Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Israeli sniper deliberately killed medic Razan al-Najjar, investigation finds

In a photo taken on 1 April, Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar helps an injured man at an emergency medical tent near Khan Younis, during protests in Gaza near the boundary with Israel. Al-Najjar was fatally shot by an Israeli sniper as she performed her duties on on 1 June.

 Ashraf AmraAPA images
Ali Abunimah- 17 July 2018
An Israeli sniper deliberately targeted Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, an investigation by the human rights group B’Tselem has found.
Al-Najjar, 21, was killed on 1 June, as she and her colleagues treated Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza, near the boundary fence with Israel, east of Khan Younis.
According to B’Tselem, al-Najjar “was fatally shot by a member of the security forces who was aiming directly at her as she was standing about 25 meters away from the fence, despite the fact that she posed no danger to him or anyone else and was wearing a medical uniform.”
Shortly before she was killed, al-Najjar was with several other paramedics, including Rami Abu Jazar, Rasha Qudaih, Rida al-Najjar and Mahmoud Abd al-Ati.
All were wearing clearly marked medical vests.
They were approaching the area of the fence with their hands in the air in order to rescue two young men who had passed out due to the heavy amounts of teargas the Israelis were firing.
“We got to the two young men, and when we started evacuating them, the soldiers started firing a heavy barrage of teargas canisters at us,” Abu Jazar told B’Tselem.
Razan al-Najjar and Qudaih began choking, and they withdrew from the area in order to receive treatment from their colleagues Abu Jazar and Abd al-Ati.
Abd al-Ati’s told B’Tselem how he had given Razan al-Najjar first aid to treat the tear gas inhalation and that shortly after, “We went back and stood northwest of the protesters, about 10 to 20 meters away from the concertina fence.”
Other colleagues managed to bring the two young men to safety.
“After we had moved away, we started feeling better and decided to go closer to the protesters,” Abu Jazar stated. “We stood about 10 meters away from them, which was about 25 meters away from the fence. There were no protesters near us.”
That is when an Israeli sniper deliberately targeted Razan al-Najjar.

“Sniper stance”

“At around a quarter to six, we saw two soldiers get out of a military jeep, kneel and aim their guns at us, taking up a sniper stance,” Abu Jazar said. “Razan was standing to my right and Rasha was behind me. We were talking. Suddenly, they fired two live bullets at us. I looked at Razan and saw her point to her back and then fall down.”
Abu Jazar was also shot in the leg and Abd al-Ati was hit by shrapnel in the right hand and pelvis.
Then, according to Abd al-Ati, “two soldiers got out of a military jeep and pointed their guns at us. They fired two bullets at us.”
One hit Razan al-Najjar in the left side of the chest and exited from her back, while Abd al-Ati was hit by fragments from a live round.
Razan al-Najjar was taken to the European Hospital near Khan Younis and after 30 minutes of resuscitation efforts was pronounced dead.

“Sham” investigation

B’Tselem notes how the Israeli military tried to clear itself of responsibility for al-Najjar’s death by offering varying accounts.
At first, the army claimed that soldiers did not fire directly at al-Najjar.
Then the army claimed the medic might have been killed by a ricocheting bullet, and finally it resorted to a smear campaign, accusing al-Najjar of offering herself up as a “human shield” for Hamas.
Al-Najjar’s killing, the human rights group states, “is a direct result of the open-fire policy Israel has been implementing since the protests began.”
Since the Great March of Return was launched on 30 March, Israeli forces have killed some 150 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority unarmed civilians killed during protests.
More than 4,000 others have been injured by live fire.
Al-Najjar was the second paramedic to be killed, two weeks after Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein was fatally shot in another incident of Israeli soldiers opening fire on clearly marked rescue personnel.
In total, more than 350 medical staff have been injured since the protests began, including 26 hit with live fire, 12 hurt by shrapnel and nearly 40 directly hit by tear gas canisters, according to World Health Organization figures cited by B’Tselem.
Dozens of ambulances have been damaged.
Israelis snipers are under orders to shoot directly at unarmed protesters, including children, a policy that the International Criminal Court prosecutor has warned could land Israeli leaders and commanders on trial.
The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq had already dismissed the Israeli army’s self-investigation into al-Najjar’s killing as a “sham” that is “neither transparent or credible.”

Dreamed of being a nurse

On the day she was killed, Razan al-Najjar was doing what she had always wanted to do – give medical care to people in need.
“She loved life and was always smiling. She dreamed of studying nursing at the university, but our finances wouldn’t allow it so she made do with first aid courses,” Razan’s mother Sabrin al-Najjar told B’Tselem.
But the courses at a local hospital were rigorous and al-Najjar worked hard, earning the respect of doctors and other colleagues.
“Razan was driven to prove herself in the nursing field and make up for not being able to go to university,” her mother added.
Her killing has left behind a devastated family unable to come to terms with losing her.
“Sometimes I call her when it’s time to eat, because I feel that she’s with us and she hasn’t died. The whole family is having a really hard time,” Sabrin said.
Razan’s younger siblings are struggling and can’t understand why she’s never coming home.
“My husband is broken,” Sabrin said. “He cries all the time and misses her badly.”
“I keep praying for her to receive the grace of God and go to heaven. Losing her is terrible,” Sabrin said. “What wrong did Razan commit that she had to be killed?”

Turkey looks set to swap one state of emergency for another

Though Turkey's state of emergency is being lifted on Wednesday night, a new law seeks to retain much of its extraordinary powers

A special Police officer stands guard outside of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's residence in Istanbul (Reuters)

Ece Goksedef-Wednesday 18 July 2018
When the clock strikes midnight on Wednesday, Turkey's state of emergency will officially be over - and yet new legislation could see many of its controversial provisions remain for at least another three years.
The draft law, which will be presented to the Turkish parliament on Thursday and is set to be put to a vote on Monday, has been prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a way of moving forward from the state of emergency that has given President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government sweeping powers since a 2016 coup attempt was foiled.
The bill's backers say its regulations will help ease Turkey out of the tumultuous period it has witnessed over the past two years, while still providing security.
AKP MP Bulent Turan, who submitted the draft law to parliament, told reporters on Monday that it is necessary to protect the state from the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the government blames for the coup attempt, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency.
“They [the draft law's regulations] are all limited to a three-year period. Not all of them are in the shadow of the state of emergency, there are some regulations that reflect the continuation of democracy,” he said.
Cahit Ozkan, the deputy chairman of AKP's parliamentary bloc, told Middle East Eye the new law has a three-year limit because that is the length of time needed to rid Turkey of the Gulenists.
'We held meetings with our intelligence, police and related ministries, and decided that we need another three years'
- Cahit Ozkan, AKP
"We held meetings with our intelligence, police and related ministries, and decided that we need another three years to remove this terror group to the core from our country. That’s why we limited the law up to three years. After that, we plan to turn back to normal rule of law," he said.
Turkey cracked down on security after the 2016 coup attempt (AFP)
Ozkan said that European countries have similar laws, and denied the new legislation was a continuation of the state of emergency.
"What democracy means is to protect basic rights and freedom of our citizens and at the same time to provide their security and national unity," he said.
"Almost none of our citizens were affected negatively by the state of emergency over the last two years, and we were able to be very successful in our fight against FETO [Gulen’s movement], we cleaned most of them from the public institutions. Now we are turning back to constitutional order, but with the rules that will help us to fight against terror.
"This new law is in compliance with the laws of European Union countries. We aim to permanently remove FETO from our country. If we wanted to make the state of emergency permanent, instead of bringing in new laws we wouldn’t lift it!"

Freedoms and the economy

Five days after the coup attempt on 15 July, 2016, the government issued the state of emergency, subsequently extending seven times for three-month periods.
Under the emergency rules, 125,806 people were dismissed from public institutions, the army and the police, accused of having links to the Gulen movement. More than 50,000 people were detained and nearly 200,000 passports were annulled.
In the run-up to Turkey's 24 June presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan was moved to follow the suit of his challengers and promise to lift the state of emergency after the polls.
Opposition parties, however, have complained that many of the new law's regulations are barely a departure from the state of emergency's ones.
Akif Hamzacebi, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) parliamentary bloc, told MEE that the new laws will both stifle freedoms and have a negative effect on Turkey's already ailing economy.
'What we should do is to turn back to democracy, but with this draft law they are trying to make the state of emergency permanent'
- Akif Hamzacebi, CHP
"The state of emergency had negative effects on our democracy and economy. Because of the state of emergency, the number of foreign investments to our country has been reduced and inflation, interest rates and the current deficit are higher now. The main reason is because Turkey is getting far away from democracy," he said. 
"What we should do is to turn back to democracy, but with this draft law they are trying to make the state of emergency permanent. They are not lifting it today, they are turning it into a law."
Hamzacebi rejected the idea that the new regulations would only be in place for three years, saying the ruling AKP could simply renew them if it was still in power.
"It’s even worse than the state of emergency because that can be lifted, but the law cannot be changed, as they have the majority in the parliament," he said.

Detentions, restrictions

Many of the new regulations would be identical or very similar to those in place under the state of emergency.
One article of the 25-paragraph draft law says that, much like under the emergency regulations, provincial governors can restrict the movement of people under suspicion in and out of certain areas, such as streets, neighbourhoods or even towns. The governors would also have the authority to ban any meetings and rallies they wish.
If passed as expected, the law will reduce the length of time someone can be detained without charge from seven days to two. In some circumstances, for instance if additional evidence needs to be collected, that period can be extended to up to six days, down from 14 under the state of emergency. Before the coup attempt, people could only be detained for 24 hours, extended to 48 in special circumstances.
Under the new law, authorities would retain the right to make sweeping dismissals of staff in state institutions, as before. It says civil servants or officers “who are considered to have ties with or to be the members of terror organisations or any groups that work against the national security of Turkey” can be dismissed without a court ruling. Those employees and their spouses’ passports can be annulled.
The foiling of the coup has had profound effects on Turkey (Reuters)
Another regulation in the draft law that has attracted criticism is the one allowing police to access private information about those dismissed and their spouses, including phone records and bank accounts.
However, unlike under the state of emergency, civil servants and officers who are dismissed now would have the right to legally object. If found not guilty, they can return to their posts in 30 days, but cannot ask for any compensation.
Though the AKP's 290 MPs are not enough to pass the legislation in Turkey's 600-seat parliament on Monday alone, its ultra-nationalist ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is expected to support it and see the bill through.

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina had ties to Russian intelligence agency, prosecutors say

Maria Butina, 29, founded a Russian group called the Right to Bear Arms. On July 16 she was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia.

The Russian woman arrested this week on charges of being a foreign agent had ties to Russian intelligence operatives and was in contact with them while in the United States, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Maria Butina, 29, also was also engaged in “personal relationship” with an American Republican consultant only for business purposes and had offered sex to at least one other person “in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”

In a new court filing, prosecutors also called Butina a flight risk, saying she has connections with wealthy business executives linked to the Putin administration and appeared to be planning to leave Washington and possibly the United States. They said that when she was arrested, her apartment was full of moving boxes and she had transferred money to Russia in recent days.
The new allegations laid out Wednesday explicitly link Butina to Russia’s intelligence services for the first time, painting the portrait of a covert agent backed by powerful patrons who went to lengths to create a pretext for her presence in the U.S.

The details about her alleged activities injected even more drama into the case of the Russian gun rights activist, who in recent years cozied up to top U.S. conservatives, including the leadership of the National Rifle Assn.

President Trump's warm rhetoric toward Russia on the campaign trail is just one instance of a softening stance toward Russia among some U.S. conservatives.
In a document that could have been ripped from the television show “The Americans,” prosecutors decribed her manipulating a South Dakota political operative as part of her scheme and meeting for a private lunch in March with a Russian diplomat suspected of being a Russian intelligence officer — all while FBI agents watched.
Butina, who came to the U.S. on a student visa in August 2016 to study at American University, was arrested this week and charged with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. Prosecutors say she worked to infiltrate American conservative groups to advance the Kremlin’s interests.

In advance of a scheduled detention hearing Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors argued strongly against her release, noting “her history of deceptive conduct.”

Butina’s attorney has said she was not a Russian agent but a student interested in forming bonds with Americans. A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that her arrest was alarming and with an aim of undermining the outcomes of this week’s Russian-U. S. summit in Helsinki.

“You get the sense that someone grabbed a watch and a calculator to determine when the decision on Maria Butina’s arrest should be adopted to maximally undermine the outcomes of the summit that took place between the Russian and U.S. presidents. It was that deliberately timed,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that after executing a search warrant at her Washington home in April, they learned Butina “was in contact with officials believed to be Russian intelligence operatives.”

The memo written Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik M. Kenerson states that Butina maintained contact information for employees of the Russian FSB, the successor to the Soviet Union’s KGB, and that was “likely in contact with the FSB throughout her stay in the United States.”

As part of Butina’s outreach to the NRA and other GOP groups, she once quizzed Donald Trump while he was a presidential candidate about his views on Russia and chatted briefly with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., at an NRA meeting in May 2016.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year that she was spotted at an inaugural ball when Trump was sworn into office last January, part of a group of Russians whose presence at Trump’s celebration drew the attention of the FBI.

On Monday, prosecutors said Butina sent a senior Russian government official a photo of herself near the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day.

“You’re a daredevil girl,” the official responded, according to the court filing.

In addition to apparent ties to the Russian government, the court filing alleges that Butina had ties to “wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy.”

Prosecutors state that her Twitter messages, chat logs and emails referred to a Russian businessman “with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration,” that this unnamed person often travels to the United States and has been referred to as her “funder” in Butina’s correspondence.

Also, in 2014 Butina engaged in text messages with a different wealthy Russian businessman concerning budgets for her trip to America and meetings with her “funder,” Kenerson wrote.

Those officials were not identified.

Prosecutors have said Butina’s main Russian contact was a high level government official who matches the description of Alexander Torshin, a Russian central banker and former senator from Putin’s party.

In direct messages exchanged through Twitter, prosecutors said she and Torshin agreed that she could only operate in secret. “Only incognito!” she wrote in one message in October 2016. In a note in March 2017, Torshin wrote, “You have upstaged Anna Chapman,” a reference to a well-known Russian spy who had lived freely in the United State for years before her 2010 arrest.

She was assisted in her efforts to make contact with influential Americans by South Dakota political operative Paul Erickson, a political consultant from South Dakota who once helped run Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign and whom Butina met after hosting him and other American gun enthusiasts in Russia in 2013.

They formed a “personal relationship,” prosecutors said, but the 29-year-old “expressed disdain” about having to live with 56-year-old Erickson.

Still, prosecutors said Wednesday that Butina had plotted with Erickson how she should manage visas to remain in the United States. They also surveilled Butina and Erickson entering a Washington bank last week and sending a $3,500 wire transfer to Russia, and then on Saturday inquiring at a U-Haul facility about renting a truck and purchasing moving boxes.

And they alleged that Erickson would help Butina “complete her academic assignments, by editing papers and answering exam questions.” They said her relationship with Erickson was “duplicitous” and her attendence at American University a mere “cover.”

Erickson did not respond to requests for comment.

In an email in 2017, Butina told The Post that Erickson was “one of my friends and political mentors.” She said he had helped her form a consulting company in South Dakota called Bridges LLC, which she had intended to use to pay for her studies. But she said she ultimately found “financial aid” and the company was inactive.

An American University spokesman, who has confirmed Butina received a master’s degree this year, declined to comment but pointed to a university policy that allows the school to revoke the degrees if an internal investigation finds a former student engaged in academic misconduct.

Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.
For Trump, such U-turns are rare but not unknown. Last year he sought to blame both sides for deadly attacks by white supremacists on activists in Charlottesville, Virginia; he later tried to back down, only to then revert to his original position.

More recently, he signed an executive order to end the policy of separating undocumented immigrant parents from their children at the Mexican border, but later comments expressed no contrition. It remains to be seen whether his apology to Theresa May for undermining her in a Sun interview will hold for long.

The latest reversal came about after Trump, who left Finland in triumphant mood, reportedly became mortified and furious as he watched the backlash on television on Air Force One.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told Trump it would damage him in the eyes of the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged collusion between his election campaign and Moscow, according to Vanity Fair. Citing three unnamed sources, its report said: “Kelly called around to Republicans on Capitol Hill and gave them the go-ahead to speak out against Trump.”

A sprinkling of Republicans – though by no means all – who have defended Trump through thick and thin distanced themselves from the president, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House speaker, Paul Ryan, who held televised press conferences to insist Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Even Fox and Friends, the loyal morning show that Trump consumes religiously, piled on the pressure. The host Brian Kilmeade spoke directly to the camera and said: “This is something that needs to be corrected.” The Wall Street Journal was also unusually critical, describing a “national embarrassment”.

The chorus appeared to tell as Trump realised he had made a colossal political blunder. The New York Times reported: “Later in the morning, Mr. Trump told aides he realized he needed to make a correction, according to the person who was briefed. His team met briefly to discuss what to say, and the speechwriter, Stephen Miller, drafted something that was rewritten several times.”

The president read scripted remarks, stating that he accepted the conclusions reached by the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but then characteristically muddied the waters by apparently ad libbing that there “could be other people also”.

At one point the room was plunged into darkness, reportedly because Kelly accidentally flicked the switch. “Oops, they just turned off the lights,” said Trump, joking: “That must have been the intelligence agencies.”

Lights go out on Trump during Russia statement: 'Must be the intelligence agencies!' – video

The hastily organised reversal was applauded by some. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who had criticised the Helsinki press conference as “the most serious mistake of his presidency”, told the Guardian on Wednesday: “He came a long way if you read his remarks to the congressmen. He was pretty clear that he had made a mistake.”

Others, however, regarded the remarks as too little too late, as they failed to address his attacks on the justice department or FBI or his claim on Monday that Putin had given an “extremely strong and powerful” denial of involvement. He repeated once again that there was no collusion.

Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election, tweeted: “I keep hoping that maybe, just maybe, we will all find out soon that the Helsinki summit was actually just a Sacha Baron Cohen episode.”

Two become one? Planemakers work on tech to cut pilot numbers

FILE PHOTO: The cockpit of an Airbus A340-300 of Eurowings, a low-cost airline and fully owned subsidiary of German Lufthansa Group, is photographed as Eurowings opens a new route from Duesseldorf to New York, in Duesseldorf, Germany, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

JULY 18, 2018

FARNBOROUGH, England/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Airplane manufacturers are working to adapt jets to reduce the number of pilots needed for long-haul flights and to build new cockpits designed for a single aviator in order to ease a global pilot shortage and cut airline costs.

Airbus SE and Thales SA expect the number of cockpit crew on long-haul flights, typically three or four, could be reduced to two from 2023 thanks to new technology to reduce pilot workload.

“That’s not an absurd date. Reducing crew on long-range looks to be the most accessible step because there is another pilot onboard,” Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus head of engineering, told Reuters at the Farnborough Airshow.

Boeing Co is examining the possibility of having reduced manning in the cockpit of a proposed mid-sized jet that it aims to have in service by 2025 if it proceeds with a launch decision next year, according to UBS analysts. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“You can see the drivers from both angles,” said Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems at Britain’s Cranfield University. “The technology to fly an aircraft on automatic is brilliant. The other driver in all this is that we’re really short of pilots. They’re a very expensive resource.”

The proponents of reduced numbers in the cockpit say the move, which could begin with cargo flights, is inevitable, just as pilot numbers were cut from three to two in the 1980s when the flight engineer position was axed due to improved design on new jets like the Boeing 757.

Airlines globally could save around $15 billion a year by going down to a single pilot, UBS said, and at a time of a pilot shortage this would help ensure there are enough aviators to serve a fast-growing industry.

Replacing the vast array of knobs and switches with more digital interfaces familiar to today’s teenagers could also help to shorten the amount of time it takes to train pilots, thus easing the shortage.

Ultimately, the goal would be for a fully autonomous commercial jet along the lines of a driverless car, although that technology, which requires clean-sheet jet designs from the major manufacturers, could take until 2040, according to an estimate from Thales.

“I would compare autonomy to an open-heart surgery of our systems. All of our systems are specified to have permanently two persons in the cockpit,” Airbus’ Dumont said.

Critics, however, say there are good safety reasons for having more than two pilots in the cockpit on long-haul flights and at least two on shorter journeys, with the costs outweighed by the benefits.


For example, reducing cockpit numbers to one in the cruise phase of a long-haul flight could increase fatigue and vulnerability in the event of an unexpected in-flight incident while the other pilot is resting, said three pilots who spoke to Reuters, pointing to the Air France 447 crash in 2009.

Even with three pilots on board, the A330 was not recovered from a high altitude stall. In that case, the two more junior aviators were at the controls and the captain, once retrieved from resting, was unable to intervene in time to save the plane.

“I have experienced the simulation of what they went through and, even being aware that it is about to happen, it is very disconcerting,” said Murray Butt, the president of the Qantas pilots union. “I can’t imagine what it would be like for two low-time pilots in the middle of the night.”

Other concerning scenarios include the deliberate crash of a Germanwings jet by one of its pilots in 2015 and the risk of a single pilot suffering from an in-flight health problem.

Moving to a single pilot would also create training difficulties, said Stuart Beveridge, an Australian commercial pilot and aviation researcher, because the first officer role is considered an apprentice step before taking on the responsibilities of a captain.

The financial benefits of reducing crew numbers could also be marginal, said aviation consultant James Halstead, because airline cost savings would likely be passed through to passengers in the form of lower ticket prices.

    “On long-haul, crewing is a tiny proportion of the cost, compared to the fuel and the capital cost of the equipment,” he added. “It outweighs paying the salary of one pilot.”

The flying public also has concerns; a UBS poll found only 13 percent of respondents would take a jet with a single pilot.


Regardless of the concerns, manufacturers are pushing ahead with projects like embedding artificial intelligence into cockpits and connectivity that allows for decision-making on the ground.

In an industry where safety is paramount, reducing cockpit crew numbers won’t occur without significant testing and certification from regulators, though.

In addition, getting airlines to spend money to retrofit their current fleet as well as cultural change to manage the new kind of pilot role will be crucial, said Christine Ourmieres-Widener, CEO of British regional carrier Flybe.

“Most of the time people who are selling solutions don’t realise how complex it can be to manage change and that’s a massive change,” she said. “The technology will definitely be ready at some point but it will be a long process.”

Whether future jets will be designed for a single pilot has yet to be decided, the manufacturers said, with Airbus highlighting that new propulsion technologies also need to be considered.

“I would add that the single pilot operation is not an absolute must,” Dumont said.

“But it may be made a necessity by the fact there is a disconnect between the number of aircraft and the number of pilots.”

Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Farnborough and Jamie Freed in Singapore; Editing by Mark Potter

Imran Khans’s ex-wife spins it all 



Two weeks before a make-or-break election for Imran Khan, his ex-wife Reham Khan’s autobiography portrays the former cricketing superstar and prime ministerial hopeful as a man who led “a bizarre life” of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”, the Indian Express reported.

Reham Khan, as the e-book released on Amazon Thursday is called, also claims that the 65-year-old cannot read the Quran, believes in black magic, and had confessed that he has “some” illegitimate Indian children.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds a tangential reference in the book, which is mostly a damaging portrayal of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader, who believes he is on course to forming the government after the July 25 election.

How this book will affect Imran’s prospects is not clear. But for the Pakistan Muslim League (N), which is reeling under the conviction and sentencing of its leader Nawaz Sharif, and his daughter and political heir Maryam Nawaz — both reach Lahore from London Friday — the book must be music to the ears.

Why Imran Khan’s former wife Reham’s unreleased book is making him nervous
More so, as it includes a brief description of Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz, who has taken over the party, as a no-nonsense and “professional” leader. She also describes Nawaz’s daughter as a brave woman politician, with none of the airs of a political dynast, who gets up to open the door herself to those waiting outside her room.

From Imran’s eating habits to his purported sexuality, the self-published book stops at nothing. There has been no reaction yet from Imran Khan or any of his rivals to the book, although the contents are enjoying an outing in all Pakistani media. It was Imran’s dogged pursuit of the Panama Papers leak that led to Nawaz’s disqualification and conviction.

In an election that has seen much drama but very little campaigning, Reham’s book has thrown another spicy if salacious variable to the mix of hyperactive chief justice, “farishtey” (angels) and “khalai makhlooq” (extra terrestrials) — terms used by Nawaz Sharif to obliquely allege meddling by the military and intelligence services in this election — and jihadis.

The former journalist, who was married once to a UK-based doctor, but walked out of what she calls a violent and abusive marriage, met Imran when she arrived in Pakistan to take up a job with a TV station after a stint with the BBC in the UK. She says she fell for “his persistent and convincing courtship”.

After they were married secretly six months before a publicly announced wedding in 2015, Reham claims, Imran told her that he had “5 in total” illegitimate children, and that “some were Indians” and the eldest of them was 34 years old.

According to Reham, he told her that apart from her, the only other person who knew this was his first wife Jemima Goldsmith.

Reham writes that he also told her about a liasion with a Bollywood star of the 1970s, and claimed that she became very “clingy”. But according to Reham, she made enquiries and found it was the other way round. The Bollywood star, who is not named in the book, but described as the “sexiest star” of that decade and a “bombshell”, had apparently dismissed her experience with Khan as “naam baray or darshan chotay”.

The book describes in detail how Imran rubbed “black dal” all over his body because he had been advised to do that by a “pir”, and how the drawers in his Bani Gala residence in Islamabad were full of amulets and other “voodoo” stuff.

It also says that Imran the politician was a “creation” of the late Lt Gen Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief and Islamist who created the Taliban, and was rabidly anti-India and anti-West. But it also refers to his ties with Israel and Jewish lobbies through his marriage to Jemima, and alleges that he is controlled by shady “purse-strings in London”.

The book gives Gul a role in the break-up of their short marriage. Reham, who is also a British citizen, describes a meeting between her and Gul in which he told her she was not a suitable wife for Imran because of her foreign connections. She writes that she was not the one in the marriage with foreign connections. Imran showed her a text from Gul that said “Abort the marriage”, but laughed it off.

In the book, Reham also writes that she warned Imran: “(You) do realise that you will be used and discarded like toilet paper? Nawaz will be controlled, and so will you.”

When it was clear to Imran that he was not going to dislodge Nawaz Sharif through street protests, Reham writes: “I would gently and repeatedly give the example of Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, who was chief minister of Gujarat State for a decade and then elected to the top job, because of his seemingly strong governance record, despite all the negative baggage.”

Barack Obama delivers 2018 Nelson Mandela lecture

July 18, 2018

Former President Barack Obama makes his highest-profile speech since leaving office, addressing inequality and other issues at the annual Nelson Mandela lecture.

Eating ourselves and the planet to death

HIGHLY processed foods including confectionery, savoury snacks, processed meats and soft drinks now dominate the food supply of high- and middle-income countries. In Australia, almost 40 per cent of people’s energy intake comes from these sorts of foods – foods which provide very little nutrition.

Consumption of such foods is rapidly increasing in many countries across Asia and the Pacific. High levels of consumption of highly processed foods are a significant contributor to the current and future disease burden from non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in Australia and across the region.

Producing and consuming these foods are contributing to harming the environment as well as human health.

The latest IPCC report suggests that agriculture, forestry, and related land use accounts for approximately 24 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The industrial food system drives deforestation and biodiversity loss, land degradation, water overuse, and pollution.

Notably, there is a bi-directional relationship between climate change and food systems. Climate change affects the production and availability of food by placing stress on the quality and availability of water, by creating conditions hospitable to pests and disease, and by reducing biodiversity.

Food production and availability are also being affected because changes in hydrological systems and an increase in severe weather events, such as storms and flooding, are contributing to worsening soil erosion and degradation, and crop damage.

The increasing supply of highly processed foods comes via globalised food systems. This is where food manufacturing, retail, and marketing – often by transnational food and beverage corporations – shape national and local food systems in ways that alter the availability, price, nutritional quality, desirability and ultimately consumption of highly-processed foods.

(File) Sugary drinks on display at a 7 Eleven store in Hong Kong on 26 January 2016. Source: Shutterstock

All stages of this industrial food system – from growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, selling and consuming, through to the decomposition of food waste in landfills – produce greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change and environmental degradation.

From a demand perspective, what, where and how much people eat are responses to their economic, environmental and cultural contexts.

This has been observed over the past few decades, with consumption of these foods growing with rising incomes, changing labour market structures, increasing urbanisation and greater normalisation of highly processed foods which are poor in nutrients.

There is growing international agreement on the need to move to healthier and more environmentally sustainable food production and consumer behaviours to promote population and planetary health.

The principles of healthy and sustainable food behaviours are: avoiding excessive food consumption beyond nutritional needs; reducing consumption of highly-processed foods that are energy-dense but nutrient-poor; reducing food waste; and shifting dietary intake towards relatively more plant- and less animal-based foods.

Developing policy and action to support the uptake of food behaviours that are both healthy and sustainable requires a new approach – one that brings together formerly distinct policy areas such as agriculture, food, commerce, health, planning and social policy.

This provides great opportunities for policy co-benefits, but also brings challenges to ensure cross-portfolio collaboration and coherence.

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