SURFER MICK FANNING ESCAPES SHARK ATTACK
A surfing competition in South Africa was cancelled after professional surfer Mick Fanning escaped a shark attack in the opening minutes of the final heat. Organizers of the J-Bay Open, the sixth stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League Championship Tour, called off the remainder of the competition. After discussion with WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow, Fanning and competitor Julian Wilson decided to take equal second in rankings points and split the prize purse awarded to the winner. “We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today. Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our water safety personnel was commendable,” Perrow said in a statement. Video of the incident shows at least one shark fin circling the World Surf League champion. Fanning spots it and starts furiously paddling away. A wave obscures what happens next, but when Fanning comes back into view he is still swimming away, this time without his board. Safety boats quickly arrive and pluck Fanning from the water. Fanning escaped with a severed leash on his surfboard. He told World Surf League TV that he “punched” the shark in the back to scare it away. The Water Safety Team also pulled Wilson out of the water. “I had this feeling that something was behind (me), and all of a sudden I felt like I started getting pulled underwater. And then the thing came up and I was on my board and it was right there,” he said. “I had this thought, ‘What if it comes around for another go at me?'” he said. “Before I knew it, the boat was there. … I can’t believe it, I was tripping out. I’m totally tripping out.” It is not clear whether there was more than one shark, WSL spokeman Dave Prodan said.
OBAMA, AFRICAN LEADERS MEET TO END SOUTH SUDAN’S CIVIL WAR
Four years after the United States hailed the creation of an independent South Sudan; President Barack Obama convened a meeting with regional leaders to try to end the country’s civil war. The U.S. for decades has been actively involved in helping to secure a stable, independent country after years of strife with neighbouring Sudan, and a successful referendum in 2011 seemed a historic achievement for the Obama administration. But the South Sudanese government swiftly found itself at odds with opposition and former leaders, disagreements that devolved into a civil war two years ago. U.S. officials in recent days have called the state of affairs in the new-born nation disappointing and “heart-breaking,” as more than 1 million people have been displaced and the humanitarian crisis is only worsening. “Urgent” is how Obama described it during a press conference in the Ethiopian capital ahead of the meeting. “We don’t have time to wait.” African leaders and the opposing sides in South Sudan have agreed on an August deadline to determine a way forward, with a peace proposal currently being considered. But U.S. officials have expressed very little optimism that this will succeed.
UGANDA GAY PREPARES FOR PRIDE PARADE
Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) community is preparing for its annual gay pride parade, taking place soon. This year’s event has special significance and it’s been a year since the controversial anti-gay law was scrapped. Pride parades are held all over the world and are an opportunity for the LGBTI community to come together and raise awareness of their rights and Uganda has been no different. The inaugural gay pride march was held in the city of Entebbe, some 20 miles south of the capital Kampala, in 2012. That was also the year the anti-homosexuality bill was tabled. “Organizing pride at that point was an act of defiance,” explains Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “It was the LGBTI community saying: ‘we are here and we are not going away.’ Richard Lusimbo, who is heading up the committee behind this year’s parade and the three days of preceding events, reflects on the toll the bill had on the people he knew: “There are many people who are still languishing in refugee camps in Kenya. “The lucky ones have gotten to western countries but there are people who remain in Uganda and the thing that keeps them going is family.” He continues: “It’s not just biological family it’s also the allies that stood by our brothers and sisters.”
MOAMMAR GADHAFI’S SON SAIF AL-ISLAM SENTENCED TO DEATH IN LIBYA
A Tripoli court sentenced several officials in the former regime of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi including Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi in absentia drawing criticism from the U.N. human rights office. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was ordered to face a firing squad for his role in trying to quash the 2011 revolution that led to his father’s ouster. Several other Gadhafi regime officials were also sentenced to death, including former Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi, former Prime Minister Al-Mahmoudi al-Baghdadi and former foreign intelligence chief Buzeid Dorda. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was not at the trial; he was last known to be held by a militia group in the north-western city of Zintan, where he was held after his capture in November 2011. Since Gadhafi was not at the trial and Libya is politically and militarily fractured, Tripoli is home to one of two rival Libyan central governments, it’s not clear what happens to him now. The Zintan militia, the last group known to have him, doesn’t recognize the government and court in Tripoli and had cut off cooperation with the proceedings. Gadhafi faced charges relating to the 2011 revolution and attempts to suppress the uprising, including the killing of protesters, a crime punishable by death.
NEWBORN BABY PULLED ALIVE FROM TOILET IN BEIJING
Police are searching for the mother of a new born baby girl found wedged face-down in a Beijing toilet recently. Residents heard cries from a public toilet block and notified police, according to the Beijing Times. “Her head was upside down and her body was falling into the drain. We could only vaguely see her feet from the side,” Qian Feng, the local police chief told the paper. Qian said initially police decided to dismantle the toilet as the drain structure was unclear, but that would take too long. “She just kept crying. I looked again, and thought we should try to pull her out even if the possibility might be slim.” In a police video taken during the rescue, Qian is seen kneeling by the toilet, reaching his right hand into the drain. “There is a right-angled pipe inside the train, and the baby was almost trapped in the horizontal pipe,” Qian told the Beijing Times. After being pulled safely out of the pipe, residents helped police wrap the baby up before she was sent to a nearby hospital. She is in a stable condition, the newspaper said. It added that she had no apparent physical defects. CNN.com
BRITAIN TO ASSIST NIGERIA IN FIGHT AGAINST TERROR
Recently the Britain, re-affirmed its resolve to help Nigeria in the fight against terrorism. The British Deputy Chief of Defence Staff on Military Strategy and Operations, Lieutenant General Gordon Messenger, gave this assurance when he led other senior British military officers to pay courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Gabriel Olonisakin at the Defence Headquarters, in Abuja. Lt Gen Messenger stated that the essence of the visit of the senior British officials to Nigeria was to broaden the deep relationship and re-energise the bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Britain. He pointed out that they came to Nigeria for deliberations towards identifying the ideal area of collaboration to be adopted in the fight against insurgency and the best way to make it work. He stressed also that the fight against terrorism is a multifaceted problem that demands strategy and careful exploration of grey areas in order to re-appraise the best support the British could offer. In his remark, Major General Olonisakin thanked the British officials for the visit and the determination of the Britain to assist Nigeria. The CDS acknowledged all the assistance the Nigerian Armed Forces had enjoyed from Britain, especially in term of training and retraining of our personnel for capacity building to crush the insurgents, Boko Haram. Olonisakin noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces is doing everything within its power to liquidate Boko Haram and its cells. This, the CDS said, has received boost with the inauguration of new Multi-National Joint Task Force and the appointment of a Nigerian Commander. The MNJTF, he reiterated, is coordinating with the Nigerian Military command and control centre in the North East for effectiveness. Present at the occasion were the British Assistant Chief of Defence Staff on Defence Engagement, Rear Admiral Simon Ancona, top officials of British Embassy in Abuja and a list of high ranking Nigerian military officers. Culled from Vanguardngr.com