2019, April, Newsletter

World Newsletter Apr 28, 2019

World News April 28

IN ANOTHER AMERICA FIRST MOVE, TRUMP WITHDRAWS FROM ARMS TRADE TREATY

Continuing Washington’s drift from multilateralism, US President Donald
Trump has announced that he was withdrawing the country from the Arms Trade
Treaty (ATT).
At a meeting of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis on Friday, he
dramatically pulled out a letter for ending US participation in the treaty
and signed it on stage to a standing ovation by the audience of weapons
control opponents.
He called the ATT “badly conceived” and said: “The UN will get notice that
we are formally rejecting this treaty.” The US signed the treaty in 2013 but
has not ratified it. Trump said that he was withdrawing it also from the
Senate.
Advancing his America First policy, he has already withdrawn the US from
UNESCO, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INFT), which bans
nuclear-tipped missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 km, and the agreement on
denuclearising Iran that was made by the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, Germany and Tehran.
Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, the ATT covers all types of
weapons and seeks to stop them from reaching regimes abusing human rights or
parties in civil wars, armed and terrorist groups.
Democrats denounced Trump’s decision.
“Pulling the US out of yet another arms control treaty undermines our
national security and makes for a more dangerous world,” Speaker Nancy
Pelosi tweeted.

SRI LANKA: 15 BODIES FOUND AFTER OVERNIGHT RAID BY TROOPS; FOUR SUSPECTED IS
GUNMEN KILLED

At least 15 bodies, including six children and three women, were discovered
during an overnight raid and gunfight on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Four
suspected Islamic State gunmen were killed and three others were injured in
the shootout, said a police spokesperson.
The gun battle near Sainthamaruthu in Ampara began Friday night after police
tipped off soldiers to a suspected safe house, where militants set off three
explosions triggering fire, the military said. The authorities are on a
lookout for 140 people believed linked to ISIS, which claimed responsibility
for the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 253 people last Sunday.
Nearly 10,000 soldiers were deployed across the Indian Ocean island state to
carry out searches and provide security for religious centres, the military
said.
he military says security forces have recovered explosives, detonators,
“suicide kits,” military uniforms and Islamic State group flags during the
raids.

BRI SHOULD FOLLOW GLOBAL NORMS AND BENEFIT ALL, SAYS XI

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday said that the Belt and Road
Initiative should benefit all around the world and deliver common
development by following the established international norms.
Addressing a roundtable meeting of the 37 heads of states and governments
who attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF), which would close on
Saturday, Xi again stressed that the trillion-dollar Belt and Road
Initiative (BRI) would focus on common development of all the participating
countries and their people.
“We must implement the principle of extensive consultation, joint
contribution and shared benefits to see that all voices are heard, all
reached their full potential and all stand to benefit,” the Chinese
President said.
The BRI must be open, clean and green and follow high standards, people
centred sustainable approach, he said, adding that it should be aligned to
the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda.
“Align our cooperation with universally accepted rules, standards and best
practices and pursue social and economic progress and environmental
protection in a balanced way. The BRI should be beneficial to all and
deliver common development,” Xi said.

SRI LANKA BANS NTJ, OUTFIT LINKED TO ISIS

Sri Lanka on Saturday banned local Islamist extremist outfit NTJ and a
splinter group, which are linked to the ISIS that has claimed the
responsibility for the Easter bombings that left 253 people dead and several
hundreds injured.
National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim, the mastermind behind
the attacks, was killed inside the Shangri La hotel were he detonated
himself.
President Maithripala Sirisena used emergency powers to ban the NTJ and a
splinter group identified as Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI), a statement
said.
“All movable and immovable property of these two organisations will be
confiscated,” the statement said.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Easter terror
attacks on three Catholic churches and three luxury hotels but the
government has blamed a local Islamist extremist group, National Tawheed
Jamath (NTJ), for the bombings.

FBI WARNS OF RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN 2020 RACE

The FBI director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in
U.S. elections, calling it a “significant counterintelligence threat.” The
bureau has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses
against foreign interference, according to a senior FBI official.
The Trump administration has come to see that Russia’s influence operations
have morphed into a persistent threat. The FBI, the intelligence agencies
and the Department of Homeland Security have made permanent the task forces
they created to confront 2018 midterm election interference, senior U.S.
national security officials said.
“We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping
their game,” Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, said Friday in a speech
in Washington, citing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the
United States and the Kremlin’s record of malign influence operations.
“So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the
big show in 2020,” he said.

IMRAN KHAN APPOINTS NEW INTERIOR MINISTER, OPPOSITION RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT
‘NEW’ PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s new interior minister, appointed in a major cabinet reshuffle
this month by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is a former spy chief and close
ally of the country’s last military ruler who has long been accused of deep
ties to militant groups.
The appointment of retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah has been heavily criticised
by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), whose slain former leader
Benazir Bhutto regarded him as a deadly enemy.
Some analysts said it suggested Pakistan’s powerful military continued to
wield heavy influence over the civilian administration – a persistent
allegation since Khan took office eight months ago that both his government
and the generals deny.
In an interview with the BBC after his appointment, Shah said: “What power
can I give the military as interior minister? I left the army a long time
ago, I am a civilian and have participated in elections.”
The prime minister’s office and the information ministry did not respond to
requests for comment.
Shah was among four members of the civilian-military establishment named by
Bhutto in a letter written to then-President Pervez Musharraf months before
her assassination as suspects who should be investigated if she was killed.
“Are you trying to send a message to the world that we have terrorists and
the abettors of terrorists in our cabinet?” Bhutto’s son and chairman of the
PPP, Bilawal Bhutto, told the country’s parliament this week, referring to
Shah’s appointment. “This cannot happen.”

LENS ON U.K. HOME OFFICE OVER TREATMENT OF ASIAN STUDENTS

Britain’s Home Office is under investigation by the country’s spending
watchdog over its treatment of thousands of students – from India, Pakistan
and Bangladesh – who had their visas cancelled over allegations of cheating
on English language tests that they had taken to come to the U.K.
The investigation follows years of warnings from campaigners that tens of
thousands of students had been unjustly treated, after being mistakenly
deemed to have cheated on their tests in a crackdown by the government that
followed revelations of fraud at two testing centres.
While many have been deported, others have returned home voluntarily, unable
or unwilling to contest the charges against them, while other have had their
lives disrupted – and access to basic public services blocked – as they
remained in the UK, attempting to appeal the decision taken against them.
Around 34,000 students and entrepreneurs have been accused of cheating, and
a further 22,000 had their results questioned.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a statement that it was “looking at
the information held by the Home Office on the number of people alleged to
have cheated and the action the Home Office has taken to date”.
“This is an important step on the road to justice for thousands of innocent
students,” said Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice, which has been
working to support impacted students and has been working with the NAO over
the past few months, including holding focus groups with impacted students.
“The Home Office’s handling of the issue has been spectacularly unfair and
opaque, and it’s high time the truth was brought to light.”

SRI LANKAN EX-DEFENCE CHIEF GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSA SAYS HE WILL RUN FOR
PRESIDENT, TACKLE RADICAL ISLAM

Sri Lanka’s former wartime defence chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said on Friday
he would run for president in elections this year and would stop the spread
of Islamist extremism by rebuilding the intelligence service and surveilling
citizens.
Gotabaya, as he is popularly known, is the younger brother of former
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the two led the country to the defeat of
separatist Tamil rebels a decade ago after a 26-year civil war.
Gotabaya said the attacks could have been prevented if the island’s current
government had not dismantled the intelligence network and extensive
surveillance capabilities that he built up during the war and later on.
“Because the government was not prepared, that’s why you see a panic
situation,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
Gotabaya said he would be a candidate “100 percent”, firming up months of
speculation that he plans to run in the elections, which are due by
December.

DEAD TO OUTNUMBER THE LIVING ON FACEBOOK IN 50 YEARS

If Facebook continues to expand at current rates, the number of deceased
users could reach as high as 4.9 billion before the end of the century,
making it the world’s biggest graveyard, predict researchers from the
University of Oxford.
The dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within 50 years, a trend that
will have grave implications for how we treat our digital heritage in the
future, said researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), a part of
the university.
The analysis predicts that based on 2018 user levels, at least 1.4 billion
members will die before 2100. In this scenario, the dead could outnumber the
living by 2070.
“These statistics give rise to new and difficult questions around who has
the right to all this data, how should it be managed in the best interests
of the families and friends of the deceased and its use by future historians
to understand the past,” said lead author Carl Ohman, a doctoral candidate
at the OII.
The analysis sets up two potential extreme scenarios, arguing that the
future trend will fall somewhere in between.
The first scenario assumes that no new users join as of 2018.
Under these conditions, Asia’s share of dead users increases rapidly to
account for nearly 44 per cent of the total by the end of the century.
“Nearly half of those profiles come from India and Indonesia, which together
account for just under 279 million Facebook mortalities by 2100,” the
researchers said.

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