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Blocking BBC documentary on Gujarat riots goes against India’s democratic values, journalist says

“MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Blocking BBC documentary on Gujarat riots goes against India's democratic values, journalist says

A new BBC documentary looking at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots has sparked controversy in India. The government is trying to ban it while students and activists are finding ways to watch it in defiance. Rana Ayyub, author of the book "Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up," discussed the situation with The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldJanuary 26, 2023 · 3:00 PM EST

A security personnel speaks to people from inside the main gate of Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2023.

Manish Swarup/AP

A new BBC documentary has sparked controversy across India.

The Indian government has tried to block the film “India: The Modi Question,” which looks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat, where he was the chief minister at the time.

Several students at Jamia Millia Islamia University were arrested ahead of the planned screening. And Jawaharlal Nehru University locked its gates and cut electricity at its New Delhi campus as students gathered for another screening there. When they tried to watch it on laptops and cell phones in defiance, they were attacked by a group of masked men throwing stones at them.

Rana Ayyub, author of the book "Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up," and an opinion columnist with The Washington Post, discussed the documentary and the situation with The World's host Marco Werman.

Marco Werman: Rana, what has the Modi government said about this new BBC documentary and its reason for censoring it?Rana Ayyub: Well, the Foreign Office, when questioned about the revelations made by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on the Gujarat riots and his observations, has called the BBC documentary a propaganda by colonial minds, who are trying to discredit India and with the documentary. This is why the government of India has asked Twitter to remove Twitter accounts that have shared the link to the documentary. I have only seen the first part of the documentary. I have not been able to see the second part, because a couple of them have put out the links of the documentary, but each time they put out something, it is removed. The government has gone all out not just to censor the documentary, but stop, not just social media platforms, but any organization, any platform, any institution from publicly playing this documentary, and that goes against the very ethics of a democracy.For those of us who don't know much about what happened in Gujarat, take us back briefly to what did go on there in 2002, and what we know for sure about Modi's role during those riots.In 2002, Marco, about 60 Hindus were burned alive in a train, following which there was a decision made by the Modi government to take out the bodies in public. And over a week from that day, more than 1,000 Muslims were massacred. Mr. Modi was held responsible for, not just the lack of law and order, but the fact that the police did not act on time, that nothing was done to stop the attack on the Muslim community. Hate speeches were given in public by Hindu nationalists, and none of those hate speeches were stopped. The highest court in India, the Supreme Court, made an observation that Mr. Modi was like a modern day Nero, who looked the other way as innocent Muslims were massacred over a period of a week in Gujarat.Right. And at the time, Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, which is essentially the governor, right? So, the current battle over this documentary with the national government of Prime Minister Modi banning the film, they used a 2021 emergency law. Do you think the government's security concerns for not showing this film are legitimate?Why would a documentary done by BBC, or for that matter any publication, have to be censored? I think it is a right of every Indian to watch what it wants to. They are guaranteed that right by the constitution of this country, the right of every Indian to watch the documentary and decide for themselves what is right or what is wrong. The Indian government has used emergency powers to stop the screening of a documentary citing national security threats. So, I think this is a very exaggerated claim, especially vis-a-vis a documentary. And ironically, this is what normally happens when you censor something. It is broadly watched and discussed. This documentary is now being watched by almost every Indian who, initially, was indifferent or was not watching it.I would put to you, though, Rana Ayyub, and I know you haven't seen the second episode of this documentary, but it does have some shocking footage, people beaten and killed on camera. We have to ask, what is the purpose of that, if not to anger people. And if it has a potential to stoke tensions, doesn't the prime minister have a prerogative to try and maintain peace in his country?Very, very recently the Indian government actually sanctioned the release of a film called "The Kashmir Files," which has been called by many filmmakers as brazen propaganda of the Hindu right. Now, what happened in Kashmir, the attack on Hindus, was something that happened legitimately. But the movie, the way "The Kashmir Files" was made, was a very Islamophobic way that paints all Muslims as some kind of bloodthirsty villains. The prime minister of India, and this happened years ago, decades ago, but the prime minister of India and the home minister of India, not just endorsed the release of the film, but the prime minister went on record saying that no activist or no journalist should censor this film because it shows the reality of India. So, if it was really a law-and-order concern, then this is a pick-and-choose by the government of India, that it wants to show a certain documentary, but it does not want to show a certain [other] documentary.We need to point out as well that the battle over this documentary is just the latest incident of censorship in India. So, what does free speech and free press look like in your country right now?Well, in a country which calls itself the world's largest democracy, the prime minister of India has not taken a single press conference. One of the reasons why he did not give interviews was that he referred to journalists as "news traders." In a country where 220 million Muslims in the country are routinely under attack by Hindu nationalists; where Hindu nationalists are seen in the national capital taking violent calls for converting India into a Hindu nation; when the prime minister of the country, who is absolutely media savvy, who likes to tweet about everything, does not tweet to ask for an inclusive India, does not tweet for an end to violence, does not take a single press briefing, does not give interviews to mainstream media; when journalists in India are being silenced, I think press freedom, there is no such thing as press freedom in India.Rana, you are a fierce critic of Narendra Modi and how he sees democracy in India, but he's still extremely popular there. Swapan Dasgupta, an Indian politician who was in Modi's party and a former journalist, says in the documentary, "Our democracy may not be perfect, but it keeps on improving. And I think there's enough elbow room for everybody to have opinions, whether they are rational or otherwise." What is your reaction to that idea that India's democracy is improving and there's still room for lots of differing opinions?I really hope Mr. Dasgupta tries to see what's happening on the ground, because this is an idea of democracy that he believes is only on camera, but not otherwise. So, I need to understand what kind of a democracy it is when every day you see violence against the Muslim community in acts that are public? Hindu nationalists are on camera in the presence of police forces, giving hate speeches, asking for a genocide of Muslims. I am trying to understand what is the construct of this democracy when some of India's best-known student activists are behind bars for protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act, which is being brought by the Indian government, a discriminatory [law that] discriminates against Muslims in India. So, honestly, Marco, more than anybody else, I am looking for a semblance of democracy in this country, because I love this country more than I can ever speak about, because I have seen democratic values. And the reason why I, and many journalists like me and activists, are speaking about this, is because we are seeing an erosion of democratic values in a country, which is now heading toward what looks like a fascist state.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: 'India is a tinderbox': Religious tensions come to a boiling point after brutal murder of Hindu tailor

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Tanks for Ukraine are ‘ready to go’ when Germany and US strike a deal, retired Navy Adm. says

“MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Tanks for Ukraine are 'ready to go' when Germany and US strike a deal, retired Navy Adm. says

As Germany faces mounting pressure to supply tanks to Kyiv for the ongoing war in Ukraine, retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis talks with The World's host Marco Werman about what the delivery of heavy weapons could mean for the war.

The WorldJanuary 19, 2023 · 3:30 PM EST

Denmark's military officers stand next to a Leopard 2A7 tank at the Tapa Military Camp, in Estonia, Jan. 19, 2023.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Germany has faced mounting pressure to supply Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv as the war in Ukraine rages on — or to clear the way for other countries, such as Poland, to deliver German-made Leopards from their own stocks.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to host a regular coordination meeting of Ukraine's Western allies at the United States' Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday.

Western leaders have been cautious in their approach to Ukraine’s repeated requests over the past few months for heavier vehicles, including Leopard, as well as American Abrams tanks.

Meanwhile, Berlin has said that it will send its vehicles only after the US sends its tanks.

The World's host Marco Werman speaks with retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who is the former NATO supreme allied commander, about how a delivery of tanks would make a difference.

Marco Werman: Admiral James Stavridis, what kind of impact will this decision make?Adm. James Stavridis: A huge impact for several reasons. First of all, the Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, many, many thousands probably, were destroyed. So, Russia is tank- and armored-personnel-carrier poor at the moment. Number two, if Russia mounts a spring offensive using these newly mobilized foot soldiers, infantry, those are very juicy targets for tanks and armored personnel carriers.So, Germany is facing a lot of pressure this week to send tanks to Ukraine. Why is the German-made Leopard tank especially wanted in Ukraine?First, because it's a pretty heavy tank. It's not quite as big as the Abrams tank. The Leopard is a big, strong, tough tank, but it's relatively simple to operate, compared to, for example, an Abrams. And, most importantly, it's widely distributed across the native nations. Germany has exported many of these to the Baltic states, to many former Warsaw Pact countries. So, there's a lot of expertise, training, a lot of inventory, and therefore, they are highly desired by the Ukrainians. They're in theater, they're ready to go, not a lot of training required.Well, yesterday, German officials said they won't send Leopard tanks unless the US sends Abrams. What do you make of that?I think it's part of an ongoing conversation. And at the end of the day, I would guess that our German colleagues will say, "You know, we would like to put the Leopards out there." And part of this, by the way, is for the Germans to give permission to the other European nations who hold these Leopard tanks to give them, as well as some German Leopards, I think that the Germans ultimately will acquiesce in a deal where we, the US and the Canadians, put a large number of armored personnel carriers. They provide the tanks. That's a pretty good deal.Well, the US is providing Ukraine with other heavy-duty weapons of war. Why is the US hesitant to provide tanks?What has held us back, not only not an obvious military need, which is emerging now, but secondly, we have always in this conflict, tried to use the minimal amount of weapons systems so that we could avoid escalating the war and leading to a direct conflict between NATO and Russia. But I think we hit the point now where the tanks are a necessity, given where we are in the battle.Yes so, why would a tank specifically imply a greater involvement in the war than, say, the Patriot missile system?Marco, I don't think it does. And this has been, I think, kind of a false assumption out of the West. It was taken out of an abundance of caution. I understand that. I think it made a higher degree of sense, say, 10, 11 months ago, when you could have envisioned an outcome where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin got knocked back, then we had a negotiation, we could avoid an escalation. I think we're past that point now, unfortunately. And therefore, yeah Patriots, yeah tanks, I would say, yeah fighter aircraft. That's the next conversation that's going to happen.Can you talk more about that? I mean, that seems a really deep commitment in this war.We are at the point where the Western side needs to say to itself, "Are we going to give the Ukrainians control over their skies?" And to do that, we've already provided surface-to-air missiles. We provided the Patriot batteries, we provided drones. The one big thing we haven't given them is combat aircraft. And by providing them, say MiG-29s, which the Poles own and operate and are willing to give to the Ukrainians, who've been trained in flying those specific airframes, we should do that, in my view, because that will further shut down Vladimir Putin's options. Right now, he's using air control in order to strike Ukrainian targets, and all over Ukraine. And there are war crimes against the electric grid, the water supplies, against civilians in apartment buildings, aircraft could help stop that. We ought to provide them those aircraft.But, I mean, any of these options, starting with a tank deal, would you see that as another step closer to direct war between Russia and NATO?No, I don't think it significantly elevates the chances, because you still don't have NATO soldiers, sailors, airmen actually conducting the combat. These are still Ukrainians conducting the combat. And, as you postulated a moment ago, in the end, giving a Ukrainian a rifle is merely a matter of degree in how you're attacking Russian forces, than giving them a Patriot missile or a tank. So, I think the earlier ideas of doing this in a very measured, incremental way, I think that's fading as we look at Russian intransigence, Russian war crimes, very clear intent of Vladimir Putin to continue to prosecute this unjust war. And don't forget that Putin could stop this tomorrow. It's this idea that somehow we're provoking Russia, which is kind of magical thinking. It's Putin that's invaded here. We need to give the Ukrainians what they need to stop it.So, Admiral, as he said, that the German Leopard tank doesn't require a lot of training. It's already in-theater. If a deal is struck, some kind of agreement between Germany, the US and Ukraine, how soon could you see delivery of these tanks' deployment into the battlefield?Days, and certainly within weeks. This is primed, ready to go. And by the way, my contacts in European militaries, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for getting these weapons in the hands of the Ukrainians. It's a political decision that needs to be made.I mean, in a modern war where we've seen drones play such a key role, remotely operated, does it surprise you, that this historical piece of equipment, like a tank, is so important right now?It doesn't surprise me. And the logical question would be, well, what happened to all of those Russian tanks a year ago? Because a lot of them were destroyed by drones. That's why this marriage of an old weapon, the tank, with these new weapons, the drones, I think is going to be very powerful against the Russians.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: How well is the grain deal working for Ukraine?

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Israel releases longest-serving Palestinian prisoner

“MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Israel releases longest-serving Palestinian prisoner

Karim Younis spent a total of 40 years in Israeli prisons. The World's Carol Hills spoke with Khaled Elgindy, a Palestinian and Israeli affairs expert at the Middle East Institute, about the implications of his release.

The WorldJanuary 6, 2023 · 12:00 PM EST

A banner with a picture of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail reads in Arabic "Karim Younis, the icon of patience and will, 35 years in captivity, for how long," in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 1, 2017.

Nasser Nasser/AP/File photo

Israel released the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner on Thursday. Karim Younis was released just north of Tel Aviv in the pre-dawn hours — to prevent large gatherings and celebrations. He used the cell phone of a passer-by to inform his family members.

Younis was convicted of kidnapping and killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in 1980, and started serving his sentence three years later, spending a total of 40 years behind bars. While incarcerated, he wrote political works and called for agreements with Israel. Coming from the village of Ara in Israel, Younis has Israeli citizenship, but Israel's interior minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has called for it to be revoked.

The World's Carol Hills spoke with Khaled Elgindy, a Palestinian and Israeli affairs expert at the Middle East Institute, about the implications of the release.

Carol Hills: First, who is Karim Younis?Khaled Elgindy: Well, Karim Younis is actually a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and he served a 40-year prison sentence. What's interesting, actually, is that he was supposed to have been released a decade ago as part of a US-brokered prisoner release deal, that was brokered by [former] Secretary of State John Kerry. And it was the refusal to release Karim, among others, that was what ultimately led to the collapse of those negotiations.Why was Karim Younis released?He had served his term. So, it may simply be that his term expired.His pre-dawn release yesterday was on purpose. What was the thinking there and who was behind that decision?The new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, explicitly issued orders to the family to not mark his release in any public way. He didn't want the spectacle of other Palestinian citizens of Israel celebrating the release of one of their own, which would be an embarrassment, frankly, for what is supposed to be a very hard-line government.Is what they did unusual, though? When Palestinian prisoners are typically released, are they released to their family?In most cases, there is a downplaying of the release. They're dropped off someplace, they're not driven to their homes. They just sort of fend for themselves. It's not unusual for them to be released in the middle of the night or in the predawn hours or at some time in which there can't be a major gathering.And is it typical for there to be celebrations when Palestinian prisoners are released?A million Palestinians have been arrested at some point in their lives. And so, it's an issue that touches almost every Palestinian family. It's seen as a huge sacrifice, right? It's just short of the ultimate sacrifice.But in this case, he was convicted of murdering an Israeli soldier.Right.Are Palestinian prisoners celebrated and revered even when they commit serious crimes?It's a matter of perspective, but attacking an armed soldier in occupied territory, international observers, and even international legal experts, would say that's not a crime.But isn't there another side to that, too? I mean, does the all-embracing view of Palestinian prisoners by Palestinians interfere with mutual understanding and peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians?Sure. There's no question that some number, or some portion, of the thousands and thousands of Palestinian prisoners are actual terrorists who have done terrible things like killed civilians. I think it would be very difficult to make the case that all Palestinian prisoners are guilty of even what they're charged with, just given the the fundamental unfairness of the system that convicted them.Now, there seems to be a strange plot twist here. Israel's new minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, you mentioned him, he's a far-right politician, he was once interviewed by the press in his home with a poster of Baruch Goldstein on the wall behind him, and Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians while they were worshiping. And as a lawyer, Ben-Gvir has represented Israeli extremists. How can we understand his policymaking in the Karim Younis case in terms of the decision to release a Palestinian convicted of murdering an Israeli soldier?There wasn't a lot he could do. I think if it were up to him personally, he certainly wouldn't want to see Karim Younis released. He has advocated for much harsher treatment of Palestinian prisoners. He wants to loosen open fire regulations, when it's acceptable to use deadly fire against Palestinian protesters. Otherwise, I think it's not something he would want to do.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: US senators demand full White House investigation into shooting of Palestinian American journalist

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‘Libya’s institutions are becoming weaker,’ analyst says after suspected Lockerbie bomber arrest

“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>'Libya's institutions are becoming weaker,' analyst says after suspected Lockerbie bomber arrest

A Libyan man suspected of involvement in the making of the bomb that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, is now in US custody. To discuss the view from inside Libya, The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Jalel Harchaoui, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in Paris.

The WorldDecember 12, 2022 · 4:00 PM EST

Paul Hudson of Sarasota, Fla., holds up a photo of his daughter Melina who was killed at 16 years old, along with the photos of almost a hundred other victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, as he speaks to members of the media in front of the federal courthouse in Washington, Dec. 12, 2022.

Andrew Harnik/AP

The suspected bombmaker of the explosives that downed Pan Am flight 103 — en route from London to New York — over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, is now in US custody. The US Department of Justice said that Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi will make his initial appearance in the US District Court in Washington, DC, though no date is set yet.

For the view from inside Libya and how Mas’ud came to now be in the US, The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Jalel Harchaoui, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in Paris, where he focuses on North Africa and Libya.

Marco Werman: Who had control of Mas'ud and why did they turn him over?Jalel Harchaoui: It was actually a series of armed groups, very personalized armed groups, working for the prime minister, [Abdul Hamid al-] Dbeibeh. So, it wasn't really the Libyan state. The attorney general actually called the entire process extrajudicial, or "illegal," actually, to use his word. So, what happened was really a personal initiative of the individual that happens to be the prime minister in Tripoli, Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibah, his nephew, Ibrahim, and a few armed groups that work for them.

This image shows Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who is in custody at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 12, 2022.

Credit:

Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP

And what was their interest in handing him over now?Well, we are basically deep in a very quid pro quo kind of logic. This prime minister, as we were talking about, his term expired a year ago. And he's very much interested in staying in power. And he knows, apparently — that's his gamble, his wager — that if he gives a valued gift to a nation, a powerful nation by the name of the United States of America, he will be able to survive a little bit longer in power. That is the logic at play here.So, back up a bit and help us understand the political situation today in Libya under which [Abu Agila Mohammad] Mas'ud [Kheir al-Marimi] was handed over to the US. I mean, since 2012 and the death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has basically been in various states of upheaval. What is the current situation with the civil war and competing governments in Libya?Well, there's no hot war. There's no major exchange of fire. The situation is relatively calm and it has been for two and a half years, really. The issue right now is the political crisis, corruption, the absence of elections. As you said, the the elections that were slated to happen in December 2021 collapsed. And there's no real UN process. The UN is just trying to, kind of, revive this notion of elections, but you basically have two prime ministers. One in Tripoli, the one that we just mentioned, and another one, a rival aligned with Field Marshal [Khalifa] Haftar by the name of Fathi Bashagha in the city of Sirte. So, those two prime ministers are basically staring at each other and each one is interested in surviving, particularly Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh in Tripoli, because that's where the institutions are, that's where the bank is, that's where the money is, the ability to sign contracts. So, the stakes are quite high.And does the handing over of Mas'ud to US custody tell us anything about where things are headed politically in Libya?Well, I think the way I interpret it is that the institutions are becoming obviously weaker and weaker. The process that we have been discussing, you and I, is completely informal. It's completely outside of the justice system from a Libyan perspective. And so, this means that both the Libyan elites and foreign states, including the United States, accept a de facto situation where institutions don't really matter. It's just about who you speak to, you know, if you're friends with a particular armed group and the armed group happens to give you something useful, you accept the gift and you move on. So, this institutional weakening is very alarming in many regards.What does the handing over of Mas'ud to US officials mean for most Libyans?It means that it's going to be effectively two Libyas, right? Because the US also has partners in the East who happen to be the enemies of the prime minister in Tripoli. The US is happy to deal with both Libyas. So, this de facto partition is probably going to continue. Actually, I believe that it will continue deepening. And there's no real process to fix this whole thing and turn it back into a unitary state.

Unidentified crash investigators inspect the nose section of the crashed Pan Am flight 103 in a field near Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 23, 1988.

Credit:

Dave Caulkin/AP/File photo

Jalel, back up a bit. How did the Lockerbie bombing impact Libya?I would summarize it by saying that the sanctions imposed by the UN in 1992 really had a huge effect on Gaddafi. He actually stopped supporting a lot of the terror activities that he was known to support in the '70s, in the '80s. So, all of that kind of stopped in the '90s, and beginning in the late '90s, he was actually quite sincerely interested in coming back out from the cold and get into the Western world, be accepted among Western nations, which began happening in earnest in December 2003, when the George W. Bush administration struck a deal with Gaddafi on weapons of mass destruction. And he was able to kind of continue that momentum. And he really believed that he succeeded. By the late 2000s, he was actually part of the Western club. And that was just a few years before the intervention that toppled him in 2011. So, I would say that it's probably, like all Libyans have a strong opinion about the Lockerbie event and they all remember the consequences that it had on their lives.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: New suspects in the Lockerbie bombing might actually want extradition

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Handing over of Lockerbie suspect will ‘effectively create two Libyas,’ analyst says

“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>Handing over of Lockerbie suspect will 'effectively create two Libyas,' analyst says

A Libyan man suspected of involvement in the making of the bomb that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, is now in US custody. To discuss the view from inside Libya, The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Jalel Harchaoui, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in Paris.

The WorldDecember 12, 2022 · 4:00 PM EST

Paul Hudson of Sarasota, Fla., holds up a photo of his daughter Melina who was killed at 16 years old, along with the photos of almost a hundred other victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, as he speaks to members of the media in front of the federal courthouse in Washington, Dec. 12, 2022.

Andrew Harnik/AP

The suspected bombmaker of the explosives that downed Pan Am flight 103 — en route from London to New York — over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, is now in US custody. The US Department of Justice said that Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi will make his initial appearance in the US District Court in Washington, DC, though no date is set yet.

For the view from inside Libya and how Mas’ud came to now be in the US, The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Jalel Harchaoui, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in Paris, where he focuses on North Africa and Libya.

Marco Werman: Who had control of Mas'ud and why did they turn him over?Jalel Harchaoui: It was actually a series of armed groups, very personalized armed groups, working for the prime minister, [Abdul Hamid al-] Dbeibeh. So, it wasn't really the Libyan state. The attorney general actually called the entire process extrajudicial, or "illegal," actually, to use his word. So, what happened was really a personal initiative of the individual that happens to be the prime minister in Tripoli, Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibah, his nephew, Ibrahim, and a few armed groups that work for them.

This image shows Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who is in custody at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 12, 2022.

Credit:

Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP

And what was their interest in handing him over now?Well, we are basically deep in a very quid pro quo kind of logic. This prime minister, as we were talking about, his term expired a year ago. And he's very much interested in staying in power. And he knows, apparently — that's his gamble, his wager — that if he gives a valued gift to a nation, a powerful nation by the name of the United States of America, he will be able to survive a little bit longer in power. That is the logic at play here.So, back up a bit and help us understand the political situation today in Libya under which [Abu Agila Mohammad] Mas'ud [Kheir al-Marimi] was handed over to the US. I mean, since 2012 and the death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has basically been in various states of upheaval. What is the current situation with the civil war and competing governments in Libya?Well, there's no hot war. There's no major exchange of fire. The situation is relatively calm and it has been for two and a half years, really. The issue right now is the political crisis, corruption, the absence of elections. As you said, the the elections that were slated to happen in December 2021 collapsed. And there's no real UN process. The UN is just trying to, kind of, revive this notion of elections, but you basically have two prime ministers. One in Tripoli, the one that we just mentioned, and another one, a rival aligned with Field Marshal [Khalifa] Haftar by the name of Fathi Bashagha in the city of Sirte. So, those two prime ministers are basically staring at each other and each one is interested in surviving, particularly Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh in Tripoli, because that's where the institutions are, that's where the bank is, that's where the money is, the ability to sign contracts. So, the stakes are quite high.And does the handing over of Mas'ud to US custody tell us anything about where things are headed politically in Libya?Well, I think the way I interpret it is that the institutions are becoming obviously weaker and weaker. The process that we have been discussing, you and I, is completely informal. It's completely outside of the justice system from a Libyan perspective. And so, this means that both the Libyan elites and foreign states, including the United States, accept a de facto situation where institutions don't really matter. It's just about who you speak to, you know, if you're friends with a particular armed group and the armed group happens to give you something useful, you accept the gift and you move on. So, this institutional weakening is very alarming in many regards.What does the handing over of Mas'ud to US officials mean for most Libyans?It means that it's going to be effectively two Libyas, right? Because the US also has partners in the East who happen to be the enemies of the prime minister in Tripoli. The US is happy to deal with both Libyas. So, this de facto partition is probably going to continue. Actually, I believe that it will continue deepening. And there's no real process to fix this whole thing and turn it back into a unitary state.

Unidentified crash investigators inspect the nose section of the crashed Pan Am flight 103 in a field near Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 23, 1988.

Credit:

Dave Caulkin/AP/File photo

Jalel, back up a bit. How did the Lockerbie bombing impact Libya?I would summarize it by saying that the sanctions imposed by the UN in 1992 really had a huge effect on Gaddafi. He actually stopped supporting a lot of the terror activities that he was known to support in the '70s, in the '80s. So, all of that kind of stopped in the '90s, and beginning in the late '90s, he was actually quite sincerely interested in coming back out from the cold and get into the Western world, be accepted among Western nations, which began happening in earnest in December 2003, when the George W. Bush administration struck a deal with Gaddafi on weapons of mass destruction. And he was able to kind of continue that momentum. And he really believed that he succeeded. By the late 2000s, he was actually part of the Western club. And that was just a few years before the intervention that toppled him in 2011. So, I would say that it's probably, like all Libyans have a strong opinion about the Lockerbie event and they all remember the consequences that it had on their lives.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: New suspects in the Lockerbie bombing might actually want extradition

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Count me in!Related ContentAs bombs fall, northern Syria braces for a potential Turkish invasionAl Jazeera wants the ICC to do a 'thorough and independent' investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh's killing Colombia’s govt launches peace talks with the nation’s largest-remaining rebel groupAfter 2 years of war, hope for peace in northern Ethiopia

Al Jazeera wants the ICC to do a ‘thorough and independent’ investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing

“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>Al Jazeera wants the ICC to do a 'thorough and independent' investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh's killing

The World's host Marco Werman spoke with the network's Washington, DC, bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, about new evidence found and presented to the court.

The WorldDecember 6, 2022 · 3:30 PM EST

Rodney Dixon, lawyer for Al Jazeera, third from left, and Lina Abu Akleh, niece of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, second left, answer questions during a press conference after presenting a letter requesting a formal investigation into the killing, to the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 6, 2022.

Peter Dejong/AP

The Al Jazeera Media Network formally filed a case with the International Criminal Court on Tuesday to investigate the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank town of Jenin in May.

The Israeli military has denied responsibility, but recently concluded that if one of its soldiers did possibly kill her, that it was unintentional. 

Al Jazeera, however, maintains that it was a "deliberate killing" by Israeli forces.

The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Al Jazeera's Washington, DC, bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, about new evidence found and included in case made to the ICC.

Marco Werman: How did Al Jazeera come to this decision to formally submit a complaint to the ICC?Abderrahim Foukara: The network had made the decision that it was going to wait and see what happens with all the other investigations. Al Jazeera's position now is that we've waited for too long for light to be shed on exactly what happened, for a thorough and independent investigation. That has not happened, and it's time to go to the ICC.So, Al Jazeera is using evidence from its own investigation and other evidence it gathered. What can you tell us about the new evidence that supports this being a deliberate killing?There were a bunch of people, witnesses, who were there when the killing happened. They were not included in interviews by the Israelis or any other investigators previously. There was also video evidence showing the area where the killing happened. Al Jazeera says that there's absolutely no way the Israeli soldier or soldiers did not see that Shireen and her colleagues were members of the press, given that they were wearing vests emblazoned with a big sign saying, "Press."And so, what is different about this video? What can we actually see in it?We can see that the way was clear from where the fire came, that hit Shireen and her producer. There were no zigzags in the way. There was nothing hampering vision. Whoever fired at her could clearly see her.I mean, that's compelling. But ultimately, won't you have to get inside the psychology of the IDF shooter? I mean, to that question, how can you actually know the Israeli soldier didn't just get nervous in a tense situation, because deliberate motivation could be pretty hard to prove, right?Al Jazeera's position is that there needs to be a thorough and transparent and independent investigation. That's precisely the point. The Israelis are required by Al Jazeera and other bodies to actually provide access to the soldier or soldiers who are accused of having fired on Shireen so the investigators would be able to actually see clearly what happened at that particular moment.Well, not only has Israel said no, but outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has said, "No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera." How do you respond to that?Well, you know, the press conference that Al Jazeera's lawyers held after the referral of the case to the ICC, one of the things that they said was that the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh was part of a larger campaign by the Israelis.What campaign are you referring to?The position of Al Jazeera is that the Israelis do not want the world to see what's going on under Israeli occupation. And therefore, there's been a series of harassment of Al Jazeera's crews throughout the years. And the culmination of that harassment was the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.I think of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and his killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and how The Washington Post worked so hard to get justice for him. What similarities do you see between Khashoggi and Shireen Abu Akleh?One similarity is the complex web of interests that the United States shares with both Saudi Arabia and Israel, regardless of whether the administration in place is a Democratic administration or a Republican administration. Those interests always come into play. The conundrum that the Biden administration perhaps faces in this particular case is that, from day one, it said that it was going to put a lot of emphasis on human rights internationally.How well did you know Shireen Abu Akleh, and what occurs to you about the way she reported news, especially to her Palestinian audiences?One of the things that have always arrested my attention about how she conducted herself is that, you know, she is obviously a very high-profile journalist. She was a leading female journalist when she joined Al Jazeera. There were very few women in the Arab world as reporters. And yet, being in the office, she kept a very low profile. The irony of the situation is that her killing, while she was on the job, has made her the story and has continued to make her the story for the last six months and will probably continue to make her a story, big story, for a long time to come.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report. Click above to listen to the entire discussion.

Related: US senators demand full White House investigation into shooting of Palestinian American journalist
 

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As Earth surpasses 8 billion people, ‘the planet can feed and sustain billions more,’ demographer says

“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>As Earth surpasses 8 billion people, 'the planet can feed and sustain billions more,' demographer says

It only took just over a decade for the world to add 1 billion more people. To break down what this growth means for societies around the globe, The World's host Carol Hills speaks to demographer and author Jennifer Sciubba.

The WorldNovember 15, 2022 · 3:00 PM EST

Pakistanis shops in a weekly pet market in Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2022.

Fareed Khan/AP

Eight billion: That's the number of people now living on planet Earth, according to a UN report. And it took only 11 years for the world's population to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion.

In a symbolic move, a baby girl born today in the Philippines was welcomed as number 8 billion, especially since it's difficult to accurately calculate the number of people in the world, with sums possibly being off by a year or two.

Meanwhile, India is projected to become the world's most populous country by next year, surpassing China.

The World's host Carol Hills discussed the issue of population growth and what it means for society with Jennifer Sciubba. She is a demographer and author of the book, "8 Billion and Counting: How Sex, Death, and Migration Shape Our World," and joined the discussion from Washington, DC.

Carol Hills: Jennifer, you've said the focus should not just be on the number of babies being born — that that's the wrong way to frame things. I wonder why and what is the right way?Jennifer Sciubba: Well, if we were in the last century, it would make a lot of sense for us to think about numbers overall, because we started last century with only 1.6 billion people and ended it with 6.1 billion. It was a century of exponential population growth. This century, even though we've already added 2 billion people, that's not what will characterize this moment for us. Instead, it's a story of differential population trends. We've never been further apart around the world in terms of births, deaths and migration. And that's where we really need to keep our focus as we go through this century, toward a time when actually global population trends will be converging.

A graphic showing global human population milestones.

Credit:

Courtesy of Jennifer Sciubba

Living standards is a big issue on this topic. And living standards for Americans — we consume a tremendous amount of resources. If the whole world lived like us, would we just be totally sunk?I think we would be. I think that where we really need to focus our innovation and our attention over the next few decades is places in the world that have standards of living that are rising to meet those in America. It's not necessarily places that actually have high fertility. I think the really remarkable place to look at is India, for example. On average, for the whole country, the fertility rate is actually below replacement, below the number needed just to replace who's already born. But we know that this is one area of the world that is about to be the most populous country in the world, really, any day now will surpass China, and standards of living there are rising. So, how do we equip Indians to have a rising standard of living, a better quality of life, but in a way that will be sustainable for them and their environment?A lot of the future growth in population is projected for Africa. What specific countries have the highest birthrate there and what are the implications of that?We might look at Nigeria. Nigeria's population is looking to double between now and mid-century, and Nigeria will replace the United States as the third most-populous country. And the leadership in Nigeria has not shown quite the level of commitment needed to rights-based family planning and reproductive health, girls education, ending child marriage, those kinds of policy measures that would help lower fertility. They lower preferences for the number of children, and they also allow people to exercise those preferences.Isn't there an inherent tension between living standards and population, meaning the higher the living standard, the fewer kids people have? Is that correct?Yes. So, when we think about 'why do people start to have fewer children?' — it's not just one thing. So, we know that with more educational opportunities, people will delay the time when they have their first child. And of course, when you delay the time you have your first child, eventually, biologically for women, you end up running out of time. We know when there are other economic opportunities outside the home, and we also know that there are some real negative pressures on fertility. I think something for us to watch out for are places where total fertility rates are very low. We're talking in South Korea, for example, less than one child per woman on average. And South Korea is not alone. It may be the lowest, but I think that a lot of countries are really seeing that very low pressure on fertility.

A graphic breaking down the difference between healthy and overall life expectancy at birth.

Credit:

Courtesy of Jennifer Sciubba/Data from World Health Organization

I want to turn to climate change. Many people worry that global population growth is bad for the fight against global warming. Others say that's not necessarily the case. Break down those two camps and how do you see it?Two out of every three people on the planet live somewhere with the low replacement fertility, meaning the number needed to just replace who's already born. So, if we want to frame the issue of population as one of overpopulation, that doesn't work when you're talking about places where people are already having few children. So, to frame it as overpopulation can be really ethically a quagmire. Certainly, there are places in the world that still have high fertility, and those places, we need to double down on our efforts to have education and family planning.We've talked about regions where populations are growing fast and regions where birthrates are crashing. There's a third dynamic, too, which is regions where populations are physically moving. How does global migration factor into understanding how 8 billion people fit together on this planet?Migration is the third pillar of population change and it's just as important as trends in births or deaths. But the impact of it is uneven. If we look globally, over 96% of us stay put. We don't move. The effect globally is that, while there are millions, hundreds of millions of people who move, the proportion of the world population who lives outside the country in which they were born has actually been steady and been quite low — below 4% — over the last several decades. But where these people move, and where they move from, is uneven around the globe.Bottom line, how many people can the planet feed and sustain?The planet can feed and sustain billions more. It is a matter of whether or not we have the political will and the know-how and the innovation to do so.

 This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report. 

Related: China now allows 3 kids per family, but many couples say they can’t afford it

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Netanyahu win is set to ‘change the face of Israel,’ Israeli reporter says

“MuiTypography-root-217 MuiTypography-h1-222″>Netanyahu win is set to 'change the face of Israel,' Israeli reporter says

With Benjamin Netanyahu set to return to power, reporter Noga Tarnopolsky discusses with The World's host Marco Werman what Israeli parliamentary election results will mean for the country.

The WorldNovember 4, 2022 · 1:15 PM EDT

Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, waves to his supporters after first exit poll results for the Israeli Parliamentary election at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Nov. 2, 2022.

Tsafrir Abayov/AP

Israel has held its fifth parliamentary elections in four years. And former leader Benjamin Netanyahu is set to return once again as the next prime minister, with current Prime Minister Yair Lapid conceding his position on Thursday.

The coalition that Netanyahu is expected to bring together to create a majority in the Knesset will be the most right-wing government yet for the country. His far-right allies want to overhaul the justice system to give politicians more control of judicial appointments, while weakening the Supreme Court’s oversight of the parliamentary process. And they're calling for an end to Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu also still faces multiple corruption charges — accusations that he's denied.

Reporter Noga Tarnopolsky joined The World's host Marco Werman from Jerusalem to discuss what the election results will mean for the country moving forward.

Marco Werman: Any surprises from the results here, or is it pretty much what we expected?Noga Tarnopolsky: I would say there are surprises. The solidity of Netanyahu's comeback is surprising. And there's a detail that I think is really important and that's mostly been overlooked. If you count the actual number of votes, the Netanyahu bloc and the non-Netanyahu bloc have virtually the same number of votes cast.And what does that tell us?Well, that the particularities of Israel's complicated parliamentary system and Netanyahu's mastery, his absolute dominance over that system and his part of it, have created a situation of this, sort of, anomaly where Knesset representation is not really representing 100% of the will of the people.For those of us who don't live in a parliamentary system, explain the basics of what Netanyahu would have to do next to form a coalition government.What Netanyahu has to do is form a majority, an alliance with other parties that will give him at least 61 seats out of 120 in the Knesset. I expect this to be fairly easy for him to do. And then next week, once the results are formally presented to the country's president, he will go to the president's home and he will say, "I have a majority of Knesset votes devoted to me and I want to form the next government." The president will then select him. And then, the difficult part begins, because Netanyahu is saddled with basically two allies: ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, and then, this very radical extremist racist party called the Religious Zionism Party (HaTazionut HaDatit), which is actually an agglomeration of three tiny fringe parties, and he is going to have to negotiate with them.And that's the ultra nationalist party I was referring to a moment ago, right? What exactly did that group campaign on and what could their inclusion in the ruling coalition mean for Israel?They campaigned on noise. [Otzma Yehudit leader] Itamar Ben-Gvir, who campaigned, basically, on a slogan of "death to the terrorists," which is shorthand for "death to the Arabs," which was his previous slogan. He's a guy who likes to pull out a gun. He champions an Israel without what we consider the rule of law, where Jews and Arabs would not have equal rights, where, for example, in the next election it's entirely possible that Arab majority parties will not have the right to run. He proposes a radical reconception of Israel, in fact, as a kind of Jewish theocracy.I mean, it sounds like Netanyahu will be holding his nose in order to form a coalition with this group. Is that the case?I don't know. It's hard for me to enter Netanyahu's head and tell you if he'll hold his nose or not. He has enthusiastically embraced this party. He created this party, because he was afraid of losing, sort of, fringe votes on the Israeli right to small, insignificant parties. He's the guy who punched these three parties together to make a larger model, and that's sort of turned into a Frankenstein on him. So, I don't know if he's holding his nose, but he's desperate for them, because he really wants to cancel his trial. That has been made amply clear by his allies in his own party, the Likud, and by these other more religious figures.The results of this election seem to mark, I mean, if we just pull out, a continued shift to the right among Israel's electorate. What is driving this?It's a really complicated question, because I would agree with you that the majority of Israeli voters are right-wing, but they're not radically right. And I don't think that a huge surge of radicalization has happened in the last two years. What I do think is that Netanyahu created this vehicle, which is this kind of a monster party created out of three other parties that never on their own could pass the electoral threshold and have impact or even enter the parliament, and the creation of this vehicle brought out new voters, some very young who'd never voted before, some very radical who previously had felt disaffected and didn't go vote. There are a number of things behind it. I don't think that the population has shifted as greatly as the political panorama now has shifted.The Arab Israeli vote had been seen as a key factor in this race. Talk more about that. And in the end, what was the Arab-Israeli voter turnout like and what difference did it make?So, we don't yet have final figures, but the Arab turnout is projected to be around 55%, which is more than 10% more than last time. The total, what happened among Arab voters, like what happened among non-Netanyahu voters in general, is that their leaders somehow betrayed them. There are three Arab-majority parties that had joined forces in the past and really generated a lot of enthusiasm, and they fell apart as a party. Each ran as a separate miniparty. The general sense among their voters, who are mostly Arab, was that the leaders of these parties were just bickering among themselves over personal matters of ego more than anything else, and that none of them had really achieved very much for the public that votes for them, and their voters dispersed.If the results hew to the exit polls, another mandate for Netanyahu, will that further disaffection the Arab electorate in Israel?It may well create greater disaffection among Arab voters in Israel. But the dimensions of the change that I think is going to be coming to Israel are huge and it's going to affect everybody. I think even some of the people who voted for the Netanyahu bloc are going to be surprised by the pace and the radicalness of the changes that the new incoming government, as you say, the projected government, is going to try and push through. And so, Arabs may be disaffected, but they are going to be among, basically 50% of Israeli voters, who I think are about to be very shocked by what's going to come.I know you've touched on it a bit, but what is the big headline of what those changes will probably look like?Well, Israel will no longer have an independent judiciary. There will no longer be a separation of powers, because the executive will be able to determine judicial outcomes, judicial appointments. There will be a more direct line between the executive and forces of law and order. We're really talking about changing the face of Israel in a way that I think it will be doubtful that Israel will be able to call itself a functional democracy at the end of this process.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: President Biden’s visit to Israel focuses on regional security

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US senators demand full White House investigation into shooting of Palestinian American journalist

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>US senators demand full White House investigation into shooting of Palestinian American journalist

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen speaks to The World's host Marco Werman about a renewed call by himself and other Senate Democrats for a full inquiry into the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this year.

The WorldSeptember 30, 2022 · 4:00 PM EDT

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen speaks during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 3, 2022.

Mariam Zuhaib/AP/File

US Congressional Democrats are calling on the White House to conduct and release the findings of a full investigation into the shooting death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May.

An investigator from the research group Forensic Architecture shared with The World a computer reconstruction, built by its team, of the spot in the West Bank where Abu Akleh was shot. It determined that she was shot by an Israeli marksman and that she was clearly identifiable as a journalist. 

Earlier this month, the Israeli military announced long-awaited results of its investigation into the deadly shooting of Abu Akleh, saying there was a “high probability” an Israeli soldier had mistakenly killed her during a raid in the occupied West Bank last May.

But the military provided no evidence to support its claim that a fierce gunbattle was under way at the time that Abu Akleh was shot.

Now, the US Congress is pushing for further accountability. Democrats Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Chris Van Hollen and others have reached out to the State Department with a series of questions about the case.

Sen. Van Hollen joined The World's host Marco Werman to discuss why a US-led independent invesigation into the case matters. 

Marco Werman: I'd like to begin with what's known as the Leahy Laws, named after Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. The law basically says the US government will not provide assistance to foreign security forces where there is a credible implication of gross violations of human rights. Does the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh activate the Leahy Laws? Sen. Chris Van Hollen: Well, that depends on all the facts. And we've been trying to get the facts so that we can have accountability in this case. The most recent analysis that you are reporting on is consistent with analysis done by The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post. And it's why we keep pushing the Biden administration to conduct an independent analysis of their own, reach their own conclusions, about what happened so that we can consider the next steps for accountability. But getting the facts is a prerequisite to applying any of those laws. What has been the response from the White House to your request?Well, so far, the White House and the State Department have not been responsive. As Sen. Leahy, myself and others wrote to Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken on July 12, with a series of questions trying to get the facts in this case. We have yet to get a response. And it's my view that the Biden administration has a duty to get to the bottom of the killing of an American citizen and a journalist — where the Biden administration says a high priority is to protect journalists in conflict zones — that we have to pursue the facts wherever they lead us. That's what Secretary Blinken himself said some time ago, and we're going to continue to hold the administration to that.You and Sen. Leahy have authored an amendment that would force the State Department to issue a report on Shireen Abu Akleh's killing. If the killing were found to be intentional, what would that mean for lawmakers?Well, again, I just don't want to jump to the conclusions of a report. This is why we keep pushing for the facts. And we are totally not satisfied at all with what the Biden administration has provided. As you probably know, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a report claiming that the shooting was justified because there was an ongoing exchange of fire at that time between IDF forces and Palestinian militants. But this most recent evidence, along with the earlier evidence from independent news sources — again, like The New York Times, Washington Post and others — indicates that there was no such exchange of fire. And this is the key issue we have to resolve. And the Biden administration has a duty to work with us to get the facts.So, given all the sources you have, what other facts are lawmakers looking for?Well, what we're looking for is for the Biden administration to conduct this independent analysis, because they ultimately are the ones that have to make the determination under US law. So, this is why getting the facts is so important, and we're going to continue to push to do that. I also included an amendment in the State Department authorization bill that was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the other day to require the administration to provide us with a copy of a report done by the United States security coordinator on the ground there. They have not provided that to us yet, despite the fact we asked for it back in July.If a State Department report showed her killing as intentional, would you press to cut funding to Israel?Well, again, I don't want to get ahead of the facts. Clearly, if that were the case, that would trigger the Leahy Laws. Sen. Leahy himself made that statement on the floor of the Senate. But that, obviously, is contingent on the finding of the facts. And this is why it's important that the administration not sweep this under the rug, and we're going to hold their feet to the fire so that they can't do that.Senator, with some exceptions, there has long been an overarching belief in Congress that the US bond with Israel is unbreakable. Are we at a moment where that's being questioned?I think it is unbreakable. I think we have a very strong partnership with Israel, which is why it is especially disappointing in this case that we can't get more facts and cooperation. Secretary Blinken asked the IDF to review their rules of engagement after this case. In other words, review when fire is appropriate and when it's not. He pressed that for a little while, but then he dropped that request when he got some pushback. So, we have a close partnership. So, this is a moment where we want the Israeli government to help us get to the bottom of the shooting death of an American citizen and a journalist. And we need the Biden administration to be very focused on getting the facts. Secretary Blinken, himself, originally called for an independent investigation. Those were his words. We said, "Yes, we agree." He's backed off. We haven't. We need the Biden administration to do its duty in this case of a killing of an American citizen and journalist.World leaders and human rights groups have pointed to what they see as a pattern of human rights violations over the years that Israel is responsible for. Why is the death of this Palestinian American journalist different for Senate Democrats?Well, all violations of human rights, wherever they happen in the world, are important. What we have here is a situation where you do have an American citizen — a Palestinian American. You also have a journalist. And the Biden administration has repeatedly said that protecting journalists in conflict areas is one of their top priorities. So, if that's true, if protecting journalists is a top priority and protecting American citizens is a top priority, this is a clear case where the Biden administration has to show that it means what it says.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report. 

Reports show British teenager was allegedly trafficked to ISIS by Canadian agent

“MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Reports show British teenager was allegedly trafficked to ISIS by Canadian agentThe WorldSeptember 1, 2022 · 3:15 PM EDT

A three-image combo of stills taken from CCTV footage shows Kadiza Sultana, left, Shamima Begum, centre and and Amira Abase going through security at Gatwick airport. Feb. 23, 2015.

Metropolitan Police via AP/File photo

There's been a new revelation in the case of a British woman accused of joining ISIS as a teenager that now implicates Canada.

Shamima Begum left the UK as a teenager for Syria in 2015, with two of her friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase. In Begum's case, the British government accused her of joining the terrorist group and stripped her of her citizenship.

But a book about Begum and other women who joined ISIS, called "Guest House for Young Widows," says that a spy for Canada's intelligence service helped smuggle the teenager into Syria. And this information is casting her story in a new light.

Azadeh Moaveni is the author of the book. She's also the director of the Gender and Conflict Project at the International Crisis Group in New York. She spoke with The World's host Carol Hills about the new revelation and its implications.

Carol Hills: Can you remind our audience about who Shamima Begum is?Azadeh Moaveni: She was 15. She was in high school in early 2015 when she was groomed and eventually trafficked to the Islamic State in Syria. She left with two other friends. They were part of a group of girls that Islamic State recruiters had been working on, both online and on the streets of London, trying to get them to Syria, because part of the Islamic State's project was to bring in brides for fighters. And that was very much at the center of how it attracted so many thousands of people from around the world.And what is Shamima Begum's status now and where is she?Shamima is now in northeast Syria. She's in a detention camp for, basically, women and children who were affiliated with ISIS fighters. And legally, the trouble is that many of these women were teenagers when they were brought to ISIS with their families or were groomed or trafficked there.And I assume that she has lawyers who are trying to push her case to get her back to the UK.She does. There have been multiple cases. Most recently, they've appealed to bring her back to the UK so that she could appeal the loss of her citizenship there on grounds that it's quite impossible to do that from a desert camp. But the accusation that she was trafficked is at the center of the case made by her lawyers. So, these revelations are potentially going to really upend, possibly, the legal outcomes for her, because if they can show that she was trafficked by a spy working for Canada as a teenager, then, I think that could have a sort of powerful boost for her legal team.Explain the accusation that centers on someone working with Canada's intelligence service who trafficked her. What is the claim?So, these actually are not entirely new claims because the background that's been filled out in the last few days by the new reporting shows that he was a Syrian man, he had applied for citizenship or a visa to Canada. And the Canadians said that he would get that in exchange for spying. So, what he did was he ferried Westerners. He would take them down to the border and then send their information to Canada, which is in an intelligence alliance with the UK, with the US.​​​​​So, essentially, this was a sort of Western intelligence manner of getting information about citizens of these countries who are traveling to this very dangerous place, who are also potentially going to become involved in terror plots in other parts of the world, too. But to your point about what does it mean that Canada was employing an agent to do this, there was a great deal of that going on at the time. You know, double agents, Western intelligence agencies trying to get information about their nationals, so they could stop them if they came back to their home countries and prosecute them. In this case, though, I think it raises really serious legal implications, because these were minors. In this instance, I think it has really grave implications for Canada, which is why it seems, according to the new reporting, that the Canadians were so eager to cover this up and ask the British to help them with that.How has Canada responded to these accusations?Canada has said that it will investigate them thoroughly. The reaction has been quite opaque. But I think another point to raise is, why we're learning about these things now, because the journalists who've been doing this reporting have seemingly known about this for some time, and it's very much in the public interest to know that there was a Canadian asset involved in the trafficking. It's kind of central to the decision by the British authorities to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship. So, the media has very much been a real character in the development of the case of Shamima Begum, because they arrived very quickly after she surfaced, and she became a monster in the British press.So, what comes next for Shamima Begum? Where does this case go?I suspect that her legal team will bring another appeal to the British courts, asking for her to be brought back to the UK to appeal the loss of her British citizenship from there. It's a sort of circular way of getting her back to the UK for prosecution or whatever is deemed appropriate for her, without challenging the citizenship stripping from this camp in Syria, where it's inconceivable that they could manage it from there. And also, it is a bit of a battle of public opinion.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: Three months after ISIS attacked a prison in northeast Syria, the fate of at least 100 child detainees remains unclear

Pope Francis apologizes to Canada’s Indigenous communities. But some say it doesn’t go far enough.

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Pope Francis apologizes to Canada's Indigenous communities. But some say it doesn't go far enough.

Thousands of Indigenous people gathered in Alberta province on Monday to hear the long-awaited apology from the pope to Indigenous communities for generations of abuse and cultural suppression in Canada's residential schools. But some say more has to be done. Crystal Fraser, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, spoke to The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldJuly 25, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT

Pope Francis dons a headdress during a visit with Indigenous peoples at Maskwaci, the former Ermineskin Residential School, in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada July 25, 2022.

Eric Gay/AP

Pope Francis has issued a historic apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in what he referred to as Canada’s “catastrophic” policy at Indigenous residential schools. He was greeted by representatives of Canada’s three main Indigenous groups — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — as well as political and church dignitaries upon his arriaval at Edmonton on Sunday.

Thousands of Indigenous people gathered in Alberta province on Monday to hear the long-awaited apology to Indigenous communities for generations of abuse and cultural suppression.

“I am deeply sorry,” Francis said to applause from school survivors and other Indigenous community members. He called the policy a “disastrous error” that was incompatible with the gospel, and called for further investigation and healing.

But some say the apology is long overdue and doesn't go far enough.

The Catholic Church continues to owe survivors about $30 million in compensation that has not been paid, said Crystal Fraser, an assistant professor of Native studies, history, classics and religion at the University of Alberta. She also pointed out that the Catholic Church continues to profit from their land holdings in Canada.

"Our lands that are currently owned by the Catholic Church, are they willing to return those to their rightful owners, to Indigenous nations?" she asked.

There's also an ongoing question about access to records, archives and a vast collection of cultural artifacts that continue to be housed in Rome, Fraser said, that were acquired "through mysterious circumstances, or through a gifting process that cannot be traced."

Fraser discussed how abuse at residential schools began with the removal of children from their families — including their lands, languages and cultures. 

"Indigenous families were seen as uncivilized and backwards and savage and really a barrier to civilization, and so this was removal from land and family and language and culture and immersion into a Euro-Canadian education, which included Christianity, the speaking of French or English."

"Indigenous families were seen as uncivilized and backwards and savage and really a barrier to civilization, and so this was removal from land and family and language and culture and immersion into a Euro-Canadian education, which included Christianity, the speaking of French or English."

She added that the abuse extended to child labor. Residential schools depended on the children to operate and they were treated with extreme violence. 

"The rates of abuse and sexual assaults were very high at these institutions. And the rates of death were also sometimes as high as 50%."

Members of Fraser's own family attended some of the residential schools and she lived nearby one growing up. But she said that she didn't learn much about the schools until she atended college in the mid-2000s, because these stories of abuse were a taboo subject. 

"I did not have a great understanding of what that place was," she said. "I knew that not good things happened there. You know, my parents always warned me, never, never go there. I knew that some of the children that were my friends and that I hung out with, that that is where they lived, that they were away from home. That they didn't have parents."

The discoveries of hundreds of burial sites at former schools over the past year are what drew international attention to the abuses at the residential schools in Canada, as well as the United States.

Related: How Native students fought back against abuse and assimilation at US boarding schools

AP contributed to this report.

Pope Francis apologies to Canada’s Indigenous communities. But some say it doesn’t go far enough.

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Pope Francis apologies to Canada's Indigenous communities. But some say it doesn't go far enough.

Thousands of Indigenous people gathered in Alberta province on Monday to hear the long-awaited apology from the pope to Indigenous communities for generations of abuse and cultural suppression in Canada's residential schools. But some say more has to be done. Crystal Fraser, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, spoke to The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldJuly 25, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT

Pope Francis dons a headdress during a visit with Indigenous peoples at Maskwaci, the former Ermineskin Residential School, in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada July 25, 2022.

Eric Gay/AP

Pope Francis has issued a historic apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in what he referred to as Canada’s “catastrophic” policy at Indigenous residential schools. He was greeted by representatives of Canada’s three main Indigenous groups — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — as well as political and church dignitaries upon his arriaval at Edmonton on Sunday.

Thousands of Indigenous people gathered in Alberta province on Monday to hear the long-awaited apology to Indigenous communities for generations of abuse and cultural suppression.

“I am deeply sorry,” Francis said to applause from school survivors and other Indigenous community members. He called the policy a “disastrous error” that was incompatible with the gospel, and called for further investigation and healing.

But some say the apology is long overdue and doesn't go far enough.

The Catholic Church continues to owe survivors about $30 million in compensation that has not been paid, said Crystal Fraser, an assistant professor of Native studies, history, classics and religion at the University of Alberta. She also pointed out that the Catholic Church continues to profit from their land holdings in Canada.

"Our lands that are currently owned by the Catholic Church, are they willing to return those to their rightful owners, to Indigenous nations?" she asked.

There's also an ongoing question about access to records, archives and a vast collection of cultural artifacts that continue to be housed in Rome, Fraser said, that were acquired "through mysterious circumstances, or through a gifting process that cannot be traced."

Fraser discussed how abuse at residential schools began with the removal of children from their families — including their lands, languages and cultures. 

"Indigenous families were seen as uncivilized and backwards and savage and really a barrier to civilization, and so this was removal from land and family and language and culture and immersion into a Euro-Canadian education, which included Christianity, the speaking of French or English."

"Indigenous families were seen as uncivilized and backwards and savage and really a barrier to civilization, and so this was removal from land and family and language and culture and immersion into a Euro-Canadian education, which included Christianity, the speaking of French or English."

She added that the abuse extended to child labor. Residential schools depended on the children to operate and they were treated with extreme violence. 

"The rates of abuse and sexual assaults were very high at these institutions. And the rates of death were also sometimes as high as 50%."

Members of Fraser's own family attended some of the residential schools and she lived nearby one growing up. But she said that she didn't learn much about the schools until she atended college in the mid-2000s, because these stories of abuse were a taboo subject. 

"I did not have a great understanding of what that place was," she said. "I knew that not good things happened there. You know, my parents always warned me, never, never go there. I knew that some of the children that were my friends and that I hung out with, that that is where they lived, that they were away from home. That they didn't have parents."

The discoveries of hundreds of burial sites at former schools over the past year are what drew international attention to the abuses at the residential schools in Canada, as well as the United States.

Related: How Native students fought back against abuse and assimilation at US boarding schools

AP contributed to this report.

AP learned of unsuccessful attempts in the EU to agree on gas savings

On the eve of an emergency meeting on the issue of limiting fuel consumption by 15%, EU ambassadors tried to reach a compromise, but those states that are less dependent on Russian gas object to the EC proposal

EU countries still cannot agree about reducing gas consumption by 15%, AP reported, citing an unnamed diplomatic source.

Ahead of an emergency meeting in Brussels on fuel economy, EU ambassadors tried to reach a compromise. The EC proposal is objected to by those states that are less dependent on Russian gas and do not want to force the population to save.

According to the interlocutor of the agency, the ambassadors also discussed the possibility of limiting the powers of the European Commission.

>

Poland does not agree with the EC proposal, said Anna Moskva, Minister of Climate and Environment of the Republic. She explained that the EC is imposing “certain tools” on member states instead of allowing them to coordinate their response to the crisis. “In this regard, we support voluntary cuts, not mandatory cuts,” Moscow said. The minister pointed out that Poland, without waiting for instructions from Brussels, has already limited gas consumption this year, and it has also managed to fill storage facilities with gas. In her opinion, the priority task of the EU should be to ensure the energy security of countries and diversify supplies.

Last week, the EC prepared a plan to reduce gas consumption, according to which EU countries must reduce fuel use by 15% from August 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023. At the same time, the European Commission will have the opportunity to limit gas consumption without obtaining the consent of all states— members. Spain, Greece and Portugal immediately objected to this. Reuters, citing sources, reported that at least 12 countries expressed doubts about the EC plan, while Bloomberg wrote that Italy, Poland and Hungary made comments. Later, the EC allowed the requirement to be relaxed.

The EU fears that Russia will shut off the gas. “Gazprom” reduced the volume of pumping through Nord Stream; to Germany, first from 167 million to 100 million cubic meters. m of gas per day, and then up to 67 million cubic meters. m due to the situation with the return of the turbine from Canada. On July 25, the company announced a reduction in deliveries from July 27 by half again— up to 33 million cubic meters m.

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EC Head Ursula von der Leyen urged countries to prepare for a possible shutdown of Russian gas, saying that fuel pumping has already been reduced or stopped in 12 EU states.

EU countries « made mistakes, and now they are looking for the guilty and asking citizens to save on energy resources in order to “anger Putin,” the Russian president said. “The picture, the person is depicted and at the bottom is the signature:“ Do you want to annoy Putin— mine is only these four places. And shown— here, here, here, here. Well, what is it? They went completely crazy, you understand, & raquo;, & mdash; noted by Vladimir Putin.

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Alberta’s diminishing bee colonies could have severe economic, environmental implications, expert says

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Alberta's diminishing bee colonies could have severe economic, environmental implications, expert says

Canada's Alberta province has seen a 50% loss in its bee colonies this year alone. Experts fear this could have a major impact on crops and honey production. Rod Scarlett, executive director of the Canadian Honey Council, spoke to The World's host Marco Werman about the situation.

The WorldJuly 21, 2022 · 2:45 PM EDT

The hind legs or 'pollen basket' of a pollinating bee clings to a Salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue' sage flower at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, Nov. 13, 2021.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/File photo

Bees commonly buzz around in the summertime, but their numbers have noticeably diminished in recently years. 

Bees are critical for pollinating crops and producing honey and the significant drop in global bee populations has experts worried. 

The European Parliament recently released figures showing that about 84% of crop species and 78% of wildflowers across the EU depend to some extent on pollination. Nearly $16.5 billion of the bloc’s annual agricultural output “is directly attributed to insect pollinators.”

The decline in bee numbers is also worsening in Canada. This year, Alberta province suffered a 50% loss of its bee colonies.

Rod Scarlett, the executive director of the Canadian Honey Council, spoke to The World's host Marco Werman from outside Edmonton, Alberta, about the crisis.

Marco Werman: So, a 50% loss of beehives for commercial beekeepers, Rod. What's behind that drop?Rod Scarlett: Most people say it's varroa, which is a mite, and it's kind of sucks on the bees guts. That mite, we've been trying to eradicate, or at least control as best as possible. And it appears, like last year, we just didn't do a very good job of it.And is the danger of that mite a new thing, or has that been going on for a few years?Oh, it's been going on for 25 years. It's just the products that we use to try to control the mite, the efficacy of those products seems to be going down and down. And so, we're trying to develop new techniques where you add in organic compounds and things like that to control the mite population over the course of the season. But last year, ultimately, it didn't work.So, I'm really curious how this affects commercial beekeepers in Alberta and what their options are to replace them?In Alberta, there's about 320,000 colonies and, each year, beekeepers lose probably 20% to 22% of those colonies. And that's a manageable number for beekeepers to handle. This past year, it was significantly higher — as you mentioned, 50%. So, to replace those colonies, beekeepers first have to either buy packaged bees, which is imported packages or imported colonies, mini-colonies from Australia, New Zealand or Chile, or they take their strongest colonies and split them in two, to get their numbers back. But that impacts the amount of honey that that colony could produce over the course of a year and the pollination capabilities of that colony. So, while they may get the numbers back, it has an economic impact both on the honey production side, so their financial well-being if they're strictly a honey producer, or they'll get paid less for pollination because they don't have strong enough colonies for the pollination contracts that they've signed. So again, it has an economic implication. If we experience the same thing next year, we are in a critically poor situation.Like how poor? What would you be facing?Certainly pollination problems. Also production problems, and production problems could impact things like seed canola. Commercial canola crops constitute 21 to 22 million acres in Canada. And the pollination that is done on seed canola feeds the commercial canola. If they can't meet the demands of contracts and sell honey or pollinate, it has some really severe economic implications. But there's the environmental side, too, of not having honeybees around to do pollination.So, the decline in the bee population has been going on for years. Where do the troubles in Canada right now fit into the overall decline around the globe?We've had regions and provinces in the past where there have been significant losses, but other provinces have been able to supply stock and help alleviate the pressures that the region that had that loss would have experienced. This year, it's pretty much Canada-wide, and so other provinces and other regions are unable to help. And that's what makes this issue in Canada this year so much different than in the past.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: Mayan beekeepers launch legal battle to protect the environment

US and Israel sign joint declaration on Iran’s nuclear program during Biden’s visit

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>US and Israel sign joint declaration on Iran's nuclear program during Biden's visit

During President Joe Biden's trip to the Middle East, he's signed a joint declaration with Israel to counter Iran's nuclear program. The World's host Marco Werman speaks with Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council in Washington, about what the move means.

The WorldJuly 14, 2022 · 4:15 PM EDT

US President Joe Biden and Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid, sign a security pledge at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022.

Atef Safadi/Pool via AP

US President Joe Biden signed a joint declaration with Israel's leaders on Thursday while visiting Jerusalem. The document was concerned wtih keeping Iran — an adversary of Israel — from acquiring a nuclear weapon. So far in Israel, Tehran and its nuclear program have loomed large in much of the discussions during Biden's trip.

Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, pushed Biden to go beyond his official stance on Iran, and called on all nations to act if Iranians continue “to develop their nuclear program.”

Adopting different approaches, Israel has conducted covert sabotage and assassination operations to slow Tehran down, while the US has insisted on diplomacy and restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former US President Donald Trump withdrew from.

During a news conference in Jerusalem, Biden also added that he was “not going to wait forever” for Iran to rejoin those talks.

Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council in Washington, joined The World's host Marco Werman to discuss the context of the latest situation.

Related: President Biden’s visit to Israel focuses on regional security

Marco Werman: What does it mean for Iran, especially as multiparty talks for a revived nuclear deal are still alive?Sina Azodi: I think that for Iran, it was to be expected. But I think what really distinguishes this statement, or President Biden's remarks, is the fact that President Biden announced that he will not take the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list, even if it comes at the cost of the collapse of the talks, which is quite interesting, because he will be risking a conflict in the region should Israel decide to take action against Iranian nuclear facilities, which by default will drag the United States into the conflict.So, the IRGC, as you pointed out, is designated as a terrorist group by the US, right?Yes, it is. But what really annoys Iran is the FTO designation, which is a State Department list. And it's quite irritating for Iranians.So, why is Iran such a high priority for Biden on this visit?I think the nuclear program is a great deal for the United States. We have seen that Iran has expanded its nuclear program. It has more knowledge, and that knowledge is not reversible. So, you cannot really take that knowledge out of the brains of Iranians. They have more technologies that are closer to a nuclear weapon. They are very close to this threshold of having enough fissile material for one single nuclear weapon. Now, I have to emphasize that this is not the same as having a bomb. It's enough fissile material to produce a bomb, should Iran decide to go for a bomb. So, the US is increasingly concerned with the new technologies that the Iranians have acquired over time, new centrifuges that Iranians have introduced. And for Israel, that's a security threat.So, I want to get back to those Iranian capabilities in a moment. But first, for Biden's trip in the Middle East, what have you seen in Iranian state media or from Iranian officials about his trip? What are they focused on?I mean, if you're sitting in Tehran and you see that a bunch of countries are joining their forces to basically defend against the backbone of your defense strategy, well, it's quite concerning from a Iranian standpoint. I personally think it would increase Iran's insecurities in the region because, as I said, the pact is supposed to counter the threat of the Iranian ballistic missiles program, which Iranians have for years invested in.As you said, Sina, Iran now has the fissile material to get to the next step in bombmaking. How likely is it that Iran will race to get the bomb if these negotiations fail and there is no nuclear deal?The security ramifications will be severe for Iran. One, there is a good chance that the United States would, in support of Saudi Arabia, deploy nuclear weapons to the region, which Iran would see as a threat, and it's a quite valid threat. Saudi Arabia may just go ahead and develop its own nuclear arsenal, which is another concern for Iran. So, I believe that unless there's a major shift in the security environment, I don't think Iran will go ahead and weaponize its nuclear program. However, that being said, I think Iran has always been interested in having the option of having a nuclear weapon.So, when the original Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]was struck under Biden's former boss, President [Barack] Obama, it was a long negotiation, but the doors were open with possibility. How different would you say the path of negotiation has been for Biden's White House?I believe it was two months ago that it came out that Biden had refused to commit his own administration to stick to the agreement. This is quite worrisome for Tehran, that it enters negotiations, it opens up its economy again and then, there's a good possibility that the sanctions will come into place. When Obama was in power, he was able to come to this understanding that Iran has its own legitimate rights. And the people who are in Tehran, also believe that we have to negotiate directly with the United States.And you're saying this is the thin ice that Biden's White House has had to operate on with Iran, kind of a lack of faith that signatures really have permanence.The saying goes, "You fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." I think this is the view in Tehran.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Haitians face a ‘very dire climate’ one year after Moïse’s assassination, journalist says

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Haitians face a ‘very dire climate’ one year after Moïse's assassination, journalist says

A year since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti has descended into further violence, and efforts to hold people accountable have proven to be fruitless. Widlore Merancourt, editor with news outlet AyiboPost in Port-au-Prince, discussed with The World's host Marco Werman what the anniversary means for Haitians.

The WorldJuly 8, 2022 · 1:45 PM EDT

Supporters of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse protest to demand justice in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 7, 2022.

Odelyn Joseph/AP

Haiti marked one year since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday.

Gunmen in the capital of Port-au-Prince broke down the door to Moïse's home in 2021, and then shot and killed him in his bedroom.

Today, Haitians are nowhere near closure. Efforts to find those responsible and hold them accountable have been fruitless, and Moïse's death has created a power vacuum.

Meanwhile, Haiti's acting president, Ariel Henry, has an ever-weakening grip on power. The US-backed government is facing political paralysis and an economic meltdown. And armed gangs still control much of everyday life in the country.

Widlore Merancourt, editor with the news outlet AyiboPost in Port-au-Prince, spoke with The World's host Marco Werman about what this somber anniversary means for Haitians.

Marco Werman: How has the country changed since the killing of President Jovenel Moïse?Widlore Merancourt: The country was already in deep trouble before the assassination of the president. He was a very unpopular president. He was trying to change the constitution in an unconstitutional manner. The country further plunged into insecurity during his term. So, when he's killed in this brutal fashion, it's a step further in the wrong direction for most Haitians.From your perspective, Widlore, have efforts to identify, locate and punish the assassins, has that made any progress?I'm not certain we've made any progress. Right after the assassination, dozens of people were arrested. We now have a fifth judge that is going to be in charge of the investigation. We had four judges consecutively having the case, then they dropped it for different reasons. One of them did not [even] receive the file for the case. So, [there are] a lot of questions, but not many answers one year later.Yeah. Well, now on to investigating judge number five. That speaks to the political gridlock you mentioned earlier. Who do Haitians blame for why the investigations have not gone further?There are accusations against the prime minister himself. Remember, he fired a prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice because they were trying to interview him regarding his role in the assassination.Widlore, you also mentioned the desperate lack of security in Haiti. Armed criminal gangs are becoming more prominent. Port-au-Prince alone has more than 200 gangs. In the course of your day, or your work, do you encounter the gangs? Do they impact your life?Just [last] Friday, I was going into a retreat with my team, a team of journalists, who spent some time as a group, [to] relax a little bit, because the past year has been very tough. But when we reached a slum very close to the capital, we encountered bandits fighting with the police. And we could not cross to go to the north of the country. And this is just one example of what Haitians have to go through. You have the north of the country increasingly cut off from the capital, and you have, effectively, the south of the country that you also cannot reach, because bandits close the roads and you have to pay fees to cross with your car. And sometimes the car is attacked. And regularly, we have kids being killed, pregnant women being killed. So, it's a very dire climate where you have thousands and thousands of people being displaced, because bandits are taking over more and more swaths of territory.So, what happens when Haitian police try to confront the gangs? Does that ever happen?There were allegations also that some police officers are corrupt. … And they [don't have enough arms]. And another problem is that some of these gangs have connections with powerful people in politics and in business.Yeah, our listeners might wonder how gangs can accumulate so much power. Tell us, if you would, about the group called "5 Secondes" or "5 Seconds." They took over one of the country's largest courthouses last month. What happened?The 5 Secondes guys are specialized in kidnapings, mass kidnapings in the south of the capital. The 5 Secondes gang is run by a young gentleman named Izo. He's a wannabe artist who is using social media to terrorize people and also to make fun of his victims. … Recently, his Instagram page was verified. … Recently, I was talking to a woman. She has one family member who was kidnaped and they gave $100,000. So, they kidnap poor people, they kidnap rich people. They use this money to buy more guns. Most of the guns that were retrieved by the police in Haiti come from the United States.You also said these gangs were using Instagram. There are other platforms I know, like TikTok and Twitter, to recruit, but also to scheme. Do you have any idea whether any of those platforms are aware of what's going on or have tried to shut down how the gangs that were using them?TikTok actually took down one of the most popular pages of Izo, this gang that we just talked about. But these gangs still have accounts on these platforms, and these gangs are speaking [Haitian] Creole. And it's unclear how many Creole-speaking moderators, for instance, a company like Meta or TikTok, would have. And it's very difficult for these companies to moderate in a language that they do not understand.Everyday life just sounds so on edge in Haiti, Widlore, and for a journalist who has to cover that insecurity, I'm just wondering, when do you find moments to exhale? I mean, you spoke about going to that retreat with some of your colleagues and that was scuppered.Yes, I mean, being a journalist in Haiti is learning to live with fear and to continue anyway, every day. I meditate, and we did not go to the north like we planned, but we went to another quiet base up in the capital to spend two days with the team. But, at the same time, we know, as leaders in these newsrooms, how hard it is for our teams to concentrate when, sometimes coming to work, they are encountering bodies in the streets or they have family members who were kidnaped. You have families, many are reporting a story that is not just a story for a foreigner to tell. It's your story and you are embedded in it. You have to be patient. You have to take time for yourself and reflect when you can. And sometimes, like most Haitians, especially living in the capital, you don't go out. You don't go to parties. You don't spend time outside in restaurants, etc., because you have to take precautions, especially when you have so many enemies in high and powerful positions.

Related: 'Haitians deserve a chance to determine their own future,' former US envoy says

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Uzbek govt needs ‘more consultation with the population’ amid unrest, expert says

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Uzbek govt needs 'more consultation with the population' amid unrest, expert says

Massive protests broke out after Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed constitutional changes that would have prevented the Karakalpakstan region from holding a referendum on secession. He has since backed away from the proposal, but imposed a monthlong curfew.

The WorldJuly 5, 2022 · 3:15 PM EDT

Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a meeting of Presidents of ex-Soviet nations which are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, at Konstantin Palace in Strelna, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec. 28, 2021.

Yevgeny Biyatov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/File photo

Rare protests in Uzbekistan have left at least 14 civilians and four police officers dead in the northwestern province of Karakalpakstan. More than 200 others were also injured. Uzbek authorities say that it’s been the worst bout of violence the Central Asian nation has seen in nearly two decades.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev had recently proposed constitutional changes that would have prevented the Karakalpakstan region from holding a referendum on separating from the rest of the country, sparking the unrest in the region's capital, Nuku.

Officials say that demonstrators tried to seize government buildings and clashed with police.

Mirziyoyev has since backed away from the proposal, but he still imposed a nighttime curfew for the region until Aug. 2.

Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia, ruled by successive authoritarian governments.

Related: Some Afghan university students find refuge — and hope — in Kyrgyzstan

Karakalpakstan — a semi-autonomous republic that enjoys close ties with Russia — is home to the Karakalpaks, a distinct ethnic minority group whose language is related, but distinct, from Uzbek. The region also has a parliament and its own flag.

“Karakalpaks feel that [because of] some of the policies the government has promoted, it's meant that ethnic Uzbeks have moved more and more into this territory of Karakalpakstan to open up businesses, and that they've been neglected and, in many cases, forced to migrate to places like Russia and Kazakhstan,” said Steve Swerdlow, an associate human rights professor at the University of Southern California.

“There weren't out and out calls for independence, but simply for retaining autonomy.”

Steve Swerdlow, associate professor, University of Southern California

“There weren't out and out calls for independence, but simply for retaining autonomy,” he said.

“What we know is that the driving motivation for the constitutional reform process was to zero out the constitution and replace it with a new constitution, which would allow the current president to stand again for reelection and essentially continue his rule.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have been detained. Swerdlow explained that there are reports that “some of the journalists and bloggers who were active at the protests are already being charged with separatism and terrorism.”

He said that he hopes human rights organizations can do their job and to assess the number of people who died, and in what circumstances. “I do hope that the constitutional reform process will be put on hold and that there will be more consultation with the population as a whole.”

AP contributed to this report.

MBS visits Ankara as Turkey attempts to repair relations with its regional rivals

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>MBS visits Ankara as Turkey attempts to repair relations with its regional rivals

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks in Ankara. The visit comes as Turkey seeks to repair ties with its regional rivals. Steven A. Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington spoke with The World's host Carol Hills about the significance of the visit.

The WorldJune 23, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip  Erdoğan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman review a military honor guard during a welcome ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022.

Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Turkey for talks President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday. The visit is an attempt to normalize relations between the two countries.

Ankara and Riyadh fell out after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by agents of the Saudi government at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. The two countries were also on opposing sides during the Qatar diplomatic crisis that began in 2017.

Related: Uyghurs in Saudi Arabia risk deportation to China

The visit by Crown Prince Mohammed also comes as Turkey seeks to improve ties with a number of its regional rivals — including Israel, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Turkey has been struggling to contain its economic crisis and falling currency. Meanwhile, Erdoğan hopes to bring more stability to the country ahead of presidential elections next year.

Related: US sales of missiles to Saudis signal business as usual — almost

To discuss the rapprochement, Steven A. Cook, who follows the Turkey-Saudi relationship and is a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, spoke with The World's host Carol Hills.

Carol Hills: Steven, this isn't the first visit between MBS, the crown prince, and Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They visited in Saudi Arabia in April. Do you think this is the more significant of the two visits?Steven A. Cook: Well, it certainly is a more elaborate visit. President Erdoğan is hosting a state banquet for the Saudi crown prince. And I think the Turks are kind of pulling out the stops in order to court the crown prince. Of course, it's an extraordinary turnaround since President Erdoğan led the international effort to heap criticism on Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.It certainly is. What does Turkey get out of fully normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia?The Turkish economy is in pretty bad shape and President Erdoğan has been forced to make a number of foreign policy U-turns, particularly with countries in the Persian Gulf, seeking finance and investment from those countries, hoping that this will spur Turkish economic growth, help refloat the Turkish lira ahead of presidential elections coming just about a year from now.So, what specifically does Turkey want from Saudi Arabia?Well, they certainly want whatever investment and whatever selling off of state assets the Turks are willing to do. But most importantly, they're interested in a currency swap. This is something that the Turks have been going around the world, seeking to swap their currency, which has lost more than half of its value over the course of the last couple of years, for deposits in the Saudi currency. The Turks have a currency swap agreement with the United Arab Emirates, with China, with Qatar, and it would be beneficial to them if they could enter into such an agreement with the Saudis. It also would signal to international markets a certain amount of confidence in the Turkish economy and President Erdoğan's stewardship of the Turkish economy.So, does this visit by MBS to Turkey, does it basically say that the Khashoggi affair is now water under the bridge?Even before President Erdoğan went to Saudi Arabia, the issue of Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder in Istanbul became water under the bridge when the Turkish authorities transferred the case against those suspected of killing Khashoggi to Saudi authorities, essentially burying it and ensuring that those responsible won't really be held responsible.And so, that's that. Are there any international repercussions for sweeping the Khashoggi case under the rug at this point?There don't seem to be any international repercussions. After all, President Biden is going to visit Saudi Arabia in mid-July and he'll also meet with the Saudi crown prince. So, essentially the memory of Jamal Khashoggi and the memory of his brutal murder will be kept alive by human rights activists, his friends and others. But there's likely to be very little geopolitical accountability for the crown prince.MBS has been on a tour of the region in the last week. He's been to Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey. As you mentioned, he's also set to receive a visit from President Biden. Do you think this signals the end of his pariah status?Undoubtedly, that's the case. But he was never a pariah in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia is an important player, and as the heir to the throne and the keeper of the two holy places, Mecca and Medina, he was never a pariah. Even in the United States, its European partners have inched closer and closer to Mohammed bin Salman. Essentially, President Biden is the last holdout, and I think that his visit will absolutely bring an end to this episode where people sought to avoid being seen with the Saudis at the very least, but the rehabilitation of Mohammed bin Salman is well underway.And that rehabilitation is because all these countries that are now kind of cozying up to him need what he has.That's exactly the case. In the case of the United States, the president is doing everything he can to mitigate the pain that Americans are feeling at the gas pump right now. And Saudi Arabia is really the only country with the spare capacity who can produce oil cheaply enough to moderate prices in the relative short term.A lot of the major players in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, they seem to be resolving their issues at the moment in an effort to move things forward. What is happening here?Yeah, it's been rather extraordinary. In the Middle East, a year or so ago, people were wondering where the next war would come from and which conflict would produce the next actual shooting war. But countries have determined that they have been unable to impose their will on each other through proxy fights and trying to outmaneuver each other in Libya or Syria or Iraq, other places where there is actual fighting, and have determined that the best way to go about — actually the regional competition is to reduce those tensions. In the case of Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, where there were very significant differences, and actually a war of words among these governments, the Saudis and Emiratis haven't exactly fallen in love with the Turks, but they see Turkish vulnerability in the deterioration of the Turkish economy and have sought to gain some leverage with the Turks that way instead of on the battlefields of Libya or Syria.How should the Biden administration be viewing this meeting between MBS and Erdoğan?Well, I do think that the Biden administration is somewhat relieved that the president is not the only one who is letting bygones be bygones with Mohammed bin Salman. It is something that I think the administration welcomes. They certainly don't want to see lots of tension in the Middle East as the president focuses on the conflict in Ukraine. So, less regional tension in the Middle East is better for the United States. At the level of politics and optics, again, the more people who rehabilitate Mohammed bin Salman before the president arrives in Saudi Arabia is probably better for the White House.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Return of Patrice Lumumba’s remains to DR Congo gives ‘peace of mind,’ UN envoy says

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Return of Patrice Lumumba's remains to DR Congo gives 'peace of mind,' UN envoy says

Belgium has returned the mortal remains of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba to Democratic Republic of Congo and his family. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, DR Congo's representative to the United Nations, discussed the move and its significance with The World's host Carol Hills.

The WorldJune 21, 2022 · 3:15 PM EDT

Juliana Lumumba, the daughter of Patrice Lumumba, speaks during a ceremony to return the remains of her father to the family at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, June 20, 2022.

Nicholas Maeterlinck/Pool Photo via AP

Belgian authorities returned a gold-capped tooth belonging to the slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba in Brussels on Monday — in another step toward reconciling Belgium's bloody colonial past.

Lumumba was the charismatic leader who led Democratic Republic of Congo as it gained independence from Belgium in the 1960s. He was then executed by a hit squad led by Belgian officials in a most gruesome manner. Lumumba was buried in a shallow grave and his remains were virtually erased with sulfuric acid.

But one of his gold-crowned teeth somehow survived.

Related: Belgian King Philippe’s visit to DR Congo stirs hope for a 'win-win partnership,' historian says

On Monday, Belgium returned the tooth to DR Congo and to Lumumba's family.

The private ceremony came weeks after Belgium’s King Philippe visited DR Congo to express his "deepest regrets" for his country's abuses in the former colony. After the return of the tooth, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Congolese officials and Lumumba's family that the restitution came way too late.

“It is not normal that Belgium held onto the remains of one of the founding fathers of the Congolese nation for six decades," De Croo said.

Congolese Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde said that the return will serve as an essential part of his country's national memory.

Related: Charges dropped against Congolese Canadian doctor accused of starting COVID outbreak

To discuss the return of the relic and its significance, The World's host Carol Hills spoke with Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, the DR Congo's representative to the United Nations.

Carol Hills: George, the discovery of Lumumba's tooth is a story in itself. What happened?Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja: Well, the story was known for quite a while because the person who did it, the Belgian police officers who took the tooth, bragged about it openly and was interviewed by researchers. Professor Ludo De Witte wrote this really excellent book on Lumumba's assassination.So, it was a Belgian who was involved in Lumumba's assassination who took the tooth after killing him?Yes. He's the one who sliced his body like an animal, put that into sulfuric acid and then he took the tooth as a trophy, as a hunter's trophy somehow.And how did the tooth then end up with Belgian authorities to return to the Lumumba family?The Belgians, after the publication of Ludo De Witte's book, "The Assassination of Lumumba," the Belgian authorities learned about this. The Belgian police went and raided the house of the policeman and took the tooth that he had left behind with his daughter.It's really just an unbelievable story of just heinous behavior. What makes this moment — the return of Lumumba's tooth — so important?You do have some peace of mind once you know that the remains of your loved ones have been, you know, set to rest in a peaceful place. According to our culture, it is extremely important to bury the dead. We don't like the dead being left to rot in the sun or to be thrown in the rivers or lakes. We like to have them buried. And so, for the Congolese, it is another important moment in our history to honor this man or this mausoleum and to have a place where people can go and reflect on Lumumba's importance to our country's history, helping our country become independent and his dream, his vision for the future, which he wasn't able to fulfill.It's interesting, because the Belgians literally tried to erase him from Congolese history.Exactly. And [we] would have completely forgotten about that. And I think they didn't want to have a place where people can go and honor Lumumba. This is exactly what we have achieved.Do you believe Belgium should offer some kind of financial restitution to Democratic Republic of Congo for its involvement in the political instability there?Well, I'm speaking for myself and not for the government, but in my own view, I think that that is something that has to be negotiated [by sitting] down to see what form reparations should take. It may not necessarily have to be money, but it could be in terms of services, improving the health care system, the school systems, infrastructure, roads, for example. We have a country that has no paved roads, there are very few. Those are issues that should be negotiated by the two governments.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

‘It’s absolutely ludicrous’: Traveler up in arms after being forced to take Ryanair’s Afrikaans-language test to fly

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>‘It’s absolutely ludicrous’: Traveler up in arms after being forced to take Ryanair’s Afrikaans-language test to fly

Dinesh Joseph, who is a South African-born leadership and management trainer based in London, was recently on vacation and was one of the people forced to take the test before boarding his flight from the Canary Islands back to the UK. He described the experience to The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldJune 9, 2022 · 1:00 PM EDT

A Ryanair plane parks at the airport in Weeze, Germany, Sept. 12, 2018.

Martin Meissner/AP/File photo

Budget airline Ryanair says it's forcing South African travelers to the UK to do a test in the Afrikaans language to prove their nationality in an apparent effort to weed out those with phony passports.

Dublin-based Ryanair, Europe's biggest airline, mainly operates routes around Europe and doesn't fly to or from South Africa. It confirmed Monday that it's administering the quiz after reports about the test circulated over the weekend, sparking anger among travelers.

Afrikaans is one of South Africa's 11 official languages and is the first language of about 13% of the country's population. It's a Dutch-based language developed by many of the country's white settlers who came from the Netherlands and is associated with South Africa's apartheid regime of white minority rule that ended in 1994.

Related: Remembering the life and legacy of the late FW de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president

Regardless, passengers who do not complete the language test will not be allowed to board their flights. Despite a public outcry calling the procedure racist, the airline has said that it plans to continue using the test.

Related: Immigrant students settle with govt over fake university

The World reached out to Ryanair for comment and the company responded with the following statement:

“The South African government has already warned passengers (and airlines) of the risk of syndicates selling fake SA passports, which has substantially increased cases of fraudulent South African passports being used to enter the UK. In order to minimise the risk of fake passport usage, Ryanair requires passengers on a South African passport to fill out a simple questionnaire in the Afrikaans language. If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund instead. Airlines operating to the UK face Home Office fines of £2,000 [$2,502] per passenger for anyone who travel illegally to the UK on a fraudulent passport/visa. This is why Ryanair must ensure that all passengers (especially South African citizens) travel on a valid SA passport/visa as required by UK Immigration.”

Dinesh Joseph, who is a South African-born leadership and management trainer based in London, was recently on vacation and was one of the people forced to take the test before boarding his flight from the Canary Islands back to the UK. He described the experience to The World's host, Marco Werman.

Images of Afrikaans test required for Ryanair passengers from South Africa traveling to the UK.

Credit:

Courtesy of Dinesh Joseph

Marco Werman: Tell me how this all happened. How'd you find out you had to take a test? Where were you flying from and to?Dinesh Joseph: I was on vacation in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. A beautiful five days in the sun. I was asked to go to the baggage check-in and print my boarding pass. I wasn't allowed to check in online. Strangely enough, I was told to go to the Ryanair customer service desk. I just kind of made my way over to the service desk, gave my passport and gave the boarding pass in to get stamped. And in return, I was presented with this Afrikaans test.You're an English speaker, as you said. Do you have any Afrikaans under your belt?I mean, I grew up in apartheid South Africa, and Afrikaans was a mandatory language that we had to take at school. So, you know, I'm one of the people, but that was, what, 25 odd years ago? I just about passed it at school anyway. So, I had some basic understanding of the language, but I said to them quite clearly, "Look, I cannot complete this test or pass it without the use of Google Translate." You know, I have a very, very minimal basic standard of Afrikaans. And I think my face looked like I was about to go nuclear on them. So, they were like, "We don't really know what to say to you using Google Translate." So, I just picked up my phone and grabbed a pen and started translating and filling in the quiz as we went along.

Related: World leaders agree to help South Africa phase out coal

Wow. What were some of the questions?Crazy. Yeah. So, some of the questions were really basic ones, like who's the president of South Africa? What's the highest mountain? What is your international dialing code? What side of the road do you drive on?So, you wrote a letter, I understand, to Ryanair. What did you write?Yes, once I got on the plane and I processed all of this and I arrived back home, I spoke to a group of close friends and my family. And everybody is like, "No, you've got nothing to be worried about, but this is wrong. This is not right. What is going on?" So, I logged on to their official complaints portal and let them know exactly the experience I'd gone through and that I wasn't happy about it.Have you heard back from them?Absolutely not. Not a word. There has been zero communication.

Related: Belarus plane hijacking snarls Biden's hopes to repair strained US-Russia relationship

We know from Ryanair, they say this policy about taking this Afrikaans test was put in place because of the "prevalence of fraudulent South African passports." What do you make of that?I think it's absolutely ludicrous. I genuinely think it's ridiculous because if they're trying to prove that my passport is fraudulent or it's real to verify my identity, how will a general knowledge quiz about South Africa link to my passport? You know, on what planet does that happen? You've got to look at other evidence, like more rigorous evidence, like bank statements or my British residency card or my social security number — we call it a national insurance number here in the UK. There are a load of different other ways of verifying a person's identity. Getting them to fill in a test has absolutely no bearing or no relevance to my passport. If anything, it's going to prove how well I know my South African general knowledge and whether or not I can speak a foreign language.As a South African, what's your association with the Afrikaans language?Look, I'll be honest with you, I don't have a negative association with it personally. I've got nothing against the language of Afrikaans. However, it was the language of the white minority during apartheid times. It was something that you had to take when you were at school. It does bring back a lot of memories of things that have happened to me in the past, things that I can associate, basic racism, an unconscious kind of bias against you. It's quite triggering from that perspective. But you know what, for me, it's the ability to be able to make a choice — my choice of language is English. It's the language that I'm proficient in. I don't understand why they would want people to do it and why they chose that language. Who at Ryanair actually let this test out. And on top of it, Marco, if I can add on, the actual form itself looks like a grade two children's test. There are spelling mistakes, there are grammar mistakes in it. There's no Ryanair logo or administrative titles on it or anything of the sort. It's incredible.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

AP reported on the possibility of Russian businessmen to “pay off” from sanctions

AP: The West is discussing the lifting of sanctions on Russian businessmen in exchange for assistance to Ukraine The head of the Canadian Ministry of Finance, after conversations with “Russian oligarchs”, suggested that the G7 countries lift sanctions from them in exchange for transferring money for the restoration of Ukraine, AP reports. Western countries are interested in the idea, they know about it in Kyiv

Chrystia Freeland

Western countries are considering the idea of ​​giving Russian businessmen the opportunity to “pay off” from sanctions in exchange for the fact that their funds will be used to restore Ukraine, the Associated Press (AP) reports, citing sources.

According to the agency, a similar initiative was made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, at a meeting of representatives of the G7 countries. (G7: Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan and the US) last week. According to the interlocutors of the agency, Freeland raised this issue after discussing with the “Russian oligarchs”: the Canadian minister has known some of them since her journalistic work in Moscow (she headed the Moscow bureau of the Financial Times for several years).

The Ukrainian side is aware of these discussions, one of the interlocutors told AP. According to him, the West is interested in seeing “prominent Russian oligarchs dissociate themselves from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.” and at the same time provided funding for Ukraine.

The source of the agency stressed that while it is only an idea, no decisions have been made. But, according to him, Western countries are interested in such an opportunity. As noted by AP, the proposal could help remove legal obstacles for the authorities in countries like Germany, where the procedure for confiscation of frozen assets is very difficult. According to sources, if Russian businessmen voluntarily give up part of their property abroad, this will simplify the task.

The European Union, the United States, Britain and other states began to impose sanctions against Russia, including against businessmen, due to military operation in Ukraine. According to the European Commission, cited by AP, to date, the assets of Russians in the EU have been frozen for almost €10 billion ($10.7 billion).

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In early May, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that $600 billion would be needed to restore the country after the Russian military operation. Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal also mentioned this amount. According to him, so much will be needed to restore the economy and infrastructure in the long term. The Ukrainian leader proposed concluding a multilateral international treaty providing for the confiscation and transfer of Russian assets abroad in favor of those who “suffered from the actions of the Russian army.”

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the EU is looking for ways to use the assets of Russians frozen under the sanctions to restore Ukraine. In turn, US President Joe Biden proposed to approve a comprehensive package of laws that provide for the use of confiscated assets of Russian businessmen to assist Ukraine. Earlier, the US House of Representatives passed a law allowing seized Russian assets to be used for these purposes: their total value is estimated at $2 million.

In the Kremlin, the seizure of assets of Russian businessmen was compared to a robbery in the Wild West. According to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the country's entrepreneurs honestly earned what they confiscated due to sanctions, they are not oligarchs.

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‘I know that he will not stop fighting,’ wife of Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza says

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>'I know that he will not stop fighting,' wife of Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza says

Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara Murza was arrested earlier this week in Moscow. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail in Moscow Tuesday for "disobeying a police order." Kara-Murza is a Kremlin critic and has publicly spoken out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Host Marco Werman with Vladimir Kara-Murza's wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza.

The WorldApril 14, 2022 · 2:45 PM EDT

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/File photo

Many activists, journalists and academics, among others, have fled Russia as the government's crackdown on dissent continues amid the war in Ukraine. Others have even been arrested.

Russian politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, was also detained earlier this week, and given a 15-day prison sentence.

Related: Ukrainian seafarers stuck at US ports face tight restrictions, legal hurdles

He was an associate of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov — who was shot and killed in 2015 — and of oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Kara-Murza said he experienced two poisoning attempts. The first one wasn't confirmed, but his wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, said that in 2017, doctors verified he had been poisoned.

Related: As the war rages in Ukraine, Radio Sputnik occupies the airwaves in American heartland

She spoke with The World's host Marco Werman from northern Virginia about her husband's current detention.

Marco Werman: Can you share with us the latest, what you know about your husband's case?Evgenia Kara-Murza: Well, I spoke to him this morning, and he asked everyone not to lose faith. He says, "We will prevail, even if the path to freedom is much longer, much more difficult and much bloodier than we would ever have imagined." He was sentenced to 15 days in jail for disobeying an order of a police officer, which is absolutely ridiculous, because Vladimir, as a peaceful opposition activist, knows very well how you should behave while being arrested. Then, he spent the night at the Khamovniki Police Department in Moscow. He was denied access to his lawyer. The lawyer could only join him the next morning before the court session actually started, and the court session was extremely short. Everything was done in half an hour to 45 minutes. In that time, all the requests by my husband and his lawyer to at least call in and question the police officers who had made the arrest were denied. All my husband's arguments in this case were denied, and he was sentenced to 15 days in jail.So, you spoke to him when he was in detention. Did he describe his surroundings?Well, he's, should I say, lucky. But he's at one of the better detention centers of Moscow. There are others that are much worse, where torture and humiliation and deprivation are common. In this particular detention center, they occur like everywhere else, but not on a regular basis. So, I guess, we could say that he is luckier than some. He's not the only one who has been arrested since the beginning of the war for speaking out against Putin's aggression in Ukraine. Over 15,000 Russians have been arrested since the beginning of the war. They went out in the streets to protest this war despite great personal risks because new restrictive measures and restrictive laws are being adopted every day. And under one of them, for example, you can get sentenced for up to 15 years in prison for just calling this war a "war," and for disseminating, as the Russian government calls it, "fake news," but actually objective, true information about Putin's army's atrocities in Ukraine. Criminal cases are being initiated every day against those who go out in the streets to oppose this war, despite everything.Why do you think your husband has been arrested at this moment?Well, it could have happened at any moment. This is not the first time he's been targeted. He already paid a high price for his advocating for the introduction of targeted sanctions against murderers and thieves in Putin's regime. He has been doing this work since 2010. And his close colleague and friend, who began this work with him, paid the ultimate price for that. He was murdered on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge in Moscow. Boris Nemtsov was just shot in the back — five bullets in the back. That was what he got for advocating for the introduction of targeted sanctions. As for Vladimir, he paid a high price, as well, because he was twice poisoned for this particular work of his. And he had to twice relearn to walk and hold a spoon in 2015 and 2017. So, compared to that, 15 days in jail seems sort of a milder persecution. However, we're not yet sure if that's it because it might well be that they will use this time, these 15 days, to come up with something else to charge him with. And, as it happened in other cases against opposition activists in Russia, for example, in Alexei Navalny's case, he wasn't even allowed to get out of prison, and the cases against him kept piling up. So, it's not unusual for Russia to pile up cases against opposition activists nowadays while they're already serving sentences.So, this arrest of your husband, Vladimir Kara-Murza, came right after an interview that CNN published with him, in which he called Vladimir Putin's government a "regime of murderers." Do you believe the arrest is connected to that?It could be. I mean, I told you of his charge, and the charge sounds absolutely absurd. But in calling this the regime of murderers, my husband just called a spade a spade. We have known for years what Putin's regime truly is. Putin didn't just become a dictator overnight. He has been persecuting. He has been imprisoning, poisoning and killing his own citizens for two decades.I mean, your husband, as you said, he's been the target of multiple poisoning attempts. He speaks out vocally against Putin, and he's in Russia. In your mind, why was it important for him to be in Russia, despite the risk?The fact is, Putin is not destroying just one country right now. He's destroying two. When he's finally in jail, somewhere when he is — and I believe this day will come, I have to believe that, otherwise, how can we go on — but when he's finally in jail and when all the murders in his regime are in jail, the country will be in ruins. Everything will be destroyed by him, by his actions. And the Russian people will have to rebuild everything from scratch. And I believe Vladimir, he believes he needs to be where the Russian people are fighting this regime. He has to be on the front lines because he believes that, as a Russian politician who wants to bring change to his country, he has to be with the country's people fighting the evil.Your husband has come on our show several times and I put that same question to him. He says the same thing, he's a Russian politician, and for that reason, he should be in Russia. But I'm wondering, today, do you agree with his position?I have deep respect and admiration for my husband. The things he believes in, his commitment, are exemplary, they are amazing. And I cannot not support him in his fight. I will always, always stand by his side and I will always do whatever it takes to make sure that he continues to fight and that he's — like after his two poisonings, I did everything I could to bring him back home safely, and I will do the same this time. But I know that he will not stop fighting. Even if I bring him back, he will continue his fight and he will probably go back and continue it there. He's an amazing person and a true Russian patriot. You know, he's the true Russian patriot because he believes that you cannot equate the country to its regime. Those are two different things. Regimes, governments can be different. Some, you can support. Others you will hate with all your might. But the country, it doesn't make the country better or worse. It's the same country. You love your country, you want the best for it and you fight for it. That's what my husband has been doing for all these years.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

AP learned that the United States fears Russian interference in the elections because of Ukraine

The American intelligence services believe that Putin may regard Washington's support for Ukraine as an “insult”, which “will give him an additional incentive to intervene.” Moscow has denied all such previous accusations

A Ukrainian nuclear plant survived Russian attack. But it raises security concerns over reactors in war zones, analyst says.

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>A Ukrainian nuclear plant survived Russian attack. But it raises security concerns over reactors in war zones, analyst says.

Atomic safety experts say that a war fought amid nuclear reactors represents an unprecedented and highly dangerous situation. Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, talked with The World's Carol Hills about the risks.

The WorldMarch 4, 2022 · 3:45 PM EST

This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows bright flaring object landing in grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, March 4, 2022.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant/AP

Heavy fighting broke out near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine last night.

Located in northwestern Enerhodar, the plant is the largest in Europe.

Ukraine says the attack by Russian forces caused a fire to break out at the facility. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze several hours later. 

The attack briefly raised worldwide fears of a catastrophe in the most chilling turn yet in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. 

Related: Russia's invasion in Ukraine ‘is far from done,’ retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman says

United Nations and Ukrainian officials confirmed that no radiation was released in the incident. 

Authorities said that Russian troops had taken control of the overall site but that the plant staff continued to run it. 

Atomic safety experts said a war fought amid nuclear reactors represents an unprecedented and highly dangerous situation.

To get a better understanding of the risks at nuclear power plants in war zones, The World's host Carol Hills spoke to Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.

Related: Ukrainians abroad return to defend their homeland
 

Carol Hills: We know there was a fire at the plant. What are the risks?Henry Sokolski: The risks would be, instead of shooting at an auxiliary building, some young buck might aim the artillery or the missile out of a spent-fuel pond [pool] storage building, or the containment building for the reactor core, or the electrical lines coming in that supply the electricity to keep both of those facilities cool so that they don't melt down or produce spent-fuel fires. If any of that might have occurred, the hyperbole of many Chernobyl's isn't really far from the mark.Ukraine has said the power plant is now occupied by the Russian military, and we know that employees are still operating the plant. But how do we know the situation is under control?Well, I mean, the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] wants to get there. I don't know that that's a complete thought. You want to probably have some way to know without having physical visits that things are operating properly, particularly at facilities that might be subject to war operations. And we just don't have that. I mean, we have to go on the reports of the people operating that are in control of it. And I don't know that this is a big issue, because only one of the six plants is operating now. The others were all shut down for fear that the containment buildings would have been penetrated and that the big radiological release that I talked about might occur. What you do is you shut the thing down so that the pressures and heat aren't as great. And so, the emissions from penetration wouldn't be quite as dramatic. But you know, that means that most of these facilities are not operating right now.What are these plants built to withstand?Not as much as being advertised. What they're built primarily to withstand is pressures from the inside of the plant getting out. And so, some of the containment systems are as low as 15 or 20 pounds per square inch. They were not meant to prevent ballistic objects from penetrating from outside. The spent-fuel pond [pool] building is incredibly soft in comparison to the containment building.But are they routinely built to, say, withstand an earthquake?They are supposed to be sited to not have to experience the earthquakes. In Japan, they have not done well in earthquakes. I don't know whether the seismic issue is a big one in Ukraine. But I think we have oversold to ourselves how resistant these plants are to the kinds of military operation threats that are going on here in Ukraine and that could occur in the Middle East. We did a big study on what would happen if missiles hit various portions of reactors in the Middle East, and the radiological models and patterns were very disturbing. We didn't have the presence of mind to do it for Ukraine, but obviously, this should be a wake-up call. I don't know that these kinds of studies have been properly done within our own government. I say that as somebody who worked at the Defense Department, at a pretty senior level.There are a lot of nuclear power plants across Ukraine. I mean, what are the risks to them at this point?I think they're similar. The Russians have not promised anything but to operate, if they choose, militarily against those facilities in the future. I mean, they were asked not to and they said, "No, we reserve the right to attack them, as well." People should be probably relieved about this [outcome], but biting their nails about other plants.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

AP: shooting started in the government quarter of Kiev

Photo: pixabay.com

Sounds of shooting are heard near the government quarter in Kiev, writes the Associated Press.

Details of the incident have not yet been reported.

It was previously reported that all Ukrainians who signed up for the Territorial Defense Forces will be able to receive weapons.

Recall that on the morning of February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on the start of a special military operation in the Donbass within the framework of agreements with the DPR and LPR. Putin named the goal: “Ukraine must demilitarize.”

MK.RU is broadcasting the developments around Donbass and Ukraine online.

Источник www.mk.ru

What’s at stake for Israel and Gulf Arab countries in light of the Abraham Accords?

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>What's at stake for Israel and Gulf Arab countries in light of the Abraham Accords?

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has visited Bahrain as part of a push to boost regional ties with Gulf Arab countries following the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, about what's a stake for the regional partnerships.

The WorldFebruary 16, 2022 · 3:45 PM EST

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to a group of Bahraini businesspeople during an official visit to Manama, Bahrain, Feb. 15, 2022.

Ilan Ben Zion/AP

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was in Bahrain on Tuesday, in the first trip of its kind made by an Israeli prime minister to the Gulf island nation. The meeting follows the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 to normalize relations between the two countries. Now, their leaders are strengthening those ties with economic and security pacts.

Related: Palestinians worry about the impact of the Abraham Accords. They say it's time to elect new leaders.

Bennett said that Israel is forging a regional “ring of stability” with its Arab allies. The countries are hoping to send a united message of solidarity to their shared regional archrival Iran.

During his 24-hour visit, Bennett was welcomed by Bahrain’s king and crown prince. He also also visited the US Navy’s 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain.

Related: Israel hoping to boost regional security with Abraham Accords

To check in on how the accords are going, The World's host Marco Werman spoke with Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

Marco Werman: Remind us, first of all, Hussein, what the impetus was for the Abraham Accords when they were signed in 2020.Hussein Ibish: The UAE, which initiated the whole thing and announced first, I think had a lot of different ideas in mind. It sees Israel as a natural partner on many fields, in high-tech, in R&D [research and development]. They need the same kind of military technology, signals, intel, anti-missile imaging, electronic warfare, because they're both small countries with small populations, but big footprints. For Bahrain, which joined immediately after, it's a pretty simple list. They want to make common cause with Iran's most robust military enemy in the region, the country that takes the battle to Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq, and sometimes even Lebanon. So, for them, that makes sense, because they feel an existential threat from Iran. And also they're interested, like the UAE, and getting closer to the US and in promoting the idea of a kind of multicultural, multireligious regional order of tolerance — but not democracy.So, would you say the Abraham Accords are effective in actually bringing Israel closer to its Gulf neighbors?I think without a doubt. I mean, Bennett, who just went to Bahrain, went to UAE in December, and they are seriously working on a number of combined initiatives. The UAE is trying to access Israeli defense systems, but the attacks by Houthi rebels from Yemen, the missile attacks into Abu Dhabi and the UAE have prompted closer cooperation, more technology transfer, etc. In fact, with every new security threat, the countries are moving closer together.I wonder how these Gulf Arab states see the Palestinian question — really, the elephant in the room? Are these states working to improve Israel's relationship with the Palestinians, or has there been a kind of complete separation of these issues?There has been a separation of the issues. I think right now for the UAE especially, we're in a honeymoon phase, right? I think for all three countries, it's a honeymoon and it won't last. These countries have entered into mutual agreements that look good from all sides — except the Palestinian side — but they look good for all the principles, except for this: They have different visions of the future in the long run. Certainly, I think the UAE — and less Bahrain, because Bahrain doesn't get involved in too many regional issues itself — but I think the UAE is still well aware that it's not going to live in a very secure neighborhood until the Palestinian issue is resolved. You know, what they've done is they've put it aside, but they have made it clear to the Israelis that they're still committed to a two-state solution. Palestinians are very angry, and I think it's probably true that their ultimate independence is not going to be furthered by any of this Gulf-Israeli relationship.So, on paper, the Abraham Accords is an agreement between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain and the US, but many see these relationships as a means for Saudi Arabia and Israel to have an unofficial relationship. Do you think that's true and how exactly does this unofficial relationship work? What would be the benefit for each side?Not really. If there's any overlap with Saudi Arabia, it's that Bahrain, which is almost a protectorate of Saudi Arabia since 2011, is sort of a test balloon for the Saudis to see how it goes. I think the UAE-Israel relationship is really independent of the Saudis entirely. But I think that the situation the Saudis are in, is that they find many of the same potential benefits that their smaller neighbors do in developing a potential open relationship with Israel. But they also have concerns that those smaller countries don't have. They have a regional Arab leadership role. They have a global Islamic leadership role that they have to protect, and they have a much larger population, more than 30 million people. It's a very big country and they have really complex politics. So, they'd also have a domestic political situation to be concerned about in a way that the other two countries don't.So, that's Saudi Arabia. Hussein, where do you think these relationships that we know about established by the Abraham Accords are headed into the future?They're still in the honeymoon phase, but over time, they're going to realize that, while they share a lot of common interests, especially Israel and the UAE, I mean, down to things like what kind of technologies they want to develop and what kind of attitude they want to take towards high-tech and even maybe space exploration, things like that, there's still a lot of differences. They don't have the same national interests. They they are all status quo powers and they share some concerns. But I think the difference is they're going to become clearer over time.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

AP learned about US plans to evacuate all embassy staff in Kiev

AP: US plans to evacuate all embassy staff in Ukraine The State Department plans to announce on Saturday that all embassy staff must leave the country. Back in January, Washington told the families of diplomats to return home. Another order was given regarding employees

US embassy in Kiev

The US is about to evacuate all embassy staff in Ukraine due to a possible Russian invasion, AP reports, citing US officials.

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According to the interlocutors of the agency, the State Department plans to announce on Saturday that all employees of the American diplomatic mission must leave the country.

According to officials, some American diplomats can be transported to western Ukraine, near the border with Poland.

Back in January, Washington told the families of diplomats to return home. Another order was given regarding employees who were allowed to leave the country of their own free will. Several states announced the departure of ordinary workers and family members.

The day before, US President Joe Biden urged Americans to immediately leave Ukraine because of the threat of Russian aggression. Following the United States, more than a dozen states have already asked their citizens to leave the country.

According to Politico, citing sources, Biden warned the allies that Russia could “invade Ukraine.” February 16th. Earlier, Der Spiegel magazine reported that Moscow could attack the neighboring country that day, citing sources.

According to US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, a possible Russian invasion could begin before the end of the Olympic games in Beijing, until February 20. Russia could attack from the air, he said. At the same time, Sullivan pointed out that Washington does not know whether Russian President Vladimir Putin made the decision to attack.

Russia has repeatedly denied plans to invade Ukraine. Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, in response to statements by American officials, noted that these attacks are based on nothing and are designed to “raise the degree of the propaganda campaign.” and create the impression that aggression is inevitable.

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Источник rbc.ru

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s retraction ‘comes off as highly staged,’ journalist says

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai's retraction 'comes off as highly staged,' journalist says

After Peng Shuai backtracked from accusing a top official of sexual assault, Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of SupChina and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast, tells The World’s host Marco Werman that her statement seems forced.

The WorldDecember 20, 2021 · 3:45 PM EST

China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 21, 2020.

Andy Brownbill/AP/File photo

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied saying she was sexually assaulted by a former top Communist Party official, backpeddling from her previous allegations in a November social media post.

Related: What the Peng Shuai saga tells us about Beijing’s grip on power and desire to crush a #MeToo moment

“First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important … I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly."

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai

“First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important,” Peng said in a video posted by the Singaporean Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, in her first media interview since the accusations. “I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly."

The paper said the video was taken on Sunday in Shanghai.

But many people are viewing the latest development with skepticism. 

Related: This teen's TikTok video takes on Malaysia's toxic culture of misogyny

“When you watch the video, it comes off as highly staged, so, it's not exactly a reassurance that everything is fine.

Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief, SupChina 

“When you watch the video, it comes off as highly staged,” Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of SupChina and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast, told The World’s host Marco Werman. “So, it's not exactly a reassurance that everything is fine.

Related: France’s 2nd #MeToo movement reckons with incest, child rape 

Peng Shuai of China reacts after scoring a point against Monica Niculescu of Romania during their women's singles match of the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Oct. 4, 2017.

Credit:

Andy Wong/AP/File photo

Goldkorn said that social media has made bringing attention to these types of cases possible  — including retractions. 

“There have been many, many cases of people who have gotten into trouble with the government and then have been forced into television appearances where they say that everything is fine and there's no problem, and that whatever happened was a misunderstanding.”

Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief, SupChina 

“There have been many, many cases of people who have gotten into trouble with the government and then have been forced into television appearances where they say that everything is fine and there's no problem, and that whatever happened was a misunderstanding.”

He cited the story of Gui Minhai, a Swedish bookseller operating in Hong Kong, who had spoken out against Chinese government officials. He had appeared at one point in a video interview released by China in which he accused Sweden of "sensationalizing" his case.

The controversy over Peng’s case has contributed to protests against Beijing hosting the Winter Olympic games in February over the government's human rights abuse record.

AP contributed to this report.

‘It is up to us Haitians to find a solution’ Haiti crisis adviser says

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>‘It is up to us Haitians to find a solution’ Haiti crisis adviser says

Monique Clesca works with the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. As Haiti tries to rebuild from successive catastrophes, Clesca talks with The World's host Marco Werman about what Haitians need to rebuild.

The WorldNovember 22, 2021 · 2:30 PM EST

A manager at the Christian Aid Ministries headquarters, left, speaks with a worker at the door of the center in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Two of 17 abducted members of this missionary group have been freed in Haiti and are safe, "in good spirits and being cared for," their Ohio-based church organization, Christian Aid Ministries, announced Sunday, Nov. 21. 

Odelyn Joseph/AP

Two missionaries who were being held hostage for ransom in Haiti have been released after more than a month. A Haitian gang had seized a group of 17 people from the US and Canada, including several children.

Christian Aid Ministries issued a statement Sunday saying it could not give the names of those released, why they were freed or other information.

“While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held," the Ohio-based group said.

Related: Haiti’s rival gangs hold a firm grip on fuel supply, testing life at every level

The US state Department has, so far, had little to say about the release. US officials have been closely watching the situation in Haiti since last summer, when Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.

Related: Meet the trusted guide to Port-au-Prince’s streets

Monique Clesca, a retired United Nations development official based in Port-au-Prince, also works with a group called the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. Clesca spoke with The World's host Marco Werman about the steps needed to ease the ongoing problems in Haiti.

Marco Werman: This notorious gang called 400 Mawozo had seized these individuals, including an infant. And, at least, initially demanded $1 million per hostage. What do we know, Monique, about this partial release?Monique Clesca: Well, we know very little about this partial release. What I can say is, I think, we're very happy that at least two people got their freedom and I hope that the others will be released immediately.The FBI and State Department have officials in Haiti. What were their roles in negotiating with the gang for these two people and their release?The Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) has not shared any information. The US Embassy has not shared any information. And the FBI has not shared any information, as we know. So, we are really in the dark about this. But the point I want to make is, people are being kidnapped all the time in Haiti. It is mind-boggling, it's heartbreaking, whenever you think of, "I'm going to step out of the house," you immediately wonder, "will I be able to get back home?" because there are so many kidnapings. So, this is very unfortunate that these were Americans, but [the] French have been kidnapped and the Haitians are being kidnapped every day, morning, noon and night. So, this is a nightmare.I mean, that's a really good point. For Haitians, this is a daily problem, isn't it?Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.How would you describe US policy in Haiti right now?This crisis is so deep that if it's somebody else who finds a solution, we will go back to the crisis. It's time for us to just sit together and work out what our problems are and what we ask for the US really, is to give us the space, to give us the time and to give us solidarity, so that we can feel comfortable and move forward with the solution that we have put forward. As you know, I'm part of this commission, trying to find a Haitian solution to the crisis. And we worked very hard trying to get together different sectors of the population, and we have put an accord, which is called the Montana Accord on the table, that has kind of a roadmap in terms of services, as well as a governance structure. So, it is up to us, Haitians, to find a solution and we have one on the table, so we can come together.Do you think the US has a coherent foreign policy toward Haiti?I don't think it did for a very long time, because I don't think anybody quite knew what the US wanted. But I think there is a move now toward listening to Haitian voices. There is a move to let us step back to do this, even though there is still some incoherence, because returning the migrants to Haiti, while you were saying that Haiti is gang-infested, while you are saying, "do not come to Haiti," … the US has even asked Americans who are in Haiti to immediately leave the country. So, there is some incoherence here.You were referring, of course, to the Haitians earlier gathered at the US-Mexico border a couple of months ago, many of whom were deported back to Haiti.Exactly. There were about 8,000 who were deported back, and that, to us, was really incoherent. And I hope that that will stop.Monique, some Democrats in Congress have called for the US to make a course correction in Haiti. What would that look like?Well, the course correction in Haiti looks like, first, leave us so we can chart our path forward, and this is what we have done with the Montana Accord. Second, talk to the different parties and encourage us to continue the dialogue that we are carrying. Third, remind the government that the US and other international actors have been put there. .. remind them that it is their responsibility to provide security and government services for Haitians, men and women and children. And fourth, then, talk to the police that the US has been supporting for a number of years. Remind them also that you must protect and serve the Haitian population.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report. 

Cuban govt supporters resorted to tactics they haven’t used in decades to suppress political dissidents, professor says

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>Cuban govt supporters resorted to tactics they haven't used in decades to suppress political dissidents, professor says

Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban history and the director of the Cuba Program at the University of Florida, described the culture of repudiation in the country to The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldNovember 16, 2021 · 2:30 PM EST

Soldiers patrol along the Malecón seawall in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 15, 2021.

Ramon Espinosa/AP

In Cuba, the plan was for nationwide street protests on Monday and demands for more political freedoms. Basically, a repeat of this past summer's unprecedented demonstrations.

But instead, those who took to the streets were police officers, state security agents and government supporters.

Related: For the first time, 'children of the revolution are fighting the revolution' says former US rep

And they kept protesters from leaving their homes. Some organizers said government supporters had surrounded their homes, blocking them from leaving. Others said that Cuban police warned them that they'd be arrested if they took to the streets.

Related: 'Homeland and life': The chant to Cuba’s anti-government protests

The march was meant to demand the release of prisoners — especially those who were arrested in the July protests — and for an expansion of human rights and national dialogue.

Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban history and the director of the Cuba Program at the University of Florida, described the culture of repudiation in the country to The World's host Marco Werman.

Marco Werman: So, many of the government supporters in the streets on Monday were members of local neighborhood groups known as the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. Explain what they are all about.Lillian Guerra: Well, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution began to exist around September of 1960 in the lead-up to the US invasion at the Bay of Pigs. They were in the minds of many Cubans supposed to be a temporary organization designed to prevent people who had sympathies for the counterrevolution from acting on their sympathies. However, after 1961, in fact, they became the backbone of surveillance for the government. They still exist on every block. You're supposed to register before the age of 6. You're supposed to pay a monthly quota to be a member. You're supposed to attend all their meetings. The reality is, since 1991, most people don't attend the meetings. A lot of people, if not the majority, don't pay their quotas. And yet, this network, which is comprised of millions of Cubans, is very active. Fidel called them 1 million "mouth-shutters." They were designed to shut people up, and they do that. They are supposed to call out those who publicly protest or publicly complain, in any way, shape or form, the existence of the state, the policies of the state, etc.

 

So, what evidence have you seen that members of these revolutionary defense committees were part of the very successful suppression of the protesters on Monday?Yeah, we saw the rehashing of tactics that really the CDRs have not used in decades. In particular, the use of the meeting of repudiation. This is where you get groups of activists from either your local CDR, or people from other CDRs to go to neighborhoods, stand in front of the house of a dissident or somebody who sympathizes with the dissidents, shout slogans, they intimidate, they taunt. This is a tactic that really was on display in 1980 when more than 120,000 Cubans registered to leave the country during the Mariel boatlift. What's different here is the reality that yesterday we saw meetings of repudiation taking place livestreamed on Facebook by their victims. And these people didn't want to leave the country. They wanted to stay. All they wanted to do was leave their home, so they could go out onto the street and march peacefully and protest for change.

 

Do CDR committee members carry weapons? I mean, did they ever have that kind of power?They never did have that kind of power. What they did have was a direct line to the police and to the Ministry of the Interior. CDRs have archives on every single person in their block. They issue political evaluations on that person from cradle to grave, in the past and in the present. In order to get anywhere in life, to get a promotion at your job, you actually have to have a recommendation from your CDR.

 

Are members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution older? Or are they getting younger members now?Well, the interesting thing is that the activists, the people who are the president of the CDR and they hold these political offices, there's not a lot of turnover. I know some CDRs in Centro Habana, for instance, that have been headed by the same person for literally 60 years. It is perhaps difficult for us to understand, but that kind of symbolic form of power, where they get to be the deputies of the state and the surrogates for Fidel or Raúl, that is something that really is incomparable in our society, but it is really, really important in Cuba, where people generally live very poorly and where everybody is more equally poor than rich. And so much of people's prosperity and opportunities depend on loyalty to the state.

 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report.