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Parliament to vote on Brexit deal in March: May
25 February 2019, 8:26 AM

British Prime Minister Theresa May says a second vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal will be conducted by March 12.

This is the latest delay in her attempt to win approval for a plan to ensure Britain’s orderly departure from the European Union.

On her way to Egypt for an EU-Arab League summit, the Prime Minister promised to seek changes that would allow lawmakers to ratify the agreement.

Britain is due to leave on March 29.

The EU has ruled out re-opening the Withdrawal Agreement, but its leaders are looking at a possible legal addendum to reassure lawmakers.

May says further meetings are scheduled in Brussels on securing changes to the deal.

“We’ve been working on how we can deal with the issue that has been raised by parliament of ensuring that the Northern Ireland backstop cannot be indefinite. We still have to within our grasp to leave the EU with a deal on the 29th of march.”

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SA ambassador calls for HRC to intervene in Semenya case
25 February 2019, 6:45 AM

South African ambassador to the United Nations, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko has called for the Human Rights Council to intervene and take action against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), as it deals with world and Olympic champion Caster Semenya‘s case.

This is as Deputy Minister of International Relations, Luwellyn Landers participates in a series of meetings at the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 40th Session in Geneva, Switzerland.

The HRC meets against the backdrop of numerous challenges in the world that impact on human rights, peace and security and development.

Mxakato-Diseko says the Human Rights Council has highlighted to the IAAF how Caster Semenya’s Rights are being violated.

“We want action to be taken by the human rights council, and the structures of the human rights council are already involved in the Caster Semenya issue. They wrote to the president of IAAF and pointed out human rights laws that are being violated by IAAF.”

The Deputy Minister for International Relations is expected to address the High Level Segment as the country marks the last year as a back to back member of the council.

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Man United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer considers enlisting Ferguson for team talk ahead of Liverpool clash
22 February 2019, 11:54 AM

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has joked that he might invite Alex Ferguson to deliver Manchester United’s team talk before their eagerly awaited Premier League meeting with Liverpool.

The legendary former United manager has acted as Solskjaer’s mentor since the Norwegian took over as the club’s interim boss in December.

Solskjaer’s impressive success in the role has made the visit of bitter rivals Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday an even bigger confrontation than might have been expected earlier in the season when United were struggling to find their form.

The former United striker believes his club is rebuilding their reputation in the game and, given the rivalry that used to exist between Ferguson and Liverpool, Solskjaer said he would summon the spirit of his old leader before kick-off.

“He would be welcome to have his talk to the players if he wanted to,” said Solskjaer.

“Because we know how much it meant for him to overtake Liverpool.

“For them, it’s a big game, for us, it’s a big game. We want to be in the top four and we know how big this game is for Manchester United, for the staff, for the supporters.

“We’re looking forward to another challenge for this team because we want to build this team into one worthy of Manchester United’s history.

“It’s another big step if we can do that at home. Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea were all fantastic wins away; now we have to perform at home as well.”

United’s stunning form under Solskjaer – 11 wins and a draw from 12-domestic games – has featured a dramatic return to form from French international midfielder Paul Pogba.

Last time United played Liverpool, in a 3-1 defeat at Anfield in Jose Mourinho’s final game as manager; Pogba was an unused substitute – an indication of how far he had fallen under Solskjaer’s predecessor.

Now, having been revitalised under the interim manager, Solskjaer believes Pogba is the best midfielder in the world of his type.

“If you build your team around Paul Pogba, I said a couple of years back before I thought I would be manager, he’s a top, top player I’ve always liked,” said Solskjaer.

“He’s a World Cup winner, a leader in dressing room, wants the ball all the time. My idea was to get him playing to the best of his abilities as an attacking midfielder.

“PSG man-marked him, other teams will. If Liverpool does, he will have experienced that. PSG stopped Paul and created space for others.

“There are different types of midfielders but in his mould there’s no-one near with his physical presence, his great close technique – his diving header against Chelsea, he did the same against Bournemouth when he ran from the halfway line.

“He can also spray passes when he is sitting in midfield, though I don’t think that’s his best position. But he can do that as well.”

United’s plans for the Liverpool game have been helped with the news that Pogba’s compatriot Anthony Martial and England attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard are making good recoveries from minor injuries – groin and hamstring, respectively.

Pope Francis
Catholic Church takes action against sexual assault
22 February 2019, 10:46 AM

There are about 30 reported cases of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests in South Africa. The Catholic Church anticipates that more people will come forward to report cases of sexual assault as the church finally takes action against the abuse that has been covered up for decades.

This comes as about 200 bishops from across the world are meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican for the first ever meeting to discuss sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.

Speaking to the SABC from the Vatican, the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka says South Africa set up structures to deal with the scourge twenty years ago and has been able to respond to reported cases immediately.

“Some you know they have been dealt with conclusively, some are still in the process they have not been concluded, I think there are about 30 cases. There are two that have caught the attention of many. Definitely, definitely, I wouldn’t be surprised if some cases come because there is a lot of fear, stigma and manipulation. When people begin to see that now this thing is being spoken about, it is likely that more people will come forward.”

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Kenya's Flag.
Disappointment as Kenya court delays decision on anti-gay laws
22 February 2019, 10:39 AM

Kenya’s High Court on Friday postponed a much-anticipated ruling on whether to scrap colonial-era laws which criminalise homosexuality, citing a heavy case load.

The delay was met with dismay by Kenya’s LGBT community and their allies, who have been anxiously awaiting a ruling on the petition, which was filed three years ago.

“The files are above my height… we are still working,” said Chacha Mwita, one of the judges, who added that one of his colleagues was on leave and that the three-judge bench were juggling multiple cases.

He set the decision for May 24.

“We plan to meet in April if all goes well and see whether we can come up with a decision. You do not appreciate what the judges are going through.”

Gay rights organisations are asking the court to scrap two sections of the penal code that criminalise homosexuality.

One section states that anyone who has “carnal knowledge… against the order of nature” can be imprisoned for 14-years. Another provides for a five-year jail term for “indecent practices between males”.

On social media Kenya’s LGBT community and allies have been anxiously counting down the hours to the ruling.

“To say we are disappointed would be an understatement,” the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council (NGLHRC), one of the petitioners, wrote on Twitter.

Prominent Kenyan commentator Patrick Gathara slammed a “sad, sad day” for the judiciary, describing the postponement as “ludicrous”.

Activists believe Kenya has a chance to blaze a trail in Africa where homophobia is virulent in many communities, with similar laws in over half the countries on the continent.

While convictions under the decades-old laws are rare, gay activists say the legislation is unconstitutional and fuels homophobic persecution.

Imani Kimiri of the NGLHRC’s legal team, told AFP her office dealt with 15-prosecutions under the laws in 2018, but cannot recall the last conviction – slamming the process as “just a frustrating endeavour”.

The petitioners argue that under Kenya’s 2010 constitution every person is said to be equal before the law – a protection directly contradicted by the disputed sections of the penal code.

Those who are blackmailed, evicted, fired, expelled from school, or assaulted over their sexual orientation, are unable to access justice because it means “confessing to a crime”, said Eric Gitari of the NGLHRC.

Activists were optimistic of a ruling in their favour, given recent decisions by the court.

In March, the High Court banned forced anal testing of men suspected of being gay.

And in September, a court ruled that “Rafiki” (friend), a film about a lesbian love affair which was the first Kenyan movie to be shown at the Cannes film festival, could be screened domestically for seven days after its initial banning.

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