Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

Friday, 21 June, 2019 – 10:30
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani warned against Iran’s continued practices in the region during his meetings with US officials at the White House on Thursday.

“Iran is spreading terrorism through its Houthi agents and is using Yemen as a platform to threaten neighboring countries and international shipping corridors, and continues to smuggle weapons and support the Houthi militias,” the Yemeni minister said during a meeting with US National Security Council officials.

Eryani warned of the terrorist practices of the Iranian-backed coup militias, their promotion of sectarian terrorist ideology and the recruitment of children in schools.

He stressed that the Yemeni legitimacy “cannot accept any role of Iran in Yemen,” adding that the Iranian regime has “given our country and our people only death, destruction, and sectarian feelings.”

The Iranian minister briefed US officials on “the legitimate government’s efforts to normalize public life in liberated areas, combat terrorism and extremism, rebuild devastated villages and restore the social fabric,” which he said the militias were destroying.

He also pointed to the Saudi-sponsored rehabilitation program for children and its role in reintegrating formerly recruited children in the society.

The Yemeni minister called on the international community and the United States to exert all forms of pressure on Iran to stop its destabilizing activities in Yemen and the rest of the region.

Trumps Trade War With India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

No official confirmation from US on H-1B cap for Indians: Centre

Trade tensions between the two sides have increased in recent weeks, with India imposing higher tariffs on some American goods on June 16 after the US withdrew export benefits under GPS programme.

WORLD Updated: Jun 20, 2019 23:58 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
india-US,India-US trade,H-1B
Asked about the H-1B visa issue at a news briefing on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have not heard anything officially from the US government on this matter. (SONU MEHTA/HT PHOTO)

There are no immediate plans to impose caps on H-1B work visas in retaliation for New Delhi’s data localisation plans though India and the US will have to contend with a full plate of trade-related issues during secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit next week, people familiar with developments said.

Trade tensions between the two sides have increased in recent weeks, with India imposing higher tariffs on some American goods on June 16 after the US withdrew export benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The US has opposed India’s data storage plans that could hit firms such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.

“We are not aware of such plans,” a person familiar with developments said in the wake of a Reuters report that the US is considering a 15% cap on H-1B visas for countries that force foreign companies to store data locally. India is the largest beneficiary of the programme, with about 70% of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year going to Indians.

Asked about the H-1B visa issue at a regular news briefing on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have not heard anything officially from the US government on this matter.

“We remain engaged with the US administration…and we have emphasised time and again at all our high-level interactions the contributions of Indian skilled professionals to the growth and development of the US economy.”

Kumar said consultations are underway within the Indian government and between the government and industry on data localisation or the storage of private data of users by foreign firms. The use of such data will have to be balanced with “national priorities and sensitivities,” he said.

“India’s position is in line with global best practices. We will remain engaged with the US on this matter and see how we can dispel any misconceptions on data localisation which they might have,” he added.

The Indian side is looking to Pompeo’s visit during June 25-27 – the first high-level engagement with the US since the general elections – as an opportunity to clear the air on differences over trade-related issues, which are in marked contrast to the robust cooperation on strategic security and defence issues.

Kumar said Pompeo’s visit will be “an important opportunity for both sides to explore ways to further strengthen the India-US strategic partnership and continue the high-level engagement on matters of mutual interest”.

Besides holding talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, Pompeo will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on June 26, the main working day of his visit.

The external affairs ministry sought to play down trade-related differences, with Kumar saying, “In a relationship that is as diverse and as deep as the one we have with the US, that there will be certain issues which will be on the table…The overall direction of the relationship remains very positive.”

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 23:57 IST

5 Countries With The Most Debt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5

Countries With the Most Debt

If you live in the United States, you have surely heard a lot about the billions of dollars that America owes to other countries. This is not an uncommon thing, though, as countries loan money to and accept money from each other all the time. Just like with individual loans, accepting a lot of financial help from other countries can add up to a lot of debt. In 2017, global debt rose to an incredible 225% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to Focus Economics, which means that many countries owe a lot more money than they earn each year. Here is a look at the five countries that have the most debt, according to Focus Economics.

Italy

Italy

Credit: Oleg Voronische/Shutterstock

As you walk the cobbled streets of Italy, taking in all the enormous, ornate cathedrals and looking at all the fashionable people, the last thing on your mind is that this country might have money problems. Like any country, though, Italy has its share of debts — and it has some pretty big ones. According to GraphicMaps, Italy has an external debt of $2,444,000,000,000 (USD), which, when put in terms of GDP, will be 131 percent of its earnings in 2019. Fortunately, though, this number is expected to fall to 128 percent by 2023, which is still high, but much more favorable.

Venezuela

Venezuela

Credit: Alejandro Solo/Shutterstock

This is where things get a bit tricky. If you just look at the amount of money owed to other countries, Venezuela doesn’t even crack the top ten. But if you compare this debt to the country’s GDP, things look a lot worse — and the country comes in at number four on the list of countries with the most debt. Venezuela’s public debt is 152 percent of its GDP in 2019, which is more than one and a half times as much money as it brings in each year. According to World Population Review, this country is currently going through a very rough patch in terms of finances, so it is not clear at this time whether the debt will increase or decrease over the next few years.

Lebanon

Lebanon

Credit: Gregory Zamell/Shutterstock

The winner of the bronze medal for highest external debt is Lebanon. This country has been struggling for some time, and its debt is expected to increase from 153 percent to 156 percent between 2019 and 2023. This is only barely more than Venezuela, so there could be a competition for this third place spot in the coming years.

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Greece

Greece

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Greece was one of the most successful empires in the ancient world, contributing everything from myths to democracy to our modern culture. Today, however, the country is mired in debt. Greece was required to take multiple bailouts. Its external debt currently stands at 175 percent. This debt has been steadily decreasing over the years, however, and is projected to be almost 10 points lower by 2023.

Japan

Japan

Credit: apiguide/Shutterstock

If you were expecting the United States to be number one on this list, you aren’t alone. And technically, America does owe the highest debt in the world: 29.27 trillion dollars. But when you take into account how much money the country brings in per year, Japan takes the top spot, with a debt of $3,240,000,000,000, which is a whopping 236 percent of its GDP (the United States “only” owes 108 percent of its GDP). This number might seem incredibly high, but one must remember that Japan has one of the world’s largest economies, and has a population of over 127 million people.

Screw U.S. Companies Whining About China Sanctions: Bring Those Jobs Back Home

Screw U.S. Companies Whining About China Tariff War: Bring Those Jobs Back Home

 

This oped to you will be short if not sweet today. This is simply my opinion on President Trump’s sanctions on countries like China and Mexico. These tariffs and sanctions do hurt a lot of companies here in the U.S. and it will make some of the products we buy here in the States more expensive. My response to that issue is simple, if they had not closed their manufacturing plants here in the States, throwing millions of Americans out of work then these issues would not be an issue to them or us at all. Companies, especially those on the world Stock Markets have moved ‘offshore’ for the purpose of higher profits at the cost to American jobs and the American tax structure need to be hit with at least a 100% tariff on everything they want to bring back into the U.S. for sell here. I am not a fan of President Trump at all, I literally can’t stand that crooked ignorant putz but I wish he would put up a program of tariffs and restrictions on any goods coming into into the States from such companies. When companies move out of this country it is so that they can increase their profit margins, period. It is not a reality that a company moves away and then lowers the prices of their products to give a better deal to the consumer.  Everything is about profits, period. Our government if they had any hootspa would make the tariffs so high on these traitorous companies that they would be forced to either quit selling to the American market, or bring their factories back here to the States in which they deserted. Personally as I have aged and had many years of observing the Stock Market systems I have come to the conclusion that Stock Markets are pure poison to the workers of the world, at the very least that is so here in the U.S.. Okay, that is my observation for the day, what are your thoughts on this issue?

Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

Image
One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditCreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

LONDON — Oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian news media and a shipping industry official said on Thursday, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil.

The Iranian state news media reported that multiple tankers had been seriously damaged. A shipping industry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly to the news media, said that at least two tankers had been hit. The nature of the attack was not clear.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

By The New York Times

An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 40 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.

Oil prices spiked early Thursday on the news.

In the region, Iran, on the northern side of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has long been at odds with its adversaries and neighbors to the south, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They support opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen.

The attacks in May worsened those tensions, raising concerns that they might lead to a violent clash between regional powers.

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, M. T. Front Altair, was on fire, and the crew had abandoned ship and been rescued, according to the industry official. The ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, was carrying naphtha, a petroleum product, he said.

He said that contact had been lost with another tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous. There were news reports that it, too, was on fire and had been abandoned.

How McDonald’s took over the world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

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How McDonald’s took over the world

Some say they love it, some say they hate it, and those raking in megabucks through franchises certainly say I’m Lovin’ It. Whatever your opinion of McDonald’s, there’s no denying its worldwide popularity and influence on the fast food industry. From a single restaurant in 1940, in 2018 the chain reported over 36,000 restaurants in 101 countries that collectively served around 69 million customers per day. The company has battled environmental criticismlawsuits and mass staff strikes, yet remain a leader in their field. Here’s how McDonald’s took over the world.

The McDonald Brothers and Early Years

Credit: Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock

The rags-to-riches journey began in 1940 in San Bernardino, California when siblings Richard and Maurice McDonald had a dream to make $1 million before turning 50. They opened a drive-in restaurant with carhop girls delivering cheap sandwiches to a clientele of mostly teenage and young adult males. Eager to streamline the business, the brothers introduced the Speedee Service System in 1948, which featured 15 cent hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. On the back of their newly-found success, the siblings launched their first franchising campaign, with new stands opening in 1953.

Ray Kroc and the First Official McDonald’s

Credit: blanscape/iStockphoto

In 1954, the Chicagoan Ray Kroc, who was a distributor for a milkshake machine used by the McDonald brothers, visited the San Bernardino stand. Impressed by the potential of the business, Kroc convinced the McDonalds to let him become their franchising agent. He opened the first official McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois and had plans to expand nationwide and globally. By 1959 he had inaugurated 102 locations and bought the brothers out in 1961.

The Big Mac and the Golden Arches

Credit: Grzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock

The 1960s was a time of great change and development for McDonald’s. The Filet-O-Fish debuted in 1962 and helped combat falling hamburger sales on Fridays in areas with strong Roman Catholic communities. Ronald McDonald replaced the Speedee chef as the company mascot in 1963. He was later joined by characters such as Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese, who helped to increase the chain’s appeal to children. Today’s legendary Big Mac appeared on menus in 1967 and some five billion were consumed in the first two years. At the end of the decade the iconic golden arches started to spring up. The colors were chosen because red is said to trigger hunger and yellow happiness.

The Drive-Thru and International Expansion

Credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

With soldiers from Fort Huachuca prohibited from getting out of their vehicles in uniform, McDonald’s opened its first drive-thru in Sierra Vista, Arizona in 1975. This proved to be a catalyst for drive-thru restaurants across the USA and fast food fans relished in the company policy of delivering orders in 50 seconds or less. Having already successfully opened restaurants in British Columbia and Puerto Rico, the company entered 58 new countries by the early 1990s. In China the name has been adapted to Mai Dang Lao to fit with the phonetics of the language. Kosher food is served in Israel, and halal products are offered in Arab countries.

McDonald’s Today

Credit: kruwt/iStockphoto

Today the McDonald’s brand is omnipresent the world over. Restaurant designs have changed from a kids’ focus to a family environment. There’s braille and picture menus specifically designed to aid customers with hearing, speech, and vision difficulties. There’s table service at some, self-service kiosks, mobile ordering, and home delivery. The menu has moved with the times, expanding from hamburgers and fries to include options such as breakfast, coffee, gluten-free items, ice creams, juices, and salads. What’s more, avid fans can relax knowing that the Big Mac, Happy Meal, Quarter Pounder, and other classics are all here to stay.

We Should Only Put Tariffs On U.S. Companies Shipping Back To America

We Should Only Put Tariffs On U.S. Companies Shipping Back To America

 

This article is simply just my opinion on the matter of ‘Trade War’s and Tariffs’. I am all for certain tariffs on freight coming into the United States, but not on all freight. I do not claim to be an Economist as my degrees are not in this field. They are only the opinions of one old man who has spent his whole lifetime living here in the States. Now, the reason I say what I do is this, American jobs. I was in the trucking industry for three decades and I witnessed multiple times where companies in the northern states in particular and in Canada who closed up their manufacturing plants and moved them to Mexico because of the costs to operate there was much less. So they would close up their factories here to save money and to increase their profits. It makes sense, good business policy, right? Have you ever noticed that when a company closes up here in the States and opens in another country for cost savings that the prices of their products on our Nation’s retailers shelves do not go down? The simple truth is that in business everything is only about profits, especially if a company is on a Stock Exchange. In my belief, stock exchanges are a death sword to the working people who actually make the products. If a company lays off a bunch of workers or is able to bust a Union, the value of their stock shares goes up. If a company closes their factory and moves it to another country, their stock values go up. These things are simple reality, the truth.

 

I often knock companies like WalMart who import most all of their store products from countries like China. To me, buying from China is the worst thing that we could possibly do as they use that income to create more and better weapons in which to kill the people of the Democratic free world. It is stupid to give them the bullets to kill you and your family with. I do not blame any company for opening a factory in a different country as long as the factory only makes products for that country. Where I strongly disagree is when a company closes here in the States, laying off American workers and then turns around and imports those products back into America for the laid off workers to buy. For an example, if General Motors wants to build a factory in China, India or anywhere else for the purpose of only creating vehicles for that Nation I honestly don’t have a problem with that. We have many car makers here in the U.S. that are based in other nations. Here in the U.S. we have Subaru, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Nissan factories which all created good paying jobs for American families. This is more profitable than shipping them here and paying the tarif costs.

 

My thoughts on these tarif wars is quite simple, have free trade flowing between all nations except for what I consider to be treasonous American companies who move elsewhere but wants Americans to buy their products. It is my belief that in every case where American companies have moved away, costing American jobs that those import tariffs should be at 100%. Make it not profitable for any American company to outsource American jobs if they want to sell their products here. This might cause some economic pain in the short term but if these companies are basically forced to reopen or build manufacturing facilities here in the States, in the long term it will be a very good thing for the American people. Also, such an ironclad tariff policy would keep other American companies from following the other traitors paths and moving away also. We have to protect our own jobs, just as any country does, we have to make it unprofitable for any company to screw the people and communities like what has been the norm for so long now.

VA Owes Veterans Millions In Refunds But Knowingly Hasn’t Paid Them In Years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

VA may owe veterans millions in refunds but knowingly hasn’t paid them for years, probe finds

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WASHINGTON – More than 50,000 disabled veterans could be owed as much as $190 million in refunds from the Department of Veterans Affairs for home loan fees they were wrongly charged or no longer owe, an investigation has found.

Senior leaders knew about the problem for years but didn’t ensure veterans received what they are due, the investigation by the VA inspector general found.

Veterans pay the fees when they buy homes with the help of VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program, but they are supposed to be exempt if they are disabled. Fees can total up to 3.3% of a home’s value.

In cases where veterans improperly paid the fees or the VA later determined they were disabled, the agency is supposed to issue refunds.

But the VA didn’t do that in thousands of cases dating back more than a decade because the veterans didn’t ask for the refunds.

VA loan managers, who knew about outstanding debts to veterans since at least 2014, told investigators that they had been focused on other priorities, including processing high volumes of applications.

Investigators from the inspector general’s office said in their report released Thursday that they found it “troubling” that the managers were “aware that thousands of veterans were potentially owed more than $150 million yet did not take adequate actions to ensure refunds were issued.”

“It is the review team’s opinion that requiring a veteran to submit a claim for a refund improperly places the burden and responsibility solely upon the veteran,” investigators said.

‘Internal quality improvement’

The VA issued a press release last month – as the inspector general was preparing to release the investigation results – announcing that the agency is now notifying veterans when they buy homes under the program that they are exempt from the fees if they are disabled or later determined to be disabled.

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“Through an internal quality improvement effort, VA has put a plan in place to better inform veterans through key communications when the law allows VA to waive the fee for a veteran,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the release.

The release did not say what is being done to ensure veterans due refunds from loans in prior years are paid. The inspector general found the amounts owed in its review ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.

The VA said veterans who believe they are owed a refund should consult the agency’s website for more information about VA home loan funding fees.

Between 2012 and 2017, the VA collected roughly $10 billion in fees from veterans under the loan program.

The inspector general estimated disabled veterans who were wrongly charged accounted for $286 million of those fees. But the VA only refunded about $100 million, leaving an estimated $190 million that may still be due to 53,200 veterans.

The Loan Guaranty program was established in 1944 to help veterans finance home purchases. Loans are provided by private lenders, but the VA guarantees a portion of the loans for eligible buyers. The lenders collect the fees and transmit them to the VA.

If a veteran wrongly paid the fees, the VA can refund the money directly to the veteran. If the fees were included as part of a loan, the VA pays the lender, which applies it to the loan balance.

‘Other priorities’

 In 2014, regional VA loan officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, notified senior VA managers that an analysis found nearly $150 million may be due in refunds to disabled veterans for fees on 48,000 loans issued between 2006 and 2014.

“As of January 2019, the review team received no indication that a large-scale effort had been initiated to issue refunds to these veterans,” the inspector general said.

The director of the Loan Guaranty program since 2017, Jeffrey London, told investigators he “considered contracting out the task of issuing refunds, but never requested the award of a contract because other priorities…took precedence,” the investigators wrote.

The inspector general recommended the agency identify and pay all the veterans owed refunds. In addition, the VA should implement procedures to minimize the number of veterans who are wrongly charged fees and conduct periodic reviews to ensure those who are receive prompt refunds.

The VA told investigators some of the fees were incorrectly assessed by lenders, not the VA. But agency officials said in their response to the report that they “generally agreed” with the investigation’s findings and are consulting lawyers about complexities related to issuing refunds.

The agency “has drafted a plan with contingencies ready for implementation depending on the (legal) opinion,” the VA response said. The agency did not elaborate on what the plan is or when refunds will be issued.

Homeless Populations Are Surging in Los Angeles. Here’s Why.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

CALIFORNIA TODAY

Homeless Populations Are Surging in Los Angeles. Here’s Why.

Good morning.

(Here’s the sign-up, if you don’t already get California Today by email.)

The grim stats from around California have piled up in recent weeks:

In Alameda County, the number of homeless residents jumped 43 percent over the past two years. In Orange County, that number was 42 percent. Kern County volunteers surveying the region’s homeless population found a 50 percent increase over 2018. San Francisco notched a 17 percent increase since 2017.

And on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials released the results of their most recent count: Homelessness was up by 12 percent over last year in the county and up 16 percent in the City of Los Angeles.

That puts L.A. County’s homeless population at 58,936 and the city’s at 36,300.

And yet, communities around the state have been funneling more money into services for the homeless, like L.A.’s Measure H sales tax, which is adding about $355 million each year to the arsenal.

[Read about why some are rethinking homelessness in the Bay Area as a regional issue.]

So why are more people living in squalid conditions on the streets or in cars? Advocates for the homeless say it’s upsetting, but no surprise.

“Our housing crisis is our homeless crisis,” Elise Buik, president and chief executive of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, told me. “And we’ve got to get people to understand that.”

She said that people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues and who are living in encampments are often the most visible, but it is a myth that people experiencing homelessness decline help or prefer to live outdoors — one that contributes to misconceptions about the effectiveness of often costly services.

Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, emphasized that the Measure H money has significantly increased the number of people the region’s service providers have been able to help.

According to the authority’s data, outreach workers engaged with 34,110 people over the year, which was triple the number before Measure H.

And almost 1,400 permanent supportive housing units built with money from Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond, are set to open in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“I do feel like the first honest year to assess will be to freeze frame from now to next year,” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles told me late last week.

Ultimately, though, he said housing affordability was the biggest factor driving homelessness.

An Angeleno would need to earn $47.52 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent, according to L.A.H.S.A. figures.

[Read more about why the state has a housing crisis.]

Although there’s broad acknowledgment — from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down — that part of the solution is millions more homes, legislative fixes that would spur housing construction have proven knotty, to say the least.

Senate Bill 50, which was effectively killed for the year, would have allowed for denser development in many areas, including some neighborhoods of single-family homes.

Mr. Garcetti said that bill was “definitely a bad stick for us.”

The bill would threaten neighborhood character, he said. And L.A., he noted, builds more than its proportional share of housing compared with the rest of the county.

Though Mr. Garcetti says he’s in favor of measures that would force other cities that aren’t allowing new construction to add to their housing supplies, he’s been focused on legislation that would slow skyrocketing rents.

(oped: By oldpoet56)( To me, a person who has traveled every city in this Nation above 100,000 population many times in my life the reason for homelessness in these cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco is obvious. The main reason is: people have to live somewhere even if it is in a cardboard box or under a bridge. Housing cost are way to high for a huge amount of the population. Jobs don’t pay enough for people to afford a rent payment. Vehicle costs are so high that people making anywhere near the minimum wages can not afford a ride to a job or job interviews. There are a lot of ‘working poor’ who are simply trying not to starve. If the Federal and State governments would address these issues then a huge percent of the homeless people would not be homeless.)

“This is the No. 1 issue in every city in California,” he said.

Algerian Activists Slam Living Conditions of ‘Prisoners of Conscience’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI  NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Algerian Activists Slam Living Conditions of ‘Prisoners of Conscience’

Sunday, 2 June, 2019 – 11:15
Algerian man sprays water on policeman to ease the effects of high temperatures in the capital on Saturday, June 1, 2019 (Reuters)
Algeria – Bouallam Ghemraseh
Nongovernmental Algerian rights organizations prepared a list including 16 prisoners of conscience, four of whom have died over the past three years, and the last was activist Kamel Eddine Fekhar, whose funeral was held on Saturday.

Fekhar’s funeral was attended by mass of people, including activists from the popular movements that have taken place in the country since February 22.

One of the most controversial political prisoners is retired General Hussein Ben Hadid, 76, who suffers fractures in the pelvis after falling in Harrash prison in the eastern suburb of the capital.

His legal team told reporters on Saturday that his physical weakness has prevented a surgical operation in the injured area.

Bashir Mashri, a lawyer, said his injury “confirms that he hasn’t received his right to medical care in prison.”

Ben Hadid was put in pre-trial detention two weeks ago on charges of “weakening the army’s morale.”

He published an article in a local newspaper criticizing Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gaid Salah and how he is handling the crisis.

Human rights activists criticized his detention and considered him a prisoner of conscience, accusing Salah of taking his revenge from him for personal reasons.

Ben Hadid described Salah five years ago as a “commander who is not respected by soldiers.” He was jailed for eight months two years ago and was released after discovering he was seriously ill.

Although Bouteflika stepped down from power on April 2, Abdellah Ben Naoum, a political activist, who was accused of “insulting the president,” remains in prison west Algeria, serving a two-year sentence.

His lawyers said his health condition is deteriorating because of a hunger strike that has lasted more than 80 days now.

Ben Naoum refuses to end the strike, telling his confidants that he was jailed for his positions on the former president.

Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) has warned that he would end up like Fekhar, whose death has put the current authorities in great embarrassment.

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