Syria blames Israel for missile strike near Damascus

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Syria blames Israel for missile strike near Damascus

Screenshot from Syrian state TV apparently the downing of Israeli missiles near DamascusImage copyrightAFP
Image captionSyrian state TV broadcast footage it said showed the downing of Israeli missiles near Damascus

Israel is reported to have carried out a missile strike on a military outpost south of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Syria’s state news agency Sana said two missiles were shot down in the Kiswah area on Tuesday night, and that two civilians were killed in an explosion.

But a monitoring group said the missiles hit an Iranian weapons depot, killing 15 pro-government fighters.

Israel declined to comment. But the reports came after it noted “irregular activity” by Iranian forces in Syria.

The Israeli military placed its troops in the occupied Golan Heights on high alert and urged civilians to prepare bomb shelters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile flew to Moscow to discuss Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the Syrian government.

Syrian state television broadcast video footage overnight which it said showed air defences intercepting two missiles fired towards Kiswah, about 10km (6 miles) south-west of Damascus.

Sana reported that a man and his wife were killed by an explosion resulting from the interceptions as they drove along the Damascus-Deraa motorway.

A commander in a regional military alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters news agency that the missiles targeted a Syrian army base.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported that the missiles struck weapons depots and missile launchers belonging to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards force.

Eight members of the Revolutionary Guards and several other non-Syrian nationals were among at least 15 pro-government fighters who were killed, it said.

Presentational grey line

‘Deepening sense of crisis’

By Jonathan Marcus, defence correspondent, BBC News

Israel’s reported pre-emptive strike on an Iranian missile battery in Syria last night underscores the deepening sense of crisis in the region.

These are the opening skirmishes in what could develop into a brutal war that may sweep across Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

Both the US and Russia (which the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting on Wednesday) have a crucial role in determining both the context and scope of any conflict; of determining whether it will be more or less likely. US President Donald Trump is likely to embolden Iran’s hardliners with his decision to pull out of the nuclear deal.

Russia’s support for the Assad regime in Syria and its relationship with Tehran present worrying possibilities for Israel. If it wanted, Moscow could significantly limit the Israeli Air Force’s freedom of action, either by supplying advanced air defences to Syria or by using its own assets already located in the country.

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Putin have a lot to talk about.

Presentational grey line

Last year, a Western intelligence source told the BBC that the Iranian military had established a compound near Kiswah. It was subsequently targeted in a missile strike attributed to Israel.

Iran is an ally of Mr Assad and has deployed hundreds of troops to Syria. Thousands of militiamen armed, trained and financed by Iran – mostly from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, but also Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen – have also been fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Israel has not commented on the reports, but its government has vowed to stop what it considers Iran’s military “entrenchment” in Syria.

On 8 April, Israeli missiles are alleged to have hit an airbase in Homs province – reportedly serving as an Iranian drone command centre and containing an advanced Iranian air defence system – killing seven Iranian personnel.

And on 29 April, a suspected Israeli missile strike on an Iranian missile depot near the city of Hama reportedly killed a number of pro-government fighters.

High alert

Tensions in the region escalated on Tuesday when the Israeli military said it had detected “irregular Iranian activity” by Iranian forces in Syria and placed troops on “high alert for an attack”.

The military said it was “prepared for various scenarios” and warned Iran and its proxies that “any aggression against Israel will be met with a severe response”.

Local media said it was the first time there had been an order for local authorities in the Golan to prepare shelters in the occupied area since the Syrian civil war began.

Israeli outlets also reported that the military was calling up a number of reservists.

It came as President Donald Trump said the US would quit the Iran nuclear deal.

Going against advice from European allies, he said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were lifted when the deal was signed in 2015.

Israel’s prime minister said he fully supported Mr Trump’s decision, asserting that the deal had “dramatically increased” Iranian “aggression” across the Middle East.

Map of Golan Heights

Croatia Has To Close Border Withe Serbia: Too Many Refugees Crossing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS AND THE BBC)

 

A baby cries as migrants board a bus in Tovarnik, Croatia, on Sept. 17, 2015
A baby cries as migrants board a bus in Tovarnik, Croatia, on Sept. 17, 2015
Antonio Bronic—Reuters
By HELEN REGAN

September 18, 2015

Croatia closed seven out of eight border crossings with Serbia Thursday after 10,000 refugees entered in two days.

Croatia’s Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic told reporters that the country was “absolutely full” and could no longer take any more refugees, reports the BBC.

“Don’t come here anymore,” he said. “Stay in refugee centers in Serbia and Macedonia and Greece. This is not the road to Europe. Buses can’t take you there. It’s a lie.”

According to the BBC, Croatia has been overwhelmed by the new arrivals. On Thursday, crowds of people tried to break through police lines at two towns on the border with Serbia, in the hope of getting to the Croatian capital, Zagreb. Scuffles broke out at Tovarnik and Batina, two of the crossings that are now closed.

Buses arrived to take the refugees to a registration center, but there was not enough transport to take everyone, and thousands of people reportedly spent Thursday night sleeping on the roadside or in fields.

Hungary sealed off its southern border with Serbia on Wednesday, forcing thousands of desperate people to turn to neighboring Croatia in order to attempt to make their way to northern Europe and their preferred destination: Germany.

In chaotic scenes at the Serbian border town of Horgos, riot police on the Hungarian side of the border used tear gas and water cannons to repel crowds of refugees back into Serbia. Hungary has defended its actions and has vowed to continue to forcefully defend its border, reports the Guardian.

The border closures in Croatia and Hungary mean the main land route from Greece to northern Europe has effectively been cut off, reports the BBC.

Meanwhile, Slovenia said it stopped a group of refugees on a train at the border and would return them to Zagreb. Slovenia, which lies to the north of Croatia and shares a border with Austria, is part of the E.U. border-free Schengen area. On Thursday, Slovenian officials told the European Commission that its border with Hungary would be closed for at least 10 days.

[BBC]

Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Media captionNick Higham looks back at Professor Stephen Hawking’s life

Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, his family has said.

The British physicist was known for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” a family statement said.

At the age of 22 Stephen Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

Stephen HawkingImage copyrightBBC/RICHARD ANSETT

The illness left him wheelchair-bound and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.

In the statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said: “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”


Factfile: Stephen Hawking

  • Born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England
  • Earned place at Oxford University to read natural science in 1959, before studying for his PhD at Cambridge
  • By 1963, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live
  • Outlined his theory that black holes emit “Hawking radiation” in 1974
  • Published his book A Brief History of Time in 1988, which has sold more than 10 million copies
  • His life story was the subject of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne

Murder of Investigative Journalist Ján Kuciak Shakes Slovak Society

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Murder of Investigative Journalist Ján Kuciak Shakes Slovak Society

Killed Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak. Photo by Aktuality.sk, used with permission.

On February 25, Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kušnírová were found shot dead in their home about 65 km east of the capital Bratislava. The murders caused widespread shock and protests throughout the country.

Kuciak, 27, had worked for the news site Aktuality.sk. More than a week after the murder, there has been no headway in the official investigation.

According to BBC, between 10,000 and 20,000 people took to the streets across Slovakia on Friday in protest vigils in Kuciak’s memory, with some calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico, the leader of the political party Direction – Social Democracy (SMER-SD).

Thousands of people are marching in Bratislava. This is huge reaction on murder of Slovak investigative journalist and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. It’s probably biggest demonstration since independence of Slovakia.
(Photo credits: Tomáš Benedikovič, @dennikN)

Police and people close to Kuciak suspect his death was related to his work. His most recent investigation, which had yet to be published, looked at connections between Slovak government politicians and Italian mafia interests in eastern Slovakia, aimed at defrauding European Union (EU) subsidies for agriculture.

Several days after the murder, Slovak police arrested but then released Italian citizens Antonino Vadala, Bruno Vadala, and Pietro Catroppa who all are allegedly connected to the large-scale Italian organized crime group ‘Ndrangheta, which Kuciak was investigating prior to his death.

Various independent voices online since have pointed to connections between the ruling party and the Italian mafia.

Some comments have focused on Antonino Vadala, who once referred to Slovakia’s ruling SMER party as “our party”. Shortly thereafter, multiple politicians released statements saying they had no connection to Vadala.

Blogger Jiří Ščobák observed while lead parliamentarian Andrej Danko had posted an image of a candle on his Facebook page, to honor Kuciak, he had in fact previously been friends with Vadala. Ščobák juxtaposed a screenshot of the recent post, alongside a screenshot showing that they had been Facebook friends.

Connections with the Italian mafia is a taboo topic for Slovak media. Kuciak continued investigating them after journalist Ivan Mego from Plus 7 Dní weekly got orders from his superiors to stop his inquires on this topic, and was sacked in February.

Ján Kuciak’s colleagues from Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and his outlet, Aktuality.sk, defied this norm and decided to posthumously publish the last story he was working on.

A former topless model who was hired unexpectedly by Slovakia’s Prime Minister turned out to be the former business partner of a man with ties to the ‘Ndrangheta. /3

You can kill a journalist, but you will never kill the story. We are proud to publish Jan’s last, unfinished investigation. https://www.occrp.org/en/amurderedjournalistslastinvestigation/ 

A Murdered Journalist’s Last Investigation – OCCRP

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is a global network of investigative journalists.

occrp.org

Kuciak was not the kind of investigative journalist who worked with many secret sources. His style was rooted primarily in collecting and connecting information from public archives.

Last September, he filed a criminal complaint because of verbal threats from a known Slovak entrepreneur.

The tax office about which assassinated journalist Jan Kuciak was investigating is up in flames today. Below, evidence burning: https://twitter.com/karelpeka/status/968442142472462336 

Slovak left-wing populist Prime Minister Róbert Fico is known for his verbal attacks on journalists, calling them “hyenas”, “dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes” and even “toilet spiders”.

Nevertheless, just two days after Kuciak’s killing, he put up a reward of one million euros from the state budget for information about the murder.

How is it even possible for PM to take 1 million € from the state treasury in CASH and put it on the table during a press conference? What law allowed him to do this with taxpayers’ money?

Two people with close ties to Fico figured prominently in Kuciak’s stories — Mária Trošková, a former girlfriend of Antonino Vadala, and Viliam Jasaň, who served as the chief of crisis management and state security, and had ties with a Vadala’s company.

Trošková and Jasaň have voluntarily left their posts in the government, pending the conclusion of the investigation of the journalist’s murder. When asked to explain their departure, which they say is temporary, both cited pressure from the media, arguing that “their names are abused in political struggle against Fico”.

Blogger Milan Ftorek pointed to contradictions in the PM’s public behavior:

Has the Slovak Prime Minister gone mad? …during one press conference he managed to both play the part of a person who wants to expose Kuciak’s killers, but at the same time he defended those who were the subject of Kuciak’s investigations?

Newspapers, political opposition voices and many members of the general public reacted with outrage, organizing memorials, marches and protests in Slovakiaand abroad, honoring Kuciak and Kušnírová.

#AllForJan webpage set up by Aktuality.sk commemorating Jan Kuciak (27), and Martina Kušnírová (27)

Kuciak’s media outlet Aktuality.sk is using the hashtag #AllForJan, while many have simply been using a hashtag with the journalist’s name .

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Has Arrived In London

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 0:45
Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Downing Street to meet Theresa May

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in London March 7 for a three-day visit to the United Kingdom as part of his first official overseas tour. 

Mohammed bin Salman, the divisive crown prince of Saudi Arabia, arrived in London on Wednesday for a three-day state visit. The 32-year-old was greeted at the airport by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, a rare honor for a man not yet head of state.

Later, he will dine with Prince Charles and Prince William — two British royals who are, like him, next in line to the throne, although they hold a small fraction of his political power.

But the pomp and the red carpet notwithstanding, Mohammed’s visit already has turned into a bitter PR battle between those who support the moves he is making for Saudi Arabia and those who call him a “war criminal.”

In some cases, the battle veered into absurd territory, such as when pro-Saudi advertisements were placed next to online articles criticizing the crown prince.

Although Mohammed has pushed through some liberal policies at home — including his dramatic decision to allow women to drive — and he is viewed as a key economic ally for a post-Brexit Britain, his foreign policy is controversial in London.

Notably, the crown prince is the architect of a Saudi-led intervention against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. Critics say Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate use of force in that conflict has had disastrous consequences for Yemeni civilians, exacerbating what may be the worst humanitarian disaster on earth.


Vans bearing messages of welcome for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are parked in Whitehall in central London on March 7. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/getty Images)

According to U.N. estimates from last year, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015. More than 3 million people have been displaced, the United Nations estimated, and 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.

Awkwardly for Johnson and Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain is a key military supplier of Saudi Arabia. According to one estimate, sales of British weapons to Saudi Arabiaincreased almost 500 percent, to 4.6 billion pounds ($6.4 billion), after 2015, when the Saudi intervention in Yemen began. Saudi Arabia is now the top destination for British-manufactured weapons.

A poll commissioned by the Campaign Against Arms Trade and carried out by Populus found that 6 percent of the British public supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia; 37 percent opposed Mohammed’s visit to Britain.

Amid this public mistrust, advertisements praising Mohammed’s reforms have been blanketing London — in an apparent bid to woo Britons. The advertisements have appeared on billboards, on taxis, on trucks and in newspapers.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Feels like arriving in – when entering London from the M4 & M40 one is greeted by the “beloved leader” @AEISaudi & the lobby try to turn around the kingdom’s image in a not so subtle way @alekhbariyatv

I count one full-page and three half-page “yay for Saudi Arabia” ads in today’s @FT

AEI Saudi, the firm behind the advertisements, is a consulting business that was registered in Riyadh in 2002. In a blog post, the firm’s founder highlighted the significant changes he has seen in recent years in Saudi Arabia, such as a new inclusion of Saudi women in public life.

“If there is one individual who has been the driving force behind these changes it is ‘MbS’, as he is often known,” wrote Adam Hosier, the British-born founder of the firm. “He has faced resistance of course, both internally and from powers outside the Kingdom, yet he has not faltered.”

But these were not the only advertisements greeting the crown prince. In central London, buses were emblazoned with messages accusing Mohammed of being a “war criminal,” while social media users used hashtags to let the Saudi royal know that he was “not welcome.”

Activists from Avaaz, a global activism group, parked a van outside Parliament and had two figures dressed as Mohammed and May drop off child-size body bags. A sign on the van said May should tell the crown prince: “Stop the slaughter, start peace talks!”


Activists from Avaaz stage a protest outside Parliament timed to coincide with the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London on March 7. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Save the Children, a London-based charity, also highlighted the plight of children in Yemen by placing outside Parliament a small statue of a child standing in rubble and staring at the sky.

Meanwhile, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK has scheduled a protest outside Downing Street, due to start at 5 p.m. local time.

Join us outside Downing Street from 5pm this evening to oppose the Crown Prince and all UK arms sales to his regime. http://aje.io/24aln 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins official UK visit

As ruling party welcomes Gulf royal, protesters and opposition politicians call on prime minister to challenge kingdom.

aljazeera.com

It is unclear who is winning the PR battle — other than advertising agencies, of course. The pro-Saudi messages were certainly mocked: Some noted that the advertisements looked better suited to a “sleazy gentlemen’s club” and pointed out that online ads praising Mohammed had appeared next to articles about Saudi corruption.

These adverts for the Saudi Crown Prince are everywhere! Even on articles about Saudi corruption in the Guardian. Cc @claytonswisher.

Many of the billboards welcoming the crown prince appeared along the motorways that connect Heathrow Airport to central London — suggesting that Mohammed may have been the intended audience.

Ads praising MBS all along the M4 this morning. Are they targeted at Brits, or at the Crown Prince’s motorcade?

However, the protests outside Parliament seem to have resonated inside Westminster. During the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday afternoon, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and accused May of “colluding” in suspected war crimes in Yemen.

“The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country,” May responded, as opposition lawmakers shouted “shame.”

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “mansplaining” by the Prime Minister as he raised concerns of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

May later said that she would raise the issue of human rights with the crown prince when she met him and that she had spoken with him about humanitarian concerns in Yemen during a visit to Riyadh in December.

The controversy over Saudi Arabia puts May in a tight spot politically. Britain is looking for bigger trading partners as it leaves the European Union, and broadening its economic relationship with Saudi Arabia would help it do that. The two nations are planning to create a joint Strategic Partnership Council that could lead to Saudi investment of up to 100 billion pounds ($139 billion) in the next 10 years, according to the BBC.

However, the visit is also important for the Saudi crown prince, who is seeking foreign investment as part of Vision 2030, his ambitious plan to reform his country. There are also hopes that the long-awaited public listing of the state oil firm Saudi Aramco might take place on the London Stock Exchange.

 1:34
Saudi Arabia loosens rules around women driving, gender segregation

As Saudi Arabia tries to shake a conservative image, it’s increasing entertainment events and backing off on gender-based rules in 2018.

Mohammed also is planning to visit the United States, home to the New York Stock Exchange, for an investment-focused visit set to start March 19.

Iran detains 35 women for going to football match

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Iran detains 35 women for going to football match

Iranian football fans at a matchImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionOnly men can attend football matches in Iran

Iran has detained 35 women for trying to attend a football match.

They tried to go to a game between Tehran teams Esteqlal and Persepolis. Iran said they were temporarily held and would be released after the match.

Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, was also in attendance, along with Iranian Sport Minister Masoud Soltanifar.

A live broadcast was taken off the air when a journalist asked Mr Soltanifar when women would be allowed to attend football matches.

According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Iranian interior ministry spokesman Seyyed Salman Samani said the female football fans were not arrested – but transferred to a “proper place” by police.

Earlier reports said two women were held.

Iran has barred women from attending football games since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Iranian football fans after celebrate after a win by the national teamImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionIranian women have been urged online recently to protest about their ban from stadiums

‘Break the taboo’

There were calls on social media before the match for women to protest against the ban outside the Azadi stadium today.

Women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad on Wednesday called on women to attend Thursday’s match.

“The Fifa president will be in the stadium tomorrow (1 March),” she wrote.

“I wish women would gather outside the stadium to ask men not to enter without them.”

Another user said it was a “basic right” for women to enter stadiums with men, and said this match was “the best chance to break the 35-year-old taboo”.

Azadi means “freedom” stadium in Persian, and one Twitter user pointed out the hypocrisy of “naming a stadium freedom but banning half the population from entering”.

Presentational grey line

Why this game?

By Alan Johnston, World Service Middle East regional editor

The women caught sneaking into the stadium were trying to attend a particularly significant game, one being watched by the most powerful man in world football, Fifa’s boss.

It seems they wanted to attract Mr Infantino’s attention to the ban on women attending games.

And the sensitivity of the issue was apparent as Mr Infantino stood beside the country’s sports minister during a live TV interview.

A journalist asked this awkward question about when the ban might be lifted. The sound was faded down, and the interview abruptly taken off the air.

Presentational grey line

‘Politics should stay out of football’

Mr Infantino had been speaking to reporters about a two-year dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, left, and Iranian sport minister Masoud SoltanifarImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionFifa president Gianni Infantino, left, spoke at a joint press conference with Iranian Sport Minister Masoud Soltanifar

Since 2016, when Saudi Arabia broke off relations with Iran, Saudi clubs have refused to play there, forcing Iranian teams to play home games in Oman.

“It’s very clear that politics should stay out of football and football should stay out of politics,” Mr Infantino said the news conference.

“There are of course political issues between countries all over the world but this should not have an impact,” he said.

Later on, the head of Fifa met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Mr Rouhani asked Fifa to make sure that “people are not deprived of watching competitions in their own stadiums”.

Related Topics

BBC Report On Exhausted Apple Work Force

BBC Report On Exhausted Apple Work Force

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM DECEMBER 19th, 2014)

Apple, the most valuable company in the world. Companies do not get to be more and more valuable by giving out better wages, benefits, and working conditions to the low life serfs who actually make their products. The more you as a company can literally squeeze the blood out of the ones actually doing the work, the higher the profits. It is that simple and anyone in business knows that. The less I am forced to give you the worker, the more for the bosses.

 

Businesses DO NOT care about anything except profit margins. Stock holders DO NOT care about anything except the largest possible profits on their stock investments. No profitable company gives a damn about the lowly scum who actually do the work, workers are a dime a dozen, if they die, they will just grab the next hungry person in line and throw them into the dead persons spot. The concept of a stock market requires this necessity, simply put, if the CEO and other brass do not squeeze out enough profits each quarter they will be replaced from their throne by someone who will squeeze out every penny from those who are starving. If you think that the workers matter you are quite possibly a fool, ignorant, or simply a liar (just my opinion). ONLY PROFITS MATTER, not, the low life scum of the earth who actually do all of the physical work. I have learned this first hand from 45 years in the American work force. 30 years as a long haul truck driver, going into thousands of work places seeing first hand how little the workers matter to the ones who run those businesses.

 

Here in America, Wal-Mart is the single biggest driver of starving American workers. Not just in the fact that the biggest stock holders demand higher profits at all times, like the four Walton kids who simply by blood line became billionaires. Wal-Mart has one in nine of every dollar in Americas GDP go through their hands every year. That is more than 1.1 Trillion dollars people. Yet they refuse to hire their work force (the extreme majority) as full-time workers, pay them a wage where they can live more than a minimal existence, or furnish the workers with affordable medical insurance. This would interrupt their billions in profits. Very recently the company has paid 500 million dollars to have three ships built for the sole purpose of transporting goods from China to the west coast of America. The reason I say this is because all three ships are too large to fit through any of the world’s shipping  canals. You and your family can starve to death for all these billionaires give a damn. Until the American people wake up and do not shop at Wal-Mart at all, until we as a nation demand that Wal-Mart and other companies like them buy from American companies whose factories are here in the states employing American workers full-time, then we the people just keep making life harder, worse on ourselves.

 

Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘They Fear Pens, Not Guns’: Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

Demonstrators on World Press Freedom Day in Turkey, 2013. Image by Amnesty International Turkey.

After spending just over a year behind bars without charge, Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel was released from a Turkish jail on February 16. Just hours later, six other journalists in the country were issued a life sentence for “or attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”.

With 155 journalists serving jail time because of their work, these days of highs and lows are beginning to feel routine for Turkey’s embattled independent media community.

BBC described Deniz Yucel’s imprisonment as a long-standing “irritant” in the relations between the two countries. His release came shortly after Turkish PM’s visit to Germany this week.

Deniz Yucel was arrested exactly 367 days ago on suspicion of “inciting the people to racial hatred and enmity” and “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization”.

Soon after his release was announced, crowd gathered outside the jail, where Yucel joined his wife who was waiting for him:

But the ordeal is not yet over. Yucel was charged and indicted upon his release, with the prosecution demanding that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Same court that ordered ‘s release has apparently accepted an indictment calling for up to 18 years imprisonment.

Not quite clear what is going on, but a key issue is whether he is being allowed to travel abroad.

In ordering Deniz Yücel’s release, the court also accepted his newly issued indictment. He faces 4 to 18 years in prison. https://twitter.com/cyberrights/status/964462592331796480 

While colleagues and friends celebrated the news of Yucel’s release, another court decision came down, this time affecting the fate of a different group of journalists.

A Turkish court has jailed for life journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilicak & Fevzi Yazici & one other defendant for seeking to “overthrow the constitutional order” in alleged coup plot http://www.haberturk.com/nazli-ilicak-ve-altan-kardeslerin-yargilandigi-davada-karar-bekleniyor-1840173 

Esas hakkındaki savunmalar tamamlandı

Haberin detayları için tıklayın

haberturk.com

Awful news coming in from Silivri jus now. & faced a trial in which no credible evidence was presented beyond their words. This verdict does not pass the test of international human rights law. https://twitter.com/rsf_eeca/status/964478858996146177 

Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilica, Yakup Şimşek, Fevzi Yazıcı and Şükrü Tuğrul Özsengül were handed a lifetime prison sentence after being convicted of involvement with Turkey’s 2016 coup, despite a lack of direct evidence.

Five of the six defendants are journalists and intellectuals all had strong ties with opposition news outlets in the past. Ahmet Altan is the former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper and his brother, Mehmet Altan is an academic and journalist who once wrote for Hurriyet. Nazli Ilıcak has written for Hurriyet, in addition to other newspapers, and briefly served as an MP for the Virtue party.

Yakup Şimşek and Fevzi Yazıcı worked with Zaman newspaper, which was one of Turkey’s largest independent daily newspapers until 2016, when the government seized its operations, alleging that the outlet had ties to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Anadolu Agency reported that six people were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and of having communicated with associates of Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the July 2016 failed coup.

In addition to facing legal threats, all of these journalists have been subject to extralegal harassment. One year ago, President Erdogan called Yucel a terrorist in one of his televised speeches.

Bu konuşmayı tam 1 yıl önce çekmiştim. Deniz sonunda özgür. Darısı Alman vatandaşı olmayan gazeteci arkadaşlarımızın başına.

I filmed this speech one year ago. Deniz is finally free. I wish the same for the rest non-German citizen journalists friends of mine.


Video clip translation:
 They are hiding this German terrorist, this spy at the embassy. They hid him for a month. And German Chancellor asked him from me. She said to release him. I told her we have an independent judiciary. Just like your judiciary is independent so is mine. It is [the judiciary] objective. That is why I am sorry to say, you won’t take them from us. Finally, he was brought to court. He was arrested. Why? Because he is spy terrorist. Who cares he is a German citizen. It doesn’t matter whose citizen you are, if you are spreading terror in Turkey, if they are secretly spies, they will pay the price.

Supporters in Turkey and around the world tweeted their shock at the decision:

Today’s verdict & sentences of life without parole for , & mark an apex of the disintegration of the in . Judge ignored a binding Turkish Constitutional Court decision. The European Court of Human Rights must act.

As Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak are given “aggravated life sentences”, it is worth remembering what that sentence is.

It is life without parole, with up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Forever and ever, amen.

On February 12, both Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were thrown out of the courthouse, for demanding to read the constitutional court decision which ruled for their releasein January. The two brothers demanded that the decision which was overturned within 24 hours by the ruling of the 27th High Court is put on the record.

The next day, on February 13, speaking from high-security prison via video link, Ahmet Altan in his defense said the following:

Those in political power no longer fear generals. But they do fear writers. They fear pens, not guns. Because pens can reach where guns cannot: into the conscience of a society.

When the verdict was handed to Altan brothers today, one observer said cries and screams filled the courtroom.

Meanwhile, there are at least four other German Turkish citizens behind bars in Turkey, while the total number of imprisoned journalists and writers since the coup has now surpassed 150.

Mozambique rubbish dump collapse ‘kills at least 17’ people

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BBC)

 

Mozambique rubbish dump collapse ‘kills at least 17’ people

People search for survivors and belongings under collapsed piles of rubbish in Maputo, Mozambique, 19 February 2018Image copyrightEPA
Image captionAuthorities have warned that a number of residents remain unaccounted for

At least 17 people have been killed in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and many more injured after a huge mound of rubbish collapsed, officials say.

The pile of waste, some 15m (49ft) high, gave way in heavy rains at 03:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Monday.

The dump is known to be home to some of the city’s poorest residents, who build makeshift camps amid the rubbish.

Five homes on the edge were also crushed in the disaster. Rescue workers are continuing to search for survivors.

A spokesman for the emergency services, Leonilde Pelembe, warned it was likely there were more victims under the waste.

“The information we received from local authorities is that the number of people living in those houses exceeds the number of deaths recorded,” Mr Pelembe said.

The Hulene district of Maputo is one of the most deprived parts of the capital. Many, including children, have little choice but to make their homes either on or next to the dump.

The dump not only provides them with food, but also goods to sell, our correspondent Jose Tembe explains.

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An accident waiting to happen

Analysis by Jose Tembe, BBC Africa, Maputo

The dump was here when I began living in the area in the 1980s. I saw the buildings being erected around it.

The municipal authorities have tried to clear it. Each time the rainy season comes, they remove people and give them plots of land.

People watch rescuers search for bodies of victims buried under collapsed piles of rubbish in Maputo, Mozambique, 19 February 2018Image copyrightEPA
Image caption Rescue workers clear rubbish as they continue to search for survivors

But when there is no rain, people move back to the rubbish dump. It is where they can be close to the city and collect things that have been dumped – things like outdated food to either eat or sell.

The government keeps on promising and promising to close the dump for good, but they never do it.

They never close it, and so people continue to pile garbage in the same area.

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The authorities said they had previously asked residents in the area to leave because their homes were constructed illegally, Reuters news agency reports.

However one local resident whose son was injured in the landslide, Maria Huo, said: “I live in this neighbourhood because I have nowhere to go. Had the government told me to go to another place to live, I would have left here.”

The city of Maputo has experienced heavy rainfall since Sunday, which has damaged homes and flooded roads.

In the poorer suburbs of cities such as Maputo, people sometimes live on land they do not own in the hope of finding work. The dwellings can be built on land that is unsafe.

Related Topics

Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds Zuma as South African president

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds Zuma as South African president

Media captionCheers and song as Ramaphosa elected South Africa president

Cyril Ramaphosa has become South Africa’s president a day after embattled leader Jacob Zuma resigned.

He was the only candidate nominated in parliament on Thursday so no vote was needed to make him president. MPs from the ruling African National Congress broke into song at the announcement.

In a speech to parliament Mr Ramaphosa, 65, said that corruption was on his radar.

The ANC had told Mr Zuma to step down or face a vote of no-confidence.

In a televised statement he said he was quitting with immediate effect but said he disagreed with his party’s decision.

Mr Zuma faces numerous corruption allegations but denies any wrongdoing.

One opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, walked out of the parliamentary debate. It wants new elections, rather than the ANC deciding on the identity of the new president.

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Dream finally realised

Analysis: Lebo Diseko, BBC News, Johannesburg

It is often said that Mr Ramaphosa has had his eye on the position of president since the ANC came to power in 1994.

The story goes that he was so upset at not having been chosen by Nelson Mandela as his successor that he left politics and went into business.

But Mr Ramaphosa has now finally realised that dream.

He has said his priority is reviving South Africa’s battered economy. But it won’t be easy: Unemployment is currently at almost 30%, a rate which rises to nearly 40% for young people.

Low growth rates and dwindling investor confidence were compounded by two credit agencies downgrading the economy to junk status.

One of the first steps in improving that investor confidence is addressing the persistent claims of corruption at the heart of government.

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There is a renewed sense of hope as Mr Ramaphosa is taking over the reins of Africa’s most industrialised economy.

The markets appeared to welcome Mr Zuma’s resignation. The South African currency, the rand, reaching its strongest levels in three years – at 11.6570 rand for $1 in early trading.

Some will miss him though, pointing to achievements like announcing the abolition of fees for higher education, says the BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg.

Mr Zuma, a former member of the ANC’s military wing in the days of apartheid, rose through the ranks of the party to become president. He led the country for more than a third of its time after apartheid.

But he leaves office with several scandals hanging over him, and with South Africa’s economy in dire straits.

Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with Jacob ZumaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionCyril Ramaphosa, left, was the deputy president to Jacob Zuma

On Wednesday, police swooped on the Johannesburg home of the powerful and wealthy Gupta family.

Eight suspects appeared in court on Thursday on fraud and money laundering charges, local media report. But they did not include any of the best-known Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh.

Among the eight in court was Varun Gupta, who was Chief Operating Officer of the Gupta-owned mining firm Oakbay Resources and Energy. He is yet to make a plea in court.

The Guptas have been accused of using their close friendship with the president to wield enormous political influence. They deny all allegations of wrongdoing.

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Cyril Ramaphosa at a glance:

Media captionWho is Cyril Ramaphosa?
  • Detained in 1974 and 1976 for anti-apartheid activities
  • Chairman of committee which prepared for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990
  • Had hoped to succeed Mandela as president but Thabo Mbeki chosen instead
  • Moved full-time into business in 1997, becoming one of South Africa’s richest businessmen
  • On Lonmin board during 2012 Marikana massacre
  • Elected ANC leader in 2017
  • Becomes president of South Africa on 15 February 2018
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