Israeli president urges Netanyahu to delay law overhaul

The Israeli president on Sunday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone a controversial plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system and instead seek a compromise with his political opponents.

President Isaac Herzog made the call in a nationwide prime-time address a day before Netanyahu’s coalition takes its first steps to implement the plan in a parliamentary vote. The proposed reforms have sparked mass protests, opposition from large sections of Israeli society and even a veiled warning from President Joe Biden.

“I feel like we all feel like we’re on the verge of a collision, even a violent collision, a barrel of explosives before an explosion,” Herzog said.

Herzog’s work is largely ceremonial. But the president is meant to serve as a unifying force and moral compass for a deeply divided country.

Netanyahu and his supporters say the changes are needed to rein in a justice system that wields too much power.

But critics say the plan, which includes proposals to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court, will undermine the country’s fragile system of democratic control. They also say Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, is driven by a personal grudge against the justice system and that he and his allies have a deep conflict of interest.

“They want to destroy the system because the system hasn’t been nice to them,” said Eliad Shraga, leader of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. “This is a hostile takeover by a bunch of crooks.”

The movement has planned a mass protest outside the Knesset or parliament for Monday, when Netanyahu’s coalition is expected to table the first laws for its sweeping overhaul. Tens of thousands of people are expected.

Herzog urged Netanyahu to postpone Monday’s vote and instead engage in dialogue with his opponents. He said both sides had valid points and offered a five-point plan as a basis for dialogue.

There was no immediate response from Netanyahu’s office.

The Associated Press


#Israeli #president #urges #Netanyahu #delay #law #overhaul

Marte Dum Tak Cinema: When cellulosic films were cult in India

Indian pulp films were a hit in the 1990s

“Every scene in a movie should touch your head, your heart…or below the belt,” says director Dilip Gulati, explaining why he directs the films he makes in a new documentary series about “B -Movies” from Bollywood.

Indian pulp films, often considered the lower cousins ​​of Bollywood, were made on paltry budgets and incredibly tight deadlines. Directed by largely unknown actors, they were characterized by extremely thin plots, stale dialogue, garish aesthetics and sex.

Thousands of people flocked to see these films in their heyday in the 1990s, but by 2004 the industry had collapsed.

A new six-part documentary series on Amazon Prime – Cinema Marte Dum Tak (Movies Until the End of Time) – shines a light on these films; its spirit and its main actors; the reasons for its existence and its eventual disappearance.

Four directors whose films have been hits – Vinod Talwar, J Neelam, Kishen Shah and Dilip Gulati – are given tight budgets, tight schedules and asked to make a film in their signature style.

Returning to their craft after decades, the directors immediately set to work, calling on old friends and collaborators. As the show follows these directors, audiences will be transported back to the 90s.

Audiences see excerpts from his old films with corny titles like Maut ke peeche maut (Death After Death), Kunwari chudail (Maiden Witch) and Main hoon kuwanri dulhan (I Am A Virgin Bride).

B-movies have often gotten into trouble with India’s censorship board

These films were shot on a single set, and the directors simultaneously served as art directors, costume designers, and sometimes even actors. Movies were often renamed to more salacious titles to appeal to a wider audience, and the plot changed when the director had a flash of inspiration.

Sometimes Bollywood stars were signed up for a few scenes and paid cash for each day’s work. Kanti Shah, who was a prolific B-movie director and is part of the series, talks about how he featured Govinda, Mithun Chakraborty and Dharmendra in his films.

Nothing was too taboo, too wild or too cheesy to find a place in these films. Whether it was a dominatrix bandit recruiting male masseurs into his gang or a gender-changing ghost having sex with maids, it all went without saying.

Film researcher Aseem Chandaver remembers a movie called Khooni Dracula (Killer Dracula) in which a vampire wanders around a slum and has sex with a woman who bathes outside.

“Even if the ghost has sex with people in a mainstream movie, it’s in an upscale place, or at least in a bathtub,” he muses. “But these directors knew the realities of their audiences and weren’t afraid to bring them to the screen.”

The theaters showing these films were so full that extra chairs had to be added to accommodate people. The audience was largely made up of India’s working class – tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, street vendors, laborers – who lived in small, remote towns and worked in grueling jobs that often earned less than minimum wage.

Indian pulp films featured bad prosthetics and weird ghosting

For them, these films offered a source of escape from their dreary daily life. For a few hours, they might get lost in a dimly lit movie theater in a movie that got them excited and excited.

The series also captures the stigma and struggle faced by the people who worked there due to their association with these “low budget horror movies”. They struggled to find work in mainstream films or pocket roles, which were considered more serious. Movies have also often run into trouble with censors.

Distributors began pushing for bolder scenes, driven by audience demand. But because the censors didn’t want to erase them, the directors shot them separately and inserted these “chunks” into the film during the screening.

Things came to a head when a cast member inserted a sex scene into a sequence involving siblings. This caused an uproar and the police began to crack down on these films. By 2004, the B-movie industry was nearly dead, robbing hundreds of their livelihoods.

Even though this “golden age of B movies” is over, their legacy lives on through fan communities, memes, parodies and jokes.

They also inspired poster art, and their obscene titles often find their way into silly charades. Film scholar Vibhushan Subba says these films lend themselves to fandom culture because of their “quirky inventiveness, transgressive quality and over-the-top aesthetic”.

“These films have carved out a niche for themselves in popular culture – albeit a tiny one,” says Mr. Subba.

Read more Indian stories from the BBC:


#Marte #Dum #Tak #Cinema #cellulosic #films #cult #India

Black lawmakers cite racism as Missouri House crime bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Racial tensions in Mississippi echoed in Missouri on Thursday when black Democratic lawmakers accused the state’s Republican House leadership of racism for shutting down a lawmaker’s speech black and passed a law that the chosen black woman could strip power as a prosecutor in St. Louis.

The Missouri House discord came just days after a similar situation in Mississippi, where black lawmakers denounced the white-majority Republican-led legislature for voting to strip power from local leaders in the predominantly black city of Jackson.

As in Mississippi, the Missouri legislature has a predominantly white Republican majority. Most black lawmakers represent the state’s two largest urban areas, St. Louis and Kansas City.

Missouri Republicans have made tough-on-crime legislation a priority this session, often citing high crime rates in St. Louis as a stumbling block. The House of Representatives passed legislation by a vote of 109 to 35 that would allow Republican Gov. Mike Parson to appoint a special prosecutor to deal with violent crimes in high homicide rate areas like St. Louis. Among other things, the bill would also expand mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.

State Rep. Kevin Windham, a black Democrat from St. Louis County, read a news article about the situation in Mississippi during the House debate, when some white Republican lawmakers objected that his speech hadn’t nothing to do with the Missouri legislature.

House Speaker Dean Plocher ruled Windham out of order and cut off his speech. Windham’s microphone was off. House Majority Leader Jon Patterson then tabled a motion to cut off debate on the bill, which the Republican majority had voted for – leaving other black Democrats speechless.

Black lawmakers were outraged.

“It’s racist not to let him do the talking,” Rep. Marlene Terry, a St. Louis County Democrat who chairs the Missouri Black Legislative Caucus, told reporters after the debate.

Terry said she calls on black leaders and community activists to come to the Capitol.

“From now on there is nothing more peaceful – more peace – there will be action,” said Terry. “We’ll let them know we’re here to be heard.”

Patterson defended his role in stopping the debate, saying “the conversation has evolved and possibly gotten worse.”

“I’m not talking about any of the experiences that our black lawmakers have had or that white lawmakers have had,” Patterson told The Associated Press. “I can guarantee it played no part in my decision that it was time to vote on the bill.”

In Mississippi, tensions were fueled by two separate votes on Tuesday. The Mississippi Senate voted to create a regional committee to eventually take control of Jackson’s troubled water system, which is now overseen by a federally appointed administrator. Then the House of Representatives voted to create a new court in part of Jackson with judges who would be appointed rather than elected.

Mississippi Democratic Senator John Horhn told a Legislative Black Caucus briefing that the actions “amount to a symbolic beheading of elected black leaders.”

The Missouri debate on Thursday was relatively brief. But the House had spent several hours debating and amending the bill the day before. The final vote was not based solely on racial considerations. Among those who voted for the bill were a black Republican lawmaker from suburban St. Louis and two black Democratic lawmakers from Kansas City. These included Democratic Rep. Mark Sharp, who backed a provision in the bill that would make it a crime to shoot a firearm with criminal negligence within city limits.

Plocher said passing the bill, which now goes to the Republican-led Senate, was an exciting move.

“We are beginning a process to improve the lives of people in Missouri by fighting crime,” Plocher said.

St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner’s office released a statement in which he called the legislation a “political stunt.”

Reverend Darryl Gray, a St. Louis pastor and leading racial justice activist, said he and other activists are “discussing ways to challenge this. We are seriously considering civil disobedience in Jefferson City.

Zaki Baruti, president of the St. Louis-based Universal African People’s Organization, described the effort to oust Gardner from power as “a step against democracy.”

Gardner is the first and only black district attorney to be elected in St. Louis, and she has pursued a progressive agenda. She stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana-related crimes, preferring to redirect non-violent first-time offenders to community programs rather than jail, and created a ‘do-not-list’ of dozens of police officers. who are not allowed to take business in it to take office. in part over concerns about possible racial bias among these officers.

“She represents the hopes and aspirations of the black community,” Baruti said. He added, “This is clearly an attack that is happening not just here in St. Louis, but across America, where black people hold key positions of power and carry out actions that some lawmakers believe are wrong. not be able to accept. , they perish powerfully attacked.


Associated Press writer Jim Salter contributed from St. Louis.

David A. Lieb, Associated Press


#Black #lawmakers #cite #racism #Missouri #House #crime #bill

Bill increasing penalties for riots in North Carolina clarified

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — A bill that would increase penalties for violent protests following the 2020 protests over the killing of George Floyd passed the North Carolina House on Wednesday despite harsh criticism from advocates for social justice. Some bipartisan support signals a possible veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who two years ago issued a veto blocking similar legislation.

Like the 2021 proposal, the new bill was cited by Republican House Speaker Tim Moore, who saw the riots and looting he saw firsthand in downtown Raleigh in June 2020 amid otherwise peaceful protests as the push for the legislation drove.

The bill, which has a House Democrat as its lead sponsor, left the chamber 75-43 with six Democrats and all Republicans present voting yes. Now he goes to the Senate.

Republican gains in the House and Senate since last November’s election now give the GOP a non-veto majority in the Senate and put it in a seat of a similar majority in the House.

State law already makes it an offense to willfully participate in a riot or incite a riot. It becomes a felony if the serious injury or property damage caused exceeds $1,500, with a first offense resulting in active jail time. Penalties for these crimes would increase under the legislation, including a new crime where participating in a riot results in death.

The measure also allows owners whose businesses have been damaged during a riot to seek compensation against a perpetrator for triple the monetary damages. And new rules for bail and preliminary hearings for rioting and looting defendants would give the judge 24 hours to set those terms. Supporters of the bill have complained that otherwise the defendants could be immediately freed by a judge.

Moore and other supporters insist they wholeheartedly support free speech and the First Amendment right to gather to air grievances. But the spokesman said he did not want that right to be misinterpreted and twisted to condone destruction.

“Our current laws…were not strict enough to ensure that those who engage in the most violent and destructive behavior would ever see the inside of a prison cell,” Moore said during the parliamentary debate on the bill. bill, which was considered by two committees earlier in the day. “Today is an opportunity to say that we will stand up and support security.”

Several advocacy groups, whose members frequently attend social justice protests, called the proposal an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement and an attempt to discourage minorities and low-income residents from speaking out.

“This overbroad and still problematic bill is not intended to protect the peace,” Melissa Price Kromm, North Carolina’s director of voters for clean elections, told a judiciary committee on Wednesday. “It’s about silencing dissent.”

Tyler Daye of North Carolina said the law, if enacted, could be used to punish viewers or speakers whose lyrics inadvertently incite violence.

“If there is a riot, innocent and peaceful protesters could be mixed up with intruders who have come to hijack their embassy,” Daye said.

According to the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law, nine states have passed similar protest laws since June 2020. North Carolina is one of 10 states currently considering new penalties.

In his message to veto the 2021 bill, Cooper said the legislation was “unnecessary and designed to intimidate and discourage people from exercising their constitutional rights to protest peacefully.”

Many House Democrats made similar arguments on Wednesday, even after floor changes were approved to raise the property damage threshold to $2,500 and reduce potential jail time before a judge returns bail. of $48 included in the hours fixed by the initial invoice.

Rep. Amos Quick, a Democrat from Guilford County, said the way to prevent violence is for authorities to respond quickly to wrongdoing. He said the swift crackdown by police in Memphis, Tenn., on the fatal beating of Tire Nichols last month discouraged nationwide unrest.

“I am against riots. I’m against criminal damage, but I’m for justice,” Quick said. “This law does not advance justice by increasing penalties.”

Democratic Rep. Abe Jones, a former Wake County judge who backed the bill, said there was no excuse for someone using a peaceful protest to cause chaos.

“I despise someone who goes out and tears up someone else’s property that they haven’t paid for and takes advantage of a situation – sometimes a really good protest – and then knocks it down,” said Jones, who , like Quick, is black. .

Gary D. Robertson and Hannah Schoenbaum, Associated Press


#Bill #increasing #penalties #riots #North #Carolina #clarified

Harry Styles’ Grammys routine went in the wrong direction, dancers reveal

Styles and his dancers performed As It Was, one of last year’s biggest hits

Two of Harry Styles’ dancers said they had to quickly adjust their Grammy Awards routine after the stage turned the wrong way.

The former One Direction star performed his single As It Was at the Album of the Year ceremony on Sunday.

The British singer and his dancers played and rehearsed on a giant turntable as it spun in one direction.

But at night it swung in the opposite direction and “drove us all crazy on live TV,” said one dancer.

“The moment the curtain opened and it was time to play, our turntable started spinning backwards, backwards.” explained dancer Brandon Mathis.

“There was nothing we could do about it. After a week of perfect rehearsal of this piece one way, when it’s time to perform it is starting to go the other way and in real time we have to fix the bugs and do a complete piece backwards .

“Talk about professionalism,” he added in his statement on his Instagram Story, which is no longer available.

Two dancers said they had to think quickly when the turntable they were rehearsing on started spinning the wrong way

Styles and some of his dancers pictured getting ready for their performance

One dancer said acting while filming requires a “special kind of balance”.

Her story was picked up by another backup dancer, Dexter Da Rocha, in a since-deleted TikTok post.

“We rehearsed for 10 days to get these beautiful formations down and off the turntable…and Harry did such a good job of adapting to that,” Da Rocha explained.

“All this time we practiced with the turntable counter-clockwise. We did it several times and got to the point where we were in dress rehearsal, it was immaculate and beautiful.

But when the turntable spun the wrong way overnight, Da Rocha said the dancers were trying “to get the technician’s attention” but it was live TV and they “couldn’t shout” so the technician could not see them heard.

“So changing all these patterns on the spot without having walked in that direction… it seems like it would be easy to walk, it’s like a treadmill but I swear to God because they’re circular pull-ups.” it takes you in different directions and it’s a special kind of balance.

Da Rocha praised Styles, saying he “did his best to be able to walk and reverse everything while he was singing and reverse his whole duet, which was amazing.”

Styles, pictured with Grammys presenter Trevor Noah, won two awards including album of the year for Harry’s House

The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, has yet to respond to the BBC’s request for comment.

Styles won two of the six Grammy Awards he was nominated for on Sunday – Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year for Harry’s House.

Album of the Year is widely considered the big prize of the night and Styles edged out competition from artists widely considered favorites such as Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and Beyoncé.

Styles accepted the award saying, “I was so inspired by all the artists in this category with me.

“But it’s important for us to remember that there isn’t the best in music. It doesn’t happen very often to people like me, so that’s very kind, thank you.


#Harry #Styles #Grammys #routine #wrong #direction #dancers #reveal

Shropshire man in ‘world’s toughest race’

Participants will run several marathons over six days as part of the Marathon Des Sables

A Shropshire man is training for an ultra marathon in the desert dubbed the ‘toughest race in the world’.

Nathan Walton from Woore will take part in the Marathon Des Sables – a 251km (156 mile) six-day race through the Sahara Desert.

“It’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Mr Walton, who raises funds for the Dougie Mac Hospice, which cared for his mother.

He has been training for two years for the race, which takes place in April.

He recently returned from a training camp in Lanzarote to practice running on the sand and in the heat. Additional heat training is provided at a specialist facility at the University of Manchester.

On the course, participants run a marathon every day except the fifth day, when the distance is between 85 and 100 km (53 and 62 miles).

“That’s stupid,” Mr. Walton said.

“Sand dunes, spiders, scorpions, bubbles…it smashes your feet like no other race,” he said.

Runners should carry everything they need for the week

Mr Walton was inspired to raise money for Dougie Mac, a hospice in North Staffordshire, to thank them for the care his mother received when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“The Dougie Macs came in and they were brilliant,” he said. “They came to take care of mum at home and they also took care of us as a family.”

Mr Walton is aiming to raise £3,000 and is more than halfway there.

“It’s a thank you for everything,” he said.

“A few blisters, a few sore muscles, that’s nothing.”

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, Twitter And instagram. Submit your story ideas to: [email protected]


#Shropshire #man #worlds #toughest #race

How anti-Semitic tropes are used to attack the LGBTQ community

People demonstrate against the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library in New York in December. The stories drag queens read to children and their parents have only become the target of anti-LGBTQ protesters, whose language suggests a “convergence” of anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ hatred, according to one group. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images – photo credit)

Over the past year, a new front of hate has opened up across Canada and the United States, with drag performances and gender-affirming caregivers becoming targets of harassment and threats. But the vitriol has an all-too-familiar tone — a cause for concern, according to a well-known anti-hate organization.

The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) warns of a “convergence” of anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ hatred.

“Anti-Semitic extremists and conspiracy theorists have capitalized on spreading dangerous and offensive untruths about LGBTQ+ people,” according to a January 24 article from the ADL Center on Extremism. At the same time, the organization writes, the anti-LGBTQ “fear campaign” serves to reinforce anti-Jewish prejudice and conspiracy theories.

The increase in language defaming Jews and/or LGBTQ people raises a red flag for organizations fighting discrimination for fear that hateful rhetoric could lead to violence.

“Demonizing people is the first step in perpetuating violence,” Sheba Birhanu, associate director of partnerships at the Toronto-based Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said in an interview.

“When so many different communities are hit by the same forms of hate wearing different hats, the worst thing we can do is turn our backs on each other.”

CLOCK | Family drag performances are under threat:

Same hate, different goals

For S. Bear Bergman, an American author and justice and inclusion consultant living in Regina, it’s no surprise that people with transphobic and homophobic views are using anti-Semitism to advance their cause.

“Scratch a transphobe, you’ll see a racist, right? Scratch an anti-Semite, you’ll see a sexist, a misogynist,” he told CBC News.

The intersection of anti-Semitism and hatred of the LGBTQ community manifests itself in various forms – from phrases, slogans and images to plots about wealthy Jews funding bridging operations for minors.

Last summer, Boston Children’s Hospital became the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, harassment and violent threats over its gender-affirming nursing program, and false claims that the facility performed sex-change surgery. sex on minors. The smear campaign included a video posted online titled “Jewish Hospital Removes Wombs From Young Girls.”

Telegram channels dedicated to spreading anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ messages feature anti-Semitic cartoon stickers of a Jewish man holding a pride flag on the floor – one of many stickers included in a collection of stickers with the title “Jude” was found.

Tom Popyk/CBC News

In Pflugerville, Texas, last September, a group of neo-Nazis showed up outside a bar hosting a drag brunch, with some protesters waving Nazi flags and signs with transphobic and white racist messages, according to local media.

And, as the ADL noted, terms such as “grooming” and “indoctrination” are common in protests against drag performances and organizations that support gender-affirming care for transgender people, or when curriculum discussions that emphasize diversity and inclusion. Such tropes have long been used against LGBTQ people and Jews.

“A Practical Target”

Any hatred against an individual or group based on their creed, race, sexual orientation or gender identity is concerning, said Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, chief rabbi of Temple Shalom Vancouver and former chief rabbi. Reformers of Canada.

But, he explained, Jews are “an easy target” for what could be seen as “the evils of society.”

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

For centuries, Jews have been reviled and scapegoated for societal problems ranging from economic crises and political unrest to the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages and even the COVID-19 pandemic.

But one of the long-standing anti-Semitic expressions favored by white supremacists, nationalists, and other groups promoting transphobia and anti-LGBTQ hatred is that children are exploited.

Moskovitz said it had its roots in the blood libel, a nearly thousand-year-old conspiracy theory that Jews performed ritual sacrifices and used the blood of Christian children to make matzah, a flatbread without leaven.

Although various anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and stereotypes have persisted over the centuries, he said there is now a danger that the tools used to spread hateful rhetoric, disinformation and propaganda are more powerful than ever.

“They have [many] more weapons of mass destruction,” Moskovitz said. “You can do it from your mobile phone.”

CLOCK | Presence of hate, anti-Semitism on social media platforms:

exploit fears

The use of terms like “indoctrination” and “preparation” and the perception of promoting an “agenda” have also become commonplace in discourse on LGBTQ rights, support for gender-affirming care and gender diversity. For example, drag performances, including family storytimes, have been the target of protests and threats across Canada and the United States.

According to a study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, the “representation of child endangerment” also stems from anti-Semitic motives.

Aura Carreno Rosas/CBC

“Much of this fear involves children having ‘become’ gay or transgender through disclosures in schools or through the media, institutions that appear to be controlled by Jewish people,” the study notes.

“We’re very happy to blame those we hate for the idea that they’re somehow bad for kids,” said Bergman, a Jewish father of three who identifies as a queer and transgender man.

He dismissed the perception that exposure to LGBTQ issues and gender diversity was an attempt to convert children – any more than exposure to Judaism would influence non-Jewish children to change their religion.

Instead, Bergman said he thought it was an attempt to avoid discussing equality and the issue of discrimination.

Zoe Gemelli

“Every time I hear a parent say that this child is too young to learn about racism or anti-Semitism, homophobia or ableism, all I hear is, ‘My family don’t ‘is not directly affected by this prejudice,'” he said.

Bergman said expecting hate talk is not a privilege given to families like his.

“Do you think I can decide when it’s time to explain to my children what homophobia or transphobia is? ” He asked. “Do you think black kids should wait to learn more about racism until their parents feel ready? Do you think Jewish children will have to wait to learn more about anti-Semitism?

CLOCK | Crowd drowns protesters during Drag Story Hour event:

Education and allies

CIJA’s Birhanu said “addressing hate makes people uncomfortable” and that there are often “backlashes when something is seen as progressive or out of school”.

But she said she knows firsthand how hate can thrive in schools and the importance of education in combating it.

Birhanu described attending a Jewish cultural club in middle school and seeing other children walking by gesturing in a Nazi-style salute.


Such incidents continue to occur in schools: last March, for example, the Toronto District School Board — Canada’s largest school district — experienced at least six anti-Semitic incidents in a single month.

Education is a tool to fight prejudice, but Birhanu and Moskovitz stressed the importance of alliances and others spoke out against all forms of hatred.

“Jews won’t stop anti-Semitism,” Moskovitz said, “it will be non-Jews who will stand with us, just as Asians won’t stop anti-Asian hatred and LGBTQ people won’t stop. not anti-Semitism – LGBTQ hate”.


#antiSemitic #tropes #attack #LGBTQ #community

Analysis – China has reason to remain calm after US shoots down alleged spy balloon

By Ryan Woo and Greg Torode

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China may react to the United States’ launch of its alleged spy balloon after warning of “serious repercussions”, but analysts say every move is likely to be finely calibrated to prevent relations from unraveling. deteriorate, both parties attempted to repair.

Regional analysts and diplomats are closely watching China’s response after a US fighter jet shot down what Beijing said was a mistaken weather-monitoring vehicle in the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina on Saturday.

China condemned Sunday’s attack as an “overreaction” and said it reserved the right to use necessary means to deal with “similar situations”, without giving further details.

Some analysts said they would be scanning the seas and skies of East Asia for signs of tension amid growing deployments of ships and planes from China and the United States and from their allies.

But as bilateral tensions have risen in recent days over the balloon crash, Beijing and Washington have sought to rekindle ties.

The discovery of the balloon in the upper atmosphere over North America prompted the United States to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing this week. The trip came following a November summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.

The two sides are widely seen as keen to stabilize their relationship after a turbulent few years, with the Biden administration wary of tensions fueling disputes and Xi predicting a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy after a severe COVID-19 outbreak has the burglary at the mind.

The path to rebuilding U.S.-China relations likely remains on track, said Zhao Tong, senior fellow at the China office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and visiting fellow at Princeton University.

“Both sides still share a strong interest in stabilizing the bilateral relationship and handling it responsibly,” Zhao told Reuters.

Sweep under the carpet

Collin Koh, a security researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, predicted that China would continue to respond vigorously to US military reconnaissance patrols, but refrain from confrontation.

Even in the quietest of times, Chinese forces actively follow U.S. military patrols, especially at sea, amid tensions over Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea, according to regional military attachés.

“Against manned platforms, one would expect China to exercise restraint, but vis-à-vis unmanned platforms, it becomes more dangerous – especially if Beijing thinks it is possible to contain the fallout since there is no crew,” Koh said.

He pointed to China’s seizure of a US underwater glider used by an oceanographic research vessel off the Philippines in December 2016. The Chinese navy then returned it to a US warship.

Christopher Twomey, a security researcher at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said any Chinese response would be limited.

“I would expect them to protest moderately, but I hope to sweep this under the rug and restore the progress of high profile visits within a few months,” Twomey said privately.

Zhu Feng, executive dean of Nanjing University’s School of International Studies, said US officials should stop “hype” to ensure a smooth return to the normalized communications they previously demanded. in Beijing.

Zhu expressed hope that “the two governments can turn the page as soon as possible so that China-US relations can return to an institutionalized channel of communication and dialogue.”

Some analysts are monitoring Chinese state media and online activity for clues to calls for a tougher response, as China’s mainstream state media has been limited to reporting official statements.

There was little evidence on China’s heavily censored social media that nationalist anger was being stoked by the incident, with many netizens wondering what the commotion over a balloon was.

“Now China can decommission its satellites!” joked one user.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing and Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Editing by William Mallard)


#Analysis #China #reason #remain #calm #shoots #alleged #spy #balloon

EU migration stalemate leaves many refugees out in the cold

BRUSSELS (AP) — Some refugees and asylum seekers in Brussels have spent months between Avenue des Palais and the Petit Château — literally.

Unfortunately, at the end of their terrified flight to the other side of the world, neither dream comes true. It’s an eternal nightmare.

Petit Château, which means small castle, is a government reception center that often does everything but welcome arrivals. Rue des Palais – the street of the palaces – has the worst squat in the city, where the smell of urine and the prevalence of scurvy have become the symbol of the failure of the European Union’s migration policy.

You are just four kilometers from the elegant Europa building, where EU leaders will hold a two-day summit from Thursday to address migration issues that the 27 member states have grappled with for more than a year. . fret decade.

Shinwari, an Afghan army captain who has long helped Western powers repel the Taliban, now lives in a makeshift tent camp just across the canal from Petit Chateau.

It’s a place as desolate as it is hopeless.

“It’s very cold. Some boys have different illnesses and a lot of us have depression because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” revealed the 31-year-old, who left his wife and children behind. four children behind him, confident that Taliban forces would take power in Aug. 2021 took over, soldiers like him who worked with NATO countries would kill.

“They search the houses. No one’s life was safe,” Shinwari said. “You once said to my family, ‘Your son has taken refuge in an infidel country.'”

Even now, far from home, he is too afraid to be identified beyond his last name and even the vaguest military details. He does not want his face to appear in photos or videos for fear the Taliban will harm his family.

To make matters worse, it is met with a largely indifferent, sometimes even hostile, reception in the prosperous EU.

“Unfortunately, no one hears our voices,” he said from his tent, surrounded by half a dozen former Afghan soldiers.

Instead, EU leaders’ pre-summit vocabulary is much more about ‘strengthening external borders’, ‘border fences’ and ‘return procedures’ than making immediate life easier for people like Shinwari. .

And with 330,000 unauthorized attempts to enter the EU last year – a six-year high – you don’t win many elections on the continent these days by throwing a warm hug on refugees.

Many Afghans are also watching with envy the swift action taken by the EU after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine to grant Ukrainians temporary protections such as residency, access to the work, medical assistance and social assistance – things they have all largely outgrown. .

“The problem of Afghans and Ukrainians is the same, but they are not treated in the same way,” Shinwari said. “When Ukrainians come here, they get all the facilities… the first day they arrive, but we Afghans who left our country because of security threats, we get nothing.

“It’s surprising because human rights are not the same for everyone and it upsets us and makes us feel disappointed and neglected.”

EU leaders have already said a full breakthrough in their migration policy will not come until bloc-wide elections in June 2024.

Shinwari said he was lucky enough to cross reinforced EU borders to exercise his right to asylum after an eight-month journey through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and finally Belgium . This included beatings, arrests and escapes in Iran, and starvation and fear along much of the trail.

Shinwari arrived in Europe alive, “but now that I’m here I’m homeless like a nomad” with a thin blue tent to ward off Belgium’s many rainstorms, he said.

Other Afghan ex-soldiers took up residence on rue des Palais, where their stories of trauma, depression, drugs and violence were equally grim.

“The situation here is not good. When the Red Cross brings food, we have food, but when it doesn’t, many have nothing,” said Roz Amin Khan, who fled the province of Laghman two months ago to arrive in Belgium.

Since arriving four months ago, Shinwari said he had an interview with asylum authorities and has been waiting ever since.

The lack of aid for most refugees drives NGOs and volunteers to despair.

“The legal framework and the situation on the ground are very different,” said Clément Valentin, Legal Advocacy Officer at the CIRE Foundation for Refugees. “There’s this gap and it’s hard to understand – for me and for NGOs.

“But I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it must be for Afghans here in Belgium or other European countries to understand that.”

Legal laziness is not limited to Belgium. The EU asylum agency said in its latest trend report of November 2022 that “the gap between applications and decisions has reached its maximum size since 2015” and continues to widen. In total, more than 920,000 cases are still pending, which corresponds to an annual increase of 14%.

When Shinwari arrived, the bureaucratic backlog at Petit Château was so great that asylum seekers sometimes had to wait days in the rain and cold just to get through the front door. Citizens who lived nearby brought food and set up cookstoves because the government failed to act.

Even though the situation has improved, the physical and psychological scars are easy to see, said Michel Genet, director of Médecins du Monde Belgium.

“People have been through a lot of trauma and a very difficult situation and they expect to come here and take care of themselves,” Genet said.

For many sleepless nights in the freezing cold, with the muffled hum of passing cars in the background, Shinwari’s mind drifts home.

“Sometimes I think about the future and how long I have left to live on the streets,” he said. “My head is surrounded by problems. I am thinking about the safety of my family and my future.


Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at

Raf Casert and Ahmad Seir, Associated Press


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Pope Francis wraps up South Sudan trip, calls for end to ‘blind rage’ of violence

By Philip Pullella and Waakhe Simon Wudu

JUBA (Reuters) – Pope Francis ended a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan on Sunday, urging people to immunize themselves against the “poison of hate” in a bid to achieve peace and the prosperity they escaped during years of bloody ethnic conflict.

Francis led an outdoor mass at the site of a mausoleum for South Sudanese liberation hero John Garang, who died in a helicopter crash in 2005 before the predominantly Christian country split from Muslim Sudan in 2011.

The 86-year-old pope weaved his homily into the themes that dominated his trip to the world’s youngest nation – reconciliation and mutual forgiveness for past wrongs. The crowd sang, drummed and cheered as Francis entered the dusty area.

He asked the crowd of around 70,000 people to avoid the “blind fury of violence”.

Two years after independence, South Sudan plunged into a civil war that claimed the lives of 400,000 people. Despite a 2018 peace deal between the two main adversaries, fighting has continued, killing large numbers of civilians and displacing them.

At the end of the service, in a farewell address just before returning to the airport, the Pope thanked the people of South Sudan for the affection shown to him.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I return to Rome with an even greater affection for you,” he told them. “Never lose hope. And don’t miss an opportunity to make peace. May hope and peace dwell among you. May hope and peace dwell in South Sudan!

The pope has a long-standing interest in South Sudan. In one of the most notable gestures of his papacy, he knelt down to kiss the feet of the country’s previously belligerent leaders during a meeting at the Vatican in 2019.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, accompanied the pope on his visit to South Sudan.

The “pilgrimage of peace” was the first time in Christian history that leaders from the Catholic, Anglican and Reformed traditions made a joint visit abroad.


Earlier in his trip to Africa, the Pope visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the largest Roman Catholic community on the continent, where he celebrated Mass for a million people and heard harrowing stories from people wounded by the war in the east of the country.

Among those who attended Sunday mass in Juba, the South Sudanese capital, was Ferida Modon, 72, who lost three of her children in the conflict.

“I want peace to come to South Sudan. Yes, I believe his visit will be a game-changer. We are tired of conflict now,” she said. “We want God to hear our prayers.”

Jesilen Gaba, 42, a widow with four children, said: “The fact that the three churches have united for South Sudan is a turning point for peace. I want the visit to be a blessing for us. It was us during the war, we lost a lot of people.

Francis again called for an end to the tribalism, financial misconduct and political cronyism that underlie many of the country’s problems.

He urged people to “build good human relations to fight against the corruption of evil, the disease of division, the filth of fraudulent transactions and the scourge of injustice.”

South Sudan has some of the largest crude oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, but a 2021 UN report says the country’s rulers have siphoned ‘staggering amounts of cash and other wealth’ from coffers and public resources.

The government dismissed the report and dismissed allegations of widespread corruption.

(Writing by Philip Pullella and Estelle Shirbon, editing by Frances Kerry)


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