Archive for July, 2017

Hillary to explain ‘What Happened’ in new book — Clinton will double down on her belief that Russian interference cost her the White House

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Hillary Clinton says “I’m letting my guard down” in promoting her new book, due out September 12

NEW YORK (AFP) – Defeated Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton promises to let her guard down and explain what happened in her shock electoral defeat to Donald Trump, including the mistakes she made, in a book to published in September.

Publishers Simon and Schuster revealed Thursday that the previously unnamed tome would be entitled “What Happened” and would be the former secretary of state’s “most personal memoir yet.”

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down,” writes Clinton in the introduction.

Her publishers said the book would reveal what Clinton thought and felt during the bruising 2016 campaign that saw her make history as the first US woman to win the presidential nomination from a major party.

It will describe “what it was like” to run against Trump, “the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up,” they said in an announcement ahead of the September 12 release date.

Clinton would take the reader “inside the intense personal experience” of an election “marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules,” Simon and Schuster added.

The tome will also see Clinton double down on her belief that Russian interference cost her the White House.

Clinton has repeatedly blamed her loss on Russian cyberattacks and has alleged that associates of Trump likely had a hand in the effort.

She also says then-FBI director James Comey dealt her campaign a severe blow when — just days before the November election — he briefly revisited an inquiry into the scandal over her use of private email while at the State Department.

“Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future,” Simon and Schuster said.

Trump has recently revived a campaign-era rallying cry that his former rival be prosecuted, setting off alarm bells in Washington and sparking accusations that he is seeking to divert attention from the widening probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.

Clinton is the author of five previous books, most recently “Hard Choices” published in 2014, as well as “An Invitation to the White House” and “It Takes a Village,” all published by Simon and Schuster.

Kuwait Closes Shiite TV Over Owners Ties to Terror Group

July 27, 2017

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait has shuttered a private Shiite satellite television channel, saying one of its owners was involved in a terror group linked with Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The official Kuwait News Agency reported on Thursday that Al Kout TV’s broadcast licenses were revoked.

The agency says one of the station’s owners, Bassel Dashti, was sentenced to five years earlier this month on charges of “contributing to bringing weapons and receiving illegal training.”

A criminal and an appeals court had found Dashti not guilty but Kuwait’s supreme court overturned those rulings and handed down the five-year sentence. He remains at large.

The group that Dashti was allegedly involved in was known as the al-Abdali cell and included 26 people. Kuwait in August 2015 announced it broke up the group.

British Police Suspect Corporate Manslaughter Over Tower Blaze: BBC

July 27, 2017

LONDON — British police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 80 people in London last month said there are grounds to suspect that corporate manslaughter may have been committed by the local council, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The BBC said Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation have been told there are grounds to suspect that each may have committed the offense.

“There are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organization may have committed the offense of corporate manslaughter,” the BBC quoted a letter from London police to residents of the tower block as saying.

Kensington and Chelsea Council did not immediately comment on the report when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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BBC News

Grenfell Tower: Corporate manslaughter considered by police

Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire say they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect that corporate manslaughter offences may have been committed.

The council and tenant management organisation which ran the London tower block have both been told there are grounds to suspect they may have committed the offence.

It emerged in a letter from the Met Police to residents of the block.

At least 80 people died in the fire in North Kensington on 14 June.

The relevant section of the letter says Met Police officers have “seized a huge amount of material and taken a large number of witness statements”.

“After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007,” it added.

Evidence gathering

The Met Police also released a statement on Thursday, stating that its investigation into the cause and spread of the fire was a “complex and far reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete”.

“The Met has made a commitment to the families who lost loved ones in the fire and survivors that they will be kept updated, as far as we possibly can, as the investigation continues.”

BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds says Met Police have briefed a number of times that corporate manslaughter is a possible offence being considered as part of their investigation, along with breaches of health and safety laws.

In the case of corporate manslaughter, this is an offence which can only be committed by a corporation – not an individual, therefore no-one can be arrested in this instance.

The effect of what the police have said is to put both organisations on notice that their senior executives are likely to be questioned under caution in relation to the fire. This means that evidence can be used against both bodies in a court, our correspondent added.

The news comes after site manager at the tower block, Michael Lockwood, told a public meeting on Wednesday that the building would be covered in August.

He said that he expected the demolition of the tower block would begin “towards the end of 2018”.

Some possessions could be retrieved from 33 of the block’s flats, he added.

And a Newsnight investigation has shown that an official test of the types of materials used at Grenfell Tower suggest that designs such as that used in the tower’s cladding are fundamentally flawed.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40747241

Qatar accuses Gulf states of ‘stubbornness’, wants UN to help

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | A general view of the road near the Qatari side of the Abu Samrah border crossing with Saudi Arabia on June 23, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – Qatar’s foreign minister on Thursday accused Gulf neighbors and Egypt of “stubbornness” in their ongoing diplomatic dispute and said the United Nations should step in to help resolve the crisis.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York to discuss tensions after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5.

The four countries accuse Qatar of backing extremism and have imposed sanctions against Doha in what the foreign minister said was a “serious violation of international law.”

“There is a role for the Security Council and for the General Assembly and all the United Nations mechanisms, because of course the violations have continued,” the foreign minister told reporters after his meeting with Guterres.

“We are seeing from the other side of the conflict this stubbornness without even taking any forthcoming step to solve this problem,” he said.

Last month Al-Thani met with several Security Council members to lobby for support, but the council and Guterres have repeatedly stressed that a solution should be found among regional partners.

Kuwait has been trying to mediate the crisis and several top Western diplomats have toured the region to try to defuse the row, including US Secretary of States Rex Tillerson.

“This is the right place where we have to start to seek all our options in order to find a legal solution,” said the foreign minister.

“Qatar has already stated more than ten times that we want to solve this issue by dialogue, and we are not willing to escalate, and they need to retreat from all their illegal actions,” he said.

The crisis between the regional allies is the worst to hit the Gulf in decades.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and its allies unveiled a “terrorist” blacklist of 18 organizations and individuals suspected of links to Islamist extremism tied to Qatar.

The countries have demanded that Qatar break its longstanding ties with the Muslim Brotherhood — blacklisted as a terror group by the four governments, although not by the international community.

They also demanded that it close broadcasting giant Al-Jazeera and a Turkish military base, and fall in line with Saudi-led policy in the region, particularly towards Iran.

Qatar has dismissed the demands as a violation of its sovereignty and has received significant support from its ally Turkey.

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Poland’s Kaczynski Says Sticking to Judicial Reform Plans — “There will be a reform, a radical reform…Partial reform won’t change anything.”

July 27, 2017

WARSAW — Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is sticking to its plans to reform the judiciary but will wait for proposals from President Andrzej Duda before taking further action, its head Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Thursday.

Image result for Jaroslaw Kaczynski, photos

Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Kaczynski told private broadcaster TV Trwam Duda’s veto this week of two bills to overhaul the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary was a “very serious mistake”, but the focus needed to be on how to proceed.

“This means there will be a reform, a radical reform…Partial reform won’t change anything,” Kaczynski said.

Duda said earlier this week he would present his own draft bills on overhauling the judicial system within two months.

(Reporting by Marcin Goettig and Pawel Sobczak; editing by John Stonestreet)

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U.S. General-North Korea ICBM Threat Advancing Faster Than Expected — “Time is running out.”

July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, said on Thursday that North Korea’s July 4 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile showed its capabilities were advancing significantly and faster than many had expected.

Milley, in remarks to the National Press Club in Washington, said there was still time for a non-military solution but also cautioned that “time is running out.” He said: “North Korea is extremely dangerous and more dangerous as the weeks go by.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Arab League chief says Israel risks igniting ‘religious war’

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit (L) said of Israel “Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war” around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound issue

CAIRO (AFP) – The head of the Arab League warned Thursday that Israeli attempts to control highly sensitive religious sites in Jerusalem by force risk igniting a “religious war”.Israel’s actions are “playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion,” Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said.

He was speaking at an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the latest violence in Jerusalem.

“I invite the occupying state (Israel) to carefully learn the lessons from this crisis and the message it holds,” Abul Gheit said in a televised speech.

“Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war, since not one single Muslim in the world would accept the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.

Protests and deadly unrest have erupted in the days since Israel installed new metal detectors on July 16 outside the entrance to the desecration Haram al-Sharif  compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Palestinians view the move as an attempt by Israel to assert further control over the site, which houses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli police and Palestinians clashed Thursday as thousands of Muslim worshippers entered the compound, ending a boycott after Israel removed the new security measures installed after a July 14 attack killed two policemen.

“Challenges and dangers facing Jerusalem especially, and Palestine generally, are bigger than ever because of the increasing, illegal occupation measures implemented by the occupying force,” said Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki.

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In The Philippines, Fear Mounts That President Duterte Means What He Says — The Future Looks Dark

July 27, 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses thousands of protesters following his state of the nation address outside the Lower House Monday, July 24, 2017 in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

The address of PRRD last Monday, July 24, 2017 is more about his plans and projects for the country than about the state of the nation, one year after he became president. It really sounds so hopeful but not as frank as his drumbeaters describes it. There are quite a number of contradictions that create doubt and confusion as to what he really intends to achieve during his term as President.

At the top of his agenda is still his war against drugs which he promised to be “unremitting and unrelenting.” He said he will not stop his daily crackdown on drugs and warned the drug addicts and drug lords that they only have two choices – jail or hell. Undoubtedly, he is really the only President who is so resolute and determined to lick this evil in our society that has caused so much harm especially to the youth of our land. His unrelenting and persistent fight against this problem that tends to destroy the “future generation of our country” is truly laudable and commendable. It shows his care and concern for our young people who are easy preys to this pernicious menace which has not been given the same kind of attention by past administrations.

Time and again however it has been pointed out that no matter how laudable is his purpose in waging this war he should employ justifiable and legal means to achieve it. Notable and alarming in this connection is the rise in the number of suspected drug addicts, dealers and pushers mostly belonging to the poor sector of our society who are killed during the one year period of his administration. These killings which are called Extra-Judicial Killings (EJKs), are mostly done by the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) allegedly because the suspects resist arrest and/or assault them. So far no investigation has been conducted to find out if they are really done in self-defense or if there is reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression. On the contrary, it seems that our policemen are even encouraged to go on with such killings with a promise that they will be protected and or pardoned if charged and convicted. So, expect more of these EJKs in the coming years. In fact they have also proliferated into shooting to death done by unidentified motor-cyclers riding in tandem.

Undoubtedly, the value of human life has been seriously degraded under this administration. And it will further be belittled if PRRD will continue to ignore the age-old, time-tested principle observed by leaders worldwide which says that “the end does not justify the means”. The irony in this regard is that in his speech, PRRD has even said that; “I value human life, the very way I value mine.” And further adding to the confusion is the declaration in the same speech that he has asked Congress “to re-impose death penalty on heinous crimes.”

Another confusing and contradictory aspect in his address before Congress in joint session is the attack against the Supreme Court particularly on its alleged penchant in issuing Temporary Restraining Orders. He cited in this connection, the alleged TROs issued against the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law already passed by Congress. Apparently, he, or his advisers have misunderstood the ruling of the SC here. If they will carefully read the SC decision, no TRO has been issued here. The SC has simply clarified and defined the meaning of abortifacients. The court declared that the birth control pills and devices which primarily and secondarily prevent the implantation of fertilized ovum in the mothers’ womb cause abortion and are considered as abortifacients which are punishable under the Revised Penal Code. So the SC tasked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine first which of these pills and devices are abortifacients before distributing them. Up to now however the FDA has not satisfactorily proven that the pills and devices procured by the government will not primarily or secondarily lead to abortion, thus disallowing their distribution. So it is the FDA which has actually prevented the implementation of the RH law, not the SC.

PRRD’s fears about the issuance of TROs against government projects are likewise unfounded. The SC or any court will not and cannot issue any such TRO because it is prohibited by law.

Another contradictory aspect in PRRD’s speech is on the promise of a comfortable life for our people. On the contrary however, regular surveys conducted by pollsters in this regard show that more and more of our countrymen are getting hungry everyday with no food on the table. The more accurate future state of our country in this regard is therefore, that the few rich and oligarchs are getting richer and poor are getting poorer and hungrier.

Ironically the tax reforms being pushed by the administration for raising more money supposedly to help the poor will not however produce such desired result. The poor may really have more money because of this tax reforms package. But the increase in taxes will also result in the increase in the prices of foods and other prime commodities. Hence even with more money to spend, they will also be dissipated in buying their basic needs and daily sustenance.

Coming to mind more vividly upon hearing or reading this “comfortable life” for our people are the numerous residents of Marawi City who have been evacuated and sheltered temporarily in provisional centers provided for them in another city without however the basic facilities. They have been dislodged from their residence for more than three months now and are longing to return home but are not allowed yet because there is still no end in sight to the ongoing hostilities against the rebellious terrorists who attacked the city.

Then in his ending plea, PRRD also asked for an end to corruption in government. It seems however that his plea falls on deaf ears as delay in the processing of papers in government offices persist due to red tape that grow longer and longer.

On the whole therefore, the future painted by PRRD in his SONA remains unclear and still looks dark.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/07/28/1722112/future-state-nation

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Residents and police gather near the blanket-covered body of a man killed, along with four others, in an alleged police anti-drug operation in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Authorities said 3,200 alleged drug personalities have died in police operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Netanyahu wants execution of Palestinian who stabbed to death 3 Israelis — Talks about the death penalty for terrorists

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Israeli forensic police on July 22, 2017 inspect a home where a Palestinian broke in the day before and stabbed four Israelis, killing three of them, in the Jewish settlement Neve Tsuf in the occupied West Bank

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for the execution of a Palestinian who stabbed to death three Israelis last week as tensions rose over new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site.”The death penalty for terrorists ” – “it’s time to implement it in severe cases,” he said while speaking with family members of the victims, a video of which was posted on Netanyahu’s Twitter account.

“It’s anchored in the law. You need the judges to rule unanimously on it, but if you want to know the government’s position and my position as prime minister – in a case like this, of a base murderer like this?” —  “He should be executed. He should simply not smile anymore.”

A 19-year-old Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on July 21 and stabbed four Israelis during a Sabbath dinner, killing three of them.

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An Israel family of three was attacked and killed in their home while eating dinner in Halamish, Israel, July 21, 2017. (photo credit IDFWO)

He was shot and wounded by a neighbour, an off-duty soldier.

The stabbings came after a day of protests and clashes over new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, installed after a July 14 attack nearby killed two policemen.

Five Palestinians were killed in clashes on July 21 and 22.

Israel removed the last of the new security measures on Thursday and Palestinians ended a boycott of the site, which includes Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Clashes erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians as thousands of worshippers entered the compound on Thursday for the first time in two weeks.

Because the stabbings of the Israelis occurred in the West Bank, a military court would have jurisdiction under Israeli law.

Three military judges must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts.

Israel has not carried out any executions since 1962.

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Iran in ‘successful’ test of rocket able to put a satellite into orbit

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Iranians take pictures of the Simorgh satellite rocket during celebrations in Tehran to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 11, 2016

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Thursday “successfully” tested a satellite-launch rocket, days after warning Washington of a response to new US sanctions over the Islamic republic’s ballistic missile programme, state television said.It said the launch vehicle, named Simorgh after a bird in Iranian mythology, was capable of propelling a satellite weighing 250 kilograms (550 pounds) to an altitude of 500 kilometres (300 miles) above earth.

The launch marked the official inauguration of Iran’s Imam Khomeini space centre, named after the late founder of the Islamic republic, built for sending satellites into space, the television said, without giving its location.

Western states suspect Iran of developing the technology capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles with conventional or nuclear payloads, a charge denied by Tehran which insists its space programme has purely peaceful aims.

Iran’s four other launches of domestically produced satellites since 2009 have all sparked condemnation in the West.

President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran would respond in kind to any breach by the United States of a 2015 nuclear deal after the House of Representatives passed a new sanctions bill.

“If the enemy steps over part of the agreement, we will do the same, and if they step over the entire deal, we will do the same too,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting.

The Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee said it would hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss its formal response.

The parliament voted earlier this month to fast-track a bill introduced in June that would increase funds for Iran’s missile programme and Revolutionary Guards.

“We must always develop our defence capability and we will strengthen our defensive weapons regardless of the opinion of others,” Rouhani said.

The US House passed a new sanctions bill on Tuesday targeting the Revolutionary Guards over its missile programme.

As part of its space programme, Iran has also sent two capsules into space, the first in February 2010 carrying a rat, tortoises and insects, and the other in January 2013 when a monkey was sent into space and returned to earth safely, according to official media.

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USS Thunderbolt

 (Qatar stands in support of Iran)