By Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz MANILA (Reuters) - The son of the disgraced late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos vowed on Tuesday to work for all people after his stunning election victory, and told the world to judge him by his presidency, not his family's past. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, better known as "Bongbong", become the first candidate in recent history to win an outright majority in a Philippines presidential election, paving the way for a once unimaginable return to rule for the country's most notorious political dynasty. "Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions," Marcos t...
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Women presenters on Afghanistan's leading TV channels went on air Saturday without covering their faces, defying a Taliban order that they conceal their appearance to comply with the group's austere brand of Islam.
Since surging back to power last year the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls.
Earlier this month Afghanistan's supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.
The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit by Saturday.
Previously they had only been required to wear a headscarf.
But broadcasters TOLOnews, Shamshad TV and 1TV all aired live programs Saturday with women presenters' faces visible.
"Our female colleagues are concerned that if they cover their faces, the next thing they will be told is to stop working," said Shamshad TV head of news Abid Ehsas.
"This is the reason they have not observed the order so far," he told AFP, adding the channel had requested further discussions with the Taliban on the issue.
Taliban orders such as this have caused many female journalists to leave Afghanistan since the hardline Islamists stormed back to power, a woman presenter said.
"Their latest order has broken the hearts of women presenters and many now think they have no future in this country," she said, requesting not to be named.
"I'm thinking of leaving the country. Decrees like this will force many professionals to leave."
'Implement the order'
Mohammad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, spokesman for the vice ministry, said the women presenters were violating the Taliban directive.
"If they don't comply we will talk to the managers and guardians of the presenters," he told AFP.
"Anyone who lives under a particular system and government has to obey the laws and orders of that system, so they must implement the order," he said.
The Taliban have demanded that women government employees be fired if they fail to follow the new dress code.
Men working in government also risk suspension if their wives or daughters fail to comply.
Mohajir said media managers and the male guardians of defiant women presenters would also be liable for penalties if the order was not observed.
During two decades of US-led military intervention in Afghanistan, women and girls made marginal gains in the deeply patriarchal nation.
Soon after they took over, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
Since the takeover, however, women have been banned from traveling alone and teenage girls barred from secondary schools.
In the 20 years after the Taliban were ousted from office in 2001, many women in the conservative countryside continued to wear a burqa.
But most Afghan women, including TV presenters, opted for the Islamic headscarf.
Television channels have already stopped showing dramas and soap operas featuring women, following orders from Taliban authorities.
© 2022 AFP
Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport as she forges ahead with a career that has included being a city mayor for 36 years and playing professional hockey.
Her tenacity earned her the nickname "Hurricane Hazel."
"I don't know how it came about (that) they call me 'Hurricane Hazel,'" she said in an interview with AFP at a Mississauga, Ontario exhibit celebrating her life, adding with a boisterous laugh: "I know I move quickly."
And nothing seems to stop her. Throughout her long life, she says she followed the mantra: work hard and be prepared.
"Hard work never killed anybody, my mother told me that," she said. "If you want to go anywhere you have to work hard."
Born in 1921, in Port Daniel, Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father worked in the fishing industry while her mother was a nurse.
She left the family farm at age 16 to continue her education, before taking up secretarial work during the Second World War at a Montreal engineering firm.
She also played on a professional women's hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 (US$4) per match, which she described as "a princely sum in those days."
In 1951, she married Sam McCallion with whom she had three children.
"She wasn't always there, but she was there when she needed to be," recalled her son Peter McCallion, describing her as a "wonderful" grandmother to her only granddaughter.
'Feel that you're contributing'
Inspired by former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton -- the first female mayor of a major Canadian city -- and Margaret Thatcher, she entered politics in the 1960s.
In 1978, she won the mayoralty of Mississauga on the shores of Lake Ontario, neighboring Toronto -- helped at the polls by her refusal to be baited by her opponent's sexist remarks during the campaign.
Today, she spurns questions on gender and politics. "It has not been difficult at all. I have been supported by men both in business and in politics," she said, adding that she's been "fortunate."
McCallion has left an indelible mark on Mississauga, which has dramatically changed over the past decades as it grew to become Canada's seventh largest city.
She had been in office only a few months when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a populated area of the city, and erupted in flames.
McCallion gained a national profile for managing the mass evacuation of 220,000 residents, in which nobody died or was seriously injured.
"To live a happy life you have to be very positive and you have to feel that you're contributing. You can't think of 'me' all the time," she says, explaining her commitment to public service.
She would be re-elected 11 more times to lead the city of Mississauga, making her one of Canada's longest serving mayors.
According to Tom Urbaniak, author of a book on Mississauga under her watch, her longevity in politics is due to her strong personality and accessibility, but also "her down-to-Earth populism" and outspokenness.
"Hazel McCallion leans towards conservatism but she is extremely pragmatic," said the Cape Breton University professor, who noted her support for political parties of all stripes.
The self-described "builder" was voted most popular mayor, before retiring three years later at age 93.
A stamp collector, McCallion says she enjoys gardening and making videos for charitable causes, and keeps up with the news, wearing a yellow and blue ribbon on her lapel to show support for Ukraine at war.
"I've lived one hundred years and I've never felt so negative about what is happening in the world today," she laments. "It's very disturbing."
© 2022 AFP
With his fluffy black dog in tow, Gilberto Rodriguez left Venezuela two months ago on a perilous eight-country journey, mostly on foot, with dreams of a better life in the United States.
Leaving behind his wife and two children, aged six and eight, Rodriguez has slept rough, gone hungry, witnessed violence and paid bribes to police.
But he smiles from ear-to-ear as he caresses his loyal canine companion of two years, whose name "Negro" means "Black" in Spanish.
"He has also crossed everything just like us, he eats the same we eat, he's also a migrant," he told AFP in the town of Tecun Uman in eastern Guatemala, the sixth country stop on his north-bound route.
Their journey so far has taken Rodriguez and Negro from Caracas to Colombia and through the perilous Darien jungle to Panama.
There, they came across some of the criminal gangs that prey on migrants fleeing poverty and political upheaval in their home countries.
"We were with some women and they raped them," Rodriguez recalled. "As for us, they stole our phones."
The pair then made their way through Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to Guatemala, where they joined hundreds of other undocumented migrants eyeing the Suchiate River that separates them from Mexico.
Unlike a few months ago, there are no crowds on the Guatemalan side of the river.
Police stop and board buses to verify the identity documents of travelers in an operation seeking to prevent the formation of migrant caravans.
Since January this year, Guatemala has expelled more than 500 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
To evade detection, migrants have taken to moving in small groups instead, with plans to meet up again once in Mexico.
There awaits the final hurdle: the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico from the United States.
US President Joe Biden's administration has been seeking to end the implementation of Title 42, a public health order that has allowed for the expulsion of migrants during the Covid-19 crisis.
Undocumented migrants cross the Suchiate River that separates Guatemala from Mexico Stringer AFP
The move to lift the order sparked uproar at home for fear it would boost undocumented migrant arrivals even with numbers five times higher on average than in the years before the coronavirus outbreak.
But Rodriguez and most of the other migrants making their way north say they have never even heard of Title 42.
Cops 'take our money'
A more pressing concern is evading the police in Guatemala -- and not only to avoid arrest.
"The issue is with those cops who take our money," Rodriguez said.
On their long trip, the man and his best friend have often had to rely on charity, sometimes sharing their food.
When shelters did not allow animals, they slept on the street.
Why put himself through this? "We had to flee," Rodriguez said of his life in Venezuela.
"The salary is not enough, you buy everything in dollars and what they pay you in bolivars is nothing."
On the penultimate stretch of his journey, Rodriguez clambers onto a boat made of old tires and planks, a trip for which he paid just over $1.
He clutches Negro in his arms as a man pushes a long oar along the river floor, and ten minutes later, they are across.
The dog, seated quietly between his master's legs during the crossing, quickly jumps off and onto dry land, now in Mexico.
"We have crossed mountains, rivers, streams... we are no longer afraid of anything," said Moises Ayerdi, a 25-year-old Nicaraguan migrant who made the same trip.
He said he had left his home, wife and three-year-old daughter because he was the target of political persecution by President Daniel Ortega's government.
"Our feet hurt, we arrived here sick... We are used to it. We will continue. Just like we crossed Honduras, Guatemala, we will cross Mexico," he vowed.
© 2022 AFP