Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore accused of sexually assaulting teen girl

from November 9, 2017 at 11:21AM

Roy Moore, the Republican Senate nominee in Alabama, has been accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.

In a statement, the Moore campaign claimed that the Washington Post – which reported the woman’s accusation – had waged “systematic campaign to distort the truth” and that “this garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation”.

He told the paper: “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”

The Post reported that Moore took Leigh Corfman to his house in 1979, stripped down to his underwear and made her touch his genitals. Under Alabama law, such conduct would be sexual abuse in the second degree, although the statute of limitations would have long passed.

Corfman told the Post: “I wasn’t ready for that – I had never put my hand on a man’s penis, much less an erect one.”

The story also details allegations from three other women about Moore dating them when they were underage. Although one told the Post that Moore had ordered her cocktails when she was below the legal drinking age, there were no other accusations of illegal behavior.

The report comes five weeks before Moore faces off against Democrat Doug Jones in the fiercely competitive special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became US attorney general. He won the Republican nomination in September besting appointed incumbent Luther Strange by a margin of 55%-45% despite Strange’s support from Donald Trump and the entire machinery of the Republican party. Moore though did receive the support for former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Shortly before the Washington Post article was published, Breitbart, the conservative website run by Bannon, published an article featuring the Post’s request for comment to the Moore campaign, which detailed the accusations against him, and the Alabama Republican’s response to the allegations.

Moore has long been a controversial figure in Alabama politics. He has been twice removed as chief justice of the state supreme court, first for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the grounds of his courthouse and more recently for refusing to implement the US supreme court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Moore also has a long history of incendiary comments on social issues. He has argued that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal, said the United States could be described as “the focus of evil in the world” for promoting “bad things” like gay marriage and that a Muslim congressman should be prohibited from serving in the House of Representatives.

Read more at: World news | The Guardian

Saudi siege on Yemen: ‘Hundreds will die within a week’

from November 9, 2017 at 11:33AM

Hundreds of sick and elderly Yemenis “will die within the next week” unless Saudi Arabia lifts its blockade and allows urgently needed medical supplies into the country.

Doctors in the capital told Al Jazeera pharmacies across Sanaa that were already struggling with a critical shortage of specialist drugs, would be unable to treat cancer, diabetes and renal failure patients by the start of next week.

“We’re running dangerously low on medical supplies and won’t have anywhere near the necessary vials of pain-relief medication, insulin, and other specialist medicines for our patients,” said Abdulrahman al-Ansi, a doctor at Sanaa’s al-Mutawkil hospital.

WATCH: ‘Saudi Arabia’s blockade is a death sentence for all Yemenis’ (3:03)

Ali, a two-year-old boy with acute lymphocytic leukaemia died last month as a direct result of the absence of cancer medications, he said.

“Unless Saudi Arabia eases its restrictions and allows food and medical supplies, I could end up losing all of my cancer patients – even those suffering from diabetes – [a treatable disease] will die. Hundreds will perish in the next week alone.”

Saudi Arabia, which has been at war with Yemen since 2015, tightened its air, land and sea blockade of the country on Sunday, after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The Houthis, a group of fighters that controls the capital and large expanses of the country, justified the missile attack, blaming Saudi-led air strikes – which have killed thousands of people – of ravaging large parts of north Yemen. 

The kingdom has defended the blockade, which bars aid groups like Doctors without Borders, Oxfam and UN agencies from delivering aid, claiming it is aimed at preventing weapons being smuggled into Yemen by its regional rival, Iran.

Tehran has rejected allegations of arming the Houthis, calling them “malicious, irresponsible, destructive and provocative”.

The Saudis have taken a page from [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad’s playbook. They think this siege will break us and we’ll accept their plan for the country. I may not live to see the end of this war, but I pray the Saudis lose.

Mohamed Aboubakr, 62-year-old chemotherapy patient

‘Fatal consequences’

Aid organisations in Yemen said they were “greatly alarmed” by Saudi Arabia’s decision, warning it could “bring millions of people closer to starvation and death”.

“The current stock of vaccines in the country will only last one month. If it is not replenished, outbreaks of communicable diseases, such as polio and measles, are to be expected with fatal consequences, particularly for children under five years of age and those already suffering from malnutrition,” said Oxfam, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and 19 other aid groups in a joint statement. 

The 22 humanitarian groups also warned Yemen had only six weeks of food aid remaining for about seven million Yemenis who are facing “famine-like conditions”.

“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death,” they added.

Since the start of Sunday’s siege, the country’s already inflated food and fuel prices have skyrocketed, while flights delivering much-needed humanitarian aid have been prevented from landing.

‘Assad’s playbook’

“I haven’t received my salary in months,” Mohamed Aboubakr, a 62-year-old civil servant, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital, told Al Jazeera.

“How am I going to pay my medical bills?” he asked. “Prices have soared since the start of the siege – what am I supposed to do?”

Aboubakr said he had borrowed more than $2,000 from friends and family to pay for the treatment, but with the tightening of the siege, suggested it could have all been in vain. 

WATCH: ‘Situation is catastrophic’ as Saudi tightens blockade on Yemen (1:59)

“The Saudis have taken a page from [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad’s playbook. They think this siege will break us and we’ll accept their plan for the country. I may not live to see the end of this war, but I pray the Saudis lose.” 

The streets of Sanaa were almost free of cars on Thursday due to a fuel shortage, with locals saying public transport fares have doubled.

Azzubair Abdullah Hasan, a medic at a cholera centre in Sanaa’s Aljiraf neighbourhood, said even wealthy Yemenis were beginning to feel the pinch.

“Everything has gone up in price,” Hasan told Al Jazeera.

“Cooking gas has spiked and filling up my car with petrol now costs YR10,000 ($38) [it cost YR6,000 before the start of the siege], how can people continue with their lives. The situation is unbearable.”

Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthi rebels took over the capital, Sanaa, and forced Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.

Together with a coalition of other Arab states, and with logistical support from the United States and other western powers, Saudi Arabia has pushed the Houthis from the southern port city of Aden, but has failed to dislodge them from Sanaa and their northern strongholds.

According to the UN, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and left over seven million in need of food assistance.

Millions of others do not have adequate access to health, water and sanitation services.

The country has also been hit by a cholera outbreak, with some 900,000 suspected cases since April.

WATCH: How can the world’s ‘worst’ famine in decades be stopped? (24:59)

Read more at: Al Jazeera English

US Marine trainer guilty of abusing Muslim recruits

from November 10, 2017 at 01:33AM

A former US Marine instructor who abused Muslim military recruits – including ordering them into an industrial dryer and turning it on – will be sentenced to prison on Friday. 

Gunnery Sargeant Joseph Felix, 34, was found guilty of “maltreatment” on Thursday after he physically and verbally abused three American Muslims training to become US Marines at a facility in Parris Island in South Carolina state.

Felix “picked out Muslim recruits for special abuse because of their Muslim faith. He degraded their religion and put them in industrial appliances”, Lieutenant-Colonel John Norman, the prosecutor, was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

Witnesses said they heard Felix use the terms “terrorist” and “ISIS” when addressing the Muslim men.

A $100m civil lawsuit has also been filed against the Marine Corps and the American government by the family of one Muslim man who fell 12 metres to his death.

Defence lawyers said it was a suicide, while the family of Raheel Siddiqui alleged the abuse he suffered led to him jumping.

Felix was also convicted of violating general orders, drunk and disorderly conduct, and making false statements.

Twenty Marine instructors, officers, and staff members have been investigated over abuse allegations against Muslim recruits since 2015 with 13 facing punishment, the Post reported.

Ameer Bourmeche and ­Rekan Hawez testified they were ordered into an industrial clothes dryer.

Navy Lieutenant Commander Daniel Bridges, a defence lawyer, argued Felix did not know the three men were Muslim.

Read more at: Al Jazeera English

Al Gore: ‘I tried my best’ but Trump can’t be educated on climate change

from November 10, 2017 at 12:39PM

Al Gore has accused Donald Trump of surrounding himself “with the absolute worst of climate deniers” and said he has given up attempting to persuade the president to reverse his dismantling of policies combatting global warming.

However, both Gore, the former US vice-president, and Jerry Brown, governor of California, told the Guardian they were confident the US will regain its leadership position on climate change if Trump is defeated in the next presidential election.

Gore, Brown and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, are heading a broad coalition of climate change hawks from US states, cities and businesses in Bonn, where UN climate talks are being held. This alliance is in sharp contrast to the official US delegation, which is representing the only national government in the world that doesn’t want to be part of the Paris climate accords.

“I haven’t had any conversations with [Trump] since his speech to withdraw from Paris. I tried my best and thought he’d come to his senses but I’ve been proven wrong,” Gore, who met with Trump during the transition to try to influence his thinking, told the Guardian. “I don’t feel I have the ability to change his mind. He’s surrounded himself with the absolute worst of climate deniers who seem to have captured his mind on the issue.”

Trump has aligned with Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency who is a vocal critic of the Paris deal. Pruitt has cast doubt on whether carbon dioxide drives global warming, and claimed there is “tremendous disagreement” among scientists over climate change.

Several former and current members of the administration, including Stephen Bannon and Mick Mulvaney, have also previously dismissed evidence for climate science.

Gore, who is now one of the world’s leading voices on climate change, said other countries are “aghast” at Trump’s retreat from climate policy but said the backlash both within the US and abroad is encouraging.

“The US cities and states have made a tremendous difference and I think the reaction of the rest of the world has minimized the damage done by Donald Trump,” he said. “The reaction to Trump is if anything stronger than the actions Trump is taking.

“This experiment with Trump is less than a year old and in science, experiments are sometimes cut short early. I’m not saying this will happen this time, but this feels like a movie I’ve seen before.

“We went off the rails a bit in the last election. I think the rest of the world understands that the Trump period is an unfortunate departure from what the US is known for when we are at our best. Those who have appreciated US leadership grieve its loss and hope it’s temporary.”

Brown also said he sees little point attempting to sway the Trump administration. “The official policy of the US is that climate change is a total and complete hoax conceived by Chinese conspirators,” the California governor told the Guardian. “That is so preposterous that engagement on that basis is just useless.”

However, the California governor said mid-term elections in the US next year may pressure Trump to change position. “He’s an action orientated person, not a politician, so who knows,” he said.

“Ultimately we won’t have a denier in the White House forever. We are engaged in a great political struggle between the deniers who want to turn the world over to fossil fuel interests and scientists and concerned activists who want to see decarbonization.

“Donald Trump is a very small point in the overall climate factor. We are facing a moment of truth over whether we can decarbonize or see civilization itself decline over the next 100 years.

“We have a political sidebar we can tweet about but the existential problem is that species are being destroyed, ecologies are being degraded and mankind is on the chopping block. This isn’t the time for politics, it’s the time for courageous action.”

Brown has attempted to step into the vacuum created by US withdrawal by holding dozens of events and meetings with national leaders, UN officials and NGOs across Europe ahead of the Bonn talks.

The Democratic governor has taken on a role highlighting the impact of sub-national entities such as California, which would have the sixth largest economy in the world if it were a country and has implemented a ‘cap and trade’ emissions trading system that may soon be linked to a similar mechanism used by European Union countries.

“I want to strengthen the coalition of states and provinces in order to do everything possible to reduce carbon emissions,” Brown said.

“The great threat to the world is the radically changing climate and the level of indifference and inertia is so powerful that I find it incumbent to build a counterforce of mayors and governments to work together to protect our climate and get us off the carbon addiction.”

The Bonn talks, which will run until 17 November, are largely a technical exercize in helping countries implementing the goals of the Paris agreement, where nearly 200 nations agreed to limit global warming to 2C above the pre-industrial era.

Trump has vowed to pull the US from the agreement but under the pact’s rules he will be unable to do so until 2020. In Bonn, the US delegation is expected to follow the lead of the president, a vocal supporter of fossil fuels, by extolling the benefits of “efficient” coal, nuclear energy and natural gas.

Read more at: World news | The Guardian

Trump disapproval hits 67% in poll | The minute

from October 6, 2017 at 02:18PM

• As numbers plunge… Trump warns of ‘calm before the storm’… attacks contraception coverage… moves to nix banking regulations

• Get the day’s politics news in 60 seconds every weekday. By Tom McCarthy

Only 24% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction, according to an AP poll. That’s a 10-point drop since June. 67% of Americans disapprove of the job Donald Trump’s doing, including about a third of Republicans.

Read the report

Trump was expected to withdraw his endorsement of the nuclear deal with Iran next week, and used a group photograph before a dinner with military leaders and their spouses to warn cryptically that the evening represented “the calm before the storm”.

Read our coverage

Continue reading…

Read more at: World news | The Guardian

American Civil Liberties Union to sue over birth control rollback

from October 6, 2017 at 02:50PM

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Trump administration over its decision to rollback requirements under Obamacare that employers provide insurance to cover women’s birth control.

The new rule allows any employer, including colleges, universities and health insurance companies, to stop offering birth control in their insurance plans on moral or religious grounds.

More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Under the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost

Democratic state attorneys general have also pledged to take legal action against the decision.

Read more at: News | Euronews RSS

Thousands flee escalating violence in Myanmar

from August 29, 2017 at 02:57AM

Thousands are fleeing Rakhine State in Myanmar as ethnic violence there reaches new levels of ferocity.

Amid claims by Human Rights Watch that many of their townships are on fire, Rohingya muslims are pouring into Bangladesh, which has said no new refugees will be allowed in. There are reports that some refugees between the two borders are being pushed back by Bangladeshi security forces.

Laila Begum, a Rohingya refugee, said:

“They took my husband away from our house and killed him. Villagers told me. They killed my husband and my son-in-law.”

It is difficult to determine exactly what is happening in the affected area, as police officers have been preventing journalists from travelling there. The Human Rights Watch claims are based on satellite imaging.

Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and classed as illegal immigrants, despite a heritage there that can go back hundreds of years.

Attacks on security posts

The latest violence appears to have been triggered by a series of coordinated attacks on police check points and an army base carried out by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group previously known as Harakah al-Yaqin.

Injured policemen say that they were attacked with sticks, swords and knives. One policeman travelling to get treatment by boat said that he was attacked with a machete as he went to reload his gun.

Similar attacks were mounted last October, prompting brutal military reprisals that generated international criticism.

Buddhist population displaced

Buddhists, too, are being displaced, many fleeing Maungdaw, where the worst of the fighting seems to be taking place.

Many have turned to monasteries for shelter. One Buddhist Maungdaw resident, Hla Nu Sein, explained:

“I thought I was going to die while the clashes were happening. I couldn’t run fast as my knee isn’t good. There are some elders still left in the village. All we can do is bring our children here.”

The fleeing fear that the insurgent group behind last Friday’s attacks will strike again.

Read more at: News | Euronews RSS

Rohingya: Even babies were not spared by the army

from August 27, 2017 at 01:45PM

The Myanmar army has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings in the restive Rakhine region, with residents and activists accusing soldiers of shooting indiscriminately at unarmed Rohingya men, women and children and carrying out arson attacks.

Authorities in Myanmar say close to 100 people have been killed since Friday when armed men, reportedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), launched a pre-dawn raid on police outposts in the restive region.

UPFRONT: Aung San Suu Kyi: Turning her back on Rohingya? (12:15)

The army has declared a war against “terrorism”, encircling the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, home to around 800,000 people, and imposed a curfew from 6pm to 6am.

However, advocates for the Rohingya have given a much higher death toll, telling Al Jazeera that at least 800 of the Muslim minority, including dozens of women and children, have been killed in the violence.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures. 

Aziz Khan, a Maungdaw resident, said the army stormed his village early on Friday and began “firing indiscriminately at people’s cars and homes.

“Government forces and the border guard police killed at least 11 people in my village. When they arrived they started shooting at everything that moved. Some soldiers then carried out arson attacks.

“Women and children were also among the dead,” he said. “Even a baby wasn’t spared.”

OPINION: Myanmar needs to get serious about peace

Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist and blogger based in Europe, said anywhere between 5,000 -10,000 people had been driven from their homes by the recent offensive.

Using a network of activists on the ground to document the conflict, San Lwin said mosques and madrasahs (religious Islamic institutions) had been burned to the ground, with thousands of Muslims stranded without food and shelter.

“My own uncles were forced to flee by the government and the military,” he told Al Jazeera.

“There has been no help from the government, instead people’s homes have been destroyed and their goods looted.

“Without food, shelter and protection, they don’t know when we’ll be killed.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera under a pseudonym, Myint Lwin, a resident of Buthidaung township said that “fear had gripped every household.

“People have been sharing videos of the killings on Whatsapp. Videos of women and children being killed. Innocent men being shot dead. You can’t begin to imagine how scared we are.

“Nobody wants to leave their home. Muslims are scared to go anywhere, hospitals, markets, anywhere. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

Videos uploaded on social media showed dozens of men, women and children fleeing with only the clothes on their backs while seeking refuge in rice and paddy fields.

OPINION: Regional actors should take a stand against Myanmar

Security has deteriorated sharply in Rakhine since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government sent thousands of troops into Rohingya villages and hamlets last October after nine policemen were killed by suspected Rohingya militia in attacks on border posts.

The security forces’ offensive has been beset by allegations of arson, killings and rape; and forced more than 87,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights, a human rights group, said with the “authorities treating all Rohingya as combatants”, the government’s account of the violence would be “dubious at best”.

“The government has refused to cooperate with a UN fact-finding Mission on Rakhine and there are serious allegations of the military attacking unarmed civilians,” he told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

“A lot of people are on the run and they need serious protection and the authorities have not made it easy to help them.”

Rakhine state is home to most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya, who live largely in abject poverty and face widespread discrimination by the Buddhist majority.

The minority are widely reviled as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, despite having lived in the area for generations.    

They have been rendered stateless by the government and the UN believes the army’s crackdown may amount to ethnic cleansing – a charge the government of Aung San Suu Kyi vehemently denies. 

The Rohingya: Silent Abuse (45:33)

Source: Al Jazeera News

Read more at: Al Jazeera English

Tropical storm Harvey: death toll rises as ‘historic’ flooding hits Houston

from August 27, 2017 at 06:18PM

Fourth-largest city in the US could see 50in of rain as rescue workers struggle to keep up with calls for help and flood defences are tested to the limit

Tropical Storm Harvey has continued to batter Texas, hurling record rainfall at the nation’s fourth-largest city, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and testing flood control systems to their limits.

Related: Ex-hurricane Harvey: Houston flooded as catastrophe unfolds in Texas – latest updates

Continue reading…

Read more at: World news | The Guardian

‘Victory’: Thousands protest far right in San Francisco

from August 26, 2017 at 08:09PM

More than a thousand people have protested a right-wing group in the US city of San Francisco, condemning white supremacy and bigotry.

The protesters showed up to Alamo Square Park on Saturday despite the cancellation of a rally and press conference by the right-wing Patriot Prayer group after officials walled off the area.

“Right now, this is victory,” protester Benjamin Sierra told The Associated Press.

“They did not have enough gumption to do what they set out to do,” he said.

On Friday, Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer, cancelled the so-called Freedom Rally over fears of a “huge riot”.

He said the group would instead hold a press conference on Saturday in Alamo Square Park.

‘Adopt a Nazi’: How groups are countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists 

But after police erected a fence around the park earlier in the day on Saturday to screen people as they entered, Gibson announced the event would be held indoors at a different location.

According to local media, Gibson eventually showed up to Crissy Field, the site of the originally scheduled rally, with about two dozen supporters.

They were eventually confronted by counterprotesters before leaving the area.

The Patriot Prayer leader has recently denounced white supremacy, but the group’s rallies in the past have attracted white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and others from a number of right-wing organisations, leading to violent confrontations with counterprotesters. 

Many activists and rights groups have said Patriot Prayer seeks to provoke chaos and violence, especially because it often chooses to hold areas in more liberal communities.

‘Whose streets? Our streets’

A number of politicians, both at the local and national level, repeatedly voiced concerns that the previously scheduled event by the Patriot Prayer group would lead to clashes with counterprotesters.

The San Francisco Bay Area is considered a cradle for freedom of speech, and police in San Francisco have traditionally given demonstrators a wide berth.

However, after a man with links to a white supremacist group rammed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, San Francisco police and civil leaders began to rethink their response to protests.

Gibson criticised the city’s move to wall off the park as an attempt to silence his group’s message.

Campuses, cities reject far right after Charlottesville

But the city’s mayor, Ed Lee, defended the decision, saying that “if people want to have a stage in San Francisco, they better have a message that contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them”.

Outside Alamo Square Park, protesters chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets” as they waved signs denouncing hate and bigotry.

Thousands of others took to the streets in the city’s Castro neighbourhood under the banner ‘United Against Hate’. 

“San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind,” protester Bianca Harris said.

“I think it’s a really powerful message that we’re sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it’s just not welcome in this city.”

Online, many used #NoHateInTheBay, #SFrally and #UniteAgainstHate to condemn white supremacy and racism.

Source: Al Jazeera News

Read more at: Al Jazeera English