India’s recent national election delivered a historic victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, but also exposed the influence of money, power and questionable morality on the world’s largest democracy. Nearly 43% of the new members of the lower house of Parliament that convenes Monday for the first time since the election won despite facing criminal charges. More than a quarter of those relate to rape, murder or attempted murder, according to a report by the civic group Association of Democratic Reforms. The loophole that allows them to take office is that they have not been convicted — in part because the Indian legal system has a huge backlog of an estimated 30 million cases and trials often last decades. When asked about the charges against them, they invariably accuse a political rival of framing them. Since such rivalries often lead to false accusations, the main political parties say it would be unfair to bar people from contesting elections unless they have been convicted by court. Under existing laws, only those who have been sentenced to prison for two years or more can be barred from elections. Members of Parliament with criminal backgrounds is not a new phenomenon in India, but despite Modi’s campaign vow in 2014 to clean up corruption and the influence of money in politics, the problem appears to be only growing worse. In the 2004 national election, the percentage of candidates with pending criminal cases was 24%, which rose to 33% in 2009, 34%
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday dressed in black to demand the city’s embattled leader steps down, a day after she suspended an extradition bill in a dramatic retreat following the most violent protests in decades. Some protesters carried white carnation flowers, while others held banners saying, “Do not shoot, we are HongKonger,” as they sought to avoid a repeat of the violence that rocked the financial centre on Wednesday when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. First aid volunteers rushed to the scene as some protesters fainted as temperatures hovered around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Others passed around water and fans as they left Victoria Park to march to government offices. The crowds cheered when organisers called through loud hailers for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to step down. Beijing-backed Lam on Saturday indefinitely delayed the extradition bill that could send people to mainland China to face trial, expressing “deep sorrow and regret” although she stopped short of apologising. The about-face was one of the most significant political turnarounds by the Hong Kong government since Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, and it threw into question Lam’s ability to continue to lead the city. “Carrie Lam refused to apologise yesterday. It’s unacceptable,” said 16-year-old Catherine Cheung. “She’s a terrible leader who is full of lies … I think she’s only delaying the bill now to trick us into calming down.” Her classmate, Cindy Yip, said: “That’s
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday delayed indefinitely a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China, in a dramatic retreat after widespread anger over the bill sparked the biggest street protests in three decades. The extradition bill, which would cover Hong Kong’s 7 million residents as well as foreign and Chinese nationals in the city, was seen by many as a threat to the rule of law in the former British colony. Around a million people marched through Hong Kong last Sunday to oppose the bill, according to protest organisers, the largest since protests in the city against the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations centred around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Demonstrations continued through the week and were met with tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets from police, plunging the city into turmoil and piling heavy pressure on Lam. “After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society,” Carrie Lam told a news conference. She said there was no deadline, effectively suspending the process indefinitely. The about-face was one of the most significant political turnarounds under public pressure by the Hong Kong government since Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, and it threw into question Lam’s ability to continue to lead the city. But it potentially alleviated an
The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved, accusing the U.S. instead of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion. The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke. While Iran has denied being involved in the attack, Tehran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,” when the U.S. Navy escorted ships through the region. The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous. A Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said. “The U.S. and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation,” Urban said. “The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East.
The Kremlin said on Thursday the Russian military was closely tracking U.S. plans to beef up its forces in Poland and taking steps to ensure Russia’s national security was not threatened by what Moscow regards as a betrayal of trust. U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday that he would deploy 1,000 extra U.S. troops to Poland as well as surveillance drones, a step sought by Warsaw to deter potential aggression from Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not stand by idly. “The Russian military is tracking these announcements very closely, is analysing the information, and is doing what is necessary so that such steps in no way threaten the Russian Federation’s security,” Peskov said. Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying that Trump’s move probably reflected “aggressive” intentions. The U.S. deployment is certain to further sour already poor U.S.-Russia relations ahead of a G20 summit in Japan this month, at which Trump and President Vladimir Putin might meet. Putin said in an interview, published earlier on Thursday, that relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse. MORE TROOPS The United States plans to add around 1,000 troops to its existing rotational presence of around 4,500 personnel in Poland and to set up a sprawling network of military infrastructure, including joint combat training centres and a divisional headquarters. The U.S. Air Force will also deploy a squadron of MQ-9 Reaper Intelligence, Surveillance,
Turkey will not back down from its decision to buy Russian S-400 missile defence systems despite U.S. warnings that it will lead to Ankara’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet programme, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday. In what has become the main source of tension between Ankara and Washington, the NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s, which Washington has said could trigger U.S. sanctions. U.S. Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan last week sent his Turkish counterpart a letter warning that Ankara would be pulled out of the F-35 jet programme unless it changes course from its plans to install the defences. In what was Turkey’s first direct response to the letter, Cavusoglu said no one can give Turkey ultimatums. “Turkey will not back down from its decisions with these kinds of letters,” he said. “Turkey bought S-400, it is going to be delivered and stationed in Turkey.” The S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s defence systems and Washington says they would compromise its F-35s, which Turkey also plans to buy. Turkey has proposed that the allies form a working group to asses the impact of the S-400s, but has yet to receive a response from the United States. Cavusoglu on Thursday repeated Turkey’s call for the joint working group, saying experts from both countries should come together to evaluate U.S. concerns. A day earlier, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had completed the deal with Russia and that the systems
The Philippines’ top diplomat said Thursday he has filed a diplomatic protest after an anchored fishing boat was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as the boat sank in the disputed South China Sea. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he filed the protest Wednesday. He disclosed the move in a tweet in response to a suggestion by opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that an independent investigation be conducted by the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency. Another opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls in China to pressure Beijing to identify and punish the Chinese crewmen allegedly involved in the incident. China condemned the incident but did not immediately confirm or deny that a Chinese vessel was involved. The sinking is a delicate development in the long-contested South China Sea, which is seen as a potential flashpoint in Asian relations. Tensions escalated after China converted seven disputed reefs into islands which can serve as forward military bases and intimidate rival claimant states in the strategic waterway, where U.S. forces undertake “freedom of navigation” patrols. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed on Wednesday that a boat, identified as F/B Gimver 1, was carrying 22 Filipino fishermen and sank Sunday night after being hit by the suspected Chinese vessel at Reed Bank off the western Philippine province of Palawan. Lorenzana strongly condemned the crew of the vessel, which he said was identified by the Filipinos as
A U.S. Army base in Oklahoma that the federal government says will temporarily house children crossing the border without their parents was used during World War II as a Japanese internment camp. Historical data from the National Park Service and private organizations show Fort Sill was among at least 14 Army and Department of Justice facilities nationwide where Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants were interred. The Army’s War Relocation Authority held about 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans in “relocation centers” during the war with Japan. Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho, an organization that documents the history of the United States’ internment of Japanese people, referred to Fort Sill as “a place layered in trauma.” He pointed to its use as a boarding school for Native American children and as a prisoner-of-war camp for Apache tribal members. “Sites like this need to be permanently closed, not recycled to inflict more harm,” Ikeda said Wednesday in a statement. “We need to stay vigilant and we need to be showing up at these places in protest. No one showed up for Japanese Americans during WWII, but we can and we must break that pattern now.” The Obama administration also used Fort Sill to house unaccompanied migrant children during a migration surge in 2014. Ikeda’s perspective echoed calls last year from state and federal leaders and locals who objected to the Trump administration looking into housing immigrant children near the site of a former internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. Those plans were scrapped.
"Today, the Democrats maintained their shameless, weekly attacks on this Administration without consideration for the truth," Wilbur Ross, who as head of Commerce oversees the Census, said in a statement. "Here's the bottom line: The Democrats have continued to attack this Administration on dubious grounds, and they aren't going to let the facts get in the way of their own concocted stories."
A photo of Aisha smiling softly in her hospital bed, brown curls swaddled in bandages, drew an outpouring on social media. The wrenching details of her last days have shined a light on Israel’s vastly complex and stringent system for issuing Gaza exit permits. It is a bureaucracy that has Israeli and Palestinian authorities blaming each other for its shortfalls, while inflicting a heavy toll on Gaza’s sick children and their parents. “The most difficult thing is to leave your child in the unknown,” said Waseem a-Lulu, Aisha’s father. “Jerusalem is just an hour away, but it feels as though it is another planet.” So far this year, roughly half of applications for patient companion permits were rejected or left unanswered by Israel, according to the World Health Organization. That has forced over 600 patients, including some dozen children under 18, to make the trek out of the territory alone or without close family by their side. The system stems from the Hamas militant group’s takeover of Gaza in 2007, when it violently ousted the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. Israel and Egypt responded by imposing a blockade that tightly restricted movement in and out of Gaza. The blockade, which Israel says is necessary to prevent Hamas from arming, has precipitated a financial and humanitarian crisis in the enclave. For years, Gaza’s 2 million residents have endured rising poverty and unemployment, undrinkable groundwater and frequent electricity outages. Public hospitals wrestle with chronic shortages of drugs and basic medical equipment. Israel blames Hamas,
Fraudulent. Not well-thought-out. Greek gift. Action smacks of desperation, hypocrisy. It’s for cheap political gains.These and more were some of the words and phrases that trailed Presdent Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as the nation’s new Democracy Day when he made the pronouncement on June 6, last year. President Buhari had said that his administration shared the view of most Nigerians that June 12th rather than May 29th or even October 1st was far more symbolic of democracy. In a sequel this year, the president had taken the honour for the late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 1993 election, and his family, a notch higher. He moved the fanfare and speeches that ought to have accompanied his inauguration on May 29 to today as part of activities for the first-ever commemoration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day. And the nation is in joyous mood. However, as the nation celebrates its symbol of democracy today, eminent Nigerians have tasked President Buhari on the need to use the occasion to reflect on the survival of Nigeria with a view to entrenching the numerous ideals of the late Abiola and indeed, the June 12 mandate. Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, human rights activist and former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Chief Ayo Opadokun, and the National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, among others, said it was imperative for Buhari to make major policy statements on and how to
Following the inauguration of Nigeria’s 9th federal parliament on Tuesday and the election of the new leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives, citizens of the West African country have called for a more cordial relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government to engender prosperity. The previous National Assembly had constant rifts with the Executive, a situation generally perceived to have stifled the country’s growth in the past four years. Senator Ahmed Lawan of Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party on Tuesday emerged as the country’s new Senate president when the 9th National Assembly was inaugurated in the capital Abuja. Also, Femi Gbajabiamila, representing the southwestern state of Lagos, was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Dozie Ifebi, an economist, opined that the discord among different political parties and also within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party had fueled the animosity between the two arms of government, “which meant that the good of the country was sometimes affected by political wrangling.” Political analyst Majeed Bakare shared a similar view, noting, however, that though the federal parliament ought not to operate as a rubber stamp, the legislators should work “in tandem with the goals and aspirations of the Executive.” “The negative aspect of governance is the lack of sync between the executive and legislative arms of government. The fact that the ruling party had a majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, they were unable to work in a cordial atmosphere.
Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro and federal prosecutors scrambled to respond on Monday to reports published by news website The Intercept based on what it said were leaked messages from a corruption probe. The Intercept said it was only beginning to report on an “enormous trove” of leaked messages between Moro and prosecutors on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, that it had received from an anonymous source. It said the messages raise serious questions about the impartiality of Moro, a former judge who sent ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison. The excerpts, released on Sunday, included exchanges in which Moro made suggestions to prosecutors about the focus, pace and sequence of investigations. Attorneys for Lula, a leftist icon who remains one of the most influential opposition figures in Brazil, have been petitioning the Supreme Court for his release and seized on the reports to argue that his sentence should be overturned. Moro, speaking at an event in Brasilia on Monday, argued that the messages published so far showed no improper conduct on his part. The team of federal prosecutors cited in the messages said they had acted properly throughout the five-year investigation known as “Car Wash,” which uncovered billions of dollars of political bribery. They said in written statements that they had been targeted by a hacker, adding that they were concerned about messages being taken out of context and possibly forged. Moro, who left his role as the most prominent judge in the Car Wash probe to
Turkey said on Tuesday a U.S. House of Representatives’ resolution condemning Ankara’s purchase of Russian defence systems and urging potential sanctions was unacceptably threatening. Relations between the two NATO members have been strained on several fronts including Ankara’s plans to buy Russia’s S-400 air defence systems, the detention of U.S. consular staff in Turkey, and conflicting strategy over Syria and Iran. The standoff threatens to bring U.S. sanctions, which would hurt Turkey’s already recession-hit economy, and raise questions over its role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The resolution, introduced in May and entitled “Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance”, was agreed in the House on Monday. It urges Turkey to cancel the S-400 purchase and calls for sanctions if it accepts their delivery, which may come as soon as July. That, the resolution said, would undermine the U.S.-led transatlantic defence alliance. In response, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its foreign policy and judicial system were being maligned by “unfair” and “unfounded” allegations in the resolution. “It is unacceptable to take decisions which do not serve to increase mutual trust, to continue to keep the language of threats and sanctions on the agenda and to set various artificial deadlines,” it added. PILOT PROGRAMME WOUND DOWN President Tayyip Erdogan’s government faces a balancing act in its ties with the West and Russia, with which it has close energy ties and is also cooperating in neighbouring Syria. The United States is also pressuring Turkey and other nations to
Zambia has no plans to seize the assets of Quantum Minerals Ltd and the copper producer intends to stay in the country despite the government’s move to wrest control of a rival miner, government and industry sources told Reuters. Canadian-listed First Quantum has looked on nervously as the Zambian government appointed a provisional liquidator to run Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), claiming KCM has breached the terms of its license. The move has unnerved international miners concerned about rising resource nationalism in Zambia and neighboring countries. First Quantum, scarred by having its operations in Democratic Republic of Congo seized in 2010, is embroiled in a dispute with the Zambian government after being handed a $5.8 billion bill last year for unpaid import duties. “The government will not touch First Quantum,” one source close to the government said. “Vedanta is very different from First Quantum.” Among the international miners, First Quantum has the most to lose in Zambia, which accounts for 83% of production from the company’s operating assets this year, excluding a new project in Panama. But the company also has bargaining power as the most profitable miner in Zambia and the biggest tax payer. In 2018, it said it paid more than $533 million in taxes to the Zambian government, including royalties, income and corporate tax. Two sources close to the company, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations, said First Quantum would stay, but would freeze investment and might put operations on hold. “They’ll not go.
Three days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants at the southern border, the two countries appear unable to agree on exactly what’s in it. Stung by criticism that the agreement mostly ramps up border protection efforts already underway, Trump on Monday hinted at other, secret agreements he says will soon be revealed. “We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” Trump wrote Monday, saying it would “be revealed in the not too distant future.” Not so, said Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, holding up a paper and pointing to the previously announced details. He told reporters the two countries agreed on two actions made public Friday and said if those measures didn’t work to slow migration, they would discuss further options. “There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained,” he said. The episode revealed the complicated political dynamics at play as Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tussle over who made out best in the agreement hashed out under Trump’s threat of new tariffs on Mexico. Trump appeared eager to declare his negotiation tactics successful, even as he tried to hype the deal with made-for-TV drama and invented measures, sparking questions and confusion. Mexico’s leaders showed they weren’t willing to play along. The White House did not respond to inquiries about Trump’s tweets.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday a highly controversial extradition bill will proceed to the legislature for debate after the territory’s largest protests in at least a decade filled the streets to oppose the legislation. In the protest that reflected the semi-autonomous territory’s growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday to protest the bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The full legislature is scheduled to resume debate on the amendments on Wednesday, and a vote is expected this month. The government has considered concerns from the private sector and altered the bill to improve human rights safeguards, Lam said. Speaking to reporters before a regular meeting of her cabinet, Lam emphasized that extradition cases would be decided by Hong Kong courts — not the chief executive. “Even the chief executive could not overrule the court, to say that because (a country) wants this offender, I will surrender,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said, adding that such a scenario would be impossible, because Hong Kong’s chief executive is not above the law. Lawyer and member of Lam’s administration advisory committee Ronny Tong Ka-wah said Sunday’s protest showed a lack of trust in Hong Kong’s administration, partly because Lam was picked by Beijing and not elected by popular vote. However, China’s patience with Hong Kong’s demands has its limits, Tong added. “We need to gain the trust and confidence of Beijing so they