Thursday, 30 November 2017

Donald Trump retweets far-right group's anti-Muslim videos

The first tweet from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, claims to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.
This was followed by two more videos of people Ms Fransen claims to be Muslim.
Responding to Mr Trump's posts, UK Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said it was "wrong for the president to have done this".
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Mrs May and other world leaders knew that "these are real threats that we have to talk about".
"Whether it's a real video, the threat is real," she said.
The original video was shared by US conservative commentator Ann Coulter who Mr Trump follows.
  • Trump wrong to share far-right videos - UK PM
  • Why is Britain First big online?
  • What do the videos Trump retweeted actually show?

What did Trump retweet?

The first video purportedly shows a "Muslim migrant" attacking a young Dutch man on crutches. However, the claim in this tweet appears to have little substance.
A spokesperson from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service told the BBC that the person arrested for the attack "was born and raised in the Netherlands" and was not a migrant, as claimed in the social media post.
The Netherlands Embassy in Washington DC confirmed this on Twitter.
The second video retweeted by Mr Trump shows a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
This video was uploaded to YouTube in 2013. The man in the clip says: "No-one but Allah will be worshipped in the land of the Levant," which could place him in Syria.
The third video originates from the riots that took place in Egypt in 2013, and shows a man being pushed from the top of a building in Alexandria. In 2015, those involved in the the incident were prosecuted, and one man was executed.

Who are Britain First?

Britain First was founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP). The group has grabbed attention on social media with controversial posts about what they deem "the Islamification of the UK".
It has put up members to run in European elections and by-elections on anti-immigration and anti-abortion policies, but has not secured any seats.
It also contested the most recent London mayoral election, receiving 1.2% of the vote.
But its social media strategy has made it much more successful online than at the ballot box. The party has nearly 2 million likes on Facebook - dwarfing the main UK political parties.
Ms Fransen, the group's deputy leader, has been charged with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" during speeches she made in Belfast.
She will appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Thursday 14 December.

Why does it matter?

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America Reporter
Donald Trump is once again using Twitter to weigh in on contentious religious-tinged political issues in the UK.
In the past, he's attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for mishandling a militant attack just hours after it occurred. He misattributed a rise in crime in England and Wales to the "spread of radical Islamic terror". Now, he has retweeted a series of unverified videos posted by a far-right British nationalist group.
For the president, directing attention toward the UK seems to serve a domestic political purpose.
He cites events and opinions there as a warning to Americans of what could happen in the US if they do not heed his policy prescriptions on immigration and border security. The Muslim ban, the US-Mexico wall, increased deportations, the sharp reductions on refugee resettlement - it's all part of the president's "national security" package.
While most Americans probably haven't heard of Britain First and are unfamiliar with European radical nationalist movements, there are white supremacist groups in the US that follow the actions of these overseas operations quite closely. The president on Wednesday signalled that he watches them too.
Deputy leader of Britain First Jayda Fransen

What has the reaction been?

Mr Trump's decision to retweet the videos met with dismay on social media.
Brendan Cox, whose wife, British MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a right-wing extremist who shouted "Britain First" before committing the act, has condemned the action.
TV presenter and journalist Piers Morgan, who has called himself a "friend" of the president, tweeted: "What the hell are you doing?"
"Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets," he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a US-based civil rights group, said: "These are actions one would expect to see on virulent anti-Muslim hate sites, not on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States."
"Trump's posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims," they added.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-bigotry group, said the president's retweets would "embolden bigots in the US and abroad".
The Muslim Council for Britain called on the UK government to "distance" itself from the comments.
"This is the clearest endorsement yet from the US president of the far-right and their vile anti-Muslim propaganda," a spokeswoman said.

Monday, 27 November 2017

John Conyers: Veteran congressman gives up post amid harassment inquiry

John Conyers again denied the accusations, but said he was stepping down to clear his name.
A staff member alleges she was fired for refusing to "succumb to sexual advances" from the Michigan Democrat.
A prominent civil rights leader, Mr Conyers first joined Congress in 1965.
The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and age discrimination involving staff.
On Sunday, Mr Conyers, who is 88, tweeted that he would like to remain as ranking member on the judiciary committee, but that he could not "in good conscience" allow the charges to "undermine" House colleagues.
It was reported on Tuesday that he had paid $27,000 (£20,000) in 2015 in exchange for the confidentiality of a former staff member who alleged she was fired for rejecting sexual advances.
He was also accused of repeatedly making sexual advances and inappropriately touching other female employees, according to signed legal documents seen by Buzzfeed.
Mr Conyers said that many of the allegations "were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger".
The files have not been independently verified by BBC News.
The leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said it was imperative that Mr Conyers received "due process".
Ms Pelosi called him "an icon" who had advanced women's causes.
However she tweeted, in reference to Mr Conyers: "Zero tolerance means consequences... No matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment."
Mr Conyers is the last member of Congress to have been in office under President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.
Republican house speaker Paul Ryan has called the allegations "extremely troubling".
He recently announced that all lawmakers and staff members must undergo anti-sexual harassment training.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe as president

The former vice-president - who returned from exile on Wednesday - will be inaugurated at Harare's stadium.
His dismissal this month led the ruling Zanu-PF party and the army to intervene and force Mr Mugabe to quit.
People queue to draw money outside a bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 November 2017
The opposition is urging Mr Mnangagwa, who has been part of the ruling elite, to end the "culture of corruption".
The news on Tuesday that 93-year-old Mr Mugabe was stepping down sparked wild celebrations across the country.
It came in the form of a letter read out in parliament, abruptly halting impeachment proceedings against him.
In it, Mr Mugabe said he was resigning to allow a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, and that his decision was voluntary.
Neither Mr Mugabe nor his wife Grace have been seen in public since Sunday, and their whereabouts are unknown.
On Thursday, several reports suggested Mr Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution.
State TV said he would attend the inauguration.
  • Will Mnangagwa be different from Mugabe?
  • Mnangagwa: Profile of 'the crocodile'
  • Mugabe has gone, but will Zimbabwe change?
The ceremony will be at the 60,000-capacity National Sports Stadium in the capital, with organisers calling on Zimbabweans to come and witness a "historic day".
Ahead of the swearing-in, Mr Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to "remain patient and peaceful and desist from any form of vengeful retribution".
He fled to South Africa two weeks ago - only to return home on Wednesday's to a hero's welcome.
Mr Mnangagwa pledged to create jobs in a country where some estimates say 90% of people are unemployed.
"We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs," he told cheering crowds in Harare.
Zimbabwe's main industrial index has slumped by 40% since last week's military intervention. The stock market has shed $6bn (£4.5bn) in a week.
Analysts say the market is now correcting itself, optimistic of a change of economic policy under Mr Mnangagwa.
However, the International Monetary Fund has warned that Zimbabwe must act quickly to dig its economy out of a hole and access international financial aid.
  • Five things Zimbabwe's economy urgently needs
  • Ten numbers that will help you understand what's going on
On Thursday, Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC party called for deep-rooted political reform to dismantle the repressive apparatus that sustained Mr Mugabe's regime.
"As MDC, we are saying, after so many years of Zanu-PF misrule, the first thing that needs to be transformed is the culture. The culture of violence, the culture of corruption. We need to change that culture," MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said.
"And for President Mnangagwa, he must realise that it is not an easy walk in the park."
It is unclear whether Zanu-PF will govern alone ahead of scheduled elections next year, or whether a coalition government of national unity that includes opposition groups will be formed.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa promises jobs in 'new democracy'

He also vowed to create jobs in a country where some estimates say 90% of people are unemployed.
"We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs," he told a cheering crowd in Harare.
Mr Mnangagwa, who fled to South Africa two weeks ago, is to be made the new president on Friday, state TV said.
His dismissal led the ruling party and the military to intervene and force an end to Mr Mugabe's 37-year long rule.
  • Mugabe has gone, but will Zimbabwe change?
  • Five things Zimbabwe's economy urgently needs
  • Mugabe's downfall: The unanswered questions
He told supporters at the headquarters of the ruling Zanu-PF party that he had been the subject of several assassination plots and thanked the army for running the "process" of removing Mr Mugabe peacefully.
The news that 93-year-old Mr Mugabe was stepping down sparked wild celebrations across the country late into Tuesday night.
It came in the form of a letter read out in parliament on Tuesday, abruptly halting impeachment proceedings against him.
In it, Mr Mugabe said he was resigning to allow a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, and that his decision was voluntary.
  • Zanu-PF purges itself to win back Zimbabweans' trust
  • Emmerson Mnangagwa: The 'crocodile' who snapped back
A spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party said Mr Mnangagwa, 71, would serve the remainder of Mr Mugabe's term until elections that are due to be held by September 2018.
Nicknamed the "crocodile" because of his political cunning, Mr Mnangagwa met South African President Jacob Zuma before leaving for Zimbabwe.

'Which snake's head was crushed?'

BBC's Shingai Nyoka in Harare
Thousands of party supporters waited for hours to welcome Mr Mnangagwa in his first public appearance since he emerged from hiding.
During his 20-minute speech, he corrected himself at least once for referring to Mr Mugabe as president rather than former president. His message was largely conciliatory.
But he also relished his stunning return to power and successful removal of Mr Mugabe. He brought up Grace Mugabe's speech a fortnight ago, in which - meaning him - she said we must "deal with the snake by crushing its head". A day later he was fired.
"I wonder which snake's head was crushed?" he said to loud cheers.
Mr Mnangagwa's firing by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago triggered an unprecedented political crisis in the country.
It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, which stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.
  • Mugabe's long career in pictures
  • The polarising Grace Mugabe
  • Robert Mugabe: Hero or villain?
Under the constitution, the role of successor would normally go to a serving vice-president, and one still remains in post - Phelekezela Mphoko.
However, Mr Mphoko - a key ally of Mrs Mugabe - has just been fired by Zanu-PF and is not believed to be in the country. In his absence, the party has nominated Mr Mnangagwa, the speaker of parliament confirmed.
Some have questioned whether the handover to Mr Mnangagwa will bring about real change in the country.
He was national security chief at a time when thousands of civilians died in post-independence conflict in the 1980s, though he denies having blood on his hands.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a "new trajectory" that would include free and fair elections.
He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to "go and rest for his last days".
Prominent opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: "We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny."
Grace and Robert Mugabe together
African Union president Alpha Condé said he was "truly delighted" by the news, but expressed regret at the way Mr Mugabe's rule had ended.
"It is a shame that he is leaving through the back door and that he is forsaken by the parliament," he said.

Celebrations in the streets

At 93, Mr Mugabe was - until his resignation - the world's oldest leader. He once proclaimed that "only God" could remove him.
Lawmakers from the ruling party and opposition roared with glee when his resignation letter was read aloud in parliament on Wednesday.
Activist and political candidate Vimbaishe Musvaburi broke down in tears of joy while speaking to the BBC.
"We are tired of this man, we are so glad he's gone. We don't want him anymore and yes, today, it's victory," she said.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Argentina missing submarine: Concern grows over lack of oxygen

Forty-four people are on board the ARA San Juan, which vanished after it reported an electric breakdown.
A navy spokesman, Enrique Balbi, said a massive search operation would continue until the vessel was located.
Better weather conditions on Tuesday, after days of rough sea, have given new hope to relatives of the missing crew.
But Mr Balbi cautioned: "We are considering all possibilities and obviously the most critical situation would be the fact that we are on the sixth day of oxygen."
The search effort has now been narrowed down to an area of 20km by 20km (12 miles), he added.
Maria Krawczyk, a submarine officer on board the Argentine navy submarine ARA San Juan, which went missing in the South Atlantic, is seen in this still image taken from a Ministry of Defence of Argentina video obtained by Reuters. Ministerio de Defensa de Argentina/via
On Monday, navy officials said that noises picked up by two search vessels did not come from the sub, the second false alarm to hit the search.

What happened to the sub?

The ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern-most tip of South America, when it reported an "electrical breakdown".
According to naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi, the submarine surfaced and reported the breakdown, which Capt Galeazzi described as a "short circuit" in the sub's batteries.
The sub was ordered to cut its mission short and return to the naval base in Mar del Plata immediately.
According to navy spokesman Enrique Balbi, the captain of the ARA San Juan contacted the naval base once more after reporting the problem.
In the message, he reportedly said that the problem had been adequately fixed and that the sub would submerge and proceed towards Mar del Plata naval base.
The last contact was made at 07:30 local time (10:30 GMT) on Wednesday 15 November. It is not known what happened to the sub after that contact.
Read: What happens when a submarine vanishes

How was the alarm raised?

Argentine navy protocol stipulates that in peace time, submarines make contact twice a day with the base.
When the submarine failed to call in, the Argentine navy began its search for the vessel.
Navy commander Carlos Zavalla at that point spoke only of a "failure to communicate" and urged relatives of the crew to remain calm.
There was no mention by navy officials of the vessel having any problems at the time and rumours of a fire on board were dismissed by the navy's spokesman, Enrique Balbi.

When did news of the breakdown emerge?

On Sunday, relatives of some of the crew said that they had been told in messages sent before contact with the submarine was lost, that there was a problem with the sub's batteries.
On Monday, naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi confirmed the sub's captain had reported a breakdown on Wednesday describing it as a "short-circuit" in the sub's battery system.
Capt Galeazzi said that mechanical problems were not uncommon and rarely posed a risk. "A warship has a lot of backup systems, to allow it to move from one to another when there is a breakdown," he said.
He also said that the sub had not sent a distress signal to the navy base.

Who is on board?

There are 44 crew on board the submarine, which is under the command of Pedro Martín Fernández.
Forty-three of the crew are men but there is also one woman, Eliana María Krawczyk. The 35-year-old is the first female officer in Argentina to serve on a submarine.
Nicknamed "the queen of the sea" by her father she comes from Oberá, a city in northern Argentina.
Despite having been born and raised far inland, her relatives say that "she was born to be a submariner", citing her "will of steel" and a passion for her job.
The rest of the crew is made up of submariners of varying ages and experience.
The sub's engineer, Hernán Rodríguez, has been on the ARA San Juan for 11 years, local media reported.

How is the search going?

Submarines are built to be difficult to find and the search has been further hindered by bad weather.
The Argentine Navy tweeted a video showing the rough conditions at sea.
Waves of up to six metres in height (19.6ft) have made it difficult for search vessels and planes to spot anything on the sea's surface.
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, South Africa, Uruguay and the UK have all sent either ships or planes to help with the search.
The US Navy has deployed two underwater vehicles which use sonar to create images of the sea floor.
A Nasa research aircraft has also flown over the search area but failed to spot anything.
Despite the failure to find any trace of the sub, the father of one of the crew said relatives remained optimistic.
"In general there's a positive outlook, with the hope that there can be some way of finding them," Jorge Villareal said.

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