Dozens arrested in new pro-Palestinian protests at University of California, Los Angeles

Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate facing law enforcement outside Dodd Hall in the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, June 10, 2024. (AFP)
Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate facing law enforcement outside Dodd Hall in the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, June 10, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 12 June 2024
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Dozens arrested in new pro-Palestinian protests at University of California, Los Angeles

Dozens arrested in new pro-Palestinian protests at University of California, Los Angeles
  • Protest camps have sprung up on university campuses across the US and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support its war efforts

LOS ANGELES: Police thwarted attempts by pro-Palestinian demonstrators to set up a new encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, where officers cleared a previous camp this spring after it was attacked by counterprotesters.
Officers arrested 27 people late Monday during the demonstration, Rick Braziel, UCLA associate vice chancellor for campus safety, said in a statement.
The individuals were cited for willful disruption of university operations and one for interfering with an officer, according to UCLA police. They were issued 14-day orders to stay away from UCLA and then released.
Any student arrested will face disciplinary action, which could include being banned from campus and not being able to take finals or participate in commencement ceremonies, Braziel said.
The demonstrators repeatedly tried to set up tents, canopies and barriers as they moved to various locations, disrupting nearby final exams. The group also damaged a fountain, spray-painted brick walkways, tampered with fire safety equipment, damaged patio furniture, stripped wire from electrical fixtures and vandalized vehicles, police said.
During the demonstration, there were also attacks that led to six UCLA police being injured, as well as a security guard left bleeding from the head after being struck, according to Braziel.
“Simply put, these acts of non-peaceful protest are abhorrent and cannot continue,” Braziel said in the statement.
Protest camps have sprung up on university campuses across the US and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support its war efforts. Organizers have sought to amplify calls to end Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which they describe as a genocide against the Palestinians.
UCLA has been repeatedly roiled by protests and the university administration’s handling of the situation.
At one point, a pro-Palestinian encampment was attacked by counterprotesters, with no immediate response from police, and dozens were then arrested as the camp was cleared. The episode led to reassignment of the campus police chief and creation of a new campus safety office. A subsequent attempt to set up a new camp was also blocked.
Monday’s protest comes just days before University of California regents are scheduled to meet at UCLA and this coming weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

 


King Charles sets out new Labour government’s priorities

King Charles sets out new Labour government’s priorities
Updated 3 sec ago
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King Charles sets out new Labour government’s priorities

King Charles sets out new Labour government’s priorities
  • Charles reads out laws the government is prioritizing after Labour Party won a large majority at this month’s election
  • The king’s speech, written by the government, also tried to set a new tone to British politics
LONDON: Britain’s King Charles began setting out Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s legislative agenda on Wednesday, promising a government of service focused on the principles of security, fairness and opportunity for all.
In a ceremony full of pageantry, before an audience of robed lords and lawmakers, Charles read out the laws the government is prioritizing after Starmer’s center-left Labour Party won a large majority at this month’s election.
The package of more than 35 bills will focus on growing the economy, reforming planning laws to make it easier to build homes and speeding up the delivery of major infrastructure projects, improving transport and creating jobs.
The king’s speech, written by the government, also tried to set a new tone to British politics, promoting service rather than self-interest, something that Labour says took root over 14 years of often chaotic Conservative Party rule.
“My government will govern in service to the country,” said Charles, wearing a crimson and white robe and the Imperial State crown.
“My government’s legislative program will be mission-led and based on the principles of security, fairness and opportunity for all.”
Starmer won one of the largest parliamentary majorities in modern British history on July 4, making him the most powerful national leader since former prime minister Tony Blair.
But he faces a number of daunting challenges, including improving struggling public services with little room for more spending.

FACTBOX-India’s economy poised for robust growth ahead of annual budget

FACTBOX-India’s economy poised for robust growth ahead of annual budget
Updated 18 min 37 sec ago
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FACTBOX-India’s economy poised for robust growth ahead of annual budget

FACTBOX-India’s economy poised for robust growth ahead of annual budget
  • India’s economy is expanding at the fastest rate among major emerging economies and tax receipts are higher
  • Budget is expected to see an increase in spending on infrastructure and welfare programs such as rural housing

NEW DELHI: India’s economy is expanding at the fastest rate among major emerging economies, and tax receipts are higher, factors that could prompt Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to increase spending in the new 2024/25 budget that will be presented to parliament on July 23.
The budget is expected to see an increase in spending on infrastructure and welfare programs such as rural housing, following bumper dividend payouts from the central bank and increased tax revenue. However, Sitharaman is likely to adhere to the interim budget’s fiscal deficit targets.
Here are some facts about India’s economy:
ECONOMIC GROWTH
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has upgraded its growth forecast for the fiscal year 2024/25 to 7.2 percent, up from 7 percent, driven by a resurgence in private consumption, robust investment, and a rebound in exports.

Similarly, the International Monetary Fund has revised India’s growth forecast to 7 percent for 2024/25 from 6.8 percent, aligning with recent updates from rating agencies and private economists.
S&P expects India’s economy will grow at nearly 7 percent annually over the next three years. INFLATION
Retail inflation in India has eased to around 5 percent from over 7 percent in 2022. Still, food inflation remains persistently high at around 9 percent, impacting rural and low-income urban households. This persistent inflation, coupled with minimal growth in real wages, is dampening expectations for early interest rate cuts by the RBI.
FISCAL DEFICIT

India’s federal fiscal deficit, which exceeded 9 percent of GDP during the pandemic, is projected to remain around 5 percent for the current fiscal year.
However, the combined federal and state fiscal deficits are estimated at 7.9 percent of GDP, reflecting a large debt stock and high-interest burden that constrain the capacity for increased state spending.

HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT
Despite a rebound in employment in manufacturing and services, high unemployment among the educated youth remains a challenge for Asia’s third-largest economy.
The unemployment rate for urban youth aged 15-29 was 17 percent in the first quarter of March, with private agencies suggesting that the actual rate may be higher.

India’s overall unemployment rate has remained much higher over the decades than China, according to International Labour Organization estimates, with millions remaining stuck in low-paying agriculture and informal sector jobs. INTERNATIONAL TRADE

India’s goods and services exports are on an upward trajectory, despite concerns over a global slowdown and geopolitical risks.
Exports are projected to reach $800 billion in the current fiscal year ending March 2025, up from $778.2 billion in the previous fiscal year.
Rising services exports and private transfer receipts have helped India’s current account balance, which is showing a $5.7 billion surplus for the first time in 10 quarters in three months through March.


Only Olympian training in Taliban’s Afghanistan to fulfil judo dream

Only Olympian training in Taliban’s Afghanistan to fulfil judo dream
Updated 28 min 17 sec ago
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Only Olympian training in Taliban’s Afghanistan to fulfil judo dream

Only Olympian training in Taliban’s Afghanistan to fulfil judo dream
  • Six Afghans, including three women who are not acknowledged by the Taliban government, will compete at the Paris Olympics this month
  • Faizad is only member of team still living in Afghanistan, follows rigorous regime whilst competing with challenges of living under Taliban

KABUL: Flipping his flailing judo sparring partner to the mat, Afghanistan’s Mohammad Samim Faizad is the only Olympic athlete training for the Games inside his Taliban-controlled homeland.
Six Afghans — including three women who are not acknowledged by the Taliban government — will compete at the Paris Olympics this month in cycling, athletics, swimming and judo.
Faizad is the only member of the team still living in Afghanistan and follows a rigorous regime whilst competing with the challenges of living in a country mired in poverty, recovering from war and governed by the Taliban.
“Physical fatigue subsides after 10 to 20 minutes, but mental and psychological exhaustion is much harder to overcome,” the 22 year-old, who works odd jobs to fund four hours of training in the Japanese martial art each day, told AFP.
“Judo means a lot to me,” he said while other fighters sparred at the run-down gym of the Afghanistan Judo Federation in Kabul.
“One of my biggest dreams has been to someday participate in the Olympic Games.”

In this photograph taken on June 27, 2024, Afghan judo fighter Mohammad Samim Faizad (R) takes part in a training session at the Afghanistan Judo Federation in Kabul, ahead of his participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (AFP)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Afghanistan from the Games in 1999, during the first period of Taliban rule from 1996 and 2001 when women were barred from sport.
The country was reinstated after the Taliban were ousted by the post-9/11 invasion, but the Paris Games mark the first summer Olympics since they took back power in 2021.
Taliban government curbs have once again squeezed women out of sport, as well as secondary schools and universities, in strictures the United Nations describes as “gender apartheid.”
But this time the IOC has invited a squad without consulting Taliban officials — who have not been invited to attend — instead working with the largely exiled national Olympic committee.
The team of three women and three men were chosen under a system ensuring all 206 nations are represented at the Games, in cases where athletes wouldn’t otherwise qualify.
Faizad won his spot in a Kabul tournament of more than a hundred competitors.
“I will give my hundred percent to get the gold medal for my country,” said Faizad, who has practiced judo for 14 years and is 446th in the men’s world rankings.
The Taliban government have campaigned to be the country’s only representatives at diplomatic forums but in sport have been less dogmatic, praising teams that play under the old flag.
“We don’t want to mix politics and sports,” Atal Mashwani, the spokesman of the Taliban government’s sports directorate, told AFP.
However he insisted that “only three athletes are representing Afghanistan” at the Olympics, refusing to acknowledge the women competitors.
He added that with time “the flag issues will be solved.”
“The flag of the ruling government will be waved in international sports events,” he said.

In this photograph taken on June 27, 2024, Afghan judo fighter Mohammad Samim Faizad (L) takes part in a training session with fellow judoka Shamsuddin Payenda Zadah at the Afghanistan Judo Federation in Kabul, ahead of Faizad's participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (AFP)

Afghanistan first appeared at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and have won only two bronze medals, both in Taekwondo.
“In Afghanistan, there aren’t many opportunities for sport,” said Faizad.
“We don’t have standard clubs to train properly, but we do our best.”
The word judo means “gentle way” in Japan and Faizad tries to cultivate the zen-like calmness his sport requires of champions by putting all other things out of his mind.
“An athlete should be able to focus only on sport,” he said.
The young fighter is trained by his uncle, 36 year-old Ajmal Faizada — who competed in the 2012 London Olympics and will accompany him to Paris.
“We have both given our best in training,” said Ajmal.
“We are really aiming to return with the best achievement possible.”
The Paris Olympics will be Faizad’s first international competition — but with the Taliban government unrecognized by any other nation, the trip is difficult and complicated.
Most embassies in Afghanistan were evacuated during the Taliban takeover and Faizad must travel to neighboring Iran to apply for his visa.
“Whether I win or not, and if I return to Afghanistan empty-handed, I will train to be ready for the 2028 Olympic Games,” he promised.


North Korean official drowned during Moscow visit, say Russian media

North Korean official drowned during Moscow visit, say Russian media
Updated 42 min 43 sec ago
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North Korean official drowned during Moscow visit, say Russian media

North Korean official drowned during Moscow visit, say Russian media

MOSCOW: A North Korean official visiting Russia whose name matches that of a man cited by the secretive state’s media as the leader of a military training contingent has drowned while swimming in a pond outside Moscow, Russian media have reported.
The BAZA news outlet, which often publishes information from sources in the security services and law enforcement, said that the official, Kim Geum Chol, died on July 11 in a public swimming pond in Zelenograd, a city some 37 km (23 miles) northwest of Moscow.
North Korea’s state KCNA news agency reported earlier this month that a North Korean elite military training delegation had departed by plane to Russia on July 8, the first military exchange between the two countries since their leaders signed a pact pledging closer military cooperation.
KCNA said that Kim Geum Chol, whom it described as the president of the Kim Il Sung Military University, was leading the delegation. The country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, attended the military academy after studying in Switzerland while being groomed as North Korea’s third leader.
The North Korean embassy in Moscow on Wednesday did not immediately respond to a Reuters request to confirm Kim’s death and identity. Moscow police, who have not commented on the incident publicly, were checking the circumstances of what happened, the SHOT Telegram channel reported separately.
Both BAZA and SHOT described the dead man as having been on an official visit and as having stayed at the North Korean embassy in Moscow. Neither made mention of any military education links, saying only that he had worked in the agriculture sector.
BAZA said Kim had traveled, accompanied by an interpreter, to the Bolshoi Gorodskoi (Big City) pond in Zelenograd to cool off from the scorching summer heat.
Baza and SHOT said the interpreter had lost sight of Kim after he went swimming and contacted the police. His body was found the next day floating in the pond. Both outlets gave his age as 64. The incident comes as Pyongyang and Moscow have traded a record number of high-level visits in the past year, culminating in President Vladimir Putin’s first trip to North Korea in 24 years.
The two countries’ military ties concern officials in Seoul and Washington, who say there is evidence of weapons shipments by the North to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Pyongyang and Moscow deny such transactions.


Germany to halve military aid for Ukraine despite Trump’s possible White House return

Germany to halve military aid for Ukraine despite Trump’s possible White House return
Updated 42 min 59 sec ago
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Germany to halve military aid for Ukraine despite Trump’s possible White House return

Germany to halve military aid for Ukraine despite Trump’s possible White House return
  • Stocks of Germany’s armed forces, already run down by decades of underinvestment, have been further depleted by arms supplies to Kyiv

BERLIN: Germany will halve military aid for Ukraine next year, even with the possibility that Republican candidate Donald Trump could return to the White House and curb support for Kyiv.
German aid to Ukraine will be cut to 4 billion euros ($4.35 billion) in 2025 from around 8 billion euros in 2024, according to a draft of the 2025 budget.
Germany hopes Ukraine will be able to meet the bulk of its military needs with the $50 billion in loans from the proceeds of frozen Russian assets agreed by the Group of Seven, and that funds earmarked for armaments will not be fully used.
Washington pushed to “front load” the loans to give Ukraine a big lump sum now.
Officials say EU leaders agreed to the idea in part because it reduces the chance of Ukraine being short of funds if Trump returns to the White House.
Alarm bells rang across Europe this week after Trump picked Senator J.D. Vance, who opposes military aid for Ukraine and warned Europe will have to rely less on the United States to defend the continent, as his candidate for vice president.
Trump sparked fierce criticism from Western officials for suggesting he would not protect countries that failed to meet the transatlantic military alliance’s defense spending targets and would even encourage Russia to attack them.
Germany has faced criticism for repeatedly missing a NATO target of spending 2 percent of its economic output on defense.
DEPLETED MILITARY STOCKS
The stocks of Germany’s armed forces, already run down by decades of underinvestment, have been further depleted by arms supplies to Kyiv.
So far, Berlin has donated three Patriot air defense units to Kyiv, more than any other country, bringing down the number of Patriot systems in Germany to nine.
Germany’s fractious coalition of left-leaning Social Democrats, pro-business liberals and ecologist Greens has struggled to comply with NATO’s spending target due to self-imposed rules that limit the amount of state borrowing they can take on.
Although military aid to Ukraine will be cut, Germany will comply with the NATO target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense in 2025, with a total of 75.3 billion euros.
Days after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a “Zeitenwende” – German for historic turning point — with a 100 billion euro special fund to bring the military up to speed.
From this special fund, there will be 22.0 billion euros more for defense, plus 53.3 billion euros in the regular budget, still less than that sought by Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.
The budget for 2025 comes with the mid-term financial planning until 2028, the year when the armed forces’ special fund to meet NATO’s minimum spending goals is due to run out and 80 billion will be needed for defense, as noted in the financial plan.
In 2028, there is a gap of 39 billion euros in the regular budget, of which 28 billion euros are needed to comply with the NATO target without the special fund, sources from the finance ministry said.
Decisions on how the hole will be plugged are not likely to be taken until after the 2025 election.
“The 80 billion euros that have been put on display for 2028 simply do not exist,” said Ingo Gaedechens, member of the parliament’s budget committee from the conservative opposition party CDU.
“The coalition is not even trying to cover this up but are openly admitting it.”