MEC Albert Fritz launches Western Cape Social Development Child Protection Week, 29 May

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Child Protection Week door-to-door event in Mitchells Plain

Tomorrow, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz will officially launch the departments Child Protection Week commemoration with a door-to-door awareness activity in Mitchells Plain.

The Minister will be joined by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, along with social workers from the Department of Social Development (DSD) local office in Mitchells Plain, social work officials from NGO partners and local religious leaders.

This year’s provincial theme for Child Protection Week is, Child Protection is Everyone’s Business.

Recent cases in the Western Cape of child abuse and murder, have shone the spotlight on the plight of many children in the province. DSD continues to devote the largest share of its budget to rendering services to children and families � R651 million this year. Child protection cannot however be the role of the government alone.

Source: Government of South Africa

Europe Left Uneasy by Trump’s Message

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ROME � White House press spokesman Sean Spicer declared Saturday night Donald Trump’s first overseas trip as U.S. president had been a success in a tweet posted as the American leader was flying back to Washington after very productive 9 days.

Just hours earlier President Trump told American troops stationed in Sicily he had strengthened bonds with allies.

That isn’t how Europe leaders and most of the continent’s media see it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spelled out publicly her fears that the traditional western alliance is now under threat both from the Trump presidency and Brexit.

Speaking at a rally in Germany, she said: The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.

While acknowledging that Germany and Europe should strive to maintain good relations with the U.S. and Britain, Merkel also said, We need to know we must fight for our own future as Europeans for our destiny.

European reaction � especially in the key capitals of Berlin and Paris � to the Trump visit is very different from the White House’s characterization; and “success” isn’t a word being used.

European officials say they now are convinced Europe will have to go it alone more � something they expected would be the case after Trump was elected.

For them, Washington is no longer the dependable ally. And that broadly has been the view of Europe’s press. Headlines all week have been providing a counterpoint to the White House version of meetings. Belgium’s Le Soir headlined one front-page story: Trump shoves his allies.

And Germany’s financial newspaper Handelsblatt dubbed him Boor-in-Chief.

Disappointment

The Europeans had hoped Trump’s visit might mark a reset in transatlantic relations roiled by his election � that the U.S. president would be persuaded to see the world through their eyes more. But from Brussels to Sicily, there were uneasy smiles, awkwardness and no disguising rifts on a range of issues � from trade and immigration to sanctions on Russia and climate change.

European leaders and officials complained to the media that Trump and his advisers were ignorant of basic facts, notably on transatlantic trade. Every time we talked about a country, he remembered the things he had done, one official told Belgium’s Le Soir. Scotland? He said he had opened a club. Ireland? He said it took him two-and-a-half years to get a license and that did not give him a very good image of the EU.

German officials told Suddeutsche Zeitung that Trump and his aides were under the impression America had separate trade deals with each individual EU country.

‘America First’ message

France’s Le Monde newspaper said: During this visit, President Trump maintained his line ‘America First,’ refusing to take a step to improve U.S.-European relations. It faulted him for failing to make a clear statement reaffirming Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, guaranteeing mutual assistance in the event of armed attack, and for lecturing European leaders on financial burden-sharing.

The German magazine Der Spiegel pounced on the closing photo-op of a midweek meeting between Trump and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron in which the two men appeared locked in a hand-wrestling match as a visual metaphor of the U.S. president’s European trip.

The Frenchman grabbed Trump’s hand and squeezed hard, the magazine noted. Trump squeezed back. For a moment, they looked like opponents locked in a wrestling match. Trump wanted to let go, but Macron squeezed even harder until his knuckles turned white, was the Der Spiegel’s description of an iconic almost sumo-like standoff between the two leaders.

Body language

Other European media outlets focused their attention on the shove President Trump gave Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, in order to position himself to the front for a group photo-opportunity of NATO leaders.

Aside from body-language, European media attention Saturday focused on the brevity of the communique concluding the two-day G-7 summit in Sicily Saturday � half-a-dozen pages long, compared to 32 pages last year � which many editorial writers saw as advertising the absence of consensus between the U.S. and the other G-7 members.

Trump’s refusal to reaffirm the 2015 Paris pact on climate change aimed at reining in greenhouse gas emissions was the headline dispute of the G-7 summit in the cliff-top town of Taormina on Sicily’s Ionian coast, but European commentators noted that across the board there was very little meeting of minds.

Italian newspapers noted the disappointment of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in his efforts to get U.S. backing for a new partnership between G-7 nations and Africa involving aid and investment in a bid to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean.

Deadlock over climate change

European newspapers have now taken to dubbing the G-7 as “G-6 plus one” � a characterization prompted partly by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks on the summit deadlock over climate change.

The whole discussion on the topic of climate was very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory, Merkel said as the summit of the leaders of the world’s most economically advanced nations was drawing to a close. Here we have a situation of six against one, meaning there is still no sign of whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris accord or not,” she added.

The Guardian newspaper’s Jon Henley, the paper’s European affairs correspondent, argued in his assessment of Trump’s visit: It may, mercifully, have passed off without apocalyptic mishap, but Donald Trump’s first transatlantic trip as U.S. president still left European leaders shaken.

Source: Voice of America

Two Influential Somali Clerics Reject Violence as Ramadan Begins

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Based on confirmed sightings of Ramadan’s new moon crescent, millions of Muslims around the world are fasting on the first day of the holy month. According to Islam, the sighting of the new moon marks the beginning of the Muslim lunar month of Ramadan.

Thirty-three countries, mainly those in which the majority of residents are Sunni Muslims, officially started Ramadan on Saturday. Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq declared Sunday to be their first day of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, which is the holiest and the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims abstain from food, drink, sex and immoral acts from sunrise to sunset. It is one of the most important Muslim practices � the Five Pillars of Islam � and just the second below the shahada, which is the sincere recitation of the Muslim profession of faith.

In Ramadan, fasting and carrying out the other Islamic obligations provide the framework of a Muslim’s life.

But in contrast with these Islamic values, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in the world, like al-Shabab in Somalia, use the holy month to call for more violence against the West and other Muslim counties by attacking innocents and civilians.

This year, Ramadan begins as the world mourns the loss of innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt.

Messages from clerics

Moderate Muslim clerics across the world started Ramadan with messages to the world emphasizing that acts of terrorism and violence are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan.

“Ramadan is a month of peace, love and respect for all, but not a month of violence and bloodshed. Those calling for mayhem do not represent Islam and Muslims,” said Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, an influential cleric and the chairman of the Council of Religious Scholars of Somalia.

In Britain, Muslim leaders called for calm and special prayers for the victims of the Manchester bombing.

Muslims in America are observing Ramadan this year for the first time under President Donald Trump. In a statement on Ramadan, Trump focused on violence and terrorism.

“At its core, the spirit of Ramadan strengthens awareness of our shared obligation to reject violence, to pursue peace, and to give to those in need who are suffering from poverty or conflict,” Trump’s statement said.

Imam Sharif Mohamed of Islamic Civic Society of America at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis said the president’s message was different from the Ramadan massages of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

“Unlike Obama and George Bush, Trump mainly focused on the fight against terrorism in his Ramadan statement,” said Sharif. “His statement only represented his election campaign and the anti-Muslim rhetoric he was notorious with.”

Taking Heart

In Minnesota, the Muslim American Society and Minnesota Council of Churches continue a program called Taking Heart to bring Christians and members of other faith communities together with Muslims for food and conversation.

“For many years, Minnesota mosques and Islamic Community Centers and mosques like ours, we have been running such programs where we sit with non-Muslim neighbors for a traditional Ramadan iftar, inviting a time of learning and encounter,” Sharif said.

“Our faith, Islamic faith, obliges us to follow the message of tolerance, co-existence, and to publicly condemn violence, extremism, any form of that,” he said.

Growing in popularity, Taking Heart saw more than 800 non-Muslims attend open-house iftar dinners in 2016.

Source: Voice of America

XuetangX and Lagos University Launch Online Education Platform

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BEIJING, May 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — During the celebration of the “International Engineering Education Forum” Dr. Nie Fenghua, the Deputy Director of the China Ministry of Education Online Education Research Center, and the Chairman of XuetangX, together with Prof. Funso Falade, who is the Chairman of the African Engineering Education Association, jointly released the Lagos University Online […]

Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala table Communications Budget Vote 2017/18, 26 May

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Department of Communications Budget Vote 2017/18Today, Friday, 26 May at 10h00, the Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo and Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala will table the Department of Communication Budget Vote for the 2017/18 financial yea…

Congo Opposes International Probe of UN Investigators’ Deaths

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KINSHASA � Democratic Republic of Congo opposes an international investigation into the deaths of two U.N. investigators, the foreign minister said on Thursday, amid

mounting criticism of the Congolese authorities’ own probe.

Congolese military prosecutors announced last weekend that two suspected militiamen would soon face trial for the March killings of U.N. investigators Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and American Michael Sharp in the insurrection-plagued Kasai region.

Rights groups, however, say they suspect Congolese forces could have been involved in the deaths.

A U.N. spokesman on Tuesday cast doubt on the credibility of the Congolese investigation, saying the world body was “taken aback at the rapidity at which it was done.”

A U.N. board of inquiry is investigating the experts’ deaths but is not expected to assign blame, leading some rights campaigners to call for a formal international investigation.

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times on Thursday, Catalan and Sharp’s families also called for an “independent international criminal investigation team to … help ensure that those responsible face justice”.

Congo’s foreign minister, Leonard She Okitundu, rejected any such investigation in an interview with Radio France Internationale and accused unnamed U.N. Security Council members of trying to discredit the Congolese justice system.

“Congolese expertise in this matter must be respected,” She Okitundu said.

The New York Times had reported on Sunday that Catalan had obtained a recording of a phone call in which ex-development minister Clement Kanku speaks approvingly of violence perpetrated by a local militia to a presumed militia member.

According to the Times, Catalan had informed Kanku she was in possession of the recording. Congo’s attorney general said on Tuesday he had opened an investigation into the former minister’s possible role in militia violence. Kanku has denied any wrongdoing.

Catalan and Sharp disappeared in March in central Congo’s Kasai region, where hundreds have died since last July in an insurrection against the government. Their bodies were found two weeks later in a shallow grave.

Last month, the government screened a video for journalists showing their executions by men wearing red headbands characteristic of the local Kamuina Nsapu militia to rebuff suggestions authorities were complicit in the killings.

But many analysts say the grainy and highly edited video raises more questions than it answers, including why the assassins from the Tshiluba-speaking militia gave orders in Lingala, the language of western Congo and the army.

The investigators’ interpreter and three motorcycle taxi drivers who went missing with them have not been found.

Source: Voice of America