Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say

Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say
Firefighters work at a site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine May 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 May 2024
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Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say

Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say
  • In the aftermath of the strikes, air raid alerts remained in force throughout the country

Russian forces launched a series of missiles early on Thursday on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, injuring at least four people and damaging infrastructure, local officials said.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said four people had been injured, a gas pipeline had been damaged and many windows had been broken.
Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said eight missiles had been fired at the city, a frequent Russian target in recent weeks. A community just north of the city had also been hit.
In the aftermath of the strikes, air raid alerts remained in force throughout the country.


Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown

Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown
Updated 13 sec ago
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Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown

Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown
  • Eleven people arrested at private meeting, mostly political leaders, activists say
  • Political parties accuse authorities of silencing democratic voices, pursuing dictatorship

BAMAKO, Mali: An alliance of political parties and civil society groups in junta-led Mali said several of their leaders were arrested on Thursday evening during a private meeting at a house of a former minister. The alliance in a statement demanded their prompt release. The West African country, which has been under military rule since a coup in 2020, in April issued a decree that restricted political life in the name of maintaining public order.
The political parties and civil society groups did not say how many people were detained, but Boubacar Toure, a representative of one of the parties, told Reuters on Friday that 11 people had been arrested at the private meeting. Most of them were political leaders, he said.
In a statement, the political parties and groups accused the authorities of pursuing “a path to dictatorship ... with the sole aim of staying in power and silencing all democratic and republican voices.”
Mali’s security ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling junta has suspended all activities by political parties and “associations of a political nature” after the group of political parties and civil society organizations jointly criticized the authorities on March 31 for failing to schedule elections within the promised time frame.
In response to the junta’s order, the political parties turned to the Malian Supreme Court but it is not clear when the top court will consider the appeal.
The location of Thursday’s gathering had been shared in a WhatsApp group for activists and political party members, the president of an association told Reuters. He spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his safety.
“The objective of these arbitrary arrests ... is to create fear among citizens, so that no activist, no member of an association, will raise a finger or come out to denounce what is being done,” he said.
Those arrested had gathered during the Eid religious festival to exchange best wishes and also to discuss politics, said the secretary-general of a political party who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
“With the suspension of political parties, the banning of political party activities, it is difficult for people to come together and talk, so every opportunity that allows people to come together is an opportunity to address essential questions,” he said.
He said the arrests would damage confidence in the ruling junta but would not prevent Malians from discussing politics.
“People continue to call each other on the phone, they continue to express their opinions,” he said. “One way or another, we will find the means to meet again, whether in the fields, whether in the orchards, whether around the squares.”


No Afghan ‘reintegration’ without progress on rights: UN

No Afghan ‘reintegration’ without progress on rights: UN
Updated 12 min 15 sec ago
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No Afghan ‘reintegration’ without progress on rights: UN

No Afghan ‘reintegration’ without progress on rights: UN
  • Since their 2021 return to power, Taliban authorities have not been formally recognized by any nation
  • The Taliban applies a rigorous interpretation of Islam, leading to a suppression of women’s freedoms that the United Nations has described as “gender apartheid”

UNITED NATIONS: Restrictions on women’s rights continue to prevent Afghanistan’s “reintegration” into the international community, a senior UN official said Friday, noting the Taliban’s participation in upcoming talks in Doha is not legitimization of the isolated government.
Since their 2021 return to power, Taliban authorities have not been formally recognized by any nation and apply a rigorous interpretation of Islam, leading to a suppression of women’s freedoms that the United Nations has described as “gender apartheid.”
Restrictions on women and girls, particularly in education, “deprive the country of vital human capital” and lead to a brain drain that undermines the impoverished country’s future, Roza Otunbayeva, head of the UN mission in the country, UNAMA, told the Security Council.
“By being deeply unpopular (the restrictions) undermine the de facto authorities’ claims to legitimacy,” she said.
“And they continue to block diplomatic solutions that would lead to Afghanistan’s reintegration into the international community.”
Last year marked the start of a process in Doha to consider strengthening the world community’s engagement with Afghanistan.
The first Doha talks included foreign special envoys to Afghanistan under the aegis of the United Nations, and in the presence of the country’s civil society, including women.
The Taliban had been excluded from the opening talks and refused to take part in the second round if other representatives from the country were involved.
The third round of talks is set for June 30 and July 1 in Doha, and the Taliban has given assurances it will attend.
“For this process to truly begin, it is essential that the de facto authorities participate at Doha,” Otunbayeva said, warning however that high expectations “cannot realistically be met in a single meeting.”
“It cannot be repeated enough that this sort of engagement is not legitimization or normalization,” she stressed.
Responding to criticism over the absence of Afghan civil society representatives, notably women, at the talks that include the Taliban, Otunbayeva said those groups would be present in Doha for a separate meeting on July 2.
“This is what is possible today,” she said.
Afghanistan’s UN ambassador Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who still represents the government that preceded the Taliban’s rise to power, called the absence of civil society and women at the table in Doha “disappointing.”
He also expressed concern the agenda does not include discussions on the political process and human rights in Afghanistan, saying “this will be perceived as a shift away from issues deemed essential to the people of Afghanistan.”
 


Ukraine says Global South nation could host second peace summit

Ukraine says Global South nation could host second peace summit
Updated 22 June 2024
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Ukraine says Global South nation could host second peace summit

Ukraine says Global South nation could host second peace summit

Ukraine believes a second summit to consider Kyiv’s proposals for peace with Russia could be hosted by a country in the Global South, a senior official was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Friday.
More than 90 countries attended the first summit in Switzerland last week as Ukraine seeks broad support for its plan to end the war, which began nearly 28 months ago with a full-scale Russian invasion.
Moscow, which was not invited, described the summit’s result — a communique signed by most participants but spurned by India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia in particular — as “close to nil.”
“We have several countries [offering to host], and I can say with a high degree of probability that such a summit could take place in one of the countries of the Global South,” presidential aide Ihor Zhovkva was cited as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.
Ukraine wants the next summit to be convened before the end of the year, he said, adding that Russia could be invited if it was prepared to consider the road map set out by Ukraine and did not issue ultimatums.

Ukrainian serviceman Oleksandr watches for Russian drones next to a military vehicle with a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon at an undisclosed location in Donetsk region, Ukraine on June 19, 2024. (REUTERS)

President Vladimir Putin said on June 14 that Russia would end the war in Ukraine if Kyiv agreed to drop its ambitions to join NATO and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed and partly occupied by Moscow — demands Kyiv rejected as tantamount to surrender.
Zhovkva declined to identify the prospective hosts, saying this would only help Russia to undermine the diplomatic efforts.
Having the backing of most Western countries, Kyiv has stepped up its efforts to win support from the Global South and from Asian countries historically closer to Russia and more ambivalent on Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
China, which proclaimed a “no limits” partnership with Russia days before Moscow launched its invasion, did not attend the summit. It portrays itself as neutral and denies supplying Moscow with weapons or ammunition. (Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


Japanese Emperor Naruhito finally begins delayed UK state visit

Japanese Emperor Naruhito finally begins delayed UK state visit
Updated 22 June 2024
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Japanese Emperor Naruhito finally begins delayed UK state visit

Japanese Emperor Naruhito finally begins delayed UK state visit
  • The emperor’s trip is the third state visit of Charles’ reign, but the first since it was revealed earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with cancer

LONDON: Emperor Naruhito and his wife begin a week long visit to Britain on Saturday, visiting Oxford University where they both studied and attending a formal banquet with King Charles, but there are no plans for a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, had been due to make the trip in 2020 when Queen Elizabeth was still alive but it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their first overseas trip together after his enthronement was to Elizabeth’s funeral in 2022, and ahead of the state visit Naruhito, 64, spoke of the kindness the British royals had shown to him when he arrived in Britain to study in the early 1980s.
He recalled how the late queen had invited him to Buckingham Palace for tea which she made herself.
“I have fond memories of the heartwarming hospitality I received from her majesty the queen and the royal family, making me feel like I was part of their family,” he told a news conference held in Tokyo.
The emperor’s trip is the third state visit of Charles’ reign, but the first since it was revealed earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Naruhito said he was grateful the king would host them despite his illness, and he also sent good wishes to Charles’ daughter-in-law Kate, wife of heir Prince William, who is having preventative chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
“I understand that they are both going through a hard time, but I pray that their treatment will go smoothly and that they will have a speedy recovery,” he said.
The official reason for the trip is to celebrate the long ties between the two royal families, and to demonstrate the deep relationship between the two countries.
However, the Japanese royals are also using it as a chance to return to Oxford where they both studied at separate times, while Naruhito will visit the River Thames flood barrier which he had researched while at university there.
The visit clashes with campaigning for the British election on July 4, and a Japanese foreign ministry official said there were no plans for a meeting with the prime minister.
The official state elements of the trip begin on Tuesday when Prince William will formally greet the emperor, before a grand carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace where there will be a state banquet.
During the trip Naruhito will also privately visit St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to lay a wreath on the tomb of Queen Elizabeth.

 


Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report

Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report
Updated 22 June 2024
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Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report

Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report
  • After substantial internal debate, Justice officials “appear to have concluded that prosecuting Boeing would be too legally risky,” the NY Times reported

NEW YORK: The US Department of Justice is considering a deal with Boeing that would avoid criminal prosecution of the aerospace giant but may appoint a federal supervisor to oversee company progress on safety improvements, The New York Times reported Friday.
People familiar with the discussions told the daily that the terms of the possible alternative settlement, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, or DPA, are still subject to change.
A DOJ official involved in the case, Glenn Leon, chief of the fraud section criminal division, said in an email to a civil party lawyer seen by AFP that the department “has not made a decision” on the path it will take with respect to Boeing.
The DOJ is determining its next steps after concluding in May that Boeing could be prosecuted for violating a criminal settlement following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 which claimed 346 lives.
But the Times, citing sources familiar with the discussions, reported that after substantial internal debate, Justice officials “appear to have concluded that prosecuting Boeing would be too legally risky.”
Officials also reportedly believe that the appointment of a watchdog would be “a quicker, more efficient way” to ensure safety and quality control improvements are made, the newspaper said.
Last month, the DOJ told the judge in the case it would give its decision no later than July 7.
The DOJ’s Leon emailed Paul Cassell, a lawyer for families in the criminal case against Boeing, saying the Times reporting “was simply not correct.”
Boeing did not respond to AFP requests for reaction.


The troubled planemaker had contested the department’s conclusions in mid-June, but has recognized the gravity of the safety crisis and CEO Dave Calhoun told Congress that Boeing is “taking action and making progress.”
In January 2021, Justice announced an initial DPA in which Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle fraud charges over certification of the 737 MAX.
But since early 2023, the manufacturer has experienced multiple production and quality control problems on its commercial aircraft, as well as mid-flight incidents including in January when a door plug panel flew off an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.
The DOJ says Boeing’s violation of several provisions of the initial agreement, including measures requiring it to bolster its internal controls to detect and deter fraud, opened the company to prosecution.
Victims’ families have called for the criminal prosecution of Boeing and its executives, and are seeking a nearly $25 billion fine.
A new DPA would allow the US government to resolve Boeing’s violations without a trial.
That could serve as a victory of sorts for Boeing, a company seen as critical to the US aviation industry as well as national security.
Cassell, the families’ lawyer, warned against sealing an agreement avoiding trial.
“We hope that the Department is not using its claim to have not yet made a ‘final decision’ as a ploy to gain additional time to hammer out a DPA deal with Boeing,” Cassell said in a statement.
“The first DPA deal failed. There is no reason to think a second one would be any better,” he said, adding it’s time for “moving forward with a trial and obtaining a guilty verdict against Boeing.”
Such lawsuits in the past have forced companies into filing for bankruptcy, the Times reported, and a conviction could potentially prevent Boeing from receiving government contracts.
Boeing’s defense, space and security segment generated $25 billion in 2023, nearly a third of the company’s sales.