Philippine capital to recycle tons of litter in post-election cleanup

Philippine capital to recycle tons of litter in post-election cleanup
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Police officers prepare to block demonstrators from marching near the Philippine International Convention Center during a rally on Friday in Metro Manila. (Reuters)
Residents pass by election campaign posters near a polling center in Manila, Philippines on Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP)
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Residents pass by election campaign posters near a polling center in Manila, Philippines on Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 14 May 2022

Philippine capital to recycle tons of litter in post-election cleanup

Residents pass by election campaign posters near a polling center in Manila, Philippines on Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP)
  • In Metro Manila, authorities are collecting up to 20 tons of election litter a day
  • Administration teams up with a zero-waste advocacy group to turn trash into ecobricks, ecobags

MANILA: Metro Manila is going to recycle tons of campaign posters and election paraphernalia, the administration said on Friday, as a cleanup campaign got underway in the Philippine capital region after the recent vote.

Tens of millions of Filipinos cast their ballots on Monday to elect a new president, vice president, around 300 lawmakers, and 18,000 local government officials, including provincial governors and town mayors.

The election period has left the streets of Philippine cities littered with campaign materials — both paper and plastic. In Metro Manila alone, authorities have been collecting tons of election litter a day.

FASTFACT

Tens of millions of Filipinos cast their ballots on Monday to elect a new president, vice president, around 300 lawmakers, and 18,000 local government officials, including provincial governors and town mayors.

“We have already collected a lot of campaign materials. In one day, we get to collect around 18 to 20 tons of campaign paraphernalia,” Metro Manila Development Authority chair Romando Artes told reporters on Friday.

For the cleanup, the development authority teamed up with the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero-waste advocacy group.

“The EcoWaste Coalition met with our personnel the other day so they can make ecobags out of the thick and good quality tarpaulins. The thin ones that can’t be turned into eco-bags, we will take them to our waste granulator. They will be ground and used as materials to make hollow blocks and ecobricks that will be used in the pocket parks we are developing in Metro Manila.”

The EcoWaste Coalition has been calling on candidates who contested the election to help prevent the paper and plastic waste generated by their campaigning from ending up in landfills, furnaces, or the ocean.

“Dumping and burning campaign materials will be a huge waste of resources,” Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator, said in a statement on Thursday. “It will further result in environmental pollution.”

At an event in Quezon City, the group showed how paper-based campaign materials could be reused and turned into notepads and other stationery. Plastic posters were turned into book and notebook covers.


In latest US violence, gunman kills 1 worshipper, wounds 5 at California church

In latest US violence, gunman kills 1 worshipper, wounds 5 at California church
Updated 16 May 2022

In latest US violence, gunman kills 1 worshipper, wounds 5 at California church

In latest US violence, gunman kills 1 worshipper, wounds 5 at California church
  • Most of those inside the church were senior citizens of Taiwanese descent, says official
  • The violence came a day after  a gunman killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York

LAGUNA WOODS, California: One person was killed and four others were critically wounded in a shooting Sunday afternoon at a Presbyterian church in a suburban Southern California community where the majority of residents are seniors, officials said. A suspect was in custody.
The shooting was reported shortly before 1:30 p.m. at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.
A fifth injured person suffered minor injuries, officials said. All the victims were adults.
Deputies detained a suspect, an adult male, and recovered a weapon at the scene, officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear where inside the church the shooting happened.
About 30 people witnessed the violence, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson. The majority of those inside the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent, Braun said.
Investigators were looking at many factors, including whether the bloodshed could be a hate crime and whether the gunman was known to the church community, she said.
More details were expected from a sheriff’s department news conference scheduled for 5 p.m.
Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the scene. The FBI was also sending agents to the scene to assist the sheriff.
Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80 percent of residents in the city of 18,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.
“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the tweet said.
The incident occurred in an area with a cluster of houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.
On its website, Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as “to remember, tell, and live the way of Jesus by being just, kind, and humble.”
“All are welcome here. Really, we mean that! … Geneva aspires to be an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving and serving together.”
The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
“This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” said US Rep Katie Porter, whose district includes Laguna Woods. “This should not be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.”


Somali lawmakers elect president voted out 5 years ago

Somali lawmakers elect president voted out 5 years ago
Updated 16 May 2022

Somali lawmakers elect president voted out 5 years ago

Somali lawmakers elect president voted out 5 years ago
  • Hassan Sheikh Mohamud served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017,
  • Mohamud succeeds Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, whose mandate expired in February 2021

MOGADISHU, Somalia: A former Somali president voted out of power in 2017 has been returned to the nation’s top office after defeating the incumbent leader in a protracted contest decided by legislators in a third round of voting late Sunday.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, won the contest in the capital, Mogadishu, amid a security lockdown imposed by authorities to prevent deadly militant attacks.
The first round of voting was contested by 36 aspirants, four of whom proceeded to the second round. With no candidate winning at least two-thirds of the 328 ballots, voting then went into a third round where a simple majority was enough to pick the winner.
Members of the upper and lower legislative chambers picked the president in secret balloting inside a tent in an airport hangar within the Halane military camp, which is protected by African Union peacekeepers. Mohamud’s election ended a long-delayed electoral process that had raised political tensions — and heightened insecurity concerns — after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s mandate expired in February 2021 without a successor in place.
Mohamed and Mohamud sat side-by-side Sunday, watching calmly as the ballots were counted. Celebratory gunfire rang out in parts of Mogadishu as it became clear that Mohamud had defeated the man who replaced him.
Mohamed conceded defeat, and Mohamud was immediately sworn in.
The 66-year-old Mohamud is the leader of the Union for Peace and Development party, which commands a majority of seats in both legislative chambers. He also is well-known for his work as a civic leader and education promoter, including for his role as one of the founders of Mogadishu’s SIMAD University.
The Somali government under Mohamed faced a May 17 deadline to hold the vote or risk losing funding from international partners.
Mohamed — who is also known as Farmaajo because of his appetite for Italian cheese — said on Twitter while voting was underway that it was “a great honor to lead” Somalia.
For Mohamed and his supporters, Sunday’s loss will be disappointing after he rose to power in 2017 as a symbol of a Somali diaspora eager to see the country prosper after years of turmoil. Mohamed leaves behind a country even more volatile than he found it, with a reported rift in the security services and the constant drumbeat of Al-Shabab attacks.
Analysts had predicted that Mohamed would face an uphill battle to be reelected. No sitting president has ever been elected to two consecutive terms in this Horn of Africa nation, where rival clans fight intensely for political power. In winning the vote, however, Mohamud overcame the odds as no former president had ever launched a successful return to the office.
A member of the Hawiye clan, one of Somalia’s largest, Mohamud is regarded by some as a statesman with a conciliatory approach. Many Somalis hope Mohamud can unite the country together after years of divisive clan tensions but also take firm charge of a federal government with little control beyond Mogadishu. Mohamud promised during campaigns that his government would be inclusive, acknowledging the mistakes of his previous government that faced multiple corruption allegations and was seen as aloof to the concerns of rival groups.
The new president “will get an opportunity to heal a nation in desperate need of peace and stability,” said Mogadishu resident Khadra Dualeh. “The country doesn’t need celebrations; we did that for Farmaajo. Enough celebration. We need prayer, being sober and planning how to rebuild the country.”
Al-Shabab, which has ties with Al-Qaeda, has made territorial gains against the federal government in recent months, reversing the gains of African Union peacekeepers who once had pushed the militants into remote areas of the country.
But Al-Shabab is threatening Mogadishu with repeated assaults on hotels and other public areas. Despite the lockdown, explosions were heard near the airport area as legislators gathered to elect the president.
To discourage extremist violence from disrupting the elections, Somali police put Mogadishu, the scene of regular attacks by the Islamic rebel group Al-Shabab, under a lockdown that started at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Most residents are staying indoors until the lockdown lifts on Monday morning.
The goal of a direct, one-person-one-vote election in Somalia, a country of about 16 million people, remains elusive largely because of the widespread extremist violence. Authorities had planned a direct election this time but, instead, the federal government and states agreed on another “indirect election,” via lawmakers elected by community leaders — delegates of powerful clans — in each member state.
Despite its persistent insecurity, Somalia has had peaceful changes of leadership every four or so years since 2000, and it has the distinction of having Africa’s first democratically elected president to peacefully step down, Aden Abdulle Osman in 1967.
Mohamed’s four-year term expired in February 2021, but he stayed in office after the lower house of parliament approved a two-year extension of his mandate and that of the federal government, drawing fury from Senate leaders and criticism from the international community.
The poll delay triggered an exchange of gunfire in April 2021 between soldiers loyal to the government and others angry over what they saw as the president’s unlawful extension of his mandate.
Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Years of conflict and Al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, have shattered the country which has a long, strategic coastline by the Indian Ocean.


Crisis-hit Sri Lanka lifts curfew for Buddhist holiday

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka lifts curfew for Buddhist holiday
Updated 15 May 2022

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka lifts curfew for Buddhist holiday

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka lifts curfew for Buddhist holiday
  • Restrictions were imposed on May 9 after peaceful protests turned violent

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities on Sunday fully lifted a nationwide curfew to mark the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, offering the people a chance to celebrate as the nation weathers its economic and political crisis. 

The curfew was imposed on May 9 after once-peaceful protests turned violent, killing at least nine people and injuring hundreds others. The violence was followed with Mahinda Rajapaksa resigning from his premiership, leaving his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to rule on as president. 

For over a month, protesters have crowded the streets demanding the president’s resignation, as the country of 22 million suffers from increasing shortages of food, fuel and medicines, along with record inflation and lengthy blackouts.  

Buildings across the Buddhist-majority country were flying the multi-colored Buddhist flags on Sunday, while residents visited temples clad in all white to celebrate the day that commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.

The government announced it was lifting the curfew for Vesak without saying when or whether it would be reimposed. Sri Lankans also got to enjoy the day without power cuts. 

“This Vesak, we are able to see the traditional almsgiving centers, pandals (bamboo stages), Vesak lanterns and oil lamps illuminations that will boost the spiritual morale of the people,” the Rev. Udawela Kolitha Thera, deputy chief of the Walukarama Temple in Colombo, told Arab News. 

Sri Lanka has been unable to celebrate Vesak properly in the last couple of years due to the pandemic and, in 2019, the Easter Sunday attacks, which also dampened celebrations.

Though events planned for this year have been scaled down due to political instability and the deepening economic crisis, worshippers still welcomed the chance of a respite. 

“We are really excited to celebrate Vesak this year with added enthusiasm,” Colombo-based Kelum Bandara, who works at a leading publishing house in the capital, told Arab News. 

“We will celebrate in a low-key form because of the current economic crisis and the ongoing protests against the government.”

“Sri Lanka was enveloped in spiritual fervor as the island nation celebrated yet another Vesak,” Colombo-based journalist Chaminda Perera told Arab News. 

Newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was premier five times previously and never completed a full term, made his first Cabinet appointments on Saturday — all members of Rajapaksas’ party. 

The new appointments have failed to appease Sri Lankan protesters who want the Rajapaksas, the nation’s most influential political dynasty, removed from the nation’s politics.  

The ruling family faces accusations of corruption and mishandling of the economy, as Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

Opposition parties have refused to join any new government unless the president steps down first.


Malaysia FM holds talks with counterpart from Myanmar shadow government

Malaysia FM holds talks with counterpart from Myanmar shadow government
Updated 15 May 2022

Malaysia FM holds talks with counterpart from Myanmar shadow government

Malaysia FM holds talks with counterpart from Myanmar shadow government
  • Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, however, denounced reports of engagements in Washington between the US State Department and NUG officials

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah met his counterpart from Myanmar’s National Unity Government, a shadow administration outlawed by the ruling military junta, in the group’s first open engagement with a Southeast Asian country.

The meeting, disclosed by Saifuddin in a Twitter post, was held on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Washington between the US and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which excluded Myanmar’s leader over a military coup last year.

Myanmar has repeatedly called on countries not to engage with the shadow administration, and other military opponents that the junta has labeled as “terrorists.”

In his Twitter post, Saifuddin said Malaysia “stands ready to work toward restoring peace and democracy in Myanmar” during an informal meeting with Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister of the shadow administration.

“We took the opportunity to exchange views on latest developments in Myanmar, where Minister Zin shared insights as well as challenges faced by NUG, including humanitarian assistance, technical training and education for the Myanmar refugees,” he said.

Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, however, denounced reports of engagements in Washington between the US State Department and NUG officials, and said it had sent protest notes to all ASEAN countries and the US asking them to refrain from talking to the opposition government.

The ministry also said it rejected a paragraph contained in a 28-page joint statement released by the US and ASEAN, which had called for the timely implementation of a five-point peace plan agreed to by Myanmar.

The ministry said the language used in the paragraph suggested interference in Myanmar’s domestic affairs and included references to matters within its sovereign jurisdiction, “including unacceptable proposals that go beyond the Five Point Consensus.”


Buffalo mass shooter called for death of London’s Muslim mayor

Buffalo mass shooter called for death of London’s Muslim mayor
Updated 15 May 2022

Buffalo mass shooter called for death of London’s Muslim mayor

Buffalo mass shooter called for death of London’s Muslim mayor
  • Payton Gendron’s manifesto listed 3 “high-profile enemies” for assassination
  • He described Sadiq Khan as a “Pakistani Muslim invader”

LONDON: The killer who shot dead 10 people in a US supermarket on Saturday called for the death of London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Mirror has reported.

Payton Gendron, 18, penned a manifesto in which he listed “high-profile enemies,” calling for their assassination.

The list included Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Khan.

Gendron wrote that the mayor is “an open sign of the disenfranchisement and ethnic replacement of the British people in the British isles.

“This Pakistani Muslim invader now sits as representative for the people of London. Londinium, the very heart of the British isles. What better sign of the white rebirth than the removal of this invader?”

Last week, Khan spent five days in the US on a visit to promote tourism.

Gendron traveled two hours to the site of the attack in Buffalo, New York state. He wore body armor and livestreamed the ensuing violence online.