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Brazil: Dam disaster death toll climbs to 169

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…As Tanzanian plans to spend $4.3m on oil palm farming***

The official death toll from a dam burst in the Brazilian town of Brumadinho rose to 169, authorities in the state of Minas Gerais said on Monday.

A dam is a barrier that stops or restricts the flow of water or underground streams.

Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods. It also provides water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture and navigability.

In addition, 141 people have yet to be located.

The dam, which held back mining byproducts, is owned by nickel and iron ore miner Vale SA.

About 200 residents were evacuated from an area near another tailings dam operated by Vale on Saturday, amid fears that it was structurally weak and could also collapse.

Meanwhile, Tanzania has set aside 4.3 million dollars to boost cultivation of oil palm as part of its strategy to end importation of edible oils, Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said on Monday.

Majaliwa revealed this when speaking in the Western Tanzania’s region of Kigoma soon after inspecting an oil palm farm of the National Service Department (JKT), Bulombora camp.

The Tanzanian leader said the money would be spent in developing the crop so that its farmers are on the same level as growers of other cash crops.

He also directed the ministry of agriculture to prepare a demonstration farm in the region where farmers can learn modern methods of oil palm production.

“The government will not tolerate anyone, who goes against the strategy to revive the crop in the country,” the premier cautioned.

Omary Mgumba, Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Agriculture, said the government’s strategy in reviving the crop is meant to save foreign currency used to import edible oils.

Kigoma region accounts for more than 80 per cent of palm oil produced in the country and given its soils and weather, it has the potential to make Tanzania one of the world’s top palm oil producers and exporters.

Tanzania imports 55.5 per cent of its total edible oil in spite of having a vast and promising production potential in palm oil and sunflower sub-sectors.

In spite of the huge potential, the country relies on imported raw materials for producing edible oils and soaps.

Tanzania has similar weather conditions as Malaysia from where it imports most of its palm oil.

Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil while Tanzania is not even on the list of palm oil producing countries.

The private sector has been in the forefront to increase the production of the crop since 2017. Their engagement has seen financial institutions collaborating with the sector to improve performance.

Palm oil is used in most oil-based products which consumers purchase and use on a daily basis.

Palm Oil and its derivatives are used in the manufacture of pre-packaged foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, hair care, soaps and personal care items. 

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Israel passes law to shield Netanyahu from being declared unfit

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Israel passes law to shield Netanyahu from being declared unfit

Israeli lawmakers on Thursday, passed a law to make it harder to declare Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as unfit to serve.

The first in a series of laws comprising the far-right government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan.

The bill was passed early in the morning after a heated overnight debate, with 61 members of the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) voting in favour and 47 against.

The remaining lawmakers either abstained or were not present for the vote.

It was approved despite warnings from Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who said the law would shield the incumbent Netanyahu from being ousted over his corruption trial.

Under the new controversial law, a prime minister could only be declared unfit and forced to step down if three-quarters of the government’s ministers confirmed so due to the prime minister’s physical or psychological incapacity.

The new legislation was an amendment to a quasi-constitutional basic law that provided guidelines for dealing with a prime minister who was unable to perform their duties.

The vote came only hours before Israelis launch another day of nationwide protests against the judicial overhaul.

Since the start of 2023, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets across the country in weekly protests to oppose the government’s plan to weaken the Supreme Court.

The protest was also against the expansion of the powers of the government over the judiciary.

The crisis had sparked nationwide turmoil, with calls from within the military’s elite units to refuse to show up for duty in case the overhaul would be approved, unnerved high-tech investors, and drawn international criticism. 

– Xinhua

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Xi wraps up ‘constructive’ Moscow visit, no breakthrough on Ukraine

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Xi wraps up ‘constructive’ Moscow visit, no breakthrough on Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping was on his way back to Beijing on Wednesday after a three-day visit to Russia that saw the two countries ink agreements on extending their strategic partnership.

Xi said there is no sign of a breakthrough when it came to ending the war in Ukraine.

The several hours of talks between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin were dominated by Ukraine, as well as energy and trade issues.

Beijing’s recent peace initiative for Ukraine, which calls for a ceasefire but does not demand the withdrawal of Russian forces, was warmly received by Putin but continued to meet criticism among Western powers.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that relations between Beijing and Moscow represent a “marriage of convenience’’ rather than a real alliance.

“If China wants to play a constructive role here in this conflict, then they ought to press Russia to pull its troops out of Ukraine and Ukrainian sovereign territory,’’ Kirby said.

He added that Xi needed to also speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

At a news conference, Xi said he had held constructive talks at the Kremlin on the second of his three-day state visit.

He pointed particularly to the expansion of economic cooperation with Russia.

Putin assured Xi of a reliable supply of Russian oil and gas in the long term and said a new Russia-China gas pipeline via Mongolia is in the works.

Russia has been shut out of much of the European energy market after the invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

Since then, Russia has sought out new customers and emphasised opportunities in Asia.

By 2030, gas supplies to China should rise to almost 100 billion cubic metres per year, Putin said.

In addition, 100 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas would be supplied, as well as coal and other energy sources. China would receive the energy at a discount.

Putin said Russia was ready to supply agricultural products to China, too.

Payments for goods in the Chinese currency yuan and in rouble were also to be expanded, Putin said, while the two countries also plan to expand their transport links by building roads and bridges.

Putin called the talks “warm and collegial.’’

Turning to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Putin again praised Xi’s proposal for peace, which has been met with deep scepticism in Washington and Europe.

“We find that many of the positions in the peace plan put forward by China agree with Russian approaches and could become the basis for a peaceful solution, once the West and Kiev are ready for it,’’ Putin said.

Xi said that China was taking an objective and impartial position on the conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said the two had discussed Ukraine for more than four hours on Monday.

“There was an opportunity to clear everything up,’’ Peskov said.

For international observers, however, China was by no means a neutral authority especially because the country, which is allied with Russia, has never condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Nothing was disclosed about possible arms and ammunition deliveries from China to Russia a move that Washington and NATO said Beijing is considering.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned China against supplying Russia with weapons as this would be to support an illegal war.

NATO has not seen any proof that China is delivering weapons but the alliance has seen some signs that he has been a request from Russia, Stoltenberg said.

The top NATO official said providing arms was an issue that is being considered in Beijing and urged China not to do so.

Xi’s visit comes at an opportune moment for Putin.

It is the first by a foreign leader since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

He was accused of unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.

Russia says the children were being taken out of a war zone to safety.

For Putin, the visit from Beijing allowed him to show that he was not isolated internationally.

According to Russian analysts, Xi fulfilled his most important mission immediately upon arrival in Moscow.

His demonstrative support signalled to the West that Putin was here to stay, said political scientist Sergei Malakhov.

“China has effectively wiped away the question of international isolation,’’ Malakhov told Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper.

Xi said that it was in line with historical logic that he chose Russia for his first visit after his re-election because both large countries are neighbours and strategic partners.

The two allies issued a joint statement on international issues, showing where their interests align.

They called for an objective investigation into the Nord Stream 1 and 2 explosions and spoke out against U.S. dominance and in favour of a multipolar world order.

They also stressed that their strategic partnership was not a military-political bloc and not directed against other states.

Although China is economically benefiting from its partnership with Russia, Beijing is careful not to blatantly violate Western sanctions.

China is striking a careful balance between assuring stability and political support from its neighbouring country that it shares a 4,000-kilometre-long border.

Still leaving the door open for Europe, which is ultimately an even more important trade partner than Russia. 

– dpa

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China launches 4 meteorological satellites; as Xi extends condolences to Malawi, Mozambique

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China launches 4 meteorological satellites; as Xi extends condolences to Malawi, Mozambique

….Over deadly tropical cyclone***

 China successfully sent four meteorological satellites into space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China on Wednesday.

The satellites, belonging to the Tianmu-1 meteorological constellation, were launched by a Kuaizhou-1A carrier rocket at 5:09 p.m. (Beijing Time) and have entered the planned orbit.

They will be mainly used to provide commercial meteorological data services.

It was the 19th flight mission of the Kuaizhou-1A rockets. 

In another development, the Chinese President Xi Jinping has extended his condolences to the President of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera and the President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi over the deadly tropical cyclone hitting the two countries.

In his messages sent on Monday, Xi said he was saddened to learn that Tropical Cyclone Freddy has caused heavy casualties and property losses in Malawi and Mozambique.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, he extended deep condolences to those killed in the disaster and offered sincere sympathies to the bereaved families and the injured.

The Chinese president also expressed his belief that both countries are sure to overcome the disaster and rebuild their homeland.

– Xinhua

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