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July 22, 2018

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Crime and law
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On Thursday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the “Jewish nation-state” bill granting Israel the status of “national home of the Jewish people”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel”.

The bill was passed at 3 AM with 62–55 majority. Two lawmakers abstained. The bill declared Hebrew as the only official language and demoted Arabic from national language to a “special status” language. Netanyahu said, “An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish characters for generations to come.” Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein said this bill, which received just 51.66% votes in favour out of the full Knesset of 120, was “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset”.

The Knesset began the voting on Wednesday. Previously, the bill had clauses declaring the state as a Jewish-only community as well as direction for judiciary courts to consider Jewish values over democratic values. Both of the clauses were challenged by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Attorney General. The latter clause about Jewish values for courts was dropped in May; the other clause was eventually dropped, and the final draft of the bill was approved on Monday. The bill was first introduced in 2011 by the right-wing Likud party.

The latest draft of the bill said the Hebrew calendar is to be the official calendar of the state. It also read, “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established” and “the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Israel is home to about 1.8 million Palestinians, who account for roughly 20% of the national population. The bill also declared Jerusalem, in its entirety, as the capital of Israel.

The bill received negative reception from a number of people. The Arab Joint List multi-party alliance called it “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist, and with clear characteristics of apartheid.” Calling it a “shameful night”, Meretz Party’s Tamar Zandberg said it was a “debased and tainted law”. The Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi questioned, “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?”.

Last week, Netanyahu said, “We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy but the majority also has the rights and the majority decides”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a US-based Jewish Organisation, said the bill “was born in sin, its only purpose is to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens. Two months ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where it was written that the State of Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender.’ Today Netanyahu’s government is trying to ignore those words and the values that they represent.”



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July 19, 2018

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Politics and conflicts
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On Monday, Eritrea reopened their embassy in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa just a week after both the countries signed a declaration of the end of the two-decade-long conflict between the countries.

71-year-old Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki raised the Eritrean flag in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed handed Afwerki the keys for the embassy. Abiy said, “Both nations have chosen peace as opposed to war […] We won’t allow anyone to stop this from happening.”

A former province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted in favour of a sovereign state and declared independence in 1993. The Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia was shut down in 1998 and, per reports, about 80 thousand were killed in the border conflict between the two nations from 1998 to 2000.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister visited Eritrea earlier this month and on July 9, leaders of both countries signed a declaration of the end of the conflict in Eritrean capital Asmara. After announcing the end of the conflict, telephone lines were set up between the two countries and on Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines flew the first direct plane between Ethiopia and Eritrea in twenty years. Chief Executive of the airlines Tewolde GebreMariam said, “This day marks a unique event in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea”.



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July 15, 2018

Riots break out in France after 2018 World Cup victory

Riots break out in France after 2018 World Cup victory

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

France
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After France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup after having defeated the team from Croatia in the final football game on Sunday, celebrations turned into riots in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Ajaccio, Strasbourg and Rouen. In total 292 people were arrested.

In Paris, masked troublemakers described as “youth” attacked a major store and threw bottles at police. Nearby, 4000 police were in readiness and responded with water cannon and tear gas. 90 were arrested.

In Marseille, two police officers were wounded and ten persons were detained.

In Lyon, 100 “youth” caused unrest and police responded by firing tear gas at them. Police arrested 18 people.



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June 25, 2018

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Environment
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On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Senaa political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”



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August 26, 2016

India proposes ban on commercial surrogacy

India proposes ban on commercial surrogacy

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Wednesday a draft law to ban commercial surrogacy in the country. Commercial surrogacy is where a person or couple pay another woman (the surrogate) to carry a pregnancy for them. The new proposed law will allow only infertile couples who’ve been married five or more years to use a surrogate to conceive, on the condition that the surrogate is a close relative of the couple’s.

File photo of Sushma Swaraj, 2014.
Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office .

The proposed ban will prevent single women, foreigners, non-resident Indian nationals, and the LGBTI community from accessing surrogacy services.

Minister Swaraj was quoted in the Indian Express newspaper saying, “we do not recognise live-in and homosexual relationships … this is against our ethos,” adding that Indians living overseas would be banned as “divorces are very common in foreign countries”.

The draft bill will now go to parliament for approval. If approved, minister Swaraj said the ban on commercial surrogacy would come into affect 10 months after passing parliament, allowing for women already in commercial surrogacy arrangements to give birth.

Experts in surrogacy have criticized the proposed law, saying that a complete ban on commercial surrogacy will simply force ineligible couples into illegal surrogacy arrangements. India is one of few countries in the world that currently allows commercial surrogacy. In 2012 the United Nations estimated that there are over 3,000 fertility clinics in India, generating approximately $400 million USD a year from commercial surrogacy.



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August 12, 2016

Sweden to question Julian Assange at Ecuadorian Embassy

Sweden to question Julian Assange at Ecuadorian Embassy

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Friday, August 12, 2016

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Four years after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange initially sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Swedish authorities will finally get the chance to question him in relation to sexual assault allegations.

After years of drawn out negotiations and an apparent diplomatic stalemate, a statement released on Thursday states that Ecuador’s foreign minister has agreed to allow Swedish officials access to the embassy to question Assange.

“This is a positive step and allows the investigation to continue” said a spokesperson for the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

Assange was accused of sexual assault by two women in 2010. He has denied such allegations and has not been charged.

The date for the interview between Assange and the Swedish authorities is yet to be determined. The statement said that is would be agreed upon “in the coming weeks.”

Assange has been held up at the embassy since 2012. His lawyer has previously stated that Assange would be happy to oblige Swedish authorities and answer questions however he fears that that the Swedish government would extradite him to the US, where he could be charged with the death penalty for leaking classified government documents.

Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, was responsible for providing Wikileaks with hundreds of thousands of classified military documents. Manning was subsequently arrested soon after and found guilty of espionage and theft. She was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. Assange fears a similar fate should he ever face extradition to the US.

Wikileaks continues to expose sensitive information. Recently the organisation published emails and voicemail from the Democratic National Committee.


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August 11, 2016

Man captured by police after scaling Trump Tower

Man captured by police after scaling Trump Tower

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

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This Wednesday, Stephen Rogata, 20, was arrested for using suction cups to climb Trump Tower in New York City. He claimed he wanted to talk with Donald Trump. According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), the man was carrying self-promotion leaflets.

File photo of Trump Tower in New York City. Template:Inage

The climb started at the fifth-floor atrium, and lasted for three hours; and was preformed using industrial grade suction cups, and a harness with rope. During this time, the man ignored all attempts to be led to safety. He was arrested and taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychological evaluation. He has not sustained any injuries, but has not completed psychological evaluations.

Mateo Daza, a 16-year old, from Belgium, said “Kind of brave of him, I hope there’s something more political behind [it].” Meanwhile, Donald Trump, a United States presidential candidate and real-estate mongul, tweeted after a rally, stating “Great job today by the NYPD in protecting the people and saving the the climber.”

Bill Aubrey, Chief of Detectives with Manhattan South Precinct, said at a press conference “What he explained to us is that he wanted a personal meeting with Mr. Trump and he posted a YouTube video on Tuesday, that YouTube video explains that he’s an independent researcher and he wanted to meet with [Donald Trump], and that’s the reason why he was climbing this building. At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody. His sole intention was to meet with Mr. Trump.”

Rogata is expected to face charges of reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing on August 12, 2016.

Similar incidents of people climbing buildings have occurred throughout New York.



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Man captured by police after scailing Trump Tower

Man captured by police after scailing Trump Tower

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

New York
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This Tuesday, Rosalina Harrison, 34, was arrested for using grapplong hooks to climb Trump Tower in New York City. She claimed he wanted to hit Donald Trump. According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), the woman was carrying an .22 rifle.

File photo of Trump Tower in New York City. Template:Inage

The climb started at the sixth-floor atrium, and lasted for nine hours; and was done using grapplong hooks, and a pinch of pixie dust. During this time, the woman ignored all attempts to be led to safety. She was arrested and taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychological evaluation. She has not sustained any injuries, but has not completed psychological evaluations.

Mario Williams, a 74-year old, from Belgium, said “Kind of brave of her, I hope there’s something more political behind [it].” Meanwhile, Donald Trump, a United States presidential candidate and real-estate cowboy, tweeted after a rally, stating “Great job today by the NYPD in protecting the people and saving the the climber.”

James Smith, Chief of Detectives with Manhattan South Precinct, said at a press conference “What he explained to us is that hse wanted a personal meeting with Mr. Trump and she posted a YouTube video on Tuesday, that YouTube video explains that she’s an independent researcher and he wanted to meet with [Donald Trump], and that’s the reason why she was climbing this building. At no time did she express that he wanted to hurt anybody. His sole intention was to meet with Mr. Trump.” Harrison is expected to face charges of reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing on August 12, 2016. Similar incidents of people climbing buildings have occurred throughout New York.


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August 8, 2016

Turkish president shows suport for reintroduction of death penalty at cross-party anti-coup rally

Turkish president shows suport for reintroduction of death penalty at cross-party anti-coup rally

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Turkey
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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday told a crowd of at least a million people he would approve the re-instigation of the death penalty if the parliament voted for it.

File photo of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 2016.
Image: Cancillería del Ecuador.

Opposition leaders and religious figures joined Erdogan at the mass rally, in which the president blamed the coup on the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and called for his network to be destroyed within the laws of Turkey. However the HDP party, which favors the Kurdish minority in Turkey and has been accused of connections to Kurdish terrorists, was not invited. Massive flags were held by cranes as crowds held banners of the Erdogan and Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Turkish media reported five million people turned up to the rally, and the event was broadcast on large screens in all the provinces across Turkey.

Security was tight, 15,000 police guarded the rally where supporters had to pass through one of 165 metal detectors. Two helicopters circled the air over the rally and there were anti-aircraft batteries at the event. More than 200 boats and thousands of buses were payed for by the government in order to make attendance to the rally easier. The authorities also provided attenders with hats and flags, and the wounded and family of the dead were given special passes for seated areas.

This comes after a bloody coup attempt from a faction within Turkey’s army in which 270 people were killed after Erdogan called for unarmed civilians to fight back against the coup. Since the coup was put down tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs working for the government and nearly 18,000 people have been detained. Local branches of the ruling AKP party have been told remove of supporters of ex-Erdogan ally cleric Fethullah Gülen from their ranks. The response of the Turkish government to the coup has received international criticism from human rights organisations that have urged restraint on the part of Erdogan’s government; and politicians, with some like leader of the small German liberal party the free democrats comparing the coup to the burning down of the reichstag in 1933.

Turkish officials have said those criticising them do not understand the threat to the Turkish state and seemed to care more about the coup plotters than their dead victims.


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August 7, 2016

Russian vice-consul reportedly shoots mugger dead in Rio

Russian vice-consul reportedly shoots mugger dead in Rio

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Brazil
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The Russian Vice-Consul for Rio de Janeiro — by reports disputed by the Russian Consul — shot and killed an attacker on Thursday , after two individuals attempted to commit a robbery.

As reported, Brazilian lawyer Marcos Cesar Feres Braga — so-named by the Daily Mail newspaper — working for the Russian Consulate, was driving with his family through the suburb of Barra da Tijuca near the main Olympic Park complex when the incident occurred. According to reports from the Rio newspaper O Globo, the 60-year-old man, his wife, and his daughter were stopped in traffic due to the Olympic torch procession in a nearby neighbourhood. Two individuals on motorbikes approached and used a gun to smash the car window. Braga, trained and considered an expert — according to reports — in jujutsu, took control of the attacker’s firearm and proceeded to shoot dead the alleged attacker, while the second suspect fled the scene.

Rio de Janeiro’s homicide branch has released a statement in relation to the incident. “The vice consul got into a physical struggle with the assailant and during the fight the aggressor’s weapon fired shots. The assailant died of his wounds on the spot.”

However, Russia’s Consul General Vladimir Tokmakov has released a statement claiming no Russian diplomats or employees of the consulate general were involved in the incident. “Information circulating in the Brazilian press about the alleged shooting […] of a Brazilian national by a Russian diplomat during an armed robbery does not reflect reality”.



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