Newsflashes

30 March, 2009
Skype, the Internet telephone unit of eBay Inc, is planning to launch a service for iPhone and BlackBerry users in May as part of its effort to expand beyond desktop computers. Skype Chief Operating Officer, Scott Durchslag, has high hopes for the application's success on Apple Inc's popular iPhone as he expects Skype's most feature-rich mobile offering to appeal to new and existing customers. "The No 1 request we get from customers is to make Skype available on iPhone. There's a pent-up demand," Durchslag says.
30 March, 2009
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has condemned the South African government's refusal to let the Dalai Lama visit the country. FXI executive director, Jane Duncan, points out that to refuse the public the right to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say on issues that are extremely close to the hearts of most South Africans is a blatant disregard of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.  
30 March, 2009
More than 20 000 Somalis have fled to Kenya since the start of this year. This is aAccording to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which warns that refugee camps are “completely overstretched”. UNHCR spokesperson, Ron Redmond, points out that new arrivals have been registered in north-eastern Kenya's Dadaab camp, which was built for 90 000 people but which now accommodates over 261 000.
30 March, 2009
The United Nations (UN) Security Council has appealed to Sudan to reconsider a decision to expel some aid groups in Darfur after an international court issued an arrest warrant for the country's leader. In a press statement, council  members stressed the importance of continuing the distribution of humanitarian assistance to the needy in Darfur. They urged Sudan's government to continue cooperating with the UN and humanitarian organisations and appealed to it to reconsider the decision to suspend the activities of some NGOs in that country.
30 March, 2009
The University of Johannesburg’s Centre for the Study of Democracy has warned that while members are being passed back and forth among parties and paraded as spoils, this tactic may backfire in terms of its impact on the voter. The director for the centre, Steven Friedman cautions that, "Why make a big deal out of it? I think the danger is that it makes voters cynical about politicians, leaving them [the voter] thinking they [the politicians] are looking out for their own interests."
30 March, 2009
The University of Johannesburg’s Centre for the Study of Democracy has warned that while members are being passed back and forth among parties and paraded as spoils, this tactic may backfire in terms of its impact on the voter. The Centre's director, Steven Friedman cautions: "Why make a big deal out of it? I think the danger is that it makes voters cynical about politicians, leaving them [the voter] thinking they [the politicians] are looking out for their own interests."
26 March, 2009
The Department of Local Government in Gauteng says that the registration of Zimbabwean refugees living at the Central Methodist Church has been completed. The department’s Lebogang Tladinyane, points out that, “Once we have the profile we can determine their needs." Tladinyane says  refugees identified in their profiles as the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children or people with disabilities, will be the first to be moved to one of six buildings around Johannesburg.
26 March, 2009
All social grants will be paid in April after a dispute between the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) and service providers has been resolved. This is according to the Social Development Minister, Zola Skweyiya. In a press statement, Skweyiya points out that, "[SASSA] has concluded negotiations and agreed on 12-month contract extensions with the three service providers contracted to pay social grants - Cash Paymaster Services, All Pay and Empilweni."
26 March, 2009
The Helen Suzman Foundation has expressed its support for Health Minister Barbara Hogan’s “principled stance” on the Dalai Lama. In a press statement, the foundation points out that, “The notion of a minister having a different view from Cabinet on a matter is not unprecedented nor is it unacceptable for that opinion to be voiced publicly.” “Any censure or other steps that may be taken against Hogan will be deeply unfortunate,” says the foundation.
26 March, 2009
According to the minister in the presidency, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, human trafficking is becoming a major money-making operation for local and international syndicates. Addressing delegates attending a three-day human trafficking conference in Durban, Tshabalala-Msimang, pointed out that scores of women and children experience severe trauma, abuse and human rights violations.
26 March, 2009
International advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has called on Southern African leaders meeting next week to discuss aid for Zimbabwe to make any rescue package contingent on an end to human rights abuses. In a press statement, HRW Africa director, Georgette Gagnon, points out that, “The government of Zimbabwe should take clear action toward restoring the rule of law and respect for human rights before the international community releases longer-term development aid.”
24 March, 2009
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has allocated free time slots for pre-election broadcasts to political parties. ICASA councilor, Brenda Ntombela says, "The election broadcast period begins 120 hours after the allotment of the slots and will end 48 hours before polling commences." T here will be four party election broadcasts slots each day, starting from 25 March to 19 April 2009.
24 March, 2009
Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) says at least six percent of people diagnosed with tuberculosis in Khayelitsha last year had a drug-resistant strain of the disease. This is according to a report on a pilot treatment programme in the township. MSF points out that 196 of the 6 000 people diagnosed with tuberculosis in Khayelitsha last year had the drug-resistant strain of the disease and of those, three-quarters were also HIV-positive.
24 March, 2009
The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) wants the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to join its court bid for a review of how Schabir Shaik was released on medical parole. The coalition says it wrote to Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour almost two weeks ago and asked him to institute a high court review of the grounds on which Shaik was released. They also want an independent panel of medical experts nominated by the SAHRC and the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons to examine Shaik and submit reports to the court.
23 March, 2009
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says 15 years into democracy, South Africans are still at war with each other. SAHRC chairperson, Jody Kollapen, has warned that the country is moving further away from the visions of those who struggled for liberation. Speaking at the annual human rights conference in Freedom Park, Pretoria, Kollapen said: “I do not believe we're on track. You don’t advance a culture of human rights simply by adopting a progressive Constitution.”

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