US House to vote to repeal Iraq war authorization



International Desk, Barta24.com
photo Collected

photo Collected

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The United States House of Representatives will vote later this week to repeal the authorization of war that Congress gave to former President George W Bush in 2002 enabling the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The motion to repeal the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, coming for the first time with support from President Joe Biden, is expected to be taken up in the House on Thursday, CNN reported.

The Biden administration said on Monday that the US “has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis” and its repeal “would likely have minimal impact on current military operations”.

But the upcoming vote is seen as a start in a larger debate in the US Congress about revising and re-establishing the US legal basis for the deployment of military forces in Iraq and elsewhere in what congressional critics call the “forever wars”.

“The President is committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework appropriate to ensure that we can continue to protect Americans from terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement on Monday supporting the House repeal.

Source: Aljazeera

Global Crisis and Ethical Imperative of Our Time



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24.com
Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University.

Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University.

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"Momentous challenges are pressing in on us on all sides. One day it is Covid, the next day Ukraine, the day after the ravages of climate change, then the many ugly faces of racism. The list goes on", worte Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and convener of the initiative Conversation at the Crossroads.

In an article tittled 'The Best of Times, The Worst of Times' published by 'Toda Peace Institute' of Japan, Joseph Camilleri raised five crucial questions in the context of onging global situation and consequently suggested  six-step process which are very important for peace building and conflict resolution.

Against the backdrop of the contemporary crisis, look at the questions raised by Professor Joseph Camilleri, who has authored or edited over thirty books and written over 120 book chapters and journal articles, covering issues of security, dialogue and conflict resolution, theories of international relations, the role of religion and culture in the contemporary world, and the politics of the Asia-Pacific region and has convened several major international dialogues and conferences, most recently Towards a Just and Ecologically Sustainable Peace (2019):

  1. Are these just unconnected afflictions, or symptoms of a deeper ailment?
  2. How do we make sense of it all?
  3. Can we go beyond political spin, propaganda, platitudes?
  4. How do we communicate with others about all this?
  5. How can we respond?

According to Professor Joseph Camilleri, "we are witnessing Russia’s military thrust into Ukraine, and its appalling consequences, with no resolution of the conflict yet in sight. It graphically encapsulates the turbulence of our age. At the end of the fourth week of fighting, UN estimates suggest some 1,200 civilian lives lost, and close to 2,000 injured, not to mention the thousands of military casualties on both sides.To this gruesome scorecard must be added the wholesale destruction of infrastructure, some 6.5 million internally displaced people, and close to 4 million forced to flee the country."

Professor Joseph Camilleri pointed out the the Russia no doubt has legitimate grievances fuelled by successive waves of NATO expansion that have brought the US-led military alliance right to Russia’s doorstep. The coming to power of a government in neighbouring Ukraine intent on joining NATO has added fuel to the fire. Many Russians, not just Putin, feel they have been subjected to relentless provocation and humiliation, and the Russian minority in Ukraine to intimidation and harassment. But none of this justifies the use of force, or the terrible suffering to which the people of Ukraine have been subjected.

"The imposition of hefty sanctions by the United States and its allies is more likely to hurt ordinary Russians than the oligarchs. Freezing the assets of Russian Central Banks and Russian sovereign funds, excluding Russia from the SWIFT messaging system, suspending the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and a host of other poorly thought out measures will adversely impact other economies and an already fragile global financial system", Professor Joseph Camilleri added.

He also mentioned, "as for the vitriol levelled against Putin by the United States and some of its more boisterous allies, it will do little to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Accusations of war crimes would carry greater moral authority, if they had been levelled with equal force against Western leaders responsible for the destruction showered upon the people of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Professor Joseph Camilleri observed the role of mainstream Western media has been less than helpful. Alleged facts and interpretations offered by the Ukrainian military and political elite are headline news, while Russian voices, including those of independent Russian scholars, are barely heard. As for US military and intelligence sources (often unnamed) and their acolytes in think tanks with loud voices, their assessments are taken as gospel.

"The cumulative toll of half truths, disinformation and outright deception—political, cultural and psychological—will be felt for years to come", he stated.

The most respected Political Scientist warned that the most distressing casualty is the possible, perhaps probable, return to a full-scale Cold War. Senseless talk of no-fly zones, the escalating delivery of lethal military aid to the Ukraine, the foolhardy damage done to nuclear power plants, and the foolish use of nuclear threats have made this one of the most perilous moments since WWII.

'How might we get out of this mess?' according to Professor Joseph Camilleri "the short answer is: with great difficulty." But as a contribution to the conversation, he proposed a six-step processl based on two principles: that the silencing of guns is crucial, but not enough; and that key issues are invariably interlinked, and must be approached holistically.  He outlined the steps as follows:

  1. Immediate ceasefire (ideally a UN monitored ceasefire) which can be sustained only when each side gains something and concedes something: Moscow stops the use of force and Kyiv enters into substantive negotiation on Russia’s legitimate grievances.
  2. No further delivery of lethal military aid to Ukraine and a massive international programme to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
  3. Phased withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory once negotiations on Russia’s longstanding concerns make substantial headway.
  4. Use of good offices: the UN Secretary-General and key governments with effective access to either or both sides (e.g. China, France, Turkey, South Africa, India) can all play an important role in different ways and at different stages of the negotiating process.
  5. Establishment of a sizeable UN peacekeeping forceonce Russian forces have withdrawn. Such a peacekeeping operation may be needed for some considerable time (US, Russian and allied forces should not form part of part of this operation).
  6. These arrangements should make way for a longer-term series of negotiations between Russia, the United States and their European allies with a view to advancing nuclear disarmament agreements as well as significant steps towards demilitarisation. These arrangements would form part of a new European wide framework of common, cooperative and comprehensive security that encompasses climate change and other critical environmental issues.

"None of this will happen overnight or without a massive global awakening of human wisdom and energy. Possibilities for renewal are discernible. Intellectuals, artists and scientists around the world, religious leaders, small media outlets, countless advocates and engaged citizens toiling away on different fronts offer an inspiring alternative to what is", he said with importance.

"At the same time", he said, "our capacities to communicate and connect with others, not just in our personal networks but nationally and internationally, are expanding almost exponentially. These possibilities, however, remain embryonic. We are witnessing a growing awareness of the multifaceted ailment which afflicts the human condition at this time. But it is not enough."

"If the public conversation is to rise to the challenge and generate more insightful and energetic engagement, we must go beyond symptoms and explore what lies behind the ailment. Nor can we stop there. We must think through what a healthier condition, a preferable state of affairs might actually look like" he noted.

Professor Joseph also said, "If substantial change is envisaged—let’s say a substantial shift in current security policies, or effective media regulation, or a climate friendly energy policy—one thing is clear: the way ahead is strewn with roadblocks. Many are content to point the finger at short sighted, incompetent or corrupt leaders. If only it were that simple. Powerful interests are often hidden from public view. Deeply entrenched community mindsets are often resistant to change. Some of our institutions may no longer be fit for purpose. How are these roadblocks to be overcome?"

He concluded with an optimistic view that these are issues that call for a sustained and wide-ranging public conversation within and between countries. But such an ambitious exploration cannot rely on the knowledge or insights of a few. The ethical imperative of our time is to enhance our collective capacity to make a difference."

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, Barta24.com.

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More than One Million Covid-related Deaths in U.S.



News Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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The United States has passed more than one million Covid-related deaths, says the White House. The U.S. on Wednesday (11May) surpassed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world's highest recorded toll from the virus.

The number — equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the U.S. — was reached at stunning speed: 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus.

President Joe Biden said the country was marking "a tragic milestone" and each death was "an irreplaceable loss".

It's the highest official total in the world - although the World Health Organization believes the true death toll may be much higher elsewhere.

The U.S. has also recorded more than 80 million Covid cases, out of a 330 million population.

The first confirmed case was reported on 20 January 2020, when a man flew home to Seattle from Wuhan in China.

The 35-year-old survived, after 10 days of pneumonia, coughs, fever, nausea and vomiting. But deaths began to be reported just a few weeks later.

Mmeanwhile, more U.S. families are choosing cremation. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in the industry, some are taking it a step further and turning the ashes of their loved ones into diamonds.

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In Bengal, Amit Shah says will implement CAA as soon as Covid wave ends



International Desk, Barta24.com
Amit Shah

Amit Shah

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Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday said that the Centre will implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as soon as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) ends.

Speaking at a public gathering in West Bengal's Siliguri, Shah added that the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in the eastern state is spreading rumours that the CAA will not be implemented. The home minister, who is on a two-day visit to Bengal, said that chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee wants the refugees who came to the state to not get citizenship.

“Mamata didi only wants the infiltration [to] continue…But TMC people should listen minutely [when I say] that CAA was, is and will be a reality,” Shah told the gathering.
The passing of CAA in late 2019 triggered massive protests across the country, including the Delhi riots, before the country went into series of lockdowns owing to the emergence of Covid-19 in March 2020.

The law allows persecuted minorities hailing from the Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi and Buddhist communities from neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to avail of Indian citizenship.

During his address, Shah also thanked the people to Bengal for helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) increase its seats in the state assembly from three to 77 in the 2021 Assembly elections.

Attacking the TMC, he said that the saffron camp thought “Didi will get better” after her party won the assembly elections in Bengal for the third time last year. “But corruption, syndicate, and killings of BJP workers are yet to stop. Mamata Didi shouldn't think that BJP won't fight back,” Shah added.

The home minister is on his first visit to the eastern state following the 2021 polls where Mamata led her party to register a landslide triumph. Earlier in the day, Shah inaugurated the Border Security Force (BSF) border out posts at Hingalganj in Sunderbans area of North 24 Parganas district. He also flagged off a boat ambulance and inaugurated a Maitri museum.

While addressing the BSF personnel at the Prahari Sammelan, the minister took a veiled jibe at Banerjee-led TMC government over keeping the borders of Bengal free from smuggling and infiltration.

Soon after, the Bengal CM lashed out at Shah without naming him for his comments on the state's law and order situation. “It is not right to malign everyone. In a state with a population of 110 million, if five incidents take place, I would be happy if you condemn those five incidents and demand that the guilty be hanged. But it is not right to put everyone on the dock…West Bengal is better than any other state,” she said at an event to celebrate 11 years in power in the eastern state.

Shah's Bengal itinerary, meanwhile, will see him visit the Teen Bigha and interact with BSF personnel a BoP Jhikabari in Cooch Behar district on Friday.

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Putin tells Macron West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine



News desk, Barta24.com
Putin tells Macron West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine

Putin tells Macron West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron Tuesday the West must stop supplying weapons tao Ukraine and accused Kyiv of not taking talks to end the conflict seriously, the Kremlin said.

 Accusing Ukrainian forces of committing war crimes and claiming the EU was "ignoring" them, Putin told Macron "the West could help stop these atrocities by putting relevant pressure on the Kyiv authorities, as well as halting the supply of weapons to Ukraine".

 Putin also said Kyiv was not being consistent or ready for "serious work" on ending the conflict.

 "The Russian side is still open to dialogue," the Russian leader told Macron, according to the Kremlin readout.

 Macron's Elysee Palace office said that beyond reiterating calls on Russia to end the assault on its neighbour with a ceasefire and peace talks, he had urged Putin to allow evacuations from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in port city Mariupol to continue.

He also offered to "work with the relevant international organisations to help lift the Russian blockade on Ukrainian food exports via the Black Sea, given its consequences for global food security".

For his part, Putin linked the food situation to Western sanctions against Russia and "noted the importance of the unimpeded functioning of the global logistics and transport infrastructure", the Kremlin said.

Macron is one of the few Western leaders to speak to Putin since Moscow moved troops into Ukraine on February 24, spending hours on telephone calls trying to negotiate a resolution to the conflict.

The conflict has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 13 million, creating the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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