Brutal attacks The Afghan government has released almost 5,000 Taliban inmates already, but authorities had baulked at freeing the final 400 prisoners demanded by the Taliban.The prisoners are accused of serious offences including killing scores of Afghans and foreigners, with 44 insurgents of particular concern to the United States and other countries for their role in “high-profile” attacks.In its final resolution, the jirga said it approved releasing the militants “to remove the hurdles for the start of peace talks, stopping bloodshed, and for the good of the public”.The jirga urged the government to monitor the freed prisoners to ensure they did not return to the battlefield and demanded an immediate and lasting ceasefire in the country.But Shaheen said the ceasefire would form part of the agenda during the negotiations with the Afghan government.The family of French aid worker Bettina Goislard, who was murdered in Afghanistan in 2003, said they would not accept the release of her killers, who are on the list.”Such a decision to free [them] made on the basis of horse-trading would be, to us, her family, inconceivable,” Bettina’s family told AFP.Not all those who attended the jirga favored the release of militants.Lawmaker Belquis Roshan, a prominent women’s rights activist, had protested against their release on the first day of jirga, unfurling a banner that read: “Redeeming Taliban is national treason.” “Our stance is clear, if the prisoner release is completed, then we are ready for the intra-Afghan talks within a week,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP.Shaheen said the first round of talks would be held in Doha, Qatar.”The Afghan government will start releasing the 400 Taliban prisoners within two days,” National Security Council spokesman Javid Fasial told AFP.The prisoner exchange was a key part of a deal signed by the Talban and the United States in February, which saw Washington agree to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in return for a pledge from the insurgents to hold peace talks with the Kabul government. The much-delayed talks are aimed at ending the almost two decades old conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.Shaheen said the Taliban delegation for peace talks would be led by Abbas Stanekzai, who was the group’s chief negotiator in talks with Washington ahead of the February deal. The Taliban said Monday they were ready for peace talks with the Afghan government, as authorities announced that the release of hundreds of militants accused of serious offences would begin in the next few days.The fate of some 400 Taliban prisoners has been a crucial hurdle in launching peace talks between the two warring sides, which had committed to completing a prisoner exchange before negotiations could start.On Sunday, thousands of prominent Afghans approved their release at the end of a three-day “loya jirga” — a traditional Afghan gathering of tribal elders and other stakeholders sometimes held to decide on controversial issues. Topics :
When the Indianapolis Indians opened their baseball season this spring, it was the 20th year for the new downtown Victory Field. Victory Field has the reputation of being one of the most fan-friendly ball parks in minor league baseball. A lot of people enjoy sitting beyond the outfield wall on the grass with their families as they take in a relatively inexpensive outing.Indianapolis has long been the center for all sports with baseball taking a backseat to none. Long before the Colts or Pacers came to Indianapolis, there were many amateur ball parks near the downtown area. Because of shifting populations most of these parks have moved to the suburbs but Victory Field sits right downtown along with the major sports facilities. Since the Reds are not having a good season this year, why not take in an Indian game?
The investigation into the Lindo Creek Massacre continued on Tuesday at the Public Service Ministry’s building, with more testimony from family members of two victims – Horace Drakes and Compton Speirs.The Attorney for the Commission, Patrice Henry fielded questions from the witnesses who all said that they were still seeking justice for their family members.Drakes’ Aunt, Natalie McDonald, told the Commission that she learnt about her nephew’s death while on her way to visit her aunt at the Georgetown Public Hospital back in June 2008.Carmen Gittens“I heard the newspaper man said ‘get the news, get the news, Lindo Creek Massacre, eight men die’.”McDonald said she later visited Drakes’ mother, who immediately made contact with a family member in the interior, who confirmed that her son had indeed died. She added that none of her family members was contacted by the Police, or attended any autopsy or funeral service. The family, however, held a memorial service at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, in Stewartville, West Coast Demerara.Speirs’s sister, 80-year-old Carmen Gittens said she became the guardian of her brothers and sisters when their mother died. She said the last time she saw her younger brother was a month prior to his death when he informed her that he was travelling into the interior to work.Natalie McDonaldAlso appearing before the Commission was retired Detective Carl Jacobs, who was responsible for preparing the coroner’s order of the death of the miners.The CoI into the Lindo Creek Massacre is seeking to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry, Lancelot Lee, Compton Speirs, Nigel Torres and Clifton Berry Wong, on or about June 28, 2008 and to report the findings and recommendations to President David Granger.
11 December 2006South Africa’s second satellite, SumbandilaSat, will be launched in early 2007 from a submarine off the coast of Russia and carried halfway around the world by a modified intercontinental ballistic missile before being released into low-earth orbit.The 81-kilogram micro-satellite will orbit the earth at a height of 500 kilometres for between three and five years, giving South Africa affordable access to space technology.Its images will enable scientists to monitor disasters such as fires, floods and oil spills, and deliver useful data on climate, dam levels, population density, crop yields and vegetation.SumbandilaSat will be South Africa’s second satellite after SunSat, which was built by Stellenbosch University staff and postgraduate students and launched into low-earth orbit by Nasa in 1999, remaining operational for almost two years.Sumbandila“Sumbandila” is Tshivenda for “lead the way”. The name was chosen from more than 3 000 entries in a competition run among South Africa’s high school students by the SA Agency for Science and Technology Advancement.State-of-the art payloadAlthough the new satellite will be around the same size as SunSat, technological advances mean it will be far more capable, carrying a state-of-the-art imaging payload.According to Allan Duggan, writing in Popular Mechanics, SumbandilaSat’s “six-band onboard multispectral line-scan camera and video sensors, equipped with three different lenses, will scan the Earth at varying angles”.The resulting high-resolution images will be transmitted to a ground tracking station at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeeshoek bordering the Magaliesberg mountains in Gauteng, with backup stations at Overberg Test Range, Bredasdorp and Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.“The satellite is equipped with 24 gigabytes of non-volatile memory, allowing it to stream about 6GB of image data every day per unique located ground station,” Duggan writes.The satellite was designed and built by Stellenbosch-based SunSpace, the company that developed out of the success of SunSat. According to Business Day, SunSpace completed construction of the satellite in September and has since put the craft through a series of trials to check its ability to withstand extreme temperature and vibration.Business Day reports that SumbandilaSat’s launch, originally planned for December, was delayed until the European spring to allow for better weather. The new launch window period is in April or May 2007.“Technically, it’s ready, it’s passed all the tests,” department spokesman Nhlahlha Nyide told Business Day.The government has invested R26-million in the project, which is being managed by the University of Stellenbosch.While the university also trains postgraduate students in, and conducts research into, satellite engineering and software development, the CSIR’s Satellite Applications Centre will be responsible for operating, tracking and monitoring the satellite.Essential monitoring toolAccording to the Department of Science and Technology, rural communities stand to benefit from the information gathered by SumbandilaSAT, whose observations will inform decision-making in land use and agriculture, natural resource and disaster management, and infrastructure and urban planning.“Space assets” such as satellites are no longer merely a matter of prestige for a country but “have become essential tools,” the department said in a recent statement.“We need to understand the earth system to improve human health, safety and welfare and to protect the environment, reduce disaster losses and achieve sustainable development.”According to Professor Sias Mostert of the University of Stellenbosch, satellites now monitor “almost all aspects of the world’s climate systems,” including sea and land temperatures, wind, rainfall and vegetation cover.Town planners also use satellite images to help tackle problems such as traffic congestion, illegal building and lack of recreational sites, says Mostert.Mothibi Ramusi, manager of the Satellite Applications Centre at the Center for Scientific and Industrial Research, says the satellite’s communications payload will also enable it to provide certain telecommunications services based on the “store and forward” principle.For example, Ramusi explains, as the satellite passes over South Africa, users with receiving stations will be able to send and receive e-mails. In addition, local data – such as data on dam levels – can be transmitted from ground sensors to the satellite for forwarding on to central authorities.According to Popular Mechanics, SumbandilaSAT will take to the sky during a five-day launch “window” starting on 20 December.SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
Johannesburg, Wednesday 6 January 2016 – Brand South Africa’s CEO Mr Kingsley Makhubela today announced the appointment of Mrs Linda Sangaret as Chief Marketing Officer of the country’s official marketing and reputation management agency.Mrs Sangaret has recently concluded a decade long tenure as South African Tourism’s Country Manager in France. During this time, she was key to South Africa’s efforts to position the country as a destination of choice for French tourists.Between 2000-2005, Mrs Sangaret held the position of Global Communications and Marketing Manager at the Societe Generale Investment Bank in France and was responsible for the implementation of the Bank’s communications and marketing strategy in Asia and the Americas.Mrs Sangaret has also served the country as a diplomat in Paris between 1995-1999.Welcoming Mrs Sangaret to Brand South Africa, Mr Kingsley Makhubela said, “Brand South Africa is pleased to have a global citizen of the calibre of Mrs Sangaret as its Chief Marketing Officer. Mrs Sangaret will be responsible for co-ordinating national efforts to position South Africa as a competitive destination of choice in a range of areas and we wish her a successful tenure at Brand South Africa.”Speaking about her appointment, Mrs Sangaret said, “After many years of working to position my country positively on foreign shores, I am pleased to be able to showcase to the world, including South Africans, the beauty and magnificence of our country and its people. In an increasingly borderless global world, a nation’s reputation and its competitive strengths are its biggest assets. I look forward to the task of defining South Africa’s value proposition with a range of stakeholders so that we can leverage the best that the country has to offer to position South Africa as a world class destination of choice,” concluded Mrs Sangaret.Mrs Sangaret assumes office on 6 January 2016.
Marathas’ claimHowever, the Marathas of Vadhu-Budruk allege that the account was “a distortion of history” and that it was their ancestors who performed Sambhaji’s final rites.Accordingly, the Marathas, along with the gram panchayat authorities, took strong objection to the plaque, saying it falsified history as there was no documented evidence.On the same day, a complaint was filed by Dalit activists against 49 persons of Vadhu Budruk village under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, for damaging the board, police said. The gram panchayat of Vadhu Budruk also reportedly filed a cross complaint on the matter.“The Bhima-Koregaon violence was an act of provocation carefully calculated in advance by Hindutva outfits and designed to spark tension between Mahar [Dalit] and Maratha communities,” said Santosh Shinde of the pro-Maratha Sambhaji Brigade. The Brigade submitted a memorandum to the Pune Police Commissioner demanding a CBI probe into the issue.Similarly, Sachin Mali of the Kabir Kala Manch, who was present at the time of the clashes, said the villagers of Vadhu Budruk were instigated by rightwing forces to pelt stones at Dalits during the Koregaon-Bhima celebrations.“Several thousands of Hindutva activists were assembled to wreak havoc on the occasion. What were the police doing? Why wasn’t adequate security in place when the dispute at Vadhu-Budruk broke out on December 29? There were no ambulances or adequate security in place,” Mr. Mali told The Hindu.According to him, the clashes were planned to coincide with action in several adjoining villages like Sanaswadi, Shikrapur and Perne.One person, identified as Rahul Phatangale, lost his life in the violence between two groups that was marked by pelting of stones, and several persons were left injured. Scores of vehicle, including police vans, were torched.(With inputs from PTI) RPI supporters gathered at Chembur in Mumbai protesting killing of a person at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on Monday. The cyber crime cell of the city police issued a notification warning of “stern action against socially divisive social media posts”. Mobile phone jammers continued to be in operation in Koregaon-Bhima and surrounding villages. Pelting of stonesCommerce and commute in several parts of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad were thrown off-kilter as State transport buses were pelted with stones during demonstrations by Bhim Sainiks. Traffic had to to be diverted at a number of points. Traffic along the old Mumbai-Pune highway came to a grinding halt due to the demonstrations.By noon, the agitators had compelled several shops and establishments in vital parts of Pune to be shut even as curfew continued to be imposed in the village of Bhima-Koregaon and surrounding villages – the epicenter of the violence — 30 km from the city.There were reports of widespread stone-pelting in Ahmednagar district as well, with lockdowns being observed in several tehsils.Shutdowns were particularly tense in Marathwada where condemnations of the violence became violent.In Hingoli, two jeeps were burnt; a ‘Shivshahi’ AC bus of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) was damaged in Osmanabad district; and a State transport bus was pelted with stones in Parbhani district. A massive ‘rasta roko’ was staged along the Jalna-Sindkhed road. Mumbai, Pune and several other parts of Maharashtra, remained on edge a day after clashes marred the bicentenary celebrations of the historic 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon that concluded on Monday.Tremors of the violence, which left one person dead near Koregaon Bhima village, were felt across several districts in western Maharashtra as well as the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, as activists of Dalit groups, social outfits and Ambedkarite parties staged road blocks and issued condemnations of the January 1 violence.Local train services disruptedProtesters disrupted suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line, blocked roads in several areas of Mumbai, forced shops to shut down and attacked a journalist of a television news channel.The Central Railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi on its harbour corridor and is running special services between CSMT-Kurla and Vashi-Panvel section.Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) continued to be in force across Pune, Aurangabad and other districts in Marathwada in a bid to preclude stormy clouds of a possible caste conflagration.“We have deployed two companies of the State Reserve Police Force [SRPF] along with several Quick Response Teams [QRT] of the police positioned at sensitive points in Pune city under supervision of senior police personnel,” said Commissioner of Police Rashmi Shukla.Also Read Devendra Fadnavis orders judicial inquiry into Bhima-Koregaon clashes Cause of the violenceWhile several outfits and parties issued urgent proclamations of restraint, some alleged that the violence was a carefully planned conspiracy by rightwing Hindutva groups.Organisers of the ‘Bhima-Koregaon Shauryadin Prerana Abhiyan’, a committee which held the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on Sunday in which Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani and Radhika Vemula participated, alleged that the clashes were incited by right-wing outfits.According to sources, on December 29, a fierce dispute broke out between upper caste Marathas and Dalits in the village of Vadhu Budruk (around 4 km from Koregaon -Bhima) over a rudimentary plaque erected near the tomb of Govind Ganapat Gaikwad, a Dalit from the Mahar community. He is believed to have performed the final rites of the slain Maratha King Sambhaji (Shivaji’s son).Gaikwad had defied Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to perform the last rites of Sambhaji after the latter was tortured and murdered by Aurangzeb in 1689.According to history, the Mughals had warned that whoever performed the last rites of Sambhaji would be killed, and no one stepped forward except Gaikwad. He apparently paid with his life for his deed.Also Read | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini How a British war memorial became a symbol of Dalit pride
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