2020 Is the Decade of Action & It Has to Be a Sprint

Africa, Armed Conflicts, Climate Change, Conferences, Crime & Justice, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Featured, Gender, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Labour, Peace, Poverty & SDGs, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations, Trade & Investment


Hosted by the governments of Kenya, Denmark and UNFPA, world leaders gather for the 3-day Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to advance sexual, reproductive health & rights for all. November 12, 2019. Photo Courtesy: Redhouse Public Relations

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 2019 (IPS) – Happy New Year, Kenya. 2020 marks a decade of action towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Peace and development are inextricably linked, with each making the achievement of the other far more likely. This puts the conflict-prevention and development work of the UN at the heart of the agenda in East Africa, but in a multi-agency and programme environment, making meaningful progress is challenging.

Aware of this, the UN began a process of structural reforms led by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who made reforms of the United Nations, a priority at the very beginning of his term in January 2017. The aim being to deliver better results through cooperation, collaboration and integration. 2019 was the year that the impact of these reforms became real and nowhere more than in the peace, conflict-prevention and development pillars of the UN’s work.

At the country level, that shift towards a nimble, 21st century UN challenges deeply entrenched practices and operations. In a country team with over 23 individual agencies, funds and programmes, the reform process can be complicated, even messy.

To the credit of the Kenya country team, we overcame the challenges of ceding long-held agency interests for the collective good and achieved some ground-breaking milestones in our partnership with governments, civic organizations and the private sector.

The most outstanding was our venturing out to confront challenges that transcend borders. East Africa faces major threats to peace and development across multiple fronts, and respective UN country teams have, in a remarkable show of teamwork, sought to harmonize their responses to these threats. Internecine border conflicts and the effects of climate change together make a formidable challenge that brought together UN teams from Kenya and Uganda, in a pact that seeks to bring sustainable development to the Karamoja triangle.

This pact follows from another successful regional collaboration project on the Kenya-Ethiopia border where communities accustomed to recurrent hostilities are now reaching out to each other to find solutions to common socio-economic challenges.

We believe that our regional surge towards prevention, peacemaking and diplomacy will have a particular impact on the youth, who suffer an enduring sense of being neglected and ignored. This narrative is a breeding ground for extremism and radicalization, so addressing such concerns was a key point of deliberation during last July’s African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Nairobi.

The same regional approach was behind the initiative by Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia to sign the Declaration and Action Plan to End Cross-border FGM in April 2019. This was the first time multiple countries had come together to tackle this pernicious cross-border crime.

But there remain many in the region still left behind by development, and we continue to stand up for them through our UN Development Assistance Framework 2018-2022. The framework’s gender equality and rights focus is unmistakable, because in too many communities, the simple fact of being born female shatters one’s chances of living in full human dignity.

Our focus on giving a leg-up to those left farthest behind has attracted a positive response from our partners in national and county governments. By staying in lockstep with national priorities on issues such as health, agriculture and housing, the common thread of messages from our partners is that we are staying effective and responsive to the ambitions of Kenyans.

As 2020 beckons, the decade of action starts and it has to be a sprint to deliver on the SDGs, the UN team in Kenya is rolling up its sleeves with greater urgency, ambition and innovation. We will enhance regional cooperation and private-public partnerships as we work with the Government towards lifting millions of the citizens of this region out of poverty and upholding their human rights.

We are re-imagining ways of delivering development in ways such as the co-creation of an SDG innovation lab between the Government of Kenya, the Centre for Effective Global Action at the University of California in Berkeley, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UN. The SDG Lab will kick off with support for the delivery of Kenya’s Big Four agenda by harnessing, big data, technology and innovation to achieve scale and impact.

As a UN country team, we got off the blocks in 2019 in pursuit of UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed’s challenge to “flip the orthodoxy” for the repositioning of the UN. We have dared to go beyond the typical and will do whatever it takes to respond effectively to the challenges faced by Kenya’s people, now and in the future.

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya.


Calgary — and the world’s — top stories of 2019

Sunrise lights up the towers of the downtown Calgary skyline on Monday, December 16, 2019. Gavin Young/Postmedia

The top stories of the year, in Calgary, Canada and beyond.

Protesters gather in Calgary to speak out against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C.

Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia


1  The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal involving Canada and five other nations comes into effect. On the sidelines is the U.S.

1  Ottawa imposes carbon taxes on provinces that haven’t introduced their own such taxes.

3  Democrats effectively take control of the House of Representatives, providing political opposition U.S. President Donald Trump had yet to see.

6  Citing alleged threats and intimidation, Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips sparks controversy by cancelling in-person consultations over her government’s creation of parks in the Bighorn region.

7  RCMP remove a road barrier blocking access to the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline across Wet’suwet’en First Nation traditional territory in B.C. and arrest 14 protesters. It sparks demonstrations across the country.

8  After more than four years as Calgary’s city manager, Jeff Fielding announces he’s stepping down and taking a job with the City of Toronto.

8  Semi driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleads guilty to all 29 charges in the April 6, 2018, collision on a Saskatchewan highway that killed 16 players and staff of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and injured 13 others.

8  Documents acquired by media outlets reveal ex-Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort provided Russians linked to the Kremlin with polling data during the 2016 race.

11  Thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs escapes her kidnapper in a rural area of Wisconsin, three months after she was abducted and her parents murdered. Jake Thomas Patterson is arrested.

11  It’s revealed the FBI investigated U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 to determine if he was working for the Kremlin, following his firing of agency director James Comey the previous year.

13  The Washington Post reports the U.S. president concealed details even from senior administration officials of several meetings with Russian government members including the country’s president Vladimir Putin in 2017 and 2018.

15  Britain’s Parliament votes overwhelmingly, and across party lines, to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

18  An illegally tapped gasoline pipeline in central Mexico explodes, ultimately killing about 130 people.

19  Racial tensions in the U.S. flare again with widely shared footage of members of Kentucky’s Covington Catholic school jeering and staring down Indigenous elder and Vietnam war veteran Nathan Phillips in Washington, D.C. The video’s portrayal of events would eventually be challenged.

22  The Alberta government says it will backstop a $2-billion heavy oil upgrader, the first one to be built in Alberta in four decades.

25  U.S. President Donald Trump ends a partial federal government shutdown he began 35 days earlier, though without Congress’s agreement to fund his coveted border wall with Mexico.

25  Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is arrested and charged with obstruction-related offences linked to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian electoral collusion.

26  John McCallum is fired as Canada’s ambassador to Beijing after telling reporters there’s a good chance Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou could avoid extradition from Canada to the U.S.

29  Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to eight first-degree murders that terrorized Toronto’s gay community, making him one of Canada’s worst serial killers.

31  Canada’s Supreme Court rules bankrupt energy companies must clean up orphaned oil wells, numbering nearly 4,000 in Alberta.

One of two locomotives which went off the tracks east of Field, B.C., on Monday, Feb. 4.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press


1  Citing Russian violations, the U.S. announces it is withdrawing from the international treaty restricting intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

4  A 112-car runaway CP Rail train carrying grain derails near Field, B.C., killing three Calgary-based crew members.

7  It’s alleged then-federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was demoted the previous month after refusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insistence she interfere in an investigation into Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin’s possible corrupt dealings in Libya.

8  Alexandre Bissonnette is sentenced to 40 years for the 2017 massacre of six people in a Quebec City mosque.

11  Embroiled in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet.

12  After he scouts out NFL possibilities, star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell re-signs with the CFL Calgary Stampeders, inking a four-year contract.

12  Notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman is convicted of drug and conspiracy offences in New York federal court.

13  In avoiding another government shutdown, U.S. President Donald Trump agrees to a deal on border security that calls for $1.37 billion to build 55 kilometres of fence, far short of his longtime demands.

19  Seven children of the Syrian refugee Barho family perish in a Halifax house fire.

19  Dozens of truckers from across the country form a convoy, protesting federal energy policy, and congregate on Parliament Hill.

21  The Alberta government announces changes to photo radar, saying the practice must focus more on safety than revenue generation.

22  While it issues additional conditions, the National Energy Board endorses the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, concluding it is in Canada’s interest.

25  Conservatives and Liberals both triumph in federal byelections in Ontario and Quebec respectively, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh lands a seat in the House of Commons with a win in Burnaby South.

26-27  Following a Feb. 14 guerilla attack that killed about 40 Indian paramilitaries in the disputed region of Kashmir, nuclear-armed foes India and Pakistan trade air raids, with two of New Delhi’s aircraft shot down.

27  Donald Trump’s one-time lawyer and fixer tells a Congressional committee the president is a racist conman who knew of an imminent dump of stolen emails harmful to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

27  In explosive testimony before a parliamentary committee, ex-Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says she was “inappropriately” hounded to ensure Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin escaped criminal prosecution for alleged corruption in Libya.

28  After two days of talks in Hanoi, Vietnam, negotiations between Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un on peace, denuclearization and sanctions collapse.

28  A senior prosecutor indicates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be indicted for bribery and fraud.

Mark Neufeld is officially named Calgary’s police chief.



3  Tornadoes ravaging Alabama leave nearly 30 people dead.

4  Citing her displeasure with the Liberal government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigns from her cabinet post.

4  The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee launches sweeping investigations into allegations of corruption and obstruction committed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

10  An Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet crashes after takeoff at Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 people on board including 18 Canadians. A number of countries suspend the use of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as a result.

12  British parliamentarians reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a 149-vote margin.

12  More than 40 people, including two Hollywood celebrities, are charged in a massive fraud and bribery scheme to gain admission into elite U.S. universities.

14  British prosecutors announce they’re charging a then-British paratrooper for the killing of two people and the attempted murder of four others in the Jan. 30, 1972, Bloody Sunday massacre in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, that left 13 unarmed demonstrators dead.

14  Republican lawmakers break with U.S. President Donald Trump, as the Senate rejects his legislation to declare a national emergency and fund his southern border wall. Trump vetoes that decision the following day.

14  Cyclone Idai pounds and floods parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing hundreds and rendering tens of thousands homeless.

15  Terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand — committed by a self-described white supremacist — leave 50 dead and nearly 50 injured.

16  A day after it was revealed the 2017 UCP leadership race was under RCMP investigation for alleged illegal financing, leaked emails suggest Jeff Callaway’s candidacy in the contest was used to help eventual winner Jason Kenney at the expense of rival Brian Jean.

18  Ex-Edmonton cop Mark Neufeld is announced as Calgary’s new chief of police.

21  Believed to be linked to a diplomatic row with Beijing, China stops purchasing canola seed from Canada, a potentially multibillion-dollar blow to the country’s farmers.

22 Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, is sentenced to eight years in prison for driving the truck that killed 16 and injured 13 others when it collided with the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018.

22  U.S. special prosecutor Robert Mueller delivers his report on President Donald Trump’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. It clears him of collusion.

24  The Calgary Inferno defeat the Montreal Canadiennes to win the Clarkson Cup at the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championship game in Toronto. About a week later, the league goes under and announces it would cease operations on May 1.

25  An Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge rules ex-Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr has completed his war crimes sentence imposed for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2002.

29  Former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould reveals she secretly recorded a December 2018 conversation with Chief of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, further inflaming the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Independent MPs Jane Philpott, left, and Jody Wilson-Raybould speak with reporters on April 3.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press


1  Ottawa imposes its $20-per-tonne carbon tax on Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — provinces that hadn’t adopted the levy.

1  A federal scientists’ report states climate change is affecting Canada twice as much as the rest of the world and is largely irreversible.

2  Ex-Liberal cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott are turfed from the federal party’s caucus as fallout from the SNC-Lavalin scandal mounts.

8  After much wrangling and indecision over spreading the tax pain between beleaguered businesses and residents, Calgary city council favours a 3.45-per-cent hike for homeowners.

10  After 10 years of effort, scientists release the first images of a black hole, this one located 55 million light years from Earth in the M87 galaxy.

10  Benjamin Netanyahu is narrowly elected for a fifth straight term as Israel’s prime minister.

11  Ecuador expels Wikileaks’ Julian Assange from its London embassy after seven years of refuge there.  He’s arrested by British authorities. Washington seeks extradition of the man, who published classified information detailing possible U.S. war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

14  A once-disgraced Tiger Woods makes an emotional comeback by winning the PGA Masters tournament for the first time in 14 years.

15  Fire severely damages the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

15  Four people are fatally gunned down in Penticton, B.C.; charged with the crimes is John Brittain, 68.

16  Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party ends four years of NDP rule in Alberta with a majority election victory.

18  The Mueller report on possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives is released to Congress. It concludes Trump’s campaign hoped to benefit from illegal Russian actions while the president frequently obstructed investigations into his conduct.

21  Co-ordinated Easter Sunday bomb attacks target churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing more than 350 people.

21  Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who played the role of a Ukrainian leader on television, easily wins the east European country’s presidential election by defeating incumbent Petro Poroshenko.

23  A federal scientist’s report states aerial monitoring has shown greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta oilsands operations are considerably higher than previously reported.

23  In a first, U.S. pharmaceutical distributor executives — these ones with Rochester Drug Cooperative — are charged with offences linked to trafficking and contributing to the opioid crisis.

27-28  Calgary and southern Alberta are walloped by a powerful spring storm that wreaks havoc on roads.

28  One person is killed and three others injured in a shooting attack on a synagogue near San Diego, Calif.

30  What many believe is a U.S.-backed coup to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, fails.

Ribbons are tied to trees lining the street beside the townhouse complex in Cranston where Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson had lived with Robert Leeming. Leeming is charged with their murders.

Gavin Young / Postmedia


1  U.S. Attorney General William Barr is severely grilled in a Senate committee hearing over his alleged covering for President Donald Trump following the release of the Mueller Report into possible collusion with Russia and obstruction.

1  The Canadian army helps shore up defences as spring floodwaters ravage neighbourhoods in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

2  In the first abdication from Japan’s Chrysanthemum throne in two centuries, Emporer Akihito makes way for his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

3  The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rules against that province’s government, finding Ottawa’s carbon tax is constitutional.

5  Forty-one people die in a fiery crash during an emergency landing of an Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet100 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

6  A UN report states one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction amid the greatest threat to life on Earth on record and one that’s human-caused.

6  Nearly three weeks after they had disappeared, Calgary police find the bodies of Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson in Kananaskis Country. Their one-time roommate, Robert Leeming, is then charged in their deaths.

8  Federal prosecutors abruptly drop a breach of trust charge against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman in a potentially politically charged case over allegations he leaked information about a $668-million shipbuilding deal.

8  Longtime international fugitive Nathan Gervais is convicted of first-degree murder in the 2013 Calgary swarming death of Lukas Strasser-Hird.

12  CO2 content in the atmosphere is measured at 415 parts per million, the highest reading since the evolution of Homo sapiens began.

13  It’s revealed Onex Corp. will purchase Calgary-based air carrier WestJet in a $5 billion deal.

15  Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs into law the strictest anti-abortion ban in the U.S., one proponents hope will lead to that right being struck down nationally.

17  Ottawa and Washington come to a trade agreement that lifts nearly year-old U.S. sanctions on Canadian steel and aluminum.

20  A massive wildfire sparks the evacuation of about 5,000 people in the town of High Level and surrounding area.

24  Beset from all sides for her handling of the stalled Brexit initiative, British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation.

24  The B.C. Court of Appeal rules against that province’s argument that the toxicity of Alberta bitumen should restrict its transport to the west coast.

24  BJP Party leader Narendra Modi is declared the runaway winner of India’s national election, securing a second term as the country’s prime minister.

25  The Calgary Roughnecks won their third National Lacrosse League championship in overtime, beating the Buffalo Bandits 14-13 at the packed Saddledome.

27  Calgary city council decides not to provide a relief package to heavily taxed businesses.

29  The Court of Quebec sends to trial SNC-Lavalin, which is accused of corruption related to its dealings in Libya from 2001 to 2011.

29  U.S. special prosecutor Robert Mueller speaks on his two-year investigation to emphasize his resulting report didn’t exonerate President Donald Trump of obstruction but that it was beyond his mandate to issue any indictments.

30 Alberta’s justice ministry calls in an outside prosecutor in the case of irregularities in the 2017 UCP leadership race that had already led to more than $70,000 in fines for improper campaign financing.

30  The U.S. Midwest endures a record 13-straight days of tornadoes that unleash severe flooding and destroy hundreds of buildings, leaving several dead.

Toronto fans fill the streets in front of the city hall during the Raptors NBA Championship celebration parade.



3   Following three years of turbulent work and hearings, the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls returns a report calling its subjects’ plight genocide, while insisting on a human rights tribunal and various policies to combat systemic abuse.

10  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will ban single-use plastic items by 2021 in a bid to help curb runaway plastics pollution.

10  Pressed by business owners furious over skyrocketing property taxes, Calgary city council — grappling with gutted revenues from downtown office buildings — agrees to a $130.9-million non-residential tax cut.

11  It’s revealed a 2008 fire in Universal Studio’s backlot destroyed tens of thousands of historically significant musical master recordings.

12  The City of Calgary releases its report on the abortive bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics, revealing it spent $7 million on the effort.

12  Husky Oil Operations Ltd. is fined $3.8 million for a 2016 pipeline leak that severely polluted the North Saskatchewan River, shutting off water intake for thousands of people.

13  The Toronto Raptors defeat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to take the first NBA championship ever won by a league team based outside the U.S.

16  A power outage blacks out tens of millions of people in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay for several hours.

16  Quebec lawmakers pass Bill 21, which forbids public workers in areas of authority, including teachers, judges and prosecutors, from wearing items of religious connotation.

17  The House of Commons passes a motion declaring a national climate change crisis, with an eye to meeting the Paris Accords on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

18  The federal government announces its second approval of the contentious Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

19  Alberta Premier Jason Kenney creates an uproar when he hands out earplugs to his MLAs during a lengthy legislature debate over his government’s labour policies.

20  Canada’s Senate gives final approval to Bills C-69 and C-48, which critics contend tightly restrict the future of energy infrastructure projects and west coast tanker traffic respectively.

23  Calgary wins the right to host the 2023 World Petroleum Congress.

24  David Saint-Jacques returns to earth after spending 204 days on the International Space Station, setting an endurance record for a Canadian astronaut.

25  Citing fraudulent documentation linked to pork production, China suspends all Canadian meat imports.

25  Acting director of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection John Sanders resigns amid growing outrage over treatment of Central American migrants along the country’s southern border.

Former Calgary teacher Neil Bantleman is released from prison in Indonesia.



1  The first of the Alberta UCP government’s corporate tax cuts, moving from 12 per cent to 11 per cent, goes into effect, making the province’s rate the lowest in Canada.

1  U.S. President Donald Trump deals his country’s renewable energy industry a huge blow by slapping tariffs of up to 30 per cent on foreign-sourced solar panels.

1  A fire aboard a Russian military submarine kills 14 sailors. Russian officials say the submarine was conducting a seabed survey in the Arctic.

5  Despite an NDP filibuster, Alberta’s UCP government passes Bill 8, which allows schools to inform parents their children are members of a gay-straight alliance.

6  Florida-based billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is arrested and charged with child sex abuse offences. He allegedly has ties with political figures like Donald Trump and former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Alex Acosta, who had cut a controversial deal with Epstein while a Florida prosecutor 11 years earlier, resigns as U.S. labour secretary a few days later.

11  It is announced former Calgary teacher Neil Bantleman was released from an Indonesian prison and returned to Canada after five years of incarceration.  Bantleman, convicted of sex crimes against students in his care in what his supporters call dubious circumstances, was freed in late June and quickly flew back to Canada.

12  U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and senior congressmen tour an overcrowded migrant-holding pen near McAllen, Texas. Images of the squalid conditions intensify outrage over the U.S. response to asylum-seekers.

14  U.S. immigration enforcement officials begin much-feared sweeps in various cities to detain large numbers of undocumented immigrants, encountering resistance by some local authorities.

14  Sparking accusations he’s an unabashed racist, U.S. President Donald Trump calls out ethnic minority female Democrat congresswomen critical of his immigration policies and suggests they leave the U.S. Two days later, the House of Representatives votes to condemn Trump’s comments as racist.

17  The World Health Organization declares an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Congo.

21  Calgary city council and the owners of the NHL Flames reach a tentative deal on a new events complex with both sides evenly splitting its $550-million cost.

23  UK Conservatives choose Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May as Britain’s prime minister. He promises to achieve Britain’s departure from the EU by the end of October.

24  In a marathon session, Calgary’s city council approves $60 million in budget cuts heavily targeting emergency services, public transit and affordable housing that will include 115 layoffs.

25  In testimony before Congress, former special counsel Robert Mueller says President Donald Trump was not exonerated by his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

25  Much of Europe broils in a heat wave that smashes temperature records and raises fears over the consequences of climate change.

30  After years of wrangling and abortive negotiations, Calgary city council votes 11-4 to ratify a cost-sharing agreement with the NHL Flames for a new events centre/arena.

A woman holds a program at a vigil in honour of Javier Rodriguez, who was killed while shopping at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Callaghan O’Hare / REUTERS


1  Trade talks between the U.S. and China are put on hold while U.S. President Donald Trump announces a 10 per cent tariff will be slapped on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports.

1  Utilities and Environmental Services boss David Duckworth is named Calgary’s new city manager.

3  Mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, leave 32 people dead and more than 50 injured. The politically charged Texas massacre in a Walmart claims 22 lives and appears to be the work of a white nationalist inspired by hatred of immigrants.

5  Trade war concerns between the U.S. and China sends the Dow spiralling 767 points, the sharpest drop of the year.

5  India revokes measures that granted considerable autonomy to its restive Kashmir territory while cutting communication links, sparking unrest and international condemnation.

7  Following an intense two-week manhunt, suspects in three roadside murders in B.C., Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are found dead in dense brush near Gillam, Man.

8  Radiation level readings spike after an explosion tears through a military testing site in northern Russia that leaves several people dead. The detonation’s secretive nature and significance remains in dispute.

10  Authorities say convicted child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, known for his ties to powerful people including current and former presidents, has committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.

14  Canada’s ethics commissioner rules Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated conflict of interest laws in pressuring then-justice minister Jodi Wilson-Raybould to defer the prosecution of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin in 2018.

21  Concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump’s mental stability spike when he cancels a state visit to Denmark after his offer to purchase Greenland is rebuffed.

22  World leaders express grave concerns over runaway wildfires that are consuming the Amazon rain forest and other parts of South America.

26  An Oklahoma court orders pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in damages for its part in contributing to the opioid crisis. But, it’s far less than the state of Oklahoma sought.

26  The meeting of the G7 countries in Biarritz, France, ends with the U.S. and its president isolated on issues like climate change and handling Russia.

27  Brazil agrees to accept foreign financial help to battle fires ravaging Amazon forests that many fear will have global impact.

28  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament in the fall to ensure the passage of a no-deal Brexit in what many critics contend is an anti-democratic move.

28  Anthropologists announce the discovery of a 3.8-million-year-old hominid skull in Ethiopia — dubbed MRD — considered a watershed find in piecing together human evolution.

Joyce Fletcher clears her sidewalk in Calgary after an autumn storm on Sept. 29.

Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia


1-3  Hurricane Dorian lingers over the Bahamas to pound the island chain, but largely spares the U.S. east coast.

2 Thirty-four people perish when a dive boat bursts into flames off the California coast.

3  A blue ribbon panel — chaired by Janice MacKinnon and tasked with finding solutions to Alberta’s fiscal woes — returns a report recommending more private health care, results-based education spending and other austerity measures to bring down the cost of the province’s public service.

3  Rebel Tory MPs desert British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scuttle his goal of achieving a no-deal Brexit in the following month.

4  Canada federal court of appeal rules it will hear six of 12 legal challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, related to Indigenous consultation.

6  Robert Mugabe, who served as Zimbabwe’s often authoritarian president for 37 years after leading it to independence, dies at age 95.

7  Nineteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu becomes the first Canadian to win a tennis grand slam by defeating legendary Serena Williams at the U.S. Open.

7  U.S. President Donald Trump nixes months of peace negotiations with the Taliban — which appeared close to fruition, to end the 18-year Afghan war — after the group claims a suicide bombing that kills an American soldier and several others.

10  The American Lung Association issues a warning on vaping as deaths from the activity mount.

10  The Alberta government announces it’s mounting a constitutional challenge against the federal Bill C-69, which regulates energy infrastructure development.

10  The Progressives Conservatives under Premier Brian Pallister win a majority in Manitoba’s provincial election.

10  National security adviser John Bolton is dumped by the Trump administration due to disagreements over foreign policy. He’s the third such adviser to be shown the door.

13  Senior RCMP intelligence official Cameron Ortis is arrested for accessing classified information and having a secret communications device in an episode Mounties say could have serious national security ramifications.

14  Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim responsibility for drone attacks on Saudi oilfields in reprisal for the bombing of their country that knock out more than half of the kingdom’s production. It ratchets up economic fears and U.S. tensions with Iran, which is accused of mounting the attack.

18 The Washington Post reports a whistleblower within the Trump administration complained about a call the U.S. president made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, urging his government to investigate the son of his possible electoral rival Joe Biden. It sparks a standoff between the director of national intelligence and House Democrats who demand records on the complaint.

18  Amid the federal Canadian election campaign, photos and videos surface of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau painted in black and brown face at several parties during his high school days and teaching career.

19  A retrial in Lethbridge finds David and Collet Stephan not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son Ezekiel, who died of meningitis in 2012.

23  Thousands of passengers are stranded as the world’s oldest travel firm, Thomas Cook Travel, collapses.

23  At the UN in New York City, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg raises hackles and praise by angrily condemning politicians and other adults for failing to act on climate change.

24  House Democrats launch impeachment proceedings prompted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to recruit the Ukrainian government into aiding his re-election efforts.

25  A report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since 1993 and the accelerating impacts on those waters and the world’s frozen regions pose a dire threat to the environment.

26  A whistleblower’s complaint — alleging the Trump administration sought for months to gain the Ukrainian government’s help in undermining the president’s Democratic political foe — is released, pouring fuel on the impeachment effort. It’s suspected Trump withheld military funds for Ukraine in exchange for that country investigating the Bidens.

29  Calgary and much of southern Alberta is buried under a record-breaking early autumn snowfall.

Encana announces it is moving its headquarters from the Bow Building in Calgary to the U.S.

Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary


1  Amber Guyger is convicted of murder for shooting African-American Botham Jean in his apartment in 2018 when she was a Dallas police officer. She’s handed a 10-year prison sentence the next day.

6  The U.S. greenlights a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, sparking accusations the White House is betraying its Kurdish allies.

7  Norway’s largest pension fund says it’s divesting from Alberta’s oilsands, citing environmental concerns.

9  California energy provider PG&E initiates an unprecedented electricity blackout in the San Francisco Bay area, impacting 2.4 million customers, to prevent strong winds from downing live power lines that could spark wildfires.

15  Alberta joins B.C.’s class-action suit for financial compensation from pharmaceutical companies for the damage caused by the opioid crisis.

17  On the first anniversary of legal recreational cannabis, the prohibition on edibles and other derivatives of the drug officially ends.

21  Canada’s federal election delivers a minority Parliament. The re-elected Liberal government garners 20 fewer seats than in the 2015 vote.

22  Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies that the Trump administration withheld military aid to that country until its president was to publicly announce an investigation into Trump’s main electoral rival, Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

23  The dead bodies of 39 smuggled Chinese nationals are found in a tractor in southeast England.

24  Alberta’s UCP government brings down a budget that cuts spending by 2.8 per cent, but includes an increased deficit.

27  The U.S. announces its special forces troops killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid in northwestern Syria.

30  Amid deliberate power shutdowns to prevent further blazes, millions of Californians continue to be directly menaced by wind-blown wildfires whose increasing frequency and severity have been blamed on climate change.

31  Calgary-based energy giant Encana announces it is moving its base of operations to the U.S. and re-naming itself Ovintiv in what’s seen by many as another blow to confidence in Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Don Cherry, photographed the day after being fired from Coach’s Corner.

Craig Robertson/Postmedia News


2 — After falling behind 1-0 in the first leg, Cavalry FC’s tremendous first season ended in heartbreak at Spruce Meadows as Forge FC won again, 1-0, to claim the first CPL title.

4  After 13 years at the helm, Elizabeth May steps down as leader of Canada’s Green Party.

4  The U.S. officially announces that it will follow through on its pledge to withdraw from the Paris Accord on controlling climate change, with the actual pull-out date coming a year later.

5  China ends its four-month ban on Canadian beef and pork believed to have been motivated by Canada’s detention of a senior Huawei executive.

8  A New York court orders U.S. President Donald Trump to pay a $2 million fine for misuse of funds collected by one of his charitable foundations.

9  Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces he is looking at ways of making Alberta more sovereign and that a provincially appointed panel will hear from Albertans on how to strike a fairer deal with Canada.

10  Bolivian President Evo Morales is ousted by the country’s military following unrest over allegations of election fraud.

11  Contentious and cantankerous hockey commentator Don Cherry is fired by Rogers Sportsnet after making on-air comments doubting immigrants’ understanding of the poppy.

14  A joint Alberta police task force announces the largest fentanyl bust in Canadian history, seizing $4 million to $6 million of the drug and making seven arrests in cracking an international crime ring.

15  Donald Trump associate Roger Stone is found guilty of lying and witness tampering in an investigation into how WikiLeaks was used to undermine the Democrats in the 2016 presidential election.

15  Impeachment hearings in Washington D.C. continue with witnesses testifying President Donald Trump sought Ukrainian help for his 2020 campaign in return for American military aid. During the hearing, Trump blasts a tweet at former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her testimony that many see as intimidating and witness tampering.

15: Mass protests in Iran are sparked by a spike in fuel prices and are brutally suppressed by security forces. Hundreds are dissidents are killed.

18  Alberta’s UCP government reveals it’s firing the province’s elections commissioner while he investigates alleged fraud in the party’s 2017 leadership campaign.

19  About 3,200 CN Rail workers go on strike over safety issues and other working conditions. The walkout lasts about a week.

20 In bombshell testimony at the House impeachment hearings, U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland says President Donald Trump attempted to bribe the Ukrainian government with military aid for his own political gain and that several top-ranking officials in his administration were aware.

20 After a disastrous BBC interview on his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew steps away from royal duties.

21  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

23  The Calgary Dinos football team ended a 24-year national title drought with a 27-13 victory over the Montreal Carabins in the Vanier Cup, played in Quebec City.

24  Following six months of anti-Beijing protests and clashes with police, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy forces win a landslide in local elections. But the protests continue, including a wild siege at the Polytechnic University that ends after two weeks.

24  Calgary hosts the 107th Grey Cup, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12.

25  Allegations emerge that Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters repeatedly uttered racial slurs at player Akim Aliu while he was an American Hockey League bench boss a decade ago. Peters leaves the team four days later.

29  Alberta public sector unions warn of thousands of layoffs to come following the UCP government’s budget.

29  Calgary city council shifts more of the tax burden from beleaguered businesses to residences, approving a 7.5-per-cent hike for homeowners.

Pipe for the Trans Mountain expansion is ready to be put in the ground just west of Edmonton on Dec. 3.

Ed Kaiser/Postmedia


3  After years of waiting and delays, work on the Alberta right-of-way for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion begins in the Edmonton area.

3  A combative NATO 70th anniversary gathering of member leaders in London ends in rancour when U.S. President Donald Trump makes an early exit after allegedly being mocked by counterparts.

6  In an act of apparent terrorism, Saudi military trainee Mohammed Alshamrani goes on a shooting rampage at a U.S. naval base in Pensacola, Fla. He kills three people and wounds eight others before being shot down.

9  The World Anti-Doping Agency bans Russia from international competition for four years for its systemic policy of athlete doping.

9  Sixteen people are killed when a volcano on New Zealand’s White Island erupts.

9  A confidential report acquired by the Washington Post details how U.S. military and government officials hid the truth about the lack of progress of the 18-year war in Afghanistan and privately viewed it as unwinnable.

10  Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives  unveil two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in allegedly seeking to bribe the Ukrainian government with military aid money to assist him in his re-election.

10  Following months of often fraught wrangling, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico ink an updated North American Free Trade Agreement.

12  Following his national election defeat, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announces he’s stepping down from the post at the same time it’s revealed he used party money to pay for his children’s private schooling.

12  UK voters hand Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a majority victory, seemingly clearing the way for his country’s departure from the EU.

18  House Democrats impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstructing Congress, making him the third U.S. president in history to receive the censure.

19  A massively observed, continuous general strike over pension reforms disrupts France.

21  Fuelled by a record-shattering heatwave, wildfires of unprecedented ferocity continue to consume large parts of Australia and scorch areas around the country’s largest city, Sydney. Climate change is widely fingered as a contributor. The country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, faces heavy criticism for vacationing during the catastrophe.

23  Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg resigns following sustained backlash over the crashes of two of its 737 Max airliners.

25 In her annual Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth called 2019 a “bumpy” year, as much for the U.K. due to Brexit as for her own family due to Prince Andrew’s ties to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

28 Dozens are killed in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, after a truck bomb exploded at a checkpoint in the middle of morning rush hour.

28: Hannukah celebrants at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y. are slashed by a machete-wielding attacker, the latest in a series of violent anti-semitic incidents in the U.S.


on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn


10 Contemporary African Authors

Shadreck Chikoti

Lauren Beukes

auren beukes

Lauren Beukes is a South African author who is popularly known for her 2010 award winning novel ‘Zoo City’ which was described by the New York Times as ‘an energetic phantasmagorical noir’. She also won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Kitschies Red Tentacle and was long-listed for the IMPAC Award. ‘Zoo City’ is set in an alternate version of Johannesburg where people who commit a crime are transformed into animals. The novel’s chief protagonist, Zinzi December, gets ‘animalled’ into a sloth after being involved in her brothers’ murder. Her crime and suspense novel, ‘The Shining Girls’ bagged the Exclusive Books’ ‘Reader’s Choice Book of the Year 2013’ and the Best Book 2013 University of Johannesburg Prize among other awards and nominations. The story is about a time-travelling serial killer and the survivor who turns the hunt around. Her recent novel, ‘Broken Monsters’ which is about a killer trying to remake the world in his image, has received great reviews from the New York Times and won best suspense novel in the ALA’s 2015 Reading List. Other works include ‘Moxyland’, ‘Maverick: Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past’ and other short stories published in various anthologies. Referring to the inspiration for her writing, Beukes says: “In South Africa, we have a great expression, “picking up stompies” (cigarette stubs) which means eavesdropping on snippets of a conversation and jumping to conclusions. I pick up a lot of stompies, from stuff I’ve read or seen or overheard or a news story or an advertising billboard or something half-glanced from the car windows – and I use that as a jumping off point.” She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, and has worked as a journalist, TV scriptwriter and columnist.

Okwiri Oduor

Okwiri Oduor

Okwiri Oduor is an upcoming Kenyan author who made waves in the literature world after winning the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story titled ‘My Father’S Head’. The story explores the narrator’s difficulty in dealing with the loss of her father and looks at the themes of memory, loss and loneliness. The narrator works in a home for the elderly and comes into contact with a priest, giving her the courage to recall her buried memories of her father. “I just felt like writing, putting my thoughts down in a story,” Oduor says about writing ‘My Father’s Head’. The former law student says she did not mean for it to go anywhere. Previous winners of the Caine Prize include Nigeria’s Tope Folarin in 2013 and Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo in 2011. Her novella, ‘The Dream Chasers’ was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize in 2012. She was a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is working on her debut novel.

Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala is a Nigerian medical doctor and author of the popular 2005 novel ‘Beasts of No Nation’ which was recently adapted into a film starring Idris Elba and breakout Ghanaian star Abraham Attah. The film was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. The novel tells the story of young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of soldiers fighting a war in an unnamed West African country. The book is hailed for its confrontational and immersive first-person narrative as well as for its depiction of the complexities experienced by child soldiers. The novel started out as a thesis for Uzodinma’s undergraduate English and American Literature and Language studies at Harvard. He was working under the tutelage of Caribbean novelist Jamaica Kincaid. He won the Hoopes Prize and the Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for most outstanding thesis concerning African or African American literature among other awards. He also scooped the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award in 2006 and was named as one of Granta Magazine’s top 20 best young American novelists. “If you’re going to take a certain subject matter, you really have to do your research and understand what’s going on,” Iweala says on storytelling. “This is not just, “oh let me sit down and make stuff up”,” he reiterates. In 2011, he graduated from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Noviolet Bulawayo


Elizabeth Tshele, better known as NoViolet Bulawayo, is a Zimbabwean-born author. Born in Bulawayo, she is best known for her award-winning 2013 novel ‘We Need New Names.’ The book is based on a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Darling and her group of friends in Zimbabwe. The story follows the adventures that Darling and her friends embark on, whilst experiencing the realities of Zimbabwe. The book was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and, among others, was selected for inclusion on the New York Times Notable Books of 2013 list. Tshele was the first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She also won the Etisalat Prize for Literature and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award among other accolades. “I was speaking for the need for us as a people to sort of re-imagine, rethink ourselves, rethink our way, think about where we were going,” Tshele says about the title of her book. “We needed new ways of seeing things, new ways of doing things, new leadership. It was basically a call for renewal.” NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she now teaches as a Jones Lecturer in Fiction.

Dinaw Mengestu


Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian author who is known for his novels ‘Children of the Revolution’ (2007), ‘How To Read The Air’ (2010), ‘The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears’ (2007) and his recent 2014 novel ‘All Our Names’. He also wrote a notable article on the war in Darfur for Rolling Stone and on the conflict in northern Uganda for Jane Magazine. The recurring theme in his novels is one of individuals immigrating to the USA to fashion new lives. ‘All Our Names’ is one such story which is based on two narrators who tell their story about leaving their homelands to start a new life in another part of the world. The characters, like so many young Africans, are intoxicated by the possibilities new beginnings and self-invention. ‘I told my parents I was going to be a doctor and then a lawyer, but I never believed it and never tried,’ Mengestu says about his journey on becoming a writer. ‘Once I began college, I was committed to writing, which I think is different from saying I wanted to become a writer. I knew I would always write; I just wasn’t always sure how I would go about doing so’. Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1978 and immigrated to the USA with his family when he was a child. The family settled in the state of Illinois. He received his B.A. in English from Georgetown University and graduated from Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in fiction. He is the recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation and a 20 Under 40 award from The New Yorker. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’s Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He is a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

Taiye Selasi

taiye selasi

Taiye Selasi is a Nigerian/Ghanaian author who was born in London and raised in Massachusetts, USA. She is best known for her debut novel titled ‘Ghana Must Go’, which was named the New York Times bestseller and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. The novel tells the story of a splintered family reconciling after being devastated by abandonment and death. The book was named after the Nigerian phrase directed at incoming Ghanaian refugees during political unrest in the 1980s. She is also known for her 2005 essay titled ‘What is an Afropolitan?’ where she discusses the rise of internationally mobile, young people of African descent, making their mark on the world and defying downtrodden stereotypes, as well as her short fiction titled ‘The Sex Lives of African Girls’ which was published in ‘The Best American Short Stories’ in 2012. “The big ideas always come in flashes. I don’t really craft stories that much,” Selasi says about her writing inspirations. “I genuinely don’t know where these people come from and I’ve often wondered if writing is just a socially acceptable form of madness.” Selasi graduated summa cum laude with a BA in American Studies from Yale University and earned an M.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University. In 2006 Taiye joined the WGAE Screenwriting Lab at Columbia University, studying under Oscar nominee Zach Sklar (JFK). She worked in television production before moving on to full-time in fiction, screenwriting, and photography.

Shadreck Chikoti

Shadreck Chikoti

Shadreck Chikoti is a Malawian author who is best known for his futuristic novel ‘Azotus the Kingdom.’ The novel, which is a story about how Africa would be 500 years from now, won the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award at an event that was held in Lilongwe, Malawi. It took Chikoti 6 years to complete the novel. “The manuscript was written in a space of 3 months while in a residency in Denmark,” Chikoti says about the writing journey for the book. “I wrote the first half of the book in Viborg and the other in Copenhagen where my co-director Trine Andersen provided the environment.” Chikoti is expected to read the book this year at the University of Michigan. Chikoti has a diploma in Journalism from the Polytechnic College of Malawi, and a certificate in Radio Production from Trans World Radio Communication Center. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology and Communication from African Bible College. He is vice president of the Malawi Writers Union and founded Pan African Publishers Limited with Trine Andersen with the aim publishing works from African authors.

Nakhane Toure

nakhane toure

Nakhane Toure is a musician and author who was raised in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province and is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His debut novel titled ‘Piggy Boy’s Blues’ was released in September last year through Jacana Media. He spent about 6 years on the project, which was initially named ‘To Whom Shall We Go?’ until he decided to change it to the current title. The overarching theme of the book is its exploration of the spiritual lives of black people. It reads more like fragments of a recurring dream rather than a linear novel as it explores the identities of the story’s three main characters. In writing the book, which led him on a journey from Johannesburg back to his hometown in the Eastern Cape, Toure admits to being inspired by the Bible; the episodic structure of it and how information is given in a single chapter before the story moves on. “My mother was and still is a very important influence on almost everything I do creatively,” Toure says on his inspiration for writing. “She remains an incredible story-teller.” Toure studied literature at the University of the Witwatersrand and released his award-winning debut album ‘Brave Confusion’ in 2013.

Tendai Huchu


Tendai Huchu is an author who was born and raised in Bindura, Zimbabwe. He is popularly known for his debut novel titled ‘The Hairdresser of Harare’ which was released in 2010 to critical acclaim. The book has been described by the New York Times as a fresh and moving account of contemporary Zimbabwe. The story’s narrator Vimbai is a struggling single mother who is estranged from her family. She is also the best hairdresser in Harare and meets a charismatic fellow named Dumisani when he arrives at her salon. The secrets that Dumisani brings with him ultimately transform Vimbai and her understanding of the world around her. The book has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His multi-genre short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various publications including The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Gutter. His new novel is titled ‘The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician’. Huchu studied Podiatry as his undergraduate studies, and is currently a creative writing PhD student at Manchester University. “I had no formal literary training when I started,” says Huchu. “I never attended any workshops or anything like that. I just winged it, and as they say, I’m still winging it!” He notes that his inspiration to write could have come from his primary school teacher who would thrust a good book in his hands, or from reading work from 19th century Russian novelists such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev in his early twenties.

Chigozie Obiama

Chigozie Obioma

Chigozie Obioma is a Nigerian-born author who is popularly known for his debut novel titled ‘The Fisherman’. The book is a coming-of-age novel that follows four brothers in a small Nigerian village who are given a violent prophecy which shakes their family to the core. “That mythic dimension is what I’m most interested in — the way he blends the supernatural world seamlessly with the human reality,” Obioma says about his inspiration for the novel. Obioma adds that inspiration for the book came from a telephonic conversation back in 2009 with his father where he was told about the increasing closeness of his elder brothers who were bitter rivals for a period during their adolescent years. He then imagined what life would have been like if they had continued on the path of resentment, and it inspired a story about a family whose unity is destroyed by an external force. The book was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Obioma already has The Inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices for Fiction award and the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Literary Work under his belt. He has made onto various lists including the 2015 the Financial Times and the UK Observer for Best Debut Novel of the Year. Obioma was born in 1986 and raised in Akure, south-west Nigeria. After studying economics in Nigeria, he pursued Literature at Cyprus International University. He graduated with a masters degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan, and is now a professor in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.


Carbon Markets Can Provide a Crucial Part of the Solution to the Climate Crisis

Climate Change, Conferences, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Energy, Environment, Global, Green Economy, Headlines, Labour, TerraViva United Nations


Fenella Aouane, Principal Green Finance Specialist, Investment and Policy Solutions Division, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec 18 2019 (IPS) – One of the main discussions at the COP25 climate change talks was Article 6, which is designed to provide financial support to emerging economies and developing countries to help them reduce emissions by using global carbon markets. Carbon pricing is an essential piece of the puzzle to curb emissions. Without a value on carbon, there is less incentive to make positive changes, especially in the private sector. The most efficient way to carry this forward is to allow trading of carbon both nationally and internationally, which will ensure the lowest cost of mitigation for participants globally.

Fenella Aouane

The COP25 negotiations in Madrid have largely been dominated by Article 6 negotiations on potential carbon markets as they are perceived by many, including businesses, as a way to generate financial flows to emerging economies and developing countries, and to reduce emissions at the lowest possible cost. Thus, it’s crucial to adopt decisions on Article 6 as rules need to be set to show how such markets will operate – this is the guidance the Article 6 rulebook will create. The sooner the better, overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE) will be possible under the Paris Agreement through international carbon trading with aspects such as corresponding adjustments, which were lacking under the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon markets are a way to not only manage mitigation emissions cuts, but help to find the lowest cost and therefore a strong motivator for implementing international efforts.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a Seoul-based treaty-based international, inter-governmental organization that supports emerging economies and developing country governments transition to a model of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, is already involved in several programs, funded by developed country governments such as Norway and Sweden. GGGI is working with the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment on wider policy approaches, which have been made possible under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement through cooperative approaches. This program looks at helping its member and partner governments to identify areas above their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets, where emissions reductions directly resulting from policy interventions are quantified and transacted. This creates a flow of carbon finance, in exchange for the transfer of the resultant internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs). These programs will not only create ITMO transactions but also set up the lasting infrastructure needed for countries to be able to govern and properly account for future transfers, ensuring environmental integrity and transparency.

GGGI has a key role to play. A further good example is GGGI’s recent collaboration with the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA). The two organizations will work together to catalyze international trading of mitigation outcomes in support of the increased climate ambitions needed under the Paris Agreement. Through a joint cooperation, SEA and GGGI will identify and structure mitigation activities and support the establishment of governance frameworks within host countries as required under the developing rulebook of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, with the goal of completing ITMO transactions.

Although specific rules related to cooperative approaches under Article 6 have yet to be codified, Article 6 aims at supporting the authorization of international emissions trades while avoiding double counting and ensuring environmental integrity, permitting the movement of the related emission reductions between registries, and better linking national emission trading schemes, project-level transactions, and cooperative approaches.

What next? Carbon markets can and should be seen as an opportunity to lower the cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and enabling countries to commit to more ambitious targets. At next year’s Glasgow climate change conference, countries need to come forward with more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. GGGI’s work on pioneering designs for international carbon transactions over 2020 will help shape how the carbon markets can contribute to this increased ambition. It has also made the 2020 NDCs a priority in support of its Members and will ensure that there is strong support to deliver this next year. We need to come to Glasgow with concrete plans and steps. However, tackling climate change cannot be solved by one government alone. There needs to be high-level political commitment and collective action – these are a must.


New England Malawi Association in Collaboration with Music Against Malaria raises funds for Chikwawa district Hospital

Written by Peter Mmangisa Chonga

Electric does not even come close to sum up an atmosphere that was experienced at the New England Malawi Association-NEMA and Music Against Malaria-MAM event held at Tavola 153, on 153 Market street downtown Hartford City, Connecticut, USA. A renowned Malawian cultural music icon Code Sangala and the super star rising comic of the moment Ian Phiri proved to the diverse audience of Malawians, Zambians, Americans and Tanzanians who came out to support the show that disappointment is a word that does not exist in their Lingual. It was truly a masterly display of art, a synthesis of comedy and Malawian cultural music that gave birth to an atmosphere so exhilarating and yet so cosy and ambient.

Patrons arrived at the function pregnant with great expectations and indeed the artists lived up to their billing. “I haven’t had such type of fun in a long time, this event brought back fond memories, said one of the patrons Mr Acton Tsonga a resident of Plainville Connecticut.

The night began with remarks from the Chairperson of NEMA Mr Solomon Nkhalamba. In his speech he echoed sentiments of the importance of a people working together.” Tonight, we are here in line with one of the Associations objectives. We are proud to be a united body of sons and daughters who celebrate and mourn together without regard to tribal, regional, political, religious or other differences, but rooted in one bond of Mother Malawi”. He continued to reiterate that NEMA understands well the challenge malaria poses to children particularly those aged five and under, “it is such a great honour to join hands with Music Against Malaria in this fight and I urge diaspora Malawians to take this as a testament that Malawians can make a difference in Malawi regardless of where they are,” said Mr. Nkhalamba.

The stand-up comic Ian Phiri took to the stage at exactly 19 hours and immediately sent the audience into stitches, touched on subjects such as education, growing up in a Malawian household in America, and on his personal life experiences as a husband and a father.

The rest of the night patrons were treated to authentic Malawian cultural music performed by non-other than Mr CODE himself. He began his performance with Malawian folk songs and golden oldies, but the highlight of night came when he began to perform hits from his newly released album entitled Mizu. Songs such as Mukunama, Tithana and many others kept patrons on their feet throughout the remaining allotted time. It was a beautiful time of interaction, networking and camaraderie, all for a great cause, said Mrs Thandy Mwawu who travelled over 140 miles to attend the event. All proceeds realized are to be used in refurbishing a children’s ward at a district hospital in Chikwawa. Chikwawa district is one of the Malaria hotspots in Malawi.

Arab Region’s Largest Youth Gathering Focuses on New Tech

Conferences, Economy & Trade, Featured, Headlines, Middle East & North Africa, Population, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations


At the Global Youth Forum in Egypt thousands of youth attend a session on Artificial Intelligence and to hear Sophia — a humanoid robot capable of displaying humanlike expressions and interacting with people. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

SHARM-EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Dec 18 2019 (IPS) – On late Monday morning, a motley group of more than a thousand youth gathered in a hall in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to listen to Sophia — a humanoid robot capable of displaying humanlike expressions and interacting with people. Yahya Elghobashy, a computer science engineering student from Cairo, sat excitedly in the audience. A few meters away from him, also in the audience, was Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — the President of Egypt.

As Sophia and a panel of scientists on the stage spoke about Artificial Intelligence (AI), El-Sisi was seen listening attentively and taking notes while the young crowd around him squealed and took photos.

“It was very exciting that I was going to see and hear the world’s best humanoid robot and that the president himself was there,” Elghobashy revealed, a big smile on his face.

Since 2017, Egyptian president El-Sisi has been seen here at the World Youth Forum each year. The event is now the Arab world’s largest youth gathering, focusing on peace, culture and development.

The 3-day forum, which ended yesterday, Dec.17, drew nearly 8,000 people including 64 speakers and several hundred youth leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. There was also a large contingent of government officials and ministers in attendance, which has been happening under the direct patronage of the president. The core theme of the event is “Egypt: where civilisations meet” – an effort to highlight the cultural diversity of the country to the world.

Technology and innovation in the spotlight

But the dominating subject of discussions at the forum this year was technology and innovation. Of the 20 sessions, half were centred around technology and artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, industrial innovation and blockchain technologies and applications.

On Monday, Dec. 16, at the session on AI, youths were seen loudly cheering as Sophia the robot spoke. Designed by Hanson Robotics of Hong Kong, Sophia described herself as a robot who is here to assist in the fields of research, education, and entertainment, and help promote public discussion about AI.  At the session, a panel of youth experts also talked passionately about ethics and the future of robotics. “You can build robots that are energy-efficient and also run on renewable energy,” said the humanoid robot to the cheering young crowd.

“This is very progressive that we are discussing advanced technology like AI here. As an engineering student, I think it especially encourages us to talk about what is most relevant to our life, our country and our future,” Elghobashy told IPS.

At a press conference later, El-Sisi assured people that the government was indeed paying attention to the developments at World Youth Forum and planned to bring cutting-edge technologies to the country’s youth for a better future.

“We will be launching a series of new universities teaching all relevant digital age sciences. We will also seek partnerships with international institutions to guarantee a high level of quality education,” El-Sisi said.

New technologies, risks and challenges

Besides the excitement of ground-breaking technologies, the forum also threw light on the risks and challenges of new technologies such as  blockchain – a decentralised, distributed ledger that records the provenance of a digital asset. Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is a perfect example of blockchain technology.

Challenges faced by various countries regarding blockchain due to the lack of national legislation in countries other than China and the United States was also a prominent talking point. This includes possible threats like blockchain being misused by terrorist organisations to sell oil, purchase weapons, and exchange digital currencies.

The missing technologies

Samia Khamis is a student of international relations in Amman, Jordan who traveled to the forum for the first time. “I came via Cairo, which is only an hour away from Jordan, but the moment I stepped out of the airport I could feel that the air pollution level is much higher than my country,” she told IPS.

Cairo is one of the world’s most polluted cities.  According to NUMBEO – an air quality data monitor, residents of Cairo breathe in polluted air, with levels reaching as high as 85 percent.

According to Khamis, Egypt needs to develop technologies that could clear its sky which is “dark” because of pollution. “It is good that we are brining so many technologies on display here, but we need technologies that can make our environment better and our air clearer,” she said.

The forum’s closing ceremony took place on Tuesday night.