Briefs | USA: Pentagon has no plans to boost size of nuclear arsenal

The Pentagon has no current plans to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In fact, it can barely sustain the existing force, which is decades old and is in some respects almost decrepit. The arsenal is far from being in the “perfect shape” that President Donald Trump said yesterday he wants to see under his watch. That is why the government is planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a top-to-bottom “modernization,” or replacement of the three major categories of nuclear weapons — as well as their command and control systems — in coming decades. Those new weapons would replace, not add to, currently deployed forces such as the 400 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles that stand ready for short-notice launch in underground silos in North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Trump suggested he thinks the U.S. already has enough weapons. “We don’t need an increase, but I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation,” he said, apparently referring to replacing weapons and support systems that have grown old. “I want to have absolutely perfectly maintained — which we are in the process of doing — nuclear force,” he said.  An in-depth review of the U.S. nuclear force and the strategies and polices that underpin it has been under way since April.

Turkey: Rights group reports ‘growing evidence’ of abuses in custody

A rights advocacy group reports “growing evidence” of abuses in police custody in Turkey against people accused of links to terror groups or to last year’s coup attempt. Human Rights Watch yesterday reported at least 11 cases of “serious abuse in detention,” including beatings, threats, sexual assault or threats of sexual assault. It also reported five cases of individuals’ abductions and disappearance. The group’s Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, said: “As evidence mounts that torture in police custody has returned to Turkey, the government urgently needs to investigate and call a halt to it.” Turkey’s government insists it has a “zero tolerance” policy against torture. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people as part of a vast crackdown in the aftermath of the coup.

Somalia: Journalist’s 18-month sentence is protested

A court in Somalia’s breakaway northern territory of Somaliland has sentenced a journalist to 18 months in prison on charges of criminal defamation and publishing false news. Mohamed Aden Dirir was arrested last month following an article for a local news website in which he alleged exam fraud by teachers at private schools in the capital, Hargeisa. Local journalists say the one-day trial was held without his lawyer. He was sentenced on Sunday. Dirir’s family told reporters they would appeal. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Dirir “should never have been prosecuted in the first place” and the trial was carried out in an unjust way. Local media organizations have long said Somalia’s penal code, written in 1960, is designed to silence journalists and curtail freedom of expression.

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