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Today — 1 October 2022Main stream

The Run-Up: 'The Guardrails'

Why we can’t understand this moment in politics without first understanding the transformation of American evangelicalism.

The Run-Up” is a new politics podcast from The New York Times. Leading up to the 2022 midterms, we’ll be sharing the latest episode here every Saturday. If you want to hear episodes when they first drop on Thursdays, follow “The Run-Up” wherever you get your podcasts, including on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher and Amazon Music.

The Run-Up: 'The Guardrails'

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Yesterday — 30 September 2022Main stream

Florida After Hurricane Ian

As the sun came up over Florida yesterday, a fuller picture began to emerge of the destruction that Hurricane Ian had inflicted on the state and its residents.

The Category 4 storm washed away roads, bridges, cars, boats and homes. The damage is so extensive that, according to the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, it may take years to rebuild.

Guests: Patricia Mazzei, the Miami bureau chief for The New York Times; Richard Fausset, a Times correspondent based in Atlanta; Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, a national news reporter for The Times; and Hilary Swift, a photojournalist.

Background reading: 

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

Florida After Hurricane Ian

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Before yesterdayMain stream

One Man’s Attempt to Escape Putin’s Draft

Kirill, 24, works at a nonprofit for homeless people in the Moscow region. He does not support the policies of President Vladimir V. Putin and is vehemently against the invasion of Ukraine.

After suffering setbacks in the war, Mr. Putin announced a military draft a week ago. Kirill was among those called up. As he hides out to avoid being served his papers, Kirill spoke to Sabrina Tavernise about how his life has changed.

Guest: Kirill, a 24-year-old from Moscow who is attempting to avoid the draft and who asked that only his first name be used to avoid reprisals.

Background reading: 

  • In a rare admission of official mistakes, the Kremlin has acknowledged that the military draft has been rife with problems.
  • Resistance to the draft has grown as villagers, activists and even some elected officials ask why the conscription drive appears to be hitting minority groups and rural areas harder than the big cities.

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

One Man’s Attempt to Escape Putin’s Draft

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An Uprising Led by Women Shakes Iran

Mahsa Amini, 22, traveled from her hometown in the province of Kurdistan to the Iranian capital, Tehran, this month. Emerging from the subway, she was arrested for failing to cover her hair modestly enough. Three days later, she was dead.

The anger over Ms. Amini’s death has prompted days of rage, exhilaration and street battles across Iran, with women stripping off their head scarves — and even burning them — in the most significant outpouring of dissent against the ruling system in more than a decade.

Guest: Farnaz Fassihi, a reporter for The New York Times.

Background reading: 

  • The protests have been striking for the way they have cut across ethnic and social class divides, but there is one group that has risen up with particular fury.
  • Beyond the anger over Ms. Amini’s death lies a range of grievances: a collapsing economy, brazen corruption, suffocating repression, and social restrictions handed down by a handful of elderly clerics.

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

An Uprising Led by Women Shakes Iran

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Why Was Pandemic Fraud So Easy?

During the pandemic, an enormous amount of money — about $5 trillion in total — was spent to help support the newly unemployed and to prop up the U.S. economy while it was forced into suspension.

But the funds came with few strings and minimal oversight. The result: one of the largest frauds in American history, with billions of dollars stolen by thousands of people.

Guest: David A. Fahrenthold, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, focused on nonprofits.

Background reading: 

  • Investigators say there was so much fraud in federal Covid-relief programs that — even after two years of work and hundreds of prosecutions — they’re still just getting started.
  • A federal watchdog almost tripled its estimate of the amount of unemployment benefits paid out to people who weren’t entitled to them, raising the figure to $45.6 billion, from $16 billion.

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

Why Was Pandemic Fraud So Easy?

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How’s Yemen’s Cold War-era revolution set the stage for today’s devastating Western-backed war

26 September 2022 at 16:37
By: RT

Exactly 60 years ago, a conflict erupted in Yemen that became bloody and protracted

September 26, 1962 is not only one of the most important dates in the history of Yemen, but also of modern Middle Eastern affairs, representing the beginning of what was a civil war to some and an international proxy conflict to others.

With the massive death and destruction wrought on Yemen today, this little-discussed period of Cold War history can tell us a lot about the contemporary Middle East.

Setup of a bloody conflict

Today, Yemen is primarily known as home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, having suffered the loss of almost 400,000 people since the beginning of the nation’s latest war in 2015. However, in the spheres of global trade and big business, it represents a geographical location that can be exploited for international shipping and its largely untouched oil and gas reserves. The leadership in Yemen has always been of great importance, especially in the period of the Cold War, during which Western imperialist nations and their reactionary allies on the Arabian Peninsula feared the prospect of any peoples becoming allies with the Soviet Union.

To understand North Yemen’s revolution of 1962, which later morphed into a brutal civil/proxy war until 1970, we first must understand the divided nations which would later join together and become a united Yemen in 1990.

Yemen, meaning ‘south Arabia’ in Arabic, has historically been a geographically and culturally perspicuous territory. The uppermost region of Yemen, formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire, gained its official independence in 1918, calling itself the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. The kingdom, which was known retrospectively as North Yemen, was controlled by a monarch, Imam Yahya Mohammed, who hailed from the Zaydi-Shia Islamic sect.

Imam Yahya Mohammed. ©  Wikipedia

Meanwhile, the south and east of Yemen lay under the control of the British Empire. Declared the ‘Aden Colony’ in 1937, the southernmost territory in Yemen was developed around the key port city of Aden, strategically located where the Red Sea meets the Arabian Sea. Aden was first conquered by the British East India Company in 1839 and they ruled their colony with an iron fist. 

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The North Yemeni revolution erupted on September 26, 1962, when a commander of Yemen’s Royal Guard, Abdullah al-Sallal, led a number of Egyptian and Iraqi-trained officers in a popular coup d'etat to overthrow Yemen’s monarchical leadership. Al-Sallal was inspired by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the leading voice for Arab nationalism at the time. Al-Sallal’s army of revolutionary republicans deposed the newly crowned ruler, Mohammed al-Badr, quickly seizing Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, declaring the newly formed Yemen Arab Republic (YAR).

At the time of the revolution in the north, the British governing the colony of Aden began to fear what this could mean for their then-top-secret plan to create the ‘Federation of South Arabia’, which they would later form in 1963. The British also feared the security threat such a revolution could pose to its allied regimes in the Persian Gulf, like Bahrain and Oman, where they sought after oil and the stability of the autocratic leaderships they had helped to place in power. The British could not allow an ally of Nasser, who was aligned with the Soviet Union, to become prosperous and spread the ideology of Arab nationalism even further on the Arabian Peninsula.

Following the assassination of the Crown Prince of North Yemen, Imam Yahya Mohammed, in 1948, came the consequential era of his son, Imam Ahmed bin Yahya. Imam Ahmed, as he is often referred to, aspired to rule over a ‘Greater Yemen’, and his forces clashed on several occasions with the British to the south. In March 1955, Imam Ahmad survived a coup attempt and faced mounting pressure against his autocratic rule. He eventually decided in 1958 to join what became the United Arab States, a confederation with what is now Egypt and Syria, known at the time as the United Arab Republic (UAR).

FILE PHOTO. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, left, and Syrian President Shukri Al-Kuwatly clasp hands to symbolize merger of the two countries into the United Arab Republic on Kuwatly's arrival in Cairo with members of his cabinet. ©  Getty Images/Bettmann

The UAR, which had unified Syria and Egypt, quickly crumbled, and by 1961, Yemen had officially withdrawn from the confederation. It has been argued that the confederation’s breakup was a significant factor in paving the way for the 1962 civil war, as it then gave way to al-Sallal’s republicanism, which would become popular in North Yemen. The former King of Yemen, Imam Mohammed al-Badr, did not decide to cede power to his republican opponents without a fight – fleeing to Saudi Arabia and from there rallying an army of royalists that were equipped and supplied by Riyadh.

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Yemen’s revolution

I asked Rune Agerhus, the chief coordinator at the Organization of Solidarity with the Yemeni Struggle (OSYS), how the Mutawakkilite Kingdom’s leadership was able to suddenly change and ally itself with Saudi Arabia, after formerly being an ally of Nasser. 

He stated: “Up until recently, to rule Yemen meant to balance yourself on the precipice of internal and external contradictions. Yemen has always prided itself on the fact that it had remained an independent kingdom for more than a thousand years up until 1962, with a long anti-colonial history against both the Roman and Ottoman empires. Despite economic and political cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom going as far back as the 1920s, the emerging multipolar world with two competing superpowers on each side meant Imam Al-Badr had to make some significant choices to remain seated in power.

“The clashes that the Kingdom of Yemen had with Saudi Arabia and British forces to the south were not born out of any anti-colonial sentiment, but rather from the feeling that these two countries held territory that the Imam believed was his.

“It all changed in 1962 when the very superstructures of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom and the Imam’s rule were threatened. There is also the very crucial point to be made that Yemen’s tribes have always been influenced by Saudi rule and decree, a malignant practice that has helped shape Yemen as the poorest Arab country on the planet. Saudi Arabia in turn likely promised to support Imam Al-Badr to maintain this tribal influence, and the Imam sought refuge in an unlikely ally to maintain power.”

Although the US did end up supplying anti-air weapons to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in its fight against the republicans in Yemen, it fell short of playing the role, on the side of the KSA, that it does in today’s conflict against the Ansarallah government, which took over Sanaa in 2015. Instead, it was the British that played the most prominent role of any Western country, on the side of the Saudi-backed royalists. MI6, the British SAS special forces, and mercenaries were all used to fight the Arab-nationalist republican forces, led by al-Sallal, in Yemen. Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan also played a prominent role in providing weapons, intelligence, and logistical support to the Saudi-backed royalists.

One of the primary reasons for the Saudi-led coalition’s backing of the royalists in the conflict was the direct involvement of Egypt on the side of the newly established Yemen Arab Republic. The USSR was the first nation to formally recognize the YAR, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev even wrote to the Yemeni Republican leader, al-Sallal, stating that “any act of aggression against Yemen will be considered an act of aggression against the Soviet Union.” 

FILE PHOTO. The Soviet leaders Nikolau Bulganin (r) and Niketa Khrushchev. ©  Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Nasser sought to challenge Saudi Arabia, encourage the spread of Arab nationalism, and drive the British out of Yemen in order to bring the Red Sea under Arab sovereignty.

Just how pivotal was the influence of external powers on the civil war? Agerhus says:

“Saudi Arabia is, by many, considered to have been Yemen’s sworn enemy ever since thousands of barefooted Yemeni pilgrims were murdered by clansmen led by Al-Saud [Saudi Arabia’s ruling family] in the Tanomah valley in 1922. This marked the starting point of the long feud between the two countries. After the establishment of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s, the Western economic bloc got itself a new ally in the region that it could trust to thwart the emergence of what was then considered ‘radical thought.’ The build-up of global and regional alliances was already taking shape prior to the revolution of 1962.

“The Cold War affected the North Yemen civil war because the competing polars had vastly different viewpoints on the rights of people to self-determination and fundamentally different perceptions of the very practice of colonialism and feudalism.

“Egyptian and Soviet support for Abdullah Al-Sallal's forces shaped the war to a large extent, which is evident even today as the prevailing superstructures of Yemeni society and the armed forces are and were modeled on Egyptian inspiration and armed with Soviet and Russian weaponry. I do believe the war would have been fought otherwise, but perhaps with different results without international support.”

In Yemen’s British-controlled south, 1962 was also the year that pan-Arab liberation movements began to grow in size and put up a fight against British colonial rule. In October 1963, a new revolution began in the south, or what the British would come to describe as the ‘Aden emergency,’ which involved revolutionary action from a unified front of Marxist and Arab nationalist forces from the Taiz and Aden areas. This revolution was aided by the YAR, as the leading revolutionary forces in British-occupied southern Yemen came together to form the unified ‘Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen,’ which was set up under the supervision of their revolutionary comrades in Yemen’s north.

FILE PHOTO. Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen. ©  Wikipedia

“I don’t believe there is any evidence to suggest that international assistance to the anti-colonial struggle was crucial in shaping the inevitable result,” Agerhus says. “However, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, as an institution, likely would not have been established without Soviet political  and advisory support.”

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He went on to say that “the struggle in the south was centered on two competing but cooperating resistance factions, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen, or FLOSY for short, and the National Liberation Front. FLOSY maintained a socialist Arab nationalist political line while the NLF ascribed to Marxist ideology.”

Consequences of the September 26 Revolution

Between 1962 and 1970, at least 200,000 people had been killed in a conflict which eventually led to the inevitable; the Yemen Arab Republic was recognized as a sovereign nation and the royalists, who lacked popular support, were defeated. However, while the republicans had won the war, in the process, so too had Arab nationalism died amid the fighting in Yemen. 

It is often suggested that the downfall of Arab nationalism stemmed from the shocking defeat of Nasser’s Egypt during the June 1967 war, when Israel launched its offensive known as ‘Operation Focus’ and went on to defeat its Arab neighbors in only six days. However, without Egypt’s over-commitment to the war in Yemen, which had reached a deadly stalemate during the mid-1960s, Tel Aviv may not have possessed the confidence to have launched the Six-Day War, or at the very least Egypt would have been more prepared for the confrontation. The war in Yemen cost the Egyptians so dearly that it is often referred to as ‘Egypt’s Vietnam,’ a war in which Nasser’s army was so heavily bogged down that his home turf ended up occupied by Israel. 

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In 1967, as Nasser’s Arab nationalism was dealt a death blow, an alternative ideology emerged which the Arab world would harness to continue its fight against imperialist powers and autocratic Middle Eastern rulers. Marxist ideology, in its various forms, was the natural answer to fill the ideological void. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in Yemen; in November 1967, the Yemeni revolution in the nation’s south proved successful in forcing out the British colonialists and the revolutionary forces declared the sovereignty of South Yemen. The defeat of Egypt earlier that June had seen the Israelis seize the Sinai Peninsula, resulting in the closure of the Suez Canal supply route for the next eight years. The closure of this strategic supply route to Europe, combined with the pressure of the ongoing revolutionary war, forced the British to leave and, only two years later, after the liberation of South Yemen, the Arab world’s first communist state was declared in 1969, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY).

“I do believe that the Cold War ended up having a positive effect on Yemen’s domestic political trends,” Agerhus said when asked about the era’s impact. He explained that “the majority of Yemen’s population are peasantry, and the country has a rich and diverse political landscape with left-leaning and Islamically progressive tendencies dominating the scene. The general population also remains vocally anti-colonialist in both tone, theory and practice, which is undoubtedly a relic that persists from the Cold War.”

Although the Cold War provided inspiration and an environment in which Yemenis would rise up against the tyranny of their British occupiers to the south and an autocratic regime to the north, with the decline of the Soviet Union, the lack of any solid counterbalance to Western hegemony doomed the nation. Initially, unification was thought to lead to a brighter future for Yemen as a whole, one under which the leaderships of both South and North Yemen could co-exist. However, the eventual unification of the PDRY (South Yemen) with the YAR (North Yemen), birthing the Republic of Yemen in 1990, only ended up landing the country back in the hands of an autocratic ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who would advocate and implement neo-liberal economic policies that crippled the public sector, all to appease international monetary institutions. 

FILE PHOTO. Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. ©  MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

It has been speculated that, due to the loss of Soviet support for the PDRY and the weakness of both the economies of South and North Yemen, this was a primary factor in unification; however, when I asked Agerhus this question, he answered with the following:

“I don’t believe it was a significant factor, considering that unification was already under consideration by the late 1960s. Yemen was never meant to be separated. Representatives of South Yemeni trade unionists had seats in the government of North Yemen during the Civil War. A unified socialist state was always the penultimate goal, but ideological and geopolitical complications made the achievement of unification a prolonged and complicated matter. Yemen had earlier than 1990 been close to unification. In the 1970s, North Yemen was ruled by socialist military leader Ibrahim Al-Hamdi, who sought to improve and reshape society natively without any external intervention. Although an Arab nationalist by heart, he was still left-leaning enough to find large common ground with South Yemen’s president, Salim Rubai Ali, to such an extent that by 1977, a shared elementary school curriculum had been enacted to be taught in both Yemeni nation states, and with plans to reunify the two states’ diplomatic corps. A scheduled visit to Aden in 1977 would likely have further solidified the course towards actual reunification, but was forced to a halt with Al-Hamdi murdered during a luncheon by his right-hand man, Al-Ghashmi, on October 11, a murder many consider Saudi Arabia to have orchestrated in order to regain control of the tribes, whose influence Hamdi had made great effort to curb and limit.”

The Yemen we see today is a nation that was under the thumb of an autocratic ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, for 33 years, a country that’s direction was left in the hands of Western powers following the Cold War. On the results of 1962-1970 conflict, Agerhus says:

“The civil war and consequential atrophy of the public administration meant that Yemen was beyond vulnerable and even poorer than it had ever been. In theory, the September 26 revolution was a milestone achievement for Yemeni society, seeing the establishment of the Peninsula’s only Republic. In theory, the revolution would have established an Arab nationalist democratic state, but in practice, reality turned out to be different. Saudi Arabia maintained its influence on the tribes, and at one point even decided on the appointment of the country’s prime minister. This level of influence only grew stronger with Judge Al-Eriyani’s presidential term from 1967 until 1974, which saw the establishment of a special ministry of tribal affairs acting as a gateway for further Saudi entrenchment into Yemen’s public administration and society.”

Moscow street named after controversial far-right politician

26 September 2022 at 16:34
By: RT

Russia’s capital now has a street named after late ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky

A street in Moscow has been named after Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the founder and leader of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). The controversial ultra-nationalist politician died in April this year aged 75.

“The unnamed street in western Moscow has been named after Vladimir Zhirinovsky,” the Moscow government said in a statement.

The street is located near the home of the late politician, the LDPR has said, lauding the decision.

“He was often seen there, and many neighbors knew him well, nearby there’s the 814th school, where the home polling station of the founder of the Liberal Democratic Party is located,” the party said in a statement on social media.

We welcome and are heartily glad that the merits of a great man receive such high recognition.

Born Vladimir Volfovich Eidelstein, Zhirinovsky died on April 6 after undergoing treatment for weeks at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow. The politician has repeatedly run for president, failing, however, to ever get more than 10% of votes.

Zhirinovsky was infamously known for his flamboyant political style, harsh statements and sometimes prophetic political predictions. He repeatedly got embroiled in numerous scandals during his long political career, routinely getting enraged during political debates, throwing swear words at and even brawling with his political opponents.

Seoul reluctant to get dragged into Taiwan conflict

26 September 2022 at 16:25
By: RT

President Yoon has said that South Korean and US forces in his country need to focus on potential threats from Pyongyang

South Korea’s president has expressed reluctance to help the US defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, saying his country’s military and American troops stationed on the peninsula would need to focus on increased risk of a conflict with North Korea in such a scenario.

“In the case of military conflict around Taiwan, there would be increased possibility of North Korean provocation,” President Yoon Suk-yeol said in a CNN interview that aired on Sunday. “Therefore, in that case, the top priority for Korea and the US-Korean alliance on the Korean Peninsula would be based on our robust defense posture. We must deal with the North Korean threat first.”

Yoon stopped short of saying that Seoul should be a higher US priority than Taipei, but he suggested that the approximately 28,500 American troops in South Korea shouldn’t be diverted to fight in Taiwan. US President Joe Biden last week said that American forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, eliciting a furious response from Beijing.

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China has vowed to reunify with Taiwan, by force if necessary, and tensions between Beijing and Washington over the self-governing island have escalated in recent months. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taipei last month, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the island since 1997. Yoon chose not to meet personally with Pelosi when she stopped in Seoul on her way to Taiwan, which some observers interpreted as an effort to avoid angering China, South Korea’s largest trading partner.

Yoon told CNN that Seoul will work with Washington on “expanding freedom for the world’s citizens,” but that collaboration apparently wouldn’t include using South Korea as a base from which to fight China. That’s a departure from past conflicts, including the Vietnam War. South Korea sent 350,000 troops to Vietnam between 1964 and 1973 and had nearly 50,000 soldiers deployed in the Southeast Asian country at one point in 1969.

“For South Korea, the most imminent threat is North Korea’s nuclear missile threat,” Yoon told CNN.

Pyongyang rejected last month’s offer from Yoon to hold reunification talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said earlier this month that his country would never give up its nuclear weapons and recently passed a law to enshrine its right to use that arsenal preemptively if it’s under imminent threat.

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Yoon said South Korea’s alliance with the US is expanding to “economic fields and cutting-edge technologies.” He added, “We have much to learn from the US system to further advance our society and economy, as well as our politics.”

Cubans vote on gay rights

26 September 2022 at 15:06
By: RT

Amendments to Family Code will allow same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and surrogacy

Nearly four million Cubans voted in favor of the government-backed amendments to the island’s Family Code in a popular referendum, authorities in Havana said on Monday. Preliminary results show more than 66% of the votes cast favored the proposal to legalize same-sex unions, surrogacy and adoption of children by homosexuals, among other things.

Turnout in Sunday’s referendum stood at 74% of the Cuban electorate, estimated at 6.25 million. According to the National Electoral Council of Cuba, preliminary results showed 66.87% of the votes in favor, with 33.13% against.

Of the 5,892,705 ballots cast, 3,936,790 were YES, while the NO option obtained 1,950,090 votes, said NEC chair Alina Balseiro. While the results are preliminary and some precincts are still counting, the outcome was “irreversible,” she added.

“I think that Cuba has grown up,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel told Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party. Changes to the code were needed, he said, because Cuba has become more diverse and there were legal issues that came up “in the life stories told these days, recorded in research works, and in situations discussed in court.”

“Love is now law!” the official account of the Cuban presidency tweeted on Monday morning, celebrating the passage of the 100-page law.

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Diaz-Canel also “regretted that for reasons of belief a part of the citizenry still does not understand that the law respects the type of family that they defend and also protects the rights of other forms of love.” 

Many Christians and social conservatives opposed the amendments. While the island’s Communist government once criminalized homosexuality, the niece of the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Mariela, has taken the lead in advocating for LGBT rights. 

Havana almost proposed legalizing same-sex unions in 2018, but scrapped it to ensure the passage of a new constitution. This time, the government went all-in, urging Cubans to vote in favor of the new code, because it “protects everyone without exclusion, privileging the respect for human dignity,” per Granma.

Castro overthrew the US-backed government in 1959, and ruled until 2008, when he retired in favor of his brother Raul – Mariela’s father. While the country is officially secular, it stopped being atheistic in 1992. About 60% of the island’s population identifies as Christian, most of them Catholic followed by a growing number of Evangelicals.

RT Hindi debuts on Twitter

26 September 2022 at 13:50
By: RT

The RT Hindi Twitter account is aimed at South Asian readers

RT has launched a new Twitter account aimed at its Hindi-speaking audience. @RT_Hindi_news was created earlier this month with a focus on the Indian subcontinent and South Asia. A Telegram account aimed at Hindi-speaking readers was also established.

In addition to the world news stories seen on RT’s other feeds, the new account includes stories of local interest to readers in India and surrounding countries. Recent posts include an address by India’s external affairs minister to the UN General Assembly, the Delhi Police's accomplishments reuniting missing kids with their families, and a man in Kerala complaining about people dogging him for money after winning the lottery.

In addition to Russian and English – and now Hindi – RT serves up content in German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Arabic.

READ MORE: India makes appeal on food and energy crisis

Former Biden spokeswoman issues election warning

26 September 2022 at 13:42
By: RT

Jen Psaki has suggested that Democrats will lose control of Congress if voters see the elections as a referendum on the president

One of Joe Biden’s staunchest defenders, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, has conceded that Democrats will take a beating in the congressional midterms if voters look at November’s elections as a referendum on the president.

“I think that Democrats, if the election is about who is the most extreme… then they’re going to win,” Psaki said on Sunday in an NBC News panel interview. “If it is a referendum on the president, they will lose, and they know that.”

Psaki, who left the White House in May to take a job at MSNBC, was Biden’s chief defender as press secretary during his first 16 months in office. However, Biden ranks as the most disappointing US president since World War II, according to polling by Gallup, suffering the biggest declines in approval ratings since Harry Truman was trying to fill the shoes of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll pegs the president’s approval rating at 39%. 

At stake in the midterms is whether Democrats can maintain control of Congress, allowing Biden to continue pushing his legislative agenda through the House and Senate. Polling this month by Rasmussen Reports showed that voters are most concerned about such topics as violent crime, inflation and illegal immigration – issues that may play into the hands of Republicans.

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“They also know that crime is a huge vulnerability for Democrats, I would say one of the biggest vulnerabilities,” Psaki said of party leaders. She noted that while the slumping economy is “hanging over everything” as the elections approach, crime will be a hot-button issue in such states as Pennsylvania.

Biden campaigned in 2020 by portraying President Donald Trump as unfit for office, then avoided attacking his predecessor as he sought to broaden his base of support, Psaki said. “There was a strategic decision made when he came into office that, that’s not what the public wanted.” That strategy has clearly changed in recent weeks, with Biden repeatedly denouncing Trump’s most ardent supporters and calling them a “clear and present danger” to American democracy.

“Now, it’s election season again,” Psaki said. “He did a lot of what he wanted to do, much of it in a bipartisan way, getting legislation done, and now the gloves are off. He’s got to maintain control of at least one house of Congress.”

READ MORE: Most Democrats don’t want Biden to run again – poll

 

Cycling star pleads guilty to assaulting teen girls on eve of major race

26 September 2022 at 13:41
By: RT

Mathieu van der Poel has admitted to assaulting teenage girls who were disturbing him before the World Championships

Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel has admitted to the common assault of two teenage girls who he claims were repeatedly disturbing him in the corridor outside his hotel room on the night before he was due to compete in the World Championships.

The 27-year-old was arrested in advance of Sunday's road just outside Sydney, Australia, at which he was among the favorites to claim first place. 

Van der Poel allegedly grabbed the arm of one girl and pushed the other against a wall after he claims they were repeatedly knocking on his hotel room door and running away when he answered.

One girl is understood to have fallen over and the other hit her elbow against a wall, which caused a minor graze at the Brighton-Le-Sands hotel. They are reported to have been aged 14 and 13. 

After a few times I was done with it,” he was quoted as saying by Belgian publication Sporza

I didn't ask so nicely to stop. Then the police were called and I was taken.”

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He pleaded guilty to charges related to the incident at Sutherland local court on Monday and was ordered to pay fines totaling A$1,500 (US$966).

He [Van der Poel] admits he dealt with it inappropriately but still there’s an explanation,” his lawyer Michael Bowe said.

We went through the relevant events that occurred, he was arrested by police, was interviewed by police and said certain things to the police. Mathieu agreed with some of those allegations. On discussing it was agreed he should plead guilty.

The damage he suffered was enormous. He feels like he’s let his whole country down and his whole team.”

He was set to lead the Dutch team in the long-distance race but withdrew after just 30km.

Van der Poel flew out of the country on Monday evening local time after retrieving his passport from authorities and satisfying the conditions of his bail. 

His legal counsel, though, are set to lodge an appeal on Tuesday in which they will seek to nullify the convictions.

Van der Poel is considered to be among the finest cyclists of his generation. He has won stages in both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, as well as representing the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Snowden gets Russian citizenship

26 September 2022 at 13:38
By: RT

The whistleblower fled the US after leaking top-secret documents, almost a decade ago

President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russia’s TASS news agency confirmed on Monday. The American’s name was included without fanfare on a list of 72 foreigners who became citizens.  

Snowden, who applied for citizenship in 2020 upon receiving permanent residency rights, has not commented on the decision as of Monday evening Moscow time. His wife will also apply for citizenship, according to his lawyer.

The former Booz-Allen contractor is not eligible for mobilization to the Ukrainian front as he did not serve in the Russian army, the attorney said in a statement to media, pouring cold water on feverish social media speculation that Snowden might be drafted now that he was officially a Russian citizen of military age.

Read more
Edward Snowden speaks during a presentation ceremony for the Sam Adams Award in Moscow, Russia, October 11, 2013 © AP / WikiLeaks
US spies pressured Brits to censor Snowden leaks – media

While the fact that Snowden has lived in Russia since fleeing the US in 2013 has been held up as “proof” he was undermining the US government on behalf of Moscow, he was marooned in Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from Hong Kong to catch a connecting flight to Cuba after the US canceled his passport mid-flight. He was reportedly en route to Ecuador, where he had lodged an asylum request with what was then a government friendly toward American dissidents.

The US still wants Snowden returned home to face espionage charges related to his 2013 leak of a mammoth cache of files revealing the NSA’s sprawling surveillance operations, which targeted American civilians to a far greater degree than previously known to the public. Rather than release the documents himself, however, the whistleblower reached out to a small group of journalists and filmmakers including Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, instructing them to curate and publish them as needed. 

After the publication of a handful of disturbing revelations alongside their source documents in the Washington Post, The Guardian, and other establishment outlets led to Washington calling for Snowden’s head, billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar quickly purchased the entire archive, using it as the foundation for his company First Look Media, which launched The Intercept with the Snowden docs as its headliner. However, the site never released more than 10% of the leaked files during the 15 years it hosted them. Despite Omidyar’s billions, The Intercept cried poverty when it shut down access to that small fraction of the archive in 2019. 

READ MORE: NSA promises ‘no backdoors’ in new encryption

That decision that was made without consulting Snowden, who had rendered himself a de facto stateless individual for the sake of making their contents public. Since then, the surveillance program he exposed was declared unlawful by a US appeals court.

Russia expels Japanese consul over spying

26 September 2022 at 12:54
By: RT

The diplomat was caught by Russian counterintelligence while trying to procure restricted information

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained the Japanese consul in Vladivostok on Monday. Motoki Tatsunori confessed to trying to purchase restricted information, and has been ordered to leave the country.

“The Japanese diplomat was detained on suspicion of receiving, for a monetary reward, restricted information on Russia’s cooperation with another country in the Asia-Pacific region, and the impact of Western sanctions on the economic situation in the Primorye region,” the FSB said in a statement. It added that the diplomat has been declared “persona non grata” for activities that are “incompatible with the status of a consular official and detrimental to Russia’s security interests.”

Read more
Dmitry Shabanov seen in court in Lugansk on September 19, 2022.
OSCE workers sentenced for high treason in Donbass

The service has released footage of Tatsunori meeting his contact at a restaurant, as well as the diplomat’s interrogation after he was detained. The consul acknowledged he had breached Russian law with his activities.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also summoned Japan’s minister-counsellor over the incident, notifying the mission that Tatsunori has been declared persona non grata and must leave the country within 48 hours.

“A decisive protest has been expressed to the Japanese side over the actions of the General Consulate official and an appropriate note has been delivered,” the ministry said in a brief statement.

EU states can’t agree on Russian oil sanctions - Bloomberg

26 September 2022 at 12:50
By: RT

The 27 member states are reportedly divided over the proposed measure

European Union nations are struggling to reach an agreement on imposing a price ceiling on Russian oil and will likely push back the idea until after a broader sanctions package has been agreed, Bloomberg is reporting on Monday.

According to the media outlet, citing sources familiar with the ongoing talks, Cyprus and Hungary are among the countries that have expressed opposition to the oil-price cap proposal. Meanwhile, EU sanctions require bloc unanimity, giving each nation an effective veto.

Sources told Bloomberg that the European Commission had met with member states over the weekend to try to find a compromise on the sanctions package. Many details reportedly still need to be ironed out, including at what price the allies would set the cap. The sources also said that any measures would need to take effect before December 5, when previously adopted EU measures take force that ban the import of seaborne oil as well as the services needed to ship it.

“The EU push to impose a price cap on Russian oil would align the bloc with a US effort to keep the cost of crude from soaring and to eat into Moscow’s revenue from energy sales,” Bloomberg wrote.

READ MORE: More EU anti-Russia sanctions on the way — FT

Earlier this month, the Group of Seven (G7) nations reached an agreement to block shipment of Russian crude above the set price.

Western leaders agreed in June to explore a price ceiling to limit how much refiners and traders can pay for Russian crude. Moscow has made it clear that it would not comply, instead shipping its crude to countries not bound by the cap. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has warned that nations that support the price cap will not get Russian crude.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

EU central bank warns ‘outlook is darkening’

26 September 2022 at 12:40
By: RT

The ECB has slashed growth forecasts, hiking interest rates even as it predicts inflation will climb further

Europe is facing lower-than-expected economic growth as inflation continues to climb, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde revealed on Monday, explaining that the ECB had raised interest rates by 75 basis points in an attempt to control soaring prices.

Speaking before the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on Monday, Lagarde admitted that “inflation remains far too high and is likely to stay above our target for an extended period.” 

The former IMF boss warned that the “economic consequences for the euro area” of “Russia’s unjustified war of aggression on Ukraine” had spiraled further since June, a reference to Western sanctions on Russian oil and gas, which have sent fuel prices skyrocketing. 

The outlook is darkening,” she said.

While the Eurozone economy grew 0.8% in the second quarter, Lagarde said the ECB expected activity to “slow substantially” over the rest of 2022, to a total of 3.1% over the year and a mere 0.9% for all of 2023. Things will improve marginally in 2024, with growth projected at 1.9%, she said.

Read more
RT
Euro nosedives to 20-year low

Much of this quarter’s economic growth was due to “strong consumer spending” driven by the reopening of Covid-shuttered industries like tourism, Lagarde said, while noting a decline in global demand due to what she called the “worsening terms of trade.

High inflation is being “reinforced by gas supply disruptions,” she said, adding that “uncertainty” and “falling household and business confidence” were also contributing to the bleak predictions.

Inflation hit 9.1% in August, driven by energy and food prices. The ECB has hiked its inflation projections accordingly, setting 8.1% for 2022, 5.5% for 2023, and 2.3% for 2024, with Lagarde pointing the finger again at “major disruptions in energy supplies.” 

The central bank’s recent 75-point interest increase earlier this month was only the second hike in 11 years, after it added 50 basis points in July. Lagarde said the increase would “dampen demand” but ensure that “inflation expectations remain well anchored.

Lagarde admitted the situation is expected to “get worse before it gets better” with regard to high energy and food costs — the most important issues for two out of three Europeans right now, according to a Eurobarometer survey.

She urged governments, however, to make sure fiscal support for “the most vulnerable households” was “temporary and targeted” so as not to exacerbate “inflationary pressures.

Football icon blasts ex-professionals for Qatar World Cup promotion

26 September 2022 at 12:39
By: RT

Eric Cantona has had some harsh words for former footballers ahead of the 2022 World Cup

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has blasted figures within the sport promoting Qatar ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup, including his former teammate David Beckham, who inked a deal thought to be worth between £10-15 million ($10.6-$16 million) per year to highlight the country’s capital Doha as a tourist destination. 

Qatar has been a controversial choice to host this year’s World Cup, with detractors pointing out its often-criticized human rights record as well as a lack of inclusivity for the LGBT community, and state that a country which holds such views shouldn’t have been considered as a viable host for the world’s biggest sporting event. 

The country’s World Cup organizers have also been hit with accusations of terrible labor conditions for low-waged workers who built the necessary stadium infrastructure, with some estimates indicating the deaths of migrant workers may number in the several thousands. 

And while David Beckham may not speak out, not so for Cantona.

I would not do it at all,” Cantona said in an interview with sports publication The Athletic

I do completely the opposite. In January 2022, I started to say that. Maybe I was the first one. But I am free to do it. And of course, an ex-player paid to do this kind of thing…It could be they don’t know what has happened there.

Or, if they know it, I think they did wrong. I think they made a big mistake. A big, big mistake.”

Read more
David Beckham has reportedly penned a bumper deal to promote the Qatar World Cup. © Reuters
Becklash: Football megastar Beckham risks ‘gay icon’ status, human rights ire after ‘$200 MILLION DEAL to promote Qatar World Cup’

Frenchman Cantona was known throughout his playing career for being one of footballs most colorful characters.

He gained permanent infamy for an incident in a Premier League game with Crystal Palace in January 1995 in which he assaulted a supporter shortly after he had been issued a red card by the referee. 

He has subsequently hit with a multiple month ban from football.

But for all his errors on the pitch, none, he suggests, have parity with ex-footballers such as Beckham who profit directly from the sponsorship deals with the country.

There are a lot of cheap sheep examples in football, like everywhere,” he added. 

I heard recently people say footballers have to be engaged socially, to be active, like artists. But artists – 90 per cent of them are active in easy things, with no risk at all. Where it is risky, you have nobody, so they are all cheap sheep.

They are just in the business like everybody. They say they are against this or that but it is always the easy thing. Today it is the climate, which is good, but you think you are [somebody] really engaged and who takes risks because you say, ‘We have to be careful about the climate’?

But while Cantona highlighted big name former pros squeezing money out of Qatar, he was less resentful of the current generation of players who might be competing at the tournament when it kicks off in November.

If you have a player who says, ‘I will boycott the World Cup’, you say, ‘Bravo’. But you cannot condemn a 20-year-old player, who has a 10-year career, who lives in a world surrounded by people from football 24 hours per day,” he said.

But do speak about the federations, speak about the politicians, who have the power to say, ‘No, we do not go to the World Cup’.

We cannot be disappointed if players don’t want to boycott the World Cup, because at the top, the politicians, the presidents, the federations, the ministers. The real power, everywhere in the world, they have the power to boycott it. It is too easy to say the players.”

READ MORE: Qatar set to soften rules for World Cup lawbreakers – Reuters

Tucker Carlson attends funeral of Hells Angels leader

26 September 2022 at 12:03
By: RT

The Fox News host paid tribute to the founder and president of the famous motorcycle club, Sonny Barger

Tucker Carlson has paid his respects to the founder and longtime president of the notorious Hells Angels motorcycle club, Sonny Barger, who passed away this summer aged 83 after a battle with throat cancer.

The prominent Fox News host was among more than 7,000 people who gathered at the Stockton 99 Speedway in California on Saturday to attend a six-hour-long service dedicated to Barger, who had been a counterculture icon since the 1960s.

Speaking to the crowd of leather-clad mourners, Carlson began his speech by admitting that he had never met Barger personally, but had always been a fan of the notorious outlaw biker. Carlson noted, however, that he had only discovered the biker’s personal views when he read the letter Barger released after his passing.

“The letter, if I can summarize it from memory, was: ‘Always stand tall, stay loyal... remain free, and always value honor,’” Carlson recited, telling the crowd that just reading these words made him “emotional.”

Read more
RT
Hunter Biden levels up in debauchery, media says (VIDEO)

“And I thought to myself, if there is a phrase that sums up more perfectly what I want to be, what I aspire to be, and the kind of man I respect, I can’t think of a phrase that sums it up more perfectly than that,” the TV host added, drawing applause from the crowd.

Carlson went on to question why such values were not shared by those who sit in Washington and pointed out that it should be the president of the United States who repeats those words everyday, not just the leader of a notorious motorcycle club.

Barger rose to prominence in the US after he became one of the founding members of the first Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club in 1957. He went on to become the public face of the group, which is currently believed to have up to 3,600 members with chapters spread across the world.

Throughout his life, Barger had numerous run-ins with the law and had been arrested on charges ranging from possession of narcotics to attempted murder, and had served several prison sentences.

While many police and international intelligence agencies, including the US Justice Department and Europol, consider the Hells Angels to be an organized crime syndicate, Barger always maintained that the club only consists of motorcycle enthusiasts and that responsibility for criminal activities lies with individual members and not the club as a whole.

EU sanctions have ‘backfired’ – Orban

26 September 2022 at 11:14
By: RT

Hungary should prepare for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, says PM

Sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia over its military offensive in Ukraine have “backfired,” according to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who pointed out that skyrocketing energy prices in Europe were the result of the restrictions.

Speaking to parliament on Monday, the Hungarian leader warned that people should prepare for a “prolonged war” in Ukraine. He also stated that the EU’s response to the conflict was the reason governments across Europe have started falling, referring to Sunday’s elections in Italy where right-wing candidates were expected to take control of the government.

"We can safely say that as a result of the sanctions, European people have become poorer, while Russia has not fallen to its knees," said Orban, whose country, like many in the EU, currently faces surging inflation, plunging consumer confidence and a possible recession. “This weapon has backfired, with the sanctions Europe has shot itself in the foot.”

“We are waiting for an answer, the entire Europe is waiting for an answer from Brussels on how long we will keep doing this,” he added. 

During a meeting with MPs last week, the Hungarian leader reportedly instructed the country’s ruling coalition to work hard to have the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions scrapped by the end of the year, claiming the move would immediately result in gas prices being cut in half, in turn bringing down inflation, Magyar Nemzet daily reported.

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FILE PHOTO: Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session on renewable energy during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 14, 2022
EU brands its own member state an ‘autocracy’

Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth term in a landslide victory in April, has been an outspoken critic of the EU leadership and has accused Brussels of causing unnecessary hardships for member states in its efforts to punish Russia for launching a military offensive against Ukraine.

The European Parliament voted earlier this month to no longer consider Hungary a “democracy” and has branded the country an “electoral autocracy,” accusing Orban of failing to follow the EU’s stance on immigration and sanctions. The Parliament’s report on Hungary’s political system has urged the European Commission to make “full use of the tools available” to force Budapest back in line with “European values.”

Hungary slammed the report as being based on “subjective opinions and politically biased statements,” and claimed it was “yet another attempt by the federalist European political parties to attack Hungary and its Christian-democratic, conservative government.”

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