Grind for January 3rd, 2019
“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Democratic Republic of Congo finally holds presidential election
Congolese voters hit the polls Sunday to choose a replacement for outgoing president Joseph Kabila.
The election had been delayed for more than two years following Kabila’s refuel to step down.
Campaigning for the election was repeatedly disrupted by violence, including a fire in Kinshasa that destroyed thousands of ballot boxes.
Expecting more violence, the US pulled all non-essential diplomats working in Congo out of the country in mid-December.
Sunday’s election was complicated by heavy rains and problems with voting machines, which in many places jammed or failed completely.
“The machines, being used for the first time, have been criticized by opposition candidates who argue they are vulnerable to fraud,” reports NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.
Violence broke out at one polling station in Congo’s South Kivu province when a police officer shot and killed a young man after accusing him of voting fraud.
The crowd attacked the police officer and beat him to death.
Complicating matters further was a last-minute decision from the election commission to block over 1 million people from voting.
While the commission insists the ban was designed to prevent the spread of Ebola following an outbreak, the areas affected by the ban are known as opposition strongholds.
Assuming the results of Sunday’s election are credible, the event represents Congo’s first democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from the Belgian government in 1960.
Trump freezes pay rates for federal workers
Federal employees already frustrated with Trump over the shutdown found out last week they would not be receiving the annual pay rate increase they had expected.
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” wrote Trump. “In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets.”
The pay rate freeze does not affect a 2.6% increase for the military.
Trump’s decision means that 2.1 million federal employees will continue to work at last year’s rates through 2019.
Despite a 1.4% pay rate increase last year, federal workers make on average 5% less than they did in 2008.
“President Trump’s plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade,” argues J. David Cox, who leads one of many unions representing federal employees.
Congress typically votes to pay federal workers retroactively after shutdowns, but this one is expected to linger on into the new year as Congress struggles with Trump’s demands for border wall funding.
In all likelihood, House lawmakers will approve a 1.9% pay rate increase for federal workers after Democrats take control of the chamber on January 3rd.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… In order to enhance the taste, the Japanese macaque wash their food in salt water before they eat. They also make snowballs for fun!