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Iraqi Kurdish referendum: Why international powers fear independence vote could derail fight against Isis

The Kurdish leadership is coming under intense international pressure to postpone the referendum on independence due to take place in Kurdish-controlled parts of northern Iraq on 25 September.

Outside powers see the poll as destabilising Iraq and neighbouring countries at the very moment when Isis and its self-declared caliphate are being defeated. But Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, who called the referendum, says he intends to go ahead with it and it would be a humiliating failure for him to back down at this late stage, having rekindled the fires of Kurdish nationalism so successfully.

“Barzani and his advisers do not take the threats from Iran and Turkey seriously, saying that they have heard them all before and nothing happened,” says the veteran Kurdish leader Omar Sheikhmous. He adds: “I hope they are right.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraqi-kurdish-independence-referendum-preview-isis-krg-vote-a7955936.html

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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Hvorfor eldre kvinner får seg en ung kone

Vi er i landsbyen Nyamerambaro nordvest i Tanzania. Rehema er akkurat ferdig med klesvasken. Skjørt og kjoler ligger utover tørt gress. To geiter og et par høner rusler innimellom klesvasken for å finne noe å spise.Noen få skritt fra et lite steinhus er det et ulmende ildsted. Der skal Rehema lage middag.– Jeg gjør det enhver hustru gjør, sier 24-åringen, mens hun prøver å amme sin skrikende datter.– Jeg står opp om morgenen, lager mat, arbeider på jordene og passer på barna.

Source: Hvorfor eldre kvinner får seg en ung kone

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Africa

 

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A last look at icon of Cambodia’s ‘Golden Age’ before it is bulldozed to make way for condo tower

Once filled with music, cooking smells, chatter, laughter and children playing, the hallways of Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building are now being torn apart by bulldozers. One of the last examples of the modernist style epitomised by the bold New Khmer Architecture school in the 1960s, the White Building is making way for an upscale, 21-storey condominium block that will tower over homes and shops in the heart of the Cambodian capital.Many of the former residents, such as 62-year-old Chhey Sophoan, did not want to leave the crumbling structure. The retired teacher was among the first wave of people who moved back into the building after the Khmer Rouge – which decimated the country during its nearly four-year reign – fell to Vietnamese-led forces, in 1979. And he was one of the last residents to leave, bunking down in his nephew’s poky flat even after his wife had moved to their modern, newly built home on the outskirts of the city.

Source: A last look at icon of Cambodia’s ‘Golden Age’ before it is bulldozed to make way for condo tower | Post Magazine | South China Morning Post

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Asia

 

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Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China?

The C.U.P.’s decision to stand up to censorship made me feel pumped for a second, but then worried me. Without any leverage on the authoritarian state, foreign publications can only score moral victories by defying requests for partial self-censorship, while risking total censorship from the authorities.In the past four years, whenever I went home to Beijing, I was blessed with a V.P.N. from an Ivy League university, which not only gave me access to the indispensable Facebook and Gmail but also provided me with many key online library resources that made some of my research work possible. However, I also know that my friends at Chinese universities do not usually enjoy abundant academic resources in English because most of their coursework does not involve looking up foreign publications. Therefore, in China, foreign publications have a niche readership—the students and scholars who engage with English materials in their fields and whose institutions are willing to foot the relatively expensive bill for articles in foreign academic publications.Practically speaking, censoring 315 China Quarterly articles on certain “sensitive topics” does far less damage than lying about them in schoolbooks and sanitizing history on Chinese media. After all, the purpose of making these 315 articles available in China is not to teach 1.3 billion people the truths that they deserve to know; these articles would be lucky to have as many as 130 readers in China. And even the Chinese academics who do read the China Quarterly are not very likely to base their research on any of the English articles that cover “sensitive topics.” Just imagine a Chinese scholar applying for Chinese state funding from a Chinese university to buy access to academic papers that present the latest findings by unfriendly foreigners that hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

Source: Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China? | ChinaFile

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in Asia

 

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There is no place in academia for craven submission to Chinese censorship demands

Imagine if the British government could eradicate the miners’ strike from history. Not just by deleting all news coverage but by preventing the academic study of it. Imagine if, at university courses on the history of modern conservatism, all mention of it was banned. Imagine if, on top of that, a major global academic publisher voluntarily deleted all discussion of the miners’ strike from a prestigious journal.You now have a sense of the scale of what Cambridge University Press had done by deleting more than 300 articles from China Quarterly, following a request from the Chinese government. The decision, which has been reversed and the articles reinstated in the face of a threatened academic boycott, could lead to China blocking this and other related content. To which conflict I say: bring it on.Coming after the decision by Apple to stop selling, and Amazon’s Chinese partner to forbid hosting of virtual private networks – the tool needed to evade internet censorship in China – the move is part of a widespread and craven acquiescence by western corporations and governments with Xi Jinping’s project.

Source: There is no place in academia for craven submission to Chinese censorship demands | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in Asia

 

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Syrian civilians brace for humanitarian disaster in a final confrontation between Isis and Assad

SIX YEARS AFTER REVOLT first broke out in cities and villages across Syria, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has rolled back the fractious opposition to its rule and regained control of almost every major population center in the country — except one, the northwestern province of Idlib.

Once famous for its olive groves and archaeological ruins, Idlib is now the last redoubt of Islamist opposition to Assad. The capital, Idlib City, has been under Islamist control since 2015, and today the two million people living in the province — many of them refugees from other parts of the country – could be caught up in a disastrous final confrontation between jihadists and the Assad regime.

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/22/syrian-civilians-brace-for-humanitarian-disaster-of-a-final-confrontation-between-assad-and-jihadists/

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeat in Iraq and Syria, where the vast majority of terror victims are

Isis is the most likely inspiration for the bomb explosion on the tube train at Parsons Green station. The attempted mass killing is similar to the attacks in Barcelona, Manchester and London earlier this year in that it aimed to murder the maximum number of civilians in the most public way possible.

Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeats on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria. It aims to show strength, instil fear and dominate the news agenda at a time when it has lost the savage nine-month-long struggle for Mosul in Iraq and is being defeated in the battle for its last big urban centres in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa in Syria. The caliphate that Isis declared after its capture of Mosul in 2014, once the size of Great Britain, is today reduced to a few embattled enclaves in the deserts of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/isis-parsons-green-bomb-iraq-syria-a7949336.html

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

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If Nikki Haley doesn’t drop her nonsensical pro-Israeli propaganda line at the UN, she could cause real problems for Lebanon

Under a broiling hot midday sun on the south Lebanese-Israeli border this summer, an extraordinary and very angry meeting took place between two major generals: the 60-year-old Irish UN force commander in Lebanon and the 54-year-old deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army. Listening to them was the ambitious, pro-Israeli – but very inexperienced – US ambassador to the United Nations. The row between the two men appears to have been pre-planned by the Israelis to impress the highly impressionable Nikki Haley. It worked.

Haley had been helicoptered up to the border from Jerusalem on 8 June by Israeli General Aviv Kochavi for a tour regularly laid on for visiting – and gullible – US officials: a walk to the Lebanese frontier wire with many a fearful warning from the Israelis about Hezbollah “terrorists”, “secret” Hezbollah missile bunkers in UN-controlled territory and the failure of UN troops to “disarm” the “terrorists” in Lebanon. This is a familiar horror story, trotted out for American and other Western diplomats and politicians over more than 30 years.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nikki-haley-donald-trump-united-nations-un-lebanon-hezbollah-islamist-fighters-war-a7946226.html

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Middle East, North America

 

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Tensions erupt between former allies as Mikheil Saakashvili challenges Petro Poroshenko for Ukrainian presidency

The Russians were carrying out massive war games across the border. International statesman had gathered for a conference in Kiev in which Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned of a possible attack by Moscow. And, at the same time, in the background, another somewhat extraordinary invasion of the country was under way.

Mikheil Saakashvili, a fugitive from corruption charges in his native Georgia, of which he was once President, is holed up in western Ukraine after forcing his way in from Poland, and threatening a march on Kiev.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/ukraine-presidency-petro-poroshenko-mikheil-saakashvili-georgia-a7951936.html

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Europe

 

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The juju curse that binds trafficked Nigerian women into sex slavery

Every night as dusk falls in Piazza Gastone in the Noce district of Palermo, a tall, imposing Ghanaian woman dressed in traditional west African robes stands before a small congregation sweating in rows of plastic chairs before her.The Pentecostal Church of Odasani has been converted from an old garage in a backstreet into a place of worship, albeit one unrecognised by any formal faith group. But what many of the congregation – largely young Nigerian women – have come for tonight is more than prayer; it is freedom.“Nigerian women come to me for help, they have bad spirits that have been put inside their bodies by people who want to make money from them,” says the self-proclaimed prophetess, as she prepares to start her service.

Source: The juju curse that binds trafficked Nigerian women into sex slavery | Global development | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2017 in Africa, European Union

 

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