Cameroon Strike Leaders Plead Not Guilty

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YAOUNDE – Tensions continue in Cameroon as the strike in English-speaking regions nears the end of its third month.

Three strike leaders pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of terrorism and insurrection before a military tribunal. They are accused of calling for the English-speaking parts of the country to secede and they could face the death penalty if convicted.

Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, Fontem Aforteka’a Neba and Bibixy Mancho are accused of organizing demonstrations in December that turned violent. The government says national flags were burned and the flag of a supposedly new independent nation was lifted. The government deployed the military, and at least seven people were killed in the unrest.

The three men entered the courtroom Monday joined by more than 100 lawyers working on their defense. Defense counsel Ben Muna says his clients were arrested illegally.

“The preliminary objection which we raised had to do with how the case was investigated which is the proof that the prosecution said they were not ready,” Muna said. “They don’t have witnesses.”

The case has been adjourned until March 23rd.

Strike started in November

English-speaking lawyers and teachers have been on strike since November. They are protesting what they say is the overwhelming use of French in their sectors. But the strike has drawn other activists who accuse the state of marginalizing English speakers living primarily in the southwest and the northwest.

Some strikers are calling for a return to federalism, while other leaders want secession. The government says neither are options. Negotiations broke down over the issue earlier this year.

The strikers are also demanding the unconditional release of everyone arrested in connection with the strike. The government says 70 people are detained. Activists say the number is higher. More arrests happened this past weekend during unrest in the northwestern town of Ndop.

Meeting with President Biya

Main opposition party leader Ni John Fru Ndi says he raised concerns about the military’s response in a recent meeting with President Paul Biya.

“I told Mr. Biya that please can you step in and take a position yourself on what is happening,” Fru Ndi said. “They are still shooting and killing. Teachers are locked up, and they are going around arresting people. Anybody who talks about federation will be arrested and locked up. I mean, all these things should be discussed.”

President Biya issued a statement Friday. He is open to dialogue but the president said national unity is not up for negotiation and all detainees must face justice.

The government has made some changes to address strikers’ grievances.

Judges transferred

President Biya has transferred non-English speaking judges out of the striking zones and announced plans to recruit 1,000 bilingual teachers.

Students at a public school in Yaounde performed a sketch encouraging people to use both languages.

Teachers like Bibian Ayuk said they have received instructions to promote bilingualism.

“When they have activities in schools, it is carried out in both languages and we encourage teachers when they go to school to carry out what they call jeux bilingue,” Ayuk said. “That is a five-minute talk in your second language while teaching.”

Both languages are used

English speakers constitute just 20 percent of the population but the constitution said English and French should be equally important.

Since the strike began, some official documents can now be found in English. English has also been added to signs for state radio and television and various government ministries. High-ranking government officials have begun giving public remarks in both languages.

Despite the changes, the government has drawn a hard line on the strike. In January, authorities banned public gatherings in the two affected regions and cut all internet access.

 

Source : Cameroon Online News

Cancun’s giant wheel is not turning yet

The 60-meter-high ferris wheel has neither environmental nor municipal permits

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Chicago's Centennial Wheel: one like it is going up in Cancún.

The installation of a giant ferris wheel in Cancún has raised concerns over its environmental impact and the actions of the municipal administration with regard to the project.

The giant wheel, the product of the Netherlands-based firm Dutch Wheels, represents a 200-million-peso (US $9.9 million) Mexican-Dutch investment in the Punta Cancún area of the city’s hotel zone.

Once finished, the 60-meter-high giant wheel will carry eight people in each of its 42 air-conditioned gondolas, with a theoretical annual capacity of 3 million passengers.

The project, to be known as Gran Rueda Cancún, or Big Wheel Cancún, will be similar to the Chicago Centennial Wheel, the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and the Baku Wheel in Azerbaijan.

Cancún Mayor Remberto Estrada Barba described the wheel as “a new world-class attraction that will soon become a must for visitors.”

But it turns out that construction began without an approved environmental impact assessment. The firm had requested an exemption from that requirement from the federal Environment Secretariat (Semarnat).

But after evaluating the construction methods to be utilized the agency notified the firm in January that it could not be exempted because the wheel was to be erected in a coastal environment.

The Environment Secretariat also notified Profepa, the environmental protection agency.

In spite of that construction of the wheel has continued and is now 90% complete.

But irregularities at the municipal level have temporarily halted the project. The local Environment and Urban Development Secretariat suspended construction on Friday after it was discovered it had no municipal permits.

The Ecologist Group of the Mayab (Gema for short) has accused Estrada of deceiving Cancún residents by promoting the wheel while it lacked those permits.

Gema president Araceli Domínguez Rodríguez said that if Estrada’s intention was to give Cancún an iconic landmark, the wheel “could be the perfect icon for impunity and illegality.”

Estrada and his government secretary, Mauricio Rodríguez Marrufo, reportedly defended the project until the suspension was unavoidable.

Both politicians have been named in the investigations against former Quintana Roo governor Roberto Borge.

Source : Mexico Daily News

4.9 magnitude earthquake shakes Atacama region

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4.9 magnitude earthquake shakes Atacama region

SANTIAGO — An earthquake of 4.9 magnitude was recorded in the region of Atacama on Sunday.

According to the National Seismological Center (CSN), the earthquake was perceived at 13:21:12 hours with a magnitude of 4.9, in 58 kilometers northwest of Huasco. The depth was 34.2 kilometers.

In addition, the National Emergency Office (Onemi) reported that the intensity of this earthquake was of III degrees in the Mercalli scale in Copiapo, Tierra Amarilla, Coquimbo and La Serena.

Chile is in a quake-prone region, lying on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire of frequent seismic activity.

Last year, on the Christmas, a 7.7 degrees earthquake affected five regions in southern Chile but left no fatal casualties.

The last big quake to shake Chile was in September 2015, when an 8.3 temblor followed by a tsunami hit the north of the country, killing 15 people. A coastal evacuation order had limited the number of casualties.

The quake struck as Chileans were with their families celebrating Christmas. All shops were closed.

In 2010 another quake measuring 8.8, also followed by a tsunami, struck the center and south of the country, killing more than 500 people.

Professores, enfermeiros e médicos fazem subir emprego no Estado

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É o segundo ano consecutivo em que o emprego público aumenta, mas o total de funcionários mantém-se 63 mil abaixo do pré-troika

A administração pública chegou ao final de 2016 com mais 4843 trabalhadores do que em 2015. É o segundo ano consecutivo de subida no emprego público e um corte com a tendência de queda registada durante os anos em que a troika fez visitas regulares a Portugal. Estado, regiões, autarquias e entidades públicas empresariais empregavam, em dezembro, um total de 663 798 pessoas. A explicar a subida está o reforço nas contratações de professores e educadores de infância, médicos e enfermeiros.

O governo estimava conseguir reduzir em dez mil o número de funcionários públicos ao longo do ano passado. Esta meta, que permitiria poupar cem milhões de euros, seria alcançada através de 20 mil aposentações. Mas a vontade dos trabalhadores mais velhos em se manterem no ativo acabou por trocar as voltas a estas contas. E os dados ontem divulgados na Síntese Estatística do Emprego Público (SIEP) mostram que o número de trabalhadores registado a 31 de dezembro de 2016, em vez de baixar, revelava “um aumento de cerca de 0,7% em termos homólogos”. Que se soma ao acréscimo de 0,5% em 2015 (mais 2312 pessoas).

A queda a pique nas saídas para as reformas e também a não observância da regra de uma admissão por cada duas saídas esteve na origem daquele acréscimo anual de quase cinco mil novos postos de trabalho. Metade destas situações (2363) observam-se no Ministério da Educação, como resultado do processo de contratação de docentes e de outros trabalhadores. Mas não só. “A evolução positiva nas carreiras de enfermagem e médica, entre o final de 2015 e de 2016″, é outro dos fatores que mais pesaram para que o saldo entre entradas e saídas resultasse num aumento do universo de trabalhadores. No caso da saúde estão em causa sobretudo os fluxos registados nas entidades públicas empresariais (EPE) do Serviço Nacional de Saúde.”

Em relação ao terceiro trimestre também se verificou um acréscimo de trabalhadores devido ao crescimento do emprego na administração central (que responde por 7600 destas situações), por causa do impacto do início do novo ano letivo. “Em comparação com o final do trimestre anterior, o emprego nas administrações públicas cresceu 8058 postos de trabalho (1,2%) refletindo ainda, durante o 4.º trimestre do ano, o início do ano letivo 2016-2017, de continuação do processo de colocação de docentes e de outros trabalhadores contratados para os estabelecimentos de educação e de ensino, em particular do Ministério de Educação e do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior”, precisa o relatório produzido pela Direção-Geral da Administração e do Emprego público (DGAEP).

Os aumentos do número de trabalhadores da função pública observados em 2015 e 2016 cortam com as quedas observadas entre 2011 e 2014, mas o emprego no Estado, regiões e autarquias continua ainda muito longe dos números registados antes da chegada da troika. Quando os credores internacionais aterraram em Lisboa, a função pública tinha mais 63 631 trabalhadores do que agora.

A subida do emprego público tem também um lado mais negro – o aumento dos precários. De acordo com o SIEP, no último trimestre de 2016 estavam ativos na função pública 75 759 contratos a termo, uma fatia de nada menos de 11,4% do total . É necessário recuar a 2013 para encontrar um número mais elevado.

O universo total de funcionários públicos revela oscilações trimestrais que são em grande parte influenciadas pelo fim de um ano letivo e início do seguinte. E nestas variações, os contratos a termo acabam por ter uma influência significativa. Este contexto ajuda a explicar que o emprego precário tenha avançado 11,6% entre setembro e dezembro de 2016 (passando de 67 875 trabalhadores para os já referidos 75 759). Mas a comparação homóloga (que alisa aquele efeito) revela que também houve um aumento: no final de 2015, a função pública tinha 71 522 destes precários, menos 4237 do que no final de 2016.

Diário de Notícias

Rabenmutter

Verkaufspläne von GMRabenmutter

Bei Opel geht es mal wieder ums Ganze: Gerade lief es für die deutsche GM-Tochter wieder besser, da wollen die Amerikaner sie wieder losschlagen. Wie groß wird der Schaden dieses Mal?

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Chronologie: Opels holpriger Weg

Die Tragik des Autoherstellers Opel zeigt sich diese Woche Freitag in einem kleinen Raum. Während es um die Zukunft des Unternehmens geht, beschäftigt die Richter des Landgerichts Darmstadt Opels Vergangenheit – in einem Büro verkünden sie ihr Urteil in einem vier Jahre andauernden Konflikt: Hat der Mutterkonzern General Motors (GM) das Opel-Autowerk in Bochum korrekt geschlossen oder ist der Beschluss rechtlich nichtig?

Längst sind Tatsachen geschaffen. Und doch wirft der Streit ein Schlaglicht auf Opels Dilemma. Gerade jetzt.

Der ehemalige Bochumer Betriebsratschef Rainer Einenkel hatte Klage eingereicht. Er wirft dem Unternehmen vor, die Aufsichtsräte seien nicht ausreichend über das Aus für das Werk in Bochum informiert worden. Es klingt nicht anders als die Kritik an GM heute, die deutsche Tochter sei über ihren möglichen Verkauf an PSA Peugeot Citroën bis Dienstag im Dunkeln gelassen worden.

Die Klage in Darmstadt und die neuen Verkaufspläne demonstrieren Opels Tragik: In Deutschland hat niemand mehr etwas zu sagen über die Zukunft des 1862 in Rüsselsheim gegründeten Autoherstellers, seit die Amerikaner 1929 die Mehrheit übernommen haben.

So wie Opel einst für Bochum und heute für Rüsselsheim steht, so steht Volkswagen für seinen Stammsitz Wolfsburg – Berlin ist nicht weit. Die Politik redet beim größten europäischen Autokonzern durch den 20-Prozent-Anteil Niedersachsens im Aufsichtsrat sogar direkt mit. Opels Machthaber jedoch sitzen im fernen Detroit. Im jahrelangen Auf und Ab des Unternehmens sind die Opelaner und deutschen Politiker zum Zuschauen verdammt.

Taktik großer Worte

Der Schmerz darüber sitzt tief. Wie eine Amputation kam Opels Beschäftigten in Bochum die Schließung ihres Werks 2014 vor. Noch immer sind mehr als 1000 der Opelaner dort ohne Arbeit, beklagt der Betriebsrat. Von dem Traditionswerk auf einem ehemaligen Zechengelände blieb nur ein Warenverteilzentrum. Dabei war die Bochumer Fabrik, die zweite nach dem Stammsitz in Rüsselsheim, einstmals mit rund 22.000 Arbeitsplätzen der Stolz des Unternehmens. 52 Jahre baute Opel dort Autos.

Folgt jetzt Rüsselsheim? Diese Frage facht die Angst bei der deutschen GM-Tochter an. Umso größere verbale Geschütze fährt die Politik nun auf, da GM den Verkauf von Opel an den französischen Hersteller PSA überlegt. Noch ist nichts entschieden, doch Bundeswirtschaftsministerin Brigitte Zypries warf den Konzernen in einem wenig diplomatischen Schnellschuss gleich vor, ihre Gespräche seien “völlig inakzeptabel”, denn sie würden ohne Betriebsräte oder die Landesregierung in Hessen geführt. GM habe selbst die Bundesregierung nicht informiert. Mindestens das Entwicklungszentrum müsse in Deutschland bleiben.

Der rheinland-pfälzische Wirtschaftsminister Volker Wissing (FDP) packte noch eins drauf: Er erwarte ein Bekenntnis zu den deutschen Standorten, biete seine volle Unterstützung dafür an. “Ich bin bereit, dem potenziellen Käufer eine faire Chance zu geben”, sagte Wissing, als könne er über einen Verkauf entscheiden.

Kräftezehrender Schlingerkurs

GMs Verkaufspläne erinnern Opel an die eigene Machtlosigkeit. Geben die Amerikaner die deutsche Tochter ab, stehen tausende Jobs hierzulande auf dem Spiel. Denn PSA hat selbst unausgelastete Fabriken. Es ist wie so oft in Opels Geschichte, in der die Amerikaner Fortschritte in Deutschland immer wieder torpediert haben. Das macht die Lage jetzt so schwer erträglich für die Mitarbeiter der Marke mit dem Blitz.

In den 1950er und 1960er Jahren fuhr Opel technisch auf einer Höhe mit VW, stand in seinem Ruf BMW und Mercedes kaum nach. Doch immer, wenn Opel florierte, knappste GM Geld für wichtige Investitionen ab, um sie woanders im Konzern zu nutzen. So würgten die Amerikaner zwei Jahrzehnte später Opels guten Lauf ab. Der Marke fehlte ein Kleinwagen, der einst gelungene Kadett tuckerte dem VW Golf technisch hinterher, andere Modelle sorgten für ein Biedermannimage. Im Jahr 2000 rutschte Opel in Verluste. Den lukrativen Markt in China durfte Opel nicht bedienen, da GM dort amerikanische Fahrzeuge vertreiben wollte.

Als die Marke sich gerade aufgerappelt hatte, gute Modelle und günstigere Kosten durch Synergien schaffte, stoppte GM ausgerechnet aussichtsreiche Fahrzeugreihen wieder. Der Konzern scheute die Investitionen. Er sparte gerade da, wo es Opel besonders weh tat – bei der Qualität. Das ruinierte Opels Image vollständig.

Ein derartiges Hin und Her ist zwischen GM und Opel entstanden, dass das Unternehmen aufgrund der komplexen Rechnungslegung zwischen Mutterkonzern und Tochter nicht einmal auf Anhieb sagen kann, ob Opel 1999 letztmalig einen Jahresgewinn auswies oder doch auch 2006, als es zumindest öffentlich ebenfalls einen angekündigt hatte.

Mal investierte GM bei Opel, mal zog der Konzern Entwicklungsleistung ab, Erfolg und Misserfolg der deutschen Tochter lassen sich über die Jahre kaum klar aufzeigen.

Die Hoffnung erneut erstickt

Als GM 2008 in die Insolvenz zu kippen drohte, musste Opel sogar einen Teil der Konzernverluste aus Amerika schlucken. Der Konzern drängte die Bundesregierung in dem Jahr auch noch zu Staatshilfen, um die Zukunft der deutschen Tochter zu sichern. Und nicht nur das: Ein Jahr darauf versuchte GM bereits einen Verkauf der Marke an den österreichisch-kanadischen Zulieferer und Auftragsfertiger Magna. Viele Opelaner wären glücklich gewesen, von ihrer verhassten Mutter loszukommen.

Gerade keimte neue Hoffnung bei Opel auf. Bis 2020 will der Hersteller insgesamt 29 neue Fahrzeuge und 17 neue Motoren auf den Markt bringen. Mit dem neuen Astra gelang es der Marke, sein Kompaktmodell wieder attraktiv zu machen. Beinahe schaffte Opel-Chef Karl-Thomas Neumann 2016 die Rückkehr zu einem Jahresgewinn, hätten nicht der Rückzug vom schwächelnden Markt in Russland und der geplante Ausstieg Großbritanniens aus der EU, wo die Opel-Schwestermarke Vauxhall nun geschwächt wird, schwer ins Kontor geschlagen.

Den beginnenden Aufschwung Opels torpediert GM mit den Verkaufsplänen erneut, statt ihn für sich zu nutzen. Dieser Stopp-and-Go-Verkehr vergeudet mehr Energie, als sich Autokonzerne in der derzeit schwierigen Marktlage leisten können. Der Bund mit einem größeren Autohersteller in Europa, der Opels einsames Kämpferdasein beendet, könnte durch die größere Fahrzeugpalette endlich für stabile Gewinne sorgen. Die Jobs in Rüsselsheim – das ist die Tragik dahinter – dürften angesichts des Protektionismus in Frankreich allerdings dann erneut leiden.

 

Der Spiegel

Russia Imposes New Fines on Internet Providers That Don’t Block Banned Sites

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Pixabay

A new law passed by Russia’s Federation Council will set fines for internet providers who fail to block banned internet content.

According to the law, companies that do not restrict access to websites blacklisted by Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor will be required to pay up to a 100,000-ruble ($1,738) fine. Public officials who fail to implement Roskomnadzor rulings will face a penalty of up to 5,000 rubles ($86). And private entrepreneurs will face a fine of up to 30,000 rubles ($519).

Internet providers are already legally required to restrict access to banned content. However, previously no punishments were set out in law for those who fail to comply.

More than 60,000 websites are currently blocked within Russia. Recent Roskomnadzor rulings have included controversial bans on adult video sites Brazzers and PornHub.

 

Source : Moscow Times

Just 129 public servants interested in sea change

FEBRUARY 15 2017 – 5:43PM

Noel Towell

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Only 129  public servants have applied to be part of the Tax Office’s controversial excursion to the NSW central coast.

The underwhelming response, from the 19,000-strong revenue agency to requests for expressions of interest in transfers to Gosford, raises the prospect of forced relocations for more than 400 Tax Officials to the regional town.Deputy Leader of the Nationals Senator Fiona Nash.

The revelation comes as the Coalition defended its policies intended to push hundreds of Canberra-based public servants to rural and regional Australia.

The policy of moving federal public servants to Gosford has been controversial since it was first announced as the Coalition tried to win the seat from Labor before the 2013 election.

The Tax office took some time to determine what it would actually do with the $72 million new building it was told to occupy but Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said in early 2016 that it was never the intention to move large numbers of public servants to Gosford from Canberra or anywhere else.

Rather, it was hoped the occupants of the building could be recruited “from the local area”.

But there could be a large shortfall on the numbers needed, after ATO staff were advised this week that only 129 of their colleagues had put up their hands for a Gosford Transfer.

“The Expression of Interest for transfer at level to the Gosford site has now closed, with a total of 129 applications received,” a staff newsletter reported this week.

“The assessment of applications has commenced and candidates will be notified of decisions by mid-March.

“The Gosford site is on track for the scheduled opening in November 2017.”

The central coast project is separate to the program of forced public service relocations from Canberra that the Nationals are driving in the Agriculture portfolio they control.

Under the Nationals’ policy the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation is moving to to Wagga Wagga and the Grains Research and Development Corporation is going Toowoomba, Dubbo, Northam and Adelaide.

The Fisheries Research and Development Centre will open an office in Adelaide and most controversially, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Agency is being forced to move to Armidale.

Nationals Deputy Leader Fiona Nash told the Senate on Wednesday that the policy was here to stay.

“We are a Government that wants to invest in those communities and to invest in their futures,” Ms nash said.

“We want those communities to have good jobs, high paying jobs and have better access to services. Part of our commitment to growing jobs outside of our major capital cities is to look at opportunities to decentralise Government agencies to rural and regional areas.

“We never apologise for taking decisions that are going to provide a sustain future for regional communities, to provide more jobs – and part of that is looking to decentralise to get those public sectors jobs out into the regions where they deserve that investment because it is regional Australia that drive this country.”

Source : Canberra Times