2019, March, Newsletter

World Newsletter Mar 11, 2019

World News March 11


A Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from
Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board,
including four Indians, tourists, business travellers, and “at least a
dozen” UN staff.
Ethiopia declared a national day of mourning for Monday amid a global stream
of condolences for loved ones, many of whom gathered in tears at Nairobi’s
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Identities of the victims from 35 countries started to emerge as foreign
governments and the United Nations reacted with shock. “Deeply saddened by
the news this morning of the plane crash in Ethiopia, claiming the lives of
all on board. My heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all
the victims – including our own @UN staff – who perished in this tragedy,”
tweeted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The passengers included “at least a dozen” UN-affiliated staff headed for an
annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme, which opens in Nairobi
Monday with some 4,700 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, senior
UN officials and civil society representatives, a UN source said.
The plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground.
Boeing faces questions after crash:
US plane maker Boeing faces questions after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 crash
on Sunday killed all 157 people on board.
It was the second crash in five months involving a 737 Max 8, the newest
version of the plane.
Comparisons are being drawn with a Lion Air accident last October where the
plane lost altitude soon after takeoff.
However, experts warn it is too early to say what caused the Ethiopian
Airlines disaster.


Brexit could be reversed if lawmakers reject the government’s exit deal,
British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday after two major
eurosceptic factions in parliament warned that Prime Minister Theresa May
was facing a heavy defeat.
Just 19 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29,
Ms. May is scrambling – so far unsuccessfully – to secure last-minute
changes to an EU exit treaty before parliament votes on Tuesday on whether
to approve the deal.
If she fails, lawmakers are expected to force Ms. May to seek a delay to
Brexit which some fear could see the 2016 decision to leave the bloc
reversed. Others argue that without a delay Britain faces an economic shock
if it leaves without a deal.
“We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29 or shortly thereafter and
it’s important we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails
of people trying to stop Brexit,” Mr. Hunt told the BBC. “We are in very
perilous waters.”


The Palestinian president has chosen longtime adviser Mohammed Ishtayeh as
his new prime minister, officials said on Sunday, a step that further
deepens the rift with the rival Hamas group.
President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to announce the appointment later in
the day, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity pending a
formal announcement.
Mr. Ishtayeh, a British-educated economist, is a top official in Abbas’
Fatah movement. He is a former peace negotiator and strong proponent of a
two-state solution with Israel. He also is a strong critic of the Islamic
militant group Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah
forces in 2007.
The Hamas takeover has left the Palestinians torn between rival governments
in Gaza and the West Bank, where Abbas’ Palestinian Authority administers
autonomous areas. Repeated attempts at reconciliation have failed.
Mr. Ishtayeh will succeed Rami Hamdallah, who had overseen a unity
government formed nearly five years ago with the goal of reaching a
conciliation deal with Hamas.


North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday for an election in which there
could be only one winner.
Leader Kim Jong Un’s ruling Workers’ Party has an iron grip on the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the isolated, nuclear-armed
country is officially known.
Every five years it holds an election for the rubber stamp legislature,
known as the Supreme People’s Assembly. The exercise has all the trappings
of votes elsewhere, from electoral rolls to sealed ballot boxes to
scrutineers for the count.
But in keeping with one of Pyongyang’s most enduring slogans –
“Single-minded unity” – there is only one approved name on each of the red
voting slips.


President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to return to Algeria on Sunday
after two weeks in a Swiss hospital as he faces mass protests that pose the
biggest threat to his 20-year rule.
In the clearest indication yet that the generals sympathise with tens of
thousands of Algerians who want Mr. Bouteflika to step down, the Chief of
Staff said the military and the people had a united vision of the future,
state TV reported. Lieutenant General Gaed Salah did not mention the
A source familiar with the matter said Mr. Bouteflika would return on
An Algerian government plane landed at Geneva’s Cointrin airport earlier on
Sunday. A Reuters witness saw the Gulfstream executive jet, the one which
had taken Mr. Bouteflika to Geneva on February 24, touch down at the airport
amid a heavy police presence. Swiss newspaper La Tribune de Geneve reported
that the plane was due to leave Geneva at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT). It did not
identify its source.
Algerians of all social classes have protested over the past three weeks
against Mr. Bouteflika’s decision to stand in April’s election.
On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of the capital carrying the
Algerian flag and chanting: “Bouteflika, there will be no fifth term”. Many
shops in Algiers were closed and residents say train services had been
suspended. Young Algerians are desperate for jobs and angry at unemployment,
corruption and an elderly elite.


China is defending its often-criticised policies toward Tibet 60 years after
the Dalai Lama fled abroad amid an uprising against Chinese rule. Xinhua
News Agency says economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education
refute the claims of critics.
Tibet is ruled under a smothering Chinese security blanket and many Tibetans
abroad say the Himalayan region’s resources are being exploited for
Beijing’s benefit while Tibet’s unique Buddhist culture is being destroyed.
It said “undeniable facts and figures” related to development “debunk the
repeated lies and accusations that aim to smear Tibet’s human rights with
vile motives.” The article didn’t directly mention Sunday’s uprising
anniversary, referring to the events of 1959 instead as the inauguration of
“democratic reform” that saw the dismantlement of the Buddhist hierarchy and
feudal structures.


Armed with assault rifles and with faces wrapped in scarves, the Islamic
State fighters visible at the boundary of their last enclave in eastern
Syria are among the hardened jihadists who appear ready to fight to the
Thousands of people – many of them the wives of Islamic State fighters and
their children – have been streaming out of the besieged enclave at Baghouz
for weeks, forcing the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to delay an
assault on the last vestige of the jihadists’ territorial rule.
Reuters TV footage of the Islamic State-controlled frontline shows armed
militants, most with only their eyes visible, supervising the evacuations
from a scrubby patch of agricultural land scattered with vehicles and a few
The SDF has said the fighters staying put through waves of evacuations are
the most hardened foreign militants, wanted by governments around the world,
who are likely to fight to the death.
On Saturday, a Reuters witness saw dozens of mostly men cross from Islamic
State territory into SDF-controlled lines. The SDF said these were wounded
Islamic State fighters.
A no-man’s land of about 200 metres separates SDF positions from the Islamic
State frontline at Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farmland near the
border with Iraq.
Evacuees are screened by the SDF as they emerge and are sent north to the
al-Hol camp, already overcrowded with uprooted Syrians and Iraqis from years
of war and struggling to cope with the influx.


Thousands of vaccines are being delivered to health centres in New Zealand’s
Canterbury district as a measles outbreak has widened to 20 confirmed cases
with health officials warning the number is expected to rise over the coming
days and weeks.
Measles cases are rising globally, including in wealthy nations such as the
United States and Germany, where some parents shun the vaccines mostly for
philosophical or religious reasons, or concerns, debunked by medical
science, that the vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could
cause autism.
With Canterbury health centres running out of vaccines since the start of
the outbreak in late February, 3,000 MMR vaccines have been brought by
Sunday and 18,000 more are to be delivered to the region by Wednesday.
“It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community,”
the Canterbury District Health Board said in a statement.
The latest outbreak came from people who were thought not fully immunised.
People are considered immune if they have received two doses of the MMR
vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
“Unimmunised people who come within two metres (6.56 ft) of an infectious
person, however briefly, have a 90-percent chance of contracting measles,”
the Board said.


Beijing: China’s Long March-3B rocket, regarded as the main stay of the
country’s space programme since 1970, successfully completed its 300th
launch by putting a new communication satellite into orbit on Sunday. The
indigenously-built rocket had sent more than 500 spacecraft into space.
“This is a milestone for China’s space industry development,” Wu Yansheng,
board chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
(CASC) said. The Long March carrier rocket series, developed by CASC, is
responsible for about 96.4% of all the launch missions in China. It took 37
years for the Long March rockets to complete the first 100 launches, 7.5
years to complete the second 100 launches, and only about four years to
accomplish the final 100, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.


Washington: Scientists, using NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO),
have observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon, the US
space agency said, an advance that could help us learn about accessibility
of water that can be used by humans in future lunar missions. Measuerments
from the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project instrument aboard the LRO of the sparse
layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped characterise
lunar hydration changes over the course of a day, according to the study
published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Up until the last
decade, scientists thought the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly
as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

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