CHINA: The US is pushing ‘maritime hegemony’ by sailing in the South China Sea

BEIJING (Reuters) – China accused the United States on Monday of seeking maritime hegemony in the name of freedom of navigation after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of a disputed island in the South China Sea.

china sea

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur passed near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands, in what the Pentagon said was a challenge to attempts by China, Taiwan and Vietnam to restrict navigation rights and freedoms.

The Chinese government, which moved swiftly to condemn to sailing on Saturday, said the United States was acting dangerously and irresponsibly.

“The so-called freedom of navigation plans and acts that the United States has upheld for many years in reality do not accord with generally recognized international law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

It also “ignores numerous littoral states’ sovereignty and security and maritime rights, seriously harming relevant regional peace and stability”, he added.

“Its essence is to push the United States’ maritime hegemony in the name of freedom of navigation, which has always been resolutely opposed by most of the international community, especially certain developing nations. What the United States has done is dangerous and irresponsible.”

One of the main causes of the militarization of the South China Sea is the United States’ playing the freedom of navigation card and “creating tensions”, Lu said.

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar exercise in October in which the guided-missile destroyer Lassen sailed close to one of China’s man-made islands, also drawing a rebuke from Beijing.

In an editorial on Monday, the influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said the latest move by the United States showed how Washington was “circling to contain” China and that China’s military had few ways of stopping such patrols.

China thus needs to spend more on its armed forces, the paper added.

“There is a long way to go before China can have an equal footing with the U.S. Such equality can only be achieved with the build-up of strategic strength,” it said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

February 1, 2016 Posted Under: News update   Read More

India win off last ball against Australia

India won T20 against Australia

SYDNEY – In a stunning run chase India won their third and final Twenty20 match against Australia off the last ball on Sunday to take the series 3-0.

Australia made a formidable 197 for five but India replied with 200 for three against an inexperienced attack. They needed 17 to win off the last over and Suresh Raina hit a boundary off the final ball for victory.

Stand-in Australian skipper Shane Watson, who had scored an unbeaten century and also claimed the vital wicket of Shikhar Dhawan, appeared to have won his side the match when he conceded just five runs from the 19th over.

But rookie bowler Andrew Tye (0-51) could not handle the pressure in the 20th. The first two balls went for a four and six from Yuvraj Singh (15 not out), paving the way for Raina’s last-ball heroics.

Raina should have been stumped by debut-ant Cameron Bancroft off the first ball he faced from young spinner Cameron Boyce (2-28), and made the most of his good fortune to score 49 off 25 balls.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli again led the Indian batting, both posting half-centuries. For much of the chase India looked to have the target under control after taking full advantage of some wayward bowling by pace-man Shaun Tait (0-46). But Sharma (52) and Kohli (50) both fell to Boyce as the match tightened up. Kohli, named man of the series, was thrilled to have completed a clean sweep of the T20s after India lost the one-day international series. “We wanted to finish off well and get a clean sweep and we’ve done it,” he said.
The much-maligned Watson led from the front for Australia in a masterful solo performance. He probably played himself into Australia’s squad for the upcoming Twenty (20) World Cup with his unbeaten 124 from 71 balls, the second-highest score in the format at international level.
The 34-year-old was promoted to the captaincy due to the injury-enforced absence of Aaron Finch and opened the batting. Dropped on 56 by Kohli, he hit six sixes and posted the biggest T20 international score by an Australian.

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA:
U Khawaja c Dhoni b Nehra 14
S Watson not out 124
S Marsh b Ashwin 9
G Maxwell c Raina b Singh 3
T Head b Jadeja 26
C Lynn c Jadeja b Bumrah 13
C Bancroft not out 0
EXTRAS: (lb2, w4, nb2) 8
TOTAL: (5 wickets: 20 overs) 197
FOW: 1-16, 2-69, 3-75, 4-168, 5-193
BOWLING: Nehra 4-0-32-1, Bumrah 4-0-43-1 (2nb), Ashwin 4-0-36-1 (1w), Jadeja 4-0-41-1, Singh 2-0-19-1, Pandya 2-0-24-0 (3w)
INDIA:
R Sharma c Watson b Boyce 52
S Dhawan c Bancroft b Watson 26
V Kohli b Boyce 50
S Raina not out 49
Y Singh not out 15
EXTRAS: (b1, w7) 8
TOTAL: (3 wkts: 20 overs) 200
FOW: 1-46, 2-124, 3-147
BOWLING: Tait 4-0-46-0 (4w), Boland 3-0-34-0 (2w), Watson 4-0-30-1 (1w), Tye 4-0-51-0, Boyce 4-0-28-2, Maxwell 1-0-10-0
TOSS: Australia
MAN OF THE MATCH: S. Watson (Aus)
UMPIRES: Simon Fry (AUS), John Ward (AUS)

February 1, 2016 Posted Under: Entertainment   Read More

French businessman ‘to pay all burqa fines’

Rachid Nekkaz has set up a million euro fund to pay fines for naqab women

Rachid Nekkaz has set up a million euro fund to pay fines for women who choose to wear the full Islamic veil in countries, like France, where it is against the law to do so in public.

A French businessman has set up a fund to pay fines for women who wear Islamic veils or the burqa in public “in whatever country in the world that bans women from doing so”.

Rachid Nekkaz, 38, a real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium on Wednesday to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there.

“I’m in favor of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home. But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy, ” Nekkaz told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium.

The same day, he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.

“I am calling for civil disobedience,” he told FRANCE 24. “I am telling women to not be afraid to go out wearing their veils. And by paying the fines, I am neutering the law, rendering it inefficient and pointless, showing that it doesn’t work. It is a humiliation for the politicians.”

Despite this initiative, Nekkaz disapproves of the veil. “How can a woman truly integrate or find a job if her face is hidden?” he asked.

The strategy

He has taken exception to the law which came into force in France in April 2011, describing it as a strategy for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government to win a bigger share of support from far-right voters.

“This law was 100% politically motivated,” he said. “Sarkozy made a gamble. He knew it was not constitutional, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He knows that if the law ever does get knocked down, it will be well after next year’s election, which he needs to win.”

Nekkaz has launched a legal challenge in both France and Belgium that he hopes to take to the European Court of Human Rights.

Nekkaz claims his actions along with efforts from other associations has forced a change in France, where he believes police are now less keen to impose the fines, and are instead taking the women in for questioning.

“They are afraid of issuing fines because they know that I will simply pay them,” he said. “Instead they subject these women to interrogations, asking them who their parents are, whether they work, whether they have been forced to wear the veil by their husbands.”

“It is unacceptable that they are victimizing innocent women who are going about their daily lives. They are not targeting the real criminals, the men who do not even let their wives leave the house.”

Nekkaz accused of political opportunism

Nekkaz, who plans to stand as an independent candidate in next year’s French presidential election, has the support of some women’s groups who are campaigning against the French law.

But the businessman has been criticized by some associations who accuse him of exploiting the situation for his own political gain.

“Amazones de la Liberté” is a Paris-based women’s association that is campaigning for the law in France to be completely overturned.

Association president Lila Citar says Nekkaz is using the issue to attract media attention ahead of his presidential bid next year.

Her group also objects to him, as a man, trying to champion what Citar says is essentially a feminist cause.

“Wearing a Niqab is a woman’s choice,” she told, “It is precisely because of the supposed manipulation by men that politicians say they object to women wearing a full veil.

“Nekkaz is trying to manipulate women. He accuses politicians of being opportunistic – but so is he. He is exploiting this issue as a presidential candidate to get attention in the media.”

February 1, 2016 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Israelis kill three Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Israeli troops have killed three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip in separate incidents.

In the West Bank city of Hebron, 22-year-old Uday Jihad Irshaid was killed during a protest by Palestinian youths against the Israeli military.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) released a statement saying Irshaid was killed by live fire.

An Israeli military spokesperson told Al Jazeera that Palestinians hurled rocks at the soldiers and rolled burning tyres towards their positions. The soldiers responded with live fire, but the spokesperson could not confirm fatalities.

Another Palestinian, 57-year-old Issa Haroubwas was also killed after allegedly attempting to ram his car into a military checkpoint at Haloul, close to Hebron.

In Gaza, Palestinians poured out in the hundreds along Israel’s separation barrier with the Strip, to protest and show solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and present-day Israel.

Sami Maadi, who was 41, died after Israeli forces used live fire on a group of protesters in the al-Bureij refugee camp.

Palestinians have been killed since October

Palestinian officials said that another 68 Palestinians in Gaza were seriously injured, 58 from live fire and 10 from asphyxiation due to inhalation of tear gas.

Since October 1, at least 121 Palestinians and 22 Israelis have been killed in the violence.

Speaking from the Gaza Strip, Ramy Abdu, the chairman of the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, told Al Jazeera that by using live fire on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israelis continued their “policy of using something beyond excessive force” to kill Palestinians who pose no threat to soldiers.

Abdu, whose arm was broken by Israeli troops while attending a non-violent protest during the first Intifada, told Al Jazeera that “the unrest of the past few months is the result of great uncertainty. Palestinians have seen an escalation of brutality from the Israelis, and the international community has turned its back to our cause.

“The people think all rules are off, and that the Intifada is their only option forward,” he said.

Friday’s violence was presaged by an early-morning incursion in the centre of Ramallah.

More than 10 Israeli jeeps and an armoured personnel carrier entered the Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital early in the morning and raided a home, searching for a suspected Palestinian attacker.

The soldiers were confronted by Palestinian residents and clashes ensured, with no injuries reported.

January 27, 2016 Posted Under: News update   Read More