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Nelson Mandela released from Victor Verster Prison 30 years ago
11 February 2020, 5:15 AM

Tuesday 11 February marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

Madiba spent the last 14 months of his 27-year jail term in the then Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.

Madiba walked out of the prison gates at the age of 71 amid huge excitement.

He later addressed thousands at the Grand Parade in the Cape Town CBD.

Madiba attributed his release to the struggle of the people of the country.

“Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today, I, therefore, place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver a speech from the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall on Tuesday, where former statesman Nelson Mandela delivered his address after his release from prison on 11 February 1990.

Ramaphosa’s speech forms part of a series of events taking place around the Western Cape to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the former president’s release from the Victor Verster prison in Paarl, which is now known as the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah have paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela. The Tutus praised the former statesman for his warmth and human values. In a statement, they said while circumstances and priorities change over time, good values are timeless. They say Mandela dazzled the world with his warmth and that they miss him.

Coronavirus case confirmed in California, takes US total to 13
11 February 2020, 5:08 AM

The 13th case of coronavirus in the United States was detected in California in an individual under federal quarantine after returning from Wuhan, China, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.

The adult patient was among US nationals evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, who were under mandatory quarantine for 14 days at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, near San Diego, local television station 10 News reported.

The individual was taken to the University of California San Diego Medical Center for treatment, 10 News said, citing an official familiar with the situation.

A hospital official declined to comment, but said the hospital would soon be releasing a statement.

“CDC is conducting a thorough contact investigation of the person who has tested positive to determine contacts and to assess if those contacts had high risk exposures,” the CDC said in a statement, without giving further details.

Hundreds of US nationals have been evacuated from Wuhan and flown to the Miramar base where they are subject to the CDC’s first public health quarantine in 50 years.



China reports 108 new coronavirus deaths on Feb. 10, total at 1,016
11 February 2020, 2:40 AM

China reported 108 new coronavirus deaths on February 10, the highest daily increase so far, and up from 97 on the previous day, the health authority said on Tuesday.

Of the new deaths, 103 were in the province of Hubei, including 67 in the provincial capital of Wuhan where the epidemic is believed to have originated.

The other fatalities on Monday were in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Anhui and Henan and the cities of Tianjin and Beijing, the National Health Commission said.

The total toll on the mainland has now reached 1,016.

The commission said there were another 2 478 new confirmed cases on the mainland on Feb. 10, down from 3 062 on the previous day and bringing the accumulated total to 42 638.

During a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, a group of leaders tasked with beating the virus said it would work to solve raw material and labour shortages and boost supplies of masks and protective clothing.

They said nearly 20 000 medical personnel from around the country had already been sent to Wuhan, and more medical teams were also on the way.

On Monday, China’s President Xi Jinping also appeared in public for the first time since the epidemic began, inspecting health workers in Beijing.


POLL: Biden’s support slumps to lowest on record
11 February 2020, 2:06 AM

Support for Joe Biden’s US Democratic presidential bid has tumbled nationally to the lowest on record since his lackluster finish in the Iowa caucuses,while interest is surging in the upstart candidacy of billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday.

The opinion poll taken from Thursday to Monday found that 17% of registered Democrats and independents said they would vote for Biden, down 5 percentage points from a similar poll that ran last week before Iowa held its first-in-the-nation nominating contest.

That level of support was the lowest recorded for Biden by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since the former vice president entered the race last April to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in this November’s election.

US Senator Bernie Sanders led all other candidates in the poll with 20% support, up a point from last week, while 15% supported Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, an increase of 6 points.

Eleven percent backed US Senator Elizabeth Warren, while 8% supported former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 5% backed businessman Andrew Yang and 3% supported US Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The poll underscores what has been a steady decline in support for Biden, who was considered until recently the favorite to win the party’s nomination.

Biden’s primary appeal to voters has been his argument that he is the most electable of all of the candidates.

Yet he finished in fourth place in Iowa, behind Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that Democrats and independents were now just as likely to believe that Sanders can win the November 3 election as they are Biden.

When asked which candidate was “most likely to beat President Trump,” 21% picked Biden, down 9 points from last week.

Another 21% said Sanders had the best chances to win, and 15% said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, who has not participated in the nationally televised debates and will not be on the ballot in many of the early statewide nominating contests, has instead banked his candidacy on his comparatively strong name recognition and millions of dollars of personal spending on campaign advertising.

The poll found that Bloomberg would beat Trump by 4 points among registered US voters if the two were running against each other in November’s election.

In comparison, Sanders would also beat Trump by 4 points and Biden would defeat the president by 2 points.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English,throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 952 registered voters, including 556 who identified as Democrats or independents.

The poll had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 5 percentage points.


UN sounds alarm over swarms of locusts in East Africa
11 February 2020, 1:42 AM

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over swarms of locusts in East Africa that could become the region’s next plague.

Speaking at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pointed to changes in the climate as the main cause and appealed for greater international support for financing, adaptation and resilience across the continent.

This while the UN’s Emergency Relief Co-ordinator and representatives from the Food and Agriculture warned of a major shock to food security if the response is not expeditious.

The locust swarms – billions of insects covering large swathes of territory – already threatening several East African countries. With breeding and migration from Ethiopia into Somalia’s south and beyond, with the latter already declaring a national emergency.

Guterres says: “There is also a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa. Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground. The FAO tells us a swarm the size of Paris will consume, in one day, as much food as half the population of France. I want to express my deep solidarity with the people and communities affected.”

Experts confirm the view, pointing to warming oceans and shifting rainfall patterns as a major reason for the outbreak with the locusts thought to have been carried to the Horn of Africa by storm rains from the Arabian Peninsular and beyond.

The effect is billions of these locusts are destroying farmlands and crops, eating in just one day the equivalent to that of 84 million people – in a vulnerable region already facing threats of devastating hunger and insecurity.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Dominque Burgeon says: “We have a situation in Kenya where we have 15 counties in North and central Kenya that are affected, we have also as of last night, we got report now we have in addition to Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia – we have Uganda and Tanzania that are also affected, so it’s spreading. So now we have in all these countries, we have mature, especially in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia – we have mature swarms that are laying eggs and we’re seeing that there is a new generation coming.”

Some 13 million people face acute food insecurity in the region with a further 20 million on the verge of a major shock.

The international funding appeal is for 76 million dollars but only 21 million has been received to date, including 10 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Fund.

The UN’s Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Mark Lowcock says: “Unless we get a grip of this in the new two, three or four week, we’re worried we’re going to have a really serious problem, we can make a lot of progress if we act now and FAO have put in place lots of the things that needed to be done to react now. The binding constraint is the money. And our plea really is for those member states and other organisations who are thinking something about this don’t think for too long.”

The planting season for East Africa usually starts around March or April adding urgency to reduce the locust burden on pastoral communities.

The FAO’s Dominique Burgeon warns that the new generation of locusts currently being bred could be more voracious as a result.”

“You have to realize when you look at the crop calendar of that part of the world, we are as we speak in between two planting seasons. So the locusts same before when it was towards the end of the previous cropping season, therefore damages in the previous seasons are relatively limited. Now, they are breeding big time and they will be ready I would say for very large damage as of March and April.”

Other nations threatened include South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti – countries that lack the capacity to respond to such threats.




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