Journalism without borders: why we are deepening our Europe coverage | World news | The Guardian

In the depth of the financial and economic crisis that was causing misery across much of southern Europe, particularly in 2011, I set off on a reporting trip that contained the germ of what, nearly a decade later, would find expression in This is Europe.

A significant new commitment to deepen the Guardian’s coverage of Europe, This is Europe is a new editorial strand aiming to explore the challenges confronting the continent, that respect no national borders, and how countries are responding to them.

Europe on the Breadline, a four-country road trip in search of some of the human stories behind the impersonal data of the eurozone crisis, took me from food banks and protest marches in Lisbon to the birth of a national citizens’ movement in Málaga.




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In Naples I met a youth worker whose projects with children in difficulty had been hammered by austerity; in Thessaloniki, a professor whose research budget had been slashed by 60% – and a young start-upper determined to succeed regardless.

That series, which led to a second one, this time confined to Greece, talking to those Greeks who were organising to help themselves, was an early attempt at the kind of transnational reporting implied in my current job title – and which This is Europe now aims to take a good deal further.

The whole idea of transnational reporting (journalisme sans frontières, anyone?) recognises that media organisations tend to report the EU from the institutions in Brussels, and from member states in isolation.

Only occasionally have we tried to make sense of issues across Europe – from the climate crisis to data security, migration to the rise of the far right, the working poor to caring for an ageing population, tax avoidance to the urban/rural divide.

It is an issue I have always been aware of, and tried to address before the paper created the role of roving Europe correspondent in 2016.

In 2013, I went back to Thessaloniki and Málaga – with a stop-off in Bologna – to talk to members of southern Europe’s “lost generation”: the 59%, 56% and 40% of under-25s who were then out of work in, respectively, Greece, Spain and in Italy.

In 2014 I made a tour of the populist, Eurosceptic and mainly far-right parties in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland that were looking to make major gains in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections of that year.

In 2015, we tried a different approach: for an article published on international labour day, 1 May, about workers taking over their factories, I reported from southern France and Greece, and Guardian colleagues contributed pieces from Spain and Turkey.

In similar efforts, for packages in 2018 and this year on the far-reaching impact of the rise of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb, and overtourism in general, on Europe’s most historic cities, I wrote about Amsterdam and colleagues covered Berlin, Barcelona, Florence and Prague.




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But all of this has really only been a taster of what we could accomplish, and, over the past three years, my time – and that of many of our correspondents – has been massively taken up by Brexit, leaving precious little bandwidth to think of much else. This is Europe aims to rectify that.

Why is it transnational reporting important? Because it is only when you start comparing and contrasting how different countries are experiencing the same challenges, and how they are addressing them, that you start to see who is doing well, who has developed best practice.

It allows you, for example, to discover that perhaps surprisingly, Finland leads the way in tackling both fake news and homelessness. That France has a hugely successful consumers’ cooperative that is beginning to ensure farmers get paid a fair price for the food they produce.

And that while it may represent a potentially existential challenge to winemakers in Bordeaux, global heating represents a startling opportunity for their colleagues – and, in the not too distant future, rivals – in Scandinavia.

This is Europe: a new Guardian series

This is Europe is a new stream of Guardian journalism that investigates the big challenges that transcend national boundaries, and seeks out the solutions that could benefit us all. These are testing times, and crises are not limited by national borders. But then neither are we.

Was this helpful?

Migration, climate, populism and contagious diseases are continent-wide problems. When we report on them through a pan-European lens, we not only understand the challenges better but can tease out solutions wherever they crop up: health in Denmark, for example, or teenage wellbeing in the Netherlands.

We’ve been talking about something similar to This is Europe for years at the Guardian, and now we’re doing it.

It’s a shame Brexit had to happen first, of course. But if we can now report Europe as Europe – as a continent rising (we hope) individually and collectively to the cross-border challenges it faces – more concretely and more informatively, that will be a small consolation.

Be part of the conversation. Sign up to the This is Europe email list to get a weekly selection of the most pressing stories and debates for Europeans – from identity to economics to the environment.

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When and where you can see a historic steam train travel through Cambs – Cambridgeshire Live

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A historic steam train will be travelling through a part of Cambridgeshire this year, giving train buffs a chance to see the iconic locomotive.

Ely station will be treated to a rare sighting of one of only two surviving B1 class locomotives.

The train will be passing through the station on April 11, 2020, on its journey from London to Lincoln – where passengers will enjoy a day out in the cathedral city.

The 63106 Mayflower will also be passing through several other nearby stations including Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds (as well as others listed below).

Steam train enthusiasts can buy tickets to ride it to Lincoln, or simply visit the stations it passes through to catch a glimpse of the magnificent machine.

Find out more about timings and the train’s exciting history below.

About the engine

Abigail Rabbett

As reported by our sister title EssexLive, the 63106 Mayflower is one of only two surviving B1 Class locomotives, designed to haul either express passenger trains or freight traffic.

She was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow and first deployed in Hull, before being transferred to Bradford.

Mayflower was the last B1 in service, with her final trip spent hauling the ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ from Leeds in September 1967.

The train was restored in the 1970s, acquired by Steam Dreams owner David Buck in 2014 ad returned to mainline service in 2015, before being withdrawn for an extensive overhaul.

Where can you see it?

Here are the times the train will be passing in and out of Ely and nearby stations on its journey:

For more information and tickets for the journey, visit the Steam Dreams website.

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Twitter Flooded With Hilarious Memes After Nirmala Sitharaman Presented Union Budget 2020

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Today was an important day of the year as the Union Budget 2020 was presented by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. The major highlight of the budget is the new income tax slabs but the government has given an option to the citizens, they can either choose to continue with the old tax rates with exemption or can opt for the new tax rates in which the exemptions are not provided.

As per the Finance Minister, Union Budget 2020 is focused on three points – improving the standards of living, economic development for each section and a caring society. The Finance Minister has also called the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a historic reform in the Indian tax regime. Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized on the need of making compliances easy to fulfill for the startups too.

Every person tries to find out what this budget has for him and after the 2.5 hours long speech of the Finance Minister, the micro-blogging site Twitter is flooded with reactions. While some expressed their happiness or annoyance, there were some who felt that the speech was unnecessarily long and compared it with Sajid Khan’s movie. Here are some of the selected reactions:

#1

Middle class people trying to understand #Budget2020 . pic.twitter.com/LVp4vOrfVf

— Hunटरर ♂ 🥳 (@nickhunterr) February 1, 2020

#2

Nirmala Sitharaman talking about government’s achievements #BudgetSession2020 pic.twitter.com/wOsKn4GPR6

— Sir Yuzvendra (parody) (@SirYuzvendra) February 1, 2020

#3

#BudgetSession2020 #Budget2020
*Rahul Gandhi trying to understand the Budget* pic.twitter.com/uIrkC4294Z

— Ashutosh Singh (@ashusarcastic) February 1, 2020

#4

1. Indians before budget speech.
2. Indians after budget speech.#Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/4G9WD2BIaQ

— Nirmala Tai Halwe wali (@Vishj05) February 1, 2020

#5

Income Tax slabs over the years#Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020 #NirmalaSitaraman pic.twitter.com/RIDt3ykkVQ

— Siddharth Patni (@aageSeLeftLelo) February 1, 2020

#6

Salaried taxpayers waiting for tax cuts be like:#BUDGET2020 pic.twitter.com/0vbG4XGMuC

— VJ (@CA_Hemwani) February 1, 2020

#7

A friend just said “budget chaahe jaisa marzi aa jaye, hum month end tak gareeb ho hi jaayenge”, and it hit me hard. #BudgetSession2020

— Pakchikpak Raja Babu (@HaramiParindey) February 1, 2020

#8

People : Is bar ka #Budget2020 Middle class wala hoga !!

Nirmala : pic.twitter.com/IUiK97hcTg

— Sourabh 🇮🇳 (@SourabhJainIET) February 1, 2020

#9

The #Budget2020 was a Sajid Khan movie 😁#BudgetSession2020

— HOLLA! (@AshokaHolla) February 1, 2020

#10

#BudgetOnZee #Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020

When tax Rates and you realise
Gets Reduced no deduction will
Be allowed as well pic.twitter.com/4XjvY05Au6

— CUagain (@RECinaction) February 1, 2020

#11

Everybody right now. #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/U0GVYbe24Z

— अंकित जैन (@indiantweeter) February 1, 2020

#12

Common Man trying to understand #Budget2020 listening to #NirmalaSitharaman’s speech. pic.twitter.com/oXLCjKHp1c

— Godman Chikna (@Madan_Chikna) February 1, 2020

#13

Middle class people checking the budget benefits #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/oJVhN90lIF

— Aishthetic ?? (@Badassgirlll) February 1, 2020

#14

New income tax regime #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/l2QmPyfjWH

— Megha Mandavia (@MeghaMandaviaET) February 1, 2020

#15

New Tax slab … #Budget2020 https://t.co/CGwLmE0coJ pic.twitter.com/uUJE77gbeS

— Mr. Dua (@koolmunddaa) February 1, 2020

The share market doesn’t seem to be happy with the budget as it closed almost 900 points down today. The experts feel that the government has not talked clearly on the matter of dealing with economic slowdown.

What is your opinion on the Union Budget 2020? Let us know your views.

The post Twitter Flooded With Hilarious Memes After Nirmala Sitharaman Presented Union Budget 2020 appeared first on RVCJ Media.

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UK officially leaves EU after 47 years of European membership – World – TASS

LONDON, February 1. /TASS/. After 47 years of European membership, the United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union at 23:00 GMT (2:00 Moscow time on Saturday).

The withdrawal, known as Brexit, was initiated after Britons voted to quit the European Union during the 2016 referendum. The margin was 1.3 million votes (52% versus 48%).

Thousands of Brexit supporters celebrated the withdrawal by gathering in downtown London. Brexiteers have gathered in Parliament Square to celebrate the historic moment, chanting and waving flags. Governmental buildings were illuminated with national flag colors – blue, red and white.

An hour before this turning point in the UK’s political history, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, an ardent Brexit supporter, delivered his address to the nation.

Flag removed

Earlier in the day, the flag of the United Kingdom has been removed from the building of the EU Council. The video of the flag being removed was released via the Council’s official Twitter shortly before midnight.

“The UK flag is removed from the EU Council building in Brussels as the country leaves the EU at midnight,” the EU Council said in a Twitter post.

Premier’s speech

After quitting the European Union, the United Kingdom will finally “rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised address to the nation shortly before Brexit.

“For all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country. And that is a judgment that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls,” Johnson said.

“I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad,” he continued. “And in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change, in our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades.”

According to the premier, in order to achieve those ambitious tasks, the country needs to overcome the differences, generated by the Brexit issue.

“Tonight we are leaving the European Union. For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come. And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss. And then of course there is a third group – perhaps the biggest – who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end,” he said.

The premier went on to say that finding a common ground for all political and social groups was his cabinet’s task.

“I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together now and take us forward,” he said. “And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning. This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama.”

Johnson expressed hope that constructive dialogue with the European Union would continue.

“We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation between the EU and an energetic Britain,” he said.

After January 31, the UK and the EU enter a transition period meant to maintain the existing state of affairs, particularly on trade and tariffs, while the two sides are negotiating a deal on future trading relations. The transition period is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020. London is also obliged to continue paying membership fees to the EU budget until the end of 2020.

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Hull business woman Georgia Allenby has big, personal plans for old Ceruttis restaurant – Hull Live

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Property firm design manager Georgia Allenby’s next project is creating a new home for herself at one of Hull’s best-known former restaurants.

Famous for its fish dishes, Ceruttis closed its doors last April after 45 years.

Its closure came after brother and sister Tony and Tina Cerutti announced plans to concentrate on their other restaurant in Beverley while expanding an existing external catering business.

The property in Nelson Street was previously used by British Rail in conjunction with the operation of the nearby Humber ferry.

Now Ms Allenby is planning to turn the clock back even further by converting the building into a three-bedroom residential dwelling after buying it. It was originally built in 1813 as a family home.

Allenby

She has submitted a planning application to Hull City Council seeking permission to change its use from commercial to residential.

In a design and access statement accompanying the application, she said: “The property was originally built for residential use in 1813.

“The reason for me purchasing the property is to convert it back into a three-bedroom house, which I will occupy myself.

“The property is rich in heritage and any original or historic features, which still exist in the interior and exterior, will be kept and preserved.”

Watch: When do you need planning permission?

Play now

Ms Allenby is the design and marketing manager at Hull-based family firm Allenby Commercial, which has acquired and refurbished a series of high profile properties in the city centre in recent years.

They include Paragon Arcade, Danish Buildings and Bayles House in High Street, the former Europa House office block at the junction of Ferensway and Anlaby Road and the multi-use Works business and leisure complex in Beverley Road.

Ms Allenby is also a director of the Hideout Hotel in North Church Side, another of the company’s recent city centre conversion schemes.

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Catholic Church puts seal on abolition of Osu caste in Igboland

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Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese,Most Rev Jonas-Benso Okoye, with priests, some members of Ora-Eri town union executive and the Royal Ezenri cabinet members after the thanksgiving Mass

By Vincent Ujumadu

THE Catholic Church in Anambra State has put a final seal on the abolition of the Osu Caste system in Igbo land with a thanksgiving service celebrated at the ancient town of Ora-Eri in Aguata local government area of Anambra State.

EKWEREMADU: We can’t achieve Biafra attacking Igbo leaders – MASSOB

Recall that the traditional ceremony abolishing the over 500 years old obnoxious system was performed by the Okpala Eri XIII, Anthony Okafor,     on 14th  September last year during which those hitherto referred to as Osu and the freeborn embraced each other and decided to put the past behind.

At that ceremony, the traditional ruler of Ora-Eri, His Royal Highness, Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu warned that henceforth, anybody who referred to another person as Osu would be seriously dealt with. To drive home the importance of last year’s ceremony, the Ora-Eri community last week invited the church to make Christian pronouncement banning the system in the entire Igbo land.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Jonas- Benson Okoye was at the head of the celebration, with five other priests in attendance. Bishop Okoye was particularly happy with Ora-Eri community for collaborating with the church in the abolition of Osu system in the town, explaining that the thanksgiving church service was to conclude the exercise that began last year.

Reverend Monsignor Jerome Madueke, who delivered the homily at the church service, traced the origin of Osu in Igbo land, recalling that some people, out of cheer wickedness, were dedicated to idols for no justifiable reason.

He said: “These (Osu) people lived upright life. They were respected because of the idols that owned them. Nowadays, people are busy destroying the physical structures (idols) which were symbols of worship of our forefathers, but still retaining them in their minds and spirit, fearing them and attributing all their woes to them.

“But since Jesus came that we may have life and have it in full, everybody is equal before God and all gifts come from God and to be used for the good of others, especially the less privileged.

“It is regrettable that we worship God and idols together because of our lack of faith. Our ancestors should be pardoned because they worshiped idols out of ignorance. Let us therefore appreciate that Jesus came and abolished distinction between free born and slaves.

“Unless we allow God to come into our minds, in behaviours and relationship with others, the issue of Osu may still linger. I want to observe that in addition to the formal abolition of Osu system, there is still great work to do and I pray that by the grace of God, we can achieve much more.”

. He thanked Ora -Eri people for living up to Christ’s injunctions by taking the bold step to abolish Osu in the community.

The traditional ruler of the town, HRH Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu commended the Bishop for celebrating the church service and the parish priest Rev Fr Nwakelu Andrew for his unalloyed support during the preparation of the abolition ceremony, as well as the indigenous priests and the entire people of the community for their support. He also affirmed that his cabinet was ready to confer any title on any deserving indigene of the town irrespective of his background.

Eze Nriagu warned that henceforth anybody in his domain who discriminated against others on the basis of Osu caste system would face the full weight of traditional hammer, describing the Osu system as retrogressive. According to him, the people of Ora-Eri were happy to put behind the system that reduced fellow human beings to second class citizens for centuries.

“With the ceremony we have performed in this community, those formerly described as Osu will start taking traditional titles and intermarry with others.

“Those who were hitherto referred to as Osu in this community have been bestowed with all rights and privileges enjoyed by the freeborn. They are good people and many of them are intelligent and beautiful and everybody stands to gain by putting behind this obnoxious system.”

The Royal Father thanked the Bishop for celebrating the church service and assured that his people would never go back to the dark era.

Chief Anthony Okafor, who presided over the abolition ceremony at the community square last year said he had been campaigning for the abolition for several years, expressing joy that his effort had finally paid off.

Okafor said: “When I took the title of Okpara in 1990, I took it upon myself that Osu Caste system must be abolished. It was not easy at the beginning.

“In the past four years, I chose to be sampling people’s opinion on the matter and it was during that period that I found out that many people in our community also wanted the system abolished, but did not know how to go about it.

“We later renewed the campaign and happy enough, the leadership of Ora -Eri Development Union and our traditional ruler were in support.”

In his speech, the President General of Ora-Eri Development Union, Mr. Okey Atueyi said the community had taken a bold decision and commended everybody in the area for their support in putting the discriminatory system behind. “You can see how happy the people are,” he said.

Anambra police confirm stealing of 5-year-old boy during church service

The Parish priest of Ora-Eri, Rev Fr Andrew Nwakelu expressed appreciation to the people of Ora-Eri for participating in the historic church celebration and enjoined them to remain with the new spirit.

The post Catholic Church puts seal on abolition of Osu caste in Igboland appeared first on Vanguard News.

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What about our feelings? Kin of murder victims lashes out at death penalty repeal

Tan Siew Lin, mother of Annie Kok Yin Cheng, holds back tears as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Siew Lin, mother of Annie Kok Yin Cheng, holds back tears as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 14 — Several family members of murder victims have accused Putrajaya today of purportedly being insensitive towards their feelings with its move to abolish the capital punishment.

They claimed that justice will not be served as long as killers are allowed to walk free, while others may use loopholes in the system to avoid the gallows.

“We used to celebrate her birthday together on the sixth on June every year. Now she’s dead but the government is considering abolishing the death penalty.

“How is this fair? If he is let loose I will find him or ask someone to find him and shoot him dead,” said Tan Siew Lin, referring to her late teen daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng, who was murdered and raped in 2009.

“For us there is no closure as long as we know these criminals are out free or that there is a chance for them to escape the death penalty,” she added.

Tan said she tried handing over a memorandum with 97,000 signatures from those opposing the abolition of the death penalty to lawmakers last year. She claimed she was refused entry into the Parliament.

A guest must be accompanied by an MP to enter the Parliament.

“The government doesn’t understand our pain. If it abolishes it, we will make noise,” added Tan, whose daughter’s killer, Rabidin Satir, is currently awaiting trial on several charges of rape and theft.

Representatives and family members of murder victims who refuse to accept the abolishment of the death penalty pose for a group photo in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Representatives and family members of murder victims who refuse to accept the abolishment of the death penalty pose for a group photo in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Today, family members and representatives of the alleged murder victims — Datuk Kevin Morias, Datuk Sosilawati Lawita, Stephen Wong Jing Kui, Chee Gaik Yap, Annie, Muhammad Hafiz Indris, and Nurulhanim Idris — attended a meeting with a Parliamentary Select Committee here to plead against the repeal of the death penalty.

The family members said they all felt the committee has already made up their mind to abolish the death penalty, and the meeting was just a formality.

“They asked us, if the death penalty is imposed and the perpetrator is killed, will that bring your loved ones’ back to life and will it really make us happy?

“I feel this is a silly question,” said Mansur Ibrahim, representing the family of toddlers Hafiz and Nurulhanim.

Mansur said countries who have removed the death penalty are now bringing it back as there has been an uptick in crime, but did not provide any examples to back his claim.

Out of 195 members of United Nations, only 55 countries still retain the death penalty.

“Seems as though they’ve already set their minds to abolish the Act. We just met them as a formality,” said Alan Ong Yeow Fooi, representing Morais and Sosilawati.

Another lawyer, Tan Sri Robert Phang, claimed that Malaysia could be a haven for criminal activity if capital punishment is abolished. He also did not provide any proof to back his claim.

“If the public demands it, then a referendum should be made to not abolish the death penalty,” Phang said.

Tan Siew Lin (left) holds up news clippings of her daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Siew Lin (left) holds up news clippings of her daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

At the meeting today, the select committee was represented by Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Zahrah Ibrahim, Datin Paduka Sri Zauyah Be, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Dr Farah Nini Dusuki.

The Pakatan Harapan government made a historic decision on December 2018 by voting in favour of a United Nations resolution for member states that still retains the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing this punishment.

Two months after being voted into power in May 2018, the government ordered in July that year a suspension of all pending death sentences. However, it has since demurred on total abolition of the capital punishment.

The Cabinet has been mulling three options: total abolition of the death penalty; or making the death penalty non-mandatory for crimes such as murder; or giving judges full discretion during sentencing for those convicted under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The abolition is expected to be tabled in the Parliament in March.

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‘Death to America’: We will take hard and definitive revenge ― Iranians chant

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Iran is considering 13 scenarios to avenge the killing of a top Iranian military commander in Iraq by a U.S. drone attack, a senior Tehran official said on Tuesday as the general’s body was brought to his hometown for burial.

In Washington, the U.S. defense secretary denied reports the U.S. military was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, where Tehran has vied with Washington for influence over nearly two decades of war and unrest.

The killing of General Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for building up Tehran’s network of proxy forces across the Middle East, has prompted mass mourning in Iran.

U.S. and Iranian warnings of new strikes and retaliation have also stoked concerns about a broader Middle East conflict and led to calls in the U.S. Congress for legislation to stop U.S. President Donald Trump going to war with Iran.

“We will take revenge, hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told tens of thousands of mourners in Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman.

Many chanted “Death to America” and waved the Iranian flag.

READ ALSO: Iran threatens to ‘unleash Hezbollah’ in Israel and Dubai

Soleimani’s body has been taken through Iraqi and Iranian cities since Friday’s strike, with huge crowds of mourners filling the streets.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and military commanders have said Iranian retaliation for the U.S. action on Friday would match the scale of Soleimani’s killing but that it would be at a time and place of Tehran’s choosing.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said 13 “revenge scenarios” were being considered, Fars news agency reported. Even the weakest option would prove “a historic nightmare for the Americans,” he said.

Iran, whose southern coast stretches along a Gulf oil shipping route that includes the narrow Stait of Hormuz, has allied forces across the Middle East through which it could act. Representatives from those forces, including the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, attended the funeral.

Despite its strident rhetoric, analysts say Iran will want to avoid any conventional conflict with the United States but assymetric strikes, such as sabotage or other more limited military actions, are more likely.

Trump has promised strikes on 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, if Iran retaliates, although U.S. officials sought to downplay his reference to cultural targets.

Reuters and other media reported on Monday that the U.S. military had sent a letter to Iraqi officials informing them that U.S. troops would be repositioned in preparation to leave.

“In order to conduct this test, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner,” it said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said there had been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.

“I don’t know what that letter is,” he said.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the letter was a “poorly worded” draft document meant only to underscore increased movement by U.S. forces.

The letter, addressed to the Iraqi Defence Ministry’s Combined Joint Operations and confirmed as authentic by an Iraqi military source, had caused confusion about the future of the roughly 5,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, where there has been a U.S. military presence since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 invasion.

On Sunday, Iraq’s parliament, dominated by lawmakers representing Muslim Shi’ite groups, passed a resolution calling for all foreign troops to leave the country.

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi told the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad on Monday that both sides needed to work together to implement the parliamentary resolution.

Friction between Iran and the United States has risen since Washington withdrew in 2018 from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other world powers.

The United States has imposed economic sanctions on Iran and Tehran said on Sunday it was dropping all limitations on uranium enrichment, its latest step back from commitments under the deal.

The U.S. administration has denied a visa to allow Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a U.S. official said.

“The United States will get the decisive, definite answer for its arrogance at the time and place when it will feel the most pain,” Zarif said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Trump’s U.S. political rivals have challenged his decision to order the killing of Soleimani and its timing in a U.S. election year. His administration said Soleimani was planning new attacks on U.S. interests but has offered no evidence.

U.S. general Milley said the threat from Soleimani was imminent. “We would have been culpably negligent to the American people had we not made the decision we made,” he said.

Trump administration officials will provide a classified briefing for U.S. senators on Wednesday on events in Iraq after some lawmakers accused the White House of risking a broad conflict without a strategy.

Reuters/NAN

The post ‘Death to America’: We will take hard and definitive revenge ― Iranians chant appeared first on Vanguard News.

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True leaders play down religion ― Osinbajo » Tribune Online

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has observed that true leaders play down religion to cater for the issues that concern the welfare of all citizens.

He said such was the attitude of first republic leaders who he observed touched the lives of everyone regardless of religious or ethnic background.

Osinbajo was speaking at the opening session of the General Assembly of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Abuja on Friday.

Osinbajo said “Decades ago in this same country, it would not have been a major topic. Leaders in the first republic did not consider religious intolerance as a major national issue, they were more concerned about the issues that touched everyone regardless of religion or ethnicity; they were concerned about providing food, shelter, education and decent livelihoods. But today, no true leader can ignore the threat that religious bigotry and intolerance poses for the development of our nation. That is just the way it is.

“But it is my respectful view that the burden of ensuring that faith promotes national development as opposed to impeding it is on leaders. This is the challenge I pose to you today.”

Drawing on the Biblical teachings of love and compassion by Jesus Christ, the Vice President challenged all leaders in the country to learn from the Good Samaritan who showed compassion to a stranger where even religious people failed. and Imam Abubakar who saved Christians from being slaughtered in Plateau State.

Osinbajo said: “All leaders and this is my challenge to you today, need to learn from the simple, but deeply profound actions of the Good Samaritan and Chief Imam Abubakar. Both of them showed great love and compassion. They were not concerned about the race or religion of those whose lives they saved or whose properties were destroyed. All that mattered was that they were flesh and blood like themselves. They were simply ready to make any sacrifice for another human being.

“We are at a historic juncture in the existence of our nation. Here and there are religious and tribal tensions. Many are beating the drums of ethnic and religious superiority. Some even seek to divide the nation into ethnic zones. “Yet our constitution speaks in the clearest and highest terms of our national commitment to the equality of all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religion or status. It speaks of the imperative of all individuals and governments to respect the rights and dignity of every Nigerian. “Our constitution speaks of freedom of worship, the liberty to belong to the faith of one’s choice and even change that faith without consequence.

“But constitutional declarations mean nothing unless there are men and women ready to make the personal sacrifices to bridge the gap between rhetoric and constitutional ideals. Such men and women are not usually very many. But they do not have to be many to make a difference.”

Osinbajo regretted that whereas a particular Muslim state governor was rebuilding churches burnt during the crisis in his states, some declined to approved certificates of occupancy in theirs.

“Yet there are States where Governors refuse to grant certificates of occupancy for the building of churches or places of religious gathering in outright violation of the constitution they swore to uphold,” he said.

He noted how tolerant President Muhammadu Buhari has been citing an example of the worship in Aso Rock villa.

According to Osinbajo, “Every Sunday, my family and over 100 Christians attend service in the Chapel at the Villa. The Chapel is located in the premises of the President and his family. It is located a few seconds away from the First Lady’s kitchen. Sometimes when I see the President on a Sunday morning, he asks me whether the service is over already or I am escaping from the service! That is the sort of tolerance that we need in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and it is the duty of leaders to show that sort of example.

“It is the courage of leaders to live up to the ideals of their faith and their sworn commitments that invariably build nations. Leaders must live up to the commitments to which they swear, especially political leaders.

“Nations are built by the sacrifices, the hard work of leaders who do not care even if they are condemned by persons of their own religion or ethnicity, so long as they are confident that they act in obedience to the oaths they swore and to the Almighty God. Such men and women are few, but the profundity of their actions invariably transform communities and nations as they bend the arc of history in the direction of unity, peace and progress.”

Osinbajo remarked that the challenge of nation-building was not the noise of the religious bigots and nihilists, but “it is the silence and inaction of leaders of different faiths who know better, those who say and do nothing, and to whom we appeal today. Your words and actions may make the difference between peace and tragedy.”

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Week in Review: Apple’s rebirth as a content company has a forgettable debut – TechCrunch

teddy bear

Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inboxes yet again.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. After dodging your inboxes for a couple weeks as I ventured off to China for a TechCrunch event in Shenzhen, I am rested up and ready to go.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.

The big story

When Apple announced details on their three new subscription products (Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+ — all of which are now live) back in March, the headlines that followed all described accurately how Apple’s business was increasingly shifting away from hardware towards services and how the future of the company may lie in these subscription businesses.

I largely accepted those headlines as fact, but one thing I have been thinking an awful lot about this week is how much I have loved Disney+ since signing up for an account and just how little I have thought about Apple TV+ despite signing up for both at their launches.

It’s admittedly not the fairest of comparisons, Disney has decades of classic content behind them while Apple is pushing out weekly updates to a few mostly meh TV shows. But no one was begging Apple to get into television. The company’s desires to diversify and own subscriptions that consumers have on their Apple devices certainly make sense for them, but their strategy of making that play without the help of any beloved series before them seems to have been a big miscalculation.

At TechCrunch, we write an awful lot about acquisitions worth hundreds of million, if not billions, of dollars. Some of the acquisitions that have intrigued me the most have been in the content space. Streaming networks are plunking down historic sums on series like Seinfeld, Friends and The Big Bang Theory. The buyers have differed throughout these deals, but they have never been Apple.

That’s because Apple isn’t bidding on history, they’re trying to nab directors and actors creating the series that will be the next hits. And while that sounds very Apple, it also sounds like a product that’s an awfully big gamble to the average consumer looking to try out a new streaming service. Why pick the service that’s starting from a standstill? Apple has ordered plenty of series and I have few doubts that at least one of the shows they plan to introduce is going to be a hit, but there isn’t much in the way of an early favorite yet and for subscribers that haven’t found “the one” yet, there’s very little reason to stick around.

Other networks with a half-dozen major series can afford a few flops because there’s a library of classics that’s filling up the dead space. Apple’s strategy is bold but is going to lead to awfully high churn among consumers that won’t be as forgiving of bad bets. This is an issue that’s sure to become less pronounced over time, but I would bet there will be quite a few consumers unsubscribing in the mean time leaving those on freebie subscriptions responsible for gauging which new shows are top notch.

Apple has also made the weird move of not housing their content inside an app so much as the Apple TV’s alternative UI inside the TV app. One one hand, this makes the lack of content less visible, but it also pushes all of the original series to the back of your mind. If you’re a Netflix user who has been subconsciously trained never to use the TV app on your Apple TV because none of their content is housed there, you’re really left forgetting about TV+ shows entirely when using the traditional app layout.

We haven’t received any super early numbers on Apple News+, Apple Arcade or Apple TV+, but none of the three appears to have made the sizable cultural splashes in their debuts that were hoped for at launch. Apple’s biggest bet of the three was undoubtedly TV+ and while their first series haven’t seemed to drop any jaws, what’s more concerning is whether the fundamentals of the service have been arranged so that unsatisfied subscribers feel any need to stick around.

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on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
lucas@techcrunch.com

On to the rest of the week’s news.

Image via AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

Disrupt Berlin

It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of the year again, but we just announced the agenda for Disrupt Berlin and we’ve got some all-stars making their way to the stage. I’ll be there this year, get some tickets and come say hey!

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