Mugabe Appeals For Calm Amid Economic Crisis

  • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has appealed for calm as his government battles to contain a debilitating economic crisis.

The 92-year-old president appeared frail but jovial, struggling with his lines a bit as he delivered a 30-minute State of the Nation address on Tuesday.

He praised the country’s security forces for maintaining order, although critics accuse them of using violence to stifle dissent.

This once prosperous but now economically struggling southern African country is battling cash shortages, high unemployment and company closures.

A new local currency, introduced last week, has failed to end cash shortages, with many people still sleeping outside banks to access their money. The cash crunch has meant that Mugabe’s government has failed to pay its workers on time since June.

Mugabe did not mention these issues in his speech, resulting in murmurs of protest from opposition members of parliament.

He chuckled when one opposition representative asked him to make sure he was reading the correct speech. This followed last year’s embarrassing incident when for his State of the Nation speech Mugabe read the same speech he had delivered just a few weeks before.

Credit: abcnews

FEC Approves N464m Vehicles For FRSC Amid Recession

The Federal Government, yesterday, blamed the nation’s economic recession on the downturn in the oil and gas sector, even as it expressed optimism in the improvement the non-oil sector is making. The government had however expressed hope that the fourth quarter figures would be better.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the council observed that the nation’s economy was still in recession, with the third quarter turning worse than the second quarter.

Udoma, who briefed alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the council reviewed the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.

Udoma said, “we looked at the recent numbers released on Monday by the NBS. As you know, from these numbers, the economy is still in recession. The performance in the third quarter is slightly worse than the second quarter and this was attributable to the performance of the oil sector, which performed worse in the third quarter than the second quarter and that was for reasons you all know.

“However, the good news is that the non-oil sector is improving in the direction that is most encouraging to the government. Agriculture continues to grow at 12.5 per cent, solid minerals continue to grow at seven per cent. We are encouraged by the direction the non-oil sector is moving.

“With regards to the fourth quarter, we believe it will be better than the third quarter even for the oil sector because oil production has started moving up as a result of a lot of initiatives this government has been taking. We are looking forward to a fourth quarter that is much better than the third quarter. We are encouraged by that.”

Ngige said the council approved the purchase of vehicles worth N464 million for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

The vehicles include 50 Pick-up vans to be purchased from Innoson Motors, Nnewi, and 27 Peugeot 301 cars to be procured from Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Kaduna.

The Labour Minister said the decisions to patronise indigenous companies was in line with the government’s local content policy.

Ngige said, “the council approved the purchase of some vehicles to strengthen the capacity of the FRSC. It approved that 40 Pick-up vehicles be added to the commission’s fleet. Another 27 Peugeot 301 cars were also approved for the commission. This is in line with our Local Content and Procurement Act. The total purchase is N464 million. Innoson vehicles will cost N299 million while the Peugeot cars will cost N164 million.”


Fires Rage Across Calais Refugee Camp Amid Evacuation

Massive fires have been raging overnight through the refugee camp in the French port city of Calais that has been at the center of much controversy recently. This as authorities have been trying to evacuate thousands of refugees to other reception centers across the nation.

It is not exactly known who started the fires, with initial reports pointing the finger of blame at refugees opposed to the destruction of the camp.

But French authorities said later that they were investigating claims that ‘No Borders’ activists were indeed responsible for the arson attacks. The British group campaigns against borders and immigration controls.

The French government finally decided to completely demolish the infamous shantytown after a few earlier attempts to partially dismantle it. The operation got underway on Monday amid much opposition from the camp’s residents.

Fires billowing black columns of smoke into the air left some of the protesting refugees with major injuries, while others were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.

According to local officials emergency services workers were attacked with stones and other projectiles as they tried to put out the flames, and riot police had to intervene to deal with the chaos.

Residents told officials that activists had come into the settlement in the middle of the night and set off canisters, hence starting the fires.

Demolition workers on Tuesday started tearing down the tents where up to 8,000 refugees, including 1,200 children, mainly from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea, have been living in dire conditions.

Last month, President Francois Hollande pledged to definitely and entirely raze the camp after a visit to Calais.

More than 1,200 police and officials have already been deployed in the northern port city in what Paris calls a “humanitarian” operation. But a large number of refugees are said to be resisting evacuation.

Credit: presstv

Angelina Jolie’s ‘Diary Confessions’ Leaks, Fires Nanny For Flirting With Brad Pitt Amid Rumors Of Divorce, Sex & Drugs

Angelina Jolie was recently rumored to have been “flirting nonstop” with her husband Brad Pitt’s young look-alike cameraman. Now a report by Radar Online claims that Jolie fired one of her children’s “gorgeous” nannies because she was caught flirting with the star’s husband.

The nanny started to have a close friendship with Pitt, after which Jolie began suspecting her, Radar Online reported. “Angie was happy with the team she had assembled and handpicked to be around her and the kids. Of course lots of people want to work for a famous movie star, but they put them through a very strict filtering process,” a source told the gossip website.

“Brad was going in and out of Cambodia as his schedule would allow. He is always well-liked by the staff and friendly with them, but it became obvious the nanny was flirting around him and being a little too friendly,” the insider added, according to Radar Online.

The 40-year-old noticed that the nanny was always near the pool at the same time Pitt would be there, according to the report. “Her paranoia grew even further when she saw him fresh out of the shower wrapped in just a towel, getting some juice while the nanny was also in the kitchen with a big smile on her face. That was the final straw for Angie,” the source revealed to Radar Online. “She confronted the nanny and a huge screaming match erupted. Of course, she didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, and the nanny packed her things and was gone faster than you could imagine,” the insider added.

The A-list couple, together for over 10 years, has been fighting divorce rumors for some time now. However, they have been spotted together on several occasions, shunning reports about their marriage troubles.

Another rumor that 52-year-old Pitt was moving into a bachelor pad in London without informing Jolie was debunked. A source reportedly told OK! Magazine that Pitt is secretly shopping for his own house in England without informing Jolie. “Brad’s thinking time apart is exactly what they need,” the insider reportedly said.

Gossip Cop, the website which debunks celebrity rumors, had dismissed another Jolie-Pitt rumor, which claimed that the husband and wife were on the verge of breaking up over her alleged sex and drugs “diary confessions.” A National Enquirer report said that Pitt has been bothered by reminders of his wife’s past problems, including “heroin binges” and “kinky sex games.”

Credit: IBT

INSPIRING: A Syrian Couple Took Wedding Photos Amid Ruins Of War-Torn City

Newlyweds Nada Merhi, 18, and Hassan Youssef, 27, took a series of striking wedding photos in Homs, a city in Syria ravaged by the ongoing civil war. The bride wore a traditional white wedding gown and the groom, a soldier in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army, wore his uniform as they posed amid rubble and bombed-out buildings.

Homs was once a bustling city with a population of over 600,000, according to the Washington Post. When the rebels opposing Assad took the city in 2011, it became the center for continuous military assault by government forces, sending tens of thousands of citizens fleeing toward the Turkish border and transforming the city into a ghost town.

Joseph Eid, a photographer with Agence France-Presse, said that the couple’s photographer, Jafar Meray, told him he wanted the photos “to show that life is stronger than death.”

See Pics below:

Credit: Cosmopolitan

Kim Kardashian Cancels Baby Shower Amid Lamar Odom Hospitalization

Kim Kardashian has postponed her baby shower following Lamar Odom’s recent hospitalization, her rep confirms.

The celebration in anticipation of Kim and Kanye West’s second child was scheduled for Saturday at the home of family friend, Sharon Azoff. The Beverly Hills estate owned by Azoff and her husband, music mogul Irving Azoff, is also where Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom were married in 2009.

The baby shower was supposed to be thrown by Kim’s sisters and filmed for their reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

The reality show cameras have not been rolling in Las Vegas, where Odom remains in critical condition at Sunrise Hospital. The 35-year-old NBA pro has been visited by his estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian, and her sisters — Kim, Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner — and her mother, Kris Jenner, as well as Odom’s ex-girlfriend, Liza Morales, and their two children, Destiny and Lamar Jr.

Read More: ETonline

The Mugabes Launch New Ice Cream Company Amid National Economic Hardship

Zimbabwe is among the poorest nations on the planet. According to recent statistics from the United Nations’ World Food Programme, 72 percent of the population currently lives below the national poverty line, earning less than U.S. $1.25 a day.

But that’s not enough to deter President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe, from launching a new line of ice creams and chocolates.

The lavish president and first lady, who the Guardian wrote in 2012 have “long been accused of milking the country for all its worth,” announced plans to place the products in local grocery stores under the brand name Alpha Omega.

Grace Mugabe introduced Alpha Omega three years ago, after Nestle stopped buying milk from her farm amid the threat of a consumer boycott. Nestle announced in 2009 it would end its relationship with the first lady’s Gushungo Dairy Estate after coming under pressure from human rights activists.

Read More: huffingtonpost

Nigeria Marks Children’s Day Amid Boko Haram Violation Of Minors

Nigeria has joined the international community in commemorating Children’s Day amid concern at the use of minors to perpetrate terrorist acts by the Boko Haram sect.

Locally, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the choice of the theme of violence against children and the urgent need to stop it was apt and timely.

Officials said it spoke eloquently to the current difficult circumstances facing children in Nigeria today especially in the Northeast.

Children bear the biggest brunt of the insurgency with the conflict having severely constrained full scale provision of health services thereby threatening their right to survival.

In Borno State, the region worst affected by terror, children have not been to school for more than one year. More children and women have been used as suicide bombers in Northeast Nigeria in the first five months of this year than during the whole of last year, according to reports collated by UNICEF.

In 2014, 26 suicide attacks were recorded compared to 27 attacks as of May 2015. In at least three-quarters of these incidents, children and women were reportedly used to carry out the attacks.

Girls and women have been used to detonate bombs or explosives belts at crowded locations, such as market places and bus stations. “Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.”

Credit: CAJ News

Foreigners Killed In South Africa Amid Zulu King’s Comment

At least five killed in Durban since last week in violence that has left hundreds stranded, unable to return home.

Violence against immigrants in South Africa has killed at least five people since last week in one of the worst outbreak of violence in years against foreigners in years.

Hundreds of migrants mostly from other African countries had been forced out of their homes, authorities told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday.

Most of the recent unrest occurred in and around the coastal city of Durban, where police said two foreigners and three South Africans were killed.

The dead included a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly shot during looting on Monday night and died at a hospital, police official, Jay Naicker, police spokesperson, said.

About 34 people have been arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms and other crimes in the last two days, he said.

“Police are deployed and in high alert in most of the areas where there are foreign nationals,” Naicker said in a statement.

Despite the increased police presence, authorities are hard pressed to stop unrest that recalls similar violence in South Africa in 2008 in which about 60 people died.

In January this year, four people died during a week of looting of foreign-owned shops and other violence in Soweto and other areas of Johannesburg.

Some South Africans have accused immigrants of taking jobs and opportunities away from them.

The latest violence followed reported comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, an influential figure among the Zulu ethnic group, that foreigners should “pack their bags” and leave.

Zwelithini has since appealed for an end to the unrest.

Read More: aljazeera