• London-size iceberg calves near UK Antarctic base

    A big iceberg approaching the size of Greater London has broken away from the Antarctic, close to Britain's Halley research station. Surface instruments on the Brunt Ice Shelf confirmed the split.

    There is currently no-one in the base, so there is no risk to human life. The British Antarctic Survey has been operating Halley in a reduced role since 2017 because of the imminent prospect of a calving.

    The berg has been measured to cover 1,270 sq km. Halley is positioned just over 20km from the line of rupture. BAS has an array of GPS devices on the Brunt. These relay information about ice movements back to the agency's HQ in Cambridge.

    Officials will be inspecting satellite imagery when it becomes available. They will want to see that no unexpected instabilities emerge in the remaining ice shelf platform that holds Halley.

    Prof Adrian Luckman has been tracking satellite images of the Brunt in recent weeks and predicted the calving. "Although the breaking off of large parts of Antarctic ice shelves is an entirely normal part of how they work, large calving events such as the one detected at the Brunt Ice Shelf on Friday remain quite rare and exciting," he said.

    "With three long rifts actively developing on the Brunt Ice Shelf system over the last five years, we have all been anticipating that something spectacular was going to happen. Time will tell whether this calving will trigger more pieces to break off in the coming days and weeks.

    “At Swansea University we study the development of ice shelf rifts because, while some lead to large calving events, others do not, and the reasons for this may explain why large ice shelves exist at all," he said.

  • Major UK communications and security systems integrator opens new engineering hub in India

    Leading communications, safety, and security systems integrator, Optilan, have just announced the official opening of its new office in Mumbai, India. One the UK’s major communications specialists for the energy, power, rail, and infrastructure sectors, it is involved in key UK infrastructure projects such as Cross-rail and major international energy infrastructure works, including the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline.

    Optilan’s new Indian Engineering Hub will serve as a primary centre for driving cutting edge innovation. The decision to open the Engineering Hub is testament to Optilan’s growing commitment to invest in India’s world class engineering talent, as part of its mission to create security, safety, and communications related solutions that can have a genuinely global impact.

    The new office houses employees from diverse disciplines, with a focus on the provision of skilled services to support the rest of the Optilan Group as part of a seamless international operation. It will facilitate Optilan’s drive to develop its innovative approach to service solutions and project delivery.

    Bill Bayliss, Chief Executive Officer at Optilan, said: “We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new Indian Engineering Hub. Optilan operates within a highly competitive industry that’s characterised by constant change. This evolving landscape demands innovative approaches to how we transfer both skills and expertise, in order to produce hubs of engineering excellence to service our global business.

    “The decision to set up the Engineering hub in India was more than justified, given it is home to some of the world’s most exceptional engineering talent. Its addition to our portfolio is driven by Optilan’s strategic plans for continued growth and development across the Middle East and South Asia region, through an investment in local operations with local presence.

    “We are excited to tap into the engineering talent available in this part of the country, motivated by our vision of creating a truly pioneering organisation that will build innovative solutions for global impact.”

    The new office complements Optilan’s existing offices in the UK, UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

  • Maldives becomes 54th member of Commonwealth family

    The Commonwealth has welcomed its 54th family member after Maldives' application for re-admission was approved.The Commonwealth has welcomed its 54th family member after Maldives' application for re-admission was approved.

    The small island nation officially re-joined the Commonwealth on February 1, marking the end of a process that began in December 2018, when President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wrote to the Commonwealth Secretary-General expressing the country’s interest in re-joining.

    After due diligence, which included country assessment and consultations in accordance with the rules and procedures agreed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kampala in 2007, Maldives has been re-admitted.

    Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said: “I warmly congratulate Maldives on its successful application. We are delighted to welcome the country and its people back to the Commonwealth.

    “The reform process underway in Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path.

    “Commonwealth members were pleased to note these developments and are happy once again to count Maldives as a member of the family.

    “Together we will support Maldives to realise its ambitions.”

    President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said: “As a young democracy, the Commonwealth’s foundational values of the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, multilateralism and world peace remain relevant to us more than ever.

    “We gratefully acknowledge the support and help of the Commonwealth to the Maldivian democratic movement, and we look forward to the support of fellow member states to ensure the long term entrenchment of these values in our society.”

    The assessment included two site visits to the country followed by positive feedback given by a Commonwealth Observer Group which was present for the Parliamentary Elections in April 2019.

    Members subsequently agreed to invite Maldives to submit a formal application, which it did in December last year. The country presented evidence of functioning democratic processes as well as popular support for re-joining. The Secretary-General then consulted with all 53 Commonwealth members and received no objections.

    The country will now be part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda on June 22-28.

    Its Ambassador to the UK now becomes its High Commissioner, signifying Commonwealth membership.

    Maldives originally joined the Commonwealth in 1982, and withdrew its membership in 2016.

  • Man who blacked up face as minstrel for work’s party 'didn't know it was racist'

    A 62-year-old fined for dressing up as a black and white minstrel at a works party "didn't know it was racist", a court has heard.

    Brian Davies was ordered to pay a total of £450 earlier this year for racially harassing a Black colleague after blacking up his face and performing a "racist" song and dance routine at their Christmas do.

    The maintenance engineer appeared in court to appeal against his conviction of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress to head chef Loretta Doyley, denying he knew the television show from which his routine derived from was today seen as "derogatory and demeaning to Black people".

    Cardiff Crown Court was shown mobile footage from the incident in December 2017 at the city's Cooper's Carvery, with Davies wearing black face paint, white paint around his eyes and mouth, a straw boater hat, and swinging around a cane while dancing and singing the song Mammy in the direction of Mrs Doyley.

    Prosecutor Suzanne Payne said to Davies: "You could see as you were dancing and singing around her she was upset by you.

    "You knew by dancing around singing that you were being abusive to her.

    "And you should've been aware it would be. Because it's insulting and humiliating what you did.

    "And that was your intention."

    Davies said he had a prior conversation with colleagues including Mrs Doyley about The Black And White Minstrel Show, which appeared on British television in the 1960s and 1970s, which gave him the idea for his stunt.

    He told the court: "It didn't even cross my mind. I didn't even think of anything racist.

    "Just thought I was dressing up as something that used to be on telly on a Sunday night."

    Ms Payne told Davies the show had not appeared on British television for years as it was deemed "derogatory and demeaning to Black people".

    Davies said: "I didn't know it was racist."

    Mrs Doyley, who worked with Davies at Ty Catrin, a facility run by mental healthcare provider The Priory Group in Cardiff, said Davies had repeatedly asked her to go the Christmas do after she had initially declined.

    She told the court: "I felt humiliated and wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.

    "I felt because everyone was laughing I went into shock and I felt myself laughing as well, not because it was funny, I just didn't know how else to act."

    Tom Roberts, for Davies, told the court it needed to be sure his client's behaviour was "intentionally" abusive towards Mrs Doyley.

    He said: "It was clearly ill judged. He accepts he was "stupid and naive".

    "But that does not equate to him using abusive behaviour towards Mrs Doyley. It is of course not politically correct behaviour.

    He added: "At most this was an ill judged and disreputable incident. Did he display hostility? I would say he didn't."

    Judge David Wynn Morgan and Justices Robin Coombes and Sharon Winter adjourned the appeal before making their decision on its outcome.

  • Mandela family praised for revealing daughter, Zindzi, had Covid-19

    South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the family of the country's first Black President Nelson Mandela for revealing that his daughter, Zindzi, who had passed, had Covid-19. The gesture will "encourage acceptance" of those infected, Mr Ramaphosa said.
    The cause of death has not been disclosed.

    Zindzi was buried alongside her mother, anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
    Only close friends and relatives attended the funeral service in Johannesburg because of coronavirus restrictions.

    South Africa is the African country worst hit by coronavirus, with more than 320,000 cases. There have been more than 4,600 deaths, and government projections estimate this could rise to 50,000 by the end of the year. Despite public awareness of how the virus is spread, its symptoms and effects, there have been some reported cases of stigmatisation of those infected.

    "I would like to thank the Mandela family for the very important gesture of sharing this information with the nation. This is a virus that affects us all, and there should never be any stigma around people who become infected," he tweeted ahead of Zindzi Mandela's funeral.

    He added that revealing the cause of her death, was "a final act of solidarity in the life of a woman who devoted her life to the cause of her fellow South Africans."

    Ms Mandela had "during our years of struggle brought home the inhumanity of the apartheid system and the unshakeable resolve of our fight for freedom," Mr Ramaphosa said in a statement after her death.

    Zindzi Mandela, 59, was Nelson Mandela's sixth child and his second with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his second wife.
    Mourners gathered for her funeral service in Johannesburg have praised her as a freedom fighter.

    "The invisible enemy took her away from us when she has survived bullets, torture and the pain inflicted by the apartheid system," Nomvula Mokonyane, an official from the governing African National Congress, was quoted as saying by EWN news site.

    "She survived the most brutal regime at an early age, and we thought that this crisis and this invisible enemy that we are faced with today, she is going to survive because she has seen worse," said Julius Malema, the leader of the radical opposition EFF party.

    Despite her father's fame Ms Mandela was an activist in her own right and was serving as ambassador to Denmark at the time of her death. She grew up at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. With her father imprisoned on Robben Island, she endured years of harassment and intimidation by the apartheid regime, along with her sister Zenani, and her mother Winnie.

    Zindzi Mandela read out her father's rejection of then-president PW Botha's offer for his conditional release from prison at a public meeting in February 1985. Through his foundation, Nobel peace laureate and former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu said that "speech in Soweto, on behalf of her father... reinvigorated the values and principles of the struggle".

    Ms Mandela "played a critical role symbolising the humanity and steadfastness of the anti-apartheid struggle", he added. Most recently, she was known for her vocal support for radical land reform in South Africa.

    Only two of Nelson Mandela's six children are still alive: Zenani Dlamini, Zindzi's sister; and Pumla Makaziwe Mandela, a daughter from his first marriage, to Evelyn Mase.

  • Marking Ramadan Mubarak 2021

    Every year, Muslims across the globe observe a month of daily fasting during Ramadan.

    The ninth month of the Islamic calendar involves abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex between early morning and sunset.

    Fasting - during Ramadan or for other reasons - is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the others being faith, prayer, charity and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

    Ramadan 2019 was a test of faith because it fell in the longer days of summer, meaning extended hours of going without food and drink in hot weather.

    Ramadan 2020 was during a full lockdown in the UK and across the world so that presented another set of challenges, with Muslims told to remain in their own homes, despite the usual tradition for communal meals and prayers.

    For 2021, there are still restrictions in place but mosques are open for limited, pre-booked communal worship and special guidance has been issued on night prayers, meals before and after fasting, and spiritual retreats.

    This is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad and so it's regarded as a time filled with blessings when worshippers focus their minds and bodies on spirituality rather than on earthly needs and indulgences.

    It's traditional to convey greetings and blessings to those who are about to begin an entire month of fasting.

    So what are the typical blessings to be said to Muslim family and friends at the start of the month? How do you wish people a Happy Ramadan?

    And once the month of fasting is over, it's time to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and wish each other Eid Mubarak.

    With strict rules around Ramadan, there have been concerns from some people about whether they can have their Covid-19 vaccine injection when they are fasting.

    The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has consulted a wide range of scholars and the opinion of the vast majority is that receiving a vaccine by injection does not invalidate the fast.

    It said: “Taking the Covid-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast.” People are also advised to get tested regularly, have their vaccine as soon as they can, and continue to follow Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidance.

    The BIMA also considered whether Muslims should take Covid-19 tests during Ramadan and said: “Taking the Covid-19 PCR or lateral flow tests does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan, as per the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars.”

  • Meghan and Harry expecting a second child

    It has been announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their second child. A spokesperson for the couple said that Harry and Meghan are preparing to welcome a new sibling for their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said the Queen and Prince Philip, as well as the Prince of Wales, as well as the other members of the Royal Family are delighted and wish them well.

    Their child will be eighth in line to the throne, and it comes after Meghan revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage last July. The spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: "We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother.

    "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child." A friend of the Duke, Misan Harriman, who is also the photographer who took the photo that accompanied their pregnancy announcement, tweeted: "Meg, I was there at your wedding to witness this love story begin, and I am honoured to capture it grow. Congratulations to The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on this joyous news!"

    For Harry and Meghan – who now live in California - their second child will be the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's 10th or 11th great-grandchild depending on whether he or she arrives before or after Zara Tindall's baby, which is also due in 2021. The couple’s baby is entitled to be a Lord or a Lady.

    The news comes after the Duchess revealed in November that she had suffered a miscarriage during the summer. She was praised for sending a powerful message to others who have lived through the same trauma by speaking about the issue.

    The announcement comes soon after the royal family celebrated the arrival of Princess Eugenie's first child - a baby boy and a grandson of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York.

    Photo by @misanharriman

  • Melbourne entering lockdown as fans barred from Australian Open

    The Australian state of Victoria will enter lockdown for a third time in a bid to suppress an outbreak of the UK strain of coronavirus. Officials this week found 13 cases stemming from a quarantine worker who became infected at a Melbourne hotel.

    With the lockdown beginning, the government has said the Australian Open tennis tournament would continue in the state's capital, Melbourne. Spectators will be banned from attending the event, which had previously allowed up to 30,000 visitors a day. Tickets will be refunded, tournament director Craig Tiley said.

    Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the current outbreak was not linked to the quarantine hotels used by the tennis players. He stressed that a "circuit breaker" was needed to combat the "hyper-infectious" strain which he said had likely already seeded other infections in the community.

    "This is the fastest-moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus that we have seen," he said, adding that almost 1,000 close contacts had already been reached. Prior to this outbreak, Victoria had not seen a local infection for 28 days and the state had largely eliminated the virus.

    Many Melbourne residents have expressed dismay but also resignation over the retreat into lockdown again. Last year, in Australia's winter, the city endured one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns to overcome a second wave which led to more than 90% of Australia's 29,000 cases and 909 deaths.

    "We've built something precious, and we have to make difficult decisions, and do difficult things, in order to defend what we've built," Mr Andrews said. "I am confident that this short, sharp circuit breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this."

    The state will be under the following restrictions for five days:

    ·         People must stay at home except for shopping, exercise, caregiving and essential work needs

    ·         No gatherings allowed

    ·         Travel is restricted to within 5km (3.1 miles) of the home

    ·         Mask wearing is mandatory in public

    ·         Places of worship and all non-essential venues are closed

    ·         Schools are closed except for children of essential workers

    Meanwhile, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have announced travel bans on people from Melbourne. Further border closures are expected. International flights to Melbourne will also be cancelled, authorities said.

  • Mining firm apologises for destroying Aboriginal caves

    Mining giants Rio Tinto has apologised for blowing up 46,000-year-old Aboriginal caves in Western Australia dating back to the last Ice Age.

    The Juukan Gorge cave in the Pilnara region, were destroyed as Rio Tinto expanded an iron ore project that was agreed with the authorities.

    Many prehistoric artefacts have been found at the remote heritage site.

    Chris Salisbury, the firm’s chief executive, said: “We are sorry for the distress that we have caused.

    “We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP)”.

    The PKKP are the original and traditional owners of the cave.

    He went on to say: “We will continue to work with the PKKP to learn from what has taken place and strengthen our partnership.

    “As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge region”.

    Artefacts found there include a belt made from human hair, analysis of which showed a direct link going back 4,000 years between the PKKP and the prehistoric cave-dweller.

  • Minister Tufton addresses NHF meeting that approved $15M of gov't funds for alleged sweetheart’s firm

     A board meeting of the National Health Fund (NHF), an agency of Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness, had just gotten underway. Businessman Christopher Zacca took the reins as he’d done at all the meetings since being appointed chairman in April 2016.

    According to the minutes of the NHF board meetings obtained under the Access to Information Act (ATI), he’d announced he was stepping down as chairman to take a position in the private sector. Former Member of Parliament Gregory Mair, also present that day, was to take over. Other newly-appointed directors were in attendance as well since there had been three recent departures on the 10-member board.

    “This meeting would primarily be for information gathering and transition,” the minutes recorded Mr. Zacca to have said while also revealing that the minister was expected to arrive later in the meeting. “All major decisions would be deferred until the next meeting of the Board.” At 8:55 a.m., Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton joined, and Mr. Zacca suspended the agenda and handed over to him.

    It’s what happened after that could begin to shed light on whether Dr. Tufton had a role in influencing the awarding of millions of dollars to a company co-owned by Lyndsey McDonnough, said to be personally linked to Dr. Tufton, to execute his ministry’s healthy-lifestyles program, Jamaica Moves.  

  • Minneapolis police to face US Federal Probe following Floyd Murder ‘Guilty’ Verdict

    A US federal investigation has been launched into policing practices in the city of Minneapolis, a day after one of its former officers was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. The justice department will look at whether there has been a pattern "of unconstitutional or unlawful policing", Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

    It follows national outrage over the killing of Mr Floyd by Derek Chauvin. The former officer was convicted of all charges against him on Tuesday.

    Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in May 2020. Mr Floyd, an unarmed African American, was pronounced dead an hour later. His death sparked protests across the US and worldwide, and calls for police reform.

    Tuesday's verdict has been widely welcomed in a country where police are rarely convicted - if they are charged at all - over deaths which occur in custody. But Mr Garland told reporters that he knew the verdict would not "address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis".

    The attorney general said the investigation would "include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department's policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations." It will also examine "whether its treatment of those with behavioural health disabilities is unlawful", while looking at the "effectiveness of current systems of accountability and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing."

    Mr Garland said both the community and law enforcement would have to take part if the investigation were to be a success, and he had already started reaching out to both. If unlawful patterns or practices were found, he promised to issue a public report and bring a civil lawsuit.

  • Minneapolis settle for $27m payment to murdered George Floyd family

    The city of Minneapolis in the USA has reached a $27m (£19m) settlement with the family of George Floyd, the unarmed Black man whose death sparked protests worldwide. His death after being trapped under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin for 7 minutes, 46 seconds was captured on camera.

    Lawyers for the family said the footage created undeniable demand for justice and change.

    Jury selection for Chauvin's murder trial is currently under way. Six out of 12 jurors have been selected for hearings beginning on March 29.

    The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve the pre-trial settlement, the largest ever awarded in the state of Minnesota. Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said: "That the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever would be for the life of a Black man sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of colour must end."

    In a video of Mr Floyd's death that went viral on social media, four police officers confront the man for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a local shop. They drag him to the ground and Chauvin places his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, even as he begs for his life and says "I can't breathe". He was later pronounced dead in hospital.

    Lawyers for the Floyd family filed a civil suit one month later, in June 2020. They argued the city had been negligent for failing to train officers in proper restraint techniques and for not dismissing officers with a poor track record. Dozens of complaints had previously been filed against Mr Chauvin, who had been serving on the city police force for 19 years.

    Speaking after the settlement was announced Mr Crump said: “This is but one step on the journey to justice. Mr Floyd's death was a catalyst for reckoning on race and bias.” The civil settlement comes at the end of the first week in criminal court proceedings over Chauvin's murder trial.

    The former officer is facing charges of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. If found guilty on all counts he could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

    Six jurors have been selected for the trial so far, but the final bench requires 12 jurors and four alternates - or substitutes. Suitable jurors have been hard to find in this emotionally charged and high-profile case.

    The three other officers involved in Mr Floyd's death - J Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane - were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, and will be tried separately later this year.

  • Mobile research laboratories will keep track of UK air pollution

    New mobile air quality research laboratories will help experts further develop the UK’s world leading position in analysing how air pollution is formed and what impact it has on our environment and people.

    Scientists at the Universities of Birmingham, Manchester, Cranfield and Coventry, Imperial College London and Aston University have secured NERC funding for two ‘supersite observatories’ –fixed in an electric van and a trailer – that will dovetail with existing fixed air quality supersites in Birmingham, London and Manchester.

    Urban Air Quality Supersites already allow researchers to gather detailed data on the contents of harmful urban air pollution; working out where the gases and particles that pollute our air are coming from and how they form in the air - adding observational capacity far beyond the routine DEFRA and local authority air quality monitoring. Poor air quality arises from the interaction of emissions, weather and atmospheric processes, affecting the amounts and toxicity of pollutants.

    As part of the drive to improve regional and national air quality, the mobile supersites will help scientists better understand the balance between traffic and urban emissions, and pollutants already present in the air and carried on the wind into urban areas. They will also help to define how chemical processing agricultural emissions and changes to move towards carbon-zero transport affect air quality.

    Zongbo Shi, Professor of Atmospheric Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk in the UK, leading to significant health inequalities and costing the country’s economy some £20 billion every year.

     

    “Adding mobile ‘supersite observatories’ to the monitoring capacity provided by our fixed sites will take our capability for quantifying air pollution sources and processes to the next level and consolidating Britain’s world-leading position in this field.

    “This exciting development will produce policy-relevant science with significant impact - informing air quality policy and helping to account for imported emissions. This is a UK-based approach with potential for global impact.”

    Backed by £1.3 million of NERC funding, the new supersites are not traditional monitoring stations - they will comprise highly sophisticated instruments which monitor key species in atmospheric processes, including:

    ·         Trace metals, nanoparticles and particle composition, plus regulated gas pollutants.

    ·         Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – key to ozone, secondary organic aerosol and new particle formation; and

    ·         Ammonia - key to aerosol formation;

    The mobile units will help to create the UK Air Quality Supersite Triplet (UK-AQST) configuration - rural, urban and roadside. This will allow urban and roadside concentration increments to be measured, as well as processing polluted air to analyse key secondary pollutants such as nitrates, organic particles and nanoparticles in unprecedented detail.

    Forthcoming revision of World Health Organisation guidelines will inform revised national air quality targets, within the new Environment Bill. UK-AQST will directly benefit the UK's atmospheric and environmental health community with six institutions involved.

  • Mother Fletcher and Uncle Redd Honoured with Traditional Naming Ceremony in Ghana

    We've been following the story of two of the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Viola Fletcher, age 107 and her brother Hughes Van Ellis (Uncle Redd), age 100 during their return to Ghana, and yesterday they took part in an Official Naming Ceremony after The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority Beyond the Return, Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President and the Diaspora Africa Forum came together.

    Dressed entirely in white, signifying the new beginning, the siblings were in attendance with some of their family members.

  • Mourners line streets for funeral of ex-Tanzania president Magufuli

    Thousands of mourners filed past the coffin of Tanzania's ex-President John Magufuli, who died aged 61. His coffin, draped in the national flag, is lying in state at the Uhuru stadium in the main city Dar es Salaam.

    It was said by some politicians say that Magufuli contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed. A Covid sceptic, at times he denied that the virus had affected Tanzania.

    Coming to power as Tanzania's president in 2015, Magufuli's coffin was brought to the stadium in a procession that was led by his successor, Samia Suluhu Hassan before being taken to several different locations for public viewing before his burial in his hometown of Chato. Some residents wept and threw flowers on the coffin which was pulled by a military vehicle.

    Newly sworn in president, Samia - Africa's only current female national leader - led the government procession in which many wore black or green and yellow to represent the colours of the ruling party. The Ethiopian presidency is a largely ceremonial role and she joins a short list of women on the continent to have run their countries.

    The government announced that Magufuli had died from a heart condition after he had been missing from public for several weeks. His position on coronavirus ranged from stating it did not exist in Tanzania to saying the country had beaten the pandemic through prayer.

    But in February, after a number of senior politicians died from the virus, he conceded it was circulating in Tanzania. Known as the ‘bulldozer’, before the pandemic Magufuli was praised for his no-nonsense approach and hailed for his anti-corruption stance and his distinct dislike for wasting money.

    President Samia spoke of the ‘heavy load’ on her shoulders and urged for the burying of differences and unity during the mourning period.

  • Muslims asked to delay Hajji bookings

    Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims from around the world who are planning to take part in the Hajji pilgrimage to delay booking amid uncertainty over the covid-19 epidemic.

     

    Hajj minister Mohammed Banten said the kingdom was concerned about the safety of pilgrims and urged people to “wait before concluding contracts”.

     

    In excess of 2million people were expected to travel to Mecca and Medina this July and August for the annual gathering.

     

    Muslims who are physically able must undertake the Hajji once in a lifetime.

     

  • Muslims gather to celebrate Covid-hit Eid ul-Adha

    Beginning on the evening of Monday July 19, Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) marks one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar.

  • NASA headquarters named after its first Black female engineer Mary W Jackson

    One of the Hidden Figures who helped the NASA space agency reach for the stars has been honoured by naming its headquarters in Washington DC after her.

    In 1958 Mary W Jackson became the agency's first Black female engineer, and through her work opened the door for more women to follow in her footsteps. And in doing so she was breaking boundaries herself.

    A mathematician and aerospace engineer, she was part of a group of women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space playing a key role in the early days of NASA, doing the complex calculations that made space travel possible.

    Ms Jackson died at age of 83 in 2005 and in 2019 she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation’s highest civilian honours.

    Now the name of Mary Jackson, one of the inspirations for the book ‘Hidden Figures,’ officially adorns the space agency’s headquarters in Washington. NASA officially named its headquarters in the nation's capital after the agency's first Black woman engineer, with a ceremony honouring her legacy.

    NASA’s acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said during a virtual ceremony: "With the official naming of the Mary W. Jackson NASA headquarters, we ensure that she is a hidden figure no longer.

    “With the official naming of the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters, we ensure that she is a ‘Hidden Figure’ no longer.” Members of her family also attended the building’s renaming ceremony.

    Ms Jackson's groundbreaking achievements was highlighted in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book, ‘Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race’ which was turned into the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Hidden Figures’ later that same year.

  • Nevis Premier takes 100 per cent salary cut during Covid-19 crisis

    The Premier of Nevis, Mark Brantley, has announced that he will forgo his whole monthly salary, for the foreseeable future, as a personal stance of solidarity with people of the Caribbean island whose own loss of earnings caused by the severity of coronavirus has impacted on them dramatically, due to the economic fallout.

    Premier Brantley recently informed Nevisians of his decision when he said: “I have foregone my monthly salary and benefits in full, and I will continue to do so until this major crisis is over”.

    This follows the announcement of the leaders of other island states in the region – and international arena – who are said to have taken anywhere between 30 and 70 per cent pay cuts as the revenues of their individual governments decreases.

    As leader of the Nevis administration, Premier Brantley informed that Ministers would also be making their own personal financial sacrifices to aid the financial recovery of the islanders.

    “We fully recognise the pain and anxiety of the Nevisians”, he said, “who have lost their jobs - and some, their homes – and the general loss of income has made it difficult for some of us to even ensure that we have food to eat”.

     

  • New curfew hours in place in Jamaica

    The spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in Jamaica prompted the government to adopt new restrictive measures that went into force recently. 

     

    Prime Minister Andrew Holness had announced changes to the containment measures as the country deals with community spread of COVID-19, the Jamaica Observer newspaper reports.

     

    These measures include:

     

    • There will be an 8:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew starting tomorrow, until September 23.
    • Public gatherings have been reduced from 20 people to 15.
    • People 70 years and older are required to stay home, but will be allowed to leave once each day for the necessities of life.
    • There will be one person less than the maximum allowed in the license for taxis, while passengers are required to wear masks while in the vehicles.
    • The prohibition on funerals and parties continues. Burials are allowed with 15 people, including no more than 10 mourners.
    • Normal church services are allowed for institutions which follow the protocols. There should be no more than 15 people gathered in the church yard.
    • All businesses should facilitate workers to work from home if they are able to.