Air strike in Afghanistan kills eight civilians

Afghan residents sit in a damaged courtyard as they drink tea following a NATO airstrike on a house in Kabul. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Air strike in Afghanistan kills eight civilians

  • US President Donald Trump said on Thursday there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the Taliban on a reduction of US troops in Afghanistan
  • A vehicle carrying civilians was targeted in an air strike in the eastern province of Nangarhar, according to residents

KABUL: An air strike in Afghanistan on Friday killed at least eight people — all believed to be civilians, residents said — following US statements that there had been a breakthrough in peace talks.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the Taliban on a reduction of US troops in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said an important breakthrough had been made in peace talks with the Taliban in recent days, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they had negotiated a proposal for a week-long reduction in violence.
But on Friday a vehicle carrying civilians was targeted in an air strike in the eastern province of Nangarhar, according to residents, who added that among the eight killed was a child. Taliban insurgents have a strong presence in the region.
A spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the incident but did not say who the victims were.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said 11 civilians were killed in the incident.
Afghan, Taliban and US sources said over the last 48 hours that a deal to curb violence was on the verge of implementation. Details about when that was set to begin were not immediately clear but a Taliban official said it would be this week.
While US and Taliban negotiators pressed on with meetings in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban and the Afghan government also reported fighting on the ground over the last 24 hours.
An air strike on Thursday evening killed a senior Taliban commander and eight others in northern Balkh province, the Afghan defense ministry said.
The Taliban’s Mujahid said the insurgents had killed six Afghan soldiers, including two officers, in an attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province.

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Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

Updated 24 February 2020

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury
  • He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner who produced films including "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking "a new era of justice."
"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.
The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein's team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.
Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.
Mann and Young both testified that Weinstein's genitals appeared deformed, during graphic and at times uncomfortable testimony, as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.
Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.
Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury just after noon Monday, thanking them for their "care" and "attention."
Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.