Arrest warrant issued for S. Africa ex-president Zuma

first_imgA South African court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for embattled former president Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing over corruption charges related to a 1990s arms deal.But the court said that execution of the warrant will be deferred until May 6 when the case is due to resume.Zuma’s lawyers said he was not able to attend the pre-trial hearing on Tuesday because he was ill and receiving treatment abroad, in the latest twist in a case that has seen numerous legal turns over a decade and a half. Topics : The High Court in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg issued the warrant after it questioned the authenticity of the sick note said to have been signed by a military doctor.”The court accepts that Mr Zuma may be unwell,” said judge Dhaya Pillay. “But this court needs reliable evidence that Mr Zuma is indeed ill.””It is not clear that [the doctor] is indeed a regular practitioner,” she said.State prosecutor Billy Downer said it was a “criminal offence” for the 77-year-old Zuma, who was in office between 2009 and 2018, to skip court.center_img Zuma’s lawyer Dan Mantsha told reporters outside the courtroom that “our courts have no sympathy, no compassion”. “We are very concerned when courts issue warrants under the circumstances like this when the whole country knows that president Zuma is not well … indeed president Zuma underwent two operations in early January this year,” Mantsha said.”When you start to issue warrants under such circumstances, people start to question whether we are all equal under the law.” He said for the court to doubt “whether he is sick or not, is absolute unimaginable”.Mantsha vowed that the “elderly” Zuma, will attend court when he is fit, as he has done for previous hearings.Local media suggested that Zuma is in Cuba undergoing treatment for an undisclosed ailment.Zuma posted a video clip on Twitter on December 29 of himself dancing with a local gospel choir, with the caption “Happy Holidays.. From myself and the Umlazi Gospel Choir”. The former president has not tweeted since.Zuma is alleged to have taken bribes worth four million rand ($270,000) related to a $3.4 billion arms deal in 1999 when he was deputy president.In all Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment when he was deputy to the country’s second black president, Thabo Mbeki.Both Zuma and French defense company Thales, which supplied equipment for navy vessels, deny the charges.Last year Zuma unsuccessfully tried to stop the trial from going ahead.If the trial takes place, it would be the first time Zuma faces a court on graft charges, despite a string of accusations over his long political career.Critics have dubbed Zuma the “Teflon president” for his reputed ability to evade judicial reckoning.He has also been accused of organizing the systematic plunder of government coffers in a scandal known as “state capture”.Zuma appeared at an inquiry into the scandal in July, putting on a defiant performance and denying all wrongdoing.  He was forced to step down in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a nine-year reign marked by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.The main opposition Democratic Alliance hailed the warrant decision, saying the court “has put its foot down and shown Mr Zuma that he can no longer continue wasting the court’s time and public resources because he is too afraid to face the music”.  “He has gone above and beyond and tried every trick in the book to avoid being held accountable for his alleged hand in the arms deal,” the DA said in a statement. last_img read more

Thailand’s economy shrinks most in more than 20 years

first_imgSome 40 million tourists were expected to arrive in the kingdom this year but the travel industry was the first casualty when pandemic lockdowns went into effect globally in March. The absence of visitors was felt in the country’s services sector, bruising entertainment, retail, hotels and restaurants, according to the NESDC. The government has attempted to boost domestic tourism, putting aside a portion of a record financial stimulus passed in May to fund travel. But Thai bank Krungsri said in a note released last week that the sector will “remain weak due to near-zero foreign tourists and lower domestic purchasing power”. The kingdom’s freefalling economy has been a catalyst for nationwide near-daily protests by student-led demonstrators, denouncing the administration of premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former military chief who led a 2014 coup. Government figures predict the pandemic could leave 8.4 million jobless, eviscerating gains made over the past two decades. Topics : Thailand’s economy suffered its worst contraction since the Asian financial crisis more than two decades ago, data showed Monday, as the coronavirus shattered the country’s crucial tourism industry.The kingdom has largely escaped the worst of the disease — registering 3,300 cases and 58 deaths despite being the first country outside China to register an infection in January. But pandemic-spurred lockdowns brought the economy to a staggering halt, shrinking 12.2 percent in the second quarter growth, according to the Office of National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).  The outbreak “has made our economy fall by 12.2 percent, lower than during the Tom Yum Kung crisis”, said secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisumphand, using the local name for the Asian Financial Crisis that struck in 1998. The economy shrank 12.5 percent in the second quarter of that year. The NESDC forecast a 7.5 percent contraction in 2020.The slump is “not as dramatic as some regional peers”, said economist Alex Holmes at Singapore-based Capital Economics, pointing out Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines saw worse readings. But “the outlook remains one of the worst in the region because of Thailand’s reliance on tourism”, he told AFP. last_img read more

Griezmann and Payet on song as France into Euros last 16

first_imgPayet also struck a late winner as France opened the tournament with a nervy 2-1 win over Romania.Two leave-it-late wins left doubts about whether Didier Deschamps’s side’s can repeat the feats of French sides past at the 1984 Euros and 1998 World Cup by winning on home soil.Deschamps surprisingly left Juventus star Paul Pogba and Griezmann on the bench in the only two changes from the game against Romania.Les Bleus only kicked into gear with Pogba and Griezmann reunited with the mercurial Payet after the break.Griezmann finally made the breakthrough as the clock ticked into stoppage time, stooping to turn home Adil Rami’s cross.And Payet capped another man-of-the-match performance by firing into the far corner to round off a harsh scoreline on Albania. Marseille, France | AFP |Late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet booked hosts France’s place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 after overcoming stiff resistance from European Championship debutants Albania.Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann came off the bench in Marseille to head the opener in the 90th minute before West Ham United’s Payet strengthened his reputation by smashing home a second deep into stoppage time.“We needed a win to qualify, and it’s done,” Griezmann told French television.“The coach had told me that I would be a substitute. I knew it and I wanted to do what I had to do once I got on.” Swiss on the vergeFrance next face Switzerland in Lille on Sunday with the Swiss also on the verge of reaching the knockout stage after a 1-1 draw with Romania in Paris.Bogdan Stancu’s penalty gave Romania the advantage at the Parc des Princes. The Swiss spurned a host of chances to score before Admir Mehmedi finally slammed home to level just before the hour mark.“We can be satisfied with a point. We were able to take an important step towards the next round and to be almost sure of reaching the last 16,” said Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic.Stancu is fast becoming a penalty specialist at these championships, having also scored from the spot in the 2-1 defeat to France to join Payet as the only player to score twice at the tournament so far.But the Swiss burst back into the game when Macedonian-born Mehmedi slammed home a loose ball from a corner in the 57th minute after the Romanian defence failed to clear.– Russian woes -Russia’s troubles deepened as a day after the 2018 World Cup hosts were threatened with expulsion from the competition for crowd trouble at their Group B opener against England, they moved to the brink of bowing out for their efforts on the field with a 2-1 defeat to Slovakia.Napoli’s Marek Hamsik set up the opener for Vladimir Weiss and then came up with a contender for goal of the tournament by smashing into the top corner to give Slovakia a 2-0 half-time lead.Russia pulled a goal back through Denis Glushakov late on, but a flare briefly lit after they scored could yet provoke further punishment from UEFA.The result allowed Jan Kozak’s team to bounce back from an opening 2-1 defeat to Wales and leaves Russia languishing at the bottom of the group with just one point from two games.Wales can seal top spot in the pool with victory over England on Thursday.“This has perhaps opened up the gates to the last 16. I did well,” said Hamsik“I am very proud that I managed to score such a goal. It was brilliant.”Share on: WhatsApp Pages: 1 2last_img read more

Hamilton wins fifth Formula One world title

first_imgA puff of smoke signalled an engine failure and his eighth ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) of the season while his 21-year-old Dutch tyro team-mate secured a repeat of his 2017 triumph, his second win this season and the fifth of his career.Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen came home third ahead of Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault ahead of Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.For Ferrari, it was a first double podium success in Mexico since 1990 with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. Share on: WhatsApp Mexico City, Mexico | AFP | Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth drivers’ world championship on Sunday to draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio in the Formula One record books when he finished fourth behind a victorious Max Verstappen in the Mexican Grand Prix.The 33-year-old Briton’s only remaining championship rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who needed a victory, with Hamilton outside the top seven, to keep his hopes alive, finished second.Hamilton’s success – the third time he has taken the title without finishing on the race podium – elevated him to a supreme club alongside Fangio with only seven-time champion Michael Schumacher ahead of him.He was adding the 2018 crown to his championship wins in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017.He celebrated by executing ‘doughnut’ wheel spins for the cheering crowd before leaping out of his car and into the arms of his team.After being congratulated by Vettel, Hamilton said: “It’s a very strange feeling, a very humbling experience. To complete this when Fangio did it as well, it’s a very surreal feeling.”““That’s how you do it – that’s how you drive, Lewis,” said Hollywood film star Will Smith on Mercedes team radio after Hamilton took the chequered flag.Hamilton, who started third on the grid, struggled with chronic tyre-wear after making a strong start in his Mercedes and settled for a cautious cruise to the title without a podium finish.Verstappen, upstaged by his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying on Saturday, came home 17.108 seconds ahead of Vettel after the luckless Australian pole-sitter retired with nine laps remaining.last_img read more

Easter and Pets – Information from Joint Animal Services

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Joint Animal ServicesCute bunnies and fuzzy chicks find their way into the Easter baskets each spring. Unfortunately, as they grow, many of these Easter pets become unwanted or owners are unable to care for them.Some neighborhoods do not allow these types of pets. Rather than a living addition to the Easter basket, give an adoption gift certificate from Animal Services. This way the recipient can select the pet that fits their lifestyle and speaks to their heart. As Easter is right around the corner, here are some tips to help keep your pets safe.  1) Keep all that extra candy safely tucked away from your pets.  Chocolate, macadamia nuts and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) are toxic to many pets.2) Easter Lilies can be fatal if ingested by our furry friends.3) Many pets will try to nibble the plastic grass from Easter baskets, which can cause blocked digestive tracks and other medical issues.For more information, visit www.jointanimalservices.org or call Animal Services at (360) 352-2510.last_img read more