Trump says Iran attack on Israel shows US ‘weakness’ under Biden

Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)
Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)
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Updated 14 April 2024
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Trump says Iran attack on Israel shows US ‘weakness’ under Biden

Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)

SCHNECKSVILLE, United States: Donald Trump on Saturday blasted President Joe Biden over Iran’s major attack on Israel, alleging that his rival in November elections showed American “weakness” in the Middle East.
“God bless the people of Israel. They are under attack right now. That’s because we show great weakness,” he said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.
Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel Saturday evening, after pledging retaliation for a strike on its consular building in Syria that killed seven Revolutionary Guards members, two of them generals.
Trump, who while in office ordered the killing of a top Revolutionary Guard leader in Baghdad and withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear accord, has repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent of a soft approach toward Tehran.
“The weakness that we’ve shown, it’s unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office,” Trump said Saturday.
“But America prays for Israel, we send our absolute support to everyone in harm’s way.”
Biden meanwhile was huddling at the White House with his key military and national security advisers, saying on X that the US “commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

 


China accuses US of ‘malign intention’ to discredit its COVID-19 vaccines

China accuses US of ‘malign intention’ to discredit its COVID-19 vaccines
Updated 6 sec ago
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China accuses US of ‘malign intention’ to discredit its COVID-19 vaccines

China accuses US of ‘malign intention’ to discredit its COVID-19 vaccines
  • US military launched a clandestine program during the COVID-16 pandemic to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation in the Philippines
MANILA: China’s embassy in the Philippines accused the US military of “hypocrisy, malign intention and double standards” in response to a report of secret US campaign to undermine confidence in a Chinese vaccines and other aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The remarks made by the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Tuesday were in response to a Reuters investigative report that said the US military launched a clandestine program during the COVID pandemic to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation in the Philippines.
The investigation found the US military aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid supplied by China. Through phony Internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign, according to the report.
“People around the world are indignant about the US military’s actions which lay bare the hypocrisy, malign intention and double standards of the United States,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.
“While talking about respecting human rights, the United States does just the opposite regarding the fundamental human rights of life and health of the Filipino people.”
The US Embassy in Manila referred a request for comment to its Department of Defense.
In the Reuters report, a senior Defense Department official acknowledged the US military engaged in secret propaganda to disparage China’s vaccine in the developing world, but the official declined to provide details.
A Pentagon spokeswoman was cited in the report as saying the US military “uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks aimed at the US, allies, and partners.” She also said China had started a “disinformation campaign to falsely blame the United States for the spread of COVID-19.”

Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under new plan from Biden

Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under new plan from Biden
Updated 5 min 3 sec ago
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Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under new plan from Biden

Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under new plan from Biden
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden is taking an expansive, election-year step to offer relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status in the US — aiming to balance his own aggressive crackdown on the border earlier this month that enraged advocates and many Democratic lawmakers.
The White House announced Tuesday that the Biden administration will, in the coming months, allow certain spouses of US citizens without legal status to apply for permanent residency and eventually, citizenship. The move could affect upwards of half a million immigrants, according to senior administration officials.
To qualify, an immigrant must have lived in the United States for 10 years as of Monday and be married to a US citizen. If a qualifying immigrant’s application is approved, he or she would have three years to apply for a green card, and receive a temporary work permit and be shielded from deportation in the meantime.
About 50,000 noncitizen children with a parent who is married to a US citizen could also potentially qualify for the same process, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the proposal on condition of anonymity. There is no requirement on how long the couple must have been married, and no one becomes eligible after Monday. That means immigrants who reach that 10 year mark any time after June 17, 2024, will not qualify for the program, according to the officials.
Senior administration officials said they anticipate the process will be open for applications by the end of the summer, and fees to apply have yet to be determined.
Biden will speak about his plans at a Tuesday afternoon event at the White House, which will also mark the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a popular Obama-era directive that offered deportation protections and temporary work permits for young immigrants who lack legal status.
White House officials privately encouraged Democrats in the House, which is in recess this week, to travel back to Washington to attend the announcement.
The president will also announce new regulations that will allow certain DACA beneficiaries and other young immigrants to more easily qualify for long-established work visas. That would allow qualifying immigrants to have protection that is sturdier than the work permits offered by DACA, which is currently facing legal challenges and is no longer taking new applications.
The power that Biden is invoking with his Tuesday announcement for spouses is not a novel one. The policy would expand on authority used by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to allow “parole in place” for family members of military members, said Andrea Flores, a former policy adviser in the Obama and Biden administrations who is now a vice president at FWD.us, an immigration advocacy organization.
The parole-in-place process allows qualifying immigrants to get on the path to US permanent residency without leaving the country, removing a common barrier for those without legal status but married to Americans. Flores said it “fulfills President Biden’s day one promise to protect undocumented immigrants and their American families.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes two weeks after Biden unveiled a sweeping crackdown at the US-Mexico border that effectively halted asylum claims for those arriving between officially designated ports of entry. Immigrant-rights groups have sued the Biden administration over that directive, which a senior administration official said Monday had led to fewer border encounters between ports.

Drone attack sets oil tanks ablaze in southern Russia

Drone attack sets oil tanks ablaze in southern Russia
Updated 16 min 35 sec ago
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Drone attack sets oil tanks ablaze in southern Russia

Drone attack sets oil tanks ablaze in southern Russia
  • Ukraine did not immediately claim responsibility but it has carried out similar attacks on Russian energy facilities before
  • Some 200 firefighters and emergency personnel were deployed to deal with the blaze

Kyiv, Ukraine: An overnight drone attack set several oil storage tanks ablaze near the town of Azov in southern Russia on Tuesday, sparking a large fire, local officials said.
Ukraine did not immediately claim responsibility but it has carried out similar attacks on Russian energy facilities before, arguing they are fair targets given that they fuel Moscow’s military.
“Oil product tanks caught fire in Azov as a result of a drone attack. According to preliminary data, there were no casualties,” the governor of the local Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, said on Telegram.
Video published by the emergencies ministry showed thick smoke and flames billowing out of what appeared to be multiple oil storage tanks in an undisclosed location.
Officials did not say how many drones were involved in the attack.
Some 200 firefighters and emergency personnel were deployed to deal with the blaze, which spanned an area of at least 3,200 square meters (3,800 square yards), the emergencies ministry said.
The Rostov region sits directly across the border from Ukrainian and is home to the operational headquarters overseeing Russia’s invasion.
On the battlefield, Ukraine said that Russian forces were fighting to enter the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, a flashpoint town of the war in the east whose capture could accelerate Russian advances.
Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk, where war-scarred Chasiv Yar lies, has borne the brunt of fighting over more than two years and the Kremlin claims the region is part of Russia.
“The enemy keeps trying to advance to the microdistrict Novy in the town of Chasiv Yar,” Ukraine’s military said in a briefing, adding that fighting was “currently taking place.”
Further south, it said Moscow’s forces were also pushing toward Pokrovsk, where they were closing in on a key road that would complicate supplies between strategic hubs in the region.
Ukraine’s air force meanwhile said it had downed 10 Iranian-designed attack drones launched by Russian forces overnight.


China dismisses EU comments on human rights crackdown

China dismisses EU comments on human rights crackdown
Updated 32 min 15 sec ago
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China dismisses EU comments on human rights crackdown

China dismisses EU comments on human rights crackdown
  • Foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told reporters at a briefing that China was willing to cooperate with the EU
  • Chinese #MeToo activist and independent journalist Huang Xueqin was sentenced to five years in prison for subversion on Friday

BEIJING/BRUSSELS: China on Tuesday dismissed European Union calls for it to stop alleged human rights violations and said it opposed “double standards” and interference in its internal affairs.
The EU said on Monday after an EU delegation visited Tibet and met with Chinese officials last week that it was concerned about what it called the “very serious” human rights situation in China, in particular in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
This included a crackdown on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists in China. The EU urged China to investigate any rights violations and expressed concern about cases of unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, the EU said in a statement.
In response, Chinese officials said the EU should “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues.”
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told reporters at a briefing that China was willing to cooperate with the EU on the issue on a basis of equality and mutual respect.
“At the same time, China firmly opposes politicizing the human rights issue and double standards, and opposes imposing one’s own model on others. We are opposed to...engaging in microphone diplomacy in the multilateral arena,” Lin said.
Lin said both sides believed the dialogue was “frank and in-depth,” and said that China was willing to explore further multilateral human rights cooperation in areas including rights of women, children and the disabled.
The EU also raised the case of the detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai as well as the imprisoned Uyghur intellectuals Ilham Tohti, Gulshan Abbas and Rahile Dawut, the EU statement said.
Chinese #MeToo activist and independent journalist Huang Xueqin was sentenced to five years in prison for subversion on Friday, which supporters called arbitrary and politically motivated.


Court finds four Philippine police guilty in drug war killings

Court finds four Philippine police guilty in drug war killings
Updated 58 min 56 sec ago
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Court finds four Philippine police guilty in drug war killings

Court finds four Philippine police guilty in drug war killings
  • The four low-ranking officers were all sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the shooting deaths of the two victims
  • The defendants pleaded self-defense, alleging the suspects were armed and had shot at them

MANILA: Four Philippine policemen were found guilty Tuesday of killing a father and son, court officials said, in a rare case of law enforcement officers being prosecuted for taking part in former president Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly drug war.
The four low-ranking officers were all sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the shooting deaths of the two victims at a Manila slum during an anti-drug police operation in 2016, Manila regional trial court judge Rowena Alejandria said in her written verdict that was read in court Tuesday.
“It must be worthy to note that the accused themselves did not deny their presence and participation in the police operation conducted, the same event where the victims Luis and Gabriel (Domingo) were killed,” Alejandria wrote.
Thousands of drug suspects were killed by police and unknown gunmen in a campaign that became the centerpiece of Duterte’s 2016-2022 rule, a crackdown that critics described as state-sponsored extrajudicial killings and is now a subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Luis Bonifacio’s partner, Mary Ann Domingo, cried on her son’s shoulder as they listened to the verdict on two counts of homicide each being read at the cramped northern Manila courtroom.
Manila policemen Virgilio Cervantes, Arnel de Guzman, Johnston Alacre and Artemio Saguros were also ordered to pay 300,000 pesos ($5,120) each in damages to the victims’ heirs.
The family has alleged more than a dozen police officers took part in the nighttime raid at the northern Manila slum community.
The family insisted the two were not involved in drugs and were unarmed when police opened fire.
The defendants pleaded self-defense, alleging the suspects were armed and had shot at them.
But state prosecutors went with the lesser charge of homicide against only four officers, instead of murder, which involves deliberate intent to kill and which carries a heavier penalty.
Official data shows more than 6,000 people died in police anti-narcotics operations.
But rights groups estimate tens of thousands of mostly poor men have been killed by officers and vigilantes, even without proof they were linked to drugs.
Duterte had openly ordered police to shoot dead suspects during anti-drug operations if officers believed their lives were in danger.
While the crackdown has been widely condemned and sparked an international investigation, only five other policemen have been convicted for killing drug suspects.
Three Manila police officers were convicted in 2018 of murdering a 17-year old boy in 2017. Two other narcotics police officers were found guilty last year for separate killings in 2016 and 2017, the latter victim a South Korean businessman.
Lawyers say most families are too scared to go after their relatives’ killers or do not have the money or time to pursue a case in the Philippines’ creaky judicial system.
The Philippine drug crackdown is being investigated by the International Criminal Court, which said in 2021 that it appeared “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population took place pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy.”
Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2019, so only cases before that date are covered by the investigation.
President Ferdinand Marcos, who succeeded Duterte, has refused to cooperate in the ICC probe, saying Manila has a functioning judicial system.