AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1883882 times)

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Israel is present in 6 Arab countries
« Reply #14595 on: November 16, 2019, 07:23:51 AM »
According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv is currently in contact with half a dozen important Arab and Muslim countries that until recently were hostile to Israel. He called this a process of “accelerated normalisation”.

The man declares these facts, but has not announced the names of these Arab countries so as not to embarrass them in front of their people. He has also left them with the freedom to announce this at the time they deem fit. However, by following events, we are able to accurately, or with slight error, name these countries: Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu says that Israel will take part in Dubai Expo 2020, where countries will showcase their latest products. He said this reflects the progress of normalisation with Arab countries on the ground.

This is not to mention the visits made by Israeli officials to these countries and the trade and security relations between them and Tel Aviv. There is also the sports presence of Israeli sports teams in these capitals and the performance of Talmudic rituals on Jewish holidays in Arab capitals.

These countries were hiding their old relations with Tel Aviv at the time of the national tide, but today, there is no need for the leaders of these countries to hide their relationship as they destroyed Arab nationalism and arrested the Islamic movements. Moreover, the people have given in to the demands of intellectual invasion, the demands of the media and consumerism. The people now see the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem as a waste of time and believe normalisation with Israel has an advantage over jihad for the sake of Allah.

Some cynics have said: the day will come soon when the State of Israel will be a member of the Arab League, and I believe that its presence in six Arab countries without official objections from the Palestinians or from the rest of the Arab countries means that it does not need to be present in the Arab League. While Israel is not a member of the Arab League, it already exists by force and that is enough.

The leaders of the occupying power would not make such statements a few years ago, but now they do not really care, as they have received the green light from the Arab countries. This prepares the masses for public declarations, gets them used to hearing what they had refused and to accept practical measures.

The only losers in these developments are the Palestinians, who have lost the comfort and reassurance of residing in these six capitals, while the Israelis are all comfortable in all of them.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Chileans blinded by police firing pellet guns in protests
« Reply #14596 on: November 16, 2019, 01:32:39 PM »
230 Chileans blinded in protests as police fire pellet guns at faces

Chileans are accustomed to seeing violent clashes between police and demonstrators but a new trend is leaving them shaken: the blinding of protesters by shotgun pellets fired by state’s security agents.

Chile’s main medical body says at least 230 people have lost sight after being shot in an eye in the last month while participating in the demonstrations over inequality and better social services that have overwhelmed the South American nation.

Of those, at least 50 people will need prosthetic eyes. “This means that the patient doesn’t only lose their vision, but they lose their actual eye,” said Dr. Patricio Meza, vice president of the Medical College of Chile.

The victims are on average 30 years old. In 80% of the cases, the damage is caused by the impact of a lead or rubber projectile on their eyes, Meza said.

“We are facing a real health crisis, a health emergency given that in such few days, in three weeks, we have had the highest number of cases involving serious ocular complications due to shots in the eye,” he said.

What began on Oct. 18 as a student protest over a modest increase in subway fares has turned into a much larger and broader movement with a long list of demands that largely have to do with the wide gap between the rich and ordinary Chileans. People are calling for reforms to health care, education, the pension system and even the constitution, which dates back to 1980 and the military dictatorship.

At demonstrations, it’s common to see police firing pellet guns at crowds. Often, “they’re firing at 90 degrees, which is to say, directly at the face,” said Meza. He said most of the injured say it’s the national police force - known as the Carabineros - who are the ones firing.

The National Institute of Human Rights has said that while it condemns violence by protesters, this does not justify “the indiscriminate use” of pellet guns by riot police.

Meza said other countries seem to follow protocols about the use of pellet guns but in Chile, “this is clearly not happening.”

There are protocols in Chile around use of force by the police. They must first seek to establish order with verbal commands. The use of force is permitted in cases of active resistance, while the use of non-lethal arms is allowed during acts of active violence. Lethal arms are limited to situations that could be deadly.

The National Institute of Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Medical College have been urging the government to ban the use of pellet guns by police since the start of the Chilean unrest, but they have come up against a wall.

The appeal courts of Antofagasta, in the north, and Concepción, in the south, this week banned the use of lethal arms and projectiles against people who are protesting peacefully.

University of Santiago rector Juan Manuel Zolessi said the Council of Rectors, which represents 29 private and public universities, has asked the courts in Santiago to ban the use of lead and rubber pellets by the national police in demonstrations.

On Sunday, police director Gen. Mario Rozas said the use of pellet guns will “be limited.”

The following day, theatre student Vicente Muñoz was hit by projectiles fired by a police officer two meters away, according to his sister. He lost sight in his left eye.

“I think it’s absolutely incredible that, after all these cases of lost eyes, immediate action has not been taken to ensure it doesn’t keep happening,” said Ennio Vivaldi, rector of the University of Chile, where Muñoz studies.

In response to demands that pellet guns not be used, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said that “we need to be very careful about introducing changes that could result in a violent situation that is actually worse.”

The massive demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but it’s common to see hooded protesters infiltrate the gatherings, hurling rocks, raising barricades and confronting police, who clamp down with violence.

Rozas said police will start using a camera on their helmets to track their actions and the use of pellet guns will be limited to situations of “real danger” for police and citizens.

“Evidently, they are recognizing that they were doing something wrong,” said Sergio Micco, director of the National Institute of Human Rights.

Health Minister Jaime Mañalich announced an “ocular reparation program” for “victims of political violence” that covers the cost of treatment and psychological care.

The national prosecutors have opened 1,089 criminal investigations into allegations of “institutional violence” during the first two weeks of the conflict. Of those 70% are directed at the police.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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'We’re fed up and we will not obey you': Rebellion strikes cities across the world
« Reply #14597 on: November 16, 2019, 05:57:14 PM »

Scenes in Chile are reflecting the street violence between police and protesters in Hong Kong

Street demonstrations have flared up in cities around the world.

Lee Duffield writes that these have hallmarks of being one world movement with its causes in failing economic resources, exploitation, corruption and crime — and attacks on democratic rights.

THIS LAST WEEK, it has been mostly Chile and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, the police administration sent out a media spokesman to say law and order were “close to total breakdown”. That was after two days of intensified clashes with demonstrators inflamed by the first deaths on their side, one man who fell from a building, one shot at point-blank range. A police officer was set on fire and 30 people were injured in the latest stand-offs. Now-routine news coverage shows Hong Kong as a battlefield.

In Chile, workers across most of the country’s industries – miners, petroleum and building workers, public transport employees, wharfies, public servants, teachers, airport staff, agricultural workers – went on strike to support crowds confronting the government in cities up and down the long coastline.

This movement across the world started bit-by-bit in some countries late August then flared up like an inferno right through October, continuing now. Several cities all at once began going through the same scenes: barricades, beatings, fires, tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire, charges against police lines, stone-throwing, cops with shields, their opponents in riot gear of their own, general paralysis blocking transport and work.

Even the beleaguered Hong Kong stock exchange, with mayhem just outside the door, started seeing falls — 2% in a day. There are so many demonstrators they cannot be ignored and while they keep coming, cannot yet be suppressed without lethal force.

Economic impacts are coming through. The eruptions have started to dampen the exploding global tourist trade: hundreds of thousands are occupying famous landmark squares and boulevards in all parts. The disturbances caused the cancellation of major international gatherings in Santiago de Chile: the APEC trade summit scheduled for this month and a United Nations meeting on climate change.

News media have been catching the events and looking for a sign of why, picking it up directly enough as it is there on the street in each place. This is a transparent world outbreak, mobilising millions, nothing hidden on the demonstrators’ side, authorities not managing to block it — hard in 2019 when everybody is transmitting pictures. The movements are being treated one-by-one in the news, as news is geared to follow events, place by place.

But the same things are happening and reasons are looking the same, in Hong Kong and Chile and other places across a panorama:

Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela were Tuesday’s news – 12 November – and saw the exit of another head of state: ‘Bolivia faced its worst unrest in decades amid a political vacuum Tuesday… Evo Morales, who transformed the Andean nation as its first indigenous president, fled the country following weeks of violent protests... as his supporters and foes fought on the streets of the capital,’ said this despatch from Time.
Iran, getting economic stress from American sanctions, saw the first eruptions, suppressed like recurrent protests before them by the Islamist regime.
Iraq, the oil-rich State impoverished and smashed by war, has seen the most violent clashes, in Baghdad and at Basra in the South. Estimates of the dead run to more than 300.
Lebanon, taking on the burden of waves of refugees from Syria, now has an uprising against domination by corrupt political organisations in the government. Those include the armed Shiite Islamist movement, depleted in respect and strength by its participation in government and the war in Syria.
The Netherlands.
Pakistan, where the government is confronted by two main opposition parties together, the staggering economy and aggressive actions by India, pushing to get a permanent hold on the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Spain returned the governing Socialists at elections last Sunday (10 November), but they lack a majority and have to struggle with the drive-by Catalonia to secede as an independent country. In yet another check on “business as usual” conservative economic management, they have been forced into a minority coalition with the anti-establishment, anti-austerity party Unidas Podemos.
An article posted by the ABC’s Zena Chamas provides a good summary, linking most of these cases. It includes protests by the Extinction Rebellion over climate change, started in England, rolling around the globe, led by teenagers and even children, with all kinds now joining in.
All of the locations have separate and different kinds of battles. Some of the governments under fire are conservative, some Left of centre. Some in the street movement are organised radicals, like the Leftist and also extreme Right activists who got into the French “yellow vests” protest movement and hardened up the actions against police.

By contrast, very many of those taking part are making their first entry into politics; things have become bad enough that they feel they have to do it. Many of the rebellions were set off by impositions felt hardest by plain folks, like increases in urban train fares — the metros where “real people” go have become the battleground.

Here's what the movements in all the cities have in common:

First is the emotion. Participants everywhere are showing they are angry, indignant, disgusted, stressed, distressed, sometimes despairing but not giving up. They are persistent, keeping it going now, in strength, over months.

They are very determined and mean to get what they want. What they want is hard to gauge but it will be a very big order. The demonstrations are run as peaceful but not just symbolic protests. They make it plain that it must not come down to getting cleaned up by the police and silenced.

They are prepared to get rough, they dig in, keep coming back, and push back. The language of high school debates – that you should argue nicely – will not work. It has been tried by the government in Hong Kong, with its daily appeals for calm. In Chile, the conservative President Sebastián Piñera began by calling the demonstrators “evil delinquents” then backed off, became conciliatory and began trying concessions — getting knocked back on those.

It has gone beyond calling this international rash of outbreaks a protest movement. It has not gone so far as revolution, as there is no armed insurrection and no standing organisation, it is still people just joining together in the street where mobilisation is in its early stages. The big crowds cannot themselves displace governments overnight. A right word might be that it is a hostile challenge — to the authority, legitimacy and power of anybody in charge.

Concessions, cabinet shake-ups, even the resignation of heads of government, as in Bolivia and Lebanon, do not satisfy these crowds. The Hong Kong campaigners began by demanding an end to plans to send persons accused of a crime to the Chinese mainland. That was suspended, considered not enough and they have moved to their five demands, including resignation of the Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

They really want an end to Chinese government interventions in Hong Kong and to be governed into the future on democratic lines. All of the movements want a better life that means not getting exploited economically, having political and social freedoms, taking part in open democratic government.

The seriousness of it all is being underlined by death. In Chile, they have a strong folk memory of the criminal use of state power — so no illusions. The barbaric military coup of 1973 was followed up with thousands murdered and handing over of the economy to an American-based experiment in ungoverned “free enterprise”, called the “Chicago boys” prescription in honour of the neoliberal putsch coming from that city. It meant wholesale privatisations, tax holidays for business corporations, more costs and impoverishment for ordinary citizens — all leading to this bad situation in 2019.

This year’s death toll in Chile is 18 with 1,100 injured, 38 of those shot. The threat to the Hong Kong demonstrators that the Communist Party in Beijing will order another Tiananmen Square massacre is obvious to all. They are prepared to face it in what has become a desperate campaign for democratic rights.

What are the causes?

Explanations being put forward for the explosion of 2019 include:

huge economic inequality;
far too many going into poverty;
a very small, very rich minority getting richer;
no jobs, especially for the young;
no money, with a great and real worry about going hungry; and
very poor government services, especially meagre education and negligent health care — the costs of “small government”. 
Fear of climate change is banging on the door in many parts, where rivers are threatening to go dry, or drought driving extra numbers into overcrowded cities. The cities themselves can be contributors, getting less liveable. Ten of the 14 capitals listed here have over five million inhabitants, headed by Lima with 32.5 million, Jakarta with 9.6 million, Cairo with 9.5 million and Teheran with 8.7 million.

The demonstrators time and again blame the “system”, a potent charge as it supports removing the entire State structure and starting again — no compromising, no concessions. Talk against the “system” in Eastern Europe 30 years ago saw the crowds demanding total removal of the communist government there. Much of the focus was on removing the nomenklatura, the elite class of party loyalists fixated on getting themselves luxury goods from the West, out of touch with the deprived majority at home.

The “system” in 2019 is the more complex “free enterprise” model with economic freedom well on its way to conversion into a criminal free-for-all. General aversion to business regulation or tax matches up with grand-scale official corruption. Abused and disillusioned citizens go out on to the street to show they will stop it if they can, with no expectations that things will change or can be settled though concessions and “moderate reforms”.,13320
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Greenland airport becomes latest victim of climate change
« Reply #14598 on: November 16, 2019, 06:01:43 PM »
Greenland's main airport is set to end civilian flights within five years due to climate change, as the melting of permafrost is cracking the runway.

Kangerlussuaq Airport, the country's main hub, had 11,000 planes landing or departing last year.

Permafrost, the layer of soil usually frozen solid, is shrinking as temperatures rise. For airport workers, ridding the runway of the snow and ice has become a constant struggle.

As a result, authorities will start building a new facility from scratch.

"They are constructing a new airport in Nuuk and in the north .... and the Danish Airforce will take over responsibility for this airport," said airport manager Peter Høgh.

Greenland is the world's largest island roughly and around 80 per cent of the surface is covered in ice sheet.

But global warming is drastically reshaping Greenland, causing the ice sheet to melt at a faster rate than previously thought, according to recent research.

The airport's situation shows how the built environment, and not just the natural environment, is being hit by climate change.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Saudi Aramco flotation values oil giant at $1.7tn
« Reply #14599 on: November 17, 2019, 06:15:32 AM »

Saudi Arabia has placed a preliminary valuation on state oil company Aramco of between $1.6tn (£1.22tn) and $1.7tn.

The company has published an updated prospectus for its initial public offering (IPO), seeking more than $25bn for the sale of 1.5% of its shares.

That would make it potentially the world's biggest IPO, coming from the world's most profitable company

It is short of the $2tn valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reportedly keen to achieve.

"The base offer size will be 1.5% of the company's outstanding shares," the state-owned energy giant said in a statement that set the price range at 30-32 Saudi riyals per share ($8-$8.5).

That could value the IPO at as much as 96bn riyals ($25.60bn) at the top end of the range.

If priced at the top end, the deal could just beat the record-breaking $25bn raised by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2014.

Individual retail investors, as well as big institutions, will have a chance to buy shares.

Aramco had initially been expected to sell some 5% of its shares on two exchanges, with a first listing of 2% on the kingdom's Tadawul bourse, and then another 3% on an overseas exchange.

The firm says there are now no current plans for an international sale, with that long-discussed goal now seemingly being put on ice.

The crown prince is seeking to sell the shares to raise billions of dollars to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil by investing in non-energy industries.

Analysts S&P Global Ratings said the stock market debut could enable Saudi Arabia to strengthen its financial position.

"If subsequently effectively deployed, the funds raised could be used to support longer-term economic growth in Saudi Arabia," it said.

In its prospectus released last week, the company lists a variety of investment risks ranging from terrorist attacks to geopolitical tensions in a region dominated by Saudi-Iran rivalry.

The 600-page prospectus also includes the government's control over oil output as another potential risk.

After the flotation, Aramco will not list any more shares for six months, the prospectus says. Although one of the attractions for investors is the potential of high dividends, the document said Aramco has the right to change dividend policy without prior notice.

Aramco has hired a host of international banking giants including Citibank, Credit Suisse and HSBC as financial advisers to assess interest in the share sale and set a price. Based on the level of interest.

The sale of the company, first mooted four years ago, has been overshadowed by delays and criticism of corporate transparency at Saudi Arabia's crown jewel.

Aramco last year posted $111bn in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, its net profit dropped 18% to $68bn.

A third of Aramco's shares - about $8bn worth - will be sold to the man and (the prospectus says) even the divorced woman on the street, giving local Saudi Arabians a stake in their nation's cash cow for the first time.

A TV and billboard advertising campaign, as well as social media, is stoking enthusiasm on the ground and demand is expected to be high. For the remaining $16bn, the oil giant is turning to institutional investors.

And a source close to the company says there has been sufficient interest that they're confident they can cover most of this off within the Gulf. But there will be disappointment amongst officials if global demand is not there for the jewel in Saudi Arabia's crown.

A fossil fuels company owned by an absolute monarchy in a volatile region are not an easy sell for many Western firms, pursuing the latest trend in investment policy of "ESG" (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is among those to already rule themselves out from investing.

But the promise of sharing the promised annual $75bn cash dividend pot might be too good for some to miss, according to James Bevan, Chief Investment Officer at CCLA Investment Management (one of the UK's largest charity fund managers).

Given his firm's focus, he is not looking to invest in the shares but explains why some are. "It's a 'risk' in the eyes of some investors to be very underweight in oil and gas, and Aramco may be a means of plugging a sector gap with perhaps less worry than associated with holding Gazprom," he says.

Investors follow indixes - such as the FTSE 100 - which are made up of array of types of industries and so some feel oil and gas needs to be correspondingly represented in their portfolio.

As Aramco's big sales pitch road show kicks off, the real test of investor appetite for the company will begin.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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A New Jersey-based startup developed what it claims to be a genetic test capable of predicting a number of common diseases in embryos. The company, called Genomic Predictions, has been approached by dozens of parents-to-be from across the world in hopes of having the start-up help them ‘weed out’ embryos more inclined to develop certain diseases later in life, such as cancer and diabetes. Although Genomic Prediction’s new test is in its infancy, the company has already come under fire by many in the academic and scientific communities, with some depicting the test as both impractical and unethical.

Genomic Predictions has been around for several years now, using various computing technologies, AI and machine learning to research genomes and discover novel ways of predicting phenotypes. “We’ve always thought that one of the best and earliest applications of this would be embryo selection because we can help families have a healthy child,” said Stephen Hsu, the company’s co-founder, in an interview for GEN.

Last month, Genomic Predictions finally unveiled a test which it claims can utilise DNA data to predict the likelihood of embryos from an IVF procedure to develop any of 11 types of diseases. As reported by MIT Review, the test, called LifeView, will measure IVF embryos’ DNA from hundreds of thousands of genetic positions and generate estimates regarding chances of having diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks, and five types of cancer. The test would also alert parents about how likely it is that their child will end up among the shortest 2 per cent of the population or the lowest 2 per cent in intelligence.

Genomic Predictions then hands parents report cards containing the testing results for each embryo so they could implant the ones they deem to be the healthiest out of the batch.

So far, the company reported that 12 clinics around the world—in Nigeria, Peru, Thailand, Taiwan, and the US—will order its new test. The few interested clients are mostly well-off professionals wanting to reduce their child’s risk of having diseases that may run in the family. Genomic Prediction’s first set of clients, for instance, is a gay couple undergoing IVF with a surrogate mother who want to ensure their child won’t have breast cancer. Another couple, who have two children with autism, want their third child to be neuro-typical; something they hope the LifeView test could help them achieve.

For the most part, however, clinics are extremely hesitant about ordering this new test, as many scientific experts and researchers voiced harsh criticism of it. “It is irresponsible to suggest that the science is at the point where we could reliably predict which embryo to select to minimize the risk of disease. The science simply isn’t there yet,” tweeted Graham Coop, a geneticist at the University of California, Davis. A research by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem also concluded that attempting to predict the height and intelligence of an embryo is pretty much a futile attempt at this point in time. Others, such as Santiago Munne, an embryo testing expert and entrepreneur, suggest that the great uncertainty that comes with this type of testing would be off-putting for many doctors and client as well as a source for potential disappointment.

And let’s not forget about the immense psychological strain such a test can place on children who find out they’ve been ‘selected’ out of a pool of embryos in order to be healthy. What if they do end up developing one of these diseases after all this money had been spent?

While a parent’s urge to do all in their power to prevent their child from being ill is understandable, this genetic selection process sets us on a very slippery slope. It seems that endeavours such as LifeView constitute a mere hop, skip and a jump away from genetically editing babies, and cater to our growing appetite to design what we perceive to be the ‘perfect human’. Naturally, we should support the scientific community’s efforts to find cures and solutions to prevent terrible diseases, but is ‘phenotyping’ the answer? This approach all but ignores the slew of external and environmental factors that heavily impact someone’s chances of developing such diseases, including diet, lifestyle, stress, and someone’s mental state. It could be argued that no less attention should be placed on tackling the latter, as opposed to try and manufacture a ‘flawless’ human being.

So far, tests like LifeView appeal only to couples using IVF, a process that is long, uncertain, invasive and prohibitively expensive. Some at Genomic Prediction, however, contend that IVF will be “the future”, claiming that even fertile couples would choose to undergo the process in order to reduce the chances of disease in their children. As such technologies proliferate, we must remain critical and alert of their application and the direction in which it takes our society. Crafting the ‘perfect’ human and labouring to prevent any flaws in our children could cost us a great deal. Much more than an IVF treatment.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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In remarks at the Vatican, the leader of the Catholic Church condemned "the large-scale delinquency of corporations."

Pope Francis on Friday issued a warning against the rise of fascist forces worldwide that remind him of the Nazis of the 20th Century as he also railed against corporate crimes and announced consideration of adding "sins against ecology" to the church's official teachings.

During a speech at the Vatican before the 20th World Congress of the International Association of Penal Law, a network of justice system and criminology experts from around the world, the leader of the Catholic Church said worrying developments both in the political arena and from the world of business remind him of dark episodes from humanity's past, including Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

"It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism," Francis said as he decried the "culture of waste and hate" represented by contemporary politicians who spew derogatory and racists attacks against homosexuals, gypsies, Jewish people, and others. "I must confess to you," he continued, "that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936."

The Pope also highlighted environmental degradation and said the church was considering adding crimes against nature and the environment to the catechism—the official text of church doctrine and teachings.

"We have to introduce, we are thinking about it, in the catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin against ecology, the sin against our common home, because it's a duty," he said. Francis has been championed by climate activists for using his position to preach about the urgent need for humanity to recognize the dangers of human-caused global warming and calling on other world leaders—and the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics in the world—to act boldly to address the crisis.

Crimes against the environment, said the Pope, should be seen as "crimes against peace, which should be recognized by the international community."

Francis also spoke of the crimes of big business, many of which receive too little attention and often go unpunished.

"One frequent omission of penal law," Francis told the criminal experts at the conference, "is the insufficient attention the crimes of the powerful receive, especially the large-scale delinquency of corporations."

As the Religious News Service reports:

In his speech, Francis condemned global corporations that are responsible for "countries' over-indebtedness and the plunder of our planet’s natural resources." He said that their activities have the "gravity of crimes against humanity," especially when they lead to hunger, poverty and the eradication of indigenous peoples.

Such acts of "ecocide" must not go unpunished, said the pope, who in October concluded a synod of bishops to discuss the Amazon region and the safeguarding of the environment.

"The principle of profit maximization, isolated from any other consideration, leads to a model of exclusion which violently attacks those who now suffer its social and economic costs, while future generations are condemned to pay the environmental costs," Francis said.

"The first thing lawyers should ask themselves today is what they can do with their knowledge to counter this phenomenon," he said, "which puts democratic institutions and the development of humanity itself at risk."
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Chinese Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan meets Ghanaian Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia in Accra.

Ghana is going ahead with a controversial US$2 billion deal where China will build roads and bridges in exchange for bauxite ore mined in part of West Africa’s Upper Guinean Rainforest.
Beijing has released a first tranche of funds worth US$649 million under the Sinohydro deal, Ghanaian Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia said on Monday.
The agreement also included a 300 million yuan (US$42.7 million) grant and debt forgiveness worth US$35.7 million to help with Ghana’s infrastructure development, he said.
China would also help to improve the skills of Ghanaian workers through vocational and technical training schemes, Bawumia said.

After talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan in Accra, Ghana’s capital, on November 10 and 11, Bawumia said four road-building projects under the first phase of the deal had been sanctioned by China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, known as Sinosure.
“We hope that the rest will come through by March of 2020,” Bawumia said.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who reached an agreement on the project with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing in September 2018, where the West African nation also joined China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative, said he was hopeful that the remaining six projects, which were being evaluated by Sinosure, would be approved by the end of the year.

The Ghanaian government has drawn fire from conservationists who said that mining bauxite – an ore in aluminium used to make products from aircraft parts to kitchen utensils – would destroy the ecosystem of the 233 sq km Atewa forest in southeastern Ghana.
Atewa is part of the Upper Guinean Rainforest, which is a critical ecosystem, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. The ore will be mined close to the source of three major rivers that provide water for 5 million people.

China is the biggest customer for African minerals and has invested billions of dollars in mining operations across the continent.
Its major imports from Ghana include crude oil, aluminium ore, manganese ore and rough wood worth US$2.4 billion a year, according to a study from the China ­Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of ­Advanced International Studies in Washington.
Do Africa’s emerging nations know the secret of China’s economic miracle?
Beijing exported US$4.8 billion worth of electronics, machinery, textiles, chemicals, plastics and rubber to Ghana last year, the study said.
Between 2000 and 2017, China extended more than US$143 billion in loans to African infrastructure projects, more than any other nation, it found.
Guinea and Beijing signed a deal in 2017 involving US$20 billion in loans over 20 years in exchange for bauxite. China has similar arrangements with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Angola.
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China's work to create Muslim minority mass detention camps reportedly revealed
« Reply #14603 on: November 17, 2019, 08:00:22 AM »
A leaked 400-page document released by the New York Times reveal new details about how the Chinese have organised the mass detention of more than 1 million people from its Muslim minorities, including the Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

The exclusive report, described by the Times as the "one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China", exposes the key role played by top Chinese officials as well as President Xi Jinping in the establishment of the indoctrination camps.

According to the New York Times, the whistleblower was an anonymous member of the Chinese political establishment, who wanted to ensure top Communist Party leaders could not escape culpability for the crackdown.

The United Nations has said there are credible reports at least 1 million Uyghurs are detained in Xinjiang's "re-education" camps.

China maintains its treatment of Uyghurs — a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority — is necessary to counter terrorism and extremism.

The leaked papers reportedly reveal President Xi laid the foundation of the crackdown in 2014 in private speeches to officials, after a deadly knife attack at a train station by Uyghur militants in which more than 130 people were injured and at least 33 were killed.

However, it does not show Mr Xi directly ordering the creation of the detention camps.

In his speeches, Mr Xi called for an all-out "struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism" using the "organs of dictatorship" and showing "absolutely no mercy".

The documents shows a sharp difference between Mr Xi and his predecessor Hu Jintao's beliefs on the appropriate way to control terrorism in the sensitive region, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While Mr Hu responded to the deadly 2009 riots in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi with a clampdown, he also pushed for economic reforms. However, Mr Xi said despite economic growth, "ethnic separatism" and "terrorist violence" was still on the rise.

"The psychological impact of extremist religious thought on people must never be underestimated," Mr Xi told officials on his trip to Xinjiang in 2014.

"People who are captured by religious extremism — male or female, old or young — have their consciences destroyed, lose their humanity, and murder without blinking an eye."

According to The New York Times, the documents show the camps grew in August 2016 after a new party boss, Chen Quanguo, was appointed to the region. He used Mr Xi's speeches to justify the campaign and told officials to "round up everyone who should be rounded up".

But the Government anticipated "turmoil" at tearing families apart, with the documents giving detailed instructions to local authorities on how to handle students who might return home to find their parents, relatives and neighbours gone.

The students were told while their family member had committed no crime, they could not be released, the Times reported. However, the students' behaviour could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.

The documents also reportedly show there was resistance to the crackdown in the party, with some fears that the detention would further inflame separatism.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Air pollution ‘to blame for 20,500 people UK deaths every year’
« Reply #14604 on: November 17, 2019, 08:05:57 AM »
That’s according to the 2019 Lancet Countdown report, which forecasts climate change and air pollution will result in millions more premature deaths over the next decade

Air pollution kills more than 20,500 people in the UK every year.

That’s according to the 2019 Lancet Countdown report, which collates research and statistics from scientists and experts from all around the world – it’s latest edition forecasts climate change and air pollution will result in millions more premature deaths over the next decade.

It notes air pollution is primarily driven by industry, transport, electricity generation, and agriculture, as well as by cooking in Africa – global deaths attributable to fine particulate matter totalled 2.9 million in 2016, with global air pollution deaths reaching seven million.

Despite the collapse of coal markets and generation across much of the western world leading to the number of premature deaths caused as a result having dropped slightly in Europe and the Western Pacific, more than 440,000 premature deaths are still estimated to be associated with coal burning each year.

The report criticises global governments for continuing to subsidise the fossil fuel industry, which it blames for promoting overconsumption and driving environmental damage – it shows in 2018, fossil fuel consumption subsidies rose to $427 billion (£330.8bn), more than a third higher than in 2017 and above 50% higher than in 2016.

It warns the consequences of increasing air pollution and worsening climate change will likely disproportionately affect children by threatening food production and security, causing malnutrition and damaging the heart, lungs and other vital organs.

It states: “A child born today will experience a world that is more than four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average, with climate change impacting human health from infancy and adolescence to adulthood and old age. Across the world, children are among the worst affected by climate change.”
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In past five years, Russia has almost halved its foreign trade payments in US currency, from 92 to 50 percent, said the CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and member of the BRICS Business Council Kirill Dmitriev.
Talking to RT on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Brazil, Dmitriev said that payments in ruble increased from 3 to 14 percent over the period.

The five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – are currently developing a joint new payment system.

“An efficient BRICS payment system can encourage payments in national currencies and ensure sustainable payments and investments among our countries, which make up over 20 percent of the global inflow of foreign direct investment,” Dmitriev said.

He explained that developing the national segments of payment systems and their sustainable integration are the “key drivers of the economic partnership among the BRICS countries, given the increasing non-market risks of the global payment infrastructure.”

The potential use of a single cryptocurrency for payments among BRICS member-countries is also expected to be discussed during the forum. Such payments will be conducted via the BRICS payment system, Dmitriev said, adding “The joint funds established with RDIF’s assistance for investments made in national currencies and technology development can serve as the foundation for that.”

RDIF is the Chair of the BRICS Business Council’s Financial Services Working Group.
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Leaked Chinese government documents show details of Xinjiang clampdown
« Reply #14606 on: November 17, 2019, 08:17:13 AM »
BEIJING (Reuters) - A trove of leaked Chinese government documents reveals details of its clampdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in the country’s western Xinjiang region under President Xi Jinping, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in Xinjiang in a crackdown that has drawn condemnation from the United States and other countries.

The documents, which the newspaper said were leaked by “a member of the Chinese political establishment,” show how Xi gave a series of internal speeches to officials during and after a 2014 visit to Xinjiang following a stabbing attack by Uighur militants at a train station that killed 31 people.

The report said Xi called for an “all-out ‘struggle against terrorism, infiltration, and separatism’ using the ‘organs of dictatorship,’ and showing ‘absolutely no mercy’.”

The documents show that the Chinese leadership’s fears were heightened by terrorist attacks in other countries and the U.S. drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.

It is unclear how the documents totaling 403 pages were gathered and selected, the newspaper said. Link to report here

Beijing denies any mistreatment of the Uighurs or others in Xinjiang, saying it is providing vocational training to help stamp out Islamic extremism and separatism and teach new skills.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment from Reuters on Sunday.

The documents show how officials were given talking points to explain to returning university students that their family members had been taken away for training, and how the program faced pushback from some local officials, the report said.

They also show that the internment camps expanded quickly after Chen Quanguo was appointed in August 2016 as the party boss of the region, the report said. Chen had taken a tough line to quell restiveness against Communist Party rule during his previous posting in Tibet.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - Ohio lawmakers are weighing in on how public schools can teach things like evolution.

The Ohio House on Wednesday passed the "Student Religious Liberties Act." Under the law, students can't be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.

Every Republican in the House supported the bill. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.
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Iran’s top leader warns ‘thugs’ as protests reach 100 cities
« Reply #14608 on: November 17, 2019, 06:02:02 PM »
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday cautiously backed the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 50% after days of widespread protests, calling those who attacked public property during demonstrations “thugs” and signaling that a potential crackdown loomed.

The government shut down internet access across the nation of 80 million people to staunch demonstrations that took place in a reported 100 cities and towns. That made it increasingly difficult to gauge whether unrest continued. Images published by state and semiofficial media showed the scale of the damage in images of burned gas stations and banks, torched vehicles and roadways littered with debris.

Since the price hike, demonstrators have abandoned cars along major highways and joined mass protests in the capital, Tehran, and elsewhere. Some protests turned violent, with demonstrators setting fires as gunfire rang out.

It remains to be seen how many people were arrested, injured or killed. Videos from the protests have shown people gravely wounded.

Iranian authorities on Sunday raised the official death toll in the violence to at least three. Attackers targeting a police station in the western city of Kermanshah on Saturday killed an officer, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday. A lawmaker said another person was killed in a suburb of Tehran. Earlier, one man was reported killed Friday in Sirjan, a city some 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Tehran.

In an address aired Sunday by state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “some lost their lives and some places were destroyed,” without elaborating. He called the protesters “thugs” who had been pushed into violence by counterrevolutionaries and foreign enemies of Iran.

Khamenei specifically named those aligned with the family of Iran’s late shah, ousted 40 years ago, and an exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. The MEK calls for the overthrow of Iran’s government and enjoys the support of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

“Setting a bank on fire is not an act done by the people. This is what thugs do,” Khamenei said.

The supreme leader carefully backed the decision of Iran’s relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani and others to raise gasoline prices. While Khamenei dictates the country’s nuclear policy amid tensions with the U.S. over its unraveling 2015 accord with world powers, he made a point to say he wasn’t an “expert” on the gasoline subsidies.

Khamenei ordered security forces “to implement their tasks” and for Iran’s citizens to keep clear of violent demonstrators. Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the “key perpetrators of the past two days’ riot have been identified and proper action is ongoing.”

That seemed to indicate a crackdown could be looming. Economic protests in late 2017 into 2018, as well as those surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election, were met with a heavy reaction by the police and the Basij, the all-volunteer force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

The semiofficial Fars news agency, close to the Guard, put the total number of protesters at over 87,000, saying demonstrators ransacked some 100 banks and stores in the country. Authorities arrested some 1,000 people, Fars reported, citing unnamed security officials for the information.

The protests have put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome the U.S. sanctions that have strangled the economy since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.

While representing a political risk for Rouhani ahead of February parliamentary elections, the demonstrations also show widespread anger among the Iranian people, who have seen their savings evaporate amid scarce jobs and the collapse of the national currency, the rial.

Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Gasoline in the country remains among the cheapest in the world, with the new prices jumping 50% to a minimum of 15,000 rials per liter. That’s 13 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. A gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. costs $2.60 by comparison.

Iranian internet access saw disruptions and outages Friday night into Saturday, according to the group NetBlocks, which monitors worldwide internet access. By Saturday night, connectivity had fallen to just 7% of ordinary levels. It was mostly unchanged on Sunday.

NetBlocks called it the most severe shutdown the group had tracked in any country “in terms of its technical complexity and breadth.” On Twitter, NetBlocks said the disruption constituted “a severe violation” of Iranians’ “basic rights and liberties.”

The internet firm Oracle called it “the largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Sunday that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council ordered a “restriction of access” to the internet nationwide, without elaborating.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Trump administration condemned “the lethal force and severe communications restrictions used against demonstrators.”

“Tehran has fanatically pursued nuclear weapons and missile programs, and supported terrorism, turning a proud nation into another cautionary tale of what happens when a ruling class abandons its people and embarks on a crusade for personal power and riches,” the White House statement said.

In Dubai, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates told The Associated Press that America was “not advocating regime change. We are going to let the Iranian people decide for themselves their future.”

“They are frustrated. They want freedom,” Ambassador John Rakolta said at the Dubai Airshow. “These developments that you see right now are their own people telling them, ‘We need change and to sit down with the American government.’”
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Iraqi protester killed amid fresh clashes on Baghdad bridge
« Reply #14609 on: November 17, 2019, 06:07:36 PM »
Iraqi security and medical officials say a protester has been killed by a direct hit to the head from a tear gas cannister amid fresh clashes on a strategic Baghdad bridge

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People walk through Khilani Square after protesters took control and reopened it after clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government demonstrators in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.

 An anti-government protester in Iraq was killed Sunday by a direct hit to the head from a tear gas cannister amid fresh clashes on a strategic Baghdad bridge, security and medical officials said.

At least 32 others were wounded in violent clashes with security forces, just hours after demonstrators retook control of part of Ahrar Bridge from security forces. The protesters now hold three bridges spanning the Tigris River toward the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government. Security forces had deployed Sunday on the other side of the bridge and erected concrete barriers to keep protesters from pushing into Green Zone.

Elsewhere, protesters blocked roads with burning tires in parts of central and southern Iraq, halting traffic and paralyzing work following a call for a national strike.

Since the anti-government protests began Oct. 1, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in the capital and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands over what they say is widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services despite the country’s oil wealth.

The leaderless, mass protests aim to sweep aside Iraq’s political elite, blamed for massive corruption.

Bridges leading toward the Green Zone have been a frequent flashpoint in the protests. Demonstrators took control of those bridges earlier this month but were later repelled when security forces took harsh suppressive measures.

Two Katyusha rockets fell Sunday in the vicinity of the Green Zone but caused no casualties. One hit the Tigris River and the other fell on an empty soccer stadium, security officials said. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Demonstrators told The Associated Press they were tightening civilian security measures after a bomb planted under a car Friday killed three people in Tahrir Square, the hub of the protest movement. The protesters said there were also growing fears of reprisal from authorities.

Checkpoints were erected in each of the four entrances to Tahrir Square, where many demonstrators have entrenched themselves by erecting tents and refusing to leave. Young men are stationed in each entry point, inspecting bags for sharp objects and weapons.

Protesters said this was a result of a collective decision made to implement stricter security measures after several violent incidents they said were perpetrated by alleged government infiltrators.

Omar, 21, a medical volunteer, said one of his colleagues was stabbed by someone who “wore a white coat like us, pretended to be like us. That is why they are searching for weapons and knives.”

“In Tahrir, we know we are safe, so we decided to take these measures, to make it safer,” said Noor, 24, a protester who requested anonymity because she said she feared retaliation from the government or Shiite militia groups. “Outside the square we can be taken, arrested, disappear.”

Protesters have also taken individuals measures: Noor always wears a surgical mask and sunglasses to be unrecognizable in photographs and videos she fears might be monitored by the authorities.

The protesters have managed to push back onto part of Ahrar Bridge on Sunday, after seizing portions of Sinak Bridge and central Khilani Square the previous day following fierce clashes. They were also present in Jumhouriyya Bridge adjacent to Tahrir Square.

On Saturday, Iraqi security forces had withdrawn from Khilani Square after firing live ammunition and tear gas against protesters trying to tear down a concrete barrier blocking entry to the square. Protesters also took control of a five-story parking garage adjacent to the bridge, giving them a bird’s eye view over the Green Zone and the street below, mirroring tactics employed in Tahrir Square, where they occupied an iconic 14-story Saddam Hussein-era building that has become a reference point for demonstrators.

Two people were wounded Sunday when security forces fired tear gas canisters in renewed confrontations on Baghdad's famous Rasheed Street, its oldest avenue and cultural center known for its crumbling houses.

In the southern port city of Basra and in cities like Nasiriyah, Amara and Kut, protesters set tires ablaze to close off roads, keeping employees from reaching their workplaces. Schools, universities and other institutions closed for the day.

In parts of Baghdad, particularly the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood, protesters sat in the middle of the streets to prevent employees from getting to their workplaces. They also blocked roads with motorcycles and tuk-tuks, snarling traffic.

“There will be no offices open until the last corrupt person is removed,” one protester said, declining to be identified for security reasons. “Only then we will pull out from here.”

The roadblocks are partly in response to a call by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a voluntary strike to keep up the pressure on politicians.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'