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Cyclone Idai: Devastation in Mozambique and Zimbabwe


Dozens of people have died as a result of the flooding and high winds, which have destroyed homes and ripped roofs from concrete buildings. Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), but aid teams only reached Beira on Sunday.

It has killed at least 150 people across southern Africa. In Mozambique, people have had to be rescued from trees, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC) assessment team, Jamie LeSeur, told the BBC. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, more than 80 people have died in the east and south, information ministry head Nick Mangwana told Reuters news agency.

This includes two pupils from the St Charles Lwanga boarding school in the district of Chimanimani, who died after their dormitory was hit when rocks swept down a mountain. Malawi has also been badly hit. The flooding there, caused by the rains before the cyclone made landfall, led to at least 122 deaths, Reliefweb reports.(BBC)…[+]

Algerian doctors call for protests against Bouteflika


ALGIERS – Algeria’s doctors have called for mass protests against Abdulaziz Bouteflika during the country’s independence day celebrations on Tuesday, ratcheting up pressure on the ailing president who is clinging to power.

In a statement released on Monday, the independent Collective of Algerian Medical Residents (CAMRA) urged medical students to take part and denounce the “ruling gangs”. Protesters are desperate for new leaders to replace Bouteflika and other veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France.

The president, in power for 20 years, announced last week that he was reversing a decision to stand for a fifth term, but stopped short of standing down. He has postponed elections, effectively extending his current term, while promising to adopt a new constitution under a reform plan. The changes have brought no halt to demonstrations under way for more than three weeks against a ruling elite viewed as out of touch. Bouteflika, 82, has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013, and protesters say he is unfit to rule.

In another concession, the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Sunday informed clerics that they are no longer required to submit texts of their sermons to authorities for approval. One of the most influential clerics in Algiers expressed his opposition to the government last week.(Reuters)…[+]

Trelawny to receive first traffic lights

Trelawny to receive first traffic lights

JAMAICA – Trelawny is to receive its first set of traffic lights by the end of April. The National Works Agency (NWA) has confirmed that the lights will be erected at the intersection of the Daniel Town main road and the North Coast Highway, leading to the Trelawny Stadium.

In an interview with The Gleaner last week, E.G. Hunter, chief executive officer of the NWA, confirmed that funds have been made available for the implementation of the lights. “J$15 million has been approved for the installation,” said Hunter. “The lights should be in place by the end of April.” Delroy Christie, president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the news and noted that the implementation of the traffic lights was an important step in seeking to make the roadway safer.

“We have been lobbying for this installation of traffic lights at this location over the years,” said Christie. “Only recently, an accident at the crossing claimed two lives.” Christie said the lights have become even more necessary in recent times because of the closure of the Rock Bridge, which was a popular alternative route leading into Falmouth. “Residents of Rock who need to get into Falmouth face terrible risks of getting injured or losing their lives in their efforts to cross the highway in search of taxis, as taxis no longer go into their community,” he said. (Jamaica Gleaner)…[+]

France repatriates five orphaned children of jihadists from Syria


France has repatriated five orphaned children of French jihadists from camps in north-east Syria, where a five-year offensive against Islamic State is drawing to a close. Among the children repatriated were the three sons of a French woman who died under Isis rule. Officials retrieved them from a camp in northern Syriawhere they were being held with as many as 3,000 other children of Isis families.

Al-Hawl camp is one of two detention centres that the British government says is too dangerous to visit. It is home to children of foreign nationals from more than 40 countries. The newborn son of the British teenager Shamima Begum was among them until his death last Thursday, which provoked outrage over the UK’s reluctance to rescue him or any other children born to parents with links to Isis.The French intervention is likely to add weight to the criticism, given that Kurdish officials said they had agreed to the repatriation as soon as Paris lodged a request. Residents of the camp said the three children removed were Yasir, Shakhir and Jaffir, the sons of Julie Maninchedda and Martin Lemke, a German national held in al-Roj camp along with other alleged Isis fighters.(theguardian)…[+]

‘It’s our time to rise up’: youth climate strikes held in 100 countries


From Australia to America, children put down their books on Friday to march for change in the first global climate strike. The event was embraced in the developing nations of India and Uganda and in the Philippines and Nepal – countries acutely impacted by climate change – as tens of thousands of schoolchildren and students in more than 100 countries went on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address what they say is a climate emergency.

In Sydney, where about 30,000 children and young people marched from the Town Hall Square to Hyde Park, university student Xander De Vries, 20, said: “It’s our time to rise up. We don’t have a lot of time left; it’s us who have to make a change so I thought it would be important to be here and show support to our generation.”Coordinated via social media by volunteers in 125 countries and regions, the action spread across more than 2,000 events under the banner of Fridays for Future.

As dusk fell in the antipodes, the baton was passed to Asia, where small groups of Indian students went on strike for the first time. In Delhi, more than 200 children walked out of classes to protest against inaction on tackling climate change, and similar protests took place on a smaller scale in 30 towns and cities. Vidit Baya, 17, who is in his last year at MDS public school in Udaipur, said: “In India, no one talks about climate change. You don’t see it on the news or in the papers or hear about it from government. “This was our first strike as a nation and there were young people taking strike action in many cities. It is a fledgling movement but we are very happy with our action today. We are trying to get people to be more aware of climate change and the need to tackle it.”(theguardian)…[+]

Trinidad man charged in kidnapping, rape of UK tourists


A 34-year-old man is ex­pect­ed to ap­pear in a Scar­bor­ough Mag­is­trate’s Court to­day charged with the kid­nap­ping, rob­bery and sex­u­al as­sault of two Unit­ed King­dom tourists. Arther­ly “Rat­ty” Fras­er, of Canaan, was charged with two counts each of rape, griev­ous sex­u­al as­sault, kid­nap­ping and rob­bery yes­ter­day by To­ba­go po­lice, a re­lease from the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice said. Fras­er was ar­rest­ed at his home on Tues­day by of­fi­cers of the Scar­bor­ough CID.Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the two UK women hired a pri­vate dri­ver to take them back to their guest house af­ter lim­ing at the Sun­day School fes­tiv­i­ties in Black Rock on Mon­day. How­ev­er, while en route to their des­ti­na­tion, the dri­ver stopped at Grafton Beach and pro­ceed­ed to rape, sex­u­al­ly as­sault and rob the women of their cell­phones be­fore es­cap­ing in his ve­hi­cle.(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

Kenyan court dismisses drugs case against British aristocrat


Kenya’s high court has acquitted a British aristocrat of smuggling cocaine in a shipment of sugar, ending a high-profile case that focused public interest on how the justice system would treat the scion of a prominent colonial-era family.

A stash of 100kg, said to be worth around $6m, was seized from a shipping container owned by the sugar trader Jack Marrian in the Kenyan port of Mombasa in July 2016. Marrian’s colleague Roy Mwanthi was also charged, and his case was also dropped. Marrian, the grandson of a Scottish earl, has always maintained that they were framed. The prosecution applied to terminate the case for lack of evidence, but six weeks ago a magistrate in a lower court refused to drop the charges.

“The court was in essence directing a prosecution against accused persons against the wish of the prosecution, without a complainant and a prosecutor,” the judge, Luka Kimaru, wrote in Thursday’s ruling dismissing the case. “Hugely relieved that after so long the prosecution has had the courage to do the right thing,” Marrian told Reuters. During the trial, the defence team presented a letter from the US Drug Enforcement Administration stating that Marrian, 33, could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in a shipment that was en route from Brazil to Uganda.

The grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, Marrian grew up in Kenya, where his grandfather was a minister in the colonial government before independence in 1963.(theguardian)…[+]

Brazil: 10 dead, including 6 children, in ‘unspeakably brutal’ shooting; 17 hur


SUZANO, Brazil,  – Two armed men wearing face masks entered a Brazilian elementary school today and shot and killed at least six children who were on their snack breaks, as well as two school officials, before fatally turning their guns on themselves, police said. Ten people, including the gunmen, were killed in total, Sao Paulo police said.

The unidentified gunmen, who appeared to be between 20 and 25 years of age, shot and killed a worker at a nearby car wash before their attack at the Raul Brasil school, police said. More than 1,000 children aged between 11 and 15 attend classes there. Another 17 people – mostly school kids – were shot and injured, and several of them were in serious condition, said police, who were not yet aware of a motive for the violence.Marcelo Salles, commander of police forces in Sao Paulo state, spoke just outside the school and said that in his over three decades of service, he had “never seen anything like this, it was an unspeakably brutal crime.”Salles said the gunmen used at least one .38 caliber pistol, along with homemade bombs and a crossbow. Police arrived eight minutes after the shooting started and did not confront the gunmen, who had already killed themselves, he said.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad travelers affected by Boeing 737 MAX grounding


Scores of peo­ple hop­ing to get to Mi­a­mi from Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port were get­ting ready to board their flight around 3 pm yes­ter­day when they were turned back and told to leave the de­par­ture gate.

Mo­ments ear­li­er, Unit­ed States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had ground­ed all Boe­ing 737 Max planes with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, leav­ing those pas­sen­gers who were set to leave for the Unit­ed States at 3.25 pm on Amer­i­can Air­lines flight num­ber 2703 strand­ed at Pi­ar­co. An­oth­er flight des­tined to leave Mi­a­mi for Port-of-Spain at 5.55 pm (on Wednes­day) yes­ter­day, flight num­ber 2713, was al­so can­celled.

To com­pound mat­ters for many of the pas­sen­gers, of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ate­ly avail­able to clar­i­fy what would hap­pen next, lead­ing to a slight furore at the desk. Po­lice were called in to en­sure that the sit­u­a­tion did not es­ca­late. One pas­sen­ger with a tick­et for the 3.25 flight bought via the miles sys­tem was told to can­cel the tick­et and seek a re­fund. How­ev­er, he like many did not know when they would get an­oth­er flight on the air­line out of Trinidad. He said the next avail­able flight to him was list­ed as March 30.(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

Jared Kushner challenged on conflicts of interest by Trump aides, book claims


Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was confronted by two of the most senior US government officials for mixing his personal interests with US foreign policy, according to a new book. Kushner, an envoy to the Middle East for his father-in-law, is said to have been robustly challenged by both Rex Tillerson, then secretary of state, and Gary Cohn, formerly Trump’s top economic adviser.

The confrontations are detailed in Kushner Inc by the journalist Vicky Ward, who also describes interference in foreign relations by Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump. The book is scheduled to be released on 19 March. A copy was obtained by the Guardian. Ward reports that Tillerson blamed Kushner for Trump’s abrupt endorsement of a provocative blockade and diplomatic campaign against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and several allies in June 2017. The US has thousands of troops stationed in Qatar.

Tillerson “told Kushner that his interference had endangered the US”, an unidentified Tillerson aide tells Ward. Tillerson is also said to have read negative “chatter” about himself in intelligence reports after Kushner belittled him to Kushner’s friend Mohammed bin Salman, the controversial Saudi crown prince. Meanwhile, Cohn is said to have rebuked Kushner in January 2017 after it was revealed Kushner had dined with executives from the Chinese financial corporation Anbang, which was considering investing in the Kushner family’s troubled tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.(theguardian)…[+]