London man charged in shooting of Black Lives Matter activist

Forensic officers stand at the area after Sasha Johnson, a BLM activist, was shot in an early morning attack near her home in Peckham, London, on May 24, 2021. (REUTERS File Photo)
Forensic officers stand at the area after Sasha Johnson, a BLM activist, was shot in an early morning attack near her home in Peckham, London, on May 24, 2021. (REUTERS File Photo)
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Updated 29 May 2021

London man charged in shooting of Black Lives Matter activist

London man charged in shooting of Black Lives Matter activist

LONDON: An 18-year-old London man was charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the shooting of Black Lives Matter activist Sasha Johnson, who remained hospitalized in critical condition, British police said on Friday.
Cameron Deriggs will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Deriggs was one of five men arrested in the case on Wednesday on suspicion of attempted murder. The other four were released on bail until next month.
Johnson, a 27-year-old mother of two, was at a party on Sunday when four men burst in and opened fire, media reports have said.
Johnson has been a leading figure in the Black Lives Matter movement in Britain and is a member of the Taking the Initiative Party’s executive leadership committee. 

 

 


Pentagon plans stronger US posture toward China, Russia

Pentagon plans stronger US posture toward China, Russia
Updated 17 sec ago

Pentagon plans stronger US posture toward China, Russia

Pentagon plans stronger US posture toward China, Russia
  • The US Defense Department will be upgrading and expanding military facilities in Guam and Australia

WASHINGTON: The US military will re-inforce deployments and bases directed at China and Russia, while maintaining forces in the Middle East adequate to deter Iran and jihadist groups, the Pentagon said Monday, referencing results of a review.
The US Defense Department will be upgrading and expanding military facilities in Guam and Australia, underscoring its focus on China as the country's leading defense rival, officials said.
The details of the "global posture review," commissioned by President Joe Biden's administration early this year, would remain classified, the officials added, so as not to reveal plans to rivals.
The move comes in the wake of the formation of a new defense alliance, dubbed AUKUS, between the United States, Britain and Australia to counter a rising China, which has been building up its own navy and testing decades of US military dominance across Asia.
That pact was formed as Beijing solidifies its control over the disputed South China Sea and intensifies its military threats towards Taiwan, for which the United States is a key ally and arms supplier.
The review confirmed the priority region for the US military was the Indo-Pacific, said Mara Karlin, a top Pentagon policy official.
The review "directs additional cooperation with allies and partners across the region to advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter potential military aggression from China and threats from North Korea," she told reporters.
In addition, it "strengthens the combat-credible deterrent against Russian aggression in Europe and enables NATO forces to operate more effectively," she said.
The Middle East, however, remains an area of flux for the Pentagon after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Global responsibilities "require us to make continuous changes to our Middle East posture, but we always have the capability to rapidly deploy forces to the region based on the threat environment," Karlin said.
Speaking separately, a senior Pentagon official who declined to be identified, downplayed any idea of radical shifts.
"In the first year of an administration, it's not the time when we would develop a major strategic-level change to our posture," the official said.
However, the official added, the Biden team felt the review necessary after the disruptive approach of his predecessor Donald Trump, who altered US commitments abruptly.
Under Trump, "there were oftentimes a devaluing of ally and partner input and engagement, which eroded US credibility and hard-won trust," the official said.
The officials declined to answer questions on how the global posture review sees US force presence in ongoing conflict zones like the Middle East, East and West Africa, and Eastern Europe.
But they confirmed previously announced plans to do more in Guam and Australia.
"In Australia, you'll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you'll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation," said Karlin.
In Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia there will also be upgrades to airports and fuel and munitions storage facilities, she said.
Asked if the review foresaw more increases in the US presence in the Pacific region, Karlin said: "We're moving the needle a bit."
"And what I'd like to think is, over the coming years, you will see that needle move more," she said.


Argentina to probe Myanmar war crimes claims

Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (REUTERS file photo)
Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 35 min 55 sec ago

Argentina to probe Myanmar war crimes claims

Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Proceedings against Myanmar and its leaders are already under way at the International Criminal Court and the UN’s International Court of Justice

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s justice system will investigate allegations of war crimes committed by the Myanmar military against that country’s Rohingya minority under a court ruling upholding the principles of “universal justice.”
The appeals court decision, which AFP has seen, overturns a lower court ruling rejecting a request for an investigation by the British-based Burmese Rohingya Organization (BROUK).
A 2017 army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which the UN says could amount to genocide, has triggered an exodus of more than 740,000 members of the community, mainly to Bangladesh.
The legal premise of “universal justice” holds that some acts — including war crimes and crimes against humanity — are so horrific they are not specific to one nation and can be tried anywhere.
Argentina’s courts have taken up other universal jurisdiction cases in the past, including in relation to ex-dictator Francisco Franco’s rule in Spain and the Falun Gong movement in China.
Proceedings against Myanmar and its leaders are already under way at the International Criminal Court and the UN’s International Court of Justice.
Six Rohingya women, refugees in Bangladesh, had given remote testimony to the court in Argentina.
One of the complainants said they “had all been sexually assaulted and that many of their family members had died as a result of the repression they had suffered” in August 2017, the court recalled.
In their decision, the appeals judges said that “the investigation and eventual judgment of this type of crime is the primary responsibility of states.”
BROUK president Tun Knin in a statement said the ruling represented hope “not just for us Rohingya but for oppressed people everywhere.”
He added: “The decision in Argentina shows that there is nowhere to hide for those who commit genocide — the world stands firmly united against these abhorrent crimes.”


Zara blocked in France over Uyghur probe

A screen shows a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping at a traffic junction in Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, April 30, 2021. (REUTERS)
A screen shows a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping at a traffic junction in Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, April 30, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 43 min 12 sec ago

Zara blocked in France over Uyghur probe

A screen shows a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping at a traffic junction in Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, April 30, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • French magistrates opened in June an inquiry into allegations by rights groups that four fashion firms including Zara-owner Inditex profited from forced labor of the Uyghur minority in China

BORDEAUX: The expansion of a Zara clothing store in France was blocked over a probe into whether its parent company Inditex benefits from the use of forced labor of Uyghurs in China, officials said Monday.
Zara France wanted to double the surface area of its shop in the center of the southern city of Bordeaux, but on November 9 the regional commission charged with examining the project voted against it.
The commission members who voted against the expansion invoked the existence of the probe into whether the Spanish firm benefits from the use of forced labor by members of the Uyghur minority by its Chinese suppliers.
“It was a political decision by us,” said Alain Garnier, one of the elected officials on the commission.
“We wanted to send a strong signal by blocking the expansion of stores that don’t have sufficient control over their suppliers,” he added.
French magistrates opened in June an inquiry into allegations by rights groups that four fashion firms including Zara-owner Inditex profited from forced labor of the Uyghur minority in China.
Rights groups believe at least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the Xinjiang region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labor.
Inditex disputed at the time that it had used cotton from Xinjiang and said it has strict traceability controls in place.
“With the impact of fast fashion on the environment and suspicions about the use of forced labor of Uyghurs, Zara’s project seemed to us to breach the sustainable development criteria” taken into consideration by the commission, said another member, Sandrine Jacotot.
Jacotot, who is also Bordeaux’s deputy mayor for commerce, said it was now up Zara to appeal the decision on the national level “to explain the company respects” the sustainable development criteria.
 


Myanmar’s Suu Kyi awaits first verdict in junta trial

 Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
Updated 53 min 54 sec ago

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi awaits first verdict in junta trial

 Detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw. (AFP file photo)
  • Suu Kyi now appears most weekdays at the junta courtroom, with her legal team saying last month the hectic schedule was taking a toll on the 76-year-old’s health

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to hear the verdict in her incitement trial on Tuesday, the first judgment from her many junta court cases that could see her jailed for decades.
The Nobel laureate has been detained since the generals ousted her government in the early hours of February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief democratic interlude.
More than 1,200 people have been killed and over 10,000 arrested in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi faces three years in prison if found guilty of incitement against the military — although analysts say it is unlikely she will be taken away to jail on Tuesday.
Instead, the court may delay its verdict or commute any jail term to house arrest in order to keep the popular leader out of sight as the junta works to consolidate its rule.
Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi’s lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.
The courtroom will remain off-limits to reporters for the verdict, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun recently told AFP.
Days after the coup Suu Kyi was hit with obscure charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, and for violating coronavirus restrictions during elections her National League for Democracy (NLD) won in 2020.
The junta has since added a slew of other indictments, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud.
Suu Kyi now appears most weekdays at the junta courtroom, with her legal team saying last month the hectic schedule was taking a toll on the 76-year-old’s health.
Suu Kyi’s long spells of house arrest under a previous junta were spent at her family’s colonial-era mansion in Yangon, where she would appear before thousands gathered on the other side of her garden fence.
Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has confined her to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.
At her first court appearance, she used them to send a message of defiance, vowing the NLD would endure and asking the party faithful to remain united.
But in October her team were hit with a gag order after they relayed vivid testimony from deposed president Win Myint describing how he rejected a military offer to resign to save himself during the coup.
In recent weeks the trials of other ranking members of Suu Kyi’s NLD have wrapped up, with the junta doling out harsh sentences.
A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail earlier this month, while a close Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20.
 


Ghislaine Maxwell ‘served up’ girls for sex to Epstein: prosecutors

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘served up’ girls for sex to Epstein: prosecutors
Updated 30 November 2021

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘served up’ girls for sex to Epstein: prosecutors

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘served up’ girls for sex to Epstein: prosecutors

NEW YORK: Ghislaine Maxwell set young girls up to be abused by “predator” Jeffrey Epstein, prosecutors said Monday as the sex trafficking trial of the British jet-set socialite and heiress began in New York.
Maxwell was the “lady of the house” in financier Epstein’s world who maintained “a culture of silence” over their years-long arrangement to sexually exploit girls under 18 years old, said attorney Lara Pomerantz as she presented the federal case in the first day of the trial.
Maxwell “made those girls feel seen. They made them feel special. But that was a cover,” Pomerantz told a jury.
In fact, she “served them up to be sexually abused,” Pomerantz said.
Two years after Epstein killed himself in jail before he went on trial for similar charges, Maxwell sat in the packed Manhattan courtroom facing six counts of enticing and transporting minors for sex.
Four unnamed women who allegedly suffered at the hands of the two are the key witnesses in the trial, which takes place under intense media attention.
Masked and wearing in a beige sweater and black slacks, the 59-year-old daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell stared straight ahead during proceedings.
She faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison if convicted.
Maxwell, whose sister Isabel was also inside the courtroom, has pleaded not guilty to all six counts.
Her attorneys have claimed she is being prosecuted only because US authorities were unable to bring Epstein himself to justice.
But Pomerantz said that during the period the charges against her cover, 1994-2004, she was Epstein’s “right-hand” partner, winning the trust of girls as young as 14 and then conditioning to give nude massages and then sex to Epstein.
Maxwell “knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to those children when she sent them in those massage rooms” in Epstein’s luxurious homes in New Mexico, Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, as well as her own London home, the prosecutor said.
Epstein was a multi-million-dollar money manager who befriended countless celebrities, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, and was accused of providing them with women, including minors.
The indictment says Maxwell took part in the abuse of the four unidentified women, wooing them with shopping and movie theater trips before coaxing them to engage in sex acts with Epstein before giving them money.
Two of the women say they were just 14 and 15 years old when they were sexually abused.
Epstein, who for years skirted charges with the help of flawed laws, powerful connections and sympathetic law enforcement, was arrested in July 2019.
But a month later he committed suicide while in prison.
Prosecutors vowed to go after anyone who helped him in the abuse of the girls, and arrested Maxwell in July 2020.
The trial is expected to stretch over six weeks, and Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
The key witnesses will be the women who allegedly suffered in her and Epstein’s hands. They will be allowed to testify with their identities kep secret.
Due to the threat of Covid-19, and heightened fears of the new Omicron variant, plexiglass boxes with air filters have been set up for the witnesses and questioning attorneys.
Maxwell’s attorneys have indicated they will challenge the accusers’ credibility by referencing alleged previous substance abuse and erroneous memories of what happened.
Days before the trial, fake claims spread across social media, echoed by some prominent political conservatives, that the judge in the case had banned media coverage, ostensibly to protect Epstein’s powerful friends and associates.
While the trial proceedings are not being televised, reporters in fact were in the courtroom as well as watching the trial by video in a separate courthouse media room.