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Thursday, 27 June 2019
The Russian plane in Caracas that came to carry the military technicians to Russia. But it also brought their replacement
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Russian air force plane that landed in Venezuela this week was merely carrying a rotation of military specialists.
It said the number of the specialists, about 100, in the country had not increased, the state-run TASS news agency reported.
The report contradicts the impression that Russia withdrew its military “technicians” from crisis-stricken Venezuela on Wednesday, following a statement by the Russian embassy in Caracas.
President Vladimir Putin is gearing up for talks with US leader Donald Trump later this week.
The rotation of military staff comes three months after Moscow drew US ire by deploying the military experts in Venezuela after Washington indicated it could use force to oust beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro, a Russian ally.
“The Il-62 plane which is carrying Russian technicians who have been in Venezuela over the past months… is leaving Caracas for Moscow on June 26,” the Russian embassy in Caracas said in a post on Facebook.
An embassy press attache told AFP “one plane” was departing for Moscow, declining to explain the timing of the move or provide any other comments.
In the statement, the embassy sought to play down the nature of cooperation as “fairly routine maintenance work”, saying it would continue.
“Russia delivered to Venezuela high-level equipment that requires regular maintenance. Furthermore, Russian specialists provided technical training to Venezuelan staff”,” the embassy said.
“Unlike reported, it was not a Russian military presence but the fulfilment of maintenance contracts, without any purpose of destabilisation.”
In March, Moscow sent around 100 experts and equipment to Caracas, where Russian mercenaries are also believed to be operating.
Moscow said at the time that they will remain in the country “for as long as needed.”
The highly publicised move was seen as a show of support for Maduro, who has been locked in a months-long power struggle with opposition leader Juan Guaido.
In January, Guaido declared himself acting president, claiming Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.
More than 50 countries led by the United States lined up behind national assembly head Guaido, but Russia and China have backed Maduro.
In early June, the Wall Street Journal said Russia has cut its staff in Venezuela to just a few dozen, from about 1,000 at the height of cooperation between Moscow and Caracas several years ago.
The pullout was due to a lack of fresh contracts and the realisation that Maduro’s regime no longer has the money to pay for Moscow’s services, the newspaper said.
Russia denied the report at the time.
After the report Trump tweeted that “Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela,” which Moscow denied.
Published in World

Government has paid US$10 million to South African power utility, Eskom, and paid off $20 million to Zesa Holdings to clear its debt.

Zesa Holdings is also expected to get an advance of $20 million from Government, in a move expected to improve power generation.

This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in Harare while addressing journalists on decisions reached during Tuesday’s 25th June Cabinet meeting.

“Cabinet was advised by the Minister of Energy and Power Development that Treasury has now fully paid off Government’s debt obligation to Zesa, which was around RTGS$20 million.

“A further RTGS$20 million is due to be advanced to Zesa by Treasury, in order to boost power generation by the utility. This, together with the payment of US$10 million to Eskom, should help alleviate the current power supply situation,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Responding to journalists, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi said the money will go a long way in power generation to ease deficit.

Minister Chasi

“We will hold discussions to ensure that the money is applied on areas of generation, part of which is production of coal which is key to generation of thermal (energy). So that is significant, we are expecting another RTGS$20 million, we already have a plan on its utilisation. We need a plan for power in Zimbabwe, a plan that recognises we have a deficit,” said Minister Chasi.

He said the ministry’s long-term plan was to export upon generating excess power.

He commended the Government for clearing its debt, saying it had led by example.

“We need to address load-shedding which is also causing hardships to the public. I am not at the moment able to say specifically what we are going to get from Eskom. We are engaged with them, we have made a significant payment; we should get some relief from that quarter.

“If we are able to get the 400MW, that would be good. It will deal with the cycle of consumption that we experience everyday that has occasioned load-shedding,” said Minister Chasi.

“We are coming up with a programme to install meters, so that we manage our consumption. We are also looking at efforts to disengage as many as possible of our consumers from the grid during the day which means we really have to look at the issue of solar in a direct way.”

He implored Zesa consumers to pay their debts.

“It is very easy to criticise Zesa but what does it mean when there is a bill of $1,2 billion on power utility which is at the nerve centre of our economy?” he said.

He said Kariba Dam level was now at 28 percent.

Turning to Zesa management, Minister Chasi said there was need for proper governance at the power utility.

“Zesa must be properly governed and we are working on that. We need proper management by people who appreciate the work that they are involved in.

“My position is clear. If you are complicity in conduct that causes loss or damage to Zesa or people of Zimbabwe in general you must answer for it.

“We have just completed studying the forensic report and anyone who has a case must answer and anyone who must leave Zesa must do so. We want people with the national interest at heart,” said Minister Chasi.


Source: The Herald Zimbabwe

Published in Engineering
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has identified a new risk that Boeing Co must address on its 737 MAX before the grounded jet can return to service, the agency said on Wednesday.
The risk was discovered during a simulator test last week and it is not yet clear if the issue can be addressed with a software upgrade or will require a more complex hardware fix, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The FAA did not elaborate on the latest setback for Boeing, which has been working to get its best-selling airplane back in the air following a worldwide grounding in March in the wake of two deadly crashes within five months.
The new issue means Boeing will not conduct a certification test flight until July 8 in a best-case scenario, the sources said, but one source cautioned it could face further delays beyond that. The FAA will spend at least two to three weeks reviewing the results before deciding whether to return the plane to service, the people said.
Last month, FAA representatives told members of the aviation industry that approval of the 737 MAX jets could happen as early as late June.
The world’s largest planemaker has been working on the upgrade for a stall-prevention system known as MCAS since a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October, when pilots were believed to have lost a tug of war with software that repeatedly pushed the nose down.
A second deadly crash in March in Ethiopia also involved MCAS. The two accidents killed a total of 346 people.
“On the most recent issue, the FAA’s process is designed to discover and highlight potential risks. The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate,” the FAA said in the statement emailed to Reuters. “The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so.”
Boeing said in a securities filing late on Wednesday that the FAA has asked it to address through software changes a specific flight condition not covered in the company’s already-unveiled software changes.
The U.S. plane maker also said it agreed with the FAA’s decision and request, and was working on a fix to address the problem
“Boeing will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service,” Boeing wrote in the filing.
The FAA also said on Wednesday that it continues “to evaluate Boeing’s software modification to the MCAS and we are still developing necessary training requirements. We also are responding to recommendations received from the Technical Advisory Board. The TAB is an independent review panel we have asked to review our work regarding 737 Max return to service.”
American Airlines Group Inc and Southwest Airlines Co earlier cancelled flights through early September as a result of the grounding. On Wednesday, United Airlines said it also was removing MAX flights from its schedule through Sept. 3.
Published in Travel & Tourism

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been trying without success to take custody of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir for more than a decade. In April, al-Bashir was removed from power, and in June he appeared before a Sudanese court on corruption charges.

Following al-Bashir’s fall, the ICC has reinvigorated its call for his extradition. This is fraught with danger, however, because it requires that the ICC cooperate with the men who have taken charge in Sudan, who are themselves deeply implicated in the very acts that al-Bashir is accused of. Such cooperation risks damaging the ICC’s reputation and legitimising a criminal regime.

Ten years ago the ICC indicted Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, together with four others, for the genocide in Darfur. But neither Sudan – nor any other state – would turn him over. In 2014, the ICC suspended its investigations in Darfur because neither Sudan nor the UN Security Council were co-operating. It was the Security Council that had referred the situation in Darfur to the court in 2005.

Even though the ICC has stopped its investigations in Darfur, the case against al-Bashir continued to trigger several political imbroglios for the court. Pressure on South Africa to arrest the visiting al-Bashir in 2015 led to the country’s near exit from the Court. The ICC ultimately determined not to punish South Africa’s non-cooperation.

Earlier this year the ICC Appeals Chamber issued its latest decision on questions involving noncooperation regarding al-Bashir, this time against against Jordan. Again the court articulated its right to try state sovereigns while determining not to sanction the uncooperative member state.

Thus before al-Bashir’s fall from power, his indictment had developed into a lose-lose situation for the Court and its proponents. On the one hand, the situation that prompted the indictment – the genocide in Darfur – was ongoing and unaddressed by the court. On the other hand, any action the ICC could take against al-Bashir was politically costly, continuing to weaken an institution already under threat.

From the frying pan into the fire

Late last year protesters began assembling in cities across Sudan, calling for al-Bashir’s resignation. Some were killed, others beaten and arrested. Nevertheless the Sudanese authorities also showed restraint, and stories of soldiers protecting protesters against security forces made international headlines.

In April, amid much celebration, al-Bashir was removed from power by a military council.

But the euphoria was short lived. In the two months since his removal, demonstrations have intensified, seeking to pressure the military council which deposed him to relinquish power. This interim government is nominally led by Lt General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, an unknown figure with experience fighting in Yemen and with ties to the Rapid Support Force, the paramilitary group responsible for ongoing atrocities in Darfur. But, real power is said to lie with his second in command, Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo (known as Hemeti whose forces now control Khartoum.

On June 3 Hemeti’s fighters killed more than 100 protesters and raped and sexually abused dozens of people. As Alaa Salah, the woman pictured in the iconic, April 2019 photo of peaceable Sudanese protests, told The New York Times,

For years Hemeti killed and burned in Darfur. Now Darfur has come to Khartoum.

Hemeti has contested the numbers but not the aim of the violence, saying,

We will not allow chaos and we will not go back on our convictions. There is no way back. We must impose the respect of the country by law.

For Sudan, for now, that seems to be the law of the armed and not the rule of law.

The question of prosecution

In May, prosecutors in Sudan announced that al-Bashir would be tried for corruption, financing terror, and for protest deaths. This answered concerns that a comfortable retirement was being planned for him.

But, conspicuously absent from the listed crimes are atrocities committed in Darfur and elsewhere – in other words the charges the ICC has laid against al-Bashir and four others. This means that local prosecutions will not address the international criminal law violations al-Bashir is accused of.

Against this backdrop, the ICC has now renewed calls for al-Bashir’s arrest. Speaking to the UN Security Council on 19 June 2019, the ICC prosecutor urged:

now is the time to act. Now is the time for the people of Sudan to choose law over impunity and ensure that the ICC suspects in the Darfur situation finally face justice in a court of law.

Her request is the immediate handover of al-Bashir and the four associates named in the 2009 arrest warrant.

But what would ICC prosecution of al-Bashir and his four associates mean, at this point?

In the present situation, the prosecutor’s articulation of “fighting impunity” rings hollow. This is because cooperation with the Sudanese government to try al-Bashir would mean cooperating with – even possibly legitimising – those who themselves have been implicated in genocide. This is a problem the ICC has faced, and failed, before.

Moreover, focusing resources on obtaining a post-power al-Bashir in the midst of ongoing atrocities by the governing authorities may strengthen a developing critique that the ICC is not objective and neutral, but rather political, pursuing foremost those who are not strong. The ICC’s recent determination not to move forward with investigations of US conduct in Afghanistan has bolstered this view.

The ICC asserts that it is “building a more just world”. But action that legitimises or strengthens authoritarian rule or criminal regimes does not serve that aim.

At this juncture, the ICC needs to ask itself a cost-benefit question: would the benefit of trying a defunct dictator who is already facing a future in jail override the detriment of legitimising a genocidal ruling authority? Is it worth getting your man, if you jeopardise your mission?The Conversation


Kerstin Carlson, Associate Professor International Law, University of Southern Denmark

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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