Six In The Morning Sunday 25 February 2024

 

Starvation stalks Gaza amid aid shortage

  • A two-month-old Palestinian baby has died from starvation in northern Gaza, according to media reports, as Israel is accused of using starvation as a weapon of war.
  • At least 10 people killed in overnight Israeli shelling of a home in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahia; dozens killed in Israeli strikes across Gaza, according to media reports.

Last time food delivered to northern Gaza was Jan 23: UNRWA

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini says that since then, together with other UN agencies, “we have warned against looming famine, appealed for regular humanitarian access, and stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis.”

Lazzarini says that the UN’s calls to send food aid have been denied and fallen on deaf ears.

“This is a man made disaster. The world committed to never let famine happen again. Famine can still be avoided, through genuine political will to grant access and protection to meaningful assistance. The days to come will once again test our common humanity and values,” he said.

Belarus votes in tightly controlled elections opposition have called a ‘farce’

Polls open in parliamentary and local ballots amid President Lukashenko’s crackdown on dissent

Polls have opened in Belarus’s tightly controlled parliamentary and local elections that are expected to cement the rule of the country’s authoritarian leader, despite calls for a boycott from the opposition, which dismissed the balloting as a “senseless farce”.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president who has ruled Belarus with an iron hand for nearly 30 years, has accused the west of trying to use the vote to undermine his government and “destabilise” the country of 9.5 million people.

Most candidates belong to the four officially registered parties: Belaya Rus, the Communist party, the Liberal Democratic party and the party of Labour and Justice. Those parties all support Lukashenko’s policies. About a dozen other parties were denied registration last year.

A Visit to the SwampThe Town Made Famous by Neo-Nazi Students

By Jonah Lemm and Sebastian Wells (Photos)

“To what extent do right-wing radicals have control of the town, to the point that they dictate public life? Can you guarantee my safety? Or must I fear being threatened with physical violence if I stand up for democracy?”

Excerpts from an email sent by a tourist to officials in the municipality of Burg in the Spreewald region south of Berlin.

Burg is a lovely little town in the Spreewald Biosphere Reserve, a charming network of sprawling forests and intricately networked streams that attracts tourists from far and wide. The town is bright, clean, full of half-timbered houses and has no train station. I arrived in a rental car in the middle of a Wednesday in October.

Argentina’s Milei cozies up to Trump on US visit

US ex-President Donald Trump and Argentinian leader Javier Milei have addressed a conservative conference in Washington. The two swore to make their countries “great again” — but both face challenges.

Argentinian President Javier Milei and former US President Donald Trump covered much common ground in speeches made at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Saturday.

Both politicians, who hugged backstage before a joint photo shoot, took up Trump’s signature MAGA (Make America Great Again) slogan, with the former US leader noting that the acronym works with Argentina‘s name as well.

What did Trump and Milei say?

Trump used part of his speech to praise the libertarian Milei, saying that he “has achieved a lot, he is a great gentleman, he is MAGA.”

Trump also called out “Make Argentina great again” as the two posed for photos.

Miyazawa’s daily political jottings shed new light on postwar period

By SHINICHI IKEDA/ Staff Writer

February 25, 2024 at 15:45 JST

Historians have reason to rejoice following the emergence of records kept by former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa of his day-to-day political activities over 40 years until the last stage of his life.

Miyazawa, who served as prime minister between 1991 and 1993, recorded his meetings and thoughts in 185 notebooks from December 1966 to September 2006, a year before his death.

He was among the mainstream conservative politicians within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who established a postwar policy to pursue a lightly armed, economy-oriented nation.

Mexico poll frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum deluged with hate messages

By Nadia Ragozhina

BBC News

Mexico’s presidential frontrunner says she is being flooded with hate-filled messages after her phone number was published on social media.

Claudia Sheinbaum is the governing party’s candidate in June’s election.

One of the president’s sons has also had his private number leaked online, and said it put his family in danger.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed political opponents, but days earlier he publicly revealed a journalist’s phone number.

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Sheinbaum said she was being deluged with hate calls and messages.

“What they want to do is obvious, once again their attacks are as crude as they are harmless,” she said.

Six In The Morning Saturday 24 February 2024

 

UNRWA suspends aid to northern Gaza amid ‘collapse of civil order’

Desperation of people searching for food in southern areas is making journeys north unsafe, says UN

The UN agency in charge of Palestinian affairs said it has been forced to pause aid deliveries to northern Gaza – where it is not “possible to conduct proper humanitarian operations” – amid increasing reports of famine among people in the area.

The UN began warning of “pockets of famine” in Gaza last month, with needs particularly acute in the north. Conditions have steadily worsened since, causing a rise in the number of hungry people making fraught attempts to claim aid from passing trucks.

“The desperate behaviour of hungry and exhausted people is preventing the safe and regular passage of our trucks,” said Tamara Alrifai, director of external relations for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). She added that she was “very wary of how to explain this so as not to make it sound like we are blaming people or describing these things as criminal acts”.

Niger: West African bloc ECOWAS lifts post-coup sanctions

West African leaders are meeting in Nigeria for a critical summit to discuss the region’s challenges. The leaders have agreed to lift sanctions on former member Niger.

West African leaders and diplomats met on Saturday to discuss the region’s challenges after a string of coups threatened to weaken the regional bloc of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS.

The leaders announced that they were lifting a number of sanctions that had been imposed on Niger after the military took control there last year.

Niger, along with military juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso, announced in January they were quitting ECOWAS because of sanctions imposed by the bloc in response to coups in each of those countries.

Angry French farmers storm into Paris agriculture fair ahead of Macron visit

A group of French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a planned visit by President Emmanuel Macron amid anger over costs, red tape and green regulations.

Facing dozens of police officers inside the trade fair, the farmers were shouting and booing, calling for the resignation of Macron and using expletives aimed at the French leader.

“This is our home!”, they shouted, as lines of French CRS riot police sought to contain the demonstration. There were some clashes with demonstrators and the police arrested at least one of them, a Reuters witness saw.

Pascal Beteille, one of the demonstrators said he did not expect anything from Macron’s visit.

“This is our home and he’s welcoming us with CRS,” he told Reuters.

Unfounded rumor of Chinese gang spread after Noto quake

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

February 24, 2024 at 17:37 JST

Unfounded rumors have a nasty habit of spreading through social media when a natural calamity strikes, usually to the detriment of a minority group that has done nothing wrong.

Such was the case in the Noto Peninsula region in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.6 temblor that hit on New Year’s Day. Two days later, a rumor was rife that a group of Chinese were riding around in a van on a robbery spree.

By early February, the Ishikawa prefectural police still could not confirm that any such crime had occurred.

Navalny’s body given to his mother, spokesperson says

 
The body of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has been given to his mother more than a week after he died, Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said on Saturday.
 
“Alexey’s body was handed over to his mother. Many thanks to all those who demanded this with us,” Yarmysh posted to social media.
 
Yarmysh added that Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, is still in Salekhard, the Arctic town where her son’s body was being held.
 

How Israel’s war on Gaza is bleeding Egypt’s economy

Tourism, gas exports and Suez Canal revenues are all suffering, and the crisis in Rafah could make things worse, say analysts.

Already facing a deep crisis, Egypt’s economy appears poised to take a hit from Israel’s war on Gaza and the spiralling tensions in the Red Sea, analysts have said.

Currently on “life support”, Egypt’s deteriorating economy suffers from growing public debt now at more than 90 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), capital flight and the currency’s fall against the US dollar.

Now, those challenges are being compounded by the war, as it edges closer and closer to Egypt’s border, with a large chunk of Gaza’s population pushed into Rafah, after four months of displacement as a result of Israel’s relentless attacks. Tourism and the Suez Canal are two of Egypt’s major sources of foreign exchange.

Six In The Morning Friday 23 February 2024

 

Israeli ground offensive in Rafah ‘aimed at making Gaza uninhabitable’

Israel has announced plans to launch a full-scale offensive on the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza strip, claiming it is the only way to “completely destroy” Hamas. But according to former French military officer and author Guillaume Ancel, a large-scale military operation in the city that is now host to half of Gaza’s population is of no strategic interest. In his analysis, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s only goal is to make the Palestinian enclave “uninhabitable”.

The countdown has begun for Rafah. Israel repeated on Sunday its threats of carrying out a major ground attack against the southern Gaza city before the start of Ramadan: the holy month in Islam, during which Muslims fast, is expected to begin around March 10. The perspective of a ground operation in the city, which was once considered “safe” for civilians, is fuelling international concern about the fate of the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in the city.

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, including the Rafah area,” Benny Gantz, a former Israeli defence minister currently serving on Netanyahu’s war cabinet, told a conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Sunday. “Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages and the civilians of Gaza can celebrate the feast of Ramadan,” he added.

Having so far ignored the warnings of his Western allies, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems more determined than ever to continue the war against Hamas, reaffirming on February 9 that he was aiming for “total victory”. On February 17 he said that foreign countries calling on Israel to spare the city were effectively telling the country to “lose the war” against Hamas.

Shamima Begum ruling shows UK wants to wash its hands of such prisoners

Legal affairs correspondent

Begum and others remain in limbo, held without charge or trial in detention camps under armed guard

Five years after Shamima Begum expressed her hope of returning to the UK, having been found by a Times journalist in a detention camp in north-east Syria, she is no closer to her wish being fulfilled.

Friday’s ruling by the court of appeal that then home secretary, Sajid Javid’s, decision to strip her of her citizenship was lawful is the latest in a string of legal decisions that have gone against Begum, who was 15 when she left her east London home with two schoolfriends to travel to Islamic State (IS) territory.

As with the earlier decision by the special immigration appeals commission (Siac), the court of appeal acknowledged that Begum, now 24, may have been “influenced and manipulated” and “the likelihood that she was a child victim of others who wished to exploit her for sexual or extremist reasons” but said it was sufficient that Javid had considered such factors, even if he ultimately rejected them.

Russia appeal against Olympic ban dismissed by CAS

The IOC’s decision to ban Russia’s Olympic Committee for recognizing four annexed regions was upheld in sport’s highest court. The decision has ramifications for the Paris 2024 Olympics, but not necessarily for athletes.

Russia lost its appeal against an International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspension for recognizing regional organizations from territories annexed from Ukraine.

On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that the IOC’s ban of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in October 2023 had been legitimate.

Russia’s decision to recognize four annexed Ukrainian regions as their own Olympic councils led to their ban.

Japan, U.S., S Korea agree on closer cooperation over N Korea

The top diplomats of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Thursday that the three countries will pursue closer cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s steady development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its expanding military cooperation with Russia.

“Cooperation and coordination with our closest allies is more important than ever,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said as he met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Yoko Kamikawa and Cho Tae Yul, in Rio de Janeiro, citing regional challenges also including “increasingly assertive actions” by China.

In addition to North Korea, Blinken, Kamikawa and Cho discussed efforts to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to the U.S. State Department’s top spokesman, Matthew Miller.

Mexico’s teachers seek relief from pandemic-era spike in school robberies

During the COVID-19 pandemic, crime struck nearly 50 percent of schools. Teachers say the problem continues to this day.

In Maria Soto’s classroom, nearly half of the fourth-graders have not yet learned how to read. The rest are at least a year behind. For these kids, the pandemic era continues, even if no one wears a mask anymore.

But as Soto sees it, the problem lies not just in learning delays accumulated during months of remote education. It stems equally from an ongoing trend of classroom crime.

The Eduardo O’Gorman elementary school, in Guadalajara’s impoverished Chulavista neighbourhood, has been the victim of near-constant robberies since 2020, Soto said. The latest occurred this past October.

Navalny’s mother told to agree to secret funeral or have her son buried at penal colony, spokesperson says

Russian authorities told the mother of late opposition figure Alexey Navalny he would be buried at the Arctic penal colony where he died unless she agreed within three hours to a secret funeral without a public farewell, his spokeswoman said Friday.

The claim came a week after Navalny’s death was announced on February 16, sparking criticism of the Kremlin from Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

“An investigator called Alexey’s mother an hour ago and gave her an ultimatum. Either she agrees to a secret funeral without a public farewell within 3 hours, or Alexey will be buried in the colony,” Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said Friday.

Six In The Morning Thursday 22 February 2024

 

Alexey Navalny’s mother says she has seen her son’s body

From CNN’s Seb Shukla and Anna Chernova

Alexey Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, says she has been shown her son’s body in the Russian town of Salekhard.

Speaking on Navalny’s YouTube channel, Navalnaya said Russian authorities claimed they knew his cause of death and had “all the medical and legal documents.”

She said that she was taken to the morgue to see his body on Wednesday and has signed his death certificate.

Navalnaya also claimed in the video that investigators were “threatening” her into agreeing to a secret funeral for her son, or “they will do something with my son’s body.”

 

US intelligence has ‘low confidence’ in some of Israel’s UNRWA claims, report says

Intelligence report says some accusations aid workers participated in Hamas attacks credible but could not be independently verified

A US intelligence assessment of Israel’s claims that UN aid agency staff members participated in the Hamas attack on 7 October said some of the accusations were credible but that the claims of wider links to militant groups could not be independently verified.

The assault precipitated a full-scale invasion by Israel of Gaza that has killed upwards of 30,000 Palestinians. Earlier this year, Israel accused 12 employees of the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA) of participating in the 7 October attacks alongside Hamas. It also said 10% of all UNRWA workers were affiliated with Hamas.

Germany’s Bundestag votes against Taurus missiles to Ukraine

Lawmakers have rejected an opposition motion to deliver cruise missiles to Ukraine, but backed another motion to send Kyiv “necessary long-range weapons systems.”

Bundestag votes for delivering ‘long-range weapons’ to Ukraine

The German parliament has voted in favor of a motion put forward by the country’s ruling coalition, which called for providing “additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition” to Ukraine.

The measure, however, did not explicitly mention the delivery of the Taurus cruise missile system to Kyiv.

While 382 lawmakers voted for the motion, 284 rejected it and 2 abstained.

There are differences in views among the parties of the ruling coalition as to whether the wording also allows for the delivery of Taurus missiles.

France under pressure to suspend military sales to Israel as war in Gaza grinds on

NGOs and leftist members of the opposition have increased the pressure on France’s government to reconsider arms sales to Israel in the wake of the war in Gaza and follow in the footsteps of other European nations that made moves to suspend military exports over concerns about the humanitarian situation on the ground.

It was Ramadan, and another war was raging in Gaza.

In July 2014, 8-year-old Afnan Shuheibar, her 16-year-old brother Oday, and her three cousins Basel, Jihad and Wassim – ages 8 to 11 – went up to the roof of the Shuheibar home in Gaza City to feed the pigeons when they were struck by a missile.

It was fired by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), but what helped guide it to the Shuheibars’ home was a small black position sensor around 2 centimetres long lodged deep inside the missile. On it were three words, with some letters partially erased: “EUROFARAD PARIS FRANCE”.

Daughter of Chinese activist Tang Jitian dies in Japan

By SOTARO HATA/ Correspondent

February 22, 2024 at 18:04 JST

After almost three years in a coma, Tang Zhengqi, the daughter of prominent Chinese human rights activist Tang Jitian, died of pneumonia at her home in Tokyo on Feb. 20 without her father by her side.

Chinese authorities had banned Jitian from leaving the country to visit her.

The death of Zhengqi, 27, was confirmed by Tomoko Ako, professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Tokyo, who had been supporting the family.

According to Ako, Zhengqi had been studying in Tokyo since 2019 with the goal of attending a university in the capital until she suddenly collapsed, unconscious, at home in April 2021.

She was diagnosed with meningitis.

Whale song mystery solved by scientists

By Helen Briggs and Victoria Gill

Science correspondents, BBC News

Scientists have worked out how some of the largest whales in the ocean produce their haunting and complex songs.

Humpbacks and other baleen whales have evolved a specialised “voice box” that enables them to sing underwater.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature, has also revealed why the noise we make in the ocean is so disruptive for these ocean giants.

Whale song is restricted to a narrow frequency that overlaps with the noise produced by ships.

“Sound is absolutely crucial for their survival, because it’s the only way they can find each other to mate in the ocean,” explained Prof Coen Elemans, of the University of Southern Denmark, who led the study.

Six In The Morning Wednesday 21 February 2024

 

Exclusive: Israeli forces fired on food convoy in Gaza, UN documents and satellite analysis reveals

Israeli forces fired on a United Nations convoy carrying vital food supplies in central Gaza on February 5, before ultimately blocking the trucks from progressing to the northern part of the territory, where Palestinians are on the verge of famine, according to documents shared exclusively by the UN and CNN’s own analysis.

CNN has seen correspondence between the UN and the Israeli military that show the convoy’s route was agreed upon by both parties prior to the strike. According to an internal incident report compiled by UNRWA, the main UN relief agency in Gaza, which was also seen by CNN, the truck was one of 10 in a convoy sitting stationary at an IDF holding point when it was fired upon.

No one in the convoy was hurt, but much of its contents – mainly wheat flour desperately needed to bake bread – were destroyed. Tracing the strike offers a window into the major challenges that humanitarian efforts face in getting aid to Gaza’s more than 2 million people – nearly 85% of whom are internally displaced – amid Israel’s nearly five-month bombardment of the strip.

UN agency pauses Gaza food aid deliveries after looting and gunfire

World Food Programme reports ‘hunger and desperation’ and says Gaza is ‘hanging by a thread’

A UN effort to deliver critical food aid to northern Gaza has been paused because of a breakdown in public order amid acute “hunger and desperation” across the battered territory.

The UN’s World Food Programme was forced to suspend plans to send 10 convoys of food aid into northern Gaza this week after chaotic scenes over the weekend, with crowds looting lorries. A driver was beaten and gunfire was reported.

The agency said in a statement: “A large-scale expansion of the flow of assistance to northern Gaza is urgently needed to avoid disaster … Gaza is hanging by a thread and WFP must be enabled to reverse the path towards famine for thousands of desperately hungry people.”

Bundesliga scraps major investment deal amid fan revolt

A controversial investment deal which would have seen a private equity partner invest up to one billion euros in Germany’s Bundesliga has been scrapped following widespread fan protests.

The German Football League (DFL) has announced that it has abandoned its plans to negotiate a 1 billion euro investment deal with a private equity partner.

The decision came after widespread fan protests against the proposals which had seen matches in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 (Germany’s top two divisions) increasingly disrupted by supporters throwing tennis balls and other objects onto pitches, causing delays of up to 30 minutes.

“Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer appears possible,” said Hans-Joachim Watzke, DFL supervisory board chairman and Borussia Dortmund CEO, in a statement following an emergency DFL meeting on Wednesday.

Indian farmers pause protest after govt disperses march, offers new talks

Indian farmers demanding higher prices for their produce paused their protest on Wednesday after the government made a new offer to resume talks, hours after police fired tear gas and used water cannons to scatter thousands staging a march to Delhi.

The farmers, mostly from the northern state of Punjab, have been demanding higher prices backed by law for their crops. They form an influential bloc of voters Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot afford to anger ahead of general elections due by May.

Farmers’ leader Sarwan Singh Pandher told reporters they would pause their protest for two days and deliberate their next course of action until Friday after the government offered anew to resume talks on farmers’ demand for guaranteed crop prices.

“The government is ready to discuss all the issues,” Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda posted on social network X.

Air Force knows what failed on U.S. Osprey in Japan crash, but still doesn’t know why

By TARA COPP

U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said Tuesday it knows what failed on its CV-22B Osprey leading to a November crash in Japan that killed eight service members. But it still does not know why the failure happened.

Because of the crash, hundreds of Osprey aircraft across the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy have been grounded since Dec. 6. There are two investigations that are looking into the Japan crash — a safety investigation board, which is a privileged internal review conducted in private to help inform pilots and crews, as well as an accident investigation board, which is the official administrative review. Both are still ongoing.

On Tuesday, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said her understanding is that “the Ospreys are not going back in the air at this time.” She said it will be up to the military services to determine when they will be safe to fly again, and she said she can’t say if that will be while the investigations continue or must wait until they are completed.

Belarusian flautist’s fate unknown as hundreds of activists remain in prison

Death of Russian opposition leader will add to anxiety of Maria Kolesnikova’s family who have not heard from her for a year

Ihas been more than a year since relatives and friends have heard from Maria Kolesnikova. The Belarusian activist is one of 1,416 political prisoners behind bars as part of a crackdown that has maintained pace this year before parliamentary elections this weekend.

“The last letter from [Maria] was received on 14 February 2023,” her sister wrote last week. “Since then, which is exactly a year ago, we have not received any reliable information about her.”

Kolesnikova, a pro-democracy activist and former flautist who was close to the opposition presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka, was arrested in September 2020 after she joined a female triumvirate spearheading the opposition to the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “extremism” and other charges. In February 2022, her lawyers lost contact with her and she ceased writing letters, one of a number of high-profile political activists to vanish in prison in Belarus after the anti-opposition crackdown.

Six In The Morning Tuesday 20 February 2024

 

US vetoes ceasefire as north Gaza starves

  • US envoy to UN uses third veto in Security Council to kill Algeria’s ceasefire resolution, saying it would harm truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
  • World Food Programme has paused aid delivery in north Gaza, citing chaos caused by starvation and the “breakdown of social order”.

Rights group says ‘no respite for children’ after US vetoes ceasefire resolution

The group Save the Children has released a statement warning the price Gaza’s children will pay for the UN Security Council’s most recent failure to adopt a ceasefire resolution due to a US veto.

The group says that Israel’s war in Gaza has killed at least 12,400 children, one of the deadliest military campaigns in modern history in regard to its impact on children.

Save the Children said that at least one million children in Gaza remain at risk from fighting, starvation, disease, and the mental distress of the war. A recent UNICEF analysis found that 90 percent of children in Gaza under the age of five are suffering from at least one infectious disease.

“We are appalled to hear of this new low in an already deep pit of failures from the international community. After four months of relentless violence, we are running out of words to describe what children and families in Gaza are going through, as well as the tools to respond in any adequate way,” said the group’s director for the occupied Palestinian territories, Jason Lee.

Julian Assange risks ‘flagrant denial of justice’ if tried in US, London court told

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder are seeking permission to appeal against his extradition at high court hearing

Julian Assange faces the risk of a “flagrant denial of justice” if tried in the US, his lawyers have told a permission to appeal hearing in London, which could result in the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder within days if unsuccessful.

Assange, who published thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, could be jailed for up to 175 years – “a grossly disproportionate punishment” – if convicted in the US, the high court heard on Tuesday.

His lawyers are seeking a full appeal hearing. However, if the two judges deny permission, all challenges in the UK courts will have been exhausted, leaving an intervention by the European court of human rights (ECHR) as Assange’s only hope to avoid extradition to the US.

Missak Manouchian: A stateless hero enters France’s Panthéon

His life was worthy of a novel. An Armenian orphan who arrived in France as a stateless refugee and became a poet and Communist activist, Missak Manouchian was a figure of the French Resistance during World War II. Exactly 80 years to the day after his execution by the Nazis, Manouchian is taking his place in the Panthéon mausoleum alongside France’s other national heroes, becoming the first foreigner to receive the honour. FRANCE 24’s Alison Sargent, Florence Gaillard, Gaëlle Fonseca and Georges Yazbeck look back at Manouchian’s life and legacy.

Will India’s megaproject sink Great Nicobar island?

India is determined to build its own “Hong Kong” on the pristine Great Nicobar island. Activists warn the impact could go beyond wrecking the environment — it could spell extinction for indigenous islanders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is planning to invest $9 billion (€ 8.38 billion) to transform India‘s Great Nicobar island into a massive military and trade hub. But the plans have raised concerns among environmentalists, scientists and civic organizations who believe the megaproject will ruin the unique ecology of the remote region.

Beyond ecological concerns, many fear the impact on indigenous communities — especially the Shompen people, a hunter-gatherer community who have lived on Great Nicobar for thousands of years with very little outside contact.

Architect Yano of the 100-yen store business model dies at 80

By TOMOHIKO KANEKO/ Staff Writer

February 20, 2024 at 18:05 JST

Hirotake Yano, the founder of the operator of Daiso, Japan’s first and largest 100-yen shop chain, died of cardiac failure on Feb. 12.

He was 80.

His funeral was attended by close family members, and a farewell ceremony for friends and colleagues will be held at a later date.

Born to a Japanese family in China in 1943, Yano returned to his home country after the war.

Alexei Navalny: Mother demands Putin return son’s body

By Robert Greenall
BBC News
The mother of Alexei Navalny, the Putin critic who died in a Russian prison, has called on President Vladimir Putin to release his body.
In a video filmed outside the colony where he died on Friday, she said she had been trying to see him for five days but didn’t even know where he was.
And Navalny’s wife Yulia urged the authorities not to stop his loved ones from saying goodbye to him.
The family have been told his body will not be released for two weeks.
His mother was informed it was being held for “chemical analysis”, a representative for Navalny said.
There has been no confirmation of the whereabouts of the body from Russian authorities, while efforts to locate it have been repeatedly shut down.

Six In The Morning Monday 19 February 2024

 

Israeli soldiers fire at Palestinians approaching aid trucks in Gaza

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is growing worse by the day, but not much aid is allowed in.

Desperate Palestinians rushing toward aid trucks to fetch food in central Gaza were forced to flee after Israeli troops opened fire on them amid the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the enclave.

Footage verified by Al Jazeera shows hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City in the central part of the besieged enclave running to get food items delivered by the United Nations in boxes on the back of trucks as bullets are fired.

“Desperate and hungry Palestinians are running out of options. Under Israeli sniper fire, they are risking their lives to reach one of the few aid trucks entering Gaza City,” said Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza.

A Palestinian man speaking to Al Jazeera said people lack the minimum necessities of life.

‘The Iranian regime holds all the cards’: children of jailed Nobel winner on learning to live without their mother

Human rights activist Narges Mohammadi has been in prison in Iran for most of her children’s lives. Now living as exiles in Paris, they say they will never lose hope of seeing her again

Last December, just an hour or so after she stood on the world stage to accept the Nobel peace prize for her mother, Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, 17-year-old Kiana Rahmani found herself staring at the outline of a cell taped on the floor of the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.

Part of an exhibition commemorating what the Nobel committee described as Mohammadi’s “fight to promote human rights and freedom for all”, the tape marked the dimensions of her mother’s isolation cell in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Roughly 2 metres by 3 metres, it was about the size of a car parking space.

Japan aims high with climate bonds for clean tech and energy

Faced with the climate crisis, Japan is betting on its biggest strength — technology. The country is the first in the world to issue sovereign bonds aimed at funneling private money into the green transition.

Japan is selling climate bonds — last week saw the government auction off 800 billion yen ($5.33 billion, €4.95 billion) in 10-year bonds, with the next tranche planned for later this month. And that is only the beginning. The authorities hope to sell sovereign bonds worth 20 trillion yen in total to fund the country’s green transition, which is often referred to in Japan as GX.

The Asian country is the first and so far the only country in the world to offer sovereign bonds for funding the reforms targeted toward tackling climate change. These government-issued debt securities are being sold to private investors. The investors are entitled to periodic interest payments and the full nominal value of the bond several years from now.

Tribal bloodshed shines spotlight on Papua New Guinea’s domestic security issues

A tribal clash in Papua New Guinea’s remote highlands in which more than 20 people were shot dead on Sunday has put a growing internal security problem under the microscope in the strategically vital South Pacific island nation that has garnered closer military attention from the United States and China.

Julian Assange: His wife says he would not survive US jail if extradited

By Paul Gribben
BBC News
Julian Assange’s wife says the WikiLeaks founder would not survive being extradited from the UK to the US.
 
His final appeal will be heard at the High Court on Tuesday and Stella Assange says he is physically and mentally extremely weak.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “this could very well be the final hearing for Julian”.
Mr Assange is wanted in the US on espionage charges and faces up to 175 years in prison.
The case is about him publishing thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, which American authorities say broke the law and endangered lives.
He argues that the case against him is politically motivated.

Solemn monument to Japanese American WWII detainees lists more than 125,000 names

By AKIRA OLIVIA KUMAMOTO
 

Samantha Sumiko Pinedo and her grandparents file into a dimly lit enclosure at the Japanese American National Museum and approach a massive book splayed open to reveal columns of names. Pinedo is hoping the list includes her great-grandparents, who were detained in Japanese American incarceration camps during World War II.

“For a lot of people, it feels like so long ago because it was World War II. But I grew up with my Bompa (great-grandpa), who was in the internment camps,” Pinedo says.

A docent at the museum in Los Angeles gently flips to the middle of the book — called the Ireichō — and locates Kaneo Sakatani near the center of a page. This was Pinedo’s great-grandfather, and his family can now honor him.

Six In The Morning Sunday 18 February 2024

 

 Eight die at Nasser Hospital as oxygen runs out

  • Nasser Hospital has been put “completely out of service”, according to a spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry. The WHO chief said that some 200 patients were inside Gaza’s second-largest medical facility, which has been under an Israeli siege for nearly a month.
  • Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani says that progress towards a ceasefire in Gaza is slowing down. “The pattern in the last few days is not really very promising,” he said on Saturday.
  • The United States is pledging to veto a new UN Security Council resolution put forth by Algeria that demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Hamas’s demands for a ceasefire and prisoner release “delusional” after the group blamed Israel for a lack of progress in achieving a ceasefire deal.

Israeli police seal off Palestinian home in East Jerusalem ahead of demolition

Israeli authorities in occupied East Jerusalem have sealed off the home of a Palestinian man who allegedly carried out a shooting attack in southern Israel on Friday afternoon killing two Israelis.

The move comes ahead of plans to demolish the home of Fadi Jamjoum, in the Shu’fat refugee camp, a measure Israeli and Palestinian rights groups call an act of collective punishment.

Jamjoum was shot dead at ar-Ram juncture in occupied East Jerusalem.

In a statement on their Telegram channel, police also said they confiscated the house’s contents and furniture.

Italian town in turmoil after far-right mayor bans Muslim prayers

Bangladeshi residents and others in Monfalcone say decisions to prohibit worship at cultural centres and banning burkinis at the beach is part of anti-Islam agenda

The envelope containing two partially burned pages of the Qur’an came as a shock. Until then, Muslim residents in the Adriatic port town of Monfalcone had lived relatively peacefully for more than 20 years.

Addressed to the Darus Salaam Muslim cultural association on Via Duca d’Aosta, the envelope was received soon after Monfalcone’s far-right mayor, Anna Maria Cisint, banned prayers on the premises.

“It was hurtful, a serious insult we never expected,” said Bou Konate, the association’s president. “But it was not a coincidence. The letter was a threat, generated by a campaign of hate that has stoked toxicity.”

Good Morning Europe!Trump’s NATO Comments Trigger Defense Debate in Europe

With his recent comments on NATO, Donald Trump shocked the Western world. Is the U.S. preparing to abandon its allies? Europe finally seems to be considering a future in which the American nuclear umbrella no longer exists.

You certainly can’t accuse Donald Trump of keeping his antipathy for NATO a secret. Even before he was sworn in as president of the United States in January 2017, he called the trans-Atlantic alliance “obsolete.” When then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in Washington for the first time that March, Trump reportedly opened their meeting by saying: “Angela, you owe me $1 trillion.”

The sum was the product of a calculation made by Trump’s chief strategist at the time, Steve Bannon, and was rooted in Germany’s failure over the years to invest 2 percent of its economic output in its military, as NATO member states agreed to do in 2014.

US condemns Rwandan support for M23 rebels in DR Congo

The US expressed concern about the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where M23 rebels launched an offensive near Goma.

The United States condemned the worsening violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and called on M23 rebels to cease hostilities immediately.

In a statement released on Saturday, the US State Department also condemned Rwanda for supporting the rebels.

“The United States strongly condemns the worsening violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) caused by the actions of the Rwanda-backed, US- and UN-sanctioned M23 armed group, including its recent incursions into the town of Sake,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin released on parole after serving 6 months in a hospital

By JINTAMAS SAKSORNCHAI

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released on parole early Sunday from a Bangkok hospital where he spent six months serving time for corruption-related offenses.

Thaksin was seen wearing a neck support, a sling on his right arm and a surgical mask inside one of the cars in a convoy leaving the Police General Hospital just before sunrise. He was accompanied by his two daughters and they arrived at his residence in western Bangkok less than an hour later.

A homemade banner with the words “Welcome home” and “We’ve been waiting for this day for so so long” was seen hanging at the front gate of his house. Thaksin and his daughters rode straight into the compound and did not give any reaction to a throng of reporters gathered on the street.

Ridge Alkonis: The sailor who stoked Japanese resentment against the US

By Nicholas Yong & Ian Tang BBC News

When the story of Ridge Alkonis first broke on 29 May 2021, it did not initially attract much attention in Japan.

The US Navy officer had killed two Japanese citizens in a car accident during a trip to Mount Fuji – the victims were an 85-year-old woman and her son-in-law, aged 54.

After pleading guilty to negligent driving, Alkonis was sentenced to three years jail in October 2021. In his defence, US Navy doctors said he had been suffering from acute mountain sickness at the time of the accident. He was transferred to US custody last December.

Alkonis, stationed at the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo, was just the latest American serviceman to run into legal troubles. Since the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was inked in 1960 – enabling the deployment of US military forces in the country – there have been hundreds of criminal cases involving US military personnel.

Six In The Morning Saturday 17 February 2024

Navalny’s team says Russian authorities are hiding his body



Navalny’s allies have every reason not to trust the Kremlin

Sarah Rainsford

Eastern Europe Correspondent

Alexei Navalny’s family now have the confirmation they never wanted – the politician has died in prison.

But they still have no proper answers as to the cause of his sudden death, and they’re battling now to get his body released.The politician’s relatives and team will certainly not believe any explanations that emerge from the official investigation – not in a country that tried to haveNavalny killed with a nerve agent in 2020and that denies that, despite all the evidence.When Navalny’s death in custody was first announced by the prison service, his family and team said they would not believe or confirm the news until they could check it for themselves.As his wife, Yulia, put it: “We cannot trust the Putin government. They lie constantly.” That’s why the BBC couldn’t be 100% definitive, either. There was no independent source.

At least 340 people arrested across Russia, rights group says

At least 340 people have been detained at events across 30 Russian cities since the death of Alexei Navalny, according to the Russian human rights group OVD-Info.

The group said the largest numbers of arrests as of 14:00 GMT today occurred in St Petersburg and Moscow.

In Moscow, people queued to lay flowers at a monument for victims of Soviet repression, the Wall of Grief, as well as in the city’s Solovetsky Stone memorial commemorating prisoners and victims of political repression.

Three people explained why they had risked coming out to show their support for Navalny:

Quote Message: We only live once. Moreover, if we don’t come out now, then when? Now we may be detained and then released, but later we may not be released.”

Russia’s sheer mass proves too much for Ukraine in Avdiivka

The Russian advance into the ruins of the city of Avdiivka was only a matter of time

Ukrainian forces were vastly outnumbered and had suffered a daily onslaught since October, in a city that has been on the frontlines since Russian-backed separatists launched a rebellion against Kyiv in the spring of 2014.

The Russians have sustained huge losses in men and material since beginning their fall drive against the city, where some 1,000 civilians have clung on despite constant attempts by the Donetsk authorities to persuade them to leave. In December, US officials estimated that the Russian military had suffered more than 13,000 casualties along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis in just a few weeks.

Senior Pakistan official admits election rigging as protests grip country

Confession by Punjab commissioner exacerbates tension over legitimacy of February general election results

A senior official in Pakistan has admitted to election rigging amid protests breaking out across the country over claims that its general election results were unfair.

The confessional statement throws further questions over the legitimacy of the 8 February elections, which were marred by controversies and allegations of rigging in Pakistan.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Liaqat Ali Chatta told reporters that authorities in Rawalpindi, Punjab province, changed the results of independent candidates – referring to candidates backed by the former prime minister Imran Khan’s party – who were leading with a margin of more than 70,000 votes.

Hungary rocked by protest over child sex abuse pardon case

The resignation of two top allies of Prime Minister Victor Orban over a decision to pardon a man convicted of covering up a child sexual abuse case has done little to quell public anger.

Tens of thousands of people in Hungary protested in the capital, Budapest on Friday amid a continuing fallout from a scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

President Katalin Novak and former Justice Minister Judit Varga both resigned last weekend for supporting a decision to grant a pardon to a man implicated in a child sex abuse scandal in April 2023. The deputy director of a state-run orphanage who had been imprisoned for covering up a string of child sexual abuses was pardoned last year, but it only became known early this month.

Both ministers were close allies of Orban, whose party has governed the country with a constitutional majority for nearly 14 years.

Somalia president accuses Ethiopia of trying to annex part of its territory

President Mohamud ‘categorically objects’ to Ethiopia’s Red Sea port deal with Somaliland, territory Somalia claims as its own.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has accused Ethiopia of trying to annex part of his country’s territory by signing a sea access deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland.

Speaking at the African Union summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa on Saturday, Mohamud also said Ethiopian security forces tried to block his access to the summit amid a dispute between the two countries.

The agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland signed on January 1 “is nothing more than annexing part of Somalia to Ethiopia, and changing the borders of Somalia,” Mohamud told reporters. “Somalia categorically objects to that.”

US Marine found guilty of assaulting elderly woman in west Japan city

A U.S. Marine stationed in this western Japan city was given a suspended sentence on Feb. 16 for punching an elderly woman and injuring her as well as assaulting another person last year.

The Yamaguchi District Court’s Iwakuni branch found Manuel Joshua Gomez, 21, guilty of assault and sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended for four years. The prosecution had sought a two-year prison term.

According to the ruling, at around 4 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2023, Gomez pushed an unacquainted woman in her 70s from behind to the ground on a street in the city and then punched her in the face multiple times, causing a compression fracture on her back and bruising her face. The injuries took around one month to heal.

Six In The Morning Friday 16 February 2024

Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny dead, says prison service

UN calls for independent investigation

Imogen Foulkes

BBC Geneva Correspondent

The UN Human Rights Office says it is “appalled” by the reported death of Alexei Navalny, adding that it should be investigated by an independent body.

In a statement issued in Geneva the UN office said it had repeatedly raised concerns about the imprisonment of Navalny, which “appeared to be arbitrary”.

UN human rights chief Volker Türk publicly called for his release last summer, saying his lengthy sentence suggested Russia was using the court system for political purposes.

“If someone dies in the custody of the State,” the UN statement adds, “the presumption is that the State is responsible.”

It adds that this “responsibility can only be rebutted through an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body”.

Summary

  1. Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is dead, the prison service of the region where he had been serving his sentence says
  2. Navalny, an outspoken critic of President Putin, has been in Russian jail since 2021 on charges widely viewed as politically motivated
  3. Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has said she doesn’t know whether the “horrible news” is true
  4. Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, said his team had yet to receive confirmation of the death but his lawyer was travelling to Siberia
  5. Putin’s spokesman said Russian’s penitentiary service was looking into Navalny’s death but provided no further information
  6. In August, Navalny was found guilty of founding and funding an extremist organisation, which he denies, and was given an extra 19 years in jail
  7. He had already been sentenced to nine years for parole violations, fraud and contempt of court

The mysterious, violent and unsolved deaths of Putin’s foes and critics

Alexei Navalny is latest of Putin’s opponents to have died over course of Russian leader’s nearly 25 years in power

Vladimir Putin’s foes and critics have often met with violent deaths at the very peak of their conflicts with the Kremlin leader during his nearly quarter-century in power.

Alexei Navalny’s death, which many foreign leaders and supporters say is murder, came after he was banished to an Arctic Circle prison, where he was regularly thrown in a punishment cell, exposed to the elements and significantly malnourished. Western officials including the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and vice-president, Kamala Harris, have directly blamed the Kremlin for his death.

Putin’s other foes have been targeted in diverse ways: shootings, poisonings and even a plane crash. Many of the deaths are never solved and remain listed as accidents and suicides, leaving open the question of just how many of his enemies Putin has dispatched with over the years.

Cambodia: Taiwanese streamers jailed for fake kidnapping

A court in Cambodia on Friday sentenced two Taiwanese men to two years imprisonment for staging a kidnapping from a seaside resort and posting video of it online.

Chen Neng-chuan, who goes by the handle “Goodnight Chicken” and Lu Tsu-hsien known as “Anow,” were arrested after posting fake videos on Facebook of themselves being beaten and detained by security guards, according to the Preah Sihanouk provincial court.

Abandoned at sea, part 1: Syrian crew stranded for two years at Libyan port

Our team has obtained rare footage from sailors abandoned by their employers years ago, leaving them far from their homes in ports or open water. During this three-month investigation, we looked at official documents and contracts provided by crewmembers as well as open-source data to trace the navigation history of these dilapidated vessels before their abandonment. The first part of this special edition, produced in partnership with independent Syrian investigators SIRAJ, reveals a complex set-up of shell companies used by a group of Syrian-Romanian ship owners to evade legal disputes and Western sanctions.

When the East Express, a 97-metre general cargo ship flying the flag of Togo, docked in the Libyan port of Misrata on January 18, 2022, its crew thought they would offload their cargo of sugar and move on. But the port authorities declared the sugar unfit for consumption and impounded the ship. The crew have been there ever since -– two years and counting.

This legal impediment prevented the delivery of the sugar to its Libyan purchaser, eventually leading the ship’s registered owner, Mina Shipping Ltd., to  abandon the vessel with its 12-member crew still on board: ten Syrians, one Egyptian and one Indian.

No lunch in Ginza: Japan’s scaled-back spending helps push economy to recession

By Chris Gallagher and Akiko Okamoto

To grasp the dynamics that bumped Japan into recession and off its perch as the world’s third largest economy on Thursday, look no further than Risa Shinkawa’s dining habits.

Unlike unionized workers at big manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp, the 32-year-old aesthetician isn’t expecting a pay rise anytime soon. Rather, her salary has been cut, a reflection of the squeeze on the services sector, especially at the smaller companies that employ some 70% of Japan’s workforce.

She’s duly cut back on discretionary spending, which on Thursday meant no buying lunch in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza shopping district.

Satellite photos show Egypt building Gaza wall as Israel’s Rafah push looms

Despite its opposition to displacement of Palestinians, Cairo appears to be preparing for a scenario forced by Israel.

Egypt is building a fortified buffer zone near its border with the Gaza Strip as fears mount of an imminent Israeli ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah, which could displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across the frontier, according to satellite images and media reports.

Footage from the site in the Sinai desert and satellite photos show that an area that could offer basic shelter to tens of thousands of Palestinians is being constructed with concrete walls being set up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, the only non-Israeli-controlled crossing to and from Gaza.

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