Showing posts from December 5, 2021

China brands U.S. democracy ‘weapon of mass destruction’

  China branded U.S. democracy a “weapon of mass destruction” on Saturday, following the U.S.-organised   Summit for Democracy  which aimed to shore up like-minded allies in the face of autocratic regimes. China was left out of the two-day virtual summit and responded by angrily accusing U.S. President Joe Biden of stoking Cold War-era ideological divides. “’Democracy’ has long become a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ used by the U.S. to interfere in other countries,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in an online statement, which also accused the U.S. of having “instigated ‘colour revolutions’” overseas. The Ministry also claimed the summit was organised by the U.S. to “draw lines of ideological prejudice, instrumentalise and weaponise democracy... (and) incite division and confrontation.” Instead, Beijing vowed to “resolutely resist and oppose all kinds of pseudo-democracies”. ‘People’s democracy’ Ahead of the summit, China ramped up a propaganda blitz criticising U.S. democracy as c

Pakistani Taliban kill police officer guarding polio jab team

 Gunmen from the Pakistani Taliban armed group have killed one police officer guarding a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan, in the first attack since the end of a  one-month ceasefire  with the government. Mohammad Khurasani, spokesman for the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban or TTP, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack that also left another officer wounded. The attack took place in the district of Tank in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on the second day of a five-day anti-polio drive to vaccinate 6.5 million children in the province, according to Aimal Khan, a spokesperson for the inoculation campaign. It is the latest violence to single out polio vaccination efforts in Pakistan, one of only two countries in the world where the debilitating neurodegenerative disease remains endemic. Polio teams and police assigned to protect them are often the target of armed groups, who claim the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspi

As EU-Taiwan ties deepen, cybersecurity is front and centre

  On paper, Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies appear to be dwindling, with  Nicaragua  the latest country to switch allegiance to Beijing. Yet in the past year, the island has successfully built up support among democracies worldwide, particularly in deepening diplomatic engagement with Europe – marking an unprecedented shift in EU-Taiwan relations. This rapid warming of ties can be chalked up to an increasingly belligerent Beijing, whose aggressive influence campaigns have pushed European lawmakers to reconsider Taiwan as a strategic partner in cybersecurity and resilience – much to China’s anger. China’s ‘Machiavellian’ offensive backfires (in Taiwan’s favour) Though EU-China relations have long been complex, with a  2019 EU policy paper  describing China as “simultaneously a cooperation partner, economic competitor, and systemic rival”, the last two years of the pandemic have seen European views towards China take a turn for the worse. President Xi Jinping’s increasingly aggressive

UN chief: Climate change aggravates conflict and terrorism

  United Nations (AP)  Climate change is an aggravating factor for instability, conflict and terrorism, UN Secretary-General   Antonio Guterres  said Thursday. The U.N. chief said the regions that are most vulnerable to climate change also suffer from insecurity, poverty, weak governance and the scourge of terrorism. Guterres told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the link between climate change, conflict and terrorism that when climate disruptions hinder the ability of government institutions to provide public services, it fuels grievances and mistrust towards authorities. And when the impact of climate change leads to people losing livelihoods, the promises of protection, income and justice — behind which terrorists sometimes hide their truce designs — become more attractive, he said. In Africa’s Lake Chad basin region, Guterres said, the extremist group Boko Haram has been able to gain new recruits, particularly from local communities disillusioned by a lack of economic opportuniti

India Should Have Launched Strong Response against Pakistan after 26/11, Not Displayed Restraint

  Why did   India   not go to war with Pakistan? Why, despite repeated provocations by Pakistan, did India restrain itself from an immediate and visible retaliation   post 26/11 ? After all, that would have been the natural course of action to undertake under the given circumstances? This question has intrigued analysts. Many more have tried to discern and present reasons for the policy of restraint followed by Delhi after an assault that has become the scarred and perennial watershed in the Indo-Pak paradigm. It was not that war was never an option. The armed forces had cranked up their readiness and surveillance levels all along the border, post the attack. There were several close calls and the IAF operational readiness platforms were also activated. One of these was the consequence of a hoax call made to the president of Pakistan posing himself to be India’s external affairs minister. Only when the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intervened did it become evident that the cal

The Week Unwrapped: child soldiers, gender disparity and saving techno

Child soldiers The ranks of child soldiers in Colombia is on the rise as armed groups treat the pandemic as a recruitment opportunity. A perfect storm has been brewing as the emergence of new militias coincides with the closure of schools and worsening economic deprivation. So how are professional gunmen luring children into their cause - and what can be done to stop the flow of children signing up to join them? Gender disparity The gender pay gap has barely budged over the last 25 years once increases in women’s education are accounted for, a new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed. The 40% earnings gap is now about 25% lower than it was in the mid-nineties, but the progress towards pay parity is very modest given that women are now five percentage points more likely to have a university degree than men. So why has such little progress been made in the last quarter of a century? Saving techno DJs, musicians and fans have entered a bid to Unesco to have Berlin’s t

CPP-NPA rebels are human rights violators: Army official

  ILOILO CITY   – The top official of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army asserted that the true violators of human rights are the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army terrorists. On the occasion of Human Rights Day on Friday, Maj. Gen Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3ID, said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Justice, and United Nations are aware of the atrocities committed by these groups. The Armed Forces of the Philippines Center for Law of Armed Conflict has submitted to the CHR 1,672 violations committed by the CPP-NPA from 2010 up to the first semester of this year. In October this year, an additional 166 violations were recorded, consisting of 16 cases of recruitment and use of child combatants, 10 cases of destruction of civilian-owned properties, 113 cases of anti-personnel mine use, 20 cases of willful killings, and seven other alleged violations of international humanitarian law. “Let us be wary of these terrorists f

Pakistani Taliban refuses to extend ceasefire with government

Taliban militants in Pakistan declared an end to a month-long ceasefire arranged with the aid of the Afghan Taliban, accusing the government of breaching terms including a prisoner release agreement and the formation of negotiating committees. "Now let the Pakistani people decide whether it is the TTP or the Pakistani army and establishment that is not abiding by the agreements?" the group said in a statement. "In these circumstances, it is not possible to advance the ceasefire," it said. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) accused Islamabad of failing to respect the ceasefire agreement.  It said the government had not released more than 100 prisoners as promised and had not appointed negotiating teams to conduct talks.  It also said security forces had carried out raids while the ceasefire was in force. The announcement from the group came after Pakistani authorities said they had released up to 100 Pakistani Taliban prisoners as part of a truce deal. READ MORE:   Isl

Six years later, ex-Islamic State stronghold in Iraq feels left behind

Six years after a Dutch air raid as part of the coalition against the Islamic State, the scars of the disaster are still everywhere in the Iraqi city of Hawija. The target was an explosives factory, but at least two tankers outside the factory were full of explosives, and tons of chemicals used to make bombs were stored nearby. At least 70 people were killed and hundreds wounded. Part of the industrial area where the factory stood is still just ruins. The inhabitants of Hawija knew that Dutch planes were responsible for the disaster that befell their city in June 2015 long before it was revealed in the Dutch media. “We knew right after it happened, from leaks from the operation”, mayor Sabhan Khalaf Ali al-Jubouri explained. “Why is the Dutch government saying it did not know? Someone is trying to escape responsibility.” Al-Jubouri is on a trip to The Hague to make these complaints in person. Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Defense finally earmarked 4 million euros for Hawija, years a

Former Naxal’s film on Nayeem raises hackles

HYDERABAD: A former Naxalite has raised the hackles of some sections of people as he has come out with what he describes as an ‘investigative film’ on gansgster  Nayeem , who was killed in an encounter with police.  The Telugu film titled ‘Nayeem Diaries’ is set to hit the screens on December 10. The filmmaker, Daamu Balaji, claimed that he has been getting threats from people objecting to his movie, including its title.  “There can be no better person than me who can make a film on the subject that I have chosen as I myself have been a Naxalite, was underground and spent time in jail before joining the mainstream. I know the inside story of how the Naxalites (Maoists) function. I have also gathered first-hand information about Nayeem and his activities and those who benefited from his criminal actions,” Balaji told TOI.  Nayeem, a former Naxalite, was killed in a police encounter on August 8, 2016, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.  Technically speaking, the film is being called a ‘work

Govt troops overrun NPA lair in Agusan del Norte

STATE troops overran a New People's Army (NPA) hideout after an encounter in Agusan del Norte on Wednesday, the Philippine Army said on Friday. Members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion (IB) penetrated the NPA lair along Sitio Taub, Barangay Rizal, Buenavista. According to Lt. Col. Julius Cesar Paulo, the 23IB commander, the troops responded to reports coming from residents of the presence of NPA rebels. "After the 10-minute armed encounter, the rebels abandoned their position as they scampered to different directions," Paulo said. Paulo said the rebels were being led by a certain Rogelio Gerondio alias Napnap of the Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Sagay of the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) "Our troops recovered one M14 rifle with three magazines. We also recovered from the hideout two containers filled with some 200 M-14 and M-16 rounds of ammunition," he said. Paulo said the NPA may have casualties or injured members due to the traces left

‘Terror Contagion’ Director Laura Poitras On Dangers Of Israeli Company’s Pegasus Malware: “It’s Classified As A Cyber Weapon”

UPDATED from original 12/10 story  with more background on Forensic Architecture and corrected spelling of the name of FA lead researcher Shourideh Molavi: With voting now underway for the Oscar documentary shortlists, Academy Doc Branch members are choosing from a variety of contenders, including one from  Laura Poitras , director of the Oscar-winning  Citizenfour . Poitras’s earlier film focused on Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who revealed the existence of the National Security Agency’s secret and widespread surveillance programs. Her latest, the short documentary  Terror Contagion , exposes the activities of a private Israeli company called NSO, maker of a spyware program that has been deployed by numerous governments to crack down on journalists, human rights advocates and others. “It’s classified as a cyber weapon. This is how extremely violent and invasive this technology is,” Poitras tells Deadline. “NSO Group, this Israeli company, sells to other countries, often countries

'I couldn’t kill innocent people': Myanmar soldiers defect to join resistance

Yey Int Thwe* remembers July 25 as the day when “everything changed”. The 30-year-old was part of a group of some 10 soldiers forcing their way into homes in southeast Yangon, the capital of  Myanmar . As members of the Burmese army, known as the Tatmadaw, they had been tasked with arresting people suspected of organising protests against the February 1 military coup. Armed and carrying handcuffs, Yey Int Thwe found himself face-to-face with his own cousin. “It was a shock. I spent my childhood with him, and suddenly I was supposed to fight against him and arrest him. For what? Because he dared to express his opinion,” the former soldier told FRANCE 24. “That was the moment I knew I had to leave the army”. That evening he returned to his barracks and started to devise an exit plan. Now, five months later, he lives in hiding in the jungle near the border between Myanmar and  Thailand . 'I joined the army to protect people' According to Myanmar’s shadow government, the National U