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US Africa summit Joe Biden says US is all in on Africa’s future

The United States is all in on Africa’s future,” President Biden told the 49 African leaders attending the Washington DC meeting.

It is the first such gathering hosted by Washington for eight years.
The summit is seen as a US attempt to re-assert its influence in Africa to counter Chinese involvement.
It also comes after Donald Trump’s four-year tenure in office, during which he alienated numerous African leaders with policy decisions and insulting comments.

Mr Biden struck a very different tone to his predecessor, speaking optimistically of improved links with Africa and telling the gathering that “when Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well.

He said that the crises facing the world today needed African leadership, ideas and innovations, and promised to build on the “vital” investments in Africa made by previous US administrations.

To that end, ahead of the three-day summit which ends on Thursday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US would commit $55bn (£44bn) to Africa over the next three years.

Discussions at the summit have focussed on building on already existing programmes, including:
But the success of such programmes has been slow to realise. Africa only accounts for just over 1% of US foreign trade, which is dominated by petroleum imports from Nigeria and Angola.

In his address on Wednesday, the US president spoke about a $500m-investment to reduce transport costs at a key West African port in Benin.

He also mentioned $350m that would be spent on boosting the digital economy and said that $15bn-worth of deals had been struck at the US-Africa Business Forum.

The US is also set to sign a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area – one of the world’s biggest free-trade areas – which Mr Biden said would “unlock new opportunities for trade and investment” between the US and Africa.

On the sidelines of the summit on Wednesday, Mr Biden separately met the six leaders of African nations which are holding elections in 2023 to press for free votes.

On Thursday, the US president said he would back the African Union’s admission as a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies.

Analysis by Barbara Plett Usher, BBC State Department correspondent
This was about President Biden trying to win back influence in Africa with personal diplomacy as well as by promising billions of dollars of funding in key sectors and rallying private sector investments.

The subtext was that America was trying to catch up with other countries, including Russia and especially China, that have developed stronger ties with the continent.

But the message was that the US wanted a strategic relationship with Africa, which has become a key geopolitical player with some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The summit will have been successful for the Americans if they can demonstrate that Africa is more than a battleground for competition with Beijing and Moscow. They want to show that they can be better partners than China or Russia.

But following up and sustaining engagement will be crucial to proving US commitment and for that the White House appointed a special envoy.

 

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Florida

Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail

Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.

Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.

Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”

Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”

The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.

Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.

While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.

 

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Florida

Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.

“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.

We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.

Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.

Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.

The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal

 

 

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Florida

‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price

Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.

What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?

It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.

A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.

Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.

She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.

Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.

“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.

It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.

She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.

“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.

The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.

Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.

“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.

Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.

She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.

“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.

In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.

News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.

“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.

One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”

That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.

No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.

They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.

“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.

 

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