2019, June, Newsletter

World Newsletter June 10, 2019

World News June 10

PARLIAMENT WARNS SIRISENA AGAINST SCUTTLING EASTER ATTACKS INVESTIGATION

Sri Lanka’s Parliament warned President Maithripala Sirisena not to scuttle
an investigation into security lapses before the Easter suicide bombings,
the Speaker’s office said on Sunday.
The warning came after Mr. Sirisena said he would not cooperate with the
parliamentary probe and would not allow defence or police officials to
testify before the committee. Mr. Sirisena called an emergency Cabinet
meeting on Friday to oppose the legislature’s investigation into the
attacks.
“Any public servant summoned by the PSC [Parliamentary Select Committee] is
obliged to give evidence,” Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said in a two-page
response to Mr. Sirisena. “Officials are fully aware of the serious
consequences if they fail to respond.”
Officials at the Speaker’s office said Mr. Jayasuriya made it clear to Mr.
Sirisena that he will not call off the PSC and it will continue its public
hearings. Evidence before the parliamentary select committee, which began
its publicly televised sittings late last month, has placed Mr. Sirisena in
a poor light, suggesting that he failed to act on advance warning of the
attacks.
Mr. Sirisena told his police top brass on Friday that he would not allow any
police, military or intelligence personnel to testify. However, senior
Defence Ministry sources said that in view of the Speaker’s latest warning,
they will have to cooperate with the committee.

‘MILLION MARCH’: HUGE HONG KONG PROTEST AGAINST CHINA EXTRADITION LAW

Hong Kong witnessed the largest protest since its 1997 handover to China on
Sunday as huge crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to the
mainland, a proposal that has plunged the city’s pro-Beijing leaders into a
crisis.
Organisers said more than a million people marched in blazing summer heat
through the cramped streets of the financial hub’s main island in a noisy,
colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned
extradition law.
The demonstration was by far the biggest the international finance hub has
experienced since it was returned to China by Britain-beaten only by a 1.5
million-strong demonstration during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the
Tiananmen protesters.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leaders are pushing a Bill through the legislature
that would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction with which it does not
already have a treaty-including mainland China.
But the proposals have sparked an outcry and birthed an opposition that
unites a wide cross-section of the city.
“If mainland China can arbitrarily extradite some people to the mainland, it
would destroy not only our way of living here in Hong Kong, it would also
destroy our economy, because many people would leave this place,” protester
Tommy Lo told AFP.
For more than six hours on Sunday dense crowds snaked their way through the
city chanting “Scrap the evil law!” and “Oppose China extradition!”, the
lines of white-dressed demonstrators stretching for miles.
But it is unclear if the city’s current leadership will be moved.
The city’s appointed leader Carrie Lam has staked her political reputation
on the Bill passing.
Ignoring the protests could fuel anger or even a return to the unrest of
2014 when pro-democracy protesters took over key intersections of the city
for two months.
Organisers said on Sunday they would “upgrade their actions” if the
government did not drop the Bill.
But backtracking by Lam might embolden opponents and anger Beijing. Several
senior Communist Party leaders in China have voiced support for the Bill.

PALESTINIANS HIT OUT AT U.S. ENVOY’S COMMENTS

Palestinian leaders said that a U.S. envoy’s comments on Israel having the
right to annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank showed that
“extremists” are involved in White House policy on the issue.
In a statement late on Saturday in response to U.S. Ambassador to Israel
David Friedman’s comments, a Palestinian government spokesman said some of
those leading U.S. policy on the issue were “extremists” lacking in
“political maturity.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it was looking into filing a complaint
with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the issue. Palestine
Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat on Twitter called Mr.
Friedman an “extreme ambassador of the settlers.” “Their vision is about
annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law,” he
said.
Mr. Erekat also renewed a Palestinian call for countries to boycott a June
25-26 conference in Bahrain to discuss economic aspects of a peace deal the
White House has been working on.
In an interview published on Saturday, Mr. Friedman said some degree of
annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate. “Under certain
circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely
all, of the West Bank,” he said.

EUROPEANS ARE IN NO POSITION TO CRITICISE IRAN, SAYS JAVAD ZARIF

European countries are in “no position” to criticise Iran, Foreign Minister
Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday ahead of a visit by his German
counterpart Heiko Maas.
Mr. Maas is due in Tehran on Monday, against a backdrop of Iranian pressure
for Europe to uphold commitments made under a 2015 nuclear deal since
abandoned by the U.S.
“Europeans are certainly in no position to criticise Iran, even about issues
that have nothing to do with” the agreement, Mr. Zarif said.
European and Western policies “have only caused damage in the region,” Mr.
Zarif said.
“Now some countries like Germany have stopped selling arms to Saudi Arabia
for bombarding the people of Yemen, some other countries haven’t done so,”
he added.
“In general, the West has allowed the autocratic regimes in our region to
commit crimes.”
Mr. Zarif said that Europeans have “a duty” to ensure that Iran’s economic
relations return to normal.

WHITE HOUSE TRIED TO STOP CLIMATE SCIENCE TESTIMONY, DOCUMENTS SHOW

The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst
from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week,
internal emails and documents show.
The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research declined to make
changes to the proposed testimony and the analyst, Rod Schoonover, an
adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was ultimately allowed to speak
before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Wednesday.
But in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve
Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional
Record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email seen by The New York
Times, was that the science did not match the Trump administration’s views.
“The testimony still has serious concerns with internal components and
focuses heavily on the science,” Daniel Greenwood, deputy assistant to the
president in the White House office of legislative affairs, wrote in an
email. “Because it doesn’t reflect the coordinated IC position, or the
administration’s position, there is no way this can be cleared ahead of the
hearing,” he wrote, using government shorthand for the intelligence
community.
On almost every page of Schoonover’s testimony, the National Security
Council offered comments and criticisms, according to a document that tracks
changes. Two people familiar with the document said the notes were from
William Happer, a physicist and White House adviser on the council who
denies the established scientific consensus on climate change.

NEPAL FACES CHALLENGE IDENTIFYING EVEREST BODIES

The bodies of four climbers who failed their Everest challenge and left
little clue as to their identity have thrown up a new challenge for Nepalese
authorities who control the world’s tallest peak.
Worn by the wind and cold to near skeletons, the remains have been in a
Kathmandu morgue since they were brought back from the slopes two weeks ago
with nearly 11 tonnes of trash.
Police and government officials admit they face a huge challenge putting
names to the dead climbers and sending them back to their home countries.
They cannot even be sure how long the corpses had been among scores waiting
to be found on the slopes.
A government-organised clean-up team retrieved the bodies between the
Everest base camp and the South Col at 7,906 metres (25,938 feet) this
climbing season.
“The bodies are not in a recognisable state, almost down to their bones.
There is no face to identify them,” senior police official Phanindra Prasai
told AFP.
“We have directed the hospital to collect DNA samples so they can be matched
with any families who come forward.”
Nepalese police are going through administrative processes so they can make
an appeal for help and inform foreign diplomatic missions about the bodies.
But some fear the mystery could take years to solve.

PAKISTAN FLIGHT PASSENGER OPENS EMERGENCY EXIT DOOR THINKING IT’S TOILET

A woman passenger, aboard a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight,
sparked panic after she mistakenly opened the emergency exit door of the
aircraft thinking it was the toilet.
The national carrier said the plane was on the runaway of the Manchester
airport early Saturday when the woman pressed the button, opening the
emergency exit door.
“The PIA flight, PK 702, from Manchester to Islamabad was delayed by seven
hours. The departure was delayed on Friday night when a passenger
erroneously opened the emergency exit causing the emergency chute to
activate,” said a PIA spokesperson.
After the incident, about 40 passengers were offloaded along with their
luggage as per standard operating procedure.
The PIA said that the passengers were provided transportation and hotel
accommodation and later on adjusted on other flight.
PIA chief executive Air Marshal Arshad Malik ordered an inquiry into the
incident.
The national flag carrier has been running into losses for years and the
government is trying to improve it.

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