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Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, UAE elected to UN Security Council
11 June 2021, 6:25 PM

The UN General Assembly elected Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, and the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Security Council on Friday for a two-year term starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

All five countries ran unopposed for a spot on the 15-member body, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security. They will replace Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam.

To ensure geographical representation, seats are allocated to regional groups. But even if candidates are running unopposed in their group, they still need to win the support of more than two-thirds of the UN General Assembly.

Ghana received 185 votes, Gabon 183 votes, UAE 179 votes, Albania 175 votes and Brazil 181 votes.

The Security Council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions like imposing sanctions and authorizing use of force. It has five permanent veto-wielding members – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.

UK rapper takes his anti-plastic rhymes to G7 summit
11 June 2021, 5:23 PM

It was when he was clearing a beach of plastic debris that rapper Jimmy Hall felt he had to put into words his sense of despair at the growing environmental crisis facing his generation.

“After a beach clean, I just felt so frustrated by the amount of plastic that I was seeing and I just needed to get it out and that was that was my way,” Hall, who performs under the name SunnyJim, said.

The 25 year-old was speaking to Reuters after delivering his Plastic Wrap rhyme to around 30 young demonstrators who gathered outside a media centre in Falmouth, southwestern England, for journalists covering the Group of Seven leaders’ summit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden and the other G7 leaders were meeting 25 miles away in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay for their three-day summit at which they will discuss their plans to slow climate change.

“Young people, younger than me and my age, we realise that we’re the ones who are going to have to deal with this, and our children are going to have to deal with this,” Hall, who is studying for a masters degree in marine environmental management, said.

“We saw with the pandemic how quickly the world can change when we really needed to,” he said. “But there are millions of people already seeing these threats in less economically developed countries.”

In his rap, Hall laments the consumer-driven economy and its waste: “The creation of a nation, built on unsustainable foundations, aimlessly generating generations of waste by the second, conveniently blinded by convenience, but ignorant to the disposal, ship it off far away, maybe dump some in the ocean, most efficient way to turn those mountains into mole-hills.”

Cruise lines say no change on sailing plans after new COVID-19 cases
11 June 2021, 5:09 PM

Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Corp will push ahead with a return to cruises this summer despite two guests onboard Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Millennium ship testing positive for COVID-19.

A year after several cruise ships were host to major coronavirus outbreaks and with large numbers of Americans now vaccinated, cruise lines have been striving to get business going.

Shares in Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which booked massive losses last year as restrictions brought cruising to a standstill, fell between 1% and 2% in response to the report of the positive tests.

Asked by Reuters on Friday, Royal Caribbean declined to give more details on the guests who had tested positive or the circumstances of their infection, saying only that it was not changing its plans for the summer.

A source close to Carnival who declined to be named said the company was also pressing ahead as planned.

Celebrity Millennium, one of the first ships in North America to restart sailing, said on Thursday the individuals were asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by medics. The company was also conducting contact tracing and expediting testing for all close contacts.

All guests on Celebrity Millennium were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test before sailing from St. Maarten this past Saturday.

“I don’t believe it is that much of an issue and actually is an opportunity for Royal to show how it handles what is the biggest post-pandemic fear,” Tigress Financial Partners Chief Investment Officer Ivan Feinseth said.

Cruise lines are in discussions with Florida, from where some trips will sail, as the state’s governor pushed against people having to show proof of vaccine. Trips are scheduled to start in June and early July, sailing to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Alaska.

Cruise expert Stewart Chiron, who is on board the Celebrity Millennium ship, told Reuters that life onboard on Thursday night had gone on as planned, with dinners, shows, and evening entertainment. He said no one on board was wearing masks.

Hidden in plain sight: Persons with albinism fighting the odds every day
11 June 2021, 4:02 PM

By Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize

People with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalization and social exclusion. This leads to various forms of stigma and discrimination.

International Albinism Awareness Day 2021 falls on 13 June every year. The importance of this day cannot be overstated, but is often overlooked due to persons with albinism being considered outsiders, or outcasts who do not deserve a voice.

In some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths, heavily influenced by superstition, puts the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world.

South Africans living with albinism are among the most marginalised and vulnerable of the country’s citizens, yet very little attention is given to protecting them from human rights violations, threats and violent crime. This applies moreso to children with albinism who are often kidnapped and murdered as part of barbaric practises. During Child Protection Week, the plight of children with albinism comes up because parents of these children are even afraid to send them to school, in fear of them being kidnapped and murdered.

Maureen Mswela in her study on violence against persons with albinism writes: Although the extent of violent crimes targeting South Africans with this condition has not reached the levels encountered in some other African countries, new evidence indicates a surge in violent crimes against persons with albinism. The vulnerability of these persons requires immediate attention before it spirals out of control. It is clear that a case is to be made for compelling, in particular, the state to intervene.

While the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa recognises equality before the law and allows everyone the benefit of protection under law, the plight of persons with albinism within communities is a far reality from this. Equality and non-discrimination are sometimes utopian concepts for many with albinism who face constant discrimination, emotional abuse, and violence.

The impacts of albinism are particularly serious in areas that associate albinism with legend and folklore, leading to stigmatisation and discrimination. In regions of Africa, those with albinism may be assaulted and killed for their body parts for use in witchcraft-related rites or to make ‘lucky’ charms. There is a dearth of research on the psychosocial aspects of albinism and particularly on how albinism impacts on the everyday lives of people with albinism.

Those living with albinism grow up living a life of fear as stories of being kidnapped and violence are drilled into them for their own safety. This may lead to deep emotional and mental problems, including but not limited to trust issues, and living in fear.

The United Nations defines Albinism as a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited difference present at birth. In almost all types of albinism, both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on, even if they do not have albinism themselves. The condition is found in both sexes regardless of ethnicity and in all countries of the world. Albinism results in a lack of pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. As a result, almost all people with albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer. There is no cure for the absence of melanin that is central to albinism.

While numbers vary, it is estimated that in North America and Europe 1 in every 17,000 to 20,000 people have some form of albinism. The condition is much more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, with estimates of 1 in 1,400 people being affected in Tanzania and prevalence as high as 1 in 1,000 reported for select populations in Zimbabwe and for other specific ethnic groups in Southern Africa. Available statistics point to there being approximately 12 000 affected individuals in South Africa, however this number can be much higher due to unregistered births, as well as parents with children with albinism fleeing to South Africa to seek protection for their children.

The lack of melanin means persons with albinism are highly vulnerable to developing skin cancer. In some countries, a majority of persons with albinism die from skin cancer between 30 and 40 years of age. Skin cancer is highly preventable when persons with albinism enjoy their right to health.

This includes access to regular health checks, sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing. In a significant number of countries, these life-saving means are unavailable or inaccessible to them. Consequently, in the realm of development measures, persons with albinism have been and are among those “left furthest behind.” Therefore, they ought to be targeted for human rights interventions in the manner envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has not left the lives of persons with albinism untouched. Apart from outrageous beliefs that bad luck brought on by persons with albinism may lead to community members falling sick, or contracting COVID-19, persons with albinism have also had supply lines for protective creams and clothing impacted due to the lockdown.

I really appeal to every South African Citizen with and without disabilities, private and public sector, government departments and local municipalities, to hold hands with the Department to ensure that together, we continue to build communities inclusive of disability rights. Wherever you are, I ask that you include persons with albinism in your social circles, and ensure that your children are educated not to discriminate against children with albinism at their schools. Addressing the stigma affecting persons with albinism will go a long way in them fully enjoying their rights within communities.

Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize is Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

South Africa beat Uganda 3-2 in friendly match
10 June 2021, 9:38 PM

The new Bafana Bafana technical team will be pleased with the second performance of their team against Uganda in an international friendly match on Thursday evening.

After a disappointing first half, Bafana Bafana came back strong in the last 45 minutes to beat a spirited Uganda 3-2 at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Both countries were using the match as part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in September.

Bafana Bafana who are in a rebuilding phase had 8 debutants in their starting lineup with captain Ronwen Williams, Innocent Maela and Lebohang Maboe – the only three players with previous international experience.

COVID-19 cases

Earlier in the week, the first assistant coach, Cedormir Janevski, tested positive for COVID-19. The Macedonian mentor becomes the seventh member of the team to be released from his duties due to health concerns.

Team doctor, Tshepo Molobi, gave a detailed breakdown of Janevski’s condition after receiving the second round of test results of the entire team.

 

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