Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement

University of California, Santa Cruz graduate students and other academic workers in the UAW 4811 union begin a strike and are joined by UCSC students for Justice in Palestine as they picket the main entrance to campus on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Santa Cruz, Calif. (AP)
University of California, Santa Cruz graduate students and other academic workers in the UAW 4811 union begin a strike and are joined by UCSC students for Justice in Palestine as they picket the main entrance to campus on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Santa Cruz, Calif. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement

Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement
  • Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, denied that his nation was trying to mislead the world. Backed by China and others, he called the vote “a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues”

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut: Scores of graduating students staged a walkout from Yale University’s commencement exercises on Monday, protesting the Israeli war in Gaza, Yale’s financial ties to weapons makers and its response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the Ivy League campus.
The walkout began as Yale President Peter Salovey started to announce the traditional college-by-college presentation of candidates for degrees on the grounds of Yale’s Old Campus, filled with thousands of graduates in their caps and gowns.
At least 150 students seated near the front of the audience stood up together, turned their backs to the stage and paraded out of the ceremony through Phelps Gate, retracing their steps during the processional into the yard.
Many of the protesters carried small banners with such slogans as “Books not bombs” and “Divest from war.” Some wore red-colored latex gloves symbolizing bloodied hands.
Other signs read: “Drop the charges” and “Protect free speech” in reference to 45 people arrested in a police crackdown last month on demonstrations in and around the New Haven, Connecticut, campus.
The walkout drew a chorus of cheers from fellow students in the crowd, but the protest was otherwise peaceful, without disruption. No mention of it was made from the stage.
Yale is one of dozens of US campuses roiled by protests over the mounting Palestinian humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip following the bloody Oct. 7 cross-border attack on Jewish settlements by Hamas militants.
The University of Southern California canceled its main graduation ceremony altogether, and dozens of students walked out of Duke University’s commencement last week to protest its guest speaker, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who has supported Israel throughout the war in Gaza.

ACADEMIC WORKERS STRIKE UC SANTA CRUZ
Fallout from a violent attack weeks ago on pro-Palestinian activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, reverberated on the UC Santa Cruz campus on Monday as academic workers there staged a protest strike organized by their union.
Much of the student activism has been aimed at academic institutions’ financial ties with Israel and US military programs benefiting the Jewish state.
Protests in sympathy with Palestinians have in turn been branded by pro-Israel supporters as antisemitic, testing the boundaries between freedom of expression and hate speech. Many schools have called in police to quell the demonstrations.
At UC Santa Cruz on Monday, hundreds of unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars went on strike to protest what they said were the university’s unfair labor practices in its handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
The strikers are members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811, which represents some 2,000 grad students and other academic workers at UC Santa Cruz, and about 48,000 total across all 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Last week, the UAW 4811 rank-and-file voted to authorize union leaders to organize a series of “standup” strikes through the end of June on individual or groups of UC campuses rather than across the entire university.
The Santa Cruz strike marked the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of pro-Palestinian student activists, whose numbers, according to the UAW, include graduate students arrested at several University of California campuses.
Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people at the scene of a pro-Palestinian protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.
The night before, a group of pro-Israel supporters physically attacked the encampment and its occupiers in a melee that went on for at least three hours before police moved in to quell the disturbance. The university has since opened an investigation of the incident.
The strikers also are demanding amnesty for grad students who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests.
UC Santa Cruz issued a statement saying campus entrances were briefly blocked in the morning by demonstrators, prompting the school to switch to remote instruction for the day.
The University of California has filed its own unfair labor practice complaint with the state Public Employee Relations Board asking the state to order a halt to the strike.

 


Philippine VP Duterte exits Marcos cabinet as their alliance crumbles

Philippine VP Duterte exits Marcos cabinet as their alliance crumbles
Updated 2 sec ago
Follow

Philippine VP Duterte exits Marcos cabinet as their alliance crumbles

Philippine VP Duterte exits Marcos cabinet as their alliance crumbles
  • President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had accepted Duterte’s resignation from the posts of education minister and vice chair of an anti-insurgency task force
MANILA: Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte resigned on Wednesday from the cabinet of President Ferdinand Marcos and another key post, in the latest sign that her alliance with Marcos Jr has crumbled.
Marcos had accepted Duterte’s resignation from the posts of education minister and vice chair of an anti-insurgency task force, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement, adding that the vice president did not provide a reason for the move.
Duterte, who will remain vice president, said in a press conference that her “resignation is not because of weakness but because of true concern for teachers and the youth.”
In the Philippines, where the president and vice president are elected separately, without a cabinet position, the vice president’s powers are largely limited to ceremonial roles.
The Marcos and Duterte families joined forces in 2022 with Sara Duterte standing as Marcos’ vice presidential running mate, allowing him to tap the Duterte family’s huge support base and seal a comeback for the disgraced Marcos dynasty.
That alliance was always expected to collapse, but analysts were surprised by how soon the gloves came off after Marcos’ predecessor, and Sara’s father, Rodrigo Duterte, accused the president in January of using drugs.
Duterte’s son, the mayor of Davao city, also called for Marcos’ resignation at the time, and Sara did not object to the calls either. “It is the break we have all been waiting for,” Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said of the vice president’s decision to step down from her cabinet post.
Franco said Sara Duterte, who continues to enjoy high trust ratings based on independent opinion polls, would now have more leeway to criticize Marcos’ policies.
Since coming to power in 2022, Marcos has reversed Rodrigo Duterte’s pro-China stance and pivoted back to the United States, granting Washington greater access to Philippine bases amid China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and near Taiwan.
He also brought to the fore a 2016 arbitral ruling, fortifying Manila’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which former president Rodrigo Duterte had largely set aside.
A major blow to the Marcos-Duterte relationship came late last year when Marcos said the government was considering rejoining the International Criminal Court, nearly five years after Rodrigo had withdrawn membership over objections to a bid by the court to investigate a bloody anti-narcotics campaign under him.

Strict asylum rules and poor treatment of migrants are pushing people north to the UK

Strict asylum rules and poor treatment of migrants are pushing people north to the UK
Updated 6 min 58 sec ago
Follow

Strict asylum rules and poor treatment of migrants are pushing people north to the UK

Strict asylum rules and poor treatment of migrants are pushing people north to the UK
  • Europe’s increasingly strict asylum rules, growing xenophobia and hostile treatment of migrants pushing them north
  • Some migrants don’t even try for new lives in the EU anymore

AMBLETEUSE, France: The rising tide crept above their waists, soaking the babies they hugged tight. Around a dozen Kurds refused to leave the cold waters of the English Channel in a futile attempt to delay the inevitable: French police had just foiled their latest attempt to reach the United Kingdom by boat.
The men, women and children were trapped again on the last frontier of their journey from Iraq and Iran. They hoped that a rubber dinghy would get them to better lives with housing, schooling and work. Now it disappeared on the horizon, only a few of its passengers aboard.
On the beach of the quiet northern French town of Ambleteuse, police pleaded for the migrants to leave the 10-degree-Celsius (50-degree-Fahrenheit) water, so cold it can kill within minutes. Do it for the children’s sake, they argued.
“The boat is go!” an increasingly irritated officer shouted in French-accented English. “It’s over! It’s over!”
The asylum-seekers finally emerged from the sea defeated, but there was no doubt that they would try to reach the UK again. They would not find the haven they needed in France, or elsewhere in the European Union.
Europe’s increasingly strict asylum rules, growing xenophobia and hostile treatment of migrants were pushing them north. While the UK government has been hostile, too, many migrants have family or friends in the UK and a perception they will have more opportunities there.
EU rules stipulate that a person must apply for asylum in the first member state they land in. This has overwhelmed countries on the edge of the 27-nation bloc such as Italy, Greece and Spain.
Some migrants don’t even try for new lives in the EU anymore. They are flying to France from as far away as Vietnam to attempt the Channel crossing after failing to get permission to enter the UK, which has stricter visa requirements.
“No happy here,” said Adam, an Iraqi father of six who was among those caught on the beach in a recent May morning. He refused to provide his last name due to his uncertain legal status in France. He had failed to find schooling and housing for his children in France and had grown frustrated with the asylum office’s lack of answers about his case. He thought things would be better in the UK, he said.
While the number of people entering the EU without permission is nowhere near as high as during a 2015-2016 refugee crisis, far-right parties across Europe, including in France, have exploited migration to the continent and made big electoral wins in the most recent European Parliamentary elections. Their rhetoric, and the treatment already faced by many people on the French coast and elsewhere in the bloc, clash with the stated principles of solidarity, openness and respect for human dignity that underpin the democratic EU, human rights advocates note.
In recent months, the normally quiet beaches around Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne-Sur-Mer have become the stage of cat-and-mouse games — even violent clashes — between police and smugglers. Police have fired tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Smugglers have hurled stones.
While boat crossings across the Channel represent only a tiny fraction of migration to the UK, France agreed last year to hold migrants back in exchange for hundreds of millions of euros. It’s an agreement akin to deals made between the European Union and North African nations in recent years. And while many people have been stopped by police, they are not offered alternative solutions and are bound to try crossing again.
More than 12,000 people have reached England in small boats in the first five months of the year, 18 percent more than during the same period last year, according to data published by the UK’s Home Office. The Home Office said 882 people arrived in the UK in 15 boats on Tuesday, the highest daily total of the year.
The heightened border surveillance is increasing risks and ultimately leading to more deaths, closer to shore, said Salomé Bahri, a coordinator with the nongovernmental organization Utopia 56, which helps migrants stranded in France. At least 20 people have died so far this year trying to reach the UK, according to Utopia 56. That’s nearly as many as died in all of last year, according to statistics published by the International Organization of Migration.
People are rushing to avoid being caught by authorities and there are more fatalities, Bahri said. In late April, five people died, including a 7-year-old girl who was crushed inside a rubber boat after more than 110 people boarded it frantically trying to escape police.
Authorities in the north of France denied AP’s request for an interview but have previously defended the “life-saving” work of police and blamed violence on smugglers who have also attacked officers.
A spot on a flimsy rubber dinghy can cost between 1,000 to 2,000 euros (around $1,100-$2,200) making it a lucrative business for the smuggling networks led primarily by Iraqi Kurdish groups. They can earn up to $1 million a month (approximately 920,000 euros) according to a report published earlier this year by The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Sitting around a fire in an abandoned warehouse-turned-migrant camp in Calais, Mohammed Osman contemplated his limited options. The 25-year-old Sudanese man was studying medicine in Moscow when the civil war broke out in his home country a year ago. He suspended his dream of becoming a doctor. Forced to flee the fighting, his family could no longer afford to pay for his university fees and Osman was forced to leave Russia, where his visa only allowed him to study, not work. He crossed to Belarus and then to Poland where he says he was pushed back and beaten by Polish guards several times.
Eventually, he made it across the border and reached Germany where he tried to apply for asylum but was ordered to return to Poland, as per EU rules. All he wants now is to finish his medical studies in the UK, a country whose language he, like many other Sudanese people, already speaks. The issue, as always, is how to get there. Talks of potential deportation to Rwanda have only added more stress and frustration.
“So where is the legal way for me?” he asked. “I am a good person. I know that I can be a good doctor. … So what is the problem?”
In another makeshift camp near Dunkirk that police routinely attempt to clear, more dreams were held in suspense. Farzanee, 28, left Iran to follow her passion: becoming a professional bodybuilder. Back home she was banned from taking part in competitions and persecuted for her sport.
“I was even threatened with my family, that’s why I left my country,” she said, refusing to provide her last name out of fear for her and her loved ones’ safety.
Together with her husband, they managed to get a visa for France with a fake invitation letter. But even on EU soil they fear they could be deported back to Iran and believe only the UK to be safe. They have tried — and failed — to board boats to the UK “seven or eight times” but have vowed to keep trying until they make it.
“Us and other Iranians like me, we have one thing in common,” explained Farzanee’s husband Mohammad. “When you ask them they will tell you: ‘free life or death.’”
A few days after this interview, Mohammad and his wife Farzanee made it safely to the UK


UK migrant boat crossings hit 19-month high, adding to pressure on Sunak

UK migrant boat crossings hit 19-month high, adding to pressure on Sunak
Updated 38 min 14 sec ago
Follow

UK migrant boat crossings hit 19-month high, adding to pressure on Sunak

UK migrant boat crossings hit 19-month high, adding to pressure on Sunak
  • Provisional data from Britain’s interior ministry showed 882 migrants arrived on Tuesday, taking the yearly total so far to above 12,300

LONDON: More than 800 asylum seekers arrived in Britain via small boats on Tuesday, the highest single-day figure since late 2022, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a July 4 national election.
Provisional data from Britain’s interior ministry showed 882 migrants arrived on Tuesday, taking the yearly total so far to above 12,300. The daily figure was last higher in November 2022, when 947 migrants arrived in a single day.
Trailing far behind the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and with immigration a major concern for some voters, “stopping the boats” and curbing illegal migration has been one of Sunak’s flagship pledges.
The centerpiece of Sunak’s immigration policy is a plan to deport asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda and create a deterrent for migrants using small boats to cross from France.
But, because he calling the election earlier than many expected, that plan has yet to come into effect.
The opposition Labour Party, which is about 20 points ahead in opinion polls, has said it would scrap the Rwanda policy if it comes to power.
Instead, its proposed solution is to create a Border Security Command that would bring together staff from the police, the domestic intelligence agency and prosecutors to work with international agencies to stop people smuggling.


Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30

Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30
Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30

Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30
  • Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through contaminated food and water
  • In 2021, an epidemic killed more than 2,300 people, especially children under the age of 14

LAGOS: Nigerian health officials are issuing warnings over a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 30 people, many of them in the commercial capital Lagos, since the start of the year.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through contaminated food and water. It typically causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and muscle cramps — and sometimes death.
Lagos State health officials reported 15 deaths so far and 350 suspected cases, according to a statement on X, formerly Twitter this week.
Lagos Water Corporation warned against consuming water from unreliable or untreated courses.
“According to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the primary cause of the cholera outbreak has been linked to the consumption of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation,” it said in a statement.
Last week, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention alerted the public of the increasing trend in cases of the disease across the country as the rainy season intensifies.
The agency said 30 people had died since the start of the year. An outbreak killed 128 people with more than 3,600 suspected cases across Africa’s most populous country last year compared to two deaths in 2022.
Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to cholera outbreaks.
In 2021, an epidemic killed more than 2,300 people, especially children under the age of 14, according to health authorities.


Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital
Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital
  • President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said people had been killed and wounded in the blaze, without giving precise figures

N’DJAMENA: A deadly fire erupted at a huge military ammunition depot in Chad’s capital N’Djamena, sending powerful explosions into the night sky and shaking buildings miles from the blast.
The explosions from the late Tuesday blaze turned the sky red and could be heard miles away as ordnance fired off in the flames at regular intervals, according to AFP journalists and witnesses on the scene.
President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said people had been killed and wounded in the blaze, without giving precise figures.
“Peace to the souls of the victims, sincere condolences to the grieving families and a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Deby wrote on Facebook, promising to open an investigation into the fire.
The sky burst into flames above the Goudji area, where the army’s largest depot of ammunition is located, for several hours before tapering off and finally ceasing after midnight.
The explosions shook buildings as far as seven kilometers (four miles) away and the flames were visible for miles.
“The roof of our house was blown off by one of the explosions,” said resident Kadidja Dakou, who lives in the Amsinene area near Goudji.
The 36-year-old and her three children took refuge in the street alongside their neighbors, for fear their houses would collapse, she said by phone.
Authorities had cordoned off the area with a heavy security presence, where thick red smoke hung in the air long after the blasts stopped.
Foreign Minister Abderaman Koulamallah, who is also the government spokesman, said on Facebook that there were “huge explosions” at the site and urged the population to keep calm.
There are multiple homes in the neighborhood that is the site of the depot, which sits near the international airport and a base where French troops are stationed.
The blaze “caused explosions of ammunition of all calibres,” an official with the French forces said on condition of anonymity.
“For the moment, no French military personnel have been wounded,” he said.
Chad’s president officially won 61 percent of a May 6 vote that international NGOs said was neither credible nor free and which his main rival called a “masquerade.”
Deby was proclaimed transitional president in April 2021 by a junta of 15 generals after his father, president Idriss Deby Itno, was shot dead by rebels following 30 years in power.
Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations, is considered vital in the fight to stop the march of jihadists through the Sahel region.