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Pope Francis warns on nuclear weapons; official Italy silent

first_imgPublished in Il Manifesto on Nov. 26. Translation by John Catalinotto.Italy’s politicians and corporate media, usually eloquent about any news concerning the Pope, greeted with the silence of the tomb the words pronounced by Francis on Nov. 24 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “The use of atomic energy for war purposes is, today more than ever, a crime. The possession of atomic weapons is immoral.”These words are embarrassing for the leaders of Italy’s institutions. Like the ones who preceded them, these leaders are responsible for the fact that Italy, a non-nuclear country in words, is in reality a country that houses and is prepared to use U.S. atomic weapons. This reality is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 to which Italy has formally committed, and which prohibits non-nuclear states from receiving nuclear weapons and from having direct or indirect control over them. This is an even more serious violation because Italy, as a NATO member, has refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons voted for in 2017  by a large majority of the General Assembly of the U.N. This treaty commits the signatory states to neither produce nor possess nuclear weapons, to neither use nor threaten to use them, nor to transfer or receive them directly or indirectly; the objective of these rules is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.What is embarrassing for Italy’s rulers is the question that Pope Francis asked in Hiroshima: “How can we speak of peace while we build new and formidable weapons of war?” In Italy there are currently about 70 nuclear bombs, all of the B61 model, but new and deadlier U.S. nuclear bombs known as B61-12 (a number not yet widely known) are about to be deployed on Italian territory in place of the current B61. The B61-12 has a nuclear warhead with four selectable power options. When launched, the operators can choose the  power of the explosion according to the target to be hit. Unlike the B61, released vertically upon the target, the B61-12 is launched remotely and guided by a satellite system. It also has the ability to penetrate the subsoil, even through reinforced concrete, exploding deep underground to destroy the bunkers of command centers and underground structures, so as to “decapitate” the enemy country in a first nuclear strike.More embarrassing is the pope’s other question: “How can we propose peace if we continually use nuclear war threats as a legitimate means of conflict resolution?” Italy, as a member of NATO, endorsed Trump’s decision to cancel the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This treaty had been signed in 1987 by Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan and made it possible to eliminate all the intermediate-range, ground-based nuclear missiles deployed in Europe, including those installed in Comiso, Sicily, Italy. The U.S. has developed new ground-based, intermediate-range nuclear missiles, both cruise and ballistic (these are capable of hitting targets within minutes of launch), to be deployed against Russia in Europe, and certainly placed also in Italy, and in Asia against China. Russia has warned that, if these U.S. weapons are deployed in Europe, it will aim its own nuclear missiles at the territories where they are installed.The nuclear powers possess a total of approximately 15,000 nuclear warheads. More than 90 percent of the nuclear warheads belong to the United States and Russia. Each of these two countries has about 7,000 such weapons. The other countries in possession of nuclear warheads are France (300), China (270), Great Britain (215), Pakistan (120-130), India (110-120), Israel (80) and North Korea (10-20). Five additional countries – Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey – together have about 150 U.S. nuclear warheads deployed on their territory. ‘Most serious threat to environment is nuclear war’However, the arms race again underway is taking place not so much in terms of quantity as in terms of quality, i.e., finding effective launch platforms and increasing the offensive capabilities of the nuclear warheads.So when Pope Francis affirms that the use of nuclear energy for war purposes is “a crime not only against humanity and its dignity, but against every possibility of future in our common home,” he is saying that nuclear war endangers the future of the Earth. That’s why those engaged in the defense of the environment should speak up, because the most serious threat to the living environment on the planet is nuclear war. Thus their priority should be the complete elimination of atomic bombs.Will the warning of Pope Francis now be heard in the Church and among Catholics – those who in Japan are in the front line against any rearmament and reform of the post-World War 2 Peace Constitution.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Ruling on cartoonist’s suit awaited, ban on political cartoons still in place

first_imgNews Organisation Receive email alerts News News March 17, 2021 Find out more MalaysiaAsia – Pacific MalaysiaAsia – Pacific Follow the news on Malaysia Record fine for Malaysian news site over readers’ comments Newscenter_img RSF_en New Malaysian ordinance threatens very concept of truth The final hearing in a civil action that the political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, also known as Zunar, brought against the Malaysian state and police, accusing them of detaining him unlawfully and causing him material losses in September 2010, is scheduled to take place on 23 July.Reporters Without Borders is hoping for a fair ruling, one that recognizes the illegality of Zunar’s treatment. Such a decision would be all the more important in the current pre-election climate.“The Election Commission’s ban on cartoons during the last 14 days before the upcoming parliamentary elections reflects the government inability to tolerate criticism,” Reporters Without Borders said.“Cartoons are an essential element of a free press. It is important that the role of political cartoonists should not be challenged and that they are not the victims of arrests and searches, as Zunar was in September 2010. We hope that the court will render him justice on 23 July and that it will finally recognize that his arrest and the seizure of his cartoon books were indeed illegal.”Zunar’s civil action relates to the raid that the police carried out on his office on 24 September 2010, seizing 66 copies of a collection of his cartoons called “Cartoon-o-phobia” on the day they were to have been published and detaining him for more than 24 hours on a sedition charge. If the court rules against him, he may have to pay up to 40.000 ringgits (10,000 euros).Zunar has meanwhile resumed his battle against the government’s censorship policies in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, the date of which has yet to be set. Under his leadership, a group of cartoonists called Kumpulan Kartunis Independent (KKI) has undertaken to wage a cartoon campaign about government scandals. The cartoons will be published during the last 14 days before the elections, in defiance of the ban. The participants include Nor Azlin Ngah (Jonos), Azmie Muhammad Taha, Johnny Ong, Azman Muhammad Noh (AMN), Nor Afendi Ramli (Ronasina) and Amir Hakim (Ahyat).One of the main targets of their cartoons will be alleged kickbacks in the sale of two French “Scorpène” submarines to Malaysia in 2002. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defence minister at the time, has been linked to the case, currently the subject of a judicial investigation in France.The KKI is openly opposing the election campaign ban on cartoons which the Election Commission imposed on 30 May. Based on Section 4A of the 1958 Elections Act, it threatens violators with a sentence of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 10,000 ringgits (2,500 euros) or both.“The banning of cartoons during the election is comical and ludicrous,” Zunar says. “Cartooning is a legally-practiced medium in Malaysia and therefore the Commission does not have the right to forbid its use (…) As a cartoonist, it is my duty to expose corrupt practices, wrong-doings, wastage of public funds and injustice by the government. The ban by the Malaysian government contradicts the freedom of expression provided to all citizens as cited in the Malaysian Constitution. It is also an attempt to silence the critics and to stop dissident views.”Zunar was awarded the Courage In Editorial Cartoon prize by Cartoonist Rights Network International in 2011. His five collections of cartoons are currently banned in Malaysia under the Printing Presses and Publications Act. He filed an appeal against this ban in July 2010 but it was rejected. to go further July 19, 2012 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Ruling on cartoonist’s suit awaited, ban on political cartoons still in place Help by sharing this information February 22, 2021 Find out more Malaysian cartoonist Zunar facing possible sedition charge again January 29, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

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Arrests, censorship and propaganda mark expanding government control of information

first_img News China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison News Dong Rubin, a blogger in the southern Chinese province of Yunan who has written critically of local officials’ actions, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison as a wave of arrests of journalists and bloggers signal tightening of government control of the internet. April 27, 2021 Find out more July 26, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Arrests, censorship and propaganda mark expanding government control of information Censors have gone so far as to prevent web searches for “Big Yellow Duck” . And references to toads have been systematically erased from the website of state news agency Xinhua. That move followed popular response to installation of a statue of the amphibian creature in Beijing park. Citizens mockingly claimed that it resembled former president Jiang Zemin.That episode may be comical. But censorship and repression usually take harsher forms.Imprisoned journalist Dong Rubin, who writes under the pseudonym Bianmin, has reported on local officials’ misappropriation of funds, and other actions. His sentence, also included a fine of 350,000 yuan (42,000 euros). His conviction in a court in the Wuhua district grows out of a government “anti-rumour” campaign. “This conviction, following an unjust trial, shows officials’ determination to muzzle all critical voices,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “The action also shows authorities’ sense of weakness in the face of a growing numbers of netizens and whistleblowers. Party officials, and the political and government elite in general, feel themselves under constant threat from bloggers’ asserting freedom of speech and the right to criticize.”Ismaïl asked, “When will officials understand that for each netizen who is convicted, 100 others take up the battle against censorship and for freedom of information?”In Dong’s case, he had previously been arrested and had computers seized following his criticism of construction of a petrochemical plant near the Yunan capital of Kunming in 2013. That project prompted major protest demonstrations. In the latest case, Dong’s daughter was the only family member authorized to attend his trial.New rules in effectA number of journalists had been asking about delays in the implementation of new rules published in July by censorship authorities of the Chinese Community Party. The rules include prohibitions on disclosing state secrets, expressing unauthorized criticism, and on working with foreign media.The answer to journalists’ questions about timing was not long in coming. Song Zhibiao was the first victim of the new regulations. He was fired by China Fortune, a monthly magazine, after publishing work on the Hong Kong website Orient, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Oriental Press Group. to go further Follow the news on China Help by sharing this information News Democracies need “reciprocity mechanism” to combat propaganda by authoritarian regimescenter_img March 12, 2021 Find out more China’s Cyber ​​Censorship Figures Receive email alerts June 2, 2021 Find out more Organisation ChinaAsia – Pacific News RSF_en ChinaAsia – Pacific If any of Song’s articles in particular led to his dismissal, it may have been a piece in July about Pu Zhiqiang, a human rights activist detained for more than two months. China Fortune, whose immediate owner is Southern Metropolis Daily, is believed to have been acting under an order from the party’s propaganda department to end the journalist’s contract.Song was the target of a previous punitive dismissal in 2011, when he worked for Southern Metropolis Daily. He was forced out after writing an article on the three-year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, in which he pointed to official responsibility in the disaster and its aftermath.The internet as propaganda toolFree Tibet, an NGO, recently revealed the existence of about 100 false Twitter accounts, which are used to promote Chinese policies in Tibet and to malign those who defend Tibetan rights. Employing western names and frequently using portraits of American celebrities in user profiles, the accounts publish and re-tweet attacks, especially those against the Dalai Lama. Some messages have been re-circulated several thousand times. After the false accounts were revealed, Twitter announced that it would move to suspend them.“The official policy of censorship and disinformation is especially visible in issues involving Tibet and Uyghurs,” Ismaïl said. “On these subjects, the government has lost all self-restraint. All means are seen as acceptable to keep Tibet and Xinjiang isolated. They have become information black holes.”A report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project last June found that 80 per-cent of the content on Uyghur websites had been destroyed in 2009-2010 in what amounts to a digital book-burning. The operation followed repression of a Uyghur protest movement.In October, 2009, three months after violent disturbances in Xinjiang, Reporters Without Borders investigated conditions of access to websites aimed at the Uyghur community. The conclusion: the vast majority of sites were inaccessible, whether they were based in Xinjiang or abroad and regardless of the language they used. Of 91 websites surveyed, more than 85 per-cent were blocked, censored, or impossible to access.China is ranked 175th of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index for 2014. last_img read more

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Big data innovations benefit community financial institutions

first_imgSpreading the availability of once complex information and technology to broader audiences is known as democratization. As the big data revolution marches on, we are seeing an increase in the availability of data and the analytical tools needed to make sense of the data once it’s collected. In other words, we are entering a phase of big data analytics democratization, and community financial institutions (FIs) stand to benefit.Recently released research from Mercator Advisory Group looks at how the democratization of big data analytics is helping FIs better understand consumer behavior. The research report, “Analytics Innovations for Business Users Show Promise in Banking,” delves into innovations, such as data visualization, that are simplifying data gathering analysis for FIs.Standouts from the report include: How FIs understand the value of big data as it progresses beyond basic charts and reportsThe increasing availability of faster, more user-friendly analytics tools and softwareNew methods for quicker modeling, data management, testing and implementation continue reading » 33SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Indiana National Guard’s Top Officer To Retire

first_imgGen. Martin Umbarger with Abbas Altemimi, of Greensburg in this undated photo taken in Balad, Iraq.INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana National Guard’s top officer says he will end a 45-year career next May.Adjutant General Martin Umbarger announced the decision to retire after informing Governor Mike Pence Tuesday evening.In a letter penned to soldiers, airman, state employees, retirees and families, Gen. Umbarger says it is time to pass the “colors of leadership” onto the next generation.He has led Guard soldiers since being appointed Adjutant General in March 2004.Governor Pence issued a statement following the announcement:“With nearly five decades of service to the Indiana National Guard, Adjutant General R. Martin Umbarger is a patriot and true public servant to the people of Indiana. His leadership and insight have been invaluable to the Guard, our state, and this great nation, and I believe him to be a Hoosier hero in every sense of the word.The governor said he will work with Umbarger to name a replacement in the coming months. The Indiana National Guard is the fourth largest in the nation.Umbarger met Abbas Altemimi while serving in Iraq. Altemimi, an Iraqi native, has since moved to Decatur County and we covered his unique story in June.last_img read more

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