ANC corruption is a major cause of South Africas failure and the polls will show it | William Gumede

The post-apartheid consensus has collapsed, says William Gumede of the Democracy Works Foundation When South Africans personal popularity enjoyed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. If Ramaphosa was not also the head of the ANC, it is very likely that it would be heading for defeat this week. Large numbers of ANC supporters have entirely given up hope, both on the party of liberation being able to deliver a better life for them and on South Africas post-apartheid democratic institutions. Since 1994, South Africa has seen four dramatic societal changes. First, the broad-church ANC alliance of trade unions, communists and civil society groups, which won the first all-race, democratic election under Nelson Mandela in Jacob Zuma. The trade union movement has split, …

Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life

Scientists reveal one million species at risk of extinction in damning UN report Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earths natural life-support systems, the worlds leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken. From coral reefs rainforests desiccating into savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report. The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, …

Libyan officials say 200 people have been killed in recent fighting

Khalifa Haftars bid to topple UN-recognised government has displaced 50,000 people Nearly 200 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured in the most recent wave of fighting in Libya, officials said this weekend. The offensive to take control of Tripoli WHO tweeted. The US appears to have accepted the view of its chief Middle Eastern allies that Haftars assault can be seen as the act of a strong leader fighting Islamist extremist militias in Tripoli. But many independent Libyan experts claim Haftar has no commitment to democracy, and himself deploys Salafist militia in his self-styled Libyan National Army. At least nine people were killed in an attack on Saturday on a military training camp used by forces loyal …

Sea, sand but no sunscreen: tiny Tuvalu desperate for skin protection

Pacific island nation is on the frontline of climate change but locals must fly to Fiji if they want to buy sunscreen As the midday sun beats down on Tuvalu, a slim slice of golden sand in remote Oceania, locals seek shelter under palm trees by the lagoons edge or retreat to the dark interiors of their homes. There is little else they can do to escape the suns powerful rays because there is no suncream in the entire country, despite strident efforts by locals to obtain some. Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world and located halfway between Australia and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Classified as a developing country by the United Nations, Tuvalu is on …

Why we are addicted to conspiracy theories

The long read: Outsiders and the disenfranchised have always embraced the existence of wild plots and cover-ups. But now the biggest conspiracy-mongers are in charge In January 2015, I spent the longest, queasiest week of my life on a cruise ship filled with conspiracy theorists. As our boat rattled toward Mexico and back, I heard about every wild plot, secret plan and dark cover-up imaginable. It was mostly fascinating, occasionally exasperating and the cause of a headache that took months to fade. To my pleasant surprise, given that I was a reporter travelling among a group of deeply suspicious people, I was accused of working for the CIA only once. The unshakeable certainty possessed by many of the conspiracy theorists …

US begins extradition case against Julian Assange in London

WikiLeaks founder declines to consent to being taken to US to face charges Julian Assange has declined a chance to consent to his extradition to the US at a hearing in London as Washington started pressing its case to take him across the Atlantic. Appearing via video link from Belmarsh prison, Assange said: I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many, many people. Ben Brandon, the counsel for the US government, presented details of the US case against Assange at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday. He said the charges related to one of the largest compromises of information in US history. They were connected to the downloading …

Belt and Road forum: China’s ‘project of the century’ hits tough times

Raft of countries including Turkey have refused to attend latest summit amid growing concern about debt diplomacy As China fetes its Belt and Road initiative at a summit this week, Chinese officials will be working hard to defend the flagship project from growing international criticism. The three-day forum starting on Thursday is meant to promote Chinese leader Xi Jinpings project of the century, a foreign policy initiative launched in 2013 to revive ancient trading routes between Asia and Europe, as well as build new links in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. But in contrast to its first summit two years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) takes place in a much less welcoming environment. Critics say the …

Sri Lanka authorities were warned of attacks two weeks ago, says minister

More than 20 suspects arrested as death toll from Easter Sunday bombings rises to 290 The Sri Lankan authorities received warnings two weeks before the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that killed at least 290 people, a cabinet spokesman admitted on Monday. Fourteen days before these incidents occurred, we had been informed about these incidents, Rajitha Senaratne told a press conference in the capital, Colombo, a day after the bombings, which also injured at least 500 people. Senaratne, Sri Lankas health minister, also said the names of some of the suspects had been given to authorities earlier this month. On 9 April, the chief of national intelligence wrote a letter and in this letter many of the names of the members …

Romanian hospitals in crisis as emigration takes its toll

Thousands of doctors and nurses have left Romania in past decade, leading to dire staff shortages Gabriela Dumitru was supposed to retire years ago, but instead, shes working longer hours than ever before. The 65-year-old is one half of a team of two doctors at the neonatology ward in Slobozia, a depressed town about two hours drive from Romanias capital, Bucharest. Dumitru works three or four 24-hour shifts a week, catching an hour of sleep where possible on a sofa in a small box room decorated with pictures of kittens. Her colleague is 75, and he officially retired 15 years ago. Between them, they do the work of four or five doctors, delivering approximately 1,200 babies a year and caring …

Bernie in the Fox’s den: Sanders takes anti-Trump pitch straight to ‘state TV’

The Democratic frontrunner will speak at a Fox News town hall. He says its necessary to speak to Trump voters. Others disagree Bernie Sanders will finish a four-day tour of Trump Country on Monday, with a town hall on the presidents favorite network: Fox News. It is an unexpected partnership, between a self-described democratic socialist and a media outlet that dedicates primetime to pundits who rail against a purported creep of socialism. The event will be staged in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by less than 1%, and it will be moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Sanders is the first Democratic presidential candidate to appear on the network for such an event. He says …

The secret of Netanyahus success? A simple tale of good versus evil | Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

The Israeli prime ministers narrative is raising a generation for whom peace would mean betrayal, says author and psychologist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen Israel is a land of storytellers. Authors such as Amos Oz and David Grossman are acclaimed worldwide, and the Yuval Noah Hararis theory of the cognitive revolution. According to Harari, Homo sapiens came to dominate the world because we are the only animal that can cooperate in large numbers. Thanks to our ability to imagine things collectively, we can subscribe to a common story about a state, or a god and lead others to pursue a holy grail that might exist only in the mind. All large-scale human cooperation systems derive from human beings unique capacity for fiction. We …

Pete! Pete! Pete! Buttigieg fever hits New Hampshire can he keep up the pace?

In Manchester and Concord the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, shone again as a persuasive centrist in a party moving left If this weekend was anything to go by, Pete Buttigieg might be the hottest ticket in the Democratic party right now. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, held rallies in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday and amid talk of job growth, healthcare and military service one thing was clear: if you want to see Buttigieg, get there early. On Friday night Buttigieg T-shirts bear the phonetic spelling Boot-edge-edge had been due to hold a rally at a brewery in Manchester. Because of demand, he switched venues at the last minute to the Currier Museum of Art. That …

Historic breakthrough: Norways giant oil fund dives into renewables

Experts say even nations that got rich on fossil fuels are seeing the future is green Norways $1tn oil fund, the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund, is to plunge billions of dollars into wind and solar power projects. The decision follows Saudi Arabias oil fund selling off its last oil and gas assets. Other national funds built up from oil profits are also thought to be ramping up their investments in renewables. The moves show that countries that got rich on fossil fuels are diversifying their investments and seeking future profits in the clean energy needed to combat climate change. Analysts say the investments are likely to power faster growth of green energy. Norways government gave the worth trillions of …

‘Sick of hiding’: the refugee family fleeing the mafia and Canadian authorities

An Italian family hoped to find safe haven in Canada from organized crime. Now theyre facing deportation After Alessandra Demitri meets someone for the first time, she quickly notes down which of her three wigs she was wearing, and which false name she used. Her husband, Fabrizio, does the same, recording when and where he has employed a rotating selection of beards and moustaches, piercings, and fake tattoos. The precautions they take are not to protect them from Sacra Corona Unita, the powerful Italian crime syndicate whose threats forced them to leave Italy. Instead, the disguises are to help the Demitris hide from authorities in Piera Aiello, a parliamentarian and member of the national anti mafia commission. Aiello was put …

No link between autism and MMR, affirms major study

Danish research again dispels link with vaccine at a time of surging measles cases globally The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine does not cause autism, according to a major study carried out in an attempt to reassure growing numbers of vaccination-doubters, as measles outbreaks surge. Doubts about MMR were sown by the gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, who hypothesised in 1998 that it was linked to autism. The symptoms of the condition often begin to manifest at about the time the jab is given, between 12 and 15 months old. The theory has been discredited and Wakefield was later disbarred from practising medicine, but there has been an upsurge in doubt about the safety of vaccines, spread on social media and in …