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Updated: 16 min 7 sec ago

Obama Administration Considers Ending For-Profit Immigrant Detention

59 min 43 sec ago

Private prison contractors may lose the ability to run immigrant detention centers as for-profit businesses.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is ordering a review of the agency’s policy of using private contractors to run immigrant detention centers, according to a statement issued Monday.

The news follows last month’s landmark decision by the Department of Justice to phase out the privatization of federal prisons, after a scathing report by the DOJ’s inspector general said the private facilities were more dangerous than those run by the Bureau of Prisons and in need of closer monitoring.

Reform advocates widely applauded the DOJ’s landmark decision, but immigrant rights groups questioned why the same logic shouldn’t apply to the civil immigrant detention system, which keeps tens of thousands of people locked up every night. The same two companies, the Corrections Corp of America and the GEO Group, handle the lion’s share of federal contracting for both privatized prisons and immigrant detention centers.

Johnson appears to have noted the criticism. He asked the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which is chaired by Judge William Webster, to review its policies for using private contractors to run immigrant detention centers and submit a report by Nov. 30.

“Specifically, I have asked that Judge Webster establish a Subcommittee of the Council to review our current policy and practices concerning the use of private immigration detention and evaluate whether this practice should be eliminated,” Johnson wrote in Monday’s statement.

GEO Group, the country’s second-largest private prison contractor, said in a statement that it “welcomed” the review, adding that the detention centers under its management had met national standards in previous audits.

“We are confident that this independent review will show that GEO has provided needed, cost-effective services that have resulted in significantly improved safety outcomes for the men and women in ICE’s care and custody,” GEO Group CEO George Zoley said in the statement.

The company’s shareholders weren’t so sure. The price of GEO Group’s shares declined nearly 5 percent after the news, extending a precipitous decline since the Aug. 18 DOJ announcement that has wiped away more than a third of the company’s value. Shares for the Corrections Corp of America, the country’s largest private prison contractor, plunged nearly 8 percent.

“We’ve worked with the federal government to provide solutions to pressing immigration challenges for more than 30 years, and we welcome this review of our long-standing relationship,” CCA spokesman Jonathan Burns wrote in a statement. “We’re proud of the quality and value of the services we provide and look forward to sharing that information with Judge Webster and his team.”

Immigrants’ rights activists, who have long viewed private prison companies as a key driver of growth for the immigrant detention system over the last two decades, cheered the decision.

“It’s past time that DHS end the practice of detaining immigrants, and this review should move it in that direction,” Jacinta Gonález, a field director with the grassroots Latinx group Mijente, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “Its review of privately-run facilities should start at the Eloy detention center [in Arizona] where there are open cases of sexual assault, a history of suspicious deaths, and 200 detainees recently staged a hunger strike to protest treatment in the facility.”

ICE relies on private companies to handle most of its detention operations. Nearly two-thirds of immigrant detention beds are privatized, according to report last year by Austin-based advocacy group Grassroots Leadership. By comparison, 12 percent of Bureau of Prisons facilities are run as businesses.

“Based on the stories that have come out of for-profit detention centers for years, including hunger strikes and protests by detained migrants, there is every reason to believe that ICE-contracted private prisons have many of the same problems that the DOJ uncovered this month,” Grassroots Leadership Director Bob Libal wrote in an email.

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Categories: News Monitor

Egypt Cracks Down On Female Genital Mutilation

1 hour 3 min ago

Three months after a teenager died while undergoing female genital mutilation conducted by a doctor, Egypt is cracking down on the practice.

The Egyptian cabinet approved a draft bill on Sunday that would enact a punishment of five to seven years in prison for anyone who performs FGM, according to Ahram Online. Previously, the penalty was three months to two years.

The bill, which still has to be ratified by parliament, raises the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony.

“A strong law is the first step to protecting every girl at risk,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh of women’s rights organization Equality Now said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “We have seen some reduction in FGM in Egypt, but at the same time health professionals and others are still not being held to account for carrying it out. With a better law, it is now more likely that this can change.”

Female genital mutilation involves the total or partial removal of, or injury to, the external female genitalia for no medical benefit, and can cause bleeding, infertility or death. The World Health Organization considers it a violation of women’s rights.

The practice of FGM has been illegal in Egypt since 2008, according to the BBC, but it is still widespread. 

Egypt has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world, with 87 percent of women aged 15 to 49 having undergone the procedure, according to Unicef.

The issue came under a harsh spotlight in May when a 17-year-old girl passed away due to complications related to FGM performed by a registered doctor in Egypt’s Suez province.

The doctor, the first to be convicted for performing FGM in the country, was sentenced to two years in prison but only served three months after reconciling with the victim’s family, according to the Guardian.

Under the new bill, if the FGM procedure results in permanent disability or death, the penalty for the offender will be up to 15 years in prison, according to Gulf News. Parents who subject their daughters to the practice would also face one to three years of jail time.

Female genital mutilation is a problem worldwide: At least 200 million women alive today, across 30 countries, have undergone FGM, according to Unicef.

While the practice is predominantly concentrated in countries from the Atlantic Coast to the Horn of Africa, it has also been an issue in the U.S. and the U.K.

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Categories: News Monitor

Obama Administration Hits Goal Of Welcoming 10,000 Syrian Refugees

1 hour 12 min ago

WASHINGTON — The 10,000th Syrian refugee to resettle in the U.S. this fiscal year arrived on Monday, the White House announced, following through on an ambitious plan by President Barack Obama to welcome more people from the country.

The administration also is set to meet its goal of welcoming 85,000 refugees from around the world by the end of the fiscal year, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement.

It’s the Syrian refugees who have been particularly controversial ever since Obama first announced plans last September to admit 10,000 of them in the 2016 fiscal year ― which ends Sept. 30 ― and especially after terrorist attacks in Paris last November. More than half of the nation’s governors said they didn’t want Syrian refugees in their states in the wake of those attacks, and Republicans in Congress repeatedly voted to make it more difficult for the government to approve them for resettlement.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump frequently talks about his opposition to Syrian refugees, insisting terrorists are among them. He first said he would ban all Muslims from immigrating to the U.S., refugee or otherwise, and later modified the ban to cover people from countries “compromised by terrorism” ― a broad designation that would include Syria.

The administration pressed forward with Syrian refugee resettlement in spite of the opposition. All refugees go through extensive background checks, with additional vetting for those from Syria.

Most refugees resettled in the U.S. are first referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They are vetted by the departments of State and Homeland Security with assistance from the FBI and intelligence agencies, in a process that includes interviews with officers and review of social media accounts.

About 60 percent of the 10,000 Syrian refugees admitted so far this fiscal year were under the age of 18, according to the State Department.

As of the end of July, refugees from Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo made up the largest proportions of refugees resettled in the U.S. this fiscal year, followed by those from Syria.

There are more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees worldwide.

“On behalf of the president and his administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world,” Rice said Monday.

Alice Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, said on Sunday that the U.S. would hit the 10,000-person goal this week, The Associated Press reported.

Two of the Syrian refugee families coming to the U.S. this week will live in San Diego through the International Rescue Committee, one of the agencies that handle resettlement.

David Miliband, ‎the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the White House should consider the 10,000 mark “a floor and not a ceiling.”

“Resettling refugees is right, practical and smart,” he said. “The achievement of the 10,000 target proves what is possible, and there remains an urgent need to further strengthen U.S. leadership in resettling refugee families ― with appropriate vetting ― fleeing violence and war.”


This article has been updated with additional details on the Syrian refugees admitted.

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Categories: News Monitor

This 19,000 Square-Foot Flower Carpet Is The Ultimate Gesture Of Friendship

2 hours 41 min ago

You may not have been aware that this month marked the 150th anniversary of Belgo-Japanese relations. But it was. And to celebrate, Belgium went all out, putting everyone who’s ever bought their BFF a bouquet of flowers to serious shame. 

On Aug. 12, over 100 diligent volunteers pitched in to create a massive, 75-meter long, 24-meter wide flower carpet in front of the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, in honor of the longstanding Belgo-Japanese friendship. (That’s nearly 250 feet long and 80 feet wide.)

Talk about #friendshipgoals. 

The magic carpet, made from 600,000 flowers including begonias, dahlias, grasses and dyed bark, was part of the biannual Flower Carpet of Brussels festival, which has blessed the city of Brussels with the unusual art form (flower carpeting) every other year since 1986. 

This year’s masterpiece, made in under four hours, stretched over 1,800 square meters (approximately 19,000 square feet), depicting traditional Japanese good luck talismans in vibrant oranges and deep reds.

According to Masafumi Ishii, the Ambassador of Japan to Belgium, the flowers, birds, wind and moon represent natural beauty (or kacho-fugetsu), the koi fish symbolize strength and growth, and the pine trees and bamboo are good omens. And then there are the cherry blossoms, because, “of course.” 

Happy friendiversary to Belgium and Japan; you make a great pair. And you sure know how to celebrate platonic love. 

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Categories: News Monitor

Lightning Bolt Kills More Than 300 Reindeer In Norway

2 hours 46 min ago

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Warning: This story contains graphic images.

More than 300 reindeer were killed by a lightning strike in Norway on Friday.

The animals were huddled together on the Hardangervidda plateau during a storm. Officials counted 323 reindeer dead in total, including 70 calves, The Norwegian Environment Agency said in a statement.

The eerie scene was discovered during a routine inspection by the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate.

Kjartan Knutsen, a spokesman for the Norwegian Environment Agency, told The Associated Press that reindeer often stick together during poor weather, occasionally leading to group casualties from lightning.

This incident “happened in one moment” and was particularly bad, though.

“We have not heard about such numbers before,” Knutsen said Monday.

Images released by the Norwegian Environment Agency show the hundreds of reindeer carcasses strewn across a grassy stretch of the plateau:

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Categories: News Monitor

Italy Earthquake Survivors To Live In Tents Until January, Amatrice Mayor Says

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 23:54

Half the town no longer exists,” Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks hit central Italy last week. At least 290 people were killed, approximately 388 were treated for injuries, and more than 2,000 are now homeless.

Pirozzi continues to monitor the death toll and to take questions from the press, trying his best to stay calm. About 200 people from Amatrice died, and the mayor told HuffPost Italy that his town’s future lies in reconstruction.

“I want our city to be rebuilt here, with the same aesthetics, the same face,” Pirozzi said. “I want it to be exactly the same, just as Cola Filotesio designed it in the 1500s.”

He spoke with HuffPost Italy about his plans for rebuilding the town, what’s been lost and what he has learned. 

L’Aquila ― where a major earthquake struck in 2009, killing more than 300 people ― is a perfect example for how people can spend months waiting for their houses to be rebuilt. L’Aquila is synonymous with broken promises, and it casts a shadow over everything that’s taking place and all the decisions being made right now. How will things be different in Amatrice?

There were 60,000 people left homeless in Aquila. There was an endless field of people. An entire city. Here, on the other hand, we can take comfort in the fact that our tragedy is of a much smaller dimension. The homes that were destroyed are essentially just the 400 buildings in the town’s historical center.

Amatrice is surrounded by 60 small villages, and had a total population of 2,633 people before the earthquake struck, plus the summer tourists. We have a steep death toll, given this small population, but these are numbers we can handle.

Survivors must remain there, close to their villages. This risk is that the rather elderly population, where people are 49 years old on average, will slowly but surely move away. 

But even as things stand, with these small numbers, managing the rebuilding project will require set times and deadlines, don’t you think? The reconstruction calendar is undoubtedly the first thought on the minds of everyone who has lost their homes.

Five months.

Five months for what?

Five months for the delivery of prefab wood houses that will be appropriate for the temperatures and conditions inherent to this elevated, mountainous environment.

Five months means that the current homeless population will have to stay where they are at least until January, living in extremely rigid weather conditions. That’s not a very pleasant prospect.

That’s right, and in fact I’ve requested sleeping bags. But I was told that this is the minimum timeframe required in order to get the job done. 

And how long will it take to rebuild the houses?

I’m dreaming it will take a year, but if I’m being realistic, I’d be happy if they are rebuilt over two years.

Are you ready to requisition vacation homes, given that Amatrice has a lot of those?

Many of the people who have vacation homes here have already made them available. But I’ll need to ask for more, and I don’t have a problem doing so.

Basically, if we were to sum things up: Despite all your energy, efforts and relative lack of sleep, the mayor of Amatrice has joined the swelling ranks of Italian mayors struggling to deal with a major disaster. How are you holding up?

I haven’t lost any members of my immediate family, but I’ve lost every single citizen of this town who died. In the past few days, I haven’t been able to find the town baker, Gianni. He was my good friend, and the only person who was already up and working at that hour of the night.

How is it possible you haven’t found him yet?

It’s simple. We’re digging, but we haven’t found anything. We know he has to be there, but it’s as if he’s vanished.

Was there anything you could have done differently? Could you have been more prepared?

A few months back, we presented an official request to reinforce and strengthen our bridges. Amatrice is surrounded by a network of downstream waters, including three rivers and a lake, that essentially form a circle around the base of the mountain the town is built on. Those bridges are the very same ones that have now been shut down because they are in danger of collapse.

So you must have been concerned even before the quake.

Yes, but I never expected all this to happen.

For me, the single biggest symbol of this disaster is Porta Carbonara, the 13th-century medieval gate that marked the entrance to Amatrice. It stood there for centuries: robust, strong, enormous. [It] survived despite all the damage and numerous earthquakes we’ve endured. And this time it was the first thing I saw during the night of the first quakes ― only this time it didn’t survive.

It seems to me this this story has taught you the lesson that it’s not possible to make everything in this fragile Italy of ours safe and secure.

In fact, it’s not possible. It’s impossible.

A version of this piece originally appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity. 

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Categories: News Monitor

Daily Meditation: Wanderer

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 23:31

We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these Daily Meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life.

Today’s meditation features a performance by Arab Israeli singers Nasreen Qadri and Ziv Yehezkel, and The Mediterranean Andalusian Orchestra. Originally by Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez, “Sawah” is a song about wandering through unknown territory and longing for a beloved far away. 

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Categories: News Monitor

A Conflict About Dignity And 'Victory Children'

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 23:12

War is one of the oldest forms of conflict in mankind, which seriously affects humanity and civilization. Though the birth of a person makes death inevitable and makes everybody accept natural death, everybody laments a premature or unnatural death of their dearest ones. Those who live with physical or mental trauma caused by war bear inexpressible sufferings - both physical and psychological. People who lay down their lives in war become a martyr for once, but the survivors turn into martyrs every day until their end.

Imposed by the Pakistani occupied force, the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 resulted in the death of three million people and the rape of approximately five-hundred thousand women. Thousands of babies grew up in and outside of Bangladesh, who were identified as "war babies" - a derogatory term used to describe babies born after wartime. Many of them were adopted and emigrated in various countries of the world. Again, many stayed in Bangladesh, grew up with societal rejection and forced to live an identity-less life full of abuse and indignity, resulting a never-ending struggle.

On this issue, I was discussing with Barrister Dr, Tureen Afroz - a meritorious prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) of Bangladesh. She was sharing her experience in prosecuting the local war criminals, a very tough job. The elements that made her job tough are something worth to be described for a better understanding of the issue.

There was a very short time lapse in between other war crimes occurrence that has been brought to justice right after those were committed. Most of the war crimes have been prosecuted within comparatively shorter time than that of Bangladesh, where the judicial process started forty years later. Due to the timely trials, none of the other war crime courts saw witness of any so-called "war babies," which instead we should call "victory children," according to Tureen.

Prosecutor Tureen had a chance to collect the testimony of a victory child. Luckily, she was appointed as a prosecutor of a case relating infamous war criminal Syed Md. Kaiser at the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), Bangladesh. According to Tureen, two indictments of rape were brought against Mr. Kaiser out of fourteen charges. Among them, one war heroine, Mazeda was allegedly raped by Mr. Kaiser and later gave birth to a victory child named Shamsun Nahar - who gave testimony against Mr. Kaiser in that particular case. It took a year-long effort for Tureen to find this witness. Finally, Tureen managed to convince Shamsun Nahar to give testimony before the court and with that, for the first time, the world heard the voice of a victory child!

Tureen incidentally found Shamsun Nahar on her way searching for a victory child, who grew up in the post-war Bangladesh. To unearth the harsh experiences and to symbolically represent the voice of a victory child, Tureen faced serious social and procedural difficulties which helped to open the doors of her inner thoughts. And for the first time, a passively affected survivor of the war opened herself, demanding justice for the crimes committed to herself and her mother.

While Shamsun Nahar went before the court, she then became a 42-year-old woman. Pale, grimy and tired, this woman grew up in the society with all of its worst negligence, rejection and abandonment. Imparity from the society, family and the nearest ones killed her inner-self long ago and she stood as the symbolic progeny of an invisible fetter.

During the liberation war in 1971, women who were raped by the Pakistani army and their local Para-militia forces, gave birth to children who were labeled as "war babies," resulting them to be called with other dishonoring terms like "unexpected babies," "bastard babies," and "illegitimate babies" out of inferiority. As Prosecutor Tureen describes,

The determination of claiming justice that Shamsun Nahar had in her eyes during the trial, can only be seen in the eyes of a victory child. And later this observation was echoed in the verdict of the court also.

After birth, Shamsun Nahar's mother was forced to abandon her to maternal grandfather's home and went to her husband. Her mother couldn't contact her till she was five. After being an adult, Shamsun Nahar got married to a person who later left her, when he came to know her background. Since then, Shamsun Nahar lived alone. After her testimony against the aforementioned war criminal, she could not live in her own home because of death threat which forced her continued fleeing for life. Now, she doesn't possess a shelter or even a decent social identity.

While presenting her argument in that case, Prosecutor Tureen Afroz said, "Shamsun Nahar was born in 1972. But unlike the other babies, she was deprived of a normal social life, as we treated her as an unwanted part of the society. Even she constrained to celebrate the pride that her mother achieved through her valiant sacrifice for the independence of the country. Seems like her birth became her biggest sin."

Men and women became brothers-in-arms in the war of 1971. Not only to achieve their sovereignty, had they also fought for saving their lives. But while men fought only for the core cause, the women also had to pick up another fight in order to save their 'honor'. And sometimes the fight to protect ones honor is much intense than other duties of war like protecting life and property. Victory of war is based through the loss of life, property and sometimes dignity of women. But still the state failed to properly recognize those, who were born out of an inhuman practice during war, let alone giving them a dignified social identity. Moreover, the society inhumanly segregates them, because they are "war-babies". Even we hesitate to assimilate with these children in our societies, because they were born out of the barbarous vengeance of the enemy! Rather we didn't hesitate to ungratefully label them with more dishonoring terms. In exchange of their saddened birth, we got our own identity, but we failed to give them some in return.

It is time to question ourselves, if we are ready to re-evaluate the price that we paid to achieve our independence or not. Shouldn't we consider their birth as a sacrifice and struggle right beside three million martyrs and the honor of five-hundred thousand women? Shamsun Nahar is a victory-baby, whose birth also contributed towards our freedom, our right to breathe the free air that we take in our liberated land. The satiety of our victory and independence can be achieved only if we can echo and establish what Prosecutor Tureen Afroz expressed that, "They are not War-babies; they are Victory-child".

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Categories: News Monitor

French Restaurant Owner Tells Women Wearing Hijabs To 'Get Out'

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 22:51

A French restaurateur appeared to be refusing to serve women wearing the hijab on Saturday night in a video that has been widely circulated online.

“We don’t want to be served by racists, sir,” one woman can be heard saying in the video, which was captured by someone sitting at the table and does not show any faces. 

“Racists don’t plant bombs and don’t kill people,” the owner of Le Cénacle restaurant, which is in Tremblay-en-France, responded.

“Because we planted bombs, sir?” she asked.

“I don’t want people like you here,” he said. “Get out. Terrorists are Muslims and all Muslims are terrorists.”

Des jeunes de Tremblay demandent des explications au restaurateur du #Cenacle suite à ses propos islamophobes pic.twitter.com/TzwJvkcUss

— Thomas Poupeau (@thomaspoupeau) August 28, 2016

The tweet reads: Young people in Tremblay demand an explanation from the #Cenacle restaurant owner following his Islamophobic comments.

A handful of people gathered outside of the restaurant Sunday to demand an explanation from the owner. He came out and apologized several times.

“I’d like to apologize to the entire Muslim community,” he said in a video captured by newspaper Le Parisien. “I freaked out; I’m scared of everything that’s happening these days.”

He admitted that his opinions on Islam and extremism are “mixed up” because a friend of his died the night that terrorists attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris last November.

The police department has since opened an investigation and women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol has called upon the delegation that combats racism and anti-Semitism to look into the incident.

Tensions have been high this summer in France due to an ongoing debate over religious liberties and the French conception of separating church and state. 

Several towns across the country decided to ban the burkini, a swimsuit typically worn by observant Muslim women that covers one’s arms and legs. 

France’s government claimed it was a measure enacted to protect women from being harassed for their religion, while critics have lambasted it as a blatant violation of women’s rights. 

The country’s top administrative court ruled on Friday to suspend the ban, but several towns continued to enforce it over the weekend.

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This Man Made An Airbnb For Refugees Looking For A Place To Stay

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 21:35

Amr Arafa is trying to create a home away from home for some of those who need it most.

The 34-year-old has built a site, which is still in development, called EmergencyBNB. It works like Airbnb, except instead of linking travelers with hosts who have unoccupied rooms for rent, it connects refugees and victims of domestic violence with people in the United States willing to open their homes for a few days for free. 

“It is time that the sharing economy is considered as a means of helping others and not just as an economic opportunity,” Arafa, a Harvard University graduate, told Street Sense, a Washington, D.C., publication written by people who are or were previously homeless.

EmergencyBNB is not about the government giving you a place to stay. It’s about the fact that your neighbors care about you.”
Amr Arafa

EmergencyBNB is still in its early stages. Arafa, who lives in Washington, D.C., is working on building up a roster of hosts before putting them in touch with people who need places to stay. No one has booked a room through the site yet

But Arafa hopes that changes soon.

“EmergencyBNB is not about the government giving you a place to stay,” he told The Washington Post. “It’s about the fact that your neighbors care about you.”

Arafa began experimenting with this model in his own home. He allows people experiencing a crisis who need immediate accommodations to stay at his studio apartment for a few days. He lists his D.C. home on Airbnb for $10, the minimum amount the site allows, and asks that only refugees or victims of domestic violence contact him. Once a guest shows him documented proof of their situation, he welcomes them into his place and reimburses the $10 when they arrive. 

Arafa, who leaves his apartment whenever it’s booked, tries to make his guests feel comfortable in his home. According to reviews left on his Airbnb page, Arafa offers fresh sheets and towels, checks in on guests regularly and has even driven one person to an embassy to do paperwork.

“He will restore your faith in humanity,” a former guest wrote on his Airbnb page. “I plan on paying it forward and hope whoever stays there next will do the same.”

In 2005, Arafa emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt and had to deal with a string of strict immigration visas, one of which would not allow him to return home after his father’s death, he told City Lab.

Last year he obtained his green card and began hosting people in need.

“It started when I got this green card. I got this incredible dosage of stability. That card allowed me to see my mother for the first time in eight years,” Arafa told The Washington Post. “That one month home in Egypt, I came back with this new positive energy. I just wanted to help people get this sense of stability.”

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These Are The Fearless LGBTQ Youth Who Live In Jamaica's Sewers

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 21:28

“For me, what brought me to the gully [is that] people started finding out that I’m gay in my community,” Daggering, the subject of a 2014 Vice documentary, explained in “Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens.”

Daggering is one of nearly 25 gay and trans youths who, after being expelled from their homes and rejected by their families due to their sexual orientations, took up residence in the city of Kingston’s storm drains, a place they refer to as the gully.

“Right now, we all want to leave the gully because you don’t know what might happen,” Daggering continued. “Who will jump down. The gully is cold, mosquitoes bite you. So, in the gully, it’s like hell down there.”

London-based documentary photographer and journalist Christo Geoghegan chronicled the lives of these self-described Gully Queens ― the abuse they’ve endured, the bonds they’ve formed, and the steps they’ve taken to bring an end to Jamaica’s rampant homophobia. 

Although not altogether impossible, the thought of Jamaica evolving on its stance regarding LGBT rights is difficult to imagine for those living within Jamaica’s daily prejudice. “Homosexuality in Jamaica doesn’t have any hope,” a Gully Queen told Geoghegan in the Vice documentary. “It’s just no, no. It’s never going to happen. They’ll just kill us faster.”

As explained in the documentary, Jamaica’s gay population is divided mainly into two groups: the Rich Queens and the Scary Queens. The Rich Queens possess more wealth and stability, thus providing them insulation from the most violent outbursts of homophobia. 

The Scary Queens, or Gully Queens as they call themselves, are impoverished, often without the support of their families and without prospects of finding a job. With nowhere to hide, they are constantly subjected to hateful acts of violence, enacted solely on the basis of prejudice and animosity. They live in the dark corners of public spaces, where resources are scarce and danger is a constant threat. 

Because of the classist division between the Rich Queens and the Scary Queens, many Jamaicans project blame unto the marginalized youth for their own persecution, using the Rich Queens as evidence that some queers live in safety and security. Thus, the dominant narrative criminalizes the LGBTQ youth instead of victimizing them.  

Geoghegan is not interested in either criminalizing or victimizing. He wants to celebrate the Gully Queens and all that they represent. Alongside his film, which was co-produced and directed by Adri Murguia, Geoghegan crafted a series of stunning portraits showing his subjects in positions of power and resilience.

The photographs, which Geoghegan described as “stylized documentary,” feature the Gully Queens drenched in natural light, in the environment they call home. He explained that, conventionally, Gully Queens dress up in glamorous clothing and makeup before a night of work in the sex industry, to engage in the ritual of self-expression without the dangerous reality of a night on the streets.

Despite the photos’ realistic qualities, fantasy manages to creep its way in through the poses they assume, the personas they exude. “I wanted to be able to use the photographs and accompanying documentary film as a way for them to display their sexuality and personality the way they wanted to,” Geoghegan said, “and not the way that society had told them that they should.”

According to a recent interview with Feature Shoot, since these photos were taken, Jamaican police have evicted the Gully Queens from their storm drains. Geoghegan has since found it difficult to contact those he interviewed and photographed, but hopes to return to Jamaica soon to follow up on their stories. 

Ultimately, Geoghegan does not want his series to force viewers to feel sorry for his subjects. He wants us to admire the individuals portrayed ― their strength, their beauty and their style.

“The photos aim to be a celebration of their spirit amidst the adversity they face each and every day and not purely ‘misery porn’ that only focuses on their hardships, because there is so much more to them than just that,” he said. “The Gully Queens are a new movement in Jamaica’s fight for LGBTQ equality and they are here to stay.”

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Man Arrested After Filling Lube Dispenser With Hydrochloric Acid

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 21:16

A man was arrested after putting a corrosive acid in a lube dispenser at a gay club in Australia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Police caught the 62-year-old man after an alarm was set off. They charged him with “administering poison intending to injure or cause distress or pain, entering a building with intent to commit an indictable offense, malicious damage and driving while suspended.

Aarows club describes itself as “Sydney’s gay and bi social club” and had previously had issues with the dispensers being tampered with, according to police. Items in the room were fitted with alarms after those instances.

Hydrochloric acid can produce scars, burns, and ulcers when it comes into contact with skin ― often irreversible.

The suspect has been granted bail and is slated to appear in court next month.

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Brazil's Dilma Rousseff Defends Herself At Impeachment Trial

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 21:14

BRASILIA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Suspended President Dilma Rousseff told the Senate on Monday the future of Brazil was at stake in her impeachment trial as her conservative opponents were using trumped-up charges to oust her and roll back the social advances of the past 13 years.

The leftist leader, appearing before the Senate to defend herself in a process expected to remove her from office this week, said Brazil’s economic elite and political opposition had sought to destabilize her government since her 2014 re-election.

Rousseff denied charges of breaking budgetary rules and denounced the nine-month impeachment process that has paralyzed Brazilian politics as a plot to overthrow her and protect the interests of Brazil’s privileged classes, including the privatization of public assets such as massive subsalt oil reserves.

“What we are about to witness is a serious violation of the Constitution and a real coup d’etat,”Rousseff said.

She warned that a conservative government would slash spending on social programs, undoing the gains of the past decade in the fight against poverty.

“The future of Brazil is at stake,” she said.

Several hundred supporters chanted “Dilma, warrior of the Brazilian nation” outside Congress when her motorcade arrived.

A deep recession that many Brazilians blame her for and a huge corruption scandal involving state-run energy company Petrobras have undermined Rousseff’s popularity since she was re-elected in 2014.

Her vice president, Michel Temer, has been interim president since mid-May, when Rousseff was suspended after Congress decided it would continue the impeachment process that began in the lower house.

If the Senate convicts Rousseff on Tuesday or Wednesday as expected, Temer, 75, will be sworn in to serve the rest of her term through 2018. His business-friendly government vows to take unpopular austerity measures to plug a growing fiscal deficit that cost Brazil its investment-grade credit rating last year.

Appealing to undecided senators, Rousseff, 68, pointed to a lifetime fighting for democracy, from her arrest and torture by a military dictatorship for belonging to a left-wing guerrilla group to election as Brazil’s first female president.


Twenty of her former Cabinet ministers were in the Senate gallery to support Rousseff, along with her political mentor and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, founder of the Workers Party.

With the odds stacked against her, Rousseff’s testimony appears to be aimed at making a point for the history books that her impeachment was a travesty, rather than a bid to sway the 81-seat Senate to block her ouster.

Temer is confident he has the two-thirds of the chamber needed to remove Rousseff, and he has planned an address to the nation on Wednesday before heading to China to attend the summit of the G20 group of leading economies.

“We need 54 votes and we expect to get at least 60,” Temer’s press spokesman, Marcio de Freitas, told Reuters.

He said the more votes Temer received, the stronger would be his mandate to take the difficult measures needed to restore confidence in Brazil’s economy, which is caught in a two-year recession.

Rousseff is accused of using money from state banks to bolster spending during an election year in 2014. She says the money had no impact on overall deficit levels and was paid back in full the following year.

A survey published by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper on Monday showed 53 senators would vote against Rousseff and only 19 would back her - nine short of the 28 she needs to avoid being ousted. Nine senators have not stated their position.

But even senators not convinced the accounting charges brought against Rousseff warrant her removal will vote against her because they do not believe she has enough support to govern anymore and end Brazil’s political crisis.

“I will vote against her even though I think it is a tragedy to get rid of an elected president, but another 2-1/2 years of a Dilma government would be worse,” centrist Senator Cristovam Buarque said in a phone interview.

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FBI says foreign hackers penetrated state election systems

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 21:00

The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials.

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Mark Zuckerberg Met With Pope Francis And Gave Him A Drone

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 20:39

If only they had taken a selfie together...

Pope Francis met with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, at the Vatican on Monday.

The meeting was set up so the pair could discuss “how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and to communicate a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged,” Vatican press office director Greg Burke told ANSA news agency.

Zuckerberg forewent his usual ensemble of a hoodie and T-shirt, wearing a full suit for the occasion. He also gifted a drone to the religious leader and shared a photo of the exchange on Facebook (of course). Zuckerberg added that he admired the pope and the meeting was unforgettable.

We wonder what the pope will do with the drone... oh, the possibilities.

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Here's How the G-20 Can Help Restore Our Faith That Globalization Can Mean Growth

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 20:23

SINGAPORE -- The G-20 process is stalling. It needs a big kick in the butt. China should deliver it at the upcoming meeting in Hangzhou this coming weekend.

What's the proof that the G-20 is stalling? Simple: the global economy is stalling. Since the G-20 summit was first held in 2008, with the explicit mission to "work together to restore global growth," it has failed in its core mission. Indeed, the prospects for global economic growth have never looked so gloomy -- Larry Summers recently suggested that we are stuck in "secular stagnation."

The zero-sum calculations that plague geopolitical thinking are preventing rational economic cooperation among G-20 nations.

Why is the G-20 failing? The conventional answer is that the G-20 is divided -- the fiscal deficit countries (like the U.S.) want the fiscal surplus countries (like China and Germany) to do more to stimulate domestic demand. In short, differences of opinions on the correct economic responses are causing the G-20 process to stall.

But such conventional answers are dead wrong. The G-20 is not stalling for economic reasons. It is stalling because geopolitical considerations are interfering with rational economic responses. The zero-sum calculations that plague geopolitical thinking are preventing rational economic cooperation among G-20 nations.

Leaders pose for a photo at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, on Nov. 15, 2015. (AP/Susan Walsh)

A good example is provided by China's proposal to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The G-20 agrees that stimulating greater global investment in infrastructure would boost global economic growth. As the leaders' communiqué that followed the Brisbane G-20 summit in November 2014 explicitly said, "Tackling global investment and infrastructure shortfalls is crucial to lifting growth, job creation and productivity." Yet, when China launched the AIIB, the U.S. campaigned fiercely against it and an anonymous U.S. Treasury official expressed American feelings well when he said in response to the British decision to join the AIIB, "We are wary about a trend toward constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power."

The honesty of this official is commendable. His statement brings out well the zero-sum attitudes of geopolitical "strategic thinkers." The real tragedy here (and it's a tragedy that cripples the G-20) is that these so-called "strategic" thinkers can't think strategically and can't see the big strategic picture of how our world has evolved. Most of the people advising the G-20 on "strategic" issues are guns-and-bombs people whose mental concepts are stuck in the 19th century. They wrongly assume, as the U.S. official revealed, that China's rise can only be negative for the U.S.

Obama should announce that the U.S. will now join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank instead of opposing.

This may or may not have been true in the 19th century, but it's certainly not true in the 21st century. We now live in a small interdependent world. If our priority is to restore global economic growth, it is now in China's national interest to see a strong thriving American economy -- and vice versa. It is vital to emphasize that global interdependence is not just growing in the economic sphere. It is equally true in our battle to combat global warming, pandemics like Ebola and Zika and the so-called Islamic State. In short, as I explain in "The Great Convergence," all 7 billion occupants on Earth are sailing on the same boat. It is the fundamental responsibility of the G-20 to take care of our fragile global vessel.

The Hangzhou G-20 meeting can demonstrate that the G-20 leaders now understand better their global responsibilities by taking a few small but significant steps. President Obama can take the lead. He has nothing to lose since he is stepping down soon. He can demonstrate that America has liberated itself from zero-sum thinking by announcing that the U.S. will now join the AIIB instead of opposing it. Congressional approval can come later but the symbolic gesture will create a new positive chemistry for the G-20.

Leaders pose during the signing ceremony for the Articles of Agreement of the AIIB at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 29, 2015. (Wang Zhao/Pool Photo/AP)

China can reciprocate by announcing that it is prepared to share its high-speed rail technology with the U.S. on preferential terms to help jumpstart the U.S. economy. Eventually, if China is allowed to build a high-speed railway from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast of the U.S., it will have an enormous positive effect on U.S.-China relations. China can make a start by proposing to build high-speed railways in California (from San Francisco to Los Angeles) and in the Northeast (from Boston to New York and Washington). Such symbolic projects will show that G-20 leaders now understand that concrete cooperation is preferable to issuing meaningless communiqués.

One point is worth emphasizing here. A China-U.S. partnership on infrastructure will be a match made in heaven. America needs new infrastructure; the American Society of Civil Engineers projected a $1.44 trillion investment funding gap in the U.S. between 2016 and 2025, warning of a mounting drag on business activity, exports and incomes. China has the financial and institutional capacity to build such infrastructure.

China should reciprocate by announcing its sharing its high-speed rail technology with the U.S. to help jumpstart the U.S. economy.

An unusual U.S.-China partnership on infrastructure development can be complemented by another equally unusual partnership between Europe, Japan and India to build infrastructure in Africa. The long-term strategic nightmare for Europe is clear. Over time, with the population explosion in Africa, the floods of illegal migrants from Africa will only grow. The recent surge of boats across the Mediterranean has provided a clear warning of what is coming for Europe. I had warned about this coming human flood in an essay for the National Interest in 1992. Europe needs to build dykes. The only truly effective dyke would be the promotion of economic growth and development in Africa. Europe can try to do this on its own but its colonial history in Africa still creates psychological obstacles. Working with India and Japan, more realistic projects will be conceived and launched in Africa.

In short, if the G-20 is to demonstrate that it is serious about its mission of promoting global growth, it has to snap out of its current mold of issuing long communiqués and launch concrete projects that demonstrate that real economic cooperation is taking place. This is why it is good to start with infrastructure. It is clearly visible. People will see the benefits. Faith in the G-20 will be restored.

A bullet train passes over Yongdinghe Bridge in Beijing on Dec. 26, 2012. China's high-speed rail line is the longest in the world. (AP/Xinhua, Jiao Hongtao)

Faith in the G-20 also needs to be restored for another reason. Many people in advanced developed countries now see globalization as a threat and not as an opportunity. This is why the British voted against their own economic interests in opting for Brexit. Similarly, the emergence of Donald Trump reflects a strong desire among the American body politic to build new walls and cut Americans away from the world. Abstract economic arguments cannot change such attitudes. Another bestselling book by Tom Friedman arguing that the world is flat will not do the trick.

Instead, what the public needs to see are concrete projects of cooperation that yield both jobs and benefits. The initial projects have to be high profile and be seen to make a difference to the lives of people. Symbolic steps can also help: the G-20 should endorse both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. In short, if the G-20 leaders can demonstrate that they have liberated themselves from 19th century geopolitical zero-sum thinking, they will revitalize the G-20 process.

Europe, Japan and India should work together to build infrastructure in Africa.

One small photo opportunity can help to send the world a signal that their thinking is changing. At their traditional photo shoot, the G-20 leaders should take two pictures instead of one. In the first picture, they should all wear their national hats, demonstrating that they are national leaders. In the second photo, they should wear a common hat, perhaps a blue hat with the United Nations logo, to demonstrate that they also share a common responsibility of managing our small fragile planet. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Earlier on WorldPost:

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Italy Must Find A Better Way To Protect Its People And Towns Against Earthquakes

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 20:19
Italians from the Emilia-Romagna region have experienced firsthand the destruction, death and terror that earthquakes can inflict. Four years ago, two quakes hit on May 20 and May 29, measuring 5.9 and 5.8 respectively, toppling numerous buildings in historic downtowns and leaving 27 dead, 350 injured and thousands homeless.

The scenario that is currently emerging from the disastrous earthquake that has devastated Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata and Pescara del Tronto is like salt on our wounds. We feel a strong sense of brotherhood and solidarity with the victims.

It is not by chance that mere hours after the terrible quake struck, our region sent the first set of volunteers and equipment for the early assistance efforts.

On the day after the quake, we organized a convoy of Civil Protection services that included roughly 100 volunteers, as well as transportable structures and services that could provide shelter for 250 homeless quake victims.

But let's be clear: It is not only people from Emilia-Romagna who are trying to help. At a deeply tragic time, when entire towns have been destroyed, the passion and dedication of Italian assistance efforts is plain to see. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi is right to state that it is in situations like these that Italy shows the world its best self.

Why is it that stronger earthquakes in other countries do less damage and leave fewer victims?

And yet...There is something I haven't been able to stop thinking about since the terrible new tragedy struck: Why, I find myself asking, did this happen once again in Apennines? Why did this happen again after Irpinia, Umbria, the Marche, Aquila, and even Emilia? Why is it that we wind up tallying the number of buildings destroyed and people killed after every earthquake, regardless of its strength? Why is it that stronger earthquakes in other countries do less damage and leave fewer victims? Why is it that after each tragedy, we valiantly say "never again!" and yet we're so inept at changing anything until the next disaster hits?

So I feel the need to say something, even though I can't stand the fact that I'm feeding controversy in a moment like this, during which all we really need is assistance and contributions. I believe that buildings will continue to crumble, people will continue to be killed by earthquakes, landslides and recurring floods in our Bella Italia, because nobody is really doing anything concrete to make this country a safer place.

And the central and southern regions of the country aren't the only places where this is true. Buildings continue to crumble and people keep dying in newer buildings, including government buildings. The building trade is corrupt, infiltrated by the mafia, and driven by private interests.

Buildings will continue to crumble, people will continue to be killed by earthquakes, landslides and recurring floods in our Bella Italia, because nobody is really doing anything concrete to make this country a safer place.

In 2012, industrial warehouses collapsed and workers died in Emilia because proper anti-earthquake regulations did not yet exist, and it was convenient for companies to save money by shortcutting worker safety.

People continue to die and buildings keep collapsing because the actions of our governments, both local and national, are short-sighted and driven by the desire for electoral consensus. They lack a farsighted vision for the "greater good."

Therefore, politicians cut taxes on first-home purchases and distribute bonuses, rather than setting up economic incentives or fines that would safeguard our splendid small medieval towns.

So there, I've said it. My heart goes out to the victims of this new tragedy, and I am full of anger towards the political and economic system that promises Italians that "no one will be left alone," but in reality, doesn't lift a finger to change the status quo.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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Cooperate With Russia When We Can, Stand Up To Russia When Necessary

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 20:05
Twenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's relations with Russia have reached a post-Cold War low. Russia's interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have exacerbated tensions with the U.S. and much of Europe. Distrust and sharp rhetoric have reached new levels.

But Russia is an active player in areas of great strategic importance. For the United States, maintaining effective policies toward Russia will be essential but not easy.

Politically, Russia has moved a long way from its communist past, but it isn't clear what direction the country is heading. What is clear is that Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the shots.

Putin has consolidated power in his own person. He acts as if he believes that he alone stands between order and chaos. His leadership style is autocratic and brooks no serious competition. Civil society in Russia has been decimated. The parliamentary system is a façade.

Russia is a very hard country for Americans to understand and deal with. Despite Putin's apparent ambitions, it is not a global superpower. It has a kind of hollow power. It is not a revolutionary force in the world. It is a declining state, seeking to restore its former influence.

But Russia must be taken seriously, because it has the world's most extensive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium. In a world of many risks, nuclear weapons present the gravest threat to our security and our future.

Economically, Russia is struggling. It has serious institutional and demographic weaknesses, including low fertility rates, grim health issues and a population that is projected to decline. Its GDP equals that of Italy, a country with less than half as many people.

Prices for oil exports, which helped make Putin popular early in his presidency, have fallen. The sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other allies in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 have hurt. Living standards continue to fall.

It is hard to determine what Putin is up to with the takeover of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine, which he frames as an attempt to support ethnic Russians in the region. It may be that he is trying to distract Russians from the country's economic troubles.

The worry, of course, is that he will intervene further. For now, it seems unlikely that Russia will engage in new, major offensives in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. But Putin certainly gauged correctly that the U.S. and its allies would not be willing to fight his actions -- that our response would be nonmilitary.

Some in the U.S. government identify Russia as the top security concern for our country today. Certainly the relationship is important and challenging.

But there are areas where we need Russia's cooperation, such as the conflict in Syria, Iran's ambitions and avoiding a disaster with our nuclear arsenals getting loose and ending up in the wrong hands. Afghanistan is another area where both the U.S. and Russia want greater stability.

We have worked with Russia to resist terrorism and stem the spread of narcotics. It is not in our interest to have chaos in Russia or to see Russia cease to function effectively as a state.

However, we should not be complacent. We should maintain economic sanctions as a powerful nonmilitary tool to influence Russia's behavior and continue to exclude Russia from the world banking system. Its economy is quite dependent on Western trade and investment, and it doesn't have any effective means to counter the sanctions.

We should also strengthen our ties with NATO. The countries of Eastern Europe, especially, need reassurance that they will not be left vulnerable. But NATO should make clear it does not intend to expand to Ukraine and Georgia, actions that Russia would see as a severe provocation.

We must keep open and, if possible, deepen the lines of communication with Russia, but we should not set aside our differences. We should cooperate where we can but stand up to Russia where necessary.

For example, we should stand behind the Ukrainian government in Kiev, providing it with bilateral and multinational aid. And we need to sustain international opposition to any effort by Russia to weaken or break off Europe. We should strongly object to any violation of international law.

We certainly should not have any illusions about Russia - or its wily and calculating leader.

Addressing the security concerns presented by Russia is one of America's most difficult foreign policy challenges. Even our best efforts will not produce quick results. It's going to take a lot of skill and patience.

Lee H. Hamilton is a Distinguished Scholar, Indiana University School of Global and International Studies; Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs; and Senior Advisor, IU Center on Representative Government. He served as U.S. Representative from Indiana's 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999.

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Farc's 'definitive' ceasefire takes effect in Colombia

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 19:42

A ceasefire has come into effect in Colombia between the main leftist rebel group and the government, ending one of the world’s longest insurgencies.


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Duterte Offers Reward For Corrupt Police Linked To Drugs

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 19:40

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday promised rewards running to tens of thousands of dollars for information leading to the capture of police officers protecting drug syndicates and warned corrupt officials they would face “a day of reckoning”.

In a National Heroes Day speech, Duterte said there would be no let-up in a “war on drugs” in which - according to police figures - more than 1,900 people have been killed since he came to power two months ago.

Police say the toll of about 36 people a day is a result of drug dealers resisting arrest or gang feuds.

Duterte railed against critics who have complained that the poor who trade drugs to make a living are being targeted by the police, but added that army generals, city mayors, governors and police involved in the drug trade must also be stopped.

“I consider the fight against drugs a war, there is a crisis in this country, it is drugs ... it has infected every nook and corner,” he said in the speech to retired and serving soldiers, government officials and foreign diplomats.

Singling out corrupt policemen known as “ninjas”, who take pay-offs from drug lords, Duterte said he was placing a 2 million peso ($43,000) bounty on their heads, telling their colleagues to “squeal on your friends”.

Duterte, who won a May election on a promise to wipe out drugs and dealers, last month named about 160 officials, judges, police and soldiers who he said were protecting drug traffickers or selling drugs in their communities.

The United States, a close ally of the Philippines, said last week it was “deeply concerned” about the reports of extra-judicial drug killings and it urged Duterte’s government to ensure that law-enforcement efforts “comply with its human rights obligation”.

The crackdown and some strongly worded criticism Duterte has made of the United States since coming to power present a dilemma for Washington, which has been seeking to forge unity among allies in Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China, especially in the strategic South China Sea.

This month, two U.N. human rights experts urged Manila to stop the extra-judicial executions and killings. Duterte responded by threatening to leave the United Nations.

In his speech on Monday Duterte scoffed at accusations that he was trampling on human rights and said law enforcers should not worry about criminal liability while acting on his campaign.


In the early hours of Monday a suspected drug lord and his wife were shot dead by a gunman as they stepped off a ferry in the central province of Iloilo, national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos said.

Police said the man, Melvin Odicta who was also known as “Dragon”, was returning from Manila where last week he had met the interior minister to deny accusations that he was the region’s top drug dealer.

National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said on Friday he did not believe Odicta, telling officers: “Who are they fooling?”

In a speech to thousands of drug users and pushers the previous day, dela Rosa encouraged them to kill drug lords because they were getting rich at the expense of the poor.

“You want to kill them, then kill them, you can kill them because you are their victims here. You know who are the drug lords here, go to their houses, pour gasoline, set it on fire, show them you are angry at them.”

He later apologized for the comments.

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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