Friday, June 22, 2018

At Least Ten People Killed in Zambia Mine Dump Collapse
 22 JUN, 2018 - 00:06

LUSAKA. – At least 10 subsistence miners were killed when a mine dump collapsed in Zambia’s second-largest city and copperbelt mining hub Kitwe, police said on Wednesday.

“So far, we have retrieved 10 dead bodies and seven bodies of those injured,” said Copperbelt province police commissioner Charity Katanga.

Operations to retrieve bodies at the dump, known locally as Black Mountain, were ongoing, she added.

Zambia has some of the world’s largest copper reserves.

The metal accounts for 80 percent of the country’s export earnings.

High levels of unemployment have forced people to resort to illegal mining.

– AFP
MSF Aid Workers in Africa ‘Used Prostitutes’: BBC Report
AFP
2018/6/21 22:43:42

Aid workers for charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) used prostitutes in Africa, a BBC report said Thursday citing anonymous whistleblowers who also reported boasts of trading medicine for sex.

The NGO said it took the allegations seriously but said it had been unable to confirm the claims and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The allegations follow a crisis at British charity Oxfam over claims that its workers used prostitutes while stationed in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

A former employee based in MSF's London office told the BBC she had seen a senior staff member bring girls back to MSF accommodation while posted in Kenya.

"The girls were very young and rumored to be prostitutes," she said, adding that it was "implicit" that they were there for sex.

She said some of the older, long-standing male aid workers took advantage of their positions. "I felt that, with some of the older guys, there was definitely an abuse of power," she said. "They'd been there for a long time and took advantage of their exalted status as a Western aid worker."

She questioned what the charity knew, saying: "There's definitely a feeling that certain predatory men were seen as too big to fail."

Another female employee who worked with HIV patients in central Africa said the use of local sex workers was widespread.

"There was this older colleague, who actually moved a woman into the (charity) compound. It was pretty obvious that she was a prostitute but he'd call her his girlfriend," she said.

In a statement, the agency said, "We do not tolerate abuse, harassment or exploitation within MSF."
Debate About Einstein’s Diary Misses Point of Discrimination Against Asians Today
By Liu Yan
Global Times
2018/6/21 18:43:40

Famed physicist Albert Einstein was thrust into media limelight when a series of travel diaries written in early 1920s were found to contain deeply racist and xenophobic views. In his diary, Einstein described the Chinese as "industrious, filthy, obtuse people… they are a peculiar herd-like nation, often more like automatons than people." The shocking revelation has somewhat tainted the image of this iconic figure.

Being Jewish, Einstein later devoted himself to the civil rights movement in the US and lent sympathy to the treatment of the black population. Though the diaries were written nearly 100 years ago before the concept of anti-racism was fully developed, the great physicist's inner world has shattered the expectations of many.

A heated debate has flared up among Chinese internet users as to whether Einstein was a racist and if it is fair to judge his views by today's human rights standards. When Einstein visited China, Japan and some other Asian nations in 1922, the gap between Western and Eastern civilizations was huge. China had barely recovered from the humiliation of World War I and was mired in battles among warlords. Feudal rule had been overthrown, but a republican system functioned poorly.

That was the background of Einstein's diary. Famous Chinese writer Lu Xun (1881-1936) had many of his novels written during the same period. He made his name by depicting the dark side of Chinese society of the time and yearning to bring the Chinese out of their stupor.

This is not to say that Einstein should be forgiven for his racist view. Struggle for racial equality has however been a long and hard fight. The scientist likely expressed the same views in daily conversation.

Had the political correctness against racism developed at the time, one couldn't dodge censure for such offensive remarks against an entire race. It is also doubtful that he wanted to record his thoughts in private diaries. But the reality is Einstein lived in a world with a lax attitude toward racism.

After all, xenophobic sentiment against immigrants from Asia was common in US politics during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Persecution of Jews reached unprecedented levels during World War II.

It is the public's intolerance of racism today that made Einstein's diaries a center of the storm a century later. There is a development gap among countries, but it is political suicide for any public figure to make offensive remarks against race openly or privately. Political correctness is perhaps top consideration for public figure when making comment.

Einstein's diary kindled the fiery debate probably also because of the lingering question - is racism prevalent subtly today? Some Western media outlets inaccurately reported that Chinese net users defended Einstein's racist remarks. It would have made more sense if these media outlets explored whether racism against Asian exists today.

Racism against Asians is seen from time to time. In many cases, it is forgotten with an apology. It could be an image printed on a T-shirt, or a supermodel making a slit-eye gesture, or a TV anchor making disheartening comments.

Despite excellent academic performance, Asian students face a discriminatory admissions policy in Harvard. Asians are striving for due respect and fair treatment even today. They have made huge strides from the time of their ancestors, but it seems there is a long way to go.

Racist sentiments still persist. It is better to examine ourselves than judging whether Einstein was racist. Will people 100 years later be shocked by incidents of racism today? It's hard to say, but this question will haunt us for a long time.

The author is a commentator of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn
‘Western Enablers of CPC’ An Absurd Label
Global Times
2018/6/22 22:53:40

The Washington-based Hudson Institute recently published a report entitled The Chinese Communist Party's Foreign Interference Operations: How the US and Other Democracies Should Respond, attacking the CPC's united front work and accusing it of interfering in US elections, damaging academic freedom, cultivating cooperative US elites, and making the Chinese diaspora serve the CPC.

Michael Pillsbury, director of Hudson's Center for Chinese Strategy, said this report raised a key concept of "Western enablers" of the Communist Party, whom he said not only sing high praises to China but also help China understand the debates that it wants to influence.

The warnings about China are nothing new in the West, but this time they have employed a more systematic and exaggerative method.

Every Chinese knows that China is still focused on "anti-penetration" rather than "infiltrating the West." The West is still aggressively trying to influence the Chinese society, while most Chinese concede that China at present still doesn't have the soft power to counter, and it's needless to build some phony "ideological stronghold" in the US.

China is indeed trying to influence some Westerners. However, the sole purpose is to boost friendly relations between the two sides and reduce the Western public's bias against China. Isn't this the way things should be done in international relations? Is there a single country that doesn't work on this mission or set aside a budget for it?

China's Confucius Institutes in Western countries are similar to the Goethe Institutes of Germany and Spain's Instituto Cervantes. China has sponsored the research of a few American scholars. But how many research projects have been funded by American foundations? While some people in China have called for better regulation of these projects, the Chinese public has not openly condemned those programs.

The logic of some Americans will lead to the belief that the Chinese should condemn the US move to establish Tsinghua University using the Boxer Indemnity, and that most China-US cultural exchanges should be canceled, including Hollywood collaborations. Starbucks will also be categorized as an under-the-table transmitter of American culture and values.

There hasn't been any advocacy in the Chinese government to "spread the Chinese model," as it's one of China's diplomatic principles to maintain cultural and political diversity. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hawked Western political systems in Africa just a few days ago. It is absurd that Pompeo's declaration and the denunciation of "Western enablers of Communists" both become "mainstream" voices in the US.
Trump's Trade War Will Disrupt World Economic Order
Global Times
2018/6/20 22:48:40

Just one day after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 10-percent-tariff on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods, financial markets across Asia, Europe and America jittered with stock markets in most countries experiencing a fall. While a real trade war has yet to be launched, the threats of one have already exerted negative effects on the entire world.

The American government is the initiator of evil. Some analysts believe that while the Trump administration pledged to cut taxes domestically, it intends to realize a so-called revenue balance by increasing tariffs.

But Washington has been seeking moral pretexts for the trade war. In a report released Tuesday, the White House again accused China of waging a systematic campaign of "economic aggression." Such mischaracterization of Sino-US trade is a means by which the White House instigates the US society to support the trade war on China.

The White House has gathered together extreme ideologists, geopolitical hardliners and populists to seek supposed fairness. Yet, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, farmers and housewives, in the US and abroad, will have to pay the price for the frantic and miscalculated actions by these forces.

The US is already the wealthiest country in the world, but the Trump administration has been lecturing the American people to believe that they have been plundered and deserve a better life.

Such misrepresentations cloud the truth. The fact is that the US' poverty issue is rooted in an unequal distribution of wealth. However, the Trump administration isn't able to launch a domestic reform, and as a result intends to dredge for money from the outside world to meet domestic demands.

The White House deceived the American people that it's safe to wage a trade war, but the backlash from the US' trading partners reflects that no one believes the US can score the victory that the White House pledged. It's a wide expectation that Beijing will certainly retaliate against Washington's new tariff and an unprecedented trade war will be waged.

Investors also anticipate that if Washington imposes tariffs on an extra $200 billion of Chinese goods, Beijing will not comply and will take further retaliatory measures. World economic order will eventually be disrupted.

The US is threatening to start a worldwide trade war that will sweep across Asia, the EU and North America. The international community is concerned about the serious consequences of a full-fledged trade war and hopes that the US is merely using talk of war as leverage for more economic gains.

How will the trade war end? The White House said earlier that China will suffer more losses than the US. It seems that Washington is hoping to crush Beijing's will. But there's no sign that the Chinese government will submit to Washington in this regard.

Apart from direct losses to China and the US, a trade war will also drag the global economy into chaos, from which Americans will be the first sufferers. The US will see rising unemployment rate and inflation.

China's stance is justified. The country also has a systematic basis for political stability and enormous space for economic growth. It's a daunting task for the US to defeat such a competitive rival.
China Is Slamming $34 Billion Worth of US Goods With Tariffs
Bob Bryan
Business Insider

China is ramping up its retaliation to President Donald Trump's massive tariffs.

China is set to put tariffs on $34 billion worth of US exports to China, starting in July.

The tariffs cover mostly energy and agricultural products but hit everything from goldfish to electric cars.

The states that exported more than $1 billion worth of tariff-eligible goods to China in 2017 were Texas, Louisiana, Washington, California, Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, and Kentucky.

The collateral damage from President Donald Trump's trade fight with China could soon have some states feeling the squeeze.

China announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from the US in response to Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports, an escalation of the brewing trade war between the two countries.

Also mirroring Trump's move, China's tariffs will be deployed in two waves — the first covering $34 billion worth of goods coming in early July.

The Chinese tariffs are focused on energy and agricultural products, covering goods including ornamental fish, whiskey, and coal. By singling out certain goods, the Chinese are also hitting some states harder than others.

To break down the effect by state, Business Insider used US Commerce Department data to determine the number of tariff-eligible goods from each state sent to China in 2017.

Because of the US database's limitations, the totals include some foreign-sourced goods that may not be subject to China's tariffs. Those goods represent a small portion of the overall values.

Additionally, the database measures exports using a system called Origin of Movement. This measures where exports are sent from rather than where they are produced. While research shows that Origin of Movement can be a solid proxy for production, the Census Bureau may provide an undercount for some upstream producers.

For instance, some farmers in the Midwest ship their soybeans to Louisiana for transport, which increases the count for Louisiana. Given the fact that Louisiana still relies on the shipping and sales for its economy, the data is still helpful to evaluate the pain from the tariffs — but it may undercount the lost value to some upstream producers.

There are eight states that exported more than $1 billion worth of tariff-eligible goods to China in 2017:

Texas: $8,022,380,040
Louisiana: $6,627,390,388
Washington: $5,231,988,100
California: $4,560,897,434
Alabama: $2,620,256,485
South Carolina: $2,588,390,677
Illinois: $2,123,222,976
Kentucky: $1,006,565,148

Many of these states have just a handful of goods that make up most of the coming pain.

Similarly, for Alabama, $1.9 billion of the state's $2.6 billion in tariff-eligible goods is small-engined vehicles.

In Texas, the biggest hit will come from crude oil (the state sent $3.7 billion worth to China last year) and propane; the state shipped $1.7 billion worth of that to China last year.
Trump Threatens to Slam a Massive Tariff on European Cars, Which Could Cause Economic Chaos
Business Insider

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to impose a 20% tariff on imports of cars from the European Union.

The move would be a huge escalation of Trump's ongoing trade conflict with the EU.

Trump already hit Europe with steel and aluminum tariffs, angering EU leaders and triggering retaliation.

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to slam huge tariffs on imported cars from the European Union, a massive new threat in the escalating trade conflict between the allies.

Trump in May had directed the Commerce Department to launch an investigation into imported autos, similar to the procedure that led to the recent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. While the results of that investigation are still weeks away, Trump raised the specter of tariffs on Twitter.

"Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the US and it great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20% Tariff on all of their cars coming into the US," Trump tweeted. "Build them here!"

The tweet appears to contradict a statement made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday. Ross told lawmakers that "no decision" had been made regarding tariffs and that the process was in the "early stages."

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department told Business Insider that the investigation is still ongoing.

Trump has long been fixated on imported cars. During a recent panel, his former economic adviser Gary Cohn recounted a story in which, he said, Trump asked why all cars in the US weren't made domestically.

New auto tariffs would be a massive escalation of the already intense trade fight between the US and Europe. Leaders from the UK, Germany, and France slammed Trump's decision to hit the EU with steel and aluminum tariffs, and the bloc responded with tariffs of its own.

In total, the US imported over $43 billion worth of vehicles for people transportation in 2017. That means the size of the tariffs would dwarf those on steel and aluminum, which hit a little over $7 billion worth of EU exports to the US.

European car manufacturers, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have a large presence in the US. In September, Mercedes' parent company announced that it was investing $1 billion in its Alabama plant.

Tariffs on autos would have a devastating effect on the US economy, driving up the cost of cars for consumers and likely producing a drag on GDP growth. Additionally, the move could hurt thousands of auto industry workers. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a 25% tariff on imported autos to the US would result in the loss of 195,000 US auto workers' jobs.

In an interview with Business Insider Germany last week, Bernhard Mattes, the president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, said tariffs would hurt not only European automakers but the US economy as well. Mattes also said German automakers could not subsist without access to the US market.

"No, because the US is both an important export market and a strong production base for us," Mattes said. "We produce more than 800,000 vehicles in North America and employ 116,500 people in 250 factories."

In a statement following Trump's tweet, VDA said that the president's tariff threat was counterproductive.

"Further escalation of the trade conflict benefits no one," the statement said. "The German automotive industry advocates talking to the US despite the current difficult situation in order to strengthen transatlantic relations and solve existing problems."

The move could also prompt a response from the EU that would damage US automakers. The US exported $10 billion worth of passenger vehicles to the EU last year.

Automakers' stocks took a hit following Friday's news, with Ford and General Motors selling off sharply. European automakers — including Daimler, the maker of Mercedes, Volkswagen, and BMW — also sank.

Daimler , BMW, and Volkswagen declined a request for comment.

Additional reporting by John Stanley Hunter.
Trump Leaves GOP Leaders Out To Dry On Immigration
Trump could have made immigration easier on Republicans. Instead, he’s making it harder.
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By Matt Fuller
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republican leaders thought President Donald Trump could be the magic bullet for accomplishing the elusive GOP goal of passing an immigration bill. Instead, he’s looking more like the death blow.

After telling House Republicans Tuesday night that he backed both of their immigration proposals “1,000 percent,” Trump has gone soft. He first asked on Thursday what the purpose was of the House passing immigration bills if the Senate was just going to reject a GOP-only bill ― a fair point. Trump then stepped up the Twitter criticism Friday morning to say, “Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration” until after the November elections, where he improbably predicted a “Red Wave.”

Setting aside the delusions of increased GOP margins in the House, Trump’s statement that Republicans should set aside immigration is not the endorsement GOP lawmakers had been looking for ― and it’s already spooking Republicans who were on the fence about backing a compromise bill.

“Well that weighs a lot in my decision-making, what the president says,” Freshman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told HuffPost Friday. “So one of the things we expressed to leadership was the president needed to come out and strongly endorse this compromise plan. It doesn’t appear that he has.”

Comer, who comes from a district that supported Trump over Clinton by nearly 50 points, said he was following Trump on immigration, and he had no reservations about giving the president such wide latitude on policy-making.

Other Republicans also told HuffPost they agreed that continuing to work on immigration was an exercise in futility.

“Given the makeup of the Senate, yeah, it is a waste of time,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) said. “And it’s forcing a lot of our folks to walk the plank for no good reason.”

Hice said even before Trump came to this conclusion, he was saying that it was pointless to try and work on immigration when Senate Democrats wouldn’t agree to a GOP immigration bill. He didn’t seem receptive to the idea of crafting a bipartisan immigration proposal.

“Why they even brought it up in the first place is a bit beyond me,” Hice said.

 House Republicans seem to understand that no immigration bill that could pass the Senate could pass the House. That is unless the House passes a bill with nearly all Democrats and a couple of dozen Republicans. But, the two dozen Republicans who signed a discharge petition to force a vote on immigration are outnumbered by rank-and-file Republicans who don’t want to actually work with Democrats, at least not in a way that would require actual policy concessions.

When HuffPost raised the point with Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) that Republicans could solve immigration issues if they were willing to work with Democrats, he flipped the statement around and said, “Obviously Democrats could solve this issue if they were willing to work with Republicans.”

But Perry and other Republicans aren’t really open to the ideas that Democrats have for addressing the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, and even when Democrats have shown willingness to give Republicans concessions like funding a border wall, Republicans (in the House, at least) have shown no willingness to bring Democrats to the table.

With that in mind, Trump’s diagnosis that solving the issue is impossible seems accurate, at least if you accept that Democrats shouldn’t have a say in the solution.

Speaker Ryan has consistently demonstrated he doesn’t think Democrats should have a seat at the table. And even in the House GOP’s failure to pass a Republican-only immigration bill, Ryan has been successful in his main endeavor: preventing a discharge petition from bringing up a bipartisan immigration bill that could pass the House.

“Our goal was to prevent a discharge petition from reaching the floor, because a discharge petition would have brought legislation to the floor that the president would have surely vetoed,” Ryan said Thursday. “It would have been an exercise in futility.”

Never mind that producing two GOP-only bills is an exercise in futility, and never mind that the only immigration bill that has a majority in the House is probably one that nearly all Democrats would support. Ryan doesn’t want to demonstrate that he’s blocking the will of the chamber.

But now Ryan is in a different pickle. Part of the gambit to block the discharge petition was to schedule two votes on immigration: one for a hardline bill named after Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and one for a compromise measure that moderates would support.

After Thursday, however, when the hardline bill failed but drew a surprising amount of support ― more support than the compromise bill would garner. Leadership decided to forego the embarrassment of putting up the second bill, at least for now.

It’s now considering changes that would bring the bill further to the right, but without Trump’s support, the bill would still likely fall short of the 193 votes that the so-called Goodlatte bill drew. That would show Republicans that the way to pass a GOP-only immigration bill is simply by tailoring it to the far right and hoping that, with the president’s support, you can pressure enough moderates to support the bill.

The problem there is that, while Republicans were closer than they thought to passing the Goodlatte bill, they were still 20 votes away. And even if you passed it through the House, you’d just be further from passing it in the Senate, where you need 60 votes and the support of at least nine Democrats.

Ryan would end up teaching Republicans the wrong lessons on immigration ― that the path toward passage is to the right ― when the truth is probably the opposite.

But with Trump seemingly hardening every day on immigration, and his willingness to support a DACA solution waning, Trump is just like many in the GOP conference when he advises Republicans to just give up.

Matt Fuller
Congressional Reporter, HuffPost
Trump's Conflicting Rhetoric on Border Separations Muddles Immigration Debate
By KENDALL KARSON
Jun 22, 2018, 5:06 PM ET

At the end of a particularly acrimonious week, President Donald Trump roiled tensions once again with vacillating rhetoric over the ongoing immigration debate fueled by family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a stark message to members of his own party on Capitol Hill Friday morning, Trump instructed Republican lawmakers to "stop wasting your time" on a legislative fix for immigration until after the midterm elections in November.

Senate Republicans hold a two-seat majority and are defending eight seats this election cycle.

Trump’s latest Twitter crusade came after telling members, "I’m with you 100%" during a closed-door meeting Tuesday with House Republicans on immigration, according to a statement from White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

Later on Tuesday, the president echoed the message on Twitter, urging, "Now is the best opportunity ever for Congress to change the ridiculous and obsolete laws on immigration."

By Friday, frustrated with Republicans in the House of Representatives for failing to pass a conservative immigration bill on Thursday and delaying a planned vote on a GOP compromise measure until next week, Trump launched a rallying cry for his base, calling on voters to "elect more Republicans" to pass the "pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world."

Hoping to reform an immigration system that is said to be "broken" by members of both sides of the aisle, Republican lawmakers aimed to implement legislative reforms that would address the ongoing crisis over the Trump’s administration’s "zero tolerance" policy after outrage erupted over family separations at the border.

Contending with vote counts wasn't the GOP's only struggle this week, however, as they worked to parse the president's shifting signals and policy pivots.

Trump signed an executive order ending family separations on Wednesday telling reporters: "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated."

Later that evening, he told a crowd during a rally in Duluth, Minn., "They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back! That’s what we’re doing."

As questions loomed over how the administration will reunite the more than 2,300 children with their parents who were apprehended after crossing the border and face criminal prosecution, the president said during a cabinet meeting Thursday, "I'm directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups."

"But the only real solution is for Congress to close the catch-and-release loopholes that have fueled the child smuggling industry," he added.

With another tweet Friday morning, Trump again struck a more antagonistic tone on the issue, offering a preview ahead of his remarks at the White House with angel families — the loved ones of those killed by undocumented immigrants.

"We must maintain a Strong Southern Border," he wrote. "We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections."

Friday afternoon, Trump spoke at the White House event to show "the other side" of the immigration debate.

"These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones," he said. "Permanently — they're not separated for a day or two days, these are permanently separated because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens. These are the families the media ignores."

Meanwhile, House Republicans on Friday said they would continue intra-party negotiations on an immigration bill despite the president's tweet urging Republicans to "stop wasting their time," with leaders pledging to hold a vote on a measure at some point next week before adjourning for the July 4 recess.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the House floor that GOP leaders are "taking all ideas in" from members and will continue crafting the bill "through the weekend."

"We're going to have a vote," House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La, the House GOP's top vote-counter, told reporters. "Obviously it's an uphill fight to put that coalition together, we've got our own diverse approaches in the Republican conference."

Scalise said he believed Trump's tweet was expressing "frustration that Democrats have refused to engage in solving the problem."

Other Republicans, grappling once again with the president's fickle approach to legislative matters, were less sanguine.

"Does it make it harder? Yes. Does it make it impossible? No," Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., a moderate who supported bipartisan immigration reform efforts, told ABC News. "We have an obligation to the American people to work on this issue, to give it our best."

Republicans are considering additions to the legislation related to expanding the use of E-Verify — the system allowing employers to check if new hires are legally allowed to work in the United States — and visas for agricultural guest workers, a concern of Republicans in farm districts.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer complained that Republicans are not working with Democrats to consider any changes to the bill.

"We’re not included," Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor. "We’re shut out and the compromise has been rejected and undermined."

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel and John Parkinson contributed to this report.
Pentagon To House 20,000 Migrant Children On Military Bases
Thousands of children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

By Willa Frej
Huffington Post

Military bases in Texas and Arkansas will begin housing tens of thousands of migrant children caught crossing the border illegally as soon as next month, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The Pentagon began making preparations for the policy last month, The Washington Post reported. Health and Human Services representatives visited bases last week to review the facilities, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a military spokesman, said. Up to 20,000 beds at bases in the two states would house “unaccompanied alien children,” another Pentagon spokesman told The New York Times.

“We have housed refugees,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday. “We have housed people thrown out of their homes by earthquakes and hurricanes. We do whatever is in the best interest of the country.”

The Obama administration rolled out a similar policy in 2014, temporarily housing 7,000 children in three military bases.

More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, which aims to prosecute those entering the country illegally.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week to stop the separations, and it was unclear whether the military bases also will house families.

“There’s conflicting instructions being given,” Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told The New York Times. “It’s another example of this administration making these big, bold policy announcements with no plan for how they are going to implement them.”

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Eritrea to Discuss With Ethiopia Troops’ Withdrawal From Disputed Area: Afwerki
June 20, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) - Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, Wednesday said he would send a delegation to discuss with the Ethiopian government ways to implement Algeria peace agreement over their disputed border.

The move comes two weeks after the announcement made by the Ethiopian government providing its full acceptance of the outcome of 2002 border commission ruling which awarded disputed area, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea.

This decision has been welcomed by the regional and international community as it paves the way to end a dispute that sparked in 1998, and negatively impacted the region.

Speaking on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day, President Afwerki pointed to the “positive signals issued in these past days” saying it reflects the popular choice in the two brotherly countries that share common history and interests.

“For this reason, and outside myopic considerations of public relations stunts and advantages, we will send a delegation to Addis Ababa to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action,” he said.

Asmara’s reaction has been awaited in Addis Ababa since the 5th of June as many analysts cast doubt on the willingness of President Afwerki to negotiate an end of the border conflict which led to the isolation of his country.

The Eritrean leader warned against what de called the “TPLF clique, and other vultures” saying they would seek to obstruct any positive change in the relations between the two countries.

“This is best illustrated by their ambivalent public pronouncements of “yes…but” in these past days. This is designed to prevent a durable solution to the senseless border conflict that they unleashed in the first place without any justification. But their principal preoccupation and ill-will is to avert and frustrate any positive change in Ethiopia”.

President Afwerki was referring to statements by some leading members of the ruling party, EPRDF, who are ethnic Tigrayans living in the border disputed area and opposition to Abiy decision to hand Badme over to Eritrea.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a war from 1998 to 2000 over their border dispute, which left about 80,000 people dead.

Abiy welcomes Afwerki’s response

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed the "constructive response" of President Isaias Afwerki of Eretria saying it "is essential for the mutual benefit of both countries".

The Premier pointed to the face to face meeting between President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar and expressed his optimism that the coming years will offer the spirit of unity and respect among the East African countries.

Addis Ababa in the past several times asked for negotiation before to implement the ruling of the arbitration commission but Asmara demanded to withdraw Ethiopian troops first from Badme before talks.

The decision of President Afwerki could allow the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to consolidate his power and implement economic and social reforms in the country.

(ST)
Jebel Marra IDPs Gather Around Golo Base: UNAMID
UNAMID's new Temporary Operating Base in Golo, Jebel Marra, Central Darfur on 30 April 2018 (Photo UNAMID)

June 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on Wednesday said hundreds of displaced persons fleeing the fighting in Jebel Marra have gathered around the Mission’s newly established base in Golo area.

Since last March, government forces and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nur fighters resumed clashes in different parts of Jebel Marra.

“In the evening of 15 June 2018, displaced persons started gathering outside UNAMID’s newly established Temporary Operating Base (TOB) in the Golo locality, of the Jebel Marra area, Central Darfur,” said the Mission in a statement on Wednesday.

“By the next day, 16 June, 305 IDPs, including 200 children and 85 women, were outside the TOB and had started erecting temporary shelters” added the Mission

According to the statement, UNAMID staff “provided protection and water to the displaced as well as first aid to an IDP woman who gave birth near the base”.

It pointed out that the displaced people “informed UNAMID that they were fleeing from villages in Jebel Marra where fighting has been reported, including Gubbo, Gur Lumbung, Kawara, Saboon El Fag, Abuloto, Ujongole, Kara, Jari, Buju Buju and Wira”.

UNAMID added it is coordinating with UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and local authorities to address the humanitarian needs of the displaced.

On Tuesday, Troika countries including United States, United Kingdom and Norway denounced the ongoing fighting between the Sudanese army and the SLM-AW in Jebel Marra saying this “unnecessary violence” affects only the civilians.

In a report covering the security situation in Darfur for the period from 16 February to 15 April 2018, the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported low-scale skirmishes in Jebel Marra area between the government forces and the SLM-AW fighters.

On 12 April 2017, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel’s pockets in the mountainous area.

Jebel Marra, which spans over three states including North, Central and South Darfur, is located in a water-rich area that is characterised by a mild climate.

Last year, the UN Security Council decided to reduce the UNAMID, admitting that the security situation has improved but it decided to reinforce its presence in Jebel Marra because there is no cessation of hostilities as the SLM-AW refuses to declare it unilaterally or to engage in peace negotiations.

The Sudanese army has been fighting armed groups in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

(ST)
South Sudanese Delegation to Visit Khartoum for Oil Discussions
June 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Ministry of Oil and Gas on Wednesday said a delegation from South Sudan would arrive in Khartoum at the end of this month to discuss ways to scale up oil production.

Sudan’s State Minister of Oil and Gas Saad al-Din Al-Bushra told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that the visit comes in implementation of bilateral agreements to increase production of South Sudan’s oil fields.

Earlier this month, a Sudanese delegation visited Juba to discuss economic issues between the two countries. During the visit, Sudan and South Sudan ministers of petroleum discussed oil cooperation and resumption of production in South Sudan’s oil fields.

Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of Sudan’s revenue and 90% of its exports.

Sudan currently produces 72,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). The country’s production is stationed mainly in the Heglig area and its surroundings, as well as western Kordofan.

Chinese companies control 75 per cent of foreign investment in Sudan’s oil sector.

(ST)
South Sudan Rebels Welcome Machar’s Release from South Africa
June 20, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) – The diplomatic corps of South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) have lauded the Ethiopian government and the regional bloc (IGAD) for organizing face-to-face talks between Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed attended Wednesday’s meeting, which saw the two rival leaders meet for the first time after nearly two years.

The meeting between Kiir and Machar was to discuss all outstanding issues in the power-sharing chapter within the peace agreement.

“By allowing the principals of the warring parties to sit and sift through their differences to address the root-causes and stop the war, IGAD has correctly diagnosed the problem and has set the negotiations on the right course,” the SPLM-IO said in a statement.

It further added, “We would, therefore, like to express our gratitude to Prime Minister Abiye for his wise leadership and timely decision.”

The armed opposition extended its appreciation to the regional countries and the Troika nations for their positive roles in efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution to the civil war in South Sudan.

The South Sudanese civil war is an ongoing conflict in South Sudan between forces of the government and opposition forces. In mid-December 2013, President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar and 10 others of attempting a coup d’état.

The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over two million.

(ST)
South Sudan Kiir, Machar Meet in Addis Ababa
Ethiopa's PM Abiy Ahmed (R) President Salva Kiir ((C) and SPLM-IO leader (Photo Ethiopia Govt)

June 20, 23018 (ADDIS ABABA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar Wednesday have finally met on Wednesday in a meeting attended by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The meeting was announced in a twit released by the Director of Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office Fitsum Arega without details about the outcome of the encounter.

"HE PM Abiy Ahmed hosted a private dinner to President Salva Kiir and Dr Rieck Machar together. The two met for the first time in two years," said Arega.

"Faced with the continued suffering in South Sudan, Ethiopia simply can’t stand by. With more work, a peaceful future is possible in S. Sudan," he further said.

Different sources reached in Addis Ababa said the face-to-face meeting only gathered the two rival leaders and the Ethiopian premier.

The first meeting between Kiir and Machar since July 2016, was supposed to discuss only the outstanding issues in the power-sharing chapter of the peace agreement.

South Sudanese officials under the cover of anonymity told Sudan Tribune that the meeting was not successful and the two leaders didn’t agree on anything.

"If the meeting was positive, at least, Abiy would be happy to issue a statement about its outcome, but this was not the case," an official said.

Machar, in a meeting with the civil society and opposition groups, pledged to defend their points of view in the meeting.

The IGAD Council of Ministers will discuss the outcome of the intensive consultations and then will submit its conclusions for considerations to the summit of IGAD head of states and government in the evening.

President Kiir is scheduled to return to Juba on Friday but it is not clear if another meeting will take place between him and Machar.

Upon his arrival to Addis Ababa, Kiir held a separate meeting with Abiy. President Kiir was accompanied by Minister of Cabinet affairs Martin Elia Lomuro, Ambassador Ezekiel Lul the Minister of Petroleum, Michael Makuei Lueth the Minister of Information and Awud Deng Achuil the Minister of Gender, and Social Welfare.

The meeting with Kiir, which began at 08:00 pm (local time), discussed the outcome of the Intensive Interlink Consultations and ways to move forward, according to a statement released by the information ministry.

(ST)
Riek Machar, Salva Kiir Meet in Addis Ababa After 2 Years
THURSDAY JUNE 21 2018
Kenya Daily Nation

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir walks towards an airplane at Juba International Airport in Juba, South Sudan, on June 20, 2018 before travelling to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa for meeting with the South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar for the first time in almost two years on efforts to end a five-year civil war. PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL | AFP

The official scope of the talks is broad — to build bridges between the two — but analysts say the outcome remains unclear given their notoriously volatile relationship and entrenched positions.

Once comrades-in arms in the fight for independence, Kiir and Machar experienced a bitter falling out, a development that played a key part in the civil war that blights the future of the world's youngest state.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly a third of the 12 million population have been driven out of their homes, and many to the brink of starvation.

The two figures at the centre of the civil war that has ravaged South Sudan met for the first time in nearly two years on Wednesday evening in the Ethiopian capital.

South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, who fled South Sudan in July 2016, went into a closed door meeting at the Ethiopian prime minister's office.

SCOPE

Machar, who was greeted ahead of the meeting by Ethiopia's foreign minister, Worken Gebeyehu, arrived in Addis Ababa Wednesday morning.

Kiir followed in the afternoon and was met by prime minister Abiy Ahmed.

The official scope of the talks is broad — to build bridges between the two — but analysts say the outcome remains unclear given their notoriously volatile relationship and entrenched positions.

Once comrades-in arms in the fight for independence, Kiir and Machar experienced a bitter falling out, a development that played a key part in the civil war that blights the future of the world's youngest state.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly a third of the 12 million population have been driven out of their homes, and many to the brink of starvation.

The two warring leaders travelled to Addis at the invitation of Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy, who also chairs the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc that has taken the lead in thus-far fruitless peace negotiations.

Abiy "will call upon the two leaders to narrow their gap and work for the pacification of South Sudan and relieve the burden of death and uprooting of South Sudanese people," Meles Alem, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman, said.

HAILED

Igad heads of state are due to meet in Addis, on Thursday, hoping to get peace talks back on track.

A landlocked state with a large ethnic mix, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and brutal war.

The event was hailed around the world and by celebrity supporters such as George Clooney.

But in 2013, Kiir accused Machar, his vice president, of plotting a coup against him, and violence erupted between the two factions, feeding on brooding ethnic tensions.

They have not met since July 2016, when heavy fighting in the capital Juba signalled the collapse of a 2015 peace deal and Machar fled to South Africa.

The renewed violence spread across the country, spawning numerous new armed opposition groups and further complicating peace efforts.

Despite the pressure, observers say Kiir has little incentive to make concessions to his rivals.

2015 DEAL

His soldiers are winning militarily, while the opposition is more fractured than ever before.

Efforts to revitalise the 2015 agreement resulted in a ceasefire in December which lasted just hours before warring parties accused each other of breaking it.

The meeting in Addis Ababa comes against a background of growing international frustration.

In May, the UN Security Council gave the two warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.

Washington was a critical backer of South Sudan during its separation from Sudan, and remains Juba's biggest aid donor.

But a top US official earlier this month threatened parties on both sides of the conflict with sanctions after a report from a US foundation, The Sentry, said South Sudanese elites were profiting from human rights abuses.
Ebola Outbreak in Congo is 'Largely Contained': World Health Organization
Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak has been "largely contained" and no new cases of the disease have been confirmed since the last known sufferer died on June 9.

The World Health Organization said it viewed the situation with "cautious optimism," despite the difficulty of tracking down people who may have been exposed to the deadly virus.

The outbreak has killed 28 people since early April.

Photo: A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo May 21, 2018.

Kenny Katombe | Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak has been "largely contained" and no new cases of the disease have been confirmed since the last known sufferer died on June 9, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

The U.N. health body said it viewed the situation with "cautious optimism," despite the difficulty of tracking down people who may have been exposed to the deadly virus in remote forests close to the Congo River.

The outbreak has killed 28 people since early April.

"Slightly over a month into the response, further spread of EVD (Ebola virus disease) has largely been contained," the organization said in a report.

The outbreak triggered particular concern because it occurred in a remote northwestern area that was hard to reach but close to the Congo River, causing fears it could take root in a neighboring city or spread to the capital Kinshasa, a city of more than 10 million people.

There were also fears that river transport could help the virus spread to neighboring Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.

This outbreak is Congo's ninth, but the first to be countered with a "ring vaccination" strategy, where all contacts of known patients are vaccinated to try and stop the spread.

"The number of contacts requiring follow-up is progressively decreasing, with a total 1,417 completing the mandatory 21-day follow-up period. As of 17 June 2018, a total of 289 contacts were under follow up, of which 276 (96%) were reached on the reporting date," the WHO report said.

"If no new cases are reported, the last contacts of the known confirmed or probable cases will complete follow-up on 27 June 2018."

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The disease has an incubation period of up to 21 days, meaning the risk declines the longer Congo goes without a new case. The vaccine takes about 10 days to work.

The risk of unidentified Ebola carriers traveling outside the affected province was now considered "very low," but exit screening was being maintained as a precaution, the WHO report said.

An Ebola outbreak is normally declared over once 42 days have passed since blood samples from the last confirmed case tests negative for the second time.

The last laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola was a patient who died on June 9. By a Reuters calculation, if there are no more confirmed cases, the outbreak will be declared over around July 21.
New Shingles Vaccine is Highly Effective, Long-lasting — and in Short Supply
By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post
June 20 at 10:20 AM

A national shortage of a new and more effective vaccine to protect adults older than 50 from the painful rash known as shingles is prompting retailers to create waiting lists and the manufacturer to delay additional promotion.

Shingrix, licensed in the fall by the Food and Drug Administration, is the preferred vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for protection from a disease that affects 1 in 3 adults in their lifetime. By recommending that healthy adults start receiving the vaccine at age 50 — a decade earlier than the previous recommendation — federal health officials are hoping that millions more people will be protected from shingles, which is caused by the reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox.

One of the most common complications of shingles in those 50 and older is nerve pain that can last for months or even years after a shingles rash goes away and can be so debilitating that the touch of clothing on skin can cause searing pain. It has no treatment or cure.

The new two-dose vaccine provides greater protection — more than 90 percent — and lasts longer than the older single-shot vaccine that has been in use since 2006. The CDC recommends that people should get the new vaccine if they have had shingles, have previously received the old vaccine or have had or are unsure if they have had chickenpox. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles in the United States each year; the risk of the disease increases as people age.

Since the new vaccine became broadly available in the United States earlier this year, demand has soared. Supply has not kept pace. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline “implemented order limits and providers have experienced shipping delays,” according to a note posted on the CDC’s vaccine shortage list earlier this month. Even though GSK is working to increase supply, those order limits and shipping delays will continue through 2018, the note said. The CDC began reporting shortages in early May.

The scarce supply of Shingrix is likely to be mentioned at a regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday of the federal panel that advises the CDC on immunizations.

Drugstore chain CVS said it began offering the vaccine to patients broadly in mid-March. But because of high demand, “it has become challenging to keep an ample supply across all of our more than 9,800 stores due to supply restrictions from the manufacturer,” CVS spokeswoman Amy Lanctot said in an email on Tuesday. “We are still getting shipments intermittently,” she wrote. She said patients should call their local store to find out if the vaccine is in stock.

People who called their CVS pharmacies in recent weeks and were put on hold were likely to hear a recorded message about the new vaccine, saying that it is up to 97 percent effective and recommended for adults older than 50. “Talk to your pharmacy team today,” the message says.

Several CVS pharmacies in suburban Maryland reported the vaccine has been on back order for weeks. Shipments are limited to one box of 10 doses. At the CVS pharmacy in a Target store in Rockville, a person who answered the telephone said the pharmacy had not received any doses since a first shipment “a couple months ago.” He offered to put a customer on a waiting list.

A nearby Harris Teeter grocery store that had signs advertising the vaccine was also low on stock, also limited to receiving one box of 10 doses at a time and also had a waiting list.

Like other providers, the Kaiser Permanente health system said it has also experienced “high demand” since May. Physicians and pharmacists have been working to “provide vaccine to members most at risk, according to CDC guidelines,” a spokeswoman said.

GSK spokesman Sean Clements said officials are seeing immunization rates “many times that of previous years,” leading to “extremely high” demand for the vaccine. Since Shingrix  became available at the end of October, more than 1.5 million people have received at least one dose as of early May, he said.

The company is shipping more doses this week, he said. The manufacturer is increasing the U.S. supply available for 2018 and plans to release doses to all customer types on a consistent and predictable schedule for the remainder of the year. “People will be able to plan,” he said.

He declined to disclose how many doses of the vaccine GSK planned to bring to market this year. For the first quarter of the year, Shingrix had a “strong and fast start” and earned more than $150 million, company officials said in an earnings call in April. Officials suggested annual revenue of about $600 million for the vaccine.

The company relied on historical demand for shingles vaccine to predict demand for the new vaccine, Clements said. The company has informed the CDC and FDA that there is enough supply to vaccinate more patients in 2018 than were vaccinated against shingles during 2017.

The CDC recommendation is for two doses of Shingrix, two to six months apart. For patients who received both doses, Shingrix is 97 percent effective against shingles for those ages 50 to 59, compared with about 70 percent effectiveness for the older vaccine, Zostavax, industry-sponsored data show. For those in their 60s, the new vaccine is 97 percent effective, compared with 64 percent for Zostavax. For those in their 70s, Shingrix is 91 percent effective, compared with about 41 percent for Zostavax. (Data have not been provided for the effectiveness of a single dose of Shingrix.)

For those in their 80s, who are most at risk of developing complications from shingles, the new vaccine is about five times as effective: 91 percent vs. 18 percent. Protection stays above 85 percent for at least the first four years after vaccination.

Each dose costs $140. Most private health insurance covers recommended adult vaccines, including shingles vaccine. All Medicare Part D plans cover the shingles vaccine. But depending on the plan, individuals may need to pay a portion of the total cost.

Unlike the older Zostavax, which is injected under the skin, the new vaccine is supposed to be a shot in the muscle of the upper arm, like the annual flu vaccine. That difference has apparently led to some errors in giving the vaccine. During the four-month period from October to February, of 155 reports about problems associated with the vaccine, 13 instances involved at least one error, according to a CDC report last month. Nine involved Shingrix being given under the skin instead of in the muscle; eight of those nine injections caused reactions such as pain, redness and itching at the injection site.

The remaining 142 reports were patients reporting temporary side effects, such as joint pain, flulike symptoms, headaches, fatigue and soreness in the upper arm.

GSK said it is focusing its efforts on educating providers and pharmacists to stress the importance of two-dose compliance, and holding off on additional promotion, such as television commercials, until the shortage is under control.

“We want to make sure there is the right level of things out there for education, making sure we’re not driving excessive demand when we have to catch up with supply,” Clements said.
New Flu Vaccine Works a Little Better than Traditional Shot
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 02:30 PM

A newer kind of flu vaccine only worked a little bit better in seniors this past winter than traditional shots, the government reported Wednesday.

Overall, flu vaccines barely worked at all in keeping people 65 and older out of the hospital, with roughly 24 percent effectiveness.

The best performance was by a new shot called Flucelvax; it was about 26.5 percent effective in that age group. The difference wasn't as large as some had hoped.

"The big problem is still the same — we need better vaccines. But these incremental improvements are very important," said Brendan Flannery, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings of the Food and Drug Administration study were presented in Atlanta Wednesday to a panel that advises the government on vaccine recommendations.

The vast majority of flu shots in the U.S. are made in chicken eggs. Seqirus' Flucelvax is made by growing viruses in animal cells instead.

The U.S. just went through one of the most severe flu seasons in more than a decade, driven by a nasty flu bug that tends to cause more hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among the elderly. Researchers are finding vaccines made in eggs don't work well against that kind of flu bug. Growing vaccines in cells is thought to provide a better match.

In a statement, Seqirus said it was encouraged by the results and is doing additional analysis.

The FDA study included more than 13 million Medicare beneficiaries. It looked at what kind of flu shots they got and whether they came down with a flu that put them in the hospital. Flu diagnoses were not based on lab confirmations, though, so the results could have underestimated the vaccines' effectiveness if other bugs had made them sick, experts noted.

The study also showed that a higher-dose, egg-based vaccine intended for seniors worked slightly better than the traditional dose.

For Americans of all ages, the CDC estimates that flu shots were 40 percent effective against all strains this past season. They were far less effective against the kind that made most people sick.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

SACP Free State Statement of the Provincial Executive Committee Plenary Session of the 7th Provincial Congress
13 June 2018

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State held its seventh Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) ordinary plenary session of its 7th Provincial Congress in Bloemfontein on 9th June 2018. The PEC received a presentation of alliance reconfiguration by a Central Committee (CC) member, comrade Frans Baleni. The PEC also received a political input by CC member, comrade Lechesa Tsenoli as well as the provincial political and organisational reports.

The meeting discussed both these important reports as well as a report presented by South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in the context of the Auditor-General audit findings on municipal finances.

Post-Nasrec political trends in the province

The PEC noted that the post-Zuma period has given rise to a new positive mood and hope in the liberation movement and society as a whole. The PEC agreed that the post-Nasrec orientation at a national level signal a plausible break with the downward trajectory that faced the movement and the country. The downward trajectory was occasioned by wanton looting of public resources by parasitic networks and factionalism in our movement. The situation however remains dire in some provinces such as the Free State. The ANC in the province is still plagued by high levels of factionalism and divisions in the post-Nasrec era.

The conduct of some leaders of the ANC in the province points to an orchestrated attempt to undermine the positive mood of the post Nasrec moment. These could reverse the prospects of rolling back the parasitic networks and associated factionalism that have weakened our movement and plunged our state institutions in chaos.

The distasteful insults directed at the ANC President by a leader and Mayor of Dihlabeng Municipality and the factional appearance and address by the regional chairperson of the ANC in Lejweleputswa at the KZN court appearance of comrade Zuma are not coincidental. The PEC calls for an investigation to ensure that the cost associated with ferrying people from the Free State to comrade Zuma`s KZN court appearance were not paid with tax payer`s money, in light of recent Auditor-General report that reveals deteriorating financial management in municipalities. The SACP continues to urge the ANC to act consistently against ill-discipline and factionalism whenever they rear their ugly head within its structures.

The PEC agreed on the need to insist on a principled and programmatic approach to strengthening and building a functional alliance in the province, taking into account the ongoing discussions on reconfiguration of the alliance. This includes continued coalition engagements to resolve all outstanding issues at Metsimaholo Local Municipality. The PEC also agreed to intensify building the independent profile of the party through a systematic organisational renewal process underpinned by mass work and campaigns. These will include working with trade union movement on focused attention on the rollout of National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot in Thabo Mofutsanyana and fighting against the outsourcing of health services to Buthelezi Ambulances across our health facilities.

The PEC committed to strengthen working relations with Cosatu in the interest of building working class unity in the build-up to its Provincial Congress. The SACP will encourage joint progrmames and campaigns with Cosatu post its Congress.

Reconfiguration of the alliance

The PEC welcomed and enthusiastically contributed to the enrichment of the discussion document on the reconfiguration of the alliance. The PEC agreed that the discussions on the reconfiguration of the alliance must be advanced simultaneously with and to supplement and intensify ongoing work on other elements of the 14th Congress resolution on state and popular power. To this effect, all Districts in the province will hold District Councils to engage and contribute to these foregoing discussions. These discussions will culminate into a consolidated provincial contribution to the roadmap process.

The PEC agreed that while acknowledging that the current mode of operations within the alliance is outdated, these discussions should aim to locate the working class at the forefront in pursuit of the national democratic struggles. It is imperative that the discussions are guided by current strategic tasks of the party and informed by concrete analysis of the concrete situation on the ground.

The land question and evictions in the province

The PEC agreed with the CC perspective on the need to anchor the radical land reform programme around the pillars of restitution, redistribution and land tenure security. Land reform should primarily benefit the working class and the poor. The PEC acknowledged the failure of the post-apartheid government to effectively drive land reform. The PEC also noted that the high levels of evictions in farms in the province and corruption such as the Gupta-led looting and marginalization of poor communities at Estina Vrede Farm feeds the resurgent agitation that characterise the discussions on the land question. The decline in the agricultural sector and high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the province compounds the challenges.

The PEC condemned the irresponsible and opportunistic encouragement of people to embark on reckless land grabs by some leaders and Mayors is the province.

The PEC welcomed the open and participatory processes initiated by parliament. The PEC agreed to mobilise our structures and communities to constructively engage with the process. The PEC believes the approach to land reform should be holistic and integrate considerations for provision of appropriate infrastructure, water and energy. The PEC further agreed to intensify the ongoing Party programme to fight against evictions at farms and bonded houses, led by the NGO Izwe Lethu- Le rona re batho.

State of municipalities in the Free State

The PEC received a detailed presentation from SALGA on the state of municipalities in the Free State, based on Auditor-General`s audit findings on municipal finances. The essence of the presentation is that most of the municipalities in the Free State are facing serious challenges including high debt levels, financial viability and sustainability problems. Most municipalities in the province are still characterised by apartheid era spatial planning- which is also reflected in the patterns of paying service- with working class and poor communities located in the periphery and often poorly services.

The view of the PEC is that the high levels of irregular, unauthorised and fruitless expenditure across our municipalities exposes the extent to which governance has been systematically collapsed. This appears done deliberately to facilitate corruption and the looting of state resources for the benefit of parasitic networks in the province. The limited to lack of consequences for the collapse in municipal finances and service delivery despite consistent and repeated transgression revealed by Auditor General is indicative of a continuing culture of looting with impunity. Failure by 13 of our municipalities to respond positively to back to basics support given to them reinforces the existence of this culture. All these, in the view the PEC confirms the "leadership`s involvement in decision-making that led to transgressions" as pointed out by the Auditor-General.

The PEC views as unacceptable the high levels of debt by Free State municipalities to bulk service providers such as electricity and water. The PEC calls for urgent intervention by COGTA. These debts are spiraling out of control posing major risks to stability since money meant for service delivery has to be redirected towards servicing debts and interests.

The working class is at the receiving end of this cycle of looting with impunity. Workers` salaries are often paid late and failure to pay statutory obligations such as third party payments for pension funds and medical covers is rife in some municipalities in the province such as Maluti-a-Phofung, Matjhabeng, Mafube, Mohokare etc. Equally, our communities suffer from the continuing deterioration in service delivery across our municipalities.

The PEC calls on COGTA in the province as well as municipalities across the province to address the root causes of lack of accountability, internal controls and performance failures. These should include instituting criminal prosecution where acts of corruption are uncovered followed by removal and subsequent recovery of lost resources from those responsible. The PEC also calls for urgent proactive measures to ensure effective and sustainable monitoring and oversight to arrest the deteriorating state of our municipalities by responsible entities such as municipal councils, COGTA and Treasury, including by the ruling party.

ISSUED BY THE SACP FREE STATE PROVINCE

Contact:

Bheke Stofile - SACP Free State Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 071 600 4899

Phillip Kganyago - SACP Free State Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 071 896 0157
SACP Supports the National Health Insurance, Condemns Health Care Profiteers
18 June 2018

The South African Communist Party has noted the pursuit of an orchestrated campaign against the introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI). The SACP is combat ready and will take the capitalist profiteers - who benefit from the status quo - and their agents head-on until the NHI is successfully implemented. The SACP is therefore encouraging the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to release the NHI Bill for and in the interests of the workers and poor, the majority of our nation.

The NHI must equalise access to quality health care for all, regardless of whether one is employed or unemployed, and regardless of one's class location and income category. At the heart of the campaign against the NHI are private financial interests and fronted elitist groupings. Private monopoly interests walk all the way to the banks smiling while the majority of South Africans, especially the workers and poor, face exclusions by private hospitals and medical aid schemes.

Those workers who have a medical aid cover find themselves stranded around midyear onwards as medical aid schemes increasingly structure "benefits" to curtail or even exclude day-to-day medical care needs. Private hospitals are charging astronomical fees and medical aid administrators and brokers continue to benefit financially while the workers and poor suffer.

Our country is spending 8.5 per cent of its gross domestic product on health care. However, the greater portion of the money - that is 4.4 per cent - is spent on only 16 per cent of our population. Only 4.1 per cent is spent on 84 per cent of the over 56 million population. This is inhuman, cruel and unjust if not also barbaric and is obviously unacceptable. The NHI must bring an end to this class inequality in health care.

Health care is a human right rather than a commodity. South Africa is host to the world's unequal access to quality health care. This is what private monopolies that have captured the lion's share of health care funds are seeking to entrench. Theirs is primarily profit making rather than health care.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS CONTACT:

Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
Head of Communications & National Spokesperson
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM

CIRCULATION & MEDIA LIAISON SERVICES

Communications Officer: Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Hlengiwe Nkonyane
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550

OFFICE, WEBSITE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, USTREAM TV CHANNEL

Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
Website: www.sacp.org.za
Facebook Page: South African Communist Party
SACP Ustream TV Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sacp-tv
NEHAWU North West PEC Statement
19 June 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] in the North West province convened its 7th plenary session the Provincial Executive Committee [PEC] meeting of its 11th Provincial Congress on the 13th-14th June 2018.

The PEC considered the international context, political and socio-economic situations as well as organisational assessment.

The meeting also took place after the province finally witnessed the forced resignation of the Premier of the North West and the decision by national government to invoke section 100 of the constitution against the provincial government.

This PEC meeting took place after the conclusion of the public service wage negotiations which lasted for almost ten months. The PEC agreed that these negotiations were the most difficult as they took place under conditions which were not favourable to the workers.

On International

The meeting remembered The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale which marks 30 years since it took place in Angola. To us Cuito Cuanavale, where battle lines were drawn alongside ideological conviction, is a historic turning point in the struggle for the total liberation of the region from racist rule and aggression. It represents the defeat of the South African Defence Force and the USA which was aided by UNITA, by the Angolan army which fought alongside Cuban, Soviet Union, MK and SWAPO forces.

We noted and condemn the barbaric killings by the Israeli troops of innocent Palestinians including women and children in Gaza. We condemn the actions of apartheid Israel and the USA in their brutal annexation of lands from the Golan Heights in Syria to the whole of Palestine to Lebanon. In this regard, we reiterate the call for our government to cut all ties with Apartheid Israel guided by the African National Congress 54th national conference resolution to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the SA embassy in Israel to a liaison office. We will also ensure that we implement all activities under our international relations pillar.

On the Political Situation

The meeting noted that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the passing on of the African National Congress' longest serving President, Cde Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo. We also remembered the late President of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli. Both these Presidents of the ANC understood the alliance and its importance in relation to our national democratic revolution and its logical conclusion. In that regard, we call on the current President of the ANC, Cde Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa to ensure that the alliance is revived and strengthened in pursuance of our national democratic revolution.

Premier

The meeting feels vindicated after the forced resignation of Supra Mahumapelo as Premier. For a long time, the provincial government has been deteriorating in terms of service delivery. This deterioration of service delivery was a result of the disguised looting of the state in the name of the five concretes. The PEC would also like to caution the progressive forces in the province that the forced resignation of Supra Mahumapelo as Premier is not the end of our problems in the province but should be seen as the beginning of finding solutions. The efforts that led to the forced resignation should be harnessed in order to ensure that we have a clean government led by a trusted African National Congress.

We also commend all progressive forces in the province who worked tirelessly to ensure that an end is brought to the cancer of corruption especially in government departments and entities.

We thanked all our members who participated in both the Provincial and National Days of Action against corruption in the provincial government.

Section 100 and the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT)

The PEC welcomed the invoking of section 100 of the Constitution of the Republic on the provincial government. The meeting noted that there is relative calm in the province since the appointment of the IMTT. On the same breath, the meeting felt that the IMTT is moving very slow in terms of addressing the challenges raised especially as it relates to demands raised by the union. We will call on our national office to meet with the IMTT and ensure that all our demands are met speedily as we want a stable provincial government.

Acting Premier

The meeting discussed the issue of the Acting Premier in length and resolved that as a union we will not sponsor any particular name for the position as it is the prerogative of the President guided by the deployment committee which should include the alliance partners.

However, as NEHAWU in the province we strongly feel that whoever is appointed Premier should be equal to the challenges currently facing the government, be beyond reproach and satisfy the criteria of leadership as contained in through the eye of the needle.

COSATU Provincial Congress

The meeting noted that the Provincial Congress of the Federation is taking place on the 4th -6th July 2018. The union is also alive to the challenges confronting the federation in our province. In that regard, we will convene an Extended Provincial Political Commission to prepare for the COSATU Provincial Congress. We are also aware of the resolution of the 11th and 12th national congresses of Federation on affiliation of COSATU to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and will sharply raise it in congress.

ANC

The meeting noted the political and organisational challenges facing the African National Congress in the province. We note the regrouping of the premier league faction in the province and its fight to cling to positions of power in the organisation and in government. We call on the collective leadership of the national executive committee of the ANC to dismantle factions and instil discipline and unity in the organisation. Any failure in this regard will only serve to hurt the ANC and divide the revolutionary alliance.

Despite all these challenges confronting the ANC the meeting felt that the ANC remains the relevant vehicle to drive the emancipation of blacks in general and Africans in particular. We also noted that the 2019 general elections are fast approaching. Therefore, in the face of the challenges confronting the ANC in the province the meeting resolved to mobilise its members, workers and the working class communities to rally behind and vote for the ANC in the coming general elections in 2019.

On Socio-Economic

The meeting noted that the protracted negotiations in the public sector have finally come to an end. We note that these negotiations were challenging taking into consideration the conditions under which they took place.

We also want to call on our members in the public service to remain calm and attend branch general meetings and regional bargaining forums which deal with the agreement signed at the PSCBC. These are the channels were we will directly communicate with our members on matters related to the public service wage agreement.

On Health

The PEC noted the state of health in our province. We know for a fact that the state of health in our province has been deteriorating long before our actions that led to the department being placed under section 100 (1) (b). We note the appointment of the IMTT and are willing to work with it to ensure that the standard of health in the province is uplifted. On the same breath, we note that health has not only being a challenge in our province but country-wide.

Part of the bigger challenges in this department is outsourcing, privatisation, irregular expenditures, litigations, shortage of staff and corruption. We reiterate the call for a health indaba to scrutinise the crisis in health.

To that effect we will convene the Provincial Health Sub-Committee, the Provincial nurse's forum and the Community Health Workers general members' meetings to discuss the situation in our province and map out a way forward to ensure that the crisis in health is dealt with.

We also want to applaud all our members for actively fighting the cancer of corruption, especially in the Departments of Health and Social Development. Corruption is at the centre of our challenges in the province and we must not rest but fight this cancer wherever it rears its ugly head.

On Higher Education

The PEC noted the fact that the higher education sector in the province needs dedicated attention. In that regard, we will convene the Provincial Education Committee to look into all matters affecting our members in the higher education sector.

Conclusion

The PEC is aware of the attacks coming from other organisations of workers towards NEHAWU and other sister unions in relation to the public service wage negotiations. We will not return the favour by spewing bile against other workers' organisation as that only serves to give courage to our class enemies. We will convene general meetings of members where we will communicate with members.

The PEC also noted that there are some members of the ANC who are hell-bent on perpetuating factional politics at the expense of the movement as a whole, all in the name of satisfying their gigantic appetites for abusing power and looting. We therefore call on all ANC loving members to fight these appetites and restore the ANC to its glory.

For further information, please contact: Patrick Makhafane @ 082 455 2486 or Toffies Moemi @ 073 064 9300.