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The Military Wanted to Use A Heat Ray to Clear Protesters Outside the White House

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The military police were so desperate to clear a path for President Donald Trump to walk out of the White House and hold up a bible as part of a June photo-op that they stockpiled munitions and tried to source a “heat ray” that would make protesters believe their skin was burning.

That is according to Major Adam DeMarco of the DC National Guard, who was in Lafayette Square on the morning of June 1 and received an email asking him to source the heat ray, as well as a sound cannon.

DeMarco made the revelations in written testimony to lawmakers in Congress, which was first reported by NPR

The request came hours before law enforcement officials forcefully removed people who were protesting against the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

The crowds were removed to allow Trump to walk out of the White House and pose in front of St. John’s Church with a bible. In a press conference moments before, he had urged governors of U.S. states to quell protests by using the National Guard to “dominate the streets.”

Ultimately, law enforcement officials used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

But according to DeMarco, the army had considered a number of alternative crowd-dispersal technologies, and had also authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory.

DeMarco said he was copied on an email from the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region who was looking for two things: a long-range acoustic device or sound cannon, and a device called the Active Denial System (ADS), typically referred to as a heat ray.

The ADS, which uses millimeter-wave technology, was developed by the military 20 years ago, but experts have raised questions about whether the technology really works and about the ethics of deploying it.

In 2018, U.S. border officials considered deploying the heat ray against migrants just weeks before the 2018 election, the New York Times reported recently.

Those seeking the ADS said that the weapon “can provide our troops a capability they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and non-lethal manner.”

DeMarco said the weapon “can immediately compel an individual to cease threatening behavior,” describing the effect of the weapon as “overwhelming.”

DeMarco responded 30 minutes after receiving the request, and said the DC National Guard did not possess either a LARD or ADS.

DeMarco, whose testimony forms part of an investigation into the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials, also contradicted U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan, who previously testified that protesters were given clear warnings to disperse via a LARD.

DeMarco told lawmakers that no such device was on the scene at the time, and that Park Police resorted to trying to order the crowd to leave using a handheld megaphone.

Police are required to give demonstrators clear and repeated warnings about possible escalating actions. DeMarco said he was standing 30 yards from the megaphone and could barely hear what was being said. The crowd, which was chanting, was even further away and did not heed the warnings. 

The Department of Defense has not commented publicly on the allegations, but a U.S. defense department official, speaking to the Washington Post, said the emails were “routine inventory checks” about available equipment.

DeMarco told lawmakers that he felt he had to speak up because he found the events at Lafayette Square “deeply disturbing.”

Cover: In this Monday, June 1, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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DR Congo army says Burundi rebels forced from strongholds

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Congolese soldiers killed 27 fighters during an operation to clear rebels from border region, DR Congo army says.

Congolese soldiers have forced fighters from the main Burundian rebel force from their stronghold in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) near the two countries’ border, an army statement said on Monday.

Troops “dislodged and recovered the headquarters of the Burundi FNL rebels [National Forces of Liberation] after three days of intense fighting”, said Dieudonne Kasereka, the army’s South Kivu spokesman.

The FNL, led by Aloise Nzabampema, is considered to be the main Burundian rebel force active in eastern DRC.

The statement said soldiers had also fought members of the CNRD (National Resistance Council for Democracy), another group active in South Kivu.

Troops killed 27 rebels, seizing arms and ammunition, while three soldiers died in the fighting, with another four wounded, the statement said.

The army said the rebels were now fleeing toward the forests of Muranvia, Nyaburunda and Kashongo as well as the Nyanzale Rudaga valley.

In September, the DRC army launched a large-scale operation against three rebel groups active in the east – the FNL, the CNRD and Red Tabara. Several deadly cross-border raids into Burundi in September were claimed by the Red Tabara.

Early in October, DRC Foreign Minister Marie Tumba Nzeza visited Burundi for talks with President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Burundi boycotted an October 7 regional security summit in Goma, the capital of DRC’s North Kivu province, preferring to discuss such issues directly with Kinshasa.

DRC’s relations with its eastern neighbours Rwanda and Burundi are complicated by the presence of both refugees and armed rebel groups inside its mineral-rich eastern territories.

All three countries have suffered from multiple conflicts over the past 30 years.

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Pompeo in India on first leg of Asia trip over China ‘threats’

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US secretary of state on five-day Asia trip aimed at strengthening strategic ties in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has landed in India, the first leg of a five-day Asia trip aimed at strengthening strategic ties in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region.

Pompeo is due to meet India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar later on Monday.

On Tuesday, he and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will hold a joint summit with Jaishankar and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Later that day, Pompeo and Esper will call on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a draft itinerary of the trip released by India’s foreign ministry.

The trip is part of the latest US effort to bolster allies against an increasingly assertive China, which has been making political and military inroads across Asia, analysts said.

Ahead of the trip, Pompeo said his meetings would “include discussions on how free nations can work together to thwart threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party”.

The world’s two biggest democracies are expected to sign an agreement on sharing geospatial intelligence, paving the way for the US to ship sophisticated missile technology, officials said.

Esper will also be discussing ways to increase cooperation between the two countries’ military forces. This could include intelligence sharing, stepping up joint exercises, and arms sales – including possibly US F-18 fighter jets.

India is locked in a military standoff with China on their contested Himalayan border and has reportedly sought cold-weather equipment from the US as the border showdown between the two Asian giants goes into the freezing winter.

Pompeo is due to travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, two Indian Ocean countries where China has financed and built various infrastructure, to the alarm of India and the US.

He will end his trip, which comes in the final week before the US presidential election, in Indonesia, one of several Southeast Asian countries wary of growing Chinese activities in the disputed South China Sea.

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Muslim world condemns Macron, France over treatment of Islam

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The backlash over French President Emmanuel Macron’s critique of Islam has intensified after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned his counterpart’s mental health, while Muslims in several countries are demanding a boycott of France.

Marking his second sharp criticism against Macron in two days, Erdogan said on Sunday that the French president had “lost his mind”, prompting France’s foreign minister to recall the country’s ambassador in Ankara.

The French debate on Islam was deepened after the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad – previously published by a satirical magazine – in a class on freedom of expression. Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

On Friday, the cartoons were projected onto government buildings in France. Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and vowed to present a bill in December to strengthen a law that officially separated church and state in France.

Since Friday, social media has been awash with criticism of Macron in countries from west to east, including the UK, Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

People are pouring out their feelings under the English hashtags #BoycottFrenchProducts and #Islam and #NeverTheProphet in Arabic.

The social media campaign has led to several Arab trade associations to announce their boycotts of French products.

The spat has drawn in world leaders as people in Muslim-majority countries organise street protests.

A poster decrying French President Emmanuel Macron, reading: ‘Clouds are not hurt by the barking of dogs,’ in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Pakistan‘s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the French ambassador in Islamabad to complain about Macron’s comments.

“The seeds of hate that are being cultivated today will polarise the society and have serious consequences,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a statement.

The move comes a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content, similar to the website’s measures against Holocaust deniers.

Qureshi said Pakistan had urged the United Nations “to take notice and action against the hate-based narrative against Islam.”

Demonstrators held protests Sunday in regions of war-torn Syria still outside government control during which they burned pictures of Macron, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Men flash the victory sign as they pose next to a poster condemning French President Emmanuel Macron depicting him with a pig snout and ears [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

About 70 people protested in Libya‘s capital Tripoli, an AFP correspondent said. Some set fire to French flags and stamped on pictures of the French president.

“As Muslims, it’s our duty to respect all the prophets, so we expect the same from all other religions,” housewife Fatima Mahmud, 56, said ahead of the Tripoli protest. “Demonising Islam and Muslims isn’t going to keep the social peace in France.”

In Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians burned portraits of Macron, calling his remarks “an attack and an insult against Islam”.

“We condemn the comments of the French president… and whoever offends the Prophet Mohammed, whether through words, actions, gestures or drawings,” said Maher al-Huli, a leader of the Palestinian Hamas group.

Palestinians gather to protest against the republication of offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Rafah, Gaza [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

In Lebanon, Hezbollah condemned the “deliberate insult” to the Prophet.

Rabaa Allah, a pro-Iran faction in Iraq, said in a statement that one and a half billion people worldwide had in effect been insulted, and warned that its men were “ready to respond when and where they want”.

Morocco‘s foreign ministry also “vigorously” condemned the continued publication of the caricatures, in a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

Jordan‘s Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammed al-Khalayleh said that “insulting” prophets was “not an issue of personal freedom but a crime that encourages violence.”

Meanwhile, Jean-Luc Melanchon, head of France’s left-wing Unbowed France party and a member of parliament, also attacked Macron.

“Macron has totally lost control of the situation. By Erdogan’s statements, France is demeaned, humiliated and ridiculed. What is Macron’s strategy? What does he plan to do besides tweet?”

But the French president found support with some leaders of the European community.

On Sunday the European Union’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said Erdogan’s words were “unacceptable” and called on Turkey to stop “this dangerous spiral of confrontation”.

Also responding to the remarks, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said on Twitter: “Sorry to disappoint you but this is our way of life as defined in our Treaty. The European Way of Life”, as he added a screenshot of a treaty article defining fundamental EU values.

“Actually, this is your way of life now,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Fahrettin Altun snapped back, posting on Twitter a link suggesting Frontex, the EU agency tasked with border control, has been complicit in illegally pushing back refugees.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, also said on Sunday that “hate speech targeting France by the Turkish leadership is unacceptable, fuels religious hatred”.

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