#AceNewsReport – Oct.16: This additional funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Central America and Mexico to more than $331 million for Fiscal Year 2021.
#AceDailyNews reports that the State Dept has announced ‘New Humanitarian Aid in Central America and Mexico’ This additional funding will support increased access to international protection, access to mental health and psychosocial support, legal assistance, shelter, and healthcare, including prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Through its international organization partners, PRM funding also supports protection capacity building for governments in the region.
Through this new humanitarian assistance, the United States is advancing our mission to collaboratively manage migration in the region, including by promoting access to protection and increasing the U.S. response to urgent humanitarian needs in Central America and Mexico. This is part of the Administration’s comprehensive approach to supporting safe, orderly, and humane migration while also addressing the root causes of irregular migration in the region.
The United States is the largest single donor of humanitarian aid in Central America and Mexico and to asylum seekers, refugees, and vulnerable migrants in the region. We remain concerned about the continuing increase in humanitarian needs and forced displacement in the region, and we urge other donors to contribute to the international response and provide the support needed to save lives.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.15: According to Putin, the United States is only developing hypersonic missiles with a speed of slightly more than Mach 3: According to Putin, similar systems are being developed in other countries, and this is not unusual.
#AceDailyNews says that according to Interfax Putin has said that Russia has won nuclear arms race with the United States And our systems are flying at speeds in excess of Mach 20. It’s not just a hypersonic missile, it’s an intercontinental missile. And they are on combat duty already in Russia,” Interfax quoted Putin as saying…….
Interfax – Published: Oct.14, 2021
“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we, having such systems, and for the first time in history, are overtaking our main competitors – in this case the United States – in high-tech weapons systems. We do not abuse this, do not threaten anyone,” Putin said.
According to Putin, the nuclear arms race resumed after the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2003, which Moscow considered “the cornerstone of international security.”
It was not just a defense, but “an attempt to gain strategic advantages by de-energizing the nuclear potential of a potential enemy,” Putin explained.
Russia, Putin said, had two ways: either to create its own missile defense, which “costs a lot of money and it is not known how it will work,” or to develop missiles that will overcome American defenses.
“I said we’re going to do it. The answer from the American partners was as follows: our missile defense is not against you, you do what you want, we will proceed from the fact that it is not against us,” Putin described the situation.
The arms race “is not on our initiative,” he stressed, adding that Russia is ready to conduct a constructive dialogue on this matter.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.08: Despite the challenges of protecting a vast and geographically diverse region like the Pacific Northwest during the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitment of U.S. and Canadian partners to the continued safety and security of the public, our natural resources, and the economic prosperity of both nations remain resolute,” said Capt. Patrick Hilbert, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “These joint operations are a testament to the strength of our shared resolve as we continue to engage and collaborate on important issues moving forward.”
#AceDailyNews reports on U.S., Canadian partner agencies complete joint maritime law enforcement, security operations throughout Puget Sound, PNW
News Release: U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest Contact: 13th District Public Affairs Office: (206) 220-7237 After Hours: (206) 251-3237 13th District online newsroom
Joint maritime operations focused on enhanced maritime border security to deter and interdict illicit activity; improved awareness of vessel movements; traffic patterns; and fishing activity; strengthening interagency partnerships, communications, and interoperability; and leveraging resources and partnerships to achieve multi-mission success.
At the conclusion of operations, U.S. and Canadian partner agency personnel conducted more than 1,000 vessel checks resulting in issuance of 35 violations for safety, illegal fishing, and boating under the influence.
Additionally, more than 60 maritime border crossings were vetted by participating agency personnel, and nine investigative leads were discovered including vessels and persons under investigation for money crimes, narcotic trafficking, Southern Resident Killer Whale endangerment, and crab poaching.
Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.
“CBSA is proud to work with its partners to safeguard our borders and keep our communities safe from illegal activity. By collaborating and cooperating, we are stronger and smarter in addressing risks and threats to public safety,” said John Linde, CBSA Director of Intelligence and Enforcement Operations Division in the Pacific Region.
Participating U.S. federal and Canadian partners are part of the Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinating Mechanism. The PNW ReCoM coordinates multi-mission interagency law enforcement operations and security initiatives throughout Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest, and actively works to strengthen partner communication and collaboration through information sharing and active working groups. PNW ReCoM leadership positions rotate on an annual basis, and is currently co-chaired by Canada Border Services Agency and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations.
“The RCMP Shiprider program is dedicated to working with our partners to achieve our common goals, such as border security and disruption of cross-border crime,” said Superintendent Bert Ferreira, Officer in Charge of the Federal RCMP Border Integrity Program in British Columbia. “Joint operations, such as this one, provide an opportunity to showcase the positive results that come from the collaboration and interoperability between our agencies. We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with our partners and the results of future joint operations.”
The commander of CBP AMO in the Pacific Northwest, Director Jeremy Thompson, said, “AMO brings dedicated airborne and seaborne law enforcement assets to our region, and we’re honored to serve alongside our U.S. and Canadian partners. PNW ReCoM partnerships are crucial to safeguard the people of the United States.”
“Our PNW ReCoM highlights the great work the Department of Homeland Security accomplishes in the maritime environment with our U.S. and Canadian law enforcement partners,” said Chief Patrol Agent David S. BeMiller. The U.S. Border Patrol, Blaine Sector, is committed to supporting our partners, protecting our communities, achieving border security, and enhancing national security.”
Kenneth Williams, CBP Office of Field Operations Area Port Director said, “This operation illustrates the strong network of law enforcement partners in the Pacific Northwest and their commitment in keeping our communities safe. We value being part of this great partnership and look forward to future collaborations.”
The following agencies participated in the operations:
– Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound
– Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91101
– Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team West
– Coast Guard Investigative Service
– Customs and Border Protection Patrol Office of Field Operations
– Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations
– Customs and Border Protection U.S. Border Patrol
– Customs and Border Protection Office of Intelligence
#AceNewsReport – Sept.26: We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity of states,” U.S. President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a joint statement after the talks…..
#AceDailyNews according to Reuters …..Quad leaders press for free Indo-Pacific, with wary eye on China with a two-hour meeting at the White House of the Quad, as the grouping of four major democracies is called, will be watched closely in Beijing, which criticized the group as “doomed to fail.”
While China was not mentioned in the public remarks by the four leaders or in the lengthy joint statement and a factsheet issued afterwards, Beijing was clearly top of mind.
Their statement made frequent mention of the leaders’ insistence on rules-based behavior in a region where China has been trying to flex its muscles.
#AceNewsReport – Sept.23: That’s according to Ukrinform’s own correspondent in New York reporting from Zelensky’s meeting with representatives of Ukrainian organizations and churches in the United States, which took place at the Ukrainian Institute of America.
#AceDailyNews says that Ukraine to implement idea of dual citizenship, Zelensky assures diaspora in U.S.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the Americans of Ukrainian descent said he would work toward implementing the idea of dual citizenship.
“We must implement the idea of dual citizenship, especially for Ukrainians in America,” Zelensky said, noting, however, that the issue with the law on dual citizenship “isn’t an easy one.
“This can’t apply to everyone because some Ukrainians live in countries that are not our friends, to put it mildly,” Zelensky explained, hinting at Russia.
According to Zelensky, it is necessary to “restore history, justice, and respect for the centuries-old, multinational and multicolored state.” And the restoration of respect, he said, is measured by concrete things. Among such things, the president named massive road construction efforts.
“Our roads are better now than they are in New York,” he said, sparking applause and adding that more work needs to be done in this regard in “respect for the history of our country.”
The head of state also stressed his priority in the office, which is to bring peace back to Ukraine. This will be done through diplomacy, negotiations “with a very difficult country and difficult people,” and we need pressure from the international community, “anyone who can do anything to restoring our country’s connection with all our people and territories.”
Zelensky called on Ukrainians abroad to do everything possible to help Ukraine.
In turn, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Andriy Futey, noted that the community is making every effort to influence U.S. government policy towards Ukraine and thus to promote the implementation of Ukraine’s strategic course toward membership in NATO and the EU, restoration of territorial integrity, as well as the termination of the Nord Stream 2 project.
As Ukrinform reported, Volodymyr Zelensky kicked off his working visit to the United States on September 20.
The President arrived in New York to attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The Ukrainian leader is set to speak at the session’s general debate on September 22.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the death of Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi overnight.
According to Macron’s office, al-Sahrawi personally ordered the killing of six French aid workers and their Nigerien colleagues last year, and his group was behind a 2017 attack that killed U.S. and Niger military personnel.
He was killed in a strike by France’s Barkhane military operation “a few weeks ago,” but authorities waited to be sure of his identity before making the announcement, French Defense Minister Florence Parly told RFI radio Thursday.
She did not disclose details of the operation or where al-Sahrawi was killed, though ISIS is active along the border between Mali and Niger.
“He was at the origin of massacres and terror,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday on France-Info radio. He urged African governments to fill the void and seize back ground taken by the extremists.
Rumors of the militant leader’s death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though authorities in the region had not confirmed it. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or to know how the remains had been identified….
#AceNewsReport – Sept.18: A US-based Governing Body of eight men sits at the pinnacle of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe these men are anointed as the voice of God on Earth: All Witnesses are expected to obey instructions and doctrines that influence every aspect of life: Women are considered subservient to men, higher education is discouraged and homosexuality is not permitted:
ABC Four Corners EXCLUSIVE: Inside the brutal world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses: Eight million around the globe believe that Armageddon is imminent, and the only path to survival is to follow the organisation’s strict rules:
The organisation’s in-house production studio and publications pump out fear-driven content that keeps followers afraid that the end is coming and that they are being persecuted by the outside world: Witnesses are also taught to distrust everyone outside the group: The Governing Body oversees a vast global real estate portfolio, including Kingdom Halls built by congregations around the world.
The Australian branch owns at least 440 properties including a sprawling headquarters in western Sydney. Last year, it reported an income of more than $32 million.
As a religious charity, it receives significant federal and state tax exemptions.
Amy’s fight for justice
Amy Whitby and her mother, Theresa Clare, left the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2015.
Ms Clare said she left after realising the extent of abuse within the organisation, including allegedly against her own daughter.
“They rip your reputation apart. They rip you apart as a person. I mean they even ripped me apart as a mum,” Ms Clare said.
They are scarred by what allegedly happened to Amy as an 11-year-old girl growing up in the remote Queensland town of Mount Isa. Amy said she was abused by a trusted member of the congregation, inside the home her family shared with another Jehovah’s Witnesses family.
“The job of an elder is to shepherd the congregation, to look after the flock, to keep them safe. That’s their job because we’re Jehovah’s people and it’s their job to keep us safe and they failed,” Ms Whitby said…
Ms Clare told Four Corners she complained at the time about Amy’s abuse to a Witness elder.
“There were meetings with the elders in my friend’s home, but I was never believed. I was told that I was mental. They used my illness against me because I had that breakdown and I suffered manic depression,” Ms Clare said.
As part of Ms Whitby’s legal case, she is claiming that the Jehovah’s Witnesses elders must have known her alleged abuser had been convicted the previous year of offences against an eight-year-old boy.
“There’d just be no way that those elders would not have known that he was charged, arrested by the police and then went to court,” Ms Clare said.
“It just doesn’t happen in that religion. People spy on each other, you’re told it’s your responsibility. You hear something about someone you are to report it.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses say local elders weren’t aware of the prior conviction, and, regardless, the organisation isn’t responsible for the acts of its members within the family home.
Despite Ms Clare’s complaints, the man remained in the congregation and even took to the stage to deliver Bible readings.
“It would make me so angry to the point that I would get up and I’d go outside and I’d just pace. I’d just be going around and just that anger, because all I wanted to do was run in there and scream at them that he shouldn’t be allowed up there,” Ms Whitby said.
Ms Whitby is now taking legal action against the local Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation and the Australian head office. She’s suing for breaching the duty of care they owed her, by failing to protect her and allowing sexual abuse to occur.
“I feel like what happened had a bit of a domino effect on the rest of my life. I wonder sometimes what my life would have been like if that hadn’t have happened, my self confidence, my self worth,” Ms Whitby said.
Attempts to settle have so far failed and Ms Whitby’s case is now headed to trial. It would be the first time in Australia that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation has defended sexual abuse allegations in court.
Ms Whitby’s lawyer Lisa Flynn said courts in overseas jurisdictions have found the Jehovah’s Witnesses liable for failing their duty of care to children.
“We think that the Australian courts will make that same determination when they’re called on to do so.”
Lawyers who have battled the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the US and UK have told Four Corners the organisation has a global problem with both child abuse and the way it responds to victims.
They say the organisation drags cases out until the last possible moment, then settles to avoid a courtroom examination of its practices.
In Australia, a similar pattern is being seen.
“That continuous denial, the continuous delays certainly has a significant impact on our clients,” Ms Flynn said.
In a statement to Four Corners, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said, “The organisation responds directly to any claim for compensation in a caring, fair and principled manner”.
Ms Flynn’s firm, Shine Lawyers, is representing 10 former Jehovah’s Witnesses who allege they were abused within their congregations.
‘They view me as dead’
The people who break away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses like Amy Whitby and Theresa Clare pay a terrible price.
They remain cut off from their families and closest friends: those they love the most.
In 2017, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found the total social exclusion known as “shunning” made it difficult for abuse survivors to leave the organisation, was “upsetting” and “particularly devastating” for those who suffered child abuse and left because their abuser remained in the congregation.
“I knew I would definitely be shunned by friends, but I honestly didn’t think my siblings would shun me because of what we’d all been through together,” Ms Whitby said.
As a grandmother, the impact on Ms Clare has been heartbreaking.
“One little grandson was with his dad and his dad let him speak to me and he said to me, ‘I’m forgetting you Nanny’. And he said, ‘I’m sorry, Nanny.’ And I said to him, ‘I’ll never forget you’. I said, ‘I will always want you to remember that’.”
Bill Hahn was his congregation’s treasurer or “accounts servant”. He was born into the organisation and raised his three older children as witnesses.
He was “disfellowshipped”, or excommunicated, in 2011, after disagreements with others in the organisation and was shunned by his family.
“Yeah, it’s like a death. Mum died three weeks ago, and I knew it was coming at some point, and I just got a text message from my brother, to say, ‘Oh, by the way, mum died yesterday of stomach cancer. Doesn’t want a funeral. Didn’t want a fuss, and that’s it’,” Mr Hahn said.
He also grieves for his two boys and eldest daughter, who continue to shun him.
“So, really, for the last 10 years, from when the reality of it set in, that, ‘Okay, they view me as dead’ — you almost mourn in reverse,” he said.
“In fact, within the ex-Jehovah’s witnesses, we do it once a year, [there] is a memorial day … you take a bunch of flowers and a card to mourn the loss of your family, and leave it on the door of a Kingdom Hall.”
“I just had to grieve the fact that, until they wake up themselves and leave and come out of the religion, that, basically, I just have to view them, that they’ve passed away, which is not nice, but it’s a way of coping.”
In a statement to Four Corners, the Jehovah’s Witnesses defended the practice of shunning.
They say congregation members “exercise their personal religious conscience … to limit or cease their association with a disfellowshipped person.”
‘It took me so long to wake up’
Renee Pickles was born into the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1976.
The organisation controlled all aspects of her life until it cast her out, severing her from everyone she was close to.
She said her childhood was governed by the organisation’s strict rules about the way to dress and behave as well as the requirement to proselytise door-to-door, known as “witnessing”.
She was a congregation member until 1997 when, aged just 21, she was interrogated by a judicial committee over her personal life, judged to be “unrepentant” and disfellowshipped.
“It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I believe it is the main reason for a lot of my trauma. It was basically three men who were in an interview panel with me,” she said.
She was cast out into a world she was completely unprepared for.
“I had nobody to turn to, and then I’d lost my entire family and community. So it was like I landed in a different planet and it was an extremely lonely period of time. It was unbelievable.”
She is speaking out in order to expose the organisation’s practices.
“Everybody thinks that Jehovah’s Witnesses are just friendly, nice-looking people, maybe a bit quirky, who knock on doors,” she said.
“It’s very difficult to help people understand just how dangerous this group is and what a harrowing experience people who leave have to go through.”
Ms Pickles said she was so traumatised by her experiences that, for years, she would be terrified when witnesses came knocking on her door.
COVID-19 has shuttered Kingdom Halls and stopped door-knocking in Sydney, but Ms Pickles said she was prepared for them when they resume their door-to-door proselytising.
“I would try to help them. I understand that it’s very difficult to help them because they’re very enmeshed. I know what it was like when I was in it. It took me so long to wake up from it … But I’d just be kind and just hope that one day they will have the opportunity to leave.”
Ms Whitby said she had found great inner strength since leaving the organisation.
“[They took] 33 years of my life, and I’m not letting them take any more. They’re not taking another part of my life,” Ms Whitby said.
She still has hope for those who remain trapped inside, including her own siblings.
“I know there are still good people inside the congregations. I know that. So I have no hate against a lot of the members, but the organisation itself, I hate them and they need to change.”
Organisation refuses to accept blame for abuse
The royal commission uncovered a vast cache of files compiled by Jehovah’s Witnesses members over more than 60 years.
These files documented allegations and confessions of the abuse of more than 1,800 children by more than 1,000 alleged perpetrators in Australia.
The royal commission found no evidence the Australian branch office had ever alerted authorities about any of the alleged abuse documented in these files.
“The scale, the strangeness, the intimacy of what was recorded, and the fact that none of it had been reported — it was astounding,” said James Pender, a solicitor for the royal commission.
The royal commission slammed the Jehovah’s Witnesses for failing to report child sexual abuse to police.
It made three key recommendations: That the organisation should involve women in its judicial committees; abandon the two-witness rule in abuse cases; and stop shunning people who leave due to abuse.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses say they will not implement these recommendations because their practices are based on the Bible.
They say the royal commission conflated family child sex abuse with abuse occurring within their organisation and that there is actually no evidence the Jehovah’s Witnesses are guilty of what is typically considered institutional abuse.
In 2019, elders investigating the sins of congregants in Australia were advised against making notes of conversations.
The instruction said: “If the so-called ‘wild talk’ [of a member] is recorded in detail, it may not be accurately assessed when reviewed out of context” and any personal notes “should be destroyed once a summation of the hearing has been prepared”.
A 2020 document describes the royal commission’s findings as “factually wrong and unlawful”.
The organisation has long resisted joining a redress scheme designed to compensate abuse survivors.
It formally joined the scheme last week after the Federal Government threatened to withhold funding and strip the organisation of its charity status.
#AceNewsReport – Sept.16: As part of our commitment to the people of Afghanistan, the United States is providing nearly $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $4 billion since 2002.
#AceDailyNews reports that the United States has announced additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan but this has led to denial of care to Americans: “a hospital near the Dulles Expo Center that federal officials designated as a go-to spot for medical treatment began running out of available beds, forcing the hospital to turn away non-Afghan patients who weren’t in need of critical care, said Nickerson, who also directs the Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance and declined to name the hospital.”
STATE DEPT: This assistance from the United States will flow through independent humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and provide support directly to the more than 18.4 million vulnerable Afghans in the region including Afghan refugees. This funding will allow our partners to provide lifesaving protection, shelter, livelihoods support, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services to respond to the needs generated by recent conflict and compounded by the severe drought and other natural disasters, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic….
The Washington Postreported Tuesday that “[t]he mass arrival of Afghan evacuees last month, many in need of medical care, wreaked havoc on Northern Virginia’s hospital system — prompting a regional emergency response group to assume oversight after one hospital became overwhelmed with patients and federal officials lost track of where some Afghans were hospitalized, officials said.”
Kristin Nickerson, executive director of the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System, said: “Our hospitals are already almost at capacity. It’s not like they have tons of free beds available. We are still in the middle of a pandemic.” Oh yeah, that’s right, that pandemic for which Biden’s handlers are mandating vaccinations, except for migrants crossing the Southern border. Will the Afghan evacuees have to get the vaccine while they’re in hospitals for their free taxpayer-funded health care? The Post didn’t deign to say…..
#AceNewsReport – Aug.29: There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighborhood just northwest of the airport, killing a child. The two strikes initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both remained scarce….
#AceDailyNews reports on U.S. Central Command statement on defensive strike in Kabul By U.S. Central Command Public Affairs U.S. Central Command Communication IntegrationTAMPA, Fla. –
The strike came as the United States winds down a historic airlift that saw tens of thousands evacuated from Kabul’s international airport, the scene of much of the chaos that engulfed the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over two weeks ago. After an Islamic State affiliate’s suicide attack that killed over 180 people, the Taliban increased its security around the airfield as Britain ended its evacuation flights Saturday.
U.S. military cargo planes continued their runs into the airport Sunday, ahead of a Tuesday deadline earlier set by President Joe Biden to withdraw all troops from America’s longest war. However, Afghans remaining behind in the country worry about the Taliban reverting to their earlier oppressive rule — something fueled by the recent shooting death of a folk singer in the country by the insurgents.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said in a message to journalists that the U.S. strike targeted a suicide bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives. Mujahid offered few other details.
Two American military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations, called the airstrike successful. They said the strike caused “significant secondary explosions” indicating the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material in the vehicle.
The strike was the second by America since the airport suicide bombing. On Saturday, a strike in Nangarhar province killed an Islamic State member believed to be involved in planning attacks against the United States in Kabul. The strike killed one person, spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said.
The rocket attack meanwhile struck Kabul’s Khuwja Bughra neighborhood, said Rashid, the Kabul police chief who goes by one name. Video obtained by The Associated Press in the aftermath of the attack showed smoke rising from building at the site around a kilometer (half a mile) from the airport.
No group immediately claimed the attack, however militants have fired rockets in the past.
Meanwhile, the family of a folk singer north of Kabul say the Taliban killed him.
The shooting of Fawad Andarabi came in the Andarabi Valley for which he was named, an area of Baghlan province some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Kabul. The valley had seen upheaval since the Taliban takeover, with some districts in the area coming under the control of militia fighters opposed to the Taliban rule. The Taliban say they have since retaken those areas, though neighboring Panjshir in the Hindu Kush mountains remains the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces not under its control.
The Taliban previously came out to Andarabi’s home and searched it, even drinking tea with the musician, his son Jawad Andarabi told the AP. But something changed Friday.
“He was innocent, a singer who only was entertaining people,” his son said. “They shot him in the head on the farm.”
His son said he wanted justice and that a local Taliban council promised to punish his father’s killer.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, told the AP that the insurgents would investigate the incident, but had no other details on the killing.
Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people and Afghanistan as a whole. A video online showed him at one performance, sitting on a rug with the mountains of home surrounding him as he sang.
“There is no country in the world like my homeland, a proud nation,” he sang. “Our beautiful valley, our great-grandparents’ homeland.”
Karima Bennoune, the United Nations special rapporteur on cultural rights, wrote on Twitter that she had “grave concern” over Andarabi’s killing.
“We call on governments to demand the Taliban respect the #humanrights of #artists,” she wrote.
Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, similarly decried the killing.
“There is mounting evidence that the Taliban of 2021 is the same as the intolerant, violent, repressive Taliban of 2001,” she wrote on Twitter. “20 years later. Nothing has changed on that front.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, private banks across Afghanistan resumed their operations. However, they limited withdrawals to no more than the equivalent of $200 a day.
While some complained of still being unable to access their money, government employees say they haven’t been paid over the last four months. The Afghani traded around 90.5 to $1, continuing its depreciation as billions of dollars in the country’s reserves remain frozen overseas.
US told its allies to wrap up rescue missions by Friday, Belgium minister says
Russia sends planes to evacuate more than 500 people
German and US top envoys hold talks
This story was last updated at 09:55 UTC
Germany may soon end evacuations
German media reported on Wednesday that German evacuation flights from Kabul airport could end as early as Friday.
A correspondent for the German public broadcaster ARD said that the rescue flights between Kabul and Tashkent may even come to an end on Wednesday.
However, Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said, according to Reuters, that: “As long as it is responsible, we will evacuate people. But that can only be done together with the USA.”
German military flights have evacuated over 4,600 German citizens and at-risk locals so far, according to the German defense ministry. The Bundeswehr will need time to evacuate its own personnel from the airport before the 6,000 US troops finish their own withdrawal on August 31.
Belgium: US told allies to end evacuations on Friday
Belgium’s Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder told local newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd that the US has made it clear to its coalition partners who are still evacuating people from Kabul that they should wrap up their “noncombatant evacuation operations” by Friday, August 27.
The US has insisted on pulling out its 6,000 troops from Kabul airport by August 31. The military forces will require several days to complete the evacuation of military personnel and equipment meaning that rescue operations will have to end before that.
Afghanistan withdrawal leaves hard questions for NATO
UK to maintain operations up to the last minute
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Wednesday that although he could not give a “precise timeline” for the UK to leave Kabul airport, it was “clear that the troops will be withdrawn by the end of the month.”
He said that the operation would need to wind down to evacuate military personnel working at the airport, but that the UK would “make the maximum use of the time left.”
The comment comes a day after the UK failed to convince US President Joe Biden to extend the evacuation deadline.
Raab also said that British forces have managed to airlift 9,000 British citizens and locals since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.
Mexico and Uganda welcome Afghan refugees
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard welcomed six Afghan refugees as they landed at Mexico City airport on Tuesday. “Welcome to your home,” Ebrard told them.
Five of the arrivals were women who had won a robotics competition. They fled Afghanistan earlier in the month and passed through six countries before arriving in Mexico.
A flight carrying 51 Afghans also landed in Uganda on Wednesday morning. Kampala agreed to accept “at-risk” Afghan nationals temporarily while they wait to be transferred to the US or other destinations.
The US embassy in Kampala thanked the east African country for its “generosity and hospitality toward these communities.”
Russia sends planes to evacuate more than 500 people
Four Russian military aircraft have been sent to Kabul to evacuate more than 500 people, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.
They were sent on there on the orders of President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The report said the mission was to evacuate Russian nationals, but also citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Germany’s Maas speaks to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted late on Tuesday that he had held talks with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken.
Berlin’s top diplomat said they discussed the “ongoing evacuation” and “further departure options for Afghans” who want to flee their homeland.
The Social Democrat politician said the pair also focused on how to deal with the Taliban, the hardline Islamist group that now rules Afghanistan.
Paralympians leave Afghanistan
Two Paralympians from Afghanistan have left the country, according to the International Paralympic Committee said Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s team for the event was made up of female para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and male track athlete Hossain Rasouli.
The IPC said the pair were receiving counseling, but could not confirm if they would be able to travel to Japan.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.20: As the U.S. military and State Department rush to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from Kabul’s airport, Taliban checkpoints are cutting off many from freedom and safety – and reports on the ground indicate the militants are summarily executing people who helped U.S. forces over the years.
#AceDailyNews says that Taliban going ‘house to house,’ ‘hanging’ people who worked with acording to an unsubstantiated US unnamed source Fox News reports as Biden given an ultimatum to keep to peace agreement and to have completed withdrawal by 31st August 2021 according to The Western Journal
But there are growing fears of a gap between what they say and what they do.
The warning the group were targeting “collaborators” came in a confidential document by the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which provides intelligence to the UN.
“There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, who heads the group behind the report, told the BBC.
“It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”
He warned that anyone on the Taliban’s blacklist was in severe danger, and that there could be mass executions.
Foreign powers are continuing efforts to get their nationals out of Afghanistan. A Nato official said on Friday that more than 18,000 people have been evacuated in the last five days from Kabul airport.
Some 6,000 more, among them former interpreters for foreign armed forces, are on standby to be flown out late on Thursday or early Friday.
The aim is to double evacuation efforts over the weekend, the official said.
Ryan Rogers, a retired Marine sergeant, told Fox News Thursday that the interpreter he worked with during the bloody 2010 battle of Marjah in Helmand province is currently trapped in Kabul, prevented from reaching the airport as Taliban fighters seek out and murder former Afghan commandoes and interpreters.
“He told me yesterday they hung three [Afghan National Army] commanders that they had found,” he said. “And that close to the place that he’s hiding, they’re going house-to-house and that they sent a transmission out saying they had plans for the people that operated with America.”
The interpreter, who is not being identified due to concerns about his safety, was OK as of Thursday afternoon.
“I said, hey, did you see any of this stuff with your eyes? He said yes,” Rogers said. “They’re not showing this stuff because the people are cheering, but they’re scared to death, and they’re hanging these people. And he said they’re going house to house and their priorities are Afghan National Army Special Forces, the police special forces and the interpreters.”
The Biden administration on Thursday finally acknowledged reports that evacuees were having trouble reaching the international airport and Kabul, which is surrounded by Taliban checkpoints.
In other developments: – Secret cable shows Biden admin was warned in July about Afghanistan crisis – WaPo reporter rips WH after cheerleading for Biden – ‘No one feels safe’ in Kabul, woman tells Fox News – Alabama vet who nearly died in Afghanistan calls Biden withdrawal strategy ‘disgusting’ – Americans in Afghanistan rescued by British military: former deputy national security advisor – Moving photo shows Afghan child sleeping under US airmen’s uniform during evacuation
Meghan McCain says Biden is ‘unfit to lead’ amid Afghan turmoil: ‘An international crisis of our own creation’ Former “View” co-host Meghan McCain continued blasting President Biden for his handling of the turbulent military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Sean Hannity, on his Fox News show “Hannity” Thursday, slammed President Biden’s handling and response to the chaos in Afghanistan as Americans, after 5 days, are “being held at the whim of the Taliban.”
Fox News First was compiled by Fox News’ Jack Durschlag. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! Have a great weekend, stay safe and we’ll see you in your inbox first thing Monday.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.19: The move follows the Taliban’s takeover of the country last weekend: These funds were part of a global IMF response to the economic crisis.
#AceDailyNewssays Afghanistan can no longer access funds from IMF after a spokesperson said it was due to “lack of clarity within the international community” over recognising another government and resources of over $370m (£268m) set to arrive on 23 August will be stopped as BorisJohnson promises aid of £284-million ….
Access to the IMF’s reserves in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) assets, which can be converted to government-backed money, have also been blocked. SDRs are the IMF’s unit of exchange based on sterling, dollars, euros, yen and yuan.
“As is always the case, the IMF is guided by the views of the international community,” the spokesperson added.
It comes after an official from the Biden administration told the BBC that any central bank assets the Afghan government has in the US will not be made available to the Taliban.
“The potential of the SDR allocation to provide nearly half a billion dollars in unconditional liquidity to a regime with a history of supporting terrorist actions against the United States and her allies is extremely concerning,” 17 signatories wrote.
Earlier, the head of Afghanistan’s central bank said the US had cut off access to its assets – around $7bn of which are held at the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Ajmal Ahmady, who fled the country at the weekend, tweeted that Da Afghanistan Bank’s total reserves were approximately $9bn as of last week.
But he said as per international standards, most of this was held in safe, liquid assets such as US Treasury bonds and gold offshore.
“Given that the Taliban are still on international sanction lists, it is expected (confirmed?) that such assets will be frozen and not accessible to Taliban,” Mr Ahmady tweeted.
“We can say the accessible funds to the Taliban are perhaps 0.1-0.2% of Afghanistan’s total international reserves. Not much.”
Mr Ahmady added that Washington’s suspended shipments of physical dollars were causing Afghanistan’s currency to depreciate. The Afghan currency, the Afghani, has fallen to record lows.
“I believe local banks have told customers that they cannot return their dollars — because [Da Afghanistan Bank] has not supplied banks with dollars,” he tweeted.
“This is true. Not because funds have been stolen or being held in vault, but because all dollars are in international accounts that have been frozen.”
In June, the IMF gave Afghanistan its latest loan instalment which was approved in November. In the same month, the UN published a reportwhich stated that the “primary sources of Taliban financing remain criminal activities,” including “drug trafficking and opium poppy production, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, mineral exploitation and revenues from tax collection in areas under Taliban control or influence.”
The World Bank also funds many development projects in the country and has provided Afghanistan with $5.3bn since 2002. It has not yet responded to the BBC’s request for comment on the current status of this funding.
Independent money transfer giant Western Union has also suspended money transfer services to Afghanistan “until further notice”.
The IMF has taken similar steps against other regimes not recognised by a majority of its members. This happened in April 2019 when SDR access was blocked after more than 50 member countries refused to recognise President Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. The IMF also halted payments to Myanmar after the military junta seized control.
On Monday, the IMF will complete a $650bn allocation of SDRs to its 190 member countries.
The sudden advances made by the Taliban left the IMF with an urgent decision. It is about to hand out to almost all its members a reserve asset called special drawing rights. It’s an exercise that is not about Afghanistan. It’s about reinforcing the global economic recovery from the pandemic related crisis. And it’s happening on Monday. So if the new regime in Kabul were to be excluded at this stage the IMF had to move quickly. And it has done so, reflecting what a spokesperson called a lack of clarity about the recognition of the government. That is what lies behind the IMF decision at this stage. It does also raise the possibility that financial assistance might come to be used as leverage to encourage the Taliban not to allow the abuses that many fear – and that some reports say are already taking place.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.01: The Secretary of State stressed that the United States “regrets the actions of the Russian government,” but will try to “maintain a predictable and stable relationship.”
#AceDailyNews State Dept of The United States will dismiss more than 180 employees of diplomatic missions in Russia Anthony Blinken stated ……
As Blinken explained, the layoffs will affect branches in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.
The Russian government in May recognized the United States as a country committing “unfriendly actions” towards Russia. Such countries are prohibited from hiring Russian employees to work in their diplomatic missions. In addition to the United States, the Czech Republic was also named an “unfriendly” country.
US Ambassador to Russia Joe Sullivan said that from August 1, when the ban on Russians working in consulates begins to operate, the United States will completely stop providing consular services in the Russian Federation due to the reduction in the number of employees.
#AceHealthReport – July.31: The EU’s once-faltering vaccine rollout has now overtaken that of the United States, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing figures compiled by Our World in Data.
#CoronavirusNewsDesksays ‘The European Union’ is now inoculating its population faster than the ‘United States’ , but figures suggest that both have some way to go before they hit their previously announced inoculation targets…….Our World in Data’s figures, however, show the bloc is still slightly behind the United States when it comes to the percentage of adults who have had both jabs.
But figuring out who is ahead in the race to protect their citizens from COVID-19 depends largely on how one crunches the numbers.
The US newspaper pointed to data released on Thursday showing that the bloc had administered 103.32 doses per 100 people, compared to 102.67 in the United States.
It shows that the EU’s vaccination drive has certainly picked up pace after initially being hindered by supply and distribution problems.
What is the overall picture of the vaccination drive?
How effective are vaccines against variants?
US authorities have fully vaccinated 48.9% of those eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, while the EU has fully vaccinated 47.7%.
Furthermore, there are disparities among EU countries in terms of the pace of their rollouts, further complicating the overall picture.
The EU’s stated vaccination goal has changed over the past six months.
According to a statement posted on the European Commission website in January, the original plan was to ensure that “by summer 2021, member states should have vaccinated 70% of the entire adult population.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on July 10 that the EU executive had delivered enough doses to EU governments “to vaccinate fully at least 70% of EU adults still this month.”
European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had hit its vaccination target
On Tuesday, von der Leyen said 70% of adults across the bloc’s 27 countries had received at least one dose. But figures compiled by Our World in Data put the number at 58.3%.
The numbers cited by von der Leyen appear to refer to the EU’s official tally.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control COVID-19 vaccine tracker, 70.4% of adults across the EU have received at least one dose.
What about the United States?
The United States failed to meet President Joe Biden’s goal to deliver at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to 70% of adults by July 4.
Biden: ‘It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated’
Our World in Data says 56.7% of the US population has had at least one jab; inoculations are handled at state level.
For coronavirus, the estimated threshold for herd immunity is roughly 70% “to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle,” a paper by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in April.
“We would need at least 70% of the population to be immune [achieve herd immunity] to keep the rate of infection down,” the paper said.
Herd immunity can be achieved through vaccinations or by falling sick and building up sufficient antibodies to fight off future infections.
It means both the United States and the European Union are still short of achieving that goal.
Late on Thursday, Biden expressed his concern about the pace of the rollout.
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Barely 48 hours before the arrival in China of one of Biden’s most-trusted diplomats, Beijing has announced its decision to impose counter-sanctions on seven American citizens and entities, including former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation against Washington’s earlier sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong crackdowns….
On July 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China. This updates the original Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory issued by U.S. government agencies on July 1, 2020.
It is not the first time Washington and Beijing have imposed mutual sanctions, but the latest round marks the first time China has done so using its new anti-foreign sanction law, which was passed in June.
Others affected in Beijing’s “reciprocal counter-sanctions” are the current or former heads of a range of US organisations, including the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council.
In response to Beijing’s counter sanctions, one of the affected US citizens, HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson tweeted, sarcastically: “thanks, for the extra motivation!” She added in another tweet, in reply to Jo Smith Finley, a British Xinjiang expert who was sanctioned by Beijing in March: “Seriously: so much work to do! And this ain’t about us.”
Since the enactment of the anti-foreign sanctions law last month, Beijing’s decision to impose counter-sanctions has been expected, but the timing of it is indicative of the deteriorating US-China relations. It also comes just less than 48 hours before US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s China visit on Sunday.
“Washington has reiterated that Sherman’s visit and talk with the Chinese side will be from ‘a position of strength’, but Beijing may want to remind [the Biden administration] that they are equals,” said Ma Ji, a senior CV Starr lecturer at Peking University’s school of transnational law.
Ma added: “Of course, none of those targeted are in Biden’s inner circle, which means that Beijing still wants to continue the conversation with Washington. But by issuing this list shortly before Sherman’s visit, Beijing clearly intends to reduce her expectations.”
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Disinformation about the vaccines is certainly contributing to their slow uptake in various parts of the U.S. as well as other countries: This disinformation is spreading through a variety of ways: Local communities, family WhatsApp groups, FOX television hosts, and yes, Facebook.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says EFF REPORT: Disentangling Disinformation: Body bags claiming that “disinformation kills” line the streets today in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. headquarters….
A group of protesters, affiliated with “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” (an organization that is, confusingly, not affiliated with Facebook or its Oversight Board), is urging Facebook’s shareholders to ban so-called misinformation “superspreaders”—that is, a specific number of accounts that have been deemed responsible for the majority of disinformation about the #COVID19 vaccines Jillian C. York July. 28, 2021…..Here’s why?
The activists pushing for Facebook to remove these “superspreaders” are not wrong: while Facebook does currently ban some COVID-19 mis- and disinformation, urging the company to enforce its own rules more evenly is a tried-and-true tactic: But while disinformation “superspreaders” are easy to identify based on the sheer amount of information they disseminate, tackling disinformation at a systemic level is not an easy task, and some of the policy proposals we’re seeing have us concerned.
1. Disinformation is not always simple to identify.
In the United States, it was only a few decades ago that the medical community deemed homosexuality a mental illness. It took serious activism and societal debate for the medical community to come to an understanding that it was not. Had Facebook been around—and had we allowed it to be arbiter of truth—that debate might not have flourished.
Here’s a more recent example: There is much debate amongst the contemporary medical community as to the causes of ME/CFS, a chronic illness for which a definitive cause has not been determined—and which, just a few years ago, was thought by many not to be real. The Centers for Disease Control notes this and acknowledges that some healthcare providers may not take the illness seriously. Many sufferers of ME/CFS use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to discuss their illness and find community. If those platforms were to crack down on that discussion, relying on the views of the providers that deny the gravity of the illness, those who suffer from it would suffer more greatly.
2. Tasking an authority with determining disinfo has serious downsides.
As we’ve seen from the first example, there isn’t always agreement between authorities and society as to what is truthful—nor are authorities inherently correct.
In January, German newspaper Handelsblattpublished a report stating that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was not efficacious for older adults, citing an anonymous government source and claiming that the German government’s vaccination scheme was risky.
AstraZeneca denied the claims, and no evidence that the vaccine was ineffective for older adults was procured, but it didn’t matter: Handelsblatt’s reporting set off a series of events that led to AstraZeneca’s reputation in Germany suffering considerably.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that even the CDC itself—the authority tasked with providing information about COVID-19—has gotten a few things wrong, most recently in May when it lifted its recommendation that people wear masks indoors, an event that was followed by a surge in COVID-19 cases. That shift was met with rigorous debate on social media, including from epidemiologists and sociologists—debate that was important for many individuals seeking to understand what was best for their health. Had Facebook relied on the CDC to guide its misinformation policy, that debate may well have been stifled.
3. Enforcing rules around disinformation is not an easy task.
We know that enforcing terms of service and community standards is a difficult task even for the most resourced, even for those with the best of intentions—like, say, a well-respected, well-funded German newspaper. But if a newspaper, with layers of editors, doesn’t always get it right, how can content moderators—who by all accounts are low-wage workers who must moderate a certain amount of content per hour—be expected to do so? And more to the point, how can we expect automated technologies—which already make a staggering amount of errors in moderation—to get it right?
The fact is, moderation is hard at any level and impossible at scale. Certainly, companies could do better when it comes to repeat offenders like the disinformation “superspreaders,” but the majority of content, spread across hundreds of languages and jurisdictions, will be much more difficult to moderate—and as with nearly every category of expression, plenty of good content will get caught in the net.
#AceNewsReport – July.20: A group of Western countries had accused China of hacking Microsoft Exchange – a popular email platform used by companies worldwide…..
#AceSecurityDesk reports that Microsoft Exchange: Cyberattack was China taking advantage of the email vulnerabilityin January but Chinese authorities slam ‘groundless’ hacking claims…..but ‘Five Eyes’ says they provide a ‘Clear & Present Danger’ …….
The Five Eyes – The Intelligence Alliance of the Anglosphere bringing together the group brings the UK, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand into the world’s most complete and comprehensive intelligence alliance.
The Five Eyes (FVEY) is widely regarded as the world’s most significant intelligence alliance. The origins of it can be traced back to the context of the Second World War and by its necessity of sharing vital information mainly between Britain and the United States so both countries could enhance their close war effort.
The Five Eyes was formally founded in the aftermath of the Second World War, through the multilateral agreement for co-operation in signals intelligence (SIGINT), known as the UKUSA Agreement, on 5 March 1946.
Initially, compromising only the UK and the United States, it expanded to also include Canada in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956, all of these last three English-speaking countries, members of the Commonwealth of Nations and with similar political systems when compared to Britain. Thereby, the ‘Five Eyes’ term was created from the lengthy ‘AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/ Eyes Only’ classification level that included the ‘eyes’ that could have access to high profile papers and information.
The joint statement accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) of undermining global stability and security.
China has always maintained that it opposes all forms of cyber-crime.
On Monday, New Zealand joined the group of countries including the UK, US and Australia in blaming Chinese state-sponsored actors for “malicious cyber activity” in the country, including the Microsoft attack.
The Chinese Embassy in Wellington called the accusations “groundless and irresponsible”.
“Making accusations without [proof] is malicious.”
The Chinese embassy in Australia echoed these remarks, describing Washington as “the world champion of malicious cyber attacks”.
A scaled up attack
The Microsoft hack affected at least 30,000 organisations globally.
The Exchange system powers the email of major corporations, small businesses and public bodies worldwide.
Microsoft blamed a Chinese cyber-espionage group for exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange – which allowed hackers to remotely access email inboxes.
The group, known as Hafnium, was found by Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Centre to be state-sponsored and operating out of China.
Western security sources believe Hafnium obtained advance knowledge that Microsoft intended to patch or close the vulnerability, and so shared it with other China-based groups to maximise the benefit before it became obsolete.
“We believe that cyber-operators working under the control of Chinese intelligence learned about the Microsoft vulnerability in early January, and were racing to exploit the vulnerability before [it] was widely identified in the public domain,” a security source told the BBC and China accused of cyber-attack on Microsoft
The hack signalled a shift from a targeted espionage campaign to a smash-and-grab raid, leading to concerns Chinese cyber-behaviour is escalating, according to Western security services.
The UK Foreign Office said the Chinese government had “ignored repeated calls to end its reckless campaign, instead allowing state-backed actors to increase the scale of their attacks and act recklessly when caught”.
The White House said it reserved the right to take additional action against China over its cyber activities.
US President Joe Biden told reporters that the Chinese government may not have been carrying out the attacks themselves, but were ” protecting those who are doing it. And maybe even accommodating them being able to do it.”
The US Department of Justice has also announced criminal charges against four MSS hackers which it said were linked to a long-term campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors in a least a dozen countries.Nato warns cyber attacks could result in a military land incursion from allies
#AceNewsReport – July.20: Four Cabinet agencies — the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security — released the nine-page advisory that alerts companies about the shifting legal landscape in Hong Kong and the possibility that engaging with Hong Kong business could incur reputational and legal damages.
#AceDailyNews says that Biden has warned US companies about doing business in Hong Kong as control by China over political and economic freedoms
China News: July: 17, 2021
People visit the annual book fair in Hong Kong
At the same time, Treasury announced sanctions against seven Chinese officials for violating the terms of the 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which calls for asset freezes and other penalties against those who participate in the crackdown.
President Joe Biden had previewed the new advisory Thursday, telling reporters at the White House that the business environment in Hong Kong is “deteriorating” and could worsen.
“Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors that operate in Hong Kong, or have exposure to sanctioned individuals or entities, should be aware of changes to Hong Kong’s laws and regulations,” said the notice, which is titled “Risks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kong.”
“This new legal landscape … could adversely affect businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong. As a result of these changes, they should be aware of potential reputational, regulatory, financial, and, in certain instances, legal risks associated with their Hong Kong operations,” it said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the advisory in a statement marking the one-year anniversary of the passage of China’s new national security law that he said had a profoundly negative effect on Hong Kong.
Blinken said the risks to business include “potential electronic surveillance and lack of data privacy, reduced access to information, and potential retaliation against companies for their compliance with U.S. sanctions.”
“The business advisory outlines these emerging risks to inform U.S. individuals and businesses and recommends increased awareness and due diligence,” he said.
Hong Kong’s government responded with a statement calling the U.S. advisory “totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering” driven by ideology. “The main victims of this latest fallout will sadly be those U.S. businesses and U.S. citizens who have taken Hong Kong as their home,” the statement said.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, meanwhile, responded to the advisory by acknowledging the business environment “is more complex and challenging” but saying that it would continue its work.
“We are here to support our members to navigate those challenges and risks while also capturing the opportunities of doing business in this region,” it said in a statement. It added that “Hong Kong remains a critical and vibrant facilitator of trade and financial flow between the East and West.”
The United States under both the Trump and Biden administrations has determined that since the passage of the national security law, Hong Kong no longer enjoys the significant autonomy from mainland China that Beijing had pledged to respect for 50 years when it assumed control of the former British colony in 1997.
As such, Hong Kong no longer enjoys preferential U.S. trade and commercial privileges and certain officials in Hong Kong have been hit with U.S. sanctions for their actions in cracking down on democracy.
China is one of the rare areas in which the Biden administration has largely hewed to Trump’s policies.
Friday’s warning came on the heels of a similar advisory issued earlier this week reminding American companies about potential sanctions liability if they engage in business with Chinese entities that operate in the western Xinjiang region, where China is accused of widespread repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.
The seven officials targeted for sanctions are Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tieniu, Yang Jianping and Yin Zonghua. All seven serve as deputy directors of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, an agency the U.S. accuses of repeatedly undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
It is noted that Poland, like many EU countries, is concerned about Russia’s aggressive behavior.
“Of course, this is a response to the challenges in the field of national security that we have faced … Our task is to deter a potential aggressor. We all know where this aggressor is,” Blaszczak said.
In May, Poland announced plans to buy 24 combat drones from Turkey. This will make it the first NATO country to purchase Turkish-made UAVs.
Earlier, the United States began working to increase the number of American instructors to train the Ukrainian military as part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine (JMTG-U).
During the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Kyiv, the issues of expanding military aid to Ukraine were discussed.