Togo (Security threat level - 4): On 18 October 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Lome issued a Security Message, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports that several Togolese opposition political parties have called for unauthorized protests on October 18 and 19, beginning in the morning each day. “Protesters are expected to use a number of routes in areas of central, northern, and northeastern Lomé. Major traffic disruptions are likely in Lomé, and public bus and private taxi services may be interrupted. “Protest leaders have also called for rallies at: (1) Palais des Congrès, (2) the Lomé-based ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (in French: BIDC, Banque d’investissement et de développement de la CEDEAO), and (3) the beach in front of the Ibis Hotel. “The U.S. Embassy will observe normal working hours on October 18 and 19. “Although the Embassy is not presently aware of specific plans for protests in the rest of the country, demonstrations in other cities of the interior, notably in Sokodé, frequently accompany calls for protests in Lomé. These events are normally peaceful. However, on August 19 in Sokodé and on September 20 in Mango, protest-related clashes resulted in at least three fatalities and a number of injuries. “In the aftermath of violent incidents during the night of October 16-17 in Sokodé, Bafilo, and Kpalimé, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens that unplanned protests may occur throughout the country today, October 17. Travelers may encounter snap checkpoints run by the authorities and improvised roadblocks established by protesters. “Police disperse unauthorized demonstrations that interfere with road traffic – particularly on National Route 1 – using nonlethal measures such as tear gas and by arresting some participants. Authorities have occasionally interrupted internet and cellular data services, making communications difficult and unpredictable. “We recommend:
“Minimizing travel throughout the country on October 18 and 19; “Having flexible travel plans and rescheduling travel along National Route 1 to or through Sokodé until a later date if possible;
“Having alternate communications plans that do not rely solely on cellular telephone and cellular data networks;
“Exercising caution and being aware of your surroundings;
“Monitoring media and local news;
“Reporting specific safety concerns to local law enforcement authorities.”
19.10.17 China Country Has Entered A 'New Era' - Xi Jinpeng
China has entered a "new era" where it should "take centre stage in the world", President Xi Jinping says.
The country's rapid progress under "socialism with Chinese characteristics" shows there is "a new choice for other countries", he told the Communist Party congress.
The closed-door summit determines who rules China and the country's direction for the next term.
Mr Xi has been consolidating power and is expected to remain as party chief.
The congress, which takes place once every five years, will finish on Tuesday. More than 2,000 delegates are attending the event, which is taking place under tight security.
Shortly after the congress ends, the party is expected to unveil the new members of China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, who will steer the country.
Listing China's recent achievements in his three-hour speech, Mr Xi said that "socialism with Chinese characteristics in this new era" meant China had now "become a great power in the world", and had played "an important role in the history of humankind".
The Chinese model of growth under Communist rule was "flourishing", he said, and had given "a new choice" to other developing countries.
"It is time for us to take centre stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind," he added.
Since Mr Xi took power in 2012, China's economy has continued to grow rapidly. But correspondents say the country has also become more authoritarian, with increasing censorship and arrests of lawyers and activists.
19.10.17 Nigeria Four Foreigners Kidnapped In Delta State
Four people, believed to be British, have been kidnapped in Nigeria's southern Delta state, police in the country have said.
The four were reportedly taken at about 02:00 local time on Tuesday when suspected militants stormed a rural community they were living in.
The Foreign Office has not commented.
Andrew Aniamaka, a police spokesman in Nigeria, said officers had identified a militant group, calling themselves the Karowei, as the main suspects.
No ransom demand had yet been made, he added.
BBC reporter Stephanie Hegarty, based in the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos, said police believe the reported kidnapping could be a response to a recent surge in efforts to tackle militancy in the region.
She said kidnapping for ransom is common in the oil-rich Niger Delta area.
The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to parts of southern Nigeria, saying there is "a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria".
London, 17 October 2017 – The flagship global report notes that, while piracy rates were down compared to the same period in 2016, there is continuing concern over attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and in South East Asia. The increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya - including an attempted boarding in the last quarter - highlights the need for vigilance in other areas. In total, 92 vessels were boarded, 13 were fired upon, there were 11 attempted attacks and five vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017.
No incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in this quarter, though the successful attacks from earlier in the year suggest that pirates in the area retain the capacity to target merchant shipping at distances from the coastline. Here are four main takeaways from the report:
1. Malaysia’s success storyOne vessel was reported hijacked in the third quarter of 2017 when a Thai product tanker was attacked off Pulau Yu in Malaysia in early September. However, thanks to the prompt intervention of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, 10 hijackers were successfully apprehended and the tanker was safely escorted to a nearby port. The pirates were quickly tried and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment.“The Malaysian response demonstrates exactly the type of speedy and robust action that is needed to deter such attacks.” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB. 2. Nigeria remains riskyA total of 20 reports against all vessel types were received for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa. Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were underway in 17 of 20 reports. 39 of the 49 crewmembers kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents. Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria. “In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant,” said Mr Mukundan. “The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures as many incidents continue to be unreported.”3. An uptick in violence off VenezuelaWhile only three low-level incidents took place in Venezuela during the same period in 2016, the number this year racked up to 11. All vessels were successfully boarded by robbers armed with guns or knives and mostly took place at anchorage. Four crewmembers were taken hostage during these incidents, with two assaulted and one injured. 4. Tackling piracy is a team effortPerhaps the biggest takeaway of this quarter’s report is the proven importance of the 24-hour manned IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), which has provided the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents received directly from the vessels or owners, flag states or navies. The PRC’s prompt forwarding of reports and liaison with response agencies—using Inmarsat Safety Net Services and email alerts, all free of charge—has already helped bolster the response against piracy and armed robbery, keeping seafarers safe. “One of the strongest weapons triggering the fight against piracy is accurate statistics,” said Mr Mukundan. “There should be free and reciprocal sharing of information between the IMB PRC and regional information centres. With a clearer picture of when and where violent incidents are taking place, authorities are able to better allocate their resources to tackle this global issue.”
19.10.17 United Kingdom Met Office Warning Of Weather Chaos Weekend
Britain faces a windswept weekend with 50mph gusts, 35ft wave swells and heavy rain as autumn begins to bite.
Forecasters have warned of flooding to homes, power cuts and delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport as an intense low pressure system from the Atlantic brings a swathe of strong winds over the South early on Saturday.
Gusts exceeding 50mph are expected widely within a severe weather warning area issued by the Met Office for southern England and much of Wales, and temperatures are unlikely to get above 59F (15C) all weekend.
Conditions will be a stark contrast to last weekend that saw temperatures reaching an unseasonable 72F (22C), with a peak of 74F (23.5C) on Monday making it the second warmest October day in the past six years.
This graphic from forecasters Magic Seaweed shows wave swells of up to 35ft hitting the South West of England on Saturday
Waves crash into the Botallack Mine in Cornwall today, where the Crowns Engine Houses that cling to the cliffs are located
Grey seals come ashore at Horsey Gap in Norfolk this morning ready to begin the pupping season
Wave swells approaching 35ft could strike the South West coast of England at about 9am on Saturday - while they be as high as 50ft out in the Atlantic on Friday evening, according to graphics by forecasters Magic Seaweed.
A wave swell is the collection of waves moving away from a storm, with the height being an average of the largest third of all waves, measured from trough to peak. The waves then break as they hit the sea floor near the shore.
Speaking about today's still conditions, Met Office forecaster Oli Claydon said: 'At the moment the weather is completely normal for this time of year. We are experiencing a still period in between the more unsettled weather.
'An area of low pressure is moving in from the Atlantic and it will bring blustery conditions to South Wales and South West England. We are expecting wind speeds of between 40 and 50 and 60kmph at the coast.