Category Archives: Sports

Politics Aside, Algeria Faces Huge Economic Challenge

PARIS The tens of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets for an eighth straight week aren’t the only crisis roiling Algeria. Helping to drive the unrest in Africa’s largest nation�and posing a serious challenge to any future government� is the economy.

Two months of mass demonstrations continued Friday, as Algerians pushed for a broader overhaul of the country’s system, despite elections set for July 4 by newly appointed interim leader, Abdelkader Bensalah. The protests have been largely peaceful, although there were some clashes reported this time along with scores of arrests, and police used water cannons and teargas in the capital Algiers.

Bensalah, clear off, FLN clear off, protesters chanted, referring to Algeria’s ruling party.

But many are also calling for a fundamental reboot of the country’s ailing, energy dependent economy that has failed to diversify and deliver jobs to its majority-young population. The unrest, in turn, is adding to Algeria’s economic headaches, analysts say.

The economy is not in good shape, said Paris-based Algerian analyst Alexandre Kateb. The protests are the last straw, but the economic problems go deeper than that.

Critics have long accused a power elite surrounding former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika of mismanagement and corruption, arguing a large chunk of the wealth is pocketed by a privileged minority. But for years, Algeria’s oil- and gas-rich economy served as a salve for a restless nation, helping to bankroll housing and other social subsidies.

It may be one explanation, some say�along with the country’s devastating 1990s civil war�why the broader Arab Spring uprising of 2011 failed to take off in Algeria.

Falling oil prices

But plummeting oil prices several years later helped to thin wallets and sharpen grassroots anger. Today, more than one-quarter of people under 25 are unemployed, and many Algerians work in the country’s vast informal sector. Successive governments have failed to privatize and capitalize on promising sectors for development such as tourism and agro-industry.

Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund downgraded the country’s 2019 forecasted growth to 2.3 percent, from a previous 2.7 percent last October.

The main motivation is still political, analyst Kateb said of the protests. But if the economic situation was better, probably the momentum would be less important. We would not have seen the magnitude of the protests that we see now.

In the immediate future, Algeria’s economic woes may take a back seat. Besides the popular uprising at home, the current rulers must also keep an eye on regional hotspots, including neighboring Libya.

From an interim government perspective, it’s just about maintaining stability and avoiding any real crisis beyond where we are at the moment, said Adel Hamaizia, a North Africa expert for London-based think-tank Chatham House.

But whoever comes in really has to finally lead an ambitious economic program,” he added, “which helps Algeria realize its potential, develop an independent private sector, diversify, and attract investment on the correct terms.

Those challenges are daunting. The ruling National Liberation Front or FLN party, in power since independence, has had little incentive to change a status quo that benefited them, many analysts say. Algeria’s business climate has been a turn-off for foreign investors. A case in point: a rule stipulating 51 percent of company shares must be owned by in-country nationals or businesses.

Although energy production continued to chug on during Algeria’s so called black decade of violence in the 1990s, further growth stalled. When he came to power in 1999, Bouteflika was credited for ushering in peace. At the beginning, analyst Kateb said, the former president also tried to reform the economy.

I think he really wanted to give more freedom to entrepreneurs, he really tried to privatize the system, Kateb said, adding subsequent financial scandals and the global financial crisis ended hope for change.

Inertia and bureaucracy

Kateb, who later served as an economic advisor to ex-prime minister Abelmalek Sellal, said subsequent reform efforts also stalled.

If you don’t change the whole functioning of the system, he said, whatever you do at the margins will be completely absorbed by this inertia and black hole of government bureaucracy.

If July elections go through as planned, Algerians will be strongly pushing for economic deliverables.

I’m sure the many of the slogans are going to be centered around anti-corruption, inclusive growth, economic justice, diversification, and job creation, said Hamaizia of Chatham House.

For the moment, there appear few clear candidates to champion such causes. Both the country’s ruling FLN and traditional opposition parties are largely discredited in the eyes of many Algerians.

Earlier this week, however, the interior ministry announced licenses for 10 new political parties, Reuters news agency reported, citing Algeria’s Ennahar TV channel.

Analyst Kateb believes the country needs a technocratic government to steer through needed changes, at least over the next few years.

He believes there is no lack of talent to staff it, both in Algeria and abroad, where thousands of young professionals have flocked in recent decades for lack of opportunities at home.

Now they’re not really considered, Kateb said, and this has to change.

Source: Voice of America

Pope Francis in Morocco on 2-Day Visit

ROME Pope Francis is in Morocco as part of his ongoing effort to advance inter-religious dialogue. It is the first visit by a pope to the predominantly Muslim country in 34 years. Just last month the pope visited the predominantly Muslim United Arab Emirates.

Pope John Paul II was the last head of the Catholic Church to visit Morocco in August 1985. Moroccans are seeing the current visit in a positive way and the message that Pope Francis has for them is that Muslims and Christians can peacefully co-exist.

Ahead of the two-day visit, Pope Francis issued a video message for the Moroccan people. He thanked King Mohammed VI for inviting him and Moroccan authorities for their collaboration in making this visit possible.

Francis said that, following in the footsteps of his holy predecessor, John Paul II, he is coming as a pilgrim of peace and brotherhood, in a world that greatly needs it. Francis added that both Christians and Muslims believe in God who created men and women, and placed them in the world so that they might live as brothers and sisters, respecting each other’s diversity and helping each other in their needs.

Morocco’s population is almost all Muslim, with the local Catholic community consisting of some 23,000 faithful. The majority of them are immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The pope will spend only 27 hours in Morocco but he has a busy schedule. On his first day in Rabat, the pope focuses on inter-faith dialogue and on solidarity with migrants.

He will be visiting the Mohammed VI Institute for the training of imams in what is expected to be a significant moment of his visit. It is the first time a pope is welcomed in a school for imams. This is part of the Moroccan king’s effort against fundamentalism while promoting a moderate approach to Islam.

On Saturday, Pope Francis also will be meeting with migrants at a center run by the Catholic charity Caritas. There are some 50,000 migrants in Morocco and about 4,000 are looked after by Caritas. The issue of migrants is an important one, as Morocco’s proximity to Spain has led many migrants to travel this route to enter Europe.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will visit the Center for Social Services at Temara, just south of Rabat, which used to be a rural school run by Jesuits and is now an important care center for children. The pope will then hold a meeting with religious men and women in Rabat cathedral and lunch with the country’s bishops.

Before returning to the Vatican, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at the city’s Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium. The mass is expected to be attended by at least half the Catholic population in the country.

Source: Voice of America

Should Media Avoid Naming the Gunmen in Mass Shootings?

A few months after teen shooters killed 12 classmates and her father at Columbine High School, Coni Sanders was standing in line at a grocery store with her young daughter when they came face to face with the magazine cover.

It showed the two gunmen who had carried out one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Sanders realized that few people knew much about her father, who saved countless lives. But virtually everyone knew the names and the tiniest of details about the attackers who carried out the carnage.

In the decades since Columbine, a growing movement has urged news organizations to refrain from naming the shooters in mass slayings and to cease the steady drumbeat of biographical information about them. Critics say giving the assailants notoriety offers little to help understand the attacks and instead fuels celebrity-style coverage that only encourages future attacks.

The 1999 Colorado attack continues to motivate mass shooters, including the two men who this week stormed their former school in Brazil, killing seven people.

The gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, killing at least 49 people, was said to have been inspired by the man who in 2015 killed nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama, who has studied the influence of media coverage on future shooters, said it’s vitally important to avoid excessive coverage of gunmen.

A lot of these shooters want to be treated like celebrities. They want to be famous. So the key is to not give them that treatment, he said.

The notion hit close to home for Sanders. Seemingly everywhere she turned � the grocery store, a restaurant, a newspaper or magazine � she would see the faces of the Columbine attackers and hear or read about them. Even in her own home, she was bombarded with their deeds on TV.

Everyone knew their names. And if you said the two together, they automatically knew it was Columbine, Sanders said. The media was so fascinated � and so was our country and the world � that they really grasped onto this every detail. Time and time again, we couldn’t escape it.

Criminologists who study mass shootings say the vast majority of shooters are seeking infamy and soak up the coverage as a guide.

Just four days after the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting, which stands as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Lankford published a paper urging journalists to refrain from using shooters’ names or going into exhaustive detail about their crimes.

These attackers, he argued, are trying to outdo previous shooters with higher death tolls. Media coverage serves only to encourage copycats.

Late last year, the Trump administration’s federal Commission on School Safety called on the media to refrain from reporting the names and photos of mass shooters. It was one of the rare moments when gun-rights advocates and gun-control activists agreed.

To suggest that the media alone is to blame or is primarily at fault for this epidemic of mass shootings would vastly oversimply this issue, said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center, which works to curb gun violence.

Skaggs said he is somewhat sympathetic to journalists’ impulse to cover clearly important and newsworthy events and to get at the truth. … But there’s a balance that can be struck between ensuring the public has enough information … and not giving undue attention to perpetrators of heinous acts.

Studies show a contagion effect from coverage of both homicides and suicides.

The Columbine shooters, in particular, have an almost cult-like status, with some followers seeking to emulate their trench-coat attire and expressing admiration for their crime, which some have attributed to bullying. The gunman in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting kept a detailed journal of decades’ worth of mass shootings.

James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied mass shootings, said naming shooters is not the problem. Instead, he blamed over-the-top coverage that includes irrelevant details about the killers, such as their writings and their backgrounds, that unnecessarily humanizes them.

We sometimes come to know more about them � their interests and their disappointments � than we do about our next-door neighbors, Fox said.

Law enforcement agencies have taken a lead, most recently with the Aurora, Illinois, police chief, who uttered just once the name of the gunman who killed five co-workers and wounded five officers last month.

I said his name one time for the media, and I will never let it cross my lips again, Chief Kristen Ziman said in a Facebook post.

Some media, most notably CNN’s Anderson Cooper, have made a point of avoiding using the name of these gunmen.

The Associated Press names suspects identified by law enforcement in major crimes. However, in cases in which the crime is carried out seeking publicity, the AP strives to restrict the mention of the name to the minimum needed to inform the public, while avoiding descriptions that might serve a criminal’s desire for publicity or self-glorification, said John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president and editor-at-large for standards.

For Caren and Tom Teves, the cause is personal. Their son Alex was among those killed in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012.

They were both traveling out of state when the shooting happened, and it took 15 hours for them to learn the fate of their son. During those hours, they heard repeatedly about the shooter but virtually nothing about the victims.

Not long after, they created the No Notoriety movement, encouraging media to stick to reporting relevant facts rather than the smallest of biographical details. They also recommend publishing images of the shooter in places that are not prominent, steering clear of hero poses or images showing them holding weapons, and not publishing any manifestos.

We never say don’t use the name. What we say is use the name responsibly and don’t turn them into anti-heroes, Tom Teves said. Let’s portray them for what they are: They’re horrible human beings that are completely skewed in their perception of reality, and their one claim to fortune is sneaking up behind you and shooting you.

Source: Voice of America

Should Media Avoid Naming the Gunmen in Mass Shootings?

A few months after teen shooters killed 12 classmates and her father at Columbine High School, Coni Sanders was standing in line at a grocery store with her young daughter when they came face to face with the magazine cover.

It showed the two gunmen who had carried out one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Sanders realized that few people knew much about her father, who saved countless lives. But virtually everyone knew the names and the tiniest of details about the attackers who carried out the carnage.

In the decades since Columbine, a growing movement has urged news organizations to refrain from naming the shooters in mass slayings and to cease the steady drumbeat of biographical information about them. Critics say giving the assailants notoriety offers little to help understand the attacks and instead fuels celebrity-style coverage that only encourages future attacks.

The 1999 Colorado attack continues to motivate mass shooters, including the two men who this week stormed their former school in Brazil, killing seven people.

The gunman who attacked two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, killing at least 49 people, was said to have been inspired by the man who in 2015 killed nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama, who has studied the influence of media coverage on future shooters, said it’s vitally important to avoid excessive coverage of gunmen.

A lot of these shooters want to be treated like celebrities. They want to be famous. So the key is to not give them that treatment, he said.

The notion hit close to home for Sanders. Seemingly everywhere she turned � the grocery store, a restaurant, a newspaper or magazine � she would see the faces of the Columbine attackers and hear or read about them. Even in her own home, she was bombarded with their deeds on TV.

Everyone knew their names. And if you said the two together, they automatically knew it was Columbine, Sanders said. The media was so fascinated � and so was our country and the world � that they really grasped onto this every detail. Time and time again, we couldn’t escape it.

Criminologists who study mass shootings say the vast majority of shooters are seeking infamy and soak up the coverage as a guide.

Just four days after the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting, which stands as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Lankford published a paper urging journalists to refrain from using shooters’ names or going into exhaustive detail about their crimes.

These attackers, he argued, are trying to outdo previous shooters with higher death tolls. Media coverage serves only to encourage copycats.

Late last year, the Trump administration’s federal Commission on School Safety called on the media to refrain from reporting the names and photos of mass shooters. It was one of the rare moments when gun-rights advocates and gun-control activists agreed.

To suggest that the media alone is to blame or is primarily at fault for this epidemic of mass shootings would vastly oversimply this issue, said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center, which works to curb gun violence.

Skaggs said he is somewhat sympathetic to journalists’ impulse to cover clearly important and newsworthy events and to get at the truth. … But there’s a balance that can be struck between ensuring the public has enough information … and not giving undue attention to perpetrators of heinous acts.

Studies show a contagion effect from coverage of both homicides and suicides.

The Columbine shooters, in particular, have an almost cult-like status, with some followers seeking to emulate their trench-coat attire and expressing admiration for their crime, which some have attributed to bullying. The gunman in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting kept a detailed journal of decades’ worth of mass shootings.

James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied mass shootings, said naming shooters is not the problem. Instead, he blamed over-the-top coverage that includes irrelevant details about the killers, such as their writings and their backgrounds, that unnecessarily humanizes them.

We sometimes come to know more about them � their interests and their disappointments � than we do about our next-door neighbors, Fox said.

Law enforcement agencies have taken a lead, most recently with the Aurora, Illinois, police chief, who uttered just once the name of the gunman who killed five co-workers and wounded five officers last month.

I said his name one time for the media, and I will never let it cross my lips again, Chief Kristen Ziman said in a Facebook post.

Some media, most notably CNN’s Anderson Cooper, have made a point of avoiding using the name of these gunmen.

The Associated Press names suspects identified by law enforcement in major crimes. However, in cases in which the crime is carried out seeking publicity, the AP strives to restrict the mention of the name to the minimum needed to inform the public, while avoiding descriptions that might serve a criminal’s desire for publicity or self-glorification, said John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president and editor-at-large for standards.

For Caren and Tom Teves, the cause is personal. Their son Alex was among those killed in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012.

They were both traveling out of state when the shooting happened, and it took 15 hours for them to learn the fate of their son. During those hours, they heard repeatedly about the shooter but virtually nothing about the victims.

Not long after, they created the No Notoriety movement, encouraging media to stick to reporting relevant facts rather than the smallest of biographical details. They also recommend publishing images of the shooter in places that are not prominent, steering clear of hero poses or images showing them holding weapons, and not publishing any manifestos.

We never say don’t use the name. What we say is use the name responsibly and don’t turn them into anti-heroes, Tom Teves said. Let’s portray them for what they are: They’re horrible human beings that are completely skewed in their perception of reality, and their one claim to fortune is sneaking up behind you and shooting you.

Source: Voice of America

1 Dead in DRC Post-Election Violence

At least one person is reported dead after protests over local elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Members of the ruling Union for Democracy and Social Progress party began demonstrating in the streets Friday to voice displeasure at the results of the vote for regional assembly. The election resulted in a majority going to the opposition Common Front for Congo, the party of long-time president Joseph Kabila.

One police officer was reported killed in the province of Kasai-Oriental.

In Kinshasa, protesters are reported to have attacked the headquarters of Kabila’s party.

Kabila left office in January after an election win by the head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, Felix Tshisekedi.

Friday’s results erode the power held by the Tshisekedi government. The new president had promised to break away from the traditions of Kabila’s 18-year rule.

Source: Voice of America