TIME Denmark

Denmark Bans Kosher and Halal Animal Slaughter

This picture taken on August 21, 2009 in
Sebastien Bozon—AFP/Getty Images This picture taken on August 21, 2009 in Illzach, eastern France, shows a customer passing by Halal butchery shelves in a supermarket, on the eve of the beginning of the Ramadan.

“Animal rights come before religion”

Denmark enacted a sweeping ban on the religious slaughter of animals Monday, prompting a furious backlash from Jewish and Muslim community representatives.

The ban, which requires slaughterhouse workers to stun animals before killing them, will now extend to religious communities that were previously afforded an exemption. “Animal rights come before religion,” Danish minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2.

Activists with Danish Halal called the restriction a “clear interference in religious freedom,” the Independent reports, while Israeli chief rabbi David Lau slammed the law as “a serious and severe blow to the Jewish faith and to the Jews of Denmark,” according to Times of Israel.

Both observant Jews, under kashrut laws and Muslims, under halal laws, will not eat meat unless the animal has been killed with a single slice to the neck, with the intention to minimize its pain.

TIME White House

Obama: If I Ran for a Third Term, I Could Win

"But I can't"

President Obama said that if he could run for a third term he thinks he would win, while calling for African leaders to adhere to term limits during a historic speech before the African Union.

“I actually think I’m a pretty good president. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t,” Obama said in Ethiopia on Tuesday. ” There’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law’s the law.”

President Obama addressed his third term viability while calling on African leaders to step aside when their terms end on Tuesday. During his speech, the first by an American president before the African Union, Obama said when a leader “tries to change the rules in the middle of the game” in order to stay in office it puts a nation’s stability and the future of Democratic progress across the continent at risk. Obama specifically noted recent elections in Burundi, where President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term. The United Nations has said those elections occurred in an environment that was not “not conducive for an inclusive, free and credible electoral process,” according to the Associated Press.

” The point is, I don’t understand why people want to stay so long. Especially, when they’ve got a lot of money,” Obama said Tuesday, during the final stretch of his historic trip to two African countries. “And sometimes you’ll hear a leader say ‘I’m the only person who can hold this nation together.’ If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”

Though Obama admitted he thinks he’s done a good job at the helm — something about 49% of Americans agree with, according his most recent CNN approval ratings — he didn’t hesitate to list off the freedoms he’ll gain back when he leaves office.

“I’m looking forward to life after being president,” Obama said. “I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. It means I can go take a walk, I can spend time with my family, I can find other ways to serve. I can visit Africa more often.”


Iraq Has a Summer Camp That Trains Shiite Boys to Fight ISIS

Mideast Iraq Shiite Militia Children
Khalid Mohammed—AP In this March 15, 2015 file photo, a young Shiite volunteer militiaman stands near a vehicle on his way to the battlefield against Islamic State fighters in Tikrit, Iraq.

It's yet another way minors are being dragged into Iraq's brutal war with the ISIS

BAGHDAD — In the steamy Baghdad night, sweat poured down the faces of the Iraqi teens as they marched around a school courtyard, training for battle against the Islamic State group.

This is summer camp in Iraq, set up by the country’s largest paramilitary force after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric issued an edict calling on students as young as middle-school age to use their summer vacations to prepare to fight the Sunni extremists.

Dressed in military fatigues, 15-year-old Asam Riad was among the dozens of youths doing high-knee marches, his chest puffed out to try to appear as tall as the older cadets.

“We’ve been called to defend the nation,” the scrawny boy asserted, his voice cracking as he vowed to join the Popular Mobilization Forces, the government-sanctioned umbrella group of mostly Shiite militias.

“I am not scared because my brothers are fighting alongside me.”

With dozens of such camps around the country, hundreds of students have gone through the training though it is impossible to say how many went on to fight the Sunni extremists since those who do so go independently.

This summer, The Associated Press saw over a dozen armed boys on the front line in western Anbar province, including some as young as 10. Of around 200 cadets in a training class visited by the AP this month, about half were under the age of 18, with some as young as 15. Several said they intended to join their fathers and older brothers on the front lines.

It’s yet another way minors are being dragged into Iraq’s brutal war as the military, Shiite militias, Sunni tribes and Kurdish fighters battle to take back territory from Islamic State militants who seized much of the country’s north and west last year. The Sunni extremists have aggressively enlisted children as young as 10 for combat, as suicide bombers and as executioners in their horrifying videos. This month, Human Rights Watch said that Syrian Kurdish militias fighting the militants continue to deploy underage fighters.

Among those training in the streets of Baghdad, 15-year-old Jaafar Osama said he used to want to be an engineer when he grows up, but now he wants to be a fighter. His father is a volunteer fighting alongside the Shiite militias in Anbar and his older brother is fighting in Beiji, north of Baghdad.

“God willing, when I complete my training I will join them, even if it means sacrificing my life to keep Iraq safe,” he said.

The training program could have serious implications for the U.S.-led coalition, which provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to the Iraqi government but has distanced itself from the Iranian-backed militias. The U.S. does not work directly with the Popular Mobilization Forces, but the group receives weapons and funding from the Iraqi government and is trained by the Iraqi military, which receives its training from the U.S.

The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 says the U.S. cannot provide certain forms of military support, including foreign military financing and direct commercial sales to governments that recruit and use child soldiers or support paramilitaries or militias that do.

When informed of the AP findings, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying the U.S. is “very concerned by the allegations on the use of child soldiers in Iraq among some Popular Mobilization forces in the fight against ISIL,” using an acronym for the militant group. “We have strongly condemned this practice around the world and will continue to do so.”

For Iraq’s Shiite majority, the war against the Islamic State group — which views them as heretics to be killed — is a life-or-death fight for which the entire community has mobilized.

Last year, when IS took over the northern city of Mosul, stormed to the doorstep of Baghdad and threatened to destroy Shiite holy sites, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on the public to volunteer to fight. So great was his influence that hundreds of thousands of men came forward to join the hastily-established Popular Mobilization Forces along with some of the long-established Shiite militias, many of which receive support from Iran.

Then, on June 9, as schools let out, al-Sistani issued a new fatwa urging young people in college, high school and even middle school to use their summer vacations to “contribute to (the country’s) preservation by training to take up arms and prepare to fend off risk if this is required.”

In response, the Popular Mobilization Forces set up summer camps in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods from Baghdad to Basra. A spokesman for the group, Kareem al-Nouri, said the camps give “lessons in self-defense” and underage volunteers are expected to return to school by September, not go to the battle front.

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister’s office echoed that. There may be “some isolated incidents” of underage fighters joining combat on their own, Saad al-Harithi told the AP. “But there has been no instruction by the Marjaiyah (the top Shiite religious authority) or the Popular Mobilization Forces for children to join the battle.” ”

“We are a government that frowns upon children going to war,” he said.

But the line between combat training and actually joining combat is blurry, and it is weakly enforced by the Popular Mobilization Forces. Multiple militias operate under its umbrella, with fighters loyal to different leaders who often act independently.

At the training camp in a middle-class Shiite neighborhood of western Baghdad earlier this month, the young cadets spoke openly of joining battle in front of their trainers, who did nothing to contradict them.

Neighborhood youths spent their evenings in training every night during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended in mid-July, with mock exercises held every few days since then for those who wish to continue.

The boys ran through the streets practicing urban warfare techniques, since the toughest battles with the Islamic State group are likely to involve street fighting. They were taught to hold, control and aim light weapons, though they didn’t fire them. They also took part in public service activities like holding blood drives and collecting food and clothing.

Earlier this summer, at one of the hottest front lines, near the IS-held city of Fallujah in western Anbar province, the AP spoke to a number of young boys, some heavily armed, among the Shiite militiamen.

Baghdad natives Hussein Ali, 12, and his cousin Ali Ahsan, 14, said they joined their fathers on the battlefield after they finished their final exams. Carrying AK-47’s, they paced around the Anbar desert, boasting of their resolve to liberate the predominantly Sunni province from IS militants.

“It’s our honor to serve our country,” Hussein Ali said, adding that some of his schoolmates were also fighting. When asked if he was afraid, he smiled and said no.

The fight they are engaged in has been brutal. IS atrocities are the most notorious and egregious, including mass killings of captured soldiers and civilians. But Shiite militias are said to have committed abuses as well. In February, Human Rights Watch accused individual Shiite militias under the Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella of “possible war crimes,” including forcing Sunni civilians from their home and abducting and summarily executing them.

In June, the United Nations Children’s Fund called for “urgent measures” to be taken by the Iraqi government to protect children, including criminalizing the recruitment of children and “the association of children with the Popular Mobilization Forces.”

The U.S. State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons report Monday in which it lists foreign governments identified over the past year as having armed forces or government-supported armed groups that recruit and use child soldiers. Those governments are subject to restrictions in the following fiscal year on certain security assistance and commercial licensing of military equipment. The report lists Syria, but not Iraq.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said that if the Shiite militias are using children as fighters, “then the countries that are supporting them are in violation of the U.N. Convention” on the Rights of the Child.

“If you are supporting the Iraqi army, then by extension, you are supporting the PMF,” she said.

Iraq has a long history of training underage fighters. Under Saddam Hussein, boys 12 through 17 known as “Saddam’s lion cubs” would attend monthlong training during summer breaks with the goal of eventually merging them into the Fadayeen — a paramilitary force loyal to Saddam’s Baathist regime.

The Iraqi army restricts the age of its recruits to between 18 and 35, a policy that rights groups say is enforced. But there is no law governing the Popular Mobilization Forces. A draft law for the national guard, a force geared toward empowering Sunni tribes to police their own communities, purposely omits any age restrictions, lawmakers saying they want to open it to qualified fighters over age 35.

The U.N. convention does not ban giving military training to minors. But Jo Becker, the advocacy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, said that it puts children at risk.

“Governments like to say, ‘Of course, we can recruit without putting children in harm’s way,’ but in a place of conflict, those landscapes blur very quickly,” she said.

Once in a combat situation, children are plunged into the horrors of war, she said. “They don’t have a mature sense of right and wrong and they may commit atrocities more easily than adults.”


Lawyer For U.S. Journalist Jailed in Iran Says He Should Be Freed After Nuclear Deal

Jason Rezaian, who works for the Washington Post, has been detained for a year

TEHRAN, Iran — The lawyer of detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tuesday her client should be freed in the wake of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Iranian media reported.

Both the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies quoted Rezaian’s defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, as saying Iran’s new penal code also meant the Iranian-American journalist should be freed. Ahsan did not elaborate, but new laws in Iran bar those on trial for charges other than murder from being in detention for more than a year before a verdict.

Rezaian, held for more than a year, reportedly faces up to 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted in his closed-door trial in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Ahsan, in her comment to the news agencies, said the deal of Iran’s contested nuclear program, reached July 14 in Vienna, meant Rezaian should be freed.

“Regarding the circumstances of the Vienna deal, we have called for an acquittal for my client to be issued as soon as possible,” Ahsan reportedly told Fars, without elaborating. She reiterated earlier comments that she expected the next hearing in Rezaian’s case to be the last before a verdict is announced.

Ahsan could not be immediately reached for comment by The Associated Press.

Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a journalist for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, and two photographers were detained along with him on July 22, 2014, in Tehran. All except Rezaian were later released. Salehi reportedly has been blocked from traveling outside of Iran.

U.S. officials, the Post and rights groups repeatedly have criticized Rezaian’s trial.

TIME Middle East

Why Turkey Sees the Kurdish People as a Bigger Threat than ISIS

kurdish forces troops fight turkey isis
Rodi Said—Reuters Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters take up positions inside a damaged building in al-Vilat al-Homor neighborhood in Hasaka city, as they monitor the movements of Islamic State fighters who are stationed in Ghwayran neighborhood in Hasaka city, Syria on July 22, 2015.

The Kurds' success against ISIS might encourage advocates of a Kurdish state across parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey

As Kurdish forces headed to the frontlines to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) this weekend, they came under attack, not by ISIS but by Turkish fighter jets.

“They were going to Kirkuk and Sinjar to fight ISIS,” says Zagros Hiwa, a spokesman for the Kurdish PKK forces. The PKK, The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is a Kurdish separatist group and also one of the forces fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria. They are now also under attack by Turkey.

Last week, the Turkish government announced it was joining the war against ISIS. Since then it has arrested more than 1,000 people in Turkey and carried out waves of air raids in neighboring Syria and Iraq. But most of those arrests and air strikes, say Kurdish leaders, have hit Kurdish and left wing groups, not ISIS.

They say Turkey is now hindering, rather than helping, the fight against ISIS. “Most of our forces that have been targeted were forces that were preparing themselves to go to fight against ISIS,” says Zagros.

Kurds are an ethnic minority that live in parts of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. They have been persecuted for decades — from Turkey’s suppression of Kurdish identity and banning of Kurdish language to Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on Kurdish communities. Their leaders, from the numerous different parties and rebel groups that represent them, have long sought an independent Kurdish state encompassing that territory and have fought against their respective governments to try to achieve that.

For decades, Turkey fought the PKK in a guerrilla war to push for sovereignty in Kurdish areas of Turkey, but for the past two years the parties have had a truce and were engaged in a peace process. In recent days, Turkey has arrested hundreds of Kurdish activists and politicians and hit the PKK with more than 450 strikes, according to Kurdish leaders. The Turkish government hasn’t said how may air raids it has carried out or who were the targets.

Hoshang Waziri, a political analyst based in Erbil, says the Kurds’ recent territorial gains in Syria along Turkey’s border and their increasing political legitimacy in the eyes of the West, have made the Kurds a bigger threat to Turkey than ISIS. “The fear of the Turkish state started with the Kurdish defeat of ISIS in Tel Abyad,” says Waziri.

At the beginning of the year, the Syrian side of the border was controlled by a patchwork of different groups — Kurds, ISIS and other rebel factions. However, in the last few months Kurdish forces have pushed west after re-taking the border town of Kobane earlier this year. They have taken a number of key areas along the border and connected the territory they control. Now the YPG, a PKK-affiliated group, which represents Syrian Kurds, has semi-independent rule over contiguous swathes of the border areas.

Much of these territorial gains were achieved with the help of U.S. air strikes.

The success of the Syrian Kurds, with the support of Turkish and Iraqi Kurds has enhanced the Kurd’s international profile and their self confidence. The Kurdish groups are being seen as the most effective ground troops in the battle against ISIS as Turkey sits almost idle with its well-equipped army on the border. Turkey has even been accused of aiding ISIS by allowing them to move freely in border areas and allowing new recruits to join them.

“The image in the West of the Kurds as a reliable ally on the ground is terrifying for Turkey,” says Waziri. “So before it’s too late, Turkey waged its war — not against ISIS, but against the PKK.”

Turkey has been keen to paint ISIS and the PKK with one terrorism brush. “How can you say that this terrorist organization is better because it’s fighting ISIS?” said Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusogl at a press conference in Lisbon on Monday. “They are the same. Terrorists are evil. They all must be eradicated. This is what we want.”

But some see the war against ISIS simply as a cover for an attack on Kurdish groups. Of the more than 1,000 people Turkey has arrested in security sweeps in recent days, 80% are Kurdish, associated either with the PKK or the non-violent Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), says İbrahim Ayhan, a member of parliament for the HDP. “The victory of the Kurds against ISIS was seen by Turkey has some sort of challenge,” says Ayhan. “This is all seen as a threat by Turkey.”

Ayhan says another threat came from inside Turkey. While Kurds in Syria have gained territory and international recognition, in Turkey, Kurds have gained seats in parliament. In the June elections Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to get the majority it sought while the Kurdish HDP increased its representation.

That left Erdoğan and the AKP struggling to form a government. Ayhan says the AKP needs a state of “chaos” to perusade voters that it is the only bulwark against chaos. As of yet no new government has been formed in Turkey and if that doesn’t happen in the next few weeks, new elections will be called. By that time Ayhad fears many of the leaders of his HDP party will be in jail and some even worry the HDP will be outlawed. At the same time, Erdoğan and his AKP hope they will have shown only they can defend Turkey from internal and external threats.

TIME Internet

Teenagers Could Have the Right to Delete Their Online History in the U.K.

Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images This January 30, 2014 photo taken in Washington,DC, shows the splash page for the social media internet site Facebook.

Some teenagers have lost jobs or suffered embarassment because of their pre-adult posts

A campaign backed by the U.K. government wants children to have the right to delete embarrassing pictures or information they share online by the time they reach the age of 18.

Government officials have promised to persuade technology companies to allow 18-year-olds to delete or edit all content they created when they were younger. But, there are no plans to follow California’s Erasure Law, which compels companies to give minors the option to delete user activity.

The iRights Campaign highlights the issues surrounding the way the internet permanently records errors of judgement and immature attitudes, which negatively impacts the lives of of those posting it.

Nicole Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, supports the campaign and has also set up a commission to figure out how Scotland can adopt these standards.

“We believe that every child and young person has the right to grow up in a safe environment – that principle applies to the virtual world too,” Sturgeon told the London Times.

TIME Markets

Chinese Markets Continue to Fall Following Worst Single-Day Drop in 8 Years

Shanghai Composite Index Slumps Below 3,500 Points On Wednesday
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images An investor observes stock market at a stock exchange hall on July 8, 2015 in Fuyang, Anhui Province of China

Market interference by state regulatory officials has yielded ambiguous results

China’s stock markets continued their precipitous slide on Tuesday, falling almost two percent despite state regulators’ frantic attempts to stabilize the country’s volatile indices.

Tuesday’s rout came a day after the Chinese bourse’s worst drop in eight years, sending tremors of apprehension across markets worldwide. At market close on Tuesday, the Shanghai Composite Index sat at 3,663 points — more than 600 points lower than where it was just four weeks ago, illustrating the volatility of these markets and Beijing’s failure to stabilize them.

A surge that began earlier this year came to a dramatic turn last month, prompting state regulatory officials to enact drastic policies ranging from interest rate adjustments to stringent restrictions on the selling of shares.

“With Chinese markets heading further south on Tuesday after yesterday’s plunge, the question whether Beijing’s intervention is working gets louder,” market strategist Bernard Aw told the Associated Press.


John Sewel Has Resigned From the House of Lords

House of Lords member Lord Sewel resigns

John Sewel caved in to pressure

(LONDON) — A member of the House of Lords has resigned from the chamber and apologized after he was filmed in an alleged cocaine-and-sex session with prostitutes.

John Sewel caved in to pressure on Tuesday, telling parliamentary officials in a statement that he was “terminating my membership of the House of Lords.” He now says he can best serve the house by leaving it.

Sewel, who as deputy speaker had enforced standards in the House of Lords, apologized for the “pain and embarrassment” he had caused. The Labour Party member and former ally of Tony Blair had insisted as late as Monday that he would try to stay.

Images of Sewel that emerged in The Sun newspaper on Monday showed him wearing an orange bra belonging to one of the prostitutes.

TIME Libya

Muammar Gaddafi’s Son Has Been Sentenced to Death Over 2011 Libya Killings

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi
Ben Curtis—AP Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli on Feb. 25, 2011

The court sentenced eight others to death as well

TRIPOLI, Libya — A court in Libya on Tuesday sentenced a son of Moammar Gadhafi to death by firing squad after convicting him of murder and inciting genocide during the 2011 uprising.

The Tripoli court that sentenced Seif al-Islam, who is being held by a militia that refuses to hand him over, also sentenced to death eight others, including former Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, who is in government custody.

It was unclear whether the sentences in the mass trial of 38 Gadhafi-era figures, only 29 of whom were present, would be carried out. Six others were sentenced to life in prison and four were cleared of charges.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said the trial was “undermined by serious due process violations,” and called on the Supreme Court to independently review the verdict.

“This trial has been plagued by persistent, credible allegations of fair trial breaches that warrant independent and impartial judicial review,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The victims of the serious crimes committed during the 2011 uprising deserve justice, but that can only be delivered through fair and transparent proceedings.”

Libya has slid into chaos since the overthrow and killing of Gadhafi, who ruled the country for four decades. It is now bitterly divided between an elected parliament and government cornered in the country’s east, with little power on the ground, and an Islamist militia-backed government in the west that has seized the capital, Tripoli.

Since the end of the civil war, Seif al-Islam has been held by a militia in Zintan, which is allied with the Tobruk-based internationally recognized government against the Tripoli one. The court that convicted him is affiliated with the Tripoli-based government. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.

During the trial, Seif al-Islam was accused of recruiting mercenaries who were given Libyan nationality, planning and carrying out attacks on civilian targets from the air, forming armed groups and shooting into crowds of demonstrators. Among the charges he was convicted of were incitement of murder and rape.

Hundreds of militias in Libya are battling for power and turf in a lawless environment has allowed human traffickers and kidnappers to flourish.

The U.N. envoy for Libya, meanwhile, has urged the Islamist-led government in Tripoli to sign a peace deal that would establish a unity government. Members of the Tobruk government and regional leaders signed the unity accord in Morocco on July 11.

Also sentenced to death on Tuesday were foreign intelligence chief Abu-Zeid Omar-Dawarda and Gadhafi’s former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

TIME United Kingdom

This Video of an 8-Year-Old With Cerebral Palsy Finishing a Triathlon Is Everything

"He doesn’t see himself as different to anyone else,” says the mother of Bailey Matthews

Eight-year-old Bailey Matthews from Nottinghamshire, northern England may have cerebral palsy but he wasn’t going to let a condition that affects mobility get in the way of completing a grueling triathlon.

Hundreds of people cheered Matthews over the finish line on Saturday after he completed a 100 meter swim, 4,000 meter bike ride and 1,300 meter run at the Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire, reports the Yorkshire Post.

Matthews used a specially-adapted walking frame to help him round the course but in footage posted online by YouTube user Andrew Cannon, he can be seen pushing the frame aside to finish the last 20 meters unaided.

“You can see his little face when he came round and saw everyone, that was his way of finishing in style and showing everyone what he could do. It was the response from the crowd that pushed him to do that,” his mother Julie Hardcastle told the Yorkshire Post.

Matthews was born nine weeks early and at 18 months was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills.

“He has always struggled with getting dressed, things that parents of other children take for granted, he does struggle with, just every day things are more difficult for him, but he never lets it bother him. He doesn’t see himself as different to anyone else,” his mother said.

Matthews picked up his determination to complete a triathlon from his father, himself a triathlete, who used to push his son in a wheelchair around weekly running events.

[Yorkshire Post]

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