Less than half of all Russians think that the presence of monitors can make elections more honest and transparent, with a third of respondents holding that external monitoring has no effect at all.
According to the latest research made by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center (VTSIOM) only 43 percent of Russians think that the presence of observers at elections make them fairer, down from 49 percent in 2011. Thirty-four percent of those polled said that monitors’ participation in elections process had no effect whatsoever on its fairness, also down from 36 percent five years ago.
The share of those who said that in their opinion monitors were actually making elections less fair increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 8 percent. Some 15 percent of respondents said they could not give a direct answer to the question, also up from 10 percent five years back.
When researchers asked Russians what, in their opinion, the main motivation was of those who work as elections monitors, 30 percent said it was just a way to earn money, but 19 percent said they were driven by their pursuit of justice and fairness. Six percent answered that this was a way to exercise ‘an active civil position’, 3 percent hold that people who perform these functions are forced to do so, while a further 3 percent referred to unidentified “own interests.” One percent of poll participants said that observers were just killing their spare time, another 1 percent named various “other reasons”. A sizable 41 percent answered that they had no idea why people were working as elections monitors.
Of those polled, 6 percent said that they had previously worked as elections monitors and 94 percent have never performed such a function. At the same time, 18 percent said they were ready to become monitors in some polls in the future, 8 percent also agreed to participate, but only on condition that their work was supported by the state and the community. Some 70 percent answered that they would turn down such proposal.
Russia is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday, as well as a set of regional polls in which citizens would elect several regional and municipal heads and legislatures.
The head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission (CEC), Ella Pamfilova, has previously urged all political parties to send their representatives to monitor the polls in order to prevent any violations. In the same statement she warned civil servants about criminal responsibility for meddling with the voting process.
In July, representatives of the CEC told reporters that they had signed bilateral agreements with 27 nations, allowing their representatives to conduct monitoring at the forthcoming polls. They also said that albeit the United States was not among these countries, but invitations could be extended to US citizens on a personal basis.
Separate invitations have been extended to representatives of several major international blocs, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
At the same time, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has been denied access to the State Duma elections because of the ongoing infringement of the rights of the Russian delegation in this group.
By accepting Bayer’s offer, the largest cash acquisition proposal on record, Monsanto is set to give the German company a shot at grabbing the top spot in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry, combining its crop science business with Monsanto’s strength in seeds.
Germany-based health and agricultural giant Bayer reached a deal to acquire seed and pesticide firm Monsanto for $66 billion in yet another jolt to a global agricultural sector that has been rocked by sluggish crop prices.
Bayer said Wednesday that it agreed to pay $128 per share in cash for St. Louis-based Monsanto after months of acquisition talks in which the pursuer sweetened its bid on multiple occasions.
Following a flurry of major deals in the ag sector, such as the tie-up of ag giants Dow Chemical and DuPont, regulatory scrutiny from the Obama administration and other governments could prove to be an obstacle for the Bayer-Monsanto accord.
But Bayer agreed to pay $2 billion if the deal collapses under anti-trust pressure, in what investors call a breakup fee. Bayer, which is financing the deal with a combination of its cash reserves and new debt, described the fee as reflective of “its confidence that it will obtain the necessary regulatory approvals.”
Monsanto shares (MON) rose 0.8% in pre-market trading to $106.90, falling well short of the deal price, possibly reflecting skepticism that the deal will be finalized.
The companies said they expect the deal to be finalized by the end of 2017.
“This represents a major step forward for our crop science business and reinforces Bayer’s leadership position as a global innovation driven life science company with leadership positions in its core segments, delivering substantial value to shareholders, our customers, employees and society at large,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear what would happen to Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, who called the deal “a testament to everything we’ve achieved” and said it would create an “innovation engine.”
In 2015, the companies had combined revenue of 23 billion euros. They said they expect to save $1.5 billion in “synergies” within three years — a corporate term that typically includes cost costs and combined purchasing power.
The combined company’s seeds division and North American headquarters will be based in St. Louis. Its pesticide and crop science division will be based in Monheim, Germany. The company said it will also have “an important presence” in Durham, N.C., a digital farming business headquartered in San Francisco and many other operations.
Bayer said it’s too early to say whether job cuts will occur.
“Based on our preliminary analysis, and given the complementarity of the portfolios and geographic focus of both companies, we expect to maintain major sites in the U.S., as well as in Germany,” Bayer said.
A plan to pilot the use of spit hoods by the Met Police has been abandoned after London’s mayor voiced concerns.
The mesh fabric hoods are placed over the heads of suspects to protect police officers from being spat at or bitten.
The restraining device was to be trialled at 32 custody suites across the capital from October.
Mayor Sadiq Khan responded after human rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty and Inquest said the hoods belonged in “horror stories”.
A City Hall spokesman told the BBC the mayor asked the Met to pause the pilot scheme to give him an opportunity to look at the detail and to consult with the wider public as well as the police themselves.
‘Spitting a real problem’
In a statement, the Met said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) does not currently use spit guards, although their national use and development has been closely monitored for a number of years.
“There are now a number of forces where spit guards are used both operationally in response to incidents and in custody.
“The MPS has a duty of care to its officers and staff – the issue of spitting and biting is a real problem, particularly in a custody environment, and is a significant health risk.
“Over a number of years, the MPS has been looking at potential ways of minimising the threat this issue poses to officers and staff.
“One of the options that has been considered has been spit guards in custody suites.”
Earlier Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, called the use of spit hoods “primitive, cruel and degrading ” adding their use would inspire “fear and anguish”.
“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons,” she said.
“The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening.
“Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilised society – we urge the Met Police to think again.”
The Police Federation has called for the use of spit hoods to protect officers.
British Transport Police has used a hood 151 times since introducing them in June 2014.
The force is being investigated by the police watchdog over an incident where officers put a spit hood on a man at London Bridge in July.
Shamik Dutta, the solicitor representing the man who had the hood put on his head, said: “The application of a spit hood can be deeply distressing and humiliating, causing panic in the detained person.
“By obscuring someone’s face, the use of a spit hood can prevent witnesses, including police officers, from quickly identifying whether a person is suffering breathing difficulties, is choking or has suffered some other serious facial or head injury requiring immediate medical attention to avoid life-threatening consequences.”
‘Hand across mouth?’
Lord Adebowale, former chair of the commission on the Met Police’s response to mental health, said: “There is an awful trend of these devices being misused and being used in a way which tends to impact minority ethnic groups, those with mental health challenges, those with learning difficulties.”
He added he was concerned they could be used “in situations where the police may not be trained to deal with it”, leading to individuals being “forced into positions where breathing can be restrained”.
He also said it was a question of human dignity.
But former senior Met officer Hamish Brown, said: “What’s the other option? Putting a hand across someone’s mouth or a handkerchief in their mouth?
“It is pretty awful to have this, but unfortunately it’s the way society has gone. It is for the police to be sensible and use their discretion.”
A Met spokeswoman said officers would be trained to ensure use was proportionate, but added they were necessary “to meet the duty of care owed to officers when a detainee spits at or attempts to bite them”.
Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spit hoods, to cover suspects’ heads during arrests and in police stations.
The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevents exposure to diseases and serious infection.
In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units will receive material and training on how to use the “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”
Spit hoods are not to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but detail on their use after the pilot scheme expires has not been provided.
The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which have deemed the use of spit hoods “an alarming development” and as “cruel and degrading.”
The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.
“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” said Liberty director Martha Spurrier.
“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.
“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Met police to think again.”
Deborah Coles from legal charity Inquest echoed the sentiment.
“This is an alarming development with seemingly no debate or consultation and will do nothing to assist police and community relations,” she said.
“The use of a hood as a piece of police equipment is frightening and raises real concerns about its potential for misuse against the most vulnerable and discriminated against sections of society.”
The Police Federation, however, thinks the measure is necessary to protect its rank-and-file officers.
The police union’s health and safety representative, Che Donald, said: “I’d rather take a punch to the face than be spat at.”
He told the Guardian newspaper: “We do not deal with the most savory people. Hepatitis is prevalent within the drug abuse community. I don’t see it as a use of force, it is a health and safety issue.”
The risk of the hoods to arrestees, however, has been described as high by police monitoring groups.
“Every new piece of kit is always justified on the grounds of officer safety,” Kevin Blowe from the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) told RT.
“Yet again, there is no regard to the long history of violently misusing equipment against people with mental health issues and those who are routinely targeted by the police, particularly young people from minority communities.
“This is how very vulnerable people have died in police custody in the past. It happened with the introduction of CS spray, positional restraint techniques and Tasers. Our concern is that it’s only a matter of time before spit hoods are a contributor to another grieving family’s search for answers about the death of a loved one.”
Human rights charity Amnesty International said in a statement: “Spit hoods can restrict breathing, create disorientation and can be dangerous and extremely distressing. Serious questions must be asked as to whether these restraints which have been criticized for breaching human rights guidelines should actually have a role in modern British policing.
“It beggars belief that the Met police would choose to introduce these restraints in their toolkit, particularly given that so many other major British police forces have chosen to outlaw them.”
Until recently only smaller forces and the British Transport Police (BTP) used spit hoods.
Students in at least one Rutgers University residence hall are being encouraged to use only language that is “helpful” and “necessary” to avoid committing microaggressions.
The display, photos of which were obtained by Campus Reform, is titled “Language Matters: Think,” and was placed in the College Avenue Apartments by a resident assistant, according to a current resident of the building who does not wish to be identified.
Victims of microaggressions are “more at risk for illness & decreased immune system.”
Erected as part of the university’s “Language Matters” campaign, the bulletin board instructs students to ask themselves whether their choice of words is “true,” “helpful,” “inspiring,” “necessary,” and “kind” before speaking out, and also includes a list of potentially-offensive terms, such as “retarded” and “illegal aliens.”
The board warns students that failing to follow these guidelines could lead them to commit a microaggression, which include “microassaults,” “microinsults,” and “microinvalidations.”
Also included on the bulletin board is a flyer from the “Language Matters” campaign, an initiative launched by the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities some time during the 2015 fall semester.
The flyer, which was adapted from the University of Maryland’s “Inclusive Language Campaign,” lists various terms that some people might find offensive, presenting scenarios such as saying “he looks like a terrorist” to someone who is “a United States veteran;” using the phrase “that’s so ghetto” around someone who “grew up in poverty;” and commenting that an “exam just raped me” in the presence of “a survivor of sexual assault.”
The “Language Matters” website includes a presentation similar in nature to the flyer, outlining the “big impact” of “little things” and providing examples of the three types of microaggressions.
A microassault may include “avoiding someone,” for instance, while an example of a microinsult is telling someone they are strong for a girl. A microinvalidation, meanwhile, could involve asking an Asian or Latino person where they are from.
Simply avoiding offensive language, however, is not enough according to Rutgers, which claims that microaggressions can also be “nonverbal” and “environmental,” but fails to elaborate further.
Rutgers also has a Bias Prevention Education Team that handles reports of microaggressions and other “bias incidents,” which experienced a surge of reports after alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos visited campus last semester, the anonymous student claimed. Liberal students memorably protested the event by covering themselves in fake blood, but still complained vehemently that the university had tolerated what they deemed “hate speech.”
Rutgers president Robert Bachi defended Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus despite expressing views that may be considered offensive, but the “Language Matters” campaign contradicts that message through 60- to 90-minute workshops examining how “negatively charged words…create a damaging environment for all of society,” during which presenters seek “to demonstrate how microagressions hinder our ability to have a diverse and inclusive society/community.”
The bulletin board in the College Avenue Apartments building admits that so-called microaggressions are often unintentional, but preemptively rejects the notion that promoting inclusive language is “making a big deal out of nothing.”
According to the display, even though microaggressions are “not the same thing as hate crimes or overt bigotry,” they still affect victims “physically, emotionally, [and] behaviorally,” placing them “more at risk for illness & decreased immune system.”
Representatives for Rutgers are currently looking into the matter for Campus Reform, and have promised to provide additional details about the “Language Matters” bulletin board. This article will be updated once that information is received. source: http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=8081
For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in case of an attack or catastrophe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.
Germany is currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager last month. Berlin announced measures earlier this month to spend considerably more on its police and security forces and to create a special unit to counter cyber crime and terrorism.
“The population will be obliged to hold an individual supply of food for ten days,” the newspaper quoted the government’s “Concept for Civil Defence” – which has been prepared by the Interior Ministry – as saying.
The paper said a parliamentary committee had originally commissioned the civil defense strategy in 2012.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the plan would be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday and presented by the minister that afternoon. He declined to give any details on the content.
People will be required to stockpile enough drinking water to last for five days, according to the plan, the paper said.
The 69-page report does not see an attack on Germany’s territory, which would require a conventional style of national defense, as likely.
However, the precautionary measures demand that people “prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future,” the paper cited the report as saying.
It also mentions the necessity of a reliable alarm system, better structural protection of buildings and more capacity in the health system, the paper said.
A further priority should be more support of the armed forces by civilians, it added.
Germany’s Defence Minister said earlier this month the country lay in the “crosshairs of terrorism” and pressed for plans for the military to train more closely with police in preparing for potential large-scale militant attacks.
They said they were ‘sickened to their stomachs’ to discover that while they had to rely on public generosity to bring the action, Mr Blair was indemnified under Cabinet Office rules – meaning the action won’t have to cost him a penny.
The Cabinet Manual, which is the rule book for the operation of Government, states that ministers and former ministers “are indemnified by the Crown for any actions taken against them for things done or decisions made in the course of their ministerial duties”.
It goes on: “The indemnity will cover the cost of defending the proceedings, as well as any costs or damages awarded against the minister.”
Blair: I accept full responsibility without exception and without excuse for taking Britain to warPlay!02:10
Roger Bacon, whose son Matthew Bacon, a major in the Intelligence Corps, was killed in a roadside bomb in 2005, said: “It is sickening he is indemnified. You feel this in the pit of your stomach. We will just have to swallow it – as difficult as it is to swallow.”
The Iraq War Families Campaign Group launched a fund-raising drive on Tuesday in an attempt to “bring to justice to those responsible for the war and the deaths of our loved ones”.
The appeal followed the conclusion of the Chilcot Inquiry, which sharply criticised the decision-making behind the war and said it had been poorly-planned and ended in failure.
About 30 families of dead soldiers are understood to be backing the legal action and will use the funding to pay for a legal team from the law firm McCue & Partners for a “full and forensic” analysis of the 2.6 million-word Chilcot report.
Within a day of launching, the appeal on the CrowdJustice website had reached its target of £50,000.
The lawyers estimated they need £150,000 to get to the point of bringing proceedings against Mr Blair, given the huge costs of launching a complex High Court legal action.
The fundraising website states: “Those responsible should be held to account. Now it is down to us, the Families, to ensure that justice is done. Not only for the sake of our children, siblings, parents and spouses, whose lives we can never get back, but to deter our state officials from ever again abusing their positions with such tragic and far-reaching consequences.”
The families have resorted to bringing their own case because the International Criminal Court has ruled out bringing proceedings against Mr Blair while the Crown Prosecution Service has twice rejected calls for him to face criminal prosecution in the UK.
The taxpayer has already paid the costs of ex-ministers and officials, thought to include Mr Blair, for legal advice ahead of publication of Chilcot earlier this month. The prospect of Mr Blair’s defence being paid for will appal his detractors.
He is reckoned to have earned tens of millions of pounds since leaving Downing Street in 2007 through a consultancy and investment business often operating in countries where he established contacts as prime minister.
Mr Blair has insisted he acted in good faith based on the intelligence available to him in the run up to the war. He has denied making a huge fortune and insists he is worth no more than £10 million. He said the Chilcot Report showed there was no secret plan to invade Iraq and parliament had not been misled in the run up to the invasion.
The public broadcaster reported the bombshell proposal would be presented to a meeting of the Visegrad group of countries – made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.In the preamble to the text the two ministers write: “Our countries share a common destiny and a common set of values ??that give rise to an even closer union between our citizens. We will therefore strive for a political union in Europe and invite the next Europeans to participate in this venture.”
The revelations come just days after Britain shook the Brussels establishment by voting to leave the European Union in a move some have predicted could leave to the break-up of the EU.
A number of member states are deeply unhappy about the creeping federalism of the European project with anti-EU sentiments running high in eastern Europe, Scandinavia and France.
Britain voted to leave the European Union in an historic referendum last Thursday
Responding to the plot Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski raged: “This is not a good solution, of course, because from the time the EU was invented a lot has changed.“The mood in European societies is different. Europe and our voters do not want to give the Union over into the hands of technocrats.
“Therefore, I want to talk about this, whether this really is the right recipe right now in the context of a Brexit.”
There are deep divides at the heart of the EU at the moment over how to proceed with the project in light of the Brexit vote.
Some figures have cautioned against trying to force through further political integration, warning that to do so against the wishes of the European people will only fuel further Eurosceptic feeling.
A few weeks before the Brexit vote European Council president Donald Tusk warned that European citizens did not share the enthusiasm of some of their leaders for “a utopia of Europe without conflicting interests and ambitions, a utopia of Europe imposing its own values on the external world, a utopia of Euro-Asian unity”.He added: “Increasingly louder are those who question the very principle of a united Europe. The spectre of a break-up is haunting Europe and a vision of a federation doesn’t seem to me to be the best answer to it.”
His view was backed up by the leader of the eurozone countries, Dutch politician Jerome Dijsselbloem, who added: “In the eurozone some are pushing for a completion of the monetary union by creating a full political union, a euro area economic government or even a euro budget… to me it is obvious.
“We need to strengthen what we have and finish it, but let’s not build more extensions to the European house while it is so unstable.”
Meanwhile Lorenzo Condign, the former director general of Italy’s treasury, has said it is nearly impossible to see Europe opting for more integration at such a time of upheaval.He said: “It seems difficult to imagine that the rest of the EU will close ranks and move in the direction of greater integration quickly. Simply, there is no political will.
“Indeed, the risk is exactly the opposite – namely that centrifugal forces will prevail and make integration even more difficult.”
But others see the Brexit vote as an opportunity to push ahead with the European elite’s long-cherished dream of creating a United States of Europe.
Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has called for “more Europe” whilst Italy’s finance minister, Carlo Padoan, is advocating a common budget for the eurozone states.
And Emmanuel Macron, France’s economy minister, wants to go even further and set up a common eurozone treasury which would oversee the permanent transfer of funds from wealthier northern Europe to shore up Mediterranean economies.
Stickers calling for democracy to be replaced with Islam and for women who do not wear a veil to be raped have appeared in public places in Sweden. They have been reported to the police.
Pictures of the stickers, which have been stuck to objects on streets in Nybro, Småland, have been circulating on social media.
One of the stickers reads, in English: “Women who don’t wear a headscarf are asking to be raped.” Another reads: “No democracy. We just want Islam,” Fria Tider has reported.
The stickers have been reported to the police who are currently investigating who placed them there, but admitted that at the moment they do not know who is behind them.
The appearance of the stickers comes just weeks after a number of stickers appeared in nearby Emmaboda bearing the message “Multiculturalism is bad for your children and your grandchildren.” However, those stickers were emblazoned with ‘Nordfront’, the Swedish branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement, a national socialist movement. They were also stylised, made to look like the health warnings carried on cigarette packets.
But unlike the Nordfront stickers, the Islamist stickers feature plain white text on a plain dark grey background with no logo or marking to indicate who placed them. Consequently, while some people have argued that they were placed by newly arrived asylum seekers with an agenda to promote Islam in Sweden, others have argued that they could be the work of Swedes seeking to “incite hatred” against the immigrants.
In that respect, the controversy closely resembles a recent case in which leaflets were posted through letterboxes in Manchester, England, calling on British people not to walk their dogs in public in order for the area to be kept “pure” for Muslims.
“As citizens of a multicultural nation, those who live in the UK must learn to understand and respect the legacy and lifestyle of the Muslims who live alongside them,” the leaflets read.
They were distributed by a group called Public Purity, who stated on their website their intention to have all dogs removed from the public sphere in Britain to keep Muslims pure. “If dogs are not permitted to be present in public, Muslims could live their lives with a burden lifted from their shoulders and without having to fear being tainted with no fault of their own,” the group argued.
But it was unclear who was behind the campaign, leading to disagreement online over whether it was the work of Islamic fundamentalists or British nationalists as a false flag operation.