The Central African Republic: familiar faces

independent.co.uk

independent.co.uk

Joseph Kony

The Central African Republic’s government are reporting that ‘Kony’ is hiding out in the bush regions in the south of the country with 7,000 followers.

The warlord came to prominence after a video documenting his abuses went viral in 2012. It currently has over 98,500,000 views.

It is thought that Kony is in poor health and that he is being hunted for the 5 million dollar bounty that is hanging over his head.

U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon voiced his concern at the threat posed by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army saying, “I reiterate my call on the international community to support ongoing efforts to address the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in order to ensure that the progress achieved over the past several years is sustained.”

“Despite the decrease in Lord’s Resistance Army-related incidents and a reduction in the number of displaced people in the affected areas, the force remains a serious threat, with its senior leadership intact and with an enormous capacity for brutality,” Mr. Ban said in his report presented to the security council last week.

Mary Robinson

Yesterday, senior United Nations special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson began a week long mission to bolster peace efforts in the region.

The former Irish President is in Rwanda today and will then move on to the Republic of Congo. On 27-29 November, she will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, including Kinshasa, the capital, and Goma, the main city in the vast country’s east.

“We must work to restore trust and take the steps that are needed to resolve the underlying causes of conflict and instability to the region,” she said.

On 30 November, she will attend the East African Community (EAC) Summit of Heads of States in Kampala, where she intends to mobilise international support for regional organizations as part of the broader Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agenda for enhanced regional integration.

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

The Central African Republic: silencing the press

Credit GlobalPost

Credit GlobalPost

Conditions for journalists have deteriorated quickly in the Central African Republic. The country was ranked 65th in Reporters Without Borders’s 2013 Press Freedom Index, ahead of countries like Greece and Bosnia Herzegovinia.

In October, Reporters Without Boarders reported there have been “arbitrary arrests and serious threats targeting journalists in the country since the Seleka rebels came to power.”

The NGO reported that “there has been a major escalation in harassment, threats and intimidation against journalists with privately-owned media, which is being carried out or encouraged by the authorities”.

Amnesty International released a detailed report concerning human rights abuses in the country on October 30th of this year. The October report was damning and painted a portrait of a failed state in need international intervention: “The security forces are out of control and urgent action is needed by the national authorities and the international community to establish law and order”.

Amnesty international told News Anois they currently have no representatives on the ground but are hopeful they will have people back in the country documenting what is happening by Christmas.

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

News Anois bites

Hannah Popham 

Sport in brief

Credit irishrugby.ie

Credit irishrugby.ie

Phelan claims he took charge while Fergie took glory

Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man Mike Phelan has made some interesting comments regarding his five year spell as United’s assistant.

“[Ferguson] was the head of the establishment, there’s no doubt about it and rightly so. He didn’t get to where he’s got through not being a big decision maker but he’ll be the first to admit that a lot of people played their part in that.”

“We all were undercover in that respect. We weren’t the face of what was going on but that was our job.”

Additionally, Phelan revealed in the Daily Mirror that Ferguson used to make key choices by the toss of a coin.

“Part of my job was to hold him back because he could come out with some very strange decisions at times.”

Best suffers hand injury and Iain Henderson ruled out for six weeks

Ulster’s injury list has taken another blow as Iain Henderson has been ruled out for six weeks after a hamstring strain has been reported.

The injury to the back row comes soon after Rory Best’s hand injury sustained against New Zealand on Sunday.

Nicholas Bendtner: “I’m sorry for breaking into my own house”

Arsenal striker Nicholas Bendtner has publically come out and apologised for being arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage on his apartment in London.

The Arsenal striker was held in Hertfordshire station by police on Monday. Writing on his Instagram account today, he explained that he accidentally damaged a door as he tried to force it open after it became stuck.

“On Saturday night after our win against Southampton I went out with my family and friends for dinner,” he wrote.

“After our dinner we all wanted a night swim in my gym so we changed to shorts and brought towels down.”

“As we arrived at the gym my key fob changed the colour from red (locked) to green (open) but the door remained closed. We thought the door was stuck so we tried to open it and it caused some damage. I apologise for any inconvenience for my neighbours and I have paid in full.”

Dubs set to remain in Croke Park for spring series, reveals GAA director general Paraic Duffy

GAA general director Pádraig Duffy has confirmed that Dublin’s footballers will return to Croke Park for the Spring Series next year.

“There may be a problem with double bills but it’s definitely going ahead with football and it’s a matter for Dublin after that,” Duffy said at the launch of Sportsfile’s “A Season of Sundays” book.

Baines out for rest of the year with broken toe

Manchester United target Leighton Baines has been ruled out for 6 weeks, the club have confirmed.

The England international was forced off early in the second half of the high tempo 3-3 clash with Liverpool on Saturday. While he left Goodison Park walking unaided, refusing crutches offered to him, an x-ray of his right foot after the match revealed a broken toe.

Darragh Collins

CSO figures see rise in employment

Credit thejournal.ie

Credit thejournal.ie

CSO figures released today show a rise in employment in Ireland. There was an annual rise of 3.2% in the year until the third quarter of 2013, bringing total employment to 1,899,300.

On a quarterly adjusted basis, numbers in employment rose by 22,500 in this quarter. This also follows on from a seasonally adjusted increase in employment of 13,500 in the second quarter of 2013.

The unemployment rate over the quarter decreased from 13.6% to 12.8%. An unemployment decrease of 41,700 in the year brings the total number of people out of work down to 282,900.

The total number of persons in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 2,182,100. This showed an increase of 16,300 over the year. The number of people not in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 1,410,700, a decrease of 19,000 over the year.

Stephen Kinsella, Lecturer of Economics in the University of Limerick, tweeted the following: “Unambiguously good news for Irish labour market: emp. up 58k in year to 2013:Q3, unemployment down 41.7k”.

According to the Irish Times, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said: “There are still far too many people out of work, and tackling unemployment will remain the Government’s number one priority, but these figures demonstrate that we are making steady progress”.

John Lillis

Another must-win game for Arsenal

Credit arsenal.com

Credit arsenal.com

Arsenal face yet another must win match in the Champions League tonight as they host French side Marseille.

The Premiership leaders sit at the top of an extremely tight group with Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund and Rafa Benitez’s high-flying Napoli side.

Depending on the result in the night’s other game Arsene Wenger’s team could secure qualification to the next round.

Reports in France suggest that Marseille manager Élie Baup may field an under-strength side, with qualification out of reach for the nine-time French champions.

The London side will be hoping French internationals like Mathieu Valbuena and Dimitri Payet are given the night off at The Emirates Stadium.

Theo Walcott could return to the side after a hamstring strain, although Lukas Podolski is unlikely to appear despite returning to first-team training yesterday morning.

Wenger will hope to see another dominant performance from midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

At his pre-match press conference the Frenchman spoke of the Wales international’s qualities, stating that while last season Ramsey would sometimes lose confidence with a mistake, he is now sure of himself.

“He does not hide to take the ball, and when he makes a mistake, he doesn’t hide again. For me that is a quality. He is always available to take the ball and play. Aaron is now a confident boy”.

Ronan Morrissey

OPINION – Four things I don’t give a shit about at Christmas

Credit fanpop.com

Credit fanpop.com

Precocious children on the toy show

Why can’t RTE find some nice, well-mannered young fellas who will talk about how they like football and want a Man United jersey for Christmas? Instead we get children like John Joe talking about horology in a manner deserving of a solid slap. The rest of the Toy Show children all blur into one irritating, cheeky, only child-type. It’s a child with “surprising” interests in “kooky” topics, who has learned a few big words and will say something mildly insulting to Tubridy. I blame the parents.

The Coke ad has been on

Every November Facebook and Twitter alight with simpletons telling us “OMG just saw the Coke ad”, or words to that effect.  Even though the ad is run at the same time every year, people still get excited about seeing it. It’s the same thing as getting excited about the clocks going back. If you need a drinks company to tell you when Christmas is coming, you are more than likely a moron.

 “Hilarious” campaigns for the Christmas number one

In Ireland and the UK – countries where protests are generally met with derision from the public – you can always rely on people to get worked up about an X Factor winner taking the Christmas number one. In 2009, Rage against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” was Christmas number one following an online campaign. A campaign conducted largely by idiots. Of all the things to get worked up about, people decided to “fight the system” by seeing to it that the middle-aged, dreadlocked Zack de la Rocha took the Christmas top-spot. Incidentally, I find white men with dreadlocks considerably more offensive than any X Factor winner.

The wise men and their star

There will be a considerable chunk of people who will agree with me that Christmas is not about consumerism, global corporations’ advertisements or the Christmas number one. They reckon it is about a group of wise men following a star and finding a family in a shed with a baby. It’s a nice story, but they may as well try to tell us Christmas is all about a young boy called Jack who bought some beans at the market that turned out to be magic. Actually, that’s probably a better fairy tale. I mean, Jesus never killed a giant.

 Eoghan McNeill 

Quinn defends abolition of Junior Cert

Credit Wikipedia.com

Credit wikipedia.com

Education minister Ruairí Quinn has once more defended the decision to abolish the current Junior Cert state exam in favour of a new model.

The new model will be focused on internal assessment, and requires teachers to mark papers instead of the exam being externally reviewed.

During a question time in the Daíl, Ruairí Quinn defended the Junior Cycle reform that starts next September by saying that students “Don’t need a state exam, they need progress and moderation” .

Minister Quinn was responding to the results that came in a recent ASTI survey which revealed that 50 schools do not feel equipped enough to roll out reform.

Minister Quinn said “I’m aware of the difficulties faced by teachers, especially in the backdrop of the current public finances… we have started a journey, I take the political responsibility, and where we will travel is open for discussion”. He continued “to have a state exam at 15 has a detrimental effect on a number of people. If changes need to be made, we will make those changes”.

The decision to change the Junior Cycle has come under criticism, especially from the ASTI president Sally Maguire, who said that “every student is entitled to a fair, impartial and transparent state certificate to record their achievement.  A school certificate based on grades awarded by student’s own teachers’ does not have the same status or validity as an independent State Certificate.”

This year’s Junior Cert will be one of the last under the current model which has been in place since 1991.

Gavin Lacey

Chelsea look to secure European qualification

Credit www.chelseafc.com

Credit chelseafc.com

Chelsea can seal their place in the second round of the Champions League tonight with an away victory over the Swiss side FC Basel.

So far this season Jose Mourinho’s side have failed to achieve the level of consistency synonymous with the Portuguese manager’s team, stuttering domestically to struggling West Brom and Newcastle United in the last month.

Chelsea have striker Fernando Torres back after a slight groin injury kept him out of the clash with West Ham at the weekend, but David Luiz remains unavailable after bruising his kneecap in training last week.

Mourinho has stressed that nothing should be read from his decision to drop Ashley Cole to the bench in favour of Cesar Azpilicueta, stating that his intention is purely to rest the left-back.

“Ashley is a top professional… he’s not the kind of personality you need to leave on the bench to send him a message to him to make him realise that he has to give more”.

Swiss outfit Basel can claim confidence from the fact that they beat Chelsea in London earlier on in the competition.

Their counter-attacking style has seen them remain undefeated in the Swiss league since August, with the rapid duo of Mohammad Salah and Valentin Stocker wreaking havoc down the flanks.

Ronan Morrissey

The Central African Republic: state of chaos

Credit www.voanews.com

Credit voanews.com

Although this war has gone largely unreported it is an unfortunately familiar story – quasi-religious warlords, armies of child soldiers, sexual violence as military strategy, burnt out villages and hostile neighbours.

France is looking to increase their military presence in the region – pending UN backing. They already have 400 troops stationed there.

The Central African Republic (CAR), is a former French colony. It has been in a state of turmoil since December of 2012. Seleka rebels seized power last March and have recently been overthrown by the Comité extraordinaire de défense des acquis démocratiques-(CEDAD)

In July, the ‘African Union’ authorised a peacekeeping mission, 3,600 strong, in an effort to stablise the country.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius described the situation in CAR as bordering on an, “imminent threat of a humanitarian disaster.”

Roughly 460,000 people have been displaced during the conflict so far and there are fears the chaos may spread to neighbouring countries.

“Now the country is facing its worst crisis. In this failed state, entire swaths of land are given over to violence by armed gangs. Looting, the recruitment of child soldiers, burned villages, rapes, summary executions” [are commonplace] he said.

The French government are concerned the violence will spread into the surrounding countries, with South Sudan, Congo, Chad and Cameroon likely to be affected.

U.N. deputy general Jan Eliasson has warned the region is descending into “complete chaos before our eyes. The situation requires prompt and decisive action…There is a breakdown of law and order. The population is enduring suffering beyond imagination” he said.

Amnesty International has issued a statement calling on the U.N to take action in the region.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland called on the U.N to “work with other members of the international community, in particular, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, and France to ensure that immediate concrete measures are put in place to establish law and order in the country”.

Since independence in 1960 political instability has been rife in the CAR, with eight coups or mutinies having taking place after the state’s foundation.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders is an independent medical humanitarian aid organisation and has been working in the CAR since 1996. It runs seven regular projects in five of the seven health districts and supports up to seven hospitals and around 40 health centres. In 2012, a total of 600,000 consultations were provided.

Emergency Coordinator, Rosa Crestani described the situation in the region: “Our teams who were already present in the country wanted to reinforce their capability to respond quickly to requirements…The aim is to get as soon as possible to areas where a new outbreak of violence has occurred, to assess and meet the needs.”

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire