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ABUDTUCED OPPOSITION ACTIVIST FOUND IN DETENTION FACILITY

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Ahsan Abdullayev, an activist from the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party (PFAP), who was abducted by unknown people in Baku on 10 November, was found in a pre-trial detention facility in Baku nearly three days later.

The PFAP press service reported that there had been no information about Abdullayev for three days following his disappearance on 10 November. It was only on the evening of 12 November that the police informed his family that he had been detained and sentenced to a 15-day administrative arrest. The police did not tell them when the court had passed this ruling or what exactly he was accused of. They only said that he had published “insulting posts” on Facebook. “And that confirms the political nature of the arrest,” the PFAP says.

Ahsan Abdullayev had taken part in protest rallies organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) on 23 September, 7 October and 28 October.

Different kinds of pressure have been exerted on about 500 people for their participation in the latest opposition rallies – people have been summoned to police stations, detained briefly, and several have been dismissed from their jobs.

The NCDF rallies were held under the slogans “Give back the money stolen from the people!” and “No more graft!”.

The NCDF is a coalition of opposition parties established on 7 July 2013. Its chairman is Jamil Hasanli, a former MP and NCDF presidential candidate.

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Politics

Brexit: EU gives May space to ‘spin’ draft deal

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Will Theresa May have something to smile about after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting? What’s so striking about this draft Brexit deal the UK media and politicians are all abuzz about, is the marked lack of excitement and/or hysteria in EU circles. Contrary to the UK narrative, this is not viewed…

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Brexit: EU gives May space to ‘spin’ draft deal

UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: July 2018Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Will Theresa May have something to smile about after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting?

What’s so striking about this draft Brexit deal the UK media and politicians are all abuzz about, is the marked lack of excitement and/or hysteria in EU circles.

Contrary to the UK narrative, this is not viewed in Brussels as the back-against-the-wall, make-or-break moment.

There’s still some time to keep negotiating. EU-UK technical talks are, in fact, ongoing as neither all the “i”s, nor all the “t”s of a deal have yet been dotted or crossed.

The thinking here is: if the UK cabinet or certain EU member states strongly object to specific parts of the draft document (as long as they don’t rip up the whole thing), then negotiators can go back to the drawing board.

As I’ve mentioned before, the EU is clearly more relaxed about timing – as long as a deal is signed before March – than Theresa May at this stage.

You get the feeling that the current sense of pressure and urgency is designed to help the UK prime minister at home.

Storm clouds surrounded her once again last weekend, with cabinet minister Jo Johnson resigning and mutterings of potential mutiny from Brexiteer and Remainer conservative MPs, never mind the Labour Party and the DUP plotting over the eventual Brexit parliamentary vote.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Brexit opponents have recently staged a series of rallies across Britain

It looked (once again) like the whole thing could unravel on the UK side.

Brussels has repeatedly told Mrs May that – as long as they could agree on the details of a deal amongst themselves – the EU would help her present it however she wished in order to help her sell the package back home.

I think now is one of those moments, which would explain why Brussels kept so silent on Tuesday night – such a politically sensitive night in the UK.

One of my high-level EU contacts even sent me an emoji with a closed zip instead of a mouth – to indicate that he couldn’t talk.

These are hours for Downing Street to spin.

This is not to say that the EU is completely chilled about the appearance of a draft Brexit deal – played down to me by a Brussels contact as a “mutual understanding” between EU and UK negotiators.

That’s a reminder that this is a technical draft – not yet a political agreement.

While all eyes on Wednesday will be on Number 10 Downing Street and the reaction of the UK cabinet, the governments of all 27 EU countries and the European parliament also want to get their eyes and their mitts on all 500 pages of the document ASAP.

Of key interest to them: the compromise wording over the backstop, that insurance policy for the Irish border.

They, and Ireland in particular, will be relieved to see something Brexiteers will not like at all – that the EU will decide alongside the UK if and when the backstop arrangements need to kick in and also when they can be terminated and superseded by a new EU-UK trade deal.

They will also note that the all-UK customs union with the EU outlined as part of the backstop will be deeper with Northern Ireland than with the rest of the UK. This will be hard for the DUP to swallow.

More important to EU heavyweights France and Germany – and others that trade closely with the UK like Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands – will be to examine the small print of the backstop customs union to ensure the UK would have no competitive advantage over them.

I’ve spoken to diplomats who worry the European Commission was in such a hurry to get this draft Brexit deal document ready to Theresa May’s timetable, that the priorities of some EU member states may have been overlooked.

France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain for example won’t be happy that fishing rights in UK waters do not seem to appear in the text.

European capitals want a minimum of seven to 10 days to pore over the draft with a fine toothcomb.

So, could there still be a special Brexit deal summit called this month as Theresa May so hopes?

It’s not impossible – 25 November is being spoken about as a potential date.

Later on Wednesday as the UK cabinet meets in London, the 27 EU ambassadors will gather in Brussels.

To be discussed: the draft Brexit deal, the possibility of a November summit and – as a clear indication of the current uncertainty – ongoing contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

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Politics

Authorities: Custody Dispute Played Role in Family’s Slaying

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You don’t have permission to access “http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2018-11-13/authorities-announce-arrests-in-slaying-of-8-family-members” on this server.

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Georgia Legislator, Arrested At Work, Says She Was ‘Singled Out As A Black Female Senator’

Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested along with more than a dozen other protesters at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration asking the state to “count every vote” from last week’s gubernatorial election. Protesters shouted “Let her go!” as Williams was handcuffed while the General Assembly was in session. …

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Georgia Legislator, Arrested At Work, Says She Was ‘Singled Out As A Black Female Senator’

Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested along with more than a dozen other protesters at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration asking the state to “count every vote” from last week’s gubernatorial election. Protesters shouted “Let her go!” as Williams was handcuffed while the General Assembly was in session. 

Williams, a civil rights advocate who organized domestic workers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice and spent about six hours at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.

“There are countless Georgians who cast their ballots and still don’t feel like their voices are heard,” she said in a statement after being released. “I joined them down on the floor, and I was singled out as a Black female senator standing in the rotunda with constituents.” 

BREAKING: @NikemaForSenate just got released from jail after being arrested at today’s #counteveryvote rally at the Georgia Capitol. “I am incredibly proud and will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia to demand that their votes be counted.” pic.twitter.com/SA5V3F1oAN

— Care In Action (@CareInActionUSA) November 14, 2018

One of Williams’ white male colleagues, state Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta), went to the same protest with Williams for the same reason and was not arrested. He stood outside the jail after her arrest and spoke out about Williams’ unfair treatment by Capitol police. 

State Rep. David Dreyer speaks outside Fulton County jail about the detainment of @NikemaForSenate earlier today at the state Capitol during a #CountEveryVote protest pic.twitter.com/0EvKYaRNbk

— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) November 13, 2018

Dreyer said he went down to the Capitol about the same time as Williams, “but for some reason, Sen. Williams was treated differently than I was treated.”

Dreyer noted the statistic that one in three black men and one in 18 black women will be incarcerated at some time in their lives.

“Because of our system, because of the bias and the way that our laws are enforced, just like I went down with Sen. Williams to try to de-escalate the situation, Sen. Williams was taken away,” he said. “We understand she’s been left in a van for a very long time on a cold and rainy day.”

Dreyer added: “For some reason, I saw Capitol police lined up three abreast, row after row after row, looking like they were trying to stop a riot, when we were standing up for people’s right to vote. So this is not democracy; this looks a lot more like an authoritarian government. And it seems like that’s happening a lot these days, doesn’t it?”

The Georgia gubernatorial election was called for Republican Brian Kemp, and Kemp has begun to transition into the office. But Kemp, who oversaw the election as secretary of state, is accused of rampant voter suppression and has lost several court cases over his attempts to block voters of color from the polls. His opponent, Abrams, is about 58,000 votes behind him as ballot counts are still being finalized, but she needs only about 20,000 more votes to force a runoff. She refuses to concede until all votes are counted, and about 25 counties have yet to certify their results.

Williams is the first woman to hold her state legislative seat ― a seat once held by the late civil rights leader Julian Bond. In the spirit of Bond, she said she will keep fighting for a fair election, despite her arrest.

“I’m incredibly proud and will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia to demand that their votes be counted,” she said.

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