ROLLING NEWS THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Presented by Joseph Kizza
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NRM MPs Retreat enters second day
It’s Day Two of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus Retreat taking place at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi.
The eight-day retreat is being presided over by the ruling party’s chairman President Yoweri Museveni.
It will “review the caucus’ and generally government’s performance over the last three years in regard to the party’s manifesto commitments, specifically in relation to the National Development Plan II and Vision 2040 targets in general”, according to the party.
— NRM Party (@NRMOnline) March 14, 2019
Boeing suspends 737 MAX deliveries as France probes black boxes
US aerospace giant Boeing said Thursday it was suspending deliveries of its top-selling 737 MAX as French investigators took delivery of the black boxes from the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 passengers and crew, AFP reports.
The MAX has been grounded worldwide following the disaster — the second involving the model in five months — and the fallout has left the company, regulators and airlines scrambling to respond.
“We are pausing the delivery of the 737 MAX until we come up with a solution,” a Boeing spokesman said, adding that “we are going to continue the production, but we are assessing our capacities.”
France’s BEA air safety agency confirmed it has received the black box recorders from the plane, which was just four months old and crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Starting Friday, BEA investigators will try to retrieve information from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, which were damaged in the disaster
Bereaved seek answers at Ethiopian plane crash site
From a quiet farmland at the base of rolling hills outside Ethiopia’s capital, the sound of wailing rang through the air.
Devastated mourners flung themselves onto a ground littered with business cards, seat covers and shards of aluminium.
They cried the names of loved ones who had been aboard the jetliner that nose-dived into the field, leaving a dark scar in the soil but barely a trace of their existence.
“You were to be married soon! Why would you die?” one woman cried into the void.
Only the rumble of bulldozers digging for remains deep into the soil, and the pop of flares fired by police to disperse circling crows, punctuated the sobbing.
All 157 people on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 died when their Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed just six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday, heading for Nairobi.
Families from 35 countries were bereaved.
Relatives began trickling to the site of the obliterated jet on Wednesday, some bussed in by Ethiopian Airlines, others on their own steam.
The melting pot of mourners all grieved in their own way, some praying, others scooping soil from the ground, while some offered fruit or flowers.
“Nobody expected this could happen to her. She loved her life,” said Ethiopian Micky Kassa, whose cousin Mygenet Worku, 28, was flying to attend a UN environment conference in Nairobi.
“She has an old mother who raised her as a single parent. It’s very sad news,” he told AFP.
For Ethiopians, the crash is a national tragedy, and even people untouched by the disaster made the trek to the remote site to pay their respects.
Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and in many ways the international face of the country.
The country lost nine passengers and eight crew in the disaster.
“Every Ethiopian has to be here,” said Genanaw Dibekulu, a bank branch manager who took the day off to visit the site. “It’s tragic. If it had been my relative, I’d have gone mad.”
As weeping filled the air, officials from the World Food Programme and other UN agencies that lost staff in the crash stood silently in a semi-circle, their heads bowed before a spread of white flowers set up to honour the victims.
Nairobi and the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa both host large regional offices of the UN, which lost 22 staffers on the ill-fated plane.
Buses at the site near Hama Qutushele village unloaded relatives, who walked over to chairs set up under a tent, many howling inconsolably.
Some needed support as they staggered forward, while others carried framed portraits of their lost loved ones.
Funeral rites from different religions played off next to each other, as one man yelled “My brother!” in agony, and others repeated the same name over and over.
Investigators from the United States, Britain, plane manufacturer Boeing, Interpol, and the Ethiopian government are combing the site for clues as to what caused the crash — the second by a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in less than six months.
Relatives of one Israeli killed in the crash demanded access to a cordoned off area where excavators are working.
“They don’t allow us to access the site,” complained Sahan Biton, whose uncle Shimon Reem, a security expert consulting for a Nairobi mall, was among the dead.
Under Jewish custom, Reem cannot be buried until at least some remains had been found, Biton said.
He complained that the Ethiopian government was refusing to hand over remains or to let an Israeli search team into the impact site to find more.
‘Can’t bury our uncle’
“Until we… have a remain, we can’t bury our uncle,” Biton said, standing with five other Israelis holding a flag as they sang their national anthem and recited funeral rites to honour the dead.
Witnesses have said the plane plunged nose-first into the earth, and on Thursday there were few identifiable pieces of the plane left, apart from a wheel and some tattered pieces of metal that appeared as they came from an engine.
“Yesterday, I found a leg,” said Zhang Jun, a Chinese construction worker whose excavator was diverted to the crash site from working on an expansion to the Addis Ababa airport.
He estimated the remains were buried as deep as 20 meters (66 feet).
Whatever belongings he has found were so damaged that when he discovered a credit card and passport, he could not decipher who they had belonged to.
“Everything is by piece, nothing in big size,” he said.
‘Why would you die?’
Related to the story below, the families and friends of the plane crash victims are seeking answers . . .
‘I am glad I talked to mum just before she died’
|New Vision’s Stuart Yiga:|
“When my mother was assigned duties in Somalia, we started calling her ‘Al-Shabaab’ because the deployment showed she was fearless and ready to serve, regardless of the bomb blasts and killings in the country,” said 19-year-old Alvin Asiimwe, Christine Alalo’s last-born.
Speaking to New Vision, he described his late mother as a supernatural woman, who had incredible love for her children. “Our dad died when I was only three years old. My elder brother Emmanuel Ahimbisibwe and I grew up knowing our mother was everything to us.”
Alalo was attached to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“On [International] Women’s Day, she called our school director and asked to talk to me. I was happy to hear from her because it had been two months since we last talked. She told me to study hard and how much she missed me. I wished her a happy Women’s Day and a safe stay in Somalia. I am glad that at least I had a chance to talk to her before she died,” said Asiimwe.
“Although mummy is gone, I know life will continue because she taught us to be strong regardless of the challenges we face. My heart bleeds endlessly,” he said.
Alalo, 49, died some 15 years after her husband, Alex Kamujuni, died in a road accident in Bweyogerere, Wakiso district.
Christine Alalo: Police sends team to Ethiopia
Meanwhile, the Uganda Police Force sent a team to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa Thursday to “purposely assist in the effective identification and recovery of the remains of Commissioner of Police Christine Alalo”.
Alalo was among the 157 people killed on Flight ET 302 that crashed shortly after takeoff on its way to the Kenyan capital Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
In a statement, Police said the team is led by Dr. Moses Byaruhanga, the director of Police Health Services, who is a pathologist. Alalo’s brother James Gregory Okello and her son Alvin Asiimwe flew to Ethiopia as part of the group.
Her other son Emmanuel Ahimbisibwe will fley from Canada and find them in Addis Ababa.
“The sibling and sons will help in availing DNA samples, if necessary, to aid in finding a match to the body remains of the late, among those that could have been recovered,” says the Police statement.
“In Addis Ababa, the team will be received and by AIGP Rwego Xervir of Interpol African Union and jointly work closely with the Forensic experts, tasked with the identification and recovery of the human remains of the victims.
“Further burial plans and arrangements do await reports from the joint teams led by AIGP Rwego Xervir and AIGP Dr. Byaruhanga Moses.”
Social media stresses youth, study reveals
|New Vision’s Apollo Mubiru:|
Did you know that the more time you spend on social media, the more stressed you will be? Research published by The Digital Age at the University of New South Wales linked stress with social media. The findings revealed that avid social media users are experiencing adverse consequences due to spending so much time on social media. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. It creates mental illnesses, which may result in other health problems and even premature death.
“There is a complex relationship between social media use and stress,” Prof. Keith Hampton of Rutgers University said. “There is a great deal of speculation that social media users feel extra pressure to participate and keep up with the trends to avoid the ‘‘fear of missing out’’ in activities that others share. They also feel anxious after viewing images that friends project on Facebook.”
Hampton labelled this phenomenon as “the cost of caring.” The commonly used social media platforms include Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, WeChat, Instagram, Skype, Snapchat and Viber. Addiction Borrowing from the research finding, Nataliey Bitature, the chief of staff at Simba Group of Companies, explained how the more your post is liked by followers, the more it makes you addicted. “Life on social media is cosmetic. Nobody would post a bad picture. They will always want to show their best part.”
“We are advised to unplug or switch off social media notifications for a few hours. Avoid switching on your notifications in the morning before greeting those close to you. In any case, people who like your posts are not around you,” she said. Bitature made the remarks during a keynote address on a topic: ‘‘The millennial at work as a driver for socio-economic transformation’’, during a Millennial Summit in Kampala.
Millennials are those born after 1980 and the first generation to come of age in the new millennium (20-30 years old). Position yourself Bitature implored her contemporaries to take advantage of the advanced technology to build business clientele, position themselves and compete globally. She advised millennials to inculcate a saving culture to achieve financial independence, plan for investment and yearn for mentorship from experienced cohorts. During his presenting on managing talent in the digital age, the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ country senior partner, Francis Kamulegeya, observed the need to bridge the gap between millennials and the old generation at the workplace and to appreciate the challenges that come up with age differences.
Today’s Ras toon
Between 2012 and 2015, 400 children were documented to have been killed by lightning in Ugandan schools.
C-section ’50 times more deadly’ for women in Africa
A worrying story here . . .
The death rate among women undergoing a C-section to deliver a baby is about 50 times higher in Africa than in most wealthy nations, researchers said Friday.
One in 200 women perished during or soon after a caesarean in a sampling of nearly 3,700 births across 22 African countries, they reported in The Lancet Global Health.
By comparison, maternal mortality is approximately one woman per 10,000 operations in Britain. Death rates related to C-sections are roughly the same across most developed countries.
“The findings highlight the urgent need for improved safety for the procedure,” said researchers led by Bruce Biccard, a professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Preventable C-section deaths mostly stemmed from a ruptured uterus, in mothers who had pre-existing placental complications, bleeding before birth or during surgery, and problems related to anaesthesia.
“Improvement of C-section surgical outcomes could substantially improve both maternal and neonatal mortality,” Biccard said.
He also called for a better assessment of the risk related to bleeding, and less restrictive use of drugs to treat post-partum haemorrhaging.
In many African nations, there is a chronically short supply of blood for transfusions.
Remember the recent Facebook server problem?
Facebook blamed a “server configuration change” Thursday for a massive outage affecting its applications around the world and brought fresh attention to the embattled social networking leader.
The outage affected users for at least 12 hours in most areas of the world, with the biggest impact in North America and Europe, according to the tracking website downdetector.com.
After acknowledging the problem Wednesday, Facebook remained silent on the issue for nearly 24 hours before issuing an explanation and apology around 1630 GMT Thursday.
“Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services,” a Facebook tweet said.
“We’ve now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience.”
WHO urges enforcement of tobacco ad bans at sporting events
The World Health Organization called Thursday for better enforcement of bans on tobacco advertising at sporting events, after tobacco companies discretely reentered sponsorship deals with Formula 1 teams.
“WHO is urging governments to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at sporting events, including when hosting or receiving broadcasts of Formula 1 and MotoGP events,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
It also called on “all sporting bodies, including Formula 1 and MotoGP, to adopt strong tobacco-free policies,” and to ensure none of their activities or participants are sponsored by tobacco companies.
The appeal comes after Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) formed partnerships with their scientific research subsidiaries and Formula 1 teams Ferrari and McLaren, more than a decade after cigarette advertising was banned from the sport.
Since 2006, Formula 1’s ruling body FIA has been opposed to any advertising or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco.
But with teams struggling to meet their budget requirements, the allure of advertising revenue from “Big Tobacco” has grown.
The tobacco companies are no longer advertising for their traditional cigarette brands, but appear to be pushing new, so-called “smoke-free” heated tobacco products, although they do not mention them by name.
Algeria premier urges calm ahead of key anti-Bouteflika demos
Algeria’s new prime minister sought to calm tensions Thursday ahead of planned demonstrations that could be decisive for the protest movement calling for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.
Noureddine Bedoui spoke on the eve of the first Friday rallies since Bouteflika’s surprise announcement this week that he would not seek re-election but was cancelling April polls.
The new premier warned the situation in the North African country was “sensitive”.
People “must show calm and act peacefully”, Bedoui said, calling for “dialogue” to resolve the situation.
Bouteflika, 82, initially sparked joy among protesters when he said he would not stand for a fifth term in next month’s election, but his move to cancel the vote prompted accusations of “tricks” and sparked a new round of demonstrations.
Friday’s protests will be a key test of whether the ailing president’s manoeuvre has dampened anger on the streets.
Mozambique cancels domestic flights as storm nears
Mozambique has cancelled flights to several domestic destinations as a tropical cyclone, potentially the strongest to hit the country in nearly two decades, approached threatening to bring chaos to southern Africa.
The wave of cancellations came as the UN warned that “tropical cyclone Idai has regained intensity and is expected to make landfall near Beira city in central Mozambique” later Thursday.
At least 126 people have been killed in Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa as heavy rains hit southeastern Africa over the past week, affecting more than one million people, officials said.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that the incoming storm could bring winds of up to 190 kilometres per hour (118 miles per hour).
That would make it the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mozambique since Tropical Cyclone Eline which struck the country in February 2000, claiming at least 800 lives.
Another storm in 2015 left more than 100 people dead.
Mozambique is prone to extreme weather events and as the storm approached, the coastal city of Beira was hit by winds of more than 170 kph, the National Meteorological Institute said, with Radio Mocambique reporting several homes had been destroyed and roads cut off.
Late on Wednesday, Mozambique’s national carrier LAM said it was cancelling all flights to Beira and Quelimane, which is also on the coast, as well as to Chomoio, which is inland.
But many passengers were unaware of the cancellations, leaving hundreds stranded at Maputo International Airport.
The UN warned that cyclone Idai would bring strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges which would likely last through the weekend.
“Substantial devastation with massive flooding both from river and sea is expected” when Idai makes landfall, South African charity Gift of the Givers said, indicating it was ready to deploy 70 rescue staff, along with 4×4 vehicles, boats, and jetskis to help with rescue efforts.
3 astronauts on Soyuz craft successfully reach ISS
Russian cosmonaut and two US astronauts arrived Friday at the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, five months after the failed launch of a rocket carrying two of the passengers.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his Russian colleague Alexey Ovchinin, who both survived a dramatically aborted Soyuz launch last year, were joined on the smoothly-executed trip by NASA astronaut Christina Koch.
The rocket blasted off without incident from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and docked at the ISS less than six hours later, more than 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the Earth at 01:01 GMT, a few minutes ahead of schedule.
During a live broadcast via high-definition cameras aboard the ISS, the mission commander Ovchinin reported that the mooring mechanism was engaged. A NASA commentator then confirmed the “capture.”
The liftoff was closely watched after the two men’s space journey was cut short in October when a technical problem with their Soyuz rocket triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight.
Both men escaped unharmed.
It was the first such accident in Russia’s post-Soviet history and a major setback for its once proud space industry.
Malawi’s Banda quits presidential race, backs opposition chief
Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda has pulled out of the May 21 presidential race and endorsed opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, who heads the Malawi Congress Party.
Speaking to AFP, Banda, who heads the People’s Party, confirmed her decision, saying: “Yes, it is true”.
But she declined to comment further ahead of a joint news conference with Chakwera on Saturday.
In a joint statement, the two parties said they had begun talks in 2015, a year after Banda lost the presidency, partly as a result of a huge multimillion-dollar corruption case known as the “Cashgate” scandal.
She fled the country into self-imposed exile but returned to Malawi last year, saying the allegations against her were politically motivated. She has never faced any charges.
Six weeks ago, Banda and Vice President Saulos Chilima said they had formed a four-party alliance in a bid to take on President Peter Mutharika in the May vote.
But it didn’t last long, with Banda announcing just days later that she had submitting papers to run as a presidential candidate.
Now 68, Banda first came to power in April 2012 following the sudden death of then president Bingu wa Mutharika. At the time, she was serving as vice president with his death propelling her into the top office where she served until May 2014.
Sudan protesters rally as new cabinet sworn in
Crowds of protesters rallied in the Sudanese capital Thursday as President Omar al-Bashir swore in a new cabinet to tackle an economic crisis that has triggered months of protests against his rule.
Chanting their movement’s catchcry “Freedom, peace, justice” protesters took to the streets in areas of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said.
But security forces swiftly confronted them with tear gas and made several arrests, they said.
“How long will you remain silent?” chanted some protesters, urging residents to join the demonstrations.
During the day protests were staged in Khartoum’s eastern district of Burri, a regular site of demonstrations.
Bashir on Thursday swore in a new cabinet tasked with tackling the economic crisis, the key factor behind the protests.
The new cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohamed Tahir Eila is Sudan’s third government in less than two years, with the previous two sacked by Bashir for failing to revive the economy.
Around the world
Let’s quickly see what’s happening beyond our borders . . .
Today’s motivational quote
If you are feeling pumped up for the weekend, you may want to know that not everyone is.
A rough week it has been, perhaps . . .
Didn’t get that deal that you so much wanted – and needed . . .
Or things just haven’t clicked the way you had hoped them to.
You need some motivation, I reckon. Here’s some:
“Strength and growth comes only through continuous effort and struggle” – Napoleon Hill
Good morning, let’s blast off into the weekend!
For many people, Friday means one thing . . .
Can you smell the weekend that is just around corner?