The Guardian • Issue #2089


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2089
Global briefs

SOUTH AFRICA: South African ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) has launched its election manifesto. The 29 May elections will be crucial for the ANC as recent polls suggest it is at risk of losing its parliamentary majority. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined the party’s successes in the last 30 years after the overthrow of the apartheid government in 1992. The ANC has been able to meet the needs of poor South Africans by providing low-cost free housing, water, and electricity. “Our economy has grown three times since 1994, There were only 8 million South Africans in employment then, now it is 14 million people,” said Ramaphosa. However, high unemployment is a huge problem in the country. It is standing at 32.1 per cent, one of the highest in the world, and could certainly impact the elections.

INDIA: India’s maritime labour force answered the Palestinian trade unions’ call for solidarity and support. The Water Transport Workers Federation (WTWF) declared that they will refuse to handle weapons destined for Israel. The union’ general secretary said that “If any vessel or any ship is carrying arms or ammunition or weapons cargo to Israel, we decided to boycott. We will not cooperate with that.” The union stated that its action was an act of solidarity, and condemned a war in which “women and children have been blown to pieces. parents were unable to recognise their children killed by bombs exploding everywhere.”

JORDAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned of a wider regional war if Israel continues with its military action in the Gaza Strip during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is to begin on March 11 this year. Israel had earlier warned that it would continue fighting during Ramadan if Hamas failed to free the hostages. Israel has also threatened to attack Rafah where around 1.5 million Gazans sought refuge.

ISRAEL: Israel has refused to renew visas and work permits for relief workers providing essential services to the blockaded Palestinians. Visas were denied not only to directors and managers of the relief organisations but to ordinary aid workers as well. Among the targeted groups are such well-known and respected organisations as Oxfam, Amnesty international, Action Against Hunger, Catholic Relief Services and Care International. Over half a million Gazans could die of starvation and diseases if current conditions continue.

UKRAINE: Le Figaro, a French newspaper, reported on “the story of the confrontation of the Western military equipment with reality.” No, it was not about tanks stuck in mud or frozen solid in a bog. This time it was about mice and rats who feasted on eco-friendly weapons provided to the Ukrainian military by their foreign backers. Le Figaro quoted an unnamed French fighter who explained that “some of the protective sheaths of electrical wires are made of corn fibre.” “Western vehicles were designed as a technological showcase. But in the mud and cold they don’t always work,” the French fighter complained. Corn fibre makes a very attractive meal for rodents as well. In the immortal words of the Good Soldier Schweik, “It takes a special kind of genius to do something so stupid.”

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