Russia to supply Syria with S-300 defense systems


Moscow will boost Syria’s armaments by sending them powerful S-300 missile defense systems, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said. Moscow claims Israeli jets caused Syrians to shoot down a Russian spy plane.

An S-300 system deployed in Syria (picture alliance/Russian Look/V. Savitsky)

Syrian regime troops will receive S-300 missile defense systems from Russia within the next two weeks, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.

The modernized version of the Soviet-era system “is capable of intercepting aerial attacks at the distance of over 250 kilometers and simultaneously countering several targets,” the minister said.

The move comes after Moscow blamed Israel for indirectly causing the destruction of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane last week. The incident claimed the lives of 15 Russian soldiers.

“We are convinced that these measures will cool down the ‘hot heads’ and keep them from ill-conceived actions threatening out troops,” Shoigu said in his televised address.

Read moreRussia encroaches on US war industry in Middle East

Israel denies responsibility

Russia’s spy plane was shot down over Syria last Monday. Both Russia and its allies from the Syrian regime acknowledge the missiles were fired by the Syrian military, but say the troops had targeted Israeli jets flying sorties in the area.

Moscow has blamed Israel for the loss of life, claiming that Israeli jets used the spy plane as a cover to avoid Syrian fire. Israel admitted bombing targets in Syria before the plane was shot down on Monday. However, they denied any connection with the incident.

Supplying Syrian army with advanced anti-aircraft capabilities is likely to raise the stakes in the volatile region, where Israel and several other countries often conduct bombing attacks.

S-300 delivery ‘not directed’ against Israel

Russian President Vladimir Putin initially sought to deflate tensions with Israel, saying that “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances” caused the Russian plane to be destroyed. On Monday, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the deployment of S-300 was “not directed at any third country.”

At the same time, however, Peskov pointed the finger at Israel when speaking about the destruction of the Russian plane.

“According to the information provided by our military experts, the reasons for this tragedy are premediated actions of Israeli pilots, and that cannot but harm our ties” with Israel, Peskov said.

Time for an upgrade

Syrian military used the outdated S-200 missiles to respond to the Israeli attack. The systems, originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, have no capability to distinguish between friendly and hostile forces. Russian bases in Syria are already protected by the latest, S-400 systems, as well as S-300 also operated by Russian troops.

Watch video25:59

Battle for Idlib: Endgame in Syria?

By delivering a revamped version of the more modern S-300 defense system, Russia seeks to reduce the risk of a similar friendly-fire incident. Moscow will also equip Syria’s anti-aircraft command centers with high-tech systems to improve coordination and monitoring. According to Shoigu, hostile aircraft will also face electronic interference above parts of the Mediterranean in Syrian airspace.

Israel did not immediately comment on the Russian move. Earlier this year, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speculated that giving advanced weapons to Damascus could trigger a response.

“For us, it is important that defensive weaponry which Russia is supplying to Syria, is not used against us,” he told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, according to the Russian translation provided by the Interfax news agency.

“If they are, we will take action against them.”

dj/kms (AP, Reuters, Interfax, AFP)


Outcry as Italy’s Salvini submits draft anti-migrant decree


A decree to hasten expulsions has been adopted by Italy’s populist Cabinet. The bill next goes to parliament for 60 days of debate. Italian bishops have slammed it as a bid to criminalize asylum-seekers.

Italien Innenminister Matteo Salvini (picture-alliance/dpaA. Medichini)

Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, asserted Monday that his bill was a “big step forward” in what he termed the “fight” against migrant arrivals, including greater police powers to “make Italy safer.”

Salvini told the broadcaster La7 his intended decree against “excessive immigration” would save billions of euros, once debated in parliament and signed into law by President Sergio Mattarella.

At a press conference in Rome, he said future asylum bids could be voided if the applicant was declared “socially dangerous.”

Those convicted in the first instance of crimes such as drug dealing or shoplifting would be rejected. “Terrorists” would be stripped of Italian citizenship.

A lower level of residency – humanitarian protection – would be awarded only on six strict criteria, including whether an applicant had survived a natural disaster.

Two weeks ago, UN refugee agency head Filippo Grandi, while visiting Salvini, had urged Italy not to abolish such permits.

Nunzio Galantino, the secretary-general of Italy’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, described Salvini’s bill as a “bad sign” because an immigrant could in the future be prejudged as a public menace irrespective of how he or she behaved.

Italy's Nunzio Galantino (picture-alliance/dpa/EIDON/F. Frustaci )The secretary-general of Italy’s Bishops’ Conference has criticized the proposal for linking crime to refugees

Another flaw was that the bill dealt with both security issues and treatment of migrants, Galantino said.

Criticism had already come from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which since June has governed with Salvini’s far-right Liga Nord [Northern League].

Read moreRescue ship to loose Panama registration

Larger reception centers

Under the proposed decree, most asylum applicants would be kept in bigger so-called SRAR receptions centers.

Only unaccompanied minors and recognized refugees would be distributed across Italy, ostensibly to ease their integration, Salvini said, adding that streamlining would bring Italy into line with other EU countries.

The Interior Minister’s office said migrants due for repatriation could be held for 180 days in government detention centers.

Migrant checked after disembarking boat (Reuters/A. Parrinello)Just over 72,000 migrants reached Italy by sea between January and July, according to the UNHCR

The decree would let police be equipped with Taser stun guns and squatters would be more easily evicted by removing a provisional housing obligation for the most vulnerable.

Salvini on Facebook said Italy would emerge “stronger in the fight against the mafia and [people] smugglers.”

Law would ‘drive refugees underground’

Expanding reception centers would hinder integration and lead instead to more frustration and violence, said Fabiana Musicco, the founder and president of Refugees Welcome Italy.

If parliament passed Salvini’s draft it would be an “alarming step backwards,” she said.

It would drive numerous asylum-seekers underground, said Salvatore Casale, the director of a current reception center at Avvelino, inland from Naples.

The migration research center Fondazione ISMU says Italy examined 23,000 asylum requests in the first quarter of 2018.

More than 61 percent of such applications were rejected; 21 percent of applicants were granted humanitarian protection. Only six percent were given refugee status.

ipj/kms (KNA, dpa, AFP)


Russia, Turkey agree to create demilitarized zone around Syria’s Idlib


Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to forge a demilitarized zone between rebels and Syrian government forces in Syria’s Idlib region.

Syrien Idlib - Zerstörter Marktplatz nach Luftangriff (picture-alliance/AA/A. Sayid)

The presidents of Turkey and Russia agreed on Monday to declare Syria’s Idlib province as a “demilitarized zone,” with the aim of halting the Syrian government’s assault on the rebel-held region.

The agreement marks a major diplomatic victory for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was eager to prevent a major Syrian government assault, backed by Russian air power, on the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria.

What’s in the Idlib deal?

As part of the Russia-Turkey agreement:

  • Both forces will establish a 15 to 20 kilometer (9 to 12.5 mile) wide demilitarized zone around the Idlib province by October 15
  • Radical rebel groups, such as the Al-Nusra Front, will be ordered to leave the region
  • Rebel forces must give up their heavy arms, including tanks and rockets
  • The Syrian government and Russia will gain access to a key highway passing through Idlib that connects the north of the country with other major cities
  • Both Turkish and Russian military troops will patrol the region

Watch video00:24

Putin: ‘There will be a demilitarized zone’

‘A serious result’

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Monday’s deal as a “serious result,” adding that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms.”

Putin also said he believed the agreement would also go some way in ending Syria’s bloody seven-year civil war. “It is our common belief that the practical realization of the planned steps will provide an additional impulse for the process of a political settlement of the Syrian conflict,” he said.

Erdogan said the Idlib buffer zone was crucial to preventing a “big humanitarian crisis.”

The Turkish president added: “Our solidarity on regional issues will give hope to the region. At the moment, I believe, not only our region but also the world is looking at Sochi today.”

Read more: What is Iran’s role in Syria if Assad wins the war?

Infografik Karte Streitkräfte im Idlib-Region Syrien EN

Turkey’s diplomatic win: The creation of a demilitarized zone around Idlib marked a significant U-turn by Putin, who just last week during talks in Iran dismissed Erdogan’s calls for a ceasefire. According to the exiled Syrian opposition, Russia’s decision to abstain from the offensive represented a diplomatic success for Turkey and the United States, who had also warned against further strikes on Idlib.

Bloodbath averted: The threat of a Syrian onslaught on Idlib had prompted several countries, including Germany, to warn of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the region. Despite coming under almost non-stop bombardment for several years, the area is still home to some 3 million Syrians, around 60,000 of whom are believed to be rebel fighters. Turkey also said it feared that an attack on the rebel bastion would trigger a mass exodus across it borders.

Idlib: A ‘hotbed’ for terrorism? The Russian government has repeatedly described Idlib as a “hotbed” for terrorism, even claiming that rebel forces were preparing a chemical attack that would ultimately be blamed on the Syrian regime. Turkey, however, has criticized the Assad government for using the presence of jihadists as pretext for a potential onslaught.

Syria still determined to wipe out Al-Nusra Front: A key part of Monday’s deal appeared to be Turkey agreeing to order the evacuation of Al-Nusra Front forces from Idlib. Earlier on Monday, the Damascus’ ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva indicated that the government would continue its onslaught against the group, which it views as a terrorist organization.

Watch video26:00

Battle for Idlib: Endgame in Syria?

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

dm/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)


Super Typhoon Mangkhut: Alerts issued as huge storm nears Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Countries across east and southeast Asia are issuing emergency alerts and ordering evacuations as two typhoons barrel down on the region.

Around 12,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying parts of China’s Guangdong province and shipping halted ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Barijat Thursday, according to state media.
But the real concern is Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which is still gathering strength as it nears the northern Philippines.
The storm is expected to make landfall on Luzon island Saturday. Current wind speeds are up to 285 kilometers per hour (180 mph), equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane and stronger than Hurricane Florence which is currently lashing the US East Coast.
Satellite images from Wednesday show the comparative sizes of Florence and Mangkhut.

“All things being equal, Mangkhut is a bigger, stronger and more dangerous storm” than Florence, said CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller. “Any land hit directly would see more significant and destructive impacts from the Super Typhoon due to its size and intensity.”
However, he added that the extent of the destruction caused by a hurricane or typhoon depends on what it hits, and the US east coast is “much more populated with significantly more infrastructure to damage.”
“Therefore Florence will almost certainly be a more ‘damaging hurricane’ — but Mangkhut presents a more serious threat to life considering it will hit with stronger winds, over a larger area, and have higher storm surge,” Miller said.
Mangkhut has already torn through Guam and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, causing widespread flooding and power loss, with parts of Guam still without electricity Thursday morning.
Sixteen provinces across Luzon and the Visayas Islands have issued tropical cyclone warningsfor Mangkhut — known as Ompong locally — with the threat level expected to rise, according tothe Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a meeting Thursday of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as the government considers extra emergency procedures ahead of the storm.
Mangkhut is currently on track to be as strong as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead in the Philippines in 2013, though that storm hit a more populated part of the country.
Northern Luzon was also devastated in 2016 by Super Typhoon Haima — known as Lawin locally — with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged, according to CNN Philippines.
The Red Cross said it had put teams on the highest level of alert across the island, warning that high winds and torrential rains could cause widespread damage to islands and coastal areas of Luzon.
“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to the monsoon rains last July and August,” Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippines Red Cross, said in a statement. “We are preparing our emergency assets and relief items. Our staff and volunteers are on high alert for possible deployment.”
The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said it expected a “high humanitarian impact based on the storm strength and the affected population in the past and forecasted path.”
typhoons vs hurricanes chad myers_00000000

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Typhoons vs. hurricanes: What’s the difference? 00:49

‘Widespread damage’ expected

As it passes through the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan, southern parts of that island are also due to suffer the effects of Mangkhut, and officials have put some areas on alert, with the potential to issue more severe warnings.
The worst of the storm will be borne by Hong Kong and Macau however, which are currently in the storm’s path. Per current projections, Mangkhut could be one of the strongest storms to hit Hong Kong in over six decades.
As of early Thursday morning, both cities still had warning signals raised for the comparatively small Typhoon Barijat, as it passed over the Pearl River Delta into mainland China.
Officials in Hong Kong held emergency meetings Wednesday, in which all departments were warned to have “their deployment and emergency response plans ready for the possible threats that may be brought to Hong Kong by Super Typhoon Mangkhut.”
Last year, 10 people died in Macau as a result of Typhoon Hato, the strongest storm to hit the city in over five decades, which also caused widespread flooding and damage to property.
“As Mangkhut crosses the South China Sea, widespread wind damage will be likely in southern China and around Hong Kong by late in the weekend, especially in coastal locations,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said in a statement.
Multiple Hong Kong airlines, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific, have announced they will waive charges for rebooking or re-routing flights arriving or departing the city during the worst of the storm.
Queenie Lam, a senior scientific officer at the Hong Kong Observatory, told CNN that Mangkhut was “expected to pose a considerable threat to the coast of Guangdong” in southern China and would bring gale force winds to Hong Kong.
She said HKO expects to lift the T8 warning signal as the storm nears the city, the second highest in severity.
Macau’s Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau warned that Manghkut would “pose a serious threat to the Pearl River Delta,” in which the city is located.

Skyscrapers, trains and roads: How Addis Ababa came to look like a Chinese city


Updated 3rd September 2018

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 billion.

Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN

Skyscrapers, trains and roads: How Addis Ababa came to look like a Chinese city
Written byJenni Marsh, CNNAddis Ababa, Ethiopia
When Wang Yijun put Ethiopia’s most expensive real estate project on the market, he experienced a strange phenomenon. People preferred the lowest floors over those with panoramic city views. “Power cuts mean elevators in this city often don’t work,” explains Wang, the site manager. “So the bottom-floor flats became the most valuable. You won’t see this pricing in any Chinese city.”
Replicating China’s urban model in Africa has its challenges, but with limited developable space in Addis Ababa — the capital is surrounded by protected farmland — Wang believes high-rise living, such as Tsehay Real Estate’s $60 million Poli Lotus development, is inevitable.

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 million.

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 million. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
Theodros Amdeberhan, an Ethiopian lawyer, last year bought a three-bedroom, fifth-floor apartment here for about 3.5 million birr ($127,000). “Local developers never deliver on time,” says Amdeberhan. The complex opened in 2016, and so far 70% of lots have sold. “When Mr Wang offered me a good price, I didn’t hesitate,” he says.
With red lanterns swaying over its entrance, the palm-tree peppered compound of 13 towers could easily be in Shenzhen, Chongqing or the suburbs of Shanghai. It’s the sort of Chinese-ification that permeates much of Addis.

The Metro train passes through central Addis Ababa.

The Metro train passes through central Addis Ababa. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
Cars chug through the city on smooth Chinese roadsChinese cranes lift the skyline, sewing machines hum in Chinese factories in Chinese-owned industrial parks, tourists arrive at the Chinese-upgraded airport and commuters ride modern Chinese trains to work.
Simply put, Addis Ababa is becoming the city that China built — but at what diplomatic and economic cost?

A city without addresses

Located 2,355 meters above sea level, Addis Ababa is one of the highest capitals in the world. Officials say 2.7 million people call it home, but that’s based on a census from 2007. The real number is surely far bigger. Few buildings here have addresses, so taxi drivers operate by landmarks. And because Ethiopia was never colonized, barring a brief Italian occupation between 1936 and 1941, Addis lacks the European infrastructure that underpins many African metropolises. “It was never planned to be a city,” says Alexandra Thorer, an architect who lived in Addis as a child, and wrote her thesis on the city’s urbanization.
Road in Addis ababa that China d

Addis development

Old Addis – New Addis
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
By the turn of the 21st century, Addis’ population had swelled and its dirt roads badly needed upgrading. At the same time, China was pursuing stronger ties with African nations — in 2000, Beijing held the inaugural Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, now a triennial deal-making pow wow.
The Ethiopian government saw China as a model for development and courted it for infrastructure, says Ian Taylor, a professor in African political economics at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

A sign outlining the plan for Chinese constructed roads in Addis Ababa.

A sign outlining the plan for Chinese constructed roads in Addis Ababa. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
In two decades, the Chinese provided Addis with an $86 million ring road, the Gotera Intersection ($12.7 million), Ethiopia’s first six-lane highway ($800 million), and the Ethio-Djibouti Railway line ($4 billion), which connects the landlocked country to the sea, to cite a sprinkle of projects. The speed at which Addis grew, says Thorer, mirrored the pace of 21st-century urban explosion in China.
China also built the first Metro system in Sub-Saharan Africa in Addis. Its two lines cut through the heart of the city, and carry at least 30,000 passengersan hour, who pay 6 birr ($0.30) a ride. “I thought it would fail quite quickly,” says Thorer, “but actually it’s really well used.”
“Addis has been radically transformed,” says Taylor. “Huge skyscrapers are changing the whole profile of the city.” A 46-story glass tower will be the tallest in Ethiopia when finished in 2020 by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

The Chinese-built African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2018.

The Chinese-built African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2018. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
The city’s most symbolic skyscraper is, of course, the futuristic African Union (AU) headquarters. Gifted to Addis by Beijing in 2012, the $200 million structure resembles nothing in Ethiopia.
“I didn’t realize how Chinese it was until I went to China,” says Janet Faith Adhiambo Ochieng, communications officer at the African Union. “Then I was like: ‘Wow.'”

Getting in the red

In the early 2000s, Irish singer-songwriter Bono was part of a chorus of celebrities asking Western countries to cancel African debt, which was costing some governments three times more than healthcare. When the G8 agreed to waive $55 billion from mostly African accounts in 2005, Bono called it “a little piece of history.”
Fast forward a decade, and Africa owes China about $130 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative — money which has mainly been used to fund transport, power and mining projects.
The continent lags behind other developing regions in virtually all infrastructure sectors, be it electricity, road or railroad performance. “Western companies and organizations such as the IMF and World Bank weren’t offering money for that type of stuff,” Taylor says.
LRT Addis Ababa

LRT Addis Ababa China

The light rail train arrives / Inside the packed train
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
China’s credit line to Africa has provoked criticism. Earlier this year, Rex Tillerson, then US Secretary of State, said that China’s “predatory loan practices” in Africa “mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth.
Ethiopia has taken at least $12.1 billion from Chinese creditors since 2000. But overall the country is $29 billion in the red — it owes more collectively to the Middle East, the World Bank and others than to China. The same is true for the majority of African countries.
A report published this month by the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative found that Chinese loans are “not currently a major contributor to debt distress in Africa.”
“We’re emerging into a new phase of a China-centric world order,” says Solange Chatelard, academic and research associate at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. “The former hegemonic powers are having a hard time adjusting to their decline.”
Lina Benebdallah, assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, however, cautions that the China-Africa relationship is “asymmetric.” In 2016, for example, China exported $88 billion in goods to Africa, but only imported $40 billion from the continent.
And there are countries with worrying amounts of Chinese debt. In Djibouti,China holds 77% of national debt, while Zambia’s $6.4 billion in Chinese loans represents the lion share of its commitments. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) told CNN via email that China has paid “high attention” to African debt situation, and is dedicated to “sustainable development.”

Twisting Ethiopia’s arm?

One of the big concerns around Chinese loans is debt-trap diplomacy — the idea that Beijing will pressure countries that can’t pay into exploitative deals.
At the imposing prime minister’s office building in Addis Ababa, Arkebe Oqubay, a senior government minister, is adamant that Ethiopia hasn’t seen any arm-twisting from China. “One of the unique things that makes Chinese funding quite attractive is they practice non-intervention in local politics,” he says.

Government minister Arkebe Oqubaby at the prime minister's office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Government minister Arkebe Oqubaby at the prime minister’s office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
And Beijing has been demanding that African nations cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, under its “One China Policy,” for decades he says — debt or no debt.
Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Studies, sees it differently. He cites the example of Sri Lanka as the “canary in the coal mine.”
In 2010, Beijing invested $1.5 billion to build the Hambantota port. When Sri Lanka couldn’t repay the debt, it signed a 99-year lease of the port with a Chinese state-owned company to service some of the billions it owed.
“If developing countries do not pay greater attention to how they manage their debt with China, we’re going to see a growing number selling off large stakes in key sovereign assets,” Patey says.
Unplanned Addis

New Addis

Urban sprawl / Urban planning
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
Another concern is national security. Earlier this year, French news outlet, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing had spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. China’s foreign ministry said the report was based on “groundless accusations” and the AU disregarded the allegations as “baseless.” But the rumors raised eyebrows, as China builds symbolic political facilities across Africa.
“The Germans could have bugged that building,” Ochieng says, pointing to the far more modest Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel’s government gifted the AU in 2016. “But will the story that the Germans are watching Africa sell as well?”

The Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel's government gifted the AU in 2016.

The Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel’s government gifted the AU in 2016. Credit: Jenni marsh/CNN
When Western powers see a city like Addis Ababa awash with Chinese influence, there is the knee-jerk reaction that “China has an ulterior motive,” says Benebdallah. But it’s often the case, says Taylor, that Chinese companies don’t face Western competition for construction contracts. Once Chinese firms have shipped their equipment, they may as well stay put and capitalize.
For Patey it’s not that simple. When China finances roads, railways, and hydropower dams, he says, it stipulates that Chinese construction companies build them with Chinese concrete and steel. “Africa has served as a launching pad for Chinese … companies to gain overseas experience,” he adds. “It’s where China Inc cuts its international teeth.”
A MOFA spokesperson told CNN via email that Chinese companies in Africa operate “independently” and that the Chinese government is “committed to equal negotiations,” and had no interest in “lecturing countries.”
Poli Lotus

Inside Poli Lotus

The Poli Lotus complex / Inside an apartment
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
On a Friday afternoon at Poli Lotus, Theodros Amdeberhan’s teenage son plays FIFA on the wide-screen TV, while the maid roasts coffee and a picture of the Eiffel Tower hangs over the sofa in their Chinese-built apartment.
When asked how he feels about the Chinese molding Addis Ababa in their country’s own image, Amdeberhan says: “I once went to China and noticed that they have this way of building city centers that can incorporate all the needs of the people.” With the higgledy piggledy chaos of unplanned Addis just beyond his window, he says it’s an appealing concept.

These 4 reasons make Hurricane Florence extremely dangerous

(CNN)Even for a major hurricane, Florence is a beast like no other.

A perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence could deal a devastating blow to the Southeast. Here’s why this hurricane is especially dangerous:

1. Its brute force

Florence catapulted from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane over the span of several hours. Even scarier: It could get more intense as it gets closer to the Carolinas.
“This storm is going to get stronger before it makes landfall,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
As of Tuesday morning, Florence was hurling 130-mph winds. Before it pummels the US coastline, Florence could become close to a Category 5 storm — meaning winds could approach 157 mph.

2. The deadly walls of water

Astonishing winds aren’t the biggest danger. That would be Florence’s storm surge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
“Storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. “It also has the highest potential to cause the most destruction.”
Storm surge is basically a wall of water that could swallow parts of the coast.
“This will have a storm surge in the 20-foot range,” Myers said.
To put things in perspective, any storm surge taller than 12 feet is “life-threatening,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

3. It could cause massive inland flooding

Aside from that mammoth coastal flooding, Florence will likely inundate cities far inland as well.
Florence is on track to slow down significantly after landfall. And the longer a hurricane hovers over land, the more rain it dumps on the same place.
“With this storm, what’s unique is it’s forecast to stall … dropping copious amounts of rainfall across the Carolinas and into Virginia,” Long said. “So this is not just going to be a coastal threat. It’s a statewide threat for the states involved.”
Some areas could get deluged with 20 inches of rain, Myers said.
The problem is, much of the Carolinas are already saturated from rainfall. So the land can’t absorb much more water.
“Inland flooding will be a major threat and something people far from the landfall location should be concerned about,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

4. It’s barreling toward people not used to big hurricanes

If the latest forecast holds, Florence will strike farther north on the East Coast than any other Category 4 hurricane in history.
The Carolinas will likely bear the brunt of Florence’s wrath. But that part of the East Coast rarely sees any major hurricanes.
And in the 29 years since Hurricane Hugo struck, the population of the coastal Carolinas has skyrocketed.
“There’s 25% more people living between Charleston (South Carolina) and Morehead City (North Carolina) than there were when Hugo was making landfall,” CNN meteorologist Myers said.
“Many of the people here have never seen a storm this strong,” Myers said.
“They have no idea what ‘overwash’ of an island will do to a home, what the wind could do to your home and what to do to your home to make it safer after you evacuate.”
Even Wilmington, North Carolina — a coastal city accustomed to severe weather — is bracing for an unusually brutal impact.
“We’re a resilient bunch down here. We go through a lot of these hurricane scares throughout the years,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “But this is pretty serious.”
He warned residents to take precautions “because once this storm is upon us, we’re not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you.”

Remembering 9/11: The Day the World Changed


On this day seventeen years ago, the world changed. The world changed for the average American on the streets because the notion of safety which was taken for granted was blown to smithereens. The world changed for so many, especially the almost three thousand souls for whom the World Trade Center used to be the place of work or business. The world changed for New York and its skyline which became permanently altered before their very eyes as they watched the twin towers; the very essence of New York architecture crumble into ashes before their very eyes.

On September 11, 2001 the world changed in the world’s perception of terror and terrorism as many watched airplanes converted into missiles by the ruthlessness and wickedness of man for whom so many souls who went about their businesses suddenly had their lives abbreviated unto glory by the dastardly act of being numbered among the humans who became part of the missiles that brought down the twin towers. The world also changed for the fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, and relations of victims of the World Trade Center slaughter, which remains the single most devastating terrorist attack not just in

America, but in any other nation of the world.

The world changed on 9/11 for many firefighters who offered their lives in their bid to rescue others. The world changed for many who had said bye to their loved ones as they stepped out to go to their offices at the twin towers. The hijackers ensured that their loved ones who went to work rather than war, never came back home.

The world also changed for the crew and passengers of Flight 93 which the al-Qaeda terrorists intended to use as a missile to wipe out the White House. The bravery and sacrifice of the crew and passengers who terminated the horrible plan of the terrorists saved the United States what would have turned out to be the embarrassment of the millennium. It also turned out to be the day in which the very heart of America’s defense, the Pentagon was breached. Had the terrorists had their way, America would have been absolutely humbled and brought to its knees.

Apart from going all out for al-Qaeda which the then George Bush administration did, compared to what any of the Middle East states would have done if the shoe was on the other foot, America’s response was tame. However, America’s anger over 9/11 ensured that Osama bin Laden remained relatively quiet and in hiding until he was hunted down midway into President Obama’s second term.

We join all men of goodwill to say, never again.

Gabby Ogbechie

Twitter – @GabbyOgbechie1