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Philippine police say country ‘relatively peaceful’ ahead of election

CHICAGO: Iran is close to building a nuclear weapon and is using negotiations with the West to give them more time to achieve that goal, according to Shahin Gobadi, the spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). A thermal nuclear scientist who first joined the resistance while a college student at UCLA…

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CHICAGO: Iran is close to building a nuclear weapon and is using negotiations with the West to give them more time to achieve that goal, according to Shahin Gobadi, the spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). A thermal nuclear scientist who first joined the resistance while a college student at UCLA 40 years ago, Gobadi, 60, said the NCRI, which is based in Paris, works with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The PMOI/MEK operates inside Iran taking great risks to expose Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Gobadi said. Without the PMOI/MEK resistance, Gobadi said, the world would never have known the true depth of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and how far it had advanced towards building a nuclear weapon. “The Iranian resistance, mainly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, have been the key factor, the key player that has brought the issue of the Iranian nuclear program to the international attention,” Gobadi said. “If it were not for the Iranian resistance activities through the more than 120 press conferences and revelations regarding the secret Iranian nuclear sites, projects, facilities, the world would have been totally caught off guard regarding the mullahs’ secret drive to acquire nuclear weapons and by now the world would have been faced with a predicament of the worst regime being equipped with the worst weapon. Actually, this has been a part of our struggle of the past three decades through our vast human network inside regime, the vast network of the Mojahedin, the MEK, inside Iran taking huge risks to expose the various aspects of the mullahs’ drive to acquire nuclear weapons.” During an interview on “The Ray Hanania Show” broadcast on Wednesday May 4, 2022, Gobadi said the resistance to Iran’s brutality continues to grow, not only outside of Iran under the leadership of the NCRI but also inside with everyday citizens protesting and engaging in significant disruptions. “The protests and disruptions,” Gobadi said, “have been on the rise particularly during the past four years. Since January 2018 there have been eight nationwide uprisings in Iran against the regime. And in some of them like in November 2019, it caught on so quickly throughout the country, it spread to some 200 cities with people chanting ‘Down with Khamenei the Supreme Leader and down with the whole regime’.” The mullahs, he said, responded by massacring more than 1,500 civilian protesters. “But even that has not stopped people from coming to the streets. Or in 2021, in 21 nationwide protests and strikes teachers, who constitute more than 1 million people, have come to the streets. And also, after that, there has been a remarkable surge in the activities of the resistance which is affiliated to the Mojahedin, the MEK and their activities have been on a constant rise,” Gobadi said. Gobadi said that everyday Iranian people “are standing up” and fueling “the continued rise of the resistance,” which makes the mullahs much “more vulnerable and much more worried” about their future. “Since 1981 some 120,000 political activists, over 100,000 from the main resistance movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the principal resistance organization, have been executed by the theocracy simply for standing firm for secular government and gender equality,” Gobadi said. “And that includes tens of thousands of women, which is an amazing aspect of our resistance in Iran. Hundreds of thousands of others have been imprisoned and severely tortured.” Gobadi cited many incidents of resistance inside Iran. In January, the resistance disrupted 25 of the Iran regime’s television radio channels broadcasting chants of “Death to Khamenei and “Hail to Rajavi” — who is the leader of the resistance. The same month, they set fire to statues of Qassem Soleimani in several provinces. On April 25, more than 100 computer servers of Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture were disrupted. In the past few weeks, resistance units have repeatedly broadcast anti-regime slogans in busy locations, in large cities and in shopping malls. Gobadi said the Iranian mullahs have not only been brutal in their response against their own people, 70 to 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line but, just as importantly, the regime is “the primary source” of international terrorism. He called it “foolhardy” to believe a brutal regime like Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, even if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is approved and the US removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Iran sees the negotiations as “appeasement,” he said, rather than preventing them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. “An agreement that does not close the regime’s path to a nuclear drive is not going to stop the drive. If the West holds firm, the regime has no choice but to concede to the West. Unfortunately, that was not the desire at the time, particularly of the Obama administration,” Gobadi said. “And look what happened. The mullahs took billions of dollars and it all ended up in the coffers of the regime’s leaders, Khamenei in particular, or the IRGC’s top brass, or has helped to prop up the regime’s surrogates and terrorist groups in the region to increase the regime’s capability of missile program … and, the regime never, never, never gave up its nuclear weapons program.” “Well, by far, they are the most active state sponsor of terrorism for years and years. Their tentacles have reached as far away as Europe, the US and even Latin America. Needless to say Europe, the Middle East. It’s very shocking.” On the restoration of the JCPOA, Gobadi said, “We think such an agreement in and of itself is no guarantee that the regime does not get nuclear weapons.” The Ray Hanania Radio Show is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News live every Wednesday at 5 PM EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690, in Washington D.C. on WDMV AM 700. It is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 12 noon in Chicago on WNWI AM 1080. Listen to the Ray Hanania podcast here.

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Russia ready to set up corridor for ships carrying food to leave Ukraine — Ifax

More than 6.5 million people have fled abroad, uncounted thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble. KYIV/SLOVYANSK, Ukraine: Russian forces sought to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities straddling a river as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow was seeking to destroy the industrial Donbas region where it has focused…

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More than 6.5 million people have fled abroad, uncounted thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble. KYIV/SLOVYANSK, Ukraine: Russian forces sought to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities straddling a river as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow was seeking to destroy the industrial Donbas region where it has focused its attacks. Russia is attempting to seize the separatist-claimed Donbas’ two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front. Russian forces took control of three towns in the Donetsk region including Svitlodarsk, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told an affiliate of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. All the remaining strength of the Russian army is now concentrated on this region,” Zelensky said in a late Tuesday address. “The occupiers want to destroy everything there.” Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment out-of-hours. The easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them. “The enemy has focused its efforts on carrying out an offensive in order to encircle Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among the last territory held by Ukraine. Ukraine’s military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow’s troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles. Reuters could not immediately verify the information. In a sign of Ukrainian success elsewhere, authorities in its second-largest city, Kharkiv, re-opened the underground metro, where thousands of civilians had sheltered for months under relentless bombardment. The re-opening came after Ukraine pushed Russian forces largely out of artillery range of the northern city, as they did from the capital, Kyiv, in March. WORLD WAR THREE? Three months into the invasion, Russia still has only limited gains to show for its worst military losses in decades, while much of Ukraine has suffered devastation in the biggest attack on a European state since 1945. More than 6.5 million people have fled abroad, uncounted thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble. The war has also caused growing food shortages and soaring prices due to sanctions and disruption of supply chains. Both Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of grain and other commodities. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using food as a weapon. Billionaire financier George Soros, also speaking in Davos, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have marked the start of World War III. “The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible,” he said. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday lambasted President Vladimir Putin, casting the Kremlin chief as a doomed madman who was butchering the people of both Ukraine and Russia. “This is a stupid war which your Putin started,” Navalny told an appeals court in Moscow via video link from a corrective penal colony. “This war was built on lies.” Underlining the global tensions unleashed by the war, major US ally Japan scrambled jets on Tuesday after Russian and Chinese warplanes neared its airspace as US President Joe Biden visited Tokyo. Meanwhile, in a decision that could push Russia closer to the brink of default, the Biden administration announced it would not extend a waiver set to expire on Wednesday that enabled Russia to pay US bondholders. Russia had been allowed to keep paying interest and principal and avert default on its government debt. Russian lawmakers gave the first stamp of approval to a bill that would allow Russian entities to take over foreign companies that have left the country in opposition to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, a government online portal showed.  On Monday, Starbucks Corp. became the latest Western brand to announce it was pulling out of Russia, following a similar decision by McDonald’s. The hamburger chain’s trademark “Golden Arches” were lowered near Moscow on Monday. DRAWN OUT CONFLICT Senior Russian officials suggested in comments on Tuesday the war, which Russia calls a “special operation,” may be drawn-out. Nikolai Patrushev, head of Putin’s security council, said Russia would fight as long as necessary to eradicate “Nazism” in Ukraine, a justification for the war that the West calls baseless. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia was deliberately advancing slowly to avoid civilian casualties. Zelensky dismissed such statements as “absolutely unreal.” In Kharkiv, hundreds of people were living underground in trains and stations when the authorities asked them to make way on Tuesday. “Everyone is crazily scared, because there is still shelling,” said Nataliia Lopanska, who had lived in a metro train for most of the war. Russian shelling continued in the city and wider area, regional governor Oleh Sinehubov said. The Donbas fighting follows Russia’s biggest victory in months: the surrender last week of Ukraine’s garrison in the port of Mariupol after a siege in which Kyiv believes tens of thousands of civilians were killed. Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor now operating outside the city, said the dead were being found in the rubble. About 200 decomposing bodies were buried in debris in a basement of one high-rise building, he said. Residents had refused to collect them and Russian authorities had abandoned the site.  

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UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan

BEIJING: Uyghurs have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to avoid falling victim to a public relations stunt as her trip to China enters a delicate new phase on Tuesday with a visit to the remote Xinjiang region. The ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities…

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BEIJING: Uyghurs have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to avoid falling victim to a public relations stunt as her trip to China enters a delicate new phase on Tuesday with a visit to the remote Xinjiang region. The ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long security crackdown the United States has labelled a “genocide.” China vehemently denies the allegations, calling them the “lie of the century.” Bachelet is expected to visit the Xinjiang cities Urumqi and Kashgar on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a six-day tour. “I hope she can also ask the Chinese government for the whereabouts of my mother,” said Jevlan Shirememet, adding that he had not been able to contact her in four years. The Turkey-based 31-year-old — from the province’s northern reaches near the border with Kazakhstan — also said he hoped Bachelet would venture further than her itinerary. “I don’t know why she can’t visit these places,” he told AFP. Nursimangul Abdureshid — another Uyghur living in Turkey — was “not very hopeful that her trip can bring any change.” “I request them to visit victims like my family members, not the pre-prepared scenes by the Chinese government,” she told AFP. “If the UN team cannot have unlimited access in Xinjiang, I will not accept their so-called reports.” Regional capital Urumqi — population four million — houses major government bodies believed to have orchestrated the province-wide campaign China described as a crackdown on religious extremism. It is home to a sizeable Uyghur community and was the site of deadly ethnic clashes in 2009 as well as two terrorist attacks in 2014. Meanwhile, Kashgar — home to 700,000 people — lies in the Uyghur heartland of southern Xinjiang. An ancient Silk Road city, it has been a major target of Beijing’s crackdown, researchers and activists say, with authorities accused of smothering the cultural hub in a high-tech security blanket while bulldozing Uyghur homes and religious sites. The outskirts of both cities are pockmarked with what are believed to be detention camps, part of a sprawling network of recently built facilities stretching across the remote province. Campaigners have voiced concern that Chinese authorities will prevent Bachelet from conducting a thorough probe into alleged rights abuses and instead give her a stage-managed tour with limited access. The US has said it is “deeply concerned” that she had not secured guarantees on what she will see, adding that she was unlikely to get an “unmanipulated” picture of China’s rights situation. Speaking in Guangzhou where she met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, Bachelet said she would be “discussing some very important issues and sensitive issues.” “I hope this will help us build confidence, and enable us to work together,” she added. Bachelet also gave assurances on her access to detention centers and rights defenders during a Monday virtual meeting with the heads of dozens of diplomatic missions in China, according to diplomatic sources in Beijing. Caroline Wilson, the UK’s Ambassador to China, was on the call and said she stressed “the importance of unfettered access to Xinjiang and private conversations with its people.” “There is no excuse for preventing UN representatives from completing their investigations,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. Bachelet’s office has also said she will meet with civil society organizations, business representatives and academics. In addition to mass detentions, Chinese authorities have waged a campaign of forced labor, coerced sterilization and the destruction of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang, researchers and campaigners say. Uyghurs overseas have staged rallies in recent weeks pressing Bachelet to visit relatives believed to be detained in Xinjiang.

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One man killed in Qatar Embassy, Paris prosecutor’s office confirms

Philippines’ Marcos Jr says discussed defense agreements, climate funding with US envoy MANILA: Philippines president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday he discussed the extension of a joint military agreement with an envoy of defense ally the United States, after meetings with senior diplomats of four countries. Ambassadors of Japan, India and South Korea and…

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Philippines’ Marcos Jr says discussed defense agreements, climate funding with US envoy MANILA: Philippines president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday he discussed the extension of a joint military agreement with an envoy of defense ally the United States, after meetings with senior diplomats of four countries. Ambassadors of Japan, India and South Korea and the US Chargé d’Affaires made courtesy calls on Monday to Marcos, the son and namesake of the notorious late dictator, following his landslide election victory this month. Marcos, 64, who take office late in June, said he discussed with the US envoy the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and how it would be redefined amid a changing regional landscape, plus funding for climate change mitigation. “We would welcome any assistance for the economy that we can get from the United States,” Marcos told a news conference. “Trade, not aid.” The VFA, which provides a legal framework by which US troops can operate on Philippine soil, was a bone of contention for incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly threatened to scrap it. “Security concerns of course has always been a big part of our relationship with the United States,” Marcos said. India’s envoy to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran during a courtesy visit to president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM Media Office) Analysts expect Marcos to pursue close China ties, which could complicate relations with former colonial power Washington, his military, and the Philippine public, with which the United States is popular. He last week spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he wanted bilateral ties to “shift to a higher gear.” Marcos said he discussed aid projects with Japan’s ambassador, microfinance with India and with South Korea, information technology, regional security and the possible reactivation of a disused nuclear plant. South Korea ambassador Kim Inchul during a courtesy visit to president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM Media Office) The plant was intended by his late father to be part of his economic modernization legacy, but was mothballed after his overthrow in a 1986 “people power” uprising, two years after completion. Marcos said he asked Arsenio Balisacan, the national anti-trust agency chief, to be economic planning minister, a role he held from 2012 to 2016 under an administration that was a rival to the influential Marcos family.

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