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Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus

Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday. The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which…

Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus

Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday.
The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48.
They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of land.
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“We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.
Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.     
Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees.
According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.
One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.
In 2019, UN Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the casualties.
So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

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Liberal groups ask networks to stop ‘misinformation’ from GOP convention with delayed broadcast

Liberal groups are asking television network executives to implement a one-minute delay on their broadcasts of this week’s Republican National Convention in the interest of thwarting purported misinformation. Ultraviolet, a liberal women’s group, led a coalition of liberal groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America, and EMILY’s List, to request the TV executives do not allow their…

Liberal groups ask networks to stop ‘misinformation’ from GOP convention with delayed broadcast

Liberal groups are asking television network executives to implement a one-minute delay on their broadcasts of this week’s Republican National Convention in the interest of thwarting purported misinformation.

Ultraviolet, a liberal women’s group, led a coalition of liberal groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America, and EMILY’s List, to request the TV executives do not allow their networks to broadcast the GOP convention in the same manner they did for last week’s Democratic National Convention.

The liberal groups told ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC that the groups recognize the networks have a professional responsibility to provide equal time to adversarial political parties, but they want the networks to “actively fact check and debunk dangerous disinformation in real-time and stop it from spreading.”

“Make no mistake the Republican National Convention’s programming will be a primary source of dangerous disinformation about everything from voting rights, to racial justice and police violence, to medical disinformation and dangerous medical falsehoods about the pandemic,” the liberal groups wrote. “It is likely that this information will also include racist and sexist attacks designed to stoke division and hatred. We know this because we have seen it before.”

The liberal groups wrote that implementing a 1-minute delay would allow for the networks to “prevent the American people from being lied to,” and the groups argue that the future of the country is at stake.

“This cheap stunt from the radical left won’t stop the American people from hearing this truth: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris advocate for a far-left agenda while President Trump and Vice President Pence will always defend our freedoms and rebuild our economy back to historic levels of growth,” said Steve Guest, Republican National Committee spokesperson, in an email.

The television network executives have not made any such public commitment to tailor their broadcasting plans to meet activists’ desires.

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Immigration groups say judge has ordered DACA to accept new applicants

A federal judge on Friday ordered the government to revive the DACA program as it existed before President Trump tried to phase it out in 2017, which means opening it up to brand new applications. That’s a key issue that had remained in limbo after last month’s Supreme Court ruling, which found the Trump phaseout…

Immigration groups say judge has ordered DACA to accept new applicants

A federal judge on Friday ordered the government to revive the DACA program as it existed before President Trump tried to phase it out in 2017, which means opening it up to brand new applications.

That’s a key issue that had remained in limbo after last month’s Supreme Court ruling, which found the Trump phaseout cut too many corners.

U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm, sitting in Maryland, issued an order restoring all parts of the program back to where they were, which means not only protecting current recipients but also approving new ones.

It also renews an indirect pathway to citizenship, known as Advance Parole, that some DACA applicants had used to gain green cards.

“The rescission of the DACA policy is vacated, and the policy is restored to its pre-September 5, 2017 status,” Judge Grimm said in his Friday directive. “Defendants and their agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are enjoined from implementing or enforcing the DACA rescission and from taking any other action to rescind DACA that is not in compliance with applicable law.”Last month’s Supreme Court ruling had maintained the deportation amnesty at the heart of DACA for more than 640,000 “Dreamers” already enrolled, but the administration had not approved any new applications.

Activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill had demanded a full restart, and on Friday they praised the judge for ordering it.

“I thought President Trump was the ‘law and order’ president? And yet he’s in direct defiance of our courts,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is Dreamers’ leading advocate on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

CASA, the Maryland-based immigrant-rights group that was the plaintiff in the case, said the new order means the administration will have to restart the indirect pathway to citizenship that the Obama administration allowed for DACA recipients, known as Advance Parole.

DACA recipients who get permission to leave the country and return under advance parole can have their previous illegal status cleared as a bar to getting a green card, which is the key step on the path to citizenship.

“Today’s order from Judge Grimm mandates that the government follow the law and immediately reopen the full DACA program, including by accepting and timely processing initial applications and allowing DACA recipients to apply for Advance Parole,” CASA said in a statement.

DACA grants a two-year stay of deportation and work permits to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as juveniles, who arrived in 2007 or before, and who are under an age limit. They also have to have completed high school or be pursuing an equivalent degree, and to have kept a somewhat clean criminal rap sheet.

During the three-year legal battle over Mr. Trump’s phaseout, those in the program could renew their applications, but no new applicants were accepted.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling last month, activist groups rushed to help file new applications from Dreamers who’d would have qualified but had been too young to apply before the phaseout began.

The groups said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has yet to approve any of them.

Even after the court decision, USCIS still retains discretion to reject applications, but its rejection rate was less than 10% before the phaseout.

President Trump has hinted he will attempt another phaseout of DACA, this time following all the procedures the courts said he skipped last time. But he has also sent other signals, including a confusion claim that he will sign something granting DACA recipients a direct pathway to citizenship.

Over the eight-year life of DACA, more than 800,000 people have been approved, and as of March 643,560 were still active. Others either failed to renew or, in many cases, gained a more permanent legal status — including some that used the Advance Parole option to gain a green card.

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Feminist groups hold mass Women’s Day marches across Chile

Antofagasta, Chile – Cities across Chile erupted in mass celebration and outrage on Sunday as women and their supporters rallied for International Women’s Day. In Santiago, a plaza that has become the city’s ground zero for protests in recent months could not contain the crowd, extending for blocks along significant boulevards. Marches were under way…

Feminist groups hold mass Women’s Day marches across Chile

Antofagasta, Chile – Cities across Chile erupted in mass celebration and outrage on Sunday as women and their supporters rallied for International Women’s Day.
In Santiago, a plaza that has become the city’s ground zero for protests in recent months could not contain the crowd, extending for blocks along significant boulevards. Marches were under way in several cities, with others to follow Sunday evening.
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Nearly two million women were expected to participate in marches across the country on Sunday, day one of a two-day feminist strike. The actions are taking place in the context of broader protests against structural inequality that have been rocking the country since October 2019.
High school student demonstrations last year set off nationwide mass protests for systemic change, including the overhaul of education, health and pension systems. Protests have continued despite ongoing police crackdowns that have resulted in thousands of arrests and injuries, including hundreds of eye injuries.

A group of Indigenous woman demonstrate during a march in Santiago on International Women’s Day [Martin Bernetti/AFP] 

The feminist movement, in recent years, has been an important factor in both broader protests and the massive scope of this year’s International Women’s Day marches, according to Katerine Tapia, a member of Encuentro de Mujeres de Antofagasta, a grassroots feminist coordination space in Antofagasta, a city 1,335km (830 miles) north of Santiago.
“It is important to take a look back before October 18, because we had a year of feminist uprising as of April 2018 and the [International Women’s Day] march last year was one of the biggest in Chile in many years,” she told Al Jazeera.
Feminist movements in Chile have a long and powerful history. The 2018 surge in activity began when students began occupying their universities to protest harassment on campus and institutional inaction.
“Those feminist occupations led to all the feminist sectors, of neighbourhood women, of women workers, to rise up, too. The list of feminist demands began to broaden with all the historical demands, but especially against institutional violence, police violence, and machista (male chauvinist) violence,” said Tapia.

Aerial picture showing demonstrator gathering outside La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago during a march on International Women’s Day [Martin Bernetti/AFP]

The 2018 feminist resurgence and march last year set a precedent for the nationwide protests that broke out last October, Tapia said. Women have been at the forefront of grassroots organising and diverse protest actions in recent months.
“We are more present than ever in history on all combat fronts, not just on the front line but on all fronts, from assemblies to collective childcare, as well as the front lines,” said Tapia.
Echoed across Latin America, world
Chilean feminism has echoed throughout the Americas, Europe and beyond. Women in more than 50 countries worldwide have performed, A Rapist in Your Path, a choreographed chant against institutionalised rape culture developed by the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis.
Women reprised the chant on Sunday at International Women’s Day events in Turkey, France, Brazil and several other countries.
The A Rapist in Your Path chant has been adapted to local realities, but both the lyrics and choreography contain specific references to long-standing patterns of sexual violence by Carabineros police against women and girls in Chile.
Those patterns have persisted in crackdowns on protests in recent months. From October 18 to March 5, the National Human Rights Institute, an autonomous state institution, took legal action in 112 cases of sexual violence against women and girls by authorities, in most cases Carabineros police officers. The institute has also taken action in 247 cases of torture and other cruel treatment against women and girls.

A woman takes part in a march on International Women’s Day in Santiago [Martin Bernetti/AFP] 

An end to state repression and political persecution was a top priority at a January assembly in Santiago, where women and non-binary people from across the country gathered to coordinate this year’s International Women’s Day actions and demands.
“That is where the general framework of the strike was established, as well as the unifying slogan: ‘We are the front line against state terrorism,'” said Tapia.
At an official Chilean government Women’s Day event on Sunday morning, President Sebastian Pinera said his government is firmly committed to working urgently for a Chile where women and men have equal rights and opportunities.
Chile’s next constitution could be written by a citizen body comprised of half women. After months of debate and rejections, both levels of Chile’s bicameral Congress passed a bill, on Wednesday, that establishes a formula for gender equality in an eventual constitutional convention, should Chileans vote in an April 26 plebiscite in favour of a new constitution and of an all-citizen convention to write it.
Last week, a bill that broadens the definition of femicide was enacted. Previously, the law was only applicable if the perpetrator was the victim’s current or former husband or common-law partner.
Across Chile, there will be marches and other protest actions on Monday – when the two-day nationwide feminist strike action is set to continue. Roadblocks and marches will get started early Monday in Antofagasta, as will wildcat strikes in some sectors.
“Even though there was no concrete call from our association at the national level, here in Antofagasta we have united with other unions,” said Patricia Romo, president of the Antofagasta chapter of the National Teachers Association.
Local members of unions representing teachers, assistant teachers, support staff, and school food-service providers at the dozens of public schools in the city have joined forces for the feminist strike.
“We will be striking on Monday,” said Romo.
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