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Ugandan pop star-turned-politician escapes arrest on motorbike | News



Ugandan pop star and leading opposition figure Bobi Wine has made a dramatic escape on a motorbike, avoiding arrest by security forces after they barricaded his home.

Wine shared a video on Facebook on Wednesday, captioned “Busabala Final Destination” of himself getting on a bike surrounded by supporters and well-wishers. 

Other social media users posted videos on Twitter showing Wine being chased by police as he jumped on the back of the motorcycle, wearing his signature red beret.

The musician took to Twitter earlier in the day to post pictures of police and security agencies surrounding his home and allegedly stopping him from performing at his scheduled concert at Busabala.

It was revealed on Tuesday that the Inspector General of Police, Martins Okoth Ochola, had cancelled Wine’s Independence Day music show, local media outlets reported. Uganda marked 57 years of independence on Wednesday.

According to a letter Ochola wrote to the Kampala Metropolitan Police, Wine did not make sufficient preparatory plans for traffic control, medical care and crowd control.

The musician was most recently arrested in April for allegedly staging an unsanctioned protest last year, but was released from jail after a few days.

‘Nothing to celebrate’

Wine in a news conference held after returning to his home on Wednesday said that his escape was meant to prove to the authorities that “we can do that”.

He said despite it being independence day, “there was nothing to celebrate”.

“This is just not about me,” he said.

Wine told reporters that “many people suffer” when people are blocked from exercising or practising their profession.

“Dictators are not massaged out of power. Dictators are resisted.”

“We are not going to stop at anything … at the end of this all Museveni will fall,” the pop star added.

Rising star

Wine first attracted a youth following through songs critical of President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.

The pop star rose to political prominence in 2017 when, as an independent candidate, he won an election to represent a constituency near Kampala.

He has since successfully campaigned for other opposition candidates, raising his profile as a national leader and attracting calls to run for president.

The singer turned politician has said he will run for the presidency in 2021, and formally declared his presidential bid in July at an event in Kampala.

He has urged the president to retire after three decades in power, saying young people should take over the leadership of the East African nation.

Numerous challenges

However, he faces multiple challenges, including limited opportunities to hold rallies or stage concerts before elections.

He is also facing treason charges, which he denies, after being arrested with 30 other opposition politicians in August last year for allegedly stoning Museveni’s convoy following a campaign rally.

Last month, the red beret worn by Wine, which he has called a “symbol of resistance”, was banned by the government.

The pop star in response asked his supporters to defy the order and described it as a “sham”.

People who wear or sell the red beret and other designated pieces of military attire would be prosecuted under military law, Ugandan authorities said last month. 

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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Libra could use currency-pegged stablecoins




A Zuck Buck is displayed on a monitor as David Marcus, head of blockchain with Facebook Inc., right, is questioned by Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, not pictured, during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Facebook has suggested its Libra project could use multiple cryptocurrencies backed by different existing currencies like the dollar, rather than having one single digital token tied to a basket of currencies.

The tech giant had initially proposed one synthetic unit of value that would be tied to a basket of currencies and government debt. But according to Reuters, David Marcus, the executive leading Facebook’s blockchain initiative, told a banking seminar that he was open to looking at alternative approaches.

“We could do it differently,” he said, according to the news agency. “Instead of having a synthetic unit … we could have a series of stablecoins, a dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stablecoin, etc.”

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are usually pegged to government-backed currencies like the dollar. Tether is the world’s best-known stablecoin, backed by the dollar, though it has garnered some controversy over whether it has a sufficient amount of dollars in reserve, as well as the suggestion that it could have been used for market manipulation.

Such currencies aim to reduce the volatility seen in virtual currencies like bitcoin and ether. In libra’s case, the objective is to create a more efficient cross-border payments system.

But the Switzerland-based Libra Association, which oversees the proposed cryptocurrency, has faced numerous setbacks since the start of the month, with various original member companies including payments giants Mastercard and Visa backing out.

And as payments companies withdraw from Libra, there are no immediate signs that banks could be willing to join. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon on Friday called the group’s currency “a neat idea that’ll never happen.”

Libra has also been met with fierce regulatory pushback, with authorities around the world worried the currency could heavily disrupt the financial system and potentially be used for money laundering or terrorist financing.

Last week, the Group of Seven (G-7) said in a report that no stablecoin project — Libra included — should be allowed to go ahead until the attached legal risks are addressed.

Meanwhile the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog on illicit financing, said that such digital currencies could inhibit efforts to clamp down on money laundering and terrorist financing.

Facebook could find some solace in the fact that the chief of Germany’s financial regulator doesn’t think libra will go away anytime soon. BaFin President Felix Hufeld told CNBC over the weekend that he doesn’t think the social media firm’s digital token is “dead in the water.” Meanwhile, fellow tech giant IBM has said it’s open to working with Libra.

WATCH: Don’t think Facebook’s libra is dead in the water, BaFin president says


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Mitt Romney Says He’s Behind ‘Pierre Delecto’ Twitter Account




Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah, former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, is also, apparently, the man behind a Twitter account that uses the moniker “Pierre Delecto.”

Mr. Romney on Sunday admitted to McKay Coppins, a writer at The Atlantic, that he was responsible for the social media account, which he uses to covertly monitor political discourse and occasionally defend himself. It’s unclear what, if anything, Pierre Delecto is a reference to.

Several events preceded the admission.

First, The Atlantic published on Sunday a profile of Mr. Romney, one of the few prominent Republican lawmakers to criticize President Trump over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. Those efforts form the basis of an impeachment investigation by the House.

Mr. Trump lashed out in response this month, calling the senator on Twitter a “pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning.” In one tweet, the president used the hashtag “#IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.”

In the Atlantic profile, Mr. Romney admitted to having what he called a “lurker account” — essentially a profile under a different name that he operated in secret to monitor the political conversation. But he declined to divulge the name associated with the account.

The admission spurred curiosity, particularly that of the online newsmagazine Slate.

Slate theorized that Pierre Delecto, or Twitter user @qaws9876, was Mr. Romney after it discovered the account among the Twitter followers of one of his grandchildren.

Slate noted that Pierre Delecto’s first follower was Mr. Romney’s oldest son, Tagg. The account was created in 2011, shortly after Mr. Romney announced his intention to run for president. The account also followed all of Mr. Romney’s children who are on Twitter and several former advisers, according to Slate.

The account also posted several telling replies to Romney-related tweets, which were captured by screenshot before the account was made private on Sunday night.

In one tweet from May, Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at The Washington Post, said Mr. Romney’s strategy on Mr. Trump was “non-confrontation verging on spinelessness.”

“Jennifer, you need to take a breath,” Pierre Delecto replied. “Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in large measure even if not in every measure.”

The Slate article prompted many on social media to surmise that if Pierre Delecto was in fact Mr. Romney, he had concocted one of the most extraordinary pseudonymous social media accounts for a public official ever (besting the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey’s onetime moniker of Reinhold Niebuhr).

After Slate published its article, Mr. Coppins circled back with Mr. Romney to ask if he was indeed “Pierre Delecto.”

“Just spoke to @MittRomney on the phone, and asked him about Pierre Delecto,” Mr. Coppins said in a tweet. “His only response: “C’est moi.”’


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