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Blinken kicks off Africa tour to counter Russian affect



JOHANNESBURG:US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in South Africa on Sunday, kicking off a three-nation African go to as Washington scales up diplomacy to counter Russian affect on the continent.

His go to comes after an in depth tour of Africa by Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov late final month. South Africa, a pacesetter within the growing world, has remained impartial within the Ukraine battle, refusing to affix Western calls to sentence Moscow, which had opposed apartheid earlier than the top of white minority rule in 1994.

Blinken will maintain talks on Monday with South African counterpart Naledi Pandor and in addition make a coverage announcement on the US authorities’s new Africa technique, Pretoria mentioned in a press release. The 2 will “focus on ongoing and up to date developments regarding the worldwide geopolitical scenario,” it mentioned.

The US State Division final month mentioned African international locations have been “geostrategic gamers and significant companions on probably the most urgent problems with our day, from selling an open and secure worldwide system, to tackling the consequences of local weather change, meals insecurity and world pandemics”.

The African powerhouse, which wields nice diplomatic affect past the continent, belongs to a bunch of rising economies known as BRICS. In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged BRICS international locations –Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to cooperate within the face of “egocentric actions” from the West.

For Fonteh Akum, head of the Pretoria-based think-tank Institute for Safety Research, Blinken’s go to will assist the US perceive the southern African nation’s place. It is going to additionally purpose “to deliver South Africa additional into the Western fold”, Akum advised AFP.

The US needs to “interact in another way and… transfer in the direction of understanding Africa’s company in worldwide relations and due to this fact the expansion in diplomatic engagements,” the professional mentioned. Blinken’s journey follows a go to by French President Emmanuel Macron to Benin, Cameron and Guinea-Bissau late final month. Lavrov’s Africa journey took him to Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda.

That Blinken is coming after Lavrov and Macron, “principally reveals that Africa is getting into a part inside which there’s one other bout of nice energy competitors over the continent,” mentioned Akum.

It’s Blinken’s second journey to Africa since his appointment early final 12 months.

He’ll go to the Democratic Republic of Congo later this week, with the purpose of boosting assist for sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest nation because it battles to show the web page on many years of battle. Blinken’s tour will then wind up in Rwanda, which has seen a flare-up in tensions with DR Congo after it accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels, a cost Kigali denies.




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Licence to invoice: Bond’s Aston Martin sells for almost £3 million



LONDON: A reproduction of an Aston Martin DB5 used for the stunts in James Bond blockbuster “No Time to Die” bought for almost £3 million at public sale on Wednesday, public sale home Christie’s stated.

Proceeds from the sale, which fetched £2.92 million ($3.18 million), will probably be donated to charity, together with receipts from the sale of 24 different tons auctioned at a particular sale of things marking 60 years of 007.

The duplicate comes fitted with imitation machine weapons behind the headlights.

An extra 35 tons have been put up for public sale on-line till October 5.

The duplicate of the long-lasting Aston, one in all eight specifically designed and manufactured for the 2021 movie, is the one DB5 stunt automobile put up on the market by Aston Martin and EON productions, in accordance with Christie’s.

Different gadgets on sale embrace vehicles in addition to notable costumes and equipment linked to the franchise.

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5 years on, how #MeToo shook the world



PARIS: By forcing the world to get up to the day by day sexual abuse suffered by girls, the #MeToo motion turned a social revolution of historic significance. Its legacy continues to be being decided.

It started with a tweet: on October 15, 2017, US actor Alyssa Milano invited girls to share their experiences of sexual harassment underneath the phrases “Me too”.

Inside a 12 months, the hashtag had been used greater than 19 million instances, in response to Pew Analysis Middle — pushing the problem of sexual assault to the highest of the worldwide agenda.

In fact, the motion sat on the shoulders of a long time of feminist wrestle — even the phrase “Me Too” was a decade outdated, created by activist Tarana Burke for a charity aimed toward survivors of abuse.

It caught fireplace within the wake of an explosive New York Instances investigation about movie producer Harvey Weinstein who, it transpired, had for years been raping and assaulting girls, many within the business, and getting away with it.

A reckoning got here for a lot of highly effective figures within the leisure business.

Kevin Spacey was dropped from “Home of Playing cards” and Ridley Scott’s “All of the Cash within the World” was reshot to switch him with one other actor.

The heads of Amazon Studios, Fox Information, CBS and Vox Media have been pressured out.

Actor James Franco, opera singer Placido Domingo, comic Louis C.Ok., style photographer Terry Richardson, superstar chef Mario Batali — barely per week glided by with out one other illustrious title being shamed.

Essentially the most critical allegations led to jail time for beforehand untouchable figures: Invoice Cosby, as soon as thought-about “America’s dad”, singer R. Kelly, and the ultra-connected financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The stress unfold past the leisure enterprise to embroil politicians, sports activities stars and main tech companies reminiscent of Google and Uber.

‘A revolution’

Its energy lay in making seen what had all the time been mendacity in plain sight.

“#MeToo confirmed that sexual and sexist violence was a day by day actuality, that it was banal,” mentioned Sandrine Ricci, a sociologist on the College of Quebec in Montreal.

“The motion allowed folks, particularly victims, to higher perceive what was being accomplished to them.”

The epicentre was the USA, however the aftershocks have been international.

When abuse instances emerged, they have been more durable to disregard, whether or not it was a Serbian drama instructor accused of rape, abuse by ultra-Orthodox leaders in Israel, or a “intercourse for grades” scandal at a Moroccan college.

The Pew examine discovered {that a} third of #MeToo tweets within the first 12 months have been written in a non-English language — seven % have been in Afrikaans, 4 % in Somali — and that didn’t rely the regional variants, reminiscent of #YoTambien in Spanish or #BalanceTonPorc (“rat out your pig”) in French.

“Individuals have been stunned — they didn’t know the way widespread sexual harassment is,” mentioned Hillevi Ganetz at Stockholm College.

“Day after day there have been testimonies, it was overwhelming,” she added. “It was a revolution and it was great.”


The backlash was nearly quick.

By its nature, #MeToo focused behaviour that was typically onerous to show in court docket, and led to accusations that folks have been being “cancelled” with out a correct enquiry.

Some fretted that it spelled the top of flirting — that it may strip the stress out of sexual pressure.

French movie icon Catherine Deneuve was one who spoke out towards the motion’s “puritanical” streak that threatened to show girls into “everlasting victims”.

The controversy inevitably fell down the bathroom bowl of the web tradition wars — exemplified by the militant taking-of-sides within the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial earlier this 12 months.

The three-week disappearance of Chinese language tennis star Peng Shuai after accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into intercourse confirmed the intense extent that resistance may take.

However even France — the scene of mass protests on the subject — has a president in Emmanuel Macron who has appointed at the least three ministers carrying allegations of sexual assault.

‘A great distance off’

Because the preliminary waves of the motion ebb, the onerous job of encouraging societal change has taken over.

“We’re nonetheless a great distance off placing options in place,” mentioned Florence Rochefort of France’s Nationwide Centre for Scientific Analysis.

With the world embroiled in financial and local weather crises, “the timing will not be nice to resolve social issues”, she added.

Legal guidelines towards rape have been toughened in lots of locations, reminiscent of Sweden in 2018 and Spain final 12 months.

Companies world wide have launched coaching, and not brush complaints underneath the carpet.

Instances Up, which campaigns on abuse within the movie business, is organising a panel of specialists to listen to complaints, much like requirements authorities for docs, lecturers and different professionals.

Such concepts minimize each methods — offering a transparent mechanism that encourages folks to come back ahead, whereas countering those that declare the accused are discovered responsible with out due course of.

“We need to keep away from trial by media,” mentioned the group’s British chair Heather Rabbatts. “It doesn’t assist anyone.”

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China urges goal stance over Afghanistan’s Taliban



BEIJING: A Chinese language official on Wednesday urged the worldwide group to take an “goal stance” over Afghanistan’s Taliban, saying social order within the nation is progressively being restored.

In a daily press briefing, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese language Overseas Ministry, additionally acknowledged that Afghanistan proper now could be at an important interval transitioning from chaos to order with terrorist threats but to be eliminated.

Wang additionally known as on the worldwide group to stay engaged with the Afghan interim authorities and step up humanitarian and growth help to the nation, whereas stressing the preservation of the essential rights of all Afghan folks, particularly all ethnic group members, girls and kids within the nation.

One other Chinese language official, Geng Shuang, on Tuesday echoed the identical sentiment, urging enhancement, mutual understanding and belief, and serving to the Afghan interim authorities construct inclusive and reasonable governance.

It’s not constructive to maintain accusing or pressuring the Afghan interim authorities and even to instrumentalize the problem of journey ban exemptions as a bargaining chip for negotiations. Such a transfer will solely make the door for dialogue narrower and deepen confrontation and divergences, Geng, China’s deputy everlasting consultant to the United Nations, informed a Safety Council assembly on Afghanistan.

The previous 20 years have as soon as once more proved that army intervention and exterior fashions merely don’t work and that the way forward for Afghanistan can solely be determined by the Afghan folks themselves. The worldwide group ought to absolutely draw classes from the previous 20 years, and never simply pay lip service to the phrase “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” however ought to put it into follow, he added.

The worldwide group ought to make it a high precedence to assist Afghanistan alleviate its humanitarian disaster and stabilize the economic system, and mustn’t politicize humanitarian and financial points, nor hyperlink humanitarian assist and financial growth with different political points, mentioned Geng, including that Afghanistan’s frozen abroad belongings ought to be used expeditiously for the development of Afghans’ life and financial reconstruction.

The safety, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and refugee points dealing with the nation are intertwined, and require a complete strategy to seek out options on the root, he mentioned.

“We hope that the Afghan Taliban will genuinely fulfill their commitments, utterly minimize off their ties with all terrorist teams, and work along with the worldwide group to resolutely fight the Islamic State, the East Turkestan Islamic Motion, and different terrorist teams, in order to stop Afghanistan from changing into a hub for terrorism once more,” mentioned Geng.

In the long term, all events want to assist Afghanistan restore its home market, combine into regional cooperation and connectivity, completely eradicate the basis causes of unrest, and embark on the trail to lasting peace and growth, he mentioned.

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