August 2017

No Picture

UN confirms Afghan civilian deaths in Taliban, Daesh attack

Author: 
Sayed Salahuddin
Mon, 2017-08-21 03:00
ID: 
1503258128962900500

KABUL: The UN on Sunday published its preliminary report on an onslaught by Daesh and Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan, confirming the deaths of civilians but finding no evidence of beheadings or sexual abuse.
Provincial authorities in Sar-i-Pul say Taliban and Daesh fighters jointly attacked Mirza Olang village more than two weeks ago, arresting several hundred civilians and killing more than 50 of them by beheading one group and throwing another off a cliff. Some officials even said the insurgents abducted women for sexual violence.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) launched a probe into the killings in the predominantly Shiite village.
“UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh) fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians … during the attack on Mirza Olang,” it said in a statement.
“At least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5th of August when Anti-Government Elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and Pro-Government Militia who were hors de combat (out of action) at the time of their killing. Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village.”
UNAMA said it found no evidence to substantiate claims of beheadings. Via interviews with witnesses and officials, it was also unable to verify claims about abductions of women and sexual violence.
UNAMA said further investigations by competent authorities are required into allegations of sectarian hatred as a factor in the killings.
The Taliban, forming the backbone of the insurgency against the Afghan government and US-led troops, denied involvement in the killing of civilians.
Media reports said Daesh claimed responsibility. Some disaffected Taliban members have joined Daesh in some parts of the country.
While Daesh affiliates have targeted Shiites multiple times in Kabul and in western Herat province over the past year, the massacre in Mirza Olang is the first of its kind in the north.
The attacks against Shiites have been portrayed by locals and government officials as a ploy by the insurgents to fan sectarian violence in Afghanistan, similar to that in Iraq and Syria.
The government faces deep divisions and growing public anger over rising insecurity amid unprecedented ethnic tensions.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Children pay the price in Afghan conflict: UN
Daesh kills 6 Afghan policemen
Afghan civilian casualties hit record high in 2016: UN

No Picture

UN confirms Afghan civilian deaths in Taliban, Daesh attack

Author: 
Sayed Salahuddin
Mon, 2017-08-21 03:00
ID: 
1503258128962900500

KABUL: The UN on Sunday published its preliminary report on an onslaught by Daesh and Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan, confirming the deaths of civilians but finding no evidence of beheadings or sexual abuse.
Provincial authorities in Sar-i-Pul say Taliban and Daesh fighters jointly attacked Mirza Olang village more than two weeks ago, arresting several hundred civilians and killing more than 50 of them by beheading one group and throwing another off a cliff. Some officials even said the insurgents abducted women for sexual violence.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) launched a probe into the killings in the predominantly Shiite village.
“UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh) fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians … during the attack on Mirza Olang,” it said in a statement.
“At least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5th of August when Anti-Government Elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and Pro-Government Militia who were hors de combat (out of action) at the time of their killing. Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village.”
UNAMA said it found no evidence to substantiate claims of beheadings. Via interviews with witnesses and officials, it was also unable to verify claims about abductions of women and sexual violence.
UNAMA said further investigations by competent authorities are required into allegations of sectarian hatred as a factor in the killings.
The Taliban, forming the backbone of the insurgency against the Afghan government and US-led troops, denied involvement in the killing of civilians.
Media reports said Daesh claimed responsibility. Some disaffected Taliban members have joined Daesh in some parts of the country.
While Daesh affiliates have targeted Shiites multiple times in Kabul and in western Herat province over the past year, the massacre in Mirza Olang is the first of its kind in the north.
The attacks against Shiites have been portrayed by locals and government officials as a ploy by the insurgents to fan sectarian violence in Afghanistan, similar to that in Iraq and Syria.
The government faces deep divisions and growing public anger over rising insecurity amid unprecedented ethnic tensions.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Children pay the price in Afghan conflict: UN
Daesh kills 6 Afghan policemen
Afghan civilian casualties hit record high in 2016: UN

No Picture

Crisis in India’s IT sector amid mass layoffs

Author: 
Sanjay Kumar
Mon, 2017-08-21 03:00
ID: 
1503258128942900200

“In the last six months, I got more grey hair than I had in the last five years,” said an IT engineer who asked to go by the pseudonym Pankaj, fearing he would lose potential opportunities in the IT market if he revealed his identity.
“I live and breathe mental tension. What I see in front of me is just darkness, no light at the end of the tunnel,” he told Arab News, almost sobbing.
The 46-year-old was forced to resign from one of the top IT companies in the western Indian city of Pune in February after working there for six years.
He headed a team of six people, and was labeled a “high performer” for five consecutive years.
It was a comfortable life, and he was planning to buy a high-end car at the end of the year after his promotion.
But his 20-year career in IT and his dream came crashing down when in mid-February, he was asked to resign with immediate effect. He resisted for a few days but could not hold out for long. He has been jobless since.
Thousands of IT professionals in India are facing the same existential crisis. Most are middle-aged men and women.
An IT engineer who asked to be called Anil said he was suddenly removed from a project and asked to leave.
“It’s unethical and criminal to lay me off without giving me any explanation,” the 36-year-old, who has 15 years’ experience working in Europe and America, told Arab News.
“I still don’t understand what my fault was, where I erred. The company is performing well, so why this sudden removal?
This question is troubling many in Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, the major IT hubs in India.
On Saturday, more than 100 professionals gathered at a lawyer’s house in Pune to seek legal remedy.
For them, this is the last resort as they got nowhere with the government or with top management in the IT industry.
The workers came together and formed the Forum for IT Employees (FITE) in various cities in India.
Every weekend, the group meets and chalks out a strategy to fight its cases. The group consists of employees from almost all the IT companies, big and small.
They do not want their identities revealed or their activities to be noticed by IT companies, fearing the loss of job prospects.
FITE also attracts those who are still employed. “I haven’t received any notice from my company, but I’m really worried with the way things are moving in the industry,” Dheeraj, 31, told Arab News.
“What I hear is that there’s a list in every IT company. Hundreds and thousands are being forced to resign in the name of cost-cutting and automation.”
This fear claimed the life of a young IT professional in Pune last month. He jumped from a terrace, and his suicide note read: “In IT there’s no job security. I’m worried a lot about my family.”
Industry watchers say in the last year, at least 100,000 people from different parts of the country have lost their jobs.
“There are 600,000 jobs that are at stake in the IT sector today,” Elavarasan Raja, one of the main coordinators of FITE, told Arab News.
“We’re getting more and more calls every day related to forced resignations and terminations from different parts of the country.”
He said companies are not listening to anyone, and “it’s high time the government intervenes before the crisis goes completely out of control.”
When asked about the reason for this crisis, Raja said: “It’s the greed and cost-cutting that drive the IT sector to take this kind of inhumane step.”
He also blames US President Donald Trump’s protectionist measures and restrictions in giving H1B visas to Indians.
“If Trump can make rules that benefit his own citizens, what’s our government doing to protect the interest of the Indian people?” Raja asked.
Economist Arun Kumar told Arab News that the Indian government is not in a position to do much.
“The IT industry is a specific case where external demand is a problem,” said Kumar, who teaches in New Delhi’s premier educational institute, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
“Protectionist measures adopted by some governments in the West have impacted the industry here. The Indian economy isn’t creating enough jobs.”
An economic survey released by the government last week cited rising protectionism, restrictive trade measures and risks in people’s mobility as concerns for India’s exports and economy.
The website of New Delhi Television (NDTV) quoted Arvind Subramanian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top economic adviser, as saying: “Indian service companies gained scale over the last decade as the disrupters, creating the modern offshoring industry, but they are now the incumbents, challenged by a slew of specialized and niche start-ups bred in this new environment.”
The website added that Subramanian expressed concern that growing anti-globalization tendencies, expressed in the last US election and in Brexit, threaten Indian jobs.
Bangalore-based analyst Deepak Kumar said the market situation is responsible for the crisis in the IT industry.
The founder of company B&M Next told Arab News: “The economy runs on demand and supply. Demand for services generated by Indian IT service providers has come down, so there isn’t much need for the supply of people. The present situation reflects that reality.”
Some economists believe the IT sector’s contribution to India’s economy is hyped. Dhanmanjari Sathe of Pune University told Arab News that the crisis is “a blessing in disguise,” adding: “Finally, we may start thinking that it’s in the manufacturing sector where India’s natural strength lies.”
According to the Indian Brand and Equity Foundation, a trust established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the IT industry employs about 10 million people.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said the IT sector’s contribution constitutes 7 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate.
India’s IT industry is at a crossroad, as is Pankaj. It is a question of survival for both of them. “For me it’s a desperate situation,” he said.
“I have housing and car loans to pay, besides taking care of two kids. How will I manage all this?”

Main category: 

No Picture

Crisis in India’s IT sector amid mass layoffs

Author: 
Sanjay Kumar
Mon, 2017-08-21 03:00
ID: 
1503258128942900200

“In the last six months, I got more grey hair than I had in the last five years,” said an IT engineer who asked to go by the pseudonym Pankaj, fearing he would lose potential opportunities in the IT market if he revealed his identity.
“I live and breathe mental tension. What I see in front of me is just darkness, no light at the end of the tunnel,” he told Arab News, almost sobbing.
The 46-year-old was forced to resign from one of the top IT companies in the western Indian city of Pune in February after working there for six years.
He headed a team of six people, and was labeled a “high performer” for five consecutive years.
It was a comfortable life, and he was planning to buy a high-end car at the end of the year after his promotion.
But his 20-year career in IT and his dream came crashing down when in mid-February, he was asked to resign with immediate effect. He resisted for a few days but could not hold out for long. He has been jobless since.
Thousands of IT professionals in India are facing the same existential crisis. Most are middle-aged men and women.
An IT engineer who asked to be called Anil said he was suddenly removed from a project and asked to leave.
“It’s unethical and criminal to lay me off without giving me any explanation,” the 36-year-old, who has 15 years’ experience working in Europe and America, told Arab News.
“I still don’t understand what my fault was, where I erred. The company is performing well, so why this sudden removal?
This question is troubling many in Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, the major IT hubs in India.
On Saturday, more than 100 professionals gathered at a lawyer’s house in Pune to seek legal remedy.
For them, this is the last resort as they got nowhere with the government or with top management in the IT industry.
The workers came together and formed the Forum for IT Employees (FITE) in various cities in India.
Every weekend, the group meets and chalks out a strategy to fight its cases. The group consists of employees from almost all the IT companies, big and small.
They do not want their identities revealed or their activities to be noticed by IT companies, fearing the loss of job prospects.
FITE also attracts those who are still employed. “I haven’t received any notice from my company, but I’m really worried with the way things are moving in the industry,” Dheeraj, 31, told Arab News.
“What I hear is that there’s a list in every IT company. Hundreds and thousands are being forced to resign in the name of cost-cutting and automation.”
This fear claimed the life of a young IT professional in Pune last month. He jumped from a terrace, and his suicide note read: “In IT there’s no job security. I’m worried a lot about my family.”
Industry watchers say in the last year, at least 100,000 people from different parts of the country have lost their jobs.
“There are 600,000 jobs that are at stake in the IT sector today,” Elavarasan Raja, one of the main coordinators of FITE, told Arab News.
“We’re getting more and more calls every day related to forced resignations and terminations from different parts of the country.”
He said companies are not listening to anyone, and “it’s high time the government intervenes before the crisis goes completely out of control.”
When asked about the reason for this crisis, Raja said: “It’s the greed and cost-cutting that drive the IT sector to take this kind of inhumane step.”
He also blames US President Donald Trump’s protectionist measures and restrictions in giving H1B visas to Indians.
“If Trump can make rules that benefit his own citizens, what’s our government doing to protect the interest of the Indian people?” Raja asked.
Economist Arun Kumar told Arab News that the Indian government is not in a position to do much.
“The IT industry is a specific case where external demand is a problem,” said Kumar, who teaches in New Delhi’s premier educational institute, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
“Protectionist measures adopted by some governments in the West have impacted the industry here. The Indian economy isn’t creating enough jobs.”
An economic survey released by the government last week cited rising protectionism, restrictive trade measures and risks in people’s mobility as concerns for India’s exports and economy.
The website of New Delhi Television (NDTV) quoted Arvind Subramanian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top economic adviser, as saying: “Indian service companies gained scale over the last decade as the disrupters, creating the modern offshoring industry, but they are now the incumbents, challenged by a slew of specialized and niche start-ups bred in this new environment.”
The website added that Subramanian expressed concern that growing anti-globalization tendencies, expressed in the last US election and in Brexit, threaten Indian jobs.
Bangalore-based analyst Deepak Kumar said the market situation is responsible for the crisis in the IT industry.
The founder of company B&M Next told Arab News: “The economy runs on demand and supply. Demand for services generated by Indian IT service providers has come down, so there isn’t much need for the supply of people. The present situation reflects that reality.”
Some economists believe the IT sector’s contribution to India’s economy is hyped. Dhanmanjari Sathe of Pune University told Arab News that the crisis is “a blessing in disguise,” adding: “Finally, we may start thinking that it’s in the manufacturing sector where India’s natural strength lies.”
According to the Indian Brand and Equity Foundation, a trust established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the IT industry employs about 10 million people.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said the IT sector’s contribution constitutes 7 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate.
India’s IT industry is at a crossroad, as is Pankaj. It is a question of survival for both of them. “For me it’s a desperate situation,” he said.
“I have housing and car loans to pay, besides taking care of two kids. How will I manage all this?”

Main category: 

No Picture

Bannon Promises “One Big Happy Family” If Moderates Fall In Line Behind Trump

“Bannon the Barbarian” has been spending a lot of time talking to reporters since being fired by President Donald Trump on Friday. During an interview with Bloomberg, his first after being relieved of his duties as Trump’s chief strategist and returning to his former leadership role at Breitbart, Bannon claimed that he was going “to war” for Trump, and that he would marshal the resources of Breitbart, the Government Accountability Institute and the power and rage of Trump’s base against any establishment Republicans and Democrats who stand in the way of the president’s nationalist agenda.

He repeated his warnings against establishment Republicans during an interview with The Washington Post on Saturday, saying that the president’s enemies in Congress should either fall in line or risk being targeted.

“In an interview in Washington on Saturday, Bannon warned Republican leaders to enthusiastically support Trump’s priorities on taxes, trade and funding a massive border wall — or risk the wrath of the president’s base, including Breitbart, to which Bannon returned Friday as executive chairman.”

If Republicans enthusiastically support Trump’s priorities on taxes, trade and funding a massive border wall, everything will be “sweetness and light,” Bannon said. However, he doesn’t expect moderates to capitulate so easily.

“’If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family,’ Bannon said. But Bannon added with a smile that he does not expect “sweetness” anytime soon — and described the turbulent political moment in the Republican Party and the country as a necessary battle over Trump’s priorities.”

In what sounds like an implicit threat against Gary Cohn and the other purported “globalists” in Trump’s orbit, Bannon complained that the White House has become hopelessly divided on its priorities and agenda because of the ongoing battle between Trump’s Nationalist base and Trump’s more mainstream advisers a group that includes not only Cohn but the President’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

“No administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go,” Bannon said, adding that Trump’s base is frustrated by a congressional agenda that has dovetailed more with traditional Republican priorities than the agenda Trump championed.”

Several of Bannon’s friends told WaPo that the former top strategist would probably be more effective outside the White House.

“Several friends and former co-workers said that they expect Bannon to use the platform to attack his political opponents, including those he has derided as “globalists” and Democrats inside the White House.

 

‘I think Steve is going to be more effective on the outside,’ said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a longtime friend of Bannon. ‘On the outside, if you are well-funded and you are feared and you have a platform, you are going to be a power player. Steve has all of that in spades.’”

Most agreed that Bannon would probably retain at least some of his influence with the president, who has been known to call former advisers late in the evening after Chief of Staff John Kelly has left for the day.

“With Donald Trump, once he likes you, you’re either in his inner orbit, or you’re in his outer orbit,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “You never leave altogether.”

To a degree, the White House’s feuding factions represent broader national divisions, Bannon said.

“The tensions in the White House are slightly different than the tensions in the country. It’s still a divided country. Fifty percent of the people did not support President Trump. Most of those people do not support his policies in any way, shape or form,” Bannon said.

Bannon also warned that both Republicans and Democrats weren’t paying enough attention to working people around the country.

“Bannon said both Republicans and Democrats will need to pay close attention to the anxiety among many working people in the country over economic opportunity and national identity, even as they work to settle their turf fights in Washington.”

Everybody in Washington already knows that Bannon’s resources in the coming battle for the soul of the Trump presidency are nearly limitless: He has the backing of the family of billionaire Robert Mercer, an early supporter of president Trump, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, was an executive on the president’s transition team. Presumably, he’s telling every reporter who will listen about his war plans as a scare tactic. Bannon, who developed a reputation as an untrustworthy leaker at the White House, has never had a reputation for subtlety. 

President Trump has praised Bannon publicly and congratulated his move back to Breitbart, saying “fake news” like CNN could use the competition. 

 

Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews…maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017

 

But while Chief of Staff John Kelly, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn and maybe even Kushner and Ivanka Trump are probably celebrating Bannon’s departure from the West Wing, the question is, will Bannon be a bigger threat to the Trump-team globalists from outside the White House than he was on the inside?

The post Bannon Promises “One Big Happy Family” If Moderates Fall In Line Behind Trump appeared first on crude-oil.news.


No Picture

N. Korea slams US-South Korea military exercises

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2017-08-20 09:20
ID: 
1503252510722485900

SEOUL: North Korea warned Sunday that the US will be “pouring gasoline on fire” by conducting an annual war game in the South next week amid heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Combative rhetoric between the nations spiked after Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last month that appeared to bring much of the US within range, sparking an intense warning by President Donald Trump that Washington could rain “fire and fury” on the North.
Pyongyang then threatened to fire a salvo of missiles toward the US territory of Guam — a plan that leader Kim Jong-un last week delayed, but warned could go ahead depending on Washington’s next move.
Amid the fiery volley of threats, Seoul and Washington will begin Monday the “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” (UFG) joint military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops that Pyongyang views as a highly provocative rehearsal for invasion.
“The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” said an editorial carried by the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
“The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula,” the paper said.
Warning of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war” on the peninsula, it added: “If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever.”
Seoul and Washington have said the largely computer-simulated UFG exercise, which dates back to 1976, will go ahead as planned, but did not comment on whether the drills would be scaled back in an effort to ease tensions.
Around 17,500 US troops will participate in this year’s drills — a cutback from last year — according to numbers provided by Seoul’s defense ministry.
But South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the allies were mulling scrapping an initial plan to bring in two aircraft carriers to the peninsula to take part in the drill.
South Korea’s top military officer said Sunday that the current security situation on the peninsula was “more serious than at any other time” amid the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats, and warned Pyongyang of merciless retaliation against any attack.
“If the enemy provokes, (our military) will retaliate resolutely and strongly to make it regret bitterly,” said Gen. Jeong Kyeong-Doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his inauguration speech.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
N. Korea stages large-scale artillery drill as US submarine docks in South
N. Korea warns of ‘merciless’ strikes as US carrier joins S. Korea drills
A look at US-South Korea war games and how Pyongyang might respond

No Picture

N. Korea slams US-South Korea military exercises

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2017-08-20 09:20
ID: 
1503252510722485900

SEOUL: North Korea warned Sunday that the US will be “pouring gasoline on fire” by conducting an annual war game in the South next week amid heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Combative rhetoric between the nations spiked after Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last month that appeared to bring much of the US within range, sparking an intense warning by President Donald Trump that Washington could rain “fire and fury” on the North.
Pyongyang then threatened to fire a salvo of missiles toward the US territory of Guam — a plan that leader Kim Jong-un last week delayed, but warned could go ahead depending on Washington’s next move.
Amid the fiery volley of threats, Seoul and Washington will begin Monday the “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” (UFG) joint military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops that Pyongyang views as a highly provocative rehearsal for invasion.
“The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” said an editorial carried by the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
“The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula,” the paper said.
Warning of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war” on the peninsula, it added: “If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever.”
Seoul and Washington have said the largely computer-simulated UFG exercise, which dates back to 1976, will go ahead as planned, but did not comment on whether the drills would be scaled back in an effort to ease tensions.
Around 17,500 US troops will participate in this year’s drills — a cutback from last year — according to numbers provided by Seoul’s defense ministry.
But South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the allies were mulling scrapping an initial plan to bring in two aircraft carriers to the peninsula to take part in the drill.
South Korea’s top military officer said Sunday that the current security situation on the peninsula was “more serious than at any other time” amid the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats, and warned Pyongyang of merciless retaliation against any attack.
“If the enemy provokes, (our military) will retaliate resolutely and strongly to make it regret bitterly,” said Gen. Jeong Kyeong-Doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his inauguration speech.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
N. Korea stages large-scale artillery drill as US submarine docks in South
N. Korea warns of ‘merciless’ strikes as US carrier joins S. Korea drills
A look at US-South Korea war games and how Pyongyang might respond

No Picture

Grace Mugabe returns to Zimbabwe despite assault claim

Author: 
AP
Sun, 2017-08-20 03:00
ID: 
1503252401572471000

HARARE: The wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home from South Africa on Sunday despite calls that she be prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a young model at a luxury hotel in Johannesburg.
A report by Zimbabwean state broadcaster ZBC showed Grace Mugabe greeting government and military officials at the Harare airport after returning on an Air Zimbabwe flight with her husband, who had attended a summit of southern African leaders in Pretoria.
The South African government said Saturday that it was deciding whether to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe at the request of the Zimbabwean government, though there was no immediate comment from South African authorities on Sunday. South African police had issued a “red alert” at borders to ensure she did not leave undetected and said they were waiting for a government decision on the immunity appeal.
Gabriella Engels, a 20-year-old model, said Zimbabwe’s first lady attacked her on Aug. 13, whipping her with an extension cord that cut her forehead.
In reaction to the news that Grace Mugabe had returned to Zimbabwe, a group representing Engels said Sunday they will go to court to challenge the South African government if it is confirmed that immunity was granted to Mugabe.
“We will take a long term approach on this,” said Willie Spies, legal representative at AfriForum, an organization that primarily represents South Africa’s white Afrikaner minority.
“She may be back in Zimbabwe, but it may mean that she will find it very difficult to come back to South Africa in the future,” Spies said.
The Zimbabwean president’s outspoken wife has been criticized for a fiery temper and lavish shopping expeditions, but her rising political profile has some asking whether she is maneuvering to succeed her husband. She recently said that Zimbabwe’s ruling party should restore a provision in its constitution stating that one of the party’s vice presidents should be a woman, and has publicly challenged her 93-year-old husband to name a successor.
President Mugabe is expected to preside at a state funeral for a former minister in Harare on Sunday; it is unclear whether his wife will attend.
Amid the scandal over Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe blocked flights by South Africa’s government-owned airline on Saturday after an Air Zimbabwe flight was grounded at Johannesburg’s main international airport on the previous evening. Both countries said they imposed restrictions because planes did not have a “foreign operator’s permit.”

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
‘Red alert’ over Zimbabwe first lady, accused of assault
Grace Mugabe turns self in to S. Africa police over alleged assault
South Africa has granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity — source
Pretoria plans diplomatic immunity for Grace Mugabe

No Picture

America At The End Of All Hypotheticals

Authored by Ken White via PopeHat.com,

Discussions of free speech in America are usually dominated by hypotheticals — or by slippery slope arguments, if you prefer.

The First Amendment unquestionably and broadly protects what we call “hate speech.” If you point that out, you get hypotheticals in return. “Really? So, the day that Nazis march the streets, armed, carrying the swastika flag, sieg-heiling, calling out abuse of Jews and blacks, some of their number assaulting and even killing people, you’ll still defend their right to speak?” That literal parade of horribles is invoked when free speech defenders talk about anything from bigot college kids acting out to Alt-Right racism online.

We free speech defenders are just as quick with hypotheticals; it’s built into our worldview. “Really? So you’d give the state the power to choose what speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t, and use its vast power to punish the difference? You’re comfortable giving it that power, even though some day that state might be controlled by an implacable enemy of everything you believe in, a tyrant who overtly relishes the power to punish people who think like you do, encouraged by supporters who hate you?” The unprincipled-tyrant-that-could-be is a staple of First Amendment rhetoric.

Hypotheticals – called slippery slopes when you’re dismissing them – are supposed to require some imagination, are supposed to involve some projection about how current events could deteriorate to an ugly future scenario. How will it change our thinking when that ugly future is now?

Last weekend the hypotheticals about how far the Alt-Right might go collapsed into a grim reality. Literal Nazis marched the streets of an American city, calling out Jews and blacks and gays, wielding everything from torches to clubs and shields to rifles, offering Nazi slogans and Nazi salutes. Some of their number attacked counter-protesters, and one of them murdered a counter-protester and attempted to murder many others. This is the “what if” and “how far” that critics of vigorous free speech policies pose to us as a society.

So, too, has the malevolent government we fear come to pass. We have a President elected on a platform of denouncing the press, “investigating” protest movements, and “opening up” libel laws (however little he can actually do so). We have an administration and its powerful, megaphone-equipped sycophants who define entire diverse protest groups — Black Lives Matter, as one example — by the violent actions or rhetoric of a tiny fraction of their members, and suggest that the state should treat the whole based on that part. (This, ironically, is exactly what the Nazis are now complaining that people are doing.) Rhetoric from officials and their media supporters about protest groups is full of accusations of incitement of crime and group criminality and conspiracy. Across the country, conservative legislators rush to craft statutes to protect people who run over protesters with cars. The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country, is putting out chillingly totalitarian propaganda videos to gun owners portraying protest against the regime as uniformly violent and criticism of the President as “inciting” that violence, and exhorting them to defend themselves and the regime from the violent protesters and their inciters. And we have a President who seems to respect no American norms.

What do we do when we near the bottom of the slippery slope?

These are hard times. Our values should be our beacons to lead us through them. Those values include due process, the rule of law and equality of all people before it, and freedom of speech and worship.

The Nazis, whether armed with rifles or clownishly clad in khakis, stand against our values – they stand for the proposition that some of us are less American than others by birth, and that America must be “preserved” to the tastes of a particular narrow ethnic prejudice. Nazis attacking and threatening our fellow Americans threaten not just their immediate targets but the foundations of everything we’ve built. Decent Americans should speak, organize, and lead against them. This is the end of another classic hypothetical — what would you do if America’s most shameful ancient wrongs were resurgent? What would you do if the Nazis started marching again?

But you cannot destroy a value in order to save it. Nazis — like terrorists — hope that we will abandon principles and fundamentally change who we are out of fear. Assault is assault, threats are threats, murder is murder, and all of them should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The allowance for self-defense by those threatened by Nazis should reasonably be generous. But despicable speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should remain so. Our present circumstances show why it is sheer terrified madness to entrust a broad power to prevent or punish speech upon a fickle state. We’ve flirted with that madness of abandoning rights in pursuit of safety for our nation’s whole life. The flirtation has turned sordid and degrading during the War on Crime and frankly self-destructive after 9/11. It would be philosophical suicide to hasten it now by giving a government — a visibly terrible and amoral government — the power to regulate speech.

This is the final hypothetical come to pass: if the state asked you to give up freedoms in exchange for a dubious promise it would make you safer, would you do it? Would you convince yourself that the state would only use the power against Them, and not you?

We’re a long way from perfect. But we are better than this place we find ourselves. We can climb out of it.

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North Korea Threatens “Merciless Strike” As US-South Korea Wargames Begin

Residents of Japanese coastal towns are holding evacuation drills as North Korea warned Sunday that the upcoming US-South Korea military exercises are “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

Nearly 130 people took part in the drill in Kotoura, which has a population of 18,000, a town official said. Reuters reports that for 10 minutes, people ducked down covering their heads with their arms. Many of those taking part said they were worried. North Korea has in the past threatened to attack Japan, a staunch U.S. ally and host to U.S. military bases.

As sirens blared from speakers in the town of Kotoura, children playing soccer outside ran to take shelter in a school, along with their parents and their team coach.

“I’ve been concerned every day that something might fall or a missile could fall in an unexpected place due to North Korea’s missile capabilities,” said the coach, Akira Hamakawa, 38.

As a reminder, Japan is the only country in the world to be attacked with nuclear weapons, and so perhaps the threats from North Korea today are a little closer to heart than for many around the world.

Following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s statement last week that he would “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees,” as US-South Korean military exercises begin, CNN reports that Pyongyang also declared that its army can target the United States anytime, and neither Guam, Hawaii nor the US mainland can “dodge the merciless strike.”

The messages in Rodong Sinmun, the official government newspaper, come a day before the US starts the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with South Korea.

“The Trump group’s declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK … is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war,” Rodong Sinmun said, using the acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the nation’s official name.

 

It described North Korea as the “strongest possessor” of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the US mainland from anywhere.

 

“The Korean People’s Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies. It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted,” it said.

China has urged both Washington and Pyongyang to tone down the rhetoric, warning via the government’s mouthpiece Global Times…

The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response,” it said in an editorial.

 

“If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise.”

Kim’s threats come after both US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that the US was keeping military options on the table in dealing with North Korea.

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