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  • Bob Geldof 'beyond pain' at death of daughter Peaches

    London (AFP) - Live Aid founder Bob Geldof said his family was "beyond pain" at the death of his socialite daughter Peaches at the age of 25.

    Police were called to her secluded home outside Wrotham in Kent on Monday but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death was being treated as "unexplained and sudden" but non-suspicious, police said.

    Peaches, a mother of two young sons herself, was just 11 when her mother, television presenter Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose aged 41 in 2000.

    In her last Twitter message to her 190,000 followers on Sunday, Peaches posted a photograph of her as a baby being held by her mother, with the words, "Me and my mum".

    Her father Bob, who put together a huge live rock show in 1985 to raise money for the Ethiopian famine, said of his second daughter: "Peaches has died. We are beyond pain."

    "She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us."

    "Writing 'was' destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child."

    "How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever."

    Singers Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding were among the first to pay tribute on social media.

    "My thoughts are with Peaches' family at this awful time," fellow mum-of-two Allen wrote on Twitter. "I hope they get to grieve in peace. Peaches, rest in peace gorgeous girl"

    Singer Ellie Goulding added: "Even if you think you've got it all figured out, some things still can't be explained or understood. Two beautiful children. RIP Peaches".

    Sharon Osborne later said it was "unimaginable" what the family was going through, while X Factor mogul Simon Cowell tweeted: "The few times I met Peaches she was a sweet, funny warm person. Much love to her family she has left behind."

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  • Belgium PM in gay rights appeal at Africa-EU summit

    Belgium's gay Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has called on African leaders to respect the rights of minorities, including homosexuals.

    It was intolerable that people were "persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions", he said.

    Mr Di Rupo was addressing African and European leaders attending the EU-Africa summit in Brussels.

    Nigeria and Uganda have toughened anti-gay laws this year.

    Their presidents - Goodluck Jonathan and Yoweri Museveni - are at the summit, which is discussing ways to strengthen relations between the EU and Africa.

    Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, where homosexuality is often seen as "evil" and "abnormal".

    Mr Di Rupo is Europe's second openly gay government leader, after Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

    "We cannot tolerate that some are denied their rights and persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions," he said on Wednesday, at a welcome dinner for some 80 leaders.

    Mr Museveni and Mr Jonathan have not responded to his comments.

    Convicted

    Uganda's authorities have previously defended the tougher anti-gay law, saying Mr Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".

    The law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality" and also criminalises the "promotion of homosexuality".

    Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda when Mr Museveni approved the law in February.

    Some people known or suspected to be gay have faced "violence and retaliation" since then, rights activists say.

    Late last year, Nigeria's parliament passed a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

    Mr Jonathan signed it into law, with backing from influential Muslim and Christian clerics.

    Homosexual acts were already illegal in Nigeria under both secular and Islamic law when the law was approved.

    Five people have been convicted of homosexual offences by Islamic courts in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north since January.

    Several European nations - including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden - have cut aid to Uganda to show their opposition to the law.

    The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda to improve its health services after the law was approved.

    source: BBC

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  • Ethiopian gets legal aid to sue Britain for giving aid to Ethiopia

    Prime Minister David Cameron

    An Ethiopian farmer has been given legal aid in the UK to sue Britain – because he claims millions of pounds sent by the UK to his country is supporting a brutal regime that has ruined his life.

    He says UK taxpayers’ money –  £1.3 billion over the five years of the coalition Government – is funding a despotic one-party state in his country that is forcing thousands of villagers such as him from their land using murder, torture and rape.

    The landmark case is highly embarrassing for the Government, which has poured vast amounts of extra cash into foreign aid despite belt-tightening austerity measures at home.

    Prime Minister David Cameron claims the donations are a mark of Britain’s compassion.

    But the farmer – whose case is  set to cost tens of thousands of pounds – argues that huge sums handed to Ethiopia are breaching the Department for International Development’s (DFID) own human rights rules.

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  • North Korea: Students required to get Kim Jong-un haircut

    Male university students in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported.

    The state-sanctioned guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, Radio Free Asia reports. It is now being rolled out across the country - although some people have expressed reservations about getting the look.

    "Our leader's haircut is very particular, if you will," one source tells Radio Free Asia. "It doesn't always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes." Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. "Until the mid-2000s, we called it the 'Chinese smuggler haircut'," the Korea Times reports.

    It seems that haircuts have been state-approved in North Korea for some time - until now people were reportedly only allowed to choose from 18 styles for women and 10 for men. Earlier, North Korea's state TV launched a campaign against long hair, called "Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle".

    However, there are conflicting reports over the haircut mandate, with the NK News website reporting that recent visitors to Pyongyang did not notice a change in hair styles.

    Late leader Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea for 17 years, sported a bouffant hairstyle, reportedly in order to look taller.

    source: BBC

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  • Indian lines of credit help Ethiopia build sugar and power sectors

    New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Lines of Credit worth more than $1 billion extended by India to Ethiopia have helped the landlocked country build its sugar and power industries and rail network, Ambassador Gennet Zewide said here Monday.

    These three sectors together have an employment potential of 50,000 jobs, she added.

    "The Ethiopian government has a clear policy to be a middle income country by 2023-25. Every five years, it has its own programme. For 2011-15 we have the programme to transfer our economy from agriculture to that of industry. Hence both electricity and sugar are very important," Zewide said, addressing the 10th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership.

    The EXIM Bank has been extending credit to Ethiopia for about eight years. Till date, more than $1 billion in Lines of Credit have been provided for the development of three sugar companies in the Horn of Africa country.

    "Ethiopia has been net importer of sugar for so many years. We were the third largest importer of sugar. Earlier $200-300 million annually was spent on sugar but after the line of credit came in we are not importing sugar. We are rather selling. By 2015 we are going to be net exporter of sugar. We will export to European Union countries," Zewide said.

    "We will have 2,000 MW of electricity generation as co-generation from sugar and 3 lakh tonnes of ethanol generation," she added.

    Zewide said the rural areas in the country often face difficulties due to unavailability of electricity -- especially, the hospital and the education sectors are most hit. "We have a programme of electrifying our village by 2015. We are electrifying 87 towns and villages in the rural area. It means a lot in terms of hospital and education."

    Talking about a rail link between the Ethiopian city of Asaita and the port city of Tadjourah in neighbouring Djibouti, she said: "So far we are negotiating and we are talking... and hopefully, it will be pretty soon finalised to get a line of $600 million and $400 million, totalling $1 billion for the project."

    She said the rail link will drastically bring down the transportation cost of goods and services.

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