China to offer some debt relief to African countries

China will exempt some African countries from repaying zero-interest rate loans due at the end of 2020, Reuters news agency reported quoting President Xi Jinping.

Under the framework of the China-Africa cooperation forum, China will further extend loan payment forbearance for some countries including African countries, Xi told the China-Africa summit.

“I am confident that humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and Chinese and African people will embrace better lives in future,” said Xi when making remarks on China-Africa’s joint efforts to fight against the coronavirus.

China is willing to give priority to African countries once COVID-19 vaccines are ready to use, Xi added.

Coronavirus: Nepal to deport foreigners who protested pandemic response

Five foreign nationals who took part in a protest in Nepal against the government’s pandemic response will be deported as soon as international flights resume, the country’s top immigration official said.

The three Chinese, one American and one Australian were not being detained but are required to report to officials regularly until they leave the country, immigration chief Ramesh Kumar KC said.

The five were also fined for taking part in Saturday’s protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus situation. All five will be banned from returning to Nepal for two years.

Timo Werner: Chelsea agree to sign forward from RB Leipzig on five-year deal

Chelsea have agreed to sign Timo Werner from RB Leipzig on a five-year deal.

The forward, 24, has agreed personal terms with the Blues and, subject to passing a medical, will join in July after the German league season ends.

Werner, who joined Leipzig from Stuttgart in 2016, has scored 32 goals in all competitions so far this season.

“I am delighted to be signing for Chelsea, it is a proud moment for me to be joining this great club,” said the German international.

Werner, who is known for his pace and can also play as a winger, thanked the club and fans at Leipzig and said they would “would always be in my heart”.

His July move also confirms Werner will not play for Leipzig in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.

He added: “I look forward to next season with my new team-mates, my new manager and of course the Chelsea fans.

“Together we have a successful future ahead of us.”

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia says the club is “excited” to have one of Europe’s “most coveted players” heading to Stamford Bridge.

“He has that rare mix of being young and exciting and yet established and proven,” she added.

Werner is Chelsea’s second signing for next season after they completed a £37m deal for Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech in February.

Turkey says it hit more than 500 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq

Turkish forces have hit more than 500 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq as part of an operation in the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey’s Defence Ministry said.

A Defence Ministry statement on Thursday said Turkish F-16 jets, drones and howitzers hit and destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in 36 hours.

Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in various regions of northern Iraq on Sunday and Tuesday in two separate raids, which Ankara said were in response to an increase in militant attacks on Turkish army bases.

Ankara launched the “Claw-Tiger Operation” on Tuesday in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region.

In response to the operation, Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned Turkish ambassador Fatih Yildiz and handed him a “strongly-worded memorandum calling for a halt to such provocative actions”.

“We stress that Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory,” the ministry’s statement said on Thursday. 

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command condemned the cross-border raid as a “provocative action” and accused Turkish forces of hitting a refugee camp.

Following the strikes, Turkish commandos also conducted an infiltration operation through land and air to target “terrorist” hideouts, the ministry added.

“We deplore the penetration of Iraqi airspace by the Turkish planes which – at a depth of 193km from the Turkish border inside the Iraqi airspace – targeted a refugee camp near Makhmour and Sinjar,” the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

Turkey regularly attacks PKK fighters, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. It has also warned in recent years of a potential ground offensive against PKK bases in Iraq’s Qandil mountains.

The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that Turkish and Iranian military interventions in Iraq violated Iraqi sovereignty. The UAE and Ankara have strained ties, including over the Libyan crisis where the two countries back opposing sides.

The PKK, designated as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, focused in southeast Turkey. 

Germany charges Russian man with contract killing of Georgian

German prosecutors have filed murder charges against a Russian man accused over the brazen daylight killing of a Georgian man in Berlin last year, saying that the Russian state ordered the killing.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday threatened Russia with sanctions over the 40-year-old’s killing, which occurred in August 2019 in a park in the capital’s Moabit neighbourhood.

“The circumstances behind the contract killing was the opposition of the victim to the Russian state, to the governments of its autonomous republics Chechnya and Ingushetia and to the pro-Russian government of Georgia,” the prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe said on Thursday. 

The case prompted Germany’s foreign ministry in December last year to expel two Russian diplomats, citing a lack of cooperation with the investigation of the murder.

The victim, Tornike K, who has widely been identified in reports on the killing by his alias, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity who fought against Russian troops in Chechnya.

He had previously survived multiple assassination attempts and continued to receive threats after fleeing to Germany in 2016.

The suspected killer

On Thursday, federal prosecutors filed charges of murder and a violation of weapons laws against a Russian citizen they identified as Vadim K alias Vadim S. 

They said that, at some point before mid-July last year, “state agencies of the central government of the Russian Federation” tasked him with “liquidating” the victim.

The suspect “accepted the state killing assignment”, prosecutors said in a statement. “He either hoped for a financial reward or he shared the motives of those who tasked him to kill a political opponent and take revenge for his participation in earlier conflicts with Russia.”

Proseutors say that the killer approached Tornike K from behind on a bicycle and shot him three times. The suspect was arrested near the scene shortly afterwards and has been in custody ever since.


Don’t Rename Those Military Bases. Close Them Instead.

The Most Revolutionary Act

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | June 16, 2020

A controversy has erupted over the naming of U.S. military bases here in the United States. The bases are named after Confederate generals, and there are people who want to change that. They want the bases to be named for more politically correct military figures.

I’ve got a better idea: Let’s not rename the bases. Let’s close them instead.

When people are born and raised under a particular form of governmental structure, it is extremely difficult for them to mentally or psychologically challenge the structure itself. The natural tendency is to want to work within the structure by coming up with ways to modify or improve it rather than to contemplate arguments for dismantling it.

That’s the situation we have with the national-security state structure that characterizes the United States. We have all been born and raised under a massive…

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Family Farmers and Farmworkers: A Pivotal Moment for Change

The Most Revolutionary Act

Family Farmers And Farmworkers Face The Virus: How Food Sovereignty Activists See The Crisis as a Pivotal Moment for Change

David Bacon | 06.11.2020

The following is a special edition, eight-page Backgrounder covering the experiences and insights from farmers and farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download a PDF of the Backgrounder here or read in full below.

Correction: The original article incorrectly said, “Corporations are proposing limited supply management similar to Canada’s…”  The correction is: “Corporations are opposed to limiting supply management similar to Canada’s…”

The COVID Crisis and Urban Communities

Malik Yakini speaks for many people in the movements for food sovereignty and sustainability as they face the crisis of the novel coronavirus. He sees it from the perspective of the urban farms of Detroit, as the executive director of the Black Community Food Security Network. “The problems people see now, from the difficulty they’re experiencing getting to markets…

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Sarah Roberts: Taranaki’s Tireless Anti-Fracking Campaigner

The Most Revolutionary Act

A Broken Earth

Directed by James Muir (2020)

Film Review

This is a beautifully made film about Taranaki fellow activists Sarah Roberts and David Morrison and their tireless efforts to hold Taranaki’s (mostly foreign-owned) fracking industry to account.

The film begins when the couple literally woke up one morning and discovered their dairy farm was surround by fracking wells and production stations that were discharging fracking wastes into a stream they used to water their herd. Around this time, Sarah began experiencing many of the same health complaints (headaches, nosebleeds, rashes, etc)  as many of her neighbors.

On investigation, they discovered 14 fracking wells to the front of their property, 16 to the rear, and 12 at the side. Although four wells were directly adjacent to their property line, they were never consulted, or even notified, about the well construction. After examining oil industry and Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) records…

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