Global Review – 14th August

Salman Rushdie off ventilator, can speak

Salman Rushdie has been taken off the respirator and is now able to speak again, according to his agent Andrew Wylie. The 75-year-old writer was stabbed Friday night as he prepared to speak at a convention in New York State. Wylie had described Salman’s condition as serious with damage to the liver, to the nerves of an arm and above all the risk that the writer could lose an eye.

Stabbing was ‘preplanned’ – prosecutor

The man accused of the stabbing attack on Salman Rushdie pleaded not guilty on Saturday to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime, as the renowned author of ‘The Satanic Verses’ remained hospitalised with serious injuries. An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York. The suspect appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him. A judge ordered him held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar took steps to purposely put himself in position to harm Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID. “This was a targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack on Mr Rushdie,” Schmidt said. Matar, from Fairview, New Jersey, was born in the US to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon,

Iran’s hardline press hail attack on Rushdie

Iran’s religious-leaning newspapers on Saturday heaped praise on the attacker who seriously wounded author Salman Rushdie a day earlier. While there has been no official reaction from Iran to the stabbing, the hardline ‘Kayhan’ newspaper praised the alleged assailant. The paper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote that the suspect deserved “a thousand bravos”. Khamenei has himself refused to revoke the fatwa against Rushdie. The ‘Khorasan’ daily carried the headline: “Satan on the way to hell”.

Charlie Hebdo condemns the fatwa against Rushdie

“Religion never forgets because it wants to be eternal and has nothing to do with our vile earthly emotions. But nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies a fatwa, a death sentence.” Thus the tribute to the writer Salman Rushdie of the French satirical weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo’, whose editorial office in 2015 was the victim of a terrorist attack in which 12 workers of the newspaper died. On that occasion, Islamic terrorists targeted French journalists for cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed considered blasphemous by many Muslims. “At the time of writing, we do not know the motives of the perpetrator of the stabbing of Salman Rushdie,” the editorial reads. Charlie Hebdo then defined “those who arrogate to themselves the right to say that someone must die” as “mediocre little spiritual guides, intellectually null and often culturally ignorant”. “When you inspire respect, you don’t need to issue fatwas to be credible. Respect is not due, it is earned. This is the great weakness of religions. More often they inspire ridicule than respect,” concludes the editorial.

7 injured in attack on Jerusalem bus

Seven people – six men and a woman – were injured, including two seriously, during an armed attack on a bus in the centre of Jerusalem. The police have isolated the area and are looking for a suspect who is on the run. According to police reports, the shooting took place near the Tomb of David, not far from the Wailing Wall, in the old city of Jerusalem. Zaki Heller, spokesman for Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, said: “We arrived quickly on the scene. Passers-by stopped us to treat two men in their 30s who had been injured on the bus. They were conscious and were walking with some wounds in the upper part of the body.”

Moscow confirms detainee exchange negotiations

Moscow and Washington are discussing a possible exchange of prisoners between a Russian arms dealer detained in the United States and the American basketball player Brittney Griner detained in Russia, Alexander Dartchiev, director of the North American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, confirms. The United States has repeatedly claimed that it made “a substantial offer” to secure the release of two Americans detained in Russia, namely Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan sentenced by Moscow to 16 years for espionage. According to US media, the deal involves swapping with a well-known Russian arms dealer detained in the US, Viktor Bout, nicknamed the ‘death merchant’. Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. It is the first time that Moscow has confirmed that discussions are underway on a possible exchange. In the past, the Kremlin has repeatedly criticised Washington for public statements on ongoing negotiations.

Taliban fighters violently disperse women rallying

Taliban fighters beat women protesters and fired into the air Saturday as they violently dispersed a rare rally in the Afghan capital, days ahead of the first anniversary of the hardline Islamists’ return to power. Since seizing control on August 15 last year, the Taliban have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan. About 40 women – chanting “bread, work and freedom” – marched in front of the education ministry building in Kabul, before the fighters dispersed them by firing their guns into the air, an AFP correspondent reported. Some women protesters who took refuge in nearby shops were chased and beaten by the Taliban with rifle butts. The demonstrators carried a banner which read “August 15 is a black day” as they demanded rights to work and political participation.

Italy mourns Piero Angela

Piero Angela, the famous science writer, journalist, TV presenter and essayist, died Friday night in his home in Rome. He was 93. His son Alberto made the announcement on social media: “Have a good trip dad”. His funeral will be held on Tuesday in the Campidoglio in Rome with a secular ceremony. In a posthumous message published by Rai, Angela asked his loyal public to try to do their part “for this difficult country of ours”. Both President Sergio Matteralla and Prime Minister Mario Draghi paid tribute to Angela, saying Italy was grateful for what he had achieved for the environment.

Odinga ahead in Kenya’s presidential race

Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga led Kenya’s presidential race, official election results showed on Saturday, pushing Deputy President William Ruto into second place. With just over 26% of votes counted, Odinga had 54% and Ruto had 45%, according to results provided by the Kenyan election commission. Kenya held presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Tuesday. Ruto and Odinga are in a tight race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has reached his two-term limit. Kenyatta fell out with Ruto after the last election and has endorsed Odinga. Official vote tallying has been proceeding slowly, fueling public anxiety. Election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati blamed party agents, who are allowed to scrutinise results forms before they are added to the final tally.“Agents in this exercise cannot proceed … as if we are doing a forensic audit,” he told a news briefing on Friday.

Ukraine destroys Russian supply bridges

Ukraine troops have blown up two primary bridges that Russian troops used to access occupied territory as the country’s top soldier said Saturday that one fifth of invading ground forces have been “destroyed” with the conflict nearing its sixth month. The Antonivsy road bridge and the Kherson rail bridge over the Dnipro River were heavily damaged in attacks earlier this week and are “likely unusable for heavy military vehicles”, according to a report from British intelligence released Saturday. That could mean Russian soliders are stuck with limited options for new supplies or weapons to reach them. Both spans have been used by Russian forces in the occupied city of Kherson on the Black Sea to transport soldiers and war materiel. Large parts of the region are occupied by Russian soldiers.

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