeb’s agency is slowly breaking new ground for Egypt’s fashion scene by hiring a diverse line-up of models.

Eldeeb forged an international career in European fashion capital Milan, where photographers told her she was “the first Egyptian model they had ever seen”. Seven years later, she returned to Egypt in 2018 and set about shaking up a fashion scene where old stereotypes prevail.

In the Arab world’s most populous nation, modelling has long been dominated by “girls from Eastern Europe, with fair complexions,” said Eldeeb. The 28-year-old said such “obsolete” standards have made it difficult for Egyptian and Arab models to break into the industry. “Beauty cannot be limited by the appearance and shape of a face and so on. Ifeel this is a misconception of beauty,” Eldeeb told AFP. “Hair colour, eye colour, all these things were part of a very old understanding of beauty and this is something we are moving away from as much as we can.”

According to The Fashion Spot, a website specialising in the industry, “models of colour” accounted for more than 43 percent of those on global catwalks in fall 2021 – making it “the most racially diverse season on record”.

Travelling the world as a model, Eldeeb said she sensed a new trend of more diverse faces and bodies was emerging.

Back in Egypt, she and her sister Yousra then founded UNN Model Management – the name meaning “rebirth” in the language of the black Nubian minority. The agency offers a platform for budding talents in Egypt who lack support in the fiercely competitive industry. “The fashion industry is still developing in the Arab world,” said Eldeeb. Today, UNN oversees around 35 contracts with top brands including Louis Vuitton, Adidas and Levi’s, making it a leader on the nascent Egyptian scene.

Race issues

Mohsen Othman, a freelance photographer also known as Lemosen who works with UNN regularly, praised the agency for its “daring” approach. In the industry in Egypt, “we have creative people but we lack the means, and training remains old-fashioned,” he said.

For Sabah Khodir, an Egyptian activist against gender-based violence, UNN is a force for “decolonising beauty standards” and “deconstructing internalised racism”. “Being more represented in fashion, on-screen or elsewhere, can save lives. It humanises you in the eyes of the world,” Khodir said of the situation for under-represented women.

Adhar Makuac Abiem, a model from South Sudan, has long endured racial taunts and insults in the unforgiving streets of Egypt’s bustling capital Cairo. When she settled in Egypt as a refugee in 2014, she never imagined she would be hired by a local agency. Often she was told that she was “too black” or “too ugly” to get any work, she said. But since 2019, the 21-year-old has managed to build a career as a model working with UNN.

Egypt is similar to “the West where prejudices persist about dark-skinned” people, said Marie Grace Brown, a University of Kansas researcher who authored a book on women’s fashion in Sudan. But that has not stopped Abiem from trying to “become a positive role model” for young black women in the industry.

‘A form of healing’

Mariam Abdallah, 22, who was busy styling her hair before a photoshoot, said she has been doing more modelling overseas than in Egypt. “We’re not very interested in ‘exotic’ top models,” she told AFP.

Beyond battling discrimination in a highly predatory industry, where there have been high profile cases of sexual misconduct, getting parental consent is another challenge in the conservative Muslim country. According to Eldeeb, three-quarters of parents fear images of their model daughters could be “misused” online.

There are also concerns about revealing clothing, as well as working “inappropriate hours” for young women. “Whatever the profession, parents always try to decide for the girls,” she added.

The World Bank says that fewer than 20 percent of Egyptian women had a job in 2019. But Eldeeb has managed to secure work visas for some of her models in France, a first for home-grown talent.

Abdallah left Egypt for the first time recently thanks to the contracts she now has with around a dozen agencies in Europe and the United States, giving her a sense of independence and purpose.

For the activist Khodir, the emphasis on developing Egyptian talent for global fashion houses is much more than just good business. “It’s a form of healing that we badly need,” she said.

World Bank Working on Various Programs in Egypt: President

Doaa A.Moneim 

Thursday 14 Oct 2021

The World Bank do vaccination programs in many of the countries, and we've worked with and encouraged Egypt in contracting, said the WBG’s President David Malpass.

“In Egypt, we're working on various country programs that would increase the productivity. Egypt faces challenges in the agriculture sector, in the logistics sector, in the tourism sector, in electricity, that they're making progress on, that we're working with them on, and I think there can be more focused effort that will extend to health care, as well”, he explained

Malpass made his comments in response to an Ahram Online question on how the WBG has been supporting Egypt’s health sector through 2021.

The question came during the virtual press briefing Malpass held on Wednesday from Washingotn DC, on the sidelines of the annual meeting between the WBG and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which kicked off on Monday.

In this regard, the International Bank For Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), one of WBG’s financing arms, has provided $400 million to Egypt’s Universal Health Insurance system, out of the project's total cost of $2.4 billion.

On climate action, Malpass said that WBG has dedicated 35 percent of the total global commitments for actions that tackle climate change and enhance the green transformation.

Globally, Malpass said that the world is suffering from a dramatically uneven recovery.

“Inequality is worsening across country groups. Per capita income in advanced economies is growing nearly five percent in 2021, but that is compared to only 0.5% in low-income countries,” he explained.

The outlook remains grim for most developing countries, which are suffering high inflation and unemployment as well as witnessing shortages that extend to food, water and electricity, according to Malpass.

In addition, Malpass stated that factory and port shutdowns  are worsening the bottlenecks in logistics and supply chains.

“We see sharp increases in the backlog of orders. Our estimates suggest that 8.5 percent of global container shipping is stalled in or around ports. That's twice as much as in January of 2020. These disruptions are placing sharp price increases on shipping fees, and the final costs of goods, and some of them will not be transitory. It would take time and cooperation of policymakers across the world to sort them out,” he explained.

The WBG is preparing a new Country Partnership Framework 2021–2025 that concentrates on job creation and inclusion as the core themes when addressing government priorities and new challenges.

The World Bank's (WB) outlook on Egypt's economy,  announced within the ongoing annual meetings event, said that the slow vaccination rate, the emergence of the Delta-variant and the resurgence of COVID-19 cases could threaten the country’s recovery.

Yet, under the WB’s baseline scenario that assumes that the pandemic continues to ease, and lockdown measures are not reinstated, Egypt’s growth is projected to rise from 3.3 percent in FY2020/2021 to five percent in FY2021/2022 thanks to favourable base effects and global growth.

As Egypt’s WB governor, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat participated in annual meetings’ events.

During the G-24 Ministers and Governors meeting held on Wednesday, Al-Mashat emphasized the need for International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and development partners to strengthen their role in resetting the green economic recovery paths for developing countries, which were affected by the uncertainty that came with the COVID-19 pandemic’s repercussions and led to the volatility of global financial markets.

Al-Mashat stated that IFIs need to increase soft development funds and to provide more financial and technical support for developing countries to boost their progress towards green transformation, adding that there has become an urgent need for financial resources and rational investments to combat climate change, which in turn shall reduce emissions, enhance adaptation to the impacts faced, and build resilience.

The minister asserted the importance of adopting innovative financing tools such as blended financing, which strengthens the public-private dialogue and stimulates impact investments to pave the way towards bridging the SDGs financing gap that amounts to $3.7 trillion, and achieving green transformation.


The record-breaking distance runner was found dead with stab wounds at her home in the high-altitude training town of Iten in western Kenya on Wednesday.

FILE: Kenya's Agnes Jebet Tirop celebrates after winning in the women's 5,000m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on 30 May 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. Picture: Jonathan NACKSTRAND/AFP


NAIROBI – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has paid tribute to record-breaking Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop, who was found dead on Wednesday with stab wounds to her stomach in a suspected homicide.

Her body was discovered at her home in the high-altitude training town of Iten in western Kenya.

Kenyatta urged the police to track down those behind her death.

"It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we've lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, she had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage," he said in a statement.

"It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people," he said.

Tirop, 25, was a fast-rising athlete - a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross country champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Only last month, she smashed the women-only 10 km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany, with a time of 30:01, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record, Athletics Kenya said.

Tirop also made history in 2015 when she became the second-youngest ever gold medallist in the women's cross country championships after South Africa's Zola Budd.

"Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track," Athletics Kenya said in a statement.

"We are still working to unearth more details about her demise."

On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country's record-breaking world cross country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide.

Macharinyang, 35, was found in his home in West Pokot in western Kenya.

"He was such a brilliant athlete, committed to the sport where he competed for Kenya for many years in both cross country and the 5,000m and 10,000m races," Jackson Pkemoi, the West Pokot representative of Athletics Kenya, told AFP.

Macharinyang made a record eight appearances, and won three consecutive titles for Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.

Kenya is the most successful country in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles.


Yonela Diko 

Eyewitness News


In his Reflections from Prison essay in 1976, Walter Sisulu said: "In a certain sense the story of our struggle is a story of problems arising and problems being solved". This has been without a doubt the story of the African National Congress (ANC), both as a liberation movement and as a governing party. There have been moments of progress - onwards, upwards - and there have been moments of wreckage, at once because of the arrogance of our gifts and again the corruption of the heart. Then the organisation, out of self-inflicted ruin, rises again.

In this long journey of the rise and fall and rise again, the ANC has always been succinct in articulating the nature of its problems, even though it has not always had the courage to correct course. In these times, it has always taken a steady, strategic and wiser hand to restore faith and hope in the organisation and its vision.

Throughout the life of the ANC, the glorious and the testing moments, the people have always been consistent in their support for the party, mindful of all the sacrifices made by the organisation and its leaders, the pain and suffering, the measured triumphs, people's support for the ANC has always been unwavering. In 2016, however, in the fifth local government elections since democracy, the people had reached a tipping point.

In 2016, the people of this country dealt the ANC a devastating blow by giving the party, for the first time in 27 years, no clear mandate to govern the economic hub of the country, the country's capital, and other critical metros. It was a wrenching outcome for the party's members and its leaders, who had grown lazy and fat and forgot the battle they still needed to wage on behalf of the people.

In fact, the people signalled such withdrawal of support for the ruling party in an election before, in 2014, after the party hopped from one scandal to another without any sense of remorse or care.

In 2015, the ANC released its National General Council (NGC) discussion documents ahead of the October meeting. The ANC, true to its character, analysed and acknowledged this signal by the people to withdraw their support correctly and was even able to devise plans and commitments to listen to the people and change course.

This analysis reflected a dramatic shift in 2014 electoral outcomes. Except for a marginal gain in Buffalo City, the support for the ANC declined in the metros by an aggregate of 10.3%, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) gaining 6.5% and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) 11.4%. The 2016 electoral outcomes were a mirror image of this situation .


The ANC acknowledged that it shed support among the African lower and upper-middle strata, as well as the urban poor. The ANC NGC noted that certain groups of society no longer considered the ANC as the representative of their aspirations. The party also noticed that a section of the black middle strata viewed the DA, and to a smaller extent the EFF, as being representative of their interests.

The main reasons for the dramatic shifts were said to be impatience with change among the poor and African professionals. There was also a rising primacy of current issues as spread out daily in local and national news outlets - such as corruption, issues around then President Jacob Zuma, e-tolls in Gauteng - in how people decided to vote. It was clear that the black middle-class was a lot more fickle in their politics than those who may be loyal to the ANC for their own reasons irrespective of how the party conducted itself.

These issues damaged the ANC's image and credibility and an ANC that lacked both was becoming less and less capable of retaining the majority vote to keep the country under a singular vision and social compact.


The 2016 elections, although they were local government elections, were said to be a referendum on Zuma. Many experts such as Professor Cherel Africa of the Western Cape claimed that voters - irrespective of whether the ballot was national, provincial or local - decided on their votes in the main according to what the ANC was doing nationally. It may well be then that the 2021 local government elections will be a referendum on Ramaphosa: is Ramaphosa's short tenure as president a success (or even defendable)?

It is said that for presidents to be great, times must suck. You have to be dealt a bad hand, be great and exit the office leaving the country far better than when you found it.

Ramaphosa inherited a cratering economy, a crumbling government machinery, a broke state and a highly divided ruling party whose factions would attempt to undermine him at every turn. Then the unthinkable happened: a pandemic crippled every effort at recovery and reform, drained every resource for its own battle and sucked the life out of an economy that was barely keeping its head above water.

Nothing short of exceptional leadership was required to keep the country from completely sinking. Whatever shortcomings Ramaphosa displayed over the challenging period, whatever skin he has left on the floor, he has without a doubt saved the republic.

In all Ramaphosa's efforts trying to save the republic, he has not forgotten the importance of remaining scandal-free as a president, steady and inclusive in his leadership approach, and in that, the local government elections referendum may favour him and may give the ANC all that it lost.


These are still local government elections, however, and local issues, which are not Ramaphosa's responsibilities. Still, they loom large, especially past delivery records and choices of ward councillors.

Every nook and cranny of this country belongs to a municipality, are allocated budgets by national government to provide services. In the last Budget by former Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, municipalities were allocated only 9% of the Budget. The rationale was that municipalities, unlike provinces which received 40% of the Budget, were able to generate their own revenues through rates and levies.

Unfortunately, only the metros have the citizens' income base to be able to honour rates and levies, meaning that most municipalities are unable to generate enough revenue. With populations growing and communities expanding, and revenue not keeping up with this growth, municipalities have been under even more strain to continue providing their constitutionally mandated services.

The challenge of extending services to new communities - some of whom are not even in the municipality's plans due to the rapid movement of people to where opportunities are - has been even more dire. Still, within all these financial limitations, services have been provided. This is the reason people continue voting for the ANC.

The future may well be that all services provided are well paid for, even highly paid for, but that will depend on the improving income base of citizens and the fair financial balance between those who can pay and those who genuinely cannot.

There are also other issues plaguing our municipalities, such as lack of adequate skills and poor to zero spend on infrastructure maintenance, which can all be traced back to lack of adequate funding, especially for poor municipalities.

We cannot run away from the cancer of corruption which results in lack of cost containment, and this needs to be nipped in the bud.

There are, however, local government success stories whereby municipalities, despite the lack of adequate funding, have financial control, good governance and the requisite skills. Municipalities like Senqu, Okhahlamba, Capricorn District, Gert Sibande and many others are great models for a bright municipal future.

The ANC has not been perfect, but it has done much more for the people, with very little, within the realities of inadequate resources and human faults.

The ANC will have a convincing electoral victory in these coming local government elections.

Yonela Diko is the former spokesperson to the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation. You can follow him on Twitter: @yonela_diko