Kenya’s Ruth Odinga to be charged over Kisumu protest

 

Ruth Odinga

Kenya’s chief prosecutor has ordered that opposition leader Raila Odinga’s sister should immediately be charged with inciting violence against the election commission.

Ruth Odinga entered an election centre without permission, and caused damage to property, a statement said.

Odinga, a former deputy governor of Kisumu State, has not yet commented.

Mr Odinga is boycotting Thursday’s presidential election re-run, saying it will not be free and fair.


 

About 70 people have been killed in violence since the election commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of elections on 8 August election.

The Supreme Court of Appeal annulled his victory, saying the poll was marred by irregularities and illegalities.

Mr Odinga’s supporters have been holding mass protests to demand reforms, including the sacking of key election officials, before a new poll is held.

Last week, a senior member of the electoral commission (IEBC) fled to the US amid death threats.

Roselyn Akombe said the commission was under political “siege”, unable to reach consensus or take any decisions.

However, Mr Kenyatta and the commission have vowed that Thursday’s poll will go ahead.

Last Wednesday, Ms Odinga was allegedly part of a protest which led to a training session for election officials being disrupted in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu in western Kenya.

She should be charged, along with senator Fred Outa and others, for obstructing an election official from performing his lawful duties, incitement to violence, and malicious damage to property, the office of the director of public prosecutions said in a letter to police.

“The suspects should immediately be charged,” the letter added.

Egypt disputes reported death toll from desert shootout

Mourners carry the coffin of a police officer killed in a shoot-out with militants in Egypt's Western Desert (21 October 2017)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionEgypt’s government said 11 officers, four conscripts and one sergeant were killed

Egypt’s government has disputed reports that more than 50 policemen were killed in a shootout with militants in the Western Desert on Friday.

The interior ministry said only 16 policemen died when they were ambushed during a mission in the Bahariya oasis.

Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) criticised the BBC and Reuters news agency for citing unnamed sources for the death tolls in their articles.

No group admitted to the attack, some 135km (84 miles) south-west of Cairo.

But hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed by jihadist militants affiliated to so-called Islamic State (IS) since 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The town of el-Bawity in the Bahariya oasis, some 300km (186 miles) south-west of CairoImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe clash took place near the Bahariya oasis (pictured)

The interior ministry sent policemen to the Bahariya oasis to carry out a raid on a “terrorist hideout”.

“As soon as the first mission approached the location of the terrorist elements, they sensed the arrival of the forces and targeted them using heavy weapons from all directions,” a ministry statement published on Saturday said.

The ensuing shootout lasted several hours and left 11 officers, four conscripts and one sergeant dead, according to the statement. Another four officers and nine conscripts were injured, while one officer was reported missing, it said.

Fifteen militants were killed or injured as forces pursued them after the battle, the ministry added.

Security sources told Western media the police death toll was far higher.

The BBC was told that 53 officers and conscripts had been killed, while Reuters citedthree sources as saying that at least 52 had died.

The Associated Press also reported that at least 20 officers – including two brigadier-generals, a colonel and 10 lieutenant-colonels – and 34 conscripts were killed, and Agence France-Presse put the death toll at 35.

A statement issued late on Saturday by the SIS criticised the BBC and Reuters for “relying on what they called unidentified security sources” and for failing to “wait or resort to official security authorities to get correct information

Argentina election: Macri wins crucial mid-term vote

Argentine President Mauricio Macri greets supporters at the Cambiemos headquarters, in Buenos AiresImage copyrightEPA
Image caption“Things can change,” Mr Macri told his supporters after the vote

Argentina’s centre-right governing coalition has won a sweeping victory in mid-term congressional elections.

The result will strengthen President Mauricio Macri’s position as he seeks to complete his pro-market reforms.

He told supporters that they had shown it was possible to change the history of Argentina.

Former left-wing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner secured a seat in the Senate, giving her immunity from corruption charges.

The vote was seen as a referendum on Mr Macri, who has worked to implement economic reforms he says are crucial to restore the country’s economy.

His Cambiemos (Let’s Change) movement won in 13 of Argentina’s 23 provinces, including the five biggest population areas, official results showed. Despite the gains, he fell short of an overall majority in congress.

“We realised that many things can change, we realised that we could, we were encouraged by change, we overcame fear and resignation and reality accompanied us and is accompanying us,” said Mr Macri, who is expected to run for re-election in 2019.

More than 33 million Argentines were eligible to take part in the vote, which saw a third of seats in the Senate contested, along with half of those in the lower house of congress.

Argentina's former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gives a speech near Buenos Aires

Ms Fernández, who governed the country from 2007 to 2015, came in a distant second in the race in the province of Buenos Aires, the country’s most populous.

Despite not coming first, she secured enough votes to make it into the Senate.

She thanked voters saying her party Citizen’s Unity would remain a firm opposition to Mr Macri’s economic agenda.

The ex-president, who faces corruption charges, still enjoys support among millions of low-income Argentines who benefited from her generous social spending. But critics say her populist policies damaged the economy.

She denies any wrongdoing saying the accusations are politically motivated.

Director James Toback accused of sexual harassment

 

James Toback

film-maker James Toback has been accused by nearly 40 women of sexual harassment.

The Los Angeles Times said 31 of the women had spoken on the record about their experiences, which span the last 30 years.

Toback has denied the allegations and said he had never met any of the women in question or, if he did, it “was for five minutes and have no recollection”.

The writer and director was nominated for best screenplay for 1991 Bugsy.

The mobster film starred Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. He has also directed Robert Downey Jr in three films, including Black and White and The Pick-Up Artist.

His latest film, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month and stars Sienna Miller.

‘Biologically impossible’

The women interviewed by the LA Times have accused Toback, 72, of masturbating in front of them, rubbing himself up against them, asking inappropriate questions of a sexual nature and asking them to perform sexual acts.

One said that after an alleged encounter, she “felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends”, adding: “And I deserved not to tell anyone.”

Toback told the LA Times that for the past 22 years, it had been “biologically impossible” for him to engage in the behaviour described, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication.

FBI agent reveals life infiltrating extremist groups in America

  • hours ago
FBI Special Agents and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force prepare to arrest a suspect
Image captionThe FBI have ensured Tamer El-Noury’s true identity remains secret (file pic)

An active FBI undercover agent has revealed details of his work infiltrating Islamic extremist groups.

Tamer El-Noury – one of the agent’s many false identities – talked to the BBC about his covert attempts to gain the trust of those planning attacks.

He was instrumental in foiling the plot to derail the New York City to Toronto train route four years ago.

He has published a book about his work, saying he wants Americans to understand his work as a Muslim operative.

“The fact is that these jihadists – these radicals that are popping up – are lost souls,” he told the BBC in an interview. “They latch on to hatred, and an evil that seems to give them purpose.”

“I am a Muslim and I am an American, and I am appalled at what these animals are doing to my country while desecrating my religion,” he said.

‘Chance encounter’

The son of Egyptian immigrants to the US, Mr El-Noury joined the police in New Jersey, where he worked to break up drug distribution networks.

Later, he was recruited by the FBI who realised they were desperately short of Arabic speakers.

Media caption“Tamer El-Noury” spoke to the BBC’s Frank Gardner about his undercover life

One of his undercover operations involved a plan to kill as many people as possible by derailing the New York – Toronto rail route.

Tunisian migrant Chiheb Esseghaier, one of the key figures in the plot, was befriended by Mr El-Noury in a “chance encounter” arranged by the FBI.

He was eventually recruited by Esseghaier, becoming a part of the plot.

He posed as a wealthy American of Arabic origin who held a deep personal grudge – a persona, he said, he tried to keep close to the truth.

“None of my legends – none of my cover stories – have ever really drifted far from reality,” he said.

“When you’re travelling the world with an ideological extremist individual, and you’re spending days – weeks – along with them, your true colours eventually come out when you get exhausted.”

The long weeks spent with extremists, acting as confidant and close friend, “is the hardest part,” he said.

Cover of American RadicalImage copyrightPENGUIN
Image captionEl-Noury’s book has been carefully vetted by the FBI

“My job is to put my arms around a bad guy. And of course, all these atrocities that we are planning are sickening to me.”

“The only way that I can be good at my job and have it believable is I try to latch on to whatever part is human… how well he speaks to his mother, how well he financially takes care of his siblings.”

During a trip to New York Esseghaier began planning a future attack on Times Square in New York City on New Years’ Eve, to take place after the train derailment, El-Noury told the CBS Sixty Minutes programme.

During the same trip, the pair visited the site of the Twin Towers, where Esseghaier said the US “needed another 9/11”. El-Noury told CBS he “saw red” and almost blew his cover over the remark.

But none of the schemes ever came to fruition – both Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, a Canadian resident of Palestinian descent, were arrested in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on the back of El-Noury’s investigation.

Mr El-Noury’s story offers an extraordinary insight into the dark and dangerous world of going undercover as an agent, says the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardener.

The FBI initially insisted on listening in on the telephone interview to ensure its active agent was protected, he said.

The nature of the agent’s work is deceptive – but he said that any accusation of being a traitor was something he considered a badge of honour.

“These traitors, these radicals are the ones desecrating my religion. I am proud to be a patriot, i am proud to be an American Muslim fighting the war on terror.”

Japan PM Shinzo Abe promises to handle North Korea threat

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on as he puts a rosette on the name of a candidate who is expected to win the lower house electionImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionShinzo Abe called the snap election in September, and said the results were a “vote of confidence”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised strong “counter-measures” against North Korea, after winning a decisive victory in Sunday’s election.

Mr Abe had called an early election for a greater mandate to deal with “crises”, including the growing threat from Pyongyang, which has fired missiles over Japan in recent months.

His ruling coalition has retained a two-thirds majority in parliament.

This paves the way for Mr Abe to amend Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution.

The prime minister has previously called for the existence of the country’s armed forces to be formalised, a controversial move which he says is needed to strengthen Japan’s defence but which critics say is a step towards re-militarisation.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Mr Abe said his coalition’s win was a “vote of confidence” from the public, and based on that “we would dramatically show counter-measures against the North Korea threat”.

He said he would discuss these measures with US President Donald Trump, who is visiting Japan next month, as well as with other world powers such as Russia and China.

He said they would exert “stronger pressure” on North Korea, adding: “I will make sure the Japanese public is safe, and safeguard our nation.”

Mr Abe saw his popularity plummet in recent months while embroiled in political scandals, but enjoyed a sudden recovery after North Korea fired two missiles over the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says Mr Abe’s pledge of tough diplomacy with North Korea is rhetoric that would play well with the Japanese public, but it is unclear what it means in concrete terms.

Tokyo has no diplomatic or economic relations with North Korea, and has poor relations with Pyongyang’s closest ally China, so the most Mr Abe can do is strengthen Japan’s defences and stick closely to the US, our correspondent adds.

A girl casts her father's ballot for a national election at a polling station in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionTurnout on Sunday was estimated at about 53.7%

Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) coalition with the Komeito party has won 313 of the 465 seats in the lower house of Japan’s parliamentary Diet – which gives them the power to table a revision to the constitution.

Mr Abe had previously announced he wanted to revise a clause which renounces war, known as Article 9, to formally recognise Japan’s military, which is known as the “self-defence forces”.

He had set a deadline of 2020 to achieve this highly contentious task. But on Monday he appeared to ditch this target, saying it was “not set in a concrete schedule”.

He said he hoped to “form a strong agreement” on the issue among parties in parliament, and “gain trust” from the Japanese public.

Even if an amendment to the constitution is passed and approved by both houses in the Diet – which Mr Abe’s coalition controls – it still needs to be put to a public vote in a referendum.

Mr Abe two years ago successfully managed to push for a re-interpretation of the constitution to allow troops to fight overseas under certain circumstances, which attracted widespread protests.

Our correspondent says Mr Abe’s victory is also in large part due to the chaos of Japan’s opposition parties.

In the lead-up to the snap election, all eyes were on the recently-formed conservative Party of Hope led by the charismatic Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, with some speculating that it would make significant gains.

Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo and head of the Party of Hope, delivers a statement to the press as she reacts to Japan's snap elections pre-vote surveys on October 22, 2017 at the Scribe hotel in Paris.Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionMs Koike said she took responsibility for the result

But in the end it was overtaken by the centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party which emerged as the biggest opposition party, and which opposes Mr Abe’s plan to amend Article 9.

Ms Koike, who was in Paris for a business trip during the election, told reporters she was personally taking responsibility for the result. Japanese media quoted her as saying her “words and deeds” had caused “displeasure” to voters.

Mr Abe’s election win also raises his chances of securing a third three-year-term as leader of the LDP when the party votes next September.

That would give him the opportunity to become Japan’s longest serving prime minister, having been elected in 2012.

Catalonia Spain: Officials ‘won’t follow orders from Madrid’

Catalan authorities will not follow orders from the Spanish government if Madrid moves to reassert control over the region, a senior official says.

Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Romeva told the BBC the central government was acting against the will of Catalans.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced plans to sack the region’s government and curtail some of the freedoms of its parliament.

The Catalan parliament will meet on Thursday to decide on its response.

The pro-independence leaders could decide to formalise a unilateral declaration of independence, the BBC’s Bethany Bell in Barcelona reports.The Spanish Senate is expected to approve the government’s measures on Friday along with a proposal for fresh regional elections.

How did we get here?

The Catalan government, led by President Carles Puigdemont, has refused to halt an independence drive following an outlawed referendum held earlier this month.

Media captionCatalan president’s message to Europe on Sunday

On Saturday, Mr Rajoy said he was triggering Article 155 of the constitution – an unprecedented move – which allows for direct rule to be imposed in a crisis on any of the country’s autonomous regions.

But Catalan leaders say they will not accept the plan.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Romeva said: “How can the European Union live with that situation [if this happens]? How can the EU democracy survive and how can they be credible if they allow this to happen?

“Because what I can tell you is that the people and the institutions in Catalonia will not let this happen.”

He said the Spanish government needed to recognise that the people of the region had voted for independence.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% who took part in the 1 October referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

Unionist parties who won about 40% of the vote at the 2015 Catalan elections boycotted the ballot and many anti-independence supporters stayed away, arguing it was not valid.

What happens next?

Apart from stripping Carles Puigdemont of all his powers, the central government will also seek to take control of Catalonia’s local police force and its public broadcaster, TV3, reports suggest.

A woman walks past pieces of Catalan pro-independence graffiti on some doors in BarcelonaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPro-independence posters and graffiti in Barcelona

Mr Rajoy insisted his government’s measures would not mean Catalan self-government itself was being suspended and that they were intended to remove the people who had taken the government outside the framework of the law.

The country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, told Spanish radio Onda Cero (in Spanish): “They [Catalan leaders] haven’t been put in the role by some divine power, they’ve been put in their roles by the constitution and the statute of autonomy.

  • Reality Check: Would Catalonia be a viable country?

“They’re completely not in compliance with the constitution and the statute of autonomy… They may be living in some other reality but the political and legal reality is that they will be removed.”

Once the Senate approves Article 155, Mr Puigdemont will stop receiving a salary and will not be able to carry out his functions or make any valid or obligatory decisions, she added

Brexit: Emily Thornberry predicts no deal with the EU

Brexit negotiations with the EU are heading for a “no deal” scenario, Labour’s Emily Thornberry has warned.

Shadow foreign secretary Ms Thornberry said the PM’s failure to control her party was causing “intransigence” on the UK side, which was a “serious threat to Britain” and its interests.

But International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said a failure to agree a deal was “not exactly a nightmare scenario”.

The UK was preparing “mitigation” measures for such an outcome, he said.

Meanwhile, the Spanish foreign minister said the lives of UK expats in Spain would not be “disrupted” – even if no Brexit deal is agreed.

  • Labour demands changes to Brexit repeal bill
  • Brexit: Why a transition period may not buy time
  • What would ‘no deal’ look like?

Theresa May will update MPs on Monday on the progress made at last week’s Brussels summit, where EU leaders agreed to begin scoping work on future trade talks while asking for more concessions from the UK on the opening phase of negotiations.

These talks, covering the UK’s “divorce bill”, the rights of expats after Brexit and the border in Northern Ireland, have failed to reach agreement so far – leading to a focus on what happens if nothing is put in place by the time the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Thornberry said: “I think what we may be seeing is the Europeans trying to make it clear that it is not their fault that there are these difficulties – the intransigence does not come from their side, it comes from Theresa May’s side.

“And in the end I think the reality is the intransigence is on Theresa May’s side, because she doesn’t have the strength or the authority to be able to control her backbenchers, let alone her cabinet. And I think we are heading for no deal, and I think that that is a serious threat to Britain and it is not in Britain’s interests for that to happen.

“We will stop that.”

Labour is seeking to work with Tory rebels to amend a key plank of Brexit legislation – the EU Withdrawal Bill – so that Parliament has the power to reject whatever the outcome of the negotiations turns out to be.

Following last week’s summit, European Council President Donald Tusk said that although not enough progress had been made to begin trade talks, reports of deadlock may have been exaggerated.

French President Emmanuel Macron said there was still much work to be done on the financial commitment before trade talks can begin, adding: “We are not halfway there.”

Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Mr Fox said a final figure for the UK’s financial settlement with the EU cannot come “until we know what the final package looks like”, later in the negotiation process.

He also dismissed President Macron’s suggestion that “secondary players” in the UK were “bluffing” about the possibility of a no deal outcome, saying this was “completely wrong”.

Mr Fox, who is responsible for striking global trade deals after Brexit, said he would prefer a “comprehensive” arrangement to be agreed – but was “not scared” of what would happen if this was not possible.

And he said trade talks would only be complicated if the “European elite” tried to “punish Britain for having the audacity to use our legal rights to leave the European Union”.

He said he hoped “economic sense” would prevail, as opposed to the “near-theological” pursuit of closer EU integration.

Expats’ rights

When she addresses MPs on Monday, Mrs May is expected to reaffirm her commitment to EU nationals living in the UK, saying she will “put people first” in the “deeply technical” talks.

Speaking on the Marr show, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said expats would be allowed to continue living in Spain even if no Brexit deal was reached.

“I do hope that there will be a deal,” he said.

“If there is no deal we will make sure that the lives of ordinary people who are in Spain, the UK people, is not disrupted.

“As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges.

“Over 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live here or retire here, and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”

Fox renewed Bill O’Reilly deal despite harassment suit

News Channel host Bill O"Reilly poses on the set of his show "The O"Reilly Factor" in New York March 17, 2015.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionO’Reilly is known to have settled at least six sexual harassment suits

Former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly was handed a new contract in January, despite the network’s parent company knowing he had recently settled a sexual harassment case.

The $32m (£24m) settlement was paid to former Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl, according to the New York Times.

In a statement, parent company 21st Century Fox said was aware of the settlement, but not the sum, when it signed a $25m-a-year contract renewal.

O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

He was forced to resign in April following a raft of sexual harassment allegations.

The settlement with Wiehl – which was “extraordinarily large” for such cases, according to the Times – is one of six involving O’Reilly that are in the public domain, totalling $45m.

Several of those suits also involved former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who stepped down in 2016 amid accusations of harassment.

‘Leaked information’

Wiehl had worked for Fox for 15 years at the time of the settlement with O’Reilly and appeared regularly on his show The O’Reilly Factor. She left at the time of the settlement.

“When the company renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement.

The company signed a $25 million-per-year deal with the commentator, but added corporate protections against future allegations of harassment against him.

O’Reilly denied the allegations to the New York Times. “I have never mistreated anyone,” he said, adding that he had resolved matters with Wiehl privately because he wanted to spare his children from controversy.

The commentator was forced to resign in April after a string of smaller settlements was reported by the Times and advertisers pulled out of his programme.

In a statement to Reuters, Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for O’Reilly, criticised the Times for printing “leaked information… that is out of context, false, defamatory, and obviously designed to embarrass Bill O’Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace”.

He also denounced the newspaper for not printing what he said was an affidavit signed by Wiehl withdrawing her allegations following the settlement.

The disclosure of the Wiehl settlement follows a string of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein, including accusations of rape, that sparked a international conversation about harassment in the film industry and beyond.

Weinstein, 65, who was sacked by his own production firm, The Weinstein Company, and suspended by the board of the Oscars, has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone

Is now the time to raise interest rates?

    Shoppers reflected in windowImage copyrightAFP
    Image captionIs the economy moving fast enough to bear a rate rise?

    It’s been 10 years since the UK last saw interest rates rise.

    Back then, the iPhone had only just been unveiled, Twitter was a one-year old mystery and Instagram didn’t even exist.

    Hard to imagine life without these things now, but interest rates of 5.75% and Gordon Brown as prime minister seem strangely alien.

    After that 0.25% rise, the world of monetary policy went into a tailspin, with central banks imposing a rapid series of interest rate cuts as it attempted to outrun the credit crunch.

    Finally, in March 2009 they hit a record low of 0.5% until being cut again to 0.25% in August 2016 in the aftermath of the shock Brexit vote

    It will certainly be an unfamiliar feeling to see rates rise, although discussions about lifting them have rumbled during much of that almost nine-year period of record lows.

     

    Next month is hotly tipped to be the one that changes the direction of interest rates. Last month, Mark Carney dropped what was seen as his biggest hint yet that rates would be increased soon, possibly in November.

    Granted, the economic backdrop is difficult to decipher.

    This week saw inflation at a five-year high, weak retail sales figures on Thursday – but government borrowing figures on Friday way better than expected.

    And the underlying picture is of sluggish economic growth, persistently weak productivity, and wage rises that lag inflation and eat into earning power.

    On top of that, household debt is rising five times faster than earnings and is more than £200bn – a state of affairs that Bank of England governor Mark Carney has remarked on often.

    We ask two former rate-setters from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee whether now is the time to bite the bullet.