Make Votes Matter organised a nationwide Demand Democracy Day, calling for “mass action to show and build support for proportional representation in general elections.”
Activists joined events in London, Cardiff and other towns and cities across Britain, urging supporters to petition their local lawmakers to back reform of Britain’s first-past-the-post, constituency-based electoral system, which has been used in its current form since 1950.
Opinion polls this week suggested that support has plummeted for Britain’s two biggest political parties, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives and the main opposition Labour, and shifted to the resurgent anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats and to veteran eurosceptic Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.
“We are now a multi-party democracy operating under a broken, one-person-takes-all voting system,” Jess Blair of the Electoral Reform Society had said on Thursday.
In the last general election in 2017, about 68 per cent of voters “didn’t play an active role in the decision of the outcome because they either were for losing candidates or they were for winning candidates who didn’t need that many votes,” Darren Hughes, head of the society, told dpa last month.
All the 2020 Democrats threatening to skip next debate in LA
All the 2020 candidates who qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate have vowed to bow out of the event because they don’t want to cross a picket line to get there.
Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer announced on Friday that they would pull out of the Thursday Democratic debate in Los Angeles if a local labor union dispute can’t get resolved.
The Democratic National Committee decided last month that it would move the debate from the University of California, Los Angeles to Loyola Marymount University following a conflict between UCLA and AFSCME Local 3299.
Now, however, the DNC finds itself in the crosshairs of another dispute. UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents 150 workers who prepare and serve meals for Loyola Marymount students, said it would boycott the next presidential debate after negotiations broke down with Sodexo, the university’s food services subcontractor.
“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week. Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus,” said a statement from Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
Shortly after the announcement, Warren, Sanders and Yang took to Twitter and committed to not crossing the picket lines.
“The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party’s commitment to fight for working people.
“I will not cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate,” Warren wrote.
Yang said “there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for working people,” while Sanders said he stood with the university workers “fighting Sodexo for a better contract.”
Biden, Buttigieg, and Steyer also offered their support for the Loyola Marymount workers, with Biden calling for them to receive “affordable healthcare and fair wages,” Buttigieg saying he would not “undermine” workers’ rights and Steyer urging the Democratic National Committee to “find a solution ahead of the debate.”
Klobuchar said at an event with labor leaders in Miami that she, too, would not cross the picket lines.
The debate is the first (and likely the last) to be held in California before the state’s March 3 primary election.
The Democratic National Committee announced that its next four debates will be held in January and February in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, leaving room for two more planned debates between March and June.
The Democratic National Committee said it’s working with the labor union and others involved and expects the debate to go on as planned.
“We are working with all stakeholders to find an acceptable resolution that meets their needs and is consistent with our values and will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, the committee’s communications director.
Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
Verdict in corruption trial for Sudan’s al-Bashir expected Saturday
A verdict in the corruption trial of Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir is expected to be delivered on Saturday.
The court in the capital of Khartoum heard final testimonies in the case on Nov. 16, including that of the government’s auditor.
After being overthrown during a military coup on April 11, al-Bashir was found to be in possession of large sums of local and foreign currency, as well as other assets, without legal justification.
While the former president admitted he had received 25 million dollars from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Al-Bashir, who was in power for 30 years, was deposed when members of the military arrested him after months of nationwide anti-government protests.
He is currently being detained in Kobar prison – where he once sent many of his political opponents and which is a far cry from his luxurious palace.
According to his lawyers, al-Bashir was summoned this week to answer questions about the coup that brought him to power in 1989 and the killing of protesters earlier this year.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
It is still unclear whether or not he will be handed over.
Despite the international warrant for his arrest since 2009, al-Bashir managed to travel to several countries in recent years, including Arab and African nations.
The north-eastern African country of Sudan is currently ruled by a transitional civilian government and is one of the world’s 25 poorest countries.
Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
Trump appears to back short Senate impeachment trial
On the day the House Judiciary Committee approved impeachment articles against him, President Donald Trump claimed it is strengthening him politically. And with those articles headed to the House floor next week, he appears to be warming to a quick election-year Senate trial.
In brief but animated remarks, the president defiantly declared of the shape and length of an expected Senate trial: “I’ll do whatever I want.”
The remark could have been a message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who favor a short trial with no GOP-White House witnesses; Trump favors the opposite.
But just as quickly, the president appeared to defer to McConnell, adding: “I’ll do whatever they want to do.”
A couple hours after the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send two impeachment articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – to the full chamber, the president called the panel’s action “a very sad thing for our country.”
But he cast the probe in political terms, contending Democrats might have hurt their chances at defeating him next year and winning other races.
“But it seems to be very good for me politically,” he said.
Before Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved ahead with the impeachment inquiry in September, polls mostly showed Americans favoring the president’s impeachment. Since the probe began, public opinion has mostly leveled.
A Monmouth University poll released this week, for instance, found 45 per cent of Americans want Trump impeached and moved out of his job. Despite public hearings in recent weeks, that is only 1 percentage point higher than the same poll found in the two previous months.
An average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight found a relatively stable level of opinion about impeachment, with less than half of Americans favoring the House making Trump only the third sitting president to be impeached.
The president also took a shot at Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council Ukraine expert who testified during the impeachment probe and raised concerns about an American president asking another government to investigate US citizens.
“The ‘lieutenant colonel,’” Trump said, bringing up Vindman Friday without being prompted. “He’s another beauty.”
The president also repeatedly slammed Democrats, saying they have misused impeachment, calling it “something that shouldn’t be allowed,” adding: “I’ll tell you what, some day there will be a Democratic president and a Republican House.”
Under such a scenario, he said he suspects his fellow Republicans will “remember that,” referring to his expected impeachment.
In a lighter moment, Trump – who agreed to a still-murky “phase one” trade pact with China as Republican and Democratic lawmakers claimed to have struck a spending deal – noted, “This has been a wild week.”
Next week likely will only be wilder.
The House is slated to take up that year-end spending package on Tuesday that is needed to avert a government shutdown next week. The impeachment articles are expected on the floor Wednesday, followed by his proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact on Thursday.
Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
17-year-old Nigerian winner of Chinese Bridge competition pledges to tackle Nigeria’s electricity challenge
Mr Samuel Miracle, 17-year-old Nigerian student and winner of the World Chinese Bridge Language Competition has pledged to solve Nigeria’s electricity challenge after completing the scholarship he won to study Engineering in China.
Miracle made the pledge on Friday in Abuja during an interaction with the media on his educational journey to studying Mandarin and participation in the competition.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the Chinese Bridge Competition is the highest stage for foreign language learners to compete in language competence and cultural understanding worldwide.
Miracle who won the 2019 World Chinese Bridge Competition held in Henan Province, China competed alongside 120 other participants from 105 countries from across the world.
He said that the scholarship he won would be meaningless if he did not achieve something that would impact positively on the development of Nigeria.
Miracle said that he decided to study the Chinese language in order to learn electricity engineering from China which is a developed country occupying a leading position in the world.
He promised to return to Nigeria after completing his scholarship programme to help tackle the problem of “blackout”.
He said that the prize for winning the competition was a four-year fully-funded scholarship to any university/institution to study any course of his choice.
“After my secondary education I went to study the Chinese language when I was introduced to the competition by a friend.
“I thought that it was a very good opportunity because it is a language I am really interested in.
“Before I started studying the Chinese language, I always had the dream of becoming an engineer and to be very good in it to help the electricity in sectors in Nigeria’s which is a big challenge.
“I will come back to impact in my country because you have not achieved the main goal of studying abroad if you do not return to your country to make an impact.
“I would do everything to help Nigeria, make a change where possible and correct the negative impression that other countries have about Nigeria”, Miracle said.
On winning the competition, Miracle said it was a great challenge as he only started studying Chinese at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University China Confucius Institute in Oct. 2018.
He said that winning the competition was as a result of determination and the help of his teachers as he adviced other youngsters of the advantages of being bilingual.
Miracle said that Nigeria and China had strong ties and it would be good for Nigerians to take learning Chinese language seriously to further promote the cultural ties with both countries.
Also speaking, Mr Zhang Jianle, Lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Conficius Institute commended Miracle who now bears the Chinese name Gu Siyan for his commitments to learning Chinese.
Jianle said that Miracle’s speed at learning the language was remarkable as a result of his determination.
He said that he was proud to be his teacher as he made the Institute which was participating in such category of the competition for the first time proud in winning the star prize.
Jianle urged the Nigerian institution to further build on the relations between Nigeria and China to introduce learning Chinese language in their curriculum especially from Primary School levels.
“It is important to learn Chinese language now because Chinese is getting stronger in the world and more Chinese companies are coming to Nigeria.
“It will help in deepening bilateral ties and interaction in order to enhance communications.
“It would be good to introduce Chinese in Nigerian schools. They have degree courses in Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Chinese Language but should also be introduced at primary level of education”, Jianle said.
Until 2019, the Chinese Bridhe series of competitions has attracted more than 1.4 million teenagers from more than 150 countries and region across the world.
More than 6,500 students from more than 110 countries were invited to China to participate in the World Chinese Bridge rematch and finals.
Last year, another Nigerian with Chinese name Ding Jiaming, a Student of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Confucius Center also won the African Championship of the 17th World University Chinese Bridge Competition.
Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
Kenyan police arrest suspects with 73kg of ivory
Kenyan officers on Friday reported that two suspects had been nabbed with ten pieces of ivory weighing 73 kilograms, valued at 7.3 million shillings (73,000 U.S. dollars) in Samburu village, Kwale.
The two, Charles Mweni, 32, and Tabitha Mueni 43 were arrested by Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers on Thursday.
The operation was conducted by the DCI detectives working in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service rangers from Mombasa and Kenya Police from Taru Police Station.
Coast KWS Conservation Area Assistant Director Arthur Tuda told Xinhua that “we arrested them after a tip-off from members of public and they are being held at Taru Police Station as we speak.’’
He said that the officers posed as buyers before pouncing on the suspects.
“If the public continues being vigilant like this we will end the poaching menace and save our elephants,’’ he added.
KWS officials say the elephants could have been killed in the nearby Tsavo National Park.
The arrests are latest in a series of seizures made in 2019 by the anti-poaching officers.
In July, police canine unit sniffed out 35 pieces of ivory tusks worth 180,000 dollars at Makombeni village, Kilifi County leading to arrests of two suspects.
In May, officers nabbed 8 pieces of ivory weighing 8 kilograms concealed in a sack of maize and arrested two suspects.
According to international investigating agencies, Mombasa port, the largest port in East Africa, is used as a transit route by smugglers of illegal animal parts.
Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
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