Thursday, November 15, 2018

African Leaders to Meet in Special Summit for ‘Last Push’ on AU Reforms
Published: 2018/11/15 20:33:40

African leaders are set to gather this weekend for a special summit aimed at pushing through long-debated reforms to their pan-continental body.

The changes seek to streamline and empower the African Union - an ambitious call for an organization often seen as toothless and donor-dependent, and analysts say time for forging a deal is short.

Egypt, which will assume the chairmanship of the AU early next year, has little interest in the reforms, they say.

The special summit is being held at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa this Saturday and Sunday at the insistence of Rwandan President Kagame, the pioneer of the reforms.

Elissa Jobson, head of African advocacy for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, described the talks as a "last push" to enact as many changes before Kagame's one-year term as chairman expires in January.

"The concern there is that Egypt is very unlikely to push the reforms forward, even if it doesn't try to reverse them," she said.

Long criticized for redundant bureaucracy and ineffectual decisions, the AU put Kagame in charge of reforming the body in 2016.

His proposals include weaning the AU off foreign donor funding and cutting down on the number of summits and commissions.

But more than two years and five AU summits later, analysts say key states still are not on board with the reforms.

Prospects for an agreement this week will depend on who shows up, they say.

"We'll have to see how many heads of state come, and that will determine the success of the summit, (which) will determine the success of the reforms in any way," said Liesl Louw-Vaudran, a consultant with the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Nigeria and Mozambique will be sending foreign ministers, while other AU members have yet to indicate who will attend.

Created in 2002 following the disbanding of the Organization of African Unity, the AU comprises all 55 African countries, with a budget in 2016 of $417 million.
Morocco Launches Africa's First High-speed Train
Published: 2018/11/16 0:51:53

Morocco's king Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron launched Thursday the first high-speed train in Africa.

The Moroccan king and Macron took the train from the northern city of Tangier to arrive in the capital Rabat, in a ride that lasted 80 minutes, compared to around four hours for a normal train ride before.

Called Al Boraq, the 200-km high-speed rail line has been built with a budget of more than 2 billion US dollars.

In addition to over 600-million-dollar financing from Morocco, several foreign countries contributed to the implementation of this project.

France contributed half of the total budget of the project, while the rest was mobilized by loans from Gulf countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.

The new train exceeded a speed of 220 miles (352 km) per hour in the tests, but it will travel at a speed of 320 km per hour during normal operation.

As a result, the journey time between Tangier and Casablanca will be reduced from five hours to two hours and 10 minutes.
UN Chief Says Eritrea Sanction Removal to Advance Regional Peacebuilding
Published: 2018/11/15 14:36:52

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea will contribute to advancing peacebuilding efforts in the region, his spokesperson said Wednesday.

Guterres also believed the move would contribute to consolidating a conducive environment for greater economic integration and sustainable development, the spokesperson's note to the press said.

"The United Nations stands ready to support countries in the region in addressing the remaining peace and security challenges," the note said. "It also stands ready to support the ongoing dialogue between Djibouti and Eritrea and the regional efforts to settle the outstanding issues between the two countries."

Earlier Wednesday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to lift nearly decade-old arms embargoes and targeted sanctions on Eritrea after the country's recent rapprochement toward neighbors in the Horn of Africa.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved Resolution 2444 to lift arms embargoes, travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions on Eritrea, which had been in place since 2009.

The removal of the sanctions was the culmination of regional political developments that unfolded since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace agreement and announced normalization of ties in Asmara on July 9, ending a 20-year conflict.

The thaw also led to friendlier relations between Eritrea and other countries in the region, namely Djibouti and Somalia.

The British-drafted resolution urged Eritrea and Djibouti to work toward normalizing ties and settling their 2008 border dispute, and requested the UN secretary-general to report to the council on the issue by Feb. 15 2019 and then every six months.

The council imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somalia, an accusation Asmara has long denied. The UN's most powerful body slapped more sanctions on the Horn of African country in three other resolutions from 2011 to 2013.

Wednesday's resolution recognized that UN monitors have "not found conclusive evidence that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab."
UN Envoy Outlines Challenges Confronting DRC Elections in December
Published: 2018/11/14 14:56:37

The top UN envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday outlined the security and public health challenges as well as ethnic tension confronting the African country's upcoming elections.

"In many parts of the country, these long-awaited elections will take place in a volatile security environment," Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative for the DRC, told the Security Council.

In particular, she underscored the situation in Beni, where civilians, the Congolese force, and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO are targeted by rebel groups.

Moreover, MONUSCO is also coping with supporting a major Ebola response effort in Beni, said the Algerian legal expert, who also heads the mission. "We are still seeing a growing number of cases in the major population centers in Beni and Butembo and significant community resistance to response efforts."

The UN envoy pointed out that women are disproportionately affected by the epidemic, representing about 60 percent of all probable and confirmed cases, due to a number of factors, including their roles as caregivers of the diseased.

Returning to security issues, the UN envoy warned a potential for armed group interference in elections in specific areas throughout eastern DRC, particularly in Tanganyika, South Kivu, and the Grand and Petit Nord ares of North Kiva.

"Armed group violence in these key provinces could affect the secure deployment of electoral material and may prevent certain parts of the population from voting on election day," she said.

In addition, she took note of the forced return of Congolese migrants from Angola to the Kasais, saying given the pace of returns and the capacity to receive returnees on the ground, "there is the possibility for ethnic tension to flare up in certain areas of the Kasais."

Concluding her briefing, Zerrougui appealed that collective focus be put on ensuring the credibility of the electoral process, stressing the need for candidates to have equal access to political space during the campaign period, which starts in days.

The DRC's elections were long overdue. A political agreement on Dec. 31, 2016 allowed President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, to stay on after his term of office expired, on the condition that elections would be held within 2017. But elections were delayed on the grounds of logistics.

On Nov. 5, 2017, the country's electoral commission published an electoral calendar for the combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections on Dec. 23, 2018.
Africa's Longest Suspension Bridge Opens to Traffic in Mozambique
Published: 2018/11/11 8:41:28

President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi unveils the construction nameplate during the inauguration ceremony of the Maputo Bay Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique, on Nov. 10, 2018. The longest suspension bridge in Africa, the cross-sea Maputo Bay Bridge with its link roads in Mozambique, was officially open to traffic here on Saturday. (Xinhua/Nie Zuguo)

The longest suspension bridge in Africa, the cross-sea Maputo Bay Bridge with its link roads in Mozambique, was officially open to traffic here on Saturday.

Being part of the project Maputo Bridge and Link Roads built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, with Chinese financing and standards, the three-kilometer twin-tower suspension bridge extends 680 meters span over the Maputo Bay of the Indian Ocean.

Speaking at the inauguration, President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi said that the project will facilitate the link between the country and the northern part of the African continent, "materializing the African wish built in the foundation of the African Union in 1963."

The president expressed his gratitude to the government and friendly people of China for the support in funding this infrastructure and care given to the project, saying that Mozambique positions itself in the worldwide geography "by claiming the title as the country with the longest suspension bridge in Africa."

Nyusi also highlighted that the bridge has fulfilled the wish of the people, with its potential to contribute to the sectors of tourism and logistics, the national economy and the global idea for regional integration.

Chinese Ambassador Su Jian said the project is a remarkable mark in the development process of Mozambique and it has potential to promote social and economic development by forming a transport artery from south to north across the country.

The ambassador also noted the project's domestic contribution, including jobs creation, transfer of technology to local people and auxiliary projects such as building classrooms for local schools, houses for resettled families and actions for environment protection.
Egypt Unearths 7 Pharaonic Tombs Near Capital Cairo
2018/11/11 16:34:15

An archaeologist works in a tomb in Saqqara Necropolis in Giza Province, Egypt, on Nov. 10, 2018. Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany announced Saturday the discovery of seven pharaonic tombs in Saqqara Necropolis in Giza Province.Photo: Xinhua

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany announced Saturday the discovery of seven pharaonic tombs in Saqqara Necropolis in Giza Province.

The discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation works at the area located on the stony edge of King Userkaf pyramid complex in Saqqara Necropolis, al-Anany told Xinhua.

The minister explained that the mission has uncovered three plain New Kingdom tombs that had been used during the Late Period as necropolis for cats along with four other Old Kingdom tombs, the most important of which belongs to Khufu-Imhat, the overseer of the royal buildings in the royal palace.

He also said that the Egyptian mission selected such a site to excavate because "there was a high probability that a collection of Old Kingdom tombs for individual could be uncovered around the ramp of King Userkaf pyramid complex."

A French mission previously excavated the eastern section of the site and uncovered a collection of Old and New Kingdoms tombs that were used during the Late Period as cats' graves, he said.

The French mission has stopped all excavations on site since 2008 and devoted all its work to study document and restore some of the discovered tombs. However, all the works have completely stopped since 2013.

"This is the first of three upcoming new discoveries in other governorates in Upper Egypt to be announced before the end of 2018," al-Anany said.

During the inauguration ceremony, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri announced that the Egyptian mission has succeeded to unearth the first ever mummies of scarabs to be unearthed in Memphis necropolis as two large mummies of scarabs have been found inside a rectangular limestone sarcophagus with vaulted lid decorated with three scarabs painted in black.

"Tens of cat mummies were also unearthed along with 100 wooden gilded statues of cats and a bronze one dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet," Waziri revealed.

He added that a collection of wooden gilded statues depicting the physical features of a lion, a cow, and a falcon was also unearthed.

"Painted wooden sarcophagi of Cobras with mummies found inside them were also discovered along with two wooden sarcophagi of crocodiles," Waziri explained.

Egypt, one of the most ancient civilizations, has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage and discover the secrets of its ancient antiquities in a bid to revive the country's ailing tourism sector.

Tourism sector has suffered an acute recession over the past few years due to political turmoil and relevant security issues.
Food Ads Stir Questions in Nigeria About Gender Roles
2018/11/12 18:53:39

A billboard advertising Maggi, a popular food seasoning, is seen in Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday. Photo: AFP

Adverts in Nigeria depicting career women gleefully juggling their job with kitchen duties have sparked a heated debate about gender roles in the fast-changing society of West Africa's largest economy.

The campaign is for the seasoning brand Maggi, which sells over 90 million stock cubes in Nigeria each day, according to company figures.

In a video ad, a 30-something mother and self-described "boss lady" proudly introduces herself as a "chief quality inspector" in her corporate life and a "kitchen grandmaster" at home.

She switches between presentations in the boardroom to cooking in an ultra-modern kitchen.

With an apron over her office clothes, she blows out the flame from a gas lighter - rather like James Bond dissipating the smoke from his gun - as she whips up a dish for her loving family.

"I love what I do," she enthuses.

A billboard ad, meanwhile, features a beaming woman with her two children, with the caption: "Mummy. Teacher. Taste Master."

The ad campaign, released last month, has divided opinion in a country where women are often expected to conform to established gender roles at a time of radical changes in lifestyle.

Many social media commentators were excited by what they saw as a "modern" portrayal of women in a position of power, balancing multiple roles with ease.

One Twitter user said of the video: "I like the fact that she is a mom, boss lady and still a slayer."

Another said: "I love that a woman is being portrayed as the multi-tasker that she is."

But others described the advert as "misogyny" and "well-packaged suffering" and questioned why the person in the kitchen was not a man.


Nestle, which owns the Maggi brand, was surprised by the controversy, stating that the advert was intended to celebrate women in a country where most cook more regularly than their partners despite working too.

Victoria Uwadoka, the company's communications manager, said it welcomed the debate the campaign had generated.

"Today, the reality is that most women are juggling professional life and family responsibilities," she said, adding that Nigerian society was evolving.

"We believe cooking should be open to everyone."

Gendered roles in food adverts are a controversial issue around the world.

Traditionally, Nigerian women are expected to be the main caregivers, looking after the home and children.

But the younger generation is challenging that idea in the country's rapidly urbanizing cities.

Jolaoluwa Ayeye is a 26-year-old writer in Lagos and co-host of popular podcast "I Said What I Said," which embodies the voice of a young generation of Nigerian women.

"I think the Maggi advert reflects current Nigerian norms but at the same time reinforces stereotypes that Nigerian women are trying to reject," she said.

"It is uncomfortable and difficult to work from sunup to sundown doing work that should and could be done with proper delegation and sharing of domestic workloads."

"It's not cute or sexy - and in 2018, let's be realistic, it's very unnecessary."


According to the World Bank, 51 percent of Nigeria's population of more than 180 million lives in the countryside, where traditional, conservative ideals are more prominent.

With the remainder in growing urban centers, the ad campaign has highlighted a wider debate between modernists and traditionalists.

Best-selling Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in June told US news satire program The Daily Show she was happy for people to hold the door for her.

But the author of Half of a Yellow Sun and We Should All Be Feminists said she hoped "they're not doing it for this idea of chivalry," as it implied women were weaker than men.

Her comments sparked a debate online and within Nigeria, with many celebrities such as the popular singer Banky W criticizing her politics as "going too far."

Politician Rinsola Abiola, who is standing for parliamentary elections in February, said depictions of women like that in the TV advert were unrealistic, especially to younger people.

"I acknowledge that it resonates with a lot of women who live that way. I have an elder sister just like that woman but I'm exactly the opposite of that advert," she said.

"For me the purpose of an advert is not just to present social norms but advocate for better structures."

The advert comes after concern that just 31 women in the two main political parties were running for 469 seats in parliament.

Those norms were epitomized by President Muhammadu Buhari when he dismissed his wife Aisha's view on domestic politics.

He told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2016 that the First Lady belonged "in my kitchen and my living room and the other room."
May’s Bogus Brexit Deal Should Be Rejected In Its Entirety
Morning Star, UK

THERESA MAY’S squalid deal that purports to deliver the June 2016 referendum decision to quit the European Union should be opposed root and branch.

Her priority all along, while reciting deceitfully the mantra “Brexit means Brexit,” has been to concentrate negotiations with the European Union on a package of priorities demanded by the City of London financial sector and her Business Advisory Council.

When she, David Cameron and George Osborne led the Remain side into the referendum campaign, they warned that leaving the EU would mean turning our backs on both the EU single market and the customs union.

Yet the Prime Minister has settled on a leave-in-name-only position that will compel British governments to follow most if not all regulations related to the single market and the customs union while having no input into their formulation.

The leaked note from EU deputy chief negotiator Sabine Weyand makes this clear.

“They must align their rules, but the EU will retain all the controls. They apply the same rules. UK wants a lot more from future relationship, so EU retains its leverage.”

Did 17.4 million voters back the Leave option in the expectation of seeing such an abject surrender? Of course not, especially since most voiced “taking back control” as their major motivation for their vote.

No socialist, trade unionist or green campaigner should take comfort from binding clauses in the draft deal related to overblown EU workplace rights and environmental safeguards because this package also includes curbs on state aid to industry.

This clause is not aimed at neoliberal governments — any configuration of Tory, Liberal Democrat and New Labour. Its target is a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell with plans for greater state intervention in the economy, in the form of common ownership, public investment and government direction.

Both the May government and the EU establishment are united in opposition to such an alternative to their consensus on locking in neoliberal policies through capitalist austerity and competitive tendering.

Labour put forward a qualitatively different approach at last year’s general election, recognising that problems of low investment, stagnant wages and ageing infrastructure cannot be tackled effectively through neoliberalism.

The Achilles’ heel in Labour’s approach is confusion over EU membership, with the leadership’s consistent position of respecting the referendum decision — which can only mean carrying it through — coming into conflict with flirtations with a “People’s Vote” designed to thwart it.

Subverting Corbyn’s principled stance on the referendum vote would mark a deliberate weakening of his leadership.

It would also undermine Labour’s vote in wide swathes of England and Wales, especially in traditional strongholds that have suffered deindustrialisation and neglect in recent decades.

Corbyn’s resolute determination to put an end to laissez-faire capitalism’s willingness to let entire communities and multiple generations sink into inexorable decline encouraged many to believe that they might have a future, based on interventionist socialist policies.

Were Labour to renege on these hopes, the consequences would be incalculable.

Labour MPs must refuse to pluck May’s leave-in-name-only chestnuts from the fire and should reject her bogus deal in unity.

If, or rather when, the Prime Minister’s policy falls apart, they should insist on the Tory government standing aside, preferably through a general election, so that Labour can negotiate with the EU — acting with respect for the 2016 democratic decision to leave.

A mutually beneficial trading relationship, without subservience to EU rules or institutions, would still be negotiable rather than May’s corporate-driven dodgy deal that incorporates City financial domination and the neoliberal status quo.
May's ‘Incompetent’ Tory Party Teeters on the Brink of Collapse
Morning Star, UK

PM says she'll ‘see deal through’ despite Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey's resignations

Photo: Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking outside the House of Parliament in London today after he handed in his letter of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.

THERESA MAY’S “incompetent” Tory Party teetered on the brink of collapse today as her “chaotic” Brexit deal led to a wave of calls for her to quit.

The PM was seriously undermined by the resignations of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, with other Tories following suit.

Hard-right Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called for a vote of no confidence in Ms May in outrage over her Brexit deal.

In his resignation letter, Mr Raab said the regulatory regime proposed in the deal “prevents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom,” and said he could not support a deal where the EU has a “veto over our ability to exit.”

Ms McVey, who followed suit within the hour, said in her letter: “We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.

“I cannot defend this and I cannot vote for this deal.”

Two more junior ministers, including junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman, two parliamentary private secretaries, and Conservative Party vice chair Rehman Chishti also quit.

Ms May stood for three hours in the Commons urging members to back her deal or face “more uncertainty, more division, and a failure to deliver on the decision of the British people to leave the EU.”

She urged her colleagues to “seize the opportunities that lie ahead” in the deal.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed Ms May’s plan as a “damning failure” that cannot offer the country the chance to actually take back control of the British economy.

“After two years of bungled negotiations, the government has produced a botched deal that breaches the Prime Minister’s own red lines and does not meet our six tests," he said.

“The government is in chaos. Their deal risks leaving the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say.

“When even the Brexit secretary who, theoretically at least, negotiated the deal says 'I cannot support the proposed deal,' what faith does that give anyone else in this place or in the country?

“The government simply cannot put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit secretary and his predecessor have rejected.”

Mr Corbyn also criticised the PM for locking Britain into a deal “from which it cannot leave without the agreement of the EU," casting doubt on her promise of a fully working relationship between Britain and the EU by January 2021.

He also drew attention to her agreements about restrictions on state aid and competition laws, saying that this economically limits the power of the country.

And he derided the government’s inability to get a clear deal on the single market, to show any clarity on the Northern Ireland border question or to have any real immigration policy.

“This is not the deal the country was promised and Parliament cannot and I believe will not accept a false choice between this bad deal and no deal," Mr Corbyn continued.

“People around the country will be feeling anxious this morning about the industries they work in, the jobs they hold and about the stability of this country.

"The government must now withdraw this half-baked deal which it is clear does not have the backing of the Cabinet, this Parliament or the country.”

At the time of going to print, Mr Rees-Mogg was encouraging others to move against Ms May following his letter of no confidence.

Shadow justice minister Richard Burgon said: “It’s become abundantly clear that Theresa May is a King Canute Prime Minister and the tide is coming in.

“It is time for Theresa May and her rotten and incompetent government to go.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward added to the chorus of voices demanding Ms May’s resignation, saying: “We need an election, [the Tories] gone and a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government in place.

“Move over May. It’s time for the People’s Prime Minister.”

Speaking at a press conference as the Star went to press, Ms May insisted that she believes in her deal “with every fibre of my being” and thanked those who resigned for their service.
May’s Brexit Deal Doesn’t Stand a Snowball’s Chance in Hell
Morning Star, UK

Prime Minister Theresa May sports red hat outside her office in London.

FOR Theresa May to lose one Brexit secretary may be, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.”

Some commentators ridicule Dominic Raab’s departure in the footsteps of David Davis, suggesting he has responsibility for having negotiated the Tory government’s friendless deal only to abandon it at the last minute.

In reality, as the Prime Minister made clear after Davis walked out, she is Britain’s chief negotiator and, in her absence, her Europe adviser Oliver Robbins holds sway.

This former permanent secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union is, in common with May and her predecessor David Cameron, for whom Robbins also worked, a lifelong supporter of the EU project.

The PM stated repeatedly in her marathon performance at the despatch box today that she was determined to deliver on the electorate’s clear referendum result while maintaining the closest relations with the EU.

If she is sincere about these aims, she has set herself mission impossible, as one MP after another told her.

The contrast between the anger expressed in Westminster and the preening complacency of EU officials Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk confirms the direction charted by the May-Robbins craft.

Jeremy Corbyn was right to point to “two years of bungled negotiations,” followed by a “botched deal” that leaves the government “in chaos.”

The opposition leader outlined the gaping gulf between May’s promises to her Tory and Democratic Union Party MPs, especially over creating “a de facto border down the Irish Sea” between Britain and Northern Ireland.

As much as she tried to deny the undeniable, she couldn’t have imagined being faced with the loud interjection of “He’s right!” by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds about Corbyn.

The Labour leader highlighted that May’s declarations about taking control over our laws, money and borders and ending European Court of Justice over Britain’s affairs are mere fantasies.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s announcement that he was sending a letter to 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady MP to indicate no confidence in the Prime Minister was intended as a clarion call to Tory Brexiteers and could mean her facing a leadership challenge in the near future.

Corbyn understands that May’s government faces an existential crisis, offering a political opportunity to Labour, provided it concentrates on demanding a general election as the PM watches her key policy plank crumble and she personally faces possible removal from office.

The Labour leader’s clarity contrasts vividly with that shared by the New Labour rump of MPs, led by Chuka Umunna.

Umunna, his close Tory ally Anna Soubry, together with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Green MP Caroline Lucas, led the charge for an undemocratic so-called “People’s Vote” to overturn a decision backed by 17.4 million voters that still awaits implementation.

Were Labour to fall for this time-dishonoured EU ploy of forcing electorates to rerun decisions the Brussels elite disapproves of until they correct their mistake, it would be dicing with electoral disaster.

There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of May’s bogus Brexit deal being accepted by the Commons without large numbers of MPs performing back somersaults.

European Council president Donald Tusk said today that EU leaders will meet on November 25 to finalise the draft agreement, provided “nothing extraordinary happens,” but the only outcome worthy of the designation “extraordinary” would be if MPs were to back the deal on its return to Parliament.

The Tory government is out on its feet. Labour and other anti-Tory MPs must concentrate on counting it out.
Theresa May Under Pressure After Gove Rejects Brexit Secretary Job
BBC's Laura Kuenssberg asks the PM if she "in office, but not really in power?"

Theresa May will continue to sell her Brexit withdrawal deal on Friday as cabinet minister Michael Gove is understood to be considering quitting.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she understood Mr Gove had rejected the PM's offer to make him Brexit secretary, because Mrs May would not let him renegotiate the deal.

Dominic Raab quit the role on Thursday over "fatal flaws" in the agreement.

Mrs May says the deal "delivers what people voted for".

But she was warned by one of her own backbenchers it was "dead on arrival" and would not get the backing of MPs, during nearly three hours of hostile questioning in the Commons.

The government unveiled its long-awaited draft withdrawal agreement on Wednesday, which sets out the terms of the UK's departure from the EU, over 585 pages.

The prime minister will answer callers' questions about the plan on LBC radio on Friday morning.

Asked about Mr Gove on Thursday, she said he was doing "an excellent job at Defra" adding: "I haven't appointed a new Dexeu [Department for Exiting the European Union] secretary yet and I will be making appointments to the government in due course."

But the BBC understands Mr Gove, a leading figure in the Leave campaign during the EU referendum, rejected her offer to make him Brexit secretary - saying he would only accept it if he could try to make changes to the negotiated deal, something Theresa May had made clear was not possible.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have both quit over the withdrawal deal.

And various Tory backbenchers, including leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, said they had submitted letters of no confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the Conservatives' backbench 1922 Committee. Forty eight letters are needed to trigger a confidence vote.

It is understood that a group of cabinet ministers are considering whether to try to force Mrs May to make some changes to the withdrawal deal.

The agreement sets out commitments over citizens' rights after Brexit, the proposed 21-month transition period, the £39bn "divorce bill" and, most controversially, the "backstop" to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mrs May issued a defiant message in Downing Street on Thursday, saying: "I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people."

She added: "Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones."

She acknowledged unhappiness among some with compromises made to secure a withdrawal deal but said it "delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest" and vowed to "see this through".

But Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn told her: "The government simply cannot put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit Secretary and his predecessor have rejected."

And some of her own backbenchers warned her it could not command support in the House of Commons, if it is put to a vote.

By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

The government, for today at least, is at the mercy of events not in control.

Theresa May's vow to stay does not make her deep, deep problems disappear.

With her party in revolt, her colleagues departing - some determined to usher her out of office - we can't, and don't know yet, if Brexit can happen as planned, perhaps, if at all.

This could be a gale that's weathered in a few days, or a serious storm that sweeps the government away.

Tory MP Mark Francois said, with Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP planning to vote against it - alongside, he said, more than 80 Tory MPs, it was "mathematically impossible to get this deal through the House of Commons" and it was "dead on arrival".

But, during a press conference in Downing Street, Mrs May said abandoning the withdrawal deal would be "to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it", she warned.

But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable suggested the prime minister was "in denial": "The facts haven't changed. There is no majority in Parliament for her deal, and she has rightly conceded that "No Brexit" is the real alternative to it."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

ED Commitment Charms Chinese
15 NOV, 2018 - 00:11 

President Mnangagwa welcomes Anhui Province Deputy Governor Mr Zhou Xi’an who paid a courtesy call at his offices in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Felex Share and Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Zimbabwe Herald

The visiting Chinese business delegation, which is in the country to implement deals sealed between Zimbabwe and China, has said it has been impressed by President Mnangagwa’s commitment to transform the economy after years of regression.

The delegation from Anhui Province yesterday met President Mnangagwa, having participated in a business forum hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in conjunction with the Chinese Embassy in the morning.

The business forum saw two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) being signed, one between the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and Anhui Shui’an Construction Group for the construction of Rupanga Dam.

The other deal is between Mutare-based vehicle assembler Quest Motors and JAC Auto Assembly Plant of China.

Speaking after meeting the President, Anhui provincial deputy governor Mr Zhou Xi’an said deals which his province sealed with Zimbabwean firms had reached implementation stage.

President Mnangagwa visited China in April and sealed several deals with his counterpart President Xi Jinping. The deals cut across various economic sectors. “Your President visited China and Anhui Province in April,” said Mr Zhou.

“This time, my visit to Zimbabwe is mainly to implement the agreement between Presidents Mnangagwa and Xi Jinping, especially in the area of economic trade.

“Actually, we give priority to Anhui and Zimbabwe cooperation in our work. During the meeting with the President we pointed out plans for our future cooperation. First of all, we will try our best to develop agriculture to secure the food system of Zimbabwe.

“We will work together in the fields of agricultural product processing into the marketing of food.”

The Anhui State Farms of China in partnership with Government is set to establish an agricultural industrial hub in the country through the Zim-China Wanjin Agriculture Company for value addition and beneficiation of local agricultural produce.

Once operational, the industrial zone is expected to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills from the highly mechanised and advanced Chinese State company.

Mr Zhou said the two countries were working on cooperation in the manufacturing sector and energy sectors.

“Now, we are paying much attention to specific fields, but in the future we will cover all the fields,” he said. “We will try our best to speed up implementation and we could appreciate if you could give support to the cooperation between us. Let us work together to make it done.”

At the business forum, Mr Zhou said they had been impressed by President Mnangagwa’s quest “to make Zimbabwe great”.

“During President Mnangagwa’s visit (to China), I accompanied him and I must say I was deeply impressed by his spirit to make Zimbabwe great again,” he said.

“We all know that China is developing fast and the opportunities coming with this rapid development are also available for Africans as well and the people of Zimbabwe.”

Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi said Zimbabwe was running with Vision 2030 by which time it should achieve middle income status.

“We cannot achieve this objective if we, as a country, continue to export unprocessed or semi-processed products,” he said.

“Our key priority is to enhance value addition and beneficiation of our agricultural produce and mineral resources, thereby generating economy-wide multiplier effects that will drive economic growth.

“We have plenty of investment opportunities in different sectors which include agriculture and agro-processing, mining and mineral beneficiation, manufacturing and value addition, tourism development, infrastructure development in energy, transport, information communication technology, water and irrigation development and other sectors.”
Reinforce Anti-corruption Institutions, East African Countries Urged
14 NOV, 2018 - 14:11

ADDIS ABABA. — Policymakers and experts who have gathered for a 4-day anti-graft training organised by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are urging East African countries to reinforce anti-corruption institutions and efforts.

Representatives of national anti-corruption institutions from the region gathered in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa from November 13 to 16 to expedite the implementation of various regional and international normative instruments on democracy and good-governance as a credit to attain sustainable peace and security in the region.

According to Legawork Assefa, IGAD’s Director of Peace and Security Division, strengthening the capacity of anti-corruption institutions is vital so as “to implement and carry out the responsibilities entrusted unto these institutions by the IGAD citizens.”

“We need strong anti-corruption institutions to act as watch dogs to contribute to the current efforts by IGAD and the African Union (AU) by implementing the regional and continental efforts for Africa not to lag behind in development and to be more transparent, effective and reliable,” Assefa said.

The gathering is part of a re-commitment to the Declaration of the year 2018 as “Africa’s Anti-Corruption Year” that was approved by African leaders during the 30th AU assembly of heads of state and government in Jan. 2018 in Addis Ababa, according to IGAD.

Salah Hammad, Head of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat under the AU, also reiterated the need to fight corruption collectively and in an organized manner.

If the continent failed to fight corruption collectively, “Africa will not improve or develop for it affects economies and the social fabric,” Hammad said.

“The African Union supports and commends efforts by IGAD and other regional economic communities to fight corruption at regional level complimented with AU instruments for successful implementation,” he added.

Participants of the training are expected to discuss on background to corruption, and the familiarization of regional, continental and global conventions on anti-corruption, according to IGAD.

They are also expected to design campaign strategies for anti-corruption interventions, discuss on factors that contribute to the success and failure of anti-corruption initiatives in the region.

IGAD, through its Peace and Security Division, endeavours in the promotion of democracy, good-governance, election and human rights. The initiative, among other things, aspires to reinforce the capacity of member states’ democratic institutions.

The declaration of 2018 as an anti-corruption year by the AU calls AU organs, member states, regional economic communities, civil society organisations, together with African citizens to embark on a journey to address the urgent need to curb corruption as a major societal flaw causing setbacks in the socioeconomic and political development of the continent.

The joint call on Tuesday also came a day after the Ethiopian Attorney General’s revelation regarding the arrest of 27 senior military figures in connection with mass corruption.

Ethiopia’s Attorney General, Berhanu Tsegaye, said on Monday that the arrested senior military figures and their associates have been involved in corrupt activities worth over 2 billion U.S. dollars including an illicit purchase of a plane, ships and cranes during the span of six years period.

The arrest marked the biggest anti-corruption measure in the East African country’s modern history. – Xinhua/HR
Nigeria Wants Former Oil Minister Extradited from UK
ABUJA. – The head of Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agency on Monday said he wanted former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke to be extradited to face trial because a corruption probe against her in Britain was taking too long.

Alison-Madueke, who served under president Goodluck Jonathan and was the first female head of OPEC, was arrested in London in October 2015 as part of an investigation into global corruption.

She has been on bail ever since, and been linked to a string of money laundering, bribery and asset recovery cases in Nigeria, Italy and the United States.

The former minister (57), has always denied claims that billions of dollars were siphoned from oil deals and state accounts, including to pay for properties in exclusive areas of Lagos and London.

Nigeria’s government has previously appeared happy to have Alison-Madueke potentially face trial in Britain.

A judge in Lagos in November last year even accused her of seeking to “avoid justice” after her lawyers applied to have her name attached to a fraud case.

Nigerian court cases frequently last years and there is criticism about corruption in the judiciary.

But the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, said the British probe began even before he was appointed and she had still not been charged.

“It is very unreasonable that she is not being tried there,” he told a news conference in the capital, Abuja.

“That’s why I say, if you cannot prosecute her, bring her here. We will prosecute her… We cannot wait endlessly like this. I think three years and above is sufficient to take her to court.”

He added: “There’s no prosecution, nobody is prosecuting her there. That’s why I said let us initiate (an) extradition process.”

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in 2014 that the average length of time for investigations into foreign bribery was just over seven years.

The British investigation is being conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA), which targets serious and organised criminal activity in Britain and around the world.

Any Nigerian application for extradition would be made to the interior ministry in London and require the approval of the interior minister.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to root out endemic corruption and end impunity in Africa’s most populous nation.

That included reforming the notoriously opaque Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which Alison-Madueke oversaw.

But three years on, and as he seeks re-election at polls in February next year, he has yet to secure a big-name conviction, after claims he has targeted political opponents.

Magu said the EFCC had secured 703 convictions since he took over in 2015, including two former state governors, in what he said was “an unprecedented fight against corruption”.

Since November 2015, Magu said some $2.2 billion (1.96 billion euros) of “looted funds” had been recovered through court orders, as well as hundreds of properties from filling stations to hospitals. – AFP
NEHAWU Statement on the Violence That Erupted at University of Mpumalanga Today
13 November 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] blames both the Department of Higher Education [DHET] and Training and the management of the University of Mpumalanga [UMP] for the violence that erupted at university today.

On Thursday, 8th November 2018, the union handed-over a memorandum of demands to the representative of the Minister in relation to maladministration and corruption with the ultimatum of 48 hours from the receipt. To date, no reply neither an indication to reply has come forth, instead we observed a high level of arrogance from the management as it elected to run to the Labour Court yesterday and lied to the Court that our march was illegal and obtained an interim interdict in the process. While waiting for the Minister to respond to our genuine demands, the management opted to militarize the campus since yesterday by hiring private security without following tender processes.

Today, a group of students who were singing in the campus as part of their choir rehearsals were provoked by security and police who fired rubber bullets at them. Our members and workers could not allow the brutality directed at their children to proceed unabated moved in to try diffuse the situation by bringing a voice of reason which was also met by rubber bullets, resulting into workers and students being injured in the process.

The union and students distances themselves from injuries sustained by the police officials who either got shot by private security or otherwise. The union is considering opening cases against security officials and the Vice Chancellor for injuries sustained by workers.

The union remains committed on its demand that the university must be placed under administration as there is lack of leadership and a will to respond to the skills revolution as per the National Development Plan [NDP]. The national union has taken a decision to escalate this matter and raise it sharply with the Chancellor of the university, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa and demand that he takes immediate action before the situation becomes direr.

As NEHAWU, we reiterate our call to DHET to take our demands seriously without any further delays. In this regard, the union will bus its members and students of the University of Mpumalanga to the Office of the Minister in Pretoria to demand for the response, failing which all our members will be mobilised in different universities to render the system ungovernable as part of pledging solidarity.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: Visit NEHAWU website:
Cyril Ramaphosa was given until Wednesday by the Public Protector to discipline Malusi Gigaba for lying under oath in a court case involving the Oppenheimer family.

Lindsay  Dentlinger
Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to act as Home Affairs minister until a permanent appointment is made.

Malusi Gigaba's resignation as Home Affairs Minister on Tuesday means he’s spared Ramaphosa from firing him.

Pressure has been mounting on the president in recent weeks to act against him.

Ramaphosa was given until Wednesday by the Public Protector to discipline Gigaba for lying under oath in a court case involving the Oppenheimer family.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has also been granted a court date for the new year to challenge Ramaphosa's decision to retain Gigaba in his Cabinet.

The cards have been stacking against Gigaba for quite some time but in just a few weeks, the pressure was shifted to Ramaphosa to act.

Gigaba was found to have lied under oath in a court case involving a private aviation terminal belonging to the Oppenheimer family almost a year ago.

But it’s only after a complaint from the DA to the Public Protector that the president's hand has been forced.

Speaker Baleka Mbete has also been given until Wednesday to report Gigaba to Parliament’s ethics committee.

Gigaba’s resignation means Ramaphosa now also avoids having to challenge a court case brought by the DA against keeping him on as a minister.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says Africa on its route to peace, development and transformation can learn from the European Union which was born to end historic divisions on its continent.

Jean-Jacques Cornish
Eyewitness News

PRETORIA - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s warns of the international rise of racism and xenophobia cloaked in the mantle of nationalism.

His speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg carries a cautionary note similar to that of French President Emmanuel Macron last Sunday and is seen as a backhander to United States President Donald Trump.

Ramaphosa says the world has to turn to its leaders to combat the rise of unilateralism threatening the collective international drive for democracy and respect for human rights.

He cites the late Nelson Mandela as one of those leaders who belong to all humanity, current and future, that share his values.

Ramaphosa says Africa on its route to peace, development and transformation can learn from the European Union which was born to end historic divisions on its continent.
The DA wants Ramaphosa to explain his decision not to drop Malusi Gigaba and Bathabile Dlamini from his Cabinet when he took over in February.

FILE: Malusi Gigaba briefing President Cyril Ramaphosa on his scheduled visit to the US to showcase the country. Picture: @MTshwete/Twitter

Lindsay  Dentlinger
Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - While it still remains to be seen whether Malusi Gigaba will resign as a Member of Parliament following his resignation as Home Affairs minister, President Cyril Ramaphosa is not off the hook in explaining why he retained Gigaba in his Cabinet.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it still wants the court to declare his appointment as minister unlawful and unconstitutional.

The party is also challenging Minister Bathabile Dlamini's position in the Cabinet through the same court action.

The DA wants Ramaphosa to explain his decision not to drop Gigaba and Dlamini from his Cabinet when he took over in February.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says Gigaba must face perjury charges and can't stay on as a backbencher.

“If the bar is such that you can resign as a minister and retain your job as an MP, well our future as a country will end up in a space where we avoid accountability by stepping down in the executive role and becoming an ordinary MP. I think we’ve got to set our bar much higher than that.”

Ramaphosa has asked for more time to respond to the DA’s court challenge due to his international travel commitments.

He has until next Thursday to indicate whether he intends opposing the application which is set to be heard in March next year.
Malusi Gigaba's resignation has sparked a debate among his organisational peers, with some of them of the firm belief that his exit from Cabinet is part of a purge by senior members.

FILE: Former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

Ziyanda Ngcobo

DURBAN - With former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba's political future still not clear after his spectacular fall from grace, it's understood discussions are already underway around a so-called generational fightback within the African National Congress (ANC) ahead of the party's next elective conference.

Gigaba's resignation has sparked a debate among his organisational peers, with some of them of the firm belief that his exit from Cabinet is part of a purge by senior members of the party who are accusing them of refusing to make way for the younger generation.

The league in his region in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has come to his defence, claiming he was forced out because of his resistance to white monopoly capital.

While Gigaba remains a member of Parliament for now, it’s understood part of his fightback campaign includes ensuring that he remains in the National Assembly post the 2019 elections.

As the nomination process gains momentum, this week Eyewitness News revealed how Gigaba’s fellow national executive committee member Aaron Motsoaledi lost a battle to halt his nomination during a branch meeting in Polokwane.

His former youth league members put on a fierce defence despite the litany of scandals and controversies he’s been embroiled in.

Meanwhile, KZN ANC spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has described the debates around the generational mix in the party as “healthy.”

“I don’t think we should elevate that element a lot because, as you would know, in any struggle there are different generations that are leading.”

Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni says while Gigaba has a much wider appeal beyond his home province, it has previously proven to be a base for politicians to restart their careers.

“The fight during the campaign is going to be testing the waters to see how electable he becomes towards 2022.”

Gigaba is expected in KZN this weekend for ANC election campaigning.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)
Dozens of Anglophone Separatists Killed in Cameroon
Cameroon army says at least 30 separatists were killed as clashes intensify in restive English-speaking region.

Cameroon soldiers have killed at least 30 separatists in two days of intense fighting in the turbulent English-speaking region, a military spokesman has said.

The military also freed people held by separatists during its two-day operation in the Mayo Binka area near Nkambe, spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck told the Associated Press news agency on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, the mayor of Nwa, a local council in the same region, was killed by suspected separatists, Emmanuel Bunyui, mayor of the nearby town of Ndu, told the Associated Press.

"When we hoist the Cameroon flag in the council premises, we are targeted by the armed men who insist that we should instead display their blue and white flag," Bunyui said.

Many mayors in English-speaking regions have been targeted by armed separatists, who in 2016 began demanding an independent English-speaking state, which they call Ambazonia.

Recently, 79 students and three staff were kidnapped from a school by suspected separatists, and later released.

Violent divide

Anglophones account for about one-fifth of Cameroon's 25 million people.

The conflict has killed more than 400 people since last year and has emerged as President Paul Biya's greatest security problem in his nearly four decades of rule.

The two sides often provide conflicting accounts of the fighting, but both have reported heavier casualties in recent weeks.

The army has burned villages and killed unarmed civilians, forcing thousands to flee to French-speaking regions or neighbouring Nigeria.

In November last year, Biya declared the crisis a war.

Biya was re-elected to his seventh term in October, although few votes were cast in Anglophone regions.

Politicians have repeatedly called on Biya to initiate dialogue to stem the violence. The 85-year-old president has refused, repeatedly stating that Cameroon is one and indivisible.

The United Nations has condemned both the Cameroon military and separatists for using unnecessary and excessive force.

The linguistic divide harks back to the end of World War I, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and British victors.

Federal Court Extends a Lifeline to Stacey Abrams and Other Candidates in Georgia-The Vote Counting Will Continue
State legislative contests are the most affected, but there are implications for the unsettled governor's race.

By Steven Rosenfeld
November 13, 2018

Two just-issued federal court rulings will mean potentially thousands of additional votes will be counted in Georgia's hotly contested elections, possibly affecting the outcomes of races ranging from the high-profile governor's race to seats for state legislature.

Late Monday, a U.S. District Court ordered the state to count provisional ballots that were previously rejected-because the voters' names weren't in precinct pollbooks due to shoddy state record keeping-and to extend the vote counting period through this Friday afternoon. On Tuesday, another federal district court judge ordered the state to count absentee ballots that had been rejected because voters didn't fill in their date of birth when signing their mail-in ballot envelopes.

"The rulings from last night and this morning were wins for Georgians' fundamental right-the right to cast a ballot," said Lauren Groh-Wargo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' campaign manager.

As of midday Tuesday, it was not clear if the state would appeal the two federal court orders. On Monday, Georgia's new Secretary of State, Robyn Crittenden, issued new instructions to counties on processing provisional and absentee ballots, but they do not include the court's latest directives.

Vote Counting Extended and Expanded

The 56-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued late on Monday means that vote counting by Georgia's 159 counties would not end Tuesday, when county election boards were slated to report totals to the state.

"The Court grants modest relief," the District Court said, in response to a lawsuit filed by Common Cause Georgia against Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican gubernatorial candidate, who last week resigned as Secretary of State after saying he won-despite thousands of pending uncounted votes.

The ruling doesn't discuss the 2018 governor's race, where Abrams and the Democratic Party filed another federal suit Sunday, seeking Georgia's new Secretary of State to extend vote-counting through Wednesday (the order pushed that deadline to this Friday-beyond what Abrams sought).

The governor's race is a battle of vote count attrition. As of Sunday, Abrams needed 19,000 more votes to trigger a recount, and 21,000 votes to trigger a December runoff, Groh-Wargo said. (Groh-Wargo estimated there were 26,000 uncounted ballots: from polls; mail-in votes; and provisional ballots issued at polls to those not on precinct lists. That 26,000-ballot figure does not include 2,000-plus overseas and military votes still arriving.)

What's most significant about Judge Totenberg's ruling is that it addresses a key contention made by Democrats in their Sunday suit-that, as the Court held, these voters' provisional ballots were rejected "through no fault of their own."

The Common Cause suit cited voters who had updated their registration information while getting or renewing state driver's licenses. That updated information never migrated into the state's voter database (even though Georgia has had automatic voter registration for drivers since 2016, and has offered voter registration to drivers for more than 20 years).

"It would be nonsensical to prioritize the state's self-imposed voter registration deadlines over the right to vote under circumstances where the aspiring voters, through no fault of their own, would be barred from registering to vote," the Court ruling said.

In short, the Court told counties to help people who were given provisional ballots to take steps to recheck registrations and to count more votes.

"The Court ORDERS the Secretary of State's Office to immediately establish and publicize on its website a secure and free-access hotline or website for provisional ballot voters to access to determine whether their provisional ballots were counted and if not, the reason why. The Court further ORDERS the Secretary of State to direct each of the 159 county election superintendents to similarly publicize the availability of the hotline or secure website on the county and county election websites," the ruling said, adding that it extends the vote counting period to Friday, and the official certification of 2018's winner to Tuesday, November 20.

The 17-page ruling by U.S. District Court Leigh Martin May addressed the voiding of absentee ballots where voters did not fill in their date of birth when signing their ballot envelope.

"The Court simply agrees with Plaintiffs that the burden of counting a set number of legally cast ballots is clearly outweighed by the harm eligible voters will suffer if their votes are not counted based on an incorrect or missing birth year," her ruling said. "As this Court has already explained, 'the public interest is best served by allowing qualified absentee voters to vote and have their votes counted.'"

On Sunday, Groh-Wargo said there were slightly more than 5,000 rejected absentee ballots due to signature and signing issues, according to the state's website-which hasn't updated rejected absentee ballot figures for days.

An Opening, Not a New Governor's Race

There will be many news reports that point out how these rulings, which may yet be appealed, are self-afflicted wounds to Kemp and Georgia's GOP for their many efforts to complicate voting and obstruct voters.

Common Cause's suit cited lapses in the state's cybersecurity surrounding voter rolls that could have invited hacking, which the federal court noted by referring to how Secretary Kemp's "knowing maintenance of an unsecure, unreliable voter registration database increased the risk that eligible voters have been and will be unlawfully removed from the State's voter registration database or will have their voter registration information unlawfully manipulated or mismanaged in a manner that prevents them from casting a regular ballot."

But what may be more relevant with the provisional ballot rejections-and has been seen in other states (and subject to federal court rulings in Arizona and Missouri)-is the state's motor vehicle agency did not, for whatever reasons, export the latest identifying information for voter registration purposes to statewide and county election agencies.

Thus, when Georgians who believed they legally registered showed up to vote, they were not listed on precinct rolls and not given a regular ballot. Instead, they received a provisional ballot, which subsequently had to be validated-by local officials using incomplete and outdated state data.

The District Court noted there were 21,190 provisional ballots issued in the state's November 6 election. That's several thousand more than the number issued in 2016 and 2014. Citing three races for the state's lower legislative chamber where the margins between candidates ranged from 145 to 246 votes, the Court said, "there is a reasonable likelihood that the provisional ballots yet to be counted could be outcome-determinative in each of the races." (The absentee ballot ruling contained no vote count figures.)

How these rulings will impact the governor's race remains to be seen. It appears the ruling will force hundreds, if not several thousands, of previously rejected ballots to be added to the vote totals. The counties cited in both rulings were in the metro Atlanta area, favoring Abrams.

"Given the confusion sowed by the Secretary of State's office last week and the number of voters who experienced irregularities regarding their registration status, these victories were necessary steps in the fight to count every eligible vote in Georgia," Groh-Wargo said. "We remain grateful to groups like Common Cause who know this is about more than just one campaign-it is about committing to a fairer, more democratic system."

Steven Rosenfeld is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Lauren Underwood Makes History, Will Be Sworn In As Youngest African American Woman Elected to Congress
Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., walks outside following a photo opportunity on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 14, 2018, with other freshman lawmakers. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Patrick M. O'Connell
Chicago Tribune

Democrat Lauren Underwood has become a familiar face on national TV news programs since she defeated Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in last week’s midterm elections.

After toppling the longtime GOP incumbent, who just days before the election traveled more than 300 miles to accept President Donald Trump’s political embrace, Underwood has had appearances on NBC, MSNBC and CNN. But her victory in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District earned her another distinction — she made history, becoming the youngest black woman elected to Congress, according to congressional records.

When she gets sworn in Jan. 3, Underwood will be 32 years, 3 months old. Before Underwood, according to congressional records, U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas was the youngest black woman elected to Congress. Jordan was 36 years, 10 months, 14 days old when she was sworn in Jan. 3, 1973.

Illinois also elected the first black female senator, Carol Moseley Braun, in 1992. As she thanked volunteers at her campaign headquarters the day after the election, Underwood cited Braun as one of the people she looked up to as a young girl growing up in Naperville.

“I felt like she was mine,” Underwood said. “She was on TV every day. I knew that she was from my state and she represented me. We also had Oprah Winfrey, and I felt like she was mine. And she came on twice a day, every day, and she filmed her show an hour away. And I felt like, if they can be the two most powerful black women in the world — when I was in elementary school, that’s probably true — I could do whatever I wanted. And I think what’s happened this year is that women across the country have seen that there’s a way to step forward and lead and that there are millions ready to support them.”

Underwood and Sean Casten, who flipped the neighboring Illinois 6th Congressional District into the Democrats’ column by defeating U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, are in Washington this week for orientation for new incoming House members. The wins in key swing districts by the two suburban political newcomers helped Democrats wrest control of the House from Republicans. The 14th Congressional District encompasses the far northern, western and southwestern suburbs and rural areas outside Chicago.

“I’m ready to get to work,” Underwood told campaign volunteers. “My team is thinking of ways that we can be back on the road in every community to figure out how to pull together this agenda so that when he get sworn in on Jan. 3, we are ready to be that voice. … This is not some kind of one-sided mission. This is all of us, together.”

The national media has taken notice of Underwood. She’s appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday and Rachel Maddow’s show the day after the election. She was on Tuesday night with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time.”

Underwood is part of a diverse group of incoming representatives, including many women and first-time candidates. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, 29, will become the youngest woman elected upon taking the oath of office in January. The number of women in the U.S. House in the 116th Congress likely will be between 104 and 109, according to congressional tallies, with the total number dependent on the result of several still-undecided races.

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Ilhan Omar will be the first Muslim women in Congress in January.

Forty-one black women have served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, according to congressional records.

Omar, the country’s first Somali-American lawmaker, will be 36 years, 3 months old when she is sworn in, also younger than Jordan was at the time she joined the U.S. House. The youngest person elected to the U.S. House is William Charles Claiborne of Tennessee, who was 22 when he joined the House in 1797. Claiborne later served as the governor of Louisiana and as a senator from the state.

The new job is a big opportunity for Underwood, who made health care the central pillar of her campaign. The former staffer in the Department of Health and Human Services under then-President Barack Obama highlighted Hultgren’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act during the campaign and showcased her health policy expertise during debates and meetings with voters. With health care cited by voters nationwide as the top election issue, according to exit polling, Underwood could be in a position to capitalize on the history-making nature of her win and the national attention as she attempts to build her political profile.

But keeping her seat in the former Republican stronghold, a district that is 87 percent white, might not be easy. To do it, she’ll have to appeal to Republicans who still make up a majority of the district and navigate two years of tough votes and a controversial president.

After the election, Trump criticized Republican lawmakers, including Roskam, who lost their midterm elections after distancing themselves from the president, saying “Peter Roskam didn’t want the embrace.” He made no mention of Hultgren, however, who appeared onstage with him at an Oct. 27 rally in Downstate Murphysboro.

Twitter @pmocwriter
Price Increases Fuel Inflation
14 NOV, 2018 - 00:11
Business Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Following the unjustified price increases experienced in the month of October 2018, the country’s inflation rate for the month jumped to 20,9 percent from 5,4 percent, latest figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency have shown.

According to ZimStats, the year-on-year inflation rate for the month of October 2018 as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 20,85 percent, gaining 15,46 percentage points on the September 2018 rate of 5,39 percent.

This means that prices as measured by the all items CPI increased by an average of 20,85 percent between October 2017 and October 2018.

The CPI for the month ending October 2018 stood at 118,73 compared to 101,97 in September 2018 and 98,24 in October 2017.

ZimStats, however, said the data used for the latest inflation data was collected during the period covering five days around October 15, 2018. The changes in prices in this report refer to that period, explained ZimStats.

The month of October saw prices of most consumer goods and services skyrocket to levels last witnessed before dollarisation.

The period was also characterised by panic buying and hoarding, further pushing prices beyond the reach of many.

While hoarding and panic buying seem to have subsidised, prices are still on an upward trend, with pharmacies in particular demanding US dollar payments or five times the amount if using other payment methods such as bond notes and swipe.

The year-on-year food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation prone to transitory shocks stood at 26,78 percent while the non-food inflation rate was 18,06 percent.

The month-on-month inflation rate in October 2018 was 16,44 percent gaining 15,52 percentage points on the September 2018 rate of 0,92 percent.

This means that prices as measured by the all items CPI increased by an average rate of 16,44 percent from September 2018 to October 2018.

The month-on-month food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation rate stood at 20,12 percent in October 2018, gaining 19,07 percentage points on the September 2018 rate of 1,05 percent. The month-on-month non-food inflation rate stood at 14,66 percent, gaining 13,81 percentage points on the September 2018 rate of 0,85 percent.
The Occupied Connolly Barracks Enters Its 15th Month
Morning Star, UK

Not content living in poverty during one of Europe’s worst housing crises, ALEX HOMITS leads a crew of young communists to seize an abandoned building in Cork, south west Ireland

Alex Homits in the Connolly Barracks, a socialist squat in Ireland

IN AUGUST 2017, members of the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) moved into a derelict block in Cork city centre.

We did so as a form of direct action, where we both received what we needed, housing, while demonstrating the issue to the wider public, undermining the “right” of landlords to deny the homeless homes and calling into question private property itself.

Rather than simply protest, our action was explicitly aimed at denying the landlord class some of its power in a small but significant way.

Up until this point, occupations and squatting in Ireland were, and still are to some degree, directed by mostly anarchist or non-aligned tendencies rather than explicitly socialist groups like ours.

While the method is correct, we consider them to lack real political direction or to properly utilise the occupations as a form of political protest rather than promoting a DIY-lifestyle. By contrast we wanted our action not to stand alone or inspire individual responses to the housing crisis but to plug into a wider, mass organised class struggle over the issue.

The house was in a significant state of deterioration. Eight years empty with no care is a long time. Damp walls, mould everywhere, dead wood lice on the floors, rotten couches and furniture. Our entire branch in Cork mobilised together to clean the building and step by step we brought it up to scratch. We cleaned the layers of dust, swept the floors and did the best we could with the mould.

Bear in mind that we also had no electricity, so cleaning properly was a significant challenge.

We lived with no electricity for a while before it was reconnected and, while I can’t comment for legal reasons how or who reconnected it, suffice to say it didn’t last long and led to our first encounter with the Garda and alleged landlord. He had smashed open the front door and ordered the residents to get out.

I returned about fifteen minutes into this incident and simply shut the door on this alleged landlord. He informed us the Garda were on the way and so we mobilised supporters and friends for mass resistance.

Members of Sinn Fein, Labour Youth and Housing Activists Cork attended and we had a small crowd standing outside by the time two detectives from Bridewell Garda Station came. They eventually understood this was a squat and informed us of our rights and to this day, 13 months later, we’ve had no issue with the alleged owner and continue to enjoy all that a rent-free life offers.

At first that might sound financially appealing or even glamorous, but living by candle light and LED lamps with no electricity is difficult, especially during winter. Is it worth lowering your living conditions to demonstrate that, even without electricity, housing occupations are practical form of political action?

The answer is a resounding yes. The stature which the Connolly Youth Movement has gained and its increased capacity to provide leadership to other housing groups and activists has been immensely positive. We have effectively made a small victory for us into a victory for all other housing activists, demonstrating what is possible, inspiring similar actions elsewhere and raising the ambition and morale of the movement.

Where is the CYM at now with the barracks? We have a gym and an immaculate house that we show to other political activists as an example of what can be achieved. Trying to escape the conceptions of what a “squat” is in modern Europe, we call our home a barracks, with agreed rules (

By introducing and proudly announcing our set of rules, we have, of course, raised the ire of the ultra-left and anarchic subcultures that consider squatting part of their political territory. This is no mistake on our part — we consider it necessary for working class activism to be disciplined and organised for the simple reason that the ruling class is disciplined and organised.

If housing occupations are to become part of the working-class movement again, they must be too.

Today we are examining further actions around housing and derelict buildings in Cork City, while tying them into tangible victories for young workers and students in other struggles.

We have been in touch with the ACORN community union on the establishment of a tenant body and will use the knowledge we’ve gained around property law and our first-hand experience of activism to create an organisation in Cork capable of defending people before they end up without a home.

Alex Homits is general secretary of thr Connolly Youth Movement.
November 1918 — One War Ending, Another Continues
JOHN ELLISON gives a history of how the left press reported the end of WW1 and the start of hostilities towards socialist Russia

Morning Star, UK

NEWSPAPER readers in Britain looking back from November 1918 would have appreciated that the balance of military forces on the Western Front, after four years of relative stability, had changed crucially in the Allies’ favour since August, causing the front to move remorselessly eastwards towards Germany’s frontiers.

But readers remained insulated from the human reality of the war’s daily horrors by authoritarian censorship and by unconditional support for the war given by war correspondents and mainstream editors, who were generally even reluctant to draw attention to the decisive role since the summer of the fresh million-plus US army.

In 1936, the then editor of this paper’s predecessor, the Daily Worker, Rajani Palme Dutt summed up the war in his classic World Politics. “The war of 1914 was inevitable in the sense that imperialism could find no other solution for its conflicts … The outbreak of the war … revealed that the world forces unloosed by imperialism had fully outstripped the control of the statesmen of imperialism … The war, once begun, drove forward with its own murderous logic … The Gordian knot … was finally cut by the sword of the revolution … The Russian Revolution ended the war in the East. The German Revolution ended the war in the West.”

An armistice with Turkey — the Ottoman empire — took effect on October 31. Its surviving empire dissolved, with Britain and France eager to digest vacant properties such as Palestine and Syria. Then came an armistice between the Western Allies and Austria-Hungary, just after Hungary had declared itself a separate republic.

A preliminary overture to the US from Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany in early October was succeeded by exchanges of messages and increasing readiness to concede defeat. So, wrote communist journalist Allen Hutt, in his 1937 Post-War History of the British Working Class, “Hapsburg and Hohenzollern followed Romanov into the dust.”

In Britain, at the highest political level, prophecies about when the war would end changed swiftly. At a meeting on October 19 between Prime Minister Lloyd George, War Cabinet colleagues and generals, it was concluded that the war would continue until some time after the commencement after the 1919 campaign. On October 27, Lloyd George and his News of the World proprietor friend Lord Riddell agreed upon “a slight shade of odds in favour of an armistice before Christmas.”

On the 26th, Labour’s weekly Herald, edited by George Lansbury, inserted in its editorial the latest published British weekly casualty list, heading it with the words: “The cost of going on.” The figures were: “Dead — 5,866, Wounded — 29,453, Missing — 1,481.”

The editorial pronounced: “Germany has at last committed what is, in the eyes of our jingoes, the most unpardonable sin. He has left us nothing to fight about.”

Total army casualties so far that year, the War Cabinet, but not the public, was told on November 1, were 800,000.

On November 3, a Sunday, a mass meeting of trade unionists took place at London’s Albert Hall. The Independent Labour Party’s weekly, the Labour Leader commented the following week: “Over an hour before the time of commencement the Albert Hall was packed, there must have been over 8,000 persons present … It was soon obvious that the meeting was more revolutionary than the resolution.”

The resolution certainly called for peace but did not insist on the “left” formula of self-determination of nations and no annexations or indemnities. An amendment proposed to change this state of affairs was refused. Nevertheless, when a speaker declared: “What we want is a Soviet government in Britain, God speed the Social Revolution and long live the Socialist Republic,” he was “vociferously cheered.”

The same day another demonstration for the release of outstanding Scottish socialist John Maclean from his viciously punitive five-year jail term awarded in May for anti-war speeches took place on Glasgow Green. Speakers from four platforms addressed an estimated 25,000 workers.

Maclean, believing that, when in prison on a previous occasion, he had been given drugged food, had been refusing to eat after the privilege of receiving his own food from outside the prison had been withdrawn. The British Socialist Party’s The Call put a question to the “Workers of the World” in the issue of November 7: “What are the workers going to do for John Maclean? Do they know what it means to be forcibly fed through an india rubber tube forced down the gullet? Do they know that food so administered enters the stomach without mastication or mixing with saliva, which are the preliminaries in the process of digestion? Do they know that the absorption of food thus administered causes horrible pain?”

On November 4, an Allied Western Front attack across the Meuse proceeded at the cost of many deaths, including that of Wilfred Owen, the 25-year-old poet responsible for an unforgettable verse record, as yet unpublished, of the horrors and miseries of the Western Front’s trenches, associated with anger about dying for an empty cause.

The German armies still held their retreating line. Kaiser Wilhelm resigned on the 9th and fled to Holland. Germany’s new government, headed by Social Democratic leader Friedrich Ebert, surrendered in the name of an “armistice” on the 11th with Germany’s borders intact.

Germany’s revolt had developed dramatically. On October 24, Germany’s High Seas Fleet had been ordered to make a last-ditch attack against Britain, but an unexpected, unprecedented mutiny of German sailors was the answer. By early November the sailors, not their commanders, were in charge, first in Kiel and then in other centres including Lubeck and Hamburg, joined by factory workers and soldiers.

Among the many anti-war political prisoners released by a troubled government were socialists Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Liebknecht was released on October 23 and welcomed in Berlin by more than 20,000 people and Luxemburg on November 8.

In Berlin on the 9th, from the steps of the imperial palace, Liebknecht announced the establishment of a German soviet republic and, that same day, Luxemburg addressed a mass rally.

But the revolutionary movement had by no means captured control of Germany’s destinies. November’s issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Labour Party’s monthly, which the authorities had been attempting for several months to suppress, considered the implications with insight. “The only danger and weakness inherent in the German revolution is the presence of the moderate Socialists in the Government. They will attempt the same work as Kerensky in the Russian revolution.”

They did so successfully and, tragically and infamously, Liebknecht and Luxemburg were to be assassinated in January.

There was no let-up in the war against Bolshevik Russia, drawing in France, Japan and the US. On November 2 the Herald commented, under the heading Remember Russia: “From Archangel, from Vladivostok, and from Persia, the Allied armies are menacing the Soviet Republic. The pretext of rescuing Russia from German influence is virtually abandoned. The cry is already raised that even if peace comes with Germany, the war against the Bolsheviks shall continue.”

On November 4, the War Cabinet noted that 1,500 men were required in Baku and could be there in a fortnight. On the 10th Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, recorded a War Cabinet discussion — “The real danger now is not the Boche but Bolshevism.”

On the 13th, the same body decided to proceed with the occupation of the Baku-Batum railway and to maintain both the present Siberia expedition and the occupation of Murmansk and Archangel. On the last-named front, over three days from the 11th, British and allied troops suffered 28 dead in clashes with Bolshevik forces on the River Dvina.

On the 7th, anti-conscription weekly The Tribunal pointed out: ‘Over 2,000 men and women are political prisoners in the gaols of this country. When are they going to be set free?’

Mostly in spring 1919 was the answer, though John Maclean, after a series of large monthly demonstrations, was released — with War Cabinet approval “as an act of grace” — on December 3.

If the world war was over, the title of his pamphlet The War After the War grimly symbolised what would follow.