Iranian-American journalist and activist slams regime in Tehran for reign of terror

Masih Alinejad speaking at the 2022 Concordia Annual Summit in New York on Sept. 20. (AFP)
Masih Alinejad speaking at the 2022 Concordia Annual Summit in New York on Sept. 20. (AFP)
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Updated 22 September 2022

Iranian-American journalist and activist slams regime in Tehran for reign of terror

Iranian-American journalist and activist slams regime in Tehran for reign of terror
  • Masih Alinejad denounced the country’s leadership for its many crimes, following the death of a 22-year-old woman who had been beaten by police
  • She said activists must “cancel the dictators” in Tehran by providing a voice for the voiceless people of Iran who want a change of government

NEW YORK CITY: Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad on Wednesday highlighted the crimes of the regime in Tehran and criticized US President Joe Biden for allowing Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, to come to New York to speak at the UN General Assembly just days after a 22-year-old woman died after being beaten by police in Tehran.

Gripping her own hair, Alinejad described how Mahsa Amini was assaulted after she was detained by officers who accused her of “improperly” wearing a hijab and exposing a tiny slither of hair. She died on Friday as a result of head injuries.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, at a summit in Midtown Manhattan organized by US-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, the journalist said she feels guilty about the murder of Amini. Her comments echoed those of other activists who have said they regret the fact that despite their efforts there has yet to be any change in the way Iran is governed.

Alinejad, who in 2019 launched legal proceedings against the Iranian government in a US federal court for harassment of her family, delivered a wide-ranging speech at the summit in which she condemned the regime for its litany of crimes.

Urging Western countries to stand “united to end Iran’s terror,” she said activists must “cancel the dictators” in Tehran by providing a voice for the voiceless people of Iran who want a change of government.

Denouncing the “bloodstained” administration in Tehran, Alinejad said it is “disgraceful” that the US and European governments are helping to prop up the regime by supporting efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, arguing that it failed to stop the Iranian leadership from using its money to fund the disruptive activities of proxies in the region.


Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines
Updated 26 September 2022

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines
  • The victims drowned in rampaging waters after a collapsed wall hit the boat they were using to help residents trapped in floods
  • President Marcos orders supplies be airlifted and clean-up equipment be provided to most-affected communities

MANILA: Typhoon Noru blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving five rescuers dead, causing floods and power outages and forcing officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital and outlying provinces.

The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year slammed into the coast in Burdeos town in Quezon province before nightfall on Sunday then weakened as it barreled overnight across the main Luzon region, where thousands of people were moved to emergency shelters, some forcibly, officials said.
Gov. Daniel Fernando of Bulacan province, north of Manila, said five rescuers, who were using a boat to help residents trapped in floodwaters, were hit by a collapsed wall then apparently drowned in the rampaging waters.
“They were living heroes who were helping save the lives of our countrymen amid this calamity,” Fernando told DZMM radio network. “This is really very sad.”
On Polillo island in northeastern Quezon province, a man was injured after falling off the roof of his house, officials said.

More than 17,000 people were moved to emergency shelters from high-risk communities prone to tidal surges, flooding and landslides in Quezon alone, officials said.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated to safety in Metropolitan Manila, which was lashed by fierce wind and rain overnight. Classes and government work were suspended Monday in the capital and outlying provinces as a precaution although the morning skies were sunny.
The entire northern provinces of Aurora and Nueva Ecija, which were hit by the typhoon, remained without power Monday and repair crews were at work to bring back electricity, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in a televised meeting he called to assess damages and coordinate disaster-response.

Marcos Jr. praised officials for evacuating thousands of people to safety as a precaution before the typhoon hit which prevented large number of casualties despite the Noru’s potentially disastrous force. He ordered supplies be airlifted and clean-up equipment be provided to most-affected communities.
“The point at which we can stand down is when the majority of evacuees are already back home,” Marcos said at a news conference with disaster management officials on Monday, referring to the 74,000 people who were forced into evacuation centers by the storm.
Luzon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy and roughly half of the country’s 110 million population, started clean-up operations as floods in the capital region had started subsiding, officials said.
Noru underwent an “explosive intensification” over the open Pacific Ocean before it hit the Philippines, Vicente Malano, who heads the country’s weather agency PAGASA, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
From sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour (53 mph) on Saturday, Noru was a super typhoon just 24 hours later with sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 240 kph (149 mph) at its peak late Sunday.
By Monday morning, Noru had sustained winds of 140 kph (87 mph) and gusts of 170 kph (105 mph) and was moving westward in the South China Sea at 30 kph (19 mph), according to the weather agency.
About 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year. The archipelago also lies in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a region along most of the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the Southeast Asian nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest recorded tropical cyclones in the world, left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million in the central Philippines — well to the south of Noru’s path.

(With Reuters) 


Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party
Updated 26 September 2022

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party
  • The formation of a ruling coalition could take weeks. If Meloni succeeds, she would be the first woman to hold the country’s premiership
  • Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government

ROME: Italian voters rewarded Giorgia Meloni’s euroskeptic party with neo-fascist roots, propelling the country toward what likely would be its first far-right-led government since World War II, based on partial results Monday from the election for Parliament.
In a victory speech, far-right Italian leader Giorgia Meloni struck a moderate tone after projections based on votes counted from some two-thirds of polling stations showed her Brothers of Italy party ahead of other contenders in Sunday’s balloting.
“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone, we will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people (of this country),” Meloni said at her party’s Rome headquarters.
“Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray (the country) as we never have.”
The formation of a ruling coalition, with the help of Meloni’s right-wing and center-right allies, could take weeks. If Meloni, 45, succeeds, she would be the first woman to hold the country’s premiership.
The mandate to try to form a government is given by Italy’s president after consultations with party leaders.

Meanwhile, former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, whose government collapsed two months ago, stays on in a caretaker role.
Differences among Meloni’s potential coalition partners could loom.
She has solidly backed the supplying of Ukraine with arms to defend itself against Russia’s invasion. In contrast, right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, who before the war was a staunch admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has voiced concern that Western sanctions could end up hurting Italy’s economic interests more that punishing Russia’s.
Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, another long-time Putin admirer, has said that his inclusion in a center-right bloc’s coalition would guarantee that Italy stays firmly anchored in the European Union and one of its most reliable members.
With Italy’s households and businesses struggling with staggeringly high energy bills as winter approaches, Meloni has demurred from Salvini’s push to swell already-debt-laden Italy by tens of billions of euros for energy relief.
What kind of government the eurozone’s third-largest economy might be getting was being closely watched in Europe, given Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels bureaucrats” and her ties to other right-wing leaders. She recently defended Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money.
After opinion polls in the run-up to the vote indicated she would be headed to victory, Meloni started moderating her message of “God, homeland and family” in an apparent attempt to reassure the European Union and other international partners, worried about euro-skepticism.
“This is the time for being responsible,” Meloni said, appearing live on television and describing the situation for Italy and the European Union is “particularly complex.”

She promised more detailed comments later on Monday. In her campaign, she criticized European Union officials as being overly bureaucratic and vowing to protect Italy’s national interests if they clash with EU policies.
Projections based on votes counted from nearly two-thirds of the polling stations in Sunday’s balloting indicated Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party would win some 25.7 percent of the vote.
That compared to some 19.3 percent by the closest challenger, the center-left Democratic Party of former Premier Enrico Letta. Salvini’s League was projected to win 8.6 percent of the ballots, roughly half of what he garnered in the last 2018 election. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, appeared headed to win 8 percent.
Meloni’s meteoric rise in the European Union’s third-largest economy comes at a critical time, as much of the continent reels under soaring energy bills, a repercussion of the war in Ukraine, and the West’s resolve to stand united against Russian aggression is being tested. In the last election, in 2018, Meloni’s party took 4.4 percent.
Fellow euroskeptic politicians were among the first to celebrate. French politician Marine Le Pen’s party also hailed the result as a “lesson in humility” to the EU.
Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox opposition party, tweeted that “millions of Europeans are placing their hopes in Italy.” Meloni “has shown the way for a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations that can cooperate on behalf of everybody’s security and prosperity.”
Nearly 64 percent of eligible voters deserted the balloting, according to the Interior Ministry. That is far lower than the previous record for low turnout, 73 percent in 2018.
Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election — each led by someone who hadn’t run for office, and that appeared to have alienated many voters, pollsters had said.
Meloni’s party was forged from the legacy of a neo-fascist party formed shortly after the war by nostalgists of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Italy’s complex electoral law rewards campaign alliance. Meloni was buoyed by joining campaign forces with Salvini and Berlusconi.
The Democrats went into the vote at a steep disadvantage since they failed to secure a similarly broad alliance with the left-leaning populists of the 5-Star-Movement, the largest party in the just-ended legislature.
Headed by former Premier Giuseppe Conte, the 5-Stars appeared headed to a third-place finish, with some 16 percent of the vote. Had they joined forces in a campaign agreement with the Democrats, their coalition would have roughly take the same percentage of Meloni’s alliance
The election Sunday came six months early after Draghi’s pandemic unity government, which enjoyed wide citizen popularity, collapsed in late July after the parties of Salvini, Berlusconi and Conte withheld support in a confidence vote.
Meloni kept her Brothers of Italy party in the opposition, refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or the two previous coalitions led by Conte.
 


China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
Updated 26 September 2022

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
  • Nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members
  • The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee, currently comprising seven people

BEIJING: China’s Communist Party said Sunday that it had elected all the delegates attending a key political meeting starting October 16, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.
The twice-in-a-decade conclave will also see a shuffle of personnel on the party’s powerful decision-making body, the 25-member Politburo.
“Each electoral unit across the country convened a party congress or party representative meeting and elected 2,296 delegates to the 20th Party Congress,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The delegates must adhere to Xi’s political ideology in addition to the party constitution, CCTV said.
The representatives include women, ethnic minority party members and those specializing in various fields, such as economics, science and sports, CCTV said.
The congress in the capital Beijing comes as Xi faces significant political headwinds, including an ailing economy, deteriorating relations with the United States and a strict zero-Covid policy that has accelerated China’s inward turn from the world.

The congress is the most important date on China’s political calendar. It offers signposts on the direction the world’s second-largest economy will take in the near term and the extent of the sway that Xi has over the party with millions of members.
The nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will engage in a highly choreographed exercise to pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members.
The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee — China’s highest leadership body and apex of power, currently comprising seven people.
Voting is mostly a formality — the pecking order of the Politburo and its Standing Committee is likely to have been decided well in advance. The overall duration of the congress is not yet clear.

Xi’s decade-long tenure has seen crackdowns on corruption within the party — which analysts say served to take down his political rivals — as well as the crushing of a democracy movement in Hong Kong and strict lockdowns on cities in the name of curbing the coronavirus.
He has faced harsh human rights criticism from the international community over repressive policies in the northwestern Xinjiang region, where an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorites have been detained in a sweeping crackdown ostensibly targeting “terrorism.”
He also ushered in an assertive “Wolf Warrior” foreign policy that has alienated Western democracies and some regional neighbors, and has pushed for closer ties with Russia while stoking nationalism at home.
He abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018 — originally set up by former leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s to prevent another Mao-like dictatorship — leaving open the possibility of him becoming leader for life.
 


Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
Updated 26 September 2022

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
  • Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world
  • Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at UNGA upset French activists

PARIS: Police clashed with demonstrators trying to reach Iran’s embassies in London and Paris on Sunday.
French police used tear gas and employed anti-riot tactics to prevent hundreds of people protesting in the capital from marching on Tehran’s diplomatic mission, AFP reporters and eyewitnesses said.
In London, police said they made 12 arrests and five officers were “seriously injured” as demonstrators tried to break through barriers protecting Iran’s UK embassy.
The protesters in Paris had gathered for the second day running to express outrage at the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police — and to show solidarity with the protests that have erupted in Iran, at a cost of at least 41 lives.
Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world.
The demonstration had began peacefully at Trocadero Square in the center of the French capital. Some protesters chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” and slogans against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But police in full anti-riot armor, backed by a line of vans, blocked the path of the protesters as they sought to approach the Iranian embassy a short distance away.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
In a statement, Paris police said that “on several occasions groups tried to break through the roadblock set up near the Iranian embassy. The police used... tear gas to repel them.”
They said about 4,000 people had gathered for the demonstration. One person was arrested for “outrage and rebellion” and one officer was slightly hurt, said police.
The use of tear gas angered activists already upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.
“Police used tear gas to disperse Iranian protesters in Paris in an effort to protect the Islamic Republic embassy,” tweeted the US-based Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.
“Meanwhile, @EmmanuelMacron shook hands with the murderous president of Iran.”
Protesters also repeated the viral Persian chants used by protesters inside Iran such as “zan, zendegi, azadi!” (woman, life, freedom!) and also its Kurdish equivalent “jin, jiyan, azadi!” Amini, also known as Jhina Amini, was Kurdish.
“In view of what is happening, we Iranians are fully mobilized,” said Nina, a Paris-based French Iranian who asked that her last name was not given. “We must react given that we are far from our homeland, our country.
“It’s really time we all come together so we can really speak up so the whole world can really hear our voice,” she added.
Similarly tense scenes took place in London, where images posted on social media showed protesters seeking to break through police security barriers outside the Iranian embassy there.
London’s Metropolitan Police said “masonry, bottles and other projectiles were thrown and a number of officers were injured. At least five are in hospital with injuries including broken bones.”
Earlier, police said a large number of protesters had gathered outside the embassy “with a substantial group intent on causing disorder.”


US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine
Updated 26 September 2022

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine
  • Warning follows Russian threats to use nuclear weapons amid Ukraine's battlefield successes
  • Third day of voting in referendums in Ukrainian regions seized by Russia

KYIV, Ukraine: The US warned on Sunday of “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow were to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, after Russia’s foreign minister said regions holding widely-criticized referendums would get full protection if annexed by Moscow.
Votes in four eastern Ukrainian regions, aimed at annexing territory Russia has taken by force, were staged for a third day on Sunday. The Russian parliament could move to formalize the annexation within days.
By incorporating the areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into Russia, Moscow could portray efforts to retake them as attacks on Russia itself, a warning to Kyiv and its Western allies.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United States would respond to any Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and that it had spelled out to Moscow the “catastrophic consequences” it would face.
“If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively,” Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” television program.
The latest US warning followed a thinly veiled nuclear threat made on Wednesday by President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia would use any weapons to defend its territory.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the point more directly at a news conference on Saturday after a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York in which he repeated Moscow’s false claims to justify the invasion that the elected government in Kyiv was illegitimately installed and filled with neo-Nazis.
Asked if Russia would have grounds for using nuclear weapons to defend annexed regions, Lavrov said Russian territory, including territory “further enshrined” in Russia’s constitution in the future, “is under the full protection of the state.”

’Bogus threats’
Ukraine and its allies have dismissed the referendums as a sham designed to justify an escalation of the war and a mobilization drive by Moscow after recent battlefield losses.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss said Britain and its allies should not heed threats from Putin, who had made what she called a strategic mistake as he had not anticipated the strength of reaction from the West.
“We should not be listening to his saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians,” Truss told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Russian news agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying the Russian parliament could debate bills to incorporate the new territories as soon as Thursday. State-run RIA Novosti said Putin could address parliament on Friday.

Russia says the referendums, hastily organized after Ukraine recaptured territory in a counter-offensive this month, enable people in those regions to express their view.
The territory controlled by Russian forces in the four regions represents about 15 percent of Ukraine, an area roughly the size of Portugal. It would add to Crimea, an area nearly the size of Belgium that Russia claims to have annexed in 2014.
Ukrainian forces still control some territory in each of the regions, including around 40 percent of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia’s provincial capital. Heavy fighting continued along the entire front, especially in northern Donetsk and in Kherson.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who insists that Ukraine will regain all its territory, said on Sunday there had been “positive results” for Kyiv in some of the clashes. “This is the Donetsk region, this is our Kharkiv region. This is the Kherson region, and also the Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia regions,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement on Facebook that Russia had launched four missile and seven air strikes and 24 instances of shelling on targets in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, hitting dozens of towns, including in and around the Donetsk and Kherson regions.
Reuters could not independently verify the accounts.

Protests in Russia over drafts
Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II. The move triggered protests across Russia and sent many men of military age fleeing.
Two of Russia’s most senior lawmakers on Sunday addressed a string of complaints about the mobilization, ordering regional officials to swiftly solve “excesses” stoking public anger.
More than 2,000 people have been detained across Russia for protesting against the draft, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. In Russia, where criticism of the conflict is banned, the demonstrations are among the first signs of discontent since the war began.
In the Muslim-majority southern Russian region of Dagestan, police clashed with protesters, with at least 100 people detained.
Zelensky acknowledged the protests in his video address.
“Keep on fighting so that your children will not be sent to their deaths — all those that can be drafted by this criminal Russian mobilization,” he said. “Because if you come to take away the lives of our children — and I am saying this as a father — we will not let you get away alive.”