World News

  • South Africa Bans Sale of Live Hens to Contain Bird Flu Outbreak


    South Africa has banned the sale of live chickens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu the government said on Monday.

    Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens, and fresh produce will continue depending on the requirements of importing countries, the department of agriculture said in a statement.

    “To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported. However, people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry must wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants,” the department said.

    The government said meat from healthy poultry was safe to eat due to strict inspections at abattoirs, though people were urged to avoid eating any birds found dead, dying or sick.

    South Africa reported an outbreak this month of H5N8 avian influenza on a commercial broiler breeder farm in Mpumalanga province, where about 5,000 birds died and the rest were discarded.

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  • New AIDS Vaccine ‘Cures’ 5 Patients without Drugs


    Three weeks after a Nigerian Professor, Maduike Ezeibe of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture claimed to have discovered a cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Spanish scientists over the weekend said five patients living with the disease are virus-free seven months after taking a new vaccine.

    According to a study published in New Scientist but first reported by DailyMailUK Online, the treatment, developed by researchers in Spain, allowed the patients to stop taking regular antiretroviral (ARV) drugs – the current method of suppressing HIV.

    Scientists have yet to test the results in a large-scale clinical trial, but they say the vaccine may be a “functional cure.”

    It is the first step towards success in a field that has failed to find a vaccine in the last 30 years.

    Dr. Beatriz Mothe, from the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, said: “It’s the proof of concept that through therapeutic vaccination we can re-educate our T cells to control the virus. The optimistic start-up is the first time that we see this is possible in humans.”

    Mothe and her colleagues used an HIV vaccine made by Professor Tomáš Hanke from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom (UK).

    The study included 13 participants, who had taken ARVs for a little over three years on average – all within six months of being infected.

    After four weeks, eight of the patients saw the virus rebound. But the other five patients have gone six to 28 weeks without having to restart the treatment.

    The virus became temporarily undetectable, but it has never gone above 2,000 copies per milliliter, which is the criterion to restart treatment.


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  • Kidnapped Swede Johan Gustafsson Freed After Six Years



    Hostage Johan Gustafsson, held by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011, has been released, the Swedish government says.

    Mr. Gustafsson, 42, is being flown back to Sweden from Africa, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström stated in a statement on Monday.

    He was seized by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) along with two other men, one of whom was freed in a dawn raid in 2015.

    Ms. Wallström said Mr. Gustafsson was "in good spirits," local media report.

    "It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released," Ms. Wallström added.

    She said that the Swede's release was thanks to "extensive efforts" and co-operation between the Swedish foreign ministry, police and "foreign authorities."

    Ms. Wallström said she had spoken with Mr. Gustafsson, who she described as being "happy" and "overwhelmed" by Monday's events.

    "I cannot say more at the current time," she added.

    weden's former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said that Mr. Gustafsson's kidnapping weighed heavily on his mind during his time in the role, which ended in 2014.

    He tweeted on Monday: "Extremely gratifying that Johan Gustafsson is free. No single case concerned me more as foreign minister."

    A French soldier stands guard in an armored vehicle in northern Mali in March 2013.

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  • Dozens feared dead after abandoned in Niger desert

    Migrants crossing the Sahara desert into Libya ride on the back of a pick-up truck outside Agadez [File: Joe Penney/Reuters]
    Dozens of people are feared dead after human traffickers abandoned them in Niger's northern desert without food or water, a senior local official said on Monday.

    Fatoumi Boudou, the prefect of Niger's northern region of Bilma, told the AFP news agency that authorities on Sunday rescued 24 people who were part of a group of "70 people who had left in three vehicles from Agadez for Libya".

    Agadez is a remote town in Niger on the edge of the Sahara desert that has become a major people-smuggling point.

    The traffickers "abandoned them in the middle of the desert without food or water", Boudou said, adding that those rescued had spoken of several dead bodies without specifying a number.

    But the Agadez-based Air Info website, citing a security source, said scores of bodies had been buried on Sunday by troops and locals.

    A local radio station had said 52 dead bodies had been discovered by authorities on Sunday.

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  • Broke South Sudan cancels independence celebrations for second year in a row

    The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, has cancelled its sixth Independence Day celebrations for the second year in a row. Their independence falls on July 9 each year.

    Juba said it had cancelled the celebrations citing financial reasons – the same reason the 2016 event did not hold. Minister of Information said on Friday night after a cabinet meeting that available resources will be channeled to other more pressing areas.

    “We are not celebrating the anniversary of independence because there are people who need the money we would have spent on the celebration,” Michael Makuei told reporters after the meeting.

    We are not celebrating the anniversary of independence because there are people who need the money we would have spent on the celebration.
    “The council of ministers decided that rather than using this money for the festivities, we must use it for something else, if that money is available,” he added.

    Since the country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, its first and current president, Salva Kiir, has always presided over a military parade and a celebration of its independence even at the height of the civil war that broke out four years ago.

    The country is currently suffering from an armed conflict situation that has the government on one hand and rebel groups on the other. The fighting has led to a humanitarian crisis in the country with thousands internally displaced and others seeking refuge in other countries.

    Issues are not any better on the economic front as inflation hit record levels in August last year. According to the World Bank, South Sudan’s inflation had reached 730%.

    The economy has also suffered in recent years from the decline in oil prices combined with the impact of the civil war on its oil production. South Sudan produced 240,000 barrels a day before the war and now only produces about 120,000 barrels, according to the government.

    In previous years, the event had been marked by military parades and other celebrations, for which the government spent an average of 10 million South Korean pounds, or $ 3 million during that time (2.7 million euros).

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  • Trump travel ban injunction partly lifted by top US court

    US President Donald Trump has welcomed a Supreme Court ruling allowing his travel ban to be partly reinstated as a "victory for our national security".

    America's highest court also granted a White House request allowing part of its refugee ban to go into effect.

    The justices said they would consider in October whether the president's policy should be upheld or struck down.

    Mr Trump seeks to place a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

    The president welcomed the ruling's qualified authorisation to bar visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which he described as "terror-prone countries".

    "As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm," he added.

    Mr Trump has already said the ban would take effect within 72 hours of court approval.

    What does the ruling say?

    The Supreme Court said in Monday's decision: "In practical terms, this means that [the executive order] may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

    "All other foreign nationals are subject to the provisions of [the executive order]."

    The ruling also said it would permit a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the US to go into effect, allowing the government to bar entry to refugee claimants who do not have any "bona fide relationship" with an American individual or entity.

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