Monday, October 31, 2016

What's Next for the FBI's Renewed Investigation Into Clinton's Email Server
By PIERRE THOMAS GENEVA SANDS MIKE LEVINE JACK DATE
ABC News
Oct 31, 2016, 6:08 PM ET

PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking during a rally at the Palace of Agriculture at the state fairgrounds, Oct. 12, 2016, in Pueblo, Colorado.Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The FBI says it's moving ahead with urgency as it begins the examination of newly discovered emails that prompted a review of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server.

Investigators have taken the hard drive out of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop and made a mirror image of it to immediately begin pulling data.

Weiner’s laptop contained hundreds of thousands of emails, but the FBI team is only focusing on the thousands that appear to be associated with Huma Abedin, Weiner's now-estranged wife and Clinton insider, said sources familiar with the investigation.

What to Know About the New Clinton-Related Emails
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Investigators are targeting work-related emails and any emails that may have gone to the private Clinton server. The FBI will use computers to eliminate any emails that they’ve already seen. Agents will also look at the time frame when Clinton was in office, but may include some of the time after she left office, according to sources.

The investigators working on the latest cache of emails is the same FBI team that conducted the Clinton private email server probe. It’s a collection of cyber and forensic experts, and counterintelligence agents, which number in the dozens. The goal was to have people most familiar with this case step back into it, said sources familiar with the investigation.

The FBI hasn't yet determined if the newly discovered emails are truly "new" or whether any of the emails contained any type of sensitive information.

The emails were found as part of a separate criminal investigation as FBI agents in New York were analyzing a laptop used by Weiner, who had been accused of sending sexually explicit messages to an underage girl. Since the Clinton-related emails were found while investigating another case, the FBI needed a separate warrant to examine the news emails.

Federal agents discovered the emails weeks ago, but presented the findings to FBI Director James Comey last Thursday. On Friday, Comey sent a letter to key members of Congress informing them of the update. That sparked a frenzy within the Clinton campaign and immediate backlash against Comey, as lawmakers and former officials on both sides of the aisle demanded for a more complete understanding of the new information. It is also long-standing DOJ tradition to steer clear of potentially influential investigative actions so close to an election.

On Sunday, the FBI obtained the appropriate warrant and began reviewing thousands of emails.

Comey is receiving regular updates on the investigation and if something definitive is developed quickly, he might consider whether to release additional information.

On Monday, the Department of Justice said it was moving as "expeditiously as possible" in response to Democrats and Republicans in Congress who had asked for additional information related to the FBI's investigation.

"We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI and together, dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible, wrote Assistant Attorney General Peter Kazik in the letter.

Officials in the Justice Department weren't trying to block the FBI from trying to review these emails, according to sources familiar with the discussions. However, there was tension over whether the FBI should notify Congress about it with the knowledge that it would be immediately leaked—and potentially affect an election that is effectively already underway, said those sources.

Ben Siegel contributed to this story.
In War Between Candidates, Even F.B.I. Director Is a Target
By JONATHAN MARTIN
New York Times
OCT. 31, 2016

Mr. Comey, who was once so broadly admired that the Senate confirmed his appointment in 2013 by a vote of 93 to 1, has emerged as the most vivid example of how difficult it is for institutions to remain insulated from partisan combat in this hyperpolarized era.

Mrs. Clinton and her opponent, Donald J. Trump, who has used incendiary rhetoric toward Mr. Comey, are practicing the politics of total war, where there can be no noncombatants or neutral actors. Supporters have to be rallied, and adversaries must be distinguished from allies.

“Everything now gets weaponized,” said David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Obama. In their response to Mr. Comey, he said, “the Clinton people saw a strong rebuttal against him as a way of galvanizing their own forces.”

That Mrs. Clinton would make the F.B.I. director a target of her campaign’s wrath is deeply troubling to some Republicans, including those who are no admirers of Mr. Trump and believe that she is compounding what they see as the Republican candidate’s irresponsible behavior.

Even more worrisome, they say, is that the attacks are eroding what little faith the public still has in government.

“What we’re seeing in this election, with Trump saying the election and everything else is rigged and now this attack by Hillary and her people on the F.B.I., is basically an attack on our form of a constitutional government,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican. “They’re undermining the core elements of what gives our government credibility.”

William S. Cohen, who was a secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, said the hostile rhetoric suggested that the country is “slouching towards the mutual assured destruction of our political system.”

“A healthy skepticism of public officials and institutions is descending into a corrosive cynicism that’s unlikely to be reversed in the short term,” Mr. Cohen said. “A coarsening of language is a precursor to the coarsening of values.”

Mr. Axelrod said Mrs. Clinton had a “legitimate” criticism with Mr. Comey, and her advisers felt they had no choice but to exert pressure on the F.B.I. director in order to reframe a potentially damaging narrative just over a week before the election. In the minds of Mrs. Clinton’s aides, Mr. Comey effectively made himself fair game when he issued a vague three-paragraph letter and inserted himself and his agency into the final days of a high-stakes contest.

“By taking this highly unusual, unprecedented action this close to the election, he put himself in the middle of the campaign,” Jennifer Palmieri, Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, said of Mr. Comey. The campaign’s advisers also felt they had to act, she added, because they believed that Mr. Trump would distort the letter.

Yet the evolution of Democrats’ handling of Mr. Comey’s letter illustrates just how tempting, and rewarding, total-war politics can be.

When Mrs. Clinton first addressed the inquiry on Friday evening, hours after news of Mr. Comey’s letter emerged, she was firm but also careful to avoid anything that could be seen as a personal criticism of the director. “It’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue and question, whatever it is, without any delay,” she told reporters in Iowa.

On Saturday, though, Mrs. Clinton saw an opportunity. When she referred to “the F.B.I. director,” the Democratic audience responded with a chorus of boos for an official who was appointed by Mr. Obama.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters in Daytona Beach, Fla., winning applause and affirmation. “In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented, and it is deeply troubling.”

Similar emails to donors targeting Mr. Comey were soon crafted.

And by Sunday, Mrs. Clinton’s top surrogates felt comfortable going even further, seeing that their supporters were roused by the 11th-hour story. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mrs. Clinton’s running mate, said at a campaign stop in Michigan, “It has kind of revved up some enthusiasm — a little bit of righteous indignation and righteous anger.”

John D. Podesta, her campaign chairman, when asked on CNN about how WikiLeaks had obtained his hacked emails, used the opportunity to ridicule the F.B.I. director.

“Maybe Jim Comey, if he thinks it’s important, will come out and let us know in the next nine days,” Mr. Podesta said.

Later that day, Mr. Reid all but accused Mr. Comey of violating the Hatch Act, which bars government officials from engaging in any activity that can influence elections.

“Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law,” Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, wrote in a letter to Mr. Comey.

What started as a request for additional information had escalated into claims of criminality in less than 48 hours.

Such accusations are unfamiliar territory for Mr. Comey, a Republican. He was hailed by the political left and center when, as deputy attorney general to President George W. Bush, he staged a made-for-Hollywood intervention at the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to prevent other administration officials from making Mr. Ashcroft approve aspects of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program.

And Mr. Comey was, of course, respected enough across party lines to be tapped by Mr. Obama for his current post.

“I’ve found him to be a straight guy,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said of Mr. Comey on Friday shortly after the letter was disclosed.

Mr. Comey himself remained silent over the weekend, perhaps not wanting to add accelerant to the raging political fires. But by doing so, and by not disclosing further information about what new material his agents may have discovered, he has only fueled speculation.

“It is a shame how contentious everything now is, this state of our public discourse,” said Donald B. Ayer, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush. “But he broke the most fundamental rule as a prosecutor: You either put up or shut up.”

By deciding to effectively declare war on Mr. Comey — first for not bringing charges against Mrs. Clinton and then for showing renewed interest in the case — the two candidates have made him, and perhaps the bureau he leads, pay a price. After all, Mr. Comey may soon work for one of them.

“One more institution gets dragged into this partisan morass,” Mr. Axelrod said. “In the short term, it’s two candidates trying to win an election, but in the long term someone has to govern, and it becomes more difficult when everything is seen as an extension of politics.”
CNN Parts Ways With Donna Brazile, a Hillary Clinton Supporter
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
New York Times
OCT. 31, 2016

CNN has severed ties with the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, after hacked emails from WikiLeaks showed that she shared questions for CNN-sponsored candidate events in advance with friends on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Ms. Brazile, a veteran political analyst for the network, was already on leave from CNN since becoming interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. On Monday, CNN said it had accepted her formal resignation on Oct. 14.

“We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor,” Lauren Pratapas, a network spokeswoman, said in a statement.

“CNN never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate,” Ms. Pratapas wrote.

The announcement followed the release of new emails on Monday that included a message from Ms. Brazile on the day before a CNN-sponsored Democratic primary debate in Flint, Mich., in March. Her subject line: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”

“Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” Ms. Brazile wrote to John D. Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, and Jennifer Palmieri, the candidate’s communications director.

At the debate the next night, two women asked similar questions of Mrs. Clinton and her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The episode has cast a harsh spotlight on the cable news practice of paying partisan political operatives to appear as on-air commentators. Like Ms. Brazile, these guests can offer a plugged-in viewpoint on the day’s events, but they often also parrot campaign talking points and, as in this case, create potential ethical conflicts.

CNN has already faced criticism over its hiring of Corey Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump’s former campaign manager, as a paid contributor, even as he remains an informal adviser to the candidate.

Ms. Brazile’s infraction, however, may be more damaging. Her sharing of questions with a candidate would seem to undercut the impartiality of the event and, as a CNN contributor, potentially reflect poorly on the network, which received big ratings, and thus profits, from primary debates and town halls.

In an interview on Monday, Ms. Brazile said she offered her resignation to CNN when emails surfaced earlier in October that showed her telling Ms. Palmieri: “From time to time I get the questions in advance.”

“I didn’t want CNN to get involved in this WikiLeaks controversy,” Ms. Brazile said by telephone. “I didn’t want to put CNN in the middle of what has been a real invasive cyberintrusion.”

Ms. Brazile, who said she has changed her mobile phone number twice because of harassment related to the leaked emails, said CNN “never, never” shared advance questions with her ahead of debates or town hall-style events.

Asked to explain her emails with the Clinton campaign, she said she “seeks as much information as I can possibly get” ahead of a televised program, in part to prepare for her own on-air responses.

“I often talk to everybody before an event,” she said. “I try to learn as much as I can, share as much as I can.”

But Ms. Brazile declined to elaborate on the exchanges in question, saying: “I am not going to verify, deny, confirm or even try to make sense out of stolen emails that were hacked.”

Her departure from CNN quickly became fodder on the campaign trail. Mr. Trump, at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday, seized on Ms. Brazile’s messages to attack Mrs. Clinton and press his case that the news media is biased against him.

“Speaking of draining the swamp, Donna Brazile did it again,” he said. “WikiLeaks today, she gave the questions to a debate to Hillary Clinton. And that was from a couple of weeks ago. Happened again, but this time far worse. She gave the questions to a debate to Hillary Clinton.”

If Mrs. Clinton received questions in advance from Ms. Brazile, Mr. Trump asked, “why didn’t she report it?”

The Clinton campaign has declined to verify the authenticity of the emails.

Ms. Brazile’s discussions with the Clinton campaign first raised concerns earlier in October when emails released by WikiLeaks showed she had contacted Ms. Palmieri to share a question about the death penalty. Ms. Brazile said the question would be asked at a coming CNN town hall.

In the Monday interview, Ms. Brazile said her experience over the last few weeks had been “very invasive.”

“It’s like you get hit three times,” Ms. Brazile said. “You get hit with the hack, with the fact that your information has been stolen, and then you get hit with trying to make sense of the nonsense.”

Find out what you need to know about the 2016 presidential race today, and get politics news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the First Draft newsletter.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zambia Ruling Party Denies Pushing for Extension of Leaders' Term in Office
Xinhua
2016/10/29 14:05:44

Zambia's ruling party on Friday denied reports that it was pushing for the extension of the terms of the tenure of office of elected leaders.

On Thursday, Paul Moonga, a member of the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front (PF) proposed that the tenure of political office be increased from the current five years to seven.

He said the extension of the terms of office for the president, the vice, lawmakers and councilors will enable them to work effectively as five years was too short to accomplish anything.

However, this has received sharp criticism from the opposition who feel it was a ploy by the ruling party to extend the term of office of President Edgar Lungu who was elected for a five year term during the August 11 polls.

But Inonge Wina, who is both the country's and party's vice-president, said the statement does not represent the views of the party or the government.

She said in parliament that the views expressed by the party member were his own and did not represent the views of the party as the Central Committee has never sat to consider such an issue.

"It has nothing to do with the central committee nor is it government's position," she said.
Nothing is Free in Zambia, Pay for Water- Mwale
October 30, 2016
Lusaka Times

LOCAL government minister Vincent Mwale says nothing is for free in Zambia and people will have to pay for water services.

And Mwale says water utilities will experience challenges arising out of changes and ripples in the economy.

He said this when he opened the Copperbelt Water Operators Partnership fourth annual national seminar in Ndola yesterday.

” If you are not able to collect in time, all the bills that are sent out, cash flow problems set in, which in turn, impact on the ability to cover operating expenses and extend service coverage. There is nothing for free. People need to pay for water services,” Mwale said.

” So dialogue with your customers. Make them understand why they should pay for water. Delayed bill payments and huge arrears can greatly undermine your capacity to deliver water and provide sewerage services in that you depend on a constant stream of revenue from customers in order to survive.”

He said local councils should also involve water utilities when planning for new development areas.

” I wish to state here that government recognizes the difficulties that utility companies face in dealing with the problems of non-revenue water and serving low-income communities. It is a drain on your limited resources,” he said.

And Mwale said water utilities need to be innovative and to change with time.

” As water utilities you will experience challenges arising out of changes and ripples in the economy. Adapt quickly. Know that water is a service. Water is Life. Water is a right. You deal with a commodity that supports life,” he said.

Mwale further said Councillors should desist from being plot sellers.

Meanwhile, kafubu water and sewerage company managing director Athanasius Mwaba said the objective of the project was to contribute to better governance and management in the Zambian water sector.
No Power for Eight Hours a Day in Zambia
28 October 2016, 11:25am
Oscar Nkala

Gaborone - The Zambian Electricity Supply Commission (Zesco) has extended the duration of its nation-wide load-shedding regime from four to eight hours per day in response to subdued generation capacity at the major hydro-electric power stations.

In a statement, Zesco spokesperson Bessie Banda said the power utility extended the load-shedding regime because generation capacity at the Kafue Gorge Power Station had dropped from 700MW (megawatts) to 600MW due to critically lowered water levels.

A further loss of 48MW in power generation at the Ndola Energy Company, as well as ongoing upgrade works on a 330kV (kilo-volts) main power line, also contributed to extended hours of load-shedding.

Banda said the 8-hour power outages would last until November 12.

"Zesco is committed to providing reliable electricity and is doing everything possible to ensure all transmission and generation constraints are mitigated in the shortest possible time. In particular, the line upgrade works will be completed by 11th November 2016, which will strengthen the capacity to evacuate power from Maamba," Banda said.

"We expect the extended load shedding (regime) to end by 12 November 2016. In view of the foregoing, ZESCO therefore wishes to appeal to its customers to use electricity more efficiently, and to use alternative sources of energy whenever possible," Banda said.

The drop in water levels in the Zambezi River has also reduced Zambia's power-generation capacity at the Kariba Hydro-Electric Power Station, which is operated jointly with southern neighbour Zimbabwe.

The use of obsolete technologies and a failure to maintain the plants have also led to breakdowns that resulted in loss of power generation.
Iraq Reveals Oilfields Output to Win Over OPEC Ahead of Meeting
October 30, 2016 — 5:00 PM EDT

Iraq published data showing a rare level of detail for its oil production and exports, a week after inviting energy reporters to Baghdad to make a case that the country is pumping more crude than analysts and OPEC acknowledge.

The country’s state oil marketing agency released a statement on Sunday showing September production figures for each of the 26 fields it controls, plus a single output figure for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, which manages its crude independently. Previous monthly statements showed just two figures: total production and total exports. The Oil Marketing Co., known as SOMO, also provided detailed data on exports and domestic consumption.

OPEC’s second-largest producer says it pumped more than 4.7 million barrels a day last month, several hundred thousand barrels a day more than oil-industry watchers recognize. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries assesses output for its 14 members based on such secondary sources. Iraq wants the group to accept the ministry’s figures before a Nov. 30 meeting at which OPEC could limit production for its members.

Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi complained about OPEC data at a meeting in September in Algiers. He adopted a milder approach last week, inviting reporters to Baghdad for a tour of the national museum and a detailed discussion of production figures. “We want you to see for yourselves what our production is,” he said on Oct. 23.

Transparency Push

The field-specific data for September sheds light on how SOMO calculates Iraqi production.

However, it doesn’t provide a breakdown of Kurdish production, which accounts for much of the difference between the data cited by SOMO and secondary sources.

“It’s an effort of transparency and backing up their numbers, but I’m not quite sure how effective it’s going to be,” Robin Mills, chief executive officer of consultant Qamar Energy, said by phone from Dubai. “The biggest discrepancy is likely to be in the Kurdish fields.”

Production from the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq averaged 546,000 barrels a day last month, according to SOMO. That figure is an estimate because the central government has not received the latest production data from Kurdish authorities, SOMO Director General Falah Al-Amri said last week. SOMO bases its estimate on what Kurdish production was in 2013 and 2014, he said.

In the north of the country, the Kirkuk and Baba Gurgur fields produced 93,000 barrels a day for the federal North Oil Co., SOMO said. The nearby Bai Hasan and Avana fields pumped 275,000 barrels a day for the NOC.

The BP Plc-operated Rumaila oil field, Iraq’s largest, pumped an average of 1.4 million barrels a day in September, SOMO said. The two fields at West Qurna produced a combined 870,000 barrels a day, while output from Zubair was 390,000; Majnoon, 214,000; and Halfaya, 204,000.
Iraqi Shi'ite Commander Says Mosul Battle 'No Picnic' As Troops Advance
By Stephen Kalin and Michael Georgy
SOUTH OF MOSUL, IRAQ
Reuters

Iraqi troops and security forces edged closer to Mosul on two southern fronts on Sunday but a leader of the Shi'ite militias newly participating in the offensive warned that the battle for Islamic State's Iraq stronghold would be long and grueling.

A military statement said the army's Ninth Armoured Division raised the Iraqi flag in the village of Ali Rash, about 7 km (4 miles) southeast of Mosul, after recapturing it from the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militants.

Further south, an Interior Ministry officer said security forces were advancing from the town of al-Shura, recaptured from Islamic State (IS) on Saturday, along the Tigris river valley towards Mosul 30 km (20 miles) to the north.

The army and security forces, along with Kurdish peshmerga fighters, have been backed by U.S.-led air and ground support in their two-week-old campaign to crush Islamic State in the largest city of its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Their battle for Mosul, still home to 1.5 million residents, could be one of the toughest in a decade of turmoil since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, brought Iraq's majority Shi'ites to power.

On Saturday thousands of Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighters, known as the Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) forces, joined the Mosul offensive, launching a campaign to take territory to the west of the city.

Their target is to seize the town of Tal Afar, 55 km (35 miles) west of Mosul, from Islamic State.

That would cut off any chance of the jihadists retreating into - or being reinforced from - their positions in neighboring Syria, Ahmed al-Asadi, a spokesman of the Popular Mobilisation, told a news conference. IS fighters have been "flowing into Mosul" from Syria, he added.

Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters are already driving Islamic State fighters back on the southern, eastern and northeastern approaches to Mosul.

"There is cooperation between ... the army, federal police, Hashid and counter-terrorism (forces) and also the (local Sunni) tribes," said Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Badr Organisation, the most powerful group within the Popular Mobilisation forces.

Speaking in the village of Ain Nasir in the semi-arid land west of the Tigris, Amiri said the fight against Islamic State insurgents holding Mosul, who have already launched waves of suicide car bombs, roadside bombs and sniper attacks to slow down the advancing forces, could be long and bloody.

"The battle of Mosul will not be a picnic. It needs time, it needs precision, it needs a deep breath," he said, wearing military fatigues and with his face wrapped in a white checked headscarf against the wind and sand.

"We are prepared for the battle of Mosul even if it lasts for months".

ISLAMIC STATE "REINFORCING" TAL AFAR

The deployment of Shi'ite forces in northern Iraq, an ethnically mixed region where Sunni Muslims form a majority, could inflame sectarian tensions and has led to warnings from neighboring Turkey.

President Tayyip Erdogan said the town of Tal Afar, which the Shi'ite forces say they will recapture, is Turkmen - inhabited by people with strong cultural and historical links to Turkey - and said Ankara would act if the Popular Mobilisation forces "unleash terror" there.

Anticipating the offensive on Tal Afar, and highlighting its strategic importance, Islamic State has also been reinforcing the town in the last 48 hours, an Iraqi security official said.

He said two waves of reinforcements were sent including insurgents who had fought in neighboring Syria and had experience in using anti-tank missiles.

"Intelligence reports show that the Daesh (Islamic State) groups have entered TOW missiles systems into Tal Afar. It's obvious they are making preparations for a long protracted battle," the official from the provincial military operation command center told Reuters.

His comments could not be independently verified but a resident of Mosul, speaking to Reuters by phone, said relatives in Tal Afar reported seeing increasing numbers of Islamic State fighters in the town, some of them patrolling on motorbikes.

Since launching their advance towards Tal Afar on Saturday, the Popular Mobilisation forces have taken over several villages in an area about 60 km (40 miles) southeast of their final target.

The Kurdish Peshmerga said in a statement on Sunday they had cleared at least 28 villages north and east of Mosul since the start of the offensive.

Interior Ministry rapid response forces, who took control on Saturday of the town of al-Shura, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Mosul, advanced on Sunday a few km northeast and took three villages from Islamic State, an officer told Reuters.

The Popular Mobilisation force, formed in 2014 to help push back Islamic State's sweeping advance, officially report to Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's Shi'ite-led government, but has very close links to Iran.

Human rights groups have warned of possible sectarian violence if the Shi'ite paramilitaries seize areas where Sunni Muslims form a majority, which is the case in much of northern and western Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Erbil, Iraq; writing by Dominic Evans; editing by Mark Heinrich)
5,000 Fighters Join Iraq-led Offensive to Retake Mosul From ISIS
Total number of anti-ISIS forces in push for Mosul now over 40,000, says Iraq military

Associated Press
Oct 30, 2016 4:47 PM ET

A Shia fighter for the Popular Mobilization Unit takes aim during an advance towards the village of Salmani, south of Mosul, on Sunday during the battle against ISIS to liberate the city of Mosul. Iraqi militia spokesmen said that some 5,000 fighters had joined their push to encircle the country's second largest city from the west. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands of fighters flocked to join Iraq's state-sanctioned, Iran-backed Shia militias on Sunday, advancing to cut off Islamic State extremists holed up near Mosul in northern Iraq while bombers killed at least 17 people in Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad.

Militia spokesmen said that some 5,000 fighters had joined their push to encircle from the west the country's second-largest city of Mosul, the IS militants' last bastion in Iraq, which is linked by road to territory it holds in Syria.

Karim al-Nuri of the militias' umbrella group, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, and Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for unit member the Hezbollah Brigades, said that a total of some 15,000 Shia fighters were now participating in the battle.

The Iraqi military confirmed the figures, which, including army units, militarized police, special forces and Kurdish fighters would bring the total number of anti-IS forces in the offensive to over 40,000.

The two-week-old offensive to drive ISIS from Mosul had been long-anticipated, since the Sunni extremists stormed into the city in 2014 and drove out a much larger Iraqi force, albeit one that was demoralized from neglect and corruption.

Troops are now converging on the city from all directions, although most fighting is still taking place in towns and villages on Mosul's outskirts. The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

The Popular Mobilization Units say they will not enter Mosul itself and will instead focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town to the west that had a Shia majority before it fell to IS in 2014. They acknowledge having help from Iranian military advisers.

Iraqi forces moving toward the city have made uneven progress since the offensive began on Oct. 17. They are six kilometres from the edge of Mosul on the eastern front, where Iraq's special forces are leading the charge. But advances have been slower in the south, with government forces still 35 kilometres from the city.

The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters inside Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in the city's outer defensive belt. The total number includes around 1,000 foreign fighters.

Baghdad explosions kill 17, wounds over 60

In the hours following the announcement of Shia reinforcements, five explosions rocked predominantly Shia neighbourhoods of the capital, Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding over 60, police said.

Police officials said the deadliest of the bombings, a parked car bomb, hit a popular fruit and vegetable market near a school in the northwestern Hurriyah area, killing at least 10 and wounding 34. Other attacks hit the northern Shaab neighbourhood, as well as traders' markets in the Topchi and Zataria areas as well as the poorer Sadr City district.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. But ISIS has stepped up its attacks in response to the offensive in Mosul, and it was possible the group was targeting Shia areas in retaliation for the Mosul offensive.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi air force said it had landed a C-130 transport aircraft at Qayara air base, on the southern approach to Mosul, opening a key resupply route. ISIS forces had been leaving explosive booby-traps to slow the advance on Mosul, and the announcement suggested the airstrip was now cleared of such danger.

Turkey's Erdogan warns of Shia 'terrorizing'

Earlier, Turkey's president warned that his government will be closely monitoring the Shia militias' behaviour in northern Iraq and seek to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens there.

In statements carried by the state-run Anadolu agency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the militia group could prompt a Turkish response if it "terrorizes" the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tal Afar, where it is headed in its push around Mosul.

"Tal Afar is an entirely Turkmen town. If Hashd al-Shaabi starts terrorizing it, then our response will certainly be different," Erdogan said, referring to the militia umbrella group in Arabic.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey would respond if Shia fighters near the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tal Afar 'terrorizes' the ethnic Turkmens that live there. (Yasin Bulbul/Associated Press)

The involvement of the Iranian-backed Shia militias has raised concerns that the battle for the Sunni-majority city could aggravate sectarian tensions. Rights groups have accused the militias of abuses against civilians in other Sunni areas retaken from ISIS, accusations the militia leaders deny.

At a camp on the outskirts of Kirkuk, some 160 kilometres from Mosul, around 600 displaced Sunni Turkmen families from Tal Afar were anxiously hoping ISIS will be driven from the city so they can head home soon.

Erdogan says Turkey soon will bring back death penalty

"I escaped because of IS," said Hussna Abbas, 75, who was comforting her grandson as residents reported ISIS was firing intermittently toward their camp, known as Yahyawa.

"They took one of my sons and they killed another one," she said. "God willing, God will return us to our homes."
Battle for Mosul Intensifies as Shiite Militias Join Fray
John Bacon , USA TODAY
8:21 p.m. EDT October 30, 2016

Iraqi forces pushed Islamic State group fighters out of a town south of Mosul on Saturday, as state-sanctioned Shiite militias joined the offensive by opening up a new front to the west. (Oct. 29) AP

Thousands of Shiite militia members joined Iraqi and Kurdish forces Sunday in the unrelenting military march on Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and site of what could be the Islamic State's last territorial stand in the country.

Mosul is a Sunni city, adding to the complicated nature of war in the battle-scarred, Shiite-majority nation.

Kurdish peshmerga forces said Sunday they had cleared six villages north and east of Mosul and had taken control of several major roads and landmarks. From the south and west, gun trucks and humvees flying the banners of Shiite militias along with Iraqi flags filled the highways, Reuters reported.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Shiite militias, report to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi but most members are trained and backed by Iran.

About 5,000 fighters had recently joined their commands, bringing to 15,000 the number of Shiite fighters who have joined the fray, according to Karim al-Nuri, of the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, the Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi military confirmed the numbers. Iraqi Lt. Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat said in a statement on Iraqi state television that more than 60 villages have been liberated and more than 700 militants killed since the government offensive began two weeks ago.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, rolled into Mosul two years ago as part of its effort to carve an extremist Sunni state out of a swath of Iraq and Syria. The effort has lost considerable steam in recent months, leaving the movement to rely on random acts of deadly global terrorism as its only "victories."

Estimates on how many militants remain in Mosul vary, but the number generally is set at less than 10,000.

Shiite flags flown by the militias have made some Sunnis who support the liberation effort uneasy. Amnesty International says Shiite militias in the past have committed "serious human rights violations" and even war crimes against Sunni civilians fleeing Islamic State-held territory.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, however, have not been linked to sectarian violence in the march to Mosul. Some of their members resent being linked to such violence and say their efforts have not been appreciated.

"We fight to help people return to their villages, and they call us militias," said Ali Khiali, 40, a fighter with the Popular Mobilization Forces. "Is that fair?"

The Popular Mobilization Units said they will not enter Mosul but will focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town to the west that had a Shiite majority before it fell to the Islamic State.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Sunday that Turkey would respond if militias “terrorize” Tal Afar, an Iraqi-Turkmen town, in the march to Mosul. He said Turkey will safeguard the rights of ethnic Sunni Turkmens in northern Iraq.
Kwame Nkrumah’s Voice Over NDC Campaign Ad An Insult to Rawlings
Ghana Web

A leading member of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) has lashed out at the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for what he considers as a “propangandist” strategy to use his party’s founder to gain sympathy votes.

According to Kwame Jantuah, NDC’s use of Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s voice in one of its campaign advertisements is reprehensible and an affront to Jerry John Rawlings, the living founder of the ruling party.

“It is wrong and I hope the NDC will desist from it,” he said on TV3’s live broadcast of CPP’s 2016 manifesto launch on Saturday. In a latest campaign advertisement of the ruling NDC, Kwame Nkrumah’s voice – believed to be one of the speeches he delivered in the post-colonial era – is heard lashing out at the then opposition.

“Why will you use Nkrumah’s voice?” Mr Jantuah wondered.

“That is even an insult to your party.” Kwame Nkrumah’s statue has been erected at the newly constructed Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra He said what the NDC should be doing is making use of its living founder.

“Don’t use another party’s founder,” he admonished. He said the move by the NDC smacks of inadequacy ahead of the December 7 elections “because they have no basis or foundation to stand on and they need the CPP”.

“Did Nkrumah and CPP ever accept the IMF? Even with the Akosombo Dam, did we not put our own $500 million into it? Did Nkrumah and CPP fail to plan?”

He called on the NDC to rather ride on their claim of infrastructural development under President John Mahama.
Saudi-led Raid Kills 60 at Yemen Security Site, Prison: Official
People gather at a prison struck by Arab coalition warplanes in al-Zaydiyah district of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

By Mohammed Ghobari Abduljabbar Zeyad
SANAA/HODEIDAH, YEMEN

Arab coalition warplanes bombed a security complex near the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, killing 60 people including inmates of a prison on the site, a regional official, relatives and medical sources said on Sunday.

The prison in the city's al-Zaydiyah district was holding 84 inmates when it was struck three times late on Saturday, Hashem al-Azizi, deputy governor of the Houthi rebel-controlled Hodeidah province of the same name, told Reuters.

Local officials said the site lies within a security complex for the area guarded by Houthi militiamen but that only prison security guards were present during the night-time air strike.

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Yemen's armed Houthi movement since March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was driven into exile by the Iran-allied group in late 2014.

A Reuters witness at the security complex said the entire building was destroyed and medics pulled about 17 bodies away - many of them missing limbs - while others remained stuck under the rubble.

One of the strikes directly targeted the building, the witness added, bringing it down over the heads of the prisoners, while two others hit the gate of the complex and nearby administration buildings.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The air attack was one of the deadliest among thousands of bombings which have largely failed to dislodge the Houthis from the capital Sanaa but have repeatedly hit schools, markets, hospitals and homes, killing many civilians.

HADI REJECTS PEACE PLAN

Rights groups have said the raids may amount to war crimes, but an investigative body set up by the coalition largely defended its methods in an August report which concluded that Houthi rebels regularly deploy to civilian sites.

The Houthis deny this, and a top official in the movement criticized the United Nations and the Saudis' key ally and arms supplier, the United States, for not doing enough to hold the kingdom accountable for its air strikes.

"We condemn the position of the international community and the U.N. for providing cover for the crimes of Saudi Arabia against Yemenis, and they are subject to the wishes of America," Saleh al-Samad said in a statement late on Saturday.

The bombing may signal a renewed uptick in violence a day after Hadi rejected a new U.N. peace proposal to end the turmoil in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, saying the deal would only be a path to more war and destruction.

Speaking after meeting U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh, Hadi said the agreement would "reward the rebels and penalize the Yemeni people and legitimacy", according to the government-controlled Saba news agency.

According to a copy of the proposal seen by Reuters, the plan would sideline Hadi and set up a government of less divisive figures.

Hadi's opponents accuse him of commanding only a small support base in Yemen and of being unable to bring its warring factions together given that he invited the Saudi-led coalition to intervene in the civil war.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Reem Shamseddine and Noah Browning; editing by William Maclean/Mark Heinrich)
Turkey Sacks 10,000 More Civil Servants, Shuts More Media in Post-coup Crackdown
A man waves Turkey's national flag during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, organized by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and supported by ruling AK Party (AKP), oppositions Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to protest against last month's failed military coup attempt, in Istanbul, Turkey, August 7, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkish authorities have dismissed more than 10,000 civil servants over their suspected links with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed coup in July.

Thousands of academics, teachers and health workers were among those removed through a new emergency rule decree published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday while 15 media outlets, almost all of which reported from the largely Kurdish southeast, were shut down.

Through the decrees, elections to choose a rector at the universities have also been abolished. President Tayyip Erdogan will directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board (YOK).

Turkey has formally arrested more than 37,000 people and has already sacked or suspended 100,000 civil servants, judges, prosecutors, police and others in an unprecedented crackdown the government says is necessary to root out all supporters of Gulen from the state apparatus and key positions.

A state of emergency imposed right after the bloody failed coup in July has been extended for another three months until January after Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to eradicate the threat posed by Gulen's network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency.

The total number of media outlets shut down since the start of the state of emergency has now exceeded 160.

The extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and some Western allies, who fear Erdogan is using it to curtail dissent. The government says the actions are justified by the threat to the state on July 15, when more than 240 people died.

Ankara wants the United States to detain and extradite Gulen so that he can be prosecuted in Turkey on a charge that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Hillary Clinton Assails James Comey, Calling Email Decision ‘Deeply Troubling’
By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTIN
New York Times
OCT. 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton and her allies sprang onto a war footing on Saturday, opening a ferocious attack on the F.B.I.’s director, James B. Comey, a day after he disclosed that his agency was looking into a potential new batch of messages from her private email server.

Treating Mr. Comey as a threat to her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton took aim at the law enforcement officer who had recommended no criminal charges less than four months earlier for her handling of classified information as secretary of state.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. “In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

For Democrats, it was also deeply worrying. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers expressed concern that the F.B.I.’s renewed attention to emails relating to the nominee would turn some voters against her, hurt party candidates in competitive House and Senate races, and complicate efforts to win over undecided Americans in the final days of the election.

The decision to target Mr. Comey for his unusual decision to publicly disclose the inquiry came during an 8 a.m. internal conference call, after aides saw reports that Justice Department officials were furious, believing he had violated longstanding guidelines advising against such actions so close to an election.

Even before Mrs. Clinton spoke in Florida, her campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, and campaign manager, Robby Mook, criticized Mr. Comey for putting out incomplete information and breaking with Justice Department protocol.

“By providing selective information, he has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage,” Mr. Podesta said during a conference call with reporters. “Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts,” he added, describing the director’s letter to Congress on Friday as “long on innuendo.”

Whatever shortcomings Mrs. Clinton may have as a candidate, Saturday’s coordinated effort showed that the political organization that she, her husband and her allies had built over decades remained potent and would not let what seemed like victory erode easily. By midday, Mr. Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama and confirmed nearly unanimously by the Senate, found himself in its cross hairs.

Encouraged by Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides to reframe the story and make it about Mr. Comey’s actions, liberal groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus demanded that he release more information. Other surrogates were emailed talking points prodding them to deem it “extraordinary that 11 days before the election a letter like this — with so few details — would be sent to 8 Republican committee chairmen.” (Ranking Democrats on the committees also received copies.)

Mr. Comey has not publicly commented on the investigation, other than with the letter saying that more emails were being examined. He also wrote an email to F.B.I. employees explaining that he felt he had to inform Congress even though the agency did not yet know “the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails.”

With Mrs. Clinton leading Donald J. Trump in nearly every battleground state, Clinton advisers were emphatic that they would not be thrown off stride. They said they would not change any political strategy, television advertising or campaign travel plans.

For months, the F.B.I. had investigated whether Mrs. Clinton had broken any laws by using a private email server while she was secretary of state. This past summer, Mr. Comey said that Mrs. Clinton had been “extremely careless” by allowing sensitive information to be discussed outside secure government servers, but that the agency had concluded that Mrs. Clinton had not committed a crime. The investigation was closed.

But on Friday, Mr. Comey notified Congress that the agency had discovered emails, possibly relevant to the investigation, that belonged to Mrs. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. The emails were discovered on the computer of Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony D. Weiner, during a separate investigation into allegations that he had exchanged sexually explicit messages with a teenager.

According to several Clinton advisers, Mrs. Clinton told them overnight and on Saturday that she wanted the campaign to operate normally, not rashly, while pressuring Mr. Comey to dispel any possibility that her candidacy was under legal threat.

But the Clinton team also had to deal with a newly emboldened Mr. Trump, who urged voters at a rally on Saturday in Golden, Colo., to oppose Mrs. Clinton because of her “criminal action” that was “willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.”

Handed a new opening against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump used the moment to baselessly claim there had been an internal F.B.I. “revolt” and made a sexually suggestive joke about Mr. Weiner.

“As Podesta said, she’s got bad instincts,” Mr. Trump said, distorting a comment in one of the thousands of Mr. Podesta’s hacked emails recently released by WikiLeaks. “Well, she’s got bad instincts when her emails are on Anthony Weiner’s wherever.”

The paramount fear among Clinton advisers and Democratic officials was that an election that had become a referendum on Mr. Trump’s fitness for office, and that had increasingly seemed to be Mrs. Clinton’s to lose, would now become just as much about her conduct.

In phone calls, email chains and text messages on Saturday, Clinton aides and allies were by turns confident that the F.B.I. would find nothing to hurt Mrs. Clinton and concerned that the inquiry would nudge demoralized Republicans to show up to vote for down-ballot candidates — and perhaps even cast ballots, however reluctantly, for the battered Mr. Trump.

“This is like an 18-wheeler smacking into us, and it just becomes a huge distraction at the worst possible time,” said Donna Brazile, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a close Clinton ally. “We don’t want it to knock us off our game. But on the second-to-last weekend of the race, we find ourselves having to tell voters, ‘Keep your focus; keep your eyes on the prize.’”

As much as Clinton advisers stressed that they were not panicking, some of them radiated anger at Mr. Comey, Mr. Weiner and even Mrs. Clinton — a reflection of 18 months of frustration that her personal decisions about her email practices and privacy were still generating unhelpful political drama. Two Clinton aides, for example, pointedly noted in interviews that it was difficult to press a counterattack without fully knowing what was in Ms. Abedin’s emails.

Some prominent Democratic women, meanwhile, were angry that a murky announcement from the F.B.I. might impede the election of the first female president of the United States.

“It worries me because it gives the Republicans something to blow up and fan folks’ anger with,” said former Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, who considered a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. “I was on the Judiciary Committee when I was in Congress, and I have never seen the F.B.I. handle any case the way they have handled hers.”

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Burundi Notifies UN of ICC Pullout
October 29, 2016

New York. – Burundi on Thursday formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, dealing a blow to the tribunal seen as a pillar of international justice.South Africa was the first to take the formal step at the United Nations last week and Gambia has also said it plans to pull out of the Rome treaty that created the ICC. Burundi’s justice minister Laurentine Kanyana personally delivered the formal letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office. The withdrawal takes effect one year after the letter is received. The United Nations is calling on South Africa and Burundi to reverse their decisions.

“That withdrawal can be withdrawn,” the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

Burundi’s move came after a UN envoy was dispatched to Bujumbura for crisis talks. The UN envoy Jamal Benomar was in Bujumbura meeting with leaders to try to defuse tensions over the ICC pullout and the government’s decision to break ties with the UN rights office.

Set up in 2002, the ICC is often accused of bias against Africa. The ICC in April launched a preliminary investigation of allegations of killings, torture and other rights abuses in Burundi.

A report by UN rights experts has blamed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s security forces and police for the violence that has torn the country since 2015. The UN Human Rights Council decided last month to set up a formal commission of inquiry that could help identify those responsible for the violence.

Burundi has been in turmoil since Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win. More than 500 people have died in the violence and at least 300 000 have fled the country.

– AFP.
‘Africa Can Handle Its Own Human Rights Cases’
October 29, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabwe Herald

The world’s attention has of late turned to Africa following the withdrawal of three countries from the International Criminal Court. The three, Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia have been citing inconsistencies in the way the court, based at The Hague, the Netherlands, have been handling issues with an apparent bias against African leaders. President Mugabe has on numerous occasions denounced the ICC, calling on the continent to withdraw from what the Gambia described as the International Caucasian Court. Our Political Editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) spoke to international policy, diplomacy and human rights law expert Mr Itayi Garande (IG) on this issue and its implications for the continent.

TZ: The topical issue this week has been the pullout from the ICC by African countries lately South Africa and The Gambia. It’s something that resonate with sentiments expressed even by President Mugabe. Can you first of all locate for us the angst of African countries towards this supposedly international institution?
IG: Since the inception of the ICC in 2002, the Court has had approximately 23 cases, most of them against Africa. It has delivered four guilty verdicts on Africans only, including those of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Bosco Ntaganda of the DRC. Africa feels that the court has been inefficient, given the resources expended, but most importantly, it has targeted the continent and has been preoccupying itself with Africa, failing to investigate human rights abuses elsewhere. These are legitimate concerns as the evidence is there of cases that the ICC Prosecutor has not considered. There are cases outside Africa that could as well interest the ICC, but the court has chosen to look the other way.

TZ: But does it really matter where a crime is committed, some would argue that African countries are seeking to wriggle away from obligations under international law?
IG: It does not matter where a crime is committed, but the most important issue here is impartiality. Africans are not arguing that human rights cases should go unpunished, but they are saying international legal institutions in any other international institutions, for that matter, should not be used as a pretext for strategic interests of the rich powers.

The United States has refused to sign the Rome Treaty which established the ICC because of fears that its soldiers or government officials could be subjected to politically-motivated prosecutions by the ICC. Interestingly and ironically, it has used the ICC as a tool to further its foreign policy objectives. This is the argument President Mugabe advanced in respect of the UN Security Council in many of his speeches at the UN General Assembly.

TZ: We are going to come to what this means for Zimbabwe. But, what does the departure of three African states mean for the ICC and the Rome Statute? Is a domino effect afoot and what will this imply?
IG: The departure of Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia may open floodgates for the exit of other African states. Remember there has been talk of exiting the ICC for some time now and unless the ICC changes considerably, we may see the end of it very soon. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has called it “useless” and in Kenya a bill was tabled for withdrawal from the court. Namibia is also considering exiting.

TZ: Does Africa have the capacity to set up its own courts and more importantly will there be enough incentive for Africans to prosecute such matters since there are accusations that African leaders tend to over protect each other?
The arguments for withdrawal from the ICC, however, go beyond just the ineffectiveness of the court and the focus of indictments. Africa feels it has now matured enough and can handle its own human rights cases. This is the argument advanced by South Africa. It does not need a supra-governing body like the ICC. The African Union earlier this year said they are mulling a mass withdrawal of member states from the court because there is capacity in Africa to handle such prosecutions.

TZ: Does Africa have the capacity to set up its own courts and more importantly will there be enough incentive for Africans to prosecute such matters since there are accusations that African leaders tend to over protect each other?
IG: Remember the ICC works on the principle of “complementarity”. It can only act when national court systems fail or are unwilling to take action against perpetrators of such crimes. The court should only be used as a “court of last resort” so in fact there are prosecutions already taking place in Africa.

The current ICC Prosecutor is from The Gambia. She is evidence that the continent has capacity. There are many international criminal lawyers in African countries who can handle such cases.

The argument that Africa has no capacity to prosecute human rights cases is a weak one. African courts everywhere handle many complex cases, human rights or otherwise. What is needed in every country, not just in Africa, but the world over is the willingness to bring perpetrators of international crimes to book.

Human rights organisations have reported many human rights cases on all continents, not just Africa. The case of (former Serbian leader Slobodan) Milosevic showed us that some of the worst cases have been on the European continent. To date, no cases in Iraq and Afghanistan have been opened at the ICC despite compelling evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As for protecting each other, I do not think supra-governance is the answer. National and regional courts have a better understanding of crimes committed on their territories. I do not see how and why the ICC can solve domestic crimes better than the countries themselves or the regional courts.

TZ: Now at home, this topic has been burning. What are the implications for Zimbabwe and how are people supposed to read into all this?
IG: Zimbabwe has never been a state party to the Rome Statute, meaning that it has never ratified the treaty. It is not subjected to the jurisdiction of the court unless there is a UN Security Council resolution to that effect. So there’s not much the country can do as its position has been clear from the start.

What I think should happen is that there should be more national and regional effort to prosecute perpetrators of such crimes as covered by the ICC. The ICC should only be a final appellate court in complex cases only.

This allows capacity building on the continent, allows sovereignty to be exercised and stop powerful states from using supra-governance structures like the ICC to further geopolitical and foreign political interests.

If the ICC, even as a final appellate court, continues to disregard crimes elsewhere, we may see the end of it within this current decade. As a member of the African Union, Zimbabwe will stick with or even influence continental resolutions as regards membership of the ICC.

Friday, October 28, 2016

$6bn Industrial Park to Bolster Sino-Zim Ties
October 27, 2016
Lovemore Chikova in Qingdao, China
Zimbabwe Herald

Qingdao Hengshun Zhongsheng Group, a Chinese multi-billion dollar firm, is on the verge of starting work to set up an industrial park in Zimbabwe. And if all goes according to plan, work on the major investment project, that is set to change the Zimbabwean economy forever, will start taking shape next year. This is good news for Zimbabwe, considering that the total investment the firm will bring at the industrial park will be nearly $6 billion.

Apart from the money flowing into the country, the industrial park is expected to increase export earnings and create the much needed employment both directly and indirectly. The industrial park will cover an area of around 20 000 hectares. The $6 billion investment cannot be taken for granted, especially if the country’s national budget has been pegged around $4 billion in the last few years.

And it seems the passing of the Special Economic Zones Bill by Parliament last week added more impetus for the realisation of the dream for a successful industrial park in Zimbabwe. The law is expected to become operational within a few weeks when President Mugabe appends his signature.

Qingdao Hengshun Zhongsheng Group is one of the firms expected to become the first to take advantage of the enabling law to start work on specialised economic zones in Zimbabwe. According to officials here, the actual site of the industrial park is yet to be determined, but it is known that it will be located along the Bulawayo-Gweru-Kwekwe railway corridor.

This will be strategic for the project in terms of being well-linked to both internal and external markets.

It is equally important that Qingdao Hengshun Zhongshen Group officials are optimistic about the success of the project. Briefing African journalists visiting Qingdao City on the Zimbabwean project, the firm’s president Mr Jia Xiaoyu said they were looking forward to a successful venture.

“Yes, Zimbabwe is our next important target for implementing an industrial park,” he said. “So, we got some developments towards the industrial park. “We are now planning to advance the Zimbabwe industrial park this year. So, we hope we can launch this product next year based on our political and economic exchanges.”

Mr Jia noted that one of the major motivating factor for the industrial park to be more successful was an environment of peace. “We think the political or development environment is very important to us in Zimbabwe,” he said. “We hope for an environment of peace and also we want to preserve the available professionals and talents in Zimbabwe.”

The industrial park will come with many other benefits that will accrue to the Zimbabwean economy. The Chinese firm will construct an electricity generating plant that will help power the industrial zone and surrounding areas.

The industrial zone will also consist of a non-ferrous metallurgy processing plant and will supply mining equipment. There will be production of agricultural processing equipment and supply of agriculture related products.

What this means is that the industrial zone will cut across some of the major economic pillars of Zimbabwe, like mining and agriculture. This will help the country move towards its goals of industrialisation, important for any modern-day economy. There are also prospects of the revival of the ailing railway system in Zimbabwe, which has been crying out for partnerships for a long time.

The railway system will be important for the industrial park to operate efficiently since there will be need to transport raw materials and finished products. In that pursuit, Qingdao Hengshun Zhongshen Group roped in China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group and Qingdao City Construction Investment Group as the major partners on the project. These firms will look into other areas related to the successful operation of the industrial park, especially the infrastructure.

Work at the industrial park will help provide answers to enhance beneficiation and value addition of minerals as envisaged by President Mugabe. The President has been at the forefront of calling for not only Zimbabwe, but other African countries, to beneficiate and value add their minerals before exporting them.

As the African Union chair and the Sadc chair last year, President Mugabe set the agenda for industrialisation, beneficiation and value addition for the two continental bodies. Apart from the industrial advantages of the park, Qingdao Hengshun Zhongshen Group will also set up a primary school, whose planning is already in motion.

The coming in of the Chinese firm is confirmation that Zimbabwe offers many opportunities for cooperation in major areas like mining, agriculture and tourism. The industrial park project was sealed when Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accompanied by Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha, visited the firm last year.

It was during the visit that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed for the project to take off. Zimbabwe has been yearning for the building of infrastructure to aid its industrialisation ambitions and this project will provide some of the lessons and solutions.

The economic zone will provide a full industrial chain that will benefit both upstream and downstream businesses. The other major benefit will be the transfer of modern technology to Zimbabwe to help improve the country’s industrial production capacity. All the work to be carried out at the park will fall under the country’s sectors that are crucial to facilitate the much anticipated economic turnaround.

Qingdao Hengshun Zhongsheng Group is almost completing its industrial park in Indonesia, which will be a model for such future projects, including the one in Zimbabwe. The Indonesian park, called Hengshun Sulawesi Industrial Park, “integrates the business mode of coal, electricity, smelting, road and port for comprehensive service”.

It “highlights four functional areas including blast furnace and electric furnace nickel iron and smelting, logistics storage and work and residential areas equipped with facilities such as roads, a hospital, hotel and church”.

Just like in Zimbabwe, it is expected that the project will provide job opportunities, promote economic development and speed up the transformation of the Indonesian economy. It will be necessary that more projects of this nature come to Zimbabwe, since they help not only with the uplifting of the Southern African country’s economy, but also enhance cooperation with other countries.

The industrial park project is being run in line with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pronouncement on the way forward in cooperation between his country and African countries. At the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation summit in Johannesburg last year, President Xi proposed a 10-point plan that will guide the economic and political relations between the two sides.

The 10-point plan straddles across areas that will help African countries realise quick economic turnaround and enhance their prospects for full industrialisation. China has helped transform its fortunes on the back of such industrial parks that have attracted unprecedented foreign direct investment.

That the Asian country is the second largest economy in the world after the United States is largely credited to its reform and opening up of the economy, which saw more foreign companies bringing investment.

According to Chinese expert on investment Mr Zhihua Zeng “the basic concept of Special Economic Zones includes several specific characteristics: (a) it is a geographically delimited area, usually physically secured, (b) it has a single management or administration; (c) if offers benefits for investors physically within the zone; and (d) it has a separate customs area (duty-free benefits) and streamlined procedures.”
Africa Has Good Reasons to Warm Up to China
October 27, 2016
Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

The influential think tank, Afrobarometer, has just released a report which has found that the attitude of African people towards China is becoming more positive and the Asian giant now rivals America as a model for development. The study covered 36 countries on the continent and interviewed 54 000 people. Afrobarometer notes that Africans rank the United

States and China number 1 and 2, respectively, as development models for their own countries.

“Remarkably, in three of five African regions, China either matches or surpasses the US in popularity as a development model. In terms of their current influence, the two countries are outpaced only by Africa’s former colonial powers,” says Afrobarometer.

Critically, the think-tank adds: “Public perceptions not only confirm China’s important economic and political role in Africa but also generally portray its influence as beneficial. China’s infrastructure/development and business investments are seen as reasons for China’s positive image in Africa, though that image is tainted by perceptions of poor-quality Chinese products.”

Other highlights include, inter alia; China’s influence is perceived to be highest in Zimbabwe (55 percent), Mozambique (52 percent), Sudan (47 percent), Zambia (47 percent), South Africa (40 percent), and Tanzania (40 percent).

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Africans say China’s influence is “somewhat” or “very” positive, while only 15 percent see it as somewhat/very negative.

A majority (56 percent) of Africans also see China’s development assistance as doing a “somewhat” or “very” good job of meeting their country’s needs. The most important factors contributing to a positive image of China in Africa are its infrastructure/development and business investments.

There are two main things that can be noted here, namely, being a model, or example; and perception. China is pitted against the US and this is only normal as the two global powers compete for influence.

Africa, as a rising continent, is a natural theatre of such a contest — almost, perhaps disturbingly, like in the Cold War Era. But today’s contest between the two major powers is about the economy and growth as well as political influence. That China rivals the US is an affirmation of its rapid growth over the years.

The story of its exponential growth to global stardom is inspirational hence, as this report points out, its being held as a model by the majority of African countries. As the Harvard Business Review noted in December last year, “China has accomplished a remarkable feat in transforming itself from one of the world’s poorest countries to its second largest economy in just 30 years.”

Many African countries have an average of 50 years of independence but they have never been able to achieve what China has done. In fact, in the late 1970s and 1980s, some African countries were better off than China but have since been overtaken.

Chinese growth was anchored on a conducive political system and strong leadership, export led growth, investment infrastructure, labour utilisation, Special economic zones and FDI; economic diversification and so forth.

China has in turn turned benefactor and has been helping African countries achieve growth, investing heavily in the process. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) framework has been the hallmark of Chinese investment in, and cooperation with Africa. In 15 years from 2000, Chinese trade with Africa has increased from $10 billion to $300 billion in 2015.

The US-Africa trade is half of that as explained by John Burnett, writing for US News, that, “In 2013, for example, trade between China and Africa totalled roughly $200 billion, with Chinese electronics goods and textiles flowing into African nations, while African natural resources were shipped off to China. Remarkably, Chinese-African trade was more than double the trade level between the United States and Africa.”

The figures speak for themselves and Africans know who is a force for good in their countries. While there are pockets of propaganda-driven hate for the Chinese, and indeed some genuine misgivings about quality of certain products, the reason for Africa’s increasingly positive perception of China is understandable.

And if the two global powers, America and China stand there, China has more winning policies and philosophy than its nosy, meddling, bloodthirsty counterpart. It is not a secret that most of the wars and instability being faced in the world today have the fingerprints of America whether by proxy or directly.

America has been seeking and funding illegal regime changes, some of which have led to the suffering of people. Zimbabwe is a case in point where, not satisfied with its sanctions regime, the US sought to drag the United Nations Security Council to “do a Libya” on the country.

China, Russia and South Africa intervened. For the best!
RioZim Launches Gold Processing Plant
October 28, 2016 Business
Walter Muchinguri recently in Kadoma
Zimbabwe Herald

RioZim yesterday launched its $10 million Cam and Motor Mine gold processing plant, which will triple production putting it on course to becoming the biggest gold miner in the country.The plant has capacity to process 2 400 tonnes of ore per day and has a recovery potential of 93 percent. The company is expected to increase its gold production to about 130 kg per month which will give the mining group a combined output of 200kg per month together with the 70 kg being mined at Renco mine.

Prior to the launch Rio Zim had been processing 700 tonnes at Old Dalny Mine at Chakari, approximately 50 km away from Kadoma. The firm’s outgoing CEO, Mr Noah Matimba said the launch of the plant epitomises the growth trajectory of Rio Zim.

“This tells a story about who we are as Rio Zim, we have gone through a lull period and today is a sign of the awakening of a sleeping giant,” he said.

He added that it also a testimony of fact that the economic situation is not necessarily a stumbling block to business.

“The current environment should not be seen as an impediment but purely a challenge that can be overcome,” he said.

He paid tribute to the company’s shareholders for supporting a rights issue proposed by the company in 2015 which raised $10 million that made the project possible. Mr Matimba said that the launch of the plant was part of the growth trajectory that Rio Zim is pursuing which is premised on organic growth and non-organic growth based on mergers, acquisitions and alliances.

He also paid tribute to Zimbabweans who were responsible for putting up 97 percent of the plant under the instruction of the Chinese manufacturer. Rio Zim Board chairman Mr Lovemore Chihota said that the investment was an indication of the company’s commitment to Zimbabwe.

“We are a wholly owned Zimbabwean company that is run by Zimbabweans,” he said. “Work on this plant started in January and was supposed to be completed in 12 months but the team has done it in 10 months which is a great achievement,” he said.

He also paid tribute to the company’s shareholders for supporting the board and management team in their bid to grow the company. Cam and Motor Mine was reopened in April 2015 after having last mined gold at the site in 1968.

Apart from its gold division RioZim, also have four other divisions Riobase Metals, Rioenergy, Riodiamonds and Riochrome.

The group has been riding on its gold division. The company reported a 42 percent growth in gold output in 2015 (vs 2014) at 1 200 kilogrammes (42 328 ounces) after it commissioned Cam & Motor, which resulted in revenue from gold increasing from $25,8 million in 2014 to $44,6 million in 2015.
Zimbabwe Herald Editorial: Let Us Do More to Cut Red Tape
October 27, 2016

GOVERNMENT needs to move at a faster pace in implementing the ongoing ease of doing business reforms to improve Zimbabwe’s global rankings and attractiveness to investment. Efforts by Government to improve the domestic business environment are meant to cut costs, shorten processes for starting a business and getting approvals for investors. Many countries on the continent and across the world have spiritedly undertaken reforms with urgency in demonstration of their hunger to attract significant investment. Given our situation, we surely should do more and better than our peers and the rest of the world to bring about the kind of environment that makes us a darling for investors.

We say so because inspite of registering some positive reforms to improve business environment, Zimbabwe has slipped on World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings for 2017 from 157 to 161.

The Doing Business Report presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights compared across 190 economies and it is WB’s flagship publication that measures countries’ regulations governing business activity. Despite the progress made in improving ease of doing business, the reforms undertaken thus far have not been able to improve Zimbabwe’s position of the WB rankings.

Zimbabwe is desperately seeking foreign investment and the country needs offshore capital to boost the economy. As such, moving at a snail’s pace as far as doing business reforms are concerned will only make the country the least preferred investment destination. Over the past few years, Zimbabwe has been lagging behind regional countries such as Mozambique in terms of attracting foreign investment.

This is despite the advantages the country possesses, among them, the use of a stable currency, a highly skilled population and fairly stable political environment. Economies are ranked on their flexibility on the ease of doing business, from 1–190. A high position on the ease of doing business rankings means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a business in a country.

The WB’s rankings are determined by sorting the aggregate distance to frontier scores on 10 topics, each consisting of several indicators, giving equal weight to each topic. The rankings for all economies are benchmarked to June 2016.

The WB has noted that Zimbabwe made dealing with construction permits faster by streamlining the building plan approval process. Registration of property was made easier after the launch of an official website containing information on the list of documents and fees for completing a property transaction, as well as, a specific timeframe for delivering a legally binding document that proves property owner- ship.

Zimbabwe also improved access to credit information through the establishment of a credit registry. However, Zimbabwe made trading across borders more difficult by introducing mandatory pre-shipment inspection for imported products.

As a result, Zimbabwe was almost static in terms of distance to frontier score, moving only 0,2 points. Since 2015, Zimbabwe through the Office of the President and Cabinet was overseeing the Doing Business reform initiative using the Rapid Results Initiative approach.

Given that the process is being spearheaded from the highest office in the country, we can only implore authorities to go a gear up and accelerate such that by the time the next report comes out, there will be very little left out in terms of all reforms.

It is also critically important for Government to see to it that the reforms do not just appear a process formally completed on paper, but that the new way of doing business is promptly implemented in order to attract investment for the benefit of us all.
Bond Notes to Be Released Gradually in Zimbabwe
October 28, 2016
Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

BOND notes will be released into circulation gradually and sparingly to ensure that they retain a critical characteristic of currency — scarcity — the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has said.RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya told a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce business review breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday that $65 million worth of bond notes would be released next month. The balance making up the $200 million bond notes support facility from the African Export and Import Bank will be released into circulation gradually, until end of 2017.

But Dr Mangudya said while there is a lot of hype around bond notes, focus should rather be on growing production and exports since problems facing Zimbabwe were economic not the impending bond notes.

The bond notes will come into circulation next month after nationwide awareness campaigns, with an initial amount of only $65 million being released into circulation.

Dr Mangudya said the Reserve Bank is fully aware of the need to ensure scarcity and not abundance of money. The bond notes are meant to monetise the incentive of 2,5 percent and 5 percent to the different exporters who qualify for the carrot.

Dr Mangudya said that the release of the surrogate currency into the market will be so gradual and in small amounts some people may not be able to notice it.

“The maximum is $200 million and that will take us up to 2017. The release of bond notes into the market will be on a gradual basis and we are going to release them sparingly that you may not even notice it,” he said. “We will finalise an oversight board that will monitor issuance and management of the bond notes.”

He said that bond notes were part of measures to generate foreign exchange for a country without its own currency, but uses a basket of currencies. As such, this demonstrated bold commitment to multi- currency.

“This is an incentive to increase exports. We want to promote export generation. They (exporters) are facing difficulties (from high cost of production) due to a strong US dollar. Other currencies have been depreciating yet they are price takers. We want to support them so that they maintain or increase exports.”

The bond notes will be printed only to a maximum $200 million with each unit ranking equal in value to the dollar. However, the RBZ says it could not release real green back into circulation, as they would be externalised. Small notes of $2 and $5 bonds will be released.

A total of $1,8 billion, the central bank governor said, was creamed off from the Zimbabwe economy last year by unscrupulous individuals seeking the comfort of the widely sought after international reserve currency.

As such, there was need to provide a medium of exchange, which is regarded as legal tender only in Zimbabwe. The Governor said as monetary authorities, they want money to be scarce and not have abundance of it in a manner that could end up driving inflation in the economy.