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Omicron leaves Germany on brink of recession as growth dips – The Zimbabwe Mail

The skyline with its office buildings and the banking district are photographed during sunset as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues and the German government plans new pandemic control measures in Frankfurt, Germany, November 18, 2021. REUTERS/

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The risk of recession is looming for Germany after Europe’s biggest economy shrank at the end of 2021 and as it faces a bumpy start to this year, with the rapid spread of COVID-19′s omicron variant deterring people from shopping and travel and supply bottlenecks holding back manufacturers.

Output in Germany fell by between 0.5% and 1% in the fourth quarter, the state statistics agency Destatis said Friday. Forecasts are also shaky for the first three months of 2022, and two straight quarters of falling output would leave Germany in recession, according to one commonly used definition.

Germany helps set the pace for the entire eurozone, the 19 European Union countries that use the euro currency. Many German companies have suppliers or factories in other European countries, so Germany’s business activity can boost growth for its neighbors.

For all of last year, the German economy grew 2.7%, rebounding from a plunge of 4.6% in 2020 when pandemic lockdowns were at their most severe.

Growth remains 2 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level and lags the estimated eurozone figure of 5%.

Complete statistics for the fourth quarter will be released on Jan. 28. A lag in gathering numbers at the end of the year means the figure for the full year is available before the one for the last three months of the year.

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Russia toughens its posture amid Ukraine tensions – The Zimbabwe Mail

– A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. With tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned near Ukraine, the Kremlin has kept the U.S. and its allies guessing about its next moves in the worst Russia-West security crisis since the Cold War. (AP P

MOSCOW (AP) — With tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned near Ukraine, the Kremlin has kept the U.S. and its allies guessing about its next moves in the worst security crisis to emerge between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Amid fears of an imminent attack on Ukraine, Russia has further upped the ante by announcing more military drills in the region. It also has refused to rule out the possibility of military deployments to the Caribbean, and President Vladimir Putin has reached out to leaders opposed to the West.

The military muscle-flexing reflects a bold attempt by the Kremlin to halt decades of NATO expansion after the end of the Cold War. In talks with the United States, Russia demands legally binding guarantees that the alliance will not embrace Ukraine and other former Soviet nations, or place weapons there. It also wants NATO to pull back its forces from countries in Central and Eastern Europe that joined the alliance since the 1990s.

Putin has described NATO membership for Ukraine and the others as well as the alliance’s weapons deployments there as a red line for Moscow, warning that he would order unspecified “military-technical measures” if the demands aren’t met.

Putin pointed to NATO drills with the Ukrainian military, increasingly frequent visits of the alliance warships in the Black Sea and the flights of U.S. bombers near Crimea to emphasize the urgency of Russia’s security demands. He argued that by creating training centers in Ukraine, Western powers can establish a military foothold there even without its joining NATO.

“We have nowhere to retreat,” Putin said. “They have taken it to the point where we simply must tell them: ‘Stop!’”

Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, has denied it intends to attack its neighbor. Last year, however, Putin issued a stark warning that an attempt by Ukraine to reclaim control of the areas in the east controlled by Russia-backed separatists would have “grave consequences for Ukrainian statehood.”

While Ukrainian authorities denied planning such offensive, U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia had already deployed operatives to carry out acts of sabotage in the rebel east and blame them on Ukraine in a “false-flag operation” to create a pretext for possible invasion. Russia has rejected the claim as “total disinformation.”

Putin has repeatedly asserted that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people,” and says large chunks of Ukrainian territory are historic parts of Russia — arbitrarily granted to Ukraine by Communist leaders during Soviet times.

Over 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting in Ukraine’s industrial heartland called the Donbas, where the Moscow-supported insurgency erupted shortly after the annexation of Crimea. A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles, but a political settlement has stalled, and frequent skirmishes have continued along the tense line of contact.

In early 2021, a spike in cease-fire violations in the east and a Russian troop concentration near Ukraine ignited the invasion fears, but tensions abated when Moscow pulled back the bulk of its forces after maneuvers in April.

The military buildup near Ukraine resumed in the fall, with Ukrainian and Western officials warning that the increasing troop concentration could herald a multipronged Russian attack.

Putin noted with satisfaction that Russia has caused a “certain stress” in the West. “It’s necessary to keep them in that condition for as long as possible,” he said in November, ordering his diplomats to push for binding guarantees against NATO expansion.

While the U.S. and its allies rejected the Russian demands for a halt to NATO expansion, some observers note that Moscow’s insistence on a written reply may reflect an intention to use it as an argument for a possible escalation.

“At this stage, the parties don’t intend to compromise and want to shift responsibility for a potential conflict,” said Kirill Rogov, a Moscow-based independent analyst.

Adding to an estimated 100,000 troops deployed near Ukraine, Russia also has moved more troops from Siberia and the Far East for joint drills with its ally Belarus, which also borders Ukraine. In those exercises, Russian military units have moved to areas near Belarus’ southern border, which is about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Kyiv.

Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry also announced a series of naval maneuvers in the Black Sea and more distant areas such as the Mediterranean, northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific. The exercises that will start this month and last through February would involve over 140 ships, dozens of aircraft and more than 10,000 personnel.

Amid the tensions, Putin also worked to strengthen alliances with the countries opposed to the West. He has hosted Iran’s hard-line president for talks on expanding cooperation and is set to travel to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing where he will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In recent days, Putin also spoke by phone with the leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela, and a Russian government plane was recently seen cruising between Cuba and Venezuela in a possible harbinger of the next Kremlin moves.

After the U.S. and its allies rejected Russia’s demands for a halt to NATO expansion, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov kept the door open for the deployment of military assets to Cuba and Venezuela.

While voicing concern that NATO could potentially use Ukrainian territory for the deployment of missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes, Putin has warned that Russian warships armed with the latest Zircon hypersonic cruise missile would give Russia a similar capability if deployed in neutral waters.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a leading Russian foreign policy expert, observed that with Russia and the West taking intransigent stands in the talks, an escalation appears inevitable.

“Tensions will be high, including demonstrations of force not necessarily near or in Ukraine,” Lukyanov wrote in a commentary. “Real talks with some room for maneuvering and a broader agenda would ideally begin only after the next round of escalation in order to ease tensions.”

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Zim's rights record under UN spotlight – NewsDay

ZIMBABWE’s human rights’ record will be under global spotlight next week during the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group meeting.

The UPR working group will review Zimbabwe’s human rights record for the third time since 2008. The meeting will be webcast live.

Zimbabwe is one of the States to be reviewed by the UPR working group in its upcoming 40th session  scheduled for January 24 to February 3, 2022, marking the end of the UPR third cycle.

A review cycle is a four-and-half year period within which all the 193 UN member States’ human rights records are reviewed. The working group convenes three two-week sessions per year, or 14 sessions over the course of an entire cycle.

The UPR 40th session was initially scheduled for November 2021, but was postponed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Zimbabwe will be represented by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, while the three country representatives serving as rapporteurs for the review of the southern African nation are Namibia, Luxembourg and Armenia.

Ziyambi yesterday confirmed that he would attend the meeting, but refused to comment further.

“I cannot pre-empt what I would want to say at the meeting, I will provide more details after,” he said.

The UN human rights council reviews will be based on information provided by the government and independent human rights experts and groups, human rights treaty bodies and other UN entities.

Information provided by other stakeholders, including national human rights institutions, regional organisations and civil society groups, will also be used for review.

In recent submissions to the UN Human Rights Council, civic society groups accused government of introducing harsh laws to clamp down on their voluntary work.

In a joint statement ahead of the meeting, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe accused government of interfering with their work.

“Civic space continues to shrink at an alarming rate, proposed new laws such as amendments to the PVO [Private Voluntary Organisation] Act and Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Criminal Code), and the ‘Patriotic Bill’, will undermine the work of human rights defenders and NGOs, especially those working on governance issues,” read part of the letter.

“Further, the latest proposed legislation including amendments to the PVO Act/ Criminal Law code and a law on patriotism are major issues of concern, the government of Zimbabwe desires to amend the PVO Act to tighten the regulation framework under the pretext of implementing recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force, yet the recommendation acknowledges the need for governments to desist from adopting disproportionate measures thus interfering with genuine charitable work.”

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Black Umfolosi celebrates 40 years in showbiz – NewsDay


CO-FOUNDER of globetrotting imbube group — Black Umfolosi, Tomeki Dube has said they will take time to reflect on the past to see what they did right and what went wrong as they celebrate 40 years of presence in the showbiz industry this March.

The five-member Bulawayo-based Black Umfolosi was founded in March 1982 and has so far released 15 albums with more than five awards under its belt.

It is famed for its hit song — Unity which was released in 1990.

Dube told NewsDay Life & Style that 2022 was a year of writing Black Umfolosi’s biography, producing a video documentary and strengthening their junior policy.

“Black Umfolosi turns 40 on March 15. This year, we will reflect on the past to see what we did well, what went wrong and move on wisely with much strength,” he said.

Dube said a lot of activities were lined up for this year as part of celebrating their 40th anniversary including opening doors to collaborations with other artistes.

“2022 is the year for collaborative works with those who respect and are interested in our works. This year, we are reaching out to schools mainly within Bulawayo to train and share experiences with the children,” he said.

“This year we are opening our doors for collaborative work from across Zimbabwe to celebrate our entire journey with friends in the arts industry including our music followers.”

Dube added: “It is also a year to revisit the Enkundleni Centre Programmes. Consultations and engaging with the young focused team on all developmental endeavours of Black Umfolosi are in progress.”

“COVID-19 challenges may limit us here and there, but our programme roll-out is set. Besides the 40th anniversary celebrations, depending on the containment of the COVID-19, we should
resume our tours getting ready to travel to the United Kingdom and Canada with the possibility of going to the United States of America as well.”

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