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People living with albinism
SA commemorate International Albinism Awareness Day
14 June 2021, 12:08 AM

People living with albinism who face daily discrimination and attacks say they are tired of living in fear.

As the world observes International Albinism Awareness Day, people with albinism in Pampierstad in the Northern Cape are calling for an end to discrimination and violence against them.

This year the day is observed under the theme “Strength beyond all odds”. Myths surrounding albinism have placed the lives of innocent people in danger.

Albinism is simply a genetic condition where a person is born without the usual pigment in their bodies.

Also children living with albinism say they find it hard to adapt in a society that shuns them.

Observing International Albinism Day with Nomasonto Mazibuko:


Tshegofatso Keitsemore who has a child with albinism runs an organisation that supports those with the skin condition. She says she wants her child to live freely like other children.

“My child goes to mainstream schools so that she can feel like others.”

Not only do people with albinism face hate from outside – even in families. Northern Cape Social Development MEC Nontobeko Vilakazi says also fathers in the community run away from their children with albinism.”

Those with albinism say they hope for a day where they would not need to explain the reason for their existence.

They urge communities to stop the ignorance and equip themselves with knowledge on albinism.

UK’s queen joined by cousin for ‘Trooping the Colour’ event
13 June 2021, 4:21 AM

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth viewed a scaled-down military ceremony at Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday on Saturday, her first since the death of her husband Prince Philip two months ago.

The 95-year-old monarch was accompanied by her cousin Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, for a socially-distanced version of the ‘Trooping the Colour’, a ceremony which has been staged for more than 260 years.

Philip, Elizabeth’s husband for more than 70 years, died in April.

The event comes a day after the queen hosted leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations for a reception in Cornwall, southwest England, where they are holding a three-day summit.

On Sunday, the queen will also meet US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill for tea at Windsor before he heads off for further meetings in Europe.

Normally, ‘Trooping the Colour’ involves soldiers in their scarlet uniforms and tall bearskin hats parading through central London, but for the last two years it has had to be scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, soldiers from the Household Division and The Queen’s Colour of F Company Scots Guards took part in the ceremony in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the queen’s home to the west of London where she has spent most of her time since the pandemic outbreak.

It was followed by a 41-gun salute fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic display team.

The queen’s actual birthday is April 21, but her birthday is officially marked in June.

Bitcoin law is only latest head-turner by El Salvador’s ‘millennial’ President
13 June 2021, 3:13 AM

The young president of small Central American nation El Salvador leapt to worldwide fame this week after his country became the first in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, but Nayib Bukele is no stranger to controversy.

Cryptocurrency fans across the globe celebrated when his bill was swiftly approved by lawmakers on Wednesday, and when the 39-year-old leader followed up with a plan to mine energy from volcanoes to power the massive data centers needed to mint the digital currency.

The move did not escape scrutiny. The International Monetary Fund quickly flagged economic and legal risks to the unprecedented use of bitcoin in the small economy.

From firing officials via Twitter to entering Congress with heavily armed soldiers, Bukele has tended to ruffle establishment feathers since he became president in 2019.

He swept congressional and local elections in February and enjoys an approval rating of over 90% despite the economy shrinking by 8% last year. His alliance won a historic supermajority, crushing the two parties that had dominated Salvadoran politics for 30 years.

Just weeks before adopting bitcoin brought him a new international spotlight, Bukele fell out with the Biden administration after the new Congress summarily removed the attorney general and top judges from office.

He says all his actions are constitutional and backed by popular mandate.

The top prosecutor had been investigating government officials. Bukele also closed an anticorruption office he himself had opened.

India cuts taxes on medicines and equipment to treat COVID-19
13 June 2021, 2:15 AM

India on Saturday cut taxes on medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators and drugs used to treat COVID-19 infections, after widespread criticism over healthcare costs during a devastating second wave of the virus in April and May.

The government cut taxes on medical grade oxygen, ventilators, the remdesivir antiviral drug, diagnostic kits, pulse oximeters and hand sanitizers to 5% from 12-18% with immediate effect.

The new levies will be in place until the end of September, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding it would include taxes on electric furnaces in crematoriums and ambulances.

“The rate cut has not be done with any cost implication (on government finances) in mind, it has been done so that people get some ease….the decision has been taken to provide ultimate ease to patients,” Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj told a news conference.

The government, however, would continue to tax vaccines at 5%, he added.

The world’s second-most populous country, where coronavirus cases hit a peak of 400 000 a day in May, reported 84 332 new infections on Saturday, the lowest in more than two months, data from the health ministry showed. There were 4 002 deaths.

The South Asian country’s total COVID-19 cases stands at 29.4 million, with 367 081 fatalities.

During the second wave of the virus many people resorted to costly private treatment in what is still a low-income country.

Others paid twenty times the usual price for oxygen cylinders on the black market and huge sums to secure ambulances and hearses.

Experts have said millions of people remain vulnerable to new surges of infections, particularly in the countryside where two-thirds of the population lives.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the government would take over the inoculation programme from Indian states and offer free doses to everyone over the age of 18.

The government would allow private hospitals to have 25% of all vaccine supplies, but not to charge more than $2.06 over the cost of the dose, he said.

People take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers, Algeria.
Low turnout as Algerians vote in parliamentary election
13 June 2021, 1:05 AM

Algeria held parliamentary elections on Saturday that the ruling establishment hopes will turn a page on political unrest amid a crackdown on dissent, but even by mid afternoon few people had voted.

Two years after mass demonstrations forced a veteran president to step down in Algeria’s biggest political crisis for decades, the authorities are still struggling to quell the protest movement.

Saturday’s vote followed a presidential election in 2019 and a referendum on an amended constitution last year, but many Algerians still think real power is wielded by the army and security forces.

Polls closed at 19: 00 GMT and results are expected on Sunday. The election authority said only 14.5% of voters had cast ballots with four hours left to vote. By comparison, some 33% had voted with three hours left to vote in the 2019 election, when final turnout was 40%.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said decisions were made by the majority of those who voted, regardless of turnout.

“This election is a new step to build a new Algeria,” he said after voting outside the capital, Algiers.

Schoolteacher Ali Djemai, 33, started queuing early to cast his vote in the city. “We hope the next parliament will be a force pressing for change that the majority want,” he said.

But in the Kabylie region, often a focus of political opposition, riot police guarded polling stations where activists sought to burn ballot boxes and some voting centres closed early.

The “Hirak” protest movement that forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika from the presidency two years ago wants to oust the old ruling elite and stop the army interfering in politics. It sees any elections before that as a charade.

“Elections will not give the regime legitimacy, and repression and arrests will not stop the people’s peaceful revolution,” said Samir Belarbi, a prominent Hirak figure.

Though the government publicly welcomed Hirak as a movement of national renewal and jailed senior former officials, police also cracked down on it with arrests.

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