Japan’s prime minister offers condolences to the UAE

Japan’s prime minister offers condolences to the UAE
Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio praised the merits of the late Sheikh Khalifa, who contributed greatly to his country’s progress. (AFP)
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Updated 14 May 2022

Japan’s prime minister offers condolences to the UAE

Japan’s prime minister offers condolences to the UAE
  • Kishida offered his sympathy to the UAE’s leadership for this great loss

TOKYO:  Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Saturday expressed his sadness and condolences to the United Arab Emirates on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“On behalf of the government and people of Japan, I would like to express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the government and people of the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

Kishida praised the merits of the late Sheikh Khalifa, who contributed greatly to his country’s progress, especially in economic fields.

Kishida highlighted Sheikh Khalifa’s many endeavors that contributed to peace and stability in the Middle East, and how respected he was in the international community.

Kishida offered his sympathy to the UAE’s leadership for this great loss.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan

Russia seeks to put stranglehold on twin Ukrainian cities

Russia seeks to put stranglehold on twin Ukrainian cities
Updated 13 sec ago

Russia seeks to put stranglehold on twin Ukrainian cities

Russia seeks to put stranglehold on twin Ukrainian cities
  • More than 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its war of aggression
  • EU’s von der Leyen says Moscow weaponizing food

More than 6.5 million people have fled abroad, uncounted thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble.


KYIV/SLOVYANSK, Ukraine: Russian forces sought to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities straddling a river as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow was seeking to destroy the industrial Donbas region where it has focused its attacks.
Russia is attempting to seize the separatist-claimed Donbas’ two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.
Russian forces took control of three towns in the Donetsk region including Svitlodarsk, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told an affiliate of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. All the remaining strength of the Russian army is now concentrated on this region,” Zelensky said in a late Tuesday address. “The occupiers want to destroy everything there.”
Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment out-of-hours.
The easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.
“The enemy has focused its efforts on carrying out an offensive in order to encircle Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among the last territory held by Ukraine.
Ukraine’s military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow’s troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.
Reuters could not immediately verify the information.
In a sign of Ukrainian success elsewhere, authorities in its second-largest city, Kharkiv, re-opened the underground metro, where thousands of civilians had sheltered for months under relentless bombardment.
The re-opening came after Ukraine pushed Russian forces largely out of artillery range of the northern city, as they did from the capital, Kyiv, in March.

Three months into the invasion, Russia still has only limited gains to show for its worst military losses in decades, while much of Ukraine has suffered devastation in the biggest attack on a European state since 1945.
More than 6.5 million people have fled abroad, uncounted thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble.
The war has also caused growing food shortages and soaring prices due to sanctions and disruption of supply chains. Both Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of grain and other commodities.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using food as a weapon.
Billionaire financier George Soros, also speaking in Davos, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have marked the start of World War III.
“The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible,” he said.
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday lambasted President Vladimir Putin, casting the Kremlin chief as a doomed madman who was butchering the people of both Ukraine and Russia.
“This is a stupid war which your Putin started,” Navalny told an appeals court in Moscow via video link from a corrective penal colony. “This war was built on lies.”
Underlining the global tensions unleashed by the war, major US ally Japan scrambled jets on Tuesday after Russian and Chinese warplanes neared its airspace as US President Joe Biden visited Tokyo.
Meanwhile, in a decision that could push Russia closer to the brink of default, the Biden administration announced it would not extend a waiver set to expire on Wednesday that enabled Russia to pay US bondholders.
Russia had been allowed to keep paying interest and principal and avert default on its government debt.
Russian lawmakers gave the first stamp of approval to a bill that would allow Russian entities to take over foreign companies that have left the country in opposition to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, a government online portal showed. 
On Monday, Starbucks Corp. became the latest Western brand to announce it was pulling out of Russia, following a similar decision by McDonald’s. The hamburger chain’s trademark “Golden Arches” were lowered near Moscow on Monday.

Senior Russian officials suggested in comments on Tuesday the war, which Russia calls a “special operation,” may be drawn-out.
Nikolai Patrushev, head of Putin’s security council, said Russia would fight as long as necessary to eradicate “Nazism” in Ukraine, a justification for the war that the West calls baseless.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia was deliberately advancing slowly to avoid civilian casualties.
Zelensky dismissed such statements as “absolutely unreal.”
In Kharkiv, hundreds of people were living underground in trains and stations when the authorities asked them to make way on Tuesday.
“Everyone is crazily scared, because there is still shelling,” said Nataliia Lopanska, who had lived in a metro train for most of the war.
Russian shelling continued in the city and wider area, regional governor Oleh Sinehubov said.
The Donbas fighting follows Russia’s biggest victory in months: the surrender last week of Ukraine’s garrison in the port of Mariupol after a siege in which Kyiv believes tens of thousands of civilians were killed.
Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor now operating outside the city, said the dead were being found in the rubble.
About 200 decomposing bodies were buried in debris in a basement of one high-rise building, he said. Residents had refused to collect them and Russian authorities had abandoned the site.

A look at some of the deadliest US school shootings

A look at some of the deadliest US school shootings
Updated 24 min 26 sec ago

A look at some of the deadliest US school shootings

A look at some of the deadliest US school shootings

There have been dozens of shootings and other attacks in US schools and colleges over the years, but until the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, the number of dead tended to be in the single digits. Since then, the number of shootings that included schools and killed 10 or more people has mounted. The most recent two were both in Texas.

An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults, officials said. The 18-year-old attacker was killed by law enforcement.

A 17-year-old opened fire at a Houston-area high school, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. The suspect has been charged with murder.

An attack left 14 students and three staff members dead at the school in Parkland, Florida, and injured many others. The 20-year-old suspect was charged with murder.

A man killed nine people at the school in Roseburg, Oregon, and wounded nine others, then killed himself.

A 19-year-old man killed his mother at their home in Newtown, Connecticut, then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first graders and six educators. He took his own life.

A 23-year-old student killed 32 people on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, in April 2007; more than two dozen others were wounded. The gunman then killed himself.

A 16-year-old student killed his grandfather and the man’s companion at their Minnesota home, then went to nearby Red Lake High School, where he killed five students, a teacher and a security guard before shooting himself.

Two students killed 12 of their peers and one teacher at the school in Littleton, Colorado, and injured many others before killing themselves.

Georgia state rebukes Trump over US voter fraud ‘Big Lie’

Georgia state rebukes Trump over US voter fraud ‘Big Lie’
Updated 42 min 9 sec ago

Georgia state rebukes Trump over US voter fraud ‘Big Lie’

Georgia state rebukes Trump over US voter fraud ‘Big Lie’
  • Republicans hand re-electionist Governor Brian Kemp a huge margin over Trump-backed challenger
  • Kemp had been the target of Trump's wrath after he refused to commit fraud on his behalf during the 2020 election

ATLANTA, US: Republican voters delivered a stark repudiation Tuesday of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 US election was stolen, backing Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for re-election by a huge margin over a candidate recruited by the former president.
Trump had banked much of his own political capital hand-picking David Perdue to oust Kemp in the nominating contest to compete for the governor’s mansion in November’s midterm elections.
Perdue had made Trump’s claims about 2020 a centerpiece of his campaign, in a direct appeal to his endorser’s supporters who continue wrongly to question the validity of the outcome.
But the former senator was forced to concede, in an embarrassing blow for Trump, as the early count showed him trailing by almost 50 points less than 90 minutes after polls closed.
Kemp, frequently the target of Trump’s wrath for refusing to help overturn the election, was always expected to win, but the margin of defeat represents a stinging rebuke of Trump from a state he lost by the narrowest of margins in 2020.
Another Trump-backed election denier, John Gordon, also lost his challenge to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
Five states were holding nominating contests for congressional elections that will decide in November which party controls the US Senate and House of Representatives for the remainder of President Joe Biden’s first term.
But all eyes are on the Peach State, where wounds from the 2020 presidential election are still festering two years after Biden won the state by under 12,000 votes.
Up and down the ballot, the Republican side of the Georgia primary pitted candidates peddling the former president’s election fraud claims against hopefuls who pushed back in defense of the Constitution.
But Kemp’s confidence in victory over his opponent was apparent Monday at a rally in Cobb County with former vice president Mike Pence, where neither man mentioned Perdue once.

“I was for Brian Kemp before it was cool,” Pence told a cheering crowd of a few hundred at an airfield on the outskirts of Atlanta.
Pence’s support for a candidate Trump reviles marks a high-profile clash between the former president and his White House wingman, underscoring the party’s internal tug of war over its future direction.
The race to be Georgia’s secretary of state is seen as equally consequential as the contest for governor, as these are the officials who oversee elections in the United States.
Democrats fear that, across the country, Trump will be able to install loyalists who can weaponize specious fraud accusations from 2020 to make it harder for his opponents to vote in 2024.
As the man responsible for certifying Georgia’s 2020 election results, Brad Raffensperger was in lockstep with Kemp in pushing back against Trump.
He faced Jody Hice, one of more than a dozen Trump-backed candidates across America bidding to become secretary of state and professing to believe the 2020 election was stolen.
With more than 300,000 votes counted, Raffensperger was a comfortable 16 points ahead with 50 percent, the threshold for avoiding a run-off against Hice.
Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 to win Georgia, while Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff triumphed in runoff elections in January 2021 that wrested control of the US Senate from Republicans.
Warnock cruised through his primary and will face Trump-backed football star Herschel Walker, who also sailed to the Republican nomination for Senate.
Georgia’s Democrats are doing all they can to cement their 2021 gains, headlined by news that Democratic star campaigner Stacey Abrams, who is unopposed in her bid for governor.
Abrams courted controversy over the weekend with remarks that Georgia is the “worst state in the country to live,” citing its health care and crime statistics, rising incarceration rates and falling wages.
At a news conference Tuesday, she attempted to clean up a comment that Republicans have seized on as a sign of her lack of local pride, faulting herself for an “inelegant delivery” of her message.
In a brief concession speech, Perdue backed Kemp in his bid to see off Abrams’s challenge.
“We’re going to make sure Stacey Abrams is not governor of the state,” he said.
Nominating contests are also being held in Minnesota, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, where a school shooting that left at least 18 children dead had cast a grim pall over the state’s primary.

WEF 2022: Head of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla project highlights importance of investing in arts, culture  

WEF 2022: Head of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla project highlights importance of investing in arts, culture  
Updated 25 May 2022

WEF 2022: Head of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla project highlights importance of investing in arts, culture  

WEF 2022: Head of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla project highlights importance of investing in arts, culture  
  • ‘Art creators as important as infrastructure,’ Amr Al-Madani tells Davos panel session via livestream

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s head of the Royal Commission for AlUla has praised the role of arts and culture in sustaining resilient and creative communities, saying that investing in art creators is important to economies and to the healthy growth of societies. 

Speaking during a livestreamed panel session called “Culture Shock” at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, Amr Al-Madani described artists as “resilient,” adding that “art creators are essential contributors to the economy and healthy growth,” and “are as important as infrastructure and assets.”

He added: “For those who are in the investment world, your capital with the artists and creatives will always have much higher return than your capital invested anywhere else, in the long term.” 

The panel session was moderated by Jeanne Bourgault, president and CEO of Internews. 



Bourgault asked Al-Madani to outline cultural preservation initiatives as well as the economic development taking place as part of the regeneration of AlUla, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

“To me, culture is really a manifestation of who we are as a society,” Al-Madani said.

“If we use the expansive definition of culture, it’s an ever-evolving implementation of where we have been, and who we have been, and where we intend to be.”  

He said that this understanding is pivotal when working on a project that involves a World Heritage Site which has been “a capital of many ancient civilizations for thousands of years and a cultural capital of the world.” 

The panel also featured Platon, the photographer and founder of the People’s Portfolio, a nonprofit organization that uses portrait photography to highlight humanitarian efforts worldwide.

Anna Konig Jerlmyr, Stockholm’s mayor, discussed the significance of the arts sector and how those in the arts industry had been hit by restrictions introduced to contain COVID-19. 

Under the lockdown in March 2020, many theaters, cinemas, concert venues, book shops and museums were closed. This added to the burden facing artists struggling to make a living, and contributed to the revenue decline for cultural industries, she said.

However, the restrictions pushed artists to find more creative ways to reach those forced to remain home as a result of COVID-19 curbs.

Al-Madani said: “During the pandemic we believed that the loss of any creator was not acceptable.”

Throughout February and March, Desert X AlUla, a site-responsive, international open-air art exhibition, was staged in partnership with a California-based firm.

The event included galleries for female artists. More than half of the artists taking part were women, he added.

Gunman kills 18 children, 3 adults in Texas elementary school

A woman reacts outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. (REUTERS)
A woman reacts outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 min 41 sec ago

Gunman kills 18 children, 3 adults in Texas elementary school

A woman reacts outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • Attack comes just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York
  • Biden calls for new gun restrictions, urges nation to stand up to the gun lobby

UVALDE, US: An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 18 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.
The death toll also included three adults, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police. But it was not immediately clear whether that number included the attacker, or how many people were wounded.
The massacre at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a US grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.

“My heart is broken today,” said Hal Harrell, the school district superintendent, announcing that all school activities were canceled until further notice. “We’re a small community, and we’re going to need your prayers to get through this.”
The attack also came just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that added to a yearslong series of mass killings at churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed as dim as in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.
President Joe Biden appeared ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.


“As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” Biden asked. “Why are are willing to live with this carnage?“
Many of the injured were rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where staff members in scrubs and devastated victims’ relatives could be seen weeping as they walked out of the complex.
The gunman, who was wearing body armor, crashed his car outside the school before going inside, Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN.
He killed his grandmother before heading to the school with two military-style rifles he had purchased on his birthday, Gutierrez said.
“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said.
Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but the governor identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, Gutierrez said, noting that “he suggested the kids should watch out.”

A Border Patrol agent who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.
The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.
The school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, said that the attacker acted alone.
It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves students in the second, third and fourth grade. He did not provide ages of the children who were shot. This was the school’s last week of classes before summer break.
Heavily armed law enforcement officers swarmed to the school, with officers in tactical vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was briefed on the shooting on Air Force One as he returned from a five-day trip to Asia.
Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The tragedy in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally in the state, which has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the US over the past five years.
In 2018, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ US senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.
In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has waxed and waned. Efforts by lawmakers to change US gun policies in any significant way have consistently faced roadblocks from Republicans and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.

ALSO READ: A look at some of the deadliest US school shootings

A year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the nation’s background check system. But as the measure was close to being brought to the Senate floor for a vote, it became clear it would not get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.
Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called Congress’ failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.