MONTREAL — A group of Haitian Montrealers is appealing to federal and municipal authorities to block an upcoming concert by former Haitian president Michel Martelly, citing what they say are his misogynistic comments and his alleged complicity in corruption scandals.As part of the campaign, women’s groups sent a letter Monday asking Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to use “all your political power” to block a concert this Friday by the former leader, a popular singer who performs as Sweet Micky.“Michel Martelly, alias Sweet Micky, a notorious misogynist who is an apologist for rape, is scheduled to come perform on stage in Montreal on March 22,” reads the letter, which is signed by seven groups, including the community organization Maison d’Haiti.“This situation is even more worrying due to the fact that the regime currently in power in Port-au-Prince, accused of corruption and repression, is the heir of the party of Martelly, an ex-president of Haiti whose administration is also implicated in the corruption scandal and misappropriation of funds that is currently rocking the country,” it continues.Marie Dimanche, a member of Montreal’s Haitian community, says the singer has no place performing in Montreal.Dimanche recently founded the support group Solidarite Quebec-Haiti in response to anti-government protests in Haiti over the rising cost of living and the alleged disappearance of billions of dollars from PetroCaribe, an oil subsidy program intended to help the impoverished Haitian people.While nobody has been charged, a Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials in Martelly’s administration.In a phone interview, Dimanche said Martelly is well-known for his sexist and degrading comments directed at women, some of which have promoted sexual assault. “The things he says are degrading, violent towards women,” she said in a phone interview.“I’m not particularly in favour of censorship, but hateful speech that calls for violence towards a group of people — half the population — I feel it’s not acceptable.”Dimanche and her group are hoping Plante will declare that Martelly is not welcome in Montreal, as former mayor Denis Coderre did in 2016 with the French comedian who performs as Dieudonne. Dieudonne, who has been charged multiple times in Europe with hate-speech violations, flew to Canada but returned to France shortly after without performing, leading to speculation that he was turned back by immigration authorities.“We think there’s a good chance that (our plan) works, because Valerie Plante is sensitive to questions of women’s rights, and I think she will be sensitive to the question,” Dimanche said. An official in Plante’s office said Monday he needed time to look into the matter.If Martelly is allowed to enter, Dimanche says her group will protest outside the downtown venue in an attempt to stop the show.The possibility of protests doesn’t faze the show’s promoter, Carl-Edward Osias, who knows Martelly personally.In an interview last week, Osias, president of Bass-Mint Management Group, said Sweet Micky’s Montreal shows were well-attended in the past, both before and after his stint as Haiti’s president from 2011-16.He said the Montreal protest is begin fuelled by Martelly’s political opponents and those who don’t understand that Sweet Micky is a persona known for outrageous antics. “He’s a provocateur,” Osias said. “He’ll wear a skirt. He’ll say stupid things. He’ll make jokes. He’s an artist who provokes, who creates controversy.”He says he has no problem with people protesting but doesn’t think it’s right for them to try to block the show, which he has no intention of cancelling.Martelly was accused more than once of using coarse and sexist language during his tenure. A sexually charged comment he made to a female critic at a campaign rally in 2015 prompted a politically allied party to announce the resignation of three officials from Martelly’s administration, including the minister for women’s affairs.And just before leaving office, he released a pop song jeering at his critics and aiming sexually suggestive lyrics at award-winning female journalist and human rights advocate Liliane Pierre-Paul. The song, titled Bal Bannann Nan — Haitian Creole for “Give Them the Banana” — featured Martelly and backing vocalists repeatedly singing suggestive lyrics while referring to bananas and Pierre-Paul.Dimanche and Osias disagree about whether there are more Sweet Micky fans or critics in Montreal’s Haitian community of 132,000, including over 75,000 who were born in the Caribbean country. Osias believes the fans outweigh the critics; Dimanche hopes the opposite is true.“I think if people knew who he was, we would be very numerous in having this opinion,” she said.Quebec sociologist Frederic Boisrond wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several cabinet ministers in January, asking them to block the entry of the singer, whom he described as “misogynist, violent, and dangerous.” Martelly’s rhetoric “openly apologizes for rape, normalizes and glorifies violence against women,” he said in his letter.Boisrond said representatives from Trudeau’s office, as well as those of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, wrote back to say they were studying the issue, but the final decision lies with Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.Hussen’s office said it could not comment on specific cases without the consent of the individual.— With files from The Associated PressMorgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
null Aston Martin DBS Superleggera has gorgeous looks and… Now playing: Watch this: Enlarge ImageLeave it to Aston Martin and Zagato to create a car with a grille that literally flows when the vehicle is started up. Aston Martin Aston Martin and design house Zagato have a six-decade-long relationship, combining forces to create some of the most stunning vehicles on the road. As part of Zagato’s 100th birthday, Aston Martin will offer up 19 examples of the new DBS GT Zagato, and the automaker is finally ready to show off its production-ready shape and offer up a bit more information about what to expect.Aston Martin on Tuesday unveiled a small handful of pictures that show the production form of the DBS GT Zagato alongside its old-school sibling, the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation. Starting with a DBS Superleggera, the body picks up some wild new styling, including a full carbon roof that eliminates the rear glass, as well as some stunning taillights, new flourishes on the sides and a curvaceous front end.To accommodate the roof, Aston Martin created a camera-based rearview mirror that still allows the driver to see behind the vehicle without any rear windshield. Consider it like those mass-market mirrors that let you swap between normal and camera-based viewing, only the former is impossible because there actually isn’t any rear glass at all. If you think that’s wild, take a look at the grille. It looks intricate, sure, but it’s even crazier than you might think. The grille comprises 108 pieces of diamond-shaped carbon fiber. When the car is off, the grille looks sealed up with a flush appearance, but upon starting the car, those pieces “flutter into life,” as Aston puts it, physically opening up to provide the car’s V12 engine with air. Good luck trying to get that repaired anywhere but the dealership.At a cost of roughly $8 million, the grille had damn well better mimic a living being. But then again, that price tag doesn’t just include one car. DBS GT Zagato buyers also receive a DB4 GT Zagato Continuation model, a handbuilt coupe finished in the same hue as the original DB4 GT Zagato cars that were built in the 1960s. All of a sudden, paying $8 million for two utterly stunning small-batch creations doesn’t sound so obscene.Enlarge ImageThe rear end of the DBS GT Zagato is breathtaking, and not just because it lacks a rear windshield. Aston Martin Aston Martin Preview • 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: Beast mode More about 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera 2020 Hyundai Sonata first drive: An attractive and compelling midsize sedan Exotic Cars Superluxury Cars Performance Cars Coupes 2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealous Share your voice 0 More From Roadshow 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better Tags 8:32
Activists and photographer Shahidul Alam arrives surrounded by policemen for an appearance in a court, in Dhaka on 6 August 2018. Photo: AFPAmnesty Internationalon Monday said the government “must immediately and unconditionally” release Shahidul Alam, a well-known photographer and activist, who was detained by plainclothes policemen after giving an interview to Al-Jazeera English on the current wave of student protests, reports UNB.”Shahidul Alam must be immediately and unconditionally released. There is no justification whatsoever for detaining anyone for solely peacefully expressing their views. His arrest marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police and vigilantes unleash violence against student protestors,” said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International’s deputy South Asia director.OmarWaraichsaid the Bangladeshi government must end the crackdown on the student protestors and people speaking out against it.”The students have a right to peaceful assembly and physical security. These rights should be respected and protected, and there should be an immediate and effective investigation into the use of force by police, the violent actions of pro-government vigilantes who also attacked the students, and why the police did nothing to stop them.”At least 115 students were injured over the weekend as the police resorted to grossly excessive force, including firing rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of overwhelmingly peaceful student protestors, said the AI.The students also came under attack from pro-government counter-demonstrators, AI claimed.Thousands of Bangladeshi students have taken to the streets of Dhaka to demand safer roads after two teenagers were killed and 13 others injured while waiting at a bus stop outside a college when a speeding bus hit them.”As Bangladesh heads towards elections later this year, it is crucial that the government adheres to its international obligations, including the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and security of persons,” said Omar Waraich.A court here on Monday placed Shahidul Alam, managing director of Drik Gallery and chairman of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, on a seven-day remand for interrogation in a case filed under the ICT Act.Dhaka additional chief metropolitan magistrate Asaduzzaman Nur passed the order after hearing a remand petition filed by the detective branch of police.PEN International on Monday also called for his immediate and unconditional release.The arrest of award-winning writer, photographer and activist, Shahidul Alam shines a light on the “dangerous escalation of the government’s crackdown” on dissenting voices, it said in a statement.Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee stated, “The Bangladeshi authorities must release Shahidul Alam immediately, institute an inquiry into why the officials responsible for action destroyed property and threatened others, establish new norms for security forces to act proportionately and with due regard to the law and within the limits placed by the law.Furthermore, they must change laws that allow the state to make such whimsical attacks on freedom of expression. Shahidul’s work and life are to be celebrated and emulated, not restricted.”
US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, speaks to the Federalist Society in Washington DC on 10 September. Photo: AFPThe United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes.White House national security advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”“If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system,” Bolton said.“We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”Bolton made the comments in a speech in Washington to the Federalist Society, a powerful association of legal conservatives.Investigation into detainee abuseBolton pointed to an ICC prosecutor’s request in November 2017 to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees.Neither Afghanistan nor any other government party to the ICC’s Rome Statute has requested an investigation, Bolton said.He said the ICC could formally open the investigation “any day now.”He also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations.“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton said.“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We certainly will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own.”The ICC defended itself, noting it has the support of 123 member states and that even the United Nations Security Council has found it valuable, asking it in 2005 to investigate genocide in Darfur, Sudan.“The ICC, as a judicial institution, acts strictly within the legal framework of the Rome Statute and is committed to the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate,” it said in a statement.Threat’ to US sovereigntyBolton said the main objection of president Donald Trump’s administration is to the idea that the ICC could have higher authority than the US Constitution and US sovereignty.“In secular terms, we don’t recognize any higher authority than the US Constitution,” he said.“This president will not allow American citizens to be prosecuted by foreign bureaucrats, and he will not allow other nations to dictate our means of self-defence.”He also condemned the court’s record since it formally started up in 2002, and argued that most major nations had not joined.He said it had attained just eight convictions despite spending more than $1.5 billion, and said that had not stemmed atrocities around the world.“In fact, despite ongoing ICC investigations, atrocities continue to occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and many other nations.” he added.Bolton was strongly criticized by rights groups. Liz Evenson, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said Bolton’s threats “show callous disregard for victims of atrocity crimes.”“The slaughter of civilians in Syria, Myanmar and elsewhere shows the ICC is needed more than ever to act where it can,” Evenson added.She said a move to block the complaints against US soldiers in Afghanistan and against Israel would show the US “more concerned with coddling serial rights abusers… than supporting impartial justice.”
Kolkata: Following the direction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the state Government is taking a major step in developing Gandhi Bhavan in Beliaghata as one of the favourite tourist destinations in Kolkata.It may be recalled that the state government has set up a 46-member committee with the Chief Minister as its chairperson to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The first meeting of the committee was held on April 23 and decision to undertake necessary task for proper renovation of the heritage structure was also taken. The state Public Works Department (PWD) carries out the maintenance work of the structure at present. A programme is also scheduled to be held at Gandhi Bhavan in Beliaghata on October 2. It may be mentioned that the structure in Beliaghata is of immense importance as Gandhiji had spent around 25 days in that bhavan. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsSources said Vivek Kumar, Principal Secretary of the Information and Cultural Affairs department, visited the place last week and held a high-level meeting with concerned officials. A senior official from the state PWD was also present in the meeting, where detailed discussions on tasks that need to be carried out were held.An official said foreign tourists often visit the place. Hence, initiative has been taken to ensure that it gets a proper place on the state’s tourism map. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedA roadmap will be chalked out and based on the same, task will be carried out to develop the place as a destination for people visiting Bengal from different parts of the country and abroad.There is garden all around the house and it is properly maintained. Now, steps will be taken to develop the area around Gandhi Bhavan. Since a lot of foreign tourists often visit the place, steps will also be taken to ensure that they reach the place easily without facing any trouble, sources said. All the tasks will be taken up only after the roadmap is prepared. According to an officer, the work of preparing the same has already started. Help of the concerned PWD officials would also be taken, if needed, to prepare the roadmap. It may be mentioned that to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of mahatma Gandhi, the state government will publish a booklet named as “Father of the Nation” containing speeches of Gandhiji.