The world in brief – Tuesday, October 18, 2022

In Honduras, Hurricane Julia reignites emigration wave:

Nearly two years after hurricanes Eta and Iota pummelled northern Honduras, flooding entire neighbourhoods and causing widespread devastation, 40-year-old Marlen Oliva has fled her home again this month as Hurricane Julia swept through. Oliva, who sought refuge at a government shelter in San Pedro Sula, said her family was still struggling to recover from the financial hit of the previous storms when Julia arrived. To support their five children, Oliva and her construction-worker husband had attempted to migrate to the United States last year, but they were deported after reaching southern Mexico. “Things are just getting worse,” Oliva told Al Jazeera, referencing the country’s economic situation and its vulnerability to natural disasters. “With this situation, what you do is migrate.” They were among hundreds of thousands of Central Americans estimated to have attempted to migrate north after the deadly 2020 hurricanes. Border officers encountered more than 319,000 Hondurans trying to cross into the US in 2021, about a fifth more than pre-pandemic figures. That data does not include people such as Oliva, who did not even make it that far. According to the Red Cross, more than 1.5 million people were displaced in Central America after Eta and Iota, with almost a third of those hailing from Honduras. Now, with hurricane season again in full swing, aid groups and local leaders worry that another migration crisis is brewing.

In U.S.A., Senate bill includes billions in military aid to Taiwan and Alabama prison strike enters third week:

The Senate’s version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will include $10 billion in military aid for Taiwan, Defense News reported on Monday. The $10 billion would be given to Taiwan over five years in the form of Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to purchase US weapons. However, Taiwan will be able to use $300 million of the FMF each year to purchase military equipment from its own industrial base, a privilege only currently enjoyed by Israel. Other FMF recipients need waivers to use the funds to purchase arms that don’t come from the US. The $10 billion is a massive increase from the $4.5 billion initially proposed by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a piece of legislation known as the Taiwan Policy Act. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee brought the military aid up to $6.5 billion when it advanced the bill in September. But the senators have decided to include the military aid portion of the Taiwan Policy Act in the NDAA, which was boosted to $10 billion in a bipartisan amendment added to the military spending bill by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). The Taiwan Policy Act would also boost diplomatic ties with Taiwan, requires sanctions in the event of Chinese aggression, and give Taiwan the benefits of being a major non-NATO ally. But those aspects of the bill were not included in the NDAA amendment.

An estimated 80% of prisoners from Alabama’s “major male facilities” went on strike on September 26th, in response to a wide range of conditions and grievances. Inside organizer Kinetik Swift Justice stated, “Basically, the message that we are sending is, the courts have shut down on us, the parole board has shut down on us. This society has long ago shut down on us. So basically, if that’s the case, and you’re not wanting us to return back to society, you can run these facilities yourselves.” The strike has now entered its third week, and at least five facilities, each with around 7,000 prisoners, continue to participate. Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has punished prisoners by drastically reducing their meals, essentially attempting to starve them off the strike. “They have been killed, they have been abused, they are being tortured right now as we speak,” said Eric Buchanan, a formerly incarcerated person who spoke at a rally for the strike. “They are retaliating against our brothers right now by giving them very little food to eat.” ADOC has also used lower-custody prisoners to help break the strike, threatening to re-classify them back to a higher security facility if they refused to scab. Some of these minimum custody prisoners have still refused, however. One prisoner, who was thrown in solitary for refusing to help break the strike, stated, “They forced me to come over here from Decatur to put my life in jeopardy by working against the inmates, my own people, in this peaceful protest… I believe in what y’all doing. I’ve got a 21-year sentence. Y’all are helping me.” While not called for by any one group, organizations like the Free Alabama Movement are active on the inside, releasing demands. Both Sides of the Wall, a group of family members, formerly incarcerated, and others are supporting on the outside. Over a hundred demonstrated at the State Capitol building in Montgomery on Friday, October 14th.

In Ukraine, citizens brace for cold winter:

Nine-year-old Artem Panchenko helps his grandmother stoke a smoky fire in a makeshift outdoor kitchen beside their nearly abandoned apartment block. The light is falling fast and they need to eat before the setting sun plunges their home into cold and darkness. Winter’s bite is coming. They can feel it in their bones as temperatures drop below freezing. And like hundreds of thousands of other Ukrainians, they are facing a season that promises to be brutal. Artem and his grandmother have been living without gas, water or electricity for around three weeks, ever since Russian missile strikes cut off the utilities in their town in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region. For them and the few other residents that remain in the complex in Kivsharivka, bundling up at night and cooking outdoors is the only way to survive. “It’s cold and there are bombings,” Artem said Sunday as he helped his grandmother with the cooking. “It’s really cold. I’m sleeping in my clothes in our apartment.” Adding to the foreboding about the coming winter, Russian strikes on Monday and Tuesday in Kyiv, the capital, and several other Ukrainian cities by drones and missiles targeted power plants. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet Tuesday that over the past week Russian attacks have knocked out 30% of his country’s power plants causing “massive blackouts across the country.” As the freeze sets in, those who haven’t fled from the heavy fighting, regular shelling and months of Russian occupation in eastern Ukraine are desperately trying to figure out how to dig in for the cold months.

In India, Delhi University releases first cut off list for under graduate courses:

Delhi University (DU) is going to release its first cut off list for Under Graduate (UG) courses on Tuesday evening. Registered candidates can check the list on DU’s official website and can accept the allotted seat from October 19 to October 21. The various colleges affiliated with DU can verify and accept the online applications from October 19 to October 22. The seats awarded on the basis of the first merit list can be accepted till 5 p.m. on October 21. The process of document verification will end on October 22 and candidates will be given time till 5 p.m. on October 24 to make the payment. The vacant seats for round 2 will be released on October 25 and the second merit list will be released on October 30. The third merit list will be released on November 10. After the merit list of the last phase, online fees can be paid in the last round till November 26. This time the Common Seat Allotment System (CSAS) has been constituted for admissions in the UG programmes of DU. The second phase of the system began on September 26 and ended on October 10. On the basis of CUET (UG) exam candidates successfully completed their application process through the CSAS portal starting from September 12 in the first stage, and chose the courses and colleges of their choice in the second stage. The students will get admission in their preferred colleges and courses if their names appear in the merit lists decided there. This year, DU affiliated colleges will have three phases of admission, said DU officials.

Internationally, Chinese and Ugandan Presidents exchange congratulations on anniversary of diplomatic ties:

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, on Tuesday exchanged congratulations on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. In his congratulatory message, Xi said that with an everlasting traditional friendship, the two countries have in recent years established comprehensive cooperative partnership, steadily increasing political mutual trust and deepening cooperation in various fields. China and Uganda have firmly supported each other on issues involving their respective core interests and major concerns, and coordinated closely in global and regional affairs, he said. The Chinese president said in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two peoples have supported and helped each other in times of difficulty, writing a new chapter of China-Uganda friendship. Xi said he attaches great importance to China-Uganda relations, and stands ready to work with President Museveni to take the 60th anniversary as an opportunity to deepen cooperation in various fields under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, so as to bring benefits to the two countries and their people and jointly build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. For his part, Museveni said that since the establishment of diplomatic ties 60 years ago, Uganda and China have coordinated closely in a joint effort to implement multiple major cooperation projects, with their sound relationship bursting with vitality. The Ugandan side will stay committed to promoting Uganda-China relations, said Museveni, expressing his confidence that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries will surely continue to deepen so as to deliver greater benefits to the two peoples and contribute to world peace, stability and cooperation.

In Estonia, parliament passes statement branding Russia a “terrorist regime”:

The Estonian parliament voted on Tuesday to label Russia a “terrorist regime,” condemning its “aggression” against Ukraine and calling for Kremlin officials to face an international tribunal. The statement mirrors a similar declaration by European bureaucrats last week. The statement was adopted by 88 votes in the country’s 101-seat parliament. In April, the legislature already accused Russia of “war crimes and genocide,” citing “atrocities” that Moscow has dismissed as “provocations” and reports suggest may have been the work of Ukrainian security forces. Tuesday’s declaration repeated the accusations of “genocide,” calling for Russian officials to be punished by an international tribunal. It also demands further EU sanctions on Moscow and NATO military aid for Ukraine. It labels Russia’s recent military mobilization “a crime against peace,” and calls for the country to be removed from the UN Security Council, a move that would be legally impossible to implement. The declaration came after a similar resolution was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last Thursday. Russia left the European NGO in March, calling it a “convenient platform for NATO’s information and political campaigns.” Legislatures in Latvia and Lithuania have also passed similar motions. While Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has called on the collective West to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terror,” only a handful of countries have heeded his call, and their actions have been limited to symbolic gestures. Those with the power to enforce actual anti-terror sanctions against other states, like the US, have refused to take this step.

In Venezuela, President Maduro visits town hit by deadly rains:

On Monday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro visited El Castaño, a town in the state of Aragua, where heavy rains made the El Corozal river to overflow, causing three deaths and affecting at least 50 dwellings. “Some wounded have been evacuated. At least 60 percent of the electrical service will be restored. Right now, we have two areas with natural disasters… and we must attend to them with everything we have available,” Maduro said. The Bolivarian leader stressed that these floods are the result of the harmful effect of global climate change, since extreme weather events are increasingly intense and devastating. Currently, over 300 security officials are present in El Castaño, where the arrival of some 1,000 additional people is expected to support the rescue and cleaning efforts. Previously, the Vice Minister for Risk Management Carlos Perez reported that officials from his institution were ready in the municipality of Girardot to attend to the emergency. The overflow of the Palmerito creek due to the intense rains affected the towns of El Castaño, Palmarito and Corozal. At the beginning of October, a landslide in Las Tejerias caused over 50 deaths, missing persons, and multiple damages to local infrastructure.

In South Africa, SACP condemns kidnapping of former YCLSA member:

The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its message of solidarity with Dloze Matooane, former national spokesperson for the Young Communist League of South Africa. Matooane was hijacked and kidnapped on the weekend in Sebokeng, Gauteng Province.  “I managed to escape terror and I am home. I sustained some injuries”, said Matooane on Tuesday, 18 October 2022, a day after he survived the traumatic experience. Meanwhile, the car he used and the belongings he had in it were stolen by the hijackers who had kidnapped him. The SACP strongly condemns the threat to Matooane’s life and violation of his rights. As part of the wider effort to build safer communities and fight crime, it is essential for the state and communities, respectively, to strengthen the capacity and functioning of law enforcement authorities and organs of people’s power, such as community policing forums and neighbourhood watches. Equally important, we need more community members who are active in gathering and sharing information, exposing crime or conspiracy to commit crime to the law enforcement authorities to act to prevent, combat and investigate criminality.

In U.K., man erroneously charged over £35,000 for 15-minute Uber trip:

Imagine having to fork out R720 000 for a 15-minute Uber trip to another country, due to an error – that’s exactly what happened to a man in the United Kingdom (UK). According to The Independent, 22-year-old Oliver Kaplan ordered an Uber in a city near Manchester after knocking from work and had planned on going out with friends for some drinks. Oliver, who is a trainee chef, says his Uber picked him up from the Buxton Inn, outside Hyde in Greater Manchester and took him to a local pub, which was just six kilometres away. The price quoted for the ride on the e-hailing service was between £10 and £11 (between R204 and R225), which he accepted. Everything was fine… until the next day when he woke up to a message from Uber, notifying him of insufficient funds – his trip cost a staggering £35,427.97 (more than R720 000). “I ordered an Uber like I do most nights on the way home from work and everything seemed normal. The driver arrived, I got in the Uber and he took me exactly where I was meant to be going. It was a 15-minute journey – tops – and the bill was said to be between £10 and £11, charged to my debit card. But when I woke up hungover the next morning, the last thing I expected was a charge of over £35,000!,” he said. Oliver then contacted Uber to inform them about the error and they were quite shocked to learn about the ridiculously large bill, but there was a reason – the drop-off location had been wrongly set to Australia. Uber then adjusted his fare to the real amount of £10.73 (more than R204) before the money came out of his bank account. “If I had have had that sort of money, I would have had to chase them for a refund – it could have landed me in all sorts of financial trouble. I’m still wondering how the location was even set to Australia in the first place, seeing as it is the other side of the globe,” Oliver said.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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