Saharan dust turns skies orange over Europe

A large, brown swath of Saharan dust can be seen in numerous satellite images blanketing much of Portugal, Spain and France, leading to air quality concerns and hazy skies. The strong winds from Storm Celia off the northwest coast of Africa picked up dust from the Sahara desert and lofted it into the atmosphere. The southerly winds then pushed the dust northward into Europe, creating haunting scenes across the region.

On Tuesday, the European Environment Agency already measured dust concentrations in Spain over five times the European Union’s recommended threshold for air quality, according to Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation program. Air quality continues to be poor in the region today as well.

We will likely see more of these events in the near future. Climate change could be worsening the Saharan dust transport to Europe, as wind and precipitation patterns change as a result of warming temperatures of the land and ocean. Widespread desertification in Northern Africa and stronger winds over the Mediterranean could be making these dust events more intense, research has shown.

Satellite imagery from NASA shows the blanket of Saharan dust over Western and Central Europe.

— source | Mar 16, 2022

Nullius in verba

Burkina Faso’s ex-president Compaore handed life sentence in absentia over Sankara murder

Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaore was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for complicity in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara in a coup, a military tribunal ruled on Wednesday.

The charismatic Marxist revolutionary Sankara was gunned down in the West African nation’s capital Ouagadougou at the age of 37, four years after he took power in a previous putsch.

Two of Compaore’s former top associates, Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendere, were also sentenced to life imprisonment.

All three have previously denied involvement in Sankara’s death along with eleven other defendants accused of involvement in the plot. Three of the eleven were declared innocent

— source | Thiam Ndiaga | Apr 6, 2022

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Slavery of Jamaica

It wasn’t supposed to go like this. Usually, royal tours are full of cheering people lining the streets and gushy accounts of glamorous dresses. There has been some of that during the royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Caribbean. But there also have been protests, especially in Jamaica, where many people want the royal family to apologise for its role in institutionalising slavery on the island. To top it all off, it has also been reported this week that Jamaica has begun the process of removing the Queen as the head of state.

Such a reckoning with Britain and its state is long overdue. Jamaica in the 18th century was described by Charles Leslie as a “constant mine, whence Britain draws prodigious riches”. It contributed greatly to the wealth of individuals thousands of miles away, such as William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London and the owner of well over 1,000 enslaved people, whose statue still graces Guildhall in London. But more significantly, it enriched Britain by filling the coffers of the Treasury with money from taxes levied on sugar and rum. Britain was the greatest slave trader in the Atlantic world during the 18th century, sending nearly 1 million captive Africans to Jamaica between 1655 and 1807, resulting in a population of enslaved people barely over 300,000, due to horrific mortality rates. Black people suffered greatly for white people’s enjoyment of sweet things.

Kingston, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited, is the Ellis Island of forced migration to places that were colonised by the British in the 17th and 18th centuries.

— source | Trevor Burnard | 25 Mar 2022

do not personalize the slavery, its a systematic problem. not just limited to a so called royal family.

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Africa suffers devastating fallout from Ukraine war

From fuel to wheat, the invasion of Ukraine is already having a potentially devastating effect on prices across Africa.

In Sierra Leone, a West African country with a population of roughly 8 million people, the maximum cost of a litre of fuel went from 12,000 leones (93c) per litre to 15,000 (€1.16) on Thursday.

“As the geopolitical situation deteriorates in Europe, supply disruption[s] continue to hike oil prices, adversely affecting importing nations,” said Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Regulatory Agency.

The statement announcing the changes said the decision had been taken in consultation with the ministry of finance, ministry of trade and industry and oil marketing companies. Public transportation fares subsequently rose by roughly 25 per cent.

“It’s really difficult here,” said Salifu Bai Kamara, a keke taxi driver in Freetown. He raised his fares, but said many can’t afford them.

“Some people cannot pay, and some people beg,” he said.

— source | Sally Hayden | Mar 20, 2022

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US Remains Silent on Morocco’s Occupation of Western Sahara

While the Biden administration has condemned the Russian invasion of a sovereign, independent Ukraine, it has refused to similarly recognize or support Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Human rights groups have documented brutal suppression of pro-independence activists and the Indigenous population, known as Sahrawis. The disparity between U.S. treatment of the two countries reveals Western hypocrisy and discrimination when it comes to countries that are not white, Christian and European, says Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco. He adds that U.S. policy on Western Sahara emboldens Putin’s claims on Ukraine, as it shows the U.S. lacks principled opposition to illegal territorial expansion. “When Biden says that Russia has no right to unilaterally change international boundaries, that countries cannot expand their territory by force, he’s certainly correct. But he seems to think it’s OK if you’re a U.S. ally like Morocco.”

Trump recognized, formally recognized, Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara during his final weeks of his presidency. And like a number of impetuous Trump decisions, it was assumed that Biden would reverse it as soon as he came to office, particularly since a bipartisan group of congresspeople, career State Department officials and allied governments were encouraging him to do so. He has refused to do so, however.

The United States is virtually the only country in the world, the only country, to formally recognize Morocco’s illegal annexation. If you look at maps from the United Nations, from Google, from Rand McNally, National Geographic, whatever, they’re depicted as two separate countries. U.S. government maps, by contrast, show Western Sahara as part of Morocco, no demarcation

— source | Mar 21, 2022

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Who is the partner for Zim to collect taxes from companies like Facebook

Nothing leads to more delays and inefficiencies than a government department/parastatal trying to go it alone. It is therefore refreshing to see more and more public private partnerships in Zimbabwe.

We saw the Justice Service commission partner a globally known company to help establish a tech-first approach. Now, the government has partnered with another global player, this time to help collect taxes on its behalf.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) is responsible for collecting taxes and other revenues for the govt. But believe it or not, even with over a thousand employees, they are still understaffed. In a mostly informal economy, Zimra would have to employ half the population to keep track of every business venture in the country. Hence why we ended up getting the 2% tax.

Now, the 2% tax was not the last of our finance minister’s revenue generating innovations. He also introduced taxes on companies that provide digital advertising, content, cloud

— source | Leonard Sengere | Feb 7, 2022

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Another U.S.-Trained Soldier Stages a Coup in West Africa

Earlier this week, the military seized power in Burkina Faso, ousting the country’s democratically elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

The coup was announced on state television Monday by a young officer who said the military had suspended the constitution and dissolved the government. Beside him sat a camouflage-clad man whom he introduced as Burkina Faso’s new leader: Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the commander of one of the country’s three military regions.

Damiba is a highly trained soldier, thanks in no small part to the U.S. military, which has a long record of training soldiers in Africa who go on to stage coups. Damiba, it turns out, participated in at least a half-dozen U.S. training exercises, according to U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM.

In 2010 and 2020, he participated in an annual special operations training program known as the Flintlock exercise. In 2013, Damiba was accepted into an Africa Contingency

— source | Nick Turse | Jan 26 2022

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U.S.-Trained Soldiers Overthrowing Africam Governments

On August 18th, 2020, soldiers in Mali toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, sparking a wave of military coups across Africa. Last April, a military council in Chad seized power following the death of Chad’s longtime President Idriss Déby. Then, on May 24th, 2021, Mali witnessed its second coup in a year. On September 5th, the armed forces of Guinea captured the nation’s president and dissolved Guinea’s government and constitution. Then, on October 25th, Sudan’s military seized power and put Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under house arrest, ending a push in Sudan toward civilian rule. And finally, two weeks ago, on January 23rd, Burkina Faso’s army leaders, led by a U.S.-trained commander, deposed the nation’s president, suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament. That’s six coups in five African countries in just under a year and a half.

— source | Feb 08, 2022

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Africa Recalls 61st Death Anniversary of Patrice Lumumba

On Monday, Africans remember the 61st anniversary of the death of Patrice Lumumba, an anti-colonial leader who fought for the independence of the Congo from Belgium and became this country’s prime minister. Born on July 2, 1925, in Katako-Kombe municipality, Lumumba studied in a Catholic school and later in a Swedish-run Protestant school. Since his youth, he stood out for his academic results and links to anti-imperialist and pacifist organizations.

In 1958, he founded the Congolese National Movement, which advocated the creation of an independent and secular State whose unitary political structures would overcome social differences. The movement became the first national political party.

After winning the first Congolese free elections in 1960, Lumumba was appointed Prime Minister and started promoting social policies that pleased the population but caused the Belgian entrepreneurs to prompt the rebellion of some army units to preserve their interests.

Following the Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko military coup, Lumumba was arrested while he attempted to meet his supporters in the eastern Congo and killed by U.S.-backed Katanga rebel troops in 1961.

— source | 17 Jan 2022

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