2014-09-01

Your World This Week – 29 August 2014



Cii News | 22 August 2014/26 Shawaal 1435

News that Made Headlines on various newswires accross the globe.

MONDAY

Fighters from the Islamic State group took over an airbase in northeast Syria, capturing it from government forces after fighting that cost more than 500 lives.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 346 Islamic State fighters and more than 170 government forces had been killed since Tuesday in the fight over the Tabqa base, which was captured by fighters on Sunday.

The SOHR, which monitors violence in Syria through sources on the ground, said fighting raged inside the air base throughout Sunday.

Syria’s official news agency said the military had withdrawn from the base after pitched battles and was still carrying out strikes.

The base was the Syrian army’s last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the self-declared Islamic State group, which has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq.

It is one of the most significant government military facilities in the area, containing several warplane squadrons, helicopters, tanks, artillery and ammunition.

——

The remains of the South African killed in the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight over the Ukraine have been identified.

Cameron Dalziel, 43, a helicopter pilot, had moved with his family to Malaysia last year to fly for CHC Helicopter.

He was returning from a fixed-wing plane training course in the Netherlands when MH17 was shot down on 17 July.

Shortly after the incident, bodies from the crash site in the Ukraine were flown to the Netherlands.

DNA swabs were taken from Dalziel’s parents to aid in identifying their son’s body.

South African officials subsequently flew to the Netherlands with the swabs and Dalziel’s dental records.

The family received confirmation that Dalziel’s body had been identified last week.

——

Thailand’s king has endorsed coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister, four days after he was elected by his own hand-picked parliament.

This paves the way for the formation of an interim government.

Approval from King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a formality, and the formation of an interim government will follow in the coming weeks, although power will remain firmly in the military government’s hands.

Prayuth led a coup on May 22, which the military said was necessary to avoid further bloodshed, after months of turbulence pitting protesters, against supporters of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

He was also a key figure in the 2006 coup that ousted Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

—–

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri deplored Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu for pretending to lament the death of one Israeli child in a rocket attack, while his army killed over 550 Palestinian children during its military aggression against the Gaza Strip.

He said “How could he dare weep for the death of one Israeli child while he killed hundreds of Palestinian children in Gaza?”

Israel’s war on the embattled Gaza Strip, has so far killed2,103 civilians, 550 of them children, and wounded several thousand others.

Palestinian medical sources reported that two Palestinians have been killed, many injured, including some who suffered critical injuries, in the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

In addition, at least twelve residents have been injured in an Israeli bombardment to the al-Fallujah area in northern Gaza, and were moved to the Kamal ‘Adwan Hospital, in northern Gaza Strip.

——

An American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago has been freed in Syria following Qatari mediation and handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

Peter Theo Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the village of al-Rafid, in Quneitra, on Sunday.

He was turned over to representatives from the US government after undergoing medical check-up.

According to a statement from his family, Curtis was captured in October 2012 and was reportedly held by the al-Nusra Front.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was relieved Curtis was returing home, before laying blame on al-Nusra Front for the kidnapping.

Earlier this year, 13 nuns were freed after being kidnapped by Syrian rebels following Lebanese-Qatari mediation, ending a three-month ordeal in a rare prisoner exchange with the government.

Curtis’ release comes just days after the beheading of US journalist James Foley, who was captured in Syria in 2012.

—–

A stampede at a Hindu temple in central India had reportedly killed at least 10 people and injured scores more.

Police official Vinay Kumar Singh told the AFP news agency that Hundreds of pilgrims were gathering at a hill in the Chitrakoot area of Madhya Pradesh state when some tripped and fell, sparking panic.

He said a stampede broke out where five women and five men have died.

The stampede appeared to have occurred when some of the Hindu devotees were rolling on the ground as part of rituals performed on the hill.

India has a long history of deadly stampedes at religious festivals, as large numbers of people pack into congested areas, often with few safety regulations in place.

Monday’s accident came after about 115 devotees were crushed to death or drowned on a bridge near another Hindu temple in Madhya Pradesh last October.

—-

A recent poll revealed that the majority of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip were against the disarmament of Palestinian resistance groups.

The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, surveying 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza from August 14-19.

Some 93 percent of the participants opposed the disarmament of the Palestinian resistance, which has been raised by Tel Aviv as a condition for a long-term truce.

Some 80 percent of Gazans supported the intervention of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel’s war crimes committed during the current Israeli aggression against Gaza.

About 88 percent of Palestinians also said they were in favor of a long-term truce.

Some 2,120 people, mostly civilians, have lost their lives and over 10,800 have been injured in the Israeli war, which began on July 8.

Tel Aviv says 68 Israelis have been killed in the conflict so far, but Hamas puts the number at more than 150.

—–

Hacktivists from the Anonymous group attacked key Israeli websites in retaliation for Tel Aviv’s current offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The websites of Israeli military, Bank of Israel, and the Israeli prime minister’s office were taken down.

The websites of Israel’s ministry of finance, the embassy of Israel in the United States, the Central Bureau of Statistics and Israeli Immigration were also hacked by the Anonymous group.

The attack came following the closure of various Anonymous social media accounts that focused on the Tel Aviv regime’s ongoing attacks in Gaza.

The group had been targeting Israel’s key websites since the regime started its military attacks on Gaza on July 8.

The cyber attacks intensified after Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, which is a symbol of the group.

—–

A Liberian doctor treated with experimental American anti-Ebola serum ZMapp had died.

Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown told AFP news that Abraham Borbor had been improving but died last night.

The minister said two other health workers receiving the serum are still in treatment, adding that there were “signs of hope”.

Last week the World Health Organisation said there was a “significant improvement” in the condition of a doctor and nurse being treated with ZMapp in Liberia.

Liberia took delivery of ZMapp on 13 August from the United States, which gave the serum to two US citizens who were declared cured last week.

The Americans were infected in Liberia along with a Spanish priest who died on 12 August, despite also receiving ZMapp.

According to the lab that produces it the very small available stocks of ZMapp, which has never been through clinical trials on humans, have now been used up.

The WHO has been discussing the use of unapproved drugs as a way of getting a handle on an outbreak in Africa that has already cost more than 1 400 lives.

—–

The leader of Boko Haram has claimed that the Nigerian armed group has created an “Islamic caliphate” in a northeastern town, a claim quickly rejected by the military.

In a 52-minute video revealed on Sunday Abubakar Shekau the town of Gwoza was made part of the Islamic caliphate.

The military rejected the claim, saying in a statement that the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact”.

In a July video, Shekau voiced support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State armed group.

In the previous months, the Islamic State group has captured large swathes of in Syria and Iraq and in late June, Baghdad declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere”.

However in the latest video But there was no indication from Shekau that he was associating himself with Baghdadi, whose fighters have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

—–

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that his country was ready to work with the international community to battle against what he called “terrorists” within the framework of a recent UN resolution.

In a news conference in Damascus, he also warned that Syria must be involved in co-ordinating any air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria,

This came after the US said it was considering extending operations into Syrian territory.

Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Akkar, in neighbouring Lebanon said the successes of the Islamic State group were pushing old rivals into allies.

The self-declared Islamic State group has made advances in several parts of Syria, including most recently Raqqa province, where it seized the army’s last provincial outpost yesterday.

The UN Security Council passed a rare unanimous resolution on August 15 intended to weaken armed groups in Iraq and Syria by choking off their funding and stemming the flow of foreign fighters.

The resolution targeted both the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front.

Meanwhile on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Western and Arab governments to overcome their distaste for Assad and engage with him to fight the Islamic State.

——

Iraqi officials said a wave of attacks targeting commercial areas in and outside Baghdad has killed a total of 43 people.

They said the deadliest of Monday’s bombings were carried out by a suicide bomber who blew up himself among Shia worshippers who were leaving a mosque after noon prayers in the capital’s eastern New Baghdad area.

At least 15 people were killed and 32 others wounded.

That was followed by back-to-back car bombings in cities south of Baghdad.

In Karbala, the explosion killed 12 civilians and wounded 31 others.

In Babel, two car bombs went off in separate areas, killing 11 people and wounding 26 others.

Five others were also killed in two separate attacks in Baghdad.

Sectarian violence has been on the Increase in Iraq, On Friday dozens of Sunni Muslims were killed in a Mosque attack

—–

The Gauteng health department’s chief financial officer has been suspended following alleged tender irregularities.

The department says Ndoda Biyela was suspended following allegations of irregularities relating to procurement processes in the department,”

It said in a statement that an investigation is underway to test the veracity of the allegations.

Mr Biyela is suspended with full pay pending the outcome of this process

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital’s CFO George Mahlangu had been appointed acting CFO for the department.

—–

TUESDAY

Ukraine’s president dissolved parliament last night and called for early elections in October as his country continued to battle a pro-Russian uprising in its eastern regions.

In a statement posted on his website, Petro Poroshenko announced that he had dissolved parliament and called for snap elections on October 26.

He said many deputies who are in the Rada parliament are direct sponsors or accomplices, that is to say allies of the militant separatists.

According to Poroshenko, the move was in coherence with the Ukrainian constitution, noting that the ruling coalition collapsed several weeks ago.

The announcement came a day ahead of a summit that includes both Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and could be aimed at pressuring Ukraine into seeking a negotiated end to the conflict rather than a military victory.

The clashes had left more than 2,000 civilians dead, and reportedly killed and at least 726 Ukrainian servicemen.

—–

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said South Africa was open to private investors helping to finance power plants built by Eskom to plug a funding gap faced by the state power utility.

In an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office, Nene said the government may give Eskom new debt guarantees or convert subordinated loans into equity

He said there was also the issue of trying to see whether the extension of some of the infrastructure build program can’t be taken up jointly in partnerships with the private sector.

Eskom is building two coal-fired power plants and considering a third to address a shortage of power.

The Johannesburg-based utility wants the government to help fill a 225 billion-rand cash-flow shortfall in the five years through March 2018 and avoid its credit rating being downgraded by Standard & Poor’s next month.

—–

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula Extraordinary measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat of the “chaos” that broke out in Parliament last week.

She condemned the action of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs who disrupted proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions.

The Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster group of Cabinet ministers also condemned the actions of the Economic Freedom Fighters in Parliament last Thursday.

Nqakula said the cluster recognised the independence of Parliament but could not stand by as “democracy is undermined”.

Mapisa-Nqakula said a person may not improperly interfere with or impede the exercise or performance of Parliament.

—–

Israeli air raids destroyed the tower buildings of Al-Basha and the Italian complex and caused severe damage to two schools in Gaza City.

Local sources told the Palestinian information center that drones fired several destructive missiles at the tower buildings and razed them to the ground.

The 15-story tower building of the Italian complex contained 100 apartments and dozens of commercial areas, and the other 12-story building contained dozens of apartments and media offices.

Minutes earlier, Ma’een Besaiso school in Al-Shuja’eiya neighborhood also sustained severe damage in an airstrike.

The air raids caused damage to many homes near the two schools.

Several homes and apartment buildings as well as agricultural and empty lands were also targeted at dawn today by Israeli warplanes.

The successive aerial attacks on Gaza this morning claimed the lives of two civilians and rendered 25 others injured.

—–

Botswana was reportedly on high alert following reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo has registered two Ebola cases.

GabzFM News tweeted that the country had closed its borders to travellers from the DRC to prevent the spread of the disease.

DRC confirmed its two first cases of Ebola this year, but claimed they were unrelated to the epidemic raging in four countries of West Africa.

The confirmation marked the seventh outbreak of Ebola in DRC, where the virus was first identified in 1976, near a river after which it is named.

According to a statement published in allAfrica.com, Botswana said it was implementing public health interventions to prevent the disease into the country.

The Botswana government, however maintained there were no Ebola cases reported in the country so far.

—–

The United States begun surveillance flights over rebel-controlled parts of Syria after President Barack Obama gave the authorization.

The move could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State group.

A US official said the flights have started, while two other American officials said earlier that Obama had approved the flights.

On Monday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said that his country welcomed international support, but added that all efforts must be coordinated by the Syrian government.

The US is already launching airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal said the surveillance planes would provide information in addition to that already collected by US satellites and informants.

——

The World Health Organization said more than 120 health workers have died of Ebola across West Africa.

In a statement, the WHO said more than 240 health care workers working in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone have developed the disease with “more than 120″ succumbing to the epidemic.

The announcement came as Japan said it was ready to provide a Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug as potential treatment to fight the rapidly expanding Ebola outbreak.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says that Tokyo can offer the tablet favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, any time at the request of the WHO.

The WHO said earlier this month that it is ethical to use untested drugs on Ebola patients given the magnitude of the outbreak.

Several drugs are being developed for Ebola treatment, but they are still in early stages and there is no proven treatment or vaccine for the highly fatal disease.

Ebola has killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa in the latest outbreak.

—–

The chief of the South African National Defence Force, is under fire after allegedly spending more than R100 000 on a first class air ticket to attend a conference in Malaysia in April.

Eyewitness News reported that Chief Lieutenant General Solly Shoke, apparently insisted on travelling first class on Emirates.

Travel costs for him and two other officials reportedly came to R218 000.

According to EWN, the SANDF has defended the amount, saying it was cost effective considering the type of trip that was taken, and travel costs to Malaysia.

However, the SA National Defence Union’s Pikkie Greef said the union is “highly disgusted” by the revelations, and the “brazen defence of such despicable behaviour by the SANDF in its reaction”.

Greef said While troops work daily in dilapidated buildings and commanders struggle with budgetary constraints, the top echelon of the SANDF apparently think nothing of living in opulence, using the taxpayers’ money.

—–

Norwegian medical practitioner, Dr Mads Gilbert has touched down in SouthAfrica.

Dr Mads served in the Al Shifa Hospital during the most ferocious bombing periods in the Gaza Strip over the past month by the Israeli military.

Gilberts, who was brought to South Africa by Cii projects in aid of the Gaza Ambulance drive,  had a packed schedule ahead as he will briefing various media Houses in South Africa

Among the Media groups are, ANN7, state broadcaster the SABC, ITV, 702 and the Voice of the cape.

He would also render a speech and deliver a report at Cii Projects Gaza Abulance drive dinner this Friday

For more information, you can visit www.ciibroadcasting.com

—–

South Africa’s economy avoided slipping into a recession in the second quarter, as solid growth in the agriculture and financial industries outweighed a hammering in the strike-hit mining sector.

According to data provided, the country is struggling to right itself after waves of labour unrest this year hit corporate confidence, while rising food and fuel prices have squeezed consumers.

Statistics South Africa said the economy grew 0.6% in the second quarter after contracting by the same amount in the first three months of this year, on Tuesday.

A Reuters poll of 26 analysts had forecast growth of 0.9%.

This was compared to a 0.6% drop in the real gross domestic product in the first quarter of the year.

The GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in an economy in a certain time period.

—–

According to reports the video of James Foley’s execution may have been staged, with the actual killing taking place off-camera.

TheUK based telegraph news agency said Forensic analysis of the footage of the journalist’s death has suggested that the British man in the film may have been the frontman rather than the killer.

It says the clip, which apparently depicts Foley’s brutal beheading, has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for Islamic State miltant group.

According to the news agency, a study of the four-minute 40-second clip, which was carried out by an international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used.

A forensic analyst told The Times that no blood can be seen, even though the knife is drawn across the neck area at least six times.

One expert commissioned to examine the footage was reported as saying they thought it was staged.

—–

Egyptian and Palestinian officials said an open-ended agreement was sealed with Israel to end seven weeks of fighting in Gaza.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said that a formula had been accepted by all parties and that a ceasefire had gone into effect

He hailed the agreement as a chance to “build a new nation and end the occupation”, before thanking Egypt, Qatar and the US for their roles in brokering the agreement made during indirect talks in Cairo.

The Reuters and AP news agencies quoted Israeli officials as saying that the Israeli government had accepted the deal.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting Gaza, said that the deal agreed on an immediate easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and a gradual lifting of restrictions on fishing off the coast of the strip.

Discussions on the creation of a seaport and airport was postponed for a month, when indirect talks betwen Israel and Palestinians would resume.

Hamas’s exiled deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said the agreement was a “victory for the resistance”.

A total of 2,138 people, most of them civilians including more than 490 children, have been killed in Gaza since war broke out on July 8.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced by the violence.

—-

WEDNESDAY

Rumours were spreading that West Africa’s deadly Ebola epidemic had reached Ivory Coast, prompting scared villagers to drink salted water.

Ivory Coast is officially free of Ebola, which was detected in neighbouring Guinea in March and has claimed almost 1 500 lives there and in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

A farmer told AFP that superstition often prevails when it comes to what he called prophecies.

The conviction that salt combats the virus, which was formally identified about four months after it first struck in Guinea, is no mere fad in a remote northern village.

Residents of the poorer parts of the sprawling economic capital Abidjan, located on the southern coast, have also taken up the practice

Some people believe that Ebola is already at large in Ivory Coast and accuse the government of hiding the victims, in an allegation evidently denied by public health authorities.

—–

Boko Haram seized control of a Nigerian town after hundreds of soldiers stationed there reportedly fled across the border to Cameroon.

A Cameroon police source told AFP news that Boko Haram fighters moved into Ashigashya, where they slaughtered three people in front of a church.

Almost 500 Nigerian soldiers fled the Nigerian border towns of Ashigashyia and Kerawa over the weekend to take refuge from Boko Haram fighters on Cameroonian territory.

Nigeria’s military dismissed the claims and said the troops were “charging through the borders in a tactical manoeuvre” when they found themselves on Cameroonian soil.

It said that the soldiers were on their way back to Nigeria after following protocol by handing over “their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission.

—–

The Iraqi Jafari Shia council condemned the “terrorist massacres” and “genocide” of Sunnis in Iraq by “the gangs of Nouri Al-Maliki and Iran.”

The Jafari Shias strenuously condemned the killing of 70 Sunni worshippers during Friday prayers in the Diyala province last week,

In a statement it dismissed the attack as “a brutal assault by sectarian militias” and a “crime against humanity”.

The council called for an international investigation into the mosque massacre, and the prosecution of culprits.

They added that the international community’s silence towards the genocide committed against Iraq’s Sunni population “encourages the Iranian and Iraqi regimes to carry on their sectarian project in a way which secures the objectives and demands of their allied terrorist groups.”

The National Council of Trade Unions said the implementation of e-tolling on Gauteng’s highways was premature.

Nactu project manager Thulani Khumalo said there should have been a comprehensive assessment of public transport options in South Africa,”

Nactu believes alternative financing for Gauteng’s freeways could be sourced from the fuel levy and vehicle licensing fees.

Khumalo was speaking during Nactu’s presentation to the advisory panel on e-tolls’ hearings in Midrand.

The panel is focusing on the socioeconomic impact of e-tolls and explores the implications and perceptions of financing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

The panel was established by Gauteng premier David Makhura on July 17.

It is expected to report to him at the end of November by providing analysis and recommendations based on substantial evidence.

—–

The EFF accused the ANC of organising a group to assault its MPs in Parliament.

The Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said they learned that the ANC was mobilising hooligans in the townships of Cape Town to come and assault EFF MPs today in Parliament.

They were accusing the ANC of loud-hailing across the townships, promising people free buses to go to Parliament and deal with the EFF.

Ndlozi said this was a “clear plan” to disrupt Parliament and render its work dysfunctional.

A spokesperson for ANC chief whip Stone Sizani, rubbished the claim and said the EFF had lost its mind.

A war of words between the EFF and the security cluster of ministers heated up on Tuesday following a meeting over the chaos in Parliament last week.

—–

A week after huge landslides swamped the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the confirmed death toll from the tragedy has hit 70, with 18 people still missing.

More than a month’s rain fell in just three hours last Wednesday, triggering devastating mudslides on hillside communities in the western city.

Dozens of homes were buried or carried away when tons of earth, rocks and debris smashed into settlements at a reported 40km/h.

At its height, the recovery operation involved more than 3 000 police, fire-fighters and soldiers.

Heavy rain has continued on and off since the disaster, hampering search operations amid fears of further landslips as waterlogged hillsides visibly bulged and shifted overhead.

—–

A young girl was rescued by farmers after being buried alive in a field in northern India.

According to local media, the kindergarten pupil managed to free her head from the soil and screamed for help, which alerted farmers nearby in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Asian Age said The incident occurred on Monday, when the child’s aunt and uncle took her on the pretext of attending a village fair.

The girl told police that the two beat and strangled her, and presuming her to be dead buried her.

A witness said they tried to dig her out with our hands so that she did not get hurt, but by then she had lost consciousness again.

She was taken to hospital and later discharged after treatment.

The police were looking for the suspect

—–

South Africans were warned to get ready for yet another intense cold front over the next few days.

The SA Weather Service said the cold front was expected to make landfall in the Western Cape on Tuesday with rainfall expected in the province.

It said the stormy weather will make its way to the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape o and strong gale force winds are expected in the Eastern Cape interior.

Forecaster Jan Vermeulen says by Friday the storm is expected to make its way to the northern parts of the country.

According to Snow Report, up to 10cm of snow or more is expected in the Western Cape mountain ranges, including Matroosberg.

Snow was also expected in the Eastern Cape and southern and central Lesotho on Thursday night and Friday morning, and in northern Lesotho and the Sani Pass area early on Friday.

Snow is not likely to fall in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands due to a lack of moisture.

—–

People in the besieged Gaza Strip experience calm as a truce in the blockaded enclave takes effect.

Reports said that calm prevailed in the Gaza Strip after 50 days of deadly violence in the blockaded sliver.

Since the truce came into force yesterday, Israel held back its deadly attacks on the besieged enclave.

Palestinian resistance fighters have in turn held back retaliatory rocket fire on Israel.

The ceasefire led to a wave of celebrations in Gaza Tuesday.

Though the residents in Gaza are still suffering from massive destruction, they are delighted at the prospect of the removal of the blockade.

More than 2,135 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including women, children and old people, were killed in 50 days of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza

Around 11,000 others were injured.

Meanwhile The African National Congress welcomed the recently agreed upon ceasefire between Israel and Palestine in Gaza.

It acknowledged that the fighting was relentless and ruthless which led to unwarranted bloodshed, displacement and destruction in the region.

The party expressed hope that all parties involved will use this period to move beyond just an indefinite halt of hostilities to building genuine and lasting peace.

——

Anti-Zionism Jewish protesters have set fire to their Israeli passports in New York City in condemnation of the crimes committed by Tel Aviv against the Palestinian people.

A number of protesters gathered in front of the United Nations’ building and chanted “Judaism yes, Zionism no, Israel must go.”

The protesters are angry about the recent Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Anti-Israel Rabbi Abraham Chaim Cheshe told Press TV “This is the worst crime and it will bring the worst punishment for the Zionist evil people.”

Last week, people in New York City took part in a rally to support the Palestinians and unfurl a giant Palestinian flag over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hundreds of people and civil rights activists chanted anti-Israeli slogans while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on their way to Manhattan City Hall in a rally dubbed “March for Palestine.”

They called for the expansion of the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

—-

The mineral resources department saidpublic consultations on draft regulations for shale gas exploration will begin in September.

Department director general Thibedi Ramontja said the technical regulations on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, would be finalised following the consultation process.

The final regulations would be followed by the processing and issuing of licences.

Ramotja said hydraulic fracturing was a “game changer” for not only the Karoo, but the country.

Fracking is the process of fracturing rock by pumping pressurised liquid deep into the ground to extract natural gas trapped in shale layers.

On its Website the clean water action group lists some of the negatives of fracking, saying its uses a toxic chemical cocktail known as fracking fluid.

It also says Fracking removes millions of gallons of precious freshwater from the water cycle, causes a range of environmental problems.

—–

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa would lose its leverage to mediate in the Middle East if it heeds calls to sever ties with Israel.

Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces, Ramaphosa rejected a suggestion by Economic Freedom Fighters MP Leigh-Ann Mathys that it was unconscionable to maintain diplomatic ties with an apartheid state.

He said the government of South Africa communicated its unequivocal and strongest condemnation of Israeli against Palestinians in Gaza to the government of the state of Israel.

However he added that Maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel allows South Africa to continue to engage with Israel on issues of mutual interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ramaphosa said that only a negotiated settlement would provide a lasting resolution to the conflict, and hoped the ceasefire agreement reached yesterday would pave the way for such a deal.

—–

A United Nations humanitarian aid convoy carrying food for about 150,000 people arrived at the Gaza Strip.

This was the first such arrival since Israel imposed its blockade on the Palestinian enclave in 2007.

The UN World Food Programme convoy entered the Rafah crossing through Alexandria, Egypt.

WFP Country Director Pablo Recalde said the opening of the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid provides a major opportunity to scale up aid delivery to Gaza and needs to be sustained.

The convoy of eight trucks held 15,600 food parcels.

According to the UN body, the convoy included ready-to-eat canned meat, canned beans, tea and dates. The food is expected to be enough for five days.

The UN group said that it needs about $70 million to continue the mission over the next three months.

—–

THURSDAY

Gaza officials said that Israel authorities have begun implementing the terms of a ceasefire agreement which went into effect early Tuesday.

Palestinian officials told Ma’an News Agency that farmers were able to tend to fields within 100 meters from the border fence.

This suggested that Israel’s security buffer zone had been downsized from its previous state.

Secretary-General of the Union of Fishermen, Muhammad Basala, said that Gaza fishermen have been allowed to sail as far out as six nautical miles, during recent trips.

According to the deal, they will be allowed to sail out as far as nine nautical miles within a week, and as far as twelve, in a month.

The previous restrictions, by Israel, had maintained a limit of 3 nautical miles, and despite earlier agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit.

Meanwhile, Palestinian liaison officials told Ma’an that Israel had opened Erez crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip, noting that the crossing was now operating just as it did before the war.

The long-term ceasefire agreement also includes the opening of crossings for goods and aid, albeit under heavy Israeli supervision, with Palestinian negotiators saying that this will signal the end of Israel’s crippling eight-year long blockade of the Strip.

—-

Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned of “full-blown civil war” if the chaos and division in the North African country continue.

Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the UN Security Council that he had always excluded civil war as a possibility “but the situation has changed.”

He said the situation since the 13th of July has become even more complicated and the situation might unravel into a full-blown civil war.

Libya has been sliding deeper into chaos over the past weeks, with factions now backing rival prime ministers and assemblies

The US says Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have carried out airstrikes against armed groups, a charge Cairo denies.

UN mission chief in Libya Tarek Mitri told the council that the clashes in recent days “have been unprecedented in their gravity and to be sure, very alarming”.

—–

The minister of defence had reportedly refused to answer a question in Parliament over a claim that R100,000 was spent on a first-class air ticket for the head of the SA National Defence Force

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she considered it a follow-up to a previous question on oversight, and would not answer it.

The Democratic Alliance had referred to a trip General Solomon Shoke took to Malaysia with Emirates, and had asked what Mapisa-Nqakula was doing to keep costs down and to stay in line with a National Treasury directive forbidding first-class flights.

DA MP David Maynier submitted that Shoke’s flight showed the department was its own enemy and wasted millions of rand, even though it was in trouble.

On Monday the DA said it would ask the auditor general to investigate the flight issue.

—–

Cosatu said E-tolling is one of the most immoral projects undertaken since the arms deal.

Congress of SA Trade Unions provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said this matter touches on the core of leadershipd.

He said “absolutely everything’s wrong” with e-tolls.

Dakile said “E-tolls will add to the burden of the poor who will be forced to pay more to travel on highways which were previously free of charge.”

According to Dakile, South Africa had no public transport system rather a commuter system.

He added that current alternatives, such as taxi, bus and train services, were not reliable, safe, or efficient.

On Monday, the Gauteng provincial government announced the panel would embark on a month-long consultation process, starting on Wednesday, with organisations and individuals.

The panel will focus on the implications and perceptions of financing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and e-tolls.

The panel was expected to report to Premier David Makhura at the end of November.

—-

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed President Jacob Zuma’s appeal against the release of the so-called spy tapes.

This meant that the tapes should be handed over without editing or omission.

Within five days, the National Prosecuting Authority must comply with a previous court order, in an application brought by the Democratic Alliance, to release the tapes.

The actual recordings, internal memoranda, reports and minutes of meetings dealing with the contents of the recordings must be provided.

Conversations on the recordings were cited as a reason to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma, shortly before he was sworn in as president in 2009.

At the time, acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe said they showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case could not continue.

The DA applied for access to the tapes and in spite of winning previous court cases could not obtain them.

—–

Tens of thousands of protesters prepared to convene in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in the “deciding day” of a bid to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,

This came after discussions between opposition groups and the government ended without agreement.

Anti-government cleric Tahir ul-Qadri said he had “shut the door” on further talks and urged them to prepare for a decisive day in their campaign to Sharif.

He told a crowd that Thursday would be “Revolution Day.”

Opposition politician Imran Khan has also promised an important statement for today.

Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party has called on the embattled PM to step down, accusing him of rigging last year’s election which he won by a landslide vote, taking 190 of the 342 seats in the national assembly.

Both Qadri and Khan have made dramatic statements about their intentions since the start of the protests on August 15.

—–

A pro-Russia rebel leader reportedly said that serving Russian soldiers, on leave from their posts, were fighting Ukrainian troops alongside the country’s separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The website of a Russian state television channel reported Zakharchenko as saying among them were fighting serving soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with those who are fighting for their freedom.

Meanwhile, Washington accused Moscow of being “directly involved” in fighting in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, appealed to the United States, European Union and G7 countries on Thursday to freeze Russian assets until Russian forces withdraw from Ukrainian territory.

The European security body the OSCE will hold a special meeting to discuss developments in Ukraine following the reports that Russian troops were on the ground.

—–

The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 would focus on the southern part of the existing search zone after a new clue to the plane’s possible location emerged.

Australias Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said fresh information suggested the jet “may have turned south” earlier than thought.

AFP news said the detail came to light following further refinement of satellite data and as investigators attempted to map the plane’s position during a failed attempt to contact it earlier in its flight path.

Truss’ comments came as Australia and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding in Canberra over the next phase of the hunt for the plane.

The plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Experts have now used technical data to finalise its most likely resting place deep under the Indian Ocean and are preparing for a more intense underwater search, beginning next month.

—–

The Economic Freedom Fighters applied for an urgent interdict against Speaker Baleka Mbete and Parliament to stop the suspension of the MPs.

All 25 EFF MPs have received formal letters from Mbete asking them to motivate why the party should not be suspended from Parliament for disrupting a sitting.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi confirmed they received the letters today and have to respond by tomorrow.

EFF leader Julius Malema was expected to brief media at the party’s offices at Parliament at 13:00 to announce how it planned to respond.

Last Thursday, the EFF defied orders from Mbete to leave the National Assembly after they disrupted presidential question time.

They chanted that President Jacob Zuma should repay public funds spent on his home in Nkandla.

——

The World Health Organisation said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, more than six times as many as doctors know about now.

A new plan to stop Ebola by the UN health agency also assumes that in many hard-hit areas, the actual number of cases may be two to four times higher than is currently reported.

The agency published new figures saying that more than 1,500 people have died from the killer virus from among over 3,000cases reported so far in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

The UN health agency says At least 40 percent of the cases have been in just the last three weeks, adding that “the outbreak continues to accelerate”.

This comes as Nigeria says a doctor died from Ebola in the southeastern oil city of Port Harcourt in the first case of the deadly virus outside the financial hub, Lagos.

Tom Frieden, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, says the world has never seen an outbreak of Ebola like this.

—–

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s outgoing prime minister, was sworn in as president during a ceremony in the capital Ankara,

This extended his more than a decade-long domination of the country’s political scene.

Erdogan, took his oath of office today, ushering in a new era for Turkey, where he is expected to push for a new constitution and seek to further transform the country with development projects.

Taking over Erdogan’s post of prime minister is Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a longstanding ally who is expected to do little to challenge the president.

Erdogan has made clear he wants to wield genuine executive power as president, unlike recent predecessors in the Cankaya presidential palace who performed a largely ceremonial role.

However, some opponents have warned that the new president will extend what they see as his increasingly authoritarian rule.

—–

The Islamic State group had reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers it captured after overrunning a military base in northeastern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS fighters rounded up the soldiers in the arid countryside yesterday near the Tabqa airfield, three days after seizing the base in heavy fighting.

It said the government troops were among a large group of soldiers from the base who were stuck behind the front lines after the airfield fell to the fighters.

Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the fighters killed up to 65 soldiers.

A statement posted online and circulated on Twitter by supporters of the Islamic State group claimed the fighters killed “about 200″ government prisoners captured near Tabqa.

It also showed photographs of what it said were the prisoners: young men stripped down to their underwear marching in the desert.

—–

A 25-year-old woman was recovering in hospital after giving birth to a baby girl on the side of the road in Randburg after allegedly being turned away from a clinic on Thursday.

Business director Ryan Frey told News24 he was driving from his office at about 09:30 on Thursday when he saw the woman, named Phindile, on the pavement on her knees.

Phindile, claimed that clinic employees told her that they do not deal with births and told her to go to a hospital.

The woman gave birth to a baby girl who was one month premature.

Frey said the little girl was covered in dirt and grass, she was not crying but was breathing and her little fingers were moving.

Others who had also seen what was happening stopped to help.

Some gave the woman blankets while another man drove to a nearby hospital and fetched two nurses to assist.

Both mother and child have been transferred to Raheema Moosa Hospital.

—-

FRIDAY

The United Nations said the civil war in Syria has forced more than three million people to flee the country, an increase of one million in the past year alone.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), called the crisis “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

He said almost half of all Syrians were forced to abandon their homes since the conflict began in March 2011.

According to Guterres yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.

The agency said its work to help the Syrian refugees now marked the largest operation in its 64-year-history.

The increasingly fragmented conflict raging in Syria has also claimed more than 191,000 lives since erupting in March 2011.

—–

Libya’s prime minister and his cabinet have resigned to make way for a new government based on parliamentary elections held in June.

Abdullah al-Thinni’s cabinet said that it had resigned according to Libya’s constitutional rules to allow the new House of Representatives to form a government based on all parts of society.

The House of Representatives replaced the General National Congress in June, but was forced to move to Tobruk in the far east of the country to escape a month of street fighting in the capital, Tripoli.

Armed factions mainly from the northwestern city of Misrata expelled from the capital a rival group from Zintan, and have pushed to reinstate the previous parliament, the GNC.

An unnamed politician told the Reuters news agency that this is just a routine step, adding that there is no conflict between Thinni and the House of Representatives.

—–

Scientists said the first human trials of an Ebola vaccine will start next week in the US to see if it is safe for people before it can be made widely available.

There is no vaccine on the market against Ebola, and global attempts to get one ready are being fast-tracked as West Africa struggles with an accelerating outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus.

The first US phase 1 trial has enrolled three volunteers so far, and begins next week at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Centre in Bethesda.

It involves a product made by Glaxo Smith Kline and US government scientists, and is being referred to as the GSK/NIAID Ebola vaccine candidate.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease says past studies have shown it works “extremely well” in preventing Ebola infection in primates.

The first-ever outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has swiftly grown to become the largest in history, killing 1552 of the more than 3000 people infected since the start of the year, according to the WHO.

——

Israeli soldiers demolished several Palestinian houses near East al-Quds (Jerusalem), leaving dozens of Palestinians homeless.

Locals said the latest demolitions took place yesterday, when the Israeli troops raided the Sheikh Anbar neighborhood in the village of Zuayyim, without prior notice.

Witnesses said the Israeli forces destroyed the buildings without allowing the residents to remove their possessions.

The move resulted in scuffles between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Israel has destroyed more than 377 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem), displacing more than 750 people so far this year.

——

The South African Weather Service said snow fell in many parts of the country.

Forecaster Bransby Bulo said snow started to fall last night in parts of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, southern Lesotho, as well as in the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal.

Snowfall could also be expected in the southern part of the Free State, Lesotho, and the western high ground of KwaZulu-Natal.

Snowfalls are expected to stop by Saturday, except in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where there was a small chance of snowfall on Saturday morning, said Bulo.

Temperatures throughout the country are expected to increase by Saturday.

—–

Qatar announced its willingness to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, welcoming the ceasefire agreement signed between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued last night that Qatar is ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible.

The statement also expressed hope that the ceasefire agreement, will represent a step towards alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and achieve their fair demands.

The statement said that the agreement was achieved due to the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and their sacrifices, expressing Qatar’s appreciation to everyone who contributed to reaching this deal.

Qatar is among the largest contributors to reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip after the wars waged by Israel against the enclave in the past few years.

The Gulf state called in July to open a commercial port in Gaza as a temporary solution and demanded Israel lift its siege on the enclave which has been ongoing since 2006.

——

EFF leader Julius Malema warned National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete that unless she withdraws plans to suspend him from Parliament by Sunday noon, he will go to court to seek relief.

All 25 EFF MPs received formal letters from Mbete asking them to motivate why the party should not be suspended from Parliament for disrupting a sitting.

The Economic Freedom Fighters applied for an urgent interdict against Speaker Baleka Mbete and Parliament to stop the suspension of the MPs.

He concluded in the five-page letter saying that if she failed to withdraw her intentions, he would no other option but to approach an appropriate forum for an appropriate relief.

It is Malema’s formal response to a letter from Mbete, who requested the MPs reply why they shouldn’t be suspended for up to two weeks for disrupting presidential question time on 21 August.

—–

The military has intervened in Pakistan’s ongoing political crisis, playing the role of mediator between the government and opposition figures calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

Imran Khan, the leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Canada-based anti-government cleric, have led separate protest sit-ins of thousands of demonstrators in Islamabad since August 14, calling for Sharif to resign.

Last night night, both men separately met with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to discuss their demands, after earlier talks with the government repeatedly broke down.

Khan and Qadri had earlier told their supporters that they had accepted the army’s role as “guarantor” and “mediator” in the crisis.

The military has frequently intervened in politics in the past, carrying out repeated coups against elected governments to rule Pakistan for roughly half of its 67 years of independence.

Speaking on the floor of the national assembly on Friday, PM Sharif struck a defiant figure, refusing to step down and asserting his party’s constitutional mandate to rule.

—–

The health department maintains that there are no Ebola cases reported or confirmed in South Africa.

The total number of cases in the current outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone has risen to 3 069 probable and confirmed cases, while there have been 1 552 deaths.

Department spokesperson Maja said the WHO continues to monitor for reports of rumoured or suspected cases from countries around the world and systematic verification of these cases is ongoing.

Countries were encouraged to continue engaging in active surveillance and preparedness activities.

He said the health department continued to monitor the situation and would keep South African citizens informed.

Meanwhile scientists say the first human trials of an Ebola vaccine will start next week in the US to see if it is safe for people before it can be made widely available.

—-

Palestinian villagers came to the rescue of a Jewish family that was driving home through the West Bank when they were attacked by stone-throwers.

Yedaya Sharchaton and his wife were travelling close to the Palestinian village of Beit Umar with their toddler in the back seat when their car was suddenly pelted by large rocks.

One of the bigger rocks broke through the front windshield, hitting Yedaya in the face and causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

The car veered, hit a road barrier, and flipped over onto the side of the road.

The Palestinians came to the car and told her not to worry and that they were there to help her.

They helped extract the baby from her seat, and one of the Palestinians held the baby as others helped the wife out of the car.

Yedaya is still in hospital trying to recovering, with his wife and child by his side.

—–

The spokesman for the Israeli premier Ofir Gendelman denied that Benyamin Netanyahu accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

On Facebook Gendelman wrote that What Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said about premier Netanyahu’s approval to the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1948 borders was untrue.

Yesterday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said during a televised interview that Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

He said each state needed to finally determine their borders.

He added that Israel is the only state in the world with no known borders.

—–

Cash-strapped consumers will get a breather at the pumps after the department of energy announced a drop in petrol and diesel prices.

All grades of petrol and diesel will decrease on Wednesday September 3.

Petrol is coming down by 67 cents a litre (c/l), while diesel will drop 25.38 c/l.

Illuminating paraffin will decrease by 25.0 c/l and liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) by 108.0 cents/kilogram.

The department has also decreased the slate levy from 4.38 c/l to zero, in line with the self-adjusting slate mechanism.

The department said the reasons for the fuel price decreases are mainly due to the drop in the price of crude oil and the stability of the rand against the US dollar.

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