Too rude for Paris? ‘Copulating’ sculpture causes stir in French capital

Dutch artist says it is not sexual, but Louvre decided giant statue of human appearing to copulate with an animal was too rude to be displayed

From a vandalised butt-plug to a desecrated” queen’s vagina“, Paris has often been at the centre of rows over whether some public art is supposedly too rude to go on show.

But the most recent spat over a giant metal statue of a box-like figure appearing to copulate with a geometric being on all fours proving that the label” too rude” can, for some Paris museums, be seen as a badge of pride.

Domestikator, a 12 -metre-high, 30 -tonne rust-red run by the Dutch sculptor Joep van Lieshout, has just been installed in Paris’s prime place for modern statue: the esplanade of the Pompidou Centre modern art museum. But it was only given refuge there after being rejected by the more genteel Louvre museum as too sex in the city’s latest sculpture spat.

The work was initially to be shown in the Tuileries Garden, adjacent to the Louvre- France’s most visited museum- as part of the annual international contemporary art carnival in the French capital.

But at the last minute the Louvre’s president, Jean-Luc Martinez, backed out of hosting it, fearing controversy.

In a letter to FIAC’s organisers, Martinez said that internet posts and social media about the statue had created” an erroneous perception of this work that might be too rude for the traditional crowd in the Tuileries Garden “.

The Louvre’s decision came after discussion online about whether van Lieshout’s work looked animal or human and whether it was too tacky and lewd to stand outside France‘s most prestigious museum. The Louvre only usually indicates modern runs if they are linked to or commissioned around its own historic collections.

The artist van Lieshout insisted his statue was in no way explicit, saying it was about highlighting” the questions raised by domestication in our world” and was not intended to elicit a sexual interpreting.

” I was astounded first of all, and then of course frustrated, because[ the Louvre Museum] couldn’t prove the art work ,” he told Reuters.” I don’t think it’s very sexually explicit. I mean, I don’t know what I can do to make it less sexually explicit .” He insisted that his work defined the domestication of animals by humen for agriculture and industry, highlighting the ethical issues surrounding that.

The Pompidou Centre said the work was in no way obscene, rather that it was funny. Bernard Blistene, the Pompidou director, argued:” Obscene, pornographic? Well, profanity is everywhere, porn, sadly, is everywhere- surely not in this work of art .”

The statue had been displayed for three years in Bochum, Germany with no dispute. But Paris is fertile ground not just for assuring racy connotations in modern statue, but also for vandalism against outdoor works deemed controversial.

Three years ago, the American artist Paul McCarthy put up his run Tree- described as resembling a giant inflatable “butt-plug”– near the French justice ministry and Ritz hotel in Paris’s Place Vendome, only to become the target of a conservative backlash. When McCarthy then had his face slapped in public and vandals cut the inflatable sculpture’s cables, the artist decided to give up on the installation. At the time Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said the incident was an unacceptable attack on artistic freedom.

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Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election

Investigation in RBC newspaper determines Russians posing as Americans made pays to activists to help with the organisation of protests and events

Russian trolls posing as Americans built pays to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest motions on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet.

On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to set further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.

The existence of the troll factory, which has a history of spamming Russian and English blogs and comment forums, has been reported on by many outlets including the Guardian, but the RBC investigation is the first in-detail look at the organisation’s activity during the election period.

RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.

Many of the accounts had already been linked to Russian disinformation efforts in western outlets, but RBC said its sources at the troll factory had provided screenshots of the internal group administration pages of some of the groups, as proof the latter are run away from Russia. It also spoke to former and current employees of the troll factory, all of whom spoke anonymously.

Perhaps the most alarming component of the article was the claim that employees of the troll factory had contacted about 100 real US-based activists to help with the organisation of protests and events. RBC claimed the activists were contacted by Facebook group administrators concealing their Russian origin and were offered financial help to pay for transport or print expenses. About $80,000 was expended during a two-year period, according to the report.

The main topics covered by the groups run from Russia were race relations, Texan independence and handgun rights. RBC counted 16 groups pertaining to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race a matter that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

Last month, CNN also reported that US authorities believed the Blacktivist Facebook group and Twitter account were the work of Russian impostors.

The infiltration of American social networks by Russian trolls and bots appears to be the conclusion of an operation that began by targeting the Russian-language internet space, grew to encompass specific comments pages of western newspapers and blogs, and eventually seems to have led to the creation of whole Facebook communities designed to look like they are run by ordinary Americans.

Two years ago, the Guardian spoke with two people who worked at the” troll farm “. They would clock on at the building on Savushkina St each morning, turn on a VPN connection to disguise their place, and expend their days inhabiting fake personas on Russian social networks.

These profiles would post dozens of innocuous contemplations on traveling or baking, and then occasionally fill them out with politicised entries that mirrored Kremlin talking phases. Generally, the posts were either in kudo of President Vladimir Putin or about the “chaos” and “degeneration” of Europe, often with homophobic or racist undertones.

The Internet Research Agency, one of the companies believed to run the trolling operations, has long been rumoured to be a project of Evgeny Prigozhin, a shadowy industrialist known as” Putin’s chef”, who ran Putin’s favourite eatery in St Petersburg and later won billions of dollars worth of state catering contracts. A number of semi-legitimate news aggregating websites appear to be run by the same people as the troll operations.

Google has said Russian spies expended tens of thousands of dollars on targeted ads on YouTube, Google and Gmail, according to reports. Last month, Facebook released a statement saying it had detected $100,000 of ad spending on about 3,000 ads that it linked to 470 “inauthentic” accounts that it had linked to Russia. The company later clarified that the ads focused on” divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum “.

The company estimated that about 10 million Americans watched the ads, but interestingly also specified that only 44% of the impressions took place before last November’s election, constructing the Russian campaign look more like an attempt to sow general chaos rather than a narrowly focused electoral drive.

” The chore wasn’t to supporting Trump ,” one of the factory’s employees told RBC.” We raised social issues and other problems that already existed in the US, and tried to shine as bright a light as possible on them .” The employee said that because Clinton was part of the current regime, she was also a target.

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Attack on Afghan police training centre leaves dozens dead

Taliban claim responsibility as suicide bombers and gunmen target compound in city of Gardez

The death toll in an ongoing suicide and gun attack on a police educate centre in a south-east Afghan city has risen to 32 with more than 200 wounded, a hospital official has said.

” The hospital is overwhelmed and we call on people to donate blood ,” said Shir Mohammad Karimi, deputy health director in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province.

A separate attack in a neighbouring province on Tuesday left 15 security forces dead and 12 wounded, as militants step up their offensives following a ratcheting up in US airstrikes in a war-weary country marking 16 years of conflict this month.

The victims of the ongoing Gardez attack, which was claimed by the Taliban in a tweet, include women, students and police, officers said.

” At first a suicide bomber exploded a vehicle filled with explosives near the training centre, inducing route for a number of attackers to start their assault ,” the ministry of internal affairs said in a statement.

A battle between the attackers, armed with handguns and suicide vests, and security forces is under way inside the centre, which is located near the Paktia police headquarters, it said. Fighting has been going on for more than four hours.

A local officer said two car bombs had gone off near the compound, which also houses the provincial headquarters of the national police, border police and Afghan national army.

” A group of gunmen have entered the compound and opposing is ongoing ,” said Allah Mir Bahram, a member of the Paktia provincial council.

Photos posted on Twitter appear to show two large plumes of smoke rising above the city, suggesting two bombs were explosion in the assault.

Paktia borders Pakistan’s militancy-plagued tribal areas where the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network has a presence.

The attack came hours after a US drone strike in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal district, part of which perimeters Paktia, killed at least 26 Haqqani activists, officials have said.

Local officers said dronings were still flying above Kurram after the two attacks, the deadliest targeting militants in the Pakistani tribal region this year.

In Kurram last week the Pakistani military rescued a US-Canadian household who had been abducted by activists in Afghanistan in 2012. The US president, Donald Trump, has said they were being held by the Haqqani network.

The extremist group has been blamed for carrying out spectacular attacks across Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 and is known for its frequent use of suicide bombers.

It was blamed for the truck bomb deep in the core of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in May that killed about 150 people.

The Haqqanis have also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped westerners for ransom.

These include the recently rescued captives Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their three children- all born in captivity- as well as the US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in 2014.

Militants also targeted security force in Ghazni on Tuesday, about 62 miles( 100 km) from Gardez, officers there said.

That attack followed the same pattern, with militant exploding an explosives-laden Humvee vehicle near a police headquarters and attackers storming the building, Haref Noori, the Ghazni governor’s spokesman, said.

Fifteen members of the security forces were killed and 12 wounded, the Ghazni police chief, Mohammad Zaman, said, adding that” dozens of Taliban” had also died.

The latest attacks come as four-way talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China were held on Monday in Oman with the aim of objective the Taliban’s 16 -year insurgency.

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Trump says he’ll declare the US opioid crisis a national emergency ‘next week’

Trump taunts major proclamation, likely next week, on the narcotic crisis two months after declaring opioid craving was a national emergency

Donald Trump on Monday taunted a long-awaited announcement on address the crisis of opioid addiction. He also suggested his selection to lead to lead the National Office of Drug Control Policy might be under review.

More than two months after Trump said at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club” the opioid crisis is an emergency “, the president said he would probably formally declare it a national emergency with an event next week.

Speaking in a Rose Garden press conference with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Trump said:” We’re going to have a major proclamation, probably next week, on the narcotic crisis and on the opioid massive problem .”

He added:” This country and, candidly, the world has a drug problem … and we’re going to something about it .”

Drug overdoses due to opioid utilize increased 21% in 2016; 64, 070 Americans died as a result of opioid use in the last year. On the campaign trail, Trump talked about combating opioid addiction. He has touted his border wall between the US and Mexico as one route of combating it.

Trump also weighed in the topic of the Pennsylvania congressman Tom Marino, his picking for a position informally known as” drug czar “.

Marino was the subject of a joint report by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes on Sunday about his role as the sponsor of a bill that critics say undermined federal enforcement efforts against the opioid outbreak. The bill made it far more difficult for the DEA to crack down on narcotic companies that built suspicious the transport of opioids.

Although he called Marino” a good guy” on Monday, he added:” I did consider research reports. We’re going to look into the report. We’re going to take it very seriously .”

The president left open the possibility of withdrawing Marino’s nomination. Trump said he planned to speak to Marino soon.

He said:” If I think it’s 1% negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change .”

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat in a state ravaged by opioid addiction, has called on Trump to withdraw Marino’s nomination.

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Mogadishu bombing: al-Shabaab behind deadly blast, officials say

Security personnels say they have incarcerated key member of cell behind assault that has killed at least 320 people

Security officials in Somalia say a key member of the cell that launched a devastating attack on Mogadishu has told them that al-Shabaab, a violent Islamist group in Somalia, was responsible for the blast.

The death toll from the bombing, which involved a truck packed with explosives, reached 320 late on Monday morning. Hundreds more were injured in one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years.

Al-Shabaab, which is an al-Qaida affiliate, vowed earlier this year to increase its assaults after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced fresh military attempts against the group.

There has been no official claim of responsibility for the blast but the man, who was were arrested by Somali security force as he tried to drive a second vehicle packed with explosives into the city on Saturday, has given details of the plot to interrogators.

” This is the Somali 9/11. The human we apprehended has confessed. He is proud of what he has done. He says it was for jihad ,” one official said.

Analysts said the Somali security services had been under “very great pressure” in recent months, and had been seriously weakened by internal factional fighting.

” We are on the way of those responsible and will bring them to justice ,” the official said.

A second security official said explosives had been hidden under rice, sugar and other goods on the truck, which passed though a government-controlled checkpoint at Sinka Dheer, about four miles( 7km) outside Mogadishu.

Suspicious officers stopped the vehicle and briefly incarcerated its driver. It is understood a local businessman and tribal leader vouched for the truck.

One focus of the ongoing investigation is whether the radicals had help from within the security forces, the official said.

The bombing provoked international disapproval. Illuminates on the Eiffel Tower would be to turn in memory of child victims, Paris town hall announced.

The US mission to Somalia said:” Such cowardly assaults reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism .”

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‘It was a massacre’: witness describes Mogadishu blast- video

The scale of the two attacks is still becoming clear, as more victims continue to be dug from the rubble spread over an area hundreds of metres wide in the centre of the city.

Witnesses described an area the size of” two or three football fields” where buildings had been razed.

Though details are still emerging, it is thought the truck bomb was aimed at one of government ministries in the area but was explosion prematurely by its driver when it was stopped by security officials while stuck in a traffic jam. The detonation then kindled a fuel tanker parked nearby.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, said 320 people died in the blast and appealed for overseas assistance.

” Families whose family members are missing are calling me every single minute ,” Abdirahman said.” At such a hour we need international organisations … they are good at[ dealing with] crises like this .”

Siren were heard throughout Monday morning as ambulances ferried injured people from hospitals to an airlift organised by the Turkish government, which has established a major diplomatic and humanitarian presence in Somalia in recent years.

Rescue employees said it was difficult to counting casualties because the intense heat generated by the blast entailed the remaining many people would not be found. Others may have been buried quickly by relatives following Islamic custom.

” One hundred and sixty of the bodies could not be recognised and so they were interred by the government[ on Sunday ],” Aden Nur, a doctor at the city’s Madina hospital, said.” The others were interred by their relatives. Over a hundred injured is likewise brought here .”

Ambulances
Ambulances carrying wounded victims as they head to the airport to be airlifted to Turkey. Photograph: Farah Abdi Warsameh/ AP

The president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, proclaimed three days of national mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded.

Mohamed, who took power in February , had vowed to rid the country of al-Shabaab. He has faced huge challenges, with the rebellion proving resilient to the ramped-up offensive aided by the US, and a famine.

Al-Shabaab, which has been affiliated to al-Qaida since 2011, has a history of launching suicide bombing attack against civilian targets.

” Al-Shabaab do not care about civilian demises ,” said Rasheed Abdi, an expert in Somalia with the International Crisis Group in Nairobi.” They see a population that is close to the government and think the more of them they can kill the better .”

Investigators will seek to establish the source of the military-grade explosives that are thought to have been used in the two attacks. One source indicated they had been stolen from Amisom, the much-criticised African Union peacekeeping mission, which has about 20,000 troops in the country.

Though largely confined to the countryside since withdrawing from Mogadishu six years ago, al-Shabaab has repeatedly taken over small towns, as well as inflicting significant losses on Amisom and Somali troops.

Abdi said al-Shabaab’s recent capture of Bariire, a town about 30 miles from Mogadishu, was important as its loss uncovered the southern flank of the city.

The US military has increased drone strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabaab, and a US special forces operative was killed in a skirmish with different groups earlier this year, the first American combat casualty in Africa since the Black Hawk episode in Mogadishu in 1993.

With reporting by Abdullahi Mire in Mogadishu

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Refugee MP Golriz Ghahraman on love, loathing and entering New Zealand politics

The new member of parliament is having her Twitter feed documented by the national repository as a testimony of the countrys 2017 election

When Golriz Ghahraman last week stepped into the Beehive, the executive heads wing of New Zealand’s parliament, along with her came her Twitter feed.

” My Twitter feed is going into the national archive, it will be interesting for others to see what happens when for the first time a Middle-Eastern woman, the status of refugees, ran that the european parliament is here ,” says Ghahraman.

” Both the subsistence and the attacks .”

Iranian-born Ghahraman’s Twitter page is a fascinating evidence to love and loathing in 2017.

There are the vile, racist assaults on her background and heritage. The suggestion that a terrorist has been elected to parliament, that she may enforce sharia law, smuggle a bomb into the debating chamber, or push back against New Zealand’s socially progressive culture.

Then, to balance it, there is the love. The outpouring of support from elated New Zealanders. The words of encouragement from admiring Australians, worn down by years of that country’s” Pacific answer”, cheers and congratulations from Brexit escapees and Trump survivors. All rallying around a woman who has proven the value and potential of every refugee life.

For Ghahraman the social media abuse was a reminder of what brought her into politics, and the Green party, in the first place- a life-long interest in protecting human rights, whether they be her own, or those of persecuted strangers on the other side of the world.

In 2012 Ghahraman changed back to New Zealand after working as a prosector for the United nations organization Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia.

” I could see something had changed in NZ and it wasn’t for the better ,” she remembers.” We were having our child poverty statistics criticized by the United Nations. We were doing things like prospecting for coal in our national reserves. Democratic organizations were eroding. Things like that kind of was beginning to catapult me into wanting to be much more politically active .”

Ghahraman arrived in New Zealand at the age of nine after their own families fled Iran. They sought asylum at the airport after arriving on a plane from Malaysia.

Golriz
Golriz Ghahraman aged nine, in school uniform in Iran. Photograph: Golriz Ghahraman

The country accepted the Ghahraman family and they settled in West Auckland. They lived off state benefits until they secured employment, and adapted to the socio-economically diverse and multicultural precinct of New Zealand’s largest city, where Golriz attended a high school whose student body was 70% Maori and Pacific Islanders.

It was in this South Pacific melting pot, says Ghahraman, that she acquired the confidence to study human rights law at Oxford University, and, afterward, to stand up in tribunal representative of UN in tribunals prosecuting some of the world’s worst war criminals, including perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

” My eternal gratefulness to New Zealand is that I got to grow up in a very diverse place. So the fact we didn’t have anything was actually OK. I remember that freedom and getting to grow up with lots of different types of people; and that was just part of being Kiwi .”

Golriz
Golriz Ghahraman’s fourth birthday party in Iran. Photo: Golriz Ghahraman

The final block of referendums in this year’s New Zealand election were counted 14 days after voting shut, devoting Ghahraman her seat in parliament after a nail-biting delay.

The Green leader, James Shaw, said he was ” thrilled” to welcome his newest MP to the house, taking the Greens’ total number of seats to eight.” In a day of increasingly divisive politics around the world, Golriz’s election to our parliament sends a strong message about the kind of country New Zealand is ,” he said.

Ghahraman was 20 when the Tampa crisis erupted; and the Australian government refused to accept hundreds of asylum seekers rescued by a Norwegian sea captain off the northern coast of the” luck country “.

New Zealand’s neighbour defiantly closed its borders, ushering in a draconian border protection policy that has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ghahraman watched as Prime Minister Helen Clark put up her hand to take 150 of the Tampa refugees. She read their example files while interning at Amnesty International and heard the cheers of welcome from locals who gathered at Auckland airport to greet the bedraggled survivors.

” At that time, New Zealand truly owned our solidarity with refugees and our absence of racism. I believe comparative to Australia that still exists, but it has been eroded ,” says Ghahraman, citing the Tampa crisis as a galvanising moment in her career.

” Since I was elected … I have realised Kiwis have really rejoiced and sort of owned that idea that it is possible to stand as a counterpoint to these other developing happening in the world. Thatpolitics of representation is becoming more and more important because of global political events. Whether it’s Brexit or Trump being elected .”

” For me to be able to enter the House of Representatives meant so many different things to so many different people .”

Golriz
Golriz Ghahraman’s parents, mother Maryam Ghafoori and father Behrooz Ghahraman on the right with friends in Orumia, Iran, mid to late 1970 s. Photograph: Golriz Ghahraman

The archiving of Ghahraman’s occasionally tumultuous journey to parliament entails New Zealanders will be able to look back on the first refugee elected to represent them. And representation is everything, says Ghahraman, because without a voice you become a stereotype, and when you’re a stereotype, its easier to dehumanise you.

” Post 9/11, I began to realise at least somewhere out there in the world I wasn’t welcome and I wasn’t trusted and I wasn’t equal ,” says Ghahraman.” It didn’t matter that I felt Kiwi; it is the way people look at you. When they start blaming a whole group of people based on their race, or religion or ethnicity or nationality for something like terror, or any social ill .”

” That is the basis of all the inhumanities I’ve worked on. That is how it starts .”

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Ex-South Korea president decries corruption trial as ‘political revenge’

Deposed chairwoman speaks out as defense team resign in protest at her therapy, and international lawyers appeal to UN

Park Geun-hye, the deposed South Korean president, has denounced her bribery and corruption trial as” political revenge” after her entire legal team resigned in protest against her treatment in detention.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her trial began six months ago, Park told a hearing at the Seoul central district court on Monday :” I was supposed to be released today, but the court issued another apprehend warrant … I can’t accept its decision .”

Late last week the court widened her detention until April next year, quoting a potential danger that she would attempt to destroy evidence. Her first six-month period of detention expires on Monday.

” My lawyers and I felt helpless ,” Park said, according to the Korea Times.” I have lost faith that the court will do a fair task under the constitution and conscience .”

In an outburst that appeared to be directed at her successor as South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, Park claimed her therapy was politically motivated.

” I hope I will be the last victim of political retaliation in the name of the rule of law ,” she said.

Park’s intervention comes after international lawyers acting for the former president approached the UN in an attempt to secure her conditional release from” inhuman and degrading” detention to undergo urgent medical treatment.

A legal team led by Rodney Dixon QC said they were “dismayed” by the court’s decision to extend Park’s detention by a further six months.

Park, who was arrested soon after her impeachment in March, faces a possible life sentence if found guilty of bribery- the most serious charge- in a case that has also ensnared the heir to the Samsung technology empire and dozens of senior political leaders and business figures.

The former dictator’s daughter, who was elected South Korea’s first female chairman in 2012, is accused of colluding with her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes from industries in return for political favours.

Lee Jae-yong, the acting chairman of Samsung, was sentenced to five years in prison in August after being is guilty of bribery, embezzlement and other crimes. He is appealing against the verdict, claiming that Park coerced him into helping Choi.

A pale-looking Park, who arrived at the court on Monday in handcuffs, insisted she was innocent.

” I never accepted or awarded requests for favors while in office ,” she said.” I believe it has been fully disclosed during the course of the trial that the corresponding distrusts are not true .”

Park said the last six months had been” a horrible and miserable time” during which she had” endured ache in my body and mind “.

She added:” I had trust in a person who later betrayed me. As a outcome, I have lost my honour and everything else in life .”

Her international legal team- which is separate from the defence lawyers who have been representing her in her corruption trial- has asked the UN working group on arbitrary detention to recommend that she be granted a conditional release, although the ultimate decision rests with the South Korean courts.

” The UN is looking at our application urgently and the South Korean authorities need to respond ,” Dixon told the Guardian.” We have asked the UN to address the matter as swiftly as is practicable because every day counts .”

Park, 65, suffers from chronic lower back ache, osteoarthritis in her knee and shoulder joints, and Addison’s disease, a rare ailment of the adrenal glands.

” Our point that we’ve been highlighting to the UN is that her condition has certainly been aggravated by being in detention and that if she doesn’t get proper medical attention it’ll only get worse ,” said Dixon, a human rights lawyer are stationed in London.

” If you could release her you could have very clear conditions in place – you could even put her under house arrest- and her health conditions could be treated .”

In a submission to the UN, the lawyers said Park’s ongoing detention, despite her deteriorating health,” constituted a violation of her fundamental human rights, including her right against arbitrary detention, her right against inhuman and degrading treatment, and her right to a fair trial “.

They added that it was a matter of” extreme concern” that South Korean courts had turned down her repeated requests to be released during the trial, even after she collapsed during a hearing.

” Our biggest dread is that she will have a complete breakdown, and that is why we are exhorting an intervention now so that she doesn’t get into the position where it becomes completely intolerable ,” Dixon said.

The resignation of Park’s seven-member defence team means the trial cannot continue until replacing country lawyers have been appointed. The interruption could cause a long delay in the trial, since they will have to review more than 100,000 pages of evidence.

Her lawyers said the decision to extend her detention was proof that the principle of the presumption of innocence was collapsing, according to Yonhap news agency.

” As we’ve reached a conclusion that any defence argument for the defendant is meaningless, all of us decided to resign ,” one of her lawyers, Yoo Yeong-ha, told the court.

Park’s international lawyers claimed that her detention includes sleep deprivation, abusive and coercive interrogations, and overly rough treatment that has left her with bruises from handcuffs.

” It is internationally accepted that detention is the exception under international human rights standards, and is only justified in exceptional circumstances ,” “theyre saying”.” None of these pertain in the present example, which does not fear violent crimes .”

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Woody Allen forced to clarify comments about ‘sad’ Harvey Weinstein

Director says his statements about the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein were misunderstood and that the producer is a sick man

Woody Allen has been forced to clarify statements made about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, after stating that he felt “sad” for the shamed producer.

Allen was widely criticised for comments made on Saturday in which he conveyed empathy for Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by a growing number of women.

” The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved ,” he told the BBC.” Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up. There’s no winners in that. It’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that .”

In the same interview Allen also warned that the revelations could lead to a” witch hunt atmosphere … where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend themselves “.

The director’s comments received widespread censure on Twitter, with Rose McGowan, who is one of the women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, describing Allen as a ” vile little worm “.

However, in a statement sent to Variety on Sunday, Allen said that his earlier statements had been misconstrued.” When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick human ,” the statement read.” I was amazed it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings .”

Weinstein faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than two dozen women, following investigations made by the New York Times and the New Yorker in recent weeks. On Sunday it was reported that Scotland Yard were investigating five farther allegations of sexual assault by three women against Weinstein in Britain. Meanwhile, two further accusations were made against Weinstein in the UK, one by the Hollyoaks actor Lysette Anthony that she says took place in the 1980 s, and the other by an unnamed former Miramax employee utilizing the pseudonym Sarah Smith that relates to the 1990 s. Through his spokeswoman, Weinstein has ” unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex.

Allen has worked with Weinstein on a number of movies but claims that he had not heard the allegations made against the mogul.” No one ever came to me or told me horror narratives with any real seriousness ,” he said.” And they wouldn’t, because you are not interested in it. You are interested in building your movie. But you do hear a million fanciful rumours all the time. And some turn out to be true and some- many- are just narratives about this actress or that performer .”

Allen has faced his own sexual abuse asserts, with his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow accusing him of molesting her when she was seven years old. Dylan Farrow’s claims have been supported by her mom Mia Farrow and friend Ronan Farrow, who in 2015 wrote an op-ed for the Hollywood Reporter condemning the media for its handled in the allegations against Allen. The claims made against Allen were investigated at the time but he was not charged, and the director has always strongly denied them.

Ronan Farrow has also been a major figure in bringing to light the allegations against Weinstein, penning the New Yorker investigation into the producer’s behaviour. Farrow spoke to three women who accused Weinstein of rape, while several other women accused him of assault and harassment.

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Mogadishu atrocity may provoke deeper US involvement in Somalia

President Trump had already approved utilize of US troops in Somalia before hundreds died in truck bomb blamed on al-Shabaab

For many years, Somalia was a forgotten front among the various campaigns against violent extremist Islamists around the world.

The massive bombing of the centre of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, will bring the international spotlight back on to the battered country- at least for a few days.

Al-Shabaab, the Islamist group based in the country, is almost certainly responsible for the enormous truck bomb that killed as many as 300 people in Mogadishu on Saturday.

The attack demonstrates once more it is among the most capable and tenacious activist organisations anywhere.

Al-Shabaab’s roots operate back through a series of violent- and sometimes non-violent- revivalist Islamist motions in Somalia over the past 40 years. In the past few decades, it has been fighting local, regional and international forces-out, and has survived significant strategic setbacks principally by exploiting the flaws and fails of central government in the shattered state.

One reason for the relative absence of attention to be given to al-Shabaab in recent years in Washington, London and other western capitals is that the group has ruthlessly purged anyone who wanted to swear allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from its ranks.

That al-Shabaab- the name entails” the youth”- is not seen as particularly dangerous beyond its immediate region is another reason.

Though the group has been a formal affiliate of al-Qaida since 2011, it has not engaged in terrorist scheming against European or US targets. Though it has attracted militants from the west, it has not sent many back the other way.

Al-Shabaab has, however, launched a series of bloody attacks in east Africa, such as the assault on an upscale shopping mall in Kenya in 2013 in which 67 people were killed.

It has been regional powers, including Kenya, that have done the heavy lifting in terms of military deployments in Somalia in recent years.

More than 20,000 troops have been deployed by the African Union there. But they have been much criticised, accused of being arrogant and sometimes brutal toward local populations, corruption and military incompetence.

A series of assaults by al-Shabaab on African Union baseshave undermined political will to continue this commitment among regional states- as the radical strategists aimed it would.

The bombing in Mogadishu may now intensify a growing US commitment to seeking a more active role in Somalia.

Earlier this year, the US president, Donald Trump, designated Somalia a” zone of active hostilities”, permitting commandants greater authority when launching airstrikes, broadening the scope of possible targets and relaxing restrictions designed to prevent civilian casualties. He also authorised the deployment of regular US forces-out to Somalia for the first time since 1994.

The US in effect pulled out of Somalia after the” Black Hawk Down” episode of 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and the authorities of American soldiers were dragged through the streets.

In May a US special forces soldier was killed in a skirmishwith al-Shabaab, the first US casualty in Somalia since then.

Any deeper involvement in Somalia would come against a background of greater involvement across Africa. Earlier this month, four US servicemen were killed in a firefight in Niger with activists there.

Yet the same challenges experienced in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan face any counter-insurgency endeavour in Somalia.

Somalia is suffering its worst drought in 40 years, with the effects of climatic cataclysm compounded by war and poor governance. Al-Shabaab’s control over populations in rural areas in much of the south and central Somalia is such that the group was able to impose a ban on humanitarian assistance in areas they control, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to choose between death from starvation and cancer or brutal penalty.

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Mogadishu truck bomb: 500 casualties in Somalias worst terrorist attack

At least 276 people killed and hundreds seriously injured in assault blamed on militant group al-Shabaab

At least 500 people are believed to have been killed or seriously injured in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years.

The death toll from Saturday’s attack, which involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives, stood at 276 on Sunday, according to Associated Press, but is expected to rise as more bodies are dug from the rubble spread over an region hundreds of metres wide in the centre of the city. At least 300 people were injured, according to local reports.

Rescue workers on the ground said it would be difficult to establish a definitive death toll because the intense heat generated by the blast entailed the remaining many people would never be found.

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The devastating bombing will focus attention on the decade-long combat against al-Shabaab, an Islamist group, in Somalia. It provoked a chorus of international disapproval. Michael Keating, the UN special envoy to Somalia, called it “revolting”.

The US mission to Somalia said:” Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism .”

Al-Shabab earlier this year vowed to eascalate assaults after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced new military attempts against the group.

Doctors struggled to treat the huge numbers of seriously wounded victims on Sunday, while thousands of people queued to give blood in Mogadishu.

Rescue workers were still digging out injured survivors late on Sunday night. Hundreds of people took the streets to protest against the attack.

The city has been hit by multiple bombings in recent years. None have been as deadly as this attack, however.

The bomb, which is thought to have targeted Somalia’s foreign ministry, was disguised in a truck and exploded near a hotel on a busy street, demolishing its construction and several others.

Sources close to the Somali government said the truck had been stopped at a checkpoint and was about to be searched when the driver suddenly accelerated. It crashed through a obstacle, then explosion. This ignited a fuel tanker which was stationary nearby, creating a massive fireball.

Ambulance sirens echoed across the city on Sunday afternoon as bewildered families wandered among the rubble and wrecked vehicles, go looking for missing relatives. Bodies were carried from the scene in makeshift stretchers made of blankets, as people tried to dig through the debris with their bare hands.

” In our 10 year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this ,” the Aamin ambulance service tweeted.

” There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything ,” said Zainab Sharif, a mom of four who lost her husband in the two attacks. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of efforts by doctors to save him from an arterial injury.

Muna Haj, 36, said his son had been killed.” Today, I lost my son who was dear to me. The oppressors have taken their own lives away from him. I detest them. May Allah give patience to all families who lost their loved ones in that tragic explosion … And I pray that one day Allah will bring his justice to the perpetrators of that evil act ,” he said.

Alinur Abdi, a local tycoon, said:” There is nothing resilient about this. How can you say’ “weve been” resilient’ when people are being killed in their hundreds? We need to get our act together and find a solution for this madness .”

The Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded.” I am appealing to all Somali people to come forward and donate ,” he said.

Mohamed, who took power in February , had vowed to rid the country of al-Shabaab. He has faced huge challenges, with the rebellion demonstrating resilient to a ramped-up offensive aided by the US, and a famine.

Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the director of the Mogadishu’s Medina hospital, said his staff had been” overwhelmed by both dead and wounded “.

He added:” This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past .”

Al-Shabaab, which has been affiliated to al-Qaida since 2011, has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

However the organisation has a history of launching suicide bombing attack against civilian targets in Mogadishu, and is known to avoid claiming responsibility for operations which it believes may significantly injury its public image among ordinary Somalis.

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The scene of the explosion in Mogadishu. Photo: Feisal Omar/ Reuters

Somalian officials said al-Shabaab did not” am worried about the lives of Somali people, mothers, parents and children “.

The prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, said:” They have targeted the most populated region in Mogadishu, killing only civilians .”

The information minister, Abdirahman Omar Osman, said the blast was the largest the city had ensure.” It’s a sad day. This is how merciless and brutal they are, and we have to unite against them ,” he said.

One western expert working with the Somali government said the bomb was aimed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that it was likely al-Shabaab had not anticipated the destruction it would cause.

” That it exploded next to a ga tanker was simply very, very bad luck ,” the expert said.

Investigators will seek to establish the source of the military-grade explosives used in the bomb. One source suggested they had been stolen from Amisom, the much-criticised African Union peacekeeping mission, which has about 20,000 troops in the country.

In recent months, Al-Shabaab has intensified its assaults as it tries to destabilise the new government of Mohamed.

Though largely confined to the countryside since withdrawing from Mogadishu six years ago, al-Shabaab has repeatedly taken over small towns, as well as inflicting significant losses on Amisom and Somali troops.

The US military has stepped up drone ten-strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabaab, and a US special forces operative was killed in a skirmish with the group earlier this year, the first American combat casualty in Africa since the Black Hawk Down episode in Mogadishu in 1993.

There is a small faction of extremists linked to Islamic State in the semiautonomous nation of Puntland, in northern Somalia but it is not thought to have the capability to launch this kind of attack.

Saturday’s blast occurred two days after the head of the US Africa command was in Mogadishu to meet Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.

The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the UK” condemns in the strongest terms the cowardly attacks in Mogadishu, which have claimed so many innocent lives “.

Additional reporting by Abdullahi Mire in Mogadishu

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