US state refuses to lift yoga ban in schools
Alabama’s decades-old ban on yoga in public schools could stay in place a little longer. The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee did not advance the bill after a public hearing in which representatives from two conservative groups objected, saying they were worried it could lead to the promotion of Hinduism or guided meditation practices. The Alabama lawmaker sponsoring the bill said the bill is about exercise and not religion. The legislation failed on a tie vote but the committee chairman said he would bring the bill back for another try. The Alabama Board of Education voted in 1993 to prohibit yoga, hypnosis and meditation in public schools. Yoga done in school would be limited to poses and stretches, and all poses would have to have English names. The use of chanting, mantras and teaching the greeting ‘namaste’ would be forbidden.
IMF approves $2.34 bn package for Kenya
IMF Board approves about US $2.34 billion ECF and EFF arrangements for Kenya. The three-year financing package will support the next phase of the authorities' Covid-19 response and their plan to reduce debt vulnerabilities while safeguarding resources to protect vulnerable groups. The supported program will also advance the broader reform and governance agenda, including by addressing weaknesses in some state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and strengthening transparency and accountability through the anti-corruption framework. This comes as Fitch Ratings recently affirmed Kenya’s credit rating at ‘B+’ with a negative outlook. Fitch says that on the positive, the rating reflects the country’s strong economic growth, macroeconomic stability, and favourable public debt composition. Estimates show that Kenya faces US$2.6 billion in sovereign external debt servicing in 2021 and US $3.6 billion in 2022.
Navalny allies vow jail protest until his doc sees him
Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said they would stage a rolling protest outside his prison next week unless he is examined by a doctor of his choice and given what they regard as proper medicine. Navalny, one of President Putin's most prominent critics, has complained of acute back and leg pain and accused authorities of refusing him access to his chosen doctor and of declining to supply him with the right medicine for a condition he has joked darkly could deprive him of the use of both legs. Authorities have said his condition is satisfactory and that he has been provided with necessary medical care.
Mpango sworn in as Tanzania's vice president
Dr Philip Isdor Mpango was sworn in as Tanzania’s vice president in the presence of the newly appointed President Samia Suluhu. Mpango was appointed to the post after Suluhu took over as president following the death of the former strongman John Magufuli. A total of 363 MPs had voted to endorse Mpango after nomination by President Suluhu. President Suluhu urged Mpango to prioritize resolving challenges facing the union on financial matters. Mpango is among the few ministers who were reappointed by Magufuli during his second term. He previously served as the Acting Commissioner General of the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the Executive Secretary in the President’s Office (Planning Commission). He also served as the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs, and the Personal Assistant to Magufuli in economic affairs.