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Tens of thousands in fresh anti-Kremlin rally

08.08.2020 7:31


Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Russia's Far East for a fifth consecutive weekend as anti-Kremlin rallies showed little sign of dying down on Saturday. The rallies in the city of some 600,000 people on the border with China is a major show of defiance against Moscow's policies and present a headache for President Vladimir Putin, observers say. The demonstrations were sparked by the sudden arrest of Khabarovsk's popular governor in a murder probe but has since acquired a wider, distinctly anti-Kremlin agenda.

From: news.yahoo.com

'France is watching!' True reason Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut so soon after disaster

08.08.2020 6:50

EMMANUEL MACRON's motivations for visiting Beirut so soon after the devastating explosion has been exposed by an expert who hinted the French President may be seeking further influence.

From: feedproxy.google.com

Mali's Keita appoints Constitutional Court judges to ease crisis

08.08.2020 6:21

Nine judges chosen by presidential decree as part of a compromise intended to ease months-long political turmoil.

From: www.aljazeera.com

Three women unite to unseat Europe's 'last dictator'

08.08.2020 6:19

"I am not in politics for power. I am in it for justice," said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who is running against Belarusian president Alexander Lukaschenko.

From: www.nbcnews.com

The Fearless Journalist Targeted by a Murderous Dictator

08.08.2020 5:17


Ramona Diaz’s latest documentary, A Thousand Cuts, stars former CNN correspondent and Rappler co-founder Maria Ressa, a formidable Filipino reporter who was born in the country yet spent much of her youth, as well as her college years, in the U.S. Ressa became famous herself when she began being targeted by the violent populist government of President Rodrigo Duterte and its online followers. The attacks have intensified to the level of political retaliation, and the government has levied multiple charges, from cyber-libel to tax fraud, against Ressa and Rappler, a news website. On June 15, Ressa was convicted of the first cyber-libel charge against her. A Thousand Cuts follows Ressa as well as a handful of her colleagues/employees at Rappler, from police beat reporter Rambo Talabong to investigative reporter Patricia Evangelista, who have spent years on the ground covering the graphic, out-in-the-open government-mandated murders of poor Filipinos who are deemed—rightly or wrongly—drug addicts and drug pushers. The film also follows two of Duterte’s most fervent and influential supporters, social media personality and former dancer Mocha Uson and former Police General Bato dela Rosa. Despite its panoptical view, A Thousand Cuts focuses on Ressa and the extreme nature of her predicament. The world over, journalists are targeted, jailed, disappeared, and even murdered (as was the Saudi exile Jamal Khashoggi) for doing their work. Ressa, who chose to live in the Philippines instead of the U.S. after the people-powered revolution that ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, has repeatedly returned to the Philippines rather than try to escape the trouble that has awaited her for years. The Daily Beast spoke to Ressa about what the most important takeaways are during a global descent into authoritarianism. It's a very sensitive moment for you, Maria, where this film is being made while you're in the midst of various complicated processes involving the politically motivated retaliation against you. My need was, realizing that we were in quicksand, this is a unique moment and we knew that in 2016, that we were under attack. So we grappled with: how do you report on yourself? And then I wanted it documented, but I couldn’t use Rappler’s resources for the longer term because we’re very small. Our organization’s a hundred people total and we only have 25 editorial people. Even in our video group, we work like crazy. So I felt bad even thinking of having someone document us. And then if it’s someone who knows you well documenting you if it’s an internal thing, then it’s clouded with lots of things. There were several people who asked, who were following me for periods of time. So, that was the stage that Ramona came into. That was my context. I wanted it documented and I wasn’t going to pay for it. ‘Immigration Nation’ Filmmakers Reveal How Team Trump Tried to Block and Censor Their ICE Documentary‘The Kingmaker’: A Scathing Portrait of the Female Donald TrumpHow do you build trust? Of course, I knew Ramona’s work because in 2004, she turned me down for an interview for [her documentary] Imelda. And at that point I was at CNN. I knew she had a different framework, which is the fly on the wall kind of cinema vérité. But my thing [is] at a certain point, a journalist makes a decision because if you’re doing a daily story, you make a decision immediately in terms of framework, in terms of the story. And inevitably, there are only eight themes globally. Every story falls into that. And so you make a judgment about the person you’re talking about. You don’t tell it to people, but for instance, if someone is lying to you, you know they’re lying to you and you put context to it. So that’s what she had to hurdle because I wasn’t completely convinced about her framework. I felt that the film really followed closely along to what at least seemed to me to be your personality, Maria, which is this ability to take grave moments or chaos, and to constantly reframe and recontextualize, to tell the people around you (or the audience) that this is how we need to look at it. And that's a very journalistic trait, but the fact that you’re able to do that in your real life in real time is impressive. Everyone’s different when they’re being documented in any way, but were you thinking about this comportment as the film was rolling? No. At a certain point I really did forget they were there because they became part of Rappler in a weird way, you know? And yet really the things we were dealing with were off the wall. And this is something I learned from CNN when you’re in a conflict zone. I became a reporter for CNN in 1987, and in 1987, live shots were $10,000 for every 10 minutes. So you didn’t do a lot of live shots from the Philippines.The thing about live shots is you have max two minutes, maybe a minute and a half. And if you don’t have your thoughts organized, if you’re not on in that minute and a half, you lose your window. So that’s perfect, wonderful training because I learned to take a complex world and boil it to three points, because that’s all you can get in a minute. I’ve learned a ton just even in the last four years, but it’s been four years of these attacks [from Duterte and his administration]. That’s the big difference. I’m used to being a journalist and being in a war zone for two weeks. Three weeks, and you’re going stir crazy if you’re still in a conflict area. Three weeks, it frays your edges; it changes the way you look at the world. I’ve had colleagues—some of whom are not are no longer here—who get addicted to it because there’s a certain adrenaline of conflict and war zone coverage that isn’t constructive to you. That makes you lose your ties, the ties that really matter to your family and friends. So I got out of conflict reporting at just the right time, I think. And I wanted to build something. That’s why I’m in the Philippines. Let’s hope I didn’t make the wrong choiceThere’s comparisons made to the U.S. in the film and what’s going on here with Trump and his administration. The ways that populist dictator-types like Duterte and Trump function is that they try to manipulate the law. When the very premise of democracy, the very premise of fairness is being broken down, is it sufficient to react with the same tools you would have used in a fair and just society?I think that’s a great question. And I think that is playing out right now. We were talking about David Kaye—he was the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression—[because] his last day was last night. And the question I asked him, and this is connected to yours, is, “If facts are debatable,” because the biggest problem right now is that the world’s largest distributor of news is social media, and these platforms actually make sure lies laced with anger and hate spread faster than facts. But [the question I asked was], “If facts are debatable”—which is the biggest problem, this is the enabler of the rise of digital authoritarians, like a Trump and Duterte or Bolsonaro or Orbán in Hungary—”and we know that large groups of people are being manipulated by geopolitical forces, can we even have democracy? Do we have integrity of elections if we don’t have facts?” So if you think about it, that’s why journalists are under attack globally. Every report from Reporters Without Borders to CPJ will tell you that in the last decade, the attacks against journalists have just gone off the scale. Again, David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur, last night came out with a report that said that COVID-19 is closing the digital spaces.Law is the next phase, because facts are where everything begins, right? The facts are where two opposing sides—whether a journalist or someone else are at the water-cooler—can have a discussion. But if they have different facts, you have a big problem. And what is law? Law is still talking about the facts. It is to try to put order in society. So there is accountability, but if your facts are debatable, you cannot have laws. So that's also something I’ve learned in the last four years, working with like the people like Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher, the Covington lawyers who are [handling my case], I’m realizing that as journalists are fighting for facts and for truth, lawyers—both in the Philippines and the U.S., in international law, and, God forbid, international human rights law—all of this is quicksand right now, and they are trying to define it because the facts are debatable. So this is all connected in our world. I don’t think there’s any other time that epitomizes creative destruction as now. And I’ve lived through so many of these in Indonesia, in the Philippines before. I mean, today, really, truly everything that we thought we knew has been crushed and destroyed because facts are debatable. All the old systems we put in place can’t work when facts are debatable, when people are being manipulated. We have had courts and tribunals throughout history, but they haven’t always actually operated on the same set of facts as say, certain marginalized members of the population. You could take the Guatemalan genocide, for instance, and the impossibility of having indigenous voices fully heard by the system. But now these issues are coming up in a very disconcerting way. How do you reckon with the reality that there are all of these people in the Philippines who have legitimately felt marginalized by previous governments, even democratic governments, and so now they’ve turned to populism. It’s like COVID coming onto the world: the old problems are there, and they have not been solved. And then you come in with this added layer of technology that’s literally transforming all of us. I talk about social media as a behavioral modification system. And now it’s gone from governments to individuals. So, that’s happened. And then you add this layer of the pandemic. That’s what I mean, that everything is rubble. And again, I know this really well because I have been the target of these disinformation campaigns. Russian military doctrine includes these kinds of influence operations, as it does the U.S., which people forget. Influence operations are meant to change the way people think. So it changes the way they act.You don’t get justice by creating another wrong. You don’t. In our case, in the Philippines, it’s actually one of our reporters who said, “What does Duterte want and how does he get the crowd?” Because he promises them revenge, right? Again, the 1 percent versus the 99 percent, the inequality of the world has been there, but you don’t fix it with justice. And then I actually really think, because I had been the target of these misogynistic attacks, the kinds of exponential attacks that are meant to dehumanize me so that others will hate—this is inciting to hate. And the last time a German friend of mine actually said—because I’ve started showing some of the really nasty stuff that I wake up to—he said, “You know, this is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews, because when you’re dehumanized, then it opens the door to violence.” And there’s absolutely no sense of fairness in that. I think this is one of those moments in history where it isn’t just one nation, local is global and global is local because Silicon Valley has made these decisions about how facts are distributed to all of us around the world. And it’s just wrong. The decisions they’ve made, they have caused genocide in Myanmar, deaths in the Philippines and the drug war, I could go to jail. I love the question because it does expand it to justice, which is in the end why I became a journalist! Now, for Filipinos, our institutions are weak at best, corruption is endemic, law and order is sometimes an illusion, regardless of who’s in power. But for decades, from 1986 to 2016,  if you look at all of the surveys, Filipinos would go to news organizations for a sense of justice. It is always a search for justice, right? That’s always what motivates us. That’s why we have civilized society. because we know that there should be rule of law, but the paradigm, the paradigm is busted. If you don’t have facts—even if some facts are debatable, at least let’s agree on the shared facts.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Russia Looks to Africa to Extend Its Military Might

08.08.2020 5:14


MOSCOW—From Russia’s cyber-meddling in the U.S. presidential elections to its alleged hacking of coronavirus research, it’s clear the Kremlin is keen to undermine the democratic West. And it’s now looking to a new front to extend its hard and soft power and prop up fellow authoritarian regimes: the continent of Africa.Last week, the German newspaper Bild raised alarms about Russia’s growing influence in Africa, citing a classified German Foreign Ministry report that Russia has concluded agreements with six African nations to install military bases abroad, including in Egypt and Sudan.A private pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper, seeming to offer an unofficial answer, called the report false and countered that the West is merely jealous of warming trade ties.  The Real Reason Behind Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine HacksRussians Are Using African Troll Factories—and Encrypted Messaging—to Attack the U.S.Still, Vladimir Putin has made little secret of his interest in projecting the Kremlin’s influence around the world, and of making Africa a priority region for military cooperation. By forging military agreements with African countries, Russia is trying to “fit” the modern security system, pro-Kremlin experts say, competing with China and the United States. Russia’s military return to Africa began soon after the conflict in Ukraine in 2014. Moscow signed agreements for cooperation with more than 20 countries, including Madagascar, Angola, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Algeria is the largest recipient of Russian armaments in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan, and Angola. Many of these countries cooperated with the Soviet Union for decades. Soviet military surveillance planes, such as the Tu-95s and Tu-142s, used Luanda, the Angolan capital, as a base from which they could comb the Southern Atlantic Ocean for U.S. submarines.The Soviet Union had also teamed up with Angola’s Marxist leaders and backed a Cuban military intervention in Angola that continued from 1975 to 1991, poisoning relations between Moscow and Washington on African issues. Russian independent military expert Alexander Golts believes U.S. President Donald Trump’s isolationist policy has encouraged the Russian moves. America’s pullback, he said, makes it “comfortable” for Russia to expand its activity in the Middle East and Africa. Putin’s Man in the Central African Republic: Is Valery Zakharov at the Heart of Russian Skulduggery?Russian Trolls Are Staging a Takeover in Africa—With Help From Mercenaries“We can see that Russian military officers work in the Central African Republic, we see how Moscow increases its military activities in adventurous campaigns in Syria and Libya, while Trump prefers to stay away,” Golts told The Daily Beast. “Repeating the practice of Soviet leaders, who for decades threatened with expansion, Russia is trying to convince the United States and especially China that it can compete in Africa. But this time, it is much more a psychological thing by Putin—who’s been promising Russians to get them off their knees—than ideological,” as was the Russian support for African communist movements.   On Sunday, Bild cited a classified report by the German Foreign Office on “Russia’s new Africa ambitions.” It said the Kremlin had “contractually assured that it would build military bases in six states: the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mozambique and Sudan.”  The newspaper explained that African dictatorial regimes already use Russian mercenaries to gain or remain in power: “Russia, just like China, does not link its aid to questions of the rule of law” in the autocratic states on the continent, the report says. “In the secret paper, the Foreign Office analysts do not mince words: the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces and mercenaries are ‘of great interest to autocratic regimes in possible operations against their own people,’” the newspaper reported. In response, the Russian newspaper Arguments of the Week immediately countered: “Berlin is afraid that Russia will occupy Africa.”“Our country has a big part of the market on the Dark Continent,” the newspaper wrote, using a derogatory phrase for Africa, even in Russian. “Berlin is concerned that Russia can strengthen its position on the international arena, receiving Africa’s support for its policy at the United Nations.”  Indeed, last year Russia teamed up with African members of the U.N. Security Council to block statements regarding a coup in Sudan. “Russia has cultivated authoritarian regimes in Africa as potential allies in blocking international efforts to promote human rights and democratic governance through U.N.-affiliated organizations and agencies,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace warned.Additionally, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said two years ago, in March 2018, that at least 175 Russian military experts and instructors traveled to the Central African Republic to train local soldiers. Still, “it is one thing to train soldiers and sell weapons and a completely different thing to build military bases. That would require approval by the Russian parliament; besides, I cannot imagine Russia building a military base in Egypt,” where the United States already has close military cooperation with the country, Golts, the independent military expert, told The Daily Beast. “I think that the report published by Bild was a compilation of all the open sources that we have already heard about.”  After nearly a decade of absence in Africa, the Kremlin announced its full-scale return last year. Putin received more than 10,000 delegates from 54 African states at his summer residence in the resort city of Sochi for a conference on Russia and Africa. In meetings with leaders of dozens of African states, Putin toasted $12.5 billion worth of deals for building nuclear plants, selling missile defense systems and military jets: “Let’s drink to the success of our joint efforts to develop full-scale mutually beneficial cooperation, well-being, peaceful future and prosperity of our countries and people,” he proclaimed. At the summit, Russian officials promised to expand joint cooperation between Russian and African special services, exchange information, and continue training soldiers in African states. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and the war in Eastern Ukraine, Moscow actively looked southwards for new bases, building one in Syria’s Latakia for the Russian air force and re-enforcing a Mediterranean naval base at Tartus, which Russia has held since Soviet times. The bases in Africa appear to be the next step in global expansion. “A few new Russian bases in Africa would be nothing compared to thousands of the U.S. military bases, which are like a net covering our entire planet,” Yuriy Krupnov, a pro-Kremlin geopolitical analyst, told The Daily Beast. “Russia has around 100 various projects around the strategically important continent of Africa, with [its] population of one billion people, with Russia-educated experts in nearly every country; but compared to China’s more than $60 billion investments, Russia’s hardly developing any infrastructure,” Krupnov added. Russia’s military comeback in Africa partners the country with a list of states notorious for violating human rights, suggesting an alternative source of military and secret service expertise for governments that fall from favor with Western Europe or the United States. Compared to China’s investments in Africa, Russia’s financial outlays are tiny. But as an exercise in extending influence, Russia’s moves in Africa are now undeniable. Says the pro-Kremlin analyst Krupnov: “Our return is just an effort to fit into the modern security system.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Writer E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of rape, can go forward with lawsuit

08.08.2020 4:42

August 08, 2020 4:42 PM
NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A New York judge has rejected US President Donald Trump's bid to temporarily halt proceedings in a lawsuit filed against him by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of rape, a ruling that allows the case to move forward in the months before the presidential election.

From: www.straitstimes.com

Nick Cannon Says Kanye West Has His Vote for President

08.08.2020 4:20

Nick Cannon says America needs another Black man in the White House ... that's why he's team Kanye 2020. Nick was at LAX Friday when the photog asked him what he thought of Ye's run. Answer: "I love it!" Now, the photog took it a step further and...

From: www.tmz.com

Intel official: Russia trying to denigrate Biden while China prefers Trump not be reelected

08.08.2020 4:19

WASHINGTON — Russia is “using a range of measures” to interfere in the 2020 election and has enlisted a pro-Russian lawmaker from Ukraine — who has met with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer — “to undermine former vice president [Joe] Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party,” a top U.S. intelligence official said in a statement [...]

From: www.seattletimes.com

Coronavirus relief talks collapse on Capitol Hill as Trump readies executive actions

08.08.2020 4:19

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday signaled he was ready to forge ahead without Congress to try to address lapsed economic relief measures for millions of Americans, but he stopped short of declaring negotiations dead. The path forward remained unclear, as he used a news conference Friday evening to discuss steps he might take [...]

From: www.seattletimes.com

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