Connect with us

World

UN Council at Odds Over Peacekeeping Operation in Lebanon | World News

Published

on

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council remains at odds over the way the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground, with the United States backing Israel’s demands for major changes.

At a closed council meeting Tuesday on the mission known as UNIFIL, whose mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft stressed the need for a new mandate.

“The U.S. has long reiterated publicly and privately that the status quo in Lebanon is unacceptable,” Craft said in a statement to The Associated Press after the meeting. “Now is the time to empower UNIFIL, end the long complacency, and enable the mission to fully achieve what it was set out to accomplish.”

But Craft faces an uphill struggle because most of the council backs a continuation of the current UNIFIL mandate.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has written to the council calling for a 12-month renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, stressing the importance of maintaining high troop strength.

UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops after a 1978 invasion. The mission was expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah militants so that peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades.

Germany’s deputy U.N. ambassador Günter Sautter told the council in remarks circulated by the country’s U.N. mission that “recent tensions and the danger of escalation only underline the importance of UNIFIL presence on the ground.” He said “the new political reality” since last week’s devastating explosion at Beirut’s port made it “more important than ever.”

“UNIFIL’s mandate continues to be of utmost importance,” Sautter said. “It is clear that UNIFIL will not be able to do more with less. We therefore fully support UNIFIL in its current mandate and strength, and we hope that the council will once more show unanimous support to this important mission.”

Israel has repeatedly accused Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants of impeding the peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate.

Israel’s former ambassador Danny Danon said in May that Israel will insist that peacekeepers have access to all sites, that they have freedom of movement and that any time they are being blocked the U.N. Security Council must be immediately informed.

Craft said at that time that UNIFIL was being “prevented from fulfilling its mandate” and Hezbollah had “been able to arm itself and expand operations, putting the Lebanese people at risk.”

She said the Security Council “must either pursue serious change to empower UNIFIL or realign its staffing and resources with tasks it can actually accomplish.”

France is expected sometime this week to circulate a draft resolution to continue UNIFIL’s operations, and diplomats are predicting tough negotiations before the mandate expires on Aug. 31.

As of June 15, UNIFIL comprised 10,275 military personnel from 45 troop-contributing countries, 238 international civilian staff, and 580 national civilian staff.

Its Maritime Task Force comprised six vessels, two helicopters and 864 of the force’s military personnel. However, one vessel was damaged in last week’s deadly explosion and over 20 naval personnel were injured, two critically.

Jan Kubis, the United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, and U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed Tuesday’s virtual council meeting.

Kubis urged the rapid formation of a new government following Monday’s resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his Cabinet.

The U.N. quoted him as telling the council: “There are immediate humanitarian needs that need to be addressed and necessary reforms that need to be undertaken without any delay to restore the trust of the Lebanese people, and of the international community in Lebanon.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source link

World

Friday briefing: ‘Prejudiced’ Home Office not learning – MPs | World news

Published

on

By

Top story: ‘Too little intent to change’

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you matters topical this Friday morning.

The Home Office has drawn on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” to draw up immigration policies instead of relying on evidence, the public accounts committee of MPs has concluded in a highly critical report. Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures, with officials having “no idea” what its £400m annual spending on immigration enforcement achieves.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said that while the Home Office accepts the damage done by the Windrush scandal, “the evidence we saw shows too little intent to change”. Despite years of debate and concern, the department has not estimated the illegal population in the UK since 2005, meaning “potentially exaggerated figures calculated by others could inflame hostility towards immigrants”, says the report. A lack of diversity at senior levels has created blind spots in the organisation: “Only one member of its executive committee came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.” On Brexit, the report warns officials have been caught “unprepared for the challenges”, such as cooperation with the EU on the return of foreign offenders and illegal migrants.

The committee has given the Home Office six months to come up with a detailed plan to fix problems, particularly with regard to tackling illegal migration. Minnie Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the report was a “very accurate picture of a clueless, careless and cold-hearted Home Office”. A Home Office source said the home secretary agreed with the PAC assessment of “historical issues … She has spoken at great length about how the department puts process before people, and it is why she has committed to implementing the findings of the Wendy Williams review into Windrush.”


Coronavirus latest – Test and trace has been condemned as “barely functional” as its tsar, Dido Harding, admitted demand was up to four times capacity while 90% of tests were failing to hit the 24-hour turnaround target. The Guardian has seen documents showing tracers taking up to two weeks to alert contacts of people diagnosed with Covid-19. But Harding has told MPs: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.” Leeds and Lancashire are expected to face enhanced lockdown measures, bringing the number of people subject to restrictions to more than 11 million, including nearly 2 million in north-east England.

Just 1.9% of people using a home test kit in England got their results within 24 hours in the week to 9 September – the lowest since test and trace began in May. Results from 33.3% of in-person tests were turned around within 24 hours, down from 66.5% the previous week. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has said in a CNN town hall: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president.” Follow further developments at our live blog.


GCSE gap narrows – Disadvantaged students in England narrowed the GCSE attainment gap with their peers this summer, according to an analysis. Based on this year’s results at 1,200 secondary schools, researchers found that 56% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a 4 or above in English and maths, compared with 78% of non-disadvantaged pupils. At 22 percentage points the gap remains vast, but it is an improvement on 2019 when it was 26 percentage points. A separate report has found that state schools in the most deprived areas of England have suffered their worst decline in funding since the 1980s. The decline that began under David Cameron’s Tory-led coalition is so deep that the additional £7bn pledged by the current government will not be enough to reverse the cuts by 2023, says the IFS. England spends around £6,100 per pupil a year, well behind £7,300 in Scotland where investment continued to rise over the course of the 2000s.


Russia still meddling: FBI – Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections to undermine Joe Biden and sap Americans’ confidence in the election process. He said a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” could undermine confidence in the result of the election. On the US campaign trail, Donald Trump has been condemned for downplaying America’s historic legacy of slavery and claiming schoolchildren have been subjected to “decades of leftwing indoctrination”.


Toe springs’ internal toll – Trainers that curve upward at the toe may carry a risk of doing long-term damage to the wearer’s feet, researchers are warning. The “toe spring” is a common feature that helps the front of the foot roll forwards, making thick and cushioned soles more comfortable. But the effect on foot muscles had not been well studied until now. A team at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany found the spring makes the muscles’ work easier but this might weaken them to the point where other structures in the foot, such as ligaments, take over, increasing the risk of conditions like plantar fasciitis. Responding to the study, Trevor Prior, consultant podiatric surgeon and spokesman for the College of Podiatry in the UK, said the detrimental effect was theoretical but people should wear a range of footwear to minimise the negative effect any specific shoe design might have.


Ockham’s poo knife – To test a folk story, Metin Eren from Kent State University in Ohio tried making a knife from his own frozen faeces. He tested it on animal hide – ending in failure but ultimately earning an Ig Nobel award for research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”. This year’s awards included a physics prize for recording the shape of earthworms when vibrated at high frequency; a peace prize to India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each other’s doorbells and run away; and an economics prize for the UK after Chris Watkins, a psychologist at the University of Abertay, found French kissing is more common in areas of high income inequality. Boris Johnson shared a medical education prize with the likes of Trump and Putin for demonstrating during the pandemic that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors.

Today in Focus podcast: Amy Dorris – ‘Trump groped me’

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, former model Amy Dorris talked to Lucy Osborne about allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”.

Today in Focus

Amy Dorris – Trump groped me

Lunchtime read: ‘I was 19 with cornrows from Harlem’

With the release of a new album, Alicia Keys picks favourite tracks from her back catalogue and talks about the magic of working with Kanye West, surviving the tough streets of New York and her struggles with self-worth.

Alicia Keys



Alicia Keys. Photograph: Milan Zirnic

Sport

Recently crowned US Open champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open in another serious blow to organisers of the tournament in Paris. Rory McIlroy made a solid start to the US Open, scoring 67 in the first round to lie two shots behind leader Justin Thomas. Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign the midfielder Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich for €30m (£27.3m) on a four-year contract. Goals from Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele secured a Europa League comeback win for Tottenham against Lokomotiv Plovdiv after the hosts had two men sent off. Jemma Reekie again emphasised her striking talent by beating her friend and housemate Laura Muir in a tactical 800m at the Rome Diamond League.

Rob Baxter backed the decision to allow Northampton to draft in Gloucester’s Alex Seville for the European Champions Cup quarter-final at Exeter on Sunday, but he accused the Saints of playing mind games to swing the decision. Fifty years after she helped form a breakaway women’s tour, the Fed Cup has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. And German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

Business

Asia-Pacific shares have been slightly higher despite the overnight fall on Wall Street. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up as did South Korea’s Kospi and the Hang Seng while Sydney was little changed and Shanghai added 0.5%. A 0.18% fall is indicated for the FTSE at the open while the pound is worth $1.295 and €1.093 at time of writing.

The papers

Test and trace ‘barely functional’ as 10m people now face lockdown” reports the Guardian and our print edition’s front-page picture is of Amy Dorris who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump at the US Open in 1997. The Mirror also reports the 10m figure and “tough new local curbs imposed all over UK”.

Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020



Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020.

The Times reports “‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in Covid-19 testing labs” while the Telegraph has “Hospitals told to clear beds for Covid spike in two weeks”– both papers give a picture slot to models for London fashion week. Metro leads with “Cases up 75% in one week … 24-hour test results down 50%”.

“Here, at last!” – a debatable comma there but the Express continues “Virus test result in just 90 minutes”. It’s about the NudgeBox – as our report explains the device is a game-changer for testing where lab facilities are unavailable, but can only take one sample at a time, meaning a maximum of 16 tests in 24 hours. The Mail has “£1bn cost of maternity blunders”. The i bags a decent angle: “Emergency powers will allow use of unlicensed vaccine in UK”, saying the government is prepared to sidestep EU licensing laws. The FT goes with Brexit: “Von der Leyen ‘convinced’ Brussels can still reach trade deal with UK”.

Sign up


The Guardian Morning Briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, you can sign up here.

For more news: www.theguardian.com

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Global coronavirus cases surpass 30 million as deaths continue to rise – National

Published

on

By

Coronavirus is continuing to spread across the globe, with the number of confirmed cases surpassing 30 million on Thursday and the death toll fast approaching one million.

As of 7:15 p.m. ET, 30,003,378 cases have been diagnosed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China, late in 2019, it has claimed more than 943,000 lives around the world.

Read more:
‘This is a concern’: Canada’s daily coronavirus cases rise 25% over last week

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded Canadians that “we are not out of the woods,” and urged people to continue practising physical distancing and wear masks whenever possible.






Concerns of COVID-19 second wave as new cases rise


Concerns of COVID-19 second wave as new cases rise

The number of reported COVID-19 cases first surpassed 10 million on June 28, then reached 20 million just over six weeks later on Aug. 10, according to Johns Hopkins’ data.

Story continues below advertisement

The U.S. has remained the epicentre of the virus, with more than 6.6 million infections and more than 197,000 fatalities.

Read more:
Study sheds light on coronavirus ‘long-haulers,’ but experts still lack clear picture

India has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases and has surpassed Brazil (4.4 million cases) to emerge as the second hardest-hit country in the world, just below the U.S.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

On Wednesday, India had more than 5.1 million confirmed cases — one million cases were reported over the last month.

Canada has reported more than 140,000 coronavirus cases, with 9,200 confirmed deaths.






Coronavirus: Dr. Tam calls case-count increase as schools reopen ‘concerning’


Coronavirus: Dr. Tam calls case-count increase as schools reopen ‘concerning’

Canada has seen a steady uptick of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks as the weather gets colder and children and teachers head back to school.

Story continues below advertisement

The federal government has pledged billions of dollars in funding to provinces and territories to boost testing capacity, while some provinces have begun re-imposing measures to rein in the spread of the virus.



© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



Source link

Continue Reading

World

U.S. Charges Three Iranians Over Satellite Tech Firm Hacking | World News

Published

on

By

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against three Iranians over allegations they stole information from aerospace and satellite technology firms on behalf of the Islamic republic’s Revolutionary Guards.

The indictments follow a flurry of recent actions against alleged Iranian cyber spies including the announcement, earlier on Thursday, that entities and individuals associated with an Iranian hacking group sometimes dubbed APT39 were being sanctioned by the Treasury Department.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement it was the third time in three days that alleged Iranian hackers had been indicted, calling out what he described as “yet another effort by a rogue foreign nation to steal the fruits of this country’s hard work and expertise.”

The defendants, identified as Said Pourkarim Arabi, 34, Mohammad Reza Espargham, whose age is unknown, and Mohammad Bayati, 34, are alleged to have impersonated colleagues or academics to get their targets to download malicious software, prosecutors said.

Attempts to locate contact information for the Iranian defendants were not immediately successful. Messages sent to email addresses allegedly used by the hackers either bounced back as undeliverable or were not immediately returned.

At one point, according to prosecutors, Arabi, Espargham, and Bayati had a hit list more than 1,800 accounts long, including targets in the aerospace and satellite technology fields as well as employees of international governmental organizations. The indictment did not identify the people or organizations targeted but said they hailed from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, and Singapore.

Prosecutors said the trio were working for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Arabi, the indictment says, was an IRGC operations manager and lived in IRGC housing.

A message left with Iran’s mission to the United Nations was not immediately returned. Tehran regularly denies involvement in hacking.

(Reporting by Raphael Satter; Editing by Tom Brown)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending