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With a large number of observers in attendance, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation continued into its fourth day of hearings, considering a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.
The Court announced a recess late in the afternoon, and the hearing will resume on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
Attorneys for Jehovah’s Witnesses opened with arguments in defense of the Administrative Center, followed by a cross-examination from attorneys representing the Ministry of Justice. Reacting to evidence presented by the defense, the judge requested the Ministry of Justice to identify the specific legal basis for liquidating Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Administrative Center.
The attorneys for the Ministry of Justice were unable to provide a response to the judge’s request and other related questions. The day’s proceedings concluded after hearing testimony from witnesses for both parties.
Next week, the court is expected to begin their review of the case materials.
Media Contacts:
International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000
Russia: Yaroslav Sivulskiy, +7-911-087-8009

NEW YORK—The third day of the hearing before the Russian Supreme Court has concluded, and the Court has declared a recess until Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. 
During today’s proceedings, the Court heard the testimony of four of Jehovah’s Witnesses,who presented key arguments against the Ministry of Justice’s claim to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses and ban their activities.
The judge directed multiple questions toward the Ministry of Justice, asking them to produce evidence regarding their accusations that Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremists and distribute extremist literature. 
The Ministry of Justice was unable to do so. Vasiliy Kalin, a member of the presiding committee for the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, stated while addressing the Court: 
“I want to remind the Ministry of Justice that your request to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses would hurt the very people who wish you a peaceful, happy life.”
Media Contacts:
International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000
Russia: Yaroslav Sivulskiy, +7-911-087-8009

A group of Chinese women recently made headlines after being photographed while lying in shallow graves on the outskirts of Chongqing City.
It was revealed that they were taking part in a bizarre ritual called “graveyard meditation” which allegedly helps them cope with divorce.

Graveyard meditation is the brainchild of Liu Taijie, a 30-year-old divorcee who now helps other women get over romantic breakups. After getting married at the age of 19, and having a baby at 21, Liu went through a hard divorce in 2015, after also failing to launch her own business.

It was a tough time, but she managed to pull through, and she now wants to help other women understand that life goes on and they have to put the past behind them, where it belongs.

“I know how a woman felt when she was feeling abandoned. I had the thought of committing suicide when I got divorced,” Ms. Liu said. When a person is desperate, he or she could almost feel they’re near death.

By lying in the grave, my students could try to experience death. This will remind them that they have not done many things in their life and that they need to forget about the past and start a new life.”

Liu said that it took her a year to recover from her divorce and start fresh, and in order to help other female divorcees get back on their feet faster, she will be holding free graveyard meditation classes every few months. All they have to do is reach out to her by calling the number on the big red banner shown in the photos.


“Failure is not scary. I want all the divorced women to live their own lives and to achieve their own goals,” Taijie said.


This sort of death simulation has actually become quite common in China and other Asian countries in the last few years. Whether to help depressed people get over their problems and appreciate life more, or just as a creepy theme park attraction, the practice has become pretty popular.


Source: oddity central


A Ugandan civil servant instructed his wife to bury him with a cash amount of 200 million Ugandan shillings (equivalent to $55,000).

The money was meant to redeem his soul before God. The 52-year-old Charles Obong until his death was a senior personnel officer at the Ministry of Public Service for a decade (2006 – 2016). His son-in-law confirmed that his will stated that his wife should deposit a huge amount of money in his coffin.

The money was to be given to God on the Day of Judgement as an offertory so that his sins could be forgiven.
Even though the exact sin was not stated, he asked his brother and sister to ensure that his wife does as he instructed.

Uganda’s Daily Monitor news portal reported that he died after a protracted illness and was buried in his ancestral home in the northern Lira district of the country.
The portal added that the metallic coffin he was buried in cost 20 million shillings ($5500).

His Will was however ‘violated’ over the weekend after his remains were exhumed and the money removed by his clan members.




The Bauchi State Police Command have arrested four persons, Bala Mohammed, Dauda Damina, Mohammed Ahmed and Dahiru Mato for their involvement in the gang raping of a housewife in Yali, the Ganjuwa area of the state.

Reports say, the suspects on November 28, had the couple’s residence and attacked the husband, Abubakar Mohammed, before taking turns to have sex with the wife.
It was gathered that, the hoodlums demanded N150,000 ransom but the husband could only afford N35,000–which they collected before fleeing the apartment.

The suspects were arrested on New Year’s day by detectives of the Ganjuwa Division after an intelligent tip-off, the Police Spokesperson SP Haruna Mohammed, told reporters while parading the suspects on Wednesday.

He added that “The suspects were arrested round 8pm on the New 12 months’s Day following an intelligence report. They have been nabbed by the detectives hooked up to the Ganjuwa division in collaboration with a vigilance group.

“Armed with cutlasses, the suspects went to the residence of one Abubakar Mohammed and raped his spouse after which they threatened to kidnap his mom.
“He gave them a sum of N35,000, and pleaded with them to not kidnap his mother following their threats.

“The suspects, nevertheless, seized his bike pending when he would pay the excellent ransom.


Source: informationnigeria

Jackson has at the age of 50 given birth to her first child, a baby boy, her publicist has confirmed.

A statement said the musician and her Qatari businessman husband, Wissam Al Mana, were “thrilled” to welcome the infant, Eissa Al Mana.
“Janet had a stress-free healthy delivery and is resting comfortably,” the publicist added.

Speculation about her pregnancy surfaced last April when she postponed her Unbreakable tour.

She posted a video on Twitter at the time in which she told fans that she was postponing the tour because “there’s been a sudden change”.
“I thought it was important that you be the first to know,” she said, adding: “Please, if you can try and understand that it’s important that I do this now.”

She said she wanted to focus on planning a family with her husband, whom she wed in 2012.
Jackson had earlier been spotted in London shopping for baby essentials.

The Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group that operates in the Nigerian oil-rich region, appears to have turned hostile against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari whom the group endorsed in the 2015 presidential election.

In a statement through its shadow spokesperson who signs off releases, Jomo Gbomo, MEND on Sunday passed a vote of no confidence on Mr. Buhari, accusing his government of insincerity and “grand deception” with regards to pledged commitment to the politics and economy of the Niger Delta.

The volatile region has remained largely impoverished, despite decades of oil production that has provided much of the cash Nigeria uses. Trillions of naira in federal allocations to the region have not changed much.

“Without prejudice to the pre-2015 presidential election endorsement freely and voluntarily given to President Muhammadu Buhari on January 6, 2015, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) hereby categorically and unequivocally pass a vote of no confidence on the government of President Buhari,” said Mr. Gbomo.

Before the commencement of an amnesty programme by the federal government under late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010, MEND had spent years in violent protest of the environmental degradation and socio-economic underdevelopment of the region. It demanded greater share of the proceeds of the oil wealth to improve the region and lives of its people.

Then, the group received global attention, having waged a devastating war on Nigeria’s oil industry, which cut oil production. MEND was also notorious for abducting expatriates for ransom.

Since it became estranged with former President Goodluck Jonathan, an indigene of the Niger Delta, following the arrest of the Okah brothers for alleged terrorism, the group supported Mr. Buhari and demanded dialogue between the government and its representatives as well as other agitators.

But it appears the group now distrusts the president.
“Prior to and after his reluctant meeting with the traditional rulers, opinion leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, under the auspices of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) on November 1, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carrying on arrogantly and making controversial, prejudicial, conflicting and contradictory statements about the politics and economy of the oil-rich region.

“Prior to the inauguration of PANDEF, the several sessions of dialogue held between representatives of MEND, on the one hand; and those of the federal government, on the other hand; where concessions were secured for the release of the Okah Brothers and several other political detainees and prisoners of conscience was a grand deception on the part of the federal government,” the group said.

The group accused Mr. Buhari of “cunning, crafty and unstatesmanlike rhetoric” about the Niger Delta region, and asked him to stop; otherwise, the ‘fragile’ peace of the region would be in jeopardy.”

The statement came days after the president urged the military to end the “political madness” in the Niger Delta, South East and North East.
MEND added that the Buhari government wanted to “truncate the on-going peace process in Nigeria, sabotage the legal options open to Henry Okah and simultaneously influence the on-going trial of Charles Okah and others, at the federal high court in Abuja, in favour of the federal government.”

Furthermore, the group demanded, “all Niger Delta Militant commanders and/or individuals who were tracked and arrested while observing a ceasefire ahead of talks with the FG should be treated well.

“They should be allowed access to their lawyers, the International Red Cross and a delegation from PANDEF so as to ascertain their well-being and ensure they have not been tortured or killed, extra judicially.”

Mr. Buhari, in 2016, launched a programme to clean up Ogoniland devastated by years of oil spillage blamed on multinational Shell.
A MEND hostility with the government may worsen Nigeria’s economy which largely depends on oil if the group returns to violent methods as it did pre-amnesty programme.

The country’s production is already adversely affected by the activities of Niger Delta Avengers and other groups that commenced attacks on oil and gas installations a few months after Mr. Jonathan left power in 2015.


Source: Premium Times

A Russian military plane with 92 people on board has crashed into the Black Sea, Russia's defence ministry says.
The plane disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi at 05:25 (02:25 GMT), heading for Latakia in Syria.

Debris and 11 bodies have been found, with no reports of survivors.
The Tu-154 was carrying soldiers, reporters and 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble who were to perform for Russian troops.

Russia's transport minister says investigators are looking into an "entire spectrum'' of possible reasons the crash occurred, including the possibility of a terror attack.
Earlier, a Russian official had downplayed any suggestion of a terror attack.

President Vladimir Putin has said Monday will be a day of national mourning.
The flight had originated in Moscow and landed at Adler airport in Sochi for refuelling.

The defence ministry said in a statement: "Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5km (one mile) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70m (165-230ft)."

Ministry spokesman Maj-Gen Igor Konashenkov said: "No survivors have been spotted."

What is the Alexandrov Ensemble?

    Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian armed forces
    It was founded in 1928 during the Soviet era.

    The group also includes an orchestra and dancers
    It takes its name from its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who wrote the music to the national anthem of the Soviet Union.
    Holds the right to use the term Red Army Choir, although the interior ministry's MVD Ensemble also uses it.

An audio recording played on Russian media and said to be of the final conversation between air traffic controllers and the plane reveals no sign of any difficulties being faced by the crew.

Voices remain calm until the plane disappears and the controllers try in vain to re-establish contact.
Reports from the area said flying conditions were favourable.

Gen Konashenkov said the plane was last serviced in September and had undergone more substantial repairs in December 2014. It had an "experienced" pilot.
President Putin has ordered a state commission to look into the crash and sent his condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

The defence ministry has published a passenger list (in Russian), showing that 64 of those on board were from the Alexandrov Ensemble, including its director, Valery Khalilov.

There were nine journalists, eight soldiers, two civil servants and eight crew members.
Also on board was Elizaveta Glinka, known as Dr Liza, the executive director of the Fair Aid charity and the inaugural winner of Russia's state prize for achievements in human rights.

Fair Aid charity head Elizaveta Glinka, seen here with President Putin, was on the plane

Flowers are laid at the home of the Alexandrov Ensemble in Moscow

The Alexandrov Ensemble was scheduled to perform a New Year's concert at Russia's Hmeimim air base near Latakia.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes in support of Syrian government forces who are battling rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    The backbone of Soviet and Russian airlines for decades.

    Three engines, narrow-bodied and medium range.
    Designed in the mid-60s, came into service in 1972 and was modernised in 1986 with new engines and equipment.
    Has seen 39 fatal accidents, although few were due to technical problems. Many were as a result of difficult weather conditions and poor air traffic control. A few were lost in conflicts including in Lebanon, Georgia and Afghanistan.

    Phased out since the turn of the century. Aeroflot retired its fleet in 2010. Only about 50 in service worldwide.

In April 2010, a Tu-154 plane crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, killing all 96 people on board, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
A Tu-154, operated by Siberian Airlines, was shot down over the Black Sea in October 2001, killing 78 people.

The plane was travelling from Tel Aviv in Israel to Novosibirsk in Russia, and most of the passengers were Israeli.
The Ukrainian military initially denied involvement but officials later admitted the plane could have been hit accidentally during a training exercise.




A signed letter from Muhammad Ali to Nelson Mandela offering his condolences on the death of an anti-apartheid leader has sold for £7,200.
The typed letter, signed by the boxing legend on "Muhammad Ali in South Africa" stationery, dates from 1993.

It was sold in an auction in Devizes.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "It's fair to say Mohammad Ali was the greatest sportsman of all time and Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest figures of the last century."

'Fierce opponent'
The letter was typed by the personal assistant to the general manager of the Elangeni Hotel in Durban, where former world heavyweight champion Ali was staying at the time.

Henry Aldridge and Son said the letter was sold to a collector in the US. It was expected to fetch between £6,000 and £8,000.
The letter also includes an explanation as to why Muhammad Ali's name was typed incorrectly by the personal assistant, who has sold the letter.

"It is a truly iconic cross collectable and will appeal to collectors of Ali memorabilia as well as those who collect Nelson Mandela material, items relating to apartheid, political history and collectors of iconic memorabilia," Mr Aldridge added.

"Muhammad Ali was only in South Africa for a short period in April 1993, arriving shortly after the assassination of Chris Hani on 10 April.
"Hani was the chief of staff of Umkhonto We Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

"He was a fierce opponent of the apartheid government and was murdered by a far right extremist outside of his home in Boksburg.
"Against that backdrop Ali arrived in South Africa at a time when the country stood on the edge of a precipice with civil war a possibility.

"He attended Hani's farewell at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 19 April 1993 and when he appeared to the crowd, they chanted 'Ali! Ali!'."
Mr Aldridge said Mandela kept a photograph of himself with Ali on his desk and his favourite book, in his later years, was an autographed copy of Ali's biography.



According to a Facebook post that has gone viral, Wu Shuai and Ou Qian´s clever switch-up took place in the city of Nanchong in the Sichuan province of China.

Guests were taken aback to see Ou enter the hall decked out in her groom’s tuxedo, complete with sunglasses and her long tresses neatly tucked into a bun. Wu wore his bride’s white, flowing dress along with the requisite veil. Wu displayed confidence in wearing the off-the-shoulder number.

Wu told local publications that the swap was her idea, after Ou felt she’d gained too much weight during the five years they’d been courting. Although Wu was initially hesitant about actually wearing the dress, he gave in and said that it was a worthy sacrifice.

When the couple met back in 2011, Ou Qian was slim weighing just around 40kg. But as years passed, she packed in a little weight, and she was conscious about how she looked in the dress



The homeless people -- including six men and two women -- were chosen from area of St. Peter Basilica earlier in the morning, according to the Vatican.

They hailed from across the world -- four from Italy, two from Romania and one each from Moldova and Peru.

The Pope woke up to over 50,000 emails wishing him happy birthday across the globe, said the Vatican.

The majority of messages came from English-speaking countries, followed by Spanish, Italian and more than 1,000 in Latin.



ISIS is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing in Yemen Sunday that left dozens dead.
The attack in the southern Yemeni city of Aden killed at least 52 soldiers and injured 34 others, two Yemeni senior security officials told CNN.

ISIS made its claim in a statement published on Twitter and tweeted by several ISIS supporters. CNN cannot independently confirm this claim.
Emergency trucks flooded the area of the attack and streets were closed down by military forces. The injured soldiers were taken to four hospitals in the city.

The suicide bomber attacked Al Solban military base as soldiers were lining up to receive their salaries. The officials told CNN the attacker was able to enter the base dressed as a soldier.

On December 10, at least 48 soldiers were killed in an ISIS attack on the same camp, also targeting soldiers queuing up to get their salaries, according to the official news agency Saba.

Aden is the de-facto capital of the UN-recognized and Saudi-backed government of Yemen. The actual capital, Sanaa, has been under the control of Houthi rebels since last year.
Yemen has been wracked by warfare and has become a proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Yemen's minority Houthis, who are Shiite, rebelled last year against the Sunni-led government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia.
That spurred the Saudi-led coalition to launch airstrikes in support of Hadi against rebel targets in Yemen In March of 2015.

The United Nations has called the conflict a "humanitarian catastrophe" that has killed about 10,000 people in Yemen and left millions in need of aid.
Government forces and the Saudi-led coalition also have fought against the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen (AQAP) and ISIS, both of which are anti-government Sunni terror groups.



Evacuations of thousands of civilians and rebels from Syria's eastern Aleppo and in the towns of Kefraya and al-Foua have been postponed Sunday, according to the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman.

The exodus of people from the besieged areas was set to begin under a new complex people-swap deal, but the plan broke down after a number of buses were set on fire.

Syrian state media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said that buses in Aleppo's neighboring province of Idlib were set ablaze as they made their way to rebel-besieged Kefraya and Foua to evacuate people from there.

No evacuations had taken place by early evening, as desperation grew for thousands of people in eastern Aleppo. Many were sleeping on the streets and in bombed-out buildings in subfreezing temperatures since Friday, when earlier evacuations were brought to a sudden halt.



Zimbabwe's governing Zanu-PF party has confirmed President Robert Mugabe as its candidate for the 2018 elections.
Mr Mugabe, who is 92, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

At the party's conference, the Zanu-PF youth wing even proposed that Mr Mugabe should be declared president for life.
However, there have been unprecedented protests this year against Zimbabwe's economic turmoil and Mr Mugabe's leadership.

The Zanu-PF has also suffered serious infighting as factions battle it out to succeed Mr Mugabe once he eventually leaves.
His supporters broke into thunderous applause and chanted "tongai, tongai baba" [rule, rule father] as the Zanu-PF annual conference in the south-eastern town of Masvingo nominated Mr Mugabe on Saturday.

'One family'
In his acceptance speech, Mr Mugabe called for an end to party infighting.
"We agreed that conflicts should end. Infighting should end. The party ideology should be followed," he said.

"Let us be one. We are one family, the family of Zanu-PF bound together by the fact of understanding between its members."
Mr Mugabe has blamed the country's economic problems on sabotage by Western critics of his policies.

Amid violent protests earlier this year he warned there would be no Zimbabwean uprising similar to the "Arab Spring".


Source: BBC

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday presented a record 7.298 trillion naira ($24 billion) budget for 2017 to lawmakers which is aimed at pulling Africa’s biggest economy out of its first recession in 25 years.

The budget, which Buhari said marked an increase of 20.4 percent on last year’s spending plan, seeks to boost spending to revive the economy. The recession was largely caused by low global oil prices, as crude sales account for two-thirds of the government’s revenue.

Buhari said the budget was based on an exchange rate of 305 naira to the dollar and a projected oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day at an assumed price of $42.5 dollars per barrel.

The president also said he wants to restore oil output to 2.2 million barrels per day following a series of attacks since January on energy facilities in the southern Niger Delta that deepened the recession by hitting the economic mainstay.

The attacks cut oil production in the OPEC member, which stood at around 2.1 million barrels per day at the start of 2016, by more than a third earlier this year. “We must all come together” to achieve peace in the Niger Delta, Buhari said.

The budget must be agreed by parliament before being sent back to the president to be passed into law, which could take months. The 2016 budget became law in May after being delayed by several months by wrangling between the government and the upper house of parliament.


Credit: CNBC Africa

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