GAROWE, Somalia (AA)

Nur Hashi Warsame, minister for religious and endowment affairs in Somalia’s Hirshabelle state, was shot dead by unknown gunmen late Thursday in the town of Jowhar, said an official.

Mohamud Jimale, a police officer, told Anadolu Agency that Warsame was shot several times minutes after evening prayers in the Horsed neighborhood of Jowhar, the state’s administrative capital.

"Nur Hashi Warsame, who was religious affairs minister and also a member of parliament, was shot several times by unknown gunmen. He was taken to a hospital and later succumbed to his injuries," Jimale said.

Ibrahim Ali Nor, chairman of the Middle Shabelle Journalists Association, told Anadolu Agency by phone that the gunmen had escaped, but security forces reached the scene and launched an operation in the area, arresting at least 10 young men.

No group has claimed responsibility so far for the killing, but the Somalia-based insurgent group al-Shabaab has carried out attacks in the country recently.


A government scientist has warned that unless the UK government implements further coronavirus restrictions, the country will be at risk from a second national lockdown, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

Professor Susan Michie is the director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London and a member of the scientific pandemic influenza group on behavioral science, which advises the government.

“If more restrictions aren’t done very soon then I think we risk being back into the situation where a national lockdown may be necessary,” she told the Guardian. “Business as usual isn’t an option.”

This included more restrictions on members of the public mixing with each other by closing pubs and restaurants, working from home, and reducing public transport usage.

She said these measures, which have been loosened in recent weeks as the government sought to reopen the economy, “should never have been changed.”

“We are in a total crisis. If we’d had a functioning test, trace-and-isolate system, yes maybe we could have gotten away with a curfew [for pubs and other venues], but without the testing we don’t know where the outbreaks are happening, we can’t manage them – it is like a fire and we have lost our fire engines and out hoses,” she said.

She called for better screening at UK borders and for university teaching to be done online.

“I would say take all those things and review it: if in two weeks time [cases] are still exponentially rising then I think one would have to then look at a full national lockdown,” she said. “But I think we should have a first effort to avoid it.”

The government was forced to deny on Thursday that it considered a two-week national lockdown, after rumors in local media that such a plan was in the works.


New fatalities and coronavirus cases were reported across major European nations on Thursday.


France confirmed a spike of 10,593 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the highest single-day figure since the start of the outbreak.

At least 50 deaths in hospitals were reported in the country, according to health authorities.

The death toll reached 31,095 and the number of cases climbed to 415,481.


Italy registered 1,585 new virus cases, bringing its tally to 293,025, said health authorities.

The death toll rose to 35,658 as 13 more people died from the virus. The number of recoveries stands at 2115,954.


At least 10 new fatalities from the virus were reported in Portugal, bringing the nationwide death toll to 1,888, according to the Health Ministry.

Another 770 infections, the highest daily tally since Apr. 10, were registered in the past 24 hours, pushing the case count to 66,396.

Across the world, COVID-19 has claimed almost 943,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since origination in China in December.

The US, India and Brazil are currently the worst-hit countries.

Nearly 30 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries exceeding 20.36 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University./aa


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio again delayed Thursday the start of in-person schooling over safety concerns tied to the coronavirus pandemic, just days before children were expected to attend class. 

Schooling for all students was to begin on Monday, but de Blasio's plan has delayed the beginning of in-person learning on a rolling basis. Only students in pre-Kindergarten, as well as schooling for individuals with advanced special needs will begin Monday under the new plan.

Elementary schools will now open Sept. 29, and middle and high schools will not begin in-person learning until Oct. 1. Those students will have to attend class remotely until schools officially open for them.

"I’ve mentioned from the very beginning that we’re taking every precaution necessary," de Blasio said on Twitter. "That the safety of our kids comes first. And that as we move along, we will rely on expert advice and pivot if needed. This was a promise to ensure we reopen safely, and successfully."

Thursday's delay is the second this month, and would be used to add additional staffing amid a shortage of educators need for the city to implement its planned reopening that de Blasio said was his main reason for changing plans at the last minute.

In addition to the 2,000 more teachers that were announced Monday, de Blasio said during a news conference that the city would call up 2,500 educators from the City University of New York, substitute teachers, and the education department./aa


Jammu and Kashmir

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

India's most prestigious journalism award will no longer judge in a separate category reporting from Jammu and Kashmir and other domestic conflict zones.

The annual Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, which includes categories like business and economic reporting, as well as the use of Hindi and regional languages, has eliminated its category in "Reporting from Conflict Areas Broadcast" which would have had entries from Jammu and Kashmir, the country's northeastern states and the Maoist-insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh.

Anadolu Agency is currently waiting on a response from an official of the Ramnath Goenka Foundation, which hosts the awards, on the reasons behind its decision. This story will be updated once the reply comes.

However, Indian media watchdog Newslaundry reported that the foundation told it that "entries from these regions had been too low to sustain competition." The last date for submitting an entry for the 2019 awards, which was announced on Thursday, is Oct. 9, 2020.

However, a few Kashmiri journalists who won the award in the past said the decision appears to have been spurred by last year's constitutional changes India says would help psychologically integrate the region with the rest of the country and curb separatism.

Riyaz Wani, a distinguished Kashmiri journalist who won the award in 2015, told Anadolu Agency: "Anything that projects Kashmir or any other place as distinct for any reason doesn't go well with India's ruling dispensation's policies and ideology."

"This decision is unfortunate. It happens at a time when some of the best journalism was produced in Kashmir," he said.

Another winner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency the decision was "only one more example of the rising state pressure under which Indian media works."

"Kashmir is being erased from many things. The majority of the Indian media have blacked out repression in Kashmir from their reportage. It's sad. Many good stories about Kashmir featured in past Ramnath Goenka Awards," he said.

Disputed Territory

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965, and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict since 1989./aa

MUGLA, Turkey(AA)

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 54 asylum seekers Thursday who were pushed by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, according to security sources.

A coast guard team was dispatched off the coast of Marmaris in Mugla province after asylum seekers were stranded on two boats, said sources who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

They were taken to the provincial migration authority after routine checks.

Meanwhile, police arrested two suspects for allegedly organizing illegal crossings of asylum seekers.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children./aa


Netflix is facing a deluge of subscription cancelations after controversy erupted because of its decision to air a French movie criticized for hypersexualizing young girls.

Antenna, an analytics firm that tracks steaming subscription services, reported a five-fold increase compared to the past 30 days in the number of subscription cancelations that occurred after Cuties was released Sept. 9.

Director Maimouna Doucoure has defended the film about a pre-teen group of female dancers, saying it is intended to stop the exploitation of girls. But backlash has mounted after Netflix released artwork for the film that critics say is sexually suggestive.

Amid uproar, Netflix pulled artwork for the film. Leading US lawmakers have called for a boycott of the subscription company.

Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to US Attorney General William Barr requesting the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Netflix, calling Cuties "pornographic."

"The film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial child nudity. These scenes in and of themselves are harmful," Cruz wrote. "And it is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways."

Cruz's claims could not be immediately verified, but critics of the letter said it is evident the Texas senator had not personally viewed the film./aa


The House of Representatives voted Thursday to formally condemn racism targeting Asian-Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The resolution, first introduced by congresswoman Grace Meng, was passed in a 243-164 vote. It condemns all forms of racism targeting the Asian-American community tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among its provisions it calls on all public officials to condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiments, and calls on federal law enforcement to investigate and document credible reports of hate crimes against Asian-Americans and hold perpetrators to account.

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have been forced to endure demeaning and disgusting acts of bigotry and hate, consisting of everything from verbal assaults to physical attacks,” Meng said in a statement shortly after her resolution cleared the House.

She singled out in particular language used by prominent Republicans, including President Donald Trump, that critics including Meng have warned is xenophobic and scapegoats the community.

"The rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and the blaming of Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus has been shameful and reckless, particularly when it comes from our nation’s leaders such as President Trump, Majority Leader McCarthy and many others who have used terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ to stoke people’s fears of COVID-19," she said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whom Meng referenced in her statement, called the resolution a "diversion," and said "there is no kitchen in America that thinks this is the priority."

“At the heart of this resolution is the absurd notion that referring to the virus as a Wuhan virus or the China virus is the same as contributing to violence against Asian-Americans, which I will tell you nobody on this side of the aisle supports,” McCarthy said. "What makes today's resolution is that it does not stop discrimination. It simply spreads disinformation."/aa


The French Navy was seen by a British newspaper reporter shepherding migrants into UK waters then abandoning them, a UK daily reported on Thursday.

A reporter for The Telegraph said that an overloaded inflatable boat with 16 Afghan migrants, including four women and two children, was struggling a mile inside French waters.

A French naval vessel ushered the boat towards British waters and abandoned it.

The UK has accused France of doing this before, but The Telegraph claimed this is the first time such an act has been independently witnessed by a journalist.

The report came as France pledged to step up cooperation with the UK against migrant smugglers.

Left alone in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the migrants were picked up by the British border force.

The captain of the boat the reporter was on told him: “They would have gone under if we hadn’t been there. What the French did was a disgrace.”

French authorities told the paper: “The actions of the maritime authorities are centered on safeguarding human life and safe navigation in the Channel. The priority is to assist and rescue each of the boats.”

“However, in view of the number of boats attempting to cross the Channel, state resources must assess the level of distress of each of the boats and prioritize according to the needs and risks in which each of the boats are found.”

The Telegraph reporter was on the same boat as Nigel Farage, Britain’s most high-profile right-wing Eurosceptic.

Farage told the reporter: “We have [Home Secretary] Priti Patel saying what a fantastic job the French are doing, but what I saw today was the French escorting a boat out of French waters and then just dumping the boat in what were rapidly deteriorating conditions.”

He criticized the French authorities' blatant disregard for the migrants’ safety.

“I am pretty certain that if we hadn't been there, that boat would have gone down, because the wind was getting up and the French didn't even tell the British authorities it was there,” said Farage.

“I'm completely opposed to this cross-channel trade in illegal migrants, but at the end of the day, there were 16 Afghans in that boat and they're still people. Today was a pretty poor show.”/aa

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following efforts by the World Uyghur Congress, an independent investigation has been set up to investigate allegations that the Chinese government is committing genocide, and members of the largely Muslim ethnic minority hope an impartial judgment will raise the profile of their plight in Xinjiang.

The World Uyghur Congress has secured the services of prominent barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice, who announced the beginning of the Uyghur Tribunal on Sept. 3. Nice is known for his role as lead prosecutor in the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, and he also presided over the independent China Tribunal, which ruled that Beijing was forcibly harvesting organs from practitioners of Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience.

Currently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the only global authority with the power to prosecute those "charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community," namely crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and aggression. But China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the court, and therefore its citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, the activists hope the Uyghur Tribunal can accomplish the important step of pinning a name to the crime, which could further elevate their cause and convince sympathetic governments around the world to act more decisively in response.

Uyghur advocate Rahima Mahmut, whose efforts were critical to launching the tribunal, agreed to interview with Taiwan News. Musician, singer, translator, and interpreter, she is also the project director for the World Uyghur Congress' UK office.

Mahmut met Nice while both were involved in the China Tribunal, and she believes his strong background as a lawyer and researcher will be an asset when it comes to weighing the evidence. However, she noted that — even with evidence — it is difficult to prosecute until an independent, reputable body has defined a prosecutable offense in legal terms.

"We strongly believe that genocide is happening on every level," she said, adding that if the prosecution achieves its goal of defining what is going on in Xijiang, known to Uyghurs as East Turkestan, it would be "a useful tool to compel governments" to step up measures against Beijing.

Born in the north Xinjiang city of Ghalja of “Ghalja incident” fame, Mahmut has witnessed firsthand the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) trademark way of dealing with dissent. She observed that before, crackdowns would occur intermittently and last several months.

Lately, she observed grimly, things have been different. "We didn't think this will last so long."

Over the past few years, the Chinese government has been targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim-majority minorities in the name of security. What has emerged is a pattern of ubiquitous surveillance, indoctrination, and depopulation.

Investigations and accounts of former detainees paint a picture of systematic repression in the region: people spirited off to camps where they face violence and degrading treatment; children torn from their families; women forcibly sterilized; Han Chinese men sent to share the beds of Uyghur women whose husbands are being "re-educated"; and "graduates" of the camps pressed into forced labor.

Even Uyghurs living abroad are not out of Beijing's reach. They report being harassed by CCP agents on social media, and the families of those who dare speak out are vulnerable to Beijing's reprisal.

While the pervasive fear for the safety of their loved ones is hard enough, members of the Uyghur diaspora must also contend with the state of uncertainty brought about by information blackout. Mahmut pointed out that it can take months for news of deaths — even those likely unrelated to the CCP's police state — to reach friends and family in the outside world.

Asked about international awareness of the goings-on in Xinjiang region, Mahmut cited progress, such as the rising amount of media coverage, people reaching out about what can be done, growing concern in Parliament, and the formation of groups such as the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). Nevertheless, "We still have a huge amount of work we have to do," she admitted.

Noting the economic sway Beijing holds over many countries, said that in the future she hopes to see more governments adopting legislation in the vein of the U.S.' Magnitsky-style sanctions and clamping down on Chinese apps like TikTok. She also called for a ban on products made from Uyghur "slave labor."

Every little bit helps, Mahmut said. "My people will suffer and die if no practical action is taken by free countries."