New GoI Limitations On International Webinars: Not Just Freedom Of Speech, Even The Scientific/Academic Freedom At Stake!

first_imgColumnsNew GoI Limitations On International Webinars: Not Just Freedom Of Speech, Even The Scientific/Academic Freedom At Stake! Prof. M Sridhar Acharyulu26 Feb 2021 5:32 AMShare This – xEngland was in height of civil war on 23rd November 1664. Famous writer John Milton was questioning the license Raj for printing books in historic writing of pamphlet called Areopagitica. Milton says: God endowed every person with the reason, free will, and conscience to judge ideas for themselves, so the ideas in a text should be rejected by the reader’s own choice, not by a…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginEngland was in height of civil war on 23rd November 1664. Famous writer John Milton was questioning the license Raj for printing books in historic writing of pamphlet called Areopagitica. Milton says: God endowed every person with the reason, free will, and conscience to judge ideas for themselves, so the ideas in a text should be rejected by the reader’s own choice, not by a licensing authority. We have the history of Galilieo Galilei prosecuted by Church, 400 years ago for having said that the earth orbits the Sun against the religious belief. He was first summoned by the Roman Inquisition in 1616. He was warned not to espouse heliocentrism. Year 1616 ihas another similar historic incident of religious power harassing a scientist. The Church banned Nicholas Copernicus book “On Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” published in 1543 explaining the theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Today we are hearing the news that permission of Ministry of External Affairs is needed for international webinars on science and other subjects. Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution guarantees the independence of expression, i.e. freedom to publish without prior license, and Article 51A (h) says it shall be the duty of every Indian to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. This right and duty are also part of personal liberty within right to life under Article 21. The Union government, on January 15, 2021 made it mandatory for academics and organizers to obtain prior clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to hold international webinars or online seminars on various topics touching on (a) India’s security, (b) internal issues and on (c) subjects the government believes are sensitive. The guidelines dictate that when giving permission to hold the online event, the government has power to ensure the subject matter is not related to the country’s Northeast States – considered sensitive due to a long history of insurgency – the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ladakh region which saw clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in 2020. Curbs on freedom under (a) is very much required, but, on other two (b) and (c) amounts to ‘pre-censorship’ of spreading of academic knowledge, through debate and discussion. ‘Sensitive’ subjects include ‘political, scientific, technical, commercial, personal subjects with provisions of sharing of data in any form: presentations’. Earlier permissions were required to personal visits of foreign speakers. This is extended to virtual conferences while adding ‘inclusive’ expressions like ‘India’s internal matters’. The subject (c) i.e., “subjects the government believes are sensitive” is very expansive, wide and can include anything. The set of guidelines also mandate that the participants are expected not to broach issues related to India’s ‘internal matters’ or state security. The MEA approval will be required if these specific issues are likely to be debated at the international conference, the guidelines say. It is clear that MEA may not approve if such subjects are proposed, because once the debate is launched, it could be surely an analysis of entire issue. The Government also wants the names of all participants to be submitted in advance for the approval. The Ministry of Education has revised guidelines and issued after consulting the Ministry of External Affairs, which came into effect immediately after an Office Memorandum was notified on January 15. While we are ready for internationalizing market and trade, the Governments are unwilling to accept the criticism from beyond the borders of ‘nation’. After this, the public funded universities, professors, and administrators will now have to get prior approval from the ministry of external affairs (MEA) if they want to hold online international conferences or seminars that are centred around issues relating to the security of the Indian state or which are “clearly related to India’s internal matters”. With freedom index falling, the rulers further pushing it down by imposing curbs on debate in international webinars. Imposing restrictions on real seminars is difficult, but limiting the webinars is possible with controls on internet and Information & Communication Technology. India’s reputation is already down because of frequent shut downs of internet and blockade of mobile communications. Scientists wanted withdrawal of guidelinesThese rules govern online conferences, seminars and training programmes. It is mandatory to obtain clearance from MEA to invite scientists at the highest grades of seniority. These rules cover the conferences organized by publicly funded institutions. Many scientists also criticized these limitations on free scientific discussion at international for a. The President of Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS) Partha Majumdar wrote a letter to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal requesting withdrawal of guidelines. This academy IAS “considered that the provisions of OM to be overly restrictive, lacking in clarity, and detrimental to the progress of science in India, including capacity building. We strongly urge upon you to withdraw the blanket restrictions and the requirement of permission on the organization of scientific discussion meetings and scientific training programs in India” said Majumdar. National Academy of Sciences and Indian National Science Academy also supported the stand of the IAS. The American Historical Association, the largest organization of professional historians in the world, with over 11,000 members spanning the globe, expressed grave concern about this policy requiring Indian scholars and administrators to obtain prior approval from the MEA for their intended virtual international conferences, seminars, or trainings. The AHA felt that this new policy is likely to affect a wide range of scholarly exchanges that are critical to the free international expression of ideas. By monitoring and potentially censoring or cancelling the virtual and online communications of scholars in India, the Ministry of Education threatens the very foundation of those exchanges. AHA further says: “The policy puts Indian scholars at a disadvantage in ongoing discussions among scholars in all disciplines, including history. It also deprives scholars in other countries (including members of the American Historical Association) of the benefits of the knowledge and insights that Indian scholars bring to the table. The AHA strongly maintains that government agencies should not intervene in the content of scholarly exchange. Such intervention would constitute arbitrary censorship and violate the principle of academic freedom.” Finally AHA said: “On behalf of this international network of scholars, we respectfully urge a reconsideration of the policy requiring Indian scholars and administrators to receive prior government approval for online or virtual academic conferences”. This letter was also signed by American Anthropological Association, American Sociological Association, American Studies Association, Central European History Society, College Art Association, Society of Biblical Literature and World History Association. JNU Professors opposeThe new restrictions mean academics and research scholars would be under pressure not to raise subjects or issues which could be construed as affecting ‘national security’, as explained by Prof. Alka Acharya, of the Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, who is an expert on Chinese studies. She further told University World News; “Everything can potentially have implications for security and organisers will be under great pressure to also screen participants who are known to have critical positions. This will certainly have an impact on free and frank discussions.” The discussion on the subject itself could not be presumed as threat to security of the nation. Even if the analysis is critical, it does not mean that debate is against the interests of nation. In fact factual analysis and appraisal of possible consequences is in the national interest. It will improve the understanding of the issue and help in developing the proper policy. She felt fundamentally, that is the aim of a debate, but states and governments may think otherwise. So the overall impact will be largely of a dampening kind. Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology in JNU apprehended: “Soon, no Indian academic will be allowed to log into a seminar or talk held elsewhere in the world without approval.” On the Twitter media, she said that “everything in the social sciences is ‘sensitive’ and touches on India’s ‘internal matters’.” Restrictions on foreign researchers Recently in November Prof Sundar attended a webinar on academic freedom in India organised by the United States-based organisation “Scholars at Risk”. She said “it was becoming harder for foreign research scholars to get research visas to India, and for a long time at my university we have not been able to have any seminars on Kashmir or on Naxalism”. Visas for participants in university-organised conferences from countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and China have been subject to particular scrutiny for some time. However, participants denied a visa have in the past been able to participate via video link. Now the new guidelines would enable the Government to prevent virtual participation also. India does not stop the export of iron ore and such raw material to China, and import of various goods, as that agreement is part of world trade arrangements. But the government had already imposed restrictions on collaborations with Chinese institutions in 2019, requiring approval of Ministry of Home Affairs and MEA for any activities, even under existing agreements. It was also noticed that short conferences and workshops involving the participation of Chinese academics had been monitored by MEA. Besides, the collaborations with Chinese universities were further scaled down drastically under dictates of the Ministry after military clashes with China in June 2020. There was another attempt in October 2020 to prevent or restrict at the Memorandum of Understanding level itself. This time it came from the Education Ministry, which floated a plan to make it mandatory for Indian universities to obtain prior permission before signing any memoranda of understanding or holding activities with educational institutions from countries that share a land border with India – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. The Government imposed restrictions earlier, on physical seminars also. Earlier guidelines required institutions to obtain authorisation for real seminars. Technology makes it easy for regulation and restriction. Technology earlier aided the spread and speed of the freedom but now becoming an easy tool in the hands of authoritarian regimes. The virtual events can be easily supervised live and inspected afterwards. They can be verified at leisure as video recordings are available. During Covid19 lockdowns and block downs, the academia were more active with the supportive facilitating technology. It was easy and really not expensive at all to organize online conferences, which accorded organisers greater freedom to invite foreign speakers. The same technology is becoming a weapon in the hands of authorities to curb such freedom. The names of all participants in such webinars will need to be approved in advance by the government. The guidelines are, however, silent on virtual events organised by private institutions and research organisations. It does not mean that they are free. It is perhaps more easy to restrict them because of their dependence on government for permissions, land, constructions and other regulatory controls. For academics, this is an unexpected and unprecedented restriction on academic freedom. They felt the latest restrictions on online conferences would surely hamper the growth of higher education in the country and curtail academic freedom as the guidelines also require MEA approval for events funded or sponsored from overseas, or involving foreign participation, or events that touch on sensitive presentations or subjects – political, scientific, technical, commercial or personal – with provisions for sharing data in any form. Data security restrictions University World News Asia Editor Yojana Sharma in her article wrote that presentations by research scholars and academics could also come under greater scrutiny as the January guidelines also advise organisers to ensure full compliance with India’s existing IT data security provisions, personal data and protection of other sensitive information, and also exercise an “appropriate level of scrutiny to identify the nature and sensitivity of data” or contents of presentations and information to be shared by the Indian side. Another major step that India initiated was banning the IT apps of China. In fact, such a ban was not opposed because it was done for national security. The conferencing platform Zoom, which became a very popular and widely used during the Covid 19 pandemic for online webinars. But it has come under the spotlight for monitoring of China-related online meetings. Ms Sharma wrote that it has also been known to channel user data via Chinese servers, although it is based in the US. The ministry also mandated “judicious selection” of IT apps, platforms or a medium for interaction. It said preference should be for apps having servers not controlled, hosted or owned by countries or agencies “hostile to India”, although the countries or agencies were not specified. Yojana Sharma quoted the proceedings of ‘Scholars at Risk’ which said: “While state authorities have a right to protect national security, they must ensure that relevant legislation and its enforcement are consistent with national and international legal obligations to protect the rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association.” Scholars at Risk said in its most recent Free to Think 2020 report’s section on India, noted and wrote a surge in incidents of authorities clamping down on academic freedom in the past two years. The Hindu reported on 21st February quoting Mr Vijaya Raghavan, principle scientific adviser to the Government of India, that the Office Memorandum might be reviewed and modified. Views are personal.(Author is a Former Central Information Commissioner and Professor of Law)Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. 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Pope honors Notre Dame priest

first_imgAt an Ash Wednesday Mass in Vatican City, Pope Francis commissioned more than 700 priests — including Notre Dame’s Fr. Joseph Corpora — as Missionaries of Mercy.Corpora, who serves as director of University-school partnerships for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), said the Missionaries of Mercy are granted the authority to forgive sins usually reserved to the pope.“There are certain sins that if a priest does, he’s automatically excommunicated from the Church,” he said. “There are other sins that lay people commit that are reserved to the Holy See. We have the faculty to forgive those sins for the year’s length.“The real work is trying to help in one’s own way to help people more fully accept and believe in God’s mercy.”Corpora, a 1976 Notre Dame graduate, was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1984, according to the ACE website. He served as the pastor of two churches over the course of two decades — a primarily Latino parish in Arizona and a parish in Oregon. He founded the first Catholic school to be opened in the Diocese of Phoenix in 30 years.According to the ACE website, Corpora returned to Notre Dame in 2009. He currently serves as associate director of Latino student ministry within the office of Campus Ministry. He also directs the Catholic School Advantage Campaign, an ACE initiative seeking to double to percentage of Latino families who enroll their children in Catholic schools.Corpora traveled to Rome on Feb. 7 at the invitation of Pope Francis, who designated this liturgical year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy last April.“I think that when the Holy Father came up with this idea, part of what he was thinking was a way of getting a whole world to think about mercy,” he said. “He seems to have an extraordinary grace of knowing what the world needs.”Corpora said he had the chance to meet Pope Francis for a brief second, as he was greeting members of the crowd. He kissed the pope’s hand, although he did not get to speak with him.“Sometimes you meet famous people, and they’re not who they seem like,” he said. “But that’s not at all with him. He is who you see on TV.”The hundreds of missionaries hailed from countries around the world, Corpora said.“After the Father spoke to us, we all sang the ‘Hail Holy Queen’ in Latin,” he said. “It was interesting to hear 700 people singing that song, from all over the world, in the same language. … There was a sense of commonality amongst us. It struck me.”The commission of the missionaries was scheduled for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Corpora said seeing a cardinal put ashes, a symbol of penitence, on the pope’s forehead was particularly impactful.“He always says he’s a sinner, so I shouldn’t have been surprised,” he said. “But he got ashes like everyone else.”Corpora said he does not know how he was selected to be a Missionary of Mercy. He received an email from the Vatican on Dec. 22, saying his name had been submitted and the pope had accepted it.“As far as I am aware, this has never happened for a Jubilee Year before,” he said. “That the pope would select certain people to be part of this whole endeavor — it fits him perfectly. He hasn’t involved ‘on the ground’ priests before.”Corpora’s new role requires him to suspend his regular pastoral duties for a year. He has plans to travel to Catholic dioceses across the country to offer penance services and speak with priests and bishops.“I’m supposed to just make myself available, and what that’s going to mean is hearing confessions and talking about this whole idea of what God’s mercy is,” he said.Corpora said he was grateful, surprised and humbled to be a Missionary of Mercy.“All you need to be a Missionary of Mercy is to be a big sinner and know a lot about forgiveness,” he said. “I’m a big sinner and know a lot about forgiveness. It’s not like it’s something to be proud of. I do think that I have received a lifetime of mercy and forgiveness, and I want to be able to pass that on in any way that I can.”Tags: ACE, Fr. Copora, Jubilee Year, Jubilee Year of Mercy, Missionary of Mercy, Pope Francislast_img read more

Garrison Keillor coming to Rutland’s Paramount December 13

first_imgThe Paramount Theatre announced today that nationally prominent humorist, satirist, and iconic National Public Radio personality, Garrison Keillor is bringing his solo Christmas Special to the Paramount Theatre, in a creative partnership with The Rutland Herald on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 8 pm. Keillor is making his second appearance at The Paramount following his sold-out engagement in February of 2009.Best known as the host of A Prairie Home Companion (on the national airwaves since 1974), the show features guest musicians and a cadre cast doing musical numbers and comic skits complete with elaborate live sound effects. His weekly monologue, News From Lake Wobegone, is woven into the national consciousness and is heard by millions of listeners each week. A Prairie Home Companion regularly goes on the road and is broadcast live from popular venues around the United States, often featuring local celebrities and skits incorporating local color.A widely published writer, Keillor was a long-time contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and was an early weekly columnist for Keillor is the author of numerous books, most recently ‘Liberty: A Lake Wobegone Novel’ (2008), Life Among the Lutherans (2009) and Pilgrims: A Woebegone Romance (2009). He also wrote and starred in the 2006 movie adaptation of A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman. Keillor has received numerous honors, including a Grammy Award for his recording of Lake Wobegone Days, two Cable ACE Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. He has traveled throughout the country performing with leading orchestras and on his own in one-man shows (like the one that will take to The Paramount Stage).Lead sponsor for the evening Dr. Michael Dick, DDS followed by Robert and Robin Veghte. Radio media sponsor is Vermont Public Radio.Garrison Keillor’s Christmas SpecialMonday, December 13, 2010 @ 8:00 PM$85.50 – $45.50 + taxLimited Seats is external)Box Office: 802 775-0903Thurs ‘ Fri. 11-6, Sat 10-2last_img read more

What does it take to redesign a credit union website?

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Derik Krauss Derik is a cofounder of BloomCU, an award-winning website design agency for credit unions. His agency’s design work has received recognition from CUNA (Diamond Award),, and others. He … Web: Details So. You’ve decided to redo your credit union website design. Or maybe you’re still just thinking about it. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to know what you’re getting into. The truth is, each journey is different, because every credit union has slightly different needs and goals. However, there are some universal parts of the process that are pretty much true across the board. In this post, we’ll outline what it takes to redesign your site, from start to finish. Phase 1: Getting StartedUnderstanding your brandAny good website redesign starts with a conversation, either with your in-house team or with an agency. First, you should discuss your brand. What makes your credit union unique? What are your members like? Who do you want to reach with your website? If you know the answers to these questions, then you’ll have a much better idea of how you want your site to look and feel later on in the process. Understanding your goals The second thing you need to understand before you start is your goals. What’s important to your credit union right now? Do you want more loan applications and member sign-ups? Are you hoping to reduce the burden of your support team? Do you want to be known as a tech-savvy financial institution? All of the above? Outline these goals first, and then determine which ones could be aided by aspects of your site. For example, a great FAQs section could help your support team, and cool features like chatbots could be great for attracting tech-savvy millennials. Phase 2: The nitty-gritty Almost all websites incorporate some combination of images, copy, and design/layout. These will likely be the major components of your redesign, though you may invest in some amazing extras as well, like animations or background video. A chatbot example on Lifecu.orgHow will your new design look? Perhaps you are doing a very basic redesign and just basing it off a template you’ve purchased, which you will populate with new images and copy. Or perhaps you are choosing to create a truly stunning design, one that feels modern, sleek, and forward-thinking. Depending on your resources and goals, you will have the chance to decide which changes are most important, and prioritize them. In this phase, we always recommend design choices that a.) are consistent with your brand and b.) are backed by data. As it turns out, there’s a lot of information out there that can help advise you on where to invest your money in your new design. How will you implement your new design? After you’ve decided what you need your site to look like, you’ll need to make it come alive. Having pretty wireframes and mockups isn’t enough, you need a design that is fully functional, and hopefully, mobile-friendly. This requires development work (programming). Often, your development team, or the agency you are working with, will implement your design on a separate, private “dev” site, which can be seamlessly switched over to your actual web location when you’re ready to launch. That way, you aren’t doing intense overhauls while your members are trying to use your old site. How will you populate your new design? Once you have a new design and layout, you will need to populate it, primarily with images and copy. Some of these resources may be from your old site, or you may take the opportunity to make more growth-driven gains by writing copy that converts and collecting more authentic images. Phase 3: The transitionAs we mentioned above, typically you’ll be working on your new site on a separate domain while your old site runs “business as usual.” However, when it comes time to launch, you’ll need to make sure you’re ready for a smooth transition. You’ll want to determine that your current site host can handle your newer, fresher site, and if not, you’ll need to pick a new host. Celebrating your new site Before your new site launches, you may want to do a countdown on social media or on your old site, so that your members are prepared for what to expect. Once it’s up, you may want to write a blog post that gives a “tour” of the new features and changes. Testing your new site After your site is launched, we recommend tracking its success—the key to growth-driven design! Review the numbers on your original goals (such as number of loan applications) and see what has changed/improved. Then, don’t be afraid to keep experimenting with everything on your credit union website design, from your homepage content to your calls to action. Even if you don’t have the resources to do a full redesign every year, you can make small wins that add up big through continued experimentation and testing.last_img read more

One click away: You can now pay tuition for some 180 schools with GoPay

first_imgForget traditional payment methods or bank transfers; users of Gojek’s digital wallet platform GoPay, now have the option to pay for school tuition and other bills for students and student activities with just one click through the GoPay app.The homegrown decacorn has struck a partnership with around 180 education institutions — including pesantren (Islamic boarding schools), madrasah (Islamic religious schools) and learning centers across the country — making payment options for them available on the app’s GoBills feature. “This latest feature enables parents and guardians to pay for their children’s tuition anywhere they want, without having to physically go to the school. Busy parents should no longer worry about missing tuition deadlines,” GoPay senior vice president of sales Arno Tse said in a statement on Monday.  He went on to say that schools would also benefit from digital payments made through GoPay, as every transaction would be automatically recorded and organized for posterity.So far, schools and institutions that have joined with GoPay and are featured in the app’s GoBills include, among others, the IPMI International Business School in Jakarta, UNICEF (Universal Central English Foundation) Kampung Inggris in Kediri, East Java and Al Hidayah boarding school in Depok, West Java.“We hope to be able to reach out to more educational institutions in Indonesia to implement digital payments,” Arno said.GoPay has previously cooperated with Tarumanegara University in Jakarta; Bunda Mulia University in Tangerang, Banten; and Madrasah Miftahul Akhlaqiyah in Semarang, Central Java, on the implementation of the Quick Response Indonesia Standard (QRIS). The company also provided electronic payment infrastructure for over 50 vocational high schools (SMK) in North Jakarta, early last year. (rfa)Topics :last_img read more

Renault shifts to all-electric cars for China

first_imgFrench automaker Renault said Tuesday that it would start building only electric vehicles for China’s huge passenger car market, dropping conventional internal combustion engines as well as its joint venture with local manufacturer Dongfeng. The strategy shift comes after years of sluggish sales in China, where Renault hoped its 50-50 venture with Dongfeng, announced in 2013 and focused on a factory in Wuhan, would allow it to  make inroads quickly.But the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan forced the factory to shutter, just as Renault was wrestling with slowing growth worldwide and a cashflow squeeze that has prompted ratings agencies to cut its credit ratings to “junk” status. Topics : “We are opening a new chapter in China. We will concentrate on electric vehicles and light commercial vehicles, the two main drivers for future clean mobility,” Renault chairman for China operations, Francois Provost, said in a statement.The automaker will transfer its stake in the DRAC venture to Dongfeng, which will stop marketing the Renault brand. No financial details of the transaction were disclosed.To bolster its all-electric push, Renault said it will “reinforce” its eGT venture, also formed with Dongfeng as well as Renault’s Japanese alliance partner Nissan, to further development of its City K-ZE model, a low-cost crossover vehicle that Renault plans to launch in Europe next year.Renault said its other Chinese venture, Jiangxi Jiangling Group Electric Vehicle Co., aimed to have four core models for the Chinese market by 2022.center_img It said 860,000 electric vehicles were sold in China last year, making it the largest market in the world — though they were still just a small fraction of the 25 million vehicles of all types bought. Renault sold just 180,000 cars, both traditional and electric, in China in 2019, down from 217,000 the previous year, and representing less than one percent of the overall market.It said electric vehicles are forecast to account for 25 percent of the Chinese market by the end of this decade.Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said this month that he hoped to get up to five billion euros ($5.5 billion) in loans guaranteed by the French state to help the automaker weather the coronavirus crisis, which has seen sales nearly grind to a halt in affected markets.last_img read more

US considers sanctions on Belarusians for election fraud, violence against protesters

first_imgThe United States is considering imposing sanctions on seven Belarusians it believes were involved in falsifying the results of the Aug. 9 election and in violence against peaceful protesters, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States could consider imposing sanctions on Russia if it were to intervene overtly with force in Belarus, where protests erupted after an Aug. 9 election that the opposition says was rigged to prolong President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year rule.The official provided the most detailed description to date of US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun’s talks in Moscow last week, in which he warned senior Russian officials against the overt use of force in Belarus, which is sandwiched between Russia and the NATO Western security alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week said he had set up a reserve police force to support Lukashenko if necessary, but he saw no need to deploy them for now.A former Soviet republic, Belarus maintains close political, economic and cultural ties to Russia and belongs to a Russia-led military alliance. The two are also joined by a treaty that, at least on paper, proclaims a “union state,” which Putin has sought to develop into more of a political and economic reality.Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and has shown no sign of backing down despite the threat of Western sanctions. The US official did not name the seven Belarusians it may target, and he noted that Lukashenko already is under US sanctions.”We’ve got a group of seven people that we are working with Treasury for the evidentiary package” to impose sanctions, the official told Reuters, saying that the United States was likely to discuss the punitive measures publicly in the coming days. Topics :center_img “It is a minimal effort to … not just name and shame but to show that when people both steal elections and commit violence against peaceful protesters exercising fundamental freedoms of assembly and speech that there needs to be some accountability,” added the official.A person who answered the telephone at the Belarusian embassy in Washington said any questions should be asked directly to the government in Minsk.The US official said Biegun made clear last week in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and others “that there would be consequences in the US-Russian relationship were the Russians to intervene overtly with force in Belarus.”Biegun said this would be the case whoever wins the Nov. 3 US presidential election because “the bipartisan sentiment in Congress will set the guardrails and the possibilities for the US-Russian relationship,” the official said.The deputy secretary of state “didn’t go into the specifics. It was just, ‘If you thought the last four years were bad, the next four will be worse,'” said the US official.While US President Donald Trump has sought to improve relations with his Russian counterpart, the Trump administration also has tightened US sanctions on Russia and rotated US troops into NATO ally Poland, moves Moscow dislikes.There is also deep unease in the US Congress over the view of American intelligence agencies that Russia worked to influence the 2016 US election in favor of Trump and is doing so again ahead of the Nov. 3 election pitting the Republican president against Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.While the US official did not name the seven Belarusians Washington may sanction, he did say that five of them were sanctioned by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Monday.The three Baltic countries imposed travel bans on Lukashenko and 29 other Belarusian officials, signaling impatience with the West’s cautious approach by announcing sanctions without waiting for the rest of the European Union.The US official said the seven people the United States may sanction would be targeted under an executive order signed by then-US President George W. Bush.Executive Order 13405, signed in 2006, targets those who “undermine democratic processes or institutions in Belarus” or who perpetrated or were responsible for “human rights abuses related to political repression.” Among other things, it freezes any assets those designated may have under US jurisdiction.The EU, the US official said, was unlikely to impose its own sanctions until late September or early October given the time taken by its process, which typically involves coordination among its 27 members.last_img read more

Mourinho marvels at rampant Chelsea

first_img Press Association “We smashed them clearly and Petr started that momentum with that save.” Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham had all lost at Stamford Bridge prior to the Gunners’ visit, but the manner of the loss in Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge was embarrassing and humiliating. Wenger is still to beat Mourinho in 11 attempts. A third Chelsea goal came when referee Andre Marriner awarded a penalty for handball and sent off Kieran Gibbs, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the offender. The case of mistaken identity, for which Marriner has apologised, was irrelevant in terms of the result, though, as Chelsea claimed a second win in three attempts against Arsenal this season. Former Premier League referee Graham Poll suggested it was not a dismissal at all as Hazard’s shot was going wide. Mourinho, an advocate of television replays for fourth officials, disagreed. The Portuguese said: “Do you have a new rule? Who knows that is going out? “You know because you’ve seen it on television. But from my place I just saw the goalkeeper without a chance and somebody diving and saving, clearly. “If this is not a red card (then what is?)” The one blot on Chelsea’s performance was a hamstring injury for Eto’o, who scored his 11th goal of the season, all of which have come at home. The Cameroon striker withdrew fearing a more severe injury, but will likely miss next weekend’s trip to relegation-threatened Crystal Palace. “Hopefully it’s not so big,” said Mourinho, who praised the striker’s goal. “Hopefully it’s not a one-month injury, it’s 10 to 15 days.” Mourinho was happy with Eto’o’s replacement, Fernando Torres, and with Luiz’s display in midfield, a position the manager insisted earlier in the season the Brazil defender would not play. “Fernando, without scoring a goal, had a very good performance with great movement for the team,” Mourinho said. “I like David in midfield. I like him a lot there.” Jose Mourinho delighted in exposing Arsenal’s flaws after his biggest victory as Chelsea manager. Nemanja Matic and David Luiz acted as ball-winning midfielders and the attacking quartet of Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and Oscar did the early damage as Chelsea, like Manchester City and Liverpool before them, tore the Gunners apart. “We spoke about Arsenal being the kind of team that when they have possession of the ball and when they start building from the back they are very comfortable,” Mourinho told Chelsea TV. “They have a big culture of ball possession and we were trying to press them there, to recover the ball and to attack spaces. “We know also that the full-backs, normally they are wide and up, leaving the two central defenders isolated. “They are not the fastest guys on the pitch and we knew that by recovering the ball and attacking spaces we could score. “The start was really, really strong. The message with the 2-0 was clear and after, penalty, red card and even worse for them.” Eto’o began the rout and Schurrle added a second after seven minutes, but the goals came after Petr Cech made a fine save from Olivier Giroud. “The first 10 minutes of the match were magnificent,” Mourinho said. A 6-0 win took Premier League leaders Chelsea seven points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal, while Liverpool, who have one game in-hand, are four points adrift in second. Third-placed Manchester City, Mourinho’s title favourites, are six points behind but have three games in-hand, beginning with Tuesday’s Manchester derby. last_img read more

Davie Police Chief Placed on Leave for Alleged Disparaging Remarks About Late Broward Sheriff’s Deputy

first_imgA high-ranking member of law enforcement in South Florida is under investigation.Davie Police Chief Dale Engle has been placed on administrative leave over allegedly disparaging remarks about the sexual orientation of a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who died earlier this month from complications of COVID-19.The Broward County Fraternal Order of Police says that Engle claimed the death of BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett was partially due to his “homosexual lifestyle.”Mike Tucker, chief of staff of the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, sent a letter to the Davie town manager last Tuesday. Tucker’s letter said that officers and service aides who expressed worry about the virus were sent to a back parking lot. Here, Engle “allegedly berated them, and yelled about a ‘…backstory’ which proclaimed that Deputy Shannon Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual ‘sexual’ events.”Bennett, who was a 12-year veteran of the BSO, was gay and was planning to marry his partner in December.He died at a hospital on April 2, according to officials, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.Late Saturday night, a spokesperson for the Town of Davie confirmed that Engle has been placed on leave.1/2 Town Administrator Richard J. Lemack Has Issued the Following Statement Regarding Police Chief Dale Engle:As of April 11, 2020, Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on Administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police.— Town of Davie, FL (@TownofDavie) April 12, 2020 A statement reads, “Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police. The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel.”last_img read more

Steelers RB Bell a no-show as opener vs. Browns looms

first_imgFILE – In this July 30, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner breaks a long run from scrimmage at practice during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa. The Steelers star running back Le’Veon Bell’s “business decision” to skip training camp is giving the team plenty of chances to look at the depth behind the All-Pro running back. Conner and rookie Jaylen Samuels have the most to gain from Bell’s absence. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning preparations for their Week 1 opener against Cleveland without All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell did not arrive at the team’s facility in time for practice on Monday and has yet to sign his one-year franchise tender, leaving his status for Sunday’s visit to the Browns in doubt.The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell for a second straight season this spring, but failed to come to terms on a new contract. Bell signed his tender on Labor Day last season and was ready in time for the opener.LE’VEON BELL (Photo by Brian Cook)Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert says the team is “disappointed” that Bell has yet to rejoin his teammates.If Bell isn’t ready, the Steelers will turn to James Conner against Cleveland.___More AP NFL: and read more