In Jab At Trump, Schwarzenegger, Macron To 'Make The Planet Great Again'


Emmanuel Macron and Arnold Schwarzenegger share similar views on the environment.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has never hesitated to call in backup.

In “Terminator 2,” the Arnold got an assist from the plucky, potty-mouthed kid who played John Connor as he tried to stave off the end of the world.

In 1987, to take on the “Predator,” Schwarzenegger joined forces with Carl Weathers – and Weathers’s biceps, during the most testosterone-laden movie handshake ever recorded.

But now Schwarzenegger’s nemesis is a billionaire who commands America’s military and has round-the-clock access to nuclear weapons.

So to strike the latest blow in his Twitter war with President Donald Trump, Schwarzenegger has recruited, well, French President Emmanuel Macron.

Schwarzenegger tweeted: I was truly honored to meet with President @EmmanuelMacron about how we can work together for a clean energy future. He’s a great leader.

For those who’ve missed the previous installments, Trump and Schwarzenegger have been involved in a months-long social media battle.

Schwarzenegger blasted Trump over his rhetoric as president and seeming divisiveness on the campaign trail. And Trump struck back where it hurt: He lampooned Schwarzenegger’s ratings on “The Apprentice.”

Schwarzenegger took to Twitter after Trump said he was withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The move set back the worldwide effort to address global warming.

Afterward, in a nearly three-minute message on Twitter, Schwarzenegger said Trump was derelict in his duties as president.

“One man cannot destroy our progress,” the movie star who became governor of California said. “One man can’t stop our clean energy revolution. And one man can’t go back in time. Only I can do that.”

Schwarzenegger’s latest salvo came on Friday afternoon. It’s unclear where he and Macron are standing, although Schwarzenegger says the two are “talking about environmental issues and a green future.”

Then he pivots the camera for a Macron cameo.

“And now we will deliver together to make the planet great again,” Macron says.

Macron’s English is a little off, but the burn is on-target for anyone familiar with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

It’s not really surprising that Macron would end up on #TeamArnold.

As The Post’s James McAuley wrote, “Macron has become the anointed darling and principal spokesman of political moderates around the world, a fierce advocate of ‘radical centrism,’ globalization and – following President Trump’s watershed decision to remove the United States from the Paris accord – curbing climate change.”

In June, after Trump withdrew the United States from the climate accord, France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs altered a Trump administration video that justified the action into one that criticized it.

And Macron himself recorded a video critique.

“I do think it’s an actual mistake, both for the U.S. and for the planet,” Macron said, according to The Post’s Peter W. Stevenson. “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them: Come here and work with us.”

So Macron and Schwarzenegger share similar views on the environment, and both have shown no hesitation at taking a public swipe at President Trump – a collaboration doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Vladimir Putin Praises Russia's 'Unique' Spy Network


“These are unique people. I wish them happiness and prosperity,” President Putin said

Moscow:  President Vladimir Putin on Saturday praised Russia’s network of intelligence officers as “unique people” who are devoted  to the country.

“To give up their life, their nearest and dearest and leave the country for many years, and to dedicate one’s life to the Fatherland, not everyone is capable of doing that,” the former KGB officer said on state television.

“These are people not like the rest,” who have qualities, convictions and character out of the ordinary, Putin added on the Russia-1 channel.

“These are unique people. I wish them happiness and prosperity,” he added.

The Russian strongman said that his own service in the country’s main security agency during the Soviet era had involved “especially, undercover intelligence”.

Putin was stationed in Dresden, in what was then East Germany, for the Soviet espionage service from 1985-1990, according to his official biography.

“Even before I’d finished my school studies, I already wanted to be an intelligence officer,” Putin said in the biography, adding that he had been attracted to the service by spy novels.

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2 Toddlers Died As Mom Left Them In Hot Car To Teach 'A Lesson': Police


On the day her two children were found dead, Cynthia Marie Randolph recounted for investigators a mother’s nightmare: She had been folding laundry and watching television while her young daughter and son, ages 2 and 16 months, played in an enclosed sun room on the back porch.

Randolph, 24, went to check on her children after about a half-hour – but they were “gone,” she told police. She said that after a half-hour of searching, she finally spotted their bodies, unresponsive, inside her 2010 Honda Crosstour parked in her driveway.

It was May 26, a day when the high temperature outside Randolph’s home in Weatherford, Texas, reached 96 degrees, according to police records.

Medics pronounced both children dead at the scene, authorities said.

According to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, when asked how long the children might have been exposed to the high temperatures inside the car, Randolph responded immediately: “No more than an hour.”

Less than a month after the tragedy, Randolph has been arrested after her original explanation for her children’s deaths unraveled. Through multiple interviews with investigators over the past month, Randolph “created several variations of the events” of May 26, police said.

In a final interview with investigators Friday, Randolph described an entirely different timeline for what happened that day – one that began much earlier in the afternoon than she had previously admitted.

At about 12:15 p.m., Randolph said she had found her children playing inside her car and ordered them to come out, police said.

“Stop your s-t,” Randolph said she told her 2-year-old daughter, according to police.

“When they refused to exit, Randolph told police she shut the car door to teach Juliet a lesson, thinking she could get herself and her brother out of the car when ready,” a probable cause affidavit for the incident stated. “The defendant went inside the house, smoked marijuana and took a nap. The defendant said she was asleep for two or three hours.”

It was only after her nap that Randolph found her children unresponsive inside the Honda Crosstour, police said. Randolph further told investigators that she broke the car window so that it would look like an accident, police said.

Randolph was charged Friday with two first-degree felony counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. She is being held at the Parker County Jail on a $200,000 bond, records show. A sheriff’s spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Saturday afternoon, and jail records do not list an attorney for Randolph.

Over the past two decades, more than 700 children have died of heatstroke while in hot cars, said Jan Null, a meteorologist who compiles and keeps track of the data on noheatstroke.org.
“Every one of these can be prevented,” Null told The Washington Post last year.

Null said more than half of the incidents occurred because a child had been “forgotten” by a caregiver. About 28 percent of those deaths were because a child had been playing in an unattended vehicle. About 17 percent of the deaths resulted because a child was intentionally left inside a vehicle by an adult, Null’s site states.
The National Safety Council says that unintentionally leaving a child inside a car “can happen to anyone.”

“Maybe it’s an overworked parent who forgets to drop off their child at day care, or a relative who thinks the child will be okay ‘for just a few minutes,’ ” says an NSC pamphlet on the issue.

The group advises parents to put something they will need by their child’s car seat – a purse, wallet or phone, for example – as an additional reminder to check the back.

“Remember, children overheat four times faster than adults,” says a message on the council’s website. “A child is likely to die when his body temperature reaches 107 degrees, and that can happen in minutes.”

Those who see a child alone in a car are advised to call 911 immediately or even break into the car during an emergency, the group said, noting that many states have good Samaritan laws.

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Live: PM Modi To Arrive In US, Will Meet Donald Trump On Monday


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two-day visit to United States. (File)

After a brief stop in Lisbon, Portugal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrive in United States in the second leg of his three-nation tour. The last destination is the Netherlands. This would be PM Modi’s fourth visit to the US, where he forged a close relationship with former US President Barack Obama and called the US “an indispensable partner”. However, this is his first visit to US after the Trump administration came to power early this year.

A senior White House official told reporters that President Donald Trump’s first working dinner with a foreign leader will be with the Indian Prime Minister. The two leaders will meet at 3:30 pm EST on June 26, and will deliver a joint statement along with individual statements. But there will be no press meet, “as preferred by both leaders”. The first face-to-face interaction between Mr Trump and PM Modi is expected to focus on three major areas — defence, terrorism and energy.

Here are the live updates of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States:

Vijay Chauthaiwale who is in-Charge of Foreign Affairs Department, BJP gives us the mood at Andrew Air force base in Washington ahead of PM Modi’s arrival.
US Senator Kamala Harris welcomed the Prime Minister, hours before he arrived.
President Donald Trump tweets welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House ahead of his arrival in US.



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Looking Forward To Welcome 'True Friend' PM Modi, Says President Trump


The two leaders are to hold talks on Monday afternoon in the White House. (File)

Refering to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “true friend,” President Donald Trump said he looks forward to the leader’s two-day visit to United States that begins today.
 

As part of his three-nation tour, Prime Minister Modi will arrive in United States on Sunday and will meet President Donald Trump on Monday for his first meeting with President.

The two leaders are to hold talks on Monday afternoon in the White House. They are to spend several hours together in multiple set-ups including a one-on-one, a delegation level meeting, a reception and a working dinner.

The working dinner that Donald Trump will host for PM Modi is the first time that a working dinner of this sort is hosted under the Trump administration. 

“The White House is very interested in making this a special visit. We’re really seeking to roll out the red carpet. In fact, the two (leaders) will have dinner, a working dinner at the White House.

“This will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration. So, we think that’s very significant,” a senior administration official told reporters at the White House.



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Donald Trump Wishes Muslims 'Warm Greetings' For Eid


Donald Trump has come under fire for his history of anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail

Washington:  US President Donald Trump on Saturday sent warm greetings” to Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, after his administration broke with the tradition of hosting a White House event to recognize the holy month.

“On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr,” Trump said in a statement. “During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill.”

“With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values.”

Since the Bill Clinton administration, the White House has each year hosted either an event to mark the Eid al-Fitr feast — which ends the fasting month of Ramadan — or a meal breaking the dawn-til-dusk fast, known as an iftar.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly rejected a request by his department’s office of religion and global affairs to hold an event for the holiday.

Trump has come under fire for his history of anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail, that included calls for surveillance of US mosques and an outright ban on Muslims entering the country in the name of national security.

A week after becoming president he issued a ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, which has been frozen by the US courts after sparking global chaos and outrage. 

Yet during a visit to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump softened his tone on Islam, rejecting the idea of a battle between religions in an address before dozens of leaders of Muslim countries.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Russia 'Meddled' In American Election, says Trump's Spy Chief


Reports suggest that White House has downplayed Russia’s involvement in Trump’s election

Russia “meddled” in last year’s presidential election as part of a decades-long effort to “undermine American democracy,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.

“I can’t talk about the details of the intelligence, but we have, the intelligence community has said, that this election was meddled with by the Russians in a way that is frankly not particularly original,” Pompeo said, according to the transcript of an interview with MSNBC broadcast Saturday morning. It was his first interview with a news network since he became Central Intelligence Agency director in January.

Before President Donald Trump took office, the outgoing director of the director of national intelligence released a report concluding that Russia attempted to influence last year’s presidential election under orders from President Vladimir Putin.

The White House has downplayed Russia’s involvement, even as multiple investigations look into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to sway the election. As recently as last week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to say whether Trump believes Russia interfered.

Pompeo, 53, said it isn’t surprising that Russia would meddle in a U.S. vote.

“They’ve been doing this for an awfully long time. And we are decades into the Russians trying to undermine American democracy,” he said. “So in some ways, there’s no news, but it certainly puts a heightened emphasis on our ability to figure out how to stop them.”

But the spy chief said he couldn’t confirm whether Putin personally directed the plan.

Asked about the Middle East, Pompeo said Iran represents a “longer challenge” to the U.S. than Sunni extremists such as the Islamic State, which he said poses an “enormous risk” to America.

“It remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” he said of Iran. “We find it with enormous influence, influence that far outstrips where it was six or seven years ago.”

Pompeo said North Korea is a “very real danger” that’s getting closer to threatening the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

“For 20 years, America has whistled past the graveyard, hoping on hope that North Korea would turn colors and become part of the Western civilization,” he said. “There’s no evidence that that’s going to take place, absent a very real, very concrete set of policies that put pressure on the North Koreans to de-nuclearize.”

In March, the website WikiLeaks released thousands of documents it said contained secrets about how the CIA hacks into smartphones and other devices as part of the agency’s cyper-espionage efforts. Edward Snowden became a celebrity after leaking classified information from the National Security Agency about how the government monitors communications.

“There is a phenomenon, the worship of Edward Snowden, and those who steal American secrets for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or money or for whatever their motivation may be,” Pompeo said, adding that the trend seems to be accelerating.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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A US Doctor Gave So Many Painkillers, Now Charged With Killing Patients


On Nov. 21, 2012, Sheila Bartels walked out of the Sunshine Medical Center in Oklahoma with a prescription for a “horrifyingly excessive” cocktail of drugs capable of killing her several times over.

A short time later, she was at a pharmacy, receiving what drug addicts call “the holy trinity” of prescription drugs: the powerful painkiller Hydrocodone, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and a muscle relaxant known as Soma.

In total, pharmacists handed her 510 pills that day – all legal, because she had a prescription with the signature of her doctor, Regan Ganoung Nichols, scrawled at the bottom, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Bartels’ lifeless body was found later that day,court documents say. A medical examiner concluded that she died of multiple drug toxicity, another victim of the America’s opioid epidemic.

But investigators say the 55-year-old Bartels was also a victim of Nichols, a pain management doctor who investigators concluded “either didn’t know or didn’t care what she was doing.”

Nichols is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Bartels and four other patients, some of whom died just days after receiving large prescriptions from the doctor. She was arrested Friday and released from Oklahoma County Jail on $50,000 bail.

She couldn’t be reached for comment on Saturday. A number listed for Sunshine Medical Center was disconnected. Jail officials didn’t know whether she had hired an attorney.

The doctor’s arrest is part of a new and growing offensive in America’s battle against the abusive use of opioids, which kill an average of 91 people a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Law enforcement agents aren’t just going after drug dealers and Mexican cartels – they’re also targeting pharmaceutical companies and doctors, who they say are irresponsibly flooding the nation with potent painkillers, and holding them responsible for overdose deaths.

“Nichols prescribed patients, who entrusted their well-being to her, a horrifyingly excessive amount of opioid medications,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter told the Associated Press on Friday as his office announced the doctor’s arrest. “Nichols’ blatant disregard for the lives of her patients is unconscionable.”

Opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015, according to the CDC. Since 1991, the number of opioid overdose deaths has quadrupled. In 2014, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1.3 million Americans were hospitalized for opioid-related issues.

And prescription opioids are a primary driver, and prosecutors increasingly have gone to the source to stop abuse. InFebruary 2016, another doctor, Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison after three of her patients fatally overdosed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Prosecutors said Tseng made millions from overprescribing opioids to drug-addicted patients.

And lawyers for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma have sued the nation’s top six drug distributors, according to The Washington Post’s Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein. The suit says the pharmaceutical companies are profiting from the epidemic and “decimating communities across the nation’s 14 counties in the state.”

Last month, seven counties in West Virginia, a state that has the highest prescription drug overdose rate in the nation, filed suits against many of the same corporations, according to Higham and Bernstein.

A lawsuit by the state of Missouri against pharmaceutical giants strikes a similar tone.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said the companies have used bogus science to mislead patients about just how addictive opioids are, according to The Washington Post’s Katie Mettler. As a result, the companies have “profited from the suffering of Missourians.”

The lawsuits have different aims, although attorneys in the Missouri case say they want state legislatures to more closely monitor prescription drug use.

Oklahoma’s attorney general has been trying to paint Nichols in the same light.

Nichols prescribed more than 3 million doses of controlled dangerous drugs from 2010 through 2014, according to court documents, including “irrational” and dangerous combinations of drugs that led to five deaths.

On March 24, 2010, for example, Debra Messner received a prescription for 450 pills – the same cocktail of Hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma and died six days later of acute drug toxicity, according to court documents. A doctor contracted by the Drug Enforcement Administration to review her case file found that there was “no need for the quantity or combination” of those drugs.

Lynette Nelson was evaluated by Nichols once, a few days before Christmas in 2008. Still, over the next four years, Nelson was prescribed so many potent drugs from Nichols’s clinic that investigators were baffled that she didn’t die sooner.

She was found dead on March 1, 2012, five days after getting her final prescription of Xanax filled.

In the probable cause affidavit, the doctor contracted by the DEA to examine the dead patients’ files concluded that because of Nichols’s “lack of the use of the basic fundamental safeguards, patients suffer and very well may end up paying the ultimate price as all ten of these patients did.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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UK Firefighters Battle Blaze At Low-Rise Building In East London


The fire at Grenfell Tower had also spread rapidly, turning the building into a giant torch. (File)

London:  Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters were battling a blaze in east London on Saturday after flames engulfed a third-floor apartment in a low-rise block of buildings, injuring one man who was taken to hospital.

Britain has been rocked in recent days by a fire which killed at least 79 people when it engulfed a 24-storey building in west London on June 14, trapping residents in their beds as they slept.

That fire at Grenfell Tower spread rapidly, turning the burning building into a giant torch and terrifying residents.

The worst fire to hit the capital since World War Two has prompted a nationwide review of high-rise buildings after police said the cladding used on Grenfell had failed all safety checks.

The London Fire Brigade, which is also working to evacuate residents from an estate in north London found to have similar cladding to Grenfell, said it had been called on Saturday to a building in Bethnal Green, east London, where the third floor apartment and roof were on fire.

It had received 50 calls to its emergency telephone line.

“Firefighters from Bethnal Green and surrounding fire stations are attending the scene,” they said in a statement. “The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.

“The whole of a flat on the third floor and roof is also alight. A man has been taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Ros Russell)
 

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Pakistan Issues Its First Transgender Passport


The passport was issued to Farzana Riaz, a transgender in northwestern Peshawar city.

Pakistan has issued its first third-gender passport to a transgender activist, who hailed the move as a step forward for the marginalised community in the deeply conservative South Asian country.

Farzana Riaz, a transgender in northwestern Peshawar city, said the new passport would help her campaign globally on behalf of her community, who are also known as khawajasiras — an umbrella term in Pakistan denoting a third sex that includes transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs. 

“I have received my passport which mentions my gender as X and not as a male or female,” Farzana told AFP on Saturday. 

“Earlier I had a passport which had described my gender as a male. But this time I told the authorities that I won’t accept my passport if it doesn’t identify me as a transgender,” the 30-year-old co-founder and president of rights organisation TransAction said.

“Now it will be more convenient for me to travel abroad because earlier I faced problems at international airports because of a contradiction in my appearance and sex mention on my passport,” she added.

Modern-day Pakistani transgender people claim to be cultural heirs of the eunuchs who thrived at the courts of the Mughal emperors that ruled the Indian subcontinent for two centuries until the British arrived in the 19th century and banned them.

In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex, allowing transgenders to obtain identity cards, while several have also run in elections. 

They number at least half a million people in the country, according to several studies.

Like Farzana, many earn their living by being called upon for rituals such as blessing newborns or to bring life to weddings and parties as dancers — and, sometimes, in more clandestine ways. 

But despite these signs of integration they live daily as pariahs, often reduced to begging and prostitution, subjected to extortion and discrimination. 

Meanwhile homosexuality, prohibited by Islam, is punishable by 10 years imprisonment or even 100 lashes in Pakistan.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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UK Parliament Cuts E-Mail Access After Cyberattack


UK Parliament has disabled remote access to protect the network.

London, United Kingdom:  Britain’s parliament shut down external access to e-mail accounts on Saturday following a cyberattack.

A House of Commons spokeswoman said that “the Houses of Parliament have discovered unauthorised attempts to access parliamentary user accounts.

“We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and are taking the necessary steps to protect our systems.

“Parliament has disabled remote access to protect the network,” she said.

The threat follows reports in British media, including the Times, that hackers were selling passwords for MPs online.

Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chris Rennard tweeted that there was a “cyber security attack on Westminster; Parliamentary e-mails may not work remotely.”

The National Crime Agency said it was “aware of a possible cyber incident affecting parliament”.

International Trade Minister Liam Fox told ITV News said it was a “warning to everyone we need more security and better passwords”.

Fox told the BBC: “We know that our public services are attacked so it is not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails”.

A global ransomware attack last month hit hundreds of thousands of computers, including hospitals in Britain that were forced to shut down, divert emergency cases and postpone operations.

The so-called WannaCry ransomware locked access to user files and in an on-screen message demanded payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin in order to decrypt the files.

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In Iraq's Mosul, Ghostly Civilians Emerge From Old City Hell


Mosul:  They all say they are back from “hell”. Quivering and emaciated, the civilians emerging from Mosul’s Old City have survived famine but often lost relatives and sometimes their sanity.

They come in small groups, dropped off by the armoured vehicles of the Iraqi security forces on dusty, deserted streets where emergency field clinics are set up.

A few hundred metres away, fighting rages in the alleyways of old Mosul, where die-hard ISIS group jihadists are mounting a desperate defence of their last redoubt in the city.

Elite Iraqi fighters backed by jets and special forces from a US-led anti-ISIS coalition massively outnumber and outgun the jihadists, who at this stage in the battle owe their survival to an estimated 100,000 civilians they are using as human shields.
 

An Iraqi forces member aims his gun towards an ISIS position in the Old City of Mosul

With every home they retake, the security forces free families they often find holed up in their basements to shelter from the deluge of munitions that has been falling on the area since a push into the Old City was launched on June 18.

Adding to the constant threat of their homes collapsing over their heads from bombs, missiles or shells, ISIS has not hesitated to shoot down civilians to prevent them from fleeing.

Once their identity has been checked, rescued families are moved to a field clinic, where children devour the biscuits soldiers give them.

The adults, some of them with protruding bones and sunken eyes that speak of the famine they left behind, look shellshocked.

One woman wrapped in black lets out a hysterical, lonely howl of despair: “Too many innocents have been killed.”

“We’re back from the dead,” says Amir, a 32-year-old man with a sickly grey complexion, shaking like a leaf between his sons Qusay and Hassan, aged two and four.

He shows a few crumbs in the bottom of a tin cup that he kept like it was a priceless treasure: “This is what we’ve been eating for weeks.”

Umm Nashwan, a frail woman in her sixties, explains how she fed her family by mixing flour with water and baking the resulting dough.

She says she had only one obsession recently: “I just wanted to forget hunger”.

‘Take all my blood’

“They live hidden in their basements and are almost starving to death,” says one officer with the federal Iraqi forces. “Some of them resort to eating grass, others even eat dogs.”

“Most IDPs (internally displaced persons) suffer from malnutrition and dehydration, kids above all,” says Ahmed Diran, one of several volunteers at the emergency clinic.

“Adults often come in hysterical condition, crying and shouting, because nearly all of them have lost three to four family members,” he says.
 

mosul isis war

Iraqi forces advance through Mosul during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district  held by the ISIS.

“It’s getting worse and worse. And it may get very much worse because all civilians are now trapped with jihadists in a limited number of buildings, so more vulnerable,” Diran explains.

The reception that rescued civilians get however is sometimes tainted by suspicion, with large sections of the Iraqi public arguing that whoever did not flee ISIS’s brutal “caliphate” in three years was agreeable to it.

A suicide bomb attack by a jihadist who blended in with fleeing civilians on Friday and killed at least 12 people has only added to the tension.

An umpteenth humvee comes screeching to a halt to offload a young couple carrying a small inert body covered in blood.

The woman in a black abaya and pink veil collapses on a chair and shouts at the soldiers: “We’ve been waiting for you for months, what took you so long?”

The blood of her child, who was aged around six and killed by a stray bullet or a sniper a few blocks away, drips heavily down her arms.

“It’s my only child, save him, I beg you. Take all my blood if you have to,” she screams, banging her head against a wall.

The couple say they decided to risk being shot by ISIS to flee the Old City after two of their close relatives were killed by shelling.

The distressed mother recalls how happy her son was at the prospect. “He was hungry, he said: ‘I want to say hello to the soldiers and get biscuits from them’.”



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15 Dead, Over 100 Missing In China Landslide


Rescuers pulled 15 bodies from an avalanche of rocks that buried a mountain village in southwest China on Saturday as an increasingly bleak search for some 100 people carried into the night.

Only three survivors — a couple and their one-month-old baby — have been found so far after 62 homes in Xinmo village vanished under a mass of mud and rocks in Sichuan province.

Heavy rain caused the side of the mountain to collapse onto the riverside village in the early morning, according to authorities.

Qiao Dashi, the baby’s father, said he had woken up after 5:00 am to change his crying son’s diaper when he “heard a big noise coming from the back”.

“The house shook,” he told state broadcaster CCTV from his hospital bed. “Rocks were in the living room. My wife and I climbed over, took the baby, and got out.”

“I have superficial injuries. Overall, I’m okay. But psychologically, it’s hard. The entire village, with dozens of families, was flattened,” he said, with a bandage around his head.

The rescue operation’s headquarters reported that 15 people had been found dead by the late evening, according to the official Xinhua news agency. 

The Maoxian, or Mao county, government said earlier that six people died and 112 people were missing. Xinhua had reported that more than 120 were buried.

The landslide blocked a two-kilometre (one-mile) stretch of river and 1.6 kilometre of road, according to state media.

As night fell, authorities shined lamps onto the rubble while rescuers wore lights on their helmets as they sifted through the rocks, aided by sniffer dogs, according to photos from the official Xinhua news agency.

During the day, rescuers and local residents used ropes to move a boulder while others lifted rocks with their bare hands, according to videos broadcast by the Maoxian government and CCTV.

Nearly 2,000 police, soldiers and civilians were taking part in the rescue.

Bulldozers and excavators that were used earlier in the day stopped their work due to bad lighting as night fell, according to CCTV.

No sign of the village could be seen in aerial footage, which showed a grim and grey rock-strewn landscape covering the area where it once existed by a river.

“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” said Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.

More rain forecast

Local police captain Chen Tiebo said the heavy rains that hit the region in recent days had triggered the landslide.

“There are several tonnes of rock” over the village, he told CCTV.

“It’s a seismic area here. There’s not a lot of vegetation,” Chen said.

Trees can help absorb excess rain and prevent landslides.

Tao Jian, director of the local weather service, told CCTV that the 2008 earthquake had “weakened the mountain” and that even a small amount of rain could provoke a geological catastrophe.

President Xi Jinping called for rescuers to “spare no effort” in their search for survivors and prevent more disasters, state media said.

China’s national weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other southwestern provinces.

More than 100 people living close to the landslide were being evacuated on Saturday night, Xinhua reported.

Past disasters

Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly at times of heavy rains. 

At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in central Hubei province.

More than 70 were killed by a landslide in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen in December 2015, caused by the improper storage of waste.

One of the deadliest landslides took place in 1991, when 216 were killed in southwestern Yunnan province.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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UK Parliament Under Cyber Attack


British media had reported earlier that hackers were selling passwords for MPs online.

London:  British lawmakers on Saturday said they were unable to access their e-mail accounts remotely as parliament’s security team battled against a cyber attack.

Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chris Rennard tweeted that there was a “cyber security attack on Westminster; Parliamentary e-mails may not work remotely.”

A House of Commons spokesman confirmed that “the Houses of Parliament have discovered unauthorised attempts to access parliamentary user accounts.

“We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and are taking the necessary steps to protect our systems,” it added.

The threat follows reports in British media, including the Times, that hackers were selling passwords for MPs online.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Six Dead, Over 100 Missing In China Landslide


Beijing:  Rescuers scoured through an avalanche of rocks into the night on Saturday in an increasingly bleak search for more than 100 people whose southwest China mountain village was buried by a huge landslide.

At least six bodies were pulled from the rubble while just three survivors — a couple and their one-month-old baby — were found after 62 homes in Xinmo village vanished under a mass of mud and rocks.

Heavy rain caused the side of the mountain to collapse onto the riverside village in the early morning, according to authorities.

Qiao Dashi, the baby’s father, said he had woken up after 5:00 am to change his crying son’s diaper when he “heard a big noise coming from the back”.

“The house shook,” he told state broadcaster CCTV from his hospital bed. “Rocks were in the living room. My wife and I climbed over, took the baby, and got out.”

“I have superficial injuries. Overall, I’m okay. But psychologically, it’s hard. The entire village, with dozens of families, was flattened,” he said, with a bandage around his head.

The Maoxian, or Mao county, government said six bodies were found while 112 people remained missing. State media had earlier revised the number of missing people down from 141 to over 120.

The landslide blocked a two-kilometre (one-mile) stretch of river and 1.6 kilometre of road, according to state media.

As night fell, authorities shined lamps onto the rubble while rescuers wore lights on their helmets as they sifted through the rocks, aided by sniffer dogs, according to photos from the official Xinhua news agency.

During the day, rescuers and local residents used ropes to move a boulder while others lifted rocks with their bare hands, according to videos broadcast by the Maoxian government and CCTV.

Nearly 2,000 police, soldiers and civilians were taking part in the rescue.

Bulldozers and excavators that were used earlier in the day stopped their work due to bad lighting as night fell, according to CCTV.

No sign of the village could be seen in aerial footage, which showed a grim and grey rock-strewn landscape covering the area where it once existed by a river.

“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” said Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.

More rain forecast

Local police captain Chen Tiebo said the heavy rains that hit the region in recent days had triggered the landslide.

“There are several tonnes of rock” over the village, he told CCTV.

“It’s a seismic area here. There’s not a lot of vegetation,” Chen said.

Trees can help absorb excess rain and prevent landslides.

Tao Jian, director of the local weather service, told CCTV that the 2008 earthquake had “weakened the mountain” and that even a small amount of rain could provoke a geological catastrophe.

President Xi Jinping called for rescuers to “spare no effort” in their search for survivors and prevent more disasters, state media said.

China’s national weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other southwestern provinces.

More than 100 people living close to the landslide were being evacuated on Saturday night, Xinhua reported.

Past disasters

Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly at times of heavy rains. 

At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in central Hubei province.

In October landslides battered eastern China in the wake of torrential rains brought by Typhoon Megi, causing widespread damage and killing at least eight.  

More than 70 were killed by a landslide in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen in December 2015, caused by the improper storage of waste.

One of the deadliest landslides took place in 1991, when 216 were killed in southwestern Yunnan province.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Arconic Inc Knowingly Supplied Flammable Panels In London Tower: Report


London:  Six emails sent by and to an Arconic Inc sales manager raise questions about why the company supplied combustible cladding to a distributor for use at Grenfell Tower, despite publicly warning such panels were a fire risk for tall buildings.

The emails, dating from 2014 and seen by Reuters, were between Deborah French, Arconic’s UK sales manager, and executives at the contractors involved in the bidding process for the refurbishment contract at Grenfell Tower in London, where 79 people died in a blaze last week.

When asked about the emails, Arconic said in a statement that it had known the panels would be used at Grenfell Tower but that it was not its role to decide what was or was not compliant with local building regulations.

The company manufactures three main types of Reynobond panel– one with a polyethylene (PE) core, one with a fire retardant core and another with a non-combustible core, according to its website.

Diagrams in a 2016 Arconic brochure for its Reynobond panels describe how PE core panels are suitable up to 10 metres in height. Panels with a fire resistant core — the FR model — can be used up to 30 metres, while above that height, panels with the non-combustible core — the A2 model — should be used, the brochure says.

Grenfell Tower is more than 60 metres tall.

The brochure also issued a blunt warning that cladding can be a fire risk. “When conceiving a building, it is crucial to choose the adapted products in order to avoid the fire to spread to the whole building. Especially when it comes to facades and roofs, the fire can spread extremely rapidly,” the brochure said.

“As soon as the building is higher than the fire fighters’ladders, it has to be conceived with an incombustible material.”

Nonetheless, between May and July 2014, French, who was based at Arconic’s factory in Merxheim, France, responded to requests from the companies involved in refurbishing Grenfell Tower on the availability of samples of five different types of Reynobond aluminium-covered panels, all of which were only available in the combustible PE and FR versions, according to Arconic brochures.

In the end, Arconic said today, the company provided PE panels.

“While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts,” the company said in an emailed statement in response to the Reuters enquiry.

“The loss of lives, injuries and destruction following the Grenfell Tower fire are devastating, and we would like to express our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by this tragedy … We will fully support the authorities as they investigate this tragedy,” the statement said.

French did not respond to requests for comment.

Arconic, which was known as Alcoa Inc until 2016, declined to say if it knew how tall the tower was and the emails seen by Reuters do not specifically refer to its height. They do, however, refer to “Grenfell Tower” and mention other high rise projects where panelling has been used when discussing the appearance that was being sought for Grenfell Tower.

Arconic also knew the quantity of panels being supplied and thus the total exterior coverage. A source at one of the companies involved in the process said Arconic had “full involvement” throughout the contract bidding process.

Omnis Exteriors, Arconic’s UK distributor, Harley Facades Ltd., the company which installed the panels, Rydon Group, the overall contractor on the 2014-2016 Grenfell refurbishment, and the local authority which owns the tower block all declined to comment.

Rydon and Omnis have previously said in statements that their work on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, which was intended to give the building better heat and sound insulation, complied with all building regulations. Harley said last week it was “not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower”.

In the emails, French and representatives of Harley, Omnis and Rydon also discuss the choice of panel models and colours and how they were inching towards securing the contract with the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

Harris did not respond to requests for comment. RBKC declined to comment.

At the weekend, British finance minister Philip Hammond said the type of panels used, which are cheaper than non-combustible panels, were banned for use in high rise buildings in Britain, as they are in Europe and the United States.

Safety experts say the regulations are not black and white as they consider the overall safety of a project, taking account of how the safety measures taken interact.

This ‘principles-based’ approach is different to the highly specific ‘rules-based’ approach to regulation taken in the United States.

The fatal fire was started by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer in one of the apartments, London police said on Friday. Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said insulation on the building, and the cladding panels, had failed safety tests carried out after the disaster.

The police investigation was considering the possibility of manslaughter and criminal offences in respect of the fire.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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French Journalist Wounded In Mosul Has Died: France Televisions


French journalist Veronique Robert died because of her wounds.

Paris, France:  Journalist Veronique Robert, wounded in the same landmine blast that killed two colleagues in the Iraqi city of Mosul earlier this week, has died, employers France Televisions announced Saturday.

Robert had been operated on in Iraq and then flown back for treatment in France overnight Thursday to Friday, but died of her wounds, the public broadcaster said in a statement.

French colleague Stephan Villeneuve, 48, and Iraqi Kurdish reporter Bakhtiyar Addad, 41, were also killed in Monday’s blast.

All three were working for production company #5 Bis Productions on a programme for the French news show Envoye Special, aired on public television channel France 2.

A fourth journalist with them, Samuel Forey, suffered light injuries.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen paid tribute to a “great war correspondent”, in a post on the ministerial Twitter account.

Robert, 54, was an experienced war correspondent specialising in coverage of the Middle East, Iraq in particular, said the statement from France Televisions.

She worked for several news outlets in France and Switzerland, including Le Figaro newspaper and Paris Match magazine. Robert has two adult sons.

The journalists were accompanying Iraqi special forces during the battle for Mosul, where jihadists from the Islamic State group entrenched in the narrow streets of the Old City have set numerous booby traps.

France Televisions and #5 Bis Productions paid tribute to Robert’s work and offered their condolences to her family in the statement.

Emilie Raffoul, a producer at #5 Bis Productions, told AFP: “She was someone who was very determined.”

On Tuesday, the day after the landmine blast, Raffoul flew to Iraq to take care of Robert, along with colleagues from France Televisions.

The US doctors who had treated her at a military hospital said that even in a coma, Robert seemed mentally very strong, she added.

‘Extremely rigorous’

“She was used to combat zones, she was a professional war (correspondent) who had covered several conflicts, a specialist in the Middle East,” said Raffoul, who worked with Robert for around 15 years.

“She was extremely rigorous in the preparation of her reports,” she added.

Robert’s producer Nicolas Jaillard wrote in a Facebook post that they had been hoping for better news.

“The word sadness is not enough to describe how we feel,” he added.

Reporters without Borders (RSF), the Paris-based media rights watchdog, also saluted her.

In comments on his Twitter account RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire lamented too many foreign correspondents killed on the front line.

According to RSF’s own tally, Robert’s death brings to 29 the number of journalists killed in Iraq since 2014.

On Tuesday, the French president’s office announced that Villeneuve would be posthumously awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honour, one of France’s highest honours.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Five Dead, 120 People Missing In China Landslide


The landslide, which occurred following heavy rains in the region, struck 62 homes. (AFP photo)

Beijing, China:  At least five people were found dead and over 120 remained missing hours after a massive landslide buried a mountain village in southwest China on Saturday as rescuers scoured through rocks for survivors.

A couple and a baby were rescued and taken to hospital after dozens of homes in the village of Xinmo were swallowed by boulders when the side of a mountain collapsed, according to the local Maoxian, or Mao county, government.

A fourth survivor was found but rescuers were still trying to get to him hours after heavy rain triggered the avalanche of rock in Sichuan province, officials said.

Wu Xiaobin, captain of the local fire department, told state broadcaster CCTV that five bodies were pulled from the rubble.

The early morning landslide, which occurred following heavy rains in the region, struck 62 homes and blocked a two-kilometre (one-mile) stretch of river and 1.6 kilometre of road, according to state media.

Rescuers used ropes to move a massive rock while dozens of others, aided by dogs, searched the rubble for survivors, according to videos posted online by the Maoxian government and CCTV.

Bulldozers and heavy diggers were also deployed to remove boulders, the images showed. Medics were seen treating a woman on a road. Hundreds of police, military and firefighters were taking part in the rescue.

More than 120 people were still missing hours after the landslide, CCTV and China’s official news agency Xinhua reported. State media had earlier reported that 141 people may have been buried but did not explain why the figure had been revised.

Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts, said the vital signs of one of the survivors “are weak”.

“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” he said, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.

More rain forecast

Local police captain Chen Tiebo said the heavy rains that hit the region in recent days had triggered the landslide.

“There are several tonnes of rock” over the village, he told CCTV.

“It’s a seismic area here. There’s not a lot of vegetation,” Chen said.

Trees can help absorb excess rain and prevent landslides.

Tao Jian, director of the local weather service, told CCTV that the 2008 earthquake had “weakened the mountain” and that “a weak rain can provoke a geological catastrophe”.

President Xi Jinping called for rescuers to “spare no effort” in their search for survivors, according to CCTV.

China’s national weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other southwestern provinces.

Past disasters

Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly at times of heavy rains.

At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in central Hubei province.

In October landslides battered eastern China in the wake of torrential rains brought by Typhoon Megi, causing widespread damage and killing at least eight.  

More than 70 were killed by a landslide in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen in December 2015, caused by the improper storage of waste.

One of the deadliest landslides took place in 1991, when 216 were killed in southwestern Yunnan province.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Japan Media Mourns Death Of Cancer-Fighting Newsreader


Mao Kobayashi aged 34 died because of breast cancer on Thrusday.

Tokyo, Japan:  The death of a former newsreader who won acclaim for blogging about her breast cancer fight hit the headlines Saturday in Japan, with the media and officials praising her courage.

Mao Kobayashi died Thursday aged 34, her husband and popular kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa, said Friday at a nationally televised news conference attended by about 400 reporters.

Kobayashi shocked the country in September with her blog titled “Kokoro” – or heart — after concealing her illness from the public for about two years.

Her blog racked up millions of registered readers on one of Japan’s biggest blog platforms as she chronicled her painful battle, posting pictures of her with tubes on the face and a wig for hair loss because of anti-cancer treatment.

She was later named in the 2016 edition of the BBC’s 100 Women list of inspirational and influential female figures.

“I decided to say goodbye to myself who hid behind (cancer),” Kobayashi, a mother of two, wrote in her first post.

The Mainichi Shimbun said on its front page that her blog, which attracted media attention with every update, became a social phenomenon.

The Nikkei business daily, quoting the head of a breast cancer patient support group, called her blog “courageous” because a number of cancer sufferers concealed their illness in Japan.

Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: “It’s so regrettable (but) I’m sure that her fighting stance against the disease encouraged a lot of patients.”

A tearful Ichikawa told the news conference: “She passed away just saying,’I love you.'”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Istanbul Gay Pride Banned For 'Safety Concerns': Sources


Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who defied the ban.(Reuters)

Istanbul, Turkey:  Turkish authorities said on Saturday that an annual Gay Pride march in Istanbul’s Taksim Square would be banned due to ‘safety concerns’, defying the calls of organisers.

Activists had called for the march for 5 pm (1400 GMT) on Sunday but the city governor’s office said that Taksim was not an official rallying ground.

“There will be no permission for a demonstration or a march on the said date considering the safety of tourists in the area… and public order,” it said in a statement.

Authorities also urged citizens to ignore calls to participate in the parade and abide by the security forces’ warning.

Last year, organisers were denied permission to march with the city on the edge over bombings blamed on ISIS group and Kurdish terrorist, sparking anger from gay rights activists.

Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who defied the ban.

This year, the march coincides with the first day of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Fitr, and far right groups have warned on social media against the parade.

Thousands took part in previous Istanbul pride marches, which were among the most significant LGBT events in the mainly Muslim region.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Sikh Woman Becomes First Turbaned Supreme Court Judge In Canada


Palbinder Kaur Shergill is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service. (File)

Canberra:  Indian-origin Sikh human rights advocate Palbinder Kaur Shergill has been appointed a judge at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in New Westminster. Ms Shergill is the first turbaned Sikh to be appointed to the judiciary in Canada.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the appointment on Friday under the new judicial application process announced on October 20 last year.

Welcoming the decision, World Sikh Organisation (WSO) President Mukhbir Singh said: “The appointment of Justice Shergill is another milestone for the Sikh community in Canada. It is a matter of great pride that today we have the first turbaned Sikh appointed to the judiciary in Canada.”

The appointment was made with immediate effect as Justice Shergill replaces Justice EA Arnold-Bailey, who retired on May 31, a report by news portal Voice Online said.

Regarded as a leading human rights advocate, she has been instrumental in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada through her work as general legal counsel for the WSO since 1991.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, Ms Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm, Shergill & Company, Trial Lawyers.

She has extensive trial and appellate experience and has appeared before courts and tribunals across the country, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ms Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service. She lives in Surrey with her husband, daughter and twin sons.

She was born in Punjab and immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of four. She grew up in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and received her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

Called to the British Columbia Bar in 1991, she has held leadership positions both within and outside the legal community. She has been involved with the Cabinet of Canadians, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the Canadian Bar Association.



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UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Will 'Try To Force Early Election'


Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to ‘try to force an early general election’. (Reuters)

London:  British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to “try to force an early general election” after Prime Minster Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority, in an interview published today.

Corbyn’s Labour Party outperformed expectations in this month’s election, turning what was predicted to be a procession for May into a disaster, severely weakening her authority as Britain kicks off crucial Brexit talks.

Jeremy Corbyn told the left-wing newspaper the Daily Mirror that it was “ludicrous” to believe the Conservatives’ minority government could survive, and that his party “will challenge this government at every step and try to force an early general election.”

A poll for the paper asking the public who would make the best prime minister has put Corbyn ahead for the first time, although other surveys have revealed little appetite for another vote after two tumultuous years for British voters.

May’s party is currently in negotiations with Northern Ireland’s DUP to secure an informal parliamentary deal that would give it an effective majority.

MPs will vote on May’s legislative agenda next week, and opposition parties have vowed to block her programme in what is traditionally seen as a test of confidence in the government.

Members of May’s own party are reportedly lined up to dump their leader if it looks like her government will lose the vote.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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China, US Agree Aim Of 'Complete' North Korean Denuclearisation


US and China affirm for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (Reuters)

Beijing:  China and the United States agreed that efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be “complete, verifiable and irreversible”, Chinese state media said today, reporting the results of high level talks in Washington this week.

“Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Thursday that the United States pressed China to ramp up economic and political pressure on North Korea, during his meeting with top Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui met Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the talks. Yang later met with US President Donald Trump in the White House, where they also discussed North Korea, Xinhua reported.

The consensus document also highlighted the need to fully and strictly hold to UN Security Council resolutions and push for dialogue and negotiation, which has long been China’s position on the issue.

Military-to-military exchanges should also be upgraded and mechanisms of notification established in order to cut the risks of “judgement errors” between the Chinese and US militaries, the statement also said.

Chinese state media described the talks, the first of their kind with the Trump administration, as an upgrade in dialogue mechanisms between China and the United States, following on from President Xi Jiping’s meeting with Trump in Florida in April.

Xi and Trump are next expected to meet again in Hamburg during the G20 Summit next month.

A day last week’s talks, President Donald Trump said China’s efforts to use its leverage with North Korea had failed, raising fresh doubts about his administration’s strategy for countering the threat from North Korea.

The death of American university student Otto Warmbier earlier this week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, further complicated Trump’s approach to North Korea.

China, North Korea’s main trading partner, has been accused of not fully enforcing existing UN sanctions on its neighbour, and has resisted some tougher measures.

Washington has considered further “secondary sanctions” against Chinese banks and other firms doing business with North Korea, which China opposes.

 

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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2 Killed, 11 Missing After Colombia Mine Explosion


President Juan Manuel Santos expresses his ‘solidarity with the victims’ on twitter.

Bogota, Colombia:  An explosion at a central Colombian coal mine killed at least two people Friday, as rescuers scrambled to find another 11 who are still missing, authorities said, updating earlier figures.

The blast occurred at a coal mine in the town of Cucunuba in Cundinamarca state, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Bogota, at about 2130 GMT.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who is wrapping up an official visit to France, in Twitter message expressed his ‘solidarity with the victims’.

Officials said they do not know what caused the explosion which also injured one person.

Earlier Friday, officials had said reported that one person was killed and 18 trapped in the disaster.

“We are going to dig by hand throughout the night to try to rescue” the missing workers, Wilson Garcia, director of the emergency response unit in Cundinamarca, told AFP.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Five London Tower Blocks Evacuated Over Fire Safety Concerns


Fire checks have been carried out on some 600 high-rise buildings across England. (Reuters)

London:  Thousands of residents in a sprawling north London housing estate were forced to leave their apartments late on Friday after fire checks carried out in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze found the buildings to be unsafe.

Amid chaotic scenes, residents clutching children, pets and small amounts of clothing and food emerged from five tower blocks to sleep on air beds in a local sports centre after hearing on the news that their buildings were being evacuated.

Fire checks have been carried out on some 600 high-rise buildings across England after a fire ravaged a social tower block in west London last week, killing at least 79 people.

“I know it’s difficult but Grenfell changes everything,” Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said in a statement late on Friday. “I don’t believe we can take any risks with our residents’ safety.”

Police investigating the cause of the deadly 24-storey Grenfell Tower blaze have said the fire started in a fridge but spread rapidly due to the use of external cladding on the building, trapping residents in their beds as they slept.

The cladding has since failed all safety checks.

The fire has become a flashpoint for public anger at Prime Minister Theresa May’s record in government and cuts to local authority budgets. Grenfell Tower is situated in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in Europe.

Battling to save her position after losing her majority in a June 8 election, May has promised to do everything she can to protect those residents who survived the fire and to improve the quality and safety of public housing in Britain.

The London Fire Brigade said it had found a number of fire safety issues at the Chalcots Estate in Camden, north London, and advised that residents should leave the building until they were resolved.

Residents complained of first hearing about the evacuation from the media and getting very short notice to leave from city officials going door to door. Not all residents agreed to go.

The council’s leader, Gould, said it would take up to four weeks to repair the blocks that were evacuated and said that some 4,000 residents were affected.

“It was farcical communication,” 21-year-old Daniel Tackaberry told Reuters outside a nearby sports centre where the local council had laid out air beds for people for whom they could not find hotels.

“You don’t get everyone to leave this quickly.”

British police have said they are considering bringing manslaughter charges over the Grenfell fire, the most deadly blaze in London since World War Two.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack was asked on Friday whether the insulation and aluminium tiles used on Grenfell were acceptable for such buildings. “No they’re not,” she said.

“All I can say at the moment is they don’t pass any of the safety tests. So that will form part of what is a manslaughter investigation.”

As well as possible manslaughter, police will consider health and safety offences and breaches of other building regulations.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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London Police Confirm Deadly High Rise Fire Began In An Apartment Fridge


Flames and smoke billowed as firefighters dealt with fire in West London’s Grenfell Tower

LONDON:  London police said Friday that a deadly fire last week that killed at least 79 people began in a refrigerator freezer – the first official confirmation of the cause of the blaze.

The fridge freezer, a Hotpoint FF175BP, was not subject to a product recall, police said, adding that a key concern in their investigation is how a fire that originated in the kitchen of one apartment spread so rapidly though a 24-story high-rise. The fire was not started deliberately, they said.

The police also said they are considering manslaughter charges after the insulation and tiles used in the building’s exterior cladding failed fire-safety tests.

“Preliminary tests on the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower showed that they combusted soon after the test started,” Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. She added that the cladding tiles also failed safety tests.

Hotpoint issued a “product notice” on Friday for the appliance identified as the source of the June 14 blaze. “We have been made aware of a possible incident involving a Hotpoint branded Fridge Freezer, manufactured between March 2006 and July 2009, model numbers FF175BP (white) and FF175BG (graphite),” the notice said.

There has been widespread attention on the building’s exterior cladding. Combustible cladding has been blamed for fast-moving fires at high-rise buildings in places including Dubai and Melbourne, Australia.

Investigators said they are looking into various aspects of the facade of Grenfell Tower, including the aluminum tiles, the insulation behind them and how the tiles were affixed.

The British government is also conducting tests at hundreds of high-rise apartments to see if they have potentially flammable exterior tiles. So far, 14 buildings have been found with cladding similar to that used at Grenfell Tower.

McCormack said that manslaughter charges are among those police are considering in relation to the fire.

“We are looking at every criminal offense, from manslaughter onwards. We are looking at every health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower,” she said.

McCormack said that every intact body has been removed from the building and that nine of the dead have been formally identified. She added that the fire was so intense officials may never be able to identify everyone who died.

Officials have said they don’t know who, exactly, was in the tower on the night of the blaze. They have stressed they will not check the immigration status of anyone who was involved in the fire or who has information about victims, in view of concerns that some people may have been staying in the building illegally.

Police have reviewed more than 600 calls made to Britain’s universal emergency number on the night of the fire to try to piece together events. “Some of these calls are over an hour long and truly harrowing,” McCormack said.

Many local residents say they doubt the official death toll. On the streets around Grenfell Tower, now a blackened hulk, missing-person photos are attached to railings, buildings and bus stops. One girl, Amaya Ahmedin, who turned 3 in February, is pictured in a gold party hat next to her smiling parents.

On one of the many walls of condolences, one person wrote that community sources and “info from police and ambulance” indicate there are 160 dead.

Police say that 79 people are dead or presumed dead but have suggested that the number could rise.

“I fear that there are more. I do not know who they are at the moment,” McCormack said as she appealed for those with information to come forward.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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China Developed World's Most Powerful Submarine Detector: Report


The device could be used to pinpoint location of minerals buried beneath the earth (Representational)

Beijing:  Chinese scientists have claimed a major breakthrough in magnetic detection technology which could find hidden metallic objects, including minerals and submarines.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s largest research institute, said in an article this week that a “superconductive magnetic anomaly detection array” has been developed in Shanghai and passed inspection by an expert panel, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The device, which works from the air, could be used to pinpoint the location of minerals buried deep beneath the earth in Inner Mongolia, for example, with a level of precision as high as anything currently available around the world, the experts were quoted as saying by the report.

The device could also be used on civilian and military aircraft as a “high performance equipment and technical solution to resources mapping, civil engineering, archaeology and national defence,” the article said.

China’s military may soon adopt the technology, if it has not already, said Professor Zhang Zhi, an expert in remote sensing with the Institute of Geophysics and Geomatics, China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei.

“The technology could be used to detect minerals on land, and in the ocean to nail down submarines,” Zhang, who was not involved in the project was quoted by the Post saying. 

Dr Lei Chong, an assistant researcher studying MAD technology at the Department of Micro/Nano Electronics, Shanghai Jiaotong University, said the Chinese device was different from conventional designs in at least two ways.

The first is the large number of probes the device uses.

With this “array”, it can collect much more data than traditional detectors, which tend to use just one antenna, said Lei, who was not involved in the project.

The new MAD also uses a superconductive computer chip cooled by liquid nitrogen. This super-cool environment significantly increases the device’s sensitivity to signals that would be too faint for traditional devices to spot.

“I am surprised they made such an announcement,” Lei said. 

“Usually this kind of information is not revealed to the public because of its military value,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Iran Offers Saudi Arabia Help After Mecca Bombing


Suicide bomber blew himself near the Mecca Mosque where worshippers gathered for prayers.

Tehran, Iran:  Iran on Saturday condemned a suicide bombing near Islam’s holiest site in Mecca and offered Saudi Arabia its assistance in tackling terrorism despite their severed ties.

“Iran… as always expresses its readiness to assist and cooperate with other countries to confront these criminals, who deal death and ignorantly spread hate,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.

Six foreign pilgrims were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, where hundreds of thousands of worshippers had gathered for prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Saudi interior ministry said a wider plot had been foiled with the arrest of five suspects earlier in the day.

Since late 2014, the kingdom has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are locked in a bitter battle for regional influence and have had no diplomatic relations since January last year.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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US Special Envoy To Afghanistan And Pakistan Quits Post


Laurel Miller left the post of an acting special representative without any replacement named (File)

Washington, United States:  Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan stepped down on Friday, just as the United States is preparing to send thousands more troops to the region.

A senior State Department official told AFP that acting special representative Laurel Miller left the post without a replacement being named.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Miller is returning to a position at the Rand Corporation and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not yet decided what to do with post.

The office was created when US officials decided that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked and ought to be dealt with together.

President Donald Trump came to office planning to slash diplomatic spending and Tillerson plans to cut several special envoy roles.

Miller’s responsibilities will now fall under the department’s South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau, which has a much bigger footprint that includes India.

But this bureau is itself leaderless, with no assistant secretary appointed to lead it and no one nominated by the new administration for Senate approval.

When news site Politico broke the news that the envoy post had gone, it cited diplomats complaining of a rushed process and a dangerous leadership vacuum.

But, also speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official told AFP the decision was part of a broader policy review.

Tillerson thinks the issue is best handled at a regional level, the official said, arguing that it made sense to consider India part of the equation.

Trump has given the Pentagon and US commanders wide latitude to decide on the future of Washington’s longest ever war — the 16-year slog in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is reportedly planning to deploy up to 5,000 extra troops to bolster efforts to train Afghan forces to repel a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Priorities And Nature Of Ties With India, Pakistan Different: White House


A senior Trump official also said that India and US have a common objective in Afghanistan.

Washington:  Asserting that the US’ ties with India and Pakistan were not a ‘zero-sum game’, the White House has said that the Trump administration’s priorities and the nature of relationship with India and Pakistan were different.

“We seek to have an effective partnership with each country. With India, we’re building that strategic partnership. We see India’s role and influence growing. We like to encourage that trend. So, we’re looking for ways to cooperate on our mutual interests,” a senior administration official told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

“With Pakistan, we seek to have a productive partnership working together. But frankly, the priorities are different, and the nature of the relationships are different. So, I think that we would like to move forward with both countries. We realise that the pace and scope of that relationship is going to be different in each case,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said in response to a question on concerns in Pakistan with regard to increasing ties with India.

“I want to make the point here that US relationships with India and Pakistan really stand on their own merits and terms. We don’t see a zero-sum relationship when it comes to the US relationship with Pakistan and the US relationship with India. We’re certainly eager to deepen the strategic partnership with India,” he said.

“We see this as the US and India have mutual security interests that they want to advance, and we believe that the defence sales that are being discussed will help advance those,” the official said.

Meanwhile, a senior Trump official yesterday said that India and the US have a common objective in Afghanistan, and the two countries could increase their cooperation to enhance the Afghan economy.

“India has played a positive role in Afghanistan, the US believes. They have pledged over USD 3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan. The Afghans appreciate the kind of support and assistance that the Indians have provided–I’m not just talking about the government, I’m talking about the population,” the official told reporters.

“When they’ve done polling, there’s a very positive feeling toward India and the kind of assistance — they’ve assisted in the education sector, the health sector. They built the parliament building. They support democracy, democratic development there,” he said, listing out the developmental activities by India in the war-torn country.



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Barack Obama Kicks Off Tropical Holiday In Indonesia


Enjoying his 10 days of holidays with his family in Indonesia.

Ubud, Indonesia:  Barack Obama kicked off a 10-day family holiday in Indonesia that will take in Bali and Jakarta, the city where he spent part of his childhood, officials said today.

The casually dressed former president arrived in the resort island of Bali with his wife Michelle and their two daughters, a local military commander said.

“They arrived late last night and went straight to the hotel in Ubud,” a local military commander, I Gede Widiyana, told AFP.

Obama woke up early and did some exercise in the lush green riverside resort, Widiyana said, but it was not known how the family would spend their time in the quiet and artsy Ubud area.

Next week, the family is slated to depart for Yogyakarta, where they are expected to visit ancient Borobudur temple. They will spend two days there before flying to Jakarta.

Obama spent four years until 1970 as a boy in the sleepy capital of Indonesia after his divorced mother married an Indonesian.

Many Indonesians felt a strong bond with Obama because of his exposure to Indonesia and its culture, even making him a two-metre (six-foot) bronze statue that was placed in his former school.

The statue of “Little Barry” — as Obama was known to his Indonesian school friends — depicts the boy Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with a butterfly perched on his hand.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry said Obama’s visit to holiday in Indonesia came after several invitations from President Joko Widodo.

While in the capital, Obama will meet Widodo on June 30 and give a speech at an Indonesian diaspora convention the next day.



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Infosys To Pay $1 Million Fine To New York In Visa Violation Case


The announcement has come a day before Infosys’ Annual General Meeting.

New Delhi:  IT major Infosys has reached a settlement for USD 1 million with the state of New York in a visa-related case, even though the company maintained it committed no wrongdoings and the probe was centred on alleged paperwork errors.

In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman today said a USD 1-million settlement with the Indian IT firm has been reached to conclude the investigation.

While, the Bengaluru-based company in its statement said, “Infosys’ agreement concludes the State of New York’s investigation relating to the amount of taxes the company paid in 2010-2011 without any criminal or civil charges being filed.

“While this investigation centred on alleged paperwork errors, the company committed no wrongdoing and denies all allegations made in this regard.”

The software services giant said this settlement relates to legal issues already resolved under the 2013 settlement with the US Department of Justice and was reached by both parties to avoid protracted litigation.

Mr Schneiderman today “announced USD 1 million settlement with Infosys Corporation…that failed to properly compensate hundreds of workers and to pay applicable taxes, by systematically abusing the US visa rules in placing foreign workers at client sites in New York State.”

The settlement resolves whistleblower claims that “Infosys Corporation, in the course of providing outsourcing services, routinely brought foreign IT personnel into New York to perform work in violation of the terms of their visas,” the New York Attorney General said.

He further said, “We will not permit companies to violate our laws in order to undercut New York workers. My office is committed to ensuring that our state’s labor marketplace is fair, competitive and transparent for all.”

The investigation of attorney general also found that “in addition to securing employment of foreign workers at a much lower wage than applicable prevailing wage requirements, Infosys also avoided paying applicable payroll taxes”.

The announcement has come a day before Infosys’ Annual General Meeting.



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Police Consider Manslaughter Charges Over Deadly London Tower Blaze


LONDON:  British investigators said on Friday they would consider bringing manslaughter charges over the London tower block fire that killed at least 79 people.

The outside cladding engulfed by the blaze has since been shown to fail all safety tests, police said. They have already seized material from a number of undisclosed organisations.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack also said experts had now concluded the fire, the mostly deadly blaze in London since World War Two, had started in a fridge freezer.

The blaze has provoked anger and heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, who is fighting for her political survival after her party lost its parliamentary majority in a snap election at a time when Britain is beginning divorce talks with the European Union.

The speed at which the fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower raised questions about the external cladding on the block.

Asked if the insulation and aluminium tiles used were acceptable for such buildings, McCormack told reporters: “No they’re not.”

“All I can say at the moment is they don’t pass any of the safety tests. So that will form part of what is a manslaughter investigation.”

As well as possible manslaughter, police will consider health and safety offences and breaches of other building regulations. McCormack said all companies involved in the building and refurbishment of the building would be reviewed.

Britain also ordered an immediate technical examination of the Hotpoint <WHR.N> fridge model FF175BP, which had not been subject to any recall to establish whether further action should be taken, but said there was no need for owners to switch off their appliances.

Whirlpool’s share price dropped by 3.3 percent on Friday, wiping almost $500 million off the company’s value.

Whirlpool owns the Hotpoint brand in the Europe and Asia Pacific regions. In the United States, the Hotpoint brand now belongs to Haier, following the Chinese group’s purchase of General Electric Co’s appliance business.

“We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations,” said Whirlpool, the world’s largest maker of home appliances.

“Words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy,” Whirpool said in a statement.

The company said 64,000 such fridge freezers were made by Indesit between 2006 and 2009 when the model was discontinued, some years before Whirlpool acquired Indesit.

FOCUS OF ANGER

The fire has acted as a focal point for anger at local authority funding cuts and, if more buildings are deemed unsafe, the government faces the task of rehousing people within existing social housing facilities which are stretched.

The government said it was urgently conducting tests on some 600 high-rise buildings in England which have exterior cladding, often added to insulate them or improve the external appearance of ageing blocks. Some councils have begun removing the panels.

Problems have so far been identified in 14 buildings in London, Manchester and elsewhere in England, it added.

One municipal authority in north London said on Friday night it was urgently moving 800 families into temporary housing after firefighters said it was unsafe for them to stay in tower blocks renovated by a company that worked on the block that burnt down.

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting,” evacuated resident Shirley Phillips told Sky News. “Why have they left it till half past eight at night to get the residents out? Where do they think we are all going?”

Grenfell Tower, in west London, had undergone an 8.7 million pound ($11 million) refurbishment which was completed in 2016, but residents of the more than 120 apartments had complained about its fire safety.

McCormack said the police investigation would look at the entire facade of the building, how the building was constructed and the refurbishment work. She said it would examine all aspects of the cladding: the aluminium tiles, the insulation behind it, how it was fitted to building and the installation.

In addition to the criminal investigation, police and firefighters are continuing painstaking efforts to locate the victims. So far only nine people have been formally identified and police say the remains of some might never be found, the blaze having been so fierce.

Some residents believe the official number of those dead or missing presumed dead is lower than the true figure, and McCormack acknowledged they might not know everyone who was in the building as some people might fear coming forward because they were in the country illegally.

She said the government had given assurances they were not interested in anyone’s immigration status.

“I remain really concerned though that we do not have a complete picture,” she said. “I fear that there are more.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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UAE Warns Qatar To Accept Demands Or Face 'Divorce'


Abu Dhabi:  The United Arab Emirates warned Qatar Friday that it faces “divorce” from its Gulf neighbours unless it takes their demands seriously, as the United Nations offered to help resolve the regional diplomatic crisis.

The list of demands includes the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict between Doha and neighbouring countries which accuse it of fomenting regional strife.

The Qatar-based broadcaster denounced the move as an attack on media freedom.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, issued the warning more than two weeks into the oil-rich region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years.

“It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he wrote on Twitter.

The demands confirm that “the crisis is profound,” Gargash added.

The affair has also drawn in the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for Gulf unity.

UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said the world body continued “to follow the situation with deep concern”.

“We hope that the countries involved resolve the situation through dialogue,” she said. “We are ready to assist if requested by the parties.”

Qatar is the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hosts the biggest American airbase in the Middle East.

Gargash accused Qatar of leaking a document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which have cut diplomatic ties and accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism.

Qatar strongly denies such charges.

‘Attempt to silence’ 

The demands have not been officially unveiled but Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel said overnight Thursday they were handed to Qatar by Kuwait, which is mediating the dispute.

According to the document posted on social media, the four countries demand that Qatar closes Al-Jazeera, downgrades diplomatic ties with Iran and shuts a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Al-Jazeera, one of the largest news organisations in the world, said that it “deplores” calls for it to be taken off air.

“We in the network believe that any call for closing down Al-Jazeera is nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people’s right to information,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Al-Jazeera English’s managing director, Giles Trendle, said it was like “Germany demanding Britain to close down the BBC”, in a video posted on social media.

Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

On June 5, Saudi Arabia and the UAE led a severing of all links with Qatar for allegedly supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”.

Other allies, including Egypt and Bahrain, followed.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East.

US ‘mystified’

As well as cutting diplomatic ties, Qatar’s neighbours closed their air space to Qatari carriers and blocked the emirate’s only land border, vital for its food imports.

The list of 13 demands circulating on social media also says Qatar must cut ties to groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State organisation, Al-Qaeda and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.

Qatar is also required to hand over opposition figures wanted by its three neighbours and Egypt.

In addition to Al-Jazeera, it must shut online information sites that it supports, according to the reported demands.

Although there has yet to be an official reaction to the list from the Doha government, Qatar’s Human Rights Committee said the demands represented “gross violations” of basic rights.

In Qatar, the hashtag “the list is rejected” trended in Arabic on social media.

Gargash though urged Qatar to cede to the demands: “The brother (Qatar) must realise that the solution for its crisis lies not in Tehran or Beirut or Ankara or Western capitals or in media outlets, but in regaining the trust of its neighbours,” he said.

Tillerson said on Wednesday that Washington had been pushing for a clear list of grievances that are “reasonable and actionable”.

“Our role has been to encourage the parties to get their issues on the table, clearly articulated, so that those issues can be addressed and some resolution process can get underway to bring this to a conclusion,” he said.

His spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday the United States was “mystified” that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies had failed to present details justifying their embargo on Qatar.

US President Donald Trump, however, has made statements siding with Saudi Arabia in the crisis.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Over 100 Feared Buried In Landslide In China's Sichuan: Reports


Around 100 people are feared buried after a landslide smashed through their village in southwest China’s Sichuan Province early Saturday, state media reported, with an emergency rescue operation underway.

Some 40 homes in the village of Xinmo were swallowed by the cascading debris after the side of a mountain collapsed, blocking a two kilometer (one mile) stretch of river, state news agency Xinhua said, citing local officials.

 



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Why Saudi Arabia Hates Al Jazeera So Much


If you want to understand why many Arab world leaders hate Al Jazeera, consider “Sharia and Life.”

For years, the call-in show was one of the network’s most popular, reaching tens of millions. Viewers would call in and pose their faith questions to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. People would ask all kinds of things: Is it okay to smoke during Ramadan? Does a female Palestinian woman have to wear a hijab while carrying out a suicide bombing?

Before Al Jazeera, a show like this would have been unusual in the Arab world, where media is tightly controlled. But the Qatari-owned network has a mandate to produce ambitious journalism on a wide range of subjects (some taboo). It offers, too, a broader range of opinions than most Arab media.

These qualities have made it the most popular network in the Middle East. It’s also attracted a lot of enemies. Rulers in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt resent the station’s broad reach and its willingness to rile up opposition. They don’t like its Islamist bent, and they’re angry that their populations are exposed to reporting critical of their regimes (and supportive of the Qatari agenda).

For years, they’ve called on the station to evolve, or go away. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have kicked Al Jazeera bureaus out of their countries. Saudi Arabia has also banned hotels from offering the channel. And now Qatar is embroiled in a diplomatic war with a group of Arab states, and shuttering Al Jazeera appears to be one key demand.

There are about 350 million Arab speakers across the Middle East. As far back as the 1950s and ’60s, radio stations tried to reach this group. Sawt al-Arab radio, for example, was created by Egypt to spread Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Pan-Arabist ideas. (It was so effective that Nasser’s political opponents in Saudi Arabia jammed the station. “Plus que le meme chose, plus que change.”)

In the 1990s, the Saudi royal family began buying Arabic newspapers and sharing them across the region. They also developed a satellite station MBC, intended for a broad audience. That never quite caught on, but it did show would-be moguls the potential of pan-Arabic media.

It taught the region’s leaders something else, too: that they might well lose their death grip on the information their populations were able to consume. As Shibley Telhami, who wrote a book on Arab media, explained, “this simultaneous sense of inspiration and threat is likely what inspired the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, to start Al Jazeera … in 1996.” Since then, the country has poured billions into the network.

Thani had come to power only a year before, and he faced fierce criticism from the Saudi-run newspapers. Al Jazeera, he hoped, would offer a different perspective, and maybe cut into the people consuming Saudi media.

To build an audience, the channel produced content that would appeal to people. As Telhami explained: “Viewers were exposed to programming that most Arabs hungered for, from opposing opinions to more information on issues they cared deeply about as Arabs and Muslims. This included live footage of bloodshed in Israeli confrontations with the Palestinians – footage that Arab national television broadcasts limited so as not to awaken their public’s passion.”

The station broke other important barriers too. It sent reporters to the Israeli Knesset and aired debates live. During the 2008 Gaza war, Al Jazeera had more reporters on the ground than anyone else, and it was the only station with live coverage. It also, Telhami writes, pushed for “presentation of multiple views, including presenting Israeli views dating back to the 1990s, when few other Arab stations dared do so, as well as airing Bin Laden tapes, Iranian views, and hosting or covering speeches and news conferences of American officials – including then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, American military commanders and spokesmen, and White House and State Department officials – during the Iraq war.”

These qualities were major selling points. By 2001, it had become the most-watched Arab television station for news. By 2006, more than 75 percent of Arabs called the network their favorite or second-favorite news source.

The network’s success, though, also made it a target of criticism, both from the outside and from within. After Sept. 11, 2001, Americans accused the channel of stoking anger and fear about U.S. foreign policy. In 2012, China took action against Al Jazeera English. Indeed, the channel has probably alienated every regional leader at one point or another.

Al Jazeera Arabic (which is run separately from Al Jazeera English) has also got a reputation for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Hugh Miles, the author of “The Al Jazeera Effect,” compared the network to Fox News, telling the Telegraph that “Al Jazeera Arabic is very partisan and it supports Islamists. I think that’s a defensible position because there are lots of Islamists and it’s a popular view in many parts of the world. It’s not accepted by other Arab countries, which regard it as seditious and threatening, but they offer another perspective.”

“Al Jazeera is sensationalist, Islamic, and pan-Arabic, but it mirrors Doha’s policy concerns in more ways than it might care to acknowledge,” wrote Simon Henderson, director of the Washington Institute’s Gulf and Energy Policy Program, just four years after the network’s launch. “Many Arab governments would prefer Al Jazeera to simply disappear.”

The latest diplomatic kerfuffle has some of the station’s reporters worried that that’s what’s going to happen. While the station released a statement calling the demand for its closure “nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region,” its staffers worry that Qatar might agree to, say, restructure things so that the network has less freedom. Some of its foreign reporters from places such as Egypt or Syria worry that they might be sent back to their home countries.
Still, the network’s journalists say they’re staying positive.

“There may be things going on at higher diplomatic and political levels,” Al Jazeera English editor Giles Trendle told the Telegraph. “But from Al Jazeera’s side, I would just say we are confident that we’re here to stay and we’re committed to carrying on with our jobs and carrying on with our journalism.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Ivanka Trump Must Answer Questions In 'Wild Thing' Shoe Suit


Ivanka Trump claimed she lacked relevant information about the shoes (AFP)

Ivanka Trump must answer questions in a lawsuit over whether her company ripped off a rival’s shoe design, as a judge rejected her claim that she’s too busy as a “high-ranking government official” in the White House to sit for a deposition.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan on Friday said Trump must spend two hours responding to questions about the design of a shoe sold by her company.

“Ms. Trump’s public statements regarding active and comprehensive brand management lead to a reasonable inference that the shoe at issue would not have been released without her approval,” Forrest said in a three-page order. “In such a situation, a deposition is appropriate.”

Aquazzura Italia SRL sued Trump, her company IT Collection LLC and shoemaker Marc Fisher Holdings, claiming they illegally copied its pricey “Wild Thing” shoe in designing the Ivanka Trump “Hettie” model. Aquazzura wants to question Ivanka Trump before a trial, but her legal team asked Forrest to rule she doesn’t have to testify.

Trump, whose White House title is “Assistant to the President of the United States,” is too important and busy to testify, her lawyer, Darren Saunders, argued in a June 16 letter to the judge.

“The deposition of Ms. Trump would be an unnecessary distraction and would interfere with her ability to perform her duties at the White House,” he wrote.

Trump also claimed she lacked relevant information about the shoes, which are sold with her name stamped on them in gold letters.

‘Hettie Shoe’

“I had no involvement in the conception, design, production or sale of the ‘Hettie Shoe,”‘ Trump said June 16 in a declaration filed with the court. “My involvement was strictly limited to the final sign-off of each season’s line after it was first reviewed and approved by the company’s design team.”

Trump’s lawyers offered Abigail Klem, IT Collection’s president, to answer Aquazzura’s questions.

In her ruling, Forrest noted Trump’s “competing professional obligations,” limiting the deposition to two hours and ordering it be held in Washington. Forrest also extended deadlines in the case so Trump will have until the end of October to give her testimony.

Aquazzura’s lawyers cited a 2012 interview with Footwear News in arguing that Trump shouldn’t be permitted to minimize her role as a shoe designer.

“Individually, I focus not only on brand position and the direction of any given collection, but also on the individual product,” Trump told the trade publication. “There’s not a shoe I’m not intimately involved in designing.”

Aquazzura claims Trump and Fisher intentionally designed the Hettie as a low-cost knockoff of Wild Thing, an Italian-made open-toed red suede sandal with four-inch heels, a fringed strap over the toes and ankle ties adorned with “flirty” tassels. Wild Thing sells for $785.

The Ivanka Trump Hettie also featured a fringed strap and tasseled ankle ties. It retailed for around $130.

The case is Aquazzura Italia SRL v. Trump, 16-cv-04782, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).



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White House Dubs Gulf Crisis 'A Family Issue'


US has held a series of telephone calls with both Riyadh and Doha in recent days.

Washington:  The White House said Friday it considers the deepening crisis in the Gulf to be primarily “a family issue,” urging regional leaders to chart a way out while offering US help in enabling talks.

When asked about a list of demands placed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies as the price for lifting an almost three-week “blockade” on Qatar, press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment directly.

“We believe it’s a family issue,” he said. “If we can help facilitate those discussions then so be it, but this is something they want to and should work out for themselves.”

The demands placed on Qatar include the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict with neighboring countries which accuse the network of fomenting regional strife.

Asked specifically about Al-Jazeera, and America’s attachment to freedom of the press, President Donald Trump’s spokesman replied: “We are going to play a facilitating role in those discussions but that’s a discussion that these countries need to have amongst themselves.”

The Qatar-based broadcaster has denounced the move as an attack on media freedom.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed all links with Doha for allegedly supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilize the region.”

Other allies, including Egypt and Bahrain, followed.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has held a series of telephone calls with both Riyadh and Doha in recent days to help resolve the crisis.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Begins: Slam Big Shots With Today's Doodle


ICC 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Begins: Try your hand at Google doodle’s pest cricket

After the end of the ICC Chamapions Trophy that saw Pakistan take home the Champions Trophy, It’s now time for the ICC Women’s World Cup. Google celebrated the opening day of the cup with its live doodle. You can try your hand with the bat as the doodle allows you to play a game of cricket yourself. 

Cricket is one game that is watched worldwide. Score those big runs through the whimsical doodle game of cricket. Get those cheers as you swing your bat into the crowd for those shots. 

Try your hand at Google doodle’s pest cricket as they go up against their arch-rivals, the snails. The doodle lets you challenge other to a game with the option to share your scores with them. 

Don’t worry about slow mobile network, as the doodle is assured to
work on any snail paced speed keeping the file size, fly-sized.

The  2017 ICC Women’s World Cup held in England and Whales will have eight teams up against each other. Teams include Australia, England, South Africa, India, West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The opening match at Bristol Country Ground will be between the New Zealand Women team and the Sri Lankan Women team. 



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If Baghdadi Is Dead, Next ISIS Leader Likely To Be Saddam-Era Officer


Baghdad:  If ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is confirmed dead, he is likely to be succeeded by one of his top two lieutenants, both of whom were Iraqi army officers under late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Experts on terrorist groups see no clear successor but regard Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili as the leading contenders, though neither would be likely to assume Baghdadi’s title of “caliph”, or overall commander of Muslims.

Russia’s defence ministry said last week Baghdadi may have been killed in an air strike in Syria and Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian parliamentarian on Friday as saying the likelihood that he had been killed was close to 100 percent.

But armed groups fighting in the region and many regional officials are sceptical about the reports.

“We don’t have any concrete evidence on whether or not he’s dead either,” U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the international coalition battling ISIS, told a Pentagon briefing.

Obaidi, who is in his 50s, has been serving as war minister. Jumaili, in his late 40s, is head of the group’s Amniya security agency. In April Iraqi state TV said Jumaili had been killed, but that was not confirmed.

Both joined the Sunni Salafist insurgency in Iraq in 2003, following the U.S.-led invasion which Saddam and empowered Iraq’s Shi’ite majority.

They have been Baghdadi’s top aides since air strikes in 2016 killed his then deputy Abu Ali al-Anbari, his Chechen war minister Abu Omar al-Shishani and his Syrian chief propagandist, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

“Jumaili recognises Obaidi as his senior but there is no clear successor and, depending on conditions, it can be either of the two (who succeeds Baghdadi),” said Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises several Middle East governments on ISIS affairs.

Baghdadi awarded himself the title of caliph – the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of the Prophet Mohammad – in 2014. Obaidi or Jumaili would be unlikely to become caliph because they lack religious standing and ISIS has lost much of its territory.

NO “LAND TO RULE”

“They don’t belong to the Prophet Mohammad’s lineage. The group has no longer ‘a land to rule’ or ‘Ardh al-Tamkeen’. And none is well versed in Islamic theology,” said Fadhel Abu Ragheef, another Iraqi expert on the extremist group.

“A caliph has to have an Ardh al-Tamkeen, which he rules in accordance with Islamic law. Failing that, the successor will just be recognised as the emir,” said Hashimi.

Emir is Arabic for prince, and is a title that terrorists often use to describe their leaders.

By contrast, Baghdadi, born as Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai’ in 1971, comes from a family of preachers and studied Islamic law in Baghdad.

The appointment of the new leader would require the approval of an eight-member shoura council, an advisory body to the caliph. But its members would be unlikely to meet for security reasons so would make their opinion known through couriers.

Six members of the council are Iraqis, one Jordanian and one Saudi, and all are veterans of the Sunni salafist insurgency.

A ninth member, the group’s Bahraini chief cleric, Turki al-Bin’ali, was killed in an air strike in Syria on May 31.

In Washington, two U.S. intelligence officials said they believed ISIS had moved most of its leaders to al-Mayadin in Syria’a Euphrates Valley, southeast of the group’s besieged capital there, Raqqa.

Among the operations moved to al-Mayadin, about 80 km (50 miles) west of the Iraqi border, were its online propaganda operation and its limited command and control of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, they said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Five London Towers Evacuated Over Fire Safety Fears


London:  Residents of 800 tower block flats were being evacuated in London on Friday due to fire safety fears over their external cladding, after testing prompted by the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno.

The cladding on five of the Chalcots Estate towers is similar to the materials on Grenfell and have been widely blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze last week that is presumed to have killed 79 people.

The dramatic snap decision follows urgent testing of the towers’ exteriors, which were installed by the same contractor as the Grenfell Tower. As a result, Chalcots residents were being sent to hotels across the city.

Just hours earlier, police said that manslaughter charges could be brought over the Grenfell inferno, after finding that cladding on the building had failed safety tests and that the fire started with a faulty fridge.

“Grenfell changes everything and I don’t believe we can take any risks,” Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council local authority, told reporters, as residents left the five Chalcots Estate towers.

“It’s happening immediately… we could not be sure that people could be safe.”

‘Scary time’ 

“We know it’s a scary time but we will make sure that they stay safe,” said Gould.

“All we care about is getting people safely into accommodation while we do these urgent works. The cost we can deal with later.”

The council has been booking hotels across London and the works are expected to take up to four weeks.

Michelle Urquhart, who has been living in the Chalcots Estate’s Bray tower, said the situation was “frightening”.

“I don’t know where we are going to go.

“One man in a suit said to me ‘you can’t stay here tonight’.

“We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding.”

Chalcots resident Shirley Philips told Sky News television she had been given no notice before being told she must leave her home.

“It’s absolutely disgusting.

“I had a fire safety check done today. Why have they left it till 8:30 on Friday night to start getting residents out? Where do they think we’re all going?”

All ‘complete bodies’ removed 

In an update on the Grenfell investigation, Fiona McCormack from London police said: “We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards.”

Referring to the tiles and insulation on the outside of the building, which have been widely blamed for the rapid spread of the flames, she said: “All I can say at the moment is they don’t pass any safety tests.”

McCormack said police were investigating companies involved in the building and refurbishment of the tower, and possible “health and safety and fire safety offences”.

The cladding was installed on the 24-storey council-owned Grenfell Tower, which was built in 1974, as part of a refurbishment completed last year.

It has prompted a wider review of social housing which has identified at least 600 towers in England with similar cladding.

McCormack said all “complete bodies” had been removed from the burnt-out tower and there was “a terrible reality that we may not find or identify everyone who died due to the intense heat”.

She said officers had been through all levels of the tower and would be installing an external elevator to facilitate completing the forensic search, which could take until the end of the year.

– Charity song hits top spot –

She also repeated calls for any members of the public with information about people who may have been in the tower at the time of the blaze to contact the police.

Police fear the toll may be higher because some residents may have been living in the tower illegally.

Prime Minister Theresa May stressed on Thursday that all Grenfell victims, regardless of their immigration status, would be able to access whatever help they need.

Six men and three women killed in the Grenfell inferno have been formally identified.

They are Mohammad Alhajali, 23; Khadija Saye, 24; Abufars Ibrahim, 39; Khadija Khalloufi, 52; and Anthony Disson, 65, while the indentities of three men and one woman have not been made public at the request of their families.

Nine patients remain in hospital, of which three are in a critical condition.

Meanwhile the government ordered immediate checks on the Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer model blamed for the blaze.

A charity single released to raise money for survivors of the fire reached the top spot in the British charts on Friday after selling more than 170,000 copies.

The track is a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by 50 artists including Stormzy, Emeli Sande, Robbie Williams and Paloma Faith.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Bomber Planning To Attack Mecca's Grand Mosque Blows Himself Up: Ministry


The attack had been planned against Mecca’s Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia (File)

Mecca, Saudi:  Saudi security forces on Friday foiled a suicide attack on the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, cornering the would-be attacker in an apartment, where he blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said.

In a statement read on state television, the ministry said that three cells had planned the attack on worshippers and security forces at the mosque as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan nears its climax.

The trapped would-be suicide bomber exchanged fire with the security forces, then set off explosives when he was surrounded in a house in the central Mecca neighbourhood of Ajyad al-Masafi near the mosque that had been used as the base for the attack, the ministry said.

The building collapsed, injuring six foreigners and five members of the security forces.

Earlier in the day, security forces had shot dead a wanted man at another suspected terrorist hideout in Mecca’s al-Aseelah neighbourhood. The ministry also said a third cell had been broken up in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, but gave no further details.

Five suspected terrorists including a woman were arrested, it said.

The month of fasting ends with the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, expected to be on Sunday. Saudi monarchs usually spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in Mecca.

Al Arabiya broadcast live footage of Muslim worshippers praying in the mosque, with no interruption.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the plot to attack the mosque, but ISIS, which wants to establish a theocratic caliphate ruled according to strict Islamic law, had in the past carried out attacks in the kingdom.

In May last year, Saudi security forces shot dead two alleged ISIS terrorists outside Mecca, and two others blew themselves up outside Mecca.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Arab States Issue Ultimatum To Qatar: Close Al Jazeera, Curb Iran Ties


Four Arab states that imposed a boycott on Qatar have issued an ultimatum to Doha to close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and pay reparations, demands so far reaching it would appear to be hard for Doha to comply.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands apparently aimed at dismantling their tiny but wealthy neighbour’s two-decade-old interventionist foreign policy which has incensed them. Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute.

A Qatari government spokesman said Doha was reviewing the list of demands and that a formal response would be made by the foreign ministry and delivered to Kuwait, but added that the demands were not reasonable or actionable.

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combatting terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” Sheikh Saif al-Thani director of Qatar’s government communications office, said in a statement.

A Qatar semi-government human rights body said the demands were a violation of human rights conventions and should not be accepted by Qatar.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani had said on Monday that Qatar would not negotiate with the four states until economic, diplomatic and travel ties cut this month were restored.

The countries that imposed the sanctions accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their enemy Iran. Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbours’ backing for authoritarian hereditary and military rulers.

The uncomprimising demands leave little prospect for a quick end to the biggest diplomatic crisis for years between Sunni Arab Gulf states, regional analysts said.

“The demands are so aggressive that it makes it close to impossible to currently see a resolution of that conflict,” said Olivier Jakob, a strategist at Switzerland-based oil consultancy Petromatrix.

Ibrahim Fraihat, Conflict Resolution Professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, forecast a prolonged stand-off.

Qatar will reject the demands as a “non-starter”, he said, and its neighbours had already escalated as far as they were likely to go. “Military action remains unlikely at the moment so the outcome after the deadline would be a political stalemate …”

Washington, which is a close military ally of countries on both sides of the dispute, has called for a resolution. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar’s neighbours should make their demands “reasonable and actionable”.

TEN DAYS TO COMPLY

An official from one of the four nations, who gave details of the demands on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the offer would be “void” unless Qatar complied within 10 days.

The UAE has said sanctions could last for years. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, says the sanctions amount to a “blockade”, but it has ample reserves to weather the storm.

The dispute is a big test for the United States, which has a large base in Qatar housing the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops.

President Donald Trump has backed the sanctions, even as his Defense and State departments have tried to remain neutral, resulting in mixed signals. Trump called Qatar a “funder of terrorism at a very high level”, only for his Pentagon to approve selling it $12 billion of warplanes five days later.

The most powerful country in the region to back the Qatari side in the dispute has been Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has his roots in an Islamist political party similar to movements that Qatar has backed in the region. Days after the sanctions were imposed, Turkey rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Qatar as a sign of support.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik rejected the demand to close the base, saying it would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. Instead, Turkey might bolster its presence.

“Strengthening the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” he said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”

Qatar has used its vast wealth over the past decade to exert influence abroad, backing factions in civil wars and revolts across the Middle East. It infuriated Egypt’s present rulers and Saudi Arabia by backing a Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo that ruled for a year until it was deposed by the army in 2013.

Qatar’s state-funded satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera became hugely popular across the Middle East, but has long infuriated Arab governments used to exercising firm control over the media in their countries. Jazeera hit back at the closure order, calling it “nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region”.

STOP INTERFERING

The demands, handed to Qatar by mediator Kuwait, tell Qatar to stop interfering in the four nations’ domestic and foreign affairs and refrain from giving Qatari nationality to their citizens, the official from one of the sanctioning states said.

They also include severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and the surrender of all designated terrorists on Qatari territory. Qatar denies it has relationships with terrorist groups or shelters terrorists.

It was ordered to scale down diplomatic relations with Iran, limit its commercial ties and expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Qatar denies they are there.

The sanctioning countries demanded Qatar pay them reparations for any damage or costs incurred due to Qatari policies. Compliance with the demands would be monitored, with monthly reports in the first year, then every three months the next year, then annually for 10 years, the official said.

Although Reuters was told about the contents of the ultimatum by an official from one of the sanctioning countries, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash accused Qatar of leaking the demands.

“There is a price for the years of plotting and there is a price to return to the neighbourhood,” Gargash said on Twitter. “The leak (of demands) seeks to derail mediation.”

Qataris who spoke to Reuters described the demands as unreasonable, particularly the closure of Jazeera, which millions of Arabs see as an important outlet for voices willing to challenge the region’s authoritarian rulers, but which neighbouring governments call a conduit for Islamist propaganda.

“Imagine another country demanding that CNN be closed,” 40-year-old Haseeb Mansour, who works for telecom operator Ooredoo, said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Police Foil 'Terrorist Action' In Mecca: State Media


The attack had been planned against Mecca’s Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia (File)

Mecca, Saudi Arabia:  Saudi Arabian police foiled on Friday a “terrorist action” against Islam’s holiest site, where millions of faithful from around the world have gathered, the state Al-Ekhbaria news channel said.

Citing the Ministry of the Interior, it said 11 people were injured in the collapse of a three-storey building where a suicide bomber had barricade himself and exploded. Five of the injured were police.

It said a terrorist attack had been planned against Mecca’s Grand Mosque, where Muslims from around the world have converged for the conclusion of the holy Ramadan fasting month.

Since late 2014 Saudi Arabia has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by ISIS.

Purported images from the scene that circulated on social media showed an alley filled with bricks and other debris apparently from a blast.

Video showed what appeared to be a bearded man’s head lying among rubble from a collapsed structure.

Near the end of Ramadan last year in the Saudi city of Medina four people died in an explosion close to Islam’s second holiest site, the Prophet’s Mosque.

It was one of three suicide blasts around the kingdom on the same day, and which the US Central Intelligence Agency said bore the hallmarks of ISIS. 



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Police Mull Manslaughter Charges Over London Blaze


Manslaughter charges could be filed over London’s deadly tower blaze because it failed safety tests(AFP).

London:  Manslaughter charges could be filed over London’s deadly tower blaze, police said Friday after finding that outside cladding had failed safety tests and that the fire started with a faulty fridge.

“We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards,” Fiona McCormack from London’s Metropolitan Police said at a briefing on the June 14 blaze in west London, which left 79 people presumed dead.

Referring to the tiles and insulation on the outside of the building, which have been widely blamed for the rapid spread of the flames, she said: “All I can say at the moment is they don’t pass any safety tests.”

The cladding was installed on the 24 storey council owned Grenfell Tower, which was built in 1974, as part of a refurbishment completed last year.

It has prompted a wider review of social housing which has identified at least 600 towers in England with similar cladding.

McCormack said police had also established that the fire started with a faulty fridge, a Hotpoint FF175BP model.

She said the model had not been subject to any product recall.

McCormack said police were investigating companies involved in the building and refurbishment of the tower, and possible ‘health and safety and fire safety offences’.

She said all ‘complete bodies’ had been removed and there was ‘a terrible reality that we may not find or identify everyone who died due to the intense heat’.

The officer also repeated calls for any members of the public with information about people who may have been in the tower at the time of the blaze to come forward.

Police fear the toll may be higher because some residents may have been living in the tower illegally.

“Our forensic search may not be complete until the end of the year,” she added.

Prime Minister Theresa May stressed on Thursday that all Grenfell victims, regardless of their immigration status, would be able to access whatever help they need.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Kenya Gives Girls Free Sanitary Pads To Boost School Attendance


Kenya has promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls. (Representational)

Nairobi:  Kenya has promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls to encourage them to go to school, rather than stay at home. Every schoolgirl is Kenya is entitled to “free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels” and a safe place to dispose of them, according to the law introduced this week.”We are treating the access to sanitary pads as a basic human right,” government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We are improving the sanitation and healthcare of our schoolgirls, which will boost their class attendance.”

Menstruation is still taboo in many countries around the world, where it’s often considered embarrassing or shameful.

One in 10 African girls miss school during their periods, the UN children’s agency UNICEF estimates, which means they fall behind in their studies and often drop out of school.

“This will give girls confidence to attend class on any day of the month, consequently improving their academic performance,” said Albanous Gituru, director of Shining Hope for Communities, a girls’ school in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.

Girls can miss up to 15 days of school each term because they cannot afford sanitary products, he said.

In neighbouring Uganda, researchers from Oxford University found absenteeism from school was 17 percent higher among girls who had no access to sanitary towels or information about puberty.

When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by an average of 3 percent. Each additional year of secondary schooling leads to a 15-25 percent increase in a girl’s potential income, say gender equality campaigners.

The policy will cost Kenya 500 million shillings ($4.8 million) a year, Kiraithe said, expanding on a 2011 programme giving pads to girls from poor families.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Trump Sent A Very Smart Tweet Before The Post's Latest Russia Scoop


Trump tweeted almost 24 hours before The Post’s report on Russia went online

President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters in the media and elsewhere appear to have a dilemma on their hands.

The Washington Post on Friday reported that former president Barack Obama was informed by the CIA last August that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a cyber-campaign to disrupt the U.S. presidential race but took little action to deter further interference in the months leading up to the November election. The Post’s article cited criticism of Obama by former members of his administration, including one who said, “I feel like we sort of choked.”

Ordinarily a report of this nature would thrill Trump loyalists, who relish opportunities to cast Obama as having been weak and indecisive, especially on foreign policy matters.

Yet embracing The Post story would seem to require acknowledging an underlying premise – that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the election. Trump himself has refused to fully endorse the consensus view of U.S. intelligence agencies. And some of his biggest boosters have completely rejected it, ostensibly because conceding that Russia worked to elect Trump might diminish the president’s victory.

“There was no hacking by the Russians,” Rush Limbaugh told his radio listeners this month. “Now, the [Democratic National Committee] to this day wants you to think it’s the Russians that got ’em. But there was no proven hacking. There hasn’t been any proven Russian hacking of anything, folks! That’s the whole thing! There’s no evidence for any underlying information that is providing the fuel for this ridiculous, silly soap opera.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity has been pushing an elaborate conspiracy theory that involves the CIA framing Russia for cyberattacks. “The CIA can actually blame Russia for an attack on an American because they’ll put their fingerprints all over the attack,” Hannity said on his radio show in March. “Meanwhile, it came from within.”

Friday’s report by The Post’s Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous creates a binary choice: Deny Russian hacking or blame Obama for failing to stop it. There is no way for these two positions to coexist, right?

Well . . .

By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

Note that Trump sent this tweet almost 24 hours before The Post’s report went online. The Post had sought comment from the White House, as well as the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It is impossible to know for sure what was going on in the president’s head when he sent the tweet, but it sure looks like he was priming his base for the impending scoop. And, in classic Trump fashion, he appears to have been trying to reconcile contradictory ideas. He presented Russian meddling as a lingering uncertainty – a matter of “if.” Yet he also pinned the blame for any meddling that might have happened on Obama.

Translation: The facts don’t matter. Whether Russia was framed or Obama choked, it’s all good for Trump.

This is a template argument for the president’s backers, and he provided it even before publication of The Post’s report.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Is Trump Right That Mexico Is The Second-Deadliest Country In The World?


Donald Trump tweeted that Mexico was second deadliest country in the world

With another flurry of his Twitter fingers, President Donald Trump got Mexico gnashing its teeth.

On Thursday night, Trump tweeted that “Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. Drug trade largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!”

The Mexican Foreign Ministry said hold up, no. Although the country has a “significant violence problem, Mexico is not the second most violent country in the world,” the office said in a statement.

So who’s right?

The unsatisfyingly squishy answer: It’s hard to know. The second-deadliest claim is actually more than a month old. A British think tank called the International Institute for Strategic Studies published a report in May arguing that Mexico’s total homicide count last year of 23,000 deaths was surpassed only by Syria (50,000).

That report was rejected by the Mexican government, which cast doubt on the methodology and pointed out that in Mexico, the homicide rate (deaths per 100,000 people), which is the usual way to rank deadly countries, was far below even other Latin American countries.

“Mexico is far from being one of the most violent countries in the world,” the Mexican government pointed out at the time, citing United Nations statistics, even though the latest figures are a few years old. The most recent U.N. stats put Mexico’s homicide rate at about 20 murders per 100,000 people, far below several other Latin American countries, including Honduras, at 90 murders per 100,000 residents.

Several security experts in Mexico considered the think tank study a bit sensationalist. Alejandro Hope, a top security analyst here, described it as “idiotic.”

Mexico has undoubtedly been extremely violent over the past decade, with an estimated 200,000 dead in the drug war. And the number of killings has risen sharply in the past two years, approaching record highs. Mexican newspapers reported that May 2017 was deadlier than any month since such statistics started being tabulated – even bloodier than at the height of the drug war.

But the problem goes beyond how you count. When you reach the upper ranks of the world’s most violent countries, torn by insurgencies and civil wars, the accuracy of statistics often goes out the window. War zones are notoriously difficult places to compile an accurate tally of deaths. How many people died last year in South Sudan’s civil war? It’s hard to know. During the peak years of the U.S. involvement in the Iraq War, the casualty estimates sometimes varied by hundreds of thousands of people.

Getting a straight answer is also hard given how politically delicate the murder rate is. In countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, which have suffered severe gang violence for years, day-to-day fluctuations in the homicide rate get reported like football scores, a way of pinning success or failure on the countries’ governments.

Mexico is highly bureaucratic but also keeps official information closely guarded. Corruption is rife and distrust of government runs high. Given all this, counting murders is fraught. Different federal agencies have different statistics and murders are broken down into different types.

One of the best recent studies on Mexican violence, by researchers at the University of San Diego, found that no other country in the Western Hemisphere has seen such a large increase in its homicide rate or in absolute number of homicides over the past two decades as Mexico.

No one can deny Mexico is plagued by terrible violence right now – regardless of their opinion on Trump’s wall.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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North Korea Says US Student's Death A 'Mystery To Us As Well'


Otto Warmbier was brought back to US last week in a coma with brain damage. (AFP)

Seoul:  North Korea said today the death of US university student Otto Warmbier soon after his return home was a mystery and dismissed accusations that he had died because of torture and beating during his captivity as “groundless”.

The North’s foreign ministry spokesman also said in comments carried by the official KCNA agency that Warmbier was “a victim of the policy of strategic patience” of former US President Barack Obama whose government never requested his release.

“The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” the spokesman was quoted by KCNA as saying.

Warmbier, 22, was arrested in the reclusive country while visiting as a tourist. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said.

He was brought back to the United States last week in a coma with brain damage, in what doctors described as state of “unresponsive wakefulness”, and died on Monday.

His death heightened the conflict between the North and the United States already aggravated by North Korea’s defiant missile launches and two nuclear tests since early last year as part of its effort to build a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US mainland.

US President Donald Trump blamed “the brutality of the North Korean regime” for Warmbier’s death and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had advocated dialogue with the North, said Pyongyang had a “heavy responsibility” in the events leading up to the American’s death.

The North’s spokesman said such accusations are part of a smear campaign to slander the country that had given “medical treatments and care with all sincerity” to a person who was “clearly a criminal”.

US doctors who had travelled to the North last week to evacuate Warmbier had recognized that the North had “provided him with medical treatment and brought him back alive whose heart was nearly stopped,” the unnamed ministry spokesman said.

“Although Warmbier was a criminal who committed a hostile act against the DPRK, we accepted the repeated requests of the present US administration and, in consideration of his bad health, sent him back home on humanitarian grounds,” the spokesman said.

DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The exact cause of Warmbier’s death remains unclear. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated after his return from the North, declined to provide details, and his family asked the Hamilton County Coroner on Tuesday not to perform an autopsy.

Thousands of friends and family members gathered at Wyoming High School in suburban Cincinnati on Thursday for a memorial service for Warmbier, who graduated from the school as salutatorian in 2013.

The United States has demanded North Korea release three other US citizens it holds in detention: missionary Kim Dong Chul and academics Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.

Warmbier was freed after the US State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, travelled to Pyongyang and demanded the student’s release on humanitarian grounds, capping a flurry of diplomatic contacts, a US official has said.

The North previously released American detainees it had accused and convicted of crimes against the state on the occasion of high-level visits by US officials.

© Thomson Reuters 2017



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Iran Nuclear Chief Ali Akbar Salehi Urges West To Save Historic Deal


Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi called for engagement from all parties.

London:  Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi is urging the West to change course in the Middle East in order to save the historic atomic deal, saying “the moment of truth has arrived”.

The accord, reached between Tehran and world powers in Vienna in July 2015, saw Iran drastically curb its nuclear activities. In return, nuclear-related Western and UN sanctions were lifted.

But writing in Friday’s Guardian newspaper, Mr Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, said negotiating agreements with Western powers had been a ‘mixed experience’ for Tehran.

“Often, following some hard won engagement, some Western nations, whether distracted by shortsighted political motivations or the lucrative inducements of other regional actors, walk away and allow the whole situation to return to the status quo ante,” he said.

Mr Salehi was writing against the background of increasing US Iran tensions since President Donald Trump came to power.

He said the nuclear deal could be saved but it would take concerted action and a clarification of Western security policy in the Middle East.

“For example, US arms sales to some traditional regional clients in the Middle East, and ostentatious, lavish arms purchases by the same regional actors just because of the abundance of oil wealth, are provocative,” he said.

“This is especially the case if the national defence efforts of Iran  which are partly induced by this process  are simultaneously opposed and undermined. It would be unrealistic to expect Iran to remain indifferent to the destabilising impact of such conduct.”

Trump has vowed to ‘dismantle’ the ‘disastrous’ nuclear deal and has ratcheted up US sanctions, calling for Iran to be isolated and throwing his weight behind Tehran’s arch rival Saudi Arabia.

Last month, on his first foreign trip, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and promised its leaders access to $110 billion in weapons and training.

Mr Salehi called for engagement from all parties.

“We have, so far, taken a number of solid steps towards a constructive engagement aiming at common goals and objectives. Those steps could be strengthened further by genuine reciprocal gestures and actions. The moment of truth has arrived,” he said.



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