Daily Archives: February 15, 2017

Gambia: The New Gambia Are We Ready For Business – Freedom Newspaper

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm

The new Gambia reminds me of the revolutionary struggles against colonialism waged and won by countries like Angola, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Those struggles, like ours for this new Gambia, involved all and sundry from the opposition politicians to the Gambians living in the diaspora, to the market woman and the cripple in his or her wheel chair. This new independence was fought and won by all. Now that President Adama Barrows government is appointing the new ministers and technocrats to usher in the new Gambia, business as usual will no longer be viable.

History has recorded the earth moving contributions of ancient Greeks such as Aristotle, Thales, Socrates, Archimedes and Pythagoras in the fields of Science, Philosophy, Mathematics and Astronomy, etc. The common thread among all these great thinkers was that they all went to Ancient Egypt and studied under the tutelage of Africans. They might have been going back and forth to Ancient Greece as semesters in their bling blings during school recesses; nonetheless, they all completed their studies and went back to Ancient Greece. Their contributions have positively affected the rest of humanity until this day. That spirit of civilization and nation building can be ushered in The Gambia with the dedication, contribution and hard work from all Gambians. The idea of self-entitlement and that; government is the answer to all problems have to undergo collective and societal repudiation.

One of the biggest contributors as a block for the victory of President Barrows coalition government is the Gambian Diaspora. These Gambian citizens abroad contributed moneys, moral support, political advice and logistical support among many. They are more than ever needed to be involved in the socio-economic development of this new Gambia. Some of them may be hired as technocrats and bureaucrats in this new government but the vast majority who have technical and /or business experience may rather opt for the private sector instead. Many Gambians abroad are endowed with successful careers in Business, Finance, Engineering, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Management, Mass Communications, Agronomy, Mechanized and Commercial Farming & Fishing, Medical fields and Pharmacology to name a few. These avant gardes in the Diaspora like the Ancient Greeks who studied in Ancient Egypt, must not be ignored or sidelined in this new Gambian dispensation.

The coalition government has a duty to engage this block of Gambians to entice and reverse the brain drain, help repatriate their capital (human and material) back home and to create a more business friendly environment. It is said that, the dollar goes to where it is appreciated and this is a cardinal truth in enticing capital and investment. Where there is a flow of investment, there are jobs being created. We have seen the flight of capital and investment, the collapse of the light manufacturing industry, the collapse of the agricultural sector, the collapse of the re-export trade, the dwindling of tourism, and many more sad realities. Our youths have adversely become casualties of the debacle of a dictatorial system. Where there are no jobs or hope for the future, the back way becomes the viable alternative.

This coalition government is mandated to politically and legally clean up the mess created during the last 22 years and tidy it up to a level playing field for the future governments to come. We do not expect for this coalition government to embark on massive white elephant projects. Instead we are looking forward to constitutional reform, electoral reform, investment and tax reform, diplomatic reform, international treaty reforms, etc. Business as usual is no longer viable. The involvement of Gambians in the diaspora is urgently needed if this new independence is to be sustainable. It is not wise to totally relinquish and partition off your economy to outside forces whose bottom line is to transfer abroad whatever gains they make here. Heavy Gambian participation and stewardship of the economy are vital. These are some recommendations for the coalition government:

Similar policies are currently being manifested in countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Botswana. No wonder most of them are called the Economic Tigers of Africa today.

We are witnessing the support coming from the European Union and the World Bank. These funds must be put into good use. The government should avoid creating more and more bureaucracies. It is my opinion that when only bureaucrats meet to design policies regarding job creation and tax relief, more unnecessary levels of bureaucracies result instead of jobs being created. Consultation with the private sector in developing policies is vital. Besides youth training schemes, capacity building and deficit spending reduction, etc., some of these funds should be allocated for tax relief to potential Gambian Diaspora investors and suffering businesses at home to help bring back the many private sector jobs that have been lost over the years. If the government succeeds in creating an environment for a more vibrant private sector economy, self-entrenchment, redundancy and corruption in the public sector will dissipate significantly. Worthy civil servants in the public sector will briefly serve their quota in government knowing that they can join a vibrant private sector eventually. The sense of nationalism has dawned in this new Gambia thereby requiring a paradigm shift. Policies of the 20th century may not be practical in the 21st century. The first republic ingeniously developed the re-export trade into a successful sector. The second republic squandered that sector thereby giving Senegal the competitive edge. Subsequently our re-export trade volume and currency adversely suffered. So we must not cry over spilt milk or play second fiddle in the re-export trade competition given the reality of our geographical disadvantage. We must think outside the box again to steer Gambia into a brighter future. We must think and act globally in making and selling products and services that are unique and second to none. In closing, I believe that the new Gambia will be ready for business.

Written by: Musa Sallah, Brufut, The Gambia

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Sweden’s ‘feminist’ government criticized for wearing headscarves in Iran – Washington Post

Posted: at 9:47 pm

Over the weekend, Prime MinisterStefan Lofven led a Swedish delegation to Iran. Lofven was received warmly by the Islamic Republic’s political elite Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted positively about his meeting withLofven, adding that Sweden had a good reputation in Iran and the two countries agreed upon a number of trade-related deals.

Back home, however, coverage of the Swedish government delegation’s trip to Tehran has focused on something else. As Sweden’s media noted Monday, a number of female officials who joined the trip, including Trade Minister Ann Linde, chose to wear Islamic headscarves while in Iran.

According to Expressen newspaper, there were 11 women on the trip out of 15 total in the Swedish delegation. The women were photographed wearing headscarves almost all of the time they were in Iran, with the exception of a number of events that took place at the Swedish Embassy.

By law, women are required to cover theirhair and wear loose-fitting clothes when they appear in public in Iran, a country governed by a conservative Islamic elite. Many choose to wear loose-fitting hijabs, like the one worn by Linde in the picture above.

These rules require international visitors to dress modestly even if they are only in the country for a short time.

Lofven’s Swedish government describes itself as a feminist government, and it has spoken of the need for a feminist foreign policy. Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, a human rights group and frequent critic of Iran ,noted this apparent contradiction in a tweet shared Sunday night.

Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who started a Facebook page that invited Iranian women to share photographs of themselves without a hijab, also criticized the Swedish delegation.

By actually complying with the directives of the Islamic Republic, Western women legitimize the compulsory hijab law, Alinejad wrote on Facebook. This is a discriminatory law and it’s not an internal matter when the Islamic Republic forces all non-Iranian women to wear hijab as well.

Alinejad later shared to Facebook a recent image of Sweden’s deputy prime ministerIsabella Lovin signing a document with an all-female staff behind her. That imagerecently went viral, as many viewed it as a criticism of President Trump’s abortion policies. Trump’s words on women are worthy of condemnation; so are the discriminatory laws in Iran,Alinejad wrote.

Speaking to Expressen,Linde said she had not wanted to wear a headscarf. But it is law in Iran that women must wear the veil. One can hardly come here and break the laws, she explained.

Other Swedish politicians were more critical.Jan Bjrklund, leader of the opposition Liberals party, told Aftonbladet newspaper that the headscarf is a symbol of oppression for women in Iran and that the Swedish government should have demanded that Linde and other female members of the delegation be exempted from wearing it.

Iran’s rules on female attire often draw the ire of international visitors just last year, U.S. chess starNazi Paikidze made waves after refusing to travel to Iran to play inthe world championshipsbecause she would not wear a hijab. For female politicians, it represents a bigger challenge, however, as flouting the rules or refusing to travel to Iran could damage relations with the country.

Almost all female politicians who visit Iran cover their hair when they appear in public, but in some cases that has not stopped criticism. Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, was criticized by Iranian conservatives for wearing relatively tight clothes and a headscarf that did not cover her neck during a visit to the country in 2015.

The year before that, Italy’s then foreign minister, Emma Bonino,was reported to have briefly not worn a headscarf after arriving in the country, which resulted in a back and forth with the conservative Iranian press.

Questions over Islamic attire on diplomatic visits are not limited to Iran. In 2015, first lady Michelle Obama was pictured without a headscarf in Saudi Arabia, where conservative religious dress is customary but not required by law for foreigners. While other female dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia in the past had also chosen to not cover their hair, Obama’s attire sparked criticism on social media from a small but vocal group of Saudi conservatives.

Linde toldAftonbladetthat she will of course not be wearing a veil when she visits Saudi Arabia next month.

More on WorldViews

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Swedens subtly radical feminist foreign policy is causing a stir

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Mottley: Tax clearance certificate an ‘instrument of oppression’ – Loop Barbados

Posted: at 9:47 pm

In the amendments to the bill tabled by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, it was noted people were selling properties for millions of dollars without paying any taxes to the government while many of them owed were in arrears for the paying of income tax and Value Added Tax (VAT).

But Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, in her contribution to the debate, said the amendments to the legislation were “ill-advised”. While she acknowledged that the paying of taxes is necessary, Mottley said the ease of doing business in Barbados was already difficult and this legislation will make it worse for home owners, hotels and restaurants.

“This debate is not about DLP and BLP and winning an election. This debate is about the passage of legislation that will come to act as an instrument of oppression on both the righteous and unrighteous in this country.”

Mottley said the single tax ID number under the proposed amendments will make it difficult for people to dispose of their property “in a way that makes sense”whether it be by lease or sale.

She also said the legislation will impact on the countrys level of competitiveness by making it less attractive to investors. Quoting from the Ease of Doing Business 2017 Report, Mottley noted that Barbados ranked at number 130 out of 138 countries for the registration of property.

She said statistics such as these, along with others in the report, prove that the country cannot affordto bring any legislation which will make it more difficult to operate in the local business environment.

Mottley also said the legislation couldcause financial institutions to add a “new layer of questions and processes” to the loan approval process.

“As members on this side have pointed out, it doesnt only relate to you as an individual, if you are married, if you have partners, to the other persons who are in partnership with you in the ownership of assets – this legislation will grind business in Barbados to a halt.”

She suggested the government instead utilise an enforcement unit to cut down on those who take advantage of the loopholes in the tax collection system.

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Ethiopian Athlete Who Made Anti-government Gesture in Rio Reunites With Family – Voice of America

Posted: at 9:47 pm

WASHINGTON

Feyisa Lelisa, the 27-year-old Ethiopian silver medal winning marathoner, reunited with his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and two children, 5-year-old daugher, Soko, and 3-year-old son, Sora, on Tuesday at the Miami International Airport after being separated from them for six months.

It’s been tough living alone, he said speaking to VOAs Afaan Oromoo Service over the phone in his native Afaan Oromoo. Back home, I had a lot of support. It hasnt been easy, but that’s part of the struggle. You don’t give up, he said.

Lelisa has been given a U.S. special skill visa with the help of his lawyer and has settled in the U.S. state of Arizona in Flagstaff. His family entered the country on immigrant visas. The distance runner made headlines around the world when he crossed his wrists above his head, making a symbol for protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The anti-government gesture at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro put the runner at grave personal risk, and possible retribution toward his family.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, rear, of Ethiopia, hugs his wife Iftu Mulia, his daughter Soko, right, 5, and son Sora, left, 3, while picking up his family at Miami International Airport, Feb. 14, 2017.

Shortly after his refusal to go back to Ethiopia, his wife said that she was scared for the familys safety but wasnt surprised by what he did. He was burning inside when he saw on social media all these dead bodies; people being beaten and people being arrested. So I was not surprised because I know he had a lot of anger inside, she told Reuters when she was back home.

Ethiopia is currently under a state of emergency after a wave of protests persisted in the Oromia region starting in November 2015 and continued throughout 2016 spreading in the Amhara region. The anti-government protesters initially were about land related issues. However, protesters demands shifted to demands for basic human rights and political representation. Since then, security forces are accused of killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands of protesters, according to Human Rights Watch.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, carries his son Sora, 3, and pulls along his daughter Soko, 5, after picking up his family at Miami International Airport, Feb. 14, 2017.

One of many restrictions under the current state of emergency is the very political gesture that Lelisa is famous for. I didn’t make the decision to protest because of my family, he said speaking about his decision to continue protesting. I did so to shed light on the oppression, imprisonment, killing and displacement of my people.

At the time of his protest in the Olympics, the Ethiopian information minister, Getachew Reda, congratulated the athlete, then and assured him that he is safe to return home. Lelisa, however, decided to stay abroad.

Lelisa has no regrets and he pledges to continue working for the betterment of his people back home. I actually don’t think I have done enough for my people. I am still young and have some time to help, he said. I would do it all over again. And I am prepared to do all I can and do my part until the Oromo people win their freedom. It remains my biggest preoccupation.

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Us & Them: Love, the Ayatollah & Revolution – West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Posted: at 9:47 pm

“In the beginning of the so-called revolution, there was no talk of overthrowing the regime. When it started, there was some political oppression by the government, the shah. But socially, there were a lot of freedom, people could do anything, even you could criticize the government, but not the shah himself.”

On this week’s episode of the “Us and Them” podcast, we hear fromEssi and Katie, who fell in love before the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution and growing antipathy between America and Ayatollah Khomeini. Despite many fantastic twists and dangerous turns, their love has triumphed over archenemies hatred.

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting, this is “Us & Them” the podcast where we tell stories from America’s cultural divides.

Subscribe to Us & Them oniTunesor however you listen to podcasts.An edited version of Us & Them airs bi-weekly on West Virginia Public Broadcastingsradio network, and the full version is available atwvpublic.org/podcast.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to@usthempodcastor@wvpublic, or reach us on the feedback page atusandthempodcast.com.

And if you enjoyed this episode, join our community and sustain “Us & Them” with apledge of support.

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As I See It: The perils facing the Constitution – Corvallis Gazette Times

Posted: at 9:47 pm

We believe in the Constitution. It is the bedrock of our freedom and the supreme law of the land. No person great or small is above it not the president, not any of us. It establishes order the three branches of government and their functions and powers and it protects us lest the government overreach and try to take away our liberties.

We, and our Constitution, face two significant perils today: political parties have become more important to our leaders than serving all the citizens, and the First Amendment is under attack. I am trying to be nonpartisan, but let me give just one example. Vice President Pence, when he was chosen, described himself as a Christian, a father and a Republican in that order. What about being a citizen? What about serving all of the people, not just those on ones own team? Democrats are no better. If the Republicans want it, they are against it.

We have to start listening to each other. Each of us, regardless of education or economic status, knows where our individual shoe pinches and that is the genius of democracy: that each person has something to contribute. The great patriot of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine addressed this issue: He that would make his own liberty must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. What goes around comes around and if we Democrats and Republicans can think of nothing but beating each other up, our government will continue to be dysfunctional and our democracy flawed.

Here comes the civics quiz: What five freedoms does the First Amendment protect? No fair looking ahead. Here are the most important 46 words in the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

First, religion. The government cant make you pray. Belief is off-limits for the government. It can neither favor nor persecute any religion, and that includes Islam. You can worship as you please or not at all. A uniform ban of people of a particular religion would seem to offend both ends of the religion clause.

Speech, press, petition and assembly. These four freedoms are how we avoid violent revolution. They give us the machinery to change and a democratic form of government is always in the process of becoming. The notion that there are alternative facts (namely, that if you believe something, it must be true) is totally contrary to the marketplace of ideas upon which the First Amendment is based (put all of the information out there and the truth will emerge). The founders protected the press because the people have to have accurate and timely information to govern themselves.

Petition and assembly are the other two ways we speak to power. We gather; we discuss. We march; we protest. But the government has to listen for this to work. A government with a closed and armored mind one that can not abide criticism is immune to the petitions of its citizens and is, therefore, undemocratic by definition.

My wish for us all is that we listen to each other with patience and good humor, and that we protect each others right to speak and try to persuade with facts and logic. After all, the Constitution is just paper unless it lives in the hearts and minds of citizens. So here is an exercise we can all try: each day engage a stranger on a topic you care about and actually listen to what that person says. Who knows. We might learn something.

John Frohnmayer was chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts during the first Bush administration.

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Simonson: The war on drugs – La Crosse Tribune

Posted: at 9:46 pm

Every week I write out the arrests for the records page in the Jackson County Chronicle, and every week there is at least one arrest due to drugs. It is quite sad really, that drugs would have such a huge hold on not only this community, but across the entire nation.

We have been fighting a war on drugs now for over 40 years and it doesnt look like we are doing any better, and in fact by some accounts, we are doing worse.

Now, please note that I am by no means an expert on drugs. I never smoked marijuana or a cigarette, so the closest I have ever gotten to an addiction is food. So take my opinion as someone who knows very little about what it means to be addicted to drugs.

After it is all said and done, I dont know what the right course is and honestly I dont think anyone has a good answer. We are fighting a very strong beast, one that rears its ugly head when we least expect it. One that pries on peoples weaknesses and uses every ounce of their strength to fight it.

There is one thing I do know about addiction thoughit is there for people when there is no one else.

When we were fostering children in Ohio, it was very disheartening when parents would choose their addiction over their own children.

As you get to know these parents, you find out that they themselves have troubled pasts.

Eventually I began to feel sorry for some of these parents. Most of them didnt have family or someone they could lean on, something that is important for any person. Many would rely on the people around them, which in most cases were addicts themselves.

Instead, these addicts needed someone that could pull them out of the darkness and let them stand on their own two feet. In todays world, that someone is hard to find and often only reserved for the lucky ones.

For so long we have been waging this war on drugs. I think it is time to wage a different war.

I dont really have any answers. To many, I am just a nave person judging something I dont really know much about.

I do know one thing though, we need to change something. Maybe it is more mental health services. Maybe it is reducing jail sentences for addicts. Or maybe it is adding sharps boxes throughout the community. Maybe it is all of these things.

There are a lot of things we need to do, but I know I am working on being more compassionate. In the end, these people are already being judged by everyone they meet. And so if everyone is judging them, who is going to save them? Who is going to be there for them when they decide they want to remove an addiction from their life.

Not only am I being more compassionate towards addicts, but I am also going to be more compassionate and loving towards my son. Loving him so he doesnt have to turn to an addiction. Loving him so he doesnt have to feel loneliness in the world. Loving him so he realizes that drugs are not his friends and it will lead to negativity in his life.

In all honesty, school is where it starts. School is where children find their friends. School is where they are going to be tested. School is where they are going to have to say yes or no to their first cigarette or joint.

It all happens when our children are young. So tonight, love on your children a little more. Make sure they know they dont have to give in to peer pressure.

Today they are our children, but tomorrow they could be the next addict on the street.

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Duterte targets Philippine children in bid to widen drug war – Reuters

Posted: at 9:46 pm

MANILA Before Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs had even begun, allies of the Philippines president were quietly preparing for a wider offensive. On June 30, as Duterte was sworn in, they introduced a bill into the Philippine Congress that could allow children as young as nine to be targeted in a crackdown that has since claimed more than 7,600 lives.

The bill proposes to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old to prevent what it calls “the pampering of youthful offenders who commit crimes knowing they can get away with it.”

“You can ask any policeman or anyone connected with the law enforcement: We produce a generation of criminals,” Duterte said in a speech in Manila on December 12. Young children, he said, were becoming drug runners, thieves and rapists, and must be “taught to understand responsibility.”

The move to target children signals Duterte’s determination to intensify his drug war, which faces outrage abroad and growing unease at home. The president’s allies say his support in Congress will ensure the bill passes the House of Representatives by June.

The House would approve the bill “within six months,” said Fredenil Castro, who co-authored the legislation with the speaker of the House, Pantaleon Alvarez. It might face opposition in the Senate, but would prevail because of Duterte’s allies there, added Castro.

National police chief Ronald Dela Rosa recently announced that he was suspending anti-narcotics operations, which have killed more than 2,500 people, while the force rids itself of corrupt cops. The announcement came after it emerged last month that drug squad officers had killed a South Korean businessman at national police headquarters.

The killing of drug suspects has continued, albeit at a slower pace, with most following the pattern of killings that police have blamed on vigilantes. Human rights monitors believe vigilantes have killed several thousand people and operate in league with the police a charge the police deny.

Duterte has signaled he intends to continue his drug war. In late January, he said the campaign would run until his presidency ends in 2022.

‘IN CAHOOTS WITH DRUG USERS’

Lowering the age of criminality was justified, Castro told Reuters, because many children were “in cahoots with drug users, with drug pushers, and others who are related to the drug trade.” He said he based his support for the bill on what he saw from his car and at churches children begging and pickpocketing. “For me, there isn’t any evidence more convincing than what I see in every day of my life,” he said.

A controversial bill to restore the death penalty, another presidential priority, is also expected to pass the House of Representatives by mid-year, according to Duterte allies in Congress.

Supporters of the bill to lower the age of criminality say holding young children liable will discourage drug traffickers from exploiting them. Opponents, including opposition lawmakers and human rights groups, are appalled at a move they say will harm children without evidence it will reduce crime.

There is also resistance inside Duterte’s administration. A member of Duterte’s cabinet who heads the Department of Social Welfare and Development opposes the move. And a branch of the police responsible for protecting women and children disputes the claim that children are heavily involved in the drug trade a claim not supported by official data.

Opponents warn that lowering the age of criminality would further strain a juvenile justice system that is struggling to cope. At worst, they say, with a drug war raging nationwide, the bill could legitimize the killing of minors.

“What will stop them from targeting children?” said Karina Teh, a local politician and child rights advocate in Manila. “They are using the war on drugs to criminalize children.”

IN THE FIRING LINE

The drug-war death toll includes at least 29 minors who were either shot by unidentified gunmen or accidentally killed during police operations from July to November 2016, according to the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) and the Network Against Killings in the Philippines, both Manila-based advocacy groups.

Dela Rosa said the Philippine National Police “fully supports” the new bill. It is “true and supported by data” that minors are used by drug traffickers because they can’t be held criminally liable, the police chief said in a submission to the House of Representatives.

Some police officers working on the streets agree with Dela Rosa. In Manila’s slums, children as young as six act as lookouts for dealers, shouting “The enemy is coming!” when police approach, said Cecilio Tomas, an anti-narcotics officer in the city. By their early teens, some become delivery boys and then dealers and users, said Tomas.

Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the bill would protect children by stopping criminals from recruiting them. “They will not become targets simply because they will no longer be involved,” he said.

Child rights experts say the legislation could put children in the firing line. They point to the deadly precedent set in the southern city of Davao, where Duterte pioneered his hard-line tactics as mayor. The Coalition Against Summary Execution, a Davao-based rights watchdog, documented 1,424 vigilante-style killings in the city between 1998 and 2015. Of those victims, 132 were 17 or younger.

For all but three years during that period, Duterte was either Davao’s mayor or vice-mayor. He denied any involvement in the killings.

CONTRADICTORY EVIDENCE

Althea Barbon was one of the children killed in the current nationwide drug war. The four year old was fatally wounded in August when police in an anti-narcotics operation shot at her father, the two Manila-based advocacy groups said.Unidentified gunmen shot dead Ericka Fernandez, 17, in a Manila alley on October 26, police said. Her bloody Barbie doll was collected as evidence.Andon December 28, three boys, aged 15 or 16, were killed in Manila by what police said were motorbike-riding gunmen.

If the bill passes, the Philippines won’t be the only country where the age of criminality is low. In countries including England, Northern Ireland and Switzerland it is 10, according to the website of the Child Rights International Network, a research and advocacy group. In Scotland, children as young as eight can be held criminally responsible, but the government is in the process of raising the age limit to 12.

Critics of the Philippines’ bill say lower age limits are largely found in countries where the legal systems, detention facilities and rehabilitation programs are more developed.

Statistics from the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the government’s top anti-narcotics body, appear to contradict the Duterte camp’s claim that there is a large number of young children deeply involved in the drug trade.

There were 24,000 minors among the 800,000 drug users and dealers who had registered with the authorities byNovember 30, according to police statistics. But less than two percent of those minors, or about 400 children, were delivering or selling drugs. Only 12 percent, or 2,815, were aged 15 or younger. Most of the 24,000 minors were listed as drug users.

The number of minors involved in the drug trade is “just a small portion,” said Noel Sandoval, deputy head of the Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC), the police department that compiled the data.

The WCPC is not pushing to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility, said Sandoval, but if the age is to be lowered, his department recommends a minimum age of 12, not 9.

Between January 2011 and July 2016, 956 children aged six to 17 were “rescued nationwide from illegal drug activity,” according to PDEA. They were mostly involved with marijuana and crystalmethamphetamine, a highly addictive drug also known as shabu, and were handed over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Of these, only 80 were under the age of 15.

MORE DETENTIONS

Asked for evidence that younger children are involved in the drug trade, Duterte’s legal counsel Panelo said the president had data from “all intelligence agencies.” Panelo declined todisclose those numbers.

Among the opponents of the bill is a member of Duterte’s cabinet, Judy Taguiwalo, secretary of theDSWD.The legislation runs counter to scientific knowledge about child development and would result not in lower crime rates but in more children being detained, Taguiwalo wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives in October.

Hidden by a high wall topped with metal spikes, the Valenzuela youth detention center in northern Manila is already operating at twice its capacity. Its 89 boys eat meals in shifts the canteen can’t hold them all at once and sleep on mats that spill out of the spartan dorms and into the hallways.

The government-run center, which currently houses boys aged 13 to 17 for up to a year, is considered a model facility in the Philippines. Even so, said Lourdes Gardoce, a social worker at the Valenzuela home, “It’s a big adjustment on our part if we have to cater to kids as young as nine.”

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall. Edited by David Lague and Peter Hirschberg.)

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois As speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Michael Madigan has outlasted five governors and is now on his sixth. This year, the Chicago Democrat will become longest-serving state or federal House speaker in the United States since at least the early 1800s.

Chicago As Illinois House speaker for more than three decades, Michael Madigan has often worked to raise peoples taxes. As a private attorney, he works to lower them.

WASHINGTON Burning passions over Donald Trump’s presidency are taking a personal toll on both sides of the political divide. For Gayle McCormick, it is particularly wrenching: she has separated from her husband of 22 years.

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Duterte targets Philippine children in bid to widen drug war – Reuters

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Cops bust alleged gambling ring being run out of Cobb storefronts – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Posted: at 9:46 pm

Marietta police arrested three men they say were running an organized gambling operation out of two storefronts in town.

Investigators found at least 15 unlicensedcoin-operated slot machines when they raided Gantt food store at 1033 Franklin Gateway and a Citgo at the corner of Windy Hill andBenson Poole roads Monday.

They arrested Gantt ownerKhubaib Hussain, Gantt employee Samson Beye and convenience store workerArif Muhammad each on a felony charge of commercial gambling.

What started as a drug trafficking case by Marietta cops in mid-2014 ended upa substantial organized crime investigation involving Cobb County police,Douglas County Sheriffs Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

According to warrants, Hussain ran the unlicensed operation and the other two men handed out the cash winnings.

The legal line is crossed when owners pay cash prizes instead of giving store credit or lottery tickets,said Kimberly Starks, Georgia Lottery spokeswoman.

The machines were disabled and the agency cited the businesses, she said.

When searching the Douglasville home of Hussain, police officers found $250,000 in cash, five high-end vehicles, eight computers and a large tote full of gold jewelry.

All three men bonded out. Hussain had the highest bond,$38,720. Beye and Muhammad paid $2,970 each.

Investigators plan to get subpoenas for several bank accounts they believe are connected to the investigation.

Anyone with information about the case can call the anonymous Marietta police tip line at 770-794-6990.

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Cops bust alleged gambling ring being run out of Cobb storefronts – Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Lakewood Village Board keeps video gambling ban in place – Northwest Herald

Posted: at 9:46 pm

LAKEWOOD The village will remain free of video gambling machines after the Village Board rejected an ordinance to overturn its ban.

Board members voted Tuesday evening, 3-0 with two abstentions, against ending the last remaining ban still in force in McHenry County. About 50 people attended the meeting, with speakers during public comment overwhelmingly opposed to allowing the machines within village limits.

The request to overturn the ban was made late last year by the new management of Turnberry Country Club, where the village meeting was held.

Constituent opposition to the idea prompted the opposing votes from Trustees Paul Serwatka, Gene Furey and Bev Thomas. With Furey seconding, Serwatka successfully forced a vote against an attempt to table the ordinance so Turnberry, which at 9600 Turnberry Trail is in a residential area, could speak to residents and club members.

Serwatka said that although he supports smaller government and less regulation of commerce, he voted for what his constituents wanted and said Turnberrys location makes it a unique case. Both Serwatka and Furey said they received numerous calls and emails from residents opposed to allowing video gambling.

Were not talking about a cafe in a strip mall were talking about the heart of a residential community, and the people are very, very set against it, Serwatka said.

Lakewood was one of six local governments that banned video gambling under an opt-out in the 2009 state law that legalized it to finance a $31 billion capital plan, but five of them have since changed their minds and overturned their prohibitions after bar and restaurant owners complained that the bans put them at a competitive disadvantage..

Establishments that serve alcohol, truck stops, and fraternal and veterans organizations can have up to five of the machines under state law. The state gets 30 percent of the proceeds, 5 percent of which goes back to local governments. The remaining 70 percent is split between the business and the company that operates the machines.

Turnberry and three of the four other businesses holding village liquor licenses would have been eligible for gaming permits had the ban been overturned, according to village records.

Besides public outcry, Furey said video gambling would not be a good fit for the villages character. As a former village treasurer, he added that the small amount of revenue the machines would generate for village government would not justify lifting the ban.

I dont think it really contributes anything at all to the village, Furey said.

Village President Erin Smith, who lives in Turnberry, opposed lifting the ban, but she was one of several who favored tabling the matter to a later date. She did not vote, but said she would have voted no to break a tie.

Unlike other governments that lifted their bans at the request of multiple business owners, only Turnberry requested it, Smith said. Both the owners of Lou Malnati’s and the Lakewood Commons behind it said they have no interest in video gambling, Smith said.

“There were no other businesses asking us for a video gambling ordinance,” Smith said.

Another concern the Village Board had was that during the winter months in which the golf course is closed, the country club essentially would become a video gambling parlor.

The proposed ordinance scuttled Tuesday explicitly prohibited such parlors, which are legal in some other local municipalities.

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Lakewood Village Board keeps video gambling ban in place – Northwest Herald

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