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Team takes action towards landmark United Nations resolution to end witchcraft atrocities

Credit: Pixabay / CC0 public domain

A team, including academics from Lancaster University, has taken critical first steps to root out global witchcraft atrocities, including ritual killings, with the successful acceptance of a United Nations resolution.

Adopted without a vote, the resolution, in preparation for several years, was tabled this month at the UN Human Rights Council by Kenya, with the support of the Africa group, made up of 54 member states from the continent. African.

Witchcraft beliefs and practices have resulted in serious human rights violations, including beatings, bans, cutting of body parts and amputation of limbs, torture and murder.

Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, including people with albinism, a genetic condition that impairs the ability to create pigments in the body, are particularly vulnerable.

Professor Charlotte Baker of Lancaster University, who has published extensively on albinism in Africa with United Nations independent expert on albinism Ikponwosa Ero, international human rights lawyer Kirsty Brimelow and honorary Lancaster University graduate and human rights activist Gary Foxcroft have worked tirelessly, as part of a larger team, to ensure that the scope of the shocking issue has been heard at the UN level.

The resolution, calling for the elimination of these harmful practices, affirms that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security and upholds the fundamental principles of equality, non-discrimination and human dignity which underpin human rights tend.

There are thousands of cases of people accused of witchcraft every year around the world, often with fatal consequences, and others are mutilated and killed for rituals related to witchcraft.

Over the past decade, more than 700 attacks against people with albinism have been reported in 28 countries.

Trade in the body parts of people with albinism is big business in some African countries with a “going rate” of $ 75,000 for a complete set of body parts.

Professor Baker and his team first brought their work to the attention of the UN in September 2017 when they hosted an expert meeting on witchcraft and human rights at the headquarters of the UN in Geneva.

The workshop, which was specifically cited in the resolution’s recent successful speech, examined for the first time the large-scale human rights issue that had, by and large, escaped the radar of governments. , NGOs and academics.

The following year, the team organized a moving and shocking photographic exhibition, funded by Lancaster University, at the Palais des Nations at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to coincide with the meeting of the Human Rights Council of United Nations.

The exhibit, which subsequently traveled abroad, featured poignant images captured by four internationally renowned human rights photographers.

In January 2019, the team hosted an international conference on witchcraft and human rights at Lancaster University to further highlight the serious human rights violations that are taking place around the world due to beliefs. in witchcraft.

The conference looked at witchcraft and human rights past, present and future, including the thorny issue of terminology.

In many countries, beliefs related to witchcraft, which can lead to some of the most difficult human rights issues of the 21st century, have resulted in serious human rights violations including beatings, banishment , cutting of body parts, amputation of limbs, arson, torture and murder.

Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, including people with albinism, are particularly vulnerable.

Despite the gravity of these human rights violations, there is often no strong state response, and justice systems often fail to act to prevent, investigate or prosecute human rights violations related to beliefs in the law. witchcraft.

The innovative initiative to bring this resolution to the United Nations brings together, for the first time, witchcraft and human rights in a systematic and in-depth manner at the United Nations and international level.

The resolution marks an important step in the continued collaboration of United Nations experts, members of civil society and academics to address the violence associated with these beliefs and practices for particularly vulnerable groups.

Professor Baker said: “The extent of the threat to those vulnerable to harmful practices related to the manifestation of certain beliefs related to witchcraft means that we must act now to address this issue. Our collaborative approach means we can work across sectors and at different levels to achieve positive, integrated and sustainable change. The United Nations resolution is a fundamental step in this process.

Ikponwosa Ero added, “The resolution carefully balances the protection of the human rights of those accused of witchcraft and victims of ritual attacks, while protecting traditional healers, as well as religious, indigenous and cultural beliefs and practices that do not constitute rights. harmful practices as defined. by UN bodies.

“Resolutions are not quick fixes, but this is a turning point for all of us who work to ensure the protection of human rights in this complex sphere of spiritual beliefs and practices. The resolution will also spur work to tackle the horrific violence that characterizes these types of nefarious practices and which, for too long, have destroyed and killed too many. “

Gary Foxcroft said: “The UN Special Resolution is an important step in helping to end the often horrific human rights violations that take place as a result of witchcraft beliefs around the world. We needed as many governments as possible to support this resolution and believe our work has inspired the action needed to do so. Much remains to be done on this resolution. However, we are moving in the right direction and we hope that further abuses can be avoided.


Putting the shocking issue of witchcraft in the spotlight of the UN


Provided by Lancaster University


Quote: Team Takes Action Towards Landmark United Nations Resolution To End Witchcraft Atrocities (2021, September 1) Retrieved September 1, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-team -historic-nations-resolution-witchcraft.html

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Defense Intelligence Agency BREAKING Says Retired Commodore Olawunmi Wanted for Channels TV’s Anti-Buhari Interview, May Seize International Passport

The Defense Intelligence Agency said a former Nigerian navy commodore Kunle Olawunmi was wanted for exposing in an interview how President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration refused to question high-level politicians as Boko terrorists Haram have appointed them as their sponsors.

SaharaReporters has learned that the DIA asked Olawunmi to report to its headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday with his international passport, which could be seized.



The Defense Intelligence Agency is Nigeria’s main military intelligence agency.

“The agency said retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi was wanted for overthrowing Boko Haram sponsors under Buhari’s rule. They asked him to come with his international passport on Tuesday to the DIA office in Abuja, ”a prominent source said.

SaharaReporters reported last Wednesday that Olawunmi spoke when he appeared on Channels Television’s “Sunrise Daily” breakfast show.

He had condemned Tuesday’s attack by bloodthirsty bandits on the Kaduna campus of Nigeria’s main military university, the Nigerian Defense Academy, where two military officers were killed and another kidnapped.

The professor of global security studies said: “This is an aberration; you are not attacking the Nigerian Defense Academy and not getting out of it. In 2017, I conducted an investigation by the Minister of Defense who wanted me to verify what was going on with the training and security there (NDA). I remember spending about a week in the NDA with the commander and the staff but something struck me: every Friday the door of the NDA is wide open and everyone has access to the mosque to pray.

“On Fridays, you will see the same thing happen in all the military formations in the country. If you go to Defense Headquarters, I served at Defense Headquarters as Deputy Director, Defense Administration, between 2015 and 2017, during my two years at Defense Headquarters, j Have received visitors twice due to the strict security architecture but every Friday the door to Defense Headquarters is wide open for everyone to come in and observe Juma’at.

“This is the time when terrorists have time to profile our security environment. It always has been. I have served in military intelligence for the past 35 years. Our problem is religious and socio-cultural.

Olawunmi had added that he was a member of the Intelligence Brief at Defense Headquarters under the direction of the then Chief of Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (retired).

The intelligence expert said he told the CDS at the time that the center of gravity of the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the northeast and spreading to other parts of Nigeria was the sponsor.

“I then told General Olonisakin that the core of this problem cannot be solved the same way we solved the Niger Delta problem. The Niger Delta problem was solved during (ex-president Umaru) Yar’adua mainly by me and I told them that we cannot use the same model for Boko Haram.

“I told General Olonisakin to look at the center of gravity of the problem. I was appointed a member of the committee in 2016-2017, including the former army chief of staff, the lieutenant general. Ibrahim Attahiru who is deceased.

“I told them that the center of gravity of Boko Haram in Nigeria is the program sponsors. It was beyond us because the work that we had to do was kinetic but we cannot solve the problems of the sponsors of Boko Haram who were in the government of Buhari that we know of. That’s why we couldn’t pursue this aspect which could have solved the problem because we have to stop people.

“Recently 400 people were rounded up as Boko Haram sponsors, why did the Buhari government refuse to try them? Why can this government not bring them to justice if it is not that they are partisan and that they are part of the charade that is going on?

“You remember this Boko Haram problem started in 2012 and I was in military intelligence at the time. We arrested these people. My organization conducted interrogations and they (the suspects) mentioned names. I can’t go on the air and start mentioning the names of people who are in government right now that I know the boys we arrested mentioned. Some of them are now governors, some of them are in the Senate, some of them are in Aso Rock.

“Why should a government decide to cause this kind of embarrassment and insecurity in the sense of what happened yesterday (Tuesday at the NDA)?”

Olawunmi had also said that the Department of State Services had considerable information on the terrorists, but could do nothing except through the body language of the Commander-in-Chief.


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Central American Countries Ask: Can Bitcoin Reduce Remittance Costs? | News from banks

Central American countries are eagerly awaiting to see if El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as a parallel legal tender reduces the cost of remittances, a major source of income for millions of people, according to the development bank of the United States. region.

President Nayib Bukele’s allies in Congress have already approved legislation giving cryptocurrency official currency status alongside the US dollar, a world first. The move takes effect in September.

Bukele touted the adoption of Bitcoin as a way to facilitate remittances for Salvadorans living abroad.

“Everyone is watching if everything is going well for El Salvador and if, for example, the cost of remittances drops significantly… other countries are likely to seek this advantage and adopt it,” Dante Mossi, executive chairman of the Bank. Central American economic integration. (CABEI), Reuters news agency said on Wednesday. CABEI is an international multilateral development finance institution headquartered in Honduras.

Mossi called the plan an “extraordinary experiment” to increase financial inclusion in a region where many people do not have access to bank accounts or credit cards and depend on money sent by. parents living in the United States.

Technical assistance

CABEI, the regional development bank, is providing technical assistance to El Salvador for the implementation of cryptocurrency, a major show of support as the World Bank refused to help, citing environmental drawbacks and transparency.

The bank’s technical assistance aims to help El Salvador design a legal framework for the adoption of Bitcoin and ensure that strict international money laundering protocols are followed.

The aid is intended to help El Salvador “navigate waters that have yet to be explored,” said Carlos Sanchez, chief investment officer of CABEI.

Mossi said the Central American countries that receive the most remittances are the ones that prioritize the use of Bitcoin the most and stressed that CABEI has a “fiduciary duty” to support El Salvador in its request for aid.

“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are the countries that stand to gain the most if the adoption of Bitcoin reduces the cost of remittances,” Mossi said.

CABEI participated in a recent meeting of the Central American Monetary Council, which is part of the Central American Integration System (SICA), where participants asked about El Salvador’s Bitcoin plans and discussed expressed interest, he added.

The Central Bank of Honduras referred Reuters to a June 11 statement that the bank does not prohibit, supervise, or guarantee the use of cryptocurrencies as payment methods in the country.

The governments of Guatemala and Honduras did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bitcoin ATMs

El Salvador has started installing Bitcoin ATMs, allowing its citizens to convert cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars and withdraw it for cash, as part of the government’s plan to make the token legal tender.

The government will install 200 ATMs to initially accompany its digital wallet called Chivo, a local slang term for “cool,” President Bukele said on Twitter on Sunday. Transactions will be commission-free, he said, adding that there will also be 50 financial branches across the country to withdraw or deposit money.

Adopting Bitcoin will save Salvadorans $ 400 million a year in fees for receiving remittances from abroad, Bukele said.

According to Autonomous Research, less than 1% of the volume of global cross-border remittances is currently made in cryptocurrencies, but in the future, cryptocurrencies are expected to account for a larger share of the more than $ 500 billion. global annual remittances.

Bitcoin offers, in theory, a fast and inexpensive way to send money across borders without resorting to traditional channels.

Salvadoran Bitcoin law will come into effect on September 7 and Salvadorans will be able to download the government’s Chivo digital wallet, enter their ID number and receive $ 30 in Bitcoin, Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya said in an interview with local television. The government has created a $ 150 million fund to support Bitcoin to U.S. dollar conversions, he said.


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Experts – Pajhwok Afghan News

KABUL (Pajhwok): The closure of banks and foreign exchange markets in the capital Kabul has raised concerns among the population and experts believe the situation will lead to an economic slowdown.

With the Taliban returning to Kabul on August 15, all banking activities were closed and they are still closed today, Monday.

Pajhwok Afghan News spoke to a number of people and economic experts who expressed concern over the current situation and called for the reopening of banks and foreign exchange markets.

People complain about the economic situation and call for the reopening of banks

ShafiqullahAzizi, who waited for days outside a branch of Azizi Bank to withdraw money from his account, said he was unable to withdraw money when he needed it urgently .

He said there were reports that the banks would reopen last Saturday, but they had not yet been opened.

QaisMohammadi, another resident of Kabul who visited the bank’s main headquarters, told Pajhwok Afghan News that he visited the bank daily after the Taliban took control of Kabul, but the bank is remained closed.

He complained about his economic problems and said: “I am a government official, our salaries were transferred to our accounts two days before the government fell, but my money is blocked in the bank and I don’t know. what to do. , I have no money even to buy bread.

Another angry man, who was waiting to withdraw his money from Kabul Bank, said there was no work and people had no money to buy bread. He said people could start looting and committing other crimes if the banks remained closed and trade stopped.

NajlaRahil, a Facebook user in an article, said: “All the assets of our people are in banks. Now the banks are closed and no one can even take their wages. What can this miserable nation do? Who should they complain to? “

A number of other residents of Kabul have lodged similar complaints.

They all called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to take urgent action to reopen banks and foreign exchange markets to help solve the economic problems of the people.

Continued bank closures would stop trade, push prices up, increase problems: experts

Saifuddin Saihoon, lecturer at Kabul University and economist, expressed concern about the bank closures and called it a serious problem because all people are currently suffering from economic problems.

He said that money plays a vital role in the economy, trade and deals and that closing banks will not lead to any trade deals and more economic problems and higher prices.

“Banks and economic activities should resume and people’s assets should be provided; so that people do not face economic problems, ”he said.

Saihoon said political institutions should be created and interact with the world and the International Monetary Fund in order to strengthen international credibility and resolve the current crisis.

On freezing the assets of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) in the United States, he said, when a country was subject to economic sanctions, it fell into crisis.

Iran has also already faced economic sanctions and the country has even been deprived of basic materials and goods, he added.

On the survival of Afghanistan in the absence of foreign aid, he said poverty would increase and economic crisis would surface if the situation persisted.

Saihoon called on the Islamic Emirate to form an inclusive government as soon as possible in order to open channels of interactions with the world and start economic activities.

An economics professor at a private university in Kabul, who wished to remain anonymous, said when banks were closed it meant no flow of money, which created major economic challenges.

He said the money was in circulation in the markets but was currently being drastically reduced and the stock markets as well as the forex markets were crippled. He said that the continuation of the current situation will create poverty, unemployment and economic problems.

“Afghanistan has recently moved towards the banking system and the opening up of banks is very important at this time; because people trust banks and put their money there, they should be reopened as soon as possible, ”he added.

He said withdrawing money from the ATM without domestic and international procedures would damage the prestige of the central bank in the other world.

Bank officials say to resume operations if assured of safety

A Kabul Bank official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the banks should have been opened two days ago, but concerns about the safety of the bank’s employees and assets remained.

Regarding the date of reopening of the banks, he said negotiations on bank safety were underway with the Islamic Emirate before they reopened.

Haji DadgulHazratzoi, deputy director of Sara-i-Shahzada Money Exchange Union, said Sara-i-Shahzada has been closed since the Taliban returned to Kabul.

Hazratzoi said guards in Sara-i-Shahzada were working with the Taliban to ensure the security of Sara-i-Shahzada market and hoped that all necessary measures would be taken soon and that the market would be reopened in the near future.

He called on the current administration to provide urgent security to the workers of banks and assets and to issue a declaration for the start of the activities of the banks.

Upcoming resumption of banking, financial and customs activities: MoF

The finance ministry said in a statement that efforts were being made to remove current restrictions and resume banking, finance and customs activities.

The statement said the DAB, private banks and customs offices will resume operations soon, asking technicians from the ministry to resume their work.

Meanwhile, AhmadullahWasiq, deputy spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that officials from the finance ministry, banks and relevant bodies at a meeting decided to resume operations. banks and foreign exchange markets as soon as possible to solve people’s problems. to an end.

bn / ma

Strokes: 0


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Conservatives offer alternatives to optimistic demolition

Georges Nikolajevich

At its July 26 meeting, the City of St. Louis Preservation Council heard testimony regarding the proposed demolition of the Optimist International Headquarters building (s) located at 4490-4494 Lindell Boulevard in the Historic District of Central West End, where developers are looking to develop a 150-unit building.

The hearing was an appeal against the rejection of the demolition project by the Bureau of Cultural Resources. In 2013, the CRO commissioned a survey and appraisal of 2,300 Mid-Century Modern (1945-1975) buildings in St. Louis, 50 of which were deemed highly significant. The original part of the Optimist property, located at the corner of Taylor Avenue and known as the “Pavilion”, which was built in 1961 according to plans drawn by the famous St. Louis firm of Schwarz & Van Hoefen, was listed in the 2013 Survey as a High Merit Building that is individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and
was among the 25 most important of the 2,300 buildings studied.

Following lengthy testimony at the July 26 hearing, the question was put, first on a motion upholding Cultural Resources’ refusal, followed by a motion to allow the appeal and authorize the demolition, which was not passed. Both motions were tied up, and the matter was postponed for further deliberation at the next Preservation Council meeting on Monday, August 23.

The architectural context along Lindell Boulevard, particularly in the three-block section between Newstead Avenue and the Kingshighway, is rich, diverse and unique and must be respected. Notable examples of the wide variety of high quality buildings of various types and eras in the immediate vicinity of the Optimist site include: 4401 Lindell-Cathedral Basilica St. Louis (1908, Barnett, Haynes & Barnett); 4440 Lindell-Pierre Chouteau Apartments (1929, C. Odenwald); 4445 Lindell-Chancery of the Archdiocese of Saint-Louis (1962, WA Sarmiento); 4501 Lindell-Lindell Terrace (1965, Gyo Obata); 4510 Residence of Archbishop Lindell (1891, C.
Jungenfeld); 4545 Lindell (2010, Louis Sauer); 4600 Lindell-Saint Louis Woman’s Club (1895, Grable, Weber & Groves); 4625 Lindell- City Bank Building (1971, Wedemeyer, Cernik & Corrubia); 4931 Lindell-Chase Apartments (1921, Preston J. Bradshaw); 4943 Lindell-Chester Apartments (1921, Preston J. Bradshaw); 4950 Lindell-St. Regis Apartments (1908, George H. Kennerly); 212 N. Kingshighway-Chase Hotel (1921, Preston J. Bradshaw); and 114 N. Taylor-Grant Medical Clinic (1938, Harris Armstrong)!

Georges Nikolajevich

Our aim is not to thwart new development activities, but rather to encourage a more sensitive design that would both preserve buildings of merit and contribute to the rich architectural heritage and distinguished character of Lindell Boulevard. and the center-west. Thus, the supporters of the preservation of the “Pavilion” proposed an alternative approach to the redevelopment of the Optimist site which would allow the corner building to be preserved by integrating it into the base of a new structure, while allowing the development of 150 apartment units in a new tower on the eastern part of the site. This suggestion was summarily rejected without consideration by the potential promoter.

Georges Nikolajevich

The question boils down to the question of whether the well-documented justification supporting the preservation of the architectural heritage of Saint-Louis will prevail in this case, or will it be discarded to accommodate the development of a generic building of the type proposed? This important decision rests with the members of the Preservation Council. We think the answer is clear… the building must be preserved.

Georges Nikolajevich

James Dwyer
Chairman, Central West End Association Planning and Development Committee

John C. Guenther, FAIA, LEED AP
President, Society of Architectural Historians, St. Louis Chapter

Michael R. Allen
Director and Architectural Historian, Preservation Research Office
Senior Lecturer, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Washington University

Andrew B. Weil
Executive Director, Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Illustrations by George Nikolajevich, retired Cannon Design alumnus.

NextSTL – Optimist replacement comes before Preservation Council

Lux Living’s proposal to replace the Optimist buildings in Lindell and Taylor.


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We Make History in Natchez – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

Historic economic development in Natchez – it’s time to say it.

Time to print it: Based on current economic indicators, Natchez is now one of the state’s fastest growing economies, and quite possibly the fastest growing per capita.

Consider only the last days:

  • This week we received our July sales tax payment of over $ 500,000. We’ve now passed $ 500,000 four straight months – a city record and quite possibly the state’s strongest per capita sales tax performance.
  • On August 11, we announced that a large Southern energy company, Delta Fuel, was moving its headquarters to downtown Natchez – more than 50 well-paying jobs. They are now embarking on a multi-million dollar renovation of the historic Callon building.
  • On August 16, we kicked off the million dollar renovation of the historic Broadway Depot, which will soon become the best farm-to-table restaurant on the cliffs of the Mississippi River.
  • On August 19, we celebrated the announcement of a $ 24 million renovation of the historic Eola Hotel in the heart of downtown Natchez, to include a parking garage, new retail space downtown and the development of new restaurants by renowned restaurateur NOLA Dickie Brennan.
  • Also on August 19, we met in Jackson with Governor Tate Reeves, his economic development team, and the CEO and vice-president of Velocys, an international technology company, to discuss an agreement that is currently underway to build a $ 1.5 billion biorefinery. -Belwood Industrial Park Plant – one of only two such facilities built in America to produce sustainable aviation fuel using timber resources.

Additionally, this week we had a very important meeting with one of the country’s leading consulting firms, the Horne Group, to discuss the final details of the MED Natchez marketing plan. Medical Economic Development, promoting Natchez as a regional ‘health center’, is about to take place, with a public reveal in September where we will release details of this sweeping plan.

We also met with officials from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture this week to discuss international timber exports using the Port of Natchez. A follow-up meeting will be held on August 30 with a visit to Natchez by Port of New Orleans Executive Director Brandy Christian and his staff. Working closely with Natchez Harbor Manager Anthony Hauer and the Adams County Supervisory Board, great projects and opportunities are ahead.

If we add to the fact that over the past year we have experienced record employment growth (nearly 700), record real estate sales (nearly 600), record growth in new business (more of 70) and new record building permits (over 250 worth over $ 40 million), these facts tell a historic story. Natchez is booming. And as previously stated, we are now among the fastest growing economies in Mississippi.

Words are insufficient to express my gratitude. So many individuals, groups, entities and businesses came together to make it all possible. And I truly believe that God’s favor is on our city because we make it a priority to work together and love each other.

Well done Natchez! Let us commit to maintaining this momentum.

Natchez deserves more.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of the city of Natchez.


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Vast Conquests Test America’s Hopes for a More Moderate Taliban

Officials in the Biden administration have maintained the optimistic claim that a desire for international approval could influence the actions of the Taliban. They reject criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Who opposes the withdrawal and rejects what he calls “diplomatic carrots.”

“If the Taliban claim to want international legitimacy, these actions will not give them the legitimacy they seek,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday in one of several warnings from the administration.

US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Qatar on Tuesday to make the point directly to Taliban officials, telling Voice of America that if the Taliban take control of Afghanistan by force, ” they will become a pariah state ”.

Whether or not the Taliban heed this warning, Biden shows no signs of slowing down or reversing a decision to withdraw from the war.

The United States ends its nearly 20-year combat mission in Afghanistan on August 31 as part of an agreement President Donald Trump signed with the Taliban in 2020 plotted the September 11 attacks. He overthrew, along with Afghan allies, the Taliban government which had refused to surrender Osama bin Laden.

Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have recognized the former Taliban government. The inward-looking rulers applied the strictest interpretation of Islamic law. They banned singing, flying kites and watching television, and held public hangings at Kabul’s main sports stadium.

Mullah Mohammed Omar, then Taliban leader, made a gesture to the international community before September 11 by ending the heroin poppy cultivation, which UN officials have verified. But Omar told his ruling council that he believes there is nothing his government can do to end the international condemnation.

Members of Omar’s Taliban council at the time admitted that the financial sanctions were causing suffering.

For today’s Taliban, US talks about things like international inclusion, aid, and money for reconstruction might have mattered more if they had come a few years ago, a said Andrew Watkins, senior Afghanistan analyst for the International Crisis Group.

Today’s Taliban have been emboldened by the US withdrawal. Hopes of capturing all or part of Afghanistan, along with all the import fees at the border and other income a country offers, make international support less essential.

During the talks in Qatar, “the political representatives of the Taliban have expressed a genuine interest in international legitimacy and all the benefits that flow from it,” Watkins said. such global recognition or financial support, he said.

Trump and Biden officials hoped that the prospect of ending its former pariah status would moderate the behavior of the fundamentalist Pashtun ethnic group in various ways: negotiating its place in the Afghan power structure rather than taking it over, dealing with the Afghan minority groups with humanity and prohibit Islamic extremist groups from using the country as a base to attack on a regional or global scale.

Yet the Taliban’s political and military wings often seem at odds with Taliban representatives in Qatar, who negotiate as Taliban field commanders roll over the territory at home.

While political leaders speak of compromise and power sharing, Pakistani officials accustomed to private talks with the insurgent movement say they want full power.

They also envision a strict religious government, allowing girls to go to school and women to work, but only under their Islamic injunctions. Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Some European diplomats are more skeptical than Americans that international opinion can influence the Taliban. The Afghan president too.

“Yes they have changed, but negatively,” Ashraf Ghani, who rushed to Balkh province, already surrounded by Taliban-held territory, told his cabinet this month to seek help to repel the insurgents.

The Taliban have become “crueler, more oppressive” and would only share power if they were forced to do so on the battlefield, Ghani said.

Scenes of black-turbaned Taliban officials signing the US withdrawal agreement with officials Trump himself have given the Taliban new legitimacy. The same is true of Trump’s praise of the enemies of the US Taliban on the battlefield as “very tough, very smart.”

Eager to maintain regional and even global trade and economic ties, Taliban officials appealed to Central Asian governments and diplomats in Russia and China, assuring the Taliban would be good neighbors.

The Taliban have largely honored at least part of their deal with Trump, repelling attacks on the withdrawal of US forces.

The deal’s core requirement for Americans says that the Taliban cannot again allow al-Qaida or anyone else to use Afghanistan to threaten the United States or its allies.

But an April Pentagon report said the Taliban had “mutually beneficial” relations with groups linked to al-Qaida, and felt the militia was unlikely to take substantive action against them.

Overall, “I don’t think the United States will get what it hoped for,” said Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, researcher in Afghanistan and former head of US development in Central Asia. .

The Taliban “don’t really have any incentives,” unless their governing plans have changed, and it is not clear that they have changed, she said. “I think there was a lot of wishful thinking that the Taliban had changed, you know, in the fundamental sense of the word.”


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Forest fires ravage Greece’s forests and cut the big island in two

GOUVES, Greece (AP) – Columns of smoke and ash blocked the sun over Greece’s second largest island and turned the skies orange as a days-old wildfire devoured pristine forests and triggered more evacuation alerts on Sunday, as residents called for additional firefighting. to help.

The fire in Evia, an island of mountains and forested canyons dotted with small coves of crystal clear water, began on August 3 and swept through the popular summer destination from coast to coast, burning uncontrollably for five days. Dozens of homes and businesses have been destroyed and thousands of residents and vacationers have been evacuated.

The fire is currently the most serious of dozens to erupt in Greece following the country’s most prolonged and intense heat wave in three decades, which has raised temperatures to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F) and created conditions of bone dryness.

The Greek Coast Guard said that three patrol boats, four navy ships, a ferry, two tourist boats and numerous fishing and private boats were ready to carry out further potential evacuations from the seaside village of Pefki, in the northern tip of Evia.

About 350 people have already boarded the ferry, the coast guard said, as towering flames cut many evacuation routes from the roads. Evacuation orders were issued for four villages, including Pefki, but some residents refused to leave, hoping to save their properties.

Planes and helicopters dropped water on the flames from above.

“It is already too late, the area has been destroyed,” lamented Giannis Kontzias, mayor of the municipality of Istiaia, north of Evia, on the Greek television channel Open TV. Residents of neighboring villages were urged to travel to Istiatia, a town of 7,000 in northern Evia that firefighters struggled to save overnight.

Villagers and residents of North Evia’s main port, Aidipsos, were urged to close windows, doors and fireplaces to prevent embers from entering homes.

Civil protection chief NIkos Hardalias said conditions in Evia were particularly difficult for planes and helicopters dropping water. Their pilots were facing “great danger” with limited visibility, air turbulence and wind currents from the fire, he said.

“We have a tougher afternoon ahead of us, a tougher night,” said Hardalias. “All the forces that have fought an uphill battle all these days will continue to operate with relentless intensity, with the same selflessness. “

Overnight, coast guards and ferries evacuated 83 people from the beaches of northern Evia. On Friday evening, ferries evacuated more than 1,000 people from beaches and a seaside village in doomsday scenes as flames raged on the hills behind them.

Local officials and residents of northern Evia called for television news broadcasts on Saturday, calling for more firefighters and planes to drop water.

Firefighters said 575 firefighters with 35 ground crews and 89 vehicles were battling the Evia blaze, including 112 Romanian firefighters and 100 Ukrainian firefighters sent to Greece as reinforcements. Four helicopters and three planes, including a huge Beriev-200 leased from Russia, provided air support.

Three other major fires also burned on Sunday in Greece’s southern Peloponnese region, while a massive blaze that ravaged forests, homes and businesses on the northern outskirts of the Greek capital appeared to be in decline. This fire traversed large swathes of a national park on Mount Parnitha, the largest remaining forested area near Athens which still bore deep scars from a fire in 2007.

The reactivation of the blaze north of Athens was a constant concern, Hardalias said, adding that firefighters and the military had patrolled through the night to deal with the situation. A firefighter was transferred to hospital on Sunday after losing consciousness while on patrol, Hardalias said. His condition was not life threatening.

A volunteer firefighter died on Friday from head injuries caused by a fall from a utility pole north of Athens, while at least 20 people were treated for fire-related injuries, including two firefighters who were hospitalized in intensive care.

The causes of the fires are under investigation. Three people were arrested on Friday _ in the greater Athens region, central and southern Greece _ on suspicion of starting fires, in two cases intentionally.

Another person, a 47-year-old Greek, was arrested on Saturday afternoon in the Athenian suburb of Petroupoli for lighting two fires in a grove and setting four dumpsters on fire, police said.

Ten countries have already sent firefighting personnel and equipment such as planes to Greece, while eight others are sending additional reinforcements.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the firefighters’ headquarters in Athens on Saturday and expressed “deep sorrow” for the death of the volunteer firefighter. He then went to the airport from where the firefighting planes take off and thanked the pilots, Greek and French.

Ensuring aid to all those affected by the forest fires will be “my first political priority,” the prime minister said, promising that all burnt areas would be reforested.

“When this nightmarish summer is over, we will turn our full attention to repairing the damage as quickly as possible and restoring our natural environment,” Mitsotakis said.

Greek and European officials have blamed climate change for the large number of fires that have ravaged southern Europe in recent days, from Italy to the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.

Massive fires have also been burning in Siberia in northern Russia for weeks, forcing the evacuation of a dozen villages on Saturday. In total, forest fires have burned nearly 15 million acres this year in Russia.

In the United States, hot, dry and gusty weather also fueled devastating wildfires in California.

About the photo: People use a ferry to evacuate the village of Pefki on the island of Evia, about 189 kilometers (118 miles) north of Athens, Greece on Sunday, August 8, 2021. Columns smoke and ash block sun above Greece’s second-largest island as days-old wildfire is devouring pristine forests and triggering more evacuation alerts. (AP Photo / Petros Karadjias)

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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G7: Iran, behind the attack on an oil tanker, “threatens international peace” | Expedition News

Tehran denies being behind a drone attack on an oil tanker linked to Israel, but the G7 says “all available evidence clearly points to Iran.”

G7 foreign ministers said that “all available evidence clearly indicates that Iran” was behind a July 29 drone attack on an Israel-linked tanker that killed a former British soldier and a Romanian national.

“It was a deliberate and targeted attack, and a flagrant violation of international law … There is no justification for this attack,” ministers from the world’s seven most developed countries said in a statement on Friday.

The vessel was a Japanese oil tanker, flying the Liberian flag, operated by the Israeli company Zodiac Maritime.

Iran has firmly denied having any connection to the MV Mercer street attack, which came as tensions rise in the region and talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear program deal stalled .

But European countries and the United States renewed their accusations at a closed-door Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

“The UK knows Iran is responsible for this attack. We know it was deliberate and targeted, ”said British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, who added that the evidence was“ clear ”.

“The door to diplomacy and dialogue remains open. But if Iran chooses not to take this path, then we will seek to hold Iran to account and apply a cost to it, ”she told reporters.

The Security Council is due to discuss the incident further at a public meeting on maritime security on Monday.

G7 ministers declared that “ships must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law” and pledged to “do everything possible to protect all navigation, on which the world economy depends”.

“Iran’s behavior, as well as its support for proxy forces and armed non-state actors, threatens international peace and security,” they said, calling on Tehran to end all activities inconsistent with Iranian resolutions. Security Council.

“Iran will not hesitate to defend itself”

The United States and Israel have singled out Iran for being behind the attack on the tanker, which is led by a prominent Israeli businessman in London.

Iran’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Zahra Ershadi, rejected accusations that Tehran was behind the attack and warned against retaliation: “Iran will not hesitate to stand by. defend and protect its national interests “.

In a separate statement, the US military said explosives experts from the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan – which deployed to aid Mercer Street – concluded the drone was produced in Iran.

He said explosives experts were able to recover several pieces of a drone, including part of the wing and internal components that he said were almost identical to previously collected samples from Iranian attack drones.

The US military also suggested the attack may have been launched from the Iranian coast, saying the distance to the scene of the attacks “was within range of documented one-way Iranian drones.”

“Some of the material was transferred to the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, and then to a US national laboratory for further testing and verification,” said Central Command, which oversees US forces in the area. region, in the press release.

Security analysts said the fatal attack raised the stakes in the “shadow war” against ships linked to Iran and Israel.

Iran was blamed again on Tuesday for the alleged hijacking of an asphalt and bitumen tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which prompted further denials from the Islamic Republic.

The tensions came as former head of the hard-line judiciary Ebrahim Raisi took over as Iranian presidency this week following his victory in the June election, replacing Hassan Rouhani who was seen as a more moderate figure.


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Smart Wires CEO Peter Wells explains his stint at NC

Peter Wells, CEO of energy technology company Smart Wires, believes his business is poised for serious growth in the years to come.

But that growth, according to Wells, would have been difficult to manage in the San Francisco area, where the company has been based since its inception in 2010.

Last week, Smart Wires, which manufactures technology to efficiently manage energy in power grids, announced it was moving its Bay Area headquarters to Durham. It’s a move that will ultimately create some 250 jobs at the Triangle, and North Carolina has offered the company a $ 2.8 million incentive program to make it happen.

In an interview with The News & Observer, Wells said the decision was about access to talent. In California, he said, competition between companies has grown fierce and the cost of living keeps entry-level employees away.

“It’s a little harder to find (and) dear people when you do,” Wells said in a Zoom interview.

And due to the nature of their business, which is designing technologies for power grids, the business often hires highly skilled electrical engineers, many of whom have doctorates. And other companies and industries have constantly tried to pull them off.

“The talent was sort of being harvested by other industries that maybe paying a lot more money than you might see in energy,” Wells said. “It was a challenge.”

As the company was poised to accelerate its growth in the coming months, Wells believed it was time to move the corporate headquarters. And as the company’s lease expires at the end of the year, it has started a nationwide search.

Smart Wires ended up narrowing its search to five cities, Well said, including Austin, Atlanta, Denver, the Triangle and its existing location in Union City, California.

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Peter Wells, CEO of Smart Wires Smart wires

The Triangle, Wells said, had the best overall score in its analysis thanks to its cost of living, existing energy technology companies and local universities.

“There are other (power) companies here, like Hitachi ABB,” Wells noted. And “NC State is doing very well in this area. Duke has a very good electrical engineering program. There are other colleges around, and Georgia Tech is not that far. I mean there is a lot going on in the area.

It’s also – at least for now – reasonably priced, Wells said, especially compared to places like Boulder, Colorado and Austin.

“The cost of living and housing is clearly increasing (in the Triangle),” he said, “because companies are coming in and investing… but there is still a long way to go before they reach” the levels Californians.

Wells knows the Triangle well, although a lot has changed since he was last there. He worked at the GE plant in Wilmington between 2003 and 2010, and visited Raleigh often. Since then, he said, the area’s cultural amenities, from bars and restaurants to music and cafes, have improved dramatically.

The company hopes to open its research and development lab in Durham later this year. It is currently targeting space in southern County Durham, near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Some of the company’s 140 or so employees will relocate to the Triangle, but most of them will either stay in California or work remotely. About 40% of the company’s employees work abroad.

Currently, approximately 15% of Smart Wires’ business is located in the United States. The company is very active in South America, the UK and Australia, where countries are really investing in efforts to modernize their power grids, Wells said.

But Wells believes the US market could be an important area of ​​growth in the years to come, as investment picks up in wind and solar power. Smart Wires technology helps utility providers connect their grids to wind turbines and solar panel farms and helps them efficiently manage the energy that results from them.

Wind turbines and solar panels are often built far from traditional power grids, complicating how utility companies can efficiently manage their energy.

“In England, all renewable energy is produced in Scotland and off the North Sea. But all the demand is in the south of England, “Wells said, adding that most countries have a similar dynamic, including the United States.” You can’t just move electricity. And everyone’s having these issues, so they don’t have enough capacity, and they’re having congestion issues.

Wells said the United States could see increased investment in modernizing power grids across the country, so they can handle more connections to alternative energy. The company is closely monitoring what will be included in an infrastructure bill currently being debated in Congress, and hopes it will provide incentives to modernize power grids.

“Frankly, even without this (infrastructure bill),” Wells said, utilities “are going to have to modernize. They can’t avoid it. So we think that over time, the US market … will probably represent more than 30 to 50% ”of the company’s activity.

This story was produced with the financial support of a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism scholarship program. The N&O retains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnover.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. It covers technology, startups and large companies, biotechnology and education issues related to these fields.


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