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Harris, Buttigieg in spotlight amid questions about Democrats’ future


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The Brooklyn Times Posts Review – 9:30 11.13.21: Angela Merkel urges Germans to get Covid vaccines | Biden warns, Putin fires, Xi exports, Modi gives a price – The Manila Times


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Putin says Russia has ‘nothing to do’ with Belarus-Poland border crisis


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nMoscow (AFP) xe2x80x93 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday denied claims Moscow is helping to orchestrate a crisis that has left hundreds of migrants from the Middle East trapped on the Belarus-Poland border.

Blaming Western policies in the Middle East for the crisis, Putin hit back at claims from Poland and others that Russia is working with Belarus to send migrants to the border of the European Union.

“I want everyone to know. We have nothing to do with it,” he said in an interview with state television broadcast Saturday.

Putin said European leaders needed to talk to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to resolve the crisis and that “as I understand it” German Chancellor Angela Merkel was ready to do so.

“We should not forget where these crises associated with migrants came from… Western countries themselves, including European countries,” he said.

The migrants, mainly Kurds, have been stuck for days in a no-man’s land on the border in near-freezing temperatures, setting up a tent camp and burning wood to keep warm.

Belarus says there are about 2,000 people in the camp, including pregnant women and children. Poland says there are between 3,000 to 4,000 migrants on the border, with more arriving every day.

Tents, heaters brought to camp

There is growing concern for their plight as temperatures continue to fall, with Poland refusing to allow them to cross and accusing Belarus of preventing them from leaving the area.

Belarusian authorities said Saturday they were delivering aid including tents and heaters to the migrant camp — a move that could make it a semi-permanent presence on the borders of the EU.

State news agency Belta reported that government bodies were erecting tents at the camp and that a generator had been delivered.

“The Belarusian side is doing everything to provide them with what they need. Water, firewood and humanitarian aid have been delivered,” Igor Butkevich, the deputy head of the state border committee, told Belta.

Migrants have been trying to cross the border for months, but the crisis came to a head when hundreds made a concerted effort on Monday and were pushed back by Polish border guards.

Sporadic attempts to cross have continued, and Polish police said Saturday that the body of a young Syrian man had been found in a forest close to the border.

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Police said the cause of death could not be immediately determined and that a group of around 100 migrants had attempted to cross the border during the night in the area.

The death brings to 11 the number of migrants found dead on both sides since the crisis began in the summer, according to aid groups.

European leaders have accused Lukashenko, who has ruled ex-Soviet Belarus for nearly 30 years, of luring the migrants to his country to send across the border in revenge for sanctions imposed over a bloody crackdown on his opponents.

The EU is expected next week to widen the penalties to include new sanctions for “human trafficking”.

EU set for new sanctions

European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said in an interview in Saturday’s edition of French newspaper Le Figaro that the sanctions would be “approved and applied”.

He said they would apply among others to Belarusian state airline Belavia, which has been accused of ferrying groups of migrants from Turkey and elsewhere to Minsk.

The EU said Friday it was having some success in efforts to stem the flow of migrants to Belarus, after Ankara banned Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis from flying to the country from Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser told AFP on Saturday that Turkey was also not to blame.

“Travellers are going to Belarus and from there to Lithuania, Poland and other EU countries. Blaming Turkey for that, or Turkish Airlines, is simply so misguided, misplaced,” Ibrahim Kalin said.

Tensions remain high at the border, where thousands of troops have been deployed on both sides.

Belarus said Friday it would “respond harshly to any attacks” and held joint drills with Russian paratroopers near the border.

Russia, Lukashenko’s main ally, sent planes including strategic bombers to patrol over Belarus this week.

But Moscow’s support for Minsk is often cautious, and Putin in the interview said Lukashenko was acting entirely on his own when he threatened this week to cut off Russian gas transit through Belarus to Europe.

xc2xa9 2021 AFP

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North Carolina man wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years pardoned | US news


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A North Carolina man who spent 24 years behind bars for a murder he has long said he did not commit has been pardoned by the statexe2x80x99s governor.

Dontae Sharpe has been out of prison since 2019 and the pardon allows him to apply for compensation of up to $750,000 for his wrongful conviction.

xe2x80x9cMr Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged,xe2x80x9d the governor, Roy Cooper, said.

In 1995, Sharpe was given a life sentence at age 19 for the first-degree murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe, whom he was accused of killing a year earlier during a drug deal. Sharpe had maintained his innocence throughout and said in a 2019 interview that his faith and knowledge he was innocent guided his refusal to accept offers of a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

At a virtual news conference on Friday just an hour after Cooperxe2x80x99s announcement, Sharpe said he was in disbelief when his lawyer called him with the news. He said he was still processing it and also was thinking of those who had taken to the streets and held vigils on his behalf.

xe2x80x9cIxe2x80x99m still in a haze, kind of,xe2x80x9d Sharpe said. xe2x80x9cWhen youxe2x80x99re dealing with us human beings, it can go any way, yes and no. I didnxe2x80x99t know what to expect. I was believing for a pardon.xe2x80x9d

The governmentxe2x80x99s case against Sharpe relied in part on testimony from a 15-year-old girl at the time who claimed she saw Sharpe kill Radcliffe but later recanted and said she wasnxe2x80x99t present at the time of the shooting. She later said her claims were made up, based on what investigators told her.

Sharpe was unsuccessful in his repeated efforts for a new trial until a former state medical examiner testified that the statexe2x80x99s theory of the shooting was not medically or scientifically possible. A judge subsequently ordered more evidence to be heard. Sharpe was released from prison in August 2019 after the prosecutor said the state wouldnxe2x80x99t pursue a retrial.

The NAACP had long pushed for Sharpexe2x80x99s release. In recent months, racial justice groups have demanded the governor grant Sharpe the clemency needed in order to apply for compensation for his wrongful conviction. They held vigils in front of Cooperxe2x80x99s state residence in downtown Raleigh for several weeks.

Anthony Spearman, a longtime North Carolina NAACP leader who was among those who participated in a vigil outside the governorxe2x80x99s mansion, said: xe2x80x9cThis should have happened a long time ago.xe2x80x9d

Sharpe said he will continue to press for other inmates to receive justice.

xe2x80x9cMy freedom is still incomplete as long as therexe2x80x99s still people going to prison wrongfully, if therexe2x80x99s still people in prison wrongfully and therexe2x80x99s still people that are waiting on pardons,xe2x80x9d he said.

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Three senior officials reportedly quit Mossad over moves by new spy chief | The Times of Israel


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Mossad chief David Barnea at a ceremony marking his taking the helm of the agency, on June 1, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Mossad chief David Barnea at a ceremony marking his taking the helm of the agency, on June 1, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

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Three senior officials in the Mossad espionage agency have resigned overxc2xa0 decisions made by the organizationxe2x80x99s new director, David Barnea, according to a Thursday report.

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The resignations took place in the past few weeks, Channel 13 reported.

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Barnea took over as director of the intelligence agency from Yossi Cohen in June.

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The officials who left the agency were three of its most senior officials, holding the comparative rank of major-general in the military, the report said.

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Those said to have quit include the head of the technology division, the head of operations and the head of the branch dealing with the anti-terror war. A fourth senior official is reportedly considering quitting as well.

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The resignation of the officials was said to be directly linked to organizational decisions made by Barnea to divide up responsibilities in the spy agency and split existing branches.

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Barnea, who is also known by his nickname Dedi, served as a combat soldier in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and has been in the Mossad for the past 25 years, including in prominent operational roles that saw him rise to lead the branch that handles the organizationxe2x80x99s agents worldwide. He was appointed Cohenxe2x80x99s deputy in 2019.

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Announcing Barneaxe2x80x99s appointment in May, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his top task was xe2x80x9cto prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.xe2x80x9d

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Cohen had served as head of the Mossad since January 2016. He was considered a close confidante to Netanyahu, reportedly served as the former prime ministerxe2x80x99s special envoy for various tasks, and was said to be seen by Netanyahu as his preferred successor as prime minister.

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Cohen played a prominent role in last yearxe2x80x99s deals to normalize ties with Arab countries. He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as the US brokered deals between them and Israel.

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nttttWhat’s Hebrew for ‘fierce’?ttt

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In Streetwise Hebrew for the Times of Israel Community, each month we learn several colloquial Hebrew phrases around a common theme. These are bite-size audio Hebrew classes that we think you’ll really enjoy.

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This month, we’re learning phrases on the topic of strength and power. Ready to get tough with us?xc2xa0

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