Six In The Morning Saturday 16 March 2024

 

Israel approves plan to attack Gaza’s Rafah but keeps truce talks alive

Nod for long-threatened invasion of Rafah, home to 1.4 million displaced people, comes as Israel to send team to Qatar.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved plans for an attack on Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter, while planning to send a team to further truce talks in Qatar after mocking a ceasefire proposal by Hamas as “ridiculous”.

Israel’s allies and critics warned Netanyahu against the invasion of Rafah fearing mass civilian casualties, but the Israeli government claims that the area in southern Gaza is one of the last strongholds of Hamas which it has pledged to eliminate.

Hopefully, the ground invasion of Rafah is just a bluff so they can use this as leverage to get something in negotiations. But everything Netanyahu said he will do, he did it, so I assume it is very likely this is going to happen,” Luciano Zaccara of the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University told Al Jazeera of Israel’s mixed messages.

Hong Kong court jails 12 for storming parliament in pro-democracy protests

Sentences of nearly seven years handed down over 2019 action that was pivotal moment in uprising against Chinese rule

A Hong Kong court has sentenced 12 people to jail terms of up to seven years over the storming of the city’s legislature in 2019 at the height of pro-democracy protests that challenged the Beijing-backed government.

It was the most violent episode in the initial stage of the huge protests that upended the city that year, with Beijing later imposing a sweeping national security law to snuff out dissent.

Hundreds of protesters broke into the legislature on the night of 1 July 2019, smashing windows and spraying graffiti on the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China.

Putin: Tracing the president’s political metamorphosis

Over his 24 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has grown progressively anti-Western. How did this shift happen? Two prominent Russians provide answers.

When Vladimir Putin is — likely reelected as Russian president this weekend, many people will be asking themselves what to expect from his next term in office. What will Putin do this time? How far will he distance Russia from the European Union and US in the coming six years in power? And how was it possible that hopes for Russian-European rapprochement have been dashed? How could Putin — a leader to which many had pinned great hopes when he rose to power — become so staunchly anti-Western 24 years later?

Vitaly Mansky and Alexander Stefanov, two Russians with two very different backgrounds and a significant age gap, have tried to make sense of these questions. Both are known to millions of Russians.

Mansky, 60, has produced dozens of award-winning documentaries, making him Russia’s best-known documentary filmmaker. He got to know Putin personally, producing two films about the Russian president

Racist attacks on pop star Aya Nakamura test France’s ability to shine at Paris Olympics

Rumours that French pop star Aya Nakamara may sing at the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics have triggered a flurry of attacks from the French far right, questioning the host country’s ability to appreciate the globally acclaimed talent emerging from its neglected suburbs with large immigrant populations.

With the Paris Olympics still months away, the host country has already won gold in a category it truly owns: divisive racial controversy with “made in France” flair.

That’s how public broadcaster France Inter summed up a row over unconfirmed rumours that Aya Nakamura would perform an Édith Piaf song during the Games’ opening ceremony in front of a crowd of 300,000 gathered along the River Seine.

Nakamura, 28, has become a global superstar for hits like “Djadja”, which has close to a billion streams on YouTube alone. On the international stage, she is the most popular French female singer since Piaf sang “La vie en rose”, a rare case of a French artist whose songs reach well beyond the Francophone world.

22 artifacts looted after Battle of Okinawa returned to Japan

By STEVE LeBLANC

Twenty-two historic artifacts that were looted following the Battle of Okinawa in World War II have been returned to Japan after a family from Massachusetts discovered them in their late father’s personal items, the FBI said Friday.

The 22 artifacts, some of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, represent a significant piece of Okinawan history. They include six portraits, a hand drawn map of Okinawa from the 19th century, and various pieces of pottery and ceramics, officials said.

The Boston division of the FBI said they helped orchestrate the return of the items, which had been missing for almost 80 years to the government of Japan, Okinawa prefecture. A formal repatriation ceremony will be held in Japan at a later date.

Inside Haiti: A lucky few escape, while millions face gang rule, hunger and chaos

In a city silenced by gangs, everyone notices the thrum of a helicopter beating overhead in the night – a brief sign that someone very lucky has been able to leave Port-au-Prince.

CNN was able to land in the Haitian capital by helicopter on Friday after days of on-again, off-again plans that required detailed security arrangements and multiple layers of diplomatic approval. Since our previous visit to Haiti last month, the situation has deteriorated sharply. Beleaguered Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced his decision to step aside, but it is not clear who will fill the void or when. A promised transitional government has yet to materialize, and plans for a Kenyan-led stabilisation force are in limbo.

Ordinary people leave their homes only rarely in Port-au-Prince these days, where daily battles between police and gangs send plumes of smoke into the air, gunshots echoing through quiet streets. Boulevards that would ordinarily be packed with cars and vendors are empty, the city’s painted “tap tap” taxis rarely full.

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