Jeffrey Epstein found dead in New York jail

Prolific financier and alleged child sex-ring kingpin, Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in prison before his trial on sex trafficking charges.

Epstein’s body was discovered at 11:30 GMT on Saturday, and is believed to have been found hanged.

Last month, Jeffrey Epstein was found almost unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck, prompting him to be put on suicide watch.

The businessman’s death eliminates the chances of a formal and public trial taking place for Jeffrey Epstein, and calls into question whether much of the evidence collected by law enforcement will ever be released to the public.

The 66-year old hedge fund manager was held in a New York jail pending his trial, where he is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls in two of his American properties.

It is also alleged that these crimes formed part of a child trafficking outfit ran by Epstein that provided similar illegal services to high profile figures across the world.

It was found earlier this year that the well-known businessman, who has several connections with government figures across the Western World, had organized a child sex trafficking ring for rich pedophiles.

When American Law Enforcement stormed Epstein’s New York properties, they found a large number of images of child pornography, including nude photographs of what looked like underage women.

Epstein was known to socialise with notable celebrities and political figures such as Prince Andrew, a ‘well known’ Prime minister, Donald Trump, and the Clinton family.

The news comes a day after newly released court documents implicate Prince Andrew, the son of the Queen of the United Kingdom, and his girlfriend in the trafficking ring.

The documents provided photographic proof of Prince Andrew and his girlfriend were in one of Epstein’s London properties with a young underage American national at the time, who served as a witness to the current trial.

The witness, Virginia Giuffre, alleged that Epstein coerced her into travelling to London under the guise of a legitimate job to perform sex acts for prince Andrew.

The royal household called the allegations “false and without any foundation” and denied that the Duke of York had any sexual contact with the witness.

Protecting Pride- history of Pride and the straight community

Every year in June, LGBTQ+ people around the world celebrate pride month, either publicly or privately. What also happens this time of year is that debates start to arise as to how pride events should be run and how inclusive they should be. To thoughtfully discuss the involvement of uniformed police and heterosexual participation we must first revisit the history of Pride.

Organised Pride events have been around in various forms since the 1950s. Their aim was not so much about celebration but education, with the Annual Reminders organised in Philadelphia alerting people to the fact that LGBT people did not have protection from human rights offences. These simple picketing events are far from the glitter and rainbow parades that are now associated with Pride.

Pride as we know it was established on the 1st anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. These riots were a turning point in Queer history, with LGBTQ+ people rising up against the police targeting gay bars in Manhattan, of which included the Stonewall Inn. Despite being seen as an iconic moment for gay rights, the Stonewall riots were led by Trans women of colour such as Marsha P Johnson and a lot of the police actions were directed at devaluing trans identities by stripping them of feminine clothing before arrest. Riots started when patrons of the Stonewall Inn refused to comply and pay off the police, which was usual procedure. Instead they resisted, and violence between police and the LGBT people of Manhattan continued for three days. These riots gave birth to the Gay Liberation Front and the LGBT pride movement as a whole.

It is because of the Stonewall riots that June is designated as Pride month with the Stonewall Anniversary being June 25th. 

The first pride parade was organised by Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes and took place on the 28th of June 1970. The first pride followed 2 years later on July 1st 1972.

Since then pride marches have spread around the world and have become a celebration of everything queer, a massive party and a political movement.

There are two main discussions surrounding pride in the 21st Century.  The first concerns the clothing of police officers at the event. Despite hostility to police in general, they are essential in organising Pride events; pride is a safe space and needs to maintain safety and police are essential to that process. However, the visual presences of police officers in uniform is a big issue for many queer people attending these events. These very uniforms were a symbol of fear a mere 50 years ago. For some, this fear is best described as hostility, but for many this isn’t the case. The hostility and fear is aimed at the uniform; the symbol of an institution that historically has been on the wrong side of LGBTQ+ rights. Police themselves are seen by many as just people, many of whom are LGBTQ+ themselves, and the majority of pride goers have nothing against the individuals and the protection they provide. It is for this reason that many LGBTQ+ activist groups call for police presence at pride to be out of uniform.

Police presence is the simplest of issues which says a lot with the level of extensive debate that surrounds it. Probably the largest debate about pride is whether straight people can go. In a dream world everyone should be accepted at Pride, it should be used more as a celebration rather than a protest. However, this isn’t the case. Most Pride movements, even in the West, are still important protest movements and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people. With the life expectancy of Trans women of colour being around 31, there is still a need for safety and celebration of queer people which, for many, justifies a minimal straight presence at pride. Whilst this is understandable, the rejection of straight people at pride is very flawed, mainly for practical reasons. Firstly, pride contains a lot of bisexual and pansexual people who go to pride, these people should feel more than welcome to bring their partners. If a blanket ban on straight people is implemented at pride where some people want it to many bi and pan people in relationships with member of the opposite sex will feel oppressed and minimised in a safe space specifically for them and other queer people. On a less practical level, if pride is a space for progress and fighting for LGBTQ+ acceptance then the case can be made that straight people taking part in pride is essential in the normalisation of non-straight and cis identities. Whether straight people should be at pride is a very complex question and one that this article does not have the time to fully investigate but it must be made clear that pride is not just another festival. It is not just another excuse for glitter and half nakedness.

Pride is amazing for these reasons but its also amazing for its political history and the progress it has helped create, and if straight people treat it as a mere party, then it loses it’s power.

AROUND THE WORLD: Israel Launches Fresh Attacks On Gaza As U.S Recognises Golan Heights Claims

Israel has stepped up its campaign against citizens of the Gaza strip, allegedly hitting 100 targets in the embargoed stretch of land.

The overwhelming response came after two long range rockets fired from Gaza reached Tel Aviv and hit a house. Despite allegations that the rockets may have been accidentally fired or that the blame lies with dissident anti-Hamas salafists (whom have been routinely tortured by Hamas authorities), Israel has blamed and targeted Hamas in spite of a Hamas’ denial of rocket fire claiming it goes “against national consensus“. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees have denied undertaking the militant action.

The hard hitting response should come as no surprise as embittered Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to improve his damaged reputation from this years corruption revelations and trial. However, he has seen himself outflanked by his newfound ultra-right reactionary government partners. The co leaders of the New Right (Hayamin Hehadash) party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, have called for further strikes stating “Bombing an empty building and then feeling good, as if this is what is deterring Hamas, is nonsense, it does not work.” Bennett has since said that he wishes for the IDF “to open the gates of hell” against Hamas. Despite this, it seems that Netanyahu has remained the budding face of the Israeli right, with a recent poll revealing that most Israelis think the PM is too weak on Gaza, but will vote for him anyway.

Since these events, recent developments have shown yet more heightened tensions on the Gaza border. In recent border clashes, it is alleged that Gaza protesters have thrown some 500 explosive at the IDF throughout Thursday night. The factions in Gaza have also called the Palestinian masses to yet again participate in the “Great Return March”. It comes one year after the deadly events of Land Day in March. Whilst organisers have called for the event to be peaceful, the IDF’s response is likely to be as aggressive as every other time Palestinians have marched to the border. The IDF has since showcased no signs of any peaceful intent.

All this has come amid a new atmosphere of budding American support for Israeli claims in the Middle East. This week saw the United States government recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel had captured the territory after the 6 Days War and the construction of illegal settlements soon began after. The rest of the international community has long since regarded the area as being under occupation, which was showcased in the European Union member state’s unanimous rejection of Trumps proclamation.

In response to the US proclamation, locals in the Golan Heights participated in large scale demonstrations, with many holding posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, defiantly declaring their loyalty to Damascus. Syria itself has called the move “blatant aggression”, further stating that Washington was “the main enemy” of Arabs.

State controlled Syrian Arab News Agency photos showcasing protests against Trumps announcement. Assad loyalists were joined by Druze sympathisers and SSNP members

With tensions once again building, both Netanyahu and Trump are no doubt looking to play on their nationalist electorate as both find themselves embattled with investigations. Whilst Trump has considerably less pressure than Netanyahu, whom is soon to be facing trial for corruption, he is no doubt looking to once again whip up his nationalist voting base for next years election. Much of Trumps biggest support has come from New Right Evangelicals who support Israel wholeheartedly due to their apocalyptic belief that the Jews must return to Israel as a precondition for Christ’s Second Coming. Netanyahu meanwhile has attempted to placate his far right support base despite anger at perceived lack of action simmering from settlers and neo-fascists alike. Whatever lies ahead for the two figures, the occupied peoples of Gaza and Golan are likely to feel the brunt of the consequences from the decision making processes of Netanyahu and Trump.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s Foreign Affairs Commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.

Brexit has cost UK economy an average of £600 million a week, top investment firm warns

The investment firm Goldman Sachs has warned its clients that Brexit has impacted the investment finance industry worldwide, and the resulting uncertainty has cost the UK economy £600 million a week on average since 2016.

In a letter sent out to the organisation’s many clients today, the U.S. based firm warned that the current political turmoil caused by Brexit has “had real costs for the UK economy” and that the recent uncertainty around Brexit in Westminster has created a “renewed intensification of Brexit uncertainty.”

The investment firm industry works through directing flows of capital into organisations and industries through the use of investment firms, and the likelihood of investments returning reliable profits influences a large proportion of the industry’s decision-making.

This likelihood of investments providing profits can be inferred by analysts from information relating to the economy, including political, statistical, and world-economic indicators which factor heavily into the decisions made by firms when providing funding for companies.

Brexit and the resulting political turmoil has seen one of the biggest periods of uncertainty in UK economic history, leading many international investment firms to avoid funding business in not only the UK itself, but also other European countries as the full scale of the impact of Brexit on the European financial landscape has not yet been fully realised.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict a 15% chance of UK GDP falling by 5.5%, and the blow to confidence in UK markets would see the Great British Pound fall by up to 17%.

The economic uncertainty hasn’t just impacted the economy of the UK, as data released today has also shown that a no-deal Brexit would see the German economy, the flagship financial centre of the European Union, growing half a percentage point slower in the immediate year following a no-deal Brexit due to uncertainty in European markets.

Goldman Sachs’s top analysts also predicted that European countries could see a loss of around 1% in GDP following a no-deal Brexit due to the fallout of a sudden exit.

While still impacting the growth of the UK economy, a Brexit transition deal would lower the financial impacts of Brexit, seeing a 6% rise to the Pound and UK GDP growth increasing by 1.75% in the years following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

While this scenario would see UK GDP and the Pound increasing in value, the rate of growth would be far less than the growth experienced by a pre-Brexit UK.

The option with the lowest economic impact on UK, and world markets, would be the United Kingdom remaining the the European Union. Should the UK stay in the European Union, the investment firm predicts that the UK would see it’s economy return to the growth experienced before the 2016 vote, and would also potentially see the pound’s value increase by 10%.

The bank also alleviated concerns from other European economies around a transitional Brexit, as the bank believes that only a no-deal scenario would create implications for markets outside of the UK.

AROUND THE WORLD: Zimbabwe’s criminalisation of under-age marriage will decriminalise deliberate HIV transmission

Zimbabwe’s new proposed law which stops girls under the age of 18 from legally entering marriage and criminalises marrying off minors will decriminalise the deliberate transmission of HIV.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told the Zimbabwean Parliament last week the recent decision was in line with international developments but failed to name which countries also followed suit.
Ziyambi said the Marriage Amendment Bill, currently at drafting stage, will repeal the crime of deliberately passing on HIV in order to remove the stigmatisation of the virus.
“When this legislation came into effect, the thinking then was that we need to control the spread of HIV by criminalising those who transmit it to partners willingly. But the global thinking now is  that law stigmatises people living with HIV/AIDS and studies have shown that it does not produce the results that were intended,” Ziyambi said in response to a question by Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala (MDC).
Section 79 (1) of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act on deliberate transmission of HIV states whether or not he or she is married to the other person they shall be liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years.
The act requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, however, Zimbabwean health organisations such as NAC Zimbabwe believe there’s a difficulty in proving such a crime.

 NAC Zimbabwe recently commented that “it is very difficult to apply this concept because health systems cannot determine who infected who and it could be a situation where the victim in the criminal case is the perpetrator.”
High profile figures such as Zimbabwean director of TB and Aids in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Owen Mugurungi, have also supported the recent proposal. Dr Mugurungi has stated that “If we look closely, the law was put up to slow transmission of HIV and Aids, but the situation on the ground is not pointing that way.”
“We are actually having new infections by the day and the worrying issue being that those infecting others and those infected are not coming out in fear of the same law,” he added.
Speaking to The Peoples News, Issac Gundani, 31, from Harare said he believed whether or not Parliament kept the law the main issue lied in the lack of awareness and education on HIV.
“We have HIV centres in Harare but they’re not as visible as they should be, but even if they were -would people go for check-ups?”
“What needs to happen is we need to instil more responsibility on schools and parents to actively educate their children and themselves on this issue and the effects of not getting a check-up and this should be done from a young age,” he told The People’s News.
He added that the current law is difficult and ineffective because people struggle to prove someone has intentionally transmitted the virus. He also questioned how someone could prove their innocence and whether or not people feel comfortable revealing their status in case their loved ones are imprisoned.
Gundani suggested an increase in proactive lessons for students to be taught on sexual viruses in order for them to realise they too can catch the virus. He believes teaching them on where to seek help will also encourage a larger and more open conversation on viruses, while also making the HIV centres more visible because it’s not something that should be hidden.
According to a report published by AVERT last year on Zimbabwe’s HIV epidemic, in 2017, the issue of gender inequality was still present within relationships and marriages, and drove HIV infections.
For example, only 69% of men believed a woman has the right to refuse sexual intercourse if she knows he has sex with other women. Although in the minority, 23% of females also believed women do not have the right to ask their partner to use a condom if he has a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The study also found that more than a third of women who have been married have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner. This prevents women from being able to negotiate using a condom, and puts them at higher biological risk of HIV.
Some have argued these are the main factors and why the HIV law needs to remain, in order to protect women and men who’re in vulnerable situations, such as abusive relationships where the husband will deliberately transmit the disease as punishment.
A 19 year old Zimbabwean student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “To me decriminalising this is almost as if to say we don’t care, and gives these people the power to do whatever they want without consequence. If this is causing stigma then lets put in more education and make the conversation on HIV the norm. But we should not remove this law.”

AROUND THE WORLD: Turkish President Erdogan Escalates Attacks Against Opponents Amid Election Preparations

Supporters of the Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) march against the killing of Berkin Elvan during the Gezi Uprising

As Turkey prepares for local elections on March the 31st, president Erdogan has once again moved against the militant opposition who have long opposed his authoritarian rule. The regime has refused entry to two French Communist Party members who planned to observe the local elections showcasing the already fraudulent nature of the elections. Posters belonging to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) have been confiscated across the country alleging they are “Maoist” leading to the arrest of an election official in the Dersim district. Maoism in Turkey has come under a McCarthyite red scare as a Peoples War insurgency has gripped the east Tunceli region for nearly 40 years. The attacks have come amid an international hunger strike by imprisoned Kurds, leftists and their sympathisers which has come to be seen as a direct challenge to Erdogan’s rule.

In the most blatant and direct attack against their opposition, the right wing Islamist Justice and Development Party have went through on the prosecution and imprisonment of 18 lawyers on the grounds that they are “members or leaders of a terrorist organisation,”. The lawyers are either members of the Progressive Lawyers Association or the People’s Law Bureau and stand accused of belonging to the Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). Amnesty Internationals Senior Campaigner on Turkey, Milena Buyum has stated that “Today’s convictions are a travesty of justice and demonstrate yet again the inability of courts crippled under political pressure to deliver a fair trial.”

The DHKP-C have been a thorn in the side of the Turkish government for over 30 years. Coming from a long line of left wing splinter groups that fought against fascist paramilitaries during the Turkish Years of Lead in the 1970’s, the group have since become known as one of the most professional militant groups in Europe. The far left group had claimed responsibility for a series of high-profile killings, including the assassination of far right nationalist politician Gün Sazak. The killing of whom would trigger events leading to the hijacking of the Turkish DC-9. The group would also go on to assassinate former Prime Minister Nihat Erim in 1980. The killing was believe to be related to the approval by the parliament of the execution of three leftist militants during his tenure. One of the executed was Deniz Gezmiş, considered by some as “Turkey’s Ché Guevara”. The group are also believed to have killed several prominent Turkish intelligence officers.

The groups recent resurgence, which includes attacks such as the suicide bombing of the US embassy and the kidnapping and the assassination of leading prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, has clearly worried the Erdogan regime. In response, along with the conviction of lawyers who have defended socialists such as the DHKP-C, the Turkish government has launched a series of raids capturing alleged high ranking members of the group. The announcements may be treat with suspicion however, as the Turkish government have long treated anyone with sympathies towards the anti-gentrification and anti-imperialist message of the DHKP-C as a terrorist. Proof of this can be found in the government treatment of the popular left wing folk band Grup Yorum who have sympathies for the DHKC-P and have thus faced arbitrary arrest and torture.

DHKP-C militants infamous photo showcasing the capture of Mehmet Selim Kiraz 

With opposition in Turkey once again facing a clampdown, the integrity of the Erdogan regime diminishes day by day. The countries prominent place in NATO and its intervention into Syria has meant though, that the regime has remained legitimised in the eyes of west. However, with opposition to AKP rule remaining rampant in spite of these attacks, Erdogans dream of full dictatorship has not yet been fully realised. The determination of the Turkish left, which has not been diminished in spite of nearly 6 decades of repression, will almost certainly not let Erdogan grasp full power without a fight.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s Foreign Affairs Commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.