Poet Rupi Kaur declines White House invite over Biden administration’s stance on war in Gaza

Palestinians stand above debris after Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 7, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 08 November 2023
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Poet Rupi Kaur declines White House invite over Biden administration’s stance on war in Gaza

  • The Indian-born Canadian writer says she will not accept ‘any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment’ of civilians
  • She had been invited to attend a White House Diwali event on Nov. 8 hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris

LONDON: Canadian poet Rupi Kaur has declined an invitation to attend a Diwali celebration at the White House, in protest against the Biden administration’s response to Israel’s war on occupied Gaza.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_)

 

In a message posted on Instagram, Kaur said she would not accept “any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment” of civilians.

The Indian-born poet added: “This administration is not just funding the bombardment of Gaza — they continue to justify this genocide against Palestinians (and) they want us to celebrate Diwali with them? When their support of the current atrocities against Palestinians represent the exact opposite of what this holiday means to so many of us.”

Kaur, the bestselling author of “Milk and Honey,” said she was “surprised this administration finds it acceptable to celebrate Diwali,” the Hindu festival of lights, as it is “a celebration of righteousness over falsehood and knowledge over ignorance.” She urged other South Asians to hold the Biden administration accountable for its actions.

The White House Diwali event on Nov. 8 will be hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, who has yet to comment on Kaur’s statement.

More than 10,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s relentless attacks on Gaza in the past 31 days, including more than 4,100 children, according to the Gazan Health Ministry. The Israeli siege of the territory has denied its 2.2 million residents access to basic items such as food, water, fuel and electricity.

In her message, Kaur condemned President Joe Biden for his refusal to support a UN-backed humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

“As a Sikh woman, I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing this administration’s actions,” she said.

Biden reiterated his support for Israel on Monday during a call with the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the BBC reported. According to a White House transcript, during the conversation the president also emphasized “the imperative to protect Palestinian civilians and reduce civilian harm in the course of military operations.”

The Biden administration is lobbying Congress to provide more than $14 billion in assistance for Israel, and has announced $100 million of funding for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.


US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software

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US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from providing its popular anti-virus products in the country, the US Commerce Department announced.
“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use,” the Commerce Department said in a statement announcing the action, which it said is the first of its kind.
 

 


Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily

Updated 7 min 54 sec ago
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Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily

MOSCOW: Russians on Thursday reported some problems with processing payments at major banks after a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Russian banks, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported.
At least one Russian bank was telling clients that it was having trouble sending messages containing codes to confirm payments, a Reuters reporter said.
The Kommersant newspaper said Russians had reported problems using the websites of major banks, as well as with the Telegram messaging app and with major mobile phone networks.
It cited Russia’s payments cards operator as saying that the disruption had been short-lived and that the fast payments system was now working as usual.
The IT army of Ukraine, a group of volunteers committed to disrupting Russian digital communications, later issued a statement saying it was responsible the Russian bank outages.


US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden

Updated 17 min 33 sec ago
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US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden

  • French Gates announced in May that she would be using her $12.5 billion fortune to help “women and families,” making a first payment of $1 billion

WASHINGTON: American philanthropist Melinda French Gates, the ex-wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, endorsed President Joe Biden on Thursday for November’s US election, arguing that he is the best candidate for women.
“I’ve never endorsed a presidential candidate before. But this year’s election stands to be so enormously consequential for women and families that, this time, I can’t stay quiet,” she said on X.
“Women deserve a leader who cares about the issues they face and is committed to protecting their safety, their health, their economic power, their reproductive rights, and their ability to freely and fully participate in a functioning democracy.”
French Gates, who recently stepped down as president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the contrast between Biden and his Republican opponent Donald Trump “couldn’t be greater, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
“I will be voting for President Biden,” she concluded.
Reproductive rights have been an effective political cudgel for Democrats in the two years since the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion a constitutionally protected right.
A comfortable majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases, according to extensive polling, and around half of states have measures in place to protect access.
The issue has been a major theme of the election campaign, with Biden supporting women’s right to choose and Trump failing to stake out a clear-cut position beyond pride in appointing three of the justices who struck down Roe v Wade.
French Gates announced in May that she would be using her $12.5 billion fortune to help “women and families,” making a first payment of $1 billion.
She said the Supreme Court ruling on abortion had prompted her to devote herself to defending women’s rights.


Mystery sonic boom rattles Mediterranean resorts

Updated 43 min 14 sec ago
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Mystery sonic boom rattles Mediterranean resorts

  • The Corriere della Sera daily quoted an unnamed person from Italy’s civil protection agency saying “the impact would have been registered by seismographs

ROME: A sonic boom heard in Tuscany and on the French island of Corsica, initially mistaken by holidaymakers, locals and officials for an earthquake, may have been a meteorite, experts said Thursday.
The town of Campo nell’Elba, on the Italian tourist island of Elba, said on its Facebook page that a nearby tracking station had “captured a seismic, acoustic event felt by everyone” at 4:30pm (1430gmt).
Corsican media reports said it was also felt on the island.
Tuscany regional government president Eugenio Giani initially said it was an earthquake, before backtracking after Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) ruled one out.
The Italian Air Force told Giani it had nothing to do with the sonic boom.
“The type of event which caused the tremor, felt by many as an earthquake over the entire coast of Tuscany and in some inland areas, is currently unconfirmed,” Giani wrote on social media.
The region’s Geophysics Institute and the University of Florence said in a joint statement that whatever caused the boom was traveling at 400 miles per second.
“A meteorite entering the atmosphere seems the most likely and in line with the data registered.”
The Corriere della Sera daily quoted an unnamed person from Italy’s civil protection agency saying “the impact would have been registered by seismographs. The most likely hypothesis is still an airplane.”
It is not the first time mysterious sonic booms have been registered on Elba, the Corriere della Sera said. Similar events in 2012, 2016 and 2023 have yet to be explained, it said.


US ‘incredibly’ concerned by Putin threat to send N.Korea weapons

Updated 20 June 2024
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US ‘incredibly’ concerned by Putin threat to send N.Korea weapons

  • The threat “is incredibly concerning,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters

WASHINGTON: The United States expressed deep concern Thursday over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to supply North Korea with weapons, warning such a move would “destabilize” the Korean peninsula.
Putin, during a rare visit to Pyongyang, signed a mutual defense pact on Wednesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who pledged his country’s “full support” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking on Thursday in Vietnam, Putin said Moscow would not rule out sending weapons to Pyongyang, calling it repercussions for the West supplying Ukraine.
The threat “is incredibly concerning,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
“It would destabilize the Korean peninsula, potentially, depending on the type of weapons, and might violate UN Security Council resolutions that Russia itself has supported,” Miller said.
Washington and its allies have previously accused North Korea of supplying Russia with missiles and artillery that it has used to attack Ukraine.
Putin warned Seoul on Thursday not to supply Ukraine with weapons, after South Korea said it was reconsidering its current ban.
Seoul has a longstanding policy that bars it from selling weapons into active conflict zones, which it has stuck to despite calls from Washington and Kyiv to reconsider.
Miller said such a decision was “for every country to make in terms of whether they’re going to supply weapons to Ukraine.”
“We welcome any support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression,” he added.