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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 204 | 205 | (Page 206) | 207 | 208 | .... | 1152 | newer

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  • 01/03/17--14:00: Kudumo chieftaincy illegal
  • Kudumo chieftaincy illegalKudumo chieftaincy illegalHigh Court rules against Uukwangali chief Despite a High Court ruling setting aside his appointment, Eugene Siwombe Kudumo is continuing to act as the chief of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority. The High Court towards the end of last year set aside the official endorsement of Eugene Siwombe Kudumo as the chief of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

    Kudumo was installed as chief of the Uukwangali tribe in 2015 following the death of Hompa Sitentu Daniel Mpasi.

    His coronation was attended by senior government officials, including urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa, who delivered a speech on behalf of President Hage Geingob.

    The late chief died in December 2014 and had publicly announced Kudumo as heir to the Uukwangali throne.

    However, there have been objections by a pressure group within the traditional authority who claimed Kudumo was not procedurally chosen.

    This matter ended up in court, with 13 members of the traditional authority, led by Rudolf Ngongo, challenging Kudumo's chieftaincy. They argued that there were irregularities, and that customary procedures were not followed in designating Kudumo as chief.

    On 19 October last year, Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula ruled against the endorsement of Kudumo and ordered him, the minister of urban and rural development as well the Uukwangali Traditional Authority to pay the costs of the application.

    “According to our customs, the chief's succession has to be done by all elders who are respected in their communities within the Uukwangali jurisdiction. This is done during the elders' meeting, during which three or four potential candidates are nominated for chief designation,” said a source privy to the affairs of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

    “This meeting is then followed by the royal houses of Uukwangali and the traditional council who then elect a chief from the nominated candidates. In the case of Kudumo, this was not done and that is why we cannot accept him as a legitimate chief.”

    The source claimed that Kudumo was defying the court ruling by carrying out duties as chief and driving around in the government car assigned to him.

    Attempts to reach Kudumo for the last few days proved futile as his phone was unreachable.

    The chairperson of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority, Christian Ndeya Simuteka, refused to comment on the court ruling. “I have nothing to say, call the ministry of urban and rural development,” Simuteka said.

    According to lawyer Norman Tjombe, who represented the applicants, the court order was rightfully communicated to Kudumo and the Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

    “The court set aside his designation and appointment as chief. Therefore, he may no longer perform any functions and duties as a chief. He must vacate the office immediately,” Tjombe said.





    “Kudumo was informed by the government attorney and us (acting on behalf of several other senior community members). In the light of the fact that he continues to violate the law, we will have no option but to proceed with an urgent application to interdict him from acting as the chief and have him evicted from the chief's office.”



    'Not aware'

    When contacted for comment, Shaningwa said she was not aware of the court order and refused to comment on the affairs of Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

    “I am not aware of any court order against chief Kudumo. I cannot comment further because I am not a leader of conflict,” Shaningwa said.

    Like Shaningwa, Kavango West governor Sirrka Ausiku also said that she was unaware of the court order. “It was never communicated to me. If it is true, it was supposed to be communicated to my office, but it was not done,” she said.





    ILENI NANDJATO

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    Main suspect in fraud case hands herself overMain suspect in fraud case hands herself over The police have confirmed the arrest of a senior tax officer of the Ministry of Finance in Walvis Bay, named as the main suspect in a fraud case involving over N$2 million.

    Detective Chief Inspector Moses Uwu Khaeb said a woman suspected of being involved in the fraud case handed herself over to the police at Walvis Bay yesterday.

    “She was arrested and will appear in court today with ten other suspects we arrested recently in connection with the case,” he said.

    It is alleged that the accused, four of whom are employees of the Inland Revenue Department in Walvis Bay, defrauded the government of N$2 220 781 between 1 April 2013 and November 2016.

    The suspects allegedly created fake Pay As You Earn (PAYE5) certificates using the names of approximately 21 accomplices (friends and relatives) and processed them.

    This resulted in numerous undeserved tax refunds which were subsequently detected by the ministry's Security and Risk Management team.

    Forensic experts conducted an internal investigation and then handed the case over to the police.

    The first six of eleven suspects - a tax officer, a cleaner and four accomplices - were arrested on 27 and 28 December in Walvis Bay.

    They were charged with fraud and contravening the Anti-Corruption Act and made their first appearance before Magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis in the Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court.

    Nicolaidis denied them bail and postponed the case against Morne Feris (21), Henry Visagie (36), Jaqueline Imbili (44), Willemina Visagie (36), Quinton Mathews (42) and Marlon Prins (25) to 10 January.

    Prosecutor Tuihaleni Hilikuete said the accused could interfere with witnesses and the arrests of other suspects.

    Some of the alleged accomplices questioned by the police admitted their involvement. One told Namibian Sun that he was contacted and assisted one of the accused on numerous occasions.





    “He requested and I allowed him to use my bank account after he told me that he had received a bonus payout. According to him he did not want the money to go into his own account, which was overdrawn, and he paid me a fee each time he used my account.”

    OTIS FINCK

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: Simon refuses to retire
  • Simon refuses to retire Simon refuses to retire Harry still believes Former WBO middleweight world champion Harry Simon is hoping for a better 2017. STAFF REPORTER



    Namibian boxing legend Harry Simon feels that he still has fights in him before he can consider hanging up his gloves.

    The 45-year-old says the thought of leaving the ring has not crossed his mind yet and he hopes to make the most of 2017.

    At the age of 45, Simon has often faced criticism that he is no longer the boxer people used to know because of his lack of speed in recent comeback fights.

    “I have not thought of retirement yet because I was born to fight and will continue boxing until my body tells me it is time to give up.

    “I have been in talks with various people who are willing to secure me something big and therefore I am hopeful that 2017 could be a good year for me.

    “People will always judge and talk bad about me, but the most important thing is that I remain focused on to what I love.

    “I am still a champion and will remain a champion because my record still stands that I have not been defeated in my last 30 fights,” Simon says.

    He says he will not be deterred by criticism from some people in the boxing fraternity or by his past.

    The former WBO world champion says his biggest wish is to set an example to upcoming boxers and other athletes, proving that incredible comebacks do exist in sport.

    The Walvis Bay-born boxer has a record of 30 undefeated fights, with 22 of the victories coming by knockout.

    He has been a role model to many young boxers who dream of achieving what he accomplished in his prime.

    Since he turned professional back in 1994, Simon has won the WBO light middleweight and WBO middleweight world titles.

    He was stripped of his titles after he was involved in a series of car crashes which saw him serving jail sentences for culpable homicide from 2007 to 2009.

    Since then he has had some comeback fights, including an IBF light heavyweight international fight which he won against Geard Ajetovic in 2013.

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: New date for Uutoni bout
  • New date for Uutoni bout New date for Uutoni bout STAFF REPORTER

    The much-anticipated showdown between Jafet ‘The Lion’ Uutoni and Angel Acosta has been moved to 11 February in Puerto Rico.

    The fight was earlier scheduled to take place in Dallas, Texas, on 25 February.

    “We would like to confirm the change in date and venue,” said Nestor Tobias of the MTC Sunshine Academy.

    The fight is promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions and H2 Entertainment.

    The two boxers will step into the ring for the WBO junior flyweight final world title eliminator.

    The winner will face the newly crowned WBO junior flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka from Japan.

    Tanaka won the vacant title against Moises Fuentes from Mexico by TKO on 31 December 2016.

    “Uutoni has been in the gym for the entire holiday, and has been training hard and smart.

    “The change in date and venue will not affect us as he is ready to face Acosta anywhere and anytime.

    “Uutoni knows what is at stake, and a win will guarantee him a fight against the newly crowned champion for the ultimate world title, which would declare him the best in the world in this weight class,” Tobias said.

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: Omaalala tournament buzzes
  • Omaalala tournament buzzes Omaalala tournament buzzes NAMPA

    Ongwediva City Football Club (FC) won the Sands of Armas New Year’s Tournament that ended in the Oshana Region on Monday.

    The team that lost the final in the same four-team competition last year defeated GK FC 3-1 on penalties after their 1-1 draw at the Omaala village sports grounds on Monday evening.

    Before reaching the final of the tournament this time around, Ongwediva City handed J Aron a 3-2 defeat on penalties following their goalless draw.

    As the champion, Ongwediva took home N$ 1 500 and two soccer balls, while GK also received two soccer balls and N$ 800.

    Kalola Eleven FC, also from Ongwediva, is champion in the veterans’ category. This club defeated the host, Omaalala Legend, 2-0 in the final and took home N$2 000 and two soccer balls. Host Omaalala Legend received N$1 500 and two soccer balls as the runners-up in this category.

    Kalola Eleven beat Kalimbo Eleven 1-0 in the veterans’ semi-final and Omaalala Legend defeated Akuna FC, also 1-0, in the semi-final of the same category.

    Four teams competed in the veterans’ category.

    A businessman at Omaalala and Walvis Bay, Andreas Armas, sponsored the tournament for the eighth consecutive year.

    He sponsored the tournament this year with N$12 000 and an ox that was slaughtered to provide meals for participants.

    Besides the invited teams and veterans’ category, a youth football competition was also part of the tournament.

    Organiser Herman Kalimbo Paulus told Nampa that the semi-finals and final of the youth category would be played on Saturday.

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    Lovren optimistic ahead of United, Chelsea clashesLovren optimistic ahead of United, Chelsea clashesLiverpool fear nothing The ‘Reds’ face a titanic task when they play two of the English Premier League’s in-form teams this month. NAMPA / REUTERS

    A draw at Sunderland was not the end of the world for Liverpool as they attempt to chase down Chelsea for the Premier League title with key fixtures in January against Manchester United and the leaders on the horizon, according to defender Dejan Lovren.

    The Merseyside club are second on the table, five points behind Chelsea, though they had a golden opportunity to close the gap on Monday but conceded a late equaliser at Sunderland.

    "It felt like a defeat, especially after beating Manchester City," Lovren told the Liverpool Echo. "But we have to keep our heads high. A point is better than nothing."

    Having already defeated title contenders Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City earlier this season, Lovren backs his side's mentality to keep them in the hunt.

    "There is still half a season to go. There are so many games in front of us and in front of Chelsea. We just have to concentrate on ourselves," he added.

    "We have some really big games in front of us. I'd say we like to play against the big teams. There's a lot to play for."

    Liverpool will travel to Old Trafford to face sixth-placed Manchester United on 15 January before they host Chelsea on 31 January.

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    France moves to suspend Vitamin D supplement after baby diesFrance moves to suspend Vitamin D supplement after baby dies France has moved to suspend sales of a vitamin D medication following the death of a baby who had been given the supplement, health authorities said Wednesday.

    France's ANSM agency that oversees the safety of medicines and health products said it had taken the measure “as a precaution” after investigations showed “a probable link between the death and the administration of Uvesterol D”.

    The 10-day-old baby died on December 21 after being given Uvesterol D, which is prescribed for vitamin D deficiency among young children.

    ANSM has previously issued warnings about how the supplement is administered, following cases of illness especially among premature babies and newborns under one month.

    The agency said Wednesday it has now taken steps to suspend the marketing of Uvesterol D in the coming days.

    Health Minister Marisol Touraine said “it is the specific way the product is administered that presents risks” rather than the vitamin itself.

    In advance of a definitive decision from ANSM, she called on parents, “as a precautionary measure, to no longer administer Uvesterol D to their children”.

    “I want to reassure parents who have given vitamin D, in whatever form, to their children: they are safe”, she said in a statement Wednesday, adding that “only Uvesterol D is concerned” by this procedure.

    Uvesterol D comes in a liquid form in a vial from which the dose is extracted through a pipette.

    In an email on December 30 and seen by AFP, ANSM said the baby died at home from “cardio-respiratory arrest” after receiving a dose of Uvesterol D.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Global launch by Huawei of new mid-range smartphoneGlobal launch by Huawei of new mid-range smartphone Chinese electronics giant Huawei announced Tuesday a global launch of its mid-range Honor 6x smartphone which includes dual-lens camera technology and is aimed at young consumers.

    The smartphone, which was launched in China last year, will be available in 13 new markets this month, including the United States, at a price of US$249 to US$299, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    Huawei marketing director George Zhao said the device is a successor to the Honor 5x launched a year ago, which sold 11 million, and that he expects the upgraded model will sell even more.

    “Twenty million,” he told an audience.

    Huawei has emerged as the world's third largest smartphone vendor but has had only limited success in the United States. It sells mostly unlocked devices through online and mass-market retailers, which amounts to a small segment of the US market.

    Zhao said the specifications of the new handset make it a worthy competitor to those of its larger rivals Apple and Samsung.

    It estimates battery life of over two days with normal use, and has improved the software for photo processing to deliver improved images even with low light conditions.

    Huawei, which has stated its goal of becoming the number one smartphone maker, faces a crowded market behind the top two sellers, competing against other Chinese firms such as Lenovo and Xiaomi and South Korea's LG, which have also slated announcements at the electronics show.

    The handsets, priced below Huawei's flagship devices, go on sale from this week in the US, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with other markets to follow.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Britain's EU ambassador quitsBritain's EU ambassador quitsAttacks 'muddled' thinking over Brexit in resignation letter Sir Ivan Rogers, on Tuesday unexpectedly resigned from the post weeks before Brexit negotiations with the economic bloc. Britain's ambassador to the European Union resigned on Tuesday, adding uncertainty to the Brexit process less than three months before the UK is due to trigger its departure negotiations.

    Ivan Rogers, a highly-regarded diplomat who had been due to end his four-year stint in October, stepped down as London prepares to invoke Article 50, which starts a two-year countdown to Britain leaving the EU.

    Rogers came under fire last month for saying it could take 10 years for Britain to conclude a trade deal with the EU.

    The government insisted, though, that he was only reporting back what was being said in European capitals.

    “Sir Ivan Rogers has resigned a few months early as UK permanent representative to the European Union,” a British government spokeswoman said.

    “Sir Ivan has taken this decision now to enable a successor to be appointed before the UK invokes Article 50 by the end of March. We are grateful for his work and commitment over the last three years.”

    London is set to appoint a new ambassador and deputy ambassador shortly.

    Rogers headed UKRep, the office which represents Britain in negotiations that take place in the EU.

    In a resignation email to UKRep staff, he urged colleagues to provide British ministers with their “unvarnished” understanding through Brexit negotiations - “even where this is uncomfortable”.

    “I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power,” Rogers said.

    He also criticised the British government for its short supply of “serious multilateral negotiating experience” in London and said the structure of the UK's negotiating team “needs rapid resolution”.

    “His resignation is not a surprise for those who work with him,” a European diplomat told AFP.

    “He was very competent, but not convinced by the Brexit decision and the British government line, leading the UK into an area of dangerous uncertainty.”

    In the June 2016 referendum, 52% voted for Britain leave the EU.



    Not good

    Triggering Article 50 will start a two-year countdown after which Britain will leave all the institutions and the single market unless alternative arrangements have been agreed.

    Hilary Benn, who chairs parliament's Brexit scrutiny committee, told BBC radio the resignation was “not a good thing”.

    “The hard work is going to start very soon,” he said.

    “And having a handover in the middle of that, depending on when exactly he goes, is not ideal.”

    Rogers had been in his post since November 2013, having previously served as prime minister David Cameron's Europe adviser since 2011.

    Aled Williams, the former spokesman for Britain's EU embassy, said Rogers' departure was a “big loss” to the Brexit negotiations.

    “Sir Ivan never sugar-coated his advice: had the credibility to tell his political bosses how he saw it in Brussels,” he said.

    The mild-mannered Rogers is widely respected in Brussels where he is known as a vastly experienced operator.

    Critics accuse of him of being a europhile, but European diplomatic sources described him as being a realist.

    British diplomatic sources at the time of the leaked “10 years” comments voiced suspicions that he may have been knifed in the back by pro-Brexit forces who wanted him out.

    Peter Mandelson, a British former trade commissioner for the EU, said Rogers was “second to none” in terms of knowledge and experience of Brussels.

    Diplomats were being “increasingly inhibited in offering objective advice,” he added.

    “Our negotiation as a whole will go nowhere if ministers are going to delude themselves about the immense difficulty and challenges Britain faces,” he said.

    But Arron Banks, who chaired the Leave.EU campaign group in the referendum, said Rogers was a “pessimist” from the “pro-EU old guard”.

    “It's time now for someone who is optimistic about the future that lies ahead for Brexit Britain. Enough talk, we need to get on with getting out,” he said.

    Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage also welcomed the resignation, saying the Foreign Office needed a “complete clear-out”.

    The office of Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief Brexit negotiator, declined to comment.



    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: World's oldest olive trees
  • World's oldest olive treesWorld's oldest olive treesA trip to the land of endangered ancient olive trees Spain's thousand-year-old olive trees face one of their biggest threats to date. The sun sets in eastern Spain and dozens of ancient olive trees cast long shadows on the ground.

    Once dug up and sold as luxury items for the wealthy, they are increasingly protected as farmers and authorities realise these trees, some of which were planted by the Romans, are an invaluable part of Spain's heritage.

    Near the town of Traiguera, Amador Peset, 37, gets out of his old 4x4 and, in the biting wind, cuts across a field before stopping before a majestic tree.

    “You're probably in front of the biggest olive tree in the world... with a girth of 10.2 metres,” the farmer says proudly.

    Botanists say a circumference of 10 metres indicates a tree is over a thousand years old - which means this specimen was around when the area was still under Muslim rule.

    Peset lovingly tends 106 such “monuments”, cleaning their gnarled branches and ridding them of weeds that suck their sap like vampires.

    Joan Porta, another farmer, says that just a few years back, olive trees were largely ignored in fields also full of almond and other fruit trees, vines or wheat.

    In fact, they were often used for firewood in farms.

    “Now we realise that they are thousand-year-old trees,” the 75-year-old says, pointing to the jewel in his own field's crown.

    It is aged 1 702 years according to a dating method used by the Polytechnic University of Madrid - which means it was planted under the Roman emperor Constantine.

    Brought to Spain by the Greeks and the Romans, olive trees now cover 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) of land.

    Such is the attraction of these long-living trees that they have become a must-have luxury item for some wealthy people.

    In the mid 2000s, “people would talk uneasily about how some trees were torn out, how they would see trucks loaded up” with large trunks, says Maria Teresa Adell.

    Adell manages an association of 27 towns and cities in the Valencia region - including Traiguera - as well as the neighbouring areas of Catalonia and Aragon, which, among other things, works towards protecting their olive tree heritage.

    According to the group, hundreds of the ancient trees were ripped out during the 2000s and taken away to be sold for high prices in garden centres or specialised auctions.

    Online foreign garden centres still offer “ancient” olive trees for sale, such as Todd's Botanics in Britain, where one specimen from Valencia is priced at 3 500 pounds (US$4 300, 4 100 euros).

    “I buy one or two every year,” says owner Mark Macdonald, adding however that he only purchases trees already in ready-to-plant clods.

    As for those who buy them, they tend to have money - people such as French wine magnate Bernard Magrez, who told AFP he had planted olive trees in the grounds of several of his Bordeaux estates including the prestigious Chateau Pape Clement, aged “between 1 015 and 1 860 years”.

    For Cesar-Javier Palacios, spokesman for the Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente environmental foundation, taking them away from their native soil “is like taking a cathedral and putting it somewhere else.”

    Not so, argues Roamhy Machoir-Heras, who organised a big ancient olive tree auction in 2011 where Magrez bought his specimens.

    Hers were already in clods, and “we saved them,” she said.

    Of 44 specimens, some were sold for more than 60 000 euros.

    Those that didn't go to Magrez's estates went to a “sumptuous collection” in the Middle East, she added.

    Palacios, though, has launched a petition “against the plundering of old olive trees” on Change.org that has garnered 154 000 signatures so far.

    “We are asking... for regulations banning the traffic, like for ivory,” he said, adding however that the trade in olive trees has started to slow as people realise these are “heritage treasures”.

    Concepcion Munoz, an agronomist at the University of Cordoba, has counted 260 different varieties in Spain, of which there sometimes only remains one specimen.

    In 2006, the Valencia region banned the practice of tearing out trees with a girth of more than six metres.

    Various towns and cities in Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon have also inventoried nearly 5 000 of the oldest trees with a view to protecting them.

    This makes it the region with the “highest concentration of ancient olive trees in the world,” says Adell, even if there are also many in Italy and Greece.

    And to persuade farmers, Adell's grouping of municipalities has also found an economic argument -- producing oil from trees that are on the official inventory and are thus protected.

    A litre costs around 18 euros in the area, 40 euros in Barcelona and up to 90 euros in China.

    Peset, for one, is sold on the idea. He is negotiating with Chinese buyers interested in ordering a thousand bottles to use in cosmetics.

    NAMPA/AFP

    0 0
  • 01/04/17--14:00: World's oldest olive trees
  • World's oldest olive treesWorld's oldest olive treesA trip to the land of endangered ancient olive trees Spain’s thousand-year-old olive trees face one of their biggest threats to date. The sun sets in eastern Spain and dozens of ancient olive trees cast long shadows on the ground.

    Once dug up and sold as luxury items for the wealthy, they are increasingly protected as farmers and authorities realise these trees, some of which were planted by the Romans, are an invaluable part of Spain's heritage.

    Near the town of Traiguera, Amador Peset, 37, gets out of his old 4x4 and, in the biting wind, cuts across a field before stopping before a majestic tree.

    "You're probably in front of the biggest olive tree in the world... with a girth of 10.2 metres," the farmer says proudly.

    Botanists say a circumference of 10 metres indicates a tree is over a thousand years old - which means this specimen was around when the area was still under Muslim rule.

    Peset lovingly tends 106 such "monuments", cleaning their gnarled branches and ridding them of weeds that suck their sap like vampires.

    Joan Porta, another farmer, says that just a few years back, olive trees were largely ignored in fields also full of almond and other fruit trees, vines or wheat.

    In fact, they were often used for firewood in farms.

    "Now we realise that they are thousand-year-old trees," the 75-year-old says, pointing to the jewel in his own field's crown.

    It is aged 1 702 years according to a dating method used by the Polytechnic University of Madrid - which means it was planted under the Roman emperor Constantine.

    Brought to Spain by the Greeks and the Romans, olive trees now cover 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) of land.

    Such is the attraction of these long-living trees that they have become a must-have luxury item for some wealthy people.

    In the mid 2000s, "people would talk uneasily about how some trees were torn out, how they would see trucks loaded up" with large trunks, says Maria Teresa Adell.

    Adell manages an association of 27 towns and cities in the Valencia region - including Traiguera - as well as the neighbouring areas of Catalonia and Aragon, which, among other things, works towards protecting their olive tree heritage.

    According to the group, hundreds of the ancient trees were ripped out during the 2000s and taken away to be sold for high prices in garden centres or specialised auctions.

    Online foreign garden centres still offer "ancient" olive trees for sale, such as Todd's Botanics in Britain, where one specimen from Valencia is priced at 3 500 pounds (US$4 300, 4 100 euros).

    "I buy one or two every year," says owner Mark Macdonald, adding however that he only purchases trees already in ready-to-plant clods.

    As for those who buy them, they tend to have money - people such as French wine magnate Bernard Magrez, who told AFP he had planted olive trees in the grounds of several of his Bordeaux estates including the prestigious Chateau Pape Clement, aged "between 1 015 and 1 860 years".

    For Cesar-Javier Palacios, spokesman for the Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente environmental foundation, taking them away from their native soil "is like taking a cathedral and putting it somewhere else."

    Not so, argues Roamhy Machoir-Heras, who organised a big ancient olive tree auction in 2011 where Magrez bought his specimens.

    Hers were already in clods, and "we saved them," she said.

    Of 44 specimens, some were sold for more than 60 000 euros.

    Those that didn't go to Magrez's estates went to a "sumptuous collection" in the Middle East, she added.

    Palacios, though, has launched a petition "against the plundering of old olive trees" on Change.org that has garnered 154 000 signatures so far.

    "We are asking... for regulations banning the traffic, like for ivory," he said, adding however that the trade in olive trees has started to slow as people realise these are "heritage treasures".

    Concepcion Munoz, an agronomist at the University of Cordoba, has counted 260 different varieties in Spain, of which there sometimes only remains one specimen.

    In 2006, the Valencia region banned the practice of tearing out trees with a girth of more than six metres.

    Various towns and cities in Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon have also inventoried nearly 5 000 of the oldest trees with a view to protecting them.

    This makes it the region with the "highest concentration of ancient olive trees in the world," says Adell, even if there are also many in Italy and Greece.

    And to persuade farmers, Adell's grouping of municipalities has also found an economic argument -- producing oil from trees that are on the official inventory and are thus protected.

    A litre costs around 18 euros in the area, 40 euros in Barcelona and up to 90 euros in China.

    Peset, for one, is sold on the idea.

    He is negotiating with Chinese buyers interested in ordering a thousand bottles to use in cosmetics.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Lack of facilities frustrates Mix residentsLack of facilities frustrates Mix residents Mix Settlement residents have expressed frustration over the lack of basic services in the vast informal area.

    Located 20 kilometres north of Windhoek, the settlement is inhabited by approximately 3 000 people, according to the 2011 census.

    Most complaints by residents relate to the lack of water, electricity, schools, hospitals, clinics, shops, and police and fire brigade services at the settlement, which falls under the Windhoek Rural Constituency.

    Tobias Sakaria, 27, who has been living at Mix for six years, told Nampa in an interview last week that residents were suffering there. “The government must provide us with services such as a hospital or clinic, a school and ablution facilities at least,” he said.

    Mix residents travel to Windhoek to recharge their water meter cards, which means they have to pay N$60 for transport.

    Sakaria questioned the government's commitment to redistributing the country's wealth to all Namibians, saying residents of the informal settlement were not benefiting from the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

    Another resident, Justina Namalenga, 24, said fire brigade services should be a priority in the area as most inhabitants lived in shacks that were prone to catching fire.

    “Everything of mine burned in a fire in June; it is a big loss,” Namalenga said, adding that she received a bit of assistance from the councillor's office: a mattress, maize meal and cooking oil, but it was not enough. Other residents questioned the councillor's commitment to the settlement, claiming she never attended to them.

    Contacted on Monday, Windhoek Rural Constituency councillor Penina Iita disputed these claims, saying since assuming office 11 months ago, she had been to the settlement three times but could only attend to the most important and urgent issues.

    “I have to prioritise the issues to deal with accordingly, as so many people depend on me to help solve their problems,” she said.

    Priorities include crime prevention, poverty alleviation and water provision, Iita said. She said had been identified for pre-primary, primary and secondary schools.

    “Hopefully construction plans will be initiated in February since there was a delay due to the poor inflow of water into the dams that supply water to Windhoek.”

    Iita said the vastness of her constituency complicated covering it, as she had to drive long distances to get to the constituents.

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    Operation Iilonga focuses on farmingOperation Iilonga focuses on farmingFirst initiative of its kind launched New initiative encourages intensified crop farming to make the most of an expected good rainy season. President Hage Geingob is expected to launch Operation Iilonga at the Ogongo Constituency in the Omusati Region on Wednesday.

    The chairperson of the regional council, Modestus Amutse, made the announcement in a telephonic interview with Nampa on Tuesday.

    The initiative is the first of its kind in the country.

    Amutse said the initiative was aimed at motivating farmers to engage in serious land cultivation, as good rain is predicted for this year.

    The launch will take place at the field of Shitana Shiilonga at Onamundidi village.

    This venue is where the Ogongo Agricultural Campus of the University of Namibia has been conducting rice-planting trials for the past few years.

    The minister of agriculture, water and forestry, John Mutorwa, said about 730 000 rural Namibians were affected by the current drought.

    “This accounts for about 57 percent of the rural population,” said Mutorwa.

    The situation presented an urgent need for the nation to devise appropriate strategies that could enhance resilience to drought, he said.

    He said the prevailing drought conditions resulted in the country being unable to produce sufficient food, which meant the government had to allocate money for humanitarian assistance.

    Mutorwa suggested that Namibia adopt sustainable food production methods with fewer means, and use natural resources wisely.

    The regional councillor for Okatana Constituency, Rosalia Shilenga, who read Mutorwa's speech, urged traditional leaders to ensure that their communities work hard to produce enough food this season.

    “Ensure that nobody is at cuca shops just enjoying alcohol at the time others are busy in their crop fields cultivating in order to produce food,” Shilenga urged.



    NAMPA

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: Facing death or prison
  • Facing death or prisonFacing death or prisonDylann Roof squares off with his fate Dylann Roof, the Charleston church hate crime killer, is representing himself at his death penalty sentencing. Jurors begin considering yesterday whether to sentence self-described white supremacist Dylann Roof to death or life in prison for the racially motivated slaying of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church.

    The 22-year-old was convicted last month of the June 17, 2015 killings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in downtown Charleston known as "Mother Emanuel."

    Parishioners attending a Bible study group had just begun their closing prayer when Roof opened fire, unleashing a horrific bloodbath that shocked the nation.

    The victims, who had welcomed Roof into the church, ranged in age from 26 to 87.

    During the trial, Roof made no attempt to explain his crimes and exhibited no signs of remorse as survivors recounted the rampage in heart-rending detail.

    In accordance with federal rules, Roof will appear for sentencing before the same jury that found him guilty of all 33 federal hate crime charges, after just two hours of deliberation.

    The twelve carefully selected jurors will decide whether the blond-haired Roof will be imprisoned for life or put to death.

    He has elected to represent himself in the proceedings, rebuffing advice from his lawyers and the presiding judge.

    The prosecutor intends to bring more than 30 witnesses, including survivors of the carnage and those close to the deceased victims, to the stand.

    He will call for the death penalty on behalf of the federal government, based on a law punishing racially motivated crimes.

    Capital punishment rarely is meted out in federal cases, in part because violent crimes more typically are tried under state laws.

    The last person to be condemned to federal death row was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted for his role in orchestrating twin bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.

    Federal authorities have executed only three criminals since 1976.

    With his life hanging in the balance, Roof could finally play the humility card, expressing remorse or compassion for his victims - or he could use the court as a platform for racist ideology.

    A video of Roof's chilling confession to the killings was shown during the trial's first phase.

    "Somebody had to do something because black people are killing white people every day," Roof said without emotion to the FBI special agent questioning him. "They rape 100 white people a day."

    Judge Richard Gergel found Roof competent to defend himself in the sentencing phase of the trial, but imposed restrictions on his movements: he will not be allowed to approach the jury, the witness stand or judges.

    Roof has told the judge he does not plan to introduce any evidence or witnesses on his own behalf, including any evidence regarding his mental health.

    His main defence attorney, renowned death penalty expert David Bruck, had hinted at mental illness in his closing argument, calling on jurors to "look below the surface."

    However, he called no witnesses or significantly challenged any of the government's witnesses.

    Without Bruck at his side, Roof is at high risk of paying for his crimes with his life.

    He could escape the death penalty if just one member of the jury - ten women and two men - opposes it.

    They are expected to reach a verdict within 10 days.

    Roof is also facing state murder charges in South Carolina, in a trial slated to begin January 17. State prosecutors there also are seeking the death penalty.

    NAMPA/AFP

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     Head of Gambia's electoral commission flees to Senegal Head of Gambia's electoral commission flees to Senegal The head of Gambia's electoral commission has fled to neighbouring Senegal fearing a plot against him, a month after declaring President Yahya Jammeh lost elections following 22 years in power, one of his relatives said.

    Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairman Alieu Momar Njie "fled to Senegal after he got information that the Gambian authorities were plotting against him and his team" one of his relatives told AFP late Tuesday.

    "Some of his team members have also left for Senegal," the relative said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The relative did not elaborate on how Njie fled or say who had gone with him.

    There was no immediate comment from Senegalese authorities.

    Njie had declared opposition candidate Adama Barrow the winner of December 1 presidential elections and pleaded with all parties to respect the result.

    Jammeh's party later lodged a legal complaint against the electoral commission and the country has since been in political deadlock.

    The 51-year-old Jammeh, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1994, has said he will await a Supreme Court ruling in the case, delayed until January 10, before ceding power.

    Jammeh's refusal to step down, despite initially conceding defeat in the election, has stoked international concerns about the future of the tiny West African country.

    Both the United Nations and African leaders have called for him to step down.

    Meanwhile, a security source said that a group of people arrested for selling or wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan #GambiaHasDecided had been released.

    One of those briefly detained, who declined to be identified, said armed men had entered a shop selling merchandise featuring Barrow's image and seized T-shirts, caps and badges.

    They said they were taken to Gambian National Intelligence Agency headquarters where they were cautioned before being released.

    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day IN REMEBERANCE: US President Barack Obama(L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe place wreaths at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. Abe and Obama made a joint pilgrimage to the site of the Pearl Harbor attack on Tuesday to celebrate "the power of reconciliation. The Japanese attack on an unsuspecting US fleet moored at Pearl Harbor turned the Pacific into a cauldron of conflict -- more than 2,400 were killed and a reluctant America was drawn into World War II. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: Tribalism has no place here
  • Tribalism has no place hereTribalism has no place here Tribalism has led to many internal conflicts on the African continent.

    In fact the bitter divide in South Sudan has escalated into ethnic violence with those loyal to President Salva Kiir, who is from the Dinka tribe, squaring off with those close to his sacked deputy Riek Machar, who is from the second largest group, the Nuer.

    As we write this today, millions of people in South Sudan are displaced by this highly disturbing conflict and there appears to be no end in sight even though they have been ordered to cease hostilities.

    Countries like Kenya and Rwanda also experienced political unrest, which was mainly fuelled by tribalism. Although there were levels of political conflict and protest in Kenya that rose in the middle of last year and 2013, the worst political violence was felt during 2007/08 after the contentious presidential elections, which opposition leader Raila Odinga controversially lost to then incumbent Mwai Kibaki.

    There were accusations of “ethnic cleansing” when violence broke out in Kenya during the time and hundreds of people were killed and over 500 000 displaced. The Rwanda genocide of 1994 is also well documented. Some 800 000 people were slaughtered in just 100 days by Hutu extremists.

    It is against this background that as a nation, we need to draw hard lessons from these conflicts because tribalism remains one of the thorns in the proverbial side of our country's development.

    Our country is already beset by serious problems and challenges such as poverty and a high unemployment rate. We should be open and have honest discussions about tribalism with the view of dealing with it once and for all.

    We may have our challenges as a country, but we should respect those who are different from us and embrace each other as one big happy Namibian family. Let's detest name-calling, derogatory attacks against each other and all other evils that have blighted our society.

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    Turkey warns Syria talks at risk over truce violationsTurkey warns Syria talks at risk over truce violations Turkey on Wednesday warned that planned Syrian peace talks co-sponsored by Russia were at risk, calling on the Damascus regime of President Bashar al-Assad to halt violations of a ceasefire.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Iran, the main backer of Assad along with Russia, must put pressure on allied Shiite militias to abide by the truce that is to form the basis for a ceasefire.

    If the truce is properly observed, he said the peace talks would start on January 23 in Kazakhstan's capital Astana under the auspices of Turkey and Russia.

    “If we do not stop the increasing violations, the Astana process could fail. After the ceasefire, we see violations,” Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu news agency in an interview.

    “When we look at who commits these violations, it is Hezbollah, in particular Shiite groups and the regime,” he added, referring to the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement supporting Damascus.

    Last month, a process sponsored by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey saw the start of a truce which is meant to lead to negotiations in Astana this month.

    But earlier this week, the process was already under threat after a dozen Syrian rebel factions suspended talks on negotiations accusing Assad of violating the four-day-old ceasefire.

    Cavusoglu called on Iran to “put pressure on Shiite militias and the regime” to stop such violations.

    The deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia, saw a ceasefire begin late December and the “main forces of the armed opposition” sign a document expressing a readiness to start peace talks.

    While Moscow is Assad's most powerful ally, Turkey has repeatedly called for Assad to go. But as the countries continue their warming relationship, they have been working together closely on Syria.

    Moscow and Ankara are guarantors of the talks and the ceasefire but Tehran, conspicuously, is not.



    Cavusoglu also said Russian officials would be coming to Turkey on January 9 and 10 to discuss the Astana process.

    More than 310 000 people have been killed and millions forced to flee their homes since the conflict broke out in March 2011.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Over 150 inmates escape in Philippine jail raidOver 150 inmates escape in Philippine jail raidDozens of armed men stormed the jail and engaged in a shootout with guards, as prisoners fled in the chaos. Authorities suspect link to Islamist separatist groups Suspected Muslim rebels staged the Philippines' biggest jailbreak Wednesday when they stormed a dilapidated jail in the violence-plagued south of the country, freeing 158 inmates and killing a guard, authorities said.

    The attack added to a long history of daring jailbreaks in the southern Philippines, home to a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency as well as extremist gangs that have recently declared allegiance to the Islamic State group.

    More than 100 armed men believed to have been led by a local Muslim guerrilla commander attacked the jail in Kidapawan city about 1:00am in what appeared to be a well-planned raid to free fellow rebels, jail authorities said.

    “There are high-value targets in our custody who were the subject of a rescue operation,” jail warden Peter John Bonggat told AFP.

    The assailants were heavily armed and overwhelmed the 24 guards at the jail, according to Bonggat, who was involved in the effort to repel the gunmen and said one of his officers had been killed.

    At least 158 prisoners escaped, Bonggat told AFP, although it was unclear how many of those were linked to the attackers or were just other inmates who took advantage of the chaos.

    Bonggat said the jail, which housed 1 511 inmates, was a run-down former school building located in a forested, secluded area.

    Kidapawan, 950 kilometres south of Manila, is home to various Muslim rebel groups, criminal gangs and communist insurgents.

    “We have many Muslim personalities (in the jail) that are members of various organised, syndicated groups,” Bonggat said.

    He said the attackers were believed to be militants who had broken away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation's largest Muslim rebel organisation which is in peace talks with the government.

    Acting provincial governor Shirlyn Macasarte said there were intelligence reports that one of the breakaway groups, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, had been planning the jailbreak.

    “We had reports that a group of BIFF members wanted to rescue brothers who were involved in killings and had experience of making bombs,” Macasarte told ABS-CBN television.

    Six of the escapees were killed and eight captured as security forces hunted them in nearby farmlands throughout Wednesday, according to Bonggat.

    Islamic militants have staged a series of raids on poorly funded and secured jails in the south over the past 15 years that have led to mass escapes, but authorities said Wednesday's was the largest.

    “It is the biggest ever jailbreak in our history,” Bureau of Jail Management and Penology spokesman Xavier Solda told AFP.

    “We were really underpowered and undermanned.”

    The southern region of Mindanao is the ancestral homeland of the Muslim minority in the largely Catholic Philippines.

    The MILF, which has about 10 000 armed followers, is the largest of the rebel groups that have been fighting since the 1970s for independence or autonomy.

    More than 120 000 people have been killed in the rebellion.

    The MILF has in recent years been observing a ceasefire as part of peace efforts with the government.

    MILF spokesman Von al-Haq told AFP the group did not know who the attackers in Wednesday's raid were.

    The BIFF is one of several breakaway groups that are determined to continue fighting and have declared allegiance to the IS group.

    The BIFF split from the MILF in 2008 after the previous peace process collapsed, then carried out attacks on Christian communities that left more than 400 people dead and 600 000 displaced.

    The Maute group, regarded as one of the most dangerous extremist organisations, freed 23 inmates in a jailbreak last year near Kidapawan.





    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/04/17--14:00: When it rains, it pours
  • When it rains, it poursWhen it rains, it pours Although many Namibians are rejoicing at the rainfall the country has received, some people are not as happy as others about the rain.

    Ndapandula Ashipala, a shebeen owner at Okuryangava in Katutura, says the rain at times causes too much havoc for her.

    Ashipala says whenever it rains her business usually suffers because most customers do not come to buy goods at her outlet anymore.

    “When it rains business is affected. You really lose many customers because people do not support the business as they prefer to stay at their homes,” said Ashipala.

    Ashipala said the rain also posed a serious danger, causing electrical short-circuits and sometimes cutting power supply. She added that the corrugated iron they used to build their shack is not very strong and water leaks through the roof.

    “Sometimes it leaks but you have to look for a way just to make it work,” she said.

    The widespread rainfall is expected to continue for at least two weeks, according to the Namibian Meteorological Service (NMS).



    A blessing

    Even though the rain can be destructive it is nevertheless still a blessing for Ashipala.

    “When it rains crops grow which enable people to sustain their families, the rain is a blessing,” she added. Many of the residents visited by the Namibian Sun in Okuryangava built their houses in riverbeds, which means their shacks are flooded when it rains heavily.

    Paulus Shipena said he is accustomed to the damage caused by the rain and that there is nothing he can do. Shipena added that so far he had not been seriously affected by the rain compared to previous years.

    “What can we do, there are a lot of slopes here,” he said.

    Shipena said even though their houses were at risk of being flooded during the rainy season, relocating to higher ground was not an option for him.

    SHONA NGAVA

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