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Advocating democratic norms amid controversy

The 3rd Summit for Democracy, with the title of ‘Democracy for Future Generations’ is set to commence in Seoul, South Korea, from March 18 to 20, this year. Hosted by an ally which provides the largest military base for the USA, the summit is meant to serve as a constructive platform for promoting democratic norms globally, but concerns have arisen regarding its potential misuse against countries whose foreign policies diverge from those of the USA. The summit, anticipated to draw leaders and delegates from across the globe, seeks to address pressing issues facing democratic nations and reinforce the principles of democratic governance. With sessions focusing on topics such as electoral integrity, human rights, and media freedom, the event intends to foster collaboration among nations committed to upholding democratic values. However, amidst the anticipation and preparation for the summit, criticisms have emerged regarding the perceived politicization of the event. The critics argue that its underlying agenda may veer towards geopolitical maneuvering rather than genuine efforts to foster democratic ideals. Political analysts and pundits have raised concerns regarding the upcoming Summit for Democracy, expressing apprehensions that it may be orchestrated as a strategic move against certain regional players, notably China, North Korea, and Russia and those sympathetic to them. These experts fear that the summit could be utilized to tarnish the reputation of these countries within the international community, potentially escalating tensions and further polarizing global relations. By singling out certain nations, they said the summit could further hinder efforts to address pressing global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and pandemics. “It’s evident that the Summit for Democracy is being used as a platform to target specific countries deemed as adversaries by the USA,” remarked one political analyst. “This approach risks exacerbating existing tensions and perpetuating a cycle of animosity rather than promoting meaningful dialogue and collaboration.” “Instead of engaging in divisive tactics, the USA should leverage international conferences like the Summit for Democracy to foster constructive dialogue and cooperation,” suggested another analyst. “There is an opportunity to harness the collective strength of nations to address shared challenges and promote positive change on a global scale.” As the situation in Gaza remains dire, with civilian casualties mounting and infrastructure destroyed, the failure to secure a ceasefire has further compounded the suffering of the Palestinian people. The US decision to veto the resolution has not only hindered efforts to bring an end to the violence but has also cast a shadow over its commitment to promoting democracy and peace on the global stage. The critics emphasized the importance of inclusivity and diplomacy in international affairs, urging the USA to refrain from pursuing agendas that could undermine global stability and cooperation. The controversy surrounding the 3rd Summit for Democracy underscores the complexities of navigating geopolitical dynamics in an increasingly interconnected world. As preparations for the event continue, stakeholders remain divided on how best to balance promoting democratic values with respecting the sovereignty and autonomy of nations with divergent foreign policies. With the summit just days away, all eyes are on Seoul as leaders and delegates prepare to engage in crucial discussions in a bid to shape the future of democracy on a global scale. Whether the event will succeed in fostering greater cooperation and understanding among nations remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the stakes could not be higher for the future of democracy worldwide. There are suggestions from political analysts that the USA should prioritize addressing its internal challenges rather than intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. They advocated a more introspective approach that focuses on upholding constitutional parameters and allowing other nations to determine their futures independently. As former US President Donald Trump’s legal battles unfold and his claims of electoral fraud persist, the USA finds itself at a crossroads regarding the future of its democratic system. The political pundits said Trump thrust the integrity of the US democratic system into the spotlight when he filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and several other Democrats, alleging a conspiracy to rig the 2016 US presidential election. Additionally, Trump’s continued claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 election reignited debates about the state of democracy in the USA. These claims have not only fueled divisions within US society but have also raised fundamental questions about the credibility of the US electoral system. Moreover, the USA has received widespread condemnation as it vetoed thrice a UN Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, despite overwhelming support from 13 member-countries. The decision has been met with sharp criticism from international leaders, who accuse the USA of disregarding the principles of democracy and human rights. The resolution, aimed at ending the ongoing violence in Gaza, received backing from a majority of the United Nations Security Council. However, the USA exercised its veto power, blocking the measure from moving forward. This action has raised concerns about the USA prioritizing its strategic interests over the lives and well-being of civilians in the conflict-affected region. The critics have pointed out the irony of the USA, a country that champions democracy and human rights on the global stage, disregarding the democratic will of the international community. Instead of supporting efforts to end the violence and protect innocent lives, the US has been accused of siding with its allies, despite allegations of human rights abuses. The US veto has escalated violence in Gaza murdering at least 31,553 civilians, including women and children. The calls for the international community to unite against discriminatory actions and double standards have grown louder in the wake of the US veto. Many argued that countries cannot claim to uphold democratic principles while selectively applying them to suit their own interests. The need for accountability and adherence to universal human rights norms has been underscored by this latest development. As the situation in Gaza remains dire, with civilian casualties mounting and infrastructure destroyed, the failure to secure a ceasefire has further compounded the suffering of the Palestinian people. The US decision to veto the resolution has not only hindered efforts to bring an end to the violence but has also cast a shadow over its commitment to promoting democracy and peace on the global stage. The Summit organizers must also guard against any attempt by US allies to drag up bilateral disputes. An example is India, which is trying to use its new-found position as the USA’s main hope against China, to cover up its oppression in Kashmir, and to do down Pakistan.

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Putin’s Election ‘Win’ Sparks Mockery

Reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had secured another term in office was met with mockery on social media, with users decrying the results as a sham due to the leader’s suppression of opposition and manipulation of elections.On Sunday, Reuters reported that Putin was projected to win another six-year term as president, with an alleged 88 percent of the vote. The incumbent leader faced meager opposition on the ballot from Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Leonid Slutsky of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Vladislav Davankov of the New People party. Voting ran for three days from Friday to Sunday.As was pointed out by observers and Putin critics online, the candidates on the ballot were supportive of the incumbent president and largely had the same views as him. More meaningful opposition was quashed, with anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin and former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova being barred from running in the race. Alexei Navalny, a major Putin critic and opposition leader in Russia, was also jailed on dubious charges and died in prison last month, with many observers alleging that he was murdered at the behest of Putin.Putin has served as either the president or prime minister or Russia continuously since 2000, at one point pushing for reforms that lifted term limits and allowed him to continue running for office. He has also enacted strict laws against publicly criticizing him and been accused of manipulating elections to create the superficial appearance of a democratic system.For these reasons and others, his “victory” in this year’s election was met with withering criticism and mockery by users on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.”When you give people a choice between Putin and three guys who voted for all his laws and say he is great, and make criticizing him illegal, you get… this,” Max Seddon, Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, wrote in a post alongside a graphic showing Putin’s performance against the other candidates.”My man Putin has won the elections. Technically this is what happened,” X user Eve Maina wrote, alongside a meme featuring an altered image of former President Barack Obama giving a medal to himself, used to denote people bestowing honors on themselves.In another post, security studies professor Peter R. Neumann lampooned the results of the election with pie graph showing the categories “Voted for Putin,” “Voted for Putin twice,” and “Fell out of window,” echoing the widely believed accusations that Putin orders the assassinations of his political opponents.”Congratulations to #Putin for another election victory,” the satirical account Sandford Police wrote in its post. “We don’t know how you do it.”Newsweek reached out to the Kremlin via email on Sunday evening for comment.

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Political & social change through social media

Research in political science and social movement studies has been limited in understanding the role of communication and communicative practices in the construction of collective identities and protest movements. Social movements are social processes where collective actors articulate their interests, voice grievances, and propose solutions to identified problems through various actions. These movements are conflictual, structured through dense informal networks, and geared towards developing, sustaining and sharing collective identities. The emergence of digital networked technologies has led to the convergence of distribution and communication channels, including social media. The profound impact of these technologies on societies has led to a polarized debate about the impact and normative consequences of Information, Network, or Knowledge Society and social media. However, even sceptics acknowledge the opportunities for disadvantaged groups to self-represent themselves, communicate independently and organize transnationally. Social media are playing an increasingly role in organizing social movements and mobilizing on a global level. The popularity and dependence on social media have doubled in recent years, with the internet becoming a crucial tool for information and communication. Social media has been shown to change perspectives and temperaments in political debates, providing a platform for both young and old individuals to participate in ongoing revolts or promote their views. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become essential for gathering information, creating social empowerment, and staying updated on socio-political happenings. It has also become a platform for people to express their political views and participate in ongoing political revolts, and a critical asset for global social empowerment and communication. The Internet has significantly facilitated political engagement and information dissemination, with social media playing a crucial role in increasing political engagement and awareness. This explores how social media can impact politics, highlighting its effectiveness as a networking tool and communication across local, national, and international boundaries. It encourages active participation in political discourse and the development of political literacy through information dissemination from various sources. The accessibility and democratic nature of news production have been enhanced by the development of the Internet and social media. When social media platforms are used exclusively and extensively for political purposes— for example, by showcasing pictures of political parties or politicians, following them, starting political debates, offering support to them, disseminating their message, running for office, and soliciting donations— it is referred to as using social media for political purposes. Unlike inclusive online politics, this special method of accessing social networking sites is valuable. Social media platforms are employed in politics to increase voter interest, engagement, and literacy. Additionally, they draw attention to political involvement, which lowers hurdles and expenses for political marketing initiatives including repositioning, brand development, and campaigns. Social media has been instrumental in driving political and social change through instantaneous information dissemination, real-time communication, and dynamic organization. However, its effectiveness depends on strategic alignment of online campaigns with offline actions. Successful movements have shown the power of combining digital advocacy with physical participation, demonstrating that online platforms serve as a means to an end. During the 2008 American presidential elections, social media platforms gained prominence for their political purposes. Initially not evolved as political instruments, statesmen quickly adapted to use them for political campaigns and communication. Barack Obama’s use of social networking sites, particularly Facebook, appealed to American youth, even those not old enough to vote. While not the first to explore social media as a powerful election campaign tool, Obama was the first to use it as an essential element of his candidacy to network with potential voters aligning with his ideology. In Pakistan, the former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been the pioneer of using social media platforms like X, YouTube, and Facebook to allow campaigns to connect with individual voters at a grassroot level in a more personalized manner. Less is known about the conditions that promote the use of social media platforms, which have grown to be important arenas for political participation. The socialising power of mass media, including print and television, can moderate the relationship between media vulnerability and democratic outcomes. With increased exposure to the media, millennials may utilise social media more for political goals. Election involvement is more than just casting a ballot, and millennials are greatly impacted by social media use for online political engagement. The news media is essential to educating the public about world events, particularly in the run-up to elections. Political interest is a major factor in the promotion of political knowledge, and turnout is impacted by young people’s lack of interest. Social media has been instrumental in driving political and social change through instantaneous information dissemination, real-time communication, and dynamic organization. However, its effectiveness depends on strategic alignment of online campaigns with offline actions. Successful movements have shown the power of combining digital advocacy with physical participation, demonstrating that online platforms serve as a means to an end.

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Shameless star Tina Malone ‘overwhelmed’ by support after tragic death of husband

Shameless actress Tina Malone has said she’s feeling “overwhelmed” with the outpouring of support and kind messages she’s received following the tragic passing of her husband, Paul. The 61-year-old star, known for her roles in popular dramas like Brookside and Shameless, wrote a heartfelt note to her fans thanking them for their overwhelming show of support, reports the Mirror. She posted on X: “I am totally overwhelmed at the cards, flowers, messages, calls, txts, emails iV received from friends, family, colleagues, Paul’s army brothers, it’s a great comfort for us,I will reply to everyone soon as I am able to, the support and kindness on here to has deeply touched me too xx.” Upon reading her post, one fan responded: “Tina, I am so sorry for your loss. Myself and a friend @clairelilly have suffered similar losses in 2019/2020 when our kids fathers died from military related PTSD. You aren’t alone, we will be here for you should you want some support. Sending love.” Another person commented: “I have only just learned of your sad loss . I am so sorry for your devastating loss . Sending support strength and hugs from Scotland.” A third added: “Sending so much love Tina.” Last Wednesday, Tina announced that Paul had passed away earlier that day at the age of 42. In a touching and emotional post, she told fans: “It’s with total heartbreak I write this my husband Paul Chase Malone passed away this morning we are totally devastated.” In the last photos of Tina and her husband, they looked very happy celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary. They were seen hugging each other outside a hotel in Liverpool. These photos were taken in August last year. It showed that even though they had some tough times, they were loving each other again. After Tina told everyone about Paul passing away, lots of people sent kind words. Someone wrote: “Oh no so very sorry for your loss and my condolences to you and yours.” Another person said: “I’m so sorry for your loss Tina. I don’t know you or the man you clearly loved with all your heart, but my heart breaks for you as I can only imagine how truly devastating it would feel if the man I love with all my heart passed away as he inevitably will.” Tina and Paul got married in 2010 and had their first child, Flame Chase, three years later. Tina was 50 when she became pregnant in 2013. They split up after nine years of marriage, even though they had been together for 11 years. But then, in February 2020, they shared the happy news that they were back together. After being on Shameless, Tina was on Celebrity Big Brother in 2009. She also played Elaine McDermott in a show called Clink in 2019. Get the latest celebrity gossip and telly news sent straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily Showbiz newsletter here.

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European Union signs 7.4B euro aid package for Egypt to address migration concerns and more

The European Union announced a 7.4-billion-euro aid package for Egypt, or about $8 billion, amid concerns of migrants flooding the country from Israel and making the voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian Abdel Fattah el-sissi signed the deal on Sunday in Cairo, though the agreement was criticized because of Egypt’s human rights record, the Associated Press reported. “Your visit today represented a very important milestone in the relations between Egypt and the European Union,” El-sissi told visiting European leaders, including those from Belgium, Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Greece, who attended the signing. El-sissi added that the deal helps achieve a “paradigm shift in our partnership.” EGYPT’S EL-SISSI CRUISES TO REELECTION AMID DOMESTIC, INTERNATIONAL TURMOIL The 7.4-billion-euro deal consists of grants and loans for the next three years, and about 5 billion euros of the funds are considered macro-financial assistance. Both sides agreed to a “strategic and comprehensive partnership,” which could lead to an expansion of the Egypt-EU cooperation that benefits both non-economic and economic areas. “The European Union recognizes Egypt as a reliable partner and its unique and vital geostrategic role as a pillar of security, moderation and peace in the Mediterranean, Near East and African region,” the two parties said in a joint statement after the summit. RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT FOR CONVICTING EL-SISI CHALLENGER: ‘CLEAR MESSAGE’ The deal between the EU and Egypt is called the Joint Declaration, and is intended to promote “democracy, fundamental freedoms, human rights and gender equality,” the EU said. But also included is a cooperation to take on the challenges of migration and terrorism. The funds are intended to help Egypt bolster its borders next to places like Libya, where migrants pass through as they flee conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. Egypt has taken in over 460,000 Sudanese since April 2023, as military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, continues to fight. EGYPT STRENGTHENS ITS BORDER WITH GAZA AS ISRAEL CONTINUES ATTACKS The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could also lead to hundreds of thousands of people flooding into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as the southernmost town of Gaza, Rafah, has taken in over 1 million people, the AP reported. Currently, Egypt is reporting about 9 million migrants in the country, which includes about 480,000 who are registered with the U.N. refugee agency as refugees and asylum seekers. The Egyptian coast has not been a major launching pad for human traffickers to send overcrowded boats to Europe by way of the Mediterranean Sea, though concerns about the matter are building as Egypt faces the pressures of migrants coming into the country. BLINKEN LANDS IN EGYPT FOR HELP MEDIATING AN ISRAEL-HAMAS DEAL The deal follows the template of other deals recently signed with Tunisia and Mauritania, which pledged funds in return for fortifying borders. Tunisia and Mauritania are both locations where migrants leave to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of freedom in Italy and Spain. Still, the package was criticized by international groups over Egypt’s history of human rights violations. One group, Amnesty International, reportedly urged the EU not to take Egypt’s violations lightly. “EU leaders must ensure that Egyptian authorities adopt clear benchmarks for human rights,” Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s head of European institutions office said. She specifically pointed at the country’s restrictions on media and freedom of expression, as well as its crackdown on civil society. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP The European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer acknowledged to reporters that there were issues with human rights violations, though he defended the partnership. “Yes, we know the criticism related to human rights in those countries, and it is obvious that this is an issue,” he said. “Does that mean we should break off all relations? Would that lead to an improvement in the situation? Or should we try to find a way to work with those countries to improve the situation on the ground both for local populations and for migrants coming to those countries?” The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Vladimir Putin: The Autocrat Eyeing A New World Order

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has over the past two decades built up a system of domestic repression and confrontation with the West, was on course for fifth term in office Sunday. Ever since the previously little-known KGB agent became president on New Year’s Eve 1999, he has consolidated power by bringing oligarchs to heel, banning any real opposition and turning Russia into an authoritarian state. The Kremlin leader was set for his largest ever election victory on Sunday, with exit polls by state-run companies and the first wave of official results putting him on more than 87 percent of the vote. His most prolific critic, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison colony last month in mysterious circumstances. Other opponents are serving lengthy jail sentences or have fled into exile. Abroad, 71-year-old Putin has spearheaded efforts to challenge the dominance of the West. His grip on power tightened further after he invaded Ukraine in February 2022, with public dissent against the war effectively silenced through court proceedings and imprisonment. His rule risks being defined by the war in Ukraine, which has cost many thousands of lives and sparked unprecedented Western sanctions that have created major tensions in the Russian economy. There were large anti-war protests in the days after he ordered troops into Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, 2022. They were quickly quashed. Quashed mutiny But there were more demonstrations months later when the government was forced to announce a partial mobilisation, after Russia failed to topple Ukraine’s government in the opening offensive of the war. The most serious challenge to Putin’s long rule came in June 2023, when Yevgeny Prigozhin, a long-time ally and head of the Wagner mercenary group, announced a mutiny to unseat Russia’s military leadership. The bloody uprising threatened to tarnish Putin’s self-created image of a strategic genius — uncomfortable for a ruler who likes to compare himself to Peter the Great, the reform-minded emperor who expanded Russia’s borders. But in recent months, Putin has demonstrated his lasting power. Domestic opposition has been silenced, the economy is growing again, the Russian military has gained ground in east Ukraine, and he has resumed foreign travel. Putin started out as an intelligence officer before embarking on a political career in the mayor’s office in his native Saint Petersburg in 1991, as the Soviet Union was falling apart. Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, appointed him as head of the FSB security service in 1998 and as prime minister the following year. Early reform hopes It was a carefully planned strategy, culminating in his nomination as acting president when Yeltsin resigned. Putin won his first presidential election in March 2000 and a second term in 2004. His rise initially spurred hopes that Russia would reform and become a predictable, democratic partner to the West on the global stage. Putin gained popularity by promising stability to a country still reeling from a decade of humiliation and economic chaos following the Soviet collapse. After two stints as president, Putin switched back to being prime minister in 2008 to circumvent a constitutional ban on holding more than two consecutive terms as head of state. But he kept the reins of power firmly in hand and returned to the presidency in 2012 despite pro-democracy protests in Moscow, winning a fourth term in 2018. He jailed his loudest rival, Alexei Navalny, in 2021 and kept him in prison for three years until his death under opaque circumstances in February 2024. The clampdown on opposition movements ramped up after the launch of hostilities in Ukraine. Thousands of Russians were handed long prison sentences using newly reinforced censorship laws. ‘New Iron Curtain’ The West imposed sanctions that effectively cut off Russia from the global banking system, adding to the Russian leadership’s siege mentality. In October 2023, Putin accused Europe of creating a “new Iron Curtain” and said Russia was building “a new world” that would not be based on Western hegemony. He has also increasingly pushed a domestic agenda of nationalism and social conservatism, including most recently laws against Russia’s LGBTQ community. Persona non grata among Western leaders after the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian strongman has sought to pivot east, wooing India and China with increased energy exports. After shrinking in 2022, the Russian economy began to grow again last year despite high inflation, a weakening of the ruble and a drastic increase in defence spending. The war failed in its initial aims to topple Ukraine’s government and Russia was forced into a series of humiliating setbacks by the determined defence of the much smaller Ukrainian army. Growing confidence But, with the conflict now in its third year, Putin has been speaking with increased confidence about Russia’s prospects on the battlefield — a topic he avoided for many months. Russian forces have successfully held off a much-hyped Ukrainian counter-offensive and there are increasing doubts about whether Kyiv can hold the front lines in the face of delays to much-needed Western military supplies. Wrangling in Washington in recent months has held up $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine, prompting alarmed warnings from the US administration. In February, Russian forces captured the former Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka, handing Moscow its first major territorial gain in more than a year of fighting for the town. The Kremlin chief struck a defiant tone in his state of the nation address almost two weeks later, vowing his troops would fight until the end. “They will not back down, will not fail and will not betray,” Putin said. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Israel’s Netanyahu Says Civilians Can Leave Crowded Rafah Before Invasion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday that civilians crammed into the southern Gaza Strip would be able to leave before troops enter in pursuit of Hamas. His comments, alongside visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, follow international fears over the fate of the roughly 1.5 million people who have sought refuge in Rafah, most of them displaced from Gaza’s war. The office of the right-wing premier, whose security and war cabinets were to discuss the latest international efforts towards a truce deal, had on Friday said he approved the military’s plan for an operation in Rafah as well as “the evacuation of the population”. “Our goal in eliminating the remaining terrorist battalions in Rafah goes hand-in-hand with enabling the civilian population to leave Rafah. It’s not something that we will do while keeping the population locked in place,” Netanyahu said at a press appearance with Scholz. As others have done, Scholz raised the question: “How should more than 1.5 million people be protected? Where should they go?” The United States — which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military assistance — has said it wants a “clear and implementable plan” to ensure civilians are “out of harm’s way”. ‘In the name of humanity’ Before meeting Scholz, Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting that “no amount of international pressure will stop us from realising all the goals of the war”, and that to do this, “we will also operate in Rafah”. Israel has repeatedly threatened a ground offensive against Hamas in Rafah, where people shelter in tents crammed up against the Egyptian border. UN World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged against a military operation there, “in the name of humanity”. Tedros said “this humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to worsen”. Netanyahu leads a coalition of religious and ultra-nationalist parties. His failure to bring home the hostages taken by Hamas during their attack which started the war has led to mounting protests within his country as well as domestic calls for early elections. Hamas’s unprecedented attack from Gaza on October 7 resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures. Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment and ground offensive which has killed at least 31,645 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory. International envoys were planning to meet in Qatar soon to revive stalled talks for a ceasefire and hostage release deal. Palestinian seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages during the October 7 attack. Dozens were released during a week-long truce in November, and Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza including 32 presumed dead. A Hamas proposal calls for an Israeli withdrawal from “all cities and populated areas” in Gaza during a six-week truce and for more humanitarian aid, according to an official from the Palestinian group. ‘Security responsibility’ Israel plans to attend the talks, with cabinet members due to “decide on the mandate” of their delegation before its departure, Netanyahu’s office said, without giving a date for when they would leave. In Jerusalem, Scholz called for “a hostage deal with a longer-lasting ceasefire”, and appealed for a “negotiated two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Terror cannot be defeated with military means alone,” Scholz said. Netanyahu has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and defied the United States by rejecting calls for a Palestinian state. The Israeli prime minister said on Sunday that he would not accept a peace deal that weakens Israel and leaves it unable to defend itself against hostile neighbours. Netanyahu also reiterated his position that “Israel has to have the necessary security responsibility” in Gaza. There was no letup in the fighting, and at least 92 people were killed over the previous 24 hours, the health ministry said on Sunday. The dead included 12 members of the same family whose house was hit in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. ‘She’s dead’ Palestinian girl Leen Thabit, retrieving a white dress from under the rubble of their flattened house, cried as she told AFP her cousin was killed in the strike. “She’s dead. Only her dress is left,” Thabit said. “What do they want from us?” Shelling and clashes were reported in south Gaza’s main city of Khan Yunis as well as elsewhere, and the Israeli army said its forces had killed “approximately 18 terrorists” in central Gaza since Saturday. More than five months of war and an Israeli siege have led to dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, where the United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine for the coastal territory’s 2.4 million people. Humanitarians have cited Israeli restrictions as among the obstacles they face in reaching the needy. Israel has blamed shortages on the Palestinian side, specifically a lack of capacity to distribute aid once it gets in. Facing difficulty on the ground, donors have turned to the air and sea. A second ship was due to depart from Cyprus along a new maritime corridor to bring food and relief goods, officials of the Mediterranean nation said. Jordan on Sunday announced the latest aid airdrop over northern Gaza together with aircraft from the United States, Egypt and Germany — which announced Saturday it had parachuted aid into Gaza for the first time. In Rafah, the situation has only grown worse, said medical staff at a clinic run by Palestinian volunteers. Samar Gregea, a physician herself uprooted from Gaza City in the north, said medicine is in short supply, and “all children” are suffering from malnutrition, with a spike in hepatitis A cases. “Children require foods high in sugars, like dates, which are currently unavailable,” Gregea said. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Princess Diana’s brother had mental health treatment after writing tell-all memoir

“I had endless nightmares.” RECOMMENDED VIDEO The uncle of Prince Harry and Prince William also revealed he has not had an alcoholic drink for “many weeks”, and admitted he had undergone EMDR therapy. It stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and is a form of therapy designed to reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Charles said on the BBC show he did not feel suicidal after writing the book, but did start to ask “what’s the point” in things as he revisited his childhood trauma. He revealed in his memoir, published on March 14, he was molested by a female assistant matron at the age of 11 at the Northamptonshire prep school – describing her as a “voracious pedophile.”

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Silencing the Soil

A free and democratic society is demonstrated by personal property, freedom of religion and speech, citizenship, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, minority rights, and protests, which are a vital means of expressing dissatisfaction with governmental activities. Almost 70 percent of the population in India relies heavily on the agricultural industry for their fundamental needs. This industry has continued to play a significant role in the nation’s economic stability even in the wake of the ongoing global epidemic. In December 2021, Farmers in India forced the repeal of three controversial Farm Laws that sought to deregulate the country’s agricultural industry to further corporate interests, after a year of persistent public protests. Farmers were afraid that the rules would make it easier for corporations to seize control of India’s agrarian economy, undermine price support for important crops, and endanger their means of livelihood. They had also requested that the federal minister’s son be brought to trial by the government for allegedly running over and killing four protesting farmers during the 2021 demonstration. Following the repeal of the new farm laws by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration in 2021, the government announced plans to form a group comprising government officials and farmers to determine strategies for guaranteeing support prices for all agricultural produce. After the government agreed to negotiate their additional requests, which included guaranteed prices for produce and the dismissal of criminal charges against the protesters, and canceled the proposed farm laws in 2021, farmer organizations decided to end their strike. A committee to handle farming issues was established by the Modi government, but it was not composed of delegates from Punjab, Haryana, or Uttar Pradesh— all of which are significant producers of grains. Hardly any progress has been made by the committee. Farmers are still facing persistent issues in the meantime. Every year, thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide as a result of debt brought on by crop failures. Climate change-related harsh weather and diminishing water supplies have decreased agricultural output. The protest movement turned out to be one of the primary challenges facing the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now in 2024, the farmers have returned, and they claim they wish to remind the government of the commitments made at that time. Human Rights Watch claims that Indian authorities are intimidating farmers into not conducting peaceful rallies by employing excessive force, threats, and internet shutdowns. Farmers from the states of Punjab and Haryana have been demonstrating outside India’s capital, New Delhi, since mid-February, demanding better pricing for their agricultural products. A year-long movement that came to an end in 2021 when tens of thousands of farmers camped outside of New Delhi and succeeded in getting new agricultural laws revoked is being revived by the protesters. An extended list of 23 crops, which the government would buy at a minimum guaranteed price, is part of the farmers’ present demands in 2024. The authorities have blocked roads with barbed wire, metal containers, and cement blocks to keep the protesters from reaching the city. There is no progress in the negotiations between the administration and the farmers. A constructive conversation that involves farmers in consultations on the terms of the agricultural reform proposals is required rather than ridiculing and silencing the criticism. This will make sure that the new reforms are understood and voluntarily embraced by the majority of people, rather than just being forced upon them. India’s government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has frequently cracked down on peaceful rallies and detained people who object to its policies. With the statement, “We have identified them with CCTV and drone cameras,” a police official threatened to cancel the demonstrators’ passports and visas. To disperse crowds and medical camps, the authorities also utilized tear gas shells and drones. To contain the mob, they fired shotguns loaded with metal pellets, which can result in blindness and other severe injuries. Shubhkaran Singh, a farmer in the region that borders the states of Punjab and Haryana, was 24 years old when he was shot in the head by police on February 21. The Indian government frequently used this strategy to undermine political demonstrations by the farmers, and the Haryana government appears to have attempted this by temporarily restricting internet access in seven areas. According to the Global Government Affairs team at X (previously Twitter), on February 21, the Indian government sent them “executive orders” that mandated them to remove certain accounts. The majority of these accounts— some of which are blocked on Facebook— belong to reporters covering the demonstrations, leaders of the farmers’ union, and other people who endorse the farmers’ activities. According to international human rights law, India must make sure that internet-based limitations are mandated by the government and are a reasonable and necessary response to a particular security issue. The United Nations Human Rights Council denounced actions taken to obstruct or restrict online information dissemination or access in July 2016. Even though it is the foundation of the Indian economy, the agriculture sector is still the most neglected and undervalued, receiving only 2 percent of the country’s overall budget. Records show that 7.4 percent of all suicides in the country are farmer suicides. “Multiple projectiles fired at the same time are inaccurate and, generally, their use cannot comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality,” according to the 2020 UN guidance on “less-lethal weapons” in law enforcement. It is never advisable to employ metal pellets, such as those discharged from shotguns. The BJP-led administration in India must take action to reduce political violence rather than make it worse as the country prepares for elections. The legally given freedoms and liberties of the protesting farmers in India have been severely violated. Reforms in the agriculture sector are desperately needed. In a democracy, citizens have the important right to express their discontent and protest in peace. India’s ongoing use of disproportionate and excessive force against these protestors is unjustifiable and violates their human rights, which are protected by both international law and the Constitution. To truly uphold democracy and human rights, one must allow for political difference, dissent, and nonviolent protest. Therefore, a constructive conversation that involves farmers in consultations on the terms of the agricultural reform proposals is required rather than ridiculing and silencing the criticism. This will make sure that the new reforms are understood and voluntarily embraced by the majority of people, rather than just being forced upon them.

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