Egypt seeks tougher penalties for female genital mutilation - 30 August 2016

Egypt’s government said on Sunday it will ask parliament to approve a draft law that would increase jail terms for those who perform female circumcision.
Female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM), was banned in Egypt in 2008.
But the practice involving the partial or full removal of the external sex organs, ostensibly to control women’s sexuality, remains widespread, especially in rural areas.
In Egypt, the procedure is practiced by both Muslims and Christians.
Under the current law, those who practice FGM can be sentenced to jail terms of between three months and two years.
But the bill which the government hopes parliament will endorse would see those convicted of female circumcision jailed for between five and seven years, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
The government also proposes that those convicted be given jail terms with hard labour if the procedure leads to the death or permanent physical disability of the women being circumcised.
FGM can cause lifelong pain, including extreme discomfort during sexual intercourse, serious complications during childbirth and psychological trauma.
Activists say the campaign to end the practice may have suffered a setback with the 2011 overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, whose regime imposed the ban.
Some Islamists argued that the ban was a legacy of his autocratic rule which should not be enforced.
The government bill also calls for anyone who forces a female to undertake the procedure to be jailed for between one and three years.
In May, an Egyptian teenager who had undergone FGM died of complications.
Her mother, the doctor who carried out the procedure and two other people have been accused of “involuntary manslaughter” and are to face trial.
In January 2015, a doctor was sentenced to two years in jail for involuntary manslaughter and three months for practicing female genital mutilation, after a 14-year-old girl died during an operation he performed. He served only the three-month sentence.
FGM is also practiced in a number of other African countries as well as in parts of the Middle East, and is usually carried out by women.

Following Devastating Earthquake, Israel Offers Search and Rescue Assistance to Italy - 24 August 2016

Israel has offered search and rescue assistance to Italy following the 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the Umbria region on Wednesday that killed dozens of people and caused mass destruction.
A statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office expressed condolences to the Italian people and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the earthquake.
Israel has a long history of providing post-disaster assistance across the world. In April 2015, as reported by The Algemeiner, Israel sent the second largest national delegation to assist Nepal following the massive earthquake sustained by the Himalayan mountain nation.
In recent years, Israel has also sent aid delegations to Japan following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and to Haiti after its devastating January 2010 earthquake.

An overwhelming one-man theater performance by Benjamin Netanyahu

During a four-hour closed door meeting with members of the Haaretz editorial staff, Netanyahu lectured, preached and demanded. At one point someone saw tears in his eyes.
By Gideon Levy | Aug. 17, 2016 | 6:45 PM
There’s an agitated man sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem; a man who’s frenetic, powerful, unbending, convinced of the righteousness of his cause. A man who believes only in force. He has tendencies toward megalomania and narcissism; he is arrogant, boastful and haunted. This man is full of contradictions, as is the impression that he leaves. For better or worse, it is a strong impression.
The man has elements of a biblical or Shakespearean tragic figure, a king or a Caesar, including the dramatic elements – the wife (who isn’t mentioned,) the father’s shadow and the loss of a brother. He is motivated by ideology far more than is commonly ascribed to him, and this ideology is inflexible and extreme. It will never allow him to compromise on matters important to him.
Sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office is a man bringing a major disaster upon Israel, not because of the Zionism commonly attributed to him, but because of ideology. Personally, I prefer rigid ideologues to hollow cynics.
I can only tell you this: Two days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu hosted members of the Haaretz editorial staff for a closed conversation that lasted four hours, during which he spoke without interruption. “Spoke” is a rather restrained understatement; Netanyahu lectured, preached, demanded and overwhelmed; he showed videos, slide presentations, maps, tables, and minutes.
He scribbled a self-portrait, with an elongated nose and beads of sweat; he pounded on the table, raised his voice, lowered it, leaned forward and back in the meeting room, wrote on the board and erased. At one stage, he approached my colleague Odeh Bisharat so angrily that I feared for his safety. At another point someone saw tears in his eyes.
It was a Netanyahu performance, authentic theater, a one-man show by a character actor who so closely identifies with the figure that he plays with such talent that at least some members of the audience believed him some of the time. Perhaps he is an effective Evangelist preacher. It started with the terror tunnels; what followed regarding his economic achievements was more boring, until he got to his diplomatic beliefs. It ended with a crescendo; a final monologue about his dead brother. Curtain. The Energizer remained in his seat, alone and exhausted, naturally.
In the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem there sits a man who believes solely in the power of his country. Weakness devastates him. Morals, values and justice are not within his realm of thought. He portrays his country as a world power in weapons, cyber, water technology and whatnot, and in the same breath lists the existential threats lurking (“In the air, at sea, on the ground and under it”) from the ragamuffin army in Gaza, from Hezbollah, from Iran and even from forest fires.
There’s no way to resolve this contradiction. He doesn’t believe in any peace with the Palestinians; he will defeat them with the alliances he is weaving with his new friends, the ephemeral heads of corrupt regimes in the Arab world, until they agree to the non-arrangement he proposes, which of course will never happen. The fate of the Palestinians doesn’t interest him in the least.
Netanyahu is not a warmonger – he may be the most antiwar prime minister Israel has ever had – and even the settlements don’t interest him very much, if at all. Only power – military, economic and technological. Peace won’t bring any economic benefits to Israel, he says. Like all veterans of the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit, he’s a kid who’s never grown up; his imagery is stuck back in “the unit,” with touches of MIT.
Based on the colors of his map of the world, it’s almost all in our hands. After meeting with 144 statesmen, all that’s left is a problem with Western Europe. Everyone else is on our side, or almost there (and I believe that he’s quite right.) After we left his office, he passed us on the way to his car, waving at us with a half-cigar in a defiant gesture full of self-deprecating humor.
Netanyahu is here to stay. Given the current proposed alternatives, we may even, God forbid, come to miss him.

BAI welcomes PM's initiative of Task Force for Olympics

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta on Saturday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to set up a Task Force for effective participation in the next three Olympic Games - 2020, 2024 and 2028.

The Task Force, which was announced at a meeting of the Council of Ministers here on Friday, will comprise in-house experts as well as others from outside.

“I appreciate Prime Minister’s thought to prepare effective action plan to enhance performance of Indian sportspersons in future Olympics. I believe Narendra Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister who is serious and has vision to improve the status of Indian sports,” Das said.

“BAI welcomes his initiative and will support it with all our resources. BAI is open to work with Prime Minister Office and Sports Ministry to achieve success in Badminton in upcoming Olympics.”



Turkish Military Campaign Against Islamic State Pressures Stocks

Turkish stocks slumped the most among global equity markets as the country’s armed forces began bombing Islamic State positions in Syria, stoking concerns among investors about a worsening security situation.

The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index fell 2.4 percent to 75,460.77 as of 9:43 a.m. in Istanbul, the biggest decline since July 21, making it the worst performer among 94 equity indexes tracked by Bloomberg. The lira declined 0.1 percent against the dollar while bonds also fell, with yields on 10-year debt rising 8 basis points to 9.87 percent.

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The start of Turkish military operations in Syria’s Aleppo province, announced Wednesday morning by the prime minister’s office, add geopolitical risk to a lengthening list of concerns testing the resilience of investors. The country’s assets have been volatile since an attempted coup last month and amid a subsequent political crackdown, and as Moody’s Investors Service considers downgrading its debt to junk.

“Headlines this morning referring to the operation to ISIS-controlled Jerablus in Syria seem to be taking a toll on already hurt sentiment toward Turkish assets,” Gulsen Ayaz, director of Institutional Sales at Istanbul-based Deniz Yatirim Menkul Degerler, said by e-mail, using an abbreviated name for Islamic State, which is a Sunni Muslim insurgent group that declared a caliphate for territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

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