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  • Monrovia in the spotlight: can this fragile city ever really replace 'Ma Ellen'?

    LIBERIA, 2017/10/14 Since the civil war, Liberians have known only one leader: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who helped transform the ruined capital. Presently some observers worry that this month’s election could undo Monrovia’s evolution. For nearly 30 years, the city of Monrovia has lurched from crisis to crisis. The Liberian civil war culminated in a 2003 siege that destroyed much of the city centre, while riots during the Ebola crisis – in response to an ill-conceived quarantine of West Point, one of its poorest neighbourhoods – garnered international headlines. Lost amid the bad news is the fact that the city has made a slow but impressive recovery. Today Monrovia is a fairly bustling place. The burnt-out high rises and shell-pocked roads have been substantially repaired. The streets are safer than they have been in a generation, and as the Ebola crisis recedes, the markets and cafes are returning to normal. Thriving music and food scenes suggest it is on the rise.
  • Xi squeezing the life out of China’s media'

    CHINA, 2017/10/10 Everyone has their habits at the same time as they return to a favourite place. Landing in Guangzhou recently, my initial act — as always — was to seek out the new edition of Southern Weekend. It was formerly the vanguard of Chinese investigative journalism, exposing crooked officials, dodgy charities and official hypocrisy of all flavours. Its lead story would be an exposé, illustrated by a striking image. The 7 September edition was none of those things. A striking image did fill the front page, but it was of President Xi Jinping. The ‘chairman of everything’ is pictured striding across a marble floor, looking calm, composed and exhaustively pleased with himself as he prepares to address the media at the conclusion of the 9th BRICS Forum in Xiamen.
  • UK will be ready if Brexit talks with EU fail, says David Davis

    UNITED KINGDOM, 2017/10/09 Britain will be ready if the Brexit talks fail, as a lack of preparation would be a dereliction of business, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has said. Speaking to the Conservative party conference, the senior cabinet minister said there was “cause for optimism” that a transaction would be completed but the government would be braced for the possibility of failure. “If the outcome of the negotiation falls short of the transaction that Britain needs, we will be ready for the alternative,” he said. “So there is a determined exercise under way in Whitehall devoted to contingency arrangements so that we are ready for any outcome.”
  • Catalonia: hundreds of thousands join anti-independence rally in Barcelona

    SPAIN, 2017/10/09 Police say 350,000 have protested against regional government’s separatist course, but organisers say 930,000 joined in. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to turmoil against the Catalan government’s decision to push for independence, as Spain’s prime minister warned that he was prepared to suspend the region’s autonomy to stop it splitting from the rest of the country. Sunday’s rally – organised by Societat Civil Catalana, the region’s major pro-unity organisation – comes a week next the independence referendum that has plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in four decades.
  • Uganda age limit repeal law referred to parliamentary committee

    UGANDA, 2017/10/05 A law amending Uganda’s constitution to allow ageing leader Yoweri Museveni to extend his policy was introduced in parliament on Tuesday, at a session where nearly all its opponents were either barred or remained away in turmoil. Museveni, 73, has ruled Uganda since 1986. He is as from presently on ineligible to seek re-election in the next polls in 2021 because the existing constitution places an age ceiling of 75 on anyone aspiring to the presidency. The bill brought to parliament would remove the age hurdle.
  • The U.S. cities with the worst traffic jams for their size

    UNITED STATES, 2017/10/03 INRIX Roadway Analytics, a cloud-based traffic analysis tool, identified and ranked 108,000 traffic hotspots in the 25 most congested cities in the U.S.  
  • As Russia threatens, Sweden ponders joining NATO

    ALBANIA, 2017/09/24 SWEDEN’S Aurora-17 drill, which continues until the end of September, is the biggest war game that the supposedly neutral country has carried out for 23 years. Not only does it involve 19,000 of Sweden’s armed forces (about half of them), inclunding its Home Guard, but as well additional than 1,500 troops from Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Norway and America. All except Finland are members of NATO, the large western alliance.
  • Togolese are fed up! Gnassingbe Jnr must go now – Opposition chief

    TOGO, 2017/09/09 One of the leading opposition figures in Togo, Jean-Pierre Fabre, has fired a warning to embattled president of the country imploring him to quit or face additional protests. “He has to leave presently. We will not accept him staying any longer. The Togolese are fed up,” leader of the National Alliance for Change is quoted by Reuters to have said.
  • Mexico expels North Korean ambassador over nuclear tests

    NORTH KOREA, 2017/09/08 The Mexican government on Thursday said it had declared the North Korean ambassador to Mexico persona non grata in turmoil at the country’s nuclear tests, an unusually firm step that moved it closely into line with Washington. In a statement, the government said it had given Kim Hyong Gil 72 hours to leave Mexico in order to express its “absolute rejection” of North Korea’s recent nuclear activity, describing it as a grave threat to the region and the world.
  • Ex-minister accuses former Brazil President Lula of accepting bribes

    BRAZIL, 2017/09/08 The former finance minister under Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday accused the ex-president of receiving bribes from contractor Odebrecht [ODBES.UL], adding to a inventory of corruption accusations that threaten Lula’s ability to run for president in 2018. Lawyers for the former finance minister, Antonio Palocci, said he told prosecutors that Lula accepted Odebrecht’s purchase of land for an institute in his name, a country home in Sao Paulo national and 300 million reais ($97 million) to be used next he left office. A representative for Lula said in a statement that Palocci, who was arrested a year ago in a corruption investigation, was lying and making accusations without evidence to fasten a favorable transaction with prosecutors to reduce his sentence.