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Updated: 6 min ago

Canada Loves Obama So Much That They Want Him To Violate The U.S. Constitution

1 hour 17 min ago

When President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered an address to the Canadian Parliament, Canadian lawmakers loved it so much that they gave him several standing ovations and chanted "Four more years!"

They are shouting "four more years!" pic.twitter.com/Geg2NXWYfF

— Roberta Rampton (@robertarampton) June 29, 2016

Of course, that would be a violation of the Constitution, as Obama is about to conclude his second and final term in office.

But the Canadian Parliament's warm welcome to Obama does reflect the close partnership between him and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which he referenced throughout his speech.

Obama, Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met in Ottawa on Wednesday for a summit between the three North American leaders.

During his speech to Parliament, Obama hailed the two nations' common goals and collaboration on issues like terrorism and climate change, and celebrated Trudeau's efforts to welcome Syrian refugees.

As Obama has been doing in his recent speeches, he also took another swipe at presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling out leaders who "are tapping into anger and fear, arguing that we must rebuild walls and disengage from a chaotic world, or rid ourselves of the supposed ills of immigrants, all in order to regain control of our lives."

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Categories: News Monitor

We Prayed For Paris -- But What About Istanbul?

2 hours 5 min ago

Once again, there was relative radio silence in response to a deadly terror attack on a predominantly Muslim country.

While there was an outpouring of international solidarity following last year's terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed almost 130 people, and March's terrorist attacks in Brussels, which killed more than 30, the response to the suicide bombing on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Tuesday, which killed 41 and injured another 239, was decidedly less impressive.

Only a handful of countries paid tribute by lighting up buildings or monuments in Turkish flag colors:

Paris did not light up the Eiffel Tower in Turkish colors as it did with Belgium's flag colors after the Brussels attack -- even though just weeks ago it projected Turkish colors onto the landmark after soccer fans won a contest. 

Neither did the World Trade Center, which lit up in Belgium's and France's flag colors after their attacks. The Empire State Building did not go dark, as it did following those two attacks. 

And the absence of vigils honoring the dead was astounding. 

The Union of European Football Associations said it would not hold a moment of silence during the Euro 2016 quarterfinals because Turkey had already been eliminated from the series, Associated Press reporter Rob Harris tweeted.

UEFA: No minute's silence for Istanbul airport victims at #EURO2016 quarterfinals

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) June 29, 2016

UEFA says it holds minute's silence when tragedies are "related to football directly, or to one of the participating teams or host country"

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) June 29, 2016

While Facebook turned on its safety check feature, which allows users to mark themselves as safe during a crisis, it did not provide a filter that lets users easily modify their profile picture with an overlay of the Turkish flag -- something they've done with the French flag, the Belgian flag and with other symbols during tragedies. 

The following illustrations aptly summed up the sentiment:

I'm so heartbroken to hear about the attack in Istanbul, Turkey. This image is so sad, but so true. pic.twitter.com/TTUJB7bemC

— banksy (@thereaIbanksy) June 29, 2016

True #PrayForTurkey

A photo posted by Αʏƨɛиʋя || Αяι иσтı¢є∂ χ2 (@wafflegomez) on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:35am PDT

A Facebook post that went viral after a deadly bombing in Ankara, Turkey's capital, in March highlighted the disturbing reality that the outpouring of support in the wake of an attack in Turkey was significantly more muted than it was after the attacks in Paris or Brussels.

The author, James Taylor asked readers to think about the victims being “people you see every day on your way to work, people just like you and I, normal, happy people.”

“These people are no different. They just happen to be Turkish,” he wrote. 

Read More On The Istanbul Attacks

Deadly Suicide Bombings Hit Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

Airport Surveillance Video Captures The Terrifying Moment Of An Explosion

Aid Worker Who Narrowly Escaped Syria Alive Was Injured In Istanbul Attack

How To Help Victims Of The Istanbul Airport Attack

Turks Step Up To Help The Injured And Stranded In Wake Of Istanbul Triple Suicide Bombing

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Categories: News Monitor

India's "Act-Korea", Korea's "Look-India"

2 hours 21 min ago

[Song Woo-suk (right), advisory committee member of Korea International Trade Association (KITA), explains about transparent boat to Indian PM Narendra Modi (second from right) at the booth of Korean firm Hannam Total Marine ahead of opening ceremony of Maritime Summit held in Mumbai Convention Center in Maharashtra, India, on April 14./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

By Ha Man-joo, India correspondent, AsiaToday - Korean King Suro's queen Heo Hwang-ok, also known as Princess Sri Ratna from Ayodhya of India, is frequently mentioned at Korea-related meetings in India. The legend of queen Heo Hwang-ok has become the universal knowledge among Indian government officials since PM Narendra Modi mentioned it ahead of his visit to Korea back in May.

The central government and even local government officials mention the Heritage of the Three States, which tells the story of queen Heo Hwang-ok, in order to highlight the history of the Korea-India relations. As seen, Korea-India relations in public level are close enough that we could say they are in "special strategic partnership". The installation of Korean Plus Desk by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry on June 18 for Korean firms looking for entering Indian market, symbolically shows it well. In this situation, arguments that both countries should benchmark each other are gaining strength.

[Korean Ambassador to India Cho Hyun (left) introduces Korean Pavilion and Korean firms to PM Narendra Modi (center), who visited Korean Pavilion at Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex during the 'Make in India' weekly expo on February 13./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

The pro-Korean diplomats in India and Korean scholars speak with one voice that Korea's modernization model is significant in India. They point out that India should learn from Korea's economic growth model, which starts from light industry to heavy chemical, high-tech, information and communication technology (ICT), and to green industry.

[The Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan (right) and the Indian Commercial and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (left) head to the office after the opening ceremony of 'Korea Plus' held at Ashok Hotel in New Delhi, India, on June 18./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

This is also related to the reality of Korean companies like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and Hyundai that stand out among foreign companies in the Indian market in terms of their awareness and credibility. The India government, which is keenly aware of importance of 'Skill India' which could be the basis of 'Make In India', emphasize the fact that Korea's level of formal vocational training is 96%, which is higher than manufacturing powers Japan (80%), Germany (75%), UK (68%), and US (52%), while only 2.3% of India's labor force has undergone formal vocational training.

[Sukesh Jain, Vice President of Samsung India Electronics, demonstrates iris recognition of Galaxy Tab Iris at the device's launching event held in a hotel in New Delhi, India, on June 25./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

[Kim Ki-wan (center), Managing Director of LG India, takes a picture withIndian experts that introduced 'Friends' of G5 at the press day event incelebration of LG G5 launch in Kingdom of Dream, Gurugram, India, on June 1./Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

[Koo Young-ki (left), head of Hyundai Motor India, and King of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan answer to reporters' questions after attending Hyundai Motor India's Traffic Safety Campaign for children held at New Delhi Habitat Center on November 30, 2015./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

Diplomats and scholars pay special attention to Korea's Saemaul Movement, or New Village Movement. The situation of India where 55% of its industrial population is engaged in agriculture is not much different with Korea in the 70s, when it began its New Village Movement. Indian experts take note that the movement was not only regional social movement in rural areas but also urban areas and that the driving force came from Korean residents' spontaneity. According to the experts, the key success factor was that the government played a small part of creating the atmosphere, and the actual improvement of local communities was led by residents themselves.

[Skand Ranjan Tayal (right), former Indian Ambassador, says India should refer to Korea's achievements and experience in order to carry out its social, economic initiatives with success. The picture is taken when he attended a two-day international seminar on "Indo-Korea Relations: Forging a Multidimensional Impact on Asia in 21st Century" held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Convention Center on April 18./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

["The CSR activities should combine the philosophy of Saemaul Movement," said Sandip Kumar Mishra, a professor at the University of Delhi, at the FICCI CSR Summit and Awards - 2015 held at FICCI, New Delhi, on November 24, 2015./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

PM Modi's enforcement of 'Clean India' policy by wielding a broom in a New Delhi slums reminds us of self-help spirit of New Village Movement. Although India's caste system was officially abolished after it became independent from Britain rule in 1947, India has not been completely free from its shadow. Traditionally, cleaning is regarded as something best left to the lowest castes. Therefore, it's very shocking for Indians to see a national leader cleaning the streets by himself.

However, some believe that Korea's modernization model won't be easy to succeed in India due to different conditions. While Korea has developed a single-race nation with single linguistic and cultural consciousness, India has various races, languages, regions and cultures within the country, and its local governments and local communities play a significant role. India can benchmark only some parts of the Korean model when promoting 'Make in India' and 'Digital India' initiatives, but it's difficult to apply the full package of Korea's modernization model.

[Jeetendra Uttam, Professor at Nehru University, talks with Arvind Kumar,Secretary to Industries & Commerce and Energy Department of Telangana Government, at the 'Korea Caravan Forum' hosted by South Korea Embassy in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, on June 8./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

As an extension of this perspective, Jeetendra Uttam, Professor at Nehru University, claims that Korea's modernization model is suitable for the Indian state government level. According to prof. Jeetendra, India's state government with population of up to 200 million has high homogeneity in terms of language and culture, and the Korean model is likely to succeed as long as the state government has powerful and rational leadership.

[The Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan (right) and the Indian Commercial and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (left) have a conversation in the office after the opening ceremony of 'Korea Plus' held at Ashok Hotel in New Delhi, India, on June 18./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

In the midst of such atmosphere, some claim that Korea should learn from India as well. India's software, start-up and IT industries are the benchmark for Korea. The Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan pointed out, "India has presented a model where latest IT industries such as software and ICT can be export industrialized while being a developing country. Korea should learn from India's service export strategy."

[Yonsei University delegation including Yonsei University President Kim Yong-hak (center), Planning Director Kim Dong-no (second from left), and International Department Head Kim Joon-ki (fourth) visited India to discuss start-up manpower interchange with Indian universities including IIT and had a commemorative photograph in a hotel in New Delhi, India, on June 19./ Photographed by Ha Man-joo]

In that sense, the recent India visit of Yonsei University delegation including Yonsei University President Kim Yong-hak, Planning Director Kim Dong-no, and International Department Head Kim Joon-ki to discuss start-up manpower interchange with Indian universities including IIT is very encouraging.

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Categories: News Monitor

Gulf Monarchies Condemned Orlando Attack While Promoting Hate Preachers: Government-Sponsored Clerics Dehumanize Gays And Non-Muslims, Condone Terrorism

3 hours 2 min ago
America's Gulf allies talk a good game against terrorism. They widely condemned this month's tragic attack in Orlando. And all six Gulf monarchies are signatories to the 2014 Jeddah Communiqué, pledging to crack down on terror groups' finances and "repudiat[e] their hateful ideology."

So how well are they keeping these commitments? Not well at all.

As I wrote earlier this month in the Long War Journal, several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), particularly Qatar and Kuwait, have failed to take effective action to stop terror finance or convict its top practitioners. Alarmingly, some GCC regimes are also bolstering key parts of the ideology that underpins terrorism rather than consistently fighting against it.

A few Gulf governments, especially Abu Dhabi and Oman, have taken very encouraging steps in this regard. But Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Dubai sponsored or promoted numerous events during this holy month of Ramadan that give a platform to noted hate preachers. Even as these regimes condemn attacks like the one in Orlando, they are fueling the fire by embracing clerics who have dehumanized LGBT people and those of other faiths. Some have even condoned or defended acts of terrorism.

The tragic murders at the Orlando Pulse nightclub seemed driven by similar hatred. The shooter had spoken often about killing people, and expressed hatred of homosexuals, African-Americans, women and Jews. This hatred is significant regardless of speculation whether he himself may have been gay, or the broader issue of anti-LGBT bigotry within the United States.

It is also worth noting that the Islamic State, to whom he pledged allegiance, demeaned the victims as "the people of Lot," (a slur against gay people) and "impure Crusaders," dehumanizing them and denigrating their presumed Christian faith.

Incitement against LGBT People:

The Dubai government's Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department organized a lecture series this month called the "Ramadan Gathering" under the patronage of the ruler's son. Although Dubai is generally the most cosmopolitan place in the Gulf, this event gave a platform to several intolerant preachers, including two lectures the week of the Orlando attack by Ismail Menk, who has called gay people "worse than... animals" and described their behavior as "filthy."

Meanwhile, Qatar's state news wire promoted a holiday lecture series put on by the Doha-based charity "Raf." The event, which according to the charity's website counts two state-owned firms among its partners, included three speeches by Mohammed Rateb al-Nabulsi, who has ruled that homosexuality should be punished by death.

As for Saudi Arabia, it allowed Saleh bin Humaid to lead a Ramadan prayer service and later to deliver a sermon from the holiest site in Islam, in which he called for divine intervention against "the usurper, occupier Jews" and "their evils." Bin Humaid has used that pulpit before to proclaim that homosexuality makes a human being "lower than a beast," arguing that it "violates the sanctity of Allah" and conflicts with "normal souls." The Saudi king subsequently handed Bin Humaid an award this year for "service to Islam."

[Saleh bin Humaid being handed an award for "service to Islam" this year by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. Source: YouTube]

Until at least 2014, official Saudi textbooks taught that the most important debate about homosexuality is how to kill gay people: by fire, stoning, or being thrown from great heights. The Islamic State, which circulates images of Saudi textbooks in its schools, has executed dozens of suspected gay, lesbian, or transgender people using such methods.

Dehumanizing Shi'a and Non-Muslims:

As suggested by Bin Humaid's rhetoric about Jews, this intolerance apparently extends to followers of other religions as well.

For example, Omar Abdulkafi, an Egyptian hardline preacher, has reportedly instructed that Muslims should not shake hands or share sidewalks with Christians. He was scheduled to speak three times this month at the Qatari Raf festival and two times as part of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award, which was founded by Dubai's ruler and uses the Dubai government logo on its speaker's table and promotional materials. The event's organizing committee was chaired by Ibrahim Boumelha, the ruler's own adviser for cultural affairs.

Another speaker at the Dubai Quran Award was Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq, who called last year at Qatar's state-controlled Grand Mosque for God to "destroy" the Jews, Christians, Shi'ites, and Alawites. He made similar remarks before, but this time outcry eventually led Qatar to ban him from state TV.

[Segment of sermon delivered by Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq at the Grand Mosque in Doha on January 30, 2015. Original footage without translation broadcast on Qatar TV]

Yet Saudi state TV gave Ateeq roughly five hours of airtime this month. He continues to be publicly identified as a Saudi government official, and this Ramadan he got to speak to a Dubai audience that included both Boumelha and the UAE's new minister of state for happiness.

[Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq on Saudi Arabia's state news channel this month. Source: YouTube]

[Tweet by the UAE's Minister of State for Happiness indicating that she attended Ateeq's lecture this month in Dubai. The logo in red on the table reads "Government of Dubai". Source: Twitter]

By order of King Salman, Saudi Arabia promoted another noted hardliner to the regime's top religious council last month, even though the way that preacher had criticized IS was reportedly by calling it "atheist" and "more infidel than Jews and Christians." Further, the kingdom's pick for the Mecca Grand Mosque's opening prayer leader on the first night of Ramadan this year took to social media earlier in 2016 to peddle his conspiratorial belief that there is an "alliance of Safavids with the Jews and Christians against Muslims."

Condoning Terrorism:

To their credit, Gulf governments regularly condemn terrorism in general and specific public statements. However, many of the Ramadan speakers promoted by these regimes have long advocated ambiguous or incendiary positions on terror, condoning violence and glorifying or defending its practitioners.

Most notably, Zakir Naik is an Indian televangelist who spoke at Dubai's 2016 Ramadan Gathering and received the Dubai Quran Award's person of the year prize in 2013. His work was publicized by Qatar's state news wire last month, and he too was handed an award for "service to Islam" by the Saudi king just last year.

[Zakir Naik addressing Dubai's 2016 Ramadan Gathering. Source: YouTube]

Yet Naik has also proclaimed with regard to Osama bin Laden that "if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist." He has allegedly been a favorite preacher of several notorious terrorist operatives, authorized keeping slaves and having sex with them, called for murdering apostates, declared "Jews and pagans" the "strongest in enmity to the Muslims," and asserted that 9/11 was an "inside job" by George W. Bush himself.

One speaker at the 2016 Raf festival in Qatar recently called 9/11 a "comedy film" in which no Muslims took part, labeling the Charlie Hebdo murders its "sequel." Another is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who has previously called Jews "devils in human form" and recommended "jihad" against them as the only "solution." A third, the festival's opening speaker, has repeatedly glorified knife attacks against Israelis in the past.

Meanwhile, a prominent Saudi cleric scheduled to speak at both events in Dubai this month has been publicly embraced by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister and its most powerful prince. He has said women were created "as an ornament" to men, and once stated on Qatari TV that Osama bin Laden died with more dignity and honor than any infidel simply by dying a Muslim. Undeterred, the Saudi king paid the preacher a visit this month and prayed shoulder-to-shoulder with him.

And down the road in Qatar, the country's ruler Emir Tamim hosted a Ramadan banquet at his palace on June 13th for dozens of guests but gave the best seat in the house to the Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The Emir was even videotaped then planting kisses on Qaradawi, who has memorably called for murdering homosexuals, apostates, Israeli civilians, and Americans in Iraq, both "civilians and soldiers."

Incitement matters. It's a small step from dehumanizing others to perpetrating violence against those deemed less than human.

Of course, freedom of conscience cuts both ways, so Gulf rulers have a right to believe anything they want. But promoting preachers who engage in such egregious incitement is absolutely indefensible.

Until Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Dubai stop doing so, our leaders must speak out.

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Categories: News Monitor

Why Turkey Matters (Now More Than Ever)

3 hours 23 min ago
In case you haven't heard, the city of Istanbul was bombed this week. Suicide bombers chose the city's main airport -- Turkey's largest -- as its target on Tuesday, killing nearly 50, injuring nearly more than 200.

It's the latest in a series of bombings that has rocked Turkey in the past two years. And it's a big deal -- a very big deal -- that we in the U.S. need to pay attention to.

When Paris was attacked in recent months, the Western World reacted in ways it should have. It was horrified. Many of us -- hundreds of thousands of us -- changed our Facebook profiles to show images of a black Eiffel Tower. Paris was a friend who'd been hurt in this strange new world of terrorist-driven wars. And we wanted to show our support for our friends in France. If it could happen in Europe, it could happen to us.

Turkey's not getting anywhere near that same level of support. And it needs it. Now more than ever.

Here are just a few reasons why:

1) Turkey is in Europe, too. As a nation, most of us know how important Europe is. We certainly were in agreement about that last week in the wake of the shocking Brexit vote. But most of us think of Europe as Britain, France and Germany. Often forgotten is the fact that Turkey is in Europe, too. Not all of it. But a significant part of it. And it should be given the same level of respect we give to other European nations, especially because of its strategic geographic location, which brings me to my next point:

2) Turkey is where East meets West. Turkey is literally what stands between those European countries we readily identify as our friends -- hi France and Britain and Germany -- and those nations in an ongoing state of turmoil, notably Syria, Iraq and Iran. Fingers have been pointed in recent years at Turkey, suggesting that the nation has helped -- some argue inadvertently while others argue intentionally -- stir the pot of unease in the Middle East. But none of that takes away from the fact that Turkey has long assisted us in NATO campaigns and has been a critical buffer zone separating the West from some of the world's most dangerous "hot spots" that cannot and should not be ignored.

3) Turkey is a Moslem nation. A really impressive Moslem nation. It's no great secret that there's a lot of misinformation out there about what constitutes a Moslem nation. The mere mention of "Moslem nation" conjures up, for many, images of bloodshed and headscarves and angry men. But that's not Turkey. Many scholars have heralded Turkey as a miracle. And for good reason. What Ataturk managed to do a century ago was transform a shattered empire into the first modern Moslem nation -- replete with a modern alphabet, western attire and capable business leaders. What's more, he managed to institute a state of peace. Time and again, Turkey is pointed to as the Moslem country that stands to lead the way in spreading the spirit of peace and democracy to other Moslem nations. Its role as a leader among Moslem nations -- as the gold standard whose example can be emulated -- should not be underestimated.

4) Turkey is a great, big nation full of young people, paying attention to who has their back (and who doesn't). Let me paint you a more complete picture of Turkey. It's a nation of 75 million people, 14 million of them based in Istanbul alone. It's also a nation in which there are tons (and by tons -- I mean tons!) of young people. It boasts the youngest demographic among European nations -- with the average age of a citizen just 29 years old. These internet- and social media-savvy, increasingly-university-educated Turkish youth are watching closely how the world responds to crises like the one unfolding this week. They know that the world mourned for Paris. They also know that there is a bias against their nation. That bias has been acted out time and again as Turkey tries again and again to be granted a seat at the European Union table. This is a young nation with a ton of potential -- trade and otherwise. It is not a nation to be overlooked. And failing to show this very young nation that the lives of their fellow countrymen matter just as much as the lives in other European countries is critical.

5) Turkey is a nation on the brink. Turkey, long a friend of the U.S. and to the western world, has had five significant bombings in 2016 alone. It's had its fair share of political ups and downs thanks in large part to its current president, Erdogan, and his ongoing efforts to transform Turkey from a democracy into a nation ruled by a firm executive hand (which seeks to strip journalists of their liberties, among other things). The mounting unease created by this week's suicide attack is the last thing the nation needs -- as it tries to maintain a democracy void of the religious conservatives and military officials who wait in the wings, eager to use this moment of vulnerability as an opportunity to seize ever-greater control. If we want Turkey to remain Western-leading, then Turkey -- on both political and personal levels -- needs to be reminded it does not stand alone and that it has the west on its side.

Just as Paris needed our support last fall, so, too, does Turkey now. If anything, it could be argued that Turkey needs the support even more, owing to its geographic location. The West has a great deal to gain by lending the support, and even more to lose if it chooses to turn a blind eye.

Mary Pflum Peterson is a multi-Emmy-award-winning TV journalist. She lived and worked in Turkey for more than two years, covering earthquakes, federal elections, and mounting Kurdish tensions, among other issues.

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Categories: News Monitor

15 Everyday Travelers Share The Trip That Changed Their Lives

3 hours 29 min ago

It's been scientifically proven that travel makes us feel happier, more creative and more productive at work. Traveling also manages to touch the core of our being in a very profound way -- one that isn't quite so easy to measure in a study.

Below, 15 HuffPost editors share memorable items from trips that changed them for the better. Their stories are a powerful reminder to stop, drop whatever you're doing and please, oh please, take a break

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Categories: News Monitor

Could Brexit Be A Catastrophe That Never Happens?

3 hours 30 min ago

What if the craziest thing about the Brexit is that it never happens?

In the wake of the U.K.’s historic, market-shaking vote, financial heavyweights, commenters and the stock market itself are sending a signal that maybe, possibly, there might be hope that Britain’s departure from the European Union will not happen. The vote, after all, wasn’t binding, and it will be up to the next British government to decide if the country formally withdraws from the E.U.

Then there’s the fact that the London FTSE 100 stock index has made back up the losses it incurred after the surprise “leave” vote. (The pound, however remains deeply depressed against the U.S. dollar.)

There are also finance industry executives who have come out to calm fears, perhaps in hope as much as belief. Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, told Bloomberg TV that he wasn’t sure the Brexit would happen. Uncertainty, he said, was the only thing he could be sure of. Pressed on what he thought would happen, Fink said there is “plenty of time to find a less harmful" alternative to leaving the E.U.

David Rubenstein, founder and co-CEO of private equity giant Carlyle, told Bloomberg TV that economic self-interest alone would keep British politicians from accepting the results of the 52-48 vote.

“When it becomes clear that the terms of the exit are so expensive,” he said, “I think the next prime minister of England [sic] will not invoke Article 50,” referring to the binding notice that a country wishes to leave the E.U. “I’m reasonably optimistic that, in the end, Britain will come to its sense, or the government leaders will come to their senses, and recognize that a Brexit is not in anybody’s interests.”

The Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman looks at another kind of self-interest -- the sheepish reaction of Boris Johnson, London’s former mayor and a prominent "leave" campaigner -- and is hopeful. Johnson, Rachman reasons, just wants to be prime minister. That door has been opened by the resignation of his club mate and fellow Tory David Cameron, who was on the "remain" side. Rachman writes that if Johnson becomes PM, he’ll be satisfied with a slight renegotiation of immigration terms and leave it at that.

But even that scenario, which looks like the best hope for "remain" supporters, would need a drawn-out set of negotiations over arcane matters to end in a very specific way.

And regardless of whether that outcome occurs, Fink says there are already indications of cash-hoarding and a slowing of the types of investments that drive economic growth. In other words, even if the Brexit doesn’t happen, it’s already done harm.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

India's Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Gay Sex Ban Challenge

3 hours 54 min ago

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court refused on Wednesday to hear a petition challenging a law criminalizing gay sex, a setback for gay rights activists battling in the country's courts to get the ban overturned.

A number of well-known lesbian, gay and bisexual Indians had argued that Section 377 of India's penal code, which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal", undermined their fundamental rights by failing to protect their sexual preferences.

"The Supreme Court refused to hear the matter and asked the petitioners to approach the Chief Justice of India," Arvind Dattar, a lawyer for one of the petitioners, told Reuters.

India's chief justice is already hearing a separate case to strike down the ban, and India's top court has previously argued that only parliament has the power to change Section 377.

The decision is the latest setback India's gay community has faced in its fight to get a prohibition on homosexual sex overturned ever since the Supreme Court reinstated a colonial-era ban in late 2013.

That ban ended a four-year period of decriminalization that had helped bring homosexuality increasingly out into the open in a deeply conservative society.

Discrimination faced by homosexual communities across the world was thrown into sharp relief again this month after a gunman slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Some Western countries have pressured India to overturn its ban on gay sex and respect human rights regardless of sexual orientation.

This month U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma's residence in New Delhi's leafy diplomatic quarter was lit in the colors of the rainbow in a gesture of solidarity towards victims of the Orlando massacre.

Violation of the Indian law on gay sex can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes and Suchitra Mohanty; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)



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Categories: News Monitor

Why Laylat Al Qadr Is One Of The Holiest Nights Of Ramadan

4 hours 6 min ago

What Is Laylat Al Qadr?

Laylat Al Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year for Muslims, and is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is known as the “Night of Power,” and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with the exhortation, “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists),” in Surat Al-Alaq (Muhsin Khan translation).

When Is Laylat Al Qadr?

The Prophet Muhammad did not mention exactly when the Night of Power would be, although most scholars believe it falls on one of the odd-numbered nights of the final ten days of Ramadan, such as the 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th or 27th days of Ramadan. It is most widely believed to fall on the 27th day of Ramadan.

In 2016, Laylat Al Qadr is expected to fall on Saturday, July 2, in the United States and the United Kingdom. 


The Quran says in Surat Al-Qadr:

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:

And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:

Peace!... This until the rise of morn! 


The importance of this night is also mentioned in hadith, which are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad as remembered by his companions:

Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.

Hadith, Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34.


Muslims observe this occasion with study, devotional readings, and prayer, as the night’s holiness is believed to make it a very good time for prayers to be answered. The last ten days of Ramadan are considered a particularly spiritually important time, as any of the days may be Laylat Al Qadr, and thus worshippers strive to be especially observant during this period. Some Muslims participate in a spiritual retreat called itikaf, where they spend all ten days in the mosque reading the Quran and praying.

Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain of New York University's Islamic Center, reflected on the significance of this day in a blog for The Huffington Post:

Many Muslims will give emphasis to the 27th night of Ramadan being Laylatul Qadr, but the opinions on what day it is varies. The Qur’an doesn’t mention a specific date for Laylatul Qadr and the Prophet Muhammad’s recommendation to, “Seek it in the last 10 days, on the odd nights,” indicates the importance of searching for it. I would recommend for those observing to take advantage of every night remaining and if we are amongst those who find ourselves in Ramadan next year, to stand in every night that we possibly can.

What one does while seeking out Laylatul Qadr will vary from person to person. Praying the Isha prayer, the night prayer and the Fajr prayer, the prayer at dawn, in congregation is important as is every minute in between. Some will then stand for hours in ritual prayer. Others will read or listen to the Quran being recited. Some will sit with their hands raised to the skies with tears falling from their eyes as their hearts tremble out of devotion. 

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'Dead Cat' Taken To Animal Shelter Turns Out To Just Be A Hand Puppet

4 hours 20 min ago

A sad situation turned hilarious on Monday when someone brought a “dead cat” to an animal shelter on the island of Guernsey and it wound up being a dog hand puppet.

The person who brought in the toy was “very upset” and had wrapped it in a blanket inside a box, according to a statement by the Guernsey Society For the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals. When GSPCA manager Steve Byrne brought the box into another room to check the animal for any identification, he was pleasantly surprised to find it was a wet, mud-covered puppet.

“When I returned to say what it was, first there was disbelief and then we had a very light hearted moment and joked about it and was extremely relieved to find that they had worried over a cuddly toy,” Byrne told The Huffington Post in an email.

The nonprofit’s statement features a somewhat alarming collection of past mix-ups they’ve encountered, including stories like:

  • "A call to a sick seal on a beach was in fact a duvet"

  • "Also a possible dead dog on a beach was another duvet" and

  • "A hedgehog rescue once turned out to be a pine cone”

In the case of the pine cone, Byrne said the person who mixed it up was an elderly man “in ill health” who called for help. The worker who drove out to didn’t have the heart to tell him it was actually a pine cone, and instead “kindly picked up the pine cone” to take it back to the shelter. 

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Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore Of Rio's Olympic Volleyball Beach

4 hours 29 min ago

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Parts of a mutilated body washed up on the sands of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, police said, just meters (yards) from where beach volleyball athletes will compete in the upcoming Olympics.

The discovery, first reported to a newspaper by a Rio street vendor, is the latest to unnerve the city as it grapples with rising crime, a recession and exhausted state finances at a time when it hoped to be celebrating the first Olympics ever held in South America.

It was unclear Wednesday afternoon what conditions may have led to the mutilated body but a policeman standing guard by a security perimeter confirmed its existence to Reuters.

Police officials did not immediately return calls to their public affairs office for more details Wednesday afternoon.

The Olympics, which start August 5, were intended to show off an economic boom that has since fizzled in Latin America's biggest country. Now the games come as the state of Rio de Janeiro awaits emergency funding of 2.9 billion reais ($892 million) to ensure financing for public services.

 The Olympics also will play out with a backdrop of political instability as Brazil's Senate tries suspended President Dilma Rousseff, who is accused of accounting tricks in the government budget, to determine whether she will be ousted for good. The trial is expected to finish after the games.

The state in recent months, even as it races to complete a new subway line and other key pieces of infrastructure promised for the Olympics, has missed crucial debt payments and has been forced to postpone purchasing and salary payments for everyone from public health workers to police.

Rio's acting governor, Francisco Dornelles, earlier this month declared a financial emergency in the state because of budget shortfalls caused by a recession, plummeting oil revenues and a run-up in public expenditures in recent years.

He has fretted publicly that the Olympics could be "a big failure" if financing does not come through but Brazil's federal government has said that it will.

Earlier this week, police and firemen demonstrated at Rio's international airport, protesting their missed wages and greeting arriving passengers with a sign reading "Welcome to Hell."

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This 'Glamping' Resort Has The Most Epic View In All Of Japan

4 hours 29 min ago

If you've ever rolled your eyes at the concept of "glamping" (glamorous camping), prepare to eat your words.

Hoshinoya Fuji, a glamping resort nestled in the forests of a national park in Japan, is exactly what camping should be. That is, if camping included gourmet picnics, "Glamping Masters" and elegant minimalist decor.

The resort, which is about 70 miles west of Tokyo, overlooks Lake Kawaguchi. Behind the lake stands iconic Mt. Fuji.

"It is a resort that is intimate, hidden from the world by a pristine red pine forest and mountain mists," the resort's website reads. Each guest or family has a personal "cabin," with a balcony overlooking the lake and Mt. Fuji in the distance. Basically it's a nature/Instagram-lover's heaven.

A photo posted by Aisaac Inc. Tokyo, Japan (@aisaac_inc) on May 7, 2016 at 6:25pm PDT

If you're not sold yet, maybe you'll be swayed by the resort's "Glamping Masters," AKA "your personal guides to the joys that can be found in nature."

Though it's upscale, Hoshinoya Fuji emphasizes spending time in nature and offers classic camping activities like horseback riding and canoeing. Then, once you've had your fill of trees and such, you can return to a life of luxury -- no cramped tents, mosquitoes or bears in sight.

While there's definitely something to be said for s'mores and campfire songs, we wouldn't mind giving "glamping" a shot. It's only fair, right?

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These Three Men Lead Countries But Can't Seem To Manage A Handshake

5 hours 27 min ago

U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could really work on their handshake skills.

The three met in Canada this week to discuss trade, energy and other issues. At what should have been a simple photo op, the three showed the world that the most simple of movements can be perplexing to world leaders:


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People Are Making A Statement By Wearing Safety Pins After Brexit

5 hours 41 min ago

People are standing against ignorance and hate in a very pointed way. 

Following the historic referendum last week in which the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, incidents of racism in Britain have skyrocketed. However people across Twitter are donning safety pins as a way of showing their support for the immigrants living in the country, and assuring that they're safe with them. 

My daughter, husband & I are wearing #safetypin to show solidarity, support & respect for our migrant population. pic.twitter.com/I3ib3obtDs

— Natasha (@AlbieAndSage) June 29, 2016

"It's simple because you don't have to go out and buy it, there's no language or political slogans involved," Allison, the woman who started the #safetypin campaign and uses the Twitter handle @cheeahs, told Indy100. "It's just a little signal that shows people facing hate crimes that they're not alone and their right to be in the U.K. is supported."

Since the referendum results came out, immigrants have been on the receiving end of bigotry. On Tuesday, Juan Jasso, who's lived in the U.K. for 18 years, was the victim of such an incident. Teenagers on the train told the man to "get back to Africa," among other hateful words, and flicked alcohol at him, according to the Telegraph. And this past weekend, the Polish Social and Cultural Association was allegedly vandalized as their front door was sprayed with an offensive message, CNN noted. 

There's even a social media account, PostRefRacism, which helps users document incidents of racism. 

By donning safety pins, however, people of all backgrounds have been standing in solidarity with immigrants in the U.K. Some shared photos of themselves, wearing the pins on their outfits or work attire. Other Brits took the opportunity to spread messages showing immigrants that they are welcome in the country. 

Ready to be your #SafetyPin on the bus,in streets,wherever you are,my fellow foreign-born friends ❤️#LoveOverFear pic.twitter.com/4wqzMCHs2N

— Dancing Psychiatrist (@Lollindialogue) June 29, 2016

No piercing, so my #safetypin is going next to the other symbol of helping others - my stethoscope pic.twitter.com/u5aOhpHYWc

— Dr Keith Grimes (@keithgrimes) June 29, 2016

According to Indy100, Alison, who was horrified by the abuse that followed the referendum results, is an immigrant herself. She said that people who voted on both sides of the referendum have shown that they're disturbed by the bigotry and hate that's arisen. And while wearing a safety pin is a simple act, she hopes it'll compel people to really make a change. 

One last thing and then I'm out: Remember that wearing the #safetypin is an act of solidarity, not just of opinion.

— miss pommery 1926 (@cheeahs) June 28, 2016

"The first step is just getting it out in the open," she told the outlet. "The more people you start a conversation with, the easier it is to combat violence and abuse."

Check out more #SafetyPin tweets below. 

Wearing #SafetyPin in solidarity with those from all over the world who make our NHS tick-intolerance to hate & fear pic.twitter.com/OEKSrcXknp

— Alexander Gates (@dr_alex_gates) June 29, 2016

I'm fighting #PostRefRacism with a #SafetyPin.

Mine has a heart on it, because love heals ❤ pic.twitter.com/iF6vQD64AU

— Godfrey Elfwick (@GodfreyElfwick) June 28, 2016

Wearing a #safetypin to show solidarity with EU citizens and immigrants here in the UK. #youarewelcomehere pic.twitter.com/dQ0sukN9t5

— Emma Pass (@EmmaPass) June 28, 2016

A woman just hugged me in Tesco because I'm wearing a #SafetyPin. #ReasonsToBeCheerful #HopeNotHate

— Samantha Gouldson (@SamGouldson) June 28, 2016

Plz follow @cheeahs, take part in #safetypin campaign. Offer to support immigrants being abused. I will not stand by, see them threatened.

— Jane Wilkinson (@janewilkinson59) June 28, 2016

Proud to see my girl child, unbidden, go off to school with a safety pin on her blazer. #safetypin

— jennylandreth (@jennylandreth) June 29, 2016

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BREXIT: Lessons of History Applied by UK's Patriots

5 hours 52 min ago

From left: Joel Anand Samy, Co-Founder, International Leaders Summit, Nigel Farage, Leader, UKIP and Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Natasha Srdoc and Roger Helmer, MEP-UKIP, European Parliament, Brussels

Happy Independence Day, United Kingdom! Scores of UK citizens and followers of the EU referendum in Europe and the US are congratulating Nigel Farage, Roger Helmer and the United Kingdom Independence Party's (UKIP) leadership for upholding the significance of sovereignty, the rule of law, individual liberty and economic freedom. For over twenty-five years, Nigel Farage and UKIP leaders have demonstrated a strong commitment to fanning the flames of liberty!

Nigel Farage speaking to leaders at an event co-organized by the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE), Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) and International Leaders Summit, Capitol Hill Club, Washington D.C., July 2015

After all the noise, threats, doomsday scenarios and cataclysmic prognosis by political pundits and elitists, the only relevant argument in the BREXIT victory is the self-determination by the British people. British citizens decided to govern themselves and took pride in affirming the "consent of the governed." How noble and refreshing!

This is not the first time in history that people decided to be sovereign.

Americans fought for their independence from the British Empire 240 years ago. Taxation without representation did not seem right. Americans were threatened by war, there was a risk of civil unrest, and the British Empire's infiltrators did not make it any easier. Yet, Americans decided to sever their ties with the British Empire, no matter the cost. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

It was Americans who prevailed in their desire to be sovereign, and they have prospered since. The founding fathers' 240-year old idea, expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," is still valid today. Albeit, various US administrations and legislators have to be reminded of a bottom-up approach to governance - it is people who decide about their well-being through their elected representatives.

Thomas Jefferson who drafted the U.S. Declaration of Independence was inspired by the English Magna Carta, which established that every person, including the king was subject to the law, and was adopted 560 years earlier. The British legacy of liberty and the rule of law dates back 800 years!

From left: Paul Nuttal, MEP-UKIP, Laure Ferrari, Executive Director, IDDE, Joel Anand Samy, Nigel Farage, Natasha Srdoc, US Senator Jeff Sessions, Daniel Finkenstadt, Sanford M. Saunders, Co-Managing Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Washington, DC, Roger Helmer, MEP-UKIP, William Dartmouth, MEP-UKIP

The EU is not the first, artificially designed, top-down governing, supranational political entity, which keeps different ethnic groups together through a stick and carrot approach. It has been tried and it utterly failed in the 20th century.

The communist regimes of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia held different ethnic groups together by income and wealth redistribution among the republics, and by force - through a dictatorship. Instilling fear of a common foreign enemy and a risk of local collaborators encouraged submission. These omnipotent governments undermined religious liberty, thus eliminating natural rights to freedom and private property.

The commonality of these command-and-control authoritarian and artificially built regimes is the unaccountable governance, supranational redistribution of income and wealth, subjecting people toward government dependency, lack of freedom and instilling fear. Those on the top of these regimes including their supporters are also enriching themselves through this design. Therefore, the larger the top, the more difficult it becomes to dismantle it from within. UKIP's accomplishment in awakening UK citizens deserves great merit.

The global revolt against establishments and most things "big" stems from common developments and trends. It has nothing to do with nationalism, as some political pundits infer. It has all to do with patriotism and the significance of the "consent of the governed."

A natural, bottom-up governance by peoples who govern themselves for their own well-being is replaced by the artificial top-down governing by unelected, unaccountable and self-serving bureaucrats. A fear of foreign enemy instilled by communist regimes is replaced by instilling a fear of violent nationalism, financial markets, rating agencies and economic threats today.

Unaccountable governance by fear is thing of the past. The citizens of the UK understood that well and voted against big government, big banks, big businesses, big special interest groups that worked relentlessly to promote a well-funded scheme that became known as "project fear."

Nigel Farage and Gawain Towler, UKIP Spokesman (right) with UKIP supporters in front of the UK Parliament

This may very well become the most important decision by and for British people. The citizens of the UK have a bright future ahead of them. Through tireless pioneering work, UKIP's leaders have shown the way which other EU countries, considering exiting the EU, can now follow.

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World Tweets Istanbul: We Have Your Back

5 hours 59 min ago

The Turkish government's attempts to block local access to social media and news outlets couldn't stop people around the world from tweeting their support after Tuesday's deadly attack on Istanbul's international airport. The hashtags #PrayForIstanbul and #PrayForTurkey have been trending.

From the U.S., presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said "all Americans stand united with the people of Turkey."

"All Americans stand united with the people of Turkey against this campaign of hatred and violence." —Hillary pic.twitter.com/QmSccJvcV0

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 28, 2016

Others used touching artwork to offer their sympathies. Many of these images were created after past incidents of violence in the country, including a bombing in the Turkish capital that killed 37 people in March.

I'm so heartbroken to hear about the attack in Istanbul, Turkey. This image is so sad, but so true. pic.twitter.com/TTUJB7bemC

— banksy (@thereaIbanksy) June 29, 2016

True #PrayForTurkey

A photo posted by Αʏƨɛиʋя || Αяι иσтı¢є∂ χ2 (@wafflegomez) on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:35am PDT

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the events in Istanbul today. #prayforturkey #PrayforIstanbul #PrayforPeace #dawn_dot_com #art #sketch #sketches #artsy #aljazira #cnn #turkey #peace #instapakistan #ig_pakistan #vscoartist #nawden #universeofartists #artcollect #art_4share #art_gallery #artistic_unity #artfido #prayforhumanity #karimmetwaly #secretclosetpk #timesmagazine #pakistaniartists #dawndotcom #islamic_republic_of_pakisan #pakistandefense

A photo posted by Aamina Hashmi artscape (@aaminahashmi) on Jun 28, 2016 at 5:36pm PDT

Pray for #Istanbul . Peace for the world. (Image by @hellocdr ) pic.twitter.com/QCBGsa4zRa

— Ivy (@Ivy_4MJ) June 29, 2016

#PrayForTurkey Again, slaughter of innocent people. My heart goes out to you all. pic.twitter.com/aZut7y6Hw6

— Theresia J. Crosby (@theresjenn) June 28, 2016

#PrayForIstanbul #PrayForTurkey pic.twitter.com/g7NOhW5ZcW

— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) June 29, 2016

My heart is with you #Istanbul pic.twitter.com/alBd9rXHTQ

— Enrique Iglesias (@enriqueiglesias) June 28, 2016

Istanbul #PrayForTurkey #PrayForTheWorld #PrayforHumanity #ISeeHumansButNoHumanity

A photo posted by CHIQUE LE FRIQUE (@chique_le_frique) on Jun 29, 2016 at 1:50am PDT

Istanbul Turkeys ATATURK airport resumes flights after 41 killed.  RIP to all those lost. #pelnyc #dailydoodles #sharpie #sharpieart #doodle #sketch #sketchbook #blackandwhite #hammermill #art #RIP #istanbul #turkey #ataturk #love

A photo posted by PEL (@thedailydoodlesbypel) on Jun 29, 2016 at 6:13am PDT

cartoon of the day - terror attack at Istanbul airport #IstanbulAttack pic.twitter.com/yaEBixDNeO

— stephff cartoonist (@stephffart) June 29, 2016

#turkiye #turkey #istanbul #ataturk #havalimani #terorulanetliyoruz #stop #terrorism #teror #lanet

A photo posted by Nima shiri (@kuzeyyilmmaz) on Jun 29, 2016 at 6:44am PDT

Un joli dessin au service de la paix #peace #peaceful #draw #drawing #istanbul #heart #heartdrawing pic.twitter.com/CqgGR9GKw5

— Danielle__Peters (@Dany__Peters) June 29, 2016

2 weeks ago I was sat drawing this at #Ataturk Today at least 28 people were killed in this spot. Love to #Istanbul pic.twitter.com/x03cGCONlk

— smallmassive theatre (@smallmassive) June 28, 2016

Read More On The Istanbul Attacks

Deadly Suicide Bombings Hit Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

Airport Surveillance Video Captures The Terrifying Moment Of An Explosion

Aid Worker Who Narrowly Escaped Syria Alive Was Injured In Istanbul Attack

How To Help Victims Of The Istanbul Airport Attack

Turks Step Up To Help The Injured And Stranded In Wake Of Istanbul Triple Suicide Bombing

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The British-EU Revival Imperative

6 hours 7 min ago
Photo: © Viktor Cvetkovic / Getty Images

On 23 June 2016, the UK held a referendum to remain or leave the European Union ('Brexit'). 'Leave' prevailed by 52% to 48%, but only one in three of the eligible British electorate voted for Brexit. Many around the world then asked on Google, 'What happens if the UK leaves the EU?'

The potential withdrawal of Britain from the EU could herald not only the collapse of the UK and the disintegration of the EU but also foment conditions in Europe for global conflict.

But these risks can be subdued by acting on two words: nullify Brexit. Brexit can be stopped by a series of political interventions over the next few months.

These include calling an early general election in which Brexit gets voted down; a parliamentary vote where Members of Parliament (MPs), as per parliamentary sovereignty, vote against Brexit as an advisory, non-legally binding referendum; a second referendum where Brexit is defeated by popular mandate; MPs delay voting on British laws relating to Brexit; and, critically, the UK not trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU's most recent constitution, which makes provision for countries to leave the EU within a two-year window.

The United Kingdom has never been as ripe for achieving its true Greatness as it is now, by focusing on three opportunities: capitalizing on tremendous vacuums of leadership in political parties; identifying and promoting an emergent generation of on-the-cusp or actual Millennial political leaders; and enhancing the executive role of the British monarchy in politics.

The outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party, the architect of the Brexit referendum, announced his resignation on 24 June, for a new Prime Minister to be selected by September. The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, has within a week of the referendum, witnessed the collapse of his Shadow Cabinet in a show of no-confidence in his leadership.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the Tory leaders of the 'Leave Campaign', are now de facto leads for assuming the mantle of the Conservative Party and therefore the Premiership of the UK. Michael Heseltine, the former British Deputy Prime Minister from the Conservative Party, fears for the death of the party and is calling for cross-party support to fight against Brexit.

Mobilization has already commenced on thwarting the joint-leadership bid, particularly with the absence of a plan from the 'Leave' campaign. Internally, current leaders within the Conservative Party are planning to challenge the leadership bid through launching their own. Externally, a popular plan has emerged for members of the public to join the Conservative Party to help elect an anti-Brexit leader, mimicking the strategy that led to Corbyn being elected leader of the Labour Party in 2015.

Johnson and Gove also have similar career profiles. Not only did both study at Oxford, but were also both Presidents of the Oxford Union debating society in 1986 and 1988 before embarking on a career in journalism followed by politics.

Amid the current disarray in British politics, a new generation of British Millennial political leaders can emerge. Whilst there may be a natural inclination to focus on the likes of Oxford Union Presidents of the 1990s and 2000s who succeeded Gove and Johnson, other valuable choices for fasted track leadership in the political parties would be those who have worked in the charitable and relief sectors, as assassinated British MP Jo Cox was, and the heroic doctors and nurses, who have been reluctantly become politicized in order to save the British National Health Service.

Recognized as a failure of democracy, those against the Brexit vote are trying to utilise all viable political means to challenge the most representative example of direct democracy in the form of 17 million votes in a popular referendum. They have taken to heart a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II who was voted the Greatest Briton in a BBC poll in 2002 - 'The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.'

The final epiphany of the Brexit referendum has been in determining what model of governance the United Kingdom has: it is a constitutional monarchy (without a written constitution) under which (Her Majesty's) government operates based on the (Palace of) Westminster parliamentary system. Plato recognised monarchy as the most desirable form of governance, with democracy only a step away from tyranny. In the UK, the monarchy was abolished in 1649 for a decade of republic government before being restored in 1660. Britain, therefore, has a history in rectifying political mistakes such as Brexit.

Whilst the sovereignty of the British people as per the referendum can be challenged by the sovereignty of Parliament, what of the sovereignty of the Sovereign? It is little known that the British monarch is above the law and has the authority, privilege and immunity to exercise their executive powers called the Royal Prerogative in an emergency, of which Brexit is indeed one.

Whilst Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has stated that, as a result of Brexit, there will be no United Kingdom in five years, the role of the British monarch in politics now becomes increasingly important. With Queen Elizabeth celebrating her 90th Birthday in 2016, there is a need to formalize and enhance the use of the "black spider" memos by Charles, Prince of Wales, dispensing policy counsel to British government ministers and politicians over the years, so that debacles such as Brexit never occur again.

Brexit is an example of a global divergence, like the rise of Donald Trump in US politics, which can have tremendously catastrophic consequences starting with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the collapse of the UK, the disintegration of the EU and excerbating conditions in Europe for global conflict. It can also be averted based on legal but ultimately anti-direct democratic avenues. In the long-term and to contribute to genuine convergence in the country, there will be a need for genuine leadership in the country's political parties to emerge, fresh talent in political leadership from Millennial British citizens and more direct, less ceremonial, involvement from the British monarch in everyday political life.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Global Geopolitics

6 hours 12 min ago
Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Global Geopolitics
- From "Atoms for Peace" to "AI for Mankind" -

Artificial Intelligence (AI), a top priority for the ubiquitous American tech companies, for Industry 4.0 or digital China, is already reshaping global business, but this major scientific and technological disruption will also deeply impact the relations between powers.

While narrow AI has moved from the labs to our daily lives, informed personalities like Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Bill Gates or Elon Musk have rightly raised concerns about the risks inherent to a strong AI capable of equaling or even surpassing human intelligence.

Anticipating the emergence of an even more powerful and increasingly autonomous AI reinforced by quantum computing, these engaged voices are asking for a collective reflection upon what could constitute an external challenge to mankind, a technology which could dominate its creator.

The recent win of the AlphaGo computer program over the Korean Go champion Lee Sedol was indeed a strong signal of the rapid development of machine learning at the intersection of computer science and neuroscience.

However, a more immediate danger connected with the advancement of intelligent machines is an AI fracture enlarging what is already known as the digital divide. While AI's algorithms and big data increase the productivity of a small segment of the global village, half of the world population still does not have access to internet. "Don't be evil" can be Google's slogan, but exponential technologies carry with them the risks of unprecedented inequalities.

While AI's social and political effects are often discussed the geopolitical implications of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" have been surprisingly absent from the public debates.

How AI could affect the Sino-Western relations and, more specifically, the Sino-American relations, the major determinant of today's international order? For decades, nuclear weapons stood as the frightening symbols of the Cold War, will AI become the mark of a 21st century Sino-Western strategic antagonism?

For humanity, the atomic age has been a time of paradoxes. In the aftermath of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings an arms race involving the most lethal weapons defined the U.S.-Soviet relations in what constituted also a permanent existential threat to human civilization. But, analysts will also argue that it is the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine acting as a deterrent among rational actors which prevented a direct conflict between the two superpowers.

As the 2015 Plan of Action for Iran's nuclear program demonstrates, 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, world powers actively collaborate to avoid nuclear proliferation even if North Korea appears to be a counter example of this dominant trend.

But the Sino-Western convergence of views on the issue of nuclear proliferation does not apply in the cyberspace. Despite a certain level of interconnection between some private Chinese and American internet companies and financial institutions, the overall Sino-American relations in the cyberspace are characterized by strategic mistrust.

Besides, in space science and in the exploration of the universe, the U.S. and China are unfortunately following two separate courses. While China prepares to operate her own modular space station, the International Space Station (ISS) shows that in this strategic field the West can work with Russia but that Sino-Western synergies are almost impossible to reach.

Any responsible approach to AI has to take into account the combined lessons of the atomic age, of the digital dynamics and of the space exploration. Should a Western AI and a Chinese AI develop on two separate trajectories one would dangerously increase the risks of creating an irreversible Sino-Western strategic fracture for AI does not increase power in a limited quantitative manner but it modifies its nature.

In this context and following the appreciation of the interactions between AI and global politics an International Artificial Intelligence Agency should be established inspired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It is in the "Atoms for Peace" address to the United Nations General Assembly that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) proposed in 1953 the creation of the IAEA. Today, our actions must be guided by the spirit of "AI for Mankind".

A United Nations International Artificial Intelligence Agency involving academics, private businesses, the world civil society and, of course, the governments should at least give itself the following four objectives.

First, it has to create the conditions for AI's awareness across our societies and for a debate to take place on AI's ethical implications. Scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, legal experts, philosophers, economists have to analyze AI from all possible angles, its future(s), its potential effects for humanity.

Second, this international body should take all possible actions to prevent an AI fracture which would dangerously enlarge the digital divide. One can't accept to have, on one side, a tiny segment of humanity making use of a series of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) and, on the other side, the vast majority of the world population becoming de facto diminished, what transhumanism revealingly abbreviates as H+ can't be a plus for a few and a minus for all the others.

Third, the agency should ask for transparency in the AI research at both the governmental and the company level. The issue of nuclear proliferation and therefore the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) followed the secretive Manhattan Project and the use of nuclear bombs to end the war in the Pacific, if humanity really wants to protect itself from the military use of strong AI and its tragic consequences it has to define a set of rules and policies which would maintain research within reasonable and collectively accepted limits. The IAEA imperfectly manages an existing threat, the AI agency would aim at preventing the realization of what could be an even greater danger.

Fourth, an international AI body should encourage knowledge sharing and international cooperation. Elon Musk's OpenAI initiative is certainly a constructive force encouraging openness and collaboration but the "AI for Mankind" ideal can not depend only on a group of private entrepreneurs.

Artificial Intelligence, more than any other technology, will impact the future of mankind, it has to be wisely approached on a quest toward human dignity and not blindly worshiped as the new Master of a diminished humanity, it has to be a catalyst for more global solidarity and not a tyrannical matrix of new political or geopolitical divisions.

David Gosset is director of the Academia Sinica Europaea at CEIBS and founder of the Euro-China Forum. He has established the New Silk Road Initiative.

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Benghazi Committee Is STILL Doing Stuff

6 hours 42 min ago

WASHINGTON -- A day after releasing an 800-page report that failed to pin any fresh blame on Hillary Clinton, the House Select Committee on Benghazi was back to work Wednesday, interviewing a man who allegedly used the hashtag "#ifyouvoteforhillaryyouarebeyondstupid."

The report the committee released Tuesday was not necessarily the final product, as it has a working session and a vote on whether to adopt it set for July 8.

That means there is still time for the committee to get in another interview, and Wednesday it has one with an Air Force mechanic who posted material about the Benghazi, Libya, attacks on his Facebook page, arguing that planes from his base in Europe could have intervened in time.

A spokesman for the committee said in a statement that they requested that military officials make the witness available in February, but they only did so Tuesday, leading to the late interview.

“The committee will not allow the Defense Department’s needless delays to stop it from interviewing a witness it sought to speak with several months ago," said Matt Wolking, the spokesman. "The committee’s proposed report can be updated with any new testimony when it is marked up and voted on. Chairman [Trey] Gowdy intends to release this and other witness interview transcripts once the administration clears them for public release."

Besides a hashtag condemning Clinton, Democrats on the committee say the post declared jets were not scrambled to protect Benghazi because "we have a corrupt government with disregard to human life, that looks at us as tools on the physical side of their political battles."

Republicans say the hashtag never existed. Democrats say it was removed later.

In any case, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), hammered the new interview as more evidence Republicans are trying to use the deaths of the four Americans killed in the 2012 attacks in an attempt to tarnish Clinton.

"Republicans are addicted to Benghazi and to exploiting this tragedy for political reasons," Cummings said in a statement. "If we needed any more evidence that this investigation was a partisan charade, now we have it. "

"One day after issuing their 'final' report, Republicans are requiring yet another witness to be flown to Washington so they can investigate his postings on social media," Cummings added. "Why in the world should the American taxpayers be forced to continue paying millions of dollars for Republicans to chase down unsubstantiated conspiracy theories against Secretary Clinton?"

The Department of Defense had objected to bringing in the airman, saying higher-ranking officers had already addressed anything he could talk about. The cost of the committee, which launched more than two years ago, is around $7 million. 

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Time For Turkey To Adopt A New Security Strategy

6 hours 42 min ago
The ISIS attack on the Istanbul's Ataturk airport is the result of Turkey's failed policies in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Islamists groups fighting against the Assad regime, thinking he could control them. But instead of acting as proxies projecting Turkey's influence, they turned on their benefactor. Now Turkey finds itself at war with ISIS and, because of its unjustified crackdown on Kurds, at war with itself.

When Syria's violent conflict erupted in 2011, Erdogan tried to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to form a government of national reconciliation with Arab Sunnis. He was rebuffed. Erdogan became Assad's fiercest critic, aligning with Syria's Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdogan criticized President Barack Obama for failing to support Syrian rebels. Obama ran on a platform of disengagement from wars in the Middle East, and did not want to get militarily involved. Even when Syria used chemical weapons in August 2013, Obama refused to intervene.

Erdogan stepped up efforts to arm the rebels. According to Cengiz Candar, a well-respected Turkish journalist, Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MIT) helped "midwife" the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

MIT established an infrastructure for supporting fighters, ranging from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. The jihadi highway ran from Sanliurfa in Turkey to Raqq in Syria.

Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS oil trade, failing to seal its border. Turkish smugglers facilitated ISIS oil exports, which generated up to $500 million each year for the Islamic State. Turks profited at stages of the supply chain, undermining US efforts to deprive ISIS of financial support.

Vice President Joe Biden confirmed Turkey's ties with jihadis in October 2014. "The Turks...were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war...they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad...Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world."

Erdogan vehemently denied Turkey's support for Islamist militants. "Biden has to apologize for his statements," said Erdogan. Otherwise, Biden will be "history to me."

Turkey arrested journalists and closed opposition media. Can Dundar, editor of Cumhuriyet, received a sentence of five years and 10 months, and Erdem Gul, the paper's Ankara bureau chief, was sentenced to five years, for publishing photos of MIT's shipments of weapons to Islamists in Syria. Dundar said the sentence was "not given only to suppress and silence us" but to "intimidate the Turkish media and make us scared of writing."

The Obama administration pressured Turkey to participate in the fight against ISIS. After months of wrangling, Erdogan finally relented and allowed US warplanes to use Incirlik Air Force Base just 100 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border.

But instead of attacking ISIS, Turkey launched air strikes against the PKK. To Erdogan, counter-terrorism means killing Kurds. Attacking the PKK was a cynical bid by Erdogan to bolster his nationalist base in advance of elections in September 2015.

Erdogan incurred the wrath of former Islamist allies by allowing US access to Incirlik. ISIS called Turkey an "apostate regime" aligned with "crusaders."

In 2016, ISIS also launched a series of attacks in Ankara and bombings in Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square and Beyoglu district. The attack at Ataturk Airport was yet another despicable act by ISIS, which is losing ground in Iraq and Syria.

Erdogan has a Hobbesian view of the world. He believes Turkey is surrounded by terrorists and evil-doers. He uses the label "terrorist" for the Islamic State, Kurds in Syria, the pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, opposition media, and civil society. Critics are prosecuted under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Act and Article 301 of the Penal Code, which are used to silence dissent.

Today Turkey is isolated and has few friends. Its cooperation with the European Union is imperiled by the refugee and migrant crisis. Its relations with the United States strained by Erdogan's Islamist and anti-democratic rule.

The Ataturk Airport attack is a wake-up call. Turks must rally to defeat ISIS. Instead of vilifying the Kurds, Erdogan should make them partners in Turkey's fight against terrorism. This can be accomplished by resuming talks with the PKK and through cooperation with Kurds in Syria. Finding common cause with Kurds will make Turkey more secure and more democratic.

Mr. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a senior adviser and foreign affairs expert to the State Department during the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. His recent book is The Kurdish Spring. His forthcoming book is entitled, Turkey: An Uncertain Ally.

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