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NEFF wants Govt to intervene in Cheetah Cement deadlock

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Photo for illustration purposes. Photo: File

NAMIBIA Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) vice president Longinus Iipumbu has challenged minister of labour, industrial relations, and employment creation Utoni Nujoma to intervene and find a solution to the ongoing strike at Cheetah Cement.

The company and its workers have been in a deadlock for the past 57 days over working conditions.

Iipumbu made the call on Tuesday in parliament while raising ministerial questions.

He claimed the government is failing workers. Nujoma is expected to answer the questions in parliament soon.

“Why have you not gone there? Leave your air-conditioned office and at least go to Otjiwarongo to mediate between the striking employees and the company ,” Iipumbu said.

Meanwhile, Cheetah Cement has denied allegations that the company has hired scab labour to avert the financial implications of the ongoing strike.

Workers have been striking for the past 57 days, demanding medical aid, pension and housing allowance benefits.

Company spokesperson Tabby Moyo says Cheetah Cement has no intention of using scab labour in the future.

He says the company remains open to discussion with the union to end the strike.

“The strike was initiated by the union, therefore the sole responsibility to resolve the dispute does not rest with the employer alone.

“However, Cheetah Cement maintains it has always been willing to engage the union to seek an amicable resolution to the dispute,” Moyo says.

Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) branch chairman Naftal Nghipitwako says Cheetah Cement hired temporary employees to replace the striking employees.

He says this is in violation of strike rules.

“After 56 days, the employees of Cheetah Cement are still on strike, and the company has hired employees through APS to do the job of the striking employees.

“Employees are demanding the introduction of medical aid, pension fund and house allowance benefits. So far, the management is only willing to provide medical aid,” Nghipitwakohe says.

Last month the employees who are taking part in the strike were ordered by the Windhoek Labour Court not to interfere with the company’s operations and with the free movement of people and traffic to and from Cheetah Cement’s plant at Otjiwarongo.

MUN members were also restrained from interfering with the company’s operations, blocking access to the company’s premises, and inciting, encouraging or assisting anyone to intimidate or threaten non-striking employees and contractors of the company.

The interdict, which the company applied for on an urgent basis, further authorises the police to remove any striking Cheetah Cement employees or MUN officials from the company’s premises if they act in breach of the court order, to take steps to ensure unrestricted access to the premises, and to protect the company’s property, employees and contractors if the strike turns violent.

The court order is in force until 12 September, unless the MUN or striking employees approach the court before then to challenge the interim interdict.

Source: Namibian

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Indonesia Passes New Law To Criminalize Sex Outside Of Marriage

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GETTY There were protests against the new code on Monday

Indonesian lawmakers passed a sweeping new criminal code on Tuesday that criminalizes sex outside marriage, as part of a tranche of changes that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.

The new code, which also applies to foreign residents and tourists, bans cohabitation before marriage, apostasy, and provides punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the national ideology.

“All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” said lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who led the parliamentary commission in charge of revising the colonial-era code. “The old code belongs to Dutch heritage … and is no longer relevant.”

The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia has seen a rise in religious conservatism in recent years. Strict Islamic laws are already enforced in parts of the country, including the semi-autonomous Aceh province, where alcohol and gambling are banned. Public floggings also take place in the region for a range of offences including homosexuality and adultery.

A previous draft of the code was set to be passed in 2019 but was postponed after nationwide protests prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to intervene. In a televised address at the time, Widodo said he decided to delay the vote after “seriously considering feedback from different parties who feel objections on some substantial content of the criminal code.”

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote, rights groups and critics warned that the new code would “disproportionately impact women” and further curtail human rights and freedoms in the country of more than 270 million people.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono said the laws are “a setback for already declining religious freedom in Indonesia,” warning that “non-believers could be prosecuted and jailed.”

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide an avenue for selective enforcement,” he said.

Under the laws, sex outside marriage carries a potential one-year prison term, and the crime of blasphemy, already on Indonesia’s books, could now lead to a five-year prison sentence.

Rahmat Purnama, from the University of Indonesia’s law faculty, said the laws would be implemented after a transitional period of three years.

Source: CNN

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Elon Musk Hopes to Test a Brain Implant in Humans Next Year

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In this still image from the Neuralink presentation video on YouTube, a presenter, lower left, described how a monkey used a wireless transmitter to “type” characters on a keyboard.Credit...Neuralink

Neuralink, the startup Elon Musk founded to link our brains directly to computers, showed progress Wednesday in two medical areas: helping blind people to see and helping people with spinal cord injuries to walk or use their hands.

The company, one of five that Musk leads, is working on technology to drop thousands of electrodes thinner than a hair into the outer surface of human brains. Each electrode is a tiny wire connected to a battery-powered, remotely recharged, quarter-sized chip package that’s embedded into a spot that once held a circle of skull. The chip, called the N1, communicates wirelessly with the outside world.

The technology is still far from the initial medical uses, much less Musk’s ultimate vision of using Neuralink to hang out with superintelligent AIs. But the company is making significant progress, including applying with the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials it hopes to start within six months, the company said at a “show and tell” event lasting more than two hours.

“Our goal will be to turn the lights on for someone who’s spent decades living in the dark,” said Neuralink researcher Dan Adams, who’s working on the effort to repackage camera data into a brain-compatible format and pipe it directly to the visual cortex.

Musk has some cred when it comes to revolutionary tech. His electric-vehicle company Tesla is profoundly changing cars and his SpaceX outfit is transforming space access with reusable rockets. His reputation as a tech genius has taken a beating, though, with the chaos at Twitter after his $44 billion acquisition. Musk’s Boring Company, which aims to revamp auto transportation with tunnels, also hasn’t lived up to its promises yet.

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress

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President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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