US withdraws more than half of its UNRWA aid for Palestinians

The US has announced that it will withhold more than half of its funds to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) that supports the Palestinian refugees. This decision comes only two weeks after US president, Donald Trump’s tweet saying that America receives no “appreciation or respect” from the Palestinians in return for its aid of “hundreds of millions of dollars”.

However, the state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that this decision was not aimed at punishing anyone and added that it was directed at bringing about reforms within the agency. She refused to give any details about the nature of the reforms that the US was looking for.

Of the scheduled $125m, the US will provide only $60m to UNRWA. Making it the single largest donor nation, last year the US contributed $370m to the agency that runs various health, social and educational projects for the refugees. The money withheld was part of this year’s first instalment.

Jan Egeland, the former UN humanitarian chief who now serves as its humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said that the withdrawal of funds could have a devastating effect on Palestinian refugees, especially affecting the thousands of refugee children whose education is funded by the UNRWA.

Israel who is embroiled in a conflict with Palestine over the status of Jerusalem is in favour of the decision and accused the agency of misusing humanitarian aid and supporting “anti-Israel propaganda”. A month ago Trump had recognised the city as the capital of Israel drawing severe criticism from the Palestinians. The declaration was later voted null and void by the UN member nations at the General Assembly.

Sources – CNN, BBC

No case against Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan

Pakistan Prime Minister,  Sahid Khaqan Abbasi, yesterday said there is no case registered against  26/11 terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan and so no action can be initiated against him.

 “Action is taken when there is a registered case against someone,” said Abbasi in an interview to Geo TV explaining Pakistan’s decision against detaining Saheed further.

Saeed was released from house arrest on November 24, after the Lahore High Court cited lack of evidence against him in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack case. After his release, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief,  has formed a party named Milli Muslim League (MML)  to contest for the 2018 general election in Pakistan. The party is yet to be registered in the Election commission. The election commission of Pakistan in September refused to recognize the Milli Muslim League as a political party, and also warned candidates from using the front’s name in election campaigns.

The US has designated Saeed as a global terrorist and has offered a bounty of $10 million on his head.  Saeed recently petitioned the global body asking his name to be removed from the terrorist list Stating that none of the allegations against him has been proved in the Pakistani courts.

Sources – NDTV, TOI

Sri Lanka revokes ban on women buying alcohol, only to reimpose it a few days later

Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, on 14th January 2018 reimposed the four-decade-old ban on women buying liquor that was lifted by his finance minister earlier.

A week ago, Mangala Samaraweera, the finance minister had announced his decision to relax the laws on alcohol in an attempt to remove sexist bills from the statute books. Apart from the 1979 law that banned the sale of liquor to women, the one restricting women from working in any place where alcohol was made or sold was also repealed. Further, as per the new measures passed by Samaraweera, bars and pubs were allowed to remain open for a longer period of time. He also pointed out that strict restrictions laid on Sri Lanka’s licensed liquor manufacturers would only encourage a black market for spirits, and deprive the state of much-needed revenue.

However, these annulments were met with a lot of criticism in the Buddhist-majority nation with a population of 20 million. The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection even went to the extent of accusing the finance minister of encouraging drinking and urged Sirisena to intervene and restore the restrictions.

In view of the large-scale resentment, Sirisena ordered the finance minister to reimpose the ban on women buying liquor. “From tomorrow [Monday], the minister’s order will be rescinded,” the president’s office said without offering any explanation for its decision.

It, however, remains unclear whether the decision to permit women to work in the alcohol industry has also been reversed.

Sources -TOI, The Guardian

Weasley Mathews: adopted girl’s father charged with murder

The Indian American father of three-year-old Sherin Mathews, Mr Wesley Mathews is accused of her murder at Texas. The girl had gone missing in October after the parents had put her outside their apartment as a punishment. She disappeared hours later. He was apparently also charged with abandoning a child and damaging the evidence three months after Sherin’s body was found in a drain next to their home in Richardson, Texas. 

 

The Dallas police inform that Mathews has changed his version of stories constantly, and has not been able to take a stance. On Friday, he will be indicated with capital murder if found guilty and be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.  

 

The adopted girl’s mother, Sini Mathews, has also faced abandonment charges in the month of November. A night before the child died on October 7th, 2017, she was left alone at her home, while her parents and their 4-year-old biological daughter went out for dinner.  

Holt International, the foster home from where Sherin Mathews was adopted is suspended by the Indian government for not assessing the couple. 

Sources – BBC, Hindustan Times

 

Three persons missing in lethal mudslides in California

In recent developments in the deadly California mudslides, three people were reported as missing. Searchers looked through the rubble and debris in Montecito. 20 people have been reported to be killed by the onslaught of these mudslides.
Among these people were John Cantin, 17 and Faviola Benitez, 28. A child of two years of age, Lydia Sutthithepa was also missing. The young girl’s  father Pinit Sutthithepa was killed on Saturday. The sheriff narrowed down the people from a list of about 100 missing people.
This is the worst number of deaths that a mudslide has caused in California in the past 13 years. The fallen trees, power lines and debris made it harder for searchers to dig through. Montecito, the affected area is a rich neighbourhood 137 kilometres away from Los Angeles.
Post intimation, the White House released a conciliatory statement on behalf of President Trump and the First Lady.
The destruction affected close to 78 square kilometres and razed 65 homes to the ground while damaging 450 others. The residents from this side, the southeastern corner have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Sources – Reuters, CNN

When a Donkey is your President: story of a ‘Shithole’ mouth

Any sane American at this particular moment would not object to President Donald Trump being called a donkey. Some might even say it’s an insult of the donkeys to equate them with the silliest and the most moronic leader on the face of earth. And I fear I might not disagree.

On January 11, Trump was discussing a potential legislation regarding the “dreamers”, immigrant children protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While discussing the issue with members of Congress in the Roosevelt Room in White House, Trump learned of Haitians being one of the beneficiaries of the proposed plan. Surprising the Congresspersons, he asked if Haitians could be left out of the plan. “Why do we need people from Haiti here?”

Subsequently, when the dialogue moved towards African nations, Trump asked, “why are we having all these people from shit hole countries?” – the Washington Post quoted him as saying. He further added that the United States should admit more people from places like Norway. Trump had just met Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg a day before these comments; around 83% of the population in Norway is racially white. Never mind that Norwegians rejected Trump’s ‘generous’ offer outright, flooding Twitter with “thanks, but no thanks” messages.

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting in White House, during a press conference said that, “In the course of his comments, (Trump) said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist. You have seen the comments from the press. I have not read one of them that is inaccurate,” said Durbin, who has been serving as US Senator from Illinois since 1997. In response to Trump’s denial (through Twitter of course), Durbin thrashed them as lies, and said, “It is not true. He said those things, and he said them repeatedly.”

The vulgarity and insolence in Trump’s comments did not distress Norway as much as it did the people of Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, who Trump equated as shithole countries without thinking for ‘hole’ amount of time. The African Union Mission in Washington D.C. expressed its “shock, dismay and outrage”, and demanded Trump’s apology. The African group of Ambassadors to the United Nations issued a statement “condemned the outrageous statements” made by Trump, and demanded a retraction and an apology.

This is not the first time that Trump has been so racially vocal. His special love for Mexicans and Muslims came out during his Presidential campaign during the better part of 2016, and continued even after he assumed office. It is amazing how exhausting the list is of Trump’s racial comments, never mind his comments on women and their physique. His comments range from calling the Haitians who “all have AIDS”, to asserting Nigerian immigrants “would never go back to their huts”, from blaming both the sides for violence in Charlottesville, to calling a District Judge from the Southern District of California ‘unfair’ in hearing out Trump University case simply because he was Mexican. These are just the shit ones that Trump spat out from his hole after becoming the President.

The US President is the perfect example of an extremist pushing the agenda of white supremacy, inadvertently nurturing the racist elements like the ones in Charlottesville, Virginia. He comes from the world of white dunderheads who built their empires on the blood and bones of black immigrants. He is the modern-day image of those vampire lords and ladies who in the days gone by sucked the blood out of African nations, and rendered them ensanguined, fractured, down in the drains.

Not only is Trump a bad President, but a worse human being. It is impossible to imagine how America, a country that seemed to be looking ahead of its brutal racial history, chose a person who is the sickest, most demented, and most unfit to be the ‘champion of this free world’. The full list of his racial, sexist, and vulgar comments would make for an inexhaustible Wikipedia page, and unfortunately for the world, that page would never go dead at least for the next three years

Bangladesh and Myanmar agree on repatriation process of Rohingya Muslims

Dhaka, January 16: Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to complete the repatriation of thousands of Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar within the next two years. Myanmar has agreed to accept 1500 Rohingya each week for the next two years.

Bangladesh and Myanmar foreign ministries informed of the repatriation in a statement issued on January 16. According to the statement, Bangladesh would be setting up five transit camps on either side of the border. Myanmar, in its statement, claimed of building a transit camp with the capacity of housing 30,000 the returning migrants. The repatriation process will be starting from January 23, 2018.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised concerns about forcefully extraditing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya across the border, hoping “that refugees will be able to return home when they themselves choose to.”

While talking in a press conference, UNHCR spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic informed that some major changes need to be overcome to ensure successful repatriation. “These include ensuring that refugees are informed about the situation in their areas of origin and potential return and consulted on their wishes; that their safety is ensured throughout –  on departure, in transit and on return; and that the environment in the areas of return is conducive for safe and sustainable return,” he said.

More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine state in Myanmar amidst racial violence in 2016 and 2017. The attacks by Rohingya insurgent on the security posts of Myanmar army had resulted in a fierce military backlash. Around 6700 Rohingya including 730 children were killed in August 2017 alone.

Sources – Reuters , BBC