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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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19 June 2019

Iran has announced that it had dismantled a US spy network, after The US deployed 1,000 more troops to the Middle East

Tehran’s announcement came a day after it said its uranium stockpile would on June 27 surpass a limit agreed in the 2015 nuclear deal, a multilateral agreement Washington unilaterally abandoned in May last year.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated ever since, with the US bolstering its military presence in the region, reimposing sanctions and blacklisting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

“Following clues in the American intelligence services, we recently found the new recruits Americans had hired and dismantled a new network,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA said, quoting an intelligence ministry official.

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson closer to becoming Britain’s next Prime Minister after winning 40 % of the votes in Parliament

Johnson, the face of the official Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, won 126 out of 313 votes and with four other candidates who won 33 votes or more.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt won 46 votes, Environment Secretary Michael Gove won 41, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart 37 and Home Secretary Sajid Javid 33.

While Johnson won by far the most votes, he added just 12 from the first round. Stewart, 46, was the biggest gainer from the first round, adding 18 votes. Dominic Raab, a former Brexit minister, was eliminated from the contest as he won just 30 votes.

Japan has issued a tsunami advisory after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the country

A wave of one metre is expected to hit the coast of the Sea of Japan, north of Tokyo, the nation’s meteorological agency said.

The quake registered six on the Japanese scale, which goes up to a maximum of seven and was felt in the capital, which is more than 300 kilometres away.

An official of the disaster management office of Niigata prefecture, the epicentre of the quake, told AFP: “We do not have a precise picture of the impact as we are still collecting information. But so far there have been no report of injuries or casualties.”

Separately, a fire department official in the region said two elderly women were sent to hospital following falls but “they were conscious”. The earthquake struck at a late hour in mainly sparsely populated areas so it was not easy to evaluate the damage immediately.

A man who shared a video of the Christchurch massacre has been sentenced to 21 months in prison

Philip Neville Arps, left, appears for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The Christchurch businessman who shared a video of worshippers being slaughtered at a New Zealand mosque has been sentenced to 21 months in prison. (John Kirk-Anderson/Pool via AP)

Philip Arps had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the video, which was livestreamed on Facebook by a gunman on March 15 as he began killing 51 people at two mosques.

Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said that when questioned about the video, Arps had described it as “awesome” and had shown no empathy toward the victims.

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18 June 2019

Iran will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set under the nuclear deal agreed with world powers as soon as June 27

“Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilogrammes reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days time… we will pass this limit,” Iran’s atomic energy organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at a press conference broadcast live.

“This is based on the Articles 26 and 36 of the (nuclear deal), and will be reversed once other parties live up to their commitments,” he added, speaking from the Arak nuclear plant south-west of Tehran.

The United Kingdom has announced a new £170 million ($215 million) 5-year aid package of urgent food, water and medicine assistance for Afghanistan

“The humanitarian need in Afghanistan is severe,” International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said after meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in London.

“Fighting and extreme drought have left millions of people hungry and desperately seeking medical help, which is why UK aid is responding with life-saving food, water and basic healthcare, including polio vaccinations.”

The United Nations Climate Chief says that, “Climate change is an “existential issue” for humankind, and stepping up efforts to keep warming to globally agreed limits is urgent”

The mid-year climate negotiations are tasked with resolving outstanding issues in setting rules for the 2015 Paris climate accord, ahead of an annual conference in Chile in December.

Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN climate change secretariat, said existing country pledges to cut planet-warming emissions would heat the planet by 3 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.

“That is just not possible,” she said, adding it would leave people sicker and result in battles over resources such as water and land, with coastal residents losing homes to rising seas.

An Israeli court has convicted the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fraudulently using state funds for meals with business officials

While the ruling cut short a high-profile trial, the Netanyahu family’s legal woes are far from over: the veteran premier himself faces possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the coming months.

In a deal approved by judge Avital Chen at Jerusalem magistrates’ court, Sara Netanyahu was found guilty of using the errors of government accounting staff to bypass spending restrictions.

She was fined 10,000 shekels ($2,800) and ordered to reimburse the state a further 45,000 shekels.

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16 June 2019

The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris will host its first mass exactly two months after the devastating blaze

For safety reasons, the mass led by Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit will be celebrated on a very small scale. Worshippers will be expected to don hard hats but priests will be wearing their ceremonial garb.

There will be just some 30 people — half of them clergy — although the mass will be broadcast live on Catholic TV channel KTO. It will take place at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) in the Chapel of the Virgin on the east side of the cathedral behind the choir, which has been confirmed to be safe.

Mexico published the document that Donald Trump had earlier said was a secret deal to curb migration

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard underwent a grilling in Mexico’s Congress, where some lawmakers insisted otherwise and demanded more details on what exactly he agreed to in the last-minute deal brokered a week ago to dodge Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods.

Angry over a surge of Central Americans seeking US asylum, Trump is pushing Mexico to agree to a deal in which migrants entering Mexican territory would have to apply for refugee status there, not in the United States. The language in the “supplementary agreement” released by Mexico appears to resemble that. However Mexico’s foreign ministry insisted the document — signed by a deputy legal advisor to the ministry and his State Department counterpart — was “not a binding bilateral agreement.”

Five Sri Lankans suspected on being involved with the Easter bombings were arrested in Saudi Arabia and extradited

“One of the alleged ringleaders in the April 21 bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has been arrested following the publication of an Interpol Red Notice,” the international police organisation, based in the French city of Lyons, said in a statement. A so-called “red notice” is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

Interpol identified the alleged ringleader as Mohamed Milhan, a senior leader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) jihadist group which was held responsible for the April 21 bombings.

The United States has urged the newly re-elected Modi government to condemn religious violence and hold extremists accountable

In her remarks before a House subcommittee for foreign affairs on Thursday, the State Department’s acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells also tried to persuade India not to purchase S-400 missile defence systems from Russia. “In our engagements with India, we will continue to highlight the importance of preserving a diverse and inclusive society,” she said in a brief prepared statement on India-US relations, which also addressed the issue of religious discrimination in that country.

Noting that India’s constitution provides strong protections for religious freedom, Ms Wells said: “We look to India’s democratically elected leaders and institutions to swiftly condemn acts of violence on the basis of religion and hold perpetrators accountable.”

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15 June 2019

Sudan’s ruling military has acknowledged that security forces committed violations when they moved in to disperse a protest sit-in camp

The spokesman of the ruling military council, Gen Shams Eddin Kabashi, told reporters at a news conference late Thursday that an investigation was underway and that several military officers were held in custody for alleged “deviation” from the action plan set by military leaders.

Kabashi did not elaborate on the violations beyond describing them as “painful and outrageous”.

Over 100 people were killed in the capital and across Sudan in a sweeping crackdown last week, according to protest organisers. Protesters also said more than 40 bodies were pulled from the Nile River in Khartoum and taken away by security forces.

Indian doctors’ association called for a nationwide strike and stepped up protests by medical staff demanding better security at hospitals after an attack on doctors in Kolkata

The move could paralyse hundreds of government-run health facilities across India. Thousands of doctors across the country went on a strike on Friday. The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.

The protests were launched in response to an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on Monday that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

Hundreds of thousands of women across Switzerland held a strike to highlight their wealthy nation’s poor record on female rights

In Zurich, the financial capital and the country’s biggest city, tens of thousands of protesters clogged the streets, blowing whistles and banging pots and pans. “Men, go do the ironing,” one sign read.

“It’s not just about wages. The equal opportunity is not there. At least for the next generation it needs to be there,” Zurich city councilwoman Karin Rykart said as hundreds of municipal workers and police officers demonstrated. Despite its high quality of life, Switzerland lags other developed economies in female pay and workplace gender equality.

Sikh pilgrims staged a protest demonstration against the Indian government after a special train from Pakistan was not allowed to enter its territory to pick them for Jorr Mela

The irritated pilgrims despite carrying visa and travel documents remained stranded at the Attari railway station as they waited for hours for the special train to take part in the Jorr Mela, which is held every year to mark the death anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev.

“It is a matter of great displeasure that India once aga­in behaved as it did in 2017,” said an official of the Eva­c­u­­ee Trust Property Board (ETPB) while talking to Dawn. On Friday, the official said, the special train reached the Wagah railway station at 9am to pick as many as 146 Sikh pilgrims.

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14 June 2019

Boris Johnson won the first round of voting, in the race to replace outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May

The Brexit-backing former foreign minister picked up 114 of the 313 votes cast in a secret ballot of Conservative Party lawmakers in the lower House of Commons. Mark Harper, Esther McVey, and Andrea Leadsom, who came in second to May in the last leadership race in 2016, failed to collect the required 17 votes and were knocked out.

“Obviously we’re happy with the results but there’s still a long way to go to winning the contest,” a spokesman for Johnson told reporters.

The US is looking for Pakistan’s support in Afghanistan

The United States wants Pakistan to continue supporting the Afghan peace process but also expects Islamabad to end its allegedly “unacceptable support” to militants, say two key US officials, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Assistant Secretary Alice G. Wells.

“Under President Trump, we’ve taken our defence cooperation to new heights … and taken a far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism in the region,” Secretary Pompeo told a gathering of mainly Indian-Americans in Washington on Wednesday.

Trump says that he would take foreign information on his 2020 presidential opponent

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would be willing to accept information from a foreign country on his opponent in the 2020 election race.

“I think you might want to listen … there’s nothing wrong with listening,” Trump said when asked by ABC News what he would do if a country such as Russia or China offered him such information.

He denied the suggestion that that would amount to foreign meddling in a US election. “It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said.

There were no survivors of a military transport plane crash last week in a mountainous area near the border with China

A team of rescuers airlifted to a place lower on the mountain in Arunachal Pradesh, India’s northeastern-most state, climbed up to the crash site on foot early on Thursday and confirmed that none of the 13 people on board were alive, the Indian air force said on Twitter.

“Our rescue team reached the site at an elevation of 12,000 feet this morning and did not find survivors,” said Indian Air Force Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh.

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13 June 2019

Syria’s parliament ratified a bill that handed management of the country’s largest port to a Russian firm for 49 years

A deal between Damascus and the Russian company Stroytransgaz for the management, expansion and operation of Tartus port was first signed in late April. It is one of many lucrative contracts between Damas­cus and Moscow, which has a naval base in Tartus and has been a key ally of Presi­dent Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The bill ratified on Wedn­e­­­­sday, which still needs to be approved by the Syrian pre­­sident, establishes a board of directors to oversee the management and ope­­ration of the port, the official SANA news agency said.

The EU has warned the British that they will have to pay its outstanding share of the existing EU budget even if it leaves the union without a withdrawal agreement

In a statement on preparations for Britain’s departure, Brussels said it would not enter talks on future trade until London honours “the financial obligations the UK has made as a member state”.

Under the Brexit withdrawal agreement agreed last year between outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May and her fellow EU leaders, Britain would owe the union approximately 39 billion (around 44 billion euros).

This sum would cover budget commitments up through a transition period at the end of next year, but the British parliament has refused to ratify the treaty and Brexit has been delayed until October 31.

Amnesty International calls out India for abusing it’s ‘lawless’ detention act in occupied Kashmir

The Indian government is widely misusing a law allowing for detention without trial in the Indian-occupied Kashmir region, and fuelling animosity with it, the human rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The Public Safety Act (PSA) was a “lawless law” under which the authorities hold children, old people and the disabled, and it should be scrapped, the group said.

“This act is contributing to inflaming tensions between the state authorities and local populace and must be immediately repealed,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

Extradition clashes plunge Hong Kong into unprecedented violence

Hong Kong was rocked on Wednesday by the worst political unrest since its handover to China, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to storm parliament and blocked roads in the financial hub.

The violent protests were the latest expression of widespread public anger over the government’s controversial Beijing-backed plan to allow extraditions to China.

Clashes broke out hours after tens of thousands of people seized key arteries in the morning rush hour and surrounded the city’s parliament, forcing lawmakers to postpone a debate on the proposed law.

12 June 2019

Thai officials said they discovered 65 ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees yesterday, who were shipwrecked and stranded in southern Thailand

The passengers — 28 men, 31 women and five children — were stranded on Rawi island in Tarutao National Park in Thailand’s southern Satun province after the boat suffered engine trouble, a park official said.

The chief of Tarutao National Marine Park, Kanjanapan Kamhaeng, said the boat carrying the Rohingya was found after several Thai and Myanmar citizens told park officials their ship had broken down. They initially denied they were transporting Rohingya.

Kanjanapan said the boat was found smashed onto a rocky shore and a preliminary check showed it was carrying 65 Rohingya and several Thai and Myanmar citizens who were identified by the Rohingya as in charge of operating the ship.

Global carbon emissions grew by an unprecedented 2.0% last year, the highest rate since 2010-2011

“There is a growing mismatch between societal demands for action on climate change and the actual pace of progress, with energy demand and carbon emissions growing at their fastest rate for years,” said BP chief executive Bob Dudley. “The world is on an unsustainable path,” he said.

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy is viewed as an energy industry standard, pooling data on everything from the size of countries’ oil reserves to their production of renewable energy and various consumption rates.

Russian police said they would drop drug charges against an investigative journalist and free him from house arrest

Ivan Golunov, a 36-year-old reporter with independent media outlet Meduza, was arrested last week on charges supporters said were trumped up to punish him for his investigative work. “Today he will be released from house arrest and charges lifted,” Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in a statement.

Kolokoltsev said he would seek President Vladimir Putin’s permission to sack the head of a Moscow police department and another senior official in charge of drug control in Moscow.

Hong Kong Protesters engage in a nighttime vigil outside the city’s parliament, just hours before lawmakers debate a divisive plan to allow extraditions to China

The sudden appearance of around 2,000 predominantly young protesters after 11pm, some carrying tents and supplies, was met by a marked increase in police reinforcements, many of them equipped with riot gear.

The financial hub was rocked over the weekend by the largest protest march since the city’s 1997 return to China, as vast crowds called on authorities to scrap the Beijing-backed plan.

Many are fearful the proposed law will tangle people in the mainland’s opaque courts and hammer Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business hub. Organisers of the march said more than a million people took to the streets on Sunday.

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11 June 2019

Japan’s military says that pilot disorientation was the likely cause of the F-35 crash in April

Japan’s air force on Monday said spatial disorientation likely caused one of its pilots to fly his F-35 stealth fighters into the Pacific Ocean in April, hitting the water at more than 1,100 kph (683 mph). The Lockheed Martin Corp jet disappeared from radar screens during an exercise with three other F-35s over the ocean near northwest Japan on April 9. The 41-year-old pilot was killed.

“It seems highly likely that the pilot was suffering from vertigo and was unaware of his condition,” the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) said in a press release. “The crash was the result of human action, but it doesn’t count as pilot error,” a JASDF official said at a press briefing. “There is no indication that there was a problem with the aircraft.”

Germany’s top diplomat reaffirmed his country’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of the US peace plan

“We are still in agreement that reaching a two-state solution through negotiations is the only solution,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said during a press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart.

Washington is gearing up to roll out economic aspects of its plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month, but it is not yet clear when its political details will be unveiled.

The Palestinians have already rejected the deal, citing a string of moves by US President Donald Trump they say show his administration is irredeemably biased. “We and Germany agree that the two-state solution is the only way to end the conflict,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said.

Four people were killed in Sudan as protesters launched a civil disobedience campaign against the military after a bloody crackdown on a sit-in demonstration calling for civilian rule

The campaign got underway nearly a week after the assault on demonstrators at the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum, which followed talks breaking down between protest leaders and military rulers over who should lead a new governing body — a civilian or soldier.

Following the call for the campaign of civil disobedience, protesters set about building roadblocks in Khartoum while markets and shops were closed in several other towns and cities.

An Indian court has convicted six men for their involvement in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in occupied Kashmir

The case sparked outrage and criticism of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party after some of its members opposed charges being laid. The girl, from a nomadic Muslim community that roams the forests of Kashmir, was drugged, held captive in a temple and sexually assaulted for a week before being strangled and battered to death with a stone in January 2018.

The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a plan to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the 15-page charge sheet said. Among those accused were a Hindu priest and police officers, fanning communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the area.

“This is a victory of truth,” prosecution lawyer M. Farooqi told reporters outside the court. “The girl and her family members have got justice today. We are satisfied with the judgment.”

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10 June 2019

Hong Kong experienced one of it’s largest protest as over one million people gathered to protest against plans to allow extraditions to the Mainland China

Organisers said more than a million people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of the financial hub’s main island in a noisy, colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned extradition law. The demonstration was the biggest the international finance hub has experienced since it was returned to China by Britain — beaten only by a 1.5 million-strong rally during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen protesters.

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leaders are pushing a bill through the legislature that would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction with which it does not already have a treaty — including mainland China. But the proposals have sparked an outcry and birthed an opposition that unites a wide cross-section of the city.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has said that Qatar will accept any Middle East peace plan that is acceptable to the Palestinians

Speaking to reporters in London, al-Thani said: “As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US. “Our position remains very firm: We are going to support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept.”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been trying to put together a peace plan, said in an interview broadcast last week that the Palestinians deserve “self-determination” but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves.

US ambassador has said that Israel has the right to annex at least “some” of the occupied West Bank

In the interview published by the New York Times on Saturday, Friedman said that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate. “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” he said.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has said any such policy would be tantamount to “US complicity with Israeli colonial plans.” The establishment of a Palestinian state in territories, including the West Bank, that Israel occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967, has been the focus of all past Middle East peace plans.

Iran stated that Europe was in no position to criticize them for its military capabilities

President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sweeping sanctions. Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program or its role in conflicts around the Middle East.

The west European signatories to the deal — France, Britain, and Germany — share the same concerns as the United States over Iran’s ballistic missile development and regional activities.

However, they have defended the nuclear accord as the best way to limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, and a basis for future negotiations on a broader palette of security and other longstanding disputes.

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9 June 2019

Iranian oil minister says that Iran has no plans to leave OPEC and is ‘saddened’ that the organization is being turned into a political forum

Iran has no plans to leave the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview published by the Iranian parliament news site ICANA on Saturday.

“Iran has no plans to leave OPEC…and regrets that some members of Opec have turned this organisation into a political forum for confronting two founding members of Opec, meaning Iran and Venezuela,” Zanganeh told ICANA.

“And two regional countries are showing enmity towards us in this organisation. We are not their enemy but they are showing enmity towards us…and [they] use oil as a weapon against us in the global market and world.” Zanganeh did not name the two countries.

Putin and Xi hit back at US dominance at Russian  economic forum

China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin hit back at US global economic dominance on Friday as they took the stage together at Russia’s showcase business forum.

With China embroiled in a trade war with Washington and Russia under Western sanctions, Xi and Putin lashed out at “inequalities” in the global economic system and vowed to pursue closer ties between their countries.

Putin, speaking in front of political and business leaders at the annual Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, accused Washington of seeking to “extend its jurisdiction to the whole world”.

Denouncing the “rhetoric of trade wars and sanctions”, Putin called for rethinking the role of the US dollar in global trade and slammed US pressure on both countries.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says that the Atrocities in Kashmir are the biggest blot on Indian democracy

Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said the atrocities in Kashmir are the biggest blot on Indian democracy.

In an interview with India Today, Sen who is a former master at Trinity College Cambridge and a Harvard University professor said, “It is the biggest blot on Indian democracy. There’s no question about that. There are a number of claimants to that position of being a blot. It is a case that figures a lot in foreign discussions. On my first night when I came here, a long CNN coverage on the brutality of policing and law and order was aired.”

“We have mishandled it for a number of decades. Right now, we are mishandling it very badly indeed,” he said.

German court has sentenced the serial-killing nurse to life in prison

Former nurse Niels Hoegel, accused of killing more than 100 patients in his care, waits at court for the start of another session of his trial in Oldenburg, northern Germany, on June 5, 2019. – The man accused of being post-war Germany’s most prolific serial killer was known to colleagues as a “nice guy” who did little to arouse suspicion until well into his murder spree. With his verdict expected Thursday, June 6, 2019, prosecutors say Niels Hoegel, 42, a heavy-set, second-generation caregiver, was drunk on power over his ailing patients, whom he picked off at random out of “boredom”. (Photo by Mohssen Assanimoghaddam / POOL / AFP)

A former nurse was convicted of killing 85 of his patients and sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for the worst killing spree in Germany’s post-war history, multiple local media outlets reported.

Niels Hoegel, who injected his patients with lethal drugs and then played the hero by appearing to struggle to revive them, had already been convicted and sentenced for two murders in 2015. Prosecutors last year brought further charges over the dozens of other murders of which he was accused.

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8 June 2019

UK PM Theresa May quits as Conservative Party leader, sparking succession race

British Prime Minister Theresa May steps down as leader of her Conservative Party on Friday, formally triggering the race for a successor who will try where she failed to deliver, Brexit.

May will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen, likely in late July, but has relinquished control over the direction of Britain’s tortuous departure from the European Union.

Brexit is still scheduled for Oct 31 but while her rivals thrash it out, the project remains stuck, with the only divorce plan agreed with Brussels stuck in parliament.

‘Sophisticated’ attacks on Saudi tankers likely work of a state actor, UNSC members told

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor.

The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker. A statement issued by the UAE’s Foreign Ministry had placed the ships near the country’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of the port of Fujairah. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet oversees the region.

Taiwan’s request for US tanks and missiles sparks China anger

Taiwan on Thursday confirmed it is hoping to buy state-of-the-art tanks and portable missiles from the United States in a proposed deal that drew an angry rebuke from China.

Taipei’s defence ministry has formally asked for 108 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, more than 1,500 Javelin and TOW anti-tank missiles, and 250 shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, it said in a statement.

The request was proceeding “as normal”, the ministry added.

The US government has given Congress informal notification of its plan to sell the equipment in a deal worth $2 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

Huawei signs deal to develop 5G networks in Russia

FILE PHOTO: Employees wait for a shuttle bus at a 5G testing park at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China May 29, 2019. Picture taken May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Huawei Technologies has signed an agreement with Russian telecom company MTS to develop 5G networks in the country over the next year.

The deal was signed on Wednesday in Moscow, as Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin looked on. MTS said in a statement that it plans to work with Huawei on developing 5G technologies.

5G is a next-generation cellular network that offers faster data transfer speed and could enhance technologies such as autonomous driving, remote medical diagnosis and mobile payments.

Huawei has also signed a draft agreement with the African Union that includes cooperation in 5G communications.

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7 June 2019

Sudan denies that more than 100 people have been killed in protest crackdown

Sudanese authorities admitted dozens of people were killed in a crackdown on protesters but denied doctors’ claims the death toll has topped 100, as heavily armed paramilitaries guarded the tense capital.

Members of the Rapid Support Forces, who rights groups say have their origins in the Janjaweed militias of Darfur, were on the streets of Khartoum on Thursday in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and rocket launchers, witnesses said.

It follows a raid by security forces on Monday on a long-running sit-in outside the army headquarters that marked the start of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators demanding civilian rule.

Nine people dead and more than 150,000 evacuated because of California Wildfire

Embers fly as wind and flames from the Camp fire tear through Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. – More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

At least nine people have been killed and more than 150,000 evacuated as two big wildfires rage in California, officials say. Five of the dead were found in cars in a town that was destroyed by the Camp Fire in the state’s north. West of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire jumped a major highway and headed into coastal areas, including the town of Malibu where some homes are ablaze.

Both fires are moving fast, fanned by strong winds. The fire broke out near Thousand Oaks, an area about 40 miles (64km) north-west of central Los Angeles where an attacker killed 12 people on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of 75,000 homes.

Thousands more residents have now been ordered to evacuate from several more towns to the west of Thousand Oaks, including Calabasas immediately south of Highway 101 and Malibu on the coast, as well as from the western edge of Los Angeles.

Anger at Palestinian ministers’ secret 67% pay rises

The UN has condemned the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority after it emerged that ministers in the previous cabinet secretly gave themselves 67% pay rises. Leaked documents showed their monthly salaries were increased in 2017 from $3,000 (£2,360) to $5,000 (£3,930).

UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said such moves “defy logic and anger people” when Palestinians were struggling with economic hardship. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had agreed to end the practice, he added. Mr Shtayyeh – an economist who took office in April – has also ordered an investigation, during which ministers will reportedly receive half their salaries.

Indian foreign ministry announces that there is no meeting planned between India and Pakistan PMs at regional summit

There is no bilateral meeting planned between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) next week, India’s foreign ministry spokesman Rajeev Kumar said on Thursday.

India’s Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Imran Khan are both scheduled to attend a meeting of the regional summit that is to take place in Kyrgyzstan on June 13-14.

Last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had an unscheduled and informal meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of SCO meeting of foreign ministers in Bishkek.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two foreign ministers and the highest-level interaction since the post-Pulwama standoff, which had ended through intervention of foreign intermediaries.

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6 June 2019

China and Russia meet to boost cooperation during tensions with the US

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin praised their countries’ ties during a meeting in the Kremlin on Wednesday, as Beijing and Moscow seek to shore up cooperation amid tensions with the US. Putin said the visit was a “key event” in relations between the two neighbors.

“Our relationship will be better and better,” said Xi, who was received with full honours when he arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport in the afternoon.

Attack on Eid day kills 8 Egyptian police in Sinai

Militants on Wednesday killed eight Egyptian policemen in an attack on a checkpoint in the restive Sinai Peninsula, the authorities said, as the country marked the Muslim Eidul Fitr holiday.

The northeastern region has long been the hotbed of an insurgency linked to the militant Islamic State group and security forces have regularly been hit.

“Terrorist elements targeted a checkpoint west of El-Arish early this morning… The exchange of fire killed five terrorist elements and eight police were martyred,” an interior ministry statement said.

Some militants escaped and security forces are following “their movements”, the ministry added.

Australian police raid public broadcaster during media crackdown

XXX at Lindt Cafe, Martin Place on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Police attend a hostage situation at Lindt Cafe in Martin Place.

Australian police raided the headquarters of public broadcaster ABC on Wednesday, the second high-profile raid on journalists in 24 hours in a sharp crackdown on sensitive leaks.

Six police descended on the corporation’s offices in Sydney armed with a warrant targeting three senior journalists and executives involved in a two-year-old investigative report. In 2017, ABC obtained documents that showed Australian special forces had killed innocent men and children in Afghanistan.

The Australian Federal Police said the search was “in relation to allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914.” ABC executive editor John Lyons said the search warrant demanded access to reporters’ handwritten notes, emails, story drafts, footage and passwords, among other things — going through a total of 9,214 documents.

Palestinians break with Saudi Arabia’s Eid date for first time since 1994

The Palestinians will celebrate Eid on a different day from Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1994 due to differences in the sighting of the moon, leading some to question why.

Some Palestinians even suggested on social media the decision could be related to politics ahead of the unveiling of the US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian officials flatly denied the claim related to the Eidul Fitr festival that follows the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Others joked about the different dates, with one social media comment proposing Palestinians fast for a half-day on Tuesday to bridge the division.

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5 June 2019

Trump promises Theresa May a ‘very substantial’ trade deal after Brexit

President Donald Trump touted a “very, very substantial trade deal” between the United States and Britain after Brexit as he met Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday for fraught talks held amid street protests.

He joked to the outgoing British leader that she should “stick around” and reach a much stronger economic alliance with the United States once her country finally leaves the European Union.

“I think we will have a very very substantial trade deal. It will be a very fair deal,” he told her at a meeting with business leaders and ministers, adding: “We’re going to get it done.”

Four people have been killed in Australia after a gunman opened fire

A 45-year-old man has been taken into custody and police say there are no further public threats. “The active shooter threat has dissipated,” superintendent Gavin Kennedy, from the Northern Territory police, told AFP. Kennedy said police were investigating at least five crime scenes in the city.

Police had earlier shut down parts of the city and alerted the public an armed offender was on the loose. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the attack was not believed to be terror related. “Our advice is that this is not a terrorist act,” Morrison told reporters in London.

Austria swears in its first woman chancellor

Austria swore in its first woman chancellor on Monday at the head of an interim government that will serve until after an election expected in September.

The 69-year-old Brigitte Bierlein, previously the head of Austria’s top court, will lead a cabinet of non-partisan experts.

“I am particularly glad … that for the first time in history we will have a female chancellor at the head of the government, and secondly that women and men are equally represented in this government,” President Alexander Van der Bellen said as he swore in the new team.

Mexican president is expecting a deal with the US over immigration

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday said he expects to reach a deal with the United States over immigration before Washington carries out its threat to enact punitive tariffs.

US President Donald Trump says he will impose a tariff on all Mexican goods beginning June 10 if Mexico does not halt a surge in immigrants, mostly from Central America, crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Trump said Tuesday he thinks it is more likely the tariffs will be applied and that talks would continue during that time.

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4 June 2019

Saudi Arabia to celebrate Eid today

With the month of Ramazan drawing to a close, Muslims across the world are getting ready to celebrate Eidul Fitr this week.According to a statement issued by Saudi Arabia, the Shawwal crescent was sighted on Monday and Eidul Fitr would be celebrated across the country on Tuesday (today)

“#BREAKING: Supreme Court announces #Eid Al-Fitr in #SaudiArabia on Tuesday June 4 following the sighting of the moon. #EidMubarak,” the Saudi Gazette tweeted.

According to a statement, the Shawwal moon was sighted in Tumair region of Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates also announced June 4 as the first day of Eid in a Twitter posting.

However, people in Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand will observe Wednesday (tomorrow) as the first day of Eid.

An independent commission has been set up by the French Catholic Church to look at allegations of sexual abuse by clerics

France’s Catholic bishops set up the commission last year in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in the country and also worldwide.

It now has the task to shed light on sexual abuse committed by French clerics on minors or vulnerable individuals going right back to the 1950s.

“For the first time in France, an independent institution is going to launch, over the course of a year, an appeal for witness statements about sexual abuse,” said commission president Jean-Marc Sauve.

He has promised that the commission — made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians — would deliver its conclusions by the end of 2020.

Trump meets the Queen at Buckingham Palace after igniting a Twitter feud with London mayor

United States President Donald Trump met with Queen Elizabeth II on Monday during two-day visit to Britain that’s meant to strengthen ties between the two nations, although the trip was immediately at risk of being overshadowed by Brexit turmoil and a political feud with London’s mayor.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump flew to Buckingham Palace in Marine One, landing on a lawn where they were greeted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. They received a royal gun salute as they walked to the palace where the queen greeted the president with a smile.

Sri Lanka Muslim ministers resign in large numbers over Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s Muslim ministers resigned en masse on Monday over widespread hate attacks against their community in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings that hit the majority Buddhist nation.

The resignation of nine government legislators, several of them cabinet ministers, came after a Buddhist monk lawmaker supporting President Maithripala Sirisena demanded the sacking of three top Muslim politicians.

Demonstrations by several thousand people gripped the central pilgrim city of Kandy as monk Athuraliye Ratana insisted governors of two provinces and a cabinet minister be sacked over their alleged involvement with militants responsible for the bombings.

3 June 2019

Seize the moment for peace, FO urges all sides in Afghan war

The Foreign Office on Sunday urged all parties to Afghan conflict to take advantage of the situation and achieve a political settlement of the 17-year-old conflict.

The call was made as US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad opened the Pakistan leg of his 16-day multi-nation trip with a meeting at the Foreign Office. During the talks at Foreign Office, Mr Khalilzad led his side, whereas Additional Secretary, Americas, Ambassador Aftab Khokher headed Pakistani delegation.

Pompeo says US ready to talk to Iran with ‘no preconditions’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is ready for unconditional discussions with Iran in an effort to ease rising tensions that have sparked fears of conflict.

The United States, however, will not relent in trying to pressure the Islamic Republic to change its behavior in the Middle East, America’s top diplomat said.

Pompeo repeated long-standing US accusations that Iran is bent on destabilising the region, but he also held out the possibility of talks as President Donald Trump has suggested. While the offer may not pan out, Pompeo made it during a visit to Switzerland, the country that long has represented American interests in Iran, as part of a European trip aimed at assuring wary leaders that the US is not eager for war.

3 bombings in Afghan capital; 2 killed, 2 reporters injured

Three explosions struck the Afghan capital on Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring 24 others, officials said. At least two Afghan journalists were also injured in the blasts, according to a local non-governmental media organisation.

The first bomb was attached to a bus carrying university students. It was followed 20 minutes later by two roadside bombs in the same area, said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesperson for the interior ministry.

Sri Lanka police chief blames president for failing to prevent Easter Sunday terror attacks

Sri Lanka’s suspended police chief has petitioned the Supreme Court, accusing President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to prevent the Easter bombings that killed 258 people.

In a 20-page complaint, Inspector General Pujith Jayasundara disclosed serious communication gaps between intelligence agencies and security arms of the government, all which fall under Sirisena.

In the petition submitted to court last week and seen by AFPon Sunday, Jayasundara said the country’s premier spy agency, the State Intelligence Service (SIS), ordered him last year to stop ongoing police investigations into suspected Islamist militants.

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2 Jun 2019

US has cuts off India from preferential trade access

The United States will end preferential trade treatment for India from Wednesday, US President Donald Trump has announced, in a fresh economic headwind for New Delhi alongside slowing growth and record unemployment.

India has been the single biggest beneficiary of the decades-old US Generalized System of Preferences programme, allowing the country to export $5.7 billion worth of duty-free goods in 2017, according to figures from US Congress. Trump said in a statement issued late Friday that he wanted greater access for US goods to the giant South Asian nation.

Afghan Taliban leader says no ceasefire as US envoy heads to region

The Afghan Taliban’s leader said on Saturday the insurgents will not call a ceasefire any time soon, even as a US envoy was heading to the region for a fresh round of peace talks.

In a rare and defiant message ahead of what would be the seventh round of recent negotiations, Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada boasted foreign forces in Afghanistan are “condemned to defeat” — but said the insurgents would continue talks with the US.

China to investigate FedEx after Huawei mix-up

Chinese authorities will investigate United States delivery company FedEx over harming the interests of its clients, state media reported on Saturday.

FedEx earlier this week apologised for misrouting some Huawei parcels after the Chinese telecom giant said it was reviewing its ties with the package service over the incident.

“Related Chinese government departments announced on June 1 that because US FedEx did not deliver to the right addresses in China, severely hurting the legal rights and interests of its customers […] (China) will immediately open an investigation,” state broadcaster CCTV said in a news article.

Sonia Gandhi elected leader of Congress lawmakers in Lok Sabha

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi was elected the leader of 52 Congress lawmakers in Lok Sabha, Hindustan Times reported on Saturday.According to Hindustan Times, the decision was announced at a parliamentary party meeting of the Congress held a week after Rahul Gandhi announced his decision to quit the post following the debacle he faced in the general election that saw the Narendra Modi-led NDA coming to power with 352 of the 542 seats polled.

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1 June 2019

11 people killed in Virginia Beach shooting in US; suspect dead

A longtime, disgruntled city employee opened fire at a municipal building in Virginia Beach in the United States on Friday, killing 11 people before police fatally shot him, authorities said.

Six other people were wounded in the shooting, including a police officer whose bulletproof vest saved his life, said Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera.

Five patients were being treated at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and a sixth was being transferred to the Trauma Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Healthcare tweeted.

Two Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces as more than 200,000 pray at Al-Aqsa mosque

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed as more than 200,000 Muslims took part in the final Friday prayers of Ramazan at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of annexed east Jerusalem, prompting Israel to heighten security.

The religious authority in charge of the compound, the third holiest site in Islam, said in total 260,000 worshippers took part in the lunchtime prayers.

The prayers came only hours after a Palestinian teenager suspected of stabbing two Israelis inside the Old City was shot dead by Israeli security. According to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld, a 19-year-old Palestinian was shot dead after an Israeli was stabbed near the Damascus Gate, a bustling main entrance to the predominantly Palestinian part of the Old City, and another near Jaffa Gate on the other side of the walled Old City.

India PM Modi makes major cabinet changes for new term

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday named his trusted aide Amit Shah to the key home affairs ministry as part of a major cabinet shakeup for his second term in office.

Nirmala Sitharaman moved from defence to become finance minister in a second shock, while career diplomat S. Jaishankar became foreign minister.

Hardline Hindu nationalist Shah was the president of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who masterminded Modi’s second straight landslide victory in the country’s national election. Shah, 54, will now pursue Modi’s nationalist agenda in internal security, immigration and other key national issues.

Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of ‘sowing division’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 30, 2019. Picture taken May 30, 2019. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Tehran accused Riyadh on Friday of “sowing division” in the region to Israel’s advantage, after the kingdom hosted summits of Gulf and Arab leaders to rally support against the Islamic republic.

Saudi Arabia has “continued to sow division between Islamic countries and in the region, which is the wish of the Zionist regime”, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.

“We see the attempts by Saudi Arabia to rally neighbouring and Arab countries against Iran as the continuation of futile attempts by America and the Zionist regime,” he added.

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31 May 2019

Prime Minister Imran arrives in Saudi Arabia to attend OIC summit

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Madina on Thursday on an official trip to Saudi Arabia where he will represent Pakistan at the two-day summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Radio Pakistan reported.

The summit titled “Makkah Summit: Together for the Future” is scheduled to begin on Friday in Makkah, and will be chaired by Saudi King Salman. The purpose of the summit is to develop a unified stance on events underway in the Muslim world.

Kushner meets with Netanyahu amid Israel’s political crisis

United States President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Trump administration’s long-awaited plan for Mideast peace, just hours after Israel was thrust into the political tumult of an unprecedented second election in the same year.

Kushner and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt stopped in Israel as part of a Middle East tour to rally support for next month’s economic conference in Bahrain, which the White House bills as the first portion of its peace plan.

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslim world to reject Iran ‘interference’

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sought to rally support among Islamic nations against arch-rival Iran, demanding “firmness” over attacks on Gulf oil facilities ahead of three summits as regional tensions soar.

Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf blasted Iranian “interference” in the region, just hours after United States National Security Advisor John Bolton said Tehran was almost certainly behind oil tanker attacks.

New Zealand unveils new ‘wellbeing’ budget with $2.5bn spending; slashes growth forecast

New Zealand on Thursday unveiled a $2.5 billion spending package under a much-hyped ‘wellbeing’ budget, prioritising mental health and alleviating child poverty, but it expects a smaller surplus and slower economic growth over the next year.

Much of the excitement around the budget ─ touted as a global first ─ that measures broader living goals, was dampened amid a national furore over hacking accusations after details were leaked ahead of its release. The opposition has called for heads to roll over the blunder.

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30 May 2019

Charging Trump with a crime was ‘not an option’: Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller announced his resignation on Wednesday from the United States Justice Department so that he can “return to public life”.

In his first public comments on the probe into ties between Russia and US President Donald Trump’s campaign, Mueller said “it would be unfair” to potentially accuse someone of a crime when the person couldn’t stand trial to defend himself. He added that he believed he was constitutionally barred from charging Trump with a crime but emphasised that his report did not exonerate the president. He added that charging the president was “not an option” his team could consider in the probe.

Amnesty accuses Myanmar military of fresh ‘war crimes’ in Rakhine

Myanmar’s military is guilty of committing new “war crimes”, extrajudicial killings and torture in its fight against ethnic Rakhine rebels, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The armed forces have deployed thousands of troops and heavy artillery across northern Rakhine state in recent months where Arakan Army (AA) rebels are fighting for more autonomy for the state’s ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

The state was also the scene of the military’s bloody crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim community in 2017. That campaign pushed some 740,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh in violence, UN investigators say, warrants prosecution of top generals for “genocide”.

Abraaj founder released from custody after $19m bail payment

Arif Naqvi, the Pakistani founder of collapsed private equity firm Abraaj Group, has been released from custody after meeting bail conditions including the payment of a 15 million pound ($19 million) security, a court official said.

Naqvi was being held at Wandsworth Prison in London after he was arrested in April in connection with charges he faces in the United States of defrauding investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“These past weeks have been an extremely challenging time for Mr Naqvi and his family,” said a statement released on Naqvi’s behalf via a PR firm.

Iran ‘almost certainly’ behind ship attacks off UAE: Trump adviser Bolton

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that Iran was almost certainly behind oil tanker attacks that sent Gulf tensions soaring — an accusation Tehran dismissed as “laughable”.

The new war of words came on the eve of emergency Arab and Gulf summits called by Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia to discuss the standoff and ways to isolate Tehran.

It follows a US military buildup that includes the deployment of an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and 1,500 more troops to the region.

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29 May 2019

Taliban kill 23 in two attacks on Afghan forces

Afghan officials said on Tuesday that two Taliban attacks targeted Afghan security checkpoints in the country’s west and east, killing at least 23 members of the security forces.

In western Ghor province, Abdul Hai Khateby, the governor’s spokesman, says 18 policemen and pro-government militiamen were killed and seven were wounded in hours-long gunbattle with insurgents near Feroz Koh, the provincial capital. No group immediately took responsibility for the attack.

In eastern Logar province, Mohammad Naser Ghairat, a provincial councilman, said insurgents overran an army checkpoint in the district of Baraki Barak on Monday, killing five soldiers there.

Two polio cases reported in Africa

Two cases of polio have been reported in the Central African Republic, the World Health Organisation said in a report on Tuesday, the latest setback for global efforts to eradicate the crippling disease.

The cases, reported to the WHO on May 24, were caused by “vaccine-derived” polio rather than the wild type of the virus that still circulates in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“There is a high risk of transmission of the virus as both cases were among internally displaced persons [in an area] with an estimated population of 8,000,” the report said.

Malaysia to send 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste back to countries of origin

Malaysia will send as much as 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste back to the countries it came from, the environment minister said on Tuesday, the latest Asian country to reject rich countries’ rubbish.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept them.

Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction done without government consent.

France has ‘indication’ of chemical attack in Syria: minister

France’s top diplomat said on Tuesday that the country had an “indication” that a chemical attack had been carried out in Syria’s Idlib province this month, an attack alleged by Washington last week.

“We have an indication that chemical weapons were used in the Idlib region, but for now it has not been verified,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary commission. “We’re being cautious because we consider that chemical weapons use has to be proven and be lethal, in which case we can react,” he said.

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28 May 2019

Modi praises party workers amid violence, killings

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his nationalist party’s courage on Monday amid political clashes and killings after his latest landslide election triumph.

Three workers from Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party have been killed and there have been pitched battles between BJP activists and a rival regional party in West Bengal state since Modi secured a new five-year term last week.

Thousands of supporters lined the streets of his political bastion of Varanasi, waving flags, chanting his name and throwing flower petals at his cavalcade, despite 40 degree Celsius heat.

US ‘not looking for regime change’ in Iran: Trump

The United States is not seeking a regime change in Iran, US President Donald Trump said on Monday, as tensions between the two countries rise with Washington deploying troops to the region.

“I know so many people from Iran, these are great people, it has a chance to be a great country, with the same leadership,” Trump said at a press conference in Tokyo where he is on a state visit.

“We’re not looking for regime change, I just want to make that clear. We’re looking for no nuclear weapons.” “I’m not looking to hurt Iran at all,” added Trump.

Myanmar soldiers jailed for Rohingya killings freed after less than a year

Myanmar has granted early release to seven soldiers jailed for the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys during a 2017 military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine, two prison officials, two former fellow inmates and one of the soldiers told Reuters.

The soldiers were freed in November last year, the two inmates said, meaning they served less than one year of their 10-year prison terms for the killings at Inn Din village.

They also served less jail time than two Reuters reporters who uncovered the killings. The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.

Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino dies: officials

Malaysia’s last surviving male Sumatran rhino died on Monday, wildlife officials said, leaving behind only one female in the country and pushing the critically-endangered species closer to extinction.

Once found as far away as eastern India and throughout Malaysia, the Sumatran rhino has been almost wiped out, with fewer than 80 left, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Only a handful of the creatures remain in the wilds of Indonesia.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the Malaysian male, Tam, had lived in a nature reserve on Borneo island.

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27 May 2019

Muslim man thrashed after Modi’s unity speech

Moments after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called here on Saturday for Hindu-Muslim unity to deliver a truer freedom to India, a Muslim man was thrashed by alleged Hindutva activists in neighbouring Haryana state for wearing a skullcap.

The Hindu said on Sunday that Mohammed Barkat was told to remove his cap and chant Jai Shri Ram.

“One of the men called me with an offensive word and told me that skullcap was not allowed in this area. When I told him that I was returning from a mosque, he slapped me. He also asked me to chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram. When I refused, he threatened to feed me pork,” Mr Barkat was quoted as saying.

Four dead, seven injured in three explosions in Nepal’s capital

Four men died and seven were injured on Sunday in three separate explosions in Kathmandu, Nepali police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but police said they suspect the involvement of a Maoist splinter group whose pamphlets were found in a house where one of the explosions took place.

A powerful blast inside a shop killed three people and injured four, while the explosion at a home about four kilometres away left one dead and another injured.

Germany in push to revive Afghan peace process

Germany, a leading donor and member of the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking to the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart the peace process aimed at ending 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking to US officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

Trump agrees with North Korean leader Kim on Biden: White House

US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un agree on their assessment of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Sunday, aligning the American president with an authoritarian foreign leader over a former US vice president.

North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a biting attack last week on Biden, who has been critical of the communist state.

“I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” Sanders said of Trump and Kim during an interview with NBC’s“Meet the Press.” She was speaking from Japan during a state visit by Trump.

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26 May 2019

Study shows more than 40 per cent Indian MPs face criminal charges including rape, murder

More than 40 per cent of lawmakers in India’s new parliament face criminal charges — some as serious as murder and rape — and the list is growing, an electoral reform group said on Saturday.

One member of parliament for the opposition Congress party is battling 204 cases including manslaughter and robbery, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) said.

At least 233 of the 543 members named as winning seats on Thursday face criminal proceedings, according to the ADR, whose election chief Anil Verma said there is a “disturbing trend” in parliament that “is bad for the democracy”.

UN to launch Decade of Family Farming next week

The United Nations is launching next week a Decade of Family Farming (2019-28) which provides a unique opportunity to ensure food security, improve livelihoods, better manage natural resources, protect the environment and achieve sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.

Data compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says family farms produce more than 80 per cent of the food in the world and they occupy around 70 to 80pc of farmland worldwide. Women hold only 15pc of farmland, while they provide almost 50pc of farm labour. More than 90pc of farms are run by an individual or a family who rely primarily on family labour. There are more than 600 million farms in the world today.

French police hunt suspect after Lyon bomb attack

French police were on Saturday pulling out all the stops to locate a suspect following a blast in the heart of Lyon that wounded 13 people.

“All means have been activated to identify and detain the person who committed this act,” Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told media in Lyon, the third-biggest French city.

The blast occurred just two days ahead of hotly contested European Parliament elections and with France on watch for any repeat of recent deadly terrorist attacks which have rocked the country.

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25 May 2019

Race to be new UK prime minister begins

The race to become the next Conservative Party leader has begun, following Theresa May’s announcement that she will step down next month. Party bosses expect a new leader to be chosen by the end of July.

Mrs May confirmed on Friday that she will resign as party leader on 7 June, but will continue as PM while the leadership contest takes place.

She agreed with chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, that the process to choose a new leader should begin the week after she stands down.

Four candidates have confirmed their intention to stand:

  • Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
  • International Development Secretary Rory Stewart
  • Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
  • Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey

However, more than a dozen more are believed to be seriously considering running – including Sir Graham, who has resigned as chair of the 1922 Committee.

Trump says 1,500 more troops to deploy to Middle East

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that some 1,500 additional US troops would deploy to the Middle East against a backdrop of soaring tensions with Iran. “We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.

“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”

The deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, engineers, and the extension of the presence of a Patriot missile defence battalion that accounts for 600 of the personnel.

Imam killed, 16 wounded in Kabul mosque blast

A prominent Afghan religious scholar was killed and another 16 people wounded in a blast during Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, officials said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which took place at the Al-Taqwa mosque in eastern Kabul, where Maulvi Samiullah Rehan had been the imam, or prayer leader.

Friday prayers, especially during Ramazan, are usually well attended. The explosion took place around 1:20 pm. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

At least 15 students died on Friday in a fire in a building in India housing a college

“The students lost their life both because of the fire and jumping out of the building,” Deepak Sapthaley, a fire official in the western city of Surat, told AFP. Ten of them died from the jump and five from the fire, with up to 20 being treated in hospital, he said. The images showed blazing orange flames and black smoke billowing out of the building.

Sapthaley added that 50 or 60 people were inside the coaching institute on the top floor of the building when the blaze began. The cause was not yet known.

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24 May 2019

Julian Assange, Wikileaks co-founder, faces 17 new charges in US

The US justice department has filed 17 new charges against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is facing extradition from the UK. The latest charges accuse him of receiving and unlawfully publishing the names of classified sources. He was previously charged last month with one count of conspiring with ex-intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to the Pentagon network. Assange is serving a jail sentence in the UK for jumping bail.

It was while he was on bail facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden that he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012. He has always denied the accusations.

Majority in Brazil’s top court to make homophobia and transphobia crimes

A majority in Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted in favour of making homophobia and transphobia crimes. Six out of 11 judges voted to consider discrimination against gays and transgender people equivalent to racism. The decision will give the community, which suffers constant attacks, real protection, activists say.

At least 141 LGBT people have been killed in Brazil this year, according to rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia. The Catholic Church and the evangelical movement are frequently critical of gay rights and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, elected last year with strong support of conservative voters, is a self-described homophobic.

Terror-accused Hindu hardliner from Modi’s party wins big in Indian election

Pragya Thakur, a Hindu ascetic accused of plotting a bomb attack on Muslims in India, defeated an opposition strongman by a big margin on Thursday as her ruling Hindu nationalist party headed towards a massive victory in the country’s general election.

Thakur, contesting from the central city of Bhopal for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the first person accused of terrorism to be fielded by a major political group in India.

John Walker Lindh – the so-called “American Taliban” – has been released from prison

Lindh served 17 years of a 20-year sentence after he was captured in 2001 fighting in Afghanistan. His early release has sparked fierce criticism, with many believing he still harbours extremist views. President Trump said of the release: “I don’t like it at all”, and vowed the government would “watch him closely”. But he said: “From a legal standpoint, there’s nothing we’re allowed to do.” In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Mr Pompeo said the move was “deeply troubling and wrong”.

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23 May 2019

US legislators ask government to help ease Pakistan’s crisis

US lawmakers have urged the Trump administration to help Pakistan overcome the current economic crisis while asking Islamabad to focus its attention on creating more opportunities for its people.

At the annual bipartisan Iftar of the Pakistani American Political Action Committee (PAKPAC) on Tuesday evening, the lawmakers also advised the Trump administration not to go to war with Iran as it would destabilise the entire region.

Qureshi and Swaraj hold an ‘informal dialogue’ on the sideline of SCO meet in Bishkek

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj held an informal dialogue on the sideline of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday.

“Today [I] met Sushma Ji. She had a complaint that we sometimes talk in a bitter manner. She brought sweets today so we could also speak sweetly,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by the Foreign Office.

“We made it clear to her that we want all the matters resolved through dialogue, and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had said in his very first speech that if India takes one step forward, we would take two steps forward.”

Iranian lawmaker says his country does not want direct or proxy war with US

Iran will “under no circumstances” enter a war either directly or indirectly with the United States, a prominent reformist Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday, as both Washington and Tehran try to ease heightened tensions in the region.

The reported comments by Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh come after the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.

India stocks to climb a bit more if Modi wins decisively

Indian shares will reach a new record high by end-year, a Reuters poll of strategists showed, building on an election-driven rally in which investors have bet the ruling party will retain power and continue current economic policies.

The BSE Sensex index rose by its biggest amount in one day since September 2013 on Monday after exit polls showed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will retain power for a second consecutive term.

Final results are due on Thursday.

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22 May 2019

‘Quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf attacks, says Pompeo

President Donald Trump’s administration charged on Tuesday it was “quite possible” Iran was responsible for sabotage of Gulf oil interests, but said its robust response had stopped potential attacks on Americans.

Top Trump officials appeared to be toning down weeks of fiery warnings to Iran before delivering a classified briefing to the full Congress, where rival Democrats have accused the administration of hyping intelligence and pushing the United States dangerously close to war.

Iranian Foreign Minister likely to visit Pakistan this week

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to visit Islamabad later this week for consultations with the Pakistani leadership, a senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday. The visit will take place amidst Iran’s escalating tensions with the United States.

The source said FM Zarif would meet civilian and military leaders during his daylong stay in Islamabad. He said Mr Zarif would discuss the regional situation during his meetings in Islamabad in addition to bilateral matters, especially border security.

Christchurch attacker has been charged with terrorism

The man accused of shooting dead 51 Muslim worshippers in the Christchurch mosque attacks was formally charged with terrorism for the first time on Tuesday, New Zealand police said.

In addition to the terror charge, Brenton Tarrant also faces 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder over the March 15 attacks that rocked the South Pacific nation.”The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch,” police said in a statement.New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has characterised the mosque killings as “a well-planned terrorist attack” since the day Tarrant, a self-described white supremacist, allegedly carried them out.

Indian lawmaker, family members among 11 killed in Arunachal Pradesh ambush

Eleven people, including a lawmaker and four of his family, were killed in an ambush by tribal separatists in the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a senior police official said on Tuesday.

Heavily armed militants fired automatic weapons at the five-vehicle convoy of Tirong Aboh, a member of the legislative assembly for the state seat of Khonsa, in the Tirap district near the border with Myanmar, the police official said.

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21 May 2019

Rise in global sea levels could have ‘profound consequences’

Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica. The long-held view has been that the world’s seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100. This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure. This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say.

White House directs former lawyer not to testify

The White House has directed one of its former legal advisers not to testify to a congressional committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee has issued a legal order for Donald McGahn to appear on Tuesday.

A member of the committee said an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump would be warranted if Mr McGahn does not testify. Mr McGahn told Mr Mueller that Mr Trump repeatedly tried to thwart his inquiry.

Venezuela crisis: President has proposed early National Assembly vote

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has proposed an early election for the National Assembly, headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Addressing supporters in Caracas, Mr Maduro did not set a date for the vote, currently scheduled for late 2020.

The National Assembly has been stripped of its powers since his Socialist Party lost control of it in 2016. Mr Guaidó declared himself interim president in January saying Mr Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

Indonesia election: Joko Widodo re-elected as president

Joko Widodo has been re-elected as Indonesia’s president after last month’s vote, beating former general Prabowo Subianto. The result was released a day ahead of schedule in the early hours of Tuesday, amid fears of violent unrest.

Around 32,000 security personnel were deployed across the capital, Jakarta, AFP news agency reports. Mr Prabowo, 67, has not yet confirmed if he will challenge the result in court. Ahead of the final tally he had alleged “widespread cheating” and warned of potential street protests. In 2014 Mr Prabowo lost a court challenge following an earlier election defeat by Mr Widodo.

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20 May 2019

Saudis say they don’t want war, but will defend themselves

Saudi Arabia does not want war but will not hesitate to defend itself against Iran, a top Saudi diplomat said Sunday, after the kingdom’s energy sector was targeted this past week amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

On Sunday night, a rocket crashed in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the US Embassy, further stoking tensions. No casualties were reported in the apparent attack.

India’s marathon vote ends, Modi on tenterhooks over second term

Voting ended on Sunday in India’s most acrimonious election in decades that will decide whether Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets a second term in power.

As the final polling booths closed, a huge security cordon was thrown around the voting machines and boxes of paper votes used in the 542 seats for the world’s biggest election before the official count starts on Thursday.

China’s ban on scrap imports a boon to US recycling plants

The halt on China’s imports of wastepaper and plastic that has disrupted US recycling programmes has also spurred investment in American plants that process recyclables. US paper mills are expanding capacity to take advantage of a glut of cheap scrap. Some facilities that previously exported plastic or metal to China have retooled so they can process it themselves.

And in a twist, the investors include Chinese companies that are still interested in having access to wastepaper or flattened bottles as raw material for manufacturing.

Operations remain normal for UAE airlines despite US airspace warning

UAE-based airlines continue to operate normally after the United States issued an air safety warning regarding “heightened” military activities in the Middle East, reported Gulf News on Sunday.

A day earlier, American diplomats had warned that commercial airliners flying over the Persian Gulf risk being targeted by “miscalculation or misidentification” from the Iranian military amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the US.

18 May 2019

Iran calls out the international community for just making statements instead of saving the nuclear deal

Iran’s foreign minister is pressing ahead with intense diplomatic efforts to salvage Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers at the centre of a crisis unfolding between Iran and the US.The Trump administration pulled America out of the 2015 deal last year and imposed escalating sanctions ─ the latest levied as recently as last week ─ that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Other signatories to the deal the European Union, France, Britain, China and Russia have been trying to salvage it.

United States airstrikes killed 17 policemen in south Afghanistan

United States airstrikes killed 17 policemen by mistake during a battle with insurgents in the country’s southern Helmand province, Afghan and US military officials said.

Attaullah Afghan, head of the provincial council, said the airstrikes took place around 9pm (local time) on Thursday outside the province’s capital of Lashkar Gah, during clashes between Afghan police and the Taliban. Afghan added that 14 policemen were also wounded in the strikes.

Talks between UK’s two main parties collapse, leading to another deadlock for Brexit

Talks between Britain’s government and opposition aimed at striking a compromise Brexit deal broke down without agreement on Friday, plunging the country back into a morass of uncertainty over its departure from the European Union.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the talks with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government have “gone as far as they can”.

Modi faces backlash for backing candidate Pragya Thakur, who called Gandhi’s killer a patriot

Pragya Thakur, who has been fielded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stirred fresh controversy on Thursday when she called the right-wing Hindu, Nathuram Godse, who killed India’s independence hero Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi in 1948, a patriot.

“Those who call him a terrorist should look within. This election will deliver a fitting reply to such people,” she said.

The BJP quickly distanced itself from the comments and Thakur later apologised.

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17 May 2019

Trump ramps up battle against Chinese telecom giant Huawei

China warned the United States on Thursday against further harming trade ties after President Donald Trump effectively barred Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the US market, escalating tensions between the world’s top economic powerhouses.

At the same time, Beijing’s diplomatic relations with Ottawa further soured as China formally arrested two Canadians on suspicion of snatching state secrets in a case seen as retaliation over Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive on a US extradition request.

EU fines five major banks 1bn euros for currency collusion

The EU’s powerful anti-trust authority on Thursday fined five major banks — including Barclays and Citigroup — more than a billion euros for collusion in the massive foreign exchange currency market.

The European Commission sanctioned Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Japan’s MUFG Bank a total of 1.07 billion euros ($1.2 billion) after finding that traders colluded to fix exchange rates using electronic chat rooms, a statement said.

The commission said Swiss giant UBS received no fine as it revealed the collusion to the authorities.

India’s Election Commission curtails campaign in West Bengal after violence

India’s Election Commission cut off campaigning early in the eastern state of West Bengal after days of clashes in the final stretch of the country’s marathon elections, a drastic and unprecedented action in the world’s largest democracy.

The three-member body said in the order on Thursday that “growing incidents of disruption and violence” were creating a “fear psychosis” among voters, and ordered campaigning to cease by 10pm on Thursday, a day before it had been scheduled to end.

Muslim man killed in new suspected India ‘cow lynching’

Indian police said on Thursday they are probing a suspected fresh case of a Muslim man being killed by so-called Hindu cow vigilantes.

Cows are revered by Hindus and according to Human Rights Watch some 44 people died in cow-related violence by Hindu vigilantes between May 2015 and December last year.

Police said that a group of Muslim men transporting horses became involved in an altercation in a remote mountainous area of Indian-occupied Kashmir before dawn.

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16 May 2019

Sri Lanka is blaming hardline Buddhist groups for the wave of anti-Muslim riots sweeping the island

Sri Lanka said on Wednesday that hardline Buddhist groups were likely to blame for a wave of anti-Muslim riots that swept the island this week in apparent retaliation for Easter bombings that were claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

The April 21 attacks targeted churches and hotels, killing more than 250 people and fuelling fears of a backlash against the nation’s minority Muslims.

The Saudi cabinet is exploring the possibility of ‘privileged Iqamas’ that will allow expatriates to become permanent residents

The Saudi cabinet is deliberating over a proposed scheme to issue ‘Privileged Iqamas’ to expatriates that would allow them to become permanent residents, own properties and start businesses in the kingdom without the need of local sponsors called kafeel, Arab News reported.

It is pertinent to mention here that in the existing system, expatriates cannot start a business without a kafeel, who is required to have a sizeable share in the venture, which often leads to monetary disputes.

The government of Pakistan has condemned the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia

The government of Pakistan condemned the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, according to a Foreign Office (FO) statement.

The attacks forced Riyadh to shut down one of the major oil pipelines ratcheting up Gulf tensions after a mysterious sabotage of several tankers.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in eastern province of Saudi Arabia and expresses its solidarity with Riyadh,” the communique reads.

A Christian poet has been arrested in Bangladesh for his defamatory writing about the clergy

Police in southern Bangladesh arrested a prominent poet Tuesday after he was accused of hurting the religious feelings of the country’s minority Christian community, police said.

Henry Sawpon, a Christian himself, was detained in Barisal, south of the capital Dhaka, after a priest filed a case against him for a series of defamatory writings about the clergy.

“He was arrested under the country’s digital security law for hurting religious sentiments of the Christian community,” Barisal Metropolitan Police commissioner Shahabuddin Khan told the media.

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15 May 2019

Series of mysterious attacks of ships off the coast of the UAE have intrigued Western interest

Washington and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Tehran for what the UAE and Saudi Arabia called the “sabotage” of four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, on Sunday.

But Trump vowed that Tehran would “suffer greatly” were it to “do anything” to threaten US interests. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake,” Trump warned at the White House. “If they do anything they will suffer greatly.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, saying the Islamic republic was “too great to be intimidated by anyone”.

Saudi Arabia said it’s state-run oil company Aramco has been targeted by drone strikes

Just after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed an assault on the kingdom, Saudi Arabia says oil infrastructure sites belonging to the country’s state-run oil company Aramco have been targeted and that at least one of the attacks was carried out by drone strikes.

The state Saudi Press Agency quoted Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying that between 6-6.30am on Tuesday, a petroleum pumping station supplying an east-west pipeline between the Eastern Province and to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea was targeted by drones.

The Chinese Embassy has launched an investigation into 142 cross-border marriages after news broke about the Chinese sex trafficking ring

The interview, published on Tuesday, was conducted in the backdrop of a crackdown against suspected Chinese nationals of their involvement in alleged fake marriages.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has over the past fortnight arrested scores of Chinese nationals and their suspected local abettors from various parts of the country in connection with its investigation into a transnational gang allegedly involved in contracting fake marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women, who are later forced into prostitution and the illegal organ trade.

One Pakistani company is among 12 foreign firms that were added to a US restriction list of entities

Such restrictions aim at “ensuring that sensitive technologies do not fall into the hands of those who would threaten US national security or American citizens,” the US Department of Commerce. The statement did not reveal the names of the companies added to the list but said that organisations or persons who violate these restrictions would face criminal penalties and administrative sanctions.

The Pakistani company is included on the update for allegedly “procuring controlled technology on behalf of that country’s unsafeguarded nuclear activities”, the official US statement said.

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14 May 2019

Britain is worried that conflict might break out “by accident” as tensions rise between the United States and Iran

The warning came as Saudi Arabia said that two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in attacks Sunday that caused “significant damage” to the vessels, one of them as it was heading to pick up Saudi oil to take to the US.

Washington has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf region and said it was deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

After China increases tariffs, the Wall Street stocks plunged

The trade war is clearly not going anywhere. Beijing announced that it will increase tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods from June 1. This is in direct response after the United States more than doubled tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, and also started the process to impose punitive duties on the nearly all Chinese imports.

 “China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to US unilateralism and protectionism,” the ministry said. “China hopes the US will get back to the right track of bilateral trade and economic consultations and meet with China halfway.”

Donald Trumps tweeted a warning to Chinese president and all of his “many friends in China”

As a trade deal is failed to be made, President of the Unite States warn China of the consequences of not reaching a trade deal. This comes in right after China imposes tariff on American goods. Trump tweeted China “had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!”

Trump insisted the tariffs the US has placed on Chinese goods don’t hurt American consumers, saying there is “no reason for the US Consumer to pay the Tariffs”.

After anti-muslim riots, in Sri Lanka imposed a nationwide six-hour night curfew and social media blackout

Sri Lanka imposed a nationwide six-hour night curfew and banned Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Monday after anti-Muslim riots gripped several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter bombings.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the ongoing religious tension in Sri Lanka since the April 21 attacks by suicide bombers on three hotels and three churches which left 258 dead. A night curfew in several towns north of Colombo was lifted at dawn, but reimposed 10 hours later as tensions were fuelled by persistent rumours of mob violence. The curfew was later extended across the island, police said in a statement.

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13 May 2019

Saudi Arabia’s security forces have allegedly killed 8 terrorists in a shootout

The shout occurred in the predominantly Shia region of Qatif. Security forces launched a raid against a suspected militant hideout on the island of Tarot off the coast of the kingdom’s eastern province, a restive region on the Persian Gulf where most of the country’s oil reserves are located.

According to the Saudi officials, after being shot at, security forces engaged with the terrorist cell and killed 8 of their men.

PM Modi claims that clouds can help planes escape radar, gets mercilessly attacked by opposition

While defending his reasoning for ordering Balakot airstrike despite bad weather, PM Modi claimed that Pakistani radars couldn’t penetrate clouds. This lead to a parade of insults from opposition leaders, who took time out of the current election to point out Modi’s mistake.

23 Rohingya girls have been rescued from a human trafficking ring

Officials have rescued 23 young girls from human trafficking ring. After being promised employment, refugees were trafficking into forced prostitution. The ages of the girls ranges from 15-19. The Dhaka police said that they arrested four human traffickers including a Rohingya couple and recovered over 50 Bangladeshi passports from them on Saturday.

An Israeli cabinet minister worries about an attack by Iran as tensions escalate  

An Israeli cabinet member has claims that if tension continue to escalate between Iran and the US, they may be the one’s to suffer. The United States has increased economic and military pressure on Iran, with President Donald Trump on Thursday urging its leaders to talk to him about giving up their nuclear programme and saying he could not rule out an armed confrontation.

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12 May 2019

180,000 Muslims prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the first Friday of Ramzan

The large number of people reached the site “despite checkpoints and a large security presence”. The prayers ended without any major incident, he said. The site in Israel-occupied east Jerusalem is the third holiest in Islam and has proved a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The compound which includes Al-Aqsa is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Female reporter has been killed in Afghanistan’s capital

An Afghan official confirmed that unidentified gunmen had shot and killed a female journalist and adviser to the country’s parliament in the capital Kabul. Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, says that Mena Mangal, a cultural adviser for the lower house of the parliament and former TV presenter, was killed when she was on her way to work Saturday morning.

Rahimi said one or possibly more assailants escaped form the scene. Kabul police have launched an investigation.

The US is sending a Patriot missile-defence system to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran

A warship, USS Arlington, with amphibious vehicles and aircraft on board, will also join the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group in the Gulf. And US B-52 bombers have arrived at a base in Qatar, the Pentagon said.

The US said the moves were a response to a possible threat to US forces in the region by Iran, without specifying. Iran dismissed the claim as nonsense. Tehran has described the deployments as “psychological warfare” aimed at intimidating the country.

Trump claims that North Korea’s nuclear test was not a breach of trust between each other

US President Donald Trump said Friday that North Korea’s recent missile tests were not a “breach of trust.”

“They’re short-range and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no,” he said in an interview with Politico. “These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard.”

Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles Thursday following an earlier drill on Saturday. The North had not launched any since November 2017, shortly before leader Kim Jong Un embarked on diplomatic overtures.

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11 May 2019

Sri Lankan government has ordered mosques to submit copies of sermons

The Sri Lankan government yesterday ordered mosques to crackdown on extremists and to submit copies of sermons after the Easter suicide bombings.

The country has been shajken by the April 21 attacks by jihadists. The attack left 258 dead, and more 500 injured. The Ministry of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs said mosques must not be used for radicalizing congregations.

Iranian cleric’s Friday prayers sermon states that the United States’ navy fleet could be “destroyed with one missile”

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by President Donald Trump’s administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypts Suez Canal on Thursday, the Suez Canal Authority said.

“Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad,… referring to the Abraham Lincoln warship heading to the Gulf, said: ‘Their billion (dollar) fleet can be destroyed with one missile’,” ISNA reported from the central city of Isfahan.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards refuses to negotiate with the United States

epa03878004 Iranian revolutionary guard soldiers march during the annual military parade marking the Iraqi invasion in 1980, which led to an eight-year-long war (1980-1988) in Tehran, Iran, 22 September 2013. Iranian president Hasan Rowhani said that Iran only wants to end the civil war in Syria for avoiding a new escalation of violence in the Middle East. EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

After Trump says that he cannot rule out military action, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced that they will not negotiate with the United States and denied any US attack was even likely.

Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leadership to sit down and talk with him about giving up Tehran’s nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation given the heightened tensions between the two countries.

Trade war continue between China and The US as they refuse to make a deal

Just before the second day of trade negotiations between China and The US, Trump elected to increase the tariff imposed on China. As a result, China would counter-tariff, causing the trade war to continue. Locked in a trade dispute for more than a year, officials from the world’s two biggest economies returned to the bargaining table late Thursday, led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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10 May 2019

Despite wanting Iran to curb nuclear ambition, the EU will still trade with them

The European Union yesterday urged Iran to respect the international agreement curbing the country’s nuclear program. However, they did add that the bloc sill still continue trading with the country. This comes just after the United States renewed sanctions on the republic.

Major EU members — Britain, France and Germany — also said that they “note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments” to the nuclear deal, and did stress that they “reject any ultimatums” coming from the country.

After failing to reach a trade deal, China and the US scramble to protect themselves

Yesterday, two of the world’s largest economies failed a trade deal, leading to both countries placing tariff to each other. This comes after months of seemingly collegial negotiations.

Rather than sealing a deal this week, which is what was assumed, Chinese trade envoy Liu He returned to the bargaining table just hours before Washington was due to ramp up tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in his country’s most valuable exports. This trade war has been going on for over a year now, exchanging tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, hurting the US agricultural exports to China and weighing on both countries’ manufacturing sectors.

India’s Supreme Court dismissed a petition wanting to bar Rahul Gandhi from contesting elections

Opponents of Rahul Gandhi have for a long time accused him of lying about his nationality, alleging that he holds British citizenship. Their proof; a now-defunct British company in which he was once a director.

Since India does not allow dual nationality and only Indian citizens can contest elections, this could have been a major problem. However, the Supreme Court called the petition frivolous and an attempt to start a “roving inquiry” into the long-standing claims against Gandhi.

Malaysia’s government fails to repeal repressive laws after getting into power with a reformist agenda

Malaysia’s government faced criticism for failing to repeal repressive laws and backtracking on promises to improve human rights a year after sweeping to power with a reformist agenda.

A ramshackle coalition headed by veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad stormed to a shock election victory on May 9 last year, toppling a corruption-plagued regime that had led the country since independence from Britain in 1957.

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9 May 2019

Iran has stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed

Iran stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers until they find a way to bypass renewed United States sanctions.

The announcement came as Washington stepped attacked Tehran, accusing it of planning “imminent” attacks and deploying an aircraft carrier strike group with several nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region. Iran is responding to unilateral sanctions that Washington has reimposed.

1 killed and 8 wounded when two male students open fired in a Denver-area school

Two male students armed with handguns burst into a Denver-area school and open fired, killing one classmate and wounding eight before being taken into custody. The suspects, each armed with a handgun, opened fire in two separate classrooms. Devon Erickson, 18, was named as one of the suspects, while the other was identified only as a juvenile. The school serves students from kindergarten through to 12th grade.

China called on all parties to uphold the Iranian nuclear pact

China on called on all parties to uphold the Iranian nuclear pact after Tehran said it would end curbs on its uranium enrichment stockpile unless other powers helped it bypass renewed US sanctions.

China is one of six parties that signed a 2015 deal to lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran’s agreement to rein in nuclear activities and ease fears it was seeking the capability to produce an atomic bomb.

Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weaponry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weaponry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, reiterating the long-held Israeli position after Tehran announced it was scaling back some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal.

Tehran has warned that if the five other parties to the agreement – China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia – failed to deliver on their commitments within 60 days to help Iran benefit from the deal despite the US sanctions, it would suspend other key limits set by the deal.

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