By Ebi Kesiena
On Wednesday, US Senator Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty to corruption charges in a New York federal court, where he and his wife appeared on bribery and extortion allegations involving the Egyptian government.
The 69-year-old senator and wife Nadine Arslanian were greeted outside the Manhattan courthouse by a protester holding a sign that read in block letters “RESIGN.”
Prosecutors say the senator provided sensitive information to the Egyptian government in order to help an Egyptian-American businessman protect his monopoly.
According to US attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, Menendez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2018 and 2022 from three New Jersey residents in exchange for using “his power and influence to protect and enrich those businessmen and to benefit the Government of Egypt.”
The indictment alleges the bribes came via cash, gold bars and even a Mercedes Benz convertible, all of which were found during a search of the senator’s home.
Although, Menendez, who has been a Democratic congressional stalwart for three decades, has rebutted the claims.
“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” he said.
He also pointed to his record regarding US relations with Egypt, saying he had “challenged President (Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi directly on human rights abuses, arbitrary detention (and) freedoms.”
So far, Menendez has defied calls from his own Democratic Party colleagues to leave office, though he “temporarily” stepped down as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the charges were unsealed Friday.
However, Menendez, who is up for re-election in 2024, was already the subject of a 2015 corruption case, which ended in a mistrial.
[9:38 PM, 9/27/2023] Obisue 2 ️️: Namibia Ban Poultry Import From South Africa Amid Bird Flu Outbreak
By Ebi Kesiena
Namibia has suspended imports of live poultry and poultry products from neighboring South Africa because of a severe bird flu outbreak.
The suspension was prompted by the “alarming spread” of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in South Africa, Namibia’s agricultural ministry said.
“New cases have been reported in all types of commercial chicken [production] in the provinces of Kwazulu-Natal, Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West respectively,” it posted on Facebook.
According to agriculture ministry spokesman Jona Musheko, due to its proximity, South Africa was Namibia’s “preferred supplier” of chicken, but the country also imports poultry from Europe and South America.
More than two million chickens have reportedly died so far in the outbreak.
The Namibian authorities specified that the suspension covered: Live poultry, “Fresh frozen” poultry meat, Table eggs, Day old chicks and hatching eggs.
Bird flu does not typically infect humans. But H5N1 is increasingly infecting mammals worldwide, raising fears it could pass on more easily to people.
The virus has typically been confined to seasonal outbreaks, but since 2021 cases have emerged year-round, and across the globe, leading to what experts say is the largest outbreak ever seen. South African Poultry Association, SAPA said the number of avian flu cases in South Africa this year was higher than in any year since the first outbreaks were reported in commercial farms in 2017.