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Nigeria’s kleptocrats Have a Toxic Love Affair with London’s Expensive Real Estate


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The prevailing narratives about corruption in Nigeria rarely mention its international dimension. They tend to gloss over how the United Kingdom, United States, and other financial centers welcome the steady stream of illicit cash flowing out Africa’s largest economy.

Yet the country’s kleptocrats are increasingly exploiting weaknesses in the international financial system to launder and conceal their ill-gotten gains, often via high-end real estate in London, New York, and Dubai.This month’s release of the Paradise Papers—a juicy sequel to last year’s Panama Papers leak—is a glaring reminder of how offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions facilitate corruption in developing countries like Nigeria. According to Global Witness, the top five jurisdictions implicated in the Papers, are all UK Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies like the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.

Nigeria has lost an estimated $230 billion or more in illegal financial outflows since 2004: equal to $1,280 for every Nigerian citizen. Expatriating stolen funds to offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions not only sucks value out Nigeria’s economy, it makes stolen funds harder to find and puts pressure on the value of the naira—Nigeria’s flagging currency.

“That’s no moon…”

Recently dubbed The Death Star of Global Kleptocracy”, London is not just the world’s banking capital, it is also a global focal point for corruptly-acquired wealth. Corrupt officials from around the world find the UK attractive because of its lax corporate and property laws, anemic anti-money laundering safeguards, and the variety of posh neighborhoods.

At least £4.2 billion ($5.6 billion) worth of UK properties have been bought with suspicious wealth from around the world—likely just a tiny fraction of the total, estimates Transparency International. Decades of such property acquisitions by absentee foreign owners have had a profound impact on London, creating “ghost neighborhoods” where many high-end homes sit empty.

Although it is difficult to gauge what percentage of suspicious properties are owned by Nigerian kleptocrats.The examples below have been derived from corporate, property, and other public records in the UK and Nigeria. Since these property holdings may be of interest to international law enforcement, the names are being withheld.:

Three swanky apartments collectively worth over $10 million linked to Nigeria’s former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Two of the flats were bought by anonymous briefcase companies registered in The Seychelles and paid for with loan from a Nigerian bank known to facilitate such deals.

Three UK properties worth about $7 million in total associated with a senior legislator. One of these residences is owned by his personal foundation, another in his wife, and the most expensive is held by an anonymous shell company.

A multi-million-pound jet hangar at a major UK airport and London flat owned by one of Nigeria’s most notorious political godfathers. Implicated in contract fraud, election rigging, corrupting judges, and bribing foreign officials, this individual has a wide financial footprint in the UK.

A high-end flat in West London held under a fake name used by the son of a former Nigerian head of state. Several UK criminal money laundering and bank fraud cases identify this individual and his pseudonym.

The London laundromat

Why do corrupt Nigeria elites looking to stash their loot find London so attractive?

Home to the world’s snazziest neighborhoods, London has a massive luxury property markets through which large sums of money can be laundered in a single transaction. London’s expensive housing market does not discourage kleptocrats from investing, finds Transparency International. On the contrary, it offers opportunities to launder huge sums of money at a time.

Buying an opulent home in London is a relatively low-risk investment. These properties not only symbolize wealth and respectability, their value often appreciates significantly over time. Such properties can also be used to generate rental income or launder additional money via bogus leases.

UK law allows anyone to purchase property using anonymous offshore companies or complex multi-layered corporate structures. According to the country’s former top anti-corruption cop, this permissive system frustrates law enforcement: “the lack of access to beneficial ownership information about offshore companies…is a major barrier for our investigations. Investigators may spend months and years attempting to peel back layers of secrecy in order to uncover how the proceeds of corruption are being laundered…”

Stemming the tide

What can the UK, United States, and other global financial centers do to wean themselves off of corrupt cash? Because their financial systems are such permissive operating environments, even beefed-up law enforcement and financial intelligence efforts almost certainly won’t stop kleptocrats from trying to exploit them.

To disrupt the flow of corrupt cash from Nigeria and beyond, British and American lawmakers need to issue directives or enact legislation that eliminates home-grown secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands and Delaware. They also should create public beneficial ownership registries and expand the range of legal and administrative tools available to identify and investigate suspicious financial and property transactions.

UK lawmakers took a step in the right direction last year when they created a potent new legal tool–the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO). This mechanism empowers UK prosecutors to force–for example–a Nigerian politician who owns a multi-million pound London flat to explain how he acquired wealth far in excess of his official salary. If he refuses or inadequately responds then the UWO could be used in a separate legal process to seize the official’s suspect assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

First line of defense

Although law enforcement efforts have room to expand, Western diplomats on the ground in Nigeria could be doing more to help identify kleptocrats and prevent them from establishing financial footprints abroad. Both UK and US officials have the power to deny travel visas to Nigerian kleptocrats on the basis of credible corruption allegations or unexplained wealth but rarely do so.

Under UK Immigration Rules, for example, the Home Secretary has wide discretionary powers to exclude non-citizens from the UK when it is “conducive to the public good”. Existing immigration policy guidance allows officials to withhold visas from individuals linked to “proceeds of crime and finances of questionable origins” and “corruption”.

Though by no means a silver bullet—or a substitute for fixing corporate and property laws—visa bans should be a foundational element of any UK or U.S. anti-corruption strategy. Until kleptocrats from countries like Nigeria are stopped from visiting their luxury homes or spending their ill-gotten gains in cities like London, their “Death Star” reputation will be hard to shake.

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Office Worker 'Ejaculated in Colleague's Jar of Honey', which She Then Ate Regularly For Two Months


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An office worker ejaculated multiple times into his colleague's honey jar, which she then ate from regularly over a two month period, police say.

Californian Stevens Milian Castro is also alleged to have masturbated into the woman's water bottle and smeared his semen on her computer mouse.

The 27-year-old faces charges of battery and attempted vandalism, and could be jailed for up to two and a half years if found guilty.

Millancastro has worked with the victim since 2014 but he only began to contaminate her food and drink with his seminal fluid in November 2016, according to the Orange County District Attorney.

On two occasions towards the end of last year, he is accused of entering her office and discharging his semen into her personal honey jar.

She then consumed the contaminated spread every other day between 24 November and 13 January this year. She had no idea it contained his seed.

During the same period, Milian Castro is also accused of ejaculating into the victim's water bottle three times.

She never drank from the bottle because she noticed the water's cloudy appearance. On the third occasion, she notified her supervisor, who installed CCTV near her office.

On 13 January, the victim sat down to use her computer but recoiled when she touched her mouse and found it covered in ejaculate.

She notified her supervisor immediately, who confirmed that Milian Castro was seen on CCTV entering the office before the incident.

The unnamed victim reported her experiences to the La Palma Police Department, who investigated the matter and arrested Milian Castro on 21 November.

Milian Castro, from Palmade, is charged with two counts of battery and three counts of attempted vandalism. The charges are enhanced by the fact that police say he committed the crimes for his own sexual gratification.

If guilty, he will face two and a half years in prison and have to sign the sexual offenders register for life. A court date has not yet been settled.

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We Drank Urine And Fuel To Survive- Libyan Returnee


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The time was 9.10pm. A Buraq Air’s Boeing 737 with tail number 5A-DMG landed on the tarmac of the cargo terminal of the Murtala International Airport and out came 20-year-old Clement Chibuzor, along with 149 other Nigerians whose ghoulish appearances told of the horrific experiences they must have experienced in Libya.

Over the past two weeks, Nigerians have added their voices to the global uproar over the exposed tales of the slave trade, torture and killings of migrants in Libya.

Over 5,000 Nigerians have been repatriated from Libya by the International Organization for Migration since the beginning of 2017.

Each time a new batch of returnees arrive, they bring with them tales of horror from the transit country, where they hoped to take the treacherous journey through the Mediterranean Sea.

Saturday PUNCH spoke with many of the returnees as they touched down on Thursday night. They told the tales of man’s inhumanity to man.

Chibuzor, a Delta State indigene, was just a teenager working as a Plaster of Paris artisan when his father met a trafficker, who told him he could get his son to Europe.

The young lad had worked as a POP artisan for eight months with little money in his pocket, his father told him not to worry about the money.

“I never thought about going to Europe. My father was the one who brought the idea. He sold his land and raised N450,000 which he gave to my ‘burger’ (trafficker). He did not tell my mother until I was already in Libya,” Chibuzor said.

The young man spent 18 months in Libya. He left the country, a hopeful man. On Thursday, he returned like a mere cargo, thankful to be back to safety.

As he stepped off the plane, Chibuzor looked nothing like a 20-year-old.

His hollow cheeks told of starvation while his skin told of suffering in disease-ridden cells.

“After many of my co-travelers died in the desert, I was kidnapped as soon as I got to Libya. I was in prison for four months until my father sent N300,000 for my release.

“In the prison, our food was a piece of bread every day. When I got out of the prison. I was on the street one day when I met a Nigerian who promised to help me. I worked in his house for some weeks until he sold me to a gang. They kept me in a cell. I was there for a very long time. I cannot count the number of people who died in the cell."

“The police were raiding different places where black people were kept and I willingly surrendered to the police. That was how I got an opportunity to come back to Nigeria."

“While working on the streets of Libya, if the gangs saw you, they would grab you and put you in a cell. They put you in a cell with many others where you would either be sold or made to call your people to pay for your freedom."

“While I was trying to get money to free myself from the prison, I spoke with my father two months ago. He then told me that if I had the chance, I should return home. I told him that I might die before I had the opportunity to return home because I saw people die every day.”

We drank urine, fuel in desert – Kelvin, 21

Many of the returnees who shared their experiences like Chibuzor, vowed never to attempt the dangerous journey again. But experts say that so far as there are few success stories amidst the deaths, some of the returnees may try again when the shock of their time in Libya wear off.

Kelvin Sunday, 21, an Edo State indigene, who returned with Chibuzor, told Saturday PUNCH that he was in Libya for seven months.

He spent N965,000 to get to Libya after raising the money with the help of friends and his sister.

Sunday explained that a friend of his, who made it to Europe, convinced him to embark on the journey.

According to him, 41 of them set out in Kano for the journey through the desert but only 10 made it to Libya.

He said their fate was sealed when their vehicle developed an engine fault in the desert.

Sunday said, “We were in the desert for three days without food or water. We were drinking our urine to survive. It got to a point that when there was no more urine to drink, we started to drink fuel.

“When we got to Libya, I was working at my brother's house. I spent two weeks there before I went to the seaside (in Tripoli) where we would cross. From Sabha to the seaside in Tripoli, I spent two weeks. On the way, some traffickers kidnapped us. They beat and loaded us into their Hilux van, but few of us jumped down and I broke my leg. I managed to escape as they were shooting."

“We spent two days in the desert again after that escape. We later saw a motorist whom we begged to help us get to the seaside."

“We were camped at the seaside for three months without any opportunity to cross the seas. People trying to cross the sea told me to avoid Nigerians helping Libyans to sell people. But later our camp was raided by soldiers, who took us to prison.”

He had spent four months in the cell before luck smiled on him and IOM officials effected his repatriation along with many others.

I return home as a one-eyed man – Okotie, 35

Less than a year after Harrison Okotie, 35, got to Libya, he was kidnapped by some violent traffickers, who hit him in the eye with the butt of a gun.

He lost his left eye to that attack.

“Now, I don’t know if my wife and two children would ever recognize me when I get back home. I left Nigeria a whole man but I am returning with one eye,” Okotie said.

He explained that before leaving Nigeria in 2014, he worked as a painter after graduating from the Delta State University.

After paying N600,000 for the journey through the desert, he got to Libya where he was grabbed off the street by some traffickers who sold him for 2,000 dinars (about N529,000).

“When you got to the person you were sold to, he sold you again for double the previous amount."

“Many Nigerians have gone mad and cannot even say where they are in Libya right now. The day officials came to register us for repatriation, we were in a queue when one of the Libyan officials shot a Nigerian dead right there. They said he was trying to run, whereas he was desperate to return home.”

Another returnee, Esosa Osas, 25, who was a hairdresser before she left Nigeria, spent six months in Libya. She told tales of many women being raped.

“It is either rape or death. Nobody could refuse being raped,” she said.

A fellow Edo State indigene, Odion Saliu, 26, told Saturday PUNCH that the Nigerian trafficker who facilitated her trip lied to her.

“She told me that once in Kano, we were going to take a plane to Libya. I was shocked when we were loaded into a vehicle," she said.

“We spent nine days crossing the desert to Libya. I was kidnapped and sold at least three times before God brought me back to my fatherland. I am really thankful to God that I am alive.”

The Nigerian traffickers fueling the trafficking industry in Libya seems to have attracted the attention of the government.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said there was a need for Nigerians to report human traffickers in the society.

She said the federal government’s whistleblower policy against human trafficking would ensure a handsome reward for credible information about human traffickers.

“Traffickers must be prosecuted, must be arrested and they must be known. There is a whistle-blower policy by NAPTIP; report traffickers, they are amongst you.”

An official of the Edo State task force on illegal migration, Mr. Okoduwa Solomon, told Saturday PUNCH that since November 7, the state had taken custody of at least 897 Libyan returnees who are indigenes of the state.

He explained that the exercise to help them resettle in Nigeria would continue so far as there were still Nigerians trapped in Libya.

“We are using the returnees to raise awareness about the dangers of illegal migration in Edo State,” he said.

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Revelation of Libyan Slave Auction Shocks The World


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The current state of Libya is what happens when the future is bleak for youths and they are desperate for new opportunities, according to Ali Dinar, a senior lecturer in the Department of African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We have to condemn the failure of the African government and the international community,” Dinar, who is originally from Sudan, told The Philadelphia Tribune on Friday afternoon. “It’s the failure of the African government in securing and providing a better future for these youths. That is what pushes them away.”

The Northern Africa nation that borders the Mediterranean Sea has been an exit point for refugees fleeing the troubles in their homelands. Thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and mostly from sub-Sahara Africa have landed there as they seek passage to Europe in hopes of finding a better life.

Humanitarian and United Nations agencies have reported that thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps in Libya, where the living conditions are described as “inhumane.”

The International Organization for Migration said more than 423,000 migrants had been identified in Libya, where the majority are men from impoverished sub-Saharan African countries.

Europe has tried to stop the flow of migrants from Africa. However, the lack of unemployment, violence or other conditions have left many without a choice but to make the dangerous trek across the Mediterranean Sea, where at least 3,000 have drowned or have gone missing annually in attempted crossings.

The depth of the misery hit a new humanitarian chord recently as there is a renewed urgency to help the migrants after videos surfaced showing slave auctions in Libya. The ongoing problem has only been heightened since the fall of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and various factions, including Islamic State extremists, controlling swaths of the country, some experts say.

“This is something that has been going on for a while, but it has never been in the media as it should of been until CNN reported it,” Dinar said. “What is happening in Libya is after the collapse of the regime and the government there, along with the presence of ISIS. Nothing is new, but now, the focus and interest is in following this kind of trail of abuse and a new way of exposing it.”

Eileen Ryan, an assistant professor in the Department of History at Temple University, said with the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, which came to power in 1969, the lid was lifted off of a problem that he had been containing during his nearly 50-year rule.

“When you saw people trying to cross the Mediterranean it was because the system Gaddafi had put in place broke down,” said Ryan, adding the chaos intensified after Gaddafi was slain by his captors and the system he had in place broke down. “When Gaddafi was holding immigrants in camps, they were prevented from leaving.”

African refugees have been making their way to Europe, but all are not welcome. They also must compete for support and aid with Middle East refugees from war-torn Syria, which has seen millions flee since the unrest and ensuing civil war began in 2011.

Ryan says its seems as though the African migrants are welcomed as long as they are seen as temporarily visitors.

“I think something changes when migrants stay in one place and put down roots,” said Ryan, who has studied Mediterranean region, that includes Italy and Libya, as well as imperialism, colonialism and fascism. “I think a lot of people see that as a threat.”

The selling of people is not supposed to be part of the system, but it seems a part of an illicit market of human trafficking, Ryan said.

Free the Slaves, an organization that fights slavery, said it had freed 13,000 people from bondage since 2000, noting that tens of millions are trapped in modern-day slavery.

“I think what is really important to understand about this are the root causes that result in these instances of men ending up on the slave market,” said Maurice Middleberg, the executive director of Free the Slaves, based in Washington, D.C. “The solution to this is not about trying to shut down one market, because it’s hardly unique by any means.”

His group notes that slavery is the result of vulnerability.

Lack of awareness of rights and risks, absence or weakness of protective organizations, household insecurity, inadequate legal protection and survivor vulnerability are all situations that can lead to slavery, Middleberg said.

“A lot of Africans want to seek a better life in Europe, so there’s a lot of people and [criminal] organizations that promise these youth a good life and they have to give them money,” said Dinar, who added that failure to pay often results in beating or migrants making the crossing are put in boats without safeguards.

“Some of these people have their rights being violated and are being kept as prisoners and tortured so that their families will pay ransom and that is not new with regard to immigrants. It’s vulnerable youth,” Dinar said.

Between 400,000 and 700,000 African migrants are stranded in camps in Libya, according to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission.

Identifying the communities, villages or neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking is key, Middleberg said, followed by implementing strategies such as educating and mobilizing communities, ensuring basic access and services and strengthening laws and law enforcement services.

“It’s, indeed, a complicated problem,” Middleberg said. “So simplistic solutions are not going to work.”

Chad Lassiter, a professor who specializes in race relations, said Libya was earmarked for destruction because it did not do the bidding of Western powers and their endless war lobbying.

“The cause of this destruction is the French government, (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) NATO and the Western elites who will attempt to whitewash this with NATO friendly media,” said Lassiter, who is president of Black Men at Penn School of Social Work Inc. at the University of Pennsylvania. “We know this is a crime against humanity but other than an evacuation plan and international assistance, whose going to be brought to justice for these war crimes?”

On Friday, President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya. A commitment to helping the Libyan people realize a more stable, unified and prosperous future was a topic of their discussion, according to the White House.

“I honestly cannot find the way to articulate my feelings and my anger for the lack of attention being paid to this issue from the federal government,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris. “Knowing the history of slavery in America and the enslavement of Africans here in America, it baffles my mind as to why there’s not more attention paid to this from our federal government.”

Harris says the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, which he leads, will be looking to see if the state has any investments with Libya, and if so the caucus will ask for those relationships to be severed until the situation there is rectified.

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Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in May


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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to marry at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle next May and will go on their first public walkabout on Friday in Nottingham, the palace has announced.

The couple are planning to involve members of the public in the proceedings in some form yet to be determined.

“It will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the character of the bride and groom,” said their spokesman.

Markle, 36, who is American, will also become a British citizen and will be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England before the wedding, Kensington Palace announced.

And it said the royal family would pay for the wedding, including the church service, the music, the flowers and the reception.

Wider security costs, policing and public order arrangements will be covered by the public purse, however. The palace declined to comment on whether the bride’s parents would contribute.

The service is expected to draw a star-studded congregation. Markle’s friends include the tennis star Serena Williams and the Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh.

The chapel usually holds about 800 guests compared with the 2,000 capacity of Westminster Abbey, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married in 2011.

The engaged couple’s spokesman said: “Harry and Meghan Markle are extremely grateful for the warm public response following yesterday’s announcement of their engagement. In a happy moment in their lives, it means a great deal to them that so many people throughout the UK, the Commonwealth, and around the world are celebrating with them.

“The couple of course want the day to be a special, celebratory moment for their friends and family. They also want the day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too and are currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved.”

The UK prime minister, Theresa May, while on a flight to Jordan to start of her three-day visit to the Middle East, was asked by reporters whether the nation deserved a bank holiday for the royal wedding.

May did not directly respond, but equally did not talk up the idea. However, she did seem enamoured of the happy couple. “You talk about cheering people up,” she said. “Seeing two young people in love, and that’s obvious – I didn’t see all of the BBC interview, I saw some snatches of it, but I think that was obvious.

“What’s also obvious was that they’d given a lot of thought to what it means to be a royal couple in today’s age. I wish them great happiness for the future, and I think the country is delighted to see this engagement. And collectively, we wish them all the very best.”

The last royal wedding at the chapel was for Harry’s cousin, Peter Phillips – the son of the Princess Royal – who married the Canadian Autumn Kelly in 2008. Harry’s father, the Prince of Wales, and stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, had their televised religious blessing there in 2005, after their civil ceremony down the road in the town hall.

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Harry was christened in the chapel in December 1984 when he was three months old, which, according to Church of England rules, means he can also marry there. 

After the wedding Markle will also become the fourth patron of the Royal Foundation, the main charitable arm of the Kensington Palace royals – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It has so far launched initiatives such as the Invictus Games and the Heads Together mental health campaign.

Markle’s belongings are currently being shipped from Canada to Kensington Palace and she plans to travel back to North America to see friends and family in the months before the wedding.

The palace confirmed that she was leaving behind one of her dogs, Bogart, who is staying with friends in North America. Guy the Beagle is now at Kensington Palace, they announced.

Asked about how she had decided between them, their spokesman said: “I can’t speculate. Miss Markle is very fond of her dogs and any decision about moving a dog over the ocean will have lots of complexity to it.”

Markle divorced her first husband, Trevor Engelson, a film producer, in 2013. Her parents are Thomas Markle, an award-winning TV lighting designer, and Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor who lives in Los Angeles.

Markle was educated at a Catholic school, but her father is reported to be a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States, which is part of the Anglican communion. Her mother is reported to be of the Protestant faith.

In a TV interview on Monday Markle described the engagement as a transition “out of my career, but into the role”. She said she wanted to focus more energy on the causes that she had already championed. Markle has been an ambassador for UN Women and a global ambassador for World Vision, including driving a clean water campaign in Rwanda. She will withdraw from those roles.

“She wants to start a clean slate getting to know this country and travelling round the Commonwealth,” their spokesman said.

“Once you have access or a voice that people are going to listen to, with that comes a lot of responsibility, which I take seriously,” she said. “I think in these beginning few months and now being boots on the ground in the UK, I’m excited to just really get to know more about the different communities here, smaller organisations who are working on the same causes that I’ve always been passionate about.”

On their visit to Nottingham they will visit the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery for the Terrence Higgins Trust World Aids Day charity fair, where they will meet people including those living with HIV. Markle’s first taste of the day job of a royal will also include a visit to the Nottingham academy to meet schoolchildren and youngsters who attend a Friday night youth club.

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Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters Beats Colombia and Jamaica to Win Miss Universe 2017


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And Miss Universe 2017 is... Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.

After battling it out with top 92 contestants from across the world Nel-Peters was crowned the winner during the star-studded international beauty pageant that was underway at The AXIS at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, 26 November.

Miss Colombia Laura González and Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett came close and took the first and second runners up spots, respectively. Like each year, the sparkling silver and blue gem encrusted crown was passed on to the new Miss Universe by last year's winner Miss France Iris Mittenaere.

A student at North West University, Nel-Peters recently graduated with a degree in Business Management. The 22-year-old native of Sedgefield in Western cape, South Africa also held prestigious leadership positions at her high school.

Her half-sister, who has a disability, is credited to be Miss Universe Nel-Peters' biggest motivation. In the future, the new winner from South Africa plans on using her self-defense workshops to help as many women as she can.

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Woman Who Raped Man at Knife-Point will not Spend Time Behind Bars


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A Michigan woman who admitted to raping a 19-year-old man at knife-point has been spared jail by a judge.

Lestina Marie Smith, 18, was given five years' probation and ordered to sign onto the sex offenders' register for 25 years after pleading guilty to second degree sexual criminal conduct. The charge comes with a maximum 15 year sentence.

On Monday (November 22), Circuit Judge Andre R. Borrello ordered her to 313 days in jail with credit for the 313 days already served, meaning Smith will not spend any further time behind bars. She will also have to pay her victim $1,000 in damages.

Her attorney, James F. Gust, said the sentence was a suitable punishment for the crime. "Never in dealing with her, never did she appear to be someone who is a threat to society," he said.

Her attorney also discussed her mental health issues and exemplary criminal record. A letter from the victim asked the judge not to send Smith to prison and was another mitigating factor in sentencing.

Smith was originally charged with first-degree criminal conduct, which carries a maximum life sentence, but later pleaded guilty on September 13 to a lesser second-degree charge.

The offence took place on 11 January, on the driveway of Smith's step-sister in Saingaw, Michigan.

The victim allegedly had a sex tape involving Smith, who was concerned about the recording being distributed on social media. She wanted to make her own sex tape with the victim in case he threatened to release footage of their encounter.

"He allegedly had a sex tape that he was going to put out on social media," Gust said. "She wanted to make one with him so that she would have one to keep him from putting his out there."

She called the victim over to the house in the hope she could delete the video from his phone. When he arrived at the location she then began verbally berating him and climbed into his car. After punching him repeatedly she produced a steak knife from her sleeve and stabbed him in the arm, piercing his jacket.

The man testified that the woman forced him to perform oral sex on her while she recorded it on her mobile phone. She also forced him to have sexual intercourse and used the knife to then cut up his car seats.

Saginaw Township Police Officer David West testified he saw the video after responding that night. The victim had reported the crime from nearby gas station after his mobile phone was taken by Smith.

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The inside Story of Mugabe's Downfall


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Inside State House in Harare, Robert Mugabe was in the tightest spot of his 37-year rule. Tanks were on the streets and troops had occupied the state broadcaster, from where the army had announced it had taken control of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, 93 years old but still alert, remained defiant. The only leader the country had known since independence was refusing to quit.

At a tense meeting with his military top brass on November 16, the world's oldest head of state put his foot down: "Bring me the constitution and tell me what it says," he ordered military chief Constantino Chiwenga, according to two sources present.

An aide brought a copy of the constitution, which lays out that the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Chiwenga, dressed in camouflage fatigues, hesitated before replying that Zimbabwe was facing a national crisis that demanded military intervention.

Mugabe retorted that the army was the problem, according to the sources present. Then the beleaguered president indicated that perhaps they could find a solution together.

The meeting marked the start of an extraordinary five-day standoff between Mugabe and Zimbabwe's supreme law on one side, and the military, his party and Zimbabwe's people on the other.

The generals wanted Mugabe to go, but they also wanted a "peaceful coup", one that would not irreparably tarnish the administration aiming to take over, according to multiple military and political sources.The president finally accepted defeat only after he was sacked by his own Zanu-PF party and faced the ignominy of impeachment. He signed a short letter of resignation to Parliament Speaker Jacob Mudenda that was read out to lawmakers on November 21.

The country erupted into ecstasy. Parliamentarians danced and people poured onto the streets in their tens of thousands to celebrate a political downfall that sent shockwaves across Africa and the world.

To many, the end of Mugabe had been unthinkable only one week before.

Mugabe, who had run Zimbabwe since 1980 and overseen its descent into economic ruin while his wife shopped for luxury goods, was gone

The events leading up to Mugabe's removal show the army's action was the culmination of months of planning that stretched from Harare to Johannesburg to Beijing.

Drawing on a trove of intelligence documents from within Mugabe's feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Reuters reported in September that the army was backing Emmerson Mnangagwa, then vice president, to succeed Mugabe when the time came.

The report detailed how Mnangagwa, a lifelong friend and former security chief of Mugabe, might cooperate with Mugabe's political foes in order to revive the economy. It caused furore in Zimbabwe's media and political circles.

Bitter rivalry intensified between Mnangagwa and Grace, Mugabe's 52-year-old wife, who also hoped to take over as president and had the backing of a Zanu-PF faction known as G40.

In early October, Mnangagwa said he had been airlifted to hospital in South Africa after a poisoning attempt in August. He pointed no fingers - but he didn't need to.

Grace's swift response was to deny it and accuse her rival of seeking sympathy; she belittled him as nothing but an employee of her husband, according to a report in the state-run Herald newspaper.

As the pressure built, Mugabe became increasingly paranoid about the loyalty of army chief Chiwenga, a career soldier and decorated veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s bush-war against white-minority rule.

Mugabe's spies, who permeated every institution and section of society in Zimbabwe, were warning him the military would not accept Grace as president.

"Mugabe is very worried of a coup," one intelligence report, dated October 23, said. "Mugabe was openly told by senior intelligence officers that the military is not going to easily accept the appointment of Grace. He was warned to be ready for civil war."

Reuters reviewed the document, and hundreds of other intelligence reports dating back to 2009, before the coup took place. The documents come from within the intelligence organisation, but Reuters could not determine for whom they were written. The CIO is split into factions, some pro and some anti-Mugabe.

In late October, Mugabe summoned Chiwenga to a showdown, according to another of the documents, dated October 30. It said Mugabe confronted the army chief about his ties to Mnangagwa and told him that going against Grace would cost him his life.

"Chiwenga was warned by Mugabe that it is high time for him to start following. He mentioned to Chiwenga that those fighting his wife are bound to die a painful death," the intelligence report said.

At the same meeting, Mugabe also ordered Chiwenga to pledge allegiance to Grace. He refused.

"Chiwengwa refused to be intimidated. He stood his ground over his loyalty to Mnangagwa," the report said.

Reuters put questions about this exchange and other aspects of this article to Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba. In an enigmatic text message dated Nov. 23, he replied: "Enjoy Reuters copy. Goodnight."

Two spokesmen for Chiwenga declined to comment.

After another tense meeting with Mugabe on November 5, Chiwenga left Harare on a pre-arranged official trip and travelled to China, which wields significant influence as a major investor in Zimbabwe.

A day later, Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as vice president and purged him from the party, the liberation movement that Mnangagwa had served since his youth and for which, as a young militant caught bombing a train, he had nearly been executed.

For the generals, Mugabe had gone too far. The military immediately activated a "Code Red" alert, its highest level of preparedness, a military source said.

Assassination plot

Moments after Mnangagwa was ousted on November 6, the security details assigned to him and his house were withdrawn, according to a statement he issued later. He was told his life was in danger.

"Security personnel, who are friendly to me, warned me that plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station," Mnangagwa said in a November 21 statement. "It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately."

From Harare, he managed to escape over the border into neighbouring Mozambique, where he caught a plane to China, according to one source familiar with his movements. There he met up with Chiwenga, the source said.

Reuters could not confirm the account; but an intelligence report from November 13 indicates that Mugabe suspected some of his generals of preparing to overthrow him from China.

"A number of generals are now in China ready to plot Mugabe's ouster with Mnangagwa," the report said. It was not clear which generals, and whether their travel to China was authorised.

Mugabe's spies suspected old allies had turned against the ageing president. An intelligence report, dated October 30, said Beijing and Moscow both supported regime change out of frustration at Zimbabwe's economic implosion under Mugabe.

"China and Russia are after change," the report said. "They are after change within Zanu-PF as they are sick and tired of Mugabe's leadership."

"The two countries are even ready to clandestinely supply arms of war to Mnangagwa to fight Mugabe."

Neither China's Defence Ministry nor Foreign Ministry responded to a request for comment. The Foreign Ministry had previously said Chiwenga's visit was "a normal military exchange mutually agreed upon by China and Zimbabwe."

Reuters sent written requests for comment to the Kremlin, the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian Foreign Ministry. None of them responded.

China has long taken an interest in Zimbabwe, having supported Mugabe's forces during the liberation struggle. After independence it developed connections there in mining, security and construction.

Russia has also had ties to Zimbabwe since the early 1980s, and in 2014 a Russian consortium entered into a partnership to develop a $US3 billion ($3.9 billion) platinum mining project in the country.

Chiwenga's trip to China culminated in him meeting Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing on November 10.

Two sources with knowledge of the talks said Chiwenga asked if China would agree not to interfere if he took temporary control in Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe from power. Chang assured him Beijing would not get involved and the two also discussed tactics that might be employed during the de facto coup, the sources said.

It could not be establish whether Mnangagwa met Chang.

Having got wind of the talks in China, Mugabe summoned his still-loyal police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, and his deputy, Innocent Matibiri, to detain Chiwenga on his return to Harare, government and security sources said.

The pair assembled a squad of 100 police and intelligence agents. But the plot leaked and Chiwenga supporters managed to pull together a counter-team of several hundred special forces soldiers and agents as their commander's plane approached.

Some were disguised as baggage handlers, their military fatigues and weapons hidden beneath high-visibility jackets and overalls, one security source said.

Realising they were outnumbered and outgunned, Chihuri's police team backed down, allowing Chiwenga to touch down without incident, the security source said.

Mugabe's spokesman did not comment on the incident.

"Very alarmed"

Two days later, Chiwenga and a group of military commanders demanded a meeting with Mugabe at his official State House residence in Harare, an ornate colonial villa complete with stuffed leopards and thick red carpets, according to a government source.

They said they were "very alarmed" at the firing of Mnangagwa and told Mugabe to rein in his wife and her G40 faction, whom they accused of trying to divide the military, according to the government official, who was present at the discussions.

"What do you think should be done?," Mugabe demanded of the soldiers as he sat slumped in an armchair.

The generals asked him to give assurances that they too would not be purged. Mugabe's response was lukewarm, the government source said. Chiwenga told Mugabe he would be making his concerns about the G40 faction public.

Hours later, Chiwenga summoned reporters to the military's main barracks near Harare to issue a statement.

"We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," he said, reading from a prepared text.

The following afternoon, six armoured personnel carriers heading towards the headquarters of Mugabe's Presidential Guard on the outskirts of Harare. It was unclear whose command they were under.

At the time, the city's residents were on edge but still unsure what it all meant.

The line went dead

At around 6pm on November 14, Mugabe's motorcade headed to his private Blue Roof residence, a heavily fortified compound in the capital's leafy northern suburb of Borrowdale.

Meanwhile, social media buzzed with pictures of armoured vehicles driving along roads to Harare, sparking frenzied speculation about a coup.

Increasingly concerned, Grace put in a call shortly after 7pm to a cabinet minister asking to get WhatsApp and Twitter shut down, according to one source familiar with a recording of the conversation.

The minister, whose identity is withheld for safety reasons, replied that such a move was the responsibility of State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi.

"No-one will stand for a coup. It cannot happen," said Grace, commonly referred to as Amai, which means mother, according to a source who heard the recording.

Mugabe's voice is then heard on the line: "As you have heard from Amai, is there anything that can be done?"

The minister gave the same response, about the responsibilities of state security, and the line went dead, the source said.

Mohadi declined to comment.

Two hours later, two armoured vehicles rolled into the Pockets Hill headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), according to ZBC sources.

Dozens of soldiers sealed off the site and stormed into the studios where they accosted staff, snatching their phones and halting programs. State-owned ZBC, widely seen as a mouthpiece for Mugabe, switched to broadcasting pop music videos.

Mugabe's inner circle, nearly all of them G40 loyalists, had no idea what was under way, according to four sources familiar with their conversations.

Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo called Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi to ask if he had any information about a possible coup. Sekeramayi said no, but tried to check with military chief Chiwenga.

Chiwenga told Sekeramayi he would get back to him. According to the sources, Chiwenga never did.

Moyo remains in hiding and was unavailable for comment. Sekeramayi declined to comment.

Security detail

As ministers in the G40 faction tried frantically to work out what was going on, Chiwenga's men closed in on Mugabe's compound.

According to a source briefed on the situation, Albert Ngulube, a CIO director and head of Mugabe's security detail, was driving home around 9.30pm after visiting Mugabe. He met an armoured car on Borrowdale Brooke, a side road leading to Mugabe's house.

When Ngulube confronted the soldiers and threatened to shoot them, they beat him up and detained him, the source said. Ngulube was later released, but had suffered head and facial injuries, the source added.

Spokesmen for Chiwenga and Mnangagwa declined to comment. Ngulube could not be contacted.

Other G40 ministers were also picked up by soldiers. Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was found hiding in a toilet at his house and beaten before being detained at an undisclosed location for more than a week. 

On his release on November 24, he was hospitalised with injuries to his hands, legs and back, his lawyer said, describing the army's behaviour as "brutal and draconian". He now faces corruption charges.

Soldiers used explosives to blow the front door off the house of Jonathan Moyo, the main brains behind G40, according to video footage of the house. Others burst through the front gates of the residence of local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, another key Grace supporter.

Both men managed to escape to Mugabe's residence. Contacted shortly after midnight in the early hours of November 15, Kasukuwere was audibly stressed. "I can't talk. I'm in a meeting," he said, before hanging up.

For another week, Mugabe clung on to the presidency as Chiwenga and his forces tried to engineer a peaceful, and quasi-legal, exit for the long-serving leader.

But as Parliament began impeachment proceedings on November 21, Mugabe finally gave up. After 37 years in control, during which much of his country fell into poverty, his letter of resignation said he was stepping down out of "concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe".

The privately run Standard newspaper later quoted sources within Mugabe's inner circle as saying the devout Catholic held a rosary as he told his close associates and the negotiators he was resigning. 

"He looked down and said 'people were chameleons'," one of the sources was quoted as saying. The report said he cried and lamented "betrayal by his lieutenants".

But a Jesuit priest, a close Mugabe friend, laughed off the report saying Mugabe's face glowed with relief when he agreed to step down.

"When he finished his signature his face just glowed, no weeping unless there were angels weeping somewhere," Father Fidelis Mukonori said.

 

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Man Goes Temporary Blind in One Eye After Having a Powerful Orgasm During Sex


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A man lost partial sight in his eye following a "vigorous" morning sex session with his partner, doctors have revealed.

The 29-year-old was enjoying an extended romp at home when the incident occurred, resulting in the loss of sight in his left eye. He presented his symptoms to doctors at an emergency eye clinic later in the day, it was reported in the British Medical Journal.

The publication suggested that a burst blood vessel caused by an orgasm was to blame. Doctors said that the Valsalva manoeuvre, or holding breath before climax, caused an excessive amount of pressure to build up behind his retina. This in turn caused a haemorrhage, which resulted in obstruction of his vision.

"During orgasm the Valsalva manoeuvre can produce a sudden increase in retinal venous pressure resulting in vessel rupture and haemorrhagic retinopathy," the journal stated.

The report noted that men are more likely to hold their breath during sex to delay ejaculation, making them more prone to this type of injury.

"The autonomic effects of orgasm on the eye are well-known and have been associated with other ocular pathology, including angle closure glaucoma [damage to the optic nerve due pressure build up]," the report concluded.

"Prior to ejaculation, retinal vascular tone decreases, allowing vessels to dilate and become engorged."

Thankfully for the man his symptoms were only temporary – a follow-up appointment three days later confirmed that his vision had returned to normal.

The paper also said this case illustrated why it is important to obtain a full sexual history from patients.

 

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Robert Mugabe Steps Down as Zimbabwe's Leader after 37 years


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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has resigned, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation's streets.

A letter from Mr Mugabe read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.

The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

The ruling Zanu-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980.

Mr Mnangagwa's sacking earlier this month triggered a political crisis.

It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation.

Mr Mugabe, 93, was until his resignation the world's oldest leader. He had previously refused to quit despite last week's military takeover and days of protests.

According to the constitution his successor should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe.

But Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters news agency that Mr Mnangagwa would be in office "within 48 hours".

Speaking from an undisclosed location earlier on Tuesday, Mr Mnangagwa said he had fled abroad two weeks ago when he learned of a plot to kill him.

A city sings

Driving through Harare, the cheers and the blaring of car horns signalled the end of the Mugabe era.

The man who dominated Zimbabwe for so long has already begun to fade into history here. It is a city singing with the noise of joy.

Exactly a week after the military first moved against President Mugabe, I was standing in parliament as legislators debated the motion to impeach him.

Suddenly, there was cheering.

An usher approached the speaker and handed him a letter. He stood to speak and we strained to hear his words. They were muffled but momentous. Robert Mugabe had resigned.

On the floor of the parliament I met jubilant MPs. Some danced. Celebrations spilled into the hallways and out into the street.

A people who endured white minority rule and then saw their independence become tyranny found themselves suddenly free.

'Let him rest in his last days'

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Mugabe's resignation "provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule".

She said that former colonial power Britain, "as Zimbabwe's oldest friend", will do all it can to support free and fair elections and the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a "new trajectory" that would include free and fair elections. He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to "go and rest for his last days".

In other reaction:

The US Embassy in Harare, the capital, said it was a "historic moment" and congratulated Zimbabweans who "raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue"

South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the move, saying Mr Mugabe had turned from "liberator to dictator"

Prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: "We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny"

Civil society group the Platform for Concerned Citizens called for dialogue between all political parties, which it said should lead to the formation of a national transitional authority

Robert Mugabe won elections during his 37 years in power, but over the past 15 years these were marred by violence against political opponents.

He presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people are on average 15% poorer now than they were in 1980.

However, Mr Mugabe was not forced out after decades in power by a popular mass movement but rather as a result of political splits within his Zanu-PF party.

The leader of the influential liberation war veterans - former allies of Mr Mugabe - said after the army takeover that Mr Mugabe was a "dictator", who "as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife".

Both he and Grace, 52, are believed to be at a mansion in Harare.

"We are just so happy that things are finally going to change," Togo Ndhlalambi, a hairdresser, told the AFP news agency.

"I am the happiest person under the sun right now, because I always believed that Mugabe was going to step down in my lifetime and it has happened," human rights activist Linda Masarira told the BBC.

"And now going forward it's time for the opposition to reorganise and ensure that we will have a government that cares for the people. And everyone has to be included."

1924: Born in Kutama

1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government

1980: Wins post-independence elections

1996: Marries Grace Marufu

2000: Loses referendum, pro-Mugabe militias invade white-owned farms and attack opposition supporters

2008: Comes second in first round of elections to Morgan Tsvangirai who pulls out of run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters

2009: Amid economic collapse, swears in Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years

2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him. Army intervenes and forces him to step down

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Nigerian Migrants Sold into Slavery in Libya


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Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- "Eight hundred," says the auctioneer. "900 ... 1,000 ... 1,100 ..." Sold. For 1,200 Libyan dinars -- the equivalent of $800.

Not a used car, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not "merchandise" at all, but two human beings.

One of the unidentified men being sold in the grainy cell phone video obtained by CNN is Nigerian. He appears to be in his twenties and is wearing a pale shirt and sweatpants.

He has been offered up for sale as one of a group of "big strong boys for farm work," according to the auctioneer, who remains off camera. Only his hand -- resting proprietorially on the man's shoulder -- is visible in the brief clip.

After seeing footage of this slave auction, CNN worked to verify its authenticity and traveled to Libya to investigate further.

Carrying concealed cameras into a property outside the capital of Tripoli last month, we witness a dozen people go "under the hammer" in the space of six or seven minutes.

"Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig," the salesman, dressed in camouflage gear, says. "What am I bid, what am I bid?"

Buyers raise their hands as the price rises, "500, 550, 600, 650 ..." Within minutes it is all over and the men, utterly resigned to their fate, are being handed over to their new "masters."

After the auction, we met two of the men who had been sold. They were so traumatized by what they'd been through that they could not speak, and so scared that they were suspicious of everyone they met.

Crackdown on smugglers

Each year, tens of thousands of people pour across Libya's borders. They're refugees fleeing conflict or economic migrants in search of better opportunities in Europe.

Most have sold everything they own to finance the journey through Libya to the coast and the gateway to the Mediterranean.

But a recent clampdown by the Libyan coastguard means fewer boats are making it out to sea, leaving the smugglers with a backlog of would-be passengers on their hands.

So the smugglers become masters, the migrants and refugees become slaves.

The evidence filmed by CNN has now been handed over to the Libyan authorities, who have promised to launch an investigation.

First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the government's Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tripoli told CNN that although he had not witnessed a slave auction, he acknowledged that organized gangs are operating smuggling rings in the country.

"They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it," Hazam says. "(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea."

"The situation is dire," Mohammed Abdiker, the director of operation and emergencies for the International Organization for Migration, said in a statementafter returning from Tripoli in April. "Some reports are truly horrifying and the latest reports of 'slave markets' for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages."

The auctions take place in a seemingly normal town in Libya filled with people leading regular lives. Children play in the street; people go to work, talk to friends and cook dinners for their families.

But inside the slave auctions, it's like we've stepped back in time. The only thing missing is the shackles around the migrants' wrists and ankles.

Deportation 'back to square one'

Anes Alazabi is a supervisor at a detention center in Tripoli for migrants that are due to be deported. He says he's heard "a lot of stories" about the abuse carried out by smugglers.

"I'm suffering for them. What I have seen here daily, believe me, it makes me feel pain for them," he says. "Every day I can hear a new story from people. You have to listen to all of them. It's their right to deliver their voices."

One of the detained migrants, a young man named Victory, says he was sold at a slave auction. Tired of the rampant corruption in Nigeria's Edo state, the 21-year-old fled home and spent a year and four months -- and his life savings -- trying to reach Europe.

He made it as far as Libya, where he says he and other would-be migrants were held in grim living conditions, deprived of food, abused and mistreated by their captors.

"If you look at most of the people here, if you check your bodies, you see the marks. They are beaten, mutilated."

When his funds ran out, Victory was sold as a day laborer by his smugglers, who told him that the profit made from the transactions would serve to reduce his debt. But after weeks of being forced to work, Victory was told the money he'd been bought for wasn't enough. He was returned to his smugglers, only to be re-sold several more times.

"I spent a million-plus [Nigerian naira, or $2,780]," he tells CNN from the detention center, where he is waiting to be sent back to Nigeria. "My mother even went to a couple villages, borrowing money from different couriers to save my life."

As the route through north Africa becomes increasingly fraught, many migrants have relinquished their dreams of ever reaching European shores. This year, more than 8,800 individuals have opted to voluntarily return home on repatriation flights organized by the IOM.

While many of his friends from Nigeria have made it to Europe, Victory is resigned to returning home empty-handed.

"I could not make it, but I thank God for the life of those that make it," he says.

"I'm not happy," he adds. "I go back and start back from square one. It's very painful. Very painful."

 

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Robert Mugabe: End of a Tyrant?


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After 37 years in power, the curtain is surely closing on Robert Mugabe's long reign as president of Zimbabwe. Today, although they insisted that they were not carrying out a coup, the military generals effectively took control of state power.

This came just two days after the top military leader, General Constantino Chiwenga issued a statement that was highly critical of the Mugabe regime declaring that it had failed. The statement told Mugabe that he had lost control of the ruling party and government and ominously warned that the military would not hesitate to step in and take "drastic measures".

The general's statement was prompted by last week's controversial sacking of Mugabe's vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was previously considered the leading contender to succeed the 93-year old president upon retirement. Mnangagwa has a close relationship with some members of the military, which is why they came to his defence following his sacking. It was Mnangagwa's expulsion that brought the confrontation between Mugabe and the military.

However, Mnangagwa and Mugabe were not always enemies. Mnangagwa, the younger man in the relationship, had served loyally Mugabe for a very long time, first as a special assistant during the war to liberate Zimbabwe, which Mugabe led in the 1970s, and later as a minister and vice president in independent Zimbabwe.

Before his sacking he was one of the only two ministers in the government who had been in Mugabe's cabinet since 1980. Mnangagwa was Mugabe's enforcer, carrying out the more unpleasant tasks, first as state security minister, then as justice minister and as vice president. In the ruling ZANU-PF party, Mnangagwa was, for a long time, in charge of party finances. He was known to be loyal to Mugabe. So how then did the two men fall out?

Mugabe's young wife, Grace, developed her own ambitions to succeed him. This placed her into direct conflict with Mnangagwa, who had waited in the wings for a long time, hoping that one day he would succeed his boss.

For his part, Mugabe was faced with a choice between his wife and his long-time lieutenant. He chose his wife, which immediately brought him into conflict with his subordinate. A bad situation only got worse when Mugabe fired Mnangagwa last week.

This type of military intervention is not new and Mugabe has no right to complain.

 

This came after Mnangagwa had been humiliated by his wife. When Grace became aggressive and treated Mnangagwa with contempt, Mugabe did not restrain her. Instead, he backed her and also attacked Mnangagwa before he fired him. This escalated the crisis.

Ironically, it is this move to sack Mnangagwa that has boomeranged on Mugabe and now threatens to cause an ignominious end to his long and controversial political career. His top military general, Chiwenga, has chosen his subordinate ahead of him.

It is yet another instance of the military intervening in civilian politics, although this is prohibited by the constitution. However, this type of military intervention is not new and Mugabe has no right to complain. The difference is that this intervention is against Mugabe. In the past it has favoured him.

For example, back in 2002, the military generals took a political position to support Mugabe while prejudicing his bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai, whom they regarded as lacking liberation credentials. This was repeated in the following elections. In the aftermath of Tsvangirai's victory in 2008, the military also intervened, ensuring that Mugabe recovered lost ground through a brutal campaign especially in the rural areas. This allowed him to keep power against all odds.

So the irony is that while Mugabe has survived by virtue of the backing he has received from the military and he is now on the verge of losing power pressured by the very same military.

In a normal society, people would be outraged by a military takeover. But Zimbabwe at the moment is far from normality. Zimbabweans have had to carry the burden of misrule from the Mugabe regime since 1980. They have been violated and frustrated. Their efforts to change government and try new approaches have been foiled. In recent years, even the once vibrant opposition has become tired and started squabbling due to fatigue and frustration.

It seemed like Mugabe would stay in power till death. Social and economic conditions have not been improving. They have only been getting worse. The country has no national currency and of late, there have been serious cash shortages. Unemployment is more than 90 percent. Most young people have one ambition: to leave the country as soon as they can.

In these conditions, people have said any change, whichever way it comes, is good. This is why most Zimbabweans seem to have welcomed the military intervention. It is not because they like military rule. Rather, it is because it is a form of change from the one man rule system which was threatening to become dynastic rule. The mantra has been: anything but Mugabe. That there may be problems with military rule is not an immediate concern. It's something they are prepared to confront as it comes.

And what now for Mugabe? There will be negotiations aimed at giving him a dignified exit. As for his wife, she may only be spared out of deference to Mugabe. But what happens to her after Mugabe's departure is anybody's guess. She made far too many enemies during her short political career. Her allies in her faction will also pay the price for their conduct. They also became haughty and arrogant. They celebrated too soon, well before the war was over.

The succession race was brutal and caused bad blood between the factions. Now however, they are detained. It's important of course that they be treated humanely and that they get due process in line with the constitution. But the faction that is now in power will most likely choose vengeance, making sure that the losing faction is totally and completely annihilated.

As for the victors, their challenge is multi-faced: they must ensure the restoration of the constitutional order, they must heal a divided party and nation, they must create an environment that will bring back the country to a free democracy, they ought to work on mending international relations especially with the West and uppermost in the minds of most people, they must fix the economy.

This is a mammoth task and they will do well to harness the pool of talent that is at the country's disposal. Zimbabwe has opened a new, if uncertain chapter. It will need all the help it can get from its friends.

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An Ancient Tradition Of Dancing With Dead Relatives is Helping Spread Deadly a Plaque in Madagascar


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RELATIVES dancing with the corpses of their loved ones are helping to spread the plague, officials have warned.

Madagascans have been told to stop the traditional practice of Famadihana, which sees locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are reburied, The Sun reports.

It is feared the ceremony has helped spread an outbreak of pneumonic plague that has left more than 120 dead on the African island.

Travellers have been warned about the spread of the killer plague, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urging Australians to speak to their doctor before travelling to Madagascar. It also warns the plague outbreak is restricting people from accessing the Seychelles from Madagascar.

But the ancient practice of Famadihana, which has been translated to the “turning of the bones”, is creating fresh concerns in Madagascar.

The country’s health chief Willy Randriamarotia said: “If a person dies of pneumonic plague and is then interred in a tomb that is subsequently opened for a Famadihana, the bacteria can still be transmitted and contaminate whoever handles the body.”

The tradition has been banned since the plague outbreak began, but it is feared ceremonies have taken place regardless.

Some locals are openly dismissing the advice.

“I have participated in as least 15 Famadihana ceremonies and I’ve never caught the plague,” one person said.

The latest warning came as British aid workers said the epidemic would get worse before it got better.

“The epidemic is ahead of us, we have not yet reached the peak,” Olivier Le Guillou of Action Against Hunger said.

As many as 50 aid workers are believed to have been among the 1200 people infected with the more dangerous airborne pneumonic strain of the disease.

Warnings have been issued for nine countries surrounding Madagascar amid fears the disease could spread via sea trade and flight routes.

Those countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Reunion, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros.

The medieval disease notoriously wiped out one third of Europe’s population in the 13th and 14th centuries in one of the most devastating pandemics in human history known as the Black Death.

Dr Ashok Chopra, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas, told The Sun Online the crisis in Madagascar had yet to peak.

He warned it was possible for the deadly plague to move further into the region given the regular flights going in and out of the country.

“If they are travelling shorter distances and they’re still in the incubation period, and they have the pneumonic (form) then they could spread it to other places,” Dr Chopra said.

“We don’t want to have a situation where the disease spreads so fast it sort of gets out of control.”

WHAT IS THE PLAGUE?

Plague is an infectious disease caused by bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas.

It has an extremely high fatality rate and is very infectious, although it can be treated by antibiotics if it’s caught early.

There are three forms of plague infection: pneumonic plague, septicaemic plague and bubonic plague, the most common form.

Bubonic plague was known as the Black Death in medieval Europe, where an outbreak brought entire civilisations to their knees and decimated the world’s population.

Black Death is spread through the bite of infected fleas, whereas pneumonic plague, the most contagious form, develops after a bubonic infection.

Pneumonic infections can then be spread through the air, while septicaemic plague occurs when infection spreads through the bloodstream.

The three different types of plague all refer to different ways the disease can be spread.

In bubonic infections, plague-causing bacteria can be transmitted between animals and fleas, with infected fleas then passing the disease on to people through bites.

Infected people may then develop pneumonic plague once their bubonic infection becomes advanced.

Lung-based pneumonic plague can then sometimes be transmitted through the air between sufferers.

Following a pneumonic or bubonic infection, people can then develop septicaemic plague, which occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream.

The World Health Organisation describes plague symptoms as “flu like”, with one to seven days between incubation and the symptoms emerging.

Sufferers are likely to have painful lymph nodes, chills, fever, headaches, weakness and fatigue.

In bubonic sufferers, these inflamed lymph nodes may end up turning into pus-filled open sores.

Bubonic plague is fatal in 30 to 60 per cent of cases, while the pneumonic kind is always fatal, if left untreated.

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Man Charged with Visa Fraud at US Airport


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Disturbing images allegedly found on a Nigerian man's cellphone ended up giving him a major travel delay.

Taiwo Saka was charged with visa fraud Thursday after JFK airport customs officers earlier this month spotted what looked to be child pornography and videos of terrorist beheadings on his cellphone.

Saka, 41, wasn't charged in connection to the images, but pleaded not guilty on the visa fraud count filed against him in Brooklyn federal court.

Saka arrived at JFK from Lagos with a Nigerian passport, by way of Casablanca. Customs officers said they found the troubling images when Saka agreed to a phone search, according to court papers.

They dug into his visa application and found fishy similarities with visa applications the State Department had rejected back in Lagos, said the arrest complaint.

He said he was a logistics manager with a Nigerian oil and gas company who was coming here for an executive training course.

Those failed applications also used the same chestnut about someone being a logistics manager at an oil and gas company, said the papers.

They all listed the same U.S. contact as Saka's contact, and they all listed a person having a work phone identical to Saka's — except they worked for a different company.

 

Once authorities read Saka his rights, he said his training was cancelled for budget reasons. Still, he wanted to come to the states for the nine-day trip anyway, said court papers. Authorities then looked through Saka's texts messages, where they found someone telling him what he should say to get past customs.

Saka's lawyer, Michael Weil, declined to comment after Saka's arraignment.

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Nigerian Man Accused of Flying from JFK to LA With Invalid Boarding Pass


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Federal agents have arrested a Nigerian man after he successfully flew from New York to Los Angeles, and tried to fly from there to Atlanta, without having a valid boarding pass for either flight.

Investigators say Olajide Noibi boarded a Virgin America flight that left John F. Kennedy Airport last Friday.

Neither the airline nor the Transportation Security Administration noticed that his ID -- a University of Michigan student card -- did not match the name on his boarding pass. While the plane was in the air, flight attendants became suspicious because Noibi was sitting in a seat that the passenger list indicated was empty.

Noibi handed them a boarding pass that was for a flight the day before. Investigators say he told them he had missed that flight.

The flight crew then realized that his name didn't match the name on the boarding pass and that he was not on the passenger list. An FBI agent later discovered that the boarding pass Noibi presented had been printed out by a New York man who lost it in the subway on his way to Kennedy Airport for that same flight.

Virgin America said in a statement that it was working with the FBI in the investigation into how Noibi passed TSA screening at JFK and boarded with an erroneous boarding pass.

"The airline maintains security and other screening systems in place to prevent such an occurrence, however in this case it appears staff may have missed an alert when the passenger presented a boarding pass from a prior flight," Virgin said.

Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says FBI Agent Kevin R. Hogg met the flight from New York and detained and questioned Noibi before letting him go. "He wasn't arrested at that time. Beyond traveling without a ticket there was no immediate threat," Eimiller said.

An FBI agent then arrested him on Wednesday when he tried to board a Delta flight to Atlanta. The agent said Noibi had at least 10 other boarding passes in one of his bags -- none of them in his own name.

Eimiller said Noibi is in custody pending a 10:30 a.m. hearing Friday in Los Angeles. Noibi has been charged with being a stowaway.

The TSA said in a statement that it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but pointed out that the passenger had gone through security screening.

A law enforcement official tells NBC New York that the man is not believed to have ties to terrorism, and may have mental problems.

It was not immediately clear whether Noibi had a lawyer.

A family member told NBC New York that Noibi was "not a bad guy" and said he did not know why his nephew had been in New York City.

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Husband Stabs Wife to Death after She Discovers His Stash of Child Porn


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A controlling husband stabbed his wife to death after she discovered his stash of indecent images of a child.

Adam Parkin attacked primary school teacher Julie, 39, with a kitchen knife at their semi-detached home in Sunderland earlier this year.

The 35-year-old knifed her 23 times with a 20cm blade he grabbed from the kitchen, before attempting to murder another person.

Newcastle Crown Court was told how Parkin went to the police station following the attacks and told them: ‘I need the police. I have just killed my wife. ‘I had something beautiful and I have f***ed it up.’

Parkin, who moved to the north east from Nottingham after meeting Julie, also told officers: ‘She was so sad when she found out what I really am, we were going to split.

She said ‘don’t kill yourself’ but I should have done that, I should have killed myself. There’s something wrong with me.’ 

The court heard Julie confronted Parkin about text messages he had sent and indecent images of a child. After discussing their problems, he carried out the brutal attack as Julie sat on a sofa in the living room. She received nine stab wounds to the neck area, three to her chest and eight to her upper back. One of the injuries was so severe the tip of the blade broke off and was left in her skull.

The court heard how Parkin, who married in 2008, was described as ‘controlling’.

Their relationship was described as being ‘in difficulties’ and ‘not entirely happy’.

Explicit child videos were also found by officers on his mobile phone. In a victim impact statement Julie’s mother Patricia Oxley said: ‘The heart has been taken out of our family and left a huge hole where Julie should be.’

During a previous hearing Parkin pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder of the second victim. He also admitted three charges of making indecent photographs of a child, relating to category A, B, and C videos.

Judge Sloan QC sentenced him to life in prison with a minimum of 23 years.

He said: ‘You subjected her to a brutal knife attack. She tried to fight off the blade with her bare hands but to no avail.’

Her family said afterwards: ‘This has been the hardest year of our lives. We still cannot comprehend what has happened or why Adam killed our beautiful girl.

‘For us now, as a family we have to try and figure out how we move on from this. We want to be able to keep  alive in all of our hearts and memories.’

DCI Lisa Theaker, of Northumbria Police, added: ‘Julie Parkin’s family have shown tremendous courage and dignity throughout this investigation. ‘I cannot even begin to imagine what they have been going through since Julie’s life was so tragically and brutally cut short.

‘His violent, cowardly and senseless actions on the 26th of June will affect her children, family and friends for the rest of their lives.’

 

 

 

 

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Former US President Barack Obama Has Been Called up for Jury Duty


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Donald Trump’s predecessor will serve on a jury in Chicago. Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans told county commissioners during a budget hearing on Friday that Mr Obama, who owns homes in Washington, DC and Chicago’s Kenwood neighbourhood, will serve in November.

The ex-POTUS is registered to vote in Chicago. Mr Evans said Mr Obama’s safety will be ‘uppermost in our minds’ when he serves. Those called can be put either in the pool for criminal case or civil hearings

They can be called to any of the county’s Chicago or suburban courthouses. All jurors watch a decades-old video about their duties narrated by a mustachioed Lester Holt, once a local news reader and now anchor of NBC Nightly News. Jurors in Cook County are paid 17.20 US dollars (£13.10) for each day of service.

 

 

 

 

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Man Dies Violently During Church Deliverance


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Man Dies Violently During Church Deliverance

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Young Man with Well Formed Female Breasts


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Young Man with Well Formed Female Breasts

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That Weird Cat-Like Creature with a Human Head is NOT REAL, Police Say


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You might have seen some pretty strange footage of a hairless cat-like creature with a human head floating around the internet over the past few days. Well – surprise surprise – it’s fake, and a police force have actually confirmed it.

The creature was reportedly found in Malaysia and featured claws, fangs and cat-like limbs, however it seemed to have a distinctive human-shaped head. In footage and photos of the creature it always seems to have its eyes closed, and for some reason only moves when it’s in someone’s hands… which isn’t suspicious at all.

Datuk Rosli Abdul Rahman, chief of police in Pahang, western Malaysia, said: ‘Checks revealed the images were downloaded from the internet before it was shared on social media, claiming that the discovery was made in Pahang. ‘I hope the public will stop circulating news about the alleged discovery.’

 

 

 

 

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