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US holds back $65m aid to Palestinians

The US is withholding more than half of a $125m (£90m) instalment destined for the UN relief agency for the Palestinians, American officials say.

It will provide $60m in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) but will hold back a further $65m.

A UN official said the move would have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

President Donald Trump said earlier the US could cut aid if Palestinians rejected peace efforts with Israel.

The US funds almost 30% of the UN agency’s work overall and gave $370m to UNRWA last year. The money withheld is part of this year’s first instalment.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sharply attacked Mr Trump’s Middle East peace efforts, saying he would not accept any peace plan from the US after it recognised Jerusalem last year as Israel’s capital.

He accused Israel of putting an end to the 1994 Oslo Accords, which began the peace process.

Palestinian territories profile

Why is the aid being suspended?

“This is not aimed at punishing” anyone, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, adding that it was due to a US desire to see reforms at the agency.

The $65m is being withheld “for future consideration”, a US official told Reuters news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the official added.

The decision comes two weeks after President Trump’s complaint that America receives “no appreciation or respect” in return for its aid.

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How the U.S. Is Making the War in Yemen Worse

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Funerals in Yemen are traditionally large affairs. When prominent figures die, hundreds or even thousands of people come to pay their respects and to pray for them. Abdulqader Hilal Al-Dabab, the mayor of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, could expect such treatment. But Hilal used to ask for a simple burial. “If I get killed when I’m in office, I don’t want a state funeral,” he told his sons. He wanted to be buried in a grave he’d reserved next to his father’s.

Hilal had seen enough devastation to know to make plans for his demise. In the past three decades, Yemen has had nine wars, two insurgencies, and a revolution; Hilal governed a region with strong ties to Al Qaeda, and had survived an assassination attempt. A father of eleven, he was a former marathon runner who won North Yemen’s inter-university challenge three times. In Sana’a, Hilal kept a garden with a gazebo, where he received guests. Stephen Seche, the former United States Ambassador to Yemen, recalled sitting there while Hilal explained Yemeni politics. Other diplomats saw him as a moderating force, someone who could negotiate the intricate mesh of tribal, business, and political affiliations that make up Yemeni society.

Yemen’s most recent conflict began in early 2015, when Houthi rebels, from the country’s northern highlands, overran Sana’a and a Saudi-led coalition began bombing them. The Houthis allied with a former President and co-opted tribal networks in an effort to solidify and expand their power. Now they control much of the northwest of the country, while the internationally recognized government holds the south and the east. The Saudi coalition is made up of nine Middle Eastern and African countries, and is supported by the United States.

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Steve Jobs changed the future of laptops 10 years ago today

Steve Jobs introduces the MacBook Air in 2008 – Photo by AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images

“It’s the world’s thinnest notebook,” said Steve Jobs as he introduced the MacBook Air 10 years ago today. Apple’s Macworld 2008 was a special one, taking place just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show had ended and Bill Gates bid farewell to Microsoft. Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope, and the crowd was audibly shocked at just how small and thin it was. We’d never seen a laptop quite like it, and it immediately changed the future of laptops.

At the time, rivals had thin and light laptops on the market, but they were all around an inch thick, weighed 3 pounds, and had 8- or 11-inch displays. Most didn’t even have full-size keyboards, but Apple managed to create a MacBook Air with a wedge shape so that the thickest part was still thinner than the thinnest part of the Sony TZ Series — one of the thinnest laptops back in 2008. It was a remarkable feat of engineering, and it signaled a new era for laptops.

Apple ditched the CD drive and a range of ports on the thin MacBook Air, and the company introduced a multi-touch trackpad and SSD storage. There was a single USB 2.0 port, alongside a micro-DVI port and a headphone jack. It was minimal, but the price was not. Apple’s base MacBook Air cost $1,799 at the time, an expensive laptop even by today’s standards.

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Court battle brewing over work rules for Medicaid

A battle is brewing in the courts over the Trump administration’s move to let states impose work requirements for recipients of Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

Advocacy groups are gearing up to sue the administration, arguing that it doesn’t have the power to allow work requirements and other rules for Medicaid without action from Congress.

But the administration is defending the legality of the shift. When unveiling guidance Thursday on the work requirements, top Medicaid official Seema Verma said the administration has “broad authority” under current law to allow states to make changes through waivers.

On Friday, the administration quickly gave Kentucky the green light to implement work requirements for some beneficiaries, the first time such an approval has been given.

Shortly after, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) issued a press release stating, “litigation is expected because the approval violates federal law.”

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13 artists you need to know about in 2018

1. 03 Greedo
13 artists you need to know about in 2018
03 Greedo   Photo by Deawnne Buckmire

Watts native 03 Greedo has a tendency to pack his projects full of material — in 2017, he released three albums, totaling 73 tracks — maybe as a way of demonstrating just how expansive his melodic approach to rapping can be. But songs like “Never Bend” and “Run For Yo Life” distill what he’s best at: making somber West Coast slaps about past Ls and future Ws. Greedo recently signed to Alamo Records/UMG (and recorded 10 songs in 24 hours…) so expect to hear a lot more from him in 2018. —BEN DANDRIDGE-LEMCO

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Haiti’s Resilience as Seen Through Literature

Comments by President Trump during a meeting with lawmakers this week have placed Haiti in the spotlight. Here are three books by Haitian writers that provide insight into the country’s history of struggle and resistance.

DANCE ON THE VOLCANO
By Marie Vieux-Chauvet
Translated by Kaiama L. Glover
492 pp. Archipelago. (2017)

In this book, Minette, the “colored” daughter of a former slave and her white master, hopes her artistic ambitions will help her escape poverty, allowing her to earn enough money to “buy all the slaves in the country so that I can free them.” But though the art world does insulate her, she doesn’t manage to escape the racial divides that plagued late 18th-century Port-au-Prince altogether, when the country was still colonized by the French. She falls in love with a freedman, but he is a slave owner and perpetuates the same cruel behaviors she despises in white plantation owners. Our reviewer said the book is “best read as a slice of Haiti’s past rather than as a work of fiction.” Vieux-Chauvet, one of Haiti’s pre-eminent women writers, had to go into exile once the Duvalier dictatorship deemed her a threat.

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California in revolt: how the progressive state plans to foil the Trump agenda

California prides itself on being first with progressive laws on climate change, labor rights and marijuana. In 2018, the Golden State’s “firsts” are defensive – bold proposals and legal maneuvers to protect citizens from Donald Trump.

State leaders have pushed legislation and lawsuits to circumvent and undo Trump’s agenda on immigration, the environment, internet freedom and other liberal causes. One of the most consequential victories came Tuesday when a judge in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration’s plan to end a program that allows 800,000 undocumented people to study and work in the US.

At the same time, activists have also launched grassroots campaigns to shield residents from the White House’s attacks – and to pressure local Democrats to do more to mobilize the largest state against the president.

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Cranberries Lead Singer Dolores O’Riordan Is Dead At 46

Guillaume Souvant / AFP / Getty Images

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, released a statement.

It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Dolores O’Riordan, musician, singer and song writer.

Dolores O’Riordan and The Cranberries had an immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally.

I recall with fondness the late Limerick TD Jim Kemmy’s introduction of her and The Cranberries to me, and the pride he and so many others took in their successes.

To her family and all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts her death will be a big loss.

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FLORIDA PRISONERS PREPARE TO STRIKE, DEMANDING AN END TO UNPAID LABOR AND BRUTAL CONDITIONS

Photo: Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post/ZUMAPRESS.com

FLORIDA PRISONERS ARE calling for a general strike to start this week — marking the third mass action over the course of a year in protest of inhumane conditions in the state’s detention facilities. Detainees in at least eight prisons have declared their intention to stop all work on Monday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — to demand an end to unpaid labor and price gouging in prison commissaries, as well as the restoration of parole, among other requests.

Coordinated, nonviolent prison protests as well as spontaneous uprisings amid deteriorating conditions have escalated in recent years both nationwide and in Florida, which has the third largest prison system in the country. Prisoners in the state were among the most active during a nationwide strike in September 2016, which was quickly dubbed the “largest prison strike in U.S. history.” At least 10 Florida prisons participated in that action, which was planned to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising but started a day early when tensions flared at Holmes Correctional Institution in the Florida Panhandle. Then, in August, in response to prison activists’ calls for another show of dissent, Department of Corrections officials placed the entire state system — 143 facilities and 97,000 people — on lockdown, an unprecedented move.

Incarcerated organizers of this week’s strike have chosen to remain anonymous to prevent retaliation, but they shared a statement outlining their demands with outside supporters. In an audio message from prison shared with The Intercept, one of the organizers described the action as a “nonviolent protest to get what we deserve from our government.”

“They use word play and deceive the public about what really goes on inside the system, and we want to expose those things,” he said.

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‘Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?’ The astonishingly blunt question Trump asked in Oval Office immigration meeting (but he’d welcome more from Norway) Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5260595/Trump-asked-U-S-people-s-hole-countries.html#ixzz540IiVNER Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

 

  • President was meeting in the Oval Office with senators from both parties about proposals for immigration reform
  • He reportedly asked them why the U.S. had to shoulder the burden of refugees coming to the U.S. after Third World natural disasters 
  • ‘Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?’ he asked, according to a Washington Post report 
  • He also said: ‘Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out’ 
  • Trump has been rescinding ‘Temporary Protected Status’ for otherwise-illegal immigrants who came from Haiti, Nicaragua and El Salvador because of earthquakes and hurricanes
  • In addition to Haitians, he was referring to people from African countries
  • Trump said he wanted people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he held a press conference with Wednesday 
  • The White House did not deny Trump made the comments in a statement
  • Haiti’s government came out and said they ‘vehemently condemn’ Trump’s comments in relation to their country 
  • Haitian ambassador Paul Altidor said Trump’s remarks were ‘based on stereotypes’ and he was either ‘misinformed’ or miseducated’

President Donald Trump, frustrated with America’s continued responsibility for immigrants fleeing Third World natural disasters, asked members of Congress Thursday in vulgar terms why the United States had to shoulder such a burden.

‘Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?’ Trump said, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting and then leaked the comment to The Washington Post.

Trump was reportedly speaking about Haitians and citizens of various African nations.

‘Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,’ he told people in the meeting, according to CNN.

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