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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.

Bosnia faces the most serious crisis since the Balkans War, analyst says

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>Bosnia faces the most serious crisis since the Balkans War, analyst says

Jasmin Mujanović, a Bosnian political analyst and author, says leaders of Republika Srpska, a territory within Bosnia and Herzegovina, has intended to unravel peace established under the Dayton Accords for over 15 years.

The WorldNovember 8, 2021 · 3:45 PM EST

Bosnian Serb member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia Milorad Dodik holds a speech during the 4th Budapest Demographic Summit in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 23, 2021.

Laszlo Balogh/AP/File photo

The nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has lived in relative peace for the past couple of decades, after ethnic conflict tore through the Balkans in the 1990s. Around 100,000 people were killed in a brutal war in the region. 

Related: Even if they lose, Bosnia-Herzegovina's national team has already won

Today, fresh tensions are bringing up painful reminders of Bosnia's not-so-distant past. High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt warned that the country could face the biggest “existential threat of the post-war period” if the international community doesn't curb separatist threats by Bosnian Serbs.

Related: Serbia lets people choose their COVID-19 vaccine. Some call it a ‘political ballot.’

Jasmin Mujanović, a Bosnian political analyst and the author of "Hunger and Fury: The Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans," joined The World's host Marco Werman from Los Angeles to break down the situation.

Marco Werman: Jasmin, the UN's high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, is warning the country could soon break up. Can you explain what he's talking about?Jasmin Mujanović: Right. So, the high representative is responding to the fact that we're in the midst of a major secession push by Serb nationalist authorities in the smaller of the two main entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is known as the Republika Srpska, or the RS. The leadership there has been engaging in threats of secession for many years, but over the last six months or so, they've begun taking very, very credible steps toward that end, including the creation of parallel institutions and threatening to use force to eject Bosnian government officials, including Bosnian state police, from the territory of the RS entity.Parallel institutions, I understand, including the Bosnian Serb army. Why is this happening?The fact of the matter is that the leadership in the RS entity team, headed by a gentleman by the name of Milorad Dodik, has for the better part of a decade and a half been making it very, very clear the fact that it wants to unravel the Dayton Peace Accords, that it wants to unravel the Bosnian state, that it wants to dismantle the country's constitutional order and that it wants to seek the formal secession of the RS entity, which was, of course, created during the Bosnian War and the Bosnian genocide by the then-Serb nationalist leadership. So, it's a real ideological push for what this regime's desired — kind of reorganizing of the Western Balkans state system.

 

So, the Dayton Peace Accords, of course, is the agreement that was hammered out to bring peace to the Balkans after the wars in the 1990s. Dodik — he's part of the country's three-person presidency. How is the rest of the government in Bosnia responding to these threats?So, it's really put, what in Bosnia are known as … pro-Bosnian political actors in a rough position, because the levers of the governmental system in Bosnia-Herzegovina are such that it's very, very difficult for state authorities to push back against the RS authorities, because they have so much autonomy. And indeed, they are obviously in the process of doing something that flies in the face of constitutional law and the country's legal order, more broadly. And obviously, they don't want to be seen to be the first ones to initiate any kind of coercive or violent response to the situation, although it's very clear that is what Mr. Dodik is trying to entice them to do.So, the Serbs are pushing for secession, the Croats are not pushing back. Does that leave the Bosnians pretty much isolated?Yeah, though I would be just a little bit careful about the language. I think it's very important to recognize that this is specifically coming from the Serb nationalist establishment, and it is backed by the Croat nationalist establishment. There are Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs who are opposed to this, and they are supportive of a territorially integrated and sovereign Bosnian state, and they are part of the pro-Bosnian camp. So, it's not, strictly speaking, an ethnic conflict, although obviously people like Mr. Dodik would very much like to portray that — especially in the international media.

 

Jasmin, I'd like to rewind just a little bit. Bosnia experienced mass civil strife and war in the '90s. NATO and international peacekeepers intervened and brought stability, but ethnic tensions never really cooled down. How fragile is this stability today?I think it's very clearly the case, at this moment, that this particular political crisis is probably the most serious that the country has experienced since the war. And that is, again, largely rooted in the dysfunction of the Dayton Accords, which has allowed Mr. Dodik to engage in these kinds of activities and at the same time, to hobble and undermine the ability of the Bosnian state authorities to deal with him in any meaningful shape or form. I think people perhaps would be surprised to know that day-to-day life in Bosnia and Herzegovina is marked by tremendous amounts of ethnic co-mingling, for lack of a better term. But obviously, these kinds of situations and this kind of political adventurism has introduced a significant degree of fear and anxiety into Bosnian daily life.Jasmin, what are you looking for next, to see how things evolve?Well, we need a very serious international response. I would very specifically like to see a robust sanctions regime against Mr. Dodik and members of his government, including the coalition government. This is actually something that the previous high representative had formally requested of the European Union and the European Union never responded. The United States already has sanctions against Mr. Dodik. However, those tensions could be expanded and they could be strengthened and really fundamentally, it's well past time that we move to an international posture in Bosnia and the broader Western Balkans that is, you know, that imposes consequences and costs for this kind of adventurism in this kind of militancy.

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

New Merck pill could help treat COVID-19 symptoms for people without access to vaccines

New Merck pill could help treat COVID-19 symptoms for people without access to vaccines

"There are a lot of people, particularly in developing countries, that have not had the opportunity to have vaccines," James Love tells The World's host Marco Werman. "And so, a treatment like this will really be important."

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Rachel Gotbaum

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Merck corporate headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, May 1, 2018.

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A new antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 could soon be released to the world’s poorest countries. The drugmaker Merck reported that in a clinical trial, the new drug cut hospitalizations and deaths in half.

Merck is granting a royalty-free license for drugmakers worldwide to produce molnupiravir, the potential antiviral, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The agreement will allow the MPP to grant further licenses to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drugmaker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be global emergency. Molnupiravir is the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.

Related: India will soon roll out a DNA vaccine for the coronavirus. It’s the latest example of how COVID-19 is transforming vaccines.

“The need for additional treatment options remains key in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Dean Li, president of Merck research laboratories, told analysts. 

The FDA has said a panel of outside experts will meet late next month to consider the treatment for use in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization.

James Love is the director of Knowledge Ecology International, an NGO in Washington that advocates for affordable medicines worldwide. Love discussed the new pill and license-sharing agreement with The World’s host Marco Werman.

Related: An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

Marco Werman: James, first of all, what does this pill do? Who would it help?James Love: Well, if it passes all the safety reviews, it’s a quite promising treatment. It’s designed to be taken early after an infection and the data that we’ve seen so far is that it’s very effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

 

And just to be clear, it’s not an alternative to a vaccine, right?It’s not an alternative to the vaccine, but there are large parts of the world where there’s been a shortage of vaccines. So, there are a lot of people, particularly in developing countries, that have not had the opportunity to have vaccines. And so, a treatment like this will really be important.

 

What do you know about the license-sharing agreement and what does it mark in the COVID-19 timeline?This is the first open license that we’ve seen for a COVID therapeutic or COVID vaccine. It’s the only one we’ve seen that allows the manufacturing to be done around the world, and it’s the only one that’s fully transparent. The license is 69 pages long and you can read every single word of it. It is also, I think, the model agreement for scaling up the manufacturing of a therapeutic or a vaccine because it brings in any capable manufacturer.How will Merck actually make money on this pill?If the drug is as effective as they say it is, and if it’s as safe as they say it is, it’ll be a very profitable product. The license divides the world into two parts, one half of the world, the lower-income part of the world where the average incomes are around $2,500 per year, is set aside for this competitive, generic, low-cost supply Merck preserves for itself for selling. And the other half of the world, where incomes are over $20,000 per capita. So, Merck is going to focus on selling the drug in the countries where people have the most money, and they’re allowing the generic suppliers to sell it at very cheap prices in countries that are very low income.

 

We tend to think of big pharma as focused on big profits. Were you surprised to hear about the license-sharing agreement?Well, we were happy to see it. I mean, we were kind of surprised we haven’t seen more of these licenses. We’re almost two years into the pandemic, and this is the first time anyone’s made a license to the Medicines Patent Pool. We think this should have been done earlier. It does fall short of what the proposal was initially in the beginning of the pandemic. They wanted these licenses to be global. They didn’t want them to be limited to low-income countries. They wanted them to be global. Costa Rica, for example, is excluded from the license. So, it falls short of what the ideal is. But if the benchmark is what other companies have done, what Merck has done is objectively better than what any other company’s done so far.

 

So, those countries that are not on the list, how would they get the pill?I mean, Merck’s going to be selling the drug itself. They’ve already announced the price in the United States and they’re going to be negotiating or setting prices for other countries. But beyond that, the license does provide a pathway for the generic companies to sell outside of the licensed territory if they meet certain conditions. So, there is a pathway, but I think for a lot of sales, there’ll just be some additional negotiations with Merck over the price. I know that Merck is in negotiations with Brazil, for example, which is not part of this voluntary license. What Merck has done is explicitly looking at the idea that they have to think about global access. And I think that this is a very constructive step in that direction. … we’re a group that’s constantly criticizing the companies over the prices and affordability policies, and we take odds with them on a lot of the negotiations on intellectual property rights, but I think we have to give Merck some credit for having done what they’ve done. And I hope that this will put pressure on some of the other manufacturers of vaccines and therapeutics to follow and do the same thing.

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

Egypt ends its state of emergency amid intense criticism of its human rights record

Egypt ends its state of emergency amid intense criticism of its human rights record

Egypt has ended its state of emergency after four years. Samer Shehata, professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells The World's Marco Werman that the move is geared more toward the international community than Egyptian citizens.

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A general view of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, March 29, 2020.

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For the first time in four years, Egypt is no longer under a state of emergency. The government of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi made the decision following years of criticism from human rights advocates.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced his decision in a Facebook post. He said the move came because “Egypt has become an oasis of security and stability in the region.”

Related: Activists look to Congress after Biden requests military aid for Egypt without human rights conditions

Egypt has been under a continuous state of emergency since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, with the exception of a few years following the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. The state of emergency was reinstated in 2017 after two Coptic churches in the country were bombed by an ISIS affiliate.

Related: Powerful countries break their silence on Egypt’s human rights abuses

The state of emergency allowed for arrests without warrants, the swift prosecution of suspects and the establishment of special courts.

Whether this move will help imprisoned writers, lawyers and activists is still unclear.

Professor Samer Shehata, an associate professor in Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, joined The World’s host Marco Werman from Washington to break down what this decision may mean for people inside Egypt. 

Marco Werman: Samer, can you tell us why the state of emergency was put in place to begin with?Samer Shehata: Well, the most recent state of emergency was put in place in 2017 after a series of bombings by an ISIS affiliate against churches in Egypt that left a number of people dead. But in reality, Egyptians have been living under a state of emergency for about 50 years really, since 1967.For the state of emergency imposed by President Sisi, who did it impact primarily?Well, it probably impacts the majority of people who are in prison for protesting. But it’s also been used against, of course, Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters, liberals and people who supported the 2011 revolution, youth activists, journalists, you name it, anyone who’s been willing to criticize the government.

 

So, practically, what does it mean for the thousands of political detainees, that the state of emergency has been lifted?Well, it’s not perfectly clear yet what it will mean for those who are already in jail, right? Because many of the high-profile people, we believe, who’ve gotten the most attention are still going to be subject to their detention, and so on, and the court system that they have been subject to. It will, hopefully, end the special emergency state security courts that the emergency law allows. And it will, hopefully, if it is to mean anything other than just this declaration, will allow a little bit of greater political space in Egypt, but that’s certainly yet to be determined.

 

What do you think the lifting of the state of emergency now signals more generally about the Egyptian government? I mean, is this them rolling out a welcome mat for free expression or simply confidence that they’re firmly in control of the country?Well, they’re firmly in control of the country, but I think what it is in response to is increasing criticism and some action by the international community about the human rights record and the abysmal state of political freedom in Egypt. There’s been intense criticism of the human rights record. And then, of course, very recently, the Biden administration withheld some $130 million of aid to the government. And the government has been, in response, trying to change its image, trying to kind of produce a makeover and to say that it’s more interested in civil society groups, human rights and so on.

 

And, Samer, those critics have been pretty relentless. Earlier this year, five leading human rights organizations in Egypt laid out some basic steps that should be taken to stop the erosion of human rights there. The lifting of the state of emergency — that was the first step. What are the next steps, and do you think the Egyptian government will continue the process?Sure, they asked for a number of very concrete things, I mean, freeing political prisoners, for example. There are thousands of political prisoners. Stopping the detentions that kind of go on forever, staying all executions, political and criminal cases and so on, all kinds of other things. So, those would really be much more…concrete actions. And therefore, I think, and many others, are a little bit skeptical about what this really means in practice.

 

So, if I’m a protester or a journalist right now in Egypt and I see this policy change, put us in the mind of that person, what am I thinking? Can I go out and kind of express myself freely now?Not necessarily. I think it’s certainly understood as a signal to the international community, more so than a signal to Egyptians. But it also could mean that there is only slightly more room for political maneuver in Egypt. Not a great amount, but a little bit more.

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

Nobel Peace Prize is ‘a testament to how truth prevails,’ Rappler journalist says

Nobel Peace Prize is 'a testament to how truth prevails,' Rappler journalist says

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has given the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists for the first time since 1935. Sofia Tomacruz, who works at Rappler with one of this year's two winners, Maria Ressa, joined The World's host Marco Werman to discuss the significance of the announcement.

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Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa, right, stands in front of reporters as she arrives at the Court of Tax Appeals in Metro Manila, Philippines, March 4, 2021.

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to two journalists: Maria Ressa from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia. It’s the first time the honor has gone to a journalist since 1935.

Related: Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah: An introduction to the man and his writing

Ressa was cited for her work with Rappler, the news site she co-founded in 2012, which has relentlessly and bravely put the policies of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte under the spotlight, including the large-scale killings linked to a police campaign against drugs.

And Muratov said he sees the prize as an award to his newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, which he helped found in 1993. It’s the same newspaper where journalist Anna Politkovskaya worked, covering the bloody conflict in Chechnya before she was killed in 2006.

Related: Only 20 Nobels in the sciences have gone to women. Why?

Sofia Tomacruz works as a journalist at Rappler. She talked to The World’s host Marco Werman about what the award means for her colleagues and journalists everywhere.  

 

Marco Werman: Congratulations, first of all. What is your reaction to today’s news?Sofia Tomacruz: Thank you so much. You know the news is such good news. It came after a really long week here in the Philippines. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but election season is in full swing. So, it was such a surprise for us. I mean, not only for Maria, but for us, too. But, really it could not have come at a better time.

Related: Maria Ressa says journalism is democracy’s ‘first line of defense’ and Rappler won’t back down

It has been a long week there. We’re covering the final list of candidates today, in fact, on the show. What does it mean to you that the Nobel Committee has awarded the Peace Prize to journalists this year?I think that the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to journalists this year is just really a recognition of journalism’s role in the world today, especially at this time. In the past few years, you’ve seen how important it is to defend press freedom and hold the line, as Maria would say, against those who want to weaken that. And no matter how small or unassuming their actions may be, it’s so important that we shine a light on people who try to silence us. And the award really highlights the struggles of journalists, I think, not only in the Philippines, but across the world. So, really, this prize, like I said, just could not have come at a better time.

 

Briefly, what are the ways Rappler and Maria Ressa have been silenced or attempted to have been silenced over the past few years?Right, so, especially under the current administration, there’s been just several cases thrown at Rappler, in particular against Maria Ressa. And I think in total there have been about 11 cases, seven still active against her. So, you can just imagine how much time that takes and how much time it takes away from us, reporters, when it comes to doing our jobs?And are those seven cases kind of affecting your ability to keep Rappler going?You know, Maria and the rest of our bosses do such a good job at making sure that we keep doing the work that we’re doing. And I think it just really goes back to what Maria would always tell us, the way that you fight back is how you do your job as a journalist. And they really made it a point to drill that into us every day, and I think something that we like to remind ourselves of as well. So, Maria has always taught us that the way you fight back is just by doing your work and doing it to the best of your abilities.

Related: Duterte’s ‘weaponization of the law’ is a threat to democracy, says journalist Maria Ressa

The prize, as we know, went to Maria Ressa and Rappler, but also to Dmitry Muratov of Novaya Gazeta in Moscow. Generally, what is the relationship between Rappler and any other organizations around the globe doing the same kind of risky journalism you do?I think the relationship would be that in Russia and in the Philippines, there are many similarities. Both media industries in both countries are being attacked. Both are being targeted by the government. And so, you know, it’s also something that Maria says, right? You can’t just speak out when you’re affected. You need to speak out even if it’s your peers, even if it’s somebody far away, because the moment that you allow it to happen in one place, then it gives permission for other leaders and for other people to do it, to weaken a free press in other places. And so, we need to protect one another, no matter how far away we are from each other, and what happens in one place, it won’t stop there. The prize being given to both Maria and Dmitry, it’s really a testament to how truth prevails and, even in places that are trying to stifle the truth, it always come out.Has there been any reaction from the Philippine government to the Nobel Peace Prize for Rappler and Maria Ressa?No, radio silence so far.

 

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

Protesters in India call for justice for Dalit women who are victims of sexual violence

Protesters in India call for justice for Dalit women who are victims of sexual violence

Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus, which sparked massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime.

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Tina Verma, 27, a social activist, makes a placard at a demonstration site outside a crematorium where a 9-year-old girl from the lowest rung of India’s caste system was, according to her parents and protesters, raped and killed earlier this week, in Delhi, India, Aug. 5, 2021.

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Villagers in India’s capital of Delhi held protests this week calling for justice for another rape case. It’s revived outrage over the number of gruesome sexual crimes against women in the country.

The demonstrators held placards on a makeshift stage near a crematorium where a 9-year-old was allegedly raped and killed. The case was initially passed off as an accident, and police encouraged the parents to drop any investigations, but people living nearby suspected foul play and intervened.

Police arrested four men suspected of the crime, but they have not yet been charged.

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

Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus, which sparked massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime. Four men sentenced to death for the 2012 attack were later hanged.

Nevertheless, such crimes persist, and according to government data, a woman is raped every 15 minutes in India.

The protesters were also calling for justice and rights for India’s Dalit community — which the 9-year-old girl was from — the lowest in the Hindu caste system.

Rights organizations say that Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and other attacks. They say men from dominant castes often use sexual violence as a weapon to reinforce repressive hierarchies, and that police frequently fail to investigate such crimes, leaving survivors and the families of victims struggling to find justice.

Related: Indian policewoman describes the hazards of being a whistleblower

“We are outraged,” Yogita Bhayana, founder of the group People Against Rapes in India, told The World’s host Marco Werman. “We want justice, and we want those police officers to be suspended, terminated forever and booked for delaying and for supporting the criminals.”

In trying to find a solution, Bhayana said, “We can’t afford to lose more daughters. So, we have to work on gender sensitization. We have to teach our boys, not our girls. We always address the wrong audience.”

Click on the link above to hear the whole discussion.

AP contributed to this report.

‘It never feels routine,’ says Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, on her 7th Olympic Games

'It never feels routine,' says Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, on her 7th Olympic Games

Aida Mohamed says she's putting in longer hours and she's more experienced, but she's as excited now as her first time at the Olympics in 1996. She joined The World's host Marco Werman to talk about her fencing career and the bubbling anticipation as the Tokyo Games begin.

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Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, foreground, trains with her coach Antal Solti at a training camp in Budapest, Hungary, June 24, 2021.

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The 2020 Summer Olympic Games have finally kicked off in Tokyo, after a yearlong delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid numerous restrictions during the games, athletes will be tested for the coronavirus frequently, and fans won’t be allowed to attend competitions in person.

Related: Hawaiians highlight surfing’s cultural roots as it makes its Olympic debut

The opening ceremony was complete with fireworks, nods to Japan’s history and culture and a drone display in the night sky. And tennis star Naomi Osaka concluded the festivities by lighting the Olympic cauldron atop a peak inspired by Mount Fuji.

For many athletes, this will be their first Olympic games. But for others, this will certainly not be their first rodeo.

Related: Sports of Olympic past: Where are they now?

For Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, this will be her 7th Olympic Games — a record for female athletes in her country. Her first time competing in the Olympics was back in 1996 in Atlanta.

She spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about what it was like for her then and now.

Listen to the full interview to hear the whole discussion.

Marco Werman: So, Aida, this will be your seventh time competing in the Olympics. What do these games mean for you specifically?Aida Mohamed: Yes, this is the seventh. And I can see in Hungary, this is a record breaker. So, I’m very proud. And, you know, if they write your name in the record book, it’s always a great thing. I know my friends and family are very proud of me and happy, which means a lot to me. It’s a great feeling.After so many trips to the Olympics, even one like this in Tokyo that is so unusual, has it ever started to feel routine?It never feels routine. Even [during] my last tournament, I was excited [in the same way] as my first tournament, and I can say the same for the Olympic Games. Only one thing changed, it’s that I’m more experienced, this is number one. And the second, that I’m training harder than ever, because, I can say [at] my age, I have to keep up with the younger ones. So, I even put [in] more hours than I would before.Well, you make a good point. You’ve been doing this for a while. The first time competing in the Olympics was in 1996 in Atlanta, which feels like a lifetime ago. What do you remember from those first Olympic Games that you attended?I remember I was one of the youngest team members. Everything was so big and so bright. I remember the audience, so many people. And in fencing, usually you don’t get as many visitors or spectators. I remember in the Olympic Games, it was fully packed and that was a great thing to compete under those circumstances. Now in Tokyo, [it] will be very empty.How do you feel about that?I just have to keep the crowd there. I have to think that, you know, there will be people sitting around and cheering for me. But I think it makes a big difference feeling-wise. And it just always helps when someone is cheering for you, when you can hear the people screaming and [the] noise. That’s always a great thing.Yeah, it’s that energy that you get. I’m curious how you got into fencing in the first place, Aida. How old were you? What drew you to the sport?I was 9-years-old in elementary school, and [at] that time, my coach from my old club came to school and [was] looking for kids, selecting [them]. I remember very clearly that I had to [do] some exercise, but [at] that time I was a really shy little girl. And I was so excited that I couldn’t [do the exercise properly]. But even [at] that time, I was fast and I was good in the gymnastics lesson. And my school teacher advised me to go and start with the others. My coach, Antal Solti, has been my coach 35 years.Right, he’s been with you the whole time. What has he meant to you?Well, he’s more than a coach, for sure. He was kind of like a father. I always say he was always checking [on me], not only in sports. He would tell me what to do, what not to do, but he was always paying attention to my school[ing]. So, I remember those days when he would ask everybody, “OK bring your notes from school.” He would have some words if you didn’t have the right notes. So he would say, “OK, now you have to study harder. There’s no excuse.” But he was always just like a father. If I had any problem, even nowadays, I could tell him and I could discuss [it] with him. He was always a very strict man, and loud. But if I had any problem, I could always go to him and share. And I remember when training, that my girlfriends or my fencing mates, you know, somebody would cry on his shoulder because of love problems, somebody would cry because of school problems, I was crying for some other problems. And I think that’s what made him really unique.So, the seventh Olympic Games for you — the first Hungarian to do this, ever. How do you want to be remembered?I just hope that people will remember me as an example of my hard work, not by the numbers, but as somebody who enjoyed fencing. And many times, I heard that people love my fencing style and my techniques. Just remember there’s a big fighter.

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

‘Eritrean forces have to get out of Ethiopia,’ analyst says

'Eritrean forces have to get out of Ethiopia,' analyst says

Michelle Gavin, a senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, joined The World's host Carol Hills to help make sense of the unfolding situation in Tigray.

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Captured members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force are marched through the streets to prison under guard by Tigray Forces, as hundreds of residents look on, in Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, July 2, 2021.

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The conflict in northern Ethiopia has taken another turn as Tigrayan rebels pushed into the neighboring Amhara region on Tuesday. Now, the Ethiopian government says it’s ending a ceasefire and going on the offensive. It is a complex chessboard with quickly moving pieces.

Related: Ethiopia’s federal government announces ceasefire as Tigray forces make gains in the region

Meanwhile, since Tigray forces now control large areas, the region has remained largely cut off from the world, with transport and communications links severed or blocked. The area has seen months of looting and destruction that witnesses have blamed on Ethiopian and allied forces.

Related: Tigray region faces deteriorating crisis 3 months into conflict

Michelle Gavin, a senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, joined The World’s host Carol Hills to help make sense of the unfolding situation.

Carol Hills: Michelle, the Ethiopian government says it’s ending the ceasefire with Tigrayan forces and going on the offensive. Why did they make that decision?Michelle Gavin: Well, it’s clear that the Tigrayan forces intend to try and recapture territory that used to be understood as part of Tigray and that since the fighting broke out last November, has been taken over by Amhara forces, another ethnic group in Ethiopia, and claimed as part of Amhara. So, though there has been a unilateral ceasefire on the part of the government, the fighting has not actually stopped. The Tigrayan Defense Forces have continued to try and reclaim territory. So, this appears to be something of a red line for the federal government.Orient me on this. We hear about the Amhara, Tigray, the Ethiopian forces. Who are the players and where geographically do they sit here?So, you have the Tigrayan forces. Then you had the federal forces of Ethiopia. You also had Eritrean military forces crossing the border and assisting those federal Ethiopian forces. And finally, you had Amhara, essentially, militia forces — local forces from the Amhara region — which does border Tigray. And there’s long been tension about whose land is whose, particularly in that western part of what, on a map, you would see as Tigray. The Tigrayan forces having recaptured a great deal of their territory from the Ethiopian federal forces, have pledged to continue their campaign to reclaim territory and to push out all of these armed groups that were essentially aligned against them. That means the Eritreans, and it also means those Amhara forces.So, should we understand at this point that since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ended the ceasefire, that he’s going to again send Ethiopian federal forces in to try to quell this mess?Well, it certainly looks that way. It’s very clear that the Amhara are not interested in relinquishing the territory that they had gained control over without a fight. There are reports even that other forces, perhaps some Oromo armed forces, who are not typically part of the federal military, might also be brought into the fight to push back on the Tigrayans. So, it remains to be seen exactly what Prime Minister Abiy can muster in terms of a coalition to reengage this fight. But what is painfully clear is that the violence is by no means over.

 

Let’s look at the Tigrayan rebel forces for a second. After really being diminished by Ethiopian government forces, and also those who came in from Eritrea, they then regained their capital, Mekele. I mean, to be kind of blunt, why weren’t they satisfied with retaking the capital of the region and just being done with it?Well, I think there’s a tremendous amount of resentment in Tigray about atrocities that have been committed during this campaign. I certainly am not suggesting that any of the parties to the conflict are completely innocent in terms of war crimes. But it is very clear that some truly horrific crimes have been committed against the Tigrayan people, against Tigrayan civilians — sexual violence, war crimes, by any definition. And so, I think perhaps there is also a sentiment in Tigray that it’s intolerable, essentially, to allow any of the forces associated with those crimes to continue operating on what they believe to be Tigrayan soil.What are the chances for a peaceful resolution here? In your mind, what has to happen to stem this from growing into something really, really tragic?It’s clear the Eritrean forces have to get out of Ethiopia. That’s just a toxic element to this equation. Ethiopia just came out of a federal election process that was not inclusive, entirely because, obviously, there was no voting in Tigray. There wasn’t voting in some other restive parts of the country. It’s going to be important to acknowledge that that electoral process was insufficient, to address this, kind of, underlying political tensions — arguments about the autonomy of individual regions — these are incredibly important issues that, at their heart, are political. So, there has to be some kind of political process, rule-governed process, to work through them. And that’s particularly difficult right now when, you know, you still have a situation where the the Tigrayans are considered terrorists by the federal Ethiopian state. It’s very hard to engage in a rule-governed process with a group you’ve totally delegitimized. So, there are a lot of roadblocks to what ultimately is the only avenue out of this mess that I can see, which really is about political dialogue.

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

Haitians’ voices need to be heard in country’s rebuilding, former Amb Pamela White says

Haitians’ voices need to be heard in country’s rebuilding, former Amb Pamela White says

Pamela White served as US ambassador to Haiti from 2012 to 2015 and is now with the School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. She discussed the situation in Haiti with The World's host Marco Werman.

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Police stand amid a crowd protesting against the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse near the police station of Pétion-Ville in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 8, 2021.

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Haiti faces a political and security crisis after gunmen assassinated the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, early Wednesday morning in his home. Police have now killed four suspects behind the assassination and arrested two others, according to Haitian authorities.

Two men believed to be Haitian Americans — one of them purportedly a former bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince — are in custody, according to a senior Haitian official.

Related: Haitian asylum-seekers face discrimination in Tijuana migrant camp

The last time Haiti was thrust into turmoil by an assassination was more than a century ago when an angry group of rebels raided the French Embassy in 1915 and beat to death President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, ushering in weeks of chaos that triggered a nearly two-decadeslong US military intervention.

Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military, and on Thursday, he asked people to reopen businesses and go back to work, ordering the reopening of the international airport.

Related: Haitian American musician Nathalie Joachim pays tribute to underrepresented women of Haiti

Pamela White served as US ambassador to Haiti from 2012 to 2015 and is now with the School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. She discussed the situation in Haiti with The World’s host Marco Werman.

Marco Werman: First of all, what was your reaction when you heard that Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was killed?Pamela White: Someone called me at like 4 o’clock in the morning, and they said, “Have you heard it?” And I’m like, “Have I heard what?” And they said President Moïse has been assassinated. And I’ve known Haiti for many, many years because I first served there for five years from 1985 to 1990. So, you know, I’ve been very familiar with its rocky past. But, even remembering what went on when the United States and France and others managed to convince Baby Doc to leave the country, and the complete chaos that I experienced after that departure — this is another level and I feel deeply saddened, and, of course, for President Moïse’s family.Can you take us back then a little? I mean, in 2015, you were the US ambassador to Haiti when Moïse was just running for office. What can you tell us about him? How did he come to power?Well, he was very good friends with President Michel Martelly, and President Martelly really brought him into the inner circle. He was, kind of, known up north as being a banana farmer. So, we didn’t really know very much about him. You know, Moïse, the four or five times that I met him, struck me as being incredibly shy and uncomfortable in the political role which he had taken on. Here’s the problem, I think, maybe the real root of the problem, and that is the voice of the Haitian people is not heard through elections. When Moïse was elected, I think it was 22% of the population even bothered to come outside their door. Of that 22%, he got 11% of the population to vote for him. So, he had no mandate ever.I mean, the political instability has led to social upheaval. We’ve seen thousands of families taking shelter in Haiti, displaced by violent clashes between armed gangs. What’s fueling those clashes between the gangs?Well, the money. It’s rumored — I have never seen any proof of this — but a lot of the private businessmen, the elite of the elite, each have their own private interest. And some of them fund these gangs. Sometimes, as horrible as it is to say, but the worse Haiti gets, the richer certain people get. Certainly, this was true during the earthquake. I mean, the richest of the Haitians made millions and millions off that earthquake. The richest take it off the top, and there’s very little left to develop the country. I think that’s what’s happening. And people get very, very angry and they want that to be known. And politics has been wrapped up in violence in Haiti since Papa Doc left, and before. So, it was a long, long, long, long history. Even the police is infiltrated with corrupt individuals on the take. So, there’s no security mechanism down there that really is working. And the justice system is in shambles, too. I mean, Moïse fired three or four Supreme Court judges, there is no parliament. So, everywhere you look, there is a void.Ambassador, as you said, economic crisis and poverty have contributed to the deep political crisis in Haiti. The US has given Haiti billions of dollars in aid over the last decade. From your perspective, how impactful has that aid actually been?Well, you know, I tell people that in the five years after the earthquake, we did miraculous things with the help of the Haitian people. We employed tens of thousands of people. We rebuilt roads. We rebuilt the port. We rebuilt the airport. We built schools. We trained teachers. We built a health delivery system that was, I mean, it wasn’t perfect, but it was functioning. Some of my favorite people in Congress would say to me, “But, Ambassador White, why haven’t you turned this around? Why haven’t you turned this around?” And I would be, like, “Listen, after Katrina, we gave New Orleans $40 billion to rebuild one city, and Haiti was given $2 billion by the United States to rebuild Haiti. We did wonderful, wonderful things there after the earthquake. There’s no doubt about it. But it wasn’t enough money to get down deep enough to change the fact that people did not have the skills to build Haiti back better. And that was going to take years to do. And in the meantime, chaos starts raising its ugly head. And you can’t do long-term development in the middle of chaos. You can’t expect them to rebuild the country when they are afraid to go outside their door.Hmm, $2 billion is not as much as the $40 billion that went to New Orleans, but $2 billion for Haiti, comparatively speaking, is huge. Critics say the bedlam in Haiti has been enabled over time by the US, perhaps with the best intentions, no doubt, but I’m wondering, what would you have done differently if you could have?Well, yeah, my whole career, “I should have done this, I could have done that.” But, I think maybe we should have concentrated more on two areas instead of eight areas. I mean, it does sound like a lot of money, but it’s not a lot of money when you’re doing big-time infrastructure. And the country was, you know, in shambles. There was enough rubble to fill dump trucks from Florida to Maine. That whole city was under. There was no parliament building. There were no schools. Tens of thousands of teachers were killed, tens of thousands of the health workers. I mean, you had a country that was trying desperately to move forward. And I do think that you can’t abandon Haiti. But, I do know that without investing in security — both food security and physical security — Haiti is not going to move forward. I’m sure of it. And I do not believe elections will help it move forward at this time either.Well, you spoke earlier about the wisdom of holding the elections in the midst of this crisis, if it continues. State Department Spokesman Ned Price says the view from Washington is that elections that are scheduled in Haiti this year should proceed. Other experts on Haiti say slow down. With the current instability and violent conditions, a push for new elections is dangerous. What do you think?That’s what I think. I think we have to find a mechanism to hear the Haitian people’s voices. And I do not believe that an election will get that done. Even the last elections in 2016, 2017, they were very chaotic, also. And 20% of the people came out and voted. The rest said, “We don’t believe in these elections, we don’t consider them valid and we’re not coming out.” And then only 10% of them voted for Moïse. So, when you get to an election and that’s the turnout you have and that’s the interests of the Haitian people in the election at all, I think you have to look at it for a better solution.So, let’s talk about that solution briefly. How do you see the US role in trying to give Haitian people a voice? Is it unilateral or is it working through the UN? What’s the next step here?We have got to get talking about how Haitians feel that we need to rebuild Haiti. And people say that all the time, “This is the Haitians’ problem to solve and that Haiti needs to take care of Haiti.” Well, OK, how do we get that done? Especially at a time when elections, to me, seem so far-fetched when there are no mechanisms to oversee an election. There’s no real judiciary, the opposition is there and they said they will not participate in an election under the current circumstances, so you don’t even have any opposition. You don’t have any really viable candidates. You just can’t say let’s have an election, and it miraculously happens. We say we don’t, but the United States equates democracy with an election. And I don’t. I equate democracy with people’s voices being heard. And I don’t think we found the right mechanism in Haiti to make that happen. And we’ve got to do that.

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

After killing of Muslim family in Canada, this advocate calls for a collective plan to fight Islamophobia

After killing of Muslim family in Canada, this advocate calls for a collective plan to fight Islamophobia

Yusuf Faqiri, director for public affairs at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, spoke with The World's Marco Werman about rising incidents of Islamophobia in Canada.

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Omar Duwaji

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Families pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the site where a man driving a pickup truck struck and killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 2021.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a vigil with several thousand people on Tuesday to honor and mourn the loss of a Canadian Muslim family that was killed over the weekend in a predmeditated attack. 

On Sunday, a man rammed a pickup truck into the family while they were standing on a street corner in London, Ontario. Four members of the famiy died, and a fifth person was hospitalized. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Related: The Proud Boys right-wing group disbands in Canada

“This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” Trudeau told Parliament.

“If anyone thinks racism and hatred don’t exist in this country, I want to say this: How do we explain such violence to a child in a hospital? How can we look families in the eye and say ‘Islamophobia isn’t real?'”

Related: Gruesome boarding school discovery forces Canada to reckon with its cultural genocide history

Canada’s Muslim community has faced several other Islamophobic attacks in recent years, including the horrific mosque shooting in Quebec City a few years ago.

Yusuf Faqiri, the director for public affairs at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman about these incidents and the reality of Islamophobia in Canada. 

Marco Werman: Yusuf, what was your initial reaction when you heard about this tragic news from London, Ontario?

Yusuf Faqiri: Thank you for having me, Marco. It’s a difficult time. It was sadness, anger, heartache, shock and bewilderment, how we’re in this situation, right at it again, sir. More than four and a half years after the tragedy that took place in the Sainte-Foy Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec in January 2017.

And, remind us briefly what happened there.

On Jan. 29, 2017, six Muslims were violently murdered by a terrorist attack committed by Alexandre Bissonnette in the place of worship. And we thought that — never again. But it wasn’t just Quebec, Marco. I deal with stuff in Quebec for the council. But, you know, last year there was a there was a man from our community in Toronto that was murdered in front of a mosque in Toronto. There was a shooting in Montreal in April where somebody shot the mosque 11 times. There’s been beatings, there’s been attacks on members of the Muslim committee in Calgary and Edmonton the last couple of months. It continues in this tragedy with four members of a family perished, [it] hits home quite hard today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed anger. He said it was a terrorist attack motivated by racism. What should, do you think, the Canadian government be doing to combat this?

They need to work with our partners. The Canadian government did something important earlier this year when they recognized that Jan. 29 is the national day of action against hate and Islamophobia. But we need a national strategy on Islamophobia, Marco, across the nation, across the provinces, at the local and federal level. People will need to call this for what it is. You know, there are certain provinces where the premiers deny Islamophobia exists. That in itself is a problem, Marco. And I want to be clear here, sir. This fight against Islamophobia is related to anti-Semitism, and against anti-Sikhism, and the racism against Asian Canadians. And we need a collective effort. This should not just fall on the Muslim community.

So, if we are to get to the root of this hate, what do you think is behind this rise in Islamophobia and violence that we’ve been witnessing in Canada?

There’s a direct link with all the terrorist acts that were committed in the last few years by white supremacists, right? If you look at Alexandre Bissonnette, or the tragedy that felled Mr. [Mohamed-Aslim] Zafis, in Toronto, or, even now, as you know, the London police have called us a hate-motivated crime. [It] has to be understood that there’s this notion of a direct-link nexus between white supremacy and Islamophobia.

Canada, as you know, prides itself on being a multicultural society. I mean, that’s also the reputation it seems to have globally. But is there something going on beneath the surface? What do we not understand about Canada?

We have to understand that there is a fundamental problem going on with this nexus of white supremacy and Islamophobia. And we have to work together collectively to dismantle [it]. And this is very important. And one of the issues that often happens, Marco, is that there’s a discourse at certain political levels that sometimes adds to these notions of the Islamophobia that I mentioned earlier in our conversation.

Do you think Justin Trudeau’s government is doing enough? Are they calling out leaders who deny Islamophobia?

Well, I will say this, Marco, is that more work has to be done on all political levels. And I believe that our work is far from over, sir. I will say that.

As I said, you’re heading to London for the vigil. What words, what advice do you have, Yusuf, for Canadian Muslims who want to move forward after these events?

We wanted to say never again. But we want to say that we stand with you, and will continue to work with you, and that we’re here for you, and we’ll continue to fight with you side-by-side in building that inclusive society that’s tempered with justice.

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

Climate activists get more strategic with their use of the courts

Climate activists get more strategic with their use of the courts

There's a growing trend of activists using lawsuits to hold governments and powerful corporations accountable for their roles in climate change.

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Anna Kusmer

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Milieudefensie director Donald Pols, holding a copy of the verdict, celebrates the outcome in the court case of Milieudefensie, the Dutch arm of the Friends of the Earth environmental organization, against Shell in The Hague, Netherlands, May 26, 2021.

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A federal court in the Netherlands ruled last week that the oil and gas company Shell failed to respect human rights, by contributing to global warming — making legal history.

Related: Fossil fuels cause 1 in 5 premature deaths worldwide, study says

The ruling is part of a larger trend of using the courtroom to hold powerful governments and corporations accountable for their roles in contributing to climate change.

In another case in Canberra, a group of eight Australian teenage environmentalists lost their court bid last week to force the federal government to ban a coal mine expansion. Environment Minister Sussan Ley is considering whether to approve an expansion of Vickery mine in New South Wales state, and the teenagers sought an injunction preventing the expansion. Their lawyer still claimed victory in the federal court’s ruling that the government has a duty to prevent future climate harm.

Related: Spiritual leaders seek to spur an ‘ecological conversion’

Joana Setzer is a climate litigation expert at the London School of Economics. As part of her research, she keeps a list of the hundreds of climate-related cases working their way through the courts in countries around the world. She discussed the growing trend with The World’s Marco Werman.

Related: West African villagers take on an American oil giant in new novel

Marco Werman: So, Joana, last week’s verdict would essentially force Shell to sell less oil and gas. What is the significance of the verdict as you see it? How big of a deal is it?

Joana Setzer: So, this is really a big deal. It was a lawsuit filed by a  Dutch nongovernmental organization and 17,000 individuals who are supporting the case. And the court concluded that Shell has to reduce their CO2 emissions by 45% at the end of 2030. That really means changes to their whole corporate policy and a precedent that could go beyond Shell, and beyond the Netherlands. This is the first time that a climate case [has been] brought against a corporation, trying to get the corporation aligned to the Paris goals and also to the climate science. This is the first time that a company is told to reduce their emissions by a court.

How do you think those activists will use the precedent this Dutch ruling sets in future court cases?

So, if we compare to the other case that was brought also in the Netherlands, against the government, asking the government to step up their ambition and to have more stringent reduction targets, that case was brought by a Dutch nongovernmental organization called Urgenda. What happened was that a number of other organizations started thinking how they could reproduce the case in their own jurisdictions. So, you see Urgenda-type cases in South Korea, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the list goes on and on. So literally, lawyers [were] studying the case, making the necessary adaptations for their own jurisdiction and filing similar cases in different countries. So, if you imagine something similar happening to this [Shell] case, we could imagine how this case and the decision would travel to other jurisdictions.

Yeah, and we don’t have to imagine too hard. On top of last week’s case against Shell, in May, a group of young people in Germany successfully sued the federal government there over its climate plan. Also this week, a group of Australian youth stopped a coal plant from opening. There are other examples in Portugal and Ireland, and other places. Can you talk about the increase in climate lawsuits recently?

Since 2015, precisely since that decision in the Urgenda case, the number of cases of climate litigation in the world has increased significantly. And when I say increased significantly, I’m talking about these high-profile strategic cases that have a clear target, either against the government or against corporations, and that aim to drive ambition, or to show society who the actors [are] that are mostly responsible for the problem, and also for the solution. So it is courts, it’s lawsuits being used, not just to resolve individual problems, but to create a case that is going to send a message.

There were a lot of lawsuits that came to the courts following the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Can you help us understand what the agreement did to open up all these legal challenges to governments, energy companies, other big business? I mean, were these lawsuits and plaintiffs inspired by the agreement, or did the agreement actually have avenues built in for legal challenges if COP [Conference of the Parties] was not abided by?

On the one hand, you would think that having the Paris agreement would have meant less litigation. You would think, well, it took so long for the international community to agree on an international agreement. We have thousands of laws and policies in literally every country in the world addressing climate change. But what happened was that many started noticing that the international commitments made by heads of state, and even national legislation, was just on paper, that those commitments were not being translated into action on the ground. And this is really where litigation comes in. It comes in this huge question mark that we are left when we see that all those commitments are inconsistent with action.

So to wrap up, Joana, how do you see climate litigation fitting into the bigger picture of climate change solutions? What do you see as its limitations, but also its potential?

It does have a very important role to play. I also see litigation as a last resource. We would like to see more action, not more litigation. When you file a case, you have costs, you have a lot of uncertainty and it will take time. And we don’t have time. And we also can’t afford the risk of having unsuccessful cases one after the other. But, litigation brings the weight of accountability. It also brings the expectation from the population, who is tired of promises that are not delivered. You have litigation really driving action, but it’s hopefully something that we will see less, as I said. We cannot rely on litigation to solve the climate crisis.

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

WhatsApp sues Indian government over unconstitutional internet laws, privacy encroachment

WhatsApp sues Indian government over unconstitutional internet laws, privacy encroachment

India's new measures would force WhatsApp to make messages on its platform traceable.

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Daniel Ofman

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A WhatsApp communications app on a smartphone, in New York, March 10, 2017. The messaging app has sued the Indian government, seeking to defend its users’ privacy.

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The messaging app WhatsApp has sued the Indian government over its new internet laws, seeking to defend its users’ privacy and stop new rules that would require it to make messages “traceable” to external parties.

WhatsApp filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the Delhi High Court. It argues that government rules regarding the traceability of messages are unconstitutional and undermine the fundamental right to privacy.

Related: Tanzania’s internet restrictions during election are ‘despicable,’ digital rights activist says

The company currently uses end-to-end encryption for its messaging service, which encrypts messages in such a way that no one apart from the sender and receiver are able to read the messages sent between them.

Related: Analysis: Facebook is undermining democracy

The lawsuit follows sweeping regulations for technology companies that were announced in February. A 90-day grace period for complying with the rules ended on Wednesday.

Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist and founder of the news site MediaNama, spoke with host Carol Hills from New Delhi about what the lawsuit means.

Carol Hills: Nikhil, what is this new law?

Nikhil Pahwa: So, these are the new IT rules which are based on the Information Technology Act. Now, as for these rules, WhatsApp has to determine the originator of a message and, upon receiving a lawful order from the Indian government, provide it to them. So, the Indian government wants to be able to trace the originator of a message. And let’s remember, India’s got about 550 million plus WhatsApp users. And at this point in time, when they need to, for example, trace terrorist content, fake news, child pornography, they’re not able to identify the originator of those messages. So, that’s what the Indian government wants.

So, the Indian government is saying this is an issue about security? That’s why they want it? 

Exactly. And what WhatsApp is arguing is that this is an issue of privacy, because the way WhatsApp’s platform is architected, it isn’t able to determine the originator. So, it says that in order to be able to provide this information to the Indian government, it’ll have to [revise] its entire platform. And so the question here is, to be able to get information on one user, should the privacy of all users be compromised?

Is this just one of a series of measures that affect people’s digital privacy in India?

Well, the Indian government is opposed to the idea of privacy. I mean, they went to the Supreme Court arguing that there isn’t a fundamental right to privacy. There are several surveillance systems in place. There is constant badgering for information for Indian users. And it’s also an impact on freedom of speech. I mean, we’ve had, over this year alone, two major face-offs between Twitter and the Indian government over demands to censor speech that Twitter believed was not violative of Indian law. So, platforms, big tech companies and the Indian government are going head-to-head. They are adversarial right now. And these rules that have just been doled out empower the government against platforms. So, I expect that there will be more lawsuits coming up.

Do you see this as part of kind of a Modi agenda or is it something separate?

Look, if you go back to 2012, 2013, 2014, two girls were arrested for social media comments that they’d made online. A cartoonist was arrested for painting cartoons depicting India as corrupt, and that was in the Congress government. Governments come and go, right? Political parties come into power and leave. Policies remain. And what we have seen is that when it comes to the internet, policies have been increasingly regressive. From 2011 onward, they are getting worse. I don’t know, if it wasn’t Modi in power, whether the government would do any different. I doubt it, to be honest.

Has there been a strong reaction from WhatsApp users?

There has been a strong reaction from WhatsApp users against its privacy policy. And so, one comment that I’m hearing a lot of is that when WhatsApp doesn’t care about user privacy and it’s trying to share, say, userdata with Facebook, it’s hypocritical for it to go and fight for privacy in the courts. I mean, the way I look at it is that both instances need to be seen in isolation. For commercial purposes, WhatsApp is giving Facebook access to that information, and that’s only for business users. Whereas in this case, it’s trying to prevent government access to data and an impact on user privacy. Because, let’s face it, users don’t care about privacy. They’ll move to other platforms. So this case is going to be watched very closely.

Is your sense that because so many people in India use it — I mean, you’re saying 500 million people use WhatsApp — are they kind of agnostic about this whole issue, and they’ll just keep using it anyway? Or is it something that’s really important to them?

Look, it’s difficult to paint an Indian population with the same brush. I think different people have different reactions. Most people are not aware of these concerns, are not aware of these challenges. It’s typically a group of involved and interested users that reacts. And that is a very strong civil society in India and a strong media that is pushing back right now.

What about you? What do you think?

I think these rules are unconstitutional because they are not in consonance with the act, nor are they in consonance with the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the fundamental right to privacy. I don’t want a middle-ground solution here. I think the government should lose, and these rules need to be withdrawn. It’s unlikely that they will be withdrawn. So, I hope that this goes to the Supreme Court and these rules are declared unconstitutional.

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

A future pandemic is ‘almost guaranteed,’ Fauci says

A future pandemic is ‘almost guaranteed,’ Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci says a pandemic preparedness plan is being fine-tuned in anticipation of the next one. "We’re working on universal corona vaccine," Fauci told The World's host Carol Hills.

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Joyce Hackel

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, in Washington, April 13, 2021.

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As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic for a second year, situations vary from country to country. European countries are starting to reopen to tourism, while India is grappling with the worst outbreak yet.

Related: EU takes big step toward relaxing travel for vaccinated

Within the US, California will no longer require social distancing, and will allow full capacity for businesses, once the state reopens on June 15, according to state health director Dr. Mark Ghaly. He said that dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean that it’s safe for the state to remove nearly all restrictions next month.

Related: The Galápagos Islands needs tourism. Can herd immunity revive it?

Meanwhile, there’s been an idea to create an international treaty to help the world prepare for a future pandemic. But US and Russian officials have opposed it, pushing to stay focused on the current pandemic crisis.

A global health summit held in Rome highlighted the growing disparity between rich and poor countries. Pharmaceutical companies pledged to deliver more than 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries this year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease specialist who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has helped lead the nation’s response to COVID-19. He spoke with The World’s Carol Hills about the latest updates on the pandemic around the globe.

Carol Hills: What is the current state of the pandemic?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: It’s a mixed bag globally. For the most part, developed nations like the United States and the UK are progressively doing better and better. But as you alluded to, there are other countries that are in very difficult straits, including India, a large country of about 1.4 billion people, where they only have about 2% to 3% of their population that are fully vaccinated, and about 10% to 11% that have received partial vaccinations. So, we have a long way to go. It’s a big planet. There are countries that are very diverse in their resources and their capability of responding to this outbreak. So, we have a long way to go before we get the equity that’s important throughout the world to get this under control from a global standpoint, not just an individual country standpoint.

 

I wonder if you worry that Americans, with all our optimism for a fresh start, that we may be missing the big global picture.

As long as there’s disease elsewhere in other countries where you have viral dynamics that continue to allow transmission at a high degree in different countries, there’s always, not only the difficult time for the countries in question, but also the generation of variants, which can then come back. And even in a country that has the outbreak under very good control, it can actually set you back if you do get a variant that’s not really covered very well by a vaccine. Thank goodness for us, and we’re very fortunate in that the vaccines that we are now distributing in the United States and in the UK and in other developed nations, handle the variants really quite well. For example, the B.1.1.7, which is dominant in the United States right now, is handled very well by the antibodies that are induced by the vaccines that we use. But that’s not a guarantee that all the variants that might potentially arise are going to be handled as well.

And, of course, to the point you’re making, is that as long as the rest of the globe isn’t vaccinated at a high rate, we run the risk of variants.

That is true.

And the hope that any subsequent vaccine is also robust enough to not be affected by that variant.

That’s true.

Let’s look at the global need for vaccines. President Biden has promised to send a total of 80 million vaccine doses abroad, so far. But meanwhile, the vaccine manufacturer in India, that much of the world was relying on, has said it’s stopping exports until the end of the year. Is the US doing enough to meet the need in poorer countries?

Well, we’re doing a lot. There’s always [more that can be done]. We would like to see other countries chipping in. As you know, we are part of the COVAX consortium. We have either given or promised $4 billion. We’ve given to India a considerable amount of supplies in the form of oxygen, oxygen generators, PPEs, antiviral drugs, sending advisers from the CDC to India. We are going to be giving, by the end of June, the beginning of July, a total of 80 million doses. Obviously, there are other ways of getting even more done. And that is by discussing with and partnering with the pharmaceutical companies to see if we can get them to scale up their manufacturing so that they could supply billions of doses to the rest of the world, particularly those countries that don’t have the resources to do so. But also, to get involved in what’s called transfer of technology to allow the developing world, certain countries such as those in Africa, South America or in certain countries in Asia, to be able to produce vaccines that are made by the larger pharmaceutical companies that have already developed successful vaccines. So there [are] a lot of ways to approach this, and we certainly feel a commitment to help out on the global problem.

You mentioned conversations with pharmaceuticals to ramp up production. Are those conversations going on, and is there any timetable for a real accelerated production of vaccines to get around the world?

Discussions are certainly going on, as a matter of fact, and that’s the whole purpose of it. To see if we can really scale up the manufacture of enough doses to the tunes of several billions of doses. We know from the pharmaceutical companies, Moderna and Pfizer, that have already said that they’d be able to do that in at least a couple of years to get up to a few billion doses. That’s a very good start, together with all the other things that we’re talking about.

I want to go back to variants for a second. India was swamped by a variant it couldn’t control despite improving vaccination rates. Couldn’t that happen here?

Theoretically, it could. But we are really quite fortunate in that the vaccines that we’ve used, particularly the mRNA vaccines, but also the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine, are really good enough that they seem to cover the variants really quite well. If not for actual infection, certainly for the prevention of severe disease. So, although theoretically, it could always be a case where you get a really problematic variant, but thank goodness, thus far, that has not happened.

 

But a virus’s job is to stay alive and to replicate, and that means to mutate. That means there’s really no relaxing. Right?

Well, the easiest way to relax is to stop the virus from replicating. There’s a very firm tenet in virology that viruses don’t mutate unless they’re allowed to replicate. So, if you can suppress, to a great degree, the virus replication throughout the planet, you would give the virus a very, very small chance of mutating, and within that scope, an even smaller chance of mutating to a variant that’s problematic.

So, that means vaccine, vaccine, vaccine?

That’s exactly my point.

What do you think of the potential global pandemic treaty?

Well, I’d like to see the details of it. I mean, I’m not sure exactly what they’re talking about, an international pandemic treaty. You’re saying that the United States and Russia do not want to be part of it. I’d like to see what’s in that and why we don’t want to, before I would comment on it.

Looking back at the Trump administration, it restructured, and in some cases dismantled, our pandemic preparedness. Are you confident in the pandemic preparedness plan the US has in place now?

We have a plan that’s in place and we’re fine tuning that plan, literally in real-time, as we go on, because even though we’re still in the midst of fighting this pandemic, we’re acutely aware that this may not be the last one we see. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed. We can’t say when, whether it’ll be a year from now or 50 years from now or 100 years from now. So, you’ve got to be prepared, even though you do not know when the next one will occur.

What is in place in that pandemic preparedness that would happen the next time a pandemic occurs, that didn’t happen this time? What are some of the concrete literal things that are in place?

One of the things is to do what’s called a prototype pathogen approach, where you pick out 10-20 families of pathogens that likely would be within the scope of where a pandemic would arise. And you start doing things in preparation by looking at developing vaccine platforms that would be suited to those families, making a pilot lot of a vaccine that could be universal. For example, we’re working on a universal corona vaccine, namely a vaccine that would protect against all coronaviruses, because we’ve already had three pandemics of coronaviruses since 2002, starting with SARS, then MERS, and now SARS-CoV-2. We want to do that with other families of pathogens that might have the potential of breaking out into a pandemic. So, that’s something that’s going to cost a considerable amount of money. But we’ve already started in the planning process for that.

Americans are itching to travel internationally. Europe is opening up to tourists. Is it too early?

You know, you can’t answer a yes or no to that. It’s going to depend on what country you’re going to and whether or not you’re vaccinated. There’s a lot of negotiation going on right now as we get more and more people vaccinated. Other countries are looking at the possibility of opening up their travel borders to us. And I think as we get into the fall, and into the summer — and [in] the fall more and more people will be vaccinated — you’ll see more and more opening up of travel possibilities. But, I don’t think you can answer yes or no. Is it too early? It depends on a lot of other factors.

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

Pompeo controversially brings the RNC to Jerusalem; China’s lockdown in Xinjiang; Thunberg concludes gap year

Pompeo controversially brings the RNC to Jerusalem; China's lockdown in Xinjiang; Thunberg concludes gap year

By
The World staff

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conclude joint statements to the press, in Jerusalem, Israel, Aug. 24, 2020.

Credit:

Debbie Hill/Pool via AP

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Negligence blamed for huge Beirut chemical blast

Negligence blamed for huge Beirut chemical blast

Lebanese soldiers search for survivors after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.

Credit:

Hassan Ammar/AP

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Investigators began searching through the wreckage at Beirut’s port Wednesday for clues about the cause of the massive explosion that ripped across the Lebanese capital, and the government ordered port officials put under house arrest amid speculation that negligence was to blame.

The investigation is focusing on how 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, came to be stored at the facility for six years, and why nothing was done about it.

International aid flights began to arrive as Lebanon’s leaders struggled to deal with the shocking aftermath of Tuesday’s blast. The country was already crippled by an economic crisis and now the public faults chronic mismanagement and corruption among the ruling elite for the disaster.

The explosion at the port killed at least 135 people and wounded about 5,000, said Health Minister Hamad Hassan.

RelatedLebanese confront devastation after massive Beirut explosion

Hospitals were overwhelmed — one that was damaged in the blast had to evacuate all its patients to a nearby field for treatment.

Buildings were damaged for miles around the city, and Beirut’s governor said Wednesday that hundreds of thousands might not be able to return to their homes for two or three months.

It was the worst single explosion to strike Lebanon in a history filled with destruction during a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel and periodic terror attacks.

Warned of ‘dangers’

A senior US Defense Department official and member of the US intelligence community said there were no indications the massive explosion that erupted on Tuesday evening in Lebanon’s capital was the result of an intentional attack by either a nation-state or proxy forces.

Both individuals spoke to The Associated Press under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss intelligence briefings publicly. Both officials told the AP that at the moment, the explosion seems to have been caused by improper storage of explosives.

Fueling speculation that sheer negligence was responsible for the accident, an official letter circulating online showed the head of the customs department had warned repeatedly over the years that the huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored in a hangar in the port was a danger, and asked judicial officials for a ruling on a way to remove it.

Ammonium nitrate is a component of fertilizer that is potentially explosive. The 2,750-ton cache had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a ship in 2013, and on Tuesday it is believed to have detonated after a fire broke out nearby.

The 2017 letter from the customs chief to a judge could not be immediately confirmed, but state prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat ordered security agencies to start an immediate investigation into all letters related to the materials stored at the port as well as lists of people in charge of maintenance, storage and protection of the hangar.

In the letter, the customs chief warns of the “dangers if the materials remain where they are, affecting the safety of [port] employees” and asked the judge for guidance on what to do with it. He said five similar letters were sent in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The letter proposes the material be exported or sold to a Lebanese explosives company. It is not known if there was ever a response.

President Michael Aoun vowed before a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the investigation would be transparent and that those responsible will be punished. “There are no words to describe the catastrophe that hit Beirut last night,” he said.

After the meeting, the Cabinet ordered an unspecified number of Beirut port officials put under house arrest pending the investigation and declared a two-week state of emergency, effectively giving the military full powers during this time.

The government said that public schools and some hotels will be opened for the homeless and promised unspecified compensation for the victims.

With the Port of Beirut destroyed, the government said imports and exports will be secured through other ports in the country, mostly in Tripoli up north and Tyre down south.

‘Destroy them and their families’

There were signs that public anger went beyond port officials to the country’s long-entrenched ruling class. Political factions have divvied up control of Lebanon’s public institutions, including the port, using them to benefit their supporters, with little actual development. That has translated into crumbling infrastructure, power outages and poor services.

“May the Virgin Mary destroy them and their families,” Joseph Qiyameh, a 79-year-old grocery store owner, said of the political leadership. The blast damaged his store and injured his arm. His wife — who was at home next door — is hospitalized with injuries. Qiyameh doesn’t have the money to fix his business, with his savings locked up in banks by capital controls imposed during the crisis.

A small protest broke out after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri made a public appearance Wednesday, with people chanting slogans against politicians. Fistfights broke out between Hariri’s supporters and protesters. Hariri resigned in October amid nationwide protests.

Residents of Beirut confronted a scene of utter devastation Wednesday. Smoke still rose from the port. The blast knocked out a crater some 200 yards across that filled with seawater. The landscape looked like the sea had taken a bite out of the port, swallowing buildings with it. Much of downtown was littered with damaged vehicles and debris.

Lebanon was already on the brink of collapse, amid a severe economic crisis. Many have lost their jobs and seen their savings evaporate because of a currency crisis. Food security is a worry, since Lebanon imports nearly all its vital goods and its main port is devastated. The government is strapped for cash.

Drone footage shot Wednesday by AP showed how the blast had torn open grain silo buildings, dumping the contents into the detritus generated by the blast. Estimates suggest some 85% of the country’s grain was stored at the now-wrecked facilities.

Economy and Trade Minister Raoul Nehme said all the wheat stored there was contaminated and unusable. But he insisted Lebanon had enough wheat for its immediate needs and would import more, according to the state news agency.

In the Netherlands, a UN-backed tribunal postponed delivery of judgments in the trial of four members of the militant group Hezbollah charged with involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The verdicts were moved from Friday to Aug. 18 out of respect for the victims of the blast, the court said.

Emergency aid was starting to filter in. Two planeloads of French rescue workers and aid was headed to Beirut, and French President Emmanuel Macron planned to arrive Thursday to offer support. Lebanon is a former French protectorate and the countries retain close political and economic ties.

The EU planned to send firefighters with vehicles, sniffer dogs and equipment designed to find people trapped in urban areas.

Several jets from Greece, Kuwait, Qatar and elsewhere carrying medical equipment and supplies arrived at Beirut’s international airport. Turkey was sending search and rescue teams, humanitarian aid, medical equipment and a field hospital, its foreign ministry said. 

By Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam/AP

Smokepurpp – Fill The Room Up Lyrics

Play this song

[Intro: Smokepurpp]
Bless yo trap
Uh (Fill the room up with some ones), yeah
This beat from Murda (Yeah)

[Chorus: Smokepurpp]
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones

[Verse 1: Smokepurpp]
She gon’ shake that ass, then put that money on her tongue (Uh)
From the trenches, I’m the one (Yeah)
I get eighty thousand dollars, just a single fuckin’ song (Ayy)
And they doubted me so hard (Oh)
Might see me at the house, I made a million the next month (Bitch)
You don’t know how this shit feel
I can give every bitch I dated a fuckin’ mill’ (Uh)
Say the wrong word, she got designer carpet burn
She been on her knees so long, it’s like the clock ain’t turn (Oh)
Blue hunnids so new, it’s like those bitches got a perm
Buy my bitch some titties, thought the older ones was firm (Hey)
Damn, my ego out the roof, I deserve it
I ain’t never got a dollar losin’ tooths (Purpp)
Bitch, I came up out the mud, no silver spoon
Fuck her friend, ’cause I ain’t never had what slimed up on the roof

[Chorus: Smokepurpp]
Fill the room up with some ones
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones

[Verse 2: Ty Dolla $ign]
Stack hunnids taller than my shoulders (Oh yeah)
Bitch, I’m rich, act like I don’t even know ya
I got two Rollies on, I put my AP up
VVS diamonds bright, then my wrist stay up
Coupe, drop top
Hit the gas, he can’t keep up
Big bag, I’m like, “So what”
She suckin’ dick ’till her throat her
Say that she wanted me, Smokepurpp, oh yeah

[Chorus: Smokepurpp]
Fill the room up with some ones
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones
Uh, uh, uh, uh. uh, uh
Fill the room up with some ones

Roddy Ricch – Perfect Time Lyrics

Play this song

[Intro]
Yeah

[Chorus]
Peanut butter seats came perfect time
Rich but I’m still ducking one time
I seen the light, then I climbed in
Had to take ’em out, we ain’t gon’ dine in
Shawty done fell in love with all my diamonds
But everybody change on you like the seasons (Yeah)
Sippin’ 1942, Don Julio
I ain’t got time for all these eyes and these groupie hoes

[Verse 1]
Late night, I’ve been cruisin’ down the interstate
Late night, I’ve been thinkin’ a lot of niggas hate
Told my dawg let’s pour tons of Ace
If he talkin’ out his lip, we gotta give cuz a taste
I can’t let no niggas mock my name
Especially when these lil’ niggas see me as reputable
And the OG’s respect me that done came out my section
We just bought Cullinan just to maintain
I talk to him, my brother ‘nem, he on the same thang
We just tryna motivate, bought the AP, show the face
Feel like I’m a Zoe today, feel like I’m a woe today
I was in Miami with a bitch, gave me cold face
She had this dick on her noseplate

[Chorus]
Peanut butter seats came perfect time
Rich but I’m still ducking one time
I seen the light, then I climbed in
Had to take ’em out, we ain’t gon’ dine in
Shawty done fell in love with all my diamonds
But everybody change on you like the seasons
Sippin’ 1942, Don Julio
I ain’t got time for all these eyes and these groupie hoes

[Verse 2]
I don’t know what love is, I can’t tell
Everybody come around like carousel, hmm
She got a birthday cake like it’s my twenty-first
I done came a long way, I made it out the dirt, yeah
See my niggas in the hearse, havin’ nightmares in church
Tryna make sure my mama got a couple racks in her purse
Got a showroom, car came from the top row, yeah
Don’t give no opps hope
I just gave my dawg a Rollie, told him take the clock approach

[Chorus]
Peanut butter seats came perfect time
Rich but I’m still ducking one time
I seen the light, then I climbed in
Had to take ’em out, we ain’t gon’ dine in
Shawty done fell in love with all my diamonds
But everybody change on you like the seasons
Sippin’ 1942, Don Julio
I ain’t got time for all these eyes and these groupie hoes

Roddy Ricch – Tip Toe Lyrics

Play this song

[Chorus: Roddy Ricch]
Rose gold Rollie on a nigga put the whole damn hood on, huh
Patron of the New I had to put the drip on
Ask me how many niggas I done put on
My private planes ’bout to fly with the good old
I fuck with bougie bitches, fuck a hood ho
Hit that bitch from the back and told her ditto
Seen the jakes and a nigga had to get low
She looking at the Patek like some Skittles
Her husband been talking tough, I turned her widow
Giuseppe got me on my tiptoe
Why you wifin’ on a flip ho?
Bought the strap, playing give ‘n’ go
Serving junkies out the window
Tried to rob us, got extendo
We ain’t playing no pretendo

[Verse 1: Roddy Ricch]
Sipping on this codeine, a nigga gotta speak my mind, mm-mm
I remember we was having popo’nem behind, yeah, yeah
I’m gettin’ money, I can see the hate inside his eyes, yeah, yeah, huh
Fuck a bitch, I had to grab her by the waist
Hit the pussy ’til I knock it outta place
In the V12, get a lot of face
Spare the details, finished on her face
And I had the strap when I caught my case
Just got the grow house, started in the bay
I made a hundred plays in a day
Put a AP bitch inside of the face
And I got the hood down, they riding every day
Putting money on the opps, no face, no case

[Chorus: Roddy Ricch]
Rose gold Rollie on a nigga put the whole damn hood on, huh
Patron of the New I had to put the drip on
Ask me how many niggas I done put on
My private planes ’bout to fly with the good old
I fuck with bougie bitches, fuck a hood ho
Hit that bitch from the back and told her ditto
Seen the jakes and a nigga had to get low
She looking at the Patek like some Skittles
Her husband been talking tough, I turned her widow
Giuseppe got me on my tiptoe
Why you wifin’ on a flip ho?
Bought the strap, playing give ‘n’ go
Serving junkies out the window
Tried to rob us, got extendo
We ain’t playing no pretendo

[Verse 2: A Boogie wit da Hoodie]
Balenciaga-wearin’-ass nigga
Hoodied up with a mask, nigga
Shit snatched now you want it back, nigga
I just hope you don’t go and rat, nigga
Long johns right under the strap, nigga
That’s for you staring ass niggas
Sawed-off head tap, double-tap niggas
That’s for you rat niggas
No, I can’t do no nine to five
Nah-nah-nah I went to work with the strap, nigga
I came around with five, Roddy came with six
And we got eleven straps with us
Fuck with my ride-or-die
Holes in your body, nigga, like SpongeBob
And backflipping go ta-da-da, ta-da-da
Nigga, I know magic nigga

[Chorus: Roddy Ricch]
Rose gold Rollie on a nigga put the whole damn hood on, huh
Patron of the New I had to put the drip on
Ask me how many niggas I done put on
My private planes ’bout to fly with the good old
I fuck with bougie bitches, fuck a hood ho
Hit that bitch from the back and told her ditto
Seen the jakes and a nigga had to get low
She looking at the Patek like some Skittles
Her husband been talking tough, I turned her widow
Giuseppe got me on my tiptoe
Why you wifin’ on a flip ho?
Bought the strap, playing give ‘n’ go
Serving junkies out the window
Tried to rob us, got extendo
We ain’t playing no pretendo

[Outro: Roddy Ricch]
Why you wifin’ on a flip ho?
Why you wifin’ on a flip ho?