english news

Bill and Melinda Gates urge Trump to respect people and to not cut foreign aid


Donald Trump should treat people – especially women – with more respect, and continue investments in poorer countries for the sake of global security, the world’s leading philanthropic couple Bill and Melinda Gates said on Tuesday. In remarks accompanying the annual letter to the public about global development issued by their philanthropic foundation, Melinda Gates said: “I wish our president would treat people, and especially women, with more respect when he speaks and tweets.”

And Bill Gates warned that the proposed Trump administration budget could directly lead to millions of preventable deaths around the globe, due to proposed vast cuts to foreign aid and development funds. “US generosity: if that goes away, even a 10% cut would mean 5 million deaths over the next decade,” he said at an event with his wife to launch the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2018 letter. The Trump administration, as it did last year, proposed billions of dollars in cuts to foreign aid, which makes up less than 1% of US spending, in its 2019 budget outline. Last year, lawmakers in Congress from both parties mostly ignored the request, and Gates said he hoped they would again this year too.(theguardian)…[+]

Netanyahu says police report on fraud claims ‘like Swiss cheese’


Benjamin Netanyahu has described a police report on allegations of bribery and fraud against him as “full of holes, like Swiss cheese”, as he fights for his political life. Following a 14-month investigation into two cases of alleged corruption, police recommended on Tuesday evening that the Israeli prime minister be indicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust.

Israel’s attorney general will examine the evidence and then – possibly in several months’ time – decide whether to issue an indictment. Speaking in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Netanyahu said the police report was misleading and “contrary to the truth and logic”. “I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable,” he said of his government in response to rumours that political allies might abandon him. He promised to serve his full term until the end of 2019 and dismissed talk of an early election.(NU.nl)…[+]

Philippines: Rodrigo Duterte orders soldiers to shoot female rebels ‘in the vagina’


President Rodrigo Duterte has been branded a misogynist and “macho-fascist” after he ordered soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in the vagina.In a speech to over 200 former communist soldiers in Malacañang last week, the Philippines president gave a directive of what to do with female guerrilla fighters.

“‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor, ‘We will not kill you. We will just shoot you in the vagina,’ ” said Duterte. He went on to say that without their vaginas, women would be “useless”. Duterte mentioned the Visayan word “bisong”, meaning vagina, repeatedly throughout the speech, although it was later censored from an official Palace transcript, replaced simply with a dash. However, the remarks were recorded as having drawn laughter from the audience. The crude orders drew anger from human rights organisations and women’s groups in the region.(theguardian)…[+]

Arms shipment to Bosnian Serbs stokes EU fears


The purchase of thousands of new guns by the Bosnian Serb police has raised concerns over the intentions of the separatist-led regional government and deepening Russian influence in a divided and economically depressed nation. A shipment of 2,500 automatic rifles from Serbia is due to arrive in the Serb-run half of Bosnia in March, weeks before the scheduled opening of a new training centre where Russian advisers are expected to play a role.The weapons are arriving at a time when Bosnia’s long-term stability is in doubt. The Dayton peace agreement ended the Bosnian conflict just over 22 years ago, dividing the country into two semi-autonomous parts: the Republika Srpska (RS) and a Muslim-Croat Federation. The deal stopped the killing but created a system that rewarded ethnically based politics. Nationalist parties have a tight grip on power in their separate fiefdoms, corruption is rife, and the country has the highest official rate of youth unemployment in the world.(theguardian)…[+]

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi’s trial begins behind closed doors


A teenage Palestinian protester filmed slapping and kicking two soldiers outside her home has appeared before an Israeli military court to face various charges including assaulting security forces, incitement and throwing stones.Ahed Tamimi, who turned 17 in jail last month, arrived on Tuesday morning for the first day of what could be a months-long trial, in what has become a symbolic case in the battle for international public opinion.The judge ordered a closed-door hearing and ejected a large group of journalists who had gathered at the Ofer military base, despite a request by Tamimi’s lawyer for the media to be able to observe proceedings.Tamimi’s supporters say the incident in December occurred soon after she discovered Israeli troops had seriously wounded her 15-year-old cousin, who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during a stone-throwing clash.(theguardian)…[+]

Haiti demands Oxfam identify staff who paid sex workers


Haiti is demanding Oxfam identify its aid workers who paid possibly underage sex workers in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, so they can be prosecuted, and has said it is considering legal action against the charity. Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the UK, said on Monday that it was “shocked and appalled” by the way Oxfam allowed the senior workers in question to leave the country without reporting them to the Haitian authorities.

“For the executive to know these crimes were committed and to allow those people to leave without informing the authorities is wrong,” he told the Guardian. “We might be dealing with a paedophile ring. It was a crime. Prostitution is illegal and we believe they may have been underage kids.”

Haiti called on Oxfam and the British government to identify the people involved so they can be prosecuted “in the international system”. On Sunday, Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, claimed the charity did not report its workers to Haitian police because it feared this would endanger the women involved.(theguardian)…[+]

Jacob Zuma could step down as South African president ‘within days’


Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, is expected to leave office within days, parliamentarians from the ruling African National Congress party have said. Zuma, who is facing multiple charges of corruption, has been negotiating the terms of his departure with Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC leader.

Ramaphosa pulled out of public events to focus on “pressing matters” on Friday, fuelling speculation that he was making a final push to convince Zuma, 75, to step down as South Africa’s head of state before a major ANC rally on Sunday. The party, in power since the end of the repressive, racist apartheid regime in 1994, has been thrown into crisis by an increasingly chaotic transfer of power from the incumbent president to his deputy and rival. Ramaphosa told parliamentarians on Thursday he hoped to conclude talks with the president over a transition of power “in coming days … in the interests of the country”. An MP told the Guardian on condition of anonymity: “He said [the negotiations] would not drag on and that we should basically expect news any moment. No one wants this to go into next week and go on and on.”(theguardian)…[+]

California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue ‘anti-racist’ activists, documents show


California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with “anti-racist” beliefs, court documents show.

The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” said Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley teacher and anti-fascist organizer charged with assault and rioting after participating in the June 2016 Sacramento rally, where she said she was stabbed and bludgeoned in the head. “The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys.”(theguardian)…[+]

US vice-president skips Olympics dinner in snub to North Korea officials


The US vice-president, Mike Pence, has skipped a dinner ahead of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony where he was expected to share a table with North Korea’s head of state, in a sign of Washington’s intention to snub officials from the North at the Games. Pence briefly exchanged greetings with attendees at the dinner, including the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, but avoided Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, who is the highest level official ever to go to the South. North Korea’s high-level diplomatic delegation, which arrived in the South on Friday, also includes Kim Jong-un’s sister. Kim Yo-jong, who became the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in South Korea since the Korean war.(theguardian)…[+]

ICC to examine claims of crimes against humanity by Duterte


The international criminal court is to examine complaints that Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president, has committed crimes against humanity in his brutal anti-drugs crusade. A report submitted to the ICC last year laid out evidence that Duterte had been directly responsible for “extrajudicial executions and mass murder” over three decades since he began his war on drugs as mayor of Davao in 1988.

According to official statistics, 4,000 people have been killed by the police in anti-drug operations since Duterte became president. However, the 77-page report submitted by a Philippine lawyer, Jude Sabio, alleged the death toll was over 8,000. Gary Alejano, an opposition politician who tried to get Duterte impeached last year and submitted evidence to the ICC as part of the complaint, said the ICC move was an affirmation that their claims against Duterte had legitimacy, and offered “a ray of hope for the victims of his war on drugs, which is still ongoing right now”.

He said: “In this country, people are at a loss where to go if members of your family feel victim to the war on drugs. They cannot go to police because they are involved, they cannot go to the department of justice because the secretary will say there’s no such thing as extrajudicial killing. And when we request an investigation from the House of Representatives, we can not get an impartial hearing because they are covering up for the president. There is a clear and blatant violation of the rule of law in the Philippines right now, and so the ICC are the only ones who can step in.”(theguardian)…[+]