Daily Archives: October 10, 2017

US Targets Key Hezbollah Leaders

WASHINGTON � The United States is moving to ratchet up pressure on Hezbollah, offering millions of dollars for information that leads to the arrest or capture of two of the Iranian-backed terror group's top officials.

The State Department on Tuesday announced a $7 million reward for information about Talal Hamiyah, who runs Hezbollah's External Security Organization, and $5 million for information about Fu'ad Shukr, a senior operative who helped plan the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

"The group seeks to develop and maintain a global capability to carry out acts of terror," Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said Tuesday, further warning that while there were no imminent threats, Hezbollah was actively trying to target the U.S.

"We in the intelligence community do in fact see continued activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland," Rasmussen said. "Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential [U.S.] homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook."

Seen as Iran's partner

U.S. intelligence has long viewed Lebanon-based Hezbollah as Iran's primary partner for terror activities. And officials say Hezbollah operatives have been active worldwide, carrying out a deadly 2012 bombing in Bulgaria while pursuing additional plots in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Cyprus, Thailand and Peru.

Counterterror officials also worry that Hezbollah has successfully expanded its arsenal of advanced rockets and missiles, while building its own weapon production facilities.

And U.S. counterterror operatives have located Hezbollah weapon caches in Kuwait and Nigeria.

In addition to offering rewards for information that leads to the arrest of the two Hezbollah officials, the U.S. is also pressing allies in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia to target the terror group with sanctions to help close financial loopholes the group's operatives have been using to their advantage.

The newest U.S. push against Hezbollah comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce whether the terror group's main sponsor, Iran, remains in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at preventing Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Trump indicated last week he was not inclined to find Iran in compliance and could decertify the deal.

But what impact that would have on how Iran uses Hezbollah is unclear. Top counterterror officials say they have seen no direct correlation between the deal and Hezbollah's activities.

"The trajectory that we have seen Hezbollah on has continued pretty much unabated throughout the duration of the conflict in Syria," according to the NCTC's Rasmussen.

Money for proxy forces

Yet U.S. military officials have voiced concern that some of the estimated $50 billion to $150 billion in previously frozen assets freed up by the nuclear deal is being funneled into Iran's proxy forces, possibly including Hezbollah.

Further complicating the U.S. effort to counter Hezbollah, some countries view the organization both as a terror group and as a political party. And in Lebanon itself, some Hezbollah members serve as members of parliament and government ministers.

But State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said Tuesday that countering Hezbollah was a top priority for the Trump administration.

"Make no mistake, Hezbollah has no political wing," Sales said. "It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core."

Sales also said that while Lebanon needs to recognize Hezbollah as a terror organization, the U.S. would continue to work with both the Lebanese government and its military.

Sales called the Lebanese armed forces "an effective partner in defending the border of Lebanon against terrorism threats."

Still, a top Israeli official raised concerns Tuesday that the Lebanese armed forces had fallen under the sway of Hezbollah leaders.

"The Lebanese army has lost its independence and become an inseparable part of the Hezbollah apparatus," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a speech. "The Lebanese army has turned into an integral part of Hezbollah's command structure."

Source: Voice of America

Minister Des Van Rooyen on ways to improve the running of Association ...

Minister urges everyone participating in the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities to seek ways of improving the way business is running currently

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, (CoGTA) Mr Des Van Rooyen said that solid and liquid waste can be beneficial to municipalities and their towns. The Minister was speaking at the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU) 66th Convention held in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro yesterday (09 October 2017).

The Minister told delegates about the importance of living in the future and not neglecting the possibility of relevance as a brand, as keeping up with trends in order to stay relevant is key.

A large capital investment in power utilities by municipalities needs to be looked after through proper maintenance and care taken of these installations. Government acknowledges that municipalities are hampered by vacant positions for qualified technicians and engineers, hence the Capacity Development programme under MISA (Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent), which addresses this through training of artisans, technicians and engineers, said Minister.

Although much research has been undertaken in the provision of alternative energy sources, (i.e. solar PV panels etc.) leading to the development of reliable technology, the Minister cautioned delegates on the dynamics of power distribution in South Africa which is in a fast changing phase with major changes to the way distribution was done in the past. Minister emphasised that this will have to be implemented to keep up with the demand for technology driven systems and procedures.

A number of examples were cited by Minister, including retail industry, particularly the likes of Stuttaffords who became the casualty of a global shift to online retail and a domestic economic slump that had put brands beyond its customers' reach.

Minister also spoke of the impact that the rooftop installations (solar PV panels) will have in the near future when it comes to municipal revenue flow. He said that some form of regulation would have to be introduced to protect the national and municipal capital investments in power generation, transmission and distribution.

He also touched on the immense pressure that is on municipalities to develop a business model for generating, transmitting and distributing energy.

We hope that working with institutions like the South African Local Government Association (Salga) would be beneficial as they would advise on how to move the process forward. Pricing models are already changing and ESKOM is focusing on rationalizing the tariff models currently in use, said Minister.

Minister noted that the AMEU is actively playing a collaborative role in the electricity utility world and it is with expectation that the AMEU conventions of the future will assist further in directing the way this industry will be changing.

In conclusion, Minister indicated that it would be important for municipalities to be proactive and adjust the pricing models for distribution of energy to their consumers within their licensed area.

Source: Government of South Africa

Destigmatising mental health

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says it's time for mental health to be regarded as an integral part of overall individual health and wellbeing.

The Premier said this on Tuesday as the world observes World Mental Health Day. The day is observed annually on 10 October.

The right to mental health requires care and support facilities, services that are available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality. Rights-based care and support for mental health is an integral part of health care for all, said Premier Makhura.

In the wake of the tragic loss of life that befell mental health patients in the province when they were moved from Life Esidimeni to NGO facilities, the Gauteng government has set up an arbitration process, as per the Health Ombuds recommendation, led by the retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

The arbitration process commenced on Monday and will run until 30 October at Emoyeni Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

The primary role of the arbitrator will be to give a proper hearing to the State and the claimant families. He will listen to evidence, including expert evidence on any relevant matters. He will make a binding award of compensation that in all circumstances would be just and equitable.

The arbitration process forms part of the provincial government's commitment to restore the dignity and human rights of mental health patients and all vulnerable groups in Gauteng.

At the beginning of this month, Premier Makhura and Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa signed a Mental Health Pledge reinforcing their commitment to mental healthcare.

Mental Health Pledge

We, the people of Gauteng, recognise the tragedy which befell the mental health patients of our province.

We pledge to stand up against the stigmatisation of mental health, educate the public on mental health and its various forms of discrimination.

We pledge to be leaders, in both our personal and professional life, and to work together to promote Mental Health Rights, Break the Stigma and Break the Silence.

We pledge to take proactive steps to ensure that not in our name and not under our watch will mental health be over looked or taken for granted.

We do all of this with the steadfast belief that for as long as we are alive.

Mental health will remain the cornerstone of its people's health.

We pledge to break the silence and put mental health firmly on the agenda of the health system.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative Elections

As a longstanding friend, the United States applauds the people of Liberia for exercising their democratic right to vote in the historic presidential and legislative elections. This is an important step toward achieving Liberia's first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically-elected head of state to another in decades.

We salute Liberia's success in holding free and fair elections in 2005, 2011, and 2014 and urge Liberians to build on that tradition by peacefully and patiently awaiting the official results from the National Elections Commission.

The United States stands by the people of Liberia in their efforts to continue building their country, its democracy, and its future. While challenges remain, we look forward to advancing our longstanding mutual interests in economic development, trade, security, health care, and the strengthening of democratic institutions.

Source: U.S Department of State

Medical doctor arrested for raping a 17-year-old patient

The Police in Ritavi outside Tzaneen have arrested a 52-year-old man who is a medical doctor for raping a 17-year-old girl who was his patient.

It is alleged that on the 2017-10-09 at about 16:00, the 17-year-old girl went to the suspect's surgery in Nkoankoa Township for consultation. On arrival, she was called in the consultation room and the suspect started examining her and during that process, the suspect then raped her.

The matter was later reported to the Police who reacted swiftly and started with their preliminary investigations until the suspect was later arrested. The suspect will appear before the Nkoankoa Magistrates' Court on Thursday the 2017-10-12 on a charge of rape.

Police Investigations still continues.

Source: South African Police Service

Freedom Park honours Soviet Russian Heroes, 11 Oct

Freedom Park Receives the Names of the Soviet Russian heroes and heroines who fell in the South African Liberation struggle

Freedom Park will tomorrow Wednesday 11 October hold a ceremony to honour and pay tribute to the Soviet Russia people who contributed to the South African liberation struggle. The Russian Ambassador His Excellency Mikhael Ivanovich Petrakov, will hand over the names of the fallen heroes and heroines to Freedom Park CEO Jane Mufamadi.

As South Africa celebrates the centenary of Oliver Tambo, this event could not be more opportune. The event rekindles the close relationship these heroes and the entire Soviet Russia community had with the late struggle stalwart, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.

This momentous event will be attended by Ambassadors and High Commissioners from other countries resident in Pretoria, government officials, officials from related institutions and Researchers.

Freedom Park is mandated to honour those who died in the struggle for freedom and humanity and to foster reconciliation, social cohesion and nation building in the country. This is better reflected in its memorialisation of over 85 000 heroes and heroines who perished in the eight conflicts that shaped South Africa we have today. These conflicts include pre-colonial wars, Wars of resistance Genocides, Slavery, First World War, Second World War, South African War and the Liberation struggle.

On the liberation struggle, Freedom Park narrated and exhibited the four pillars that defined people struggles against the most heinous and diabolic system called apartheid, correctly defined by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. The four pillars of the struggle against apartheid were: underground struggle, armed struggle, mass struggle and international solidarity.

Freedom Park, could not be more proud, to be the conduit of Soviet Russia political, social and economic footprints in the African continent. These names will remain an epitome and eternal testimony of true global diplomatic relations between Soviet Russia and South Africa.

Source: Government of South Africa

4 Ships Banned From All Ports for Violating North Korea Sanctions

UNITED NATIONS The U.N. Security Council has banned all nations from allowing four ships that transported prohibited goods to and from North Korea to enter any port in their country.

Hugh Griffiths, head of the panel of experts investigating the implementation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, announced the port bans at a briefing to U.N. member states on Monday. A North Korean diplomat attended the hour-long session.

Griffiths later told several reporters that this is the first time in U.N. history that the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang has prohibited ships from entering all ports.

He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.

According to MarineTraffic, a maritime database that monitors vessels and their moments, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. It does not list the flag of Tong San 2 but said that on Oct. 3 it was in the Bohai Sea off north China.

Griffiths said the four ships were officially listed on Oct. 5 for transporting prohibited goods, stressing that this was swift action by the sanctions committee following the Aug. 6 Security Council resolution that authorized port bans.

That resolution, which followed North Korea's first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Those goods are estimated to be worth over $1 billion - about one-third of the country's estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.

The Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on Sept. 11, responding to North Korea's sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on Sept. 3.

These latest sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap its crude oil imports. They also prohibit all textile exports, ban all joint ventures and cooperative operations, and bars any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers-key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

Both resolutions are aimed at increasing economic pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the country's official name - to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.

Griffiths told U.N. diplomats that the panel of experts is getting reports that the DPRK is continuing its attempts to export coal in violation of U.N. sanctions.

We have as yet no evidence whatsoever of state complicity, but given the large quantities of money involved and the excess capacity of coal in the DPRK it probably comes as no surprise to you all that they're seeking to make some money here, he said.

Griffiths said the panel is doing our very best to monitor the situation and to follow up with member states who maybe have been taken advantage of by the tactics deployed by DPRK coal export entities.

As for joint ventures and cooperative arrangements, Griffiths said the resolution gives them 120 days from Sept. 11 to close down.

But in a number of cases, the indications are that these joint ventures aren't shutting down at all but are on the contrary expanding � and therefore joint ventures is a major feature of the panel's current investigations, he said.

Griffiths also asked all countries to pay special attention to North Korea's Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, also known as the Mansudae Art Studio, which is on the sanctions blacklist and subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

According to the sanctions listing, Mansudae exports North Korean workers to other countries for construction-related activities including for statues and monuments to generate revenue for the government of the DPRK or the [ruling] Workers' Party of Korea.

Griffiths said Mansudae has representatives, branches and affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region, all over Africa and all over Europe. Without elaborating, he added that they're doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa.

Source: Voice of America