Testimony from national guard officer contradicts administration’s version of events
A US national guard officer is set to testify that the Trump administration’s forcible clearing of anti-racism protesters from outside the White House last month was “unprovoked” and an “excessive use of force”. The written testimony from the officer — who was at Lafayette Square on June 1 as a senior Washington national guard liaison — contradicts explanations given by Trump administration officials about the events, including denials that tear gas was used against the protesters. After the demonstrators had been dispersed that evening, Donald Trump walked through the area from the White House to a nearby church for a photo shoot where he held up a Bible. The officer, Adam DeMarco, is scheduled to appear before the House natural resources committee on Tuesday. In his written testimony, released on Monday, he described the demonstrators as “behaving peacefully, exercising their First Amendment rights”. “From my observation, those demonstrators — our fellow American citizens — were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force,” according to his prepared remarks. Mr Trump and his appointees have faced intense criticism over the events at Lafayette Square on June 1, which came as a wave of anti-racism protests were sweeping the US after the police killing of George Floyd.
The controversy about the Trump administration’s use of force against protests has continued throughout the summer, with nightly demonstrations at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Federal forces from the Department of Homeland Security have been deployed to Portland to protect the courthouse.
Local officials have objected, arguing the federal presence is escalating rather than reducing tensions. William Barr, the US attorney-general, has vowed to “continue to confront mob violence”. He is set to appear before the House judiciary committee on Tuesday. Mr Barr has denied ordering federal forces to clear the protesters from around Lafayette Square on the evening of June 1. “My attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it’,” he told the Associated Press last month. He has said he gave the order to clear the area much earlier that day, well before there were any plans for Mr Trump’s photo.
Also read An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry
His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage.
The first quotation from Donald Trump ever to appear in The New York Times came on October 16, 1973. Trump was responding to charges filed by the Justice Department alleging racial bias at his family’s real-estate company. “They are absolutely ridiculous,” Trump said of the charges. “We have never discriminated, and we never would.”
In the years since then, Trump has assembled a long record of comment on issues involving African Americans as well as Mexicans, Hispanics more broadly, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, women, and people with disabilities. His statements have been reflected in his behavior—from public acts (placing ads calling for the execution of five young black and Latino men accused of rape, who were later shown to be innocent) to private preferences (“When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” a former employee of Trump’s Castle, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, told a writer for The New Yorker). Trump emerged as a political force owing to his full-throated embrace of “birtherism,” the false charge that the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in the United States. His presidential campaign was fueled by nativist sentiment directed at nonwhite immigrants, and he proposed barring Muslims from entering the country. In 2016, Trump described himself to The Washington Post as “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”
Instances of bigotry involving Donald Trump span more than four decades. The Atlantic interviewed a range of people with knowledge of several of those episodes. Their recollections have been edited for concision and clarity.
Morgan Ortagus, the spokesperson of the United States State Department, in a video message on Twitter, while condemning the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights violations, particularly the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners, called on the “international community to conduct independent investigations and do provide accountability and justice for the victims of these horrendous violations of human rights, organized by the Iranian regime.”
“July 19th marks the anniversary of the start of Iran. So-called death commissions on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. These commissions reportedly forcibly disappeared and extra judicially executed thousands of political dissident prisoners. The current head of the Iranian judiciary and current minister of justice have both been identified as former members of these death commissions.
The Iranian judiciary is widely perceived to lack independence and fair trial guarantees. And the revolutionary courts are particularly egregious in ordering violations of human rights. All Iranian officials who commit human rights violations or abuses should be held accountable. The United States calls on the international community to conduct independent investigations and do provide accountability and justice for the victims of these horrendous violations of human rights, organized by the Iranian regime,” she said in a video message on Twitter.
In response, while welcoming this position, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said on Twitter: “I welcome the call by the State Department spokeswoman for an independent investigation into the actions of the death commissions during the #1988Massacre and demand justice for the martyrs. Perpetrators must be brought to justice. Dispatching international fact-finding missions to Iran, joined by the MEK & Iranian Resistance representatives to prevent regime’s cover-up of the 1988 Massacre (crime against humanity), especially of the graves and precise figures of the martyrs in prisons and cities across Iran is an imperative.”
Also Read: Britain has no ethical option but to keep up the pressure on China over the Uighurs
China is facing global political criticism over its alleged persecution of the Uighurs – a Muslim minority group which lives mostly in the Xinjiang province in northwestern China.
It is believed that the Chinese government has detained up to a million Uighurs over the past few years in what the state defines as “re-education camps”. The government is now also accused of a programme of forced sterilisation against Uighur women.
China initially denied the existence of the camps, before claiming they were a necessary measure against separatist violence in Xinjiang. It also denies carrying out forced sterilisations.
In July 2020, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against the Uighurs. The reports of forced sterilisation and wider persecution of the ethnic group were “reminiscent of something not seen for a long time”, he said.
Who are the Uighurs?
The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic ethnicity who regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. The majority live in Xinjiang, where they number about 11 million people.
The region’s economy has for centuries revolved around agriculture and trade. Towns there such as Kashgar thrived with the growth of the famous Silk Road trading route.
Uighur communities are also found in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, and several thousand live in Australia. They have their own language, also called Uighur, though China is accused of forcing those taken to camps in Xinjiang to learn Mandarin. Read more
During a time in which things on Earth are, in general, extremely complicated and upsetting, it’s gratifying to remember a moment when technological advancement and human ingenuity triumphed. Monday marks the 51st anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, an event that is the subject of today’s Google doodle. The doodle honors the Turkish astrophysicist Dilhan Eryurt, who died in 2012 and who spent her career fighting to uncover new revelations in her field. The Google doodle shows Eryurt, whose specialty was stellar astrophysics, speckled with stars and gazing into the limitless night sky. In the drawing, there’s also a constellation shaped like a square root symbol to pay homage to Eryurt’s devotion to mathematics.
Eryurt was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1926 and was the daughter of Abidin Ege, a Minister of Parliament in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. After completing an extensive period of scholarship, Eryurt transitioned into working within the United States with the Soroptimist Federation of America at Indiana University. Additionally, Eryurt worked on identifying Stellar Models at the Goethe Link Observatory, and it was from this position that she transferred into becoming the only woman astronomer working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
It was at this institution that Eryurt made the discoveries that would become crucial to human history: Eryurt found out that the brightness of the Sun has not increased since the star had been formed billions of years ago. Subsequently, it became possible to understand that the Sun had been much brighter and warmer in the past. Eryurt’s revelation that the Sun was cooling was crucial to NASA’s technological development for space missions in the 1960s and ’70s, because this meant that she was able to provide NASA engineers with data for models of how the Sun impacts the lunar environment.
The English Premier League should respect human rights throughout all of its operations, including as it evaluates a bid by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to acquire Newcastle United F.C., Human Rights Watch and FairSquare Projects said today. The Premier League and the Football Association should consider adopting a comprehensive human rights policy in line with the policy put in place by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 2017.
Human Rights Watch, in June 2020, and FairSquare, in April, separately wrote to the Premier League CEO, Richard Masters, outlining concerns around the prospective purchase by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The Premier League’s short responses, which contained identical language, failed to engage with the concerns raised about whether the buyer met the league’s own tests for prospective owners. The league also did not say whether it was taking Saudi Arabia’s human rights record into account when considering the sale, stating only that the sale to a “company based in Saudi Arabia” was subject to due processes that “cannot be conducted in public and on which we cannot comment.”
“The Premier League shouldn’t leave FIFA’s human rights policy to one side and ignore Saudi human rights abuses as it considers the sale of one of its clubs to the country’s sovereign wealth fund,” said Benjamin Ward, United Kingdom director at Human Rights Watch. “Adopting a comprehensive human rights policy and including human rights as a criterion for evaluating potential buyers of football clubs would set a positive example.”
On July 6, the United Kingdom introduced a new global human rights sanctions regime which included asset freezes and travel bans for 20 Saudi men connected to the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Those designated include Saud al-Qahtani, a former close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is chairman of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Also Read: Iranian Spies Accidentally Leaked Videos of Themselves Hacking
IBM’s X-Force security team obtained five hours of APT35 hacking operations, showing exactly how the group steals data from email accounts—and who it’s targeting.
WHEN SECURITY RESEARCHERS piece together the blow-by-blow of a state-sponsored hacking operation, they’re usually following a thin trail of malicious code samples, network logs, and connections to faraway servers. That detective work gets significantly easier when hackers record what they’re doing and upload the video to an unprotected server on the open internet. Which is precisely what a group of Iranian hackers may have unwittingly done.
Researchers at IBM’s X-Force security team revealed today that they’ve obtained roughly five hours of video footage that appears to have been recorded directly from the screens of hackers working for a group IBM calls ITG18, and which other security firms refer to as APT35 or Charming Kitten. It’s one of the most active state-sponsored espionage teams linked to the government of Iran. The leaked videos were found among 40 gigabytes of data that the hackers had apparently stolen from victim accounts, including US and Greek military personnel. Other clues in the data suggest that the hackers targeted US State Department staff and an unnamed Iranian-American philanthropist.
The IBM researchers say they found the videos exposed due to a misconfiguration of security settings on a virtual private cloud server they’d observed in previous APT35 activity. The files were all uploaded to the exposed server over a few days in May, just as IBM was monitoring the machine. The videos appear to be training demonstrations the Iran-backed hackers made to show junior team members how to handle hacked accounts. They show the hackers accessing compromised Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts to download their contents, as well as exfiltrating other Google-hosted data from victims.
This sort of data exfiltration and management of hacked accounts is hardly sophisticated hacking. It’s more the kind of labor-intensive but relatively simple work that’s necessary in a large-scale phishing operation. But the videos nonetheless represent a rare artifact, showing a first-hand view of state-sponsored cyberspying that’s almost never seen outside of an intelligence agency.
“We don’t get this kind of insight into how threat actors operate really ever,” says Allison Wikoff, a senior analyst at IBM X-Force whose team discovered the videos. “When we talk about observing hands-on activity, it’s usually from incident-response engagements or endpoint monitoring tools. Very rarely do we actually see the adversary on their own desktop. It’s a whole other level of ‘hands-on-keyboard’ observation.”
Six distinct types of coronavirus have been identified by scientists in a breakthrough that promises to save lives by flagging the highest-risk patients.
Analysis of thousands of cases by artificial intelligence software has revealed different “clusters” of symptoms and ranked them in order of severity.
Headache and loss of smell are common to all six groupings, but the range of symptoms varies widely after that.
Scientists at King’s College London (KCL) found that patients with the sixth type of Covid-19 are nearly 10 times more likely to end up needing breathing support than patients in the first group.
This is significant because often patients only deteriorate to a critical stage several days after after showing symptoms. The new ranking system should flag up the highest-risk cases and give doctors the opportunity to intervene earlier.
The findings, derived from KCL’s symptom tracker app, used data from 1,600 users in the UK and US who have had confirmed Covid-19. The resulting algorithm was then tested on an independent cohort of 1,000 users in the UK, the US and Sweden.
“These findings have important implications for care and monitoring of people who are most vulnerable to severe Covid-19,” said Dr Claire Steves from KCL.
“If you can predict who these people are at day five, you have time to give them support and early interventions such as monitoring blood oxygen and sugar levels, and ensuring they are properly hydrated – simple care that could be given at home, preventing hospitalisations and saving lives.”
The least severe categories of the virus were characterised by flu-like symptoms, either with or without fever.
Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhoea, dominate the third category, whereas fatigue, confusion and ultimately respiratory problems are associated with the increasingly severe fourth, fifth and sixth categories.
The United States needs to formally acknowledge the scale of the atrocities.
Two recent disturbing events may finally awaken the world to the scale and horror of the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs, a mostly secular Muslim ethnic minority, in Xinjiang, China. One is an authoritative report documenting the systematic sterilization of Uighur women. The other was the seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of 13 tons of products made from human hair suspected of being forcibly removed from Uighurs imprisoned in concentration camps. Both events evoke chilling parallels to past atrocities elsewhere, forced sterilization of minorities, disabled, and Indigenous people, and the image of the glass display of mountains of hair preserved at Auschwitz.
The Genocide Convention, to which China is a signatory, defines genocide as specific acts against members of a group with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part. These acts include (a) killing; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm; (c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life to bring about the group’s physical destruction; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Any one of these categories constitutes genocide. The overwhelming evidence of the Chinese government’s deliberate and systematic campaign to destroy the Uighur people clearly meets each of these categories.
Over a million Turkic Uighurs are detained in concentration camps, prisons, and forced labor factories in China. Detainees are subject to military-style discipline, thought transformation, and forced confessions. They are abused, tortured, raped, and even killed. Survivors report being subjected to electrocution, waterboarding, repeated beatings, stress positions, and injections of unknown substances. These mass detention camps are designed to cause serious physical, psychological harm and mentally break the Uighur people. The repeated government orders to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins”; “round up everyone who should be rounded up”; and systematically prevent Uighur births demonstrate a clear intent to eradicate the Uighur people as a whole.