Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs
Kenya police patrol the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers are leaving for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against powerful gangs. (AP/File)
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Updated 25 June 2024
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Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

NAIROBI, Kenya: Hundreds of Kenyan police officers were leaving Monday for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against the powerful gangs whose deadly violence spiked this year and helped bring about a change in government.

The deployment is controversial. The government of Kenyan President William Ruto is defying a court’s ruling calling it unconstitutional. And critics have expressed concern about the long history of alleged abuses by police officers.

The 400 police officers are the first of the 1,000 that Kenya expects to send for the United Nations-led force in Haiti. Ruto’s sendoff ceremony on Monday was closed to the media, but his office shared a speech in which he urged the officers to uphold integrity.

“We have mediated many conflicts and are currently engaged in resolving more,” he said. “Don’t let down the confidence the people of Kenya and the international community have in you.”

A court case seeking to block the deployment is pending, but an initial ruling had called the deployment unconstitutional, citing the lack of a reciprocal agreement between Kenya and Haiti.

US President Joe Biden, however, thanked Ruto for Kenya’s leadership of the multinational force during Ruto’s recent state visit to Washington. The United States has agreed to contribute $300 million to the force, but Biden argued that an American troop presence in Haiti would raise “all kinds of questions that can easily be misrepresented.”

More than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of the year in Haiti. The spike in violence began in late February and has displaced more than half a million people. Gangs now control at least 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince and key roads. Trapped outside the country as the international airport was closed, Prime Minister Ariel Henry was forced to resign.

The most recent allegations by watchdogs against Kenyan police for using excessive force came last week, when two people died during anti-government protests. One protester was shot dead by a suspected plainclothes officer. The other was killed by a tear gas canister thrown by police.

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority is looking into police conduct during the protests in which more than 200 other people were injured.


Student protesters vow ‘complete shutdown’ in Bangladesh after days of violent protest

Student protesters vow ‘complete shutdown’ in Bangladesh after days of violent protest
Updated 4 sec ago
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Student protesters vow ‘complete shutdown’ in Bangladesh after days of violent protest

Student protesters vow ‘complete shutdown’ in Bangladesh after days of violent protest
  • Students have been demonstrating for weeks against a quota system for government jobs they say favors allies of the ruling party
  • Protests have escalated since violence broke out on the campus of Dhaka University on Monday
DHAKA: People stayed home and many malls closed their doors Thursday morning in Bangladesh’s capital as protesters attempted to impose a “complete shutdown” after days of student protesters violently clashing with police and ruling party-backed student activists.
Traffic was thin on Dhaka’s usually clogged streets. Offices and banks opened, but commuters complained that transport was limited.
Salma Rahman, an official at a financial institution in Dhaka, said that she left his car at home and caught a ride on a motorcycle. “Our office has alerted us to stay safe on streets, as there is fear that violence could happen during the shutdown.”
Students have been demonstrating for weeks against a quota system for government jobs they say favors allies of the ruling party, but the protests have escalated since violence broke out on the campus of Dhaka University on Monday. Six people were killed amid protests on Tuesday, leading the government to ask universities across the country to close and police to raid the main opposition party’s headquarters.
The violence continued late Wednesday in Dhaka. Traffic was halted on a major highway as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who set fire to a toll booth, blocked streets and detonated explosives, Somoy TV reported.
Other news outlets said scores were injured in the hours of violence.
On Thursday morning, with classes suspended and dormitories closed, students near Dhaka’s BRAC University clashed with police, who fired tear gas.
Police set up checkpoints at the entrances to Dhaka University.
On Wednesday night, the protesters announced they would enforce “a complete shutdown” across the country on Thursday in response to security officials’ continued attacks on the campus demonstrators. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party said that it would do what it could to make the shutdown a success.
Protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30 percent of government jobs for family members of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971. They argue that the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.
Hasina’s government halted the quotas after mass student protests in 2018. But last month, Bangladesh’s High Court nullified that decision and reinstated the quotas after relatives of the 1971 veterans filed petitions, triggering the latest demonstrations. The Supreme Court then suspended the High Court’s ruling and is expected to rule on Aug. 7. The government has also separately appealed the High Court decision in the wake of the protest, according to the attorney general’s office.
“I am requesting all to wait with patience until the verdict is delivered,” Hasina said in a televised address Wednesday evening. “I believe our students will get justice from the apex court. They will not be disappointed.”
While job opportunities have expanded in Bangladesh’s private sector, many people prefer government jobs because they are stable and well paid. Each year, some 400,000 graduates compete for 3,000 jobs in the civil service exam.
Hasina said there would be a judicial probe into Tuesday’s deaths and vowed that those responsible would be brought to justice.
“Some precious lives have been lost unnecessarily,” she said. “I condemn every killing.”
UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk said in a post on the social media platform X that all acts of violence and deadly use of force must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. Turk said freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights.
Bangladesh’s ruling party blamed the BNP for the chaos, and Dhaka police raided the party’s headquarters late Tuesday. Detective Chief Harun-or-Rashid said police arrested seven members of the party’s student wing, and said detectives found 100 crude bombs, 500 wooden and bamboo sticks, and five to six bottles of gasoline in the raid.
Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a senior BNP leader, said the raid was a government attempt to divert attention from the protests.

India plans to ease rice export curbs to retain market share against Pakistan

India plans to ease rice export curbs to retain market share against Pakistan
Updated 9 min 18 sec ago
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India plans to ease rice export curbs to retain market share against Pakistan

India plans to ease rice export curbs to retain market share against Pakistan
  • Authorities in India imposed rice export curbs in 2023 in an effort to keep local prices in check
  • Rice exporters say supplies have exceeded local demand, seek overseas sales to prevent spoilage

NEW DELHI: India is likely to cut the floor price for basmati rice exports and replace the 20 percent export tax on parboiled rice with a fixed duty on overseas shipments, government sources said, as rice inventories in the country jumped a record high.
The world’s biggest rice exporter imposed various curbs on exports in 2023 and continued them in 2024 in an effort to keep local prices in check ahead of the general elections held in April-May.
New Delhi is expected to lower the basmati rice’s minimum export price (MEP) to $800-$850 a metric ton, down from $950 a ton, to boost shipments, said the sources, who didn’t wish to be identified as they are not authorized to talk to media.
Lowering the MEP would help India retain its market share against Pakistan, which exported a record amount of rice this year due to New Delhi’s export curbs.
India and Pakistan are the leading exporters of basmati rice. New Delhi exports more than 4 million metric tons of basmati – the premium long-grain variety famed for its aroma – to countries such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
New Delhi is also expected to drop the 20 percent export tax on parboiled rice and introduce a minimum export tax to stop under-invoicing of shipments, the sources said.
The government was examining possibilities of easing rice export curb, including resuming white rice exports, Reuters reported last month.
Worried over expectations of lower output due to the El Nino weather pattern, India banned overseas shipments of non-basmati white rice varieties in July 2023 and imposed curbs on other grades.
“With rice supplies significantly exceeding local demand, it’s crucial to reduce stockpiles to prevent spoilage. The most effective solution is to lift export restrictions,” said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA).
The country’s rice stocks at state warehouses have jumped to 48.51 million metric tons as of July 1, the highest ever for the month and nearly 19 percent more than last year, according to the Food Corporation of India.
New Delhi would also review the export ban on non-basmati white rice after assessing the progress of rice planting, the sources said.
Farmers have so far planted 11.6 million hectares with rice paddy during the current planting, up 20.7 percent on the same period last year.


Death inevitable, says preacher at center of Indian stampede disaster

Death inevitable, says preacher at center of Indian stampede disaster
Updated 18 July 2024
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Death inevitable, says preacher at center of Indian stampede disaster

Death inevitable, says preacher at center of Indian stampede disaster
  • Bhole Baba: ‘I am very distressed by what happened, but who can possibly challenge fate?’
  • Police constable-turned-preacher spoke to local media at one of his monasteries in Kasganj

NEW DELHI: An Indian preacher whose latest sermon ended in a deadly stampede that killed more than 120 people insisted that fate could not be challenged and death was inevitable.
In his first appearance before the media since July 2, when 121 people were crushed to death following a sermon he delivered in the northern city of Hathras, Bhole Baba said he was upset by the tragedy.
“I am very distressed by what happened, but who can possibly challenge fate?” he said.
“Whoever comes to this earth has to go one day — it is only a matter of when.”
The police constable-turned-preacher spoke to local media Wednesday at one of his monasteries in Kasganj, around 60 kilometers from the stampede site.
Baba’s lawyer had earlier said “anti-social elements” in the crowd were responsible.
The prayer meeting was attended by 250,000 devotees, more than three times the authorized number. The vast majority of fatalities were women.
A police report issued after the stampede named several organizers of the prayer meeting sought for arrest, but Baba was not among them.
So far 11 volunteers working for him have been arrested.
Religious gatherings in India have a grim track record of deadly incidents caused by poor crowd management and safety lapses.
In 2008, 224 pilgrims were killed and more than 400 injured in a stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur.


Top Democrats increase pressure on Biden to step aside, US media reports

Top Democrats increase pressure on Biden to step aside, US media reports
Updated 18 July 2024
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Top Democrats increase pressure on Biden to step aside, US media reports

Top Democrats increase pressure on Biden to step aside, US media reports
  • US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi among voices of dissent
  • Joe Biden has repeatedly rejected calls from Democrats to drop out of the presidential race

WASHINGTON: Top Democrats including US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have increased pressure on President Joe Biden to withdraw from his reelection campaign over concerns he cannot defeat Republican challenger Donald Trump, US media reported on Wednesday.
Schumer told Biden in a meeting on Saturday it would be better for the country and the Democratic Party if he ended his reelection campaign, ABC News reported.
US House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has expressed similar views directly to Biden, ABC News reported, citing a source familiar with the conversation.
CNN reported on Wednesday that Pelosi, too, has told Biden polling shows he cannot defeat Trump and that the president could destroy the Democrats’ chances of winning back control of the House of Representatives.
Pelosi spoke to Biden in a recent telephone call, CNN reported, citing four sources briefed on the call. None of the sources indicated Pelosi told Biden he should leave the race, CNN said.
Biden responded by telling Pelosi he has seen polling indicating he can win, according to one CNN source.
A Pelosi spokesperson told CNN that Pelosi has not spoken to Biden since Friday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic US Representative Adam Schiff became the 20th congressional Democrat to publicly call for Biden to drop out of the race.
Schumer’s office responded to the report about his meeting with the president with a statement calling it “idle speculation” and said Schumer “conveyed the views of his caucus directly to President Biden on Saturday.”
Jeffries’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Biden has repeatedly rejected calls from Democrats to drop out of the race after his halting performance in a debate last month against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“The President told both leaders he is the nominee of the party, he plans to win, and looks forward to working with both of them to pass his 100 days agenda to help working families,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.


Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide
Updated 18 July 2024
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Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide
  • A two-time former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad turned 99 last week
  • He has suffered several heart problems in recent years and underwent bypass surgeries

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s nearly 100-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has been hospitalized for “continuous coughing,” his aide said Thursday.
“Mahathir is expected to be treated for the next few days,” Sufi Yusoff said, adding he had been admitted on Monday.
A two-time former prime minister, Mahathir turned 99 last week.
He has suffered several heart problems in recent years and underwent bypass surgeries.
He spent nearly three months in hospital earlier this year.
Born on July 10, 1925, Mahathir served as prime minister twice, first taking office as the country’s fourth national leader from 1981 until 2003.
He then served as prime minister for a second time at the age of 92 from 2018 to 2020.