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The Latest: Naval War College president steps down
Mon, June 10, 2019 11:46 EDT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Latest on the investigation at the U.S. Naval War College (all times local):
The president of the U.S. Naval War College says he is stepping down.
The announcement by Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley on Monday came after the Navy announced he was being reassigned pending the outcome of an inspector general investigation.
Harley said in an all-campus email that he had decided to step down immediately because of the distractions caused by what he called an “unfounded” article by The Associated Press on Friday.
The AP reported the inspector general was investigating amid allegations that Harley spent excessively, abused his hiring authority and otherwise behaved inappropriately, including keeping a margarita machine in his office.
The college also announced that a strategy forum that high-ranking Navy officials planned to attend starting Tuesday has been postponed.
The Navy says the president of the U.S. Naval War College has been administratively reassigned pending the outcome of an inspector general investigation.
The reassignment of Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley on Monday comes days after The Associated Press reported on the investigation amid allegations that he spent excessively, abused his hiring authority and otherwise behaved inappropriately, including keeping a margarita machine in his office.
Harley told the AP the fiscal strain was because the Navy hasn’t fully funded new missions. He says he has a lighthearted leadership style.
High-ranking officials including the Navy secretary are due on campus this week for a strategy forum and graduation at the elite school, which grooms future admirals and generals.
The Navy says Provost Lewis M. Duncan has temporarily assumed the president’s duties.
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Q&A: Why bill proposed in Hong Kong set off huge protests
By YANAN WANG | Mon, June 10, 2019 08:23 EDT
BEIJING (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend to protest a legislative proposal that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. It was thought to be the territory’s largest protest in more than a decade and reflects growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
A closer look at the issue:
WHY WERE PEOPLE PROTESTING?
Opponents of the proposed extradition amendments say the changes would significantly compromise the territory’s legal independence, long viewed as one of the key differences between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Critics believe the legislation would put Hong Kong residents at risk of being entrapped in China’s murky judicial system, in which political opponents have been charged with economic crimes or ill-defined national security transgressions. Opponents say once charged, the suspects may face unfair proceedings in a system where the vast majority of criminal trials end in conviction.
The legislation’s opponents include members of legal, business and human rights organizations, as well as scores of ordinary citizens who cherish Hong Kong’s reputation for the rule of law.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has said that safeguards have been added to the legislation to ensure human rights are protected.
WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE LEGISLATION?
Hong Kong currently limits extraditions to jurisdictions with which it has existing agreements and to others on an individual basis. China has been excluded from those agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.
The proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.
Lam has said the changes are necessary for Hong Kong to uphold justice and meet its international obligations. Without them, she said Hong Kong risks becoming a “fugitive offenders’ haven.”
Supporters have pointed to the case of Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong man who admitted to Hong Kong police that he killed his girlfriend during a trip to Taiwan. Because Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t have an extradition agreement, he has not been sent to Taiwan to face charges there, though he has been jailed in Hong Kong on money laundering charges.
WHAT IS HONG KONG’S RELATIONSHIP TO MAINLAND CHINA?
Hong Kong was a British colony that was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems.”
The agreement guaranteed Hong Kong the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years. As a result, residents of the semiautonomous territory enjoy far greater freedoms than people on the mainland, such as the freedom to protest or publicly criticize the government.
Nevertheless, the Communist Party exerts influence on the Hong Kong government.
Hong Kong voters are not allowed to directly elect their chief executive. Lam was elected in 2017 by a committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites and is widely seen as the Communist Party’s favored candidate.
The Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s parliament, includes a sizable camp of pro-Beijing lawmakers.
Beijing has made substantial efforts in recent years to integrate Hong Kong with the mainland. Last October, China opened the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, connecting Hong Kong and Macau to the city of Zhuhai in southern Guangdong province. The government has named the three combined locales the “Greater Bay Area,” which it aims to turn into a center for technological innovation and advanced manufacturing.
HAVE FREEDOMS BEEN ERODING?
Those in Hong Kong who anger China’s central government have come under greater pressure since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
The detention of several Hong Kong booksellers in late 2015 intensified worries about the erosion of Hong Kong’s rule of law. The booksellers vanished before resurfacing in police custody in mainland China. Among them, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai is currently being investigated for leaking state secrets after he sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders.
In April, nine leaders of a 2014 pro-democracy protest movement known as the “Umbrella Revolution” were convicted on public nuisance and other charges.
In May, Germany confirmed it had granted asylum to two people from Hong Kong who, according to media reports, were activists fleeing tightening restrictions at home. It was the first known case in recent years of a Western government accepting political refugees from Hong Kong.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE EXTRADITION BILL?
Lam declared her resolve to move forward with the legislation despite the protests. The full Hong Kong legislature is expected to resume debate on it Wednesday, and a vote is expected this summer.
EarthLink – News
Officials say 95 dead in new ethnic massacre in central Mali
By BABA AHMED | Mon, June 10, 2019 12:55 EDT
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Unknown assailants killed at least 95 people in a central Mali village overnight, government officials said Monday, the latest massacre in a growing ethnic conflict driven by fear and suspicion over alleged ties to extremist groups once limited to the West African country’s north.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the ethnic Dogon village, though tensions have been high since an ethnic Dogon militia was accused of carrying out a massacre in an ethnic Peuhl village in March that left at least 157 dead.
The killings highlight the Malian security forces’ inability to contain the spreading extremism by fighters linked to the Islamic State organization and al-Qaida and the growing danger of frightened communities arming themselves.
Nineteen people were missing after the Dogon village of Sobame Da was attacked around 3 a.m. on Monday, said Interior Security ministry spokesman Amadou Sangho. Homes were burned and animals slaughtered, the government said. The village is in the commune of Sangha, the heart of the Dogon militia blamed for the March attack that has been the deadliest so far.
Some Peuhl leaders had vowed to carry out reprisal attacks for the March bloodshed that was blamed on the Dogon militia known as Dan Na Ambassagou. Militia leader Youssouf Toloba has denied his fighters were involved.
On Monday a prominent group representing the Peuhl community, Tabital Pulaaku, issued a statement blaming the “cycle of violence” on the absence of state authority and impunity for perpetrators of attacks.
“The insecurity and the large-scale massacres exploited by terrorist groups are the seeds of a total and lasting destabilization of the region,” the statement said.
Mali has long battled Islamic extremism in its far north, with a French-led military intervention dispersing jihadists from the region’s major towns. The extremists have infiltrated communities much further south in recent years, stoking animosity between ethnic groups in the more populated region.
The Peuhl are accused of working alongside jihadists from the Islamic State of Greater Sahara organization to attack Dogon villages and prevent residents from cultivating their land.
In turn, the Peuhl have alleged that the Dogons are collaborating with Mali’s military though there is no conclusive sign of state support.
But the groups have not been evenly matched. Human Rights Watch says the Dan Na Ambassagou militia has been behind violence that resulted in much higher death tolls. This is due in part to the sophistication of their weapons.
The latest act of “unspeakable barbarism,” however, is a reminder that in this conflict there is no good side and bad side, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said in a statement: “Everyone is responsible.”
The violence in central Mali is characterized by “killings, enforced disappearances and burning of villages on an appalling scale,” Amnesty International said Monday. The U.N. Security Council’s meeting this month on Mali to discuss the renewal of what has become the world’s deadliest active U.N. peacekeeping mission should focus on the protection of civilians, the rights group added.
Mali’s president has vowed to extinguish the Dan Na Ambassagou militia, though the massacre in March in Ogossagou has led some once-demobilized fighters to take up arms again.
Rural bands of hunters have “become paramilitary groups equipped with weapons of war,” arguing that they need to defend their communities if Malian security forces can’t, Jean-Herve Jezequel with the International Crisis Group wrote after the March massacre.
The tensions go back several years, however, over issues such as land use, he added. “The availability of weapons of war and the pretext of fighting jihadist groups have opened the floodgates to a level of ethnic-based violence that is without precedent in the region.”
The victims have included women and young children, and observers say hundreds of civilians were killed last year alone.
In a report late last month, the U.N. secretary-general said that Mali’s government must address the arming of ethnic self-defense groups and the proliferation of arms in central Mali or “there is a high risk of further escalation.”
The unrest in central Mali has displaced some 60,000 people, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote, adding that he was “appalled” by the surge in violence and its effect on civilians.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed this report.
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
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Kim Dotcom fights US extradition in New Zealand’s top court
By NICK PERRY 03:43 EDT
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his former colleagues on Monday took their fight against being extradited to the U.S. to New Zealand’s top court.
The Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the seven-year-old case after Dotcom and the others lost several previous court rulings.
But even if the men lose their latest appeal, they have legal options which could keep their case alive in the New Zealand court system and delay any extradition for several more years.
U.S. authorities in 2012 shut down Dotcom’s file-sharing website Megaupload and filed charges of conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering. If found guilty, the men could face decades in prison.
Megaupload was once one of the internet’s most popular sites. U.S. prosecutors say it raked in at least $175 million, mainly from people using it to illegally download songs, television shows and movies.
Ira Rothken, one of Dotcom’s lawyers, said in an interview that if anyone did something illegal in relation to Megaupload, it was the users.
“This case is all about trying to hold Megaupload and Kim Dotcom and the others responsible for the acts of users,” Rothken said. “And we’re saying you can’t do that. You can’t do that in the United States and you can’t do that in New Zealand.”
The Supreme Court has scheduled five days to hear the appeal. After that, it could take them several months to issue their decision.
Should the Supreme Court uphold the earlier court rulings and find the men are eligible for extradition, then New Zealand’s Justice Minister Andrew Little would need to make the final decision on whether the extraditions should proceed. And Little’s decision could also be appealed in the courts.
Dotcom, who was arrested in 2012 during a dramatic police raid on his mansion and incarcerated for a month, was released on bail more than seven years ago.
In addition to Dotcom, who founded Megaupload and was its biggest shareholder, the U.S. is also seeking to extradite former Megaupload officers Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato. The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court in eastern Virginia.
Dotcom did not attend Monday’s hearing, although the other three men did. Rothken said Dotcom was at his home in Queenstown and was being kept informed of developments.
Dotcom said his wife was helping the defense team.
“My wonderful wife Elizabeth has graduated law school to become a lawyer this year and today she’s fighting alongside my legal team for our future,” Dotcom wrote on Twitter. “Frankly if it wasn’t for Liz I don’t think I could have made it this far.”
EarthLink – News
‘Homework gap’ shows millions of students lack home internet
By MICHAEL MELIA, JEFF AMY and LARRY FENN | Mon, June 10, 2019 03:30 EDT
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — With no computer or internet at home, Raegan Byrd’s homework assignments present a nightly challenge: How much can she get done using just her smartphone?
On the tiny screen, she switches between web pages for research projects, losing track of tabs whenever friends send messages. She uses her thumbs to tap out school papers, but when glitches keep her from submitting assignments electronically, she writes them out by hand.
“At least I have something, instead of nothing, to explain the situation,” said Raegan, a high school senior in Hartford.
She is among nearly 3 million students around the country who face struggles keeping up with their studies because they must make do without home internet. In classrooms, access to laptops and the internet is nearly universal. But at home, the cost of internet service and gaps in its availability create obstacles in urban areas and rural communities alike.
In what has become known as the homework gap, an estimated 17% of U.S. students do not have access to computers at home and 18% do not have home access to broadband internet, according to an Associated Press analysis of census data.
Until a couple of years ago, Raegan’s school gave every student a laptop equipped with an internet hot spot. But that grant program lapsed. In the area surrounding the school in the city’s north end, less than half of households have home access.
School districts, local governments and others have tried to help. Districts installed wireless internet on buses and loaned out hot spots. Many communities compiled lists of wi-fi-enabled restaurants and other businesses where children are welcome to linger and do schoolwork. Others repurposed unused television frequencies to provide connectivity, a strategy that the Hartford Public Library plans to try next year in the north end.
Some students study in the parking lots of schools, libraries or restaurants — wherever they can find a signal.
The consequences can be dire for children in these situations, because students with home internet consistently score higher in reading, math and science. And the homework gap in many ways mirrors broader educational barriers for poor and minority students.
Students without internet at home are more likely to be students of color, from low-income families or in households with lower parental education levels. Janice Flemming-Butler, who has researched barriers to internet access in Hartford’s largely black north end, said the disadvantage for minority students is an injustice on the same level as “when black people didn’t have books.”
Raegan, who is black, is grateful for her iPhone, and the data plan paid for by her grandfather. The honors student at Hartford’s Journalism and Media Academy tries to make as much progress as possible while at school.
“On a computer — click, click — it’s so much easier,” she said.
Classmate Madison Elbert has access to her mother’s computer at home, but she was without home internet this spring, which added to deadline stress for a research project.
“I really have to do everything on my phone because I have my data and that’s it,” she said.
Administrators say they try to make the school a welcoming place, with efforts including an after-school dinner program, in part to encourage them to use the technology at the building. Some teachers offer class time for students to work on projects that require an internet connection.
English teacher Susan Johnston said she also tries to stick with educational programs that offer smartphone apps. Going back to paper and chalkboards is not an option, she said.
“I have kids all the time who are like, ‘Miss, can you just give me a paper copy of this?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no, because I really need you to get familiar with technology because it’s not going away,'” she said.
A third of households with school-age children that do not have home internet cite the expense as the main reason, according to federal Education Department statistics gathered in 2017 and released in May. The survey found the number of households without internet has been declining overall but was still at 14 percent for metropolitan areas and 18 percent in nonmetropolitan areas.
A commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, called the homework gap “the cruelest part of the digital divide.”
In rural northern Mississippi, reliable home internet is not available for some at any price.
On many afternoons, Sharon Stidham corrals her four boys into the school library at East Webster High School, where her husband is assistant principal, so they can use the internet for schoolwork. A cellphone tower is visible through the trees from their home on a hilltop near Maben, but the internet signal does not reach their house, even after they built a special antenna on top of a nearby family cabin.
A third of the 294 households in Maben have no computer and close to half have no internet.
Her 10-year-old son, Miles, who was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, plays an educational computer game that his parents hope will help improve his reading and math skills. His brother, 12-year-old Cooper, says teachers sometimes tell students to watch a YouTube video to help figure out a math problem, but that’s not an option at his house.
On the outskirts of Starkville, home to Mississippi State University, Jennifer Hartness said her children often have to drive into town for a reliable internet connection. Her daughter Abigail Shaw, who does a blend of high school and college work on the campus of a community college, said most assignments have to be completed using online software, and that she relies on downloading class presentations to study.
“We spend a lot of time at the coffee shops, and we went to McDonald’s parking lot before then,” Abigail said.
At home, the family uses a satellite dish that costs $170 a month. It allows a certain amount of high-speed data each month and then slows to a crawl. Hartness said it’s particularly unreliable for uploading data. Abigail said she has lost work when satellites or phones have frozen.
Raegan says she has learned to take responsibility for her own education.
“What school does a good job with,” she said, “is making students realize that when you go out into the world, you have to do things for yourself.”
Amy reported from Maben, Mississippi, and AP data journalist Larry Fenn reported from New York.