Street Garbage Crisis leads to demand for International help?

Lebanon PM demands Turkish help to beat garbage crisis


Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam heads a cabinet meeting at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon August 27, 2015. Reuters Photo

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam heads a cabinet meeting at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon August 27, 2015. Reuters Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has offered to help his Lebanese counterpart Tammam Salam in overcoming the huge garbage crisis in the country, which has shaken Salam’s national unity government amid angry street protests.

The two leaders spoke on the phone, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 28, quoting prime ministry sources, who said the Lebanese leader requested Turkey’s previous experience on the issue.

Davutoğlu responded by promising to send a technical team to Lebanon as soon as possible, the agency reported.

He also ordered the Environment and Urbanization Ministry to set up a team for the task.

Meanwhile, Lebanese security forces have orders to show restraint at a planned mass protest against the country’s government this weekend, but will not tolerate attempts by “thugs” to make trouble, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Aug. 28.

Two rallies in the capital of Beirut last weekend drew 20,000 people, and dozens were hurt in clashes between protesters and security forces at the time.

The protests have been driven by anger over garbage piling up streets of Beirut, following the closure of a main landfill. The government’s failure to resolve the trash crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990 and is widely seen as dysfunctional.

Interior Minister Machnouk said non-violent protests would be permitted.

“We are committed to protecting any citizen who expresses himself through peaceful means,” he said.

At the same time, there is concern about “attempts by thugs to exploit the rally in order to vent political frustrations and spite,” Machnouk warned. He said troops would be deployed to prevent any attempts to break into government buildings.

He also vowed that troops suspected of using excessive force last weekend will be held accountable.

“There were mistakes that happened on Saturday [Aug. 22] when I was out of the country,” he said, blaming lack of coordination between the various security agencies.

Organizers have rallied support under the slogan, “You Stink,” in reference to both the garbage crisis and the political establishment.

The campaigners say they are trying to end a patronage system that divvies up power to each of Lebanon’s multiple communities – Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Druze and more. That system has been the center of Lebanese politics for decades and helped fuel the 15-year civil war.

Critics say politicians spend more time cultivating their sectarian fiefdoms than actually governing.


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Birth order (caste) still under job and college quotes

Curfew in Ahmedabad as caste protests turn violent

Police reinforcements deployed after 500,000 Patels protest in Indian city over job and college quotas.

26 Aug 2015 11:15 GMT | Politics, Poverty & Development, India, Asia, Gujarat

About half a million Patels rallied in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, paralysing the city, to demand preferential treatment [AP]
About half a million Patels rallied in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, paralysing the city, to demand preferential treatment [AP]

India has deployed paramilitary forces and imposed a curfew in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat state, after violence broke out at a protest led by a powerful caste to demand more government jobs and college places.

The Gujarat state government imposed a curfew in parts of Ahmedabad and four other cities and towns across the western state and called in paramilitary reinforcements on Wednesday after members of the affluent Patel caste protested in the city.

Notes from the field:
Al Jazeera’s Nidhi Dutt

The Patels are a relatively wealthy and powerful community in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Over the years many have made their mark as gem and textile merchants.

The question being asked in India is why does this big and influential community need to be included in a reservation or quota system that has since independence been used to guarantee work and participation of minority communities?

According to the Patels, most government jobs and school places in Gujarat are reserved for people belonging to various special categories and as a result, they miss out.
Importantly, this is all unfolding in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. The Patels are among some of his most important supporters.

More than 100 different communities already benefit from the reservation system in Gujarat but according to the state government, the Patels cannot be added to the list.

Stone-throwing Patels torched cars, buses and police stations over the arrest of their leader, Hardik Patel, who had hours earlier on Tuesday led a massive protest in Ahmedabad, senior police officers said.

At least a dozen officers were injured in the violence, prompting the first curfew in the state since 2002 when communal riots left at least 1,000 people dead, Gujarat Director General of Police P C Thakur said.

“The curfew was imposed following large scale arson and rioting by members of the Patidar [or Patel] community in different cities of the state late on Tuesday,” Thakur told the AFP news agency.

“There was heavy stone pelting of police vehicles and torching of police stations in Unjha and Kalol towns,” he said.

Hardik Patel, 22, appealed for calm after his release overnight on bail but also called for a new strike on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera’s Nidhi Dutt, reporting from the Indian capital New Delhi, said the ‘Patel Movement’, as it’s being described, “raises some important questions about the delicacy of domestic Indian politics.

“It also raises questions over the age old ‘reservation’ system which guarantees members of minority communities government jobs … the concern is the Patel’s protest may prompt other groups across India to seek similar rights,” our correspondent said.

As many as 100 buses were torched and property damaged in the violence in Ahmedabad, Surat, and Mehsana cities and the towns of Unjha and Visnagar, local officers said.

About half a million Patels rallied in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, paralysing the city, to demand preferential treatment.

Schools said they would remain closed on Wednesday, but it was unclear how many businesses would follow the strike call.

Gujarat’s chief minister, Anandiben Patel, urged members of her own community to maintain the peace.

Related: India lower caste still removing human waste

India sets aside a proportion of government jobs and university places for Dalits, known as “untouchables”, and for so-called “other backward castes” under measures intended to bring victims of the worst discrimination into the mainstream.

She has said that giving into the demands of the Patels was not possible because India’s Supreme Court has mandated that state governments can set aside only 50 percent of jobs and school seats for “backward castes” and that existing low caste groups already fill those spots.

The Patels, one of the state’s most affluent castes, who make up around 20 percent of Gujarat’s 63 million population, say they are struggling to compete with less privileged castes for jobs.

The move to secure preferential treatment was launched at a rally in Visnagar, in northern Gujarat on July 6. It has since become a mass movement as thousands have taken to the streets of Surat, Vadodara, Mehsana and Ahmedabad to press for quotas.

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Catholic Missionary With Ties to Louisiana Parishes Assassinated in On-Road Ambush Attack In Nigeria

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By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter
August 20, 2015|10:42 am


Nigeria (Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

A woman prays during a New Year’s day service at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Abuja, January 1, 2014

A Nigerian Catholic priest who served at two Louisiana parishes for 11 years before returning to his home country was shot and killed by unknown assailants in an apparent road ambush in Southern Nigeria last weekend.

The Rev. Dennis Osuagwu, who was serving in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri in Nigeria’s Imo state and worked at the General House of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was traveling in the town of Nekede last Saturday when he was ambushed and shot dead at point blank range.

The Nigerian news agency reports that the bullet that killed the 57 year old, who was also on staff at Imo Polytechnic School, entered through the right side of his body and exited from the left side of his face.

Authorities are unsure of his assassins’ motives but believe that his assassination might stem from an internal dispute within the school, as Osuagwu was known to be a strict no no-nonsense priest who wasn’t shy about speaking his mind.

Osuagwu’s body was discovered by local residents, and a spokesperson for the local police, DSP Andrew Enwerem, confirmed that the missionary was killed along a bushy pathway.

“It was a gruesome murder. There is the likelihood that the assassins carefully monitored the priest’s movement and laid ambush for him on his track,” Enwerem stated. “The priest was murdered along a very lonely bush path that would have led him into Port Harcourt Road.”


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European Country Refuses To Accept Muslim Migrants From Syria, Will Only Allow Christians

Muslims protecting Catholics at their mass
Photo – Muslims protecting Catholics at worship in the Mideast.
Syndicated News
Slovakia Refuses To Accept Muslim Migrants From Syria, Will Only Allow Christians
By Aditya Tejas

A Slovakian official said Wednesday that the country is prepared to accept only Christian migrants from Syria under a European Union relocation plan.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Metik told the BBC that Muslim migrants wouldn’t be accepted, claiming that they “are not going to like it here.” He added that Muslim migrants should avoid moving to the country, warning that they would find it difficult to integrate with the majority Christian population.

Slovakia is required to take in 200 Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece as part of an E.U. plan to resettle new migrants.

“We could take 800 Muslims, but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?” Metik told the BBC. “We want to really help Europe with this migration wave, but … we are only a transit country and the people don’t want to stay in Slovakia,” he added.

E.U nations agreed in July to resettle over 32,000 asylum seekers over the next two years, a figure lower than the previous target of 40,000. The move comes at a time when Europe and the Mediterranean are facing an unprecedented migrant crisis.

The United Nations refugee body said this month that 107,500 had crossed into the E.U. since July, triple the number reported last year. The U.N. has also warned that over 4 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country due to the ongoing conflict there — a crisis that U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has called the “biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation.”

Across Europe, conservative leaders have warned that Europe’s policy towards migration issues was placing a severe strain on the host countries’ infrastructure and culture. “Left-wing policies have led to illegal immigrants flooding Europe, threatening European countries with an unprecedented social, economic, cultural and security conflict,” Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party said last week.

European authorities, meanwhile, condemned the Slovakian plan. An unnamed source told the Daily Express that Slovakia could face legal action if it went through with its plan.

Babar Baloch, Central Europe spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Resettlement is greatly needed for many refugees who are at extreme risk among the world’s most vulnerable groups,” according to the BBC.

“We encourage governments to take an inclusive approach while considering refugees for resettlement and should not base their selection on discrimination.”

However, Slovakian President Robert Fico said that the country was being forced to accept responsibility for problems it did not create. “I only have one question: Who bombed Libya?” Fico asked in an interview with an Austrian newspaper cited by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday . “Who created problems in North Africa? Slovakia

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Two Mennonite Colleges accept same sex marriages Moves.

Union U. Quits CCCU Over Mennonite Members' Same-Sex Marriage Moves

Image: Union University

After two Christian colleges voted last month to change their policies on marriage, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) promised to respond in a “deliberate and consultative” manner.

That approach is not good enough, says Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Union, a Southern Baptist school with 4,000 students, announced on Wednesday that it is withdrawing from the CCCU.

By dropping their non-discrimination policies on sexual orientation, CCCU member schools Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College “abandoned fidelity to God’s Word,” Oliver wrote in a letter.

The CCCU board, said Oliver, knew the two schools were considering allowing same-sex married employee for years. Still they did not act, he said.

“There have been several gatherings where the Council could have been clear about our expectations of membership,” he said in a statement. “The Council could have even deliberated and voted on such matters. We did not. As a result, we appear unprepared to state our commitments, much less take action.”

Oliver has warned in the past that as many as 40 CCCU members could leave if Eastern Mennonite and Goshen are allowed to remain as members. Prior to Union’s departure, the CCCU had 121 member campuses in North America.

No other member schools have withdrawn so far, said Shapri D. LoMaglio, CCCU’s vice president for government and external relations.

The CCCU board discussed the situation at Eastern Mennonite and Goshen at their regular meeting in July. After that board meeting, the CCCU board “reaffirmed its commitment to a deliberative and consultative process,” which included calling the presidents of all CCCU member schools to discuss the issue.

The “vast majority” of them affirm traditional Christian teaching on marriage, the umbrella organization said in a July release.

“The board and member presidents have made these phone calls a top priority,” LoMaglio told CT. “In the two weeks since they met, the board has already called nearly half of our presidents.”

CCCU was saddened by Union’s decision but wished the school well, said president Shirley V. Hoogstra in a statement.

Hoogstra also defended the organization’s handling of the issues raised by Eastern Mennonite and Goshen.

“Following a good and respectful process does not mean that we do not recognize the importance of this issue in our current cultural climate,” Hoogstra said. “[W]e do, and as such, CCCU is advocating vigorously on behalf of schools that hold the orthodox view of marriage, and we will continue to do so both for our members and for others who hold that view but are no longer members.”

But Oliver believes the CCCU and Union no longer share a common commitment to Christian teaching.

“The fact that this is not unanimous damages our witness,” Oliver wrote to the CCCU. “The reason we are passionate about this is because what we are talking about is not a secondary or tertiary theological issue—marriage is at the heart of the Gospel. To deny the Bible’s concept of marriage is to deny the authority of Scripture.”

Oliver is also worried that the CCCU’s lack of action could have legal implications. He and other Christian college leaders fear that their schools could be at odds with the federal government over their policies on sexuality. Because of that concern, Union wants to “maintain a consistency and unanimity with their faith family’s commitment on issues like same-sex marriage.”

The issue of whether Christian colleges could lose their tax-exempt status was raised during the Supreme Court’s deliberations over legalizing same-sex marriage. During Senate hearings last month, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a Senate subcommittee that the agency has no plans to address the tax-exempt status of religious schools.

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