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All That Has Happened In International Politics In the Last 24 Hours

All That Has Happened In International Politics In the Last 24 Hours

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10 July 2019

Donald Trump called the British ambassador to the United States “a very stupid guy,”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 30: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks off Marine One at the White House after spending the weekend at the G20 Summit and meeting Kim Jong Un, in the DMZ on June 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump met Sunday with Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea and became the first U.S. president to step onto North Korean territory. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool,” Trump wrote in a series of early morning tweets doubling down on British envoy Kim Darroch.

“The wacky Ambassador that the United Kingdom foisted upon the US is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump added. London has been scrambling to stem the damage caused by the release of confidential cables from Darroch, which in addition to describing Trump as inept also called his White House “uniquely dysfunctional.”

The US president’s early morning wrath was not solely reserved for Darroch. Trump also doubled down in attacking British Prime Minister Theresa May regarding Brexit, saying she “went her own foolish way was unable to get it done. A disaster!”

A Saudi princess accused of ordering her bodyguard to assault a workman has gone on trial in Paris

Princess Hassa bint Salman – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sister – faces charges of complicity to violence with a weapon and complicity to kidnap. Her bodyguard, who is alleged to have made the man kiss her feet as part of the 2016 attack, is also on trial.

Both Princess Hassa, who is the subject of an international arrest warrant, and the bodyguard deny wrongdoing. Neither the princess nor her accuser were in court, AFP reported. But the bodyguard, Rani Saïdi, was there on Tuesday, surrounded by his family. Her team has said she is the victim of false allegations.

“The princess is a caring, humble, approachable and cultured woman,” her lawyer Emmanuel Moyne told Reuters news agency before the trial began.

The gang rape of an 18-year-old woman in Germany has sparked a dispute about lowering the age of criminal responsibility

Two of the suspects in the western city of Mülheim are aged 12 and the other three are 14. Germany does not prosecute children under 14. All five have been suspended from school and so far one 14-year-old has appeared before an investigating judge. The victim, found in bushes late on Friday, was taken to hospital.

A police spokesman said the assault involved “considerable violence” and went on for a long time. The head of the police force union, Rainer Wendt, said “for years we’ve been demanding that the age of criminal responsibility be lowered in Germany”.

However, Jens Gnisa, head of the German Association of Judges, argued that “the equation ‘more punishment equals less criminality’ does not work with youths”. He said the educational rules established in German law were working well to tackle juvenile crime.

The Mülheim rape case, in Germany’s industrial Ruhr region, requires action by the Youth Welfare Office to address the suspects’ behavioural issues, a senior Child Protection Agency official said.

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for over 200 soldiers for their alleged links to the failed 2016 military coup

According to Istanbul prosecutors, the warrants were issued for 176 active-duty soldiers — including colonels, lieutenants, majors, and captains in Istanbul — and 20 active-duty and five former soldiers as well as 10 civilian suspects in Izmir.

The suspects are being sought as part of a probe into Feto infiltration of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), according to sources who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The suspects in Izmir are accused of communicating with Feto’s “covert imams” — senior Feto operatives — via pay phone.

The 10 civilian suspects in Izmir are accused of using Feto’s encrypted messaging application ByLock. Police have rounded up eight of the suspects so far in simultaneous operations in 20 provinces across Turkey.

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9 July 2019

China said “unilateral bullying” by the United States was the cause behind the escalating Iran nuclear crisis

“The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumour,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing. “The maximum pressure exerted by the US on Iran is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis,” he said.

Iran threatened on Sunday to abandon more commitments to an endangered 2015 nuclear deal unless a solution is found with the remaining parties after the US pulled out.

The 2015 deal was reached between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, US and Russia — and saw Tehran agree to drastically scale down its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Amnesty International urges the UN to investigate the ‘systematic’ drug war killings in the Philippines

Amnesty said there is a well-worn pattern of deadly police operations, planted evidence and abductions that start with so-called “watch lists”.

Those names are supplied by local officials who are “under immense pressure” from authorities to provide a steady stream of suspects, the London-based monitor said.

“Worse still, individuals on watch lists appear to be placed on them indefinitely, with no means of getting delisted, even after they have gone through drug treatment or stopped using drugs,” said the report.

Amnesty said it was impossible to determine how many people have been killed in the campaign, accusing Manila of “deliberate obfuscation and misinformation” that has left victims’ kin feeling helpless.

The government’s official toll is just over 5,300, but watchdogs say the true number is quadruple that. “What we believe is most important, in assessing the current situation, is the systematic nature of the violations,” Amnesty’s East Asia director Nicholas Bequelin told AFP.

A former Congolese rebel leader has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda carried out gruesome massacres of civilians, said judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. He becomes the first person convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC.

Ntaganda, who will be sentenced at a later hearing, is the fourth person convicted by the ICC since its creation in 2002. He has 30 days to appeal against the convictions. The 46-year-old former rebel has been involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ntaganda surrendered at the US embassy in Rwanda in 2013. Analysts said it was an act of self-preservation, motivated by the danger he was in after losing a power-struggle within his M23 rebel group.

A US couple who tried to conceive through IVF has claimed that a mix-up at a California fertility clinic left them pregnant with the wrong children

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A lawsuit filed by the couple in New York states that the couple was shocked to give birth to two boys who were not of Asian descent, US media reported. The lawsuit says DNA tests confirmed the children were not related to the couple and they relinquished custody. The fertility clinic has not commented on the allegations.

The couple – identified in the lawsuit only as AP and YZ to minimise the “embarrassment and humiliation” – say they tried for years to get pregnant before spending more than $100,000 (£80,000) on the IVF, or in vitro fertilisation, including medication, laboratory fees, travel and other costs. IVF is the process of fertilising an egg outside of the woman’s body, before returning it to the womb to grow and develop.

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8 July 2019

Taliban car bomb kills at least 14 hours before a meeting aimed at preparing grounds for peace talks in Afghanistan was to be held

Taliban fighters detonated a car bomb in Ghazni city near an office of Afghanistan’s main intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), during Sunday morning’s rush hour, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying in a statement dozens of NDS officers were killed or wounded.

The attack took place as Taliban officials and a selected group of Afghan activists and civil society figures prepared to meet in Doha, casting a pall over talks intended to open the way for full peace negotiations in the future.

“It is unfathomable to endanger children in this way and I strongly condemn this attack,” US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in a tweet.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has conceded defeat in the country’s snap general election

Centre-right opposition party New Democracy, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, are closing in on a dramatic win. They have 39.7% of the vote so far, with Mr Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party in second place with 31.5%.

The current projections would give New Democracy an outright majority, as the winner receives 50 extra seats in parliament. So far about 60% districts have returned their results.

Speaking as the results became clear, Mr Tsipras confirmed he had called Mr Mitsotakis to offer him his congratulations. “Today, with our head held high we accept the people’s verdict. To bring Greece to where it is today we had to take difficult decisions (with) a heavy political cost,” Mr Tsipras told journalists.

Iran has announced it will break a limit set on uranium enrichment, in breach of the landmark 2015 deal designed to curb its nuclear ambitions

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran still wanted to salvage the deal but blamed European countries for failing to live up to their own commitments. The US unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018. It has since reimposed tight sanctions affecting the Iranian economy.

The Iranian announcement marks the latest breach of the accord. In May, Iran announced it would step up its production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make fuel for reactors but also for nuclear weapons. The country has already stockpiled more enriched uranium than permitted under the terms of the deal. Iran has strongly denied that it has any intention of building nuclear weapons.

US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested on new sex trafficking charges connected to allegations from the early 2000’s

Epstein was arrested in New York and will appear in court on Monday, law enforcement officials told US media. It comes amid renewed controversy over a plea deal he once reached to end a federal investigation against him. His lawyer has not yet commented on the latest charges.

Law enforcement officers have not been authorised to discuss the case, but several have spoken to US media outlets on condition of anonymity. One told The Associated Press news agency that the latest charges stemmed from allegations that Epstein paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his New York and Florida homes.

Epstein, 66, was previously accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls. The wealthy financier – who was once friendly with Prince Andrew, former US President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump – reached a plea deal to avoid federal sex trafficking charges in the case.

Instead, he pleaded guilty in 2008 to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. This averted a possible life sentence, and instead saw him spend 13 months in jail and register as a sex offender.

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5 July 2019

6.4-magnitude earthquake sets off fires and damages desert city east of Los Angeles

A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck Southern California near the city of Ridgecrest, about 113 miles (175km) northeast of Los Angeles, the US Geological Survey said on Thursday. The Kern County Fire Department said on Twitter it was working “nearly 2 dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest, CA.”

Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breedon told CNN that things were falling off buildings and hitting people and the city had felt several aftershocks. She added there were fires and broken gas lines.

“We are used to earthquakes but we’re not used to this significance,” she said. The city has asked residents to look after others, especially the elderly, which forms a large part of her city’s population.

Dubai’s ruler and his estranged wife head to court in UK

A legal battle between the powerful, poetry-writing ruler of Dubai and his wealthy estranged wife is leading toward a showdown in a London courtroom later this month. The family division court case scheduled on July 30 pits Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum against Princess Haya, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and an accomplished Olympic equestrian on friendly terms with horse aficionado Queen Elizabeth II.

The hearing is expected to focus on who will have custody of their two young children now that the princess has left Dubai. She is believed to be in Britain, where she owns a gated mansion on Buckingham Palace Gardens, a private street lined with some of the world’s most expensive homes and cars.

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar accused of bringing oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea after sailing around Africa from Middle East. Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests it had been loaded with Iranian oil off the coast of Iran, although its documents say the oil is from neighboring Iraq.

The authorities in Gibraltar made no reference to the source of the oil when they seized it under the authority of European sanctions against Syria that have been in place for years.

But the likelihood that the cargo was Iranian drew a link between the incident and a new US effort to halt all global sales of Iranian crude, which Tehran has described as an illegal “economic war” against it.

The UN has accused Venezuela of a strategy of instilling fear in its population to retain power, including using death squads

Victims are arrested and shot, with crime scenes manipulated to suggest they resisted police, a report says. The UN urges Venezuela to end the “grave violations of economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights”. Nicolás Maduro’s administration has not yet officially responded to the report. Venezuela has in the past dismissed human rights allegations as “lies”. Mr Maduro is locked in a political battle with opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Mr Guaidó, head of the country’s National Assembly, declared himself interim president in January and has the backing of more than 50 countries, including the US and most of Latin America. Mr Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as China and Russia.

Some four million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, according to the UN, amid a severe economic crisis that has resulted in high unemployment and chronic shortages of food and medicine.

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4 July 2019

Boeing is giving $100m to help families affected by the two crashes of the company’s 737 Max planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia

The payment, stretching over several years, is independent of lawsuits filed in the wake of the disasters, which together killed 346 people.

The money will support education and living expenses for families and community programmes, Boeing said.

Lawyers for victims’ families dismissed the move.

The loss of Ethiopian Airlines’ flight ET302 in March was the second fatal accident involving a 737 Max in the space of five months. A near identical aircraft, owned by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air, went down in the sea off Jakarta in October 2018.

Crash investigators have focussed on the aircraft’s control system and Boeing has been working with regulators to roll out a software upgrade. The top-selling 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March, with no date when the aircraft might be cleared to fly again.

‘Supporters’ in Donald Trump Facebook adverts were actors

A series of Facebook adverts showing people endorsing Donald Trump for his re-election campaign appeared to be actors featured on a stock video and image website. One of the short videos posted in June on the social network shows ‘Tracey from Florida’ walking along a beach with a voiceover that says “President Trump is doing a great job, I could not ask for a better President of the United States of America.”

But ‘Tracey from Florida’ is an actress, and the clip of her used in the Trump advert is available on the iStock by Getty images website for a fee. Footage of Tracey jogging, working in a warehouse, taking her dog for a walk and even dressed as a doctor are also available.

The video’s authenticity was first highlighted in a political newsletter last week by journalist Judd Legum, who wrote: “Trump is not polling well among women in general and young women in particular. So it is running an advertisement on Facebook and Google featuring “Tracey” a young woman who is presented as a big Trump fan.”

Rahul Gandhi called serving the Congress Party “an honour” as he resigned as the leader of India’s main opposition party

“I was born a Congressman, this party has always been with me and is my life’s blood and forever that way it shall remain,” said Gandhi at the end of a four-page letter shared on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, according to Hindustan Times, Gandhi had told reporters that the party must quickly decide on the new chief and that its top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), must meet at the earliest to pick a new president. “I have already submitted my resignation and I am no longer the party president,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.

Amsterdam announced options to radically revamp the city’s red light district, including closing down brothels in the city centre

Femke Halsema is seeking to implement the biggest overhaul of the city’s sex trade in two decades. The options include banning sex workers standing in window-fronted rooms. The new proposals are an effort to protect sex workers from gawping tourists and to combat a rise in human trafficking, Ms Halsema said.

But there are no plans to outlaw prostitution altogether, she added. “I think a lot of the women who work there feel humiliated, laughed at and that’s one of the reasons we are thinking about changing,” she told Reuters.

The four main scenarios are: ending street window displays; closing down city centre brothels and moving them elsewhere; reducing the number of city centre brothels; and stepping up the licensing of window workers. Other plans include an “erotic city zone” with a clear entrance gate.

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3 July 2019

China terms Hong Kong protests ‘undisguised challenge’ to its rule

A representative of China’s Hong Kong affairs office denounced the demonstrators, who are furious about proposed legislation allowing extraditions to China, and said Beijing supports holding criminals responsible, state media said.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including freedom to protest and an independent judiciary. Monday was the 22nd anniversary of the handover.

Beijing denies interfering, but for many Hong Kong residents, the extradition bill is the latest step in a relentless march towards mainland control.

Sri Lankan police arrested their top commander and a former defence chief over alleged failures to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings

The arrests came a day after the chief state prosecutor said the alleged negligence of the two senior officials amounted to “grave crimes against humanity”, and they should also face murder charges. Pujith Jayasundara is the most senior police official to be arrested in the 152-year history of the force, which was established by British colonial rulers in 1867.

Both Jayasundara and former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando were undergoing treatment at two separate hospitals when they were taken into custody by plain-clothed officers of the Criminal Investigations Department, Gunasekera said.

A Yemeni rebel attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia wounded nine civilians

“The terrorist attack on Abha airport… led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport,” the military coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Earlier, the Houthi rebels said they “launched a wide operation targeting warplanes at Abha international airport” with drones, according to their Al-Masira television channel.

The rebels in neighbouring Yemen — who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll — have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.

The Dalai Lama says he is “deeply sorry” about comments he made about women in a recent BBC interview

The Tibetan spiritual leader made no apology however for saying that US President Donald Trump had a “lack of moral principle” and “complicated” emotions. “(In) responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence,” the statement said.

“He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.” The comments, which attracted criticism around the world, were made in an interview with the British broadcaster aired last week from the Nobel peace prize winner’s exile in Dharamsala in northern India.

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2 July 2019

El Salvador’s President has said his country is to blame for the death of a father and daughter who drowned while trying to reach the US

Mr Bukele told the BBC his government had to fix the issues that forced people to migrate in the first place. Mr Bukele, who took office a month ago, promised he would work to make El Salvador a safer and better place.

The bodies of Óscar Martínez and his daughter Valeria, who drowned in June, were buried in El Salvador on Monday .About 200 relatives and friends attended the private funeral in the capital, San Salvador. A photograph of them lying face down in the water of the Rio Grande shocked the world and reignited the debate about illegal immigration and US President Donald Trump’s hardline policies.

Hong Kong police evict protesters who stormed parliament

Activists had occupied the Legislative Council (LegCo) building for hours after breaking away from a protest on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China from Britain. After midnight (16:00 GMT), hundreds of police secured the building following a warning to protesters to clear it. It follows weeks of unrest in the city over a controversial extradition law.

Hundreds of thousands took part in the earlier protest – the latest rally against a proposed law that critics fear could be used to extradite political dissidents to mainland China. Hong Kong’s embattled political leader Carrie Lam held a press conference at 04:00 (20:00 GMT) in which she condemned the “extreme use of violence” of those who broke into the legislature.

Iran has breached the limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium set under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers

The International Atomic Energy Agency said its inspectors had verified the 300kg (660lb) cap had been exceeded. Iran stepped up production of enriched uranium, used to make reactor fuel but also potentially nuclear bombs, in May.

It said it was responding to sanctions reinstated by the US after President Donald Trump abandoned the deal. The UK and Germany have called on Iran to reverse its decision, while the US said its strategy of “maximum pressure” would continue.

 New Zealand officially banned single-use plastic shopping bags 

Plastic pollution has become a growing global concern, with a million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals injured or killed every year by becoming entangled in packaging or ingesting it through the food chain.

Companies that break New Zealand’s ban will face heavy penalties, including fines of up to $67,000. “New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it,” environment minister Eugenie Sage said. “Ending the use of single-use plastic shopping bags helps do that.” Under the new rules, thin plastic single-use shopping bags can no longer be supplied — but the law allows reusable carriers to continue being provided.

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1 July 2019

A powerful bomb blast has rocked Afghanistan’s capital city

The explosion occurred as the streets in the capital were packed with morning commuters. Officials and police were at the scene of the blast and few details were available. Ambulance sirens screamed throughout the downtown area as they rushed to the scene.

Mohammad Karim, a police official in the area of the attack, said a car bomb exploded outside a Defence Ministry building. Militants then ran into a nearby high-rise located in a crowded market and began firing down on the ministry. Police and special Afghan security forces were swarming the area and cordoned it off.

A small twin-engine plane crashed on takeoff into a hangar at a Texas airport, killing all 10 aboard

“The Dallas County Medical Examiner has confirmed 10 fatalities and no survivors,” a spokeswoman for the town of Addison told AFP. The plane was heading from Addison to St. Petersburg, Florida and was carrying two flight crew and eight passengers, said Bruce Landsberg, Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

NTSB investigator Jennifer Rodi said the plane — which had changed ownership recently — hit a private hangar at the airport. David Snell, who was waiting for another flight at the airport, told local news channel KDFW TV he saw the plane take off.

The UN chief urged that action must be taken to avoid a catastrophe caused by climate change 

“We are here because the world is facing a grave climate emergency,” Guterres told a two-day Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting to prepare for a Climate Action Summit in New York in September.

Guterres said destructive climate change was moving at an increasingly fast pace.

“Climate disruption is happening now… It is progressing even faster than the world’s top scientists have predicted,” the UN secretary general said.

“It is outpacing our efforts to address it. Climate change is running faster than we are,” he said.

The United Nations has found mixed response to improving areas of transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, participation and non-discrimination

According to the World Public Sector Report 2019 published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs recently, despite a surge in the number of laws and initiatives adopted by countries around the world over the past two decades to strengthen and improve governmental institutions, progress on accountability and non-discrimination is uneven, and these developments may be causing new problems.

The report says the institutional landscape has significantly changed in some areas, with countries rapidly moving to develop open government data systems and national anti-corruption initiatives.

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28 June 2019

A gunman opened fire outside a mosque in northwestern France yesterday, wounding two people

It was not immediately clear what motivated the incident in the port city of Brest in Brittany, but Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he had issued orders to increase security measures around places of worship across France.

Imam Rachid El Jay was hit by four bullets while a worshipper who was with him sustained injuries from two bullets, but neither was thought to have life-threatening wounds, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) and judicial sources said. “(El Jay) sustained two bullet wounds to the abdomen and two to the legs.

Iran’s foreign minister warned Donald Trump that he was mistaken to think a war between their countries would be short

The latest developments in the Iran-US standoff came as a diplomatic source in Vienna said Tehran would not exceed a uranium stockpile limit agreed with world powers, contrary to what it had said earlier this month.

Iran had said it expected to surpass on Thursday the agreed 300-kilogramme (660-pound) maximum reserve of enriched uranium because it no longer felt bound by certain limits contained in the 2015 deal, which the United States unilaterally pulled out of in May 2018.

“They won’t exceed it today,” the diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP in Vienna on the eve of a meeting by a commission that oversees the nuclear deal.

Myanmar’s military has rejected an International Criminal Court’s call for a full investigation into alleged crimes against Rohingya Muslims

Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary probe in September into the 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military that forced some 740,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh with accounts of rape, mass killings and razing of villages. On Wednesday she said she would take the issue to the next stage by submitting a request to ICC judges to open a full investigation.

It is not clear when that decision would be made. Myanmar has not signed up to the ICC, but the court ruled in September it has jurisdiction over alleged atrocities because Bangladesh — where the Rohingya are now refugees — is a member.

North Korea warned the South to stop “meddling” in nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington

“The reality is the contrary,” senior foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun said in a statement carried by the state news agency KCNA. “The South Korean authorities would better mind their own internal business,” he added, in a stinging rebuke to the North’s neighbour days before United States President Donald Trump arrives in Seoul amid a nuclear deadlock.

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since February when a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed in Hanoi as the pair failed to agree on what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

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27 June 2019

Papua New Guinea’s volatile Ulawun volcano erupted yesterday, spewing lava high into the air and sending residents fleeing

A pilot for Niugini Helicopters flying near the crater witnessed a column of lava spurting vertically into the equatorial sky, along with ash that has been belching since early morning. Ulawun, on the remote Bismarck Archipelago chain, is listed as one of 16 “Decade Volcanoes” targeted for research because they pose a significant risk of large, violent eruptions.

Witnesses said lava had cut off the main highway in north of the island.

“The volcanic activity at Mt Ulawun began at 7am this morning after slight rumbling and light emission,” Leo Porikura, an official with the West New Britain Disaster Office, said earlier.

 A photograph of a Salvadoran man and his two-year-old daughter drowned in the Rio Grande River has fuelled angry protests

“As his administration refuses to follow our laws — preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry — they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death,” O’Rourke said in a tweet. According to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the intertwined bodies in the photo are those of asylum-seeker Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 26, and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria.

They drowned on Sunday while trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas from Mexico, La Jornada said.

For many, the photo evoked memories of a 2015 picture of a Syrian toddler drowned on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to reach Greece.

Jared Kushner accused Palestinians leaders of not caring about their own people for rejecting his $50 billion economic framework

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law launched a long-awaited Middle East initiative with an intimate two-day conference in Bahrain, where economic leaders touted his plan as holding the potential to jumpstart the Palestinians’ stagnant economy.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, accusing the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of dangling the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions and ignoring a fundamental issue of Israeli occupation.

Closing the conference at a luxury hotel in the capital Manama, the 38-year-old real estate investor promised to put out the political plan at “the right time” and said the Palestinian Authority could help its people by embracing the US recommendations.

India becomes UN Security Council non-permanent member

 Absence of another candidate from the Asia-Pacific Group for a two-year tenure of a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has enabled India to bag the group’s unanimous endorsement.

India’s candidature for the Security Council’s non-permanent seat was endorsed by the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group on Tuesday.

India’s Permanent Representative at the UN Amb Syed Akbaruddin in a celebratory tweet said: “A unanimous step. Asia-Pacific Group @UN unanimously endorses India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat of the Security Council for 2 year term in 2021/22. Thanks to all 55 members for their support.”

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26 June 2019

The chief US customs and border enforcement official is stepping down amid an uproar over the treatment of detained migrant children

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 15: Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner John Sanders speaks at a news conference proposing legislation to address the crisis at the southern border at the U.S. Capitol on May 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Senate Republicans met with Vice President Mike Pence and White House Advisor Jared Kushner yesterday to discuss President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the immigration system. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

John Sanders will resign as acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in the coming weeks, The New York Times cited a federal official as saying. In a copy of a message to employees published by Axios, Sanders said his resignation is effective July 5.

His departure comes amid mounting public backlash over alarmingly unsanitary conditions at an overcrowded migrant facility in Clint, Texas where the discovery of poor care and lack of access to showers or clean clothing prompted the relocation of 250 detained children.

Pakistan is one of four countries which received highest amount of G20 international public finance for coal-fired power plants

Despite promising a decade ago to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the world’s leading economies more than doubled subsidies to coal-fired power plants over three years, putting climate goals at risk, said the report by the Overseas Development Institute.

Between 2014 and 2017, G20 governments more than halved direct support for coal mining, from $22 billion to about $10 billion on average each year.

But over the same period, they boosted backing for coal-fired power plants — particularly supporting construction of the plants in other, often poorer nations — from $17 billion to $47 billion a year, the report noted.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during an unannounced visit to Kabul 

His visit to Afghanistan, which lasted about seven hours, comes ahead of a seventh round of peace talks between Taliban leaders and US officials aimed at finding a political settlement to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. The next round of peace talks is scheduled to begin on June 29 in Doha.

“I hope we have a peace deal before September 1. That’s certainly our mission set,” Pompeo said.

The talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee that militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.

The United Kingdom has increased its funding support to Pakistan from £400 million pounds to £1 billion 

The words reiterate a commitment made between Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week in which the UK agreed “to double the available support for exports to Pakistan”.

“What this means in practice is that part of that money can be used to help UK companies reduce the risk of doing business in other countries. From Pakistan’s point of view, the most important feature of it is the money the UK will make available to Pakistani companies and projects,” said Penney, currently on his first visit to Pakistan, during a meeting with journalists at the British High Commission. He was accompanied by UK Deputy High Commissioner Karachi and Trade Director for Pakistan Elin Burns.

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25 June 2019

Iran said that no cyber attack against the Islamic republic has ever succeeded

“The media are asking about the veracity of the alleged cyber attack against Iran. No successful attack has been carried out by them, although they are making a lot of efforts,” telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said on Twitter without referring to any US attack.

US media on Saturday said Washington launched cyber attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network this week after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone.

Donald Trump has signed orders to impose sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 6: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the Oval Office of the White House March 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Trump and Lofven were expected to discuss Trump’s announcement last week of planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

The sanctions follow Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone worth over $100 million over the Strait of Hormuz last week. Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory strikes on Iran last week, but appears to be continuing to ratchet up his “maximum pressure” campaign.

The targets of the new sanctions include senior military figures in Iran, blocking their access to any financial assets under US jurisdiction.

“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Saudi leaders ahead of new sanctions on Iran 

Saudi and Emirati leaders advocate a tough US approach against common foe Iran, which on Monday said that any new American sanctions against it would have no “impact”.

Pompeo met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Red Sea city of Jeddah days after the downing of the surveillance drone prompted US President Donald Trump to order a military strike before calling it off at the last minute. He was later due to hold talks in the United Arab Emirates, US officials said.

Saudi Arabia has launched a new special residency scheme aimed at luring wealthy expats

The scheme offers a permanent residency for 800,000 riyals ($213,000) and a one-year but renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals ($27,000), according to the online portal for registrations.

The scheme will allow expats to do business without a Saudi sponsor, buy property and sponsor visas for relatives, the website said.

Analysts say the programme will largely benefit wealthy Arabs who have lived in Saudi Arabia for years without permanent residency or multinational companies seeking to do long-term business in the kingdom.

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24 June 2019

Erdogan’s party loses controversial replay of Istanbul election

Erdogan’s candidate, Binali Yildirim, conceded defeat as initial results showed his opponent ahead with 53.69 percent of the vote with more than 95 percent of ballots counted.

“According to the result, as of now my competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is leading the race. I congratulate him and wish him good luck,” Yildirim said.

Imamoglu, a little-known district mayor at the start of the year, had portrayed the re-run as a test of Turkish democracy after he was controversially stripped of his first victory in March.

Election authorities annulled that result after Erdogan claimed irregularities in the counting — but that galvanised Imamoglu, who vowed “a battle for democracy” to take back the city of 15 million.

Ethiopia’s army chief was shot dead by his bodyguard just hours after an attempted coup that left the regional president dead

The spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told journalists a “hit squad” led by Amhara’s security chief Asaminew Tsige burst into a meeting on Saturday afternoon, injuring regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and another top official who both died of their wounds.

Later that evening in what appeared a “co-ordinated attack”, army chief Seare Mekonnen, and a retired general who was visiting him, were killed by his bodyguard, said Billene.

India rejects a US religious freedom report that criticizes the BJP, says they are ‘proud of its secular credentials’

The 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released by Pompeo on Friday said Hindu-groups had used “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, however, insisted that no foreign country had the right to criticise its record.

Pompeo arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday for a trip intended to strengthen ties, but already complicated by spats over trade tariffs, data protection rules, US visas for Indians and buying arms from Russia.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned that Iran should not “mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness”

“No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday, our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go,” Bolton said in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, himself a vocal critic of Iran over the years.

“And as he made clear yesterday, referring to his earlier remarks, the president said, ‘I just stopped the strike from going forward at this time’,” Bolton added.

Bolton’s tough message seemed to be aimed not only at Tehran, but also at reassuring key US allies that the White House remains committed to maintaining pressure on Iran. Israel, along with Arab countries in the Gulf, considers Iran to be their greatest threat, and Trump’s last-minute about face appears to have raised questions about US willingness to use force against the Islamic Republic.

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23 June 2019

President Donald Trump announced that the United States would impose “major” new sanctions on Iran from Monday

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 6: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the Oval Office of the White House March 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Trump and Lofven were expected to discuss Trump’s announcement last week of planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared this week after Tehran downed a US surveillance drone.

Trump said on Friday that he called off retaliatory military strikes at the last minute because the response was not “proportionate.” But he had brandished the threat of sanctions ever since, and has now set a timetable.

“We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday,” Trump tweeted, while adding: “I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again – The sooner the better!”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was in favour of a broad reform that would cut taxes but also reduce tax evasion

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte arrives at an informal summit of leaders of the European Union on September 19, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria. High on the agenda of the two-day summit is migration policy. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Conte said he agreed with Deputy Prime Minister and far-right leader Matteo Salvini, who is calling for significant tax cuts and has threatened to bring down the government if they are not agreed.

“Salvini’s ideas (on tax cuts) are the same as mine, but I am perhaps more ambitious,” Conte told a news conference, adding the reform should be based on the principle that taxes should be lower, but everybody should pay them.

Brussels wants Italy to reduce its debt this year and next and has opposed wide tax cuts if they are not offset by new revenues or spending reductions – options that Rome has so far dismissed.

A seven-storey building has collapsed in Cambodia, killing at least seven people with others reported missing

At least 21 people have been injured – several critically – as the search for survivors continues into the evening. The under-construction building in the coastal city of Sihanoukville was owned by a Chinese company. In recent years, Sihanoukville has been transformed by the construction of Chinese hotels and casinos.

Four people have been arrested over the collapse, including the Chinese building owner, the head of the construction firm and the contractor. A Cambodian landowner has also been taken in for questioning.

Southeast Asian leaders gathered in Bangkok determined to drive forward the world’s largest commercial pact

Disputes in the flashpoint South China Sea, Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims and plastic pollution in the seas are also set to be discussed at the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, chaired by Thailand.

But trade will take centre stage with ASEAN leaders keen to hasten the signing of a China-drafted commercial deal covering around half the world’s population. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes all 10 ASEAN economies, plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

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22 June 2019

President Vladimir Putin has banned Russian airlines from flying to Georgia following an upsurge of violent unrest in the country

He signed the decree – which will be implemented from 8 July – on Friday. It came after some 240 people were hurt a day earlier in protests that were ignited by the appearance of a Russian MP in Georgia’s parliament.

Tensions between the countries remain high, 11 years after they fought a war over the region of South Ossetia. Moscow will also recommend that Russian travel agencies suspend all tours to neighbouring Georgia.

Skydivers killed in King Air plane crash in Hawaii

The twin-engine aircraft went down close to Dillingham Airfield near Mokuleia in Honolulu County. There were no survivors from the King Air flight, the Hawaii Department of Transportation tweeted.

Photos showed smoke visible from miles away. It is not yet clear if the plane was taking off or landing.”Right now, the initial report is that there were nine souls on board,” fire chief Manuel Neves told Hawaii News Now. “There’s no survivors.”

Family members of the skydivers were on the ground when the crash happened and may have seen the aircraft go down, he said.

Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng has rejected calls to investigate police brutality during the ongoing mass protests

However, she did apologise for the Hong Kong government’s handling of the extradition bill which is at the root of the unrest. Police vowed a “stringent” response to the latest protest, when their headquarters was besieged for 15 hours.

Anger is widespread over the suspended bill, which would make it easier to extradite suspects to mainland China. Protesters want the bill to be withdrawn altogether, and everyone detained over the demonstrations to be freed.

Hong Kong has been part of China since 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle, which allows it freedoms not seen on the mainland, including judicial independence.

President Trump has said he does not want war with Iran but threaten they would face “obliteration” if conflict broke out

Speaking to NBC on Friday, he said the US was open to talks but would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. He also expanded on his last-minute decision to call off strikes planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed.

“I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate,” he said. Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace early on Thursday morning. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace.

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21 June 2019

The head of the Catholic church in Sri Lanka accused the government is hiding the truth about the Easter attacks

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith spoke of his frustrations just hours before he was due to meet Pope Francis and show the pontiff a video with graphic images of the April 21 attacks on three churches and four hotels. The attacks were claimed by militant Islamic State group.

“There was a serious lack of responsibility on the part of the government,” Ranjith told reporters. “Now they have appointed all kinds of committees and commissions and there is bickering going on between the sides, you know, (about) who is responsible.” President Maithripala Sirisena has criticised a parliamentary investigation, where some have accused him of mishandling national security.

Ranjith, 71, said Indian intelligence services first notified Sri Lanka on April 4 of an impending attack and then three times more, including a phone call at 6.45am on the day of the blasts.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has shot down a US surveillance drone that was allegedly violating its airspace

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 am on Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the southern Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometres southeast of Tehran.

The drone took off from the southern Persian Gulf and collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near the border with Pakistan, the Guard said.

The US military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

Sudan’s military ruler has removed the country’s prosecutor general days after charges of corruption were brought against ousted leader Omar al-Bashir

The dismissal came as General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s deputy in the ruling military council announced that the mastermind behind a deadly raid on a protest camp on June 3 had been identified.

Abdallah Ahmed will replace Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed as prosecutor general, the official SUNA news agency reported, without giving any reason for the sacking. Bashir appeared on Sunday in front of another prosecutor to face charges of corruption and illegal possession of foreign currency.

Thursday’s sacking also comes weeks after protesters were violently dispersed on June 3 by men in military uniforms who, according to witnesses, shot and beat demonstrators who had take part in a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters.

Taliban delegation held talks in China as part of a path towards peace

Representatives of the Taliban, who have been fighting for years to expel foreign forces and defeat the US-backed government in Kabul, have been holding talks with US diplomats for months.

The focus has been the Taliban demand for the withdrawal of US and other foreign forces, in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Taliban negotiators have also met senior Afghan politicians and civil society representatives, including in Moscow recently, as part of so-called intra-Afghan dialogue to discuss their country’s future.

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20 June 2019

A polar bear was seen in a Russian industrial city in Siberia, far south of its normal hunting grounds

Anatoly Nikolaychyuk, chief of the local hunting department, told the Tass news agency that the last time a polar bear was seen in the area around Norilsk was more than 40 years ago. He said that local officials will now decide whether they can catch the animal and airlift it back to the north.

However, a photographer quoted by The Independent, Irina Yarinskaya ─ who photographed the bear as it looked for food ─ saying that the animal was “seriously hunger-bitten”.

9  countries, including Pakistan, will account for half of population growth by 2050

According to the World Population Prospects 2019 released by the UN Population Division, the population of Pakistan currently is 217 million, which is 12 million (5.9 per cent) more than the previous estimate from the 2017 revision. The population was revised based on the new results of the 2017 census. Previous assessments of total fertility rate and life expectancy at birth were revised slightly upward.

Between now and 2050, the other eight countries that will make up more than half the projected growth of the global population are India, Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States. Around 2027, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.

Egypt has accused the United Nations of seeking to “politicise” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicise a case of natural death”.

Colville called on Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death. “Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” he had said.

Donald Trump has launched his Presidential bid for 2020 with the promise to ‘keep America great’

Lashing out at his Democratic opponents as radical leftists fuelled by “hatred” and out to “rip your country apart,” Trump promised an “earthquake at the ballot box” next year. “We did it once and we’re going to do it again,” he promised some 20,000 ecstatic supporters in Orlando, Florida.

“And that is why tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States.”

There were no substantial new ideas or plans for the future in Trump’s nearly 80 minute speech in the Orlando arena, where the crowd formed a sea of Trump campaign red baseball caps, chanting “USA” and “Four More Years.”