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May last a month .. A huge fire in an Iranian tanker


The fire could still be on fire in an Iranian tanker on the East China Sea for about a month, while the fire still rages for the fourth day after the carrier collided with a Chinese cargo ship, the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

Dozens of rescue boats are battling strong winds, high waves and poisonous smoke to locate 31 missing sailors and extinguish the fire amid growing fears of the tanker’s explosion or drowning, a ministry official said.

“We believe the fire will continue for two weeks or a month in view of previous oil tanker incidents,” said Park Song-dong, an official with the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The tanker, which was operated by Iran’s national tanker carrier, collided with SeaFast, which transported a shipment of grains from the United States about 160 nautical miles (300 km) off China’s coast near Shanghai on Saturday night.

The carrier was on its way from Iran to South Korea carrying 136,000 tons of flammable condensates, a little less than one million barrels worth about $ 60 million.

‘Abusive and arbitrary’: OHCHR report confirms Qatar blockade in violation of human rights


As the ongoing blockade against Qatar enters its 7 month, the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) announced in a press conference this morning that it had received the report detailing the findings of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Technical Mission to the State of Qatar.

The report, title ‘On the impact of the Gulf Crisis on human rights’, is the result of an investigation by the OHCHR team who visited Qatar from November 17-24, 2017 to document and assess the impact of the blockade on human rights infringements and violations among the population.

(Copy of the OHCHR report received by NHRC. Photo credit: I Love Qatar)

During their mission to Qatar OHCHR representatives met with and interviewed 20 government and non-governmental organizations, and 40 victims during the course of their assessment. The report also stated that the OHCHR team reached out to the member states of the blockade to make them aware of the functions of the Technical Mission to Qatar and requested that human rights cases affected as a result of the blockade be monitored closely – but received no response.

This is the first of its kind commissioned by a government organization, and while it’s comprehensive, the document it’s also dense. To help you understand it’s scope, here’s a breakdown of some of its key points and findings as outlined by NHRC President Dr. Ali bin Samih Al Marri at this morning’s press conference:

Key Findings

  • The actions and procedures of the blockading states against Qatar do not fall within the scope of diplomatic/economic standard sanctions. They are found to be unilateral, coercive, arbitrary measures that directly impact Qatari citizens.
  • Those Qatari citizens who have interests in blockading countries were compelled to rapidly exit those countries within 14 days. This forced exodus has adversely impacted Qatari families, migrant workers, and has led to an overall decrease in Qatar’s population due to this imposed restriction of movement.
  • The measures of the blockading countries are discriminatory and not legally-bound, amounting to ‘economic warfare’. The blockading countries have not differentiated between the Qatari government and the Qatari people – effectively disproving that the blockade doesn’t discriminate between the two.
  • The OHCHR confirmed that the government of Qatar has been successful at containing the repercussions of the crisis and alleviating its impact on citizens and residents. The report also noted that there have been no reprisal measures from the State of Qatar against the blockading nations.
  • Through hate speech and inciteful discourse that targets the state, the blockade has had a dangerous psychological impact on expats and nationals in Qatar. Those impacted have found no solutions, while the member states of the blockade have been regressive at facilitating a solution.

(NHRC President Dr. Ali bin Samih Al Marri speaks at this morning’s press conference. Photo credit: I Love Qatar)

  • The OHCHR has praised Qatar’s NHRC cooperation in documenting human rights violations cases and victim’s reports during the blockade.
  • The report further confirmed that, in direct contradiction to freedom of speech, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, have declared through their news agencies that anyone who expresses compassion towards Qatar will face punitive measures.
  • News media and entertainment programs in the blockading nations are confirmed to have used their platforms to call for violence and inciteful speech towards Qatar in violation of economic, social, and cultural rights.
  • The OHCHR report called for freedom of religious practice during Hajj and Ramadan, elaborating that the United Nations asked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not to politicize the Holy Pilgrimage by preventing Qatari citizens or residents making the pilgrimage from Qatar to enter the Kingdom, as these actions were inimical to freedom of movement.
  • As Qatari students were expelled from institutions in blockading nations, the report confirms that the crisis has had an indelible impact on the union of families and the social fabric of the GCC as a whole.

(Flag of the United Nations. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)

What comes next?

After the review and the release of the report, the NHRC says it will make the following recommendations to OHCHR:

  • To move further at all levels of international human rights mechanisms and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  • To raise the issue of the impacts of the blockade in the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the next session of the United Nation Human Rights Council.
  • To address specialized international organizations such as the International Labor Organization, UNESCO, the WTO, and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) to share information and promote the complaints against the countries of the blockade.
  • Call on the United Nations special rapporteurs to act promptly to address the issues of victims of the blockade and to visit the countries of the blockade, and to include the impacts of the blockade in their reports to the Human Rights Council.
  • Invite the OHCHR Technical Mission to visit the countries of the blockade to identify the impacts of the blockade on their citizens and citizens of the State of Qatar.
  • Include the impacts of the blockade in the General Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(United Nations General Assembly. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)

The NHRC has also made the following recommendations for action to the Government of the State of Qatar:

Irish pro-Palestine group calls Israeli blacklisting ‘appalling’


Israel’s decision to blacklist the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and block the group’s more than 400 members from entering the country has been condemned as “appalling” by its chairwoman Fatin al-Tamimi.

The Dublin-based volunteer organisation that campaigns for Palestinian rights is one of 20 activist groups to appear on the blacklist published by Israel’s strategic affairs ministry on Sunday.

Individuals who hold senior positions in the blacklisted organisations along with key activists will be denied entry to Israel under a crackdown by the country on groups that call for a boycott of the Jewish state.

The blacklist targets a grassroots movement known as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), which criticises Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

“For me as a Palestinian, it means a lot that they are going to ban me from going to see my family and people. It is absolutely horrible,” said Ms Tamimi who will be blocked from visiting family in Hebron and Gaza.

The campaigner, who has lived in Ireland for more than 30 years, said that she plans to make representations to the Irish Government about the ban and to write to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in an attempt to ensure that Palestinians in Ireland can travel freely to their homeland.

Other groups blacklisted include the France Association Palestine Solidarity, the Palestine committee of Norway and the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for assisting and rescuing victims of the Nazis.

“The boycott organisations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,” said Israel’s strategic affairs ministry Gilad Erdan.

PSC and Other UK Human Rights Organisations Banned From Israel


According to a list released by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday, high profile members and officers of 20 global human rights organisations will be banned from entering Israel or Palestine. The list includes three UK organisations – the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Friends of Al Aqsa and War on Want.

In March 2017, Hugh Lanning, Chair of PSC, became the first high profile human rights campaigner to be denied access to Israel under the so called anti-boycott law passed in 2016.

Since then Israel has also, under this and other laws, denied entry to representatives of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Jewish Voice for Peace. Israeli civil society organisations and human rights activists have also been subject to restrictions on their rights to campaign, freedom of movement and speech.

The release by Israel of a list of banned organisations is not a surprise, given the erosion of democratic norms by the Israeli government in recent years. Alongside this law, Israel has passed a series of measures though the Knesset that seek to limit the freedoms of groups inside and outside Israel to campaign on behalf of the rights of Palestinians.

Hugh Lanning, PSC Chair, said:

“This latest announcement should be a wakeup call for the UK government and all those who continue to describe Israel as a normal liberal democracy. Liberal democracies do not prevent entry to individuals whose only offence is to draw attention to human rights abuses and to call for non-violent action to address them. Only states that wish to protect their ability to act unjustly behave in this way.

Boris Johnson must take robust action to protect the rights of UK citizens to protest peacefully and to cross borders without illegitimate restriction. He should make clear that the UK Government will not cooperate with these measures.

Neither the PSC nor any of its members will be intimidated by such measures; they are a mark of Israel’s increasing desperation in the face of the growth in global support for the tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS is a non-violent means of holding Israel to account for its violations of international law and its denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Ben Jamal, PSC Director, said:

“Through this measure, Israel not only seeks to prevent peaceful human rights activists from entering Israel, but also from entering Palestine. This includes members of PSC and other organisations who, like myself, are of Palestinian origin and who have family and friends in Palestine. In April 2017, PSC’s Vice Chair, senior academic Kamel Hawwash, was separated from his family at the airport, whilst visiting family in Jerusalem.

Harvey Weinstein’s Wife’s Fashion Label Marchesa Is in Big Trouble


It was once the go-to fashion house for every aspiring actress on the red carpet.

However the 2018 Golden Globes may have sounded the death knell for Georgina Chapman’s fashion label Marchesa, after not a single actress wore a stitch of the brand founded by Harvey Weinstein’s estranged wife to this year’s ceremony.

In the course of several months of damaging revelations it has emerged that not only did Weinstein finance his wife’s brand he also pressured actresses to wear the clothes on the red carpet.

And apart from one statement in which she confirmed she was leaving her husband, and expressed sympathy for his victims, Chapman has said nothing publicly about the scandal.

This silence may, of course, be based on strict legal advice and a noble desire to protect her two children with Weinstein, but her incredibly low profile has done nothing to put clear blue water between her brand and her husband’s behavior.

Indeed, it has increasingly appeared from many accounts that Marchesa was just one more vector used by Weinstein to assert control over the careers (and bodies) of women. It’s hard to believe that Chapman had no idea her husband had anything to do with the stars such as Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez and Renee Zellweger who showed up at her studio for fittings to wear her dresses on the red carpet.

“He was the mastermind behind Marchesa—orchestrating deals and using his influence in terms of the celebrity connections for her on behalf of the brand,” an L.A. fashion publicist told the Hollywood Reporter of Weinstein. “They both benefited from the relationship, but she certainly knew about his bad behavior.”

The Hollywood Reporter claimed Weinstein pressured Felicity Huffman to wear his wife’s label when publicizing her 2005 movie, Transamerica. Huffman later confirmed that Weinstein threatened to pull financial support for the film if she didn’t wear the brand to the 2005 ceremony. She showed up in a flowing white Marchesa gown that year.

The Daily Mail reported that Sienna Miller was similarly pressured to wear Marchesa in 2007, the year she made another Weinstein movie, Factory Girl. Weinstein himself admitted to “maybe” helping Renee Zellweger pick a Marchesa dress for the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

The future of Chapman’s once red carpet-friendly label, named after the Marchesa Luisa Casati, an eccentric 20th-century Italian heiress, and famed for its focus on intricate featherwork and fantastical detailing, now seems bleak.

Bitcoin under THREAT as XRP Ripple set to SOAR


Bitcoin is quickly being caught up by rival cryptocurrencies which offer more features but money manager Brian Kelly has revealed why Ripple, the second largest digital currency, is controversial.

Speaking to CNBC, he said: “Ripple’s somewhat controversial here in the decentralised world because Ripple is a centralised currency.

“It was premined 100 percent by the Ripple company.

“Now what they’ve done to alleviate a lot of those fears is they’ve locked up a lot of the Ripple that they own.”

XRP is the cryptocurrency that powers Ripple’s blockchain technology to send money across the world in real time settlements.

Ripple has attracted tens of millions of dollars worth of investment leading to it being dubbed the bitcoin that banks like.

Mr Kelly said that Ripple has calmed some of the concerns by slowly making the cryptocurrency available in the future.

He said: “They’re going to slowly mete it out over the next several years, this has alleviated some of the concern.

“That being said, purist denaturalised coin people don’t necessarily like what Ripple has done.

“I happen to like that they have several banks using it, and they have a company that is out there trying to make the value of the currency go high.”

Public Seminar: Trump’s promise: Time for Europe to lead for peace


EuroPal Forum would like to cordially invite you to this timely seminar titled: “Trump’s promise: Time for Europe to lead for peace”.

The US president’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an unprecedented step that would lead to alarming repercussions in the region.

Arab, Muslim and European leaders called this recognition as “dangerous” and violates both international law and UN resolutions.

During the Organisation of Islamic Corporations (OIC) emergency summit in Istanbul, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, formally declared that Palestinians will no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process.

On Monday 18th December 2017, U.S. vetoed U.N. resolution condemning move on Jerusalem, despite the fact that 14 council members including France and the UK insisted that the final status of Jerusalem should only be determined in negotiations.

This leads us to question if this will be an opportunity for Europe to play a role in the peace process and potentially become a mediator for peace to end the longest political conflict in modern history.

Join us and take part in the discussion with our distinguished speakers and politicians.

Sign up for Event.

North Korea: South proposes Olympics delegation talks


South Korea has offered high-level talks with North Korea next Tuesday to discuss its possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said earlier he was considering sending a team to Pyeongchang in South Korea for the Games in February.

He said the two sides should “urgently meet to discuss the possibility”.

South Korea’s president said he saw the offer as a “groundbreaking chance” to improve relations.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Moon Jae-in also said the North’s nuclear programme would be the backdrop of any sporting discussions.

The post North Korea: South proposes Olympics delegation talks appeared first on News Wire Now.

45 years ago .. Operation “Black September” changed the course of the Munich Olympics


On this day in 1972, members of the Black September organization stormed the Israeli embassy in Bangkok and held hostages. It was hoped that the Munich Olympics would be quiet and would only fight between athletes in clean competitions. However, the kidnapping of Black September and their deaths Has overshadowed the Olympics and the performance of the security services to this day.

The Munich Olympics were supposed to break another image. A 1936 Olympics in Germany under the Nazi regime. Germany is living under a pluralistic democratic system about a quarter of a century after the fall of Nazism.

Indeed, ten days of sports were fun, exciting, until four thirty five minutes on the morning of September 5th, when the Black September organization broke into the headquarters of the Israeli sports mission in the Olympic Village, and requested the release of 232 Palestinian prisoners in Israel , As well as German Andreas Bader and Alrike Meinhof of the leftist Red Army organization. The Palestinian group also requested the release of Japanese leftist Kozo Okamoto, a member of the Japanese Red Army organization, who carried out an operation at Lod Airport in Israel on May 30, 1972.

German negotiators tended to accept the terms of the group that detained the athletes of the Israeli mission, while Israel categorically refused.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “If we agree, an Israeli will not feel safe in his life anywhere in the world.”

At the end of the day and after a disastrous operation to free the kidnapped, 11 Israeli athletes were killed, in addition to five of the perpetrators and a policeman.

Munich police chief Manfred Schreiber tried to justify the failure by saying: “We were not prepared, neither in terms of the quality of arms, nor legally or psychologically prepared, in a peaceful sports environment.”

The post 45 years ago .. Operation “Black September” changed the course of the Munich Olympics appeared first on News Wire Now.

Gold is climbing and the dollar is falling


Gold rose for the eighth session in a row, as the dollar fell, prompting investors to buy it, while palladium rose to a 17-year high.

Gold prices rose more than 3% in the past two weeks as the dollar weakened by the yellow metal. By 10:30 GMT (1330 Moscow time), spot gold rose 0.2% to $ 1285.35 an ounce, while gold increased in decades American futures futures increased by $ 2.60 to $ 1290.10 an ounce.

The dollar slipped against the euro on Wednesday. Traders said there was little news to support the rise of the euro, but some investors were poised for a possible rise in the single currency at the start of the new year, after a remarkable performance in 2017, which recorded the best annual performance against the US currency since 2003.

Despite a relative slump in the fourth quarter, gold has risen 10% this year and is heading towards its biggest annual gain since 2010.

Among other precious metals, palladium rose more than 1% to its highest level since February 2001 to $ 1069.50 an ounce, before falling to $ 1059.20 an ounce, up 0.7%.

Silver rallied 0.5% to $ 16.62 an ounce, after rising earlier in the session to $ 16.64 an ounce, its highest level since late November.

The post Gold is climbing and the dollar is falling appeared first on News Wire Now.

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