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"Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, gives good copy. Here’s a quote from his final election rally: “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.” And here’s another, from last Sunday, after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime condemned Duterte’s “apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings.” “I do not want to insult you,” Duterte said. (He only called them “stupid.”) “But maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that rude, we might just as well leave. So take us out of your organization. You have done nothing. Never. Except to criticize.” What upset Ban and the UNDOC is the fact that Duterte is having people murdered. Since he took office three months ago, some 900 “suspected drug-dealers” have been shot dead by police and civilian vigilantes acting in his name. None was found guilty by a court, and some, of course, were completely innocent. Duterte is not denying it or apologizing. Before he leaves office, he says, he’ll just give himself an amnesty: “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte.” “The Punisher,” as he was known when he was mayor of Davao, is very serious about his “war on drugs.” He recently said he would kill his own children if they took drugs. But crime is not the Philippines’ biggest problem, and it’s not clear what else he is serious about. He talks vaguely about making the Philippines a federal country, but no details of his policies and plans have emerged. In fact, he has spent most of the time since his election down south in his Davao stronghold, not in Manila. But he does have a plan of sorts for what to do after he walks out of the U.N. He says he may ask China and African countries to walk out too and form a rival organization. He doesn’t know much about China or Africa, so maybe he thinks they would like to get together and defy the parts of the world where governments believe that killing people is wrong. “Duterte Harry” (another nickname) is very popular in the Philippines, but he is not really a threat to global order. The hundred million Filpinos will have to live with him for the next six years, but the U.N. is not doomed. In fact, it is doing better than most people give it credit for. One proof of this is the fact that the secretary general now has the right to criticize a member government merely for killing its own citizens. That’s not what it was designed for. When it was created in 1945, as the catastrophe of World War II was ending, its main goal was to prevent any more wars like that. The founders tried to give it the appearance of a broader moral force by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, but that was mainly window-dressing. The U.N. was created by the great powers to prevent any government from launching another war of international aggression, not to make governments treat their own citizens better. In fact, each major power was effectively guaranteed the right to do whatever it wanted to its own citizens, so long as it did not attack the neighbors. In this, the new U.N. was just recognizing reality, for every great power was determined to preserve its own “sovereignty.” Even for smaller powers, the great powers could rarely agree on what kind of intervention was desirable, and who should do it. The U.N. has done well in its original task: It shares the credit with nuclear weapons for the fact that no great power has fought any other for the past 71 years. It has gradually moved into other areas like peacekeeping and promoting the rule of law in the world, but it never interferes inside the territory of the great powers. Even in smaller countries it almost never intervenes without the invitation of the local government. So when Duterte called the U.N. useless because “if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killings,” he was talking through his hat. Besides, he would never accept U.N. intervention in his own country to deal with an alleged crime wave. He’s just talking tough because he hates being criticized. It’s very unlikely that he will carry out his threat. The U.N. is the keystone in the structure of international law that, among many other things, deters China from settling its territorial dispute with the Philippines by force. Duterte is just a problem for the Philippines, not for the U.N. or the world. Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist and military historian whose articles are published in 45 countries.</s>Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, gives good copy. Here’s a quote from his final election rally: “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.” And here’s another, from last Sunday, after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime condemned Mr Duterte’s “apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings.” “I do not want to insult you,” Duterte said. (He only called them “stupid.”) “But maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that rude, we might just as well leave. So take us out of your organisation. You have done nothing. Never. Except to criticise.” What upset Ban Ki-moon and the UNDOC is the fact that Duterte is having people murdered. Since he took office three months ago, some 900 “suspected drug-dealers” have been shot dead by police and civilian vigilantes acting in his name. None was found guilty by a court, and some, of course, were completely innocent. Duterte is not denying it or apologising. Before he leaves office, he says, he’ll just give himself an amnesty: “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte.” “The Punisher,” as he was known when he was mayor of Davao, is very serious about his “war on drugs”: he recently said he would kill his own children if they took drugs. But crime is not the Philippines’ biggest problem, and it’s not clear what else he is serious about. He talks vaguely about making the Philippines a federal country, but no details of his policies and plans have emerged. In fact, he has spent most of the time since his election down south in his Davao stronghold, not in Manila. But he does have a plan of sorts for what to do after he walks out of the United Nations. He says he may ask China and African countries to walk out too and form a rival organization. He doesn’t know much about China or Africa, so maybe he thinks they would like to get together and defy the parts of the world where governments believe that killing people is wrong. “Duterte Harry” (another nickname) is very popular in the Philippines, but he is not really a threat to global order. The hundred million Filpinos will have to live with him for the next six years, but the United Nations is not doomed. In fact, it is doing better than most people give it credit for. One proof of this is the fact that the Secretary General now has the right to criticise a member government merely for killing its own citizens. That’s not what it was designed for. When it was created in 1945, as the catastrophe of the Second World War was ending, its main goal was to prevent any more wars like that. The founders tried to give it the appearance of a broader moral force by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, but that was mainly window-dressing. The UN was created by the great powers to prevent any government from launching another war of international aggression, not to make governments treat their own citizens better. In fact, each major power was effectively guaranteed the right to do whatever it wanted to its own citizens, so long as it did not attack the neighbours. In this, the new UN was just recognizing reality, for every great power was determined to preserve its own “sovereignty.” Even for smaller powers, the great powers could rarely agree on what kind of intervention was desirable, and who should do it. The UN has done well in its original task: it shares the credit with nuclear weapons for the fact that no great power has fought any other for the past 71 years. It has gradually moved into other areas like peace-keeping and promoting the rule of law in the world, but it never interferes inside the territory of the great powers. Even in smaller countries it almost never intervenes without the invitation of the local government. So when Duterte called the UN useless because “if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killings,” he was talking through his hat. Besides, he would never accept UN intervention in his own country to deal with an alleged crime wave. He’s just talking tough because he hates being criticized. It’s very unlikely that he will carry out his threat. The UN is the keystone in the structure of international law that, among many other things, deters China from settling its territorial dispute with the Philippines by force. Rodrigo Duterte is just a problem for the Philippines, not for the UN or the world. Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.</s>"We are certainly not leaving the U.N.," Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said. "As I've said, the statement of the president is a statement expressing profound disappointment and frustration, and it is not any statement that should indicate a threat to leave the United Nations." President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to leave the U.N. in a speech Sunday after receiving criticism of his approach to drug crime since taking office. The pugnacious new leader made the comments in Davao City, the southern Filipino city where he served as mayor for over two decades. "Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations," he said in English during the address. "If you are that insulting, son of a bitch, we should just leave," he said then in Tagalog, according to a translation by CNN affiliate CNN Philippines. "Take us out of your organization. You have done nothing anyway." He accused the U.N. of ignoring the plight of the country. "When were you here last time? Nothing. Never. Except to criticize." A brutal war on drugs in the Philippines A brutal war on drugs in the Philippines The comments come days after the U.N. urged Duterte's administration to step back from its violent approach to drug crime. The crackdown since Duterte took office in late June has seen over 650 police killings -- deaths Duterte and his top police officer, Roland Dela Rosa, say are justified self-defense killings -- alongside as many as 900 unexplained murders perpetrated by suspected vigilantes. Duterte has also publicly accused dozens of officials and politicians of being involved in the drug trade. A woman cradles her husband, next to a placard which reads "I'm a pusher," who was shot dead in Manila on July 23, 2016. Police patrol a shanty community at night during curfew on June 8, 2016 in Manila. Philippine police have been conducting frequent night raids and revived a curfew for minors that has not been enforced for years. Some 1,000 people whom authorities accused of being drug users and dealers take an oath before local authorities after turning themselves in in Tanauan, the Philippines, on July 18, 2016. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte swept to power on a promise to clamp down on drugs in a two-month crime blitz, encouraging police and even civilians to shoot drug dealers. The country has seen a surge in killings of suspected dealers. A man authorities accused of being a drug user is fingerprinted during the mass surrender of some 1,000 alleged drug users and pushers in the Philippine town of Tanauan, located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Manila on July 18, 2016. A social worker gives counseling to those who have turned themselves in for drug-related crimes in the Philippines on July 18, 2016. A Philippine police forensic investigator displays packets of drugs and a hand gun found inside a shanty where members of a suspected drug syndicate were killed after a shootout with police on July 3, 2016. A suspected female member of a drug syndicate is presented by police in Manila on June 22, 2016. A gun, bullets, marked money and sachets of crystal meth are laid on a table after a drug raid in Manila on June 20, 2016. Police officers stand in formation before the start of "Oplan Rody" on June 1, 2016, a law enforcement operation named after President Duterte, whose nickname is Rody. The U.N. has condemned the approach. "Allegations of drug-trafficking offenses should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets," a report released Thursday quotes human rights experts as saying. "We call on the Philippines authorities to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions," the new U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, said in the report. "Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings." Invitation to investigate welcomed. Ready to "see for myself." https://t.co/K9BIZ3ZFKO — Dr Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) August 19, 2016 Duterte's undiplomatic style has landed him in hot water before. He recently insulted the US Ambassador to the Philippines, calling him a "gay son of a bitch," and prior to taking office used similarly colorful language to complain that Pope Francis' visit to the country had resulted in traffic jams. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. As he addressed troops at the country's Armed Forces Central Command Headquarters on August 5, Duterte recounted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the country, saying in Tagalog that he was feuding with U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. The Philippines president-elect effectively said he supported vigilantism against drug dealers and criminals in a nationally televised speech in June 2016. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Speaking at a press conference to unveil his new cabinet on May 31 2016, Rodrigo Duterte said journalists killed on the job in the Philippines were often corrupt. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. During the third and last presidential debate, Duterte had said that he would plant a Philippine flag in disputed territories should China refuse to recognize a favorable ruling for the Philippines. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Duterte made international headlines in April 2016 with his inflammatory comments on the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary that took place in Davao City. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Foreign diplomats weighing in on Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks did not sit well with the then-mayor. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. He also lashed out at the womens' group that filed a complaint against him before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. At a CNN Philippines Townhall event in February 2016, Duterte, admitted that he had three girlfriends and a common-law wife. His marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman was annulled due to his womanizing, but he denied this meant he objectified women. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Although he later denied the accusations, the former Davao City mayor admitted his links to the alleged Davao death squad in a May 2015 broadcast of his local television talk show. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Duterte apologized to the Pope after cursing him for the traffic he caused during a 2015 Papal visit to the Philippines. Duterte enjoys high levels of support among Filipinos, who he says are tired of the scourge of drugs. However, the new president's approach to drug crime is facing scrutiny within the country, with one of Duterte's most vocal opponents, Senator Leila de Lima, conducting an inquiry into the high numbers of drug-related deaths since he took office. The senator has called Dela Rosa to a senate hearing on the issue. Last week, in a speech to police officials, Duterte launched a deeply personal attack on de Lima, shocking many Filipinos. Duterte stands by his tactics, which he says are justified in ridding the country of drugs. "My orders are for the police to go out and hunt for criminals," he said. 'I tell them to arrest these criminals if they surrender peacefully, but kill them if they put up a violent struggle. I assume full responsibility for what happens."</s>Police records and data gathered by Al Jazeera show close to 6,000 killed since new president took office on June 30. *This story was first published on August 25. Last updated on December 13. *Police records show 5,882 people were killed across the country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. Of that number 2,041 drug suspects were killed during police operations from July 1 to December 6, while another 3,841 were killed by unknown gunmen from July 1 to November 30, according to a local website. Among the latest fatalities was a seven-year-old child on the island of Cebu, who was hit by a stray bullet on December 3, while unknown gunmen were chasing a teenage boy accused of selling drugs. *Based on other sources collected by Al Jazeera, there have been an estimated 5,946 deaths. The number does not include cases still to be reported by police or news outlets in the provinces after December 6. *Al Jazeera has gathered the information of 1,485 people who were killed and the cause of their deaths. Almost six months into the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, police records and data gathered by Al Jazeera show the death toll in his anti-drug war has almost reached 6,000. Despite the mounting toll, Duterte was quoted as saying on Monday that fewer people were being killed, adding "most of them have been finished off anyway, I am not kidding". On Tuesday, he announced the release of $20m to fund the medicine for patients undergoing drug rehabilitation. Recently, human rights groups and activists have denounced the Philippine leader for "steamrolling the rule of law". Top clerics of the Catholic Church have also stepped up criticism against Duterte's drug war policy, while expressing opposition to his plan to re-impose the death penalty on heinous crimes, including drug-related offences. INFOGRAPHIC: Who's liable for the mounting death toll? In August, Duterte hailed his anti-drug campaign saying of the three million suspected drug dependents in the country, 600,000 have turned themselves in to authorities. While saying it does not condone extra-judicial killings, the office of the president said the country should "seize the momentum" in its campaign against illegal drugs. Duterte took his oath as president on June 30 and has vowed to keep his campaign promise of solving the country's illegal drug problem, saying, "I don't care about human rights, believe me." As of December 13, an Al Jazeera investigation has collected information from 1,485 people who were killed across the country.</s>"We are certainly not leaving the U.N.," Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said. "As I've said, the statement of the president is a statement expressing profound disappointment and frustration, and it is not any statement that should indicate a threat to leave the United Nations." President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to leave the U.N. in a speech Sunday after receiving criticism of his approach to drug crime since taking office. The pugnacious new leader made the comments in Davao City, the southern Filipino city where he served as mayor for over two decades. "Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations," he said in English during the address. "If you are that insulting, son of a bitch, we should just leave," he said then in Tagalog, according to a translation by CNN affiliate CNN Philippines. "Take us out of your organization. You have done nothing anyway." He accused the U.N. of ignoring the plight of the country. "When were you here last time? Nothing. Never. Except to criticize." A brutal war on drugs in the Philippines A brutal war on drugs in the Philippines The comments come days after the U.N. urged Duterte's administration to step back from its violent approach to drug crime. The crackdown since Duterte took office in late June has seen over 650 police killings -- deaths Duterte and his top police officer, Roland Dela Rosa, say are justified self-defense killings -- alongside as many as 900 unexplained murders perpetrated by suspected vigilantes. Duterte has also publicly accused dozens of officials and politicians of being involved in the drug trade. A woman cradles her husband, next to a placard which reads "I'm a pusher," who was shot dead in Manila on July 23, 2016. Police patrol a shanty community at night during curfew on June 8, 2016 in Manila. Philippine police have been conducting frequent night raids and revived a curfew for minors that has not been enforced for years. Some 1,000 people whom authorities accused of being drug users and dealers take an oath before local authorities after turning themselves in in Tanauan, the Philippines, on July 18, 2016. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte swept to power on a promise to clamp down on drugs in a two-month crime blitz, encouraging police and even civilians to shoot drug dealers. The country has seen a surge in killings of suspected dealers. A man authorities accused of being a drug user is fingerprinted during the mass surrender of some 1,000 alleged drug users and pushers in the Philippine town of Tanauan, located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Manila on July 18, 2016. A social worker gives counseling to those who have turned themselves in for drug-related crimes in the Philippines on July 18, 2016. A Philippine police forensic investigator displays packets of drugs and a hand gun found inside a shanty where members of a suspected drug syndicate were killed after a shootout with police on July 3, 2016. A suspected female member of a drug syndicate is presented by police in Manila on June 22, 2016. A gun, bullets, marked money and sachets of crystal meth are laid on a table after a drug raid in Manila on June 20, 2016. Police officers stand in formation before the start of "Oplan Rody" on June 1, 2016, a law enforcement operation named after President Duterte, whose nickname is Rody. The U.N. has condemned the approach. "Allegations of drug-trafficking offenses should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets," a report released Thursday quotes human rights experts as saying. "We call on the Philippines authorities to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions," the new U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, said in the report. "Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings." Invitation to investigate welcomed. Ready to "see for myself." https://t.co/K9BIZ3ZFKO — Dr Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) August 19, 2016 Duterte's undiplomatic style has landed him in hot water before. He recently insulted the US Ambassador to the Philippines, calling him a "gay son of a bitch," and prior to taking office used similarly colorful language to complain that Pope Francis' visit to the country had resulted in traffic jams. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. As he addressed troops at the country's Armed Forces Central Command Headquarters on August 5, Duterte recounted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the country, saying in Tagalog that he was feuding with U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. The Philippines president-elect effectively said he supported vigilantism against drug dealers and criminals in a nationally televised speech in June 2016. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Speaking at a press conference to unveil his new cabinet on May 31 2016, Rodrigo Duterte said journalists killed on the job in the Philippines were often corrupt. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. During the third and last presidential debate, Duterte had said that he would plant a Philippine flag in disputed territories should China refuse to recognize a favorable ruling for the Philippines. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Duterte made international headlines in April 2016 with his inflammatory comments on the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary that took place in Davao City. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Foreign diplomats weighing in on Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks did not sit well with the then-mayor. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. He also lashed out at the womens' group that filed a complaint against him before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. At a CNN Philippines Townhall event in February 2016, Duterte, admitted that he had three girlfriends and a common-law wife. His marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman was annulled due to his womanizing, but he denied this meant he objectified women. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Although he later denied the accusations, the former Davao City mayor admitted his links to the alleged Davao death squad in a May 2015 broadcast of his local television talk show. Rodrigo Duterte has said some outrageous things. Duterte apologized to the Pope after cursing him for the traffic he caused during a 2015 Papal visit to the Philippines. Duterte enjoys high levels of support among Filipinos, who he says are tired of the scourge of drugs. However, the new president's approach to drug crime is facing scrutiny within the country, with one of Duterte's most vocal opponents, Senator Leila de Lima, conducting an inquiry into the high numbers of drug-related deaths since he took office. The senator has called Dela Rosa to a senate hearing on the issue. Last week, in a speech to police officials, Duterte launched a deeply personal attack on de Lima, shocking many Filipinos. Duterte stands by his tactics, which he says are justified in ridding the country of drugs. "My orders are for the police to go out and hunt for criminals," he said. 'I tell them to arrest these criminals if they surrender peacefully, but kill them if they put up a violent struggle. I assume full responsibility for what happens."</s>MANILA, Philippines (AP) — On the day he was sworn into office, President Rodrigo Duterte went to a Manila slum and exhorted residents who knew any drug addicts to "go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful." Two months later, nearly 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users lay dead as morgues continue to fill up. Faced with criticism of his actions by rights activists, international bodies and outspoken Filipinos, including the top judge, Duterte has stuck to his guns and threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court meddles in his work. According to a survey early last month, he has the support of nearly 91 percent of Filipinos. The independent poll was done during his first week in office, and no new surveys have come out since then. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a Senate hearing this week that police have recorded more than 1,900 dead, including 756 suspected drug dealers and users who were gunned down after they resisted arrest. More than 1,000 other deaths are under investigation, and some of them may not be drug-related, he said. Jayeel Cornelio, a doctor of sociology and director of Ateneo de Manila University's Development Studies Program, said he suspects only a few of Duterte's supporters are disillusioned by the killings and his rhetoric because voters trust his campaign promise to crush drug criminals. They also find resonance in his cursing and no-holds-barred comments. Duterte's death threats against criminals, his promise to battle corruption, his anti-establishment rhetoric and gutter humor have enamored Filipinos living on the margins of society. He overwhelmingly won the election, mirroring public exasperation over the social ills he condemns. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has said the killings "may be a necessary evil in the pursuit of a greater good," a sentiment echoed by a deluge of comments by Duterte supporters in social media deriding his critics and defending the brutal war on drugs. "The killings are OK so there will be less criminals, drug pushers and drug addicts in our society," said Rex Alisoso, a 25-year-old cleaner in Manila. He said people have gotten used to the way Duterte talks and voted for him knowing his ways. Kim Labasan, a Manila shopkeeper, said she does not like Duterte's constant swearing, his "stepping on too many toes," and his decision to allow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery. But she supports the anti-drug war despite the rising death toll because, she said, she has personally seen the effects of drugs. Addicts in her hometown north of Manila have ended up with "poisoned brains" and even robbed her family's home. "A battle of moralities is being waged right now by this administration — before, if you were a human rights advocate you are a hero of the country, now you are seen as someone who can destroy the country," Cornelio said. He said that Duterte fosters "penal populism" — identifying a particular enemy, a criminal, and then hunting him down to death. Because the results are visible, tangible and people feel it, "it becomes more important than many other things to the ordinary person." Duterte has said drugs were destroying the country. In his State of the Nation Address last month, he said "human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country." He also lashed out at U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, calling him gay in derogatory terms, after he criticized Duterte's rape comments during the presidential campaign. He threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations because of U.N. comments condemning extrajudicial killings, saying he did not "give a shit" about the consequences. The following day, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines was not leaving the U.N. and Duterte made the comment only because he was tired, angry and frustrated. Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, said Duterte "is streamrolling the rule of law and its advocates both at home and abroad." The killings suggest his aggressive rhetoric advocating extrajudicial solutions to criminality has found a receptive audience, Kine said. "His supporters are cheering him on, but wait till one of them is killed," said Ferdie Monasterio, a driver of a ride-sharing company who doesn't support Duterte. "He is no different from Marcos and it looks like he wants to establish a dictatorship." Cornelio said the death toll is not the clincher in turning public sentiment against Duterte, because a lot of people look at them as justified killings. He said that Dutere's first year in office will be crucial since he promised quick action. "I think the threshold has to do with the delivery of the promises," he said. "Are changes going to happen sooner or later? If they don't then, people will start getting disillusioned."</s>Improving the quality of life of the people is the better option than violence. MANILA – An urban poor group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider its violent approach to end the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially in urban poor communities, by addressing the root causes of their impoverished conditions. In a statement, Kadamay said the proliferation of illegal drugs in urban poor communities is “symptomatic of the extreme poverty levels being experienced by the people, and as such, improving their quality of life is the better option than violence.” “Can the president conclusively say that violence and police operations are better solutions to the drug problem than raising the standards of living? With jobs, education and health services, most Filipinos will not need to turn to drugs or at the very least be able to afford the currently high cost of rehabilitation in the country,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said. Nearly a thousand has been killed in the name of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. Rights groups and church workers have assailed that those killed, for supposedly resisting arrest, belong to poor families. This week, an audio recording of a police operation in Pasay City surfaced in which pedicab driver Eric Sison amid police pursuit, was heard pleading “Ito po! Ito po! Susuko na ako” (Here I am! I will surrender) followed by a series of gunshots. The police said they are already conducting an investigation. In a television interview, one police officer claimed that voice heard in the audio recording was not that of the pedicab driver but of a police officer. But the pedicab driver’s family and neighbors described the shooting as “overkill.” Children most vulnerable in drug campaign The youngest casualty of the illegal drug campaign, as described in news reports, is five-year-old Danica May, a granddaughter of tricycle driver Maximo Garcia in Mayombo village, Pangasinan who surrendered to the police after learning he was listed in its drug watch. News reports said the Garcia family was having lunch on Aug. 23 when a man opened fired at their house, killing the child and wounding Garcia in the stomach. Garcia, 53, is recuperating in a hospital. Children rights group Salinlahi assailed Danica May’s killing, saying that children belonging to families without decent livelihood in urban poor communities are exposed to such violence. Salinlahi secretary general Kharlo Manano said, “We are one with the Duterte administration’s intention to eliminate illegal drugs in the country, but we should always consider the social context of poor children and their families. If the killings do not stop, more and more children will be caught in the middle of this bloody war.”</s>DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 Aug) — President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to leave the United Nations (UN) amid its criticisms on the current administration’s campaign against illegal drugs that allegedly shot up the cases of extrajudicial killings. He told an early morning press conference at the Malacañang of the South at the Department of Public Works and Highways 11 in Panacan that he might just decide to part ways with the UN and invite China and African countries to form a new organization. “So the next time you issue it, I do not want to insult you. But maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations,” Duterte said. He also criticized the international organization for not doing anything to help the country. “So take us out of your organization – you have done nothing here, anyway, also. When were you here the last time? Never. Except to criticize. You do…Food world? Where’s the food? There’s the world, but there is no food. World Hunger Organization, maybe,” he said. But Duterte said the country will only leave the UN if it would refund the Philippines with all its contributions and use the money to build more rehabilitation centers around the country. “The joke is on you. You have to refund me with these so many contributions that we have made all these years. Isauli ninyo contributions namin and we will go out. We contribute a certain amount for the maintenance of UN, right? Oh, you return the money to us and we will go out,” he said. He also asked the UN, “when have you done a good deed to my country?” The UN, an intergovernmental organization that promotes international cooperation, with 51 founding member states including the Philippines, was established on October 24, 1945 after World War II. A Filipino diplomat, Carlos P. Romulo, became President of the UN General Assembly from 1949 to 1950. Amid the criticisms on the extrajudicial killings, Duterte hit the UN for falling short of respect to him as the country’s chief executive. Duterte said that the UN must observe proper protocol by sending its representative to personally talk to him before the international organization issued a statement hitting him for the rising cases of extrajudicial killings when he assumed post on June 30. “You observe protocol because if you do that directly you are addressing yourself to me. Remember that I am – I do not like to say it because I wanted to be called Mayor still – I am the President of the sovereign,” he told. Duterte, who is known for his scathing words, was apparently irked with UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Dainius Puras’ pronouncements, and said, “ you have fallen short of the protocol for respect and you want me to respect you? You must be s**t. Do not criticize immediately.” He told the American UN representatives “bastos ka (you are rude)” and went on to say they could even do anything about the killings happening within their country. “Tell this American, show your respect first. Because sabihin ko, why are you Americans killing the black people there, shooting them down, when they are already on the ground? Answer that question, even if it is one, two, or three, it’s still human rights violations,” he said. Unfazed with UN’s call to end extrajudicial killings, the President said he is willing to meet with these the UN representatives to disprove their accusations. “Okay, you guys, you law expert of the United Nations, come here, come here and face me and make the accusations and I will show you the statistics and I will hold your finger and teach you how to count,” he said. Duterte told the UN to also look at the efforts of the government in protecting its people and not only the increasing number of criminals who were reportedly killed after resisting arrest. But the President said even the authorities could sometimes be killed in pursuing their fight against illegal drugs. “The other day I lost two soldiers who where assisting the police. This time it is the police, a day after. We lose about two policemen a day in connection with the drug campaign,” he said. Duterte said that he assumes full responsibility for the police drug operations that resulted to bloody combat with drug suspects. Duterte challenged to compare the current statistics on killings with the previous administration. “And I would ask him, compare it with the previous administration. Same deaths, but these are the innocent children being killed, raped, victims of hold-up and everything, this time, almost with the same number, but it is the criminals who are dying. You can hardly hear now of a student waylaid or a hold-up victim in a bus,” he said. He also hit Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for just “counting the dead criminals and never made a comparison of the dead victims, innocent people, law-abiding people being killed in the streets.” Duterte reiterated that he has obligation to protect the innocent, law-abiding citizens and “was never tasked by any law to protect the life of the criminals.” “I was never born to protect evil. I was born in this universe to suppress evil. I was not raised by my parents, I did not go to Roman Catholic schools and Ateneo and San Beda and talk how to protect the evil doers. I grew up and (was) taught by my parents to be on the side of fairness, to protect the good, and to take care of your country,” he said. He said that the drug menace is not just “epidemic but pandemic.” “So what am I supposed to do as a President? Empower the military and the police for after all they are there to protect the integrity and preserve the people of the Philippines,” he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)</s>Jaypee Bertes was bruised and battered, his arm broken. He had three bullets in him. He asked for a doctor. “He was leaning on the bars and had a hard time standing,” his widow Harra Kazuo told the senators of her husband and his father at the police station. “He had a difficult time speaking. That was the last time I saw them alive.” Bertes, a small-time drug dealer, and his father are now just two of a grim statistic – two of the 1,916 who have died in the Philippines police’s “war on drugs”, unleashed barely eight weeks ago, as new hard man president Rodrigo Duterte had promised during his election campaign “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal,” Duterte had told police of dealing with the drug lords, suggesting the public get involved too. And they have taken his injunction to heart. Of the total dead, 756 were suspects killed by the unleashed police and 1,160 were killed “outside police operations”, many by vigilantes. How many were involved in drug pushing is unclear and there was undoubtedly some score settling by drug pushers too. According to the government, faced by a barrage of international and domestic criticism, the new tough policy is paying dividends – 600,000 plus of the country 3.7 million users have reportedly surrendered themselves to the police to avoid arrest. To little avail in Bertes’s case, as the seven-month-pregnant Kazuo this week told a committee of the senate to inquire into the killings. Wearing large sunglasses and partly covering her face with a shawl to protect her identity, she claimed he had been preparing to surrender to the police because he was afraid he would be killed. The police had beaten and threatened to shoot him if he did not hand over his drugs, but he had nothing to give them. They strip-searched their two-year- old daughter looking for drugs. When his father Renato Bertes arrived and demanded to see a warrant he was told simply by one officer “If you want, we can shoot you all here.” He too would die. Duterte, a controversial former mayor and prosecutor who rose to power after a landslide election victory in May, brought his local police chief Ronald dela Rosa with him from Davao to Manila to head the national force. In Davao, the Philippines’s second city, he had previously waged a similar “successful” campaign. Hundreds died. “We are not butchers,” dela Rosa told the sceptical senators. Duterte, a thin-skinned, Trump-like demagogue – though he hates the comparison and leans politically to the left – has lashed out at critics. In response to UN concerns Duterte threatened to pull the Philippines out of the international body. He has threatened to shut down the legislature if it hinders his plans and possible martial law. He warned Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno not to create “conflict” after she urged members of the judiciary linked by him to illegal drugs not to surrender without a warrant. Journalists have been told they are not protected from assassination And he has launched a bitter attack on former justice secretary, senator Leila de Lima, who instigated the senate hearings, accusing her while minister of having an affair with her driver/ bodyguard, who allegedly collected money from drug lords detained in Manila’s New Bilibid prison. She vigorously denies the charges. And, apparently aping Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, Duterte has now turned his fire on public servants, promising in his “campaign against corruption” to fire every official appointed by a previous president. Many weary Filipinos see in Duterte’s over-reach a replaying of their political system’s sorry history of autocratic and corrupt rulers. “To Filipinos, it’s just politics as usual – the manipulations of a game of thrones, so to speak,” says author Miguel Syjuco. He writes of a “deeply entrenched culture of impunity”. He recalls Ferdinand Marcos whose brutal and deeply corrupt legacy Duterte is seeking to revive with reburial of the dictator’s body with full honours . And former president Gloria Arroyo, who, despite facing charges of graft, has recently been named deputy speaker of congress, and former members of whose cabinet now comprise the majority of Duterte’s inner circle. It is likely that only international pressure will stay his hand. But the EU, for example, which in 2014 granted the Philippines, alone among Asean member-states, tariff- free access, is not taking a view yet. Franz Jessen, the head of the EU delegation, says: “Right now, we are looking at the developments. We are not making any conclusion about what would happen later on. We have to wait and see.” Last year EU exports to the Philippines rose 18 per cent to €6.8 billion.</s>Is the media serving justice to alleged victims of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs? No, if we go by the headline of the banner story of the Thursday issue of another national broadsheet about a five-year-old girl being the “latest fatality” in the drug war. The headline made the story into a case of another drug-related killing, taking the police angle despite claims to the contrary by the family of the man who was shot in a Dagupan City incident, protesting against the police’s inclusion of his name in a drug watch list. The story’s spin was that the granddaughter was what the newspaper called “collateral damage” in the government’s crackdown on the drug menace and its Pied Pipers across the archipelago. Yes, a “gunman” had supposedly targeted the grandfather but missed, and accidentally shot and killed the young girl. Although early in the narrative the story did not make a connection between the shooter and the old man, the account segued to the police chief of the northern city where the tragedy happened as having “theorized that drug dealers were behind the attack.” It was not clear from the story what the basis of the theory was. No detail was given about the local police chief’s comment, not even a qualifier saying the reporter made the necessary follow-up question about that drug-watch list and its basis, and if such question had received any reply. After all, it may not be a farfetched possibility that the assailant could have also just been trying to settle a personal score with the old man and that the shooting had nothing to do with illegal drugs at all? Authorities, however, had to first produce the attacker, but the story said nothing more about what happened with the suspect after the incident. The grandfather’s wife said her husband had never been involved in illegal drugs and feared that the “killers may come back for [him].” Well, the old man survived the shooting and the burden to prove his innocence now lies with him. In the event he is as clean as a whistle, as his wife portrays him to be, then the description of the girl being “collateral damage” collapses. If, on the other hand, the grandfather is guilty of any illegal drugs connection, then the entire sorry episode cannot be automatically blamed on the government’s war on drugs but on the individual shooter, as may or may not have been provoked by the victim himself. The local police chief referred to the attackers as “drug dealers.” The victim could have also been a drug user or a drug pusher even before the Duterte administration took over. Obviously, the headline of the story chose to side with the police description of the matter as a drug-related killing perpetrated by private participants in the illegal drugs trade, punching holes in the government crackdown on this crime as nothing more than a bloody foray to meet a deadline and everything about a drive against criminality gone berserk. There was this other story about a supposedly very young boy who was a heroin addict, according to Janet Cooke, the reporter who wrote the Pulitzer-winning piece for The Washington Post in 1981. Cooke said in her report “Jimmy” injected himself with heroin. Her editors believed her, but later faced with incontrovertible proof that she had fabricated the story, the paper was forced to return her prize. While the modern news media’s duty to report the facts now comes with the responsibility of connecting the dots for the readers, when faced with two conflicting sides in the same story, choosing to highlight the angle that favors one side without providing factual back-up for that choice could be as oppressive as hiding the truth itself."
"The death toll in Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs reaches 1,900 people killed."
"(CNN) More than 80 ISIS targets were attacked in the first hours of "Operation Euphrates Shield" early Wednesday, officials say, as Turkish armor and warplanes targeted a key ISIS-held town across its border with Syria. Jarablus is one of the few towns in northern Syria that ISIS still controls and is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming into ISIS-held areas. In recent months, much of Turkey's firepower has been directed at the Kurdish separatist PKK in southeastern Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq. It has also occasionally shelled ISIS positions in northern Syria, but its last-known airstrikes against ISIS were in November last year. Why is Turkey doing this now? Turkish authorities have been pressed into taking action against ISIS by the surge of suicide bombings in Turkey, as well as the terror group's use of safe houses and "informal" financial services on Turkish soil. "Daesh should be completely cleansed from our borders, and we are ready to do that," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. Ankara may also have calculated that ISIS is especially vulnerable, after many of its remaining fighters fled Manbij, another key stronghold in Syria. The town was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces backed by the United States. ISIS' lines of communication and resupply have now been disrupted and it's taken heavy losses across northern Syria in recent months. But Turkey is anxious that ISIS' vulnerability could provide an opportunity for their "other" enemy in northern Syria -- the Kurdish YPG militia -- who have taken several villages near Jarablus recently. What does Turkey want to achieve? Turkey has several aims. One is to degrade ISIS in this area -- to push the threat it poses away from the Turkish border and make infiltration harder. Beyond that, Turkey wants this part of Syria to become part of its sphere of influence. If it can clear this area of ISIS, it plans to inject Syrian rebel groups that it supports, according to officials. Several hundred are currently massed on the border, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights. The advantage for Turkey in putting its "own" groups into this part of Syria is to stop the Kurdish advance in its tracks. Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group indistinguishable from the PKK, which it battles on a daily basis in south-eastern Turkey. The Syrian Kurds have made no secret of their desire to expel ISIS and link the two regions of northern Syria they already control. They would then oversee much of Syria's border with Turkey. Hence the words of Erdogan Wednesday: "Turkey is determined that Syria retains its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that unity." How much is Turkey working with coalition partners? "We are working together with the coalition regarding air support," Cavusoglu said Wednesday. In addition, it's likely that the US is providing intelligence and targeting data to Turkish forces using unmanned aerial vehicles from the Incirlik air base. The US has long urged Turkey to become more involved in operations against ISIS in northern Syria, but relations have been strained by the crackdown following the coup attempt in Turkey last month and a surge of anti-US sentiment in Turkey. Cooperating in a substantial effort to weaken ISIS -- just as Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Ankara -- is one way to overcome a troubled few weeks. Additionally, in light of the sudden rapprochement between Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the US wants to reinforce its partnership with Turkey. The US is also sending a message to the Syrian Kurds, its most effective partner on the ground in this region: that American support is not a blank check and that they should not provoke the Turks by moving on Jarablus. Will Turkey will get sucked in further? If the aim of the operation is to expel ISIS from Jarablus and surrounding areas, it's unlikely to be achieved in days. Manbij took weeks to clear, despite a ground offensive and hundreds of US airstrikes. One problem is the risk of substantial civilian casualties. ISIS frequently uses civilians as human shields, preventing them from leaving urban areas, to make targeting more difficult. Perhaps the greatest risk is that this incursion on the ground will spill over into conflict with Kurdish forces. But the Kurds will realize that with their light, outmoded weaponry, they are no match for Turkish tanks. The US is likely encouraging the YPG -- to which it indirectly supplies weapons and training -- to stay out of this. Additionally, Syrian Kurdish sources say they believe Turkey would like nothing better than a pretext to go after the YPG. But if the Kurds don't return to the eastern banks of the Euphrates -- Turkey's "red line" -- the operation against ISIS could evolve into something very different -- perhaps a broader operation that also focuses on the YPG. Turkish public opinion is likely to support this operation, in light of recent attacks blamed on ISIS, so long as its scope and duration is defined. But in Damascus, the Assad regime has bitterly criticized it as a "blatant breach to its sovereignty." The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "substituting (ISIS) with other terrorist organizations backed directly by Turkey" is not "fighting terrorism."</s>BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say Turkish airstrikes have hit their bases near Jarablus, a town seized by Turkey-backed rebels earlier this week. The Jarablus Military Council says the airstrikes Saturday on their bases in Amarneh village marked an "unprecedented and dangerous escalation" and came after Turkish artillery shelled the positions the day before. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the airstrikes. Turkish officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Turkish troops head to the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels retake the key Islamic State-held town of Jarablus and to contain the expansion of Syria's Kurds in an area bordering Turkey .(AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal) The Jarablus Military Council is supported by the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces. Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels capture Jarablus from the Islamic State group. The incursion was partly aimed at containing Kurdish-led forces. Turkey says the Kurds must withdraw to the east of the nearby Euphrates River. Turkish troops head to the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels retake the key Islamic State-held town of Jarablus and to contain the expansion of Syria's Kurds in an area bordering Turkey. (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal) Turkish tanks head to the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels retake the key Islamic State-held town of Jarablus and to contain the expansion of Syria's Kurds in an area bordering Turkey. (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal) Turkish ambulances return from the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels retake the key Islamic State-held town of Jarablus and to contain the expansion of Syria's Kurds in an area bordering Turkey. (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal) A Turkish army tank stationed overlooks the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels retake the key Islamic State-held town of Jarablus and to contain the expansion of Syria's Kurds in an area bordering Turkey.(AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal)</s>ANKARA (Reuters) - A car bomb at a police headquarters in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast killed at least eleven and wounded dozens on Thursday, officials said, two days after Turkey launched an incursion against Islamic State and Kurdish terrorists in Syria. The state-run Anadolu news agency blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a terror group which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy and has been involved in almost daily clashes with security forces since a ceasefire collapsed more than a year ago. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Large plumes of smoke billowed from the site in Cizre, located in Turkey’s Sirnak province bordering both Syria and Iraq, footage on CNN Turk showed. The broadcaster said a dozen ambulances and two helicopters had been sent to the scene. Hospital sources initially told Reuters that nine people were killed and 64 wounded, but an official later said the toll was eight. It was not clear whether the casualties were civilians or police officers. Photographs broadcast by private channel NTV showed a large three-floor building reduced to its concrete shell, with no walls or windows, and surrounded by grey rubble. Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes launched their first major incursion into Syria on Wednesday in support of Syrian rebels, in an operation President Tayyip Erdogan has said is aimed both at driving Islamic State away from the border area and preventing territorial gains by the Kurdish YPG militia. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died since the rebels took up arms in Turkey in 1984. Turkish troops fired on YPG terrorists in northern Syria on Thursday. Also on Thursday, Interior Minister Efkan Ala accused the PKK of attacking a convoy carrying the country’s main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The government has blamed the PKK for a series of terror attacks this month in the southeast. The group has claimed responsibility for at least one attack on a police station.</s>Turkey has suffered a deadly bomb blast and an unprecedented threat by a Syrian group, as it faces an escalation of its battle with Kurdish militants. A truck bomb at a police headquarters in Cizre, in the Kurdish heartlands of the southeast, killed 11 people and wounded over 70 yesterday morning, in the latest indication that the Syrian conflict threatens to increase tensions within Turkey itself. The blast came just hours after a Syrian Kurdish group called for retaliation against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sending Turkish forces into the country this week. In an ostensibly anti-jihadi operation, Turkish troops, supplemented by Turkish-trained Syrian rebels, thwarted Kurdish plans for territorial expansion on Wednesday by taking over Jarablus, a Syrian town Isis had held since July 2013. “Death to Erdogan and his mercenaries,” said a group known as the council of Aleppo, in a statement shared by the political arm of the Syrian Kurdish militias. “We call on all the national revolutionary forces in Syria and to its north to face this invasion and to intervene immediately. Jarablus and north Syria will be a graveyard for the murderous invader Erdogan and his mercenaries.” Control of Jarablus was a central goal of Kurdish militias in Syria, who had hoped to join two separate cantons they control in the north of the country and create a self-administered state along Turkey’s southern border. The Syrian Kurdish militia is closely linked to the PKK, an outlawed group that has waged a conflict for more than 30 years to win self-rule for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, a battle in which tens of thousands of people have died. Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a consultancy, warned Ankara’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria was likely to exacerbate its long-running tensions with the PKK and could invite further attacks from Isis. “This aggressive move will raise the stakes for Turkey’s involvement in Syria and introduces the risk of a further intervention to support rebel forces if they come under stress in the future,” he said. “In the meantime, Turkey’s exposure to Syria will increase domestic security risks and is likely to provoke retaliatory attacks by Isis and the PKK in Turkey.” The Turkey-backed rebels now intend to expand their corridor of influence, after the US pressured the Syrian Kurdish fighters to disperse from Manbij, a town they had helped liberate from Isis “The next step is Al Bab,” said Mohammad al Shamali, a vice-president with the Turkmen Council, a group of fighters backed by Turkey, and rivals of both Isis and the Kurdish militias. He was referring to an Isis controlled city about 20km from Aleppo.</s>KARKAMIS, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish troops fired on U.S.-backed Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria on Thursday, highlighting the complications of an incursion meant to secure the border region against both Islamic State and Kurdish advances. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered Jarablus, one of Islamic State’s last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border, on Wednesday. But President Tayyip Erdogan and senior government officials have made clear the aim of “Operation Euphrates Shield” is as much about stopping the Kurdish YPG militia seizing territory and filling the void left by Islamic State as it is about eliminating the ultra-hardline Islamist group itself. A Turkish security source said the army shelled the People’s Protection Units (YPG) south of Jarablus. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency described the action as warning shots. Gunfire and explosions echoed around hills in the region on Thursday, a day after the incursion first began. Some of the blasts were triggered as Turkish security forces cleared mines and booby traps left by retreating Islamic State militants, according to Nuh Kocaaslan, the mayor of Karkamis, which sits just across the border from Jarablus. He said three Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were killed but no Turkish troops. Turkey, which has NATO’s second biggest armed forces, demanded that the YPG retreat to the east side of the Euphrates river within a week. The Kurdish militia had moved west of the river earlier this month as part of a U.S.-backed operation, now completed, to capture the city of Manbij from Islamic State. Ankara views the YPG as a threat because of its close links to Kurdish militants waging a three-decade-old insurgency on its own soil. It has been alarmed by the YPG’s gains in northern Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, fearing it could extend Kurdish control along Turkish borders and fuel the ambitions of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. Turkey’s stance has put it at odds with Washington, which sees the YPG as a rare reliable ally on the ground in Syria, where Washington is trying to defeat Islamic State while also opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s government in a complex, multi-sided, five-year-old civil war. The Syrian Kurdish force is one of the most powerful militias in Syria and regarded as the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed alliance formed last October to fight Islamic State. Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said the Kurdish PYD party, the political arm of the YPG, wanted to unite Kurdish-controlled cantons east of Jarablus with those further west. “We cannot let this happen,” he said. “Islamic State should be completely cleansed, this is an absolute must. But it’s not enough for us ... The PYD and the YPG militia should not replace Islamic State there,” Isik told Turkish broadcaster NTV. EUPHRATES U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone on Thursday that YPG fighters were retreating to the east side of the Euphrates, as Turkey has demanded, foreign ministry sources in Ankara said. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said the SDF had withdrawn across the Euphrates, doing so “to prepare for the eventual liberation” of Raqqa, the radical group’s stronghold which lies further east. Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016. Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office/Handout via REUTERS Isik said the retreat was not yet complete and Washington had given assurances that this would happen in the next week. “If the PYD does not retreat to east of the Euphrates, we have the right to do everything about it,” the minister said. The offensive is Turkey’s first major military operation since a failed July 15 coup shook confidence in its ability to step up the fight against Islamic State. It came four days after a suicide bomber suspected of links to the group killed 54 people at a wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who met Erdogan during a trip to Turkey on Wednesday, said Turkey was ready to stay in Syria for as long as it takes to destroy the radical Islamist group. “I think there has been a gradual mind shift ... in Turkey, with the realization that ISIL is an existential threat to Turkey,” he told reporters during a visit to Sweden, using an acronym for the militant group. A Turkish official said the ground incursion had been in the works for more than two years but had been delayed by U.S. reservations, resistance from some Turkish commanders, and a stand-off with Russia which had made air cover impossible. Turkey had made the case more strongly to Washington over the past few months, had patched up relations with Russia, and had removed some of the Turkish commanders from their posts after finding they were involved in the coup attempt, paving the way for the operation to go ahead, the official said. The incursion comes at a testing time for Turkish-U.S. relations. Erdogan wants the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for 17 years and whose religious movement Turkey blames for staging last month’s failed coup. Washington says it needs clear evidence of Gulen’s involvement and that it is a matter for the courts, a position that has sparked an outpouring of anti-Americanism from Turkey’s pro-government media. Gulen denies any role in the coup attempt. REBELS ADVANCE The sound of gunfire, audible from a hill on the Turkish side of the border overlooking Jarablus, rang out on Thursday and black smoke rose over the town. War planes flew overhead. A senior Turkish official said there were now more than 20 Turkish tanks inside Syria and that additional tanks and construction machinery would be sent in as required. A Reuters witness saw at least nine tanks enter on Thursday, and 10 more were waiting outside a military outpost on the Turkish side. “We need construction machinery to open up roads ... and we may need more in the days ahead. We also have armored personnel carriers that could be used on the Syrian side. We may put them into service as needed,” the official said. Erdogan said on Wednesday that Islamic State had been driven out of Jarablus and that it was now controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, who are largely Arab and Turkmen. “The myth that the YPG is the only effective force fighting Islamic State has collapsed,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, reflecting Turkish frustration at how closely Washington has been working with the Kurdish militia. Slideshow (13 Images) Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish PYD, said on Wednesday that Turkey was entering a “quagmire” in Syria and faced defeat there like Islamic State. Redur Xelil, spokesman for the YPG, said the intervention was a “blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs”. After seizing Jarablus, the Turkish-backed rebels have advanced up to 10 km (6 miles) south of the border town, rebel sources and a group monitoring the war said. But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said Kurdish-backed forces opposed by Ankara had gained up to 8 km of ground northwards, apparently seeking to pre-empt advances by the rebels.</s>(CNN) More than 80 ISIS targets were attacked in the first hours of "Operation Euphrates Shield" early Wednesday, officials say, as Turkish armor and warplanes targeted a key ISIS-held town across its border with Syria. Jarablus is one of the few towns in northern Syria that ISIS still controls and is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming into ISIS-held areas. In recent months, much of Turkey's firepower has been directed at the Kurdish separatist PKK in southeastern Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq. It has also occasionally shelled ISIS positions in northern Syria, but its last-known airstrikes against ISIS were in November last year. Why is Turkey doing this now? Turkish authorities have been pressed into taking action against ISIS by the surge of suicide bombings in Turkey, as well as the terror group's use of safe houses and "informal" financial services on Turkish soil. "Daesh should be completely cleansed from our borders, and we are ready to do that," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. Ankara may also have calculated that ISIS is especially vulnerable, after many of its remaining fighters fled Manbij, another key stronghold in Syria. The town was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces backed by the United States. ISIS' lines of communication and resupply have now been disrupted and it's taken heavy losses across northern Syria in recent months. But Turkey is anxious that ISIS' vulnerability could provide an opportunity for their "other" enemy in northern Syria -- the Kurdish YPG militia -- who have taken several villages near Jarablus recently. What does Turkey want to achieve? Turkey has several aims. One is to degrade ISIS in this area -- to push the threat it poses away from the Turkish border and make infiltration harder. Beyond that, Turkey wants this part of Syria to become part of its sphere of influence. If it can clear this area of ISIS, it plans to inject Syrian rebel groups that it supports, according to officials. Several hundred are currently massed on the border, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights. The advantage for Turkey in putting its "own" groups into this part of Syria is to stop the Kurdish advance in its tracks. Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group indistinguishable from the PKK, which it battles on a daily basis in south-eastern Turkey. The Syrian Kurds have made no secret of their desire to expel ISIS and link the two regions of northern Syria they already control. They would then oversee much of Syria's border with Turkey. Hence the words of Erdogan Wednesday: "Turkey is determined that Syria retains its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that unity." How much is Turkey working with coalition partners? "We are working together with the coalition regarding air support," Cavusoglu said Wednesday. In addition, it's likely that the US is providing intelligence and targeting data to Turkish forces using unmanned aerial vehicles from the Incirlik air base. The US has long urged Turkey to become more involved in operations against ISIS in northern Syria, but relations have been strained by the crackdown following the coup attempt in Turkey last month and a surge of anti-US sentiment in Turkey. Cooperating in a substantial effort to weaken ISIS -- just as Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Ankara -- is one way to overcome a troubled few weeks. Additionally, in light of the sudden rapprochement between Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the US wants to reinforce its partnership with Turkey. The US is also sending a message to the Syrian Kurds, its most effective partner on the ground in this region: that American support is not a blank check and that they should not provoke the Turks by moving on Jarablus. Will Turkey will get sucked in further? If the aim of the operation is to expel ISIS from Jarablus and surrounding areas, it's unlikely to be achieved in days. Manbij took weeks to clear, despite a ground offensive and hundreds of US airstrikes. One problem is the risk of substantial civilian casualties. ISIS frequently uses civilians as human shields, preventing them from leaving urban areas, to make targeting more difficult. Perhaps the greatest risk is that this incursion on the ground will spill over into conflict with Kurdish forces. But the Kurds will realize that with their light, outmoded weaponry, they are no match for Turkish tanks. The US is likely encouraging the YPG -- to which it indirectly supplies weapons and training -- to stay out of this. Additionally, Syrian Kurdish sources say they believe Turkey would like nothing better than a pretext to go after the YPG. But if the Kurds don't return to the eastern banks of the Euphrates -- Turkey's "red line" -- the operation against ISIS could evolve into something very different -- perhaps a broader operation that also focuses on the YPG. Turkish public opinion is likely to support this operation, in light of recent attacks blamed on ISIS, so long as its scope and duration is defined. But in Damascus, the Assad regime has bitterly criticized it as a "blatant breach to its sovereignty." The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "substituting (ISIS) with other terrorist organizations backed directly by Turkey" is not "fighting terrorism."</s>Kurdish-aligned group in north Syria says targeted by Turkish warplanes KARKAMIS, Turkey, Aug 27 (Reuters) - A group allied to Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it was bombarded by Turkish warplanes on Saturday, after Turkey's military launched an incursion this week into northern Syria against both Islamic State and Kurdish forces. Turkish officials had no immediate comment on the report which, if confirmed, would signal Turkey's action against Kurdish-aligned forces was being ratcheted up a notch. The Jarablus Military Council, a group that is part of the SDF, said jets hit positions near the strategic town of Jarablus. It reported civilian casualties and called the strike "a dangerous escalation". Early on Saturday, a Reuters witness in Karkamis, a Turkish town on the other side of the border from Syria's Jarablus, saw warplanes flying from Turkish air space into Syria and then heard several explosions. The identity of the planes was not clear. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered Jarablus this week, seizing the frontier town that had been an Islamic State stronghold. The rebel force backed by Turkey were largely Arab and Turkmen. The Turkish campaign pre-empted action by Kurdish-backed forces which had sought to get to Jarablus first. But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials has made clear that the incursion is as much about pushing away Islamic State as it is about preventing Kurdish forces filling the void left as the Islamists withdraw. Turkey wants to stop Kurdish forces gaining control of a continuous stretch of territory along its southern border, which Ankara fears they could use to support the Kurdish militant group PKK that is fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil. The Jarablus Military Council said the village of al-Amarna, which lies a few km south of Jarablus, was hit. In response to the Turkish strike, it said: "If they do not attack our forces, then we will keep the border strip secure." The newly formed Jarablus Military Council has said it is made up by people from the area with the aim of capturing the town and the surrounding area from Islamic State militants. However, the Turkish-backed rebels seized Jarablus first. The Jarablus Military Council has aligned itself with the SDF, which encompasses several militias including Arabs and the Kurdish YPG group. The SDF is also backed by the United States, putting Ankara at odds with its NATO ally Washington in its engagement in Syria, where the multi-faceted conflict has raged for five years, creating complex rivalries and alliances. On Thursday, a day after Turkey began its cross-border offensive, Turkish troops fired on U.S.-backed YPG forces, which is part of the SDF. Turkey's state news agency described that salvo as warning shots. The use of Turkish warplanes against an SDF-aligned group would point to tougher action. A Reuters witness in Karkamis heard blasts and smoke rising from the nearby Syrian village of Kivircik. Several militias under the SDF banner pledged support to Jarablus Military Council after it reported the Turkish bombing. The Northern Sun Battalion, an SDF faction, said in a statement it was heading to "Jarablus fronts" to help the council against "threats made by factions belonging to Turkey". Tension has mounted in the past year between the Kurdish YPG force and its allies on one hand and Turkish-backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad on the other, in the Aleppo region. The two sides have clashed on several occasions. (Additional reporting by Ece Toksabey and Orhan Coskun in Ankara; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Mark Heinrich)</s>KARKAMIS, Turkey — Turkey sent more tanks into northern Syria on Thursday and demanded Kurdish militia fighters retreat within a week as it seeks to secure the border region and drive back the Daesh terror group with its first major incursion into its neighbour. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes on Wednesday entered Jarablus, one of Daesh’s last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border. Gunfire and explosions echoed around hills in the region on Thursday. Some of the blasts were triggered as Turkish security forces cleared mines and booby traps left by retreating Daesh militants, according to Nuh Kocaaslan, the mayor of Karkamis, which sits just across the border from Jarablus. Three Syrian rebels were killed during the operation to take Jarablus, one of them when he opened the door of a house rigged with explosives, Kocaaslan told reporters. There were no casualties among the Turkish troops. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior government officials have made clear the aim of “Operation Euphrates Shield” is as much about stopping the Kurdish YPG militia seizing territory and filling the void left by Daesh as about eliminating the radical group itself. Turkey, which has NATO’s second biggest armed forces, demanded that the YPG retreat to the east side of the Euphrates River within a week. The Kurdish militia had moved west of the river earlier this month as part of a US-backed operation, now completed, to capture the city of Manbij from Daesh. Ankara views the YPG as a threat because of its close links to Kurdish militants waging a three-decade-old insurgency on its own soil. It has been alarmed by the YPG’s gains in northern Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, fearing it could extend Kurdish control along Turkish borders and fuel the ambitions of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. Turkey’s stance has put it at odds with Washington, which sees the YPG as a rare reliable ally on the ground in Syria, where Washington is trying to defeat Daesh while also opposing President Bashar Assad’s government in a complex, multi-sided five-year-old civil war. The Syrian Kurdish force is one of the most powerful militias in Syria and regarded as the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance formed last October to fight Daesh. Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said preventing the Kurdish PYD Party — the political arm of the YPG — from uniting Kurdish cantons east of Jarablus with those further west was a priority. “Daesh should be completely cleansed, this is an absolute must. But it’s not enough for us.... The PYD and the YPG militia should not replace Islamic State [Daesh] there,” Isik told Turkish broadcaster NTV. “The PYD’s biggest dream is to unify the western and eastern cantons. We cannot let this happen,” he said. US Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone on Thursday that YPG fighters were retreating to the east side of the Euphrates, as Turkey has demanded, foreign ministry sources in Ankara said. A spokesman for the US-led coalition against Daesh also said the SDF had withdrawn across the Euphrates, doing so “to prepare for the eventual liberation” of Raqqa, the radical group’s stronghold in northern Syria, which is to the east. Isik said the retreat was not yet complete and Washington had given assurances that this would happen in the next week. “We are closely following this... If the PYD does not retreat to east of the Euphrates, we have the right to do everything about it,” he said. The offensive is Turkey’s first major military operation since a failed July 15 coup shook confidence in its ability to step up the fight against Daesh. It came four days after a suicide bomber suspected of links to the group killed 54 people at a wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. US Vice President Joe Biden, who met Erdogan during a trip to Turkey on Wednesday, said Turkey was ready to stay in Syria for as long as it takes to destroy the radical Islamist group. “I think there has been a gradual mind shift... in Turkey, with the realisation that ISIL [Daesh] is an existential threat to Turkey,” he told reporters during a visit to Sweden. A Turkish official said the ground incursion had been in the works for more than two years but had been delayed by US reservations, resistance from some Turkish commanders, and a stand-off with Russia which had made air cover impossible. Turkey had made the case more strongly to Washington over the past few months, had patched up relations with Russia, and had removed some of the Turkish commanders from their posts after finding they were involved in the coup attempt, paving the way for the operation to go ahead, the official said. The incursion comes at a testing time for Turkish-US relations. Erdogan wants the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for 17 years and whose religious movement Turkey blames for staging last month’s failed coup. Washington says it needs clear evidence of Gulen’s involvement and that it is a matter for the courts, a position that has sparked an outpouring of anti-Americanism from Turkey’s pro-government media. Gulen denies any role in the coup attempt. The sound of gunfire, audible from a hill on the Turkish side of the border overlooking Jarablus, rang out early on Thursday and a plume of black smoke rose over the town. Warplanes flew overhead. A senior Turkish official said there were now more than 20 Turkish tanks inside Syria and that additional tanks and construction machinery would be sent in as required. A Reuters witness saw at least nine tanks enter on Thursday, and 10 more were waiting outside a military outpost on the Turkish side. “We need construction machinery to open up roads... and we may need more in the days ahead. We also have armoured personnel carriers that could be used on the Syrian side. We may put them into service as needed,” the official said. Erdogan said on Wednesday that Daesh had been driven out of Jarablus and that it was now controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, who are largely Arab and Turkmen. “The myth that the YPG is the only effective force fighting Daesh has collapsed,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, reflecting Turkish frustration at how closely Washington has been working with the Kurdish militia. Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish PYD, said on Wednesday that Turkey was entering a “quagmire” in Syria and faced defeat there like Daesh. Redur Xelil, spokesman for the YPG, said the intervention was a “blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs”. After seizing Jarablus, the Turkish-backed rebels have advanced up to 10km south of the border town, rebel sources and a group monitoring the war said. But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said Kurdish-backed forces opposed by Ankara had gained up to 8km of ground northwards, apparently seeking to pre-empt advances by the rebels.</s>Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim on Friday denounced as a "bare-faced lie" suggestions in Western media that Ankara's military operation in Syria was singling out Kurdish people rather than jihadists. "They either know nothing about the world, or else their job is to report a bare-faced lie," Yildirim snarled when asked to comment on claims the operation was not targeting Islamic State (IS) jihadists but Kurds. He had been asked to respond to an article in German weekly Der Spiegel -- which frequently riles the Turkish authorities -- with the headline "Turkey's Syria operation -- IS is the pretext, the Kurds the target". Yildirim said: "Our soldiers' mission is to ensure our border security and the life and property of our citizens. The news apart from that is just a lie." "You tell lies that Turkey is weak in the fight against ISIS (IS) but when we save innocent lives from ISIS you go and write this," he fumed. Ankara has said it will act in the operation against the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia who it accuses of seeking to carve out an autonomous region in northern Syria. Turkey regards the organisations as terror groups who represent neither the Kurdish nor the Syrian people. The YPG are allies of the United States in the fight against IS but Ankara argues this is a dangerous error.</s>Russia says a solution to Syria's 5 1/2-year-long war may be getting closer after relations improved with Turkey, a major backer of rebel groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. "It's a very important moment," Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, said in an interview in Moscow Thursday. Turkey "is showing its interest in both the military and political sphere" in resolving the Syrian conflict and "when there's a constructive dialogue then of course it always helps the situation to develop in a positive way. It's a step in the right direction." Russia welcomes contact between Turkey and Iran as a "constructive contribution" to resolving the Syrian crisis, Zakharova said. "If we communicate with Turkey and Iran, why shouldn't Turkey and Iran talk to each other? Many in Washington don't like it, but it's an important element" in diplomatic discussions, she said. The thawing of relations between Russia and Turkey is taking place as the government in Ankara carries out its biggest military operation in Syria. Turkey is seeking to drive Islamic State militants away from its border and deter advances by Kurds allied with Turkish separatists. Jets pounded Islamic State positions and tanks crossed the border this week, allowing the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army to gain control of the strategic town of Jarablus, state-run Anadolu news service reported Wednesday. A softening in Turkey's insistence on Assad's departure in any settlement of the war has narrowed differences with Russia, which has conducted air strikes in support of the Syrian leader since September. Turkey has also reached out to Iran, Assad's other main supporter. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Ankara a few days after Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg this month to repair relations that had been plunged into crisis when Turkey shot down a Russian military jet near the border with Syria in November. Russia "sees potential for it and Turkey and Iran to reach a compromise," said Irina Zvagelskaya, a senior fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies. "For Turkey, the only red line is the Kurds." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss efforts to coordinate actions against terrorists in Syria when they meet in Geneva on Friday, Zakharova said. Russia and the U.S. have tried unsuccessfully so far to reach agreement on synchronizing air strikes against militants in Syria, a move that could revive efforts to end a war in which more than 280,000 people have been killed and millions more have fled to neighboring countries and Europe. "If we consider the Syrian settlement to be important then this is key -- it's a cornerstone of what is happening there" because "we need to destroy the terrorists," Zakharova said before leaving with Lavrov for Geneva. The U.S. targets "terrorists where there are no opposition members shielding them. Where they are being shielded under Washington's direction we have a problem." A "terrorist center remains" in these areas of Syria and "no one can deal with it because so-called moderate opposition groups are there," Zakharova said. The Turkish offensive aims to push Islamic State deeper into Syria and create a buffer zone against the Syrian Kurds if they attempt to move northward toward the border. It has produced a rare degree of unity between the U.S., Russia and Turkey, with a Russian Foreign Ministry official calling the action "timely," while the U.S. extended its cooperation. The U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds have been seeking to link enclaves they control by seizing major villages and towns from Islamic State along the border with Turkey. That alarmed Ankara, which fears the campaign will encourage restive Kurds in its east. Russia may have agreed not to object to a limited Turkish incursion into Syria in return for Turkey being more cooperative on a political settlement with Assad, according to Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last week that a transition with Assad still in power is possible and he called the confrontation over the downed Russian warplane an "unnecessary crisis." Yildirim on Wednesday said Turkey will increase cooperation with Iran on Syria and fighting Turkish separatist Kurds. Demands for Assad to step down are unacceptable and "there can't be any preconditions in fighting against terrorism," Zakharova said. The presidency "is an important key to maintaining a strong fight against terrorists on the ground" in Syria, she said."
"Turkey sends more tanks into northern Syria to continue its offensive against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG)."
"</s>Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd said on Wednesday it has set up a Cayman Islands-based fund that will buy mining projects as the Chinese state-owned copper producer sets its eyes on potential bargains as the commodities cycle bottoms. As China’s largest copper producer reported a 37.9 percent drop in profits due to weak metals prices, it said it had allocated $100 million through its subsidiaries to establish Valuestone Global Resources Fund I in the Cayman Islands with CCB International Asset Management Ltd, part of China Construction Bank Corp. By Aug. 4, the fund had $150 million in initial funding and was now open to domestic and foreign institutional investors. The aim is to get $300 million in total investment. Jiangxi didn’t identify what projects it was targeting, but said the fund will capture opportunities arising from low metals prices. While it is not unusual for banks and hedge funds to use investment arms to buy into mining projects, it is an unusual move for a Chinese government-owned producer and reflects the company’s global ambitions. “The focus is not to secure supply, it is rather how to make a profit at the bottom of this industry cycle,” analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong said. “Eventually Jiangxi Copper may participate in operating and investing… but they may ask the (private equity) fund to just flip it.” The fund may be able to cast its net wider than traditional private equity units, said Lau. Private equity funds have been on the hunt for deals for the past few years but have largely held back on purchases. However, Jiangxi’s fund could have greater capacity to develop projects since it is a major producer as well as a stakeholder offering operational know-how and could pay for the offtake, said Lau. Jiangxi Copper sources only 20 percent of its supply from its own mines. It has said its next step will be to focus on international acquisitions and Lau said the fund will help Jiangxi bolster its international M&A experience. Jiangxi has had limited success overseas with projects in Afghanistan and Peru, unlike peers such as China Moly and Minmetals. The Afghani project has been delayed after insurgent attacks that have also hampered nearby infrastructure builds. London Metal Exchange copper prices have fallen by more than quarter since May 2015 amid concerns about slowing demand from China, the world’s top commodities consumer, and are languishing at around $4,700 per tonne. For more on this story go to: https://www.pehub.com/2016/08/jiangxi-copper-targets-investors-with-300-mln-global-mining-fund-reuters/</s>There is hope for the big players in the mining industry, amid the crackdown launched by Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez versus irresponsible mining operations, with over 100 new projects being reviewed by the Duterte administration. In fact, Environment Undersecretary Mario Luis J. Jacinto said the ongoing mining audit—first thought to be Lopez’s way of curbing mining operations in the country—will eventually benefit large-scale miners who responsibly do business in the Philippines. Jacinto said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is now reviewing more than 100 mining applications that were put on hold by the Aquino administration. “We will, on the basis of existing operations, submit our policy recommendations and the directions to take [on the review of new applications]. On the basis of that, then a review of the permitting processes will have to be undertaken and then deliberate decision on how to proceed with it; what is allowed, what should be restricted will be put in place,” he said. In 2012 then-President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Executive Order (EO) 79 effectively putting on hold the processing of new mining projects until a new revenue-sharing measure has been put in place by Congress. “We have rich mineral resources, we have large ecosystem, so it is a fragile ecosystem. We have resources that are God-given, so we must make very deliberate decisions on how to best utilize them. And what will be the best land uses for all the areas,” Jacinto added. The applications for exploration, transport, export and all other mining-related permits including agreements, already reached “hundreds” since the moratorium was imposed, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official said. “We are now doing the assessment; we are waiting for the results of the audit first then we can take it from there,” Jacinto added. The government, through the DENR-MGB, is doing an audit on all mining operations in the country, which already led to the suspension of 10 large-scale mines. “We now expect to get the comments in the audit and the recommendations and then it should turn out to be a good jump-off point for industry monitoring,” Jacinto said. Data from Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) showed that the mining sector could infuse around $20 billion to $30 billion to the economy over the next five to 10 years with the inclusion of new projects. The group’s latest breakdown showed that the combined mining investments expected this year stands at $2.25 billion. The country is also anticipating projects with a combined value of $6 billion in 2017. In 2018 mining investments are expected to go as high as $14.75 billion. This year, the projects that are expected to be operational are those of Asiaticus Mining Corp. in Davao Oriental and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. in Palawan. To be followed by Philex Mining Corp.’s Silangan project in Surigao del Norte, Nadecor’s Kingking project in Davao del Norte, the Balabag Gold-Silver project of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc., which are all expected to take off in 2017. In 2018 projects targeted for operation are the Tampakan Mine development of Sagitarius Mines in South Cotobato, the project of Intex Resources in Mindoro, the Masbate gold project of Philsaga Mining Corp., the nickel-mine project of San Miguel Corp., through Philnico in Surigao del Sur, and the Balatoc Mines project of Benguet Corp. As of now, the sole project expected in 2019 is the Far South East Gold project of Lepanto Mning Corp. in Benguet. Jacinto advised investors to make sure that they are compliant before investing in mining in the Philippines. “If you put in that kind of investment, then you also make sure that you are compliant. Because it is useless if you put that kind of investment and you are not compliant,” he said. There are four considerations for mining operations to continue in the Philippines under the Duterte administration, he said. “It should be technically feasible; it will be environmentally compliant, socially acceptable and financially viable. Any of the imperatives absent, then it means it is not time to mine,” he added. He said there are companies that existed for almost half a century and they have complied with the highest standard of mining, which other mining companies can emulate. The mining audit, he said, will be completed by the end of the month. The DENR chief, he said, will always have the final say whether a mining operation should continue or stop, based on the new mining audit criteria. Jacinto represented President Duterte in the ongoing Mining Philippines 2016 Conference and Exhibition in Pasay City. During his speech, Jacinto said, while news headlines over the past weeks highlighted alleged environmental violations of miners, suspensions of mining operations and show-cause orders, he sees the audit as “a blessing in disguise to responsible miners who have religiously followed and are compliant of mining and environmental laws, rules and regulations.” “Those who have clearly violated the terms and conditions of their contracts; taken shortcuts; largely ignored the adverse impact of their operations to their host communities; polluted waterways so essential to the productivity of farmers and fisherfolks; and threatened the very survival of people who should benefit from mining from these economic activities are the ones who have to face sanctions for their irresponsible acts,” he said. Jacinto’s remark referring to COMP participants as “responsible miners” receive loud applause from conference participants. “It was an excellent speech,” said Jose Leviste, president of OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc. COMP Vice President for Legal and Policy Ronald Recidoro said apparently, “Jacinto knows the language of responsible miners.” COMP President Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez remains optimistic of the prospects of responsible miners under the Duterte administration. Romualdez, the president of Benguet Corp., assured Jacinto that the COMP will follow the law, and we will engage in responsible mining, using only the best practice available to ensure that our host communities and the environment will thrive under our care. “We are not afraid of the ongoing audit of the DENR. We welcome it! We welcome this purging of illegal and noncompliant mining operations. We have always operated under some of the strictest laws and we believe that if you cannot obey these laws, you should not be in this industry,” he said. However, he said the mining industry does not need a new law, adding that the existing mining law is one of the best in the world today, because it already integrates stringent rules on the environment and caring for the local communities. “What is needed is strict and fair enforcement of a stable policy regime that promotes the long term stewardship of our environment and natural resources,” he said. He said COMP has always maintained the highest standard of professionalism in the conduct of business. “As a highly regulated industry, we seriously follow the Mining Act and all regulatory rules of the DENR.” Romualdez said of the 21 member-companies of the COMP currently operating today, 17 have already secured ISO 14001 certification for their environmental management systems.</s>What do surging LME copper stocks say about China? Andy Home LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A wave of copper is currently washing up in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. Arrivals of metal have totalled 73,325 tonnes this week, lifting headline exchange inventory to 271,575 tonnes, the highest level since October last year. There's no big mystery as to where this metal is coming from. Surging arrivals at LME sheds in Singapore and South Korea have broadly corresponded to export flows out of China. And in part this is no more than a continuation of the stocks rebalancing that has been playing out for several months, a refilling of a depleted LME system from high inventories in China that accumulated earlier this year. But unlike the mini surge of LME arrivals in early June, there is no obvious bull-bear battle being waged across the front part of the London copper curve. If no-one is being forced to deliver metal against a short position, the alternative explanation would be that this is China pushing out surplus. If so, it would mean that copper oversupply, already clear to see at the raw materials stage of the supply chain, is finally starting to take manifest form in the refined metal arena. It's not unusual for LME copper stocks to trend higher during the dog-days of northern hemisphere summer as manufacturing activity drops a gear. And, conforming with that pattern, warranting of metal has taken place at a wide variety of LME good delivery points, including Hull in Britain, Bilbao in Spain and several U.S. locations. But the real stand-out has been the accelerated flows at Singapore, which has received almost 95,000 tonnes since the start of June, and South Korea, which has taken in 103,000 tonnes. Both countries have also featured prominently in China's export profile over the same period of time. Customs data shows exports of 89,000 tonnes to Singapore and 76,000 tonnes to South Korea since March, when China's exports first started accelerating. Between them Singapore and South Korea have accounted for almost 60 percent of all outbound flows. The correspondence between Chinese exports and LME arrivals isn't perfect (see the chart above) but the broad picture is one of metal leaving China and turning up in the most easily shippable LME locations. The question is whether this metal is being pushed or pulled. A mini-surge of copper arrivals in the LME system in early June bore all the hallmarks of a distress delivery by a short position holder facing a cash-date squeeze. What's noticeable about the current flood is that there is no similar tension in the LME spreads. True, the LME's market positioning reports show a dominant long holding between 50-80 percent of non-cancelled stocks and 40-50 percent of cash positions as of the close of business Wednesday. But ever since the bull-bear battle of early June the front part of the curve has been trading in benign contango. The cash-to-three months period traded as wide as $27 per tonne backwardation in late May. As of Thursday's close it was valued at $9 per tonne contango. The very front part of the curve, between cash and the September prime prompt on the 21st of the month has tightened up a little over the last couple of days but is still only quoted at level. Any pull on extra units to alleviate LME spread stress is currently weak, in other words. That's not to say there is no gravitational pull at all, rather it has been coming in the form of incentives offered by LME warehouse operators in the Asian region. That particular magnet, however, only really works if the incentives are competitive in terms of physical premiums, first and foremost in China itself. Which it seems they are. Premiums for delivery to China are trading at a soggy $45-50 per tonne over LME cash prices, according to LME broker Triland Metals. To put that figure into context, remember that Chilean producer Codelco's "benchmark" premium covering 2016 shipments to China was set at $98 per tonne. Nor is there any obvious indication of tightness within the mainland market, Triland again noting that the domestic premium structure is largely flat against front-month Shanghai Futures Exchange contracts. All of which tells us that the Chinese market right now seems very comfortably supplied, if not oversupplied, with physical refined copper units. To the point that LME warehouse operators can probably match if not better Chinese premiums, stimulating a physical arbitrage. So who is actually moving the material? Some of it seems to be coming from Chinese smelters themselves, or at least the handful that have clearance to export without paying the export duty. Modest exports to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh have no obvious LME arbitrage significance since none of them host LME warehouses. But there is almost certainly a second stream of exports being shipped by merchants from China's bonded warehouse zones. Or maybe that should read "re-exports". Copper in bonded warehouses has not yet been subject to China's VAT and can turn around and head back out without any tax penalty, albeit showing up in the customs figures as bona fide "exports". So if China is pushing out surplus copper, or at least exerting a lesser magnetic pull than that offered by LME warehousers, what does it say about the health or otherwise of Chinese demand? Not as much as you might think. China's apparent consumption, a back-of-the-envelope calculation factoring in production, imports and visible stocks movements, jumped by 11 percent in the first half of this year. Not even the most exuberant bull would argue that real consumption growth was anywhere near that level. The spectrum of estimates is a wide one but the middle ground would be around three percent. The implication is that there has been significant stocks build, possibly on the mainland, possibly in bonded warehouses and most probably a combination of the two. China, in other words, is full of copper. And getting fuller, because the other dimension to this mass stocks relocation is China's own production of refined metal, up almost 10 percent in July and up by around eight percent over the year to date. That of course is a reflection of the oversupply in the raw materials market and the subsequent flow of concentrates into what is the world's largest smelting and refining base. Imports of concentrate have surged by 35 percent so far this year with the pace accelerating steadily over the last few months. The tension between this domestic production surge and the strength of import demand was ratcheted up over the first part of this year. We're now seeing it resolved in the form of higher exports and rising LME inventories. It is starting to look as if the copper surplus, so obvious in the concentrates market and yet so elusive in the refined market, is now finally taking concrete form in LME sheds in Singapore and South Korea."
"Miners in the Philippines criticize the government after a crackdown on mining closed more nickel and copper mines."
"Italy earthquake: Death toll hits 250 as survivors recount narrow escape Updated The death toll from the powerful earthquake in central Italy has reached 250, amid fears many more bodies remain buried in the rubble of devastated mountain villages. As rescuers sifted through collapsed masonry in the search for survivors, questions mounted as to why there had been so many deaths so soon after the 2009 L'Aquila disaster, exposing Italy's vulnerability to earthquakes. "In Amatrice alone we are already over 200 deaths," said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of one of the worst-affected villages, suggesting the total number of victims could rise significantly. Amatrice normally has a population of around 2,500 but it was packed with visitors when the quake struck as people slept in the early hours of Wednesday. The fate of 28 of 32 guests staying in the village's Hotel Roma was still unclear. The Red Cross began shipping in food and water supplies for homeless residents. Among those who came to pick up emergency provisions were Maria Atrimala, 48, and her 15-year-old daughter. "We escaped by pure luck, the stairs of the house held and we ran, blindly in the dark and dust," she said with tears rolling down her face. "When we got out we could hear the cries of people still trapped and we helped those we could. "We were in L'Aquila when the earthquake struck there, and now this. We have friends, relatives that didn't make it. What the future holds I don't know." Sorry, this video has expired Video: Drone footage shows Amatrice earthquake devastation (ABC News) 'Nothing has ever been done' Although rescue workers were pessimistic about the chance of finding any more survivors, officials stressed that the last survivor in nearby L'Aquila in the 2009 quake was pulled from the rubble some 72 hours after it struck. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was chairing an emergency cabinet meeting on the crisis. "The objective is to rebuild and start again," he said, vowing lessons would be learned from L'Aquila, which still bears huge scars from the 2009 quake that left 300 people dead. After L'Aquila, the Civil Protection agency made almost 1 billion euros available for upgrading buildings in seismically-vulnerable areas. But the take-up of grants has been low, largely because of the cumbersome application process, according to critics. "Here in the middle of a seismic zone, nothing has ever been done," said Dario Nanni of the Italian Council of Architects. "It does not cost that much more when renovating a building to make it comply with earthquake standards. But less than 20 per cent of buildings do." Mr Nanni said the quake's impact had been increased by the widespread use of cement rather than wood beams. "These indestructible beams hit walls like a hammer and that is what made so many (houses) collapse." One building which was supposed to be quake-proof was the Romolo Capranica school in Amatrice, which collapsed on Wednesday. That was in sharp contrast to the oldest building in the town, the 13th-century Civic Tower, which was still standing Thursday, despite having been shaken sufficiently to detach its bell. The bell tower in nearby Accumoli did collapse, onto a quake-proofed house next door, killing a couple and their two toddlers. Local mayor Stefano Petrucci denied there had been negligence in the maintenance of the tower. "I don't want to get into a row about that now, we are already suffering too much," he said. AFP Topics: earthquake, italy First posted</s>CLOSE Rescuers cheered when the 10-year-old girl was safely pulled from the rubble in Pescara del Tronto. USA TODAY NETWORK Rescuers clear debris while searching for earthquake victims in damaged buildings on Aug. 24, in Arquata del Tronto, Italy. (Photo: Getty Images) AMATRICE, Italy — Work crews digging through rubble in quake-ravaged mountainous towns in central Italy found more bodies Thursday, bringing the death toll to at least 267. But they also found rare moments of joy when their frenzied, round-the-clock excavation freed survivors still trapped for more than a day beneath tons of rock and metal. “We just pulled a woman from the rubble," said Claudio Catanese, 32, a fireman and volunteer rescuer working in the hard hit town of Amatrice. "She was in good health, feeling fine, and just thirsty and hungry after 36 hours under rocks and dust. The first thing she did was ask for a glass of water." He said the work, nonstop, is hard, but critical. "You don’t sleep and your muscles hurt," Catanese said. "But when you save someone’s life, it fills you with new energy. There’s a great satisfaction in that." In Pescara del Tronto, firefighters plucked an 10-year-old girl named Giorgia from the rubble where she had been trapped for 16 hours. Rescuers said they were able to locate the area of Giorgia's room and started digging until they reached her. They also found the body of her sister, who was lying next to her, Italian news agency ANSA reported. Italy’s civil protection agency said early Thursday that at least 250 people were killed and at least 365 others hospitalized. A Spaniard and five Romanians were among the dead, according to their governments. If the death toll tops 300 it will be the deadliest earthquake in modern Italian history, surpassing the total from the 2009 quake in L’Aquilla. Most of the victims — 184 — were found in Amatrice, a picturesque medieval town of around 3,000 people. The 6.2-magnitude quake struck at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, sending tons of stone walls on many victims while they were sleeping. But rescue workers and civil protection officials said the death toll would have been worse if it hit during the day when many of the public buildings destroyed were occupied. In Amatrice, some people whose houses were built on a slant were especially lucky. They awoke from their sleep unscathed to find the outside wall of their building collapsed outward. "They've told us for years we should make our houses anti-seismic," said Gloria Nardo, 69, of Amatrice. "But how do you retrofit a brick house built in 1750? It's almost all gone now." The search efforts are focused around the isolated hilltop communities of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto where sniffer dogs, firefighters and paramedics were desperately searching for signs of life amid huge chunks of rock, cement and metal from collapsed homes and buildings. Thousands of rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment to sift through the rubble but many are also using their bare hands. At least one major bridge leading to Amatrice was compromised by the temblor and unable to support the weight of the heavy equipment needed to move big pieces of rock or walls. But volunteers were able to reinforce the bridge enough for the equipment to move within about 12 hours of the quake. One rescue operation was mounted at the Hotel Roma in Amatrice, where an annual spaghetti festival was scheduled this weekend to honor the town's signature bacon and tomato pasta sauce. Amatrice’s mayor initially said 70 guests were in the collapsed hotel, but rescue workers later cut the estimate in half after the owner said most guests had managed to escape. Firefighters’ spokesman Luca Cari said one body had been pulled out of the hotel just before dawn after five others were extracted earlier but searches continued there and elsewhere. CLOSE A 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit the center of Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Before and after photos reveal the devastation. Meanwhile, a prosecutor in Rieti opened an investigation into possible culpable negligence over the collapse of two recently restored structures — a school in Amatrice and a bell tower in Accumoli, RAI-TV reported. Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited the quake-affected area Wednesday. He vowed to rebuild “and guarantee a reconstruction that will allow residents to live in these communities, to relaunch these beautiful towns that have a wonderful past that will never end.” Italy's civil protection agency said the first estimate for damage is about $11 billion. The nation’s culture ministry decreed that proceeds from public museums across Italy on Sunday will be dedicated to helping restore damaged buildings in the quake zone, the Associated Press reported. Several churches and other medieval-era buildings were damaged or destroyed. In a statement Thursday, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini urged Italians to go out in force Sunday to visit museums and Italy’s numerous archaeological sites “in a concrete sign of solidarity” with quake victims. Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2bXODXW</s></s>Gain a global perspective on the US and go beyond with curated news and analysis from 600 journalists in 50+ countries covering politics, business, innovation, trends and more.</s>Rescuers search for survivors in Italy after earthquake</s>The death toll from the powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday has climbed to at least 247. Fabrizio Curcio, head of Italy’s civil protection agency, revised the death toll after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi earlier gave a toll of 120 dead and 368 injured. IMAGE: A man is rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters Rescuers were working through the night to pull survivors from the rubble and “won’t slow down”, Curcio told public broadcaster Rai. The quake also left a trail of destruction across several mountain villages packed with holidaymakers. Renzi said the disaster had caused “a pain without limits”, and insisted it was too early to begin a debate on what might have been done to prevent the disaster. “Today is the time for tears and emotion,” he said. IMAGE: A general view of Pescara del Tronto town destroyed by the earthquake. Photograph: Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images The earthquake flattened the town of Amatrice, where the mayor said residents were buried under debris and the town “isn’t here anymore.” The town traces back centuries, to the Roman era. Tourist Eve Read described what she felt. “My husband and I woke up, being shaken from side to side in the bed…and probably continued for 6 or 7 seconds after we had woken up,” Read said. Read and her family were not hurt, but their vacation home did suffer some damage, including a collapsed ceiling. IMAGE: A man walks through rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters A ten-year-old girl was pulled from the rubble after spending 17 hours trapped upside down in debris from the Italian earthquake. The child was hauled to safety by rescuers who shouted ‘she's alive’ as they carried her from the ruins of a building in the devastated central Italian town of Pescara del Tronto. Footage shows just the dust-covered legs of the youngster as emergency crews tried desperately to free her from the rubble. IMAGE: Rescuers walk through rubble following the earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters One rescuer could be heard saying: “You can hear something under here. Quiet, quiet.” He then urged the child to wriggle free one rescue worker said: “Come on, Giulia, come on, Giulia. ... Watch your head.” Cheers broke out when she was pulled out. IMAGE: People cover themselves with blankets as they prepare to spend the night in the open following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters Chefs in Italy and around the world are using their talents, and Amatrice's signature dish, to help raise money for earthquake victims. Before Wednesday’s devastating, 6.2 magnitude earthquake, the Italian town was best known for spaghetti all Amatriciana, a tomato-based sauce that traditionally includes pork jowl, olive oil, white wine, chili and pecorino cheese. More than 600 restaurants are putting the pasta dish on their menus and have pledged to donate €2 (Rs 151) from each sale to the Italian Red Cross. IMAGE: A statue of the Virgin Lady stands outside a destroyed niche following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters Art experts fear numerous historic Italian buildings and their contents were damaged in Wednesday’s earthquake, across a region where almost every hilltop town and village has beautiful churches and monuments. The Dutch classicist David Rijser, an expert on the culture of Abruzzo, said there had been damage to the central region’s many churches, funeral monuments and museums. “It has been a true drama, there is a lot that has been lost,” he told Dutch radio. IMAGE: escuers clear debris while searching for victims in damaged buildings in Arquata del Tronto, Italy. Photograph: Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images Some of the greatest destruction was in Amatrice, which was voted one of Italy’s most beautiful towns last year and is celebrated for its Cento Chiese, 100 churches filled with frescoes, mosaics and sculptures. Half the facade of the 15th-century church of Sant Agostino has collapsed, taking with it the beautiful rose window. The courtyard of one of the town’s Renaissance palaces has been turned into a temporary morgue. The town clock in the 16th-century bell tower remains frozen at just after 3.36 am, the moment the earthquake struck.</s>AMATRICE, Italy—The death toll from a devastating earthquake in central Italy climbed to at least 250 on Thursday and could rise further with rescue teams working for a second day to try to find survivors under the rubble of flattened towns. The 6.2 magnitude quake struck a cluster of mountain communities 85 miles east of Rome early on Wednesday as people slept, destroying hundreds of homes. An army of emergency workers using sniffer dogs clambered over piles of debris trying to find anyone still buried beneath, while cranes removed huge slabs of fallen masonry and trucks full of rubble left the area every few minutes. On Thursday afternoon a violent aftershock measuring magnitude 4.3 sent rescuers fleeing from debris and stones that fell from the severely damaged bell tower of the 15th century church of St. Augustine in Amatrice. The jolt, which struck fear and panic in survivors, detached the church's facade, leaving it leaning dangerously over the main street where rescuers worked. The original earthquake was powerful enough to be felt in Bologna to the north and Naples to the south, both more than 135 miles from the epicenter. Many of those killed or injured were holidaymakers in the four worst-hit towns - Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli - where seasonal visitors swell populations by up to tenfold the summer. That makes it harder to track the deaths. One Spaniard, five Romanians, and a number of other foreigners, some of them caregivers for the elderly, were believed to be among the dead, officials said. Aerial video taken by drones showed swathes of Amatrice, last year voted one of Italy's most beautiful historic towns, completely flattened. The town, known across Italy and beyond for a local pasta dish, had been filling up for the 50th edition of a popular food festival this weekend. The mayor said the bodies of 15-20 tourists were believed to be under the rubble of the town's Hotel Roma, which he said had about 32 guests when it collapsed on Wednesday morning. About 365 people injured in Wednesday's quake were hospitalised, the Civil Protection department said, adding that about 5,000 people, including police, firefighters, army troops and volunteers, were involved in post-quake operations. Rescuers working with emergency lighting in the darkness overnight saved a 10-year-old girl, pulling her alive from the rubble where she had lain for about 15 hours. Many other children were not so lucky. A family of four, including two boys aged eight months and nine years, were buried when a church bell tower toppled into their house in nearby Accumoli. Local magistrates opened an investigation into whether there had been any negligence over the recently restored tower. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's cabinet was meeting on Thursday to decide emergency measures to help the affected communities. "Today is a day for tears, tomorrow we can talk of reconstruction," he told reporters late on Wednesday. The death toll appeared likely to rival or even surpass that from the last major earthquake to strike Italy, which killed more than 300 people in the central city of L'Aquila in 2009. While hopes of finding more people alive diminished by the hour, firefighters' spokesman Luca Cari recalled that survivors were found in L'Aquila up to 72 hours after that quake. Most of the damage was in the Lazio and Marche regions, with Lazio bearing the brunt of the devastation and the biggest toll. Neighbouring Umbria was also affected. All three regions are dotted with centuries-old buildings susceptible to earthquakes. Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. The country's most deadly earthquake since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio Calabria and Sicily."
"The search continues for survivors in central Italy with the death toll now 241. An aftershock of 4.7 MMS hits further east in the province near Norcia."
"Toronto police confirm there is a link between the three deaths involving a crossbow in east Toronto and a suspicious package found in the downtown area of the city. No further details were provided. Earlier Thursday, police revealed that three people are dead, all of whom were found with apparent crossbow injuries, in the Scarborough area of Toronto on Thursday afternoon. A source with knowledge of the investigation said it's believed all three deceased are related, CBC News has learned. Police said the bodies of two men and a woman were found in a garage. Two people were found with no vital signs, and one person died after officers arrived, police confirmed. Toronto police were investigating a suspicious package on Queens Quay they say is linked to a deadly crime scene in Scarborough. (Marjorie April/CBC) "We have a lot of work to do," Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone said four hours into the police investigation. "We still have a ways to go." The identities of the victims are not being released until next of kin are notified, Carbone said. Paramedics said another man was taken to hospital with injuries that were not serious. "He was another victim," spokesman Evert Steenge revealed. Police have also confirmed that a 35-year-old male suspect, who has injuries, is being held in custody. Three people are dead, including at least one who was found with an apparent crossbow injury in Scarborough. 0:24 Police responded to a report of a stabbing at around 1 p.m. ET on Lawndale Road near Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East, Const. David Hopkinson told CBC News. "Indications were that [a] person had been stabbed — their injuries were fairly serious," Hopkinson said. "When officers arrived, they found that person and two others suffering from injuries from what we believe to be a crossbow bolt." Police said a crossbow was found on the floor of the garage. "We don't have any idea with regards to why this may have happened," said Hopkinson. Scarborough crossbow deaths scene through neighbour's backyard <a href="https://t.co/2a0CtAYQpT">pic.twitter.com/2a0CtAYQpT</a> —@trevorjdunn Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said there were other "things" found in the area that could have been used as weapons. Neighbour Jerome Cruz told CBC News that he heard screams before things went silent and said it sounded like a fight in the garage. "It was going on for about five minutes — the screaming," he explained. "After that, all quiet." Cruz said he's lived in the area for the past two years and said the people who reside in the house where the incident took place are normally "very quiet." Neighbour near crossbow attack heard screams, then silence. <a href="https://t.co/1RwalICnsZ">pic.twitter.com/1RwalICnsZ</a> —@trevorjdunn "It was very strange to hear a big noise and screaming," Cruz said. "We are looking to speak to anyone that may have information," Hopkinson said. Nearby streets, including Knowlton Drive, Lockleven Drive and Glenda Road, are closed and the police homicide unit has taken over the investigation. A bolt is a crossbow projectile that is under 40.6 centimetres (16 inches) in length, according to A bolt is a crossbow projectile that is under 40.6 centimetres (16 inches) in length, according to Phillip Bednar of TenPoint Crossbow Technologies , adding that anything longer is considered an arrow. Dale Lounsbury, who sells crossbows at a sporting goods store in Waterloo, Ont., and owns one himself, said they can be dangerous due to their power and accuracy, but they are not suited to firing multiple shots in quick succession. "I can probably fire two shots a minute, maybe three," Lounsbury said. Unlike guns, no licence is required to buy or own a crossbow. Toronto Police on Lawndale Rd in Scarborough. 3 people dead. <a href="https://t.co/yiaoPxdoEf">pic.twitter.com/yiaoPxdoEf</a> —@trevorjdunn This isn't the first time a person has been killed by a crossbow bolt in the city. In December 2010, a man fired a bolt into his father's back at a Toronto Public Library branch before crushing the 52-year-old man's skull with a hammer. Zhou Fang was charged with first-degree murder but accepted a plea for second-degree murder after it was revealed that he was the victim of long-term abuse by his father. Fang, then 26, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012.</s>Jerome Cruz was gardening in the backyard when suddenly he heard a man “screaming and banging” at a neighbouring house. At the time, the 69-year-old had no idea three people were being brutally slain with a crossbow bolt. Nor could he know that in a bizarre twist, the triple murder in Scarborough would end up being linked to a suspicious package found downtown. “It was angry screaming,” Cruz recalled Thursday from his yard, which backs onto the yard of the Lawndale Rd. home where the murders unfolded. “It went on for about five minutes and then I heard another man trying to calm him down. He was saying, ‘Calm down, be quiet.’” With his view blocked by a shed, Cruz was unable to see the two men. But soon after he caught a glimpse of a woman running along the driveway at the side of the house. Within a few minutes, it got deathly “quiet,” but Cruz just figured the commotion had ended peacefully. “I thought maybe the young man was drunk or something and now everything was OK,” he said. But when his neighbourhood was soon filled with the flashing lights of emergency crews, Cruz knew something bad had happened. Toronto Police say they initially received a 911 call around 1 p.m. for a man bleeding heavily from a suspected stab wound on the residential street near Markham and Kingston Rds. “When our officers from 43 Division arrived, they found the lifeless bodies of three individuals,” Det.-Sgt. Mike Carbone said at the scene. “They also took one person into custody.” A fourth victim was taken to hospital, he added. Carbone refused to reveal if there was any sort of relationship between those involved. Toronto EMS confirmed two men and one woman were killed and the fourth victim suffered only minor injuries. Carbone also refused to comment on reports a crossbow or bolts, the arrows fired from a crossbow, were involved in the killings. However, in the immediate aftermath of the murders, police said the victims suffered what appeared to be fatal injuries from a crossbow bolt. Police couldn’t say Thursday night whether the bolts were fired from a crossbow or used like a knife to stab the victims. About 90 minutes after the triple murder, cops received a call for a suspicious package inside a condo at Queens Quay and Lower Simcoe St. that is thought to be tied to the attack. Traffic was shut down in the area and 218 Queens Quay was evacuated while bomb disposal officers were called in. “We have cleared the package and there is no threat to public safety,” Supt. Bill Neadles said. “Homicide detectives have now taken over the scene.” While it’s unclear what was contained within the package, Carbone confirmed the downtown incident was tied to the Scarborough murders. “I’m not going to discuss what was found at the scene other than to say there is a link between our scene here and the one down on the Queens Quay,” he said. Residents of the Scarborough neighbourhood were stunned by the mayhem that occurred in their community. “This is a quiet area ... I’m very surprised by this,” Ragu Sangaramoorthy, 41, said. The family man, who rents a basement apartment two doors down from where the victims were found, recalled having seen three children, maybe 7 to 13, and a woman possibly in her 50s coming and going from the home at times. “I’m very upset because I have two kids,” Sangaramoorthy said. Another resident, Sadiya Haque, said her sense of shock and fear is based partly on the many unanswered questions. When it comes to buying a crossbow in Toronto or across Canada, it turns out that bigger is better, legally speaking. According to the Canadian Firearms Program as published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, crossbows with an overall length of 500 mm or less are prohibited across the country. However, the program states that no licence or registration is required for crossbows longer than 500 mm and that Criminal Code provisions making it an offence to acquire a crossbow without a valid licence were never brought into force. Here are more guidelines for crossbows, according to Paul Hunkin, from Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store on Dufferin St. in Toronto: — You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase one. — Crossbows may not be fired anywhere inside the boundaries of the City of Toronto. Different types of crossbows that are available in stores: — There are only two types: Prohibited and non-prohibited. — Prohibited are crossbows that are 500 mm in length or smaller, which can be held and fired with one hand, similar to a handgun. — Both are classified as “firearms” for legal purposes. Locations where crossbows are sold and how much they cost: — Retailers such as Al Flaherty’s, Canadian Tire, Sail, and Bass Pro Shops all sell a wide range of crossbows. — Prices range from around $400 to well over $1,000. — Commonly used for a wide variety of hunting. — The crossbow hunting seasons do not overlap rifle and shotgun seasons and typically run for a longer period, making them popular among hunters. — Moose, deer, bears, and sometimes turkeys are hunted with crossbows. -- In December 2010, 24-year-old Zhou Fang shot his father in the back with a crossbow then crushed his skill with a hammer, at a public library in Toronto's east end. -- In July, a Mission, B.C., father was charged with attacking his son who was shot in the forearm with a crossbow. -- In November 2007, a 26-year-old man was charged with murder and attempted murder after his mother was killed and father was injured by a crossbow in St-Cesaire, Que. -- In October 2002, a dairy farmer was shot in the back and injured with a crossbow in St.-Bonaventure. -- In August 1998, a man asleep in his Hamilton home was shot in the head and injured by a man who fired a crossbow. -- In 1998, Edward Stuart Walker shot a pregnant Stephanie Celestine Thomas with a crossbow, then stabbed her 46 times in Central Saanich on Vancouver Island. -- In September 1994, Yvon Gosselin was driven to a gravel pit near Terrace, B.C., where he was killed with two bolts from a crossbow. -- In May 1995, a man armed with a crossbow entered the Winnipeg Convention Centre shortly before then-prime minister Jean Chretien arrived to deliver a speech. The suspect was arrested. -- In January 1993, B.C. Institute of Technology student Silvia Leung, 22, bled to death in the campus parking lot in Burnaby after being hit in the shoulder by a crossbow. -- In November 1991, Ottawa lawyer Patricia Allen was killed with a crossbow by her estranged husband Colin McGregor.</s>The assailant used bolts, a shorter and thicker version of an arrow, police spokesman Officer David Hopkinson said. A 35-year-old man at the scene was treated for injuries and taken into custody. Police did not say what his connection to the victims might be. The incident occurred about 1 p.m. in the Scarborough neighborhood. Officers responding to a call found all three victims dead. About 90 minutes later, authorities heard from an unidentified caller about the package, Hopkinson said. Police discovered the package in downtown Toronto, but said it is "no longer a threat." It's unclear whether it was destroyed.</s>Three people have been killed in an attack involving a crossbow in Toronto on Thursday. A man was taken into custody and police later evacuated a building over a suspicious package in a related incident, Detective Mike Carbone said, without giving further details. In the initial incident, police responding to a report of a stabbing to find three people who appeared to have been injured by crossbow bolts, said police spokesman David Hopkinson. Two men and a woman were pronounced dead. “We don’t have any idea with regards to why this may have happened,” said Hopkinson. CTV News, citing emergency services, said two other people were seriously injured. An undentified man, 35, was taken into custody, police said. Television footage showed police tape surrounding part of a residential street in Scarborough, a suburban area east of the city’s downtown area. In 2010, a man shot his father in the back with a crossbow in a Toronto public library before smashing his skull with a hammer. Zhou Fang, who had suffered domestic abuse, was convicted of a lesser charge of second-degree murder.</s>TORONTO (AP) — A 35-year-old Toronto man is facing murder charges in the deaths of three people suffering from what appeared to be crossbow wounds. Brett Ryan is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths that shocked a quiet residential neighborhood in the city's east end. The slayings were discovered on Thursday. Police found two men and one woman lying in the driveway suffering from serious wounds with a crossbow lying nearby. The names of the victims have not released but an autopsy is scheduled. Ryan is due to appear in court Friday morning. Police said there was a link between the crossbow scene and a suspicious package investigation in a condo on Toronto's waterfront. The condo was evacuated as police cordoned off the area but the package was later cleared.</s>Man charged after three die in Toronto crossbow attack -police TORONTO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Toronto police have charged a man with three counts of first-degree murder after three people were killed in a crossbow attack on a quiet suburban street, police in Canada's largest city said on Friday. Brett Ryan, 35, was slated to appear in court later on Friday, police said. Two men and a woman died at the house in the city's east end on Thursday. Police responding to a stabbing found the three bleeding on the driveway outside a nearby garage. One of the victims made a 911 call before dying, according to a local newspaper report, and the suspect was also wounded.</s>A Toronto bank robber known as the “fake beard bandit” was charged with three counts of first-degree murder after three people were killed in a crossbow attack in the city’s east end, police in Canada’s largest city said on Friday. Brett Ryan (35) who appeared in court briefly on Friday, was arrested in 2008 for committing robberies in disguise, police said. He was charged with more than a dozen counts of robbery and later convicted. Two men and a woman died in the driveway of a house on Thursday. One of the people who was killed made a 911 emergency call before dying, according to a local newspaper report, which said the suspect had also been wounded. The police have not offered a reason for the killings nor have they identified the victims. Property records showed that the house where the three were killed was in the name of Susan and William Ryan, 66 and 65 years old, respectively. William Ryan died last year, local media reported. Brett Ryan had previously lived at the same house as Susan and William Ryan, according to government records that indicated bankruptcy proceedings had been initiated for him in 2010. He was jailed for three years and nine months in the bank robbery cases, according to court records. Court records showed that Ryan now lives at a condominium building near Toronto’s waterfront. That building was evacuated by police on Thursday due to a suspicious package. They said the incident was related to the east end deaths, but gave no details. Canada has stricter gun laws than the United States and fewer homicides. Crossbows that can be aimed and fired with one hand and crossbows with an overall length of 0.5m (19.7 inches) or less are prohibited, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The latest three deaths bring Toronto’s homicide count for this year to 47. The city had 56 homicides for 2015. In comparison, Chicago, which is similar in population, had at least 480 homicides in 2015. Ryan’s lawyer declined to comment. Ryan’s next scheduled court appearance is September 2nd.</s>A 35-year-old man has been arrested after three people were killed in an attack involving a crossbow in Toronto's east end on Thursday. Police responding to a call about a stabbing found two men and a woman who appeared to have been injured by a crossbow bolt, spokesman David Hopkinson said. All were pronounced dead. 'We don't have any idea with regards to why this may have happened,' said Hopkinson. A police source told CTV News that two bodies were discovered in the garage at the Scarborough home and the third was found in a driveway. Police say the man who placed the call to 911 is one of the deceased. Two other people were seriously injured. A 35-year-old man has been taken into custody. There are reportedly no other suspects outstanding. Television footage showed police tape surrounding part of a residential street near Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East, a suburban area east of the city's downtown area. Resident Jerome Cruz told CTV News Channel that he heard someone screaming for several minutes before everything went silent. He also heard a commotion and what sounded like 'banging' in his neighbor's backyard.</s>A 35-year-old Toronto man is facing murder charges in the deaths of three people suffering from what appeared to be crossbow wounds. Brett Ryan is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths that shocked a quiet residential neighborhood in the city's east end. The slayings were discovered on Thursday when police found two men and one woman lying in the driveway suffering from serious wounds with a crossbow lying nearby. All three died at the scene, according to CBC News. The names of the victims have not released but an autopsy is scheduled. Ryan is due to appear in court Friday morning. Police said there was a link between the crossbow scene and a suspicious package investigation in a condo on Toronto's waterfront. However, officials would not say what the link was between the package and the attack. The condo was evacuated as police cordoned off the area but the package was later cleared. Ryan was arrested in 2008 in relation to 14 bank robberies committed throughout Toronto and Durham Region, CP24 Go reported. At the time he wore a fake beard as a disguise and was called the 'fake beard bandit' by officials. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009. Ryan was also listed as living at the address of the crime scene when he filed for bankruptcy in 2010, City News reported. 'We don't have any idea with regards to why this may have happened,' police spokesman David Hopkinson said. A police source told CTV News that two bodies were discovered in the garage at the Scarborough home and the third was found in a driveway. Police say the man who placed the call to 911 is one of the deceased. There are reportedly no other suspects outstanding. Television footage showed police tape surrounding part of a residential street near Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East, a suburban area east of the city's downtown area. Resident Jerome Cruz told CTV News Channel that he heard someone screaming for several minutes before everything went silent. He also heard a commotion and what sounded like 'banging' in his neighbor's backyard.</s>WINNIPEG — Police are investigating after a scary incident right outside their headquarters. It happened around 1:00pm Friday afternoon and forced the closure of Graham Avenue between Smith Street and Fort Street. Garry was also closed as a precaution, but all have since re-opened. “There were some concerns upon initial examination with respect to the nature of the package.” Police say there’s no indication this suspicious package is tied to one that exploded outside the Law Courts on Wednesday. “We are not, by any means, linking these two incidents at this point. Nothing has detonated. There’s been no explosion. There are no injuries.” The Bomb Unit evacuated some buildings, but police tape started to come down around 2:30pm. Witnesses on scene say the suspicious packaged appeared to be a laptop case."
"Three people are killed and two are injured after a crossbow attack in Scarborough, Toronto. A suspicious package was also found in another linked event."
"BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Senate began the trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday after a lengthy impeachment process that has paralyzed the politics of Latin America’s largest nation and is expected to culminate in her removal from office next week. The secretary of the Federal Senate reads the opening of the process during a final session of debate and voting on suspended President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial in Brasilia, Brazil August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino Thursday’s session, presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, heard witnesses for and against Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, who is charged with breaking budget laws. The leftist leader, whose popularity has been hammered by a deep recession and immense corruption scandal since she won reelection in 2014, will appear before the 81 senators on Monday to defend herself. Her opponents are confident they have more than the 54 votes needed to convict her. Authorities prepared barriers to contain demonstrations outside Brazil’s modernistic Congress building, but virtually no Rousseff supporters turned out, underscoring the isolation of the impeached president. If the final vote, which is expected late Tuesday or in the early hours of Wednesday, goes against Rousseff it would confirm her vice president, Michel Temer, as Brazil’s new leader for the rest of her four-year term through 2018, ending 13 years of left-wing Workers Party rule. Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla, is charged with spending without congressional approval and manipulating government accounts to mask the extent of Brazil’s growing deficit in the run-up to her 2014 re-election. Her Senate supporters managed to discredit a key witness, a Federal Audit Court prosecutor who led the probe of Rousseff’s government, because he had taken part in an anti-Rousseff demonstration. Lewandowski ruled that Julio Marcelo de Oliveira could be questioned but his testimony would not count as proof, a development that is not expected to affect the outcome of a trial that is more political than judicial. A survey published by O Globo newspaper on Thursday showed that 52 senators were committed to voting to dismiss Rousseff, with only 19 supporting her and 10 undecided or not polled. Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and described efforts to oust her as a “coup.” She has refused to resign and said the accounting practices she is being put on trial for were also commonly used by previous governments. With unemployment above 11 percent, and dozens of politicians in her coalition implicated in a kickback scandal at state-led oil company Petrobras, the trial has become a test of Rousseff’s support. Polls show ordinary Brazilians are unconcerned by the alleged accounting irregularities but want Rousseff ousted in the hope the next government can better manage the economy. DAUNTING TASK If confirmed president by Rousseff’s ouster, Temer would face a daunting task: steering Latin America’s largest economy out of recession and plugging a budget deficit that has topped 10 percent of gross domestic product. In the unlikely case that she is acquitted, Rousseff would immediately return to office. Brazilian assets have rallied on prospects of a more market-friendly government, with the currency rising around 30 percent against the dollar this year. Still, investors and members of Temer’s fragile coalition are concerned he has yet to implement measures to control the deficit. Temer’s right-leaning government has sought to speed up the trial so he can set about restoring confidence in a once-booming economy and remove any doubts about his legitimacy. A draft budget for next year is not expected in Congress until Aug. 31, after the Senate votes, by which time Temer could have more political leverage to push through austerity measures. Investors are concerned Temer might give in to pressure for spending increases such as pay hikes for public employees, including the nation’s judges, a demand supported by Lewandowski. Temer has proposed a constitutional limit on spending and a broad reform of Brazil’s pension system to reverse a deteriorating fiscal outlook - moves applauded by credit rating agencies that last year stripped the country of its prized investment grade. “While we expect the current administration to have a better chance of getting these reforms through Congress than the previous government, there is still no clear support to approve these measures,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a client note. If Rousseff is removed, Temer must be sworn in by the Senate. He is then expected to address the nation before heading to the summit of the G20 group of leading economies in China on Sept. 4-5. Without the legal protection of her presidential status, Rousseff could find herself in court facing an investigation into whether she and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva tried to obstruct the Petrobras corruption probe. Slideshow (6 Images) Even Rousseff’s Workers Party, hurt by corruption scandals and her dismal economic record, has distanced itself from her last-minute call for elections to resolve the political crisis. Yet party leader Lula came to her defense on Thursday. Speaking to workers in the city of Niteroi, Lula said Rousseff may have committed policy errors but she was an honest politician who had done nothing to warrant her removal. “What they’re doing is finding a way to take power without winning votes in an election,” he said. “Today is a shameful day. The senators have begun to rip up Brazil’s constitution.”</s>BRASILIA, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The Senate impeachment trial of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff descended into a shouting match between her political supporters and opponents during its second day on Friday, forcing a two-hour halt in the proceedings. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who is presiding over the final phase of a lengthy impeachment process that has paralysed Brazilian politics since December, suspended the session after Senate President Renan Calheiros was unable to stop the arguments. The trial resumed after lunch. Supporters and opponents of Rousseff shouted insults at each other in a tumultuous session that showed the buildup to a final vote expected on Wednesday morning will be fraught with tension. "This impeachment trial has become a loony bin," Calheiros said, appealing for calm. But Calheiros himself set off another argument by taking on Gleisi Hoffmann, a senator from Rousseff's Workers Party, for stating the Senate lacked moral authority to try the leftist president. He said Hoffmann did not have a leg to stand because he had helped the senator avoid corruption charges a month ago. The trial is expected to culminate in the removal of Rousseff from office, ending 13 years of left-wing Workers Party rule, and the confirmation of her vice president, Michel Temer, as president for the remainder of her term through 2018. Temer has been interim president since mid-May, when Rousseff was suspended after Congress decided it would continue the impeachment process that began in the lower house. Her opponents need 54 votes, or two-thirds of the 81-seat Senate, to convict her of breaking budget laws. A survey by the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper published on Friday found 54 senators backed her ouster and 18 opposed it, with 14 undecided or not saying. A deep recession and wide-ranging corruption scandal has caused Brazil's first female president's popularity to plummet since she won reelection in 2014. Polls show a majority of Brazilians want her gone. But polls also show that Temer has as little popular support as Rousseff and that the majority of Brazilians would like to see new elections called, an unlikely development. Few if any Rousseff supporters have shown up outside Brazil's Congress building to back her, underscoring the impeached president's isolation. Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured during Brazil's military dictatorship, is charged with spending without congressional approval and manipulating government accounts to mask the extent of the nation's growing deficit in the run-up to her reelection. Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and described efforts to oust her as a "coup" plotted by Temer and his political allies, many of whom are caught up in the huge kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras that has engulfed much of Brazil's political and business class. If confirmed as president, Temer would face a daunting task: steering Latin America's largest economy out of recession and plugging a budget deficit that has topped 10 percent of gross domestic product. Temer will need to quickly demonstrate his commitment to cutting the budget deficit if he is to sustain investor optimism after a major rally in financial markets this year. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Lisa Von Ahn)</s>RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Senate on Thursday began a trial to decide whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office. While the formal accusations against Rousseff are related to her management of the federal budget, the leadership fight involves much more. The Associated Press explains how we got to this point and how the trial is likely to play out. How did we get here? Rousseff was re-elected to a second four-year term in October 2014. As the economy worsened, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in early 2015, with many demanding the ouster of Rousseff and her left-leaning Workers’ Party. Her foes in Congress introduced a measure last year to impeach and remove her. In April, the Chamber of Deputies approved it 367-137 and in May, the Senate voted 55-22 in favour. Rousseff was suspended and Vice-President Michel Temer became interim president. What is Rousseff accused of doing? Rousseff is accused of illegally shifting funds between government budgets. Opposition parties say that was to boost public spending and shore up support while masking the depths of deficits. Rousseff says other former presidents used similar accounting techniques. How will the trial unfold? Supreme Court chief justice Ricardo Lewandowski will preside as witnesses from both sides testify and senators cross-examine them. Rousseff is expected to testify on Monday. A vote is expected by the middle of next week. A supermajority – 54 of the 81 senators – is needed to convict her, which would result in her permanent removal from office. What do Rousseff’s supporters and opponents claim? Rousseff and her backers say impeachment is a “coup” by corrupt opposition lawmakers meant to derail investigations into into billions of dollars in kickbacks at the state oil company. They also argue that Brazil’s ruling class wants to end 13 years of leftist government. Opponents say Rousseff’s budget manoeuvrs aggravated the crisis in Latin America’s largest economy. What happens if she is convicted? A conviction would permanently remove Rousseff from the presidency and bar her from holding any office for eight years. Temer would serve out her term, which ends Dec. 21, 2018. If convicted, Rousseff will likely appeal to the country’s highest court. But previous appeals during the process have failed. What happens if she is absolved? If fewer than 54 senators vote to remove her, Rousseff would return to office. She’s promised that if that happens, she would let voters decide in a plebiscite whether they want early presidential elections. What do Brazilians want? Brazilians are soured on politicians in general; both Rousseff and Temer are very unpopular. A poll taken last month by Datafolha found that 62 per cent want new elections to solve the crisis. But before new elections could occur, both Rousseff and Temer would have to resign or be removed from office.</s>The Senate voted 59 to 21 Wednesday in favor of impeachment trial proceedings. The vote means Rousseff, who was suspended this year on allegations of breaking budget laws, will likely face trial later this month after the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. The Games end on August 21. The trial will take place in the Senate, presided over by the president of Brazil's Supreme Court. The impeachment trial would convict or acquit Rousseff of committing the crime of "fiscal irresponsibility" for authorizing public bank credits in the budget to cover up budget deficits. stepped in as acting President and will take over permanently if Rousseff is impeached. stepped in as acting President and will take over permanently if Rousseff is impeached. Vice President Michel Temer stepped in as acting President and will take over permanently if Rousseff is impeached. Rousseff, the country's first female President, has described her suspension as "a coup." "I'm the victim of a great injustice," she said in May. While she is accused of breaking budget laws, she maintains she did the same things previous Brazilian leaders have done. "I have made mistakes, but I have not committed any crimes. I am being judged unjustly, because I have followed the law to the letter," she said. Rousseff vowed to keep fighting efforts to impeach her, and called for her supporters to join her. "Destiny has reserved many challenges for me... Some of them seemed impossible to overcome. I have suffered from torture, I have suffered from sickness, and now I suffer from the pain of injustice," she said. "What is more painful now is injustice. I am victim of a political farce. But I won't give up. I look back and I see all we have accomplished. I look forward and I see all we still need to do."</s>BRASÍLIA: Angry quarrels erupted at suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial, while her key ally, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, faced corruption charges on a day of turmoil for Latin America’s biggest country. Day two of Rousseff’s Senate trial in the capital Brasilia began with shouting matches that forced Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski to put the session on hold until tempers calmed. Senate President Renan Calheiros called the row, prompted by a Rousseff loyalist’s questioning of the notoriously corrupt Senate’s moral authority, “a demonstration of infinite stupidity.” Rousseff, 68, is accused of breaking the law by taking unauthorized state bank loans to cover up budgetary shortfalls during her 2014 re-election. She says the budgetary maneuvers were legal, describing herself as victim of a right-wing power grab after 13 years’ rule by her leftist Workers’ Party. Witnesses for the defense were called Friday following the trial’s opening day Thursday, when the case against Rousseff was presented. Rousseff herself is planning to testify Monday in a dramatic last-ditch attempt to save herself before senators vote — with analysts widely predicting her defeat. At stake is not just Rousseff’s fate, but that of the once mighty Workers’ Party. Its founder, Lula, faced his own mounting problems after police Friday filed a request for corruption and money laundering charges linking the influential ex-president to a vast embezzlement and bribery scheme at state oil company Petrobras. Lula’s lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins said Lula was innocent and targeted by a politically motivated case. “Once again there is an act that by a strange coincidence occurs at a politically important moment for the country,” he told a news conference in Sao Paulo. “That makes me think that this play, apart from being a fiction, has a clear political connotation.” Although prosecutors and a judge must still approve the recommendation for Lula to go to trial, the police filing represented another blow for a man seeing his lifelong project to build Brazil’s left put in peril. Adding to the drama, Lula was planning to travel from his home city of Sao Paulo to Brasilia to support Rousseff when she confronts her accusers in the Senate on Monday. Under current plans, a vote would then take place within 48 hours after the senators’ final speeches. A pro-impeachment vote would see Rousseff immediately removed from office. However, given the snail’s pace of the trial so far — with the first defense witness finishing only late afternoon Friday — it was not clear whether the schedule would change. Two thirds of the Senate — 54 of the 81 senators — must back impeachment to remove Rousseff from office. Her allies insist they can still sway a half dozen or so senators to prevent that happening, but analysts believe there is no appetite for allowing Rousseff to return to power. And opponents of the former leftist guerrilla say they have the votes in the bag. Senator Raimundo Lira, a strong backer of impeachment, told AFP that senators “have already made up their minds, and I don’t think there will be any change at the vote.” If Rousseff goes, Michel Temer — Rousseff’s former vice president turned bitter enemy — will be sworn in. He has already served as acting president since her suspension in May and moved quickly to shift Brazil away from the left, saying the country needs reform to rebuild its giant, crumbling economy. It shrank 3.8 percent in 2015 and is forecast to drop a further 3.3 percent this year, a historic recession. Inflation stands at around nine percent and unemployment at 11 percent. Temer is hardly more popular than Rousseff, however: a recent opinion poll found only 14 percent of Brazilians thought he was doing a good job. AFP</s>BRASÍLIA: Angry quarrels erupted at suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial Friday, while her key ally, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, faced corruption charges on a day of turmoil for Latin America’s largest country. Day two of Rousseff’s Senate trial in the capital Brasilia began with shouting matches that forced Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski to put the session temporarily on hold until tempers calmed. Senate President Renan Calheiros called the row, prompted by a Rousseff loyalist’s questioning of the notoriously corrupt Senate’s moral authority, “a demonstration of infinite stupidity.” About two-thirds of the senators have current or past brushes with the law, according to corruption watchdog Transparencia Brasil. Rousseff, 68, is accused of breaking the law by taking unauthorized state bank loans to cover up budgetary shortfalls during her 2014 re-election. She says the budgetary maneuvers were legal, describing herself as victim of a right-wing power grab after 13 years’ rule by her leftist Workers’ Party. Witnesses for the defense were called Friday following the trial’s opening day Thursday, when the case against Rousseff was presented. One witness, economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzo, insisted that Rousseff did not violate the law, and that ousting her would be “an attack on democracy.” The session ended at 0200 GMT Saturday, and is set to resume at 1300 GMT. Rousseff herself is planning to testify Monday in a dramatic last-ditch attempt to save herself before senators vote—with analysts widely predicting her defeat. Lula’s troubles deepen At stake is not just Rousseff’s fate, but that of the once mighty Workers’ Party. Its founder, Lula, faced his own mounting problems after police Friday filed a request for corruption and money laundering charges linking the influential ex-president to a vast embezzlement and bribery scheme at state oil company Petrobras. Lula’s lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins said Lula was innocent and targeted by a politically motivated case. “Once again there is an act that by a strange coincidence occurs at a politically important moment for the country,” he told a news conference in Sao Paulo. “That makes me think that this play, apart from being a fiction, has a clear political connotation.” Although prosecutors and a judge must still approve the recommendation for Lula to go to trial, the police filing represented another blow for a man seeing his lifelong project to build Brazil’s left put in peril. Adding to the drama, Lula was planning to travel from his home city of Sao Paulo to Brasilia to support Rousseff when she confronts her accusers in the Senate on Monday. Under current plans, a vote would then take place within 48 hours after the senators’ final speeches. A pro-impeachment vote would see Rousseff immediately removed from office. However, given the snail’s pace of the trial so far—with the first defense witness finishing only late afternoon Friday—it was not clear whether the schedule would change.</s>Defense witnesses to testify in trial of Brazil's president RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Senators in Brazil have begun a second day of deliberations in the trial of President Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff, in the middle of her second term, is accused of breaking fiscal rules in her management of the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a "coup d'etat." Witnesses for Rousseff's defense are expected to testify Friday. FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2015 file photo, a woman holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; "Dilma Out" during a demonstration in favor of the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just days after the Rio Olympics ended, Brazilian senators are now gearing up for a final decision on whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File) Several days of debate, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will culminate in a vote on whether to permanently remove her from office. The Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend her for up to 180 days while the trial could be prepared. Vice President Michel Temer took over in May. If Rousseff is removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term through 2018. FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff listens to a question during a re-election campaign news conference at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil. Just days after the Rio Olympics ended, Brazilian senators are now gearing up for a final decision on whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office. The months-long leadership fight has brought to the surface deep polarization in Latin America's most populous nation, fueled by anger over endemic corruption and angst about an emerging economy that has gone from darling to depression amid its worst financial crisis in decades. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)</s>The impeachment trial of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the Senate descended into a shouting match between her political supporters and opponents during its second day on Friday, forcing a halt in proceedings. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski was obliged to intervene and suspend the session after Senate President Renan Calheiros was unable to stop the arguments, in a sign that the build up to a final vote expected on Wednesday morning will be fraught with tensions. Lewandowski adjourned early for lunch and will restart the session at 1 p.m. local (1600 GMT)</s>RIO DE JANEIRO — The last medals have been handed out, the athletes have all gone home and the fireworks at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium are fading into memory. Now Brazil’s real drama begins. Just days after the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics, Brazilian senators are about to decide whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the climax of a months-long political battle that has laid bare deep polarization in Latin America’s largest nation. The Aug. 5-21 Summer Games were a welcome distraction for many Brazilians angry over endemic corruption and an emerging economy that has gone from analysts’ darling to severe recession amid its worst financial crisis in decades. Street parties erupted when their beloved soccer team beat Germany to win gold, a measure of redemption after being humiliated 7-1 by the Germans in the World Cup semifinal two years ago. With the Olympic bash over, “we return to the divisions, to the fighting,” said Fabiano Angelico, a political consultant based in Sao Paulo. On Thursday, the Senate begins the final phase of the trial of Rousseff, who was suspended in May for allegedly breaking fiscal rules in managing the federal budget. Several days of deliberations, including an address to lawmakers by Rousseff herself, will culminate in a definitive vote expected early next week. Rousseff’s opponents argue that she used sleight of hand budgeting to mask the depth of government deficits and ultimately exacerbated the growing economic crisis, which has led to 10 per cent inflation, daily announcements of layoffs and repeated credit downgrades from ratings agencies. Brazil’s first female president denies any wrongdoing, pointing out that previous presidents used similar accounting measures. Rousseff alleges that something more nefarious is at play: a bloodless “coup” by corrupt legislators who want to oust her so they can water down a wide-ranging investigation into billions of dollars in kickbacks at the state oil company, Petrobras. A letter signed by 22 international artists and intellectuals was published Wednesday voicing support for Rousseff. Among them were actor Danny Glover, film director Oliver Stone, linguist Noam Chomsky, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actor Viggo Mortensen and composer Brian Eno. “The legal basis for the ongoing impeachment is widely contested and there is compelling evidence showing that key promoters of the impeachment campaign are seeking to remove the president to stop the corruption investigations that they themselves are implicated in,” the letter said. But much of the alleged graft happened over the 13 years that Rousseff’s left-leaning Workers’ Party has been in power. Several businessmen and top politicians have been jailed, including some connected to Rousseff’s government, and a number of opposition officials are also in investigators’ sights. The probe has blown the lid off a political culture of corruption that spans the ideological spectrum: About 60 per cent of lawmakers in the Senate and lower house are being investigated for various crimes, many related to graft and the Petrobras scandal. Rousseff has never been personally implicated, but her detractors say she must have known what was happening and bears responsibility. She refused to block the investigations even as she paid a steep political price through her impeachment, saying it is a process that Brazil badly needs to go through. The interim government that stepped in for her has also been stung, with three Cabinet ministers forced to resign right after taking office due to corruption allegations. Acting President Michel Temer, who was Rousseff’s vice-president and is known as a behind-the-scenes dealmaker, has been fingered for alleged bribery by witnesses who have reached plea deals in the Petrobras case, although he has not been charged with any crime. The result has been widespread popular disgust and anger at both Rousseff and Temer: A national poll by Datafolha last month found that 62 per cent of respondents favoured holding new elections rather than keeping either one as president. Rousseff has promised to hold a referendum on whether to call new elections if she survives the Senate trial. But for that to happen, both she and Temer would have to resign or be removed. Temer, a 75-year-old career politician from the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, has shown no indication he would step down. He casts himself as a reluctant saviour who just wants to do what’s best for a divided country, and denies Rousseff’s accusations that he’s the ringleader in the push to oust her. If Rousseff is permanently removed, Temer would serve out the remainder of her term through 2018. “Michel wants to remain president, but he can’t show himself to be trying to do that,” Brasilia-based political consultant Alexandre Barros said. “It’s a complicated equation for everybody.” In any case, Rousseff’s odds of surviving the Senate trial appear slim. In May, 55 of the body’s 81 senators voted to impeach and suspend her — one more than the 54 it would take to kick her out for good. Since then Rousseff has embarked on a campaign to change their minds, hunkering down with supportive senators, tweeting regularly against the “coup,” holding rallies around the country and meeting with Brazilian and international media. Earlier this month, 59 senators voted to move forward with the trial.</s>RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - A trial against Brazil’s president turned into a yelling match and was temporarily suspended on Friday after the head of Senate declared “stupidity is endless” and sharply criticized a colleague who had questioned the body’s moral authority. The second day of the trial against President Dilma Rousseff got off to an edgy start when Senate President Renan Calheiros decided to bring up a comment made on Thursday by Sen. Gleisi Hoffmann, a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. Hoffmann, who like many in the Senate and lower Chamber of Deputies is being investigated for corruption, had declared that “no one here” had the moral standing to judge Rousseff. “It can’t be that a senator is saying things like this,” said Calheiros, who later added: “I am very sad because this session is, above all, a statement that stupidity is endless.” In a bizarre and heated exchange with Hoffmann and other senators, Calheiros said he had asked the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country’s highest court, not to raid Hoffmann’s home, apparently trying to make the point that federal lawmakers should not be persecuted arbitrarily. Only the high court can decide to investigate, arrest or prosecute federal lawmakers. Police are investigating whether Hoffmann and her husband received kickbacks from state oil company Petrobras in the form of campaign contributions. They deny wrongdoing. Calheiros’s comments provoked gasps of surprise in the Senate, and are likely to raise questions about his relationship with justices on the high court, who are supposed to be independent. With several senators shouting at once, Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski called for a five minute recess, then changed his mind and said the body would instead return after lunch. Witnesses for Rousseff’s defense were expected to testify Friday after the prosecution dominated Thursday’s session. Rousseff, in the middle of her second term, is accused of breaking fiscal rules in her management of the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a “coup d’état.” Several days of debate, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will culminate in a vote on whether to permanently remove her from office. The Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend her for up to 180 days while the trial could be prepared. Vice President Michel Temer took over in May. If Rousseff is removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term through 2018."
"Brazil's Federal Senate begins the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff."
"An attack with an explosives-laden truck on a police checkpoint in south-east Turkey has killed at least 11 police officers and wounded 78 other people. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Kurdish militants were responsible for the attack on a checkpoint about 50 metres from a police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Şırnak province that borders Syria. Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck, while the three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion. The health ministry said it had sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and installations. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) for those attacks. Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members have been killed since. Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in south-east Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul’s main airport in June, which killed 44. Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key Isis-held town. Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed. The PKK is considered a terror organisation by Turkey and its allies. The attacks on police came as the country was still reeling from a violent coup attempt on 15 July that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy of vehicles carrying Turkey’s main opposition party leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in the north-east, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.</s>Story highlights Eleven police officers were killed, state media says Kurdish militants claim responsibility Turkey sent tanks into Syria on Wednesday Turkey-Syria border (CNN) An explosion at a police checkpoint Friday in southeastern Turkey killed 11 police officers and injured at least 78 people, the country's semiofficial Anadolu news agency reports. Attackers detonated a bomb-laden truck near the checkpoint in Cizre, Anadolu reported, citing the governor's officer in the province of Sirnak. The injured included 75 officers and three civilians, Anadolu reported. Four of the injured were in critical condition, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag told CNN Turk. The armed wing of the the PKK -- a militant Kurdish group that's labeled a terror group by many in the international community -- took credit Friday for the attack. In an online statement, it promised to give more details Saturday on what it called a "comprehensive action took place to kill dozens of policemen by our brave team in Cizre."</s>PKK suicide bombing kills 11 officers – Attack comes two days after Turkish offensive in Syria ISTANBUL: The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) yesterday claimed a suicide truck bombing on a police building in Turkey’s southeast that killed 11 officers and wounded dozens more. The blast came two days after the Turkish army launched an offensive in Syria that the government says is not only aimed against Islamic State (IS) jihadists but also a Syrian Kurdish militia detested by Ankara. The blast tore the facade off the headquarters of the Turkish riot police in the town of Cizre, a bastion of PKK support just north of the Syrian border. The local governor’s office said 11 officers were killed and 78 people injured, three of them civilians. Four people were said to be in critical condition. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the explosion took place 50 meters from the building, at a control post. The PKK said it carried out the assault in retaliation for the “continued isolation” of the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and the “lack of information” about his welfare. Cizre, a majority Kurdish town, has been badly hit by renewed violence between the PKK and government forces since the collapse of a ceasefire last year. Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily PKK attacks since a two-and-a-half year truce with the state collapsed in July 2015, leaving hundreds of police officers and soldiers dead. Turkey’s operation in Syria aims to push both IS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia that is fighting the jihadists out of the border region. Ankara considers the YPG, which has links to the PKK, as a terror group bent on carving out an autonomous Kurdish region on Turkey’s border. On Friday, the army sent four more tanks over the border, according to an AFP photographer at Karkamis on the Turkish side of the frontier. Kurdish activists have accused Turkey of being more intent on preventing Syrian Kurds creating a stronghold than fighting IS jihadists. But Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday denounced as a “bare-faced lie” suggestions in Western media that the Syria operation was singling out Kurds. “They either know nothing about the world or else their job is to report a bare-faced lie,” he said. Ankara’s hostility to the Syrian Kurdish fighters has put it at odds with its NATO ally, the United States, which supports them in the fight against IS. On Wednesday, Turkish tanks and fighter jets helped pro-Turkish rebels rout IS from the town of Jarabulus, on which the YPG appeared to have designs. On Thursday, Turkey shelled Kurdish fighters in the area, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing west into IS-held territory. Anadolu quoted security sources as saying the military would continue to intervene against the Syrian Kurdish fighters until they began to retreat. In a separate incident on the border, three Turkish soldiers were injured by mortar shells fired from Syria that landed in Yayladagi district, Dogan news agency reported. The agency said there had been clashes between local Turkmen and Syrian regime forces in Latakia, from where the shells were fired. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin-who until late June had been locked in a bitter feud over the shooting down of a Russian war plane-agreed to step up efforts to ensure aid reached Syria’s conflict-torn northern Aleppo province. The two also emphasized the need to fight “all terror groups” in Syria, Anadolu agency said. Visiting Turkey on Wednesday, US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington had warned YPG not to move west of the Euphrates river after recent advances, or risk losing American support. Murat Karayilan, one of the top Iraq-based leaders of the PKK, accused Turkey of doing a deal with IS to vacate Jarabulus. “ISIS has never abandoned a town in one day without putting up a fight,” he told the pro-PKK Firat news agency, using another acronym for IS. The PKK has kept up its assaults following the unsuccessful July 15 coup by rogue elements in the military aimed at unseating Erdogan. The government for its part has vowed to press on with the campaign to eradicate the PKK from eastern Turkey. Over the past year, the military has conducted operations and imposed punishing curfews in towns and cities in the southeast that have claimed civilian lives, including in Cizre. Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. It is proscribed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. – AFP</s>At least 11 police officers were killed and 70 injured when suspected Kurdish militants attacked a police checkpoint in south-east Turkey with an explosives-laden truck. Turkey on Friday vowed to retaliate. 'We will give those vile (attackers) the answer they deserve,' Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a news conference in Istanbul. 'No terrorist organisation can hold Turkey captive.' The attack struck the checkpoint some 50 yards from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly Kurdish Sirnak province which borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported. The three-storey police station was destroyed in the powerful explosion. News channel NTV showed large plumes of smoke billowing from the site, which it said was a police checkpoint. At least two of the wounded were in a critical condition, an official said. The Health Ministry said it had sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the scene. State-run Anadolu Agency blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been involved in almost daily clashes in the region since last July, when a ceasefire between it and the government collapsed. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died since the rebels took up arms in 1984. On Thursday Interior Minister Efkan Ala accused the group of attacking a convoy carrying the main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The government has blamed the PKK for a series of attacks this month in the southeast. The group has claimed responsibility for at least one attack, on a police station.</s>An attack with an explosives-laden truck on a police checkpoint in south-east Turkey has killed at least 11 police officers and wounded 78 other people. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Kurdish militants were responsible for the attack on a checkpoint about 50 metres from a police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Şırnak province that borders Syria. Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck, while the three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion. The health ministry said it had sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and installations. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) for those attacks. Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members have been killed since. Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in south-east Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul’s main airport in June, which killed 44. Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key Isis-held town. Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed. The PKK is considered a terror organisation by Turkey and its allies. The attacks on police came as the country was still reeling from a violent coup attempt on 15 July that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy of vehicles carrying Turkey’s main opposition party leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in the north-east, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.</s>The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party on Friday claimed a suicide truck bombing on a police building in Turkey’s southeast that killed 11 officers and wounded dozens more. The blast came two days after the Turkish army launched an offensive in Syria that the government says is not only aimed against Islamic State jihadists but also a Syrian Kurdish militia detested by Ankara. The blast tore the facade off the headquarters of the Turkish riot police in the town of Cizre, a bastion of PKK support just north of the Syrian border. The local governor’s office said 11 officers were killed and 78 people injured, three of them civilians. Four people were said to be in critical condition. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the explosion took place 50 metres from the building, at a control post. The PKK said it carried out the assault in retaliation for the ‘continued isolation’ of the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and the ‘lack of information’ about his welfare. Cizre, a majority Kurdish town, has been badly hit by renewed violence between the PKK and government forces since the collapse of a ceasefire last year. Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily PKK attacks since a two-and-a-half year truce with the state collapsed in July 2015, leaving hundreds of police officers and soldiers dead. Turkey’s operation in Syria aims to push both IS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia that is fighting the jihadists out of the border region. Ankara considers the YPG, which has links to the PKK, as a terror group bent on carving out an autonomous Kurdish region on Turkey’s border. On Friday, the army sent four more tanks over the border, according to an AFP photographer at Karkamis on the Turkish side of the frontier. Kurdish activists have accused Turkey of being more intent on preventing Syrian Kurds creating a stronghold than fighting IS jihadists. But prime minister Binali Yildirim on Friday denounced as a ‘bare-faced lie’ suggestions in Western media that the Syria operation was singling out Kurds. ‘They either know nothing about the world or else their job is to report a bare-faced lie,’ he said. Ankara’s hostility to the Syrian Kurdish fighters has put it at odds with its NATO ally, the United States, which supports them in the fight against IS. On Wednesday, Turkish tanks and fighter jets helped pro-Turkish rebels rout IS from the town of Jarabulus, on which the YPG appeared to have designs. On Thursday, Turkey shelled Kurdish fighters in the area, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing west into IS-held territory. Anadolu quoted security sources as saying the military would continue to intervene against the Syrian Kurdish fighters until they began to retreat. In a separate incident on the border, three Turkish soldiers were injured by mortar shells fired from Syria that landed in Yayladagi district, Dogan news agency reported. The agency said there had been clashes between local Turkmen and Syrian regime forces in Latakia, from where the shells were fired.</s>Attackers detonated a bomb-laden truck near the checkpoint in Cizre, Anadolu reported, citing the governor's officer in the province of Sirnak. The injured included 75 officers and three civilians, Anadolu reported. Four of the injured were in critical condition, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag told CNN Turk. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The Sirnak governor's office told Anadolu they blame the PKK -- a militant Kurdish group that's labeled a terror group by many in the international community. It said a car bomb was detonated at the police checkpoint. "Turkey will never allow these terrorists to realize their dirty aims," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in a statement. "There is no question that our fight with terror will succeed."</s>A suicide truck bombing at a police headquarters in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast killed at least 11 and wounded dozens on Friday, two days after Turkey launched an incursion against Islamic State and Kurdish militia fighters in Syria. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there was no doubt that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, was responsible for the attack in Sirnak province, which borders Syria and Iraq. The provincial governor's office said 11 police officers were killed and 78 people, three of them civilians, wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The bombing in the town of Cizre was the latest in a series of attacks since a ceasefire with the PKK collapsed more than a year ago, and comes as Turkey tries to recover from a failed July 15 military coup. READ MORE: * Turkish tanks roll into Syria * Blast kills dozens at wedding * Turkey has detained 40,000 since coup * Seven die from car bomb More than 1700 military personnel have been removed for their alleged role in the putsch, including some 40 per cent of admirals and generals, raising concern about the NATO member's ability to protect itself as it battles Islamic State in Syria and Kurdish militants at home. At a news conference in Istanbul, Yildirim said Turkey had opened a war on all terrorist groups. His deputy, Numan Kurtulmus, said on Twitter that Islamic State, the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were all attacking Turkey to take advantage of last month's coup attempt. "Turkey is in an intense fight against terrorist organisations ... The PKK/YPG and Islamic State seized the July 15 coup attempt as an opportunity," Kurtulmus wrote. Large plumes of smoke billowed from the blast site in Cizre, footage on CNN Turk showed. The broadcaster said a dozen ambulances and two helicopters had been sent to the scene. Photographs broadcast by private channel NTV showed a large three-storey building reduced to its concrete shell, with no walls or windows, and surrounded by grey rubble. On Thursday (local time), Interior Minister Efkan Ala accused the PKK of attacking a convoy carrying the country's main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The government has blamed the PKK for a series of attacks this month in the southeast. The group has claimed responsibility for at least one attack on a police station.</s>ANKARA/KARKAMIS, Turkey, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A suicide truck bombing at a police headquarters in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast killed at least 11 and wounded dozens on Friday, two days after Turkey launched an incursion against Islamic State and Kurdish militia fighters in Syria. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there was no doubt that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, was responsible for the attack in Sirnak province, which borders Syria and Iraq. The provincial governor's office said 11 police officers were killed and 78 people, three of them civilians, wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The bombing in the town of Cizre was the latest in a series of attacks since a ceasefire with the PKK collapsed more than a year ago, and comes as Turkey tries to recover from a failed July 15 military coup. More than 1,700 military personnel have been removed for their alleged role in the putsch, including some 40 percent of admirals and generals, raising concern about the NATO member's ability to protect itself as it battles Islamic State in Syria and Kurdish militants at home. At a news conference in Istanbul, Yildirim said Turkey had opened a war on all terrorist groups. His deputy, Numan Kurtulmus, said on Twitter that Islamic State, the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were all attacking Turkey to take advantage of last month's coup attempt. "Turkey is in an intense fight against terrorist organisations ... The PKK/YPG and Islamic State seized the July 15 coup attempt as an opportunity," Kurtulmus wrote. Large plumes of smoke billowed from the blast site in Cizre, footage on CNN Turk showed. The broadcaster said a dozen ambulances and two helicopters had been sent to the scene. Photographs broadcast by private channel NTV showed a large three-storey building reduced to its concrete shell, with no walls or windows, and surrounded by grey rubble. Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes launched their first major incursion into Syria on Wednesday in support of Syrian rebels, in an operation President Tayyip Erdogan has said is aimed both at driving Islamic State away from the border area and preventing territorial gains by the YPG. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died since the rebels took up arms in Turkey in 1984. Turkish troops fired on U.S.-backed YPG fighters in northern Syria on Thursday - a confrontation that highlights the cross-cutting of interests of two pivotal NATO allies. Also on Thursday, Interior Minister Efkan Ala accused the PKK of attacking a convoy carrying the country's main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The government has blamed the PKK for a series of attacks this month in the southeast. The group has claimed responsibility for at least one attack on a police station. Last week Erdogan accused followers of a U.S.-based Islamic cleric he blames for the July 15 coup attempt of being complicit in attacks by Kurdish militants. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has denied any involvement in and denounced the coup plot.</s>ANKARA, Turkey — Kurdish militants on Friday attacked a police checkpoint in southeast Turkey with an explosives-laden truck, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, officials and the state-run news agency said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 meters (yards) from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, for those attacks. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the death toll, saying it was a suicide attack carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to “destroy the terrorists.”(nypost.com)…[+]"
"Eight Turkish police officers are killed and 40 are injured in a bombing at a police checkpoint in the town of Cizre, with the PKK believed to be responsible."
"For four long years the Damascus suburb of Daraya endured siege, bombardment and starvation at the hands of the Syrian regime. The city was one of the first to rise up in peaceful protest against Bashar al-Assad during the early days of the Arab Spring and it stood strong in face of his violent oppression. But on Friday Daraya’s long defiance came to an end and the city finally surrendered to the regime troops who have besieged it since 2012. Its loss is a blow to the Syrian rebels as Daraya, which is just 15 minutes from central Damascus, was an icon of resistance. Its capture is both a symbolic victory for Mr Assad and a battlefield success that will free up his troops to fight elsewhere around the Syrian capital. Children in Daraya speaking about the siege in April</s>Syrian rebel fighters evacuated from the Damascene suburb of Darayya on Friday, government officials and rebel leaders said, ending one of the longest-running sieges in the country’s devastating civil war. Syrian state news operator SANA reported that “a reconciliation agreement” had been struck in the city of Darayya on Thursday, a short 15-minute drive from the center of Damascus, “so as to empty it of arms and gunmen in preparation for the return of all state institutions and the inhabitants of the city.” Families now in the besieged suburb will be transferred to “temporary residency centers” while roughly 700 gunmen would be moved to the rebel-held province of Idlib after surrendering their medium and heavy weaponry to the Syrian government troops, Darayya’s mayor, Marwan Ubeid, was quoted as saying. An opposition activist in the city who gave his name as Mutaz for reasons of privacy, confirmed the deal in an interview early Friday. He said that roughly 4,000 civilians will be taken to the Damascus suburbs of Qudsaya and Kisweh. The transfers will occur under international supervision, he said. Later on Friday, a SANA reporter said that the evacuation operation had begun. Aid trucks from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered the suburb hours after the deal was struck. Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese news channel close to Assad ally Hezbollah, broadcast live images from Darayya showing government troops standing near what it said were 45 green-and-white buses prepared to move out civilians. Meanwhile, officials were checking off names of those fighters who had chosen to leave, while those remaining behind would be evacuated over the next four days, the news agency reported. The U.N.’s Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, issued a statement Friday saying, “The situation regarding Darayya [was] extremely grave.” “It is tragic that repeated appeals to lift the siege of Darayya, besieged since November 2012, and cease the fighting have never been heeded,” said Mistura, adding that he was “made aware of the agreement to evacuate the civilians and fighters” overnight. “The U.N. was not consulted or involved in the negotiation of this agreement. It is imperative that the people of Darayya are protected in any evacuation that takes place, and that this takes place voluntarily.” He appealed to members of the International Syria Support Group, a coalition of countries, including the U.S. and Russia, working to bring about an end to the war in Syria “to ensure that the implementation of this agreement and its aftermath is in full compliance with international humanitarian law and protection standards.” Opposition activists uploaded video depicting rebel fighters embracing family members before their departure. Other photos showed women and men dragging their luggage through neighborhoods all but pulverized by almost four years of constant fighting. The deal marks the end of one of the Syrian civil war’s most punishing standoffs. Darayya, a suburb once home to 78,000 people and thought to be the site where Paul the Apostle had his conversion on the road to Damascus, was one of the first areas near the capital to join anti-government uprisings and became a byword for opposition to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The suburb is also close to Mezzeh military airport, which reportedly houses headquarters of the government’s elite Republican Guards and the much-feared Air Force Intelligence. In August 2012, Darayya was the site of what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said was “an appalling and brutal” massacre that killed more than 200 people, many of them civilians, after fierce clashes forced rebel fighters to withdraw to the suburb’s outskirts. Both sides blamed the other for the killings. Rebel factions seized control of Darayya later that year, but found themselves steadily losing a war of attrition with pro-government forces who mounted an increasingly tight siege on the area. Despite intense lobbying by the U.N., only one food shipment had entered Darayya since June, when a fragile ceasefire deal was forged to allow the delivery of aid. Meanwhile, activists in the town spoke of frequent bombings by government warplanes, including one they claimed took out the last remaining hospital in the suburb last week. Images broadcast by both government and opposition supporters hinted at the scale of the destruction within, and of the bitter calculus that would count Darayya a victory for the government in Syria’s vicious civil war; hardly any neighborhood escaped unscathed, with anywhere from 60% to 90% of the buildings damaged or destroyed. The reconciliation agreement follows similar deals forged in the central city of Homs in May 2014, which saw fighters and their families evacuate the city’s old quarter and move to Idlib. Opposition supporters took to social media to condemn the agreement; they excoriated rebel factions in the country’s south for not doing more to help break the siege on the city. Yet rebel activists in Darayya insisted they would leave the city only to fight the government once again. “We only left to return,” media activist Mohammad Abu Al-Zain said on his Facebook page Friday. Abu Jaafar Al-Homsi, the nom de guerre of a commander in the Martyrs of Islam Brigade, one of two major factions in the suburb, posted a defiant statement on Twitter, saying the deal had come after “thousands of failed incursion attempts” by pro-government forces. “We leave the stones of Darayya in the care of Allah … and accompany with us the heroes of Darayya and their rifles,” he wrote. “Darayya is where the battles are, for no land can contain Darayya.” Syrian rebels backed by Turkey and U.S. claim major victory over Islamic State As women are fined for wearing head scarves, French activists push back on 'burkini' ban Crews find living among the dead as search goes on for survivors of Italy quake 8:30 a.m.: This article has been updated with a report of aid trucks entering the suburb.</s>DARAYA, Syria | Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating a long-besieged Damascus suburb Friday as part of an agreement reached with the government following four years of grueling airstrikes and siege that left the suburb in ruins. The surrender of Daraya, which became an early symbol of the nascent uprising against President Bashar Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. It provides a further boost for the Syrian army as it fights opposition forces for control over Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Syrian soldiers are seen at the entrance of Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) This photo provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Local Council of Daraya City, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens gather as they prepare to evacuate from Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(Local Council of Daraya City via AP) Syrian soldiers walk at the entrance of Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) This photo provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Local Council of Daraya City, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens gather with their belonging next of a bus, as they prepare to evacuate from Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(Local Council of Daraya City via AP) This photo provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Local Council of Daraya City, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens carry their belonging as they prepare to evacuate from Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(Local Council of Daraya City via AP) A Syrian soldier walks in Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) Syrian soldiers are seen at the entrance of Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) Aid ambulances in Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) Damaged buildings in Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) Syrian soldiers take in the view from a damaged building in Daraya, a blockaded Damascus suburb, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The development in the Daraya suburb is part of an agreement struck between the rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad. Rebels agreed to evacuate after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that has left the sprawling suburb southwest of the capital in ruins.(AP Photo) Daraya’s rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late Thursday. Under the terms of the deal, around 700 gunmen will be allowed safe exit to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib, while some 4,000 civilians will be taken temporarily to a shelter south of Daraya. The suburb has been besieged and blockaded by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during this time. It has been held by a coalition of ultraconservative Islamic militias, including the Martyrs of Islam Brigade. As the first white bus with rebels and their families emerged from Daraya, Syrian army soldiers swarmed the vehicle, shouting pro-Assad slogans. The development comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The talks center on proposals to share intelligence and coordinate militarily with Russia against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq. Russia and Iran are strong backers of Assad and have been accused of targeting Western-backed rebel forces. The U.N.’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called for the protection of people being evacuated from Daraya and said their departure must be voluntary. In a statement issued in Geneva, he said the U.N. was not consulted or involved in the negotiation of the deal reached between rebel factions and government forces. Located just southwest of Damascus, Daraya has been pummeled by government airstrikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. In August 2012, around 400 people were killed over several days in a killing spree by troops and pro-government militiamen who stormed the suburb after heavy fighting and days of shelling, according to opposition activists. At least 48 green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles were lined up at the entrance of Daraya earlier Friday, waiting for the green light. An Associated Press journalist who entered the suburb from its northern entrance saw a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred. A group of uniformed soldiers celebrated, shouting pro-Syria slogans and flashing victory signs. Black smoke rose on the horizon — caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. Footage posted on the internet by a member of the Daraya local council shows a small group of a few dozen people milling about in a street lined with destroyed buildings. Surrounded by some meager belongings, they appear to be waiting to be evacuated. Women in full face cover are seen sitting on pieces of rubble while bearded men walk about. Under the deal, the government is to allow safe exit to hundreds of gunmen and their families out of Daraya and let them head to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib. Civilians will be taken to Kesweh, south of Daraya. “Idlib will be their graveyard,” said a Syrian army soldier. “This is a precious moment for every Syrian,” he added. The soldiers spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Daraya, which lies in the western Ghouta region, saw some of the first demonstrations against Assad after the uprising against his family rule began in March 2011, during which residents took to the streets, sometimes pictured carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. It is the latest rebel-held area to surrender to government troops following years of siege. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. The first major truce deal was struck in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, west of Daraya, in 2014. It was followed by truces and cease-fires in Babila, Yalda, Barzeh around the Syrian capital — all deals that swung heavily in the government’s favor and pacified the region. Daraya provided a stark example of the price of rebuffing truce overtures. For years, government helicopters conducted a brutal aerial campaign, pounding the suburb with barrel bombs — large containers packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal. The Syrian government denies using barrel bombs. Last December, Syrian rebels evacuated the last district they controlled in the central city of Homs, a major symbol of the uprising, after a siege that lasted almost three years. Rebels there also headed to Idlib, handing the government a significant victory in central Syria. The U.N.’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that severe food shortages were forcing some people in Daraya to eat grass. Residents had described burning plastic material to make fuel. Activist Hussam Ayash said residents were “trying to absorb the shock” of suddenly having to leave. “It’s difficult, but we have no choice,” he told the AP, speaking from inside Daraya. “Our condition has deteriorated to the point of being unbearable,” he said on Thursday night, ahead of the evacuations. “We withstood for four years but we couldn’t any longer,” he said, choking on his words. Ayash said the situation became unbearable after the town’s remaining field hospital was bombed and destroyed last week. The government had in recent months also encroached on the town’s agricultural farms — the only source of food for the local population, which he estimated at 8,000 people. Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.</s>Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating a long-besieged Damascus suburb on Friday as part of an agreement reached with the government following four years of gruelling airstrikes and siege that left the suburb in ruins. The surrender of Daraya, which became an early symbol of the nascent uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. It provides a further boost for the Syrian army as it fights opposition forces for control over Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Daraya’s rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late on Thursday. Under the terms of the deal, around 700 gunmen will be allowed safe exit to the Opposition-held northern province of Idlib, while some 4,000 civilians will be taken temporarily to a shelter south of Daraya. The suburb has been besieged by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during this time. It has been held by a coalition of ultraconservative Islamic militias, including the Martyrs of Islam Brigade. As the first white bus with rebels and their families emerged from Daraya, Syrian army soldiers swarmed the vehicle, shouting pro-Assad slogans.</s>The besieged Syrian town of Darayya, a symbol of the rebellion against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, is to be taken over by government forces after the last rebel fighters agreed to hand over their weapons and leave. The surrender and evacuation of the Damascus suburb after a brutal four-year siege is a devastating blow to opposition morale and a long-sought prize for Assad. Weeks of intense bombardment, which activists claim included napalm attacks, has finally overwhelmed rebels. The evacuation will be carried out in stages, with fighters leaving for opposition-controlled areas, but the fate of the few thousand civilians who have endured years of fighting and deprivation is still unclear. “The Assad regime and the armed groups in Darayya agreed on a ceasefire as an interlude to a settlement that includes evacuating civilians as of tomorrow, Friday,” a member of the local council told the Guardian. Families fear being forced to separate, and many of the people left in the city are worried that if they are forced into government-held areas they will disappear into jail for their activism in Darayya, or face an even grimmer fate. “The civilians are forced mainly to go to the regime-held areas. It is said that the families of the fighters can go with them, but nothing is confirmed yet. Tomorrow, when they come to take the first group of civilians, we will know further details,” the council member said. The fighters who join other opposition forces will be celebrated for their years of resistance, said Osama Abu Zaid, legal consultant to the Free Syrian Army. “We are awaiting the heroes of Darayya, the courageous,” he added, saving his criticism for western powers that he said offered no support. “For four years Darayya was under siege and the international community did nothing,” he said in a radio broadcast in northern Syria. “Four years and the United Nations couldn’t provide any humanitarian aid, except once.” The town became known as a centre for the opposition from the start of the uprising against Assad, which later turned into civil war. “Darayya was one of the very first towns to go against Assad. We started very early and we were so peaceful, we didn’t take the choice of raising arms for a full year,” said Kholoud Waleed, an activist from the town who now lives in exile. Darayya was the home of Ghiath Matar, an activist committed to non-violence. He was famous for handing out roses and bottles of water to government soldiers when they first entered the town in summer 2011. He inspired pro-democracy protesters around Syria, but that autumn he was killed, his body disfigured and his throat cut out. The town was also the site of a notorious massacre by government forces almost four years to the day before the surrender was agreed. They stormed in to make house-to-house searches, and left hundreds dead in one of the worst killing sprees of the war. Like many of Darayya’s residents, Waleed fled as Assad’s troops began laying a siege on the town in 2012. Those who managed to cling on inside the military cordon survived by growing their own food in fields between houses. But in recent weeks fighters and civilians had been pinned into just a few blocks with nowhere to produce food, Waleed said. Heavy fighting continues around the city of Aleppo, with reports of civilian casualties on both sides. Activists said 13 people, most of them children, were killed this week by a government barrel bomb dropped on a residential area. In northern Syria, a rebel force backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and aircraft entered the town of Jarablus, one of the last Islamic State strongholds along the border, as Ankara demanded Kurdish militia fighters retreat to the east side of the Euphrates river within a week. Turkey wants to secure the border and drive back Isis after a bomb at a wedding on Turkish soil killed dozens of people. However, Ankara is also concerned about the rapid advance by the Kurdish YPG militia across former Isis strongholds. It wants to prevent the fighters, who have been advancing fast with US air support, from seizing territory and consolidating control that could fuel the ambitions of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey.</s>By Albert Aji and Zeina Karam, Associated Press DARAYA, Syria — Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating a long-besieged Damascus suburb Friday as part of an agreement reached with the government following four years of grueling airstrikes and siege that left the suburb in ruins. The surrender of Daraya, which became an early symbol of the nascent uprising against President Bashar Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. It provides a further boost for the Syrian army as it fights opposition forces for control over Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Daraya’s rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late Thursday. Under the terms of the deal, around 700 gunmen will be allowed safe exit to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib, while some 4,000 civilians will be taken temporarily to a shelter south of Daraya. • August 25, 2016 Turkey: U.S. says Syria Kurds are pulling back in north Syria • August 24, 2016 Dobbs: Syrian boy is another symbol of the incalculable cost of war • August 23, 2016 Cartoons of the day: Syrian boy rescued in Aleppo • August 23, 2016 Turkey strikes Islamic State in Syria as tensions rise over border town The suburb has been besieged and blockaded by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during this time. It has been held by a coalition of ultraconservative Islamic militias, including the Martyrs of Islam Brigade. As the first white bus with rebels and their families emerged from Daraya, Syrian army soldiers swarmed the vehicle, shouting pro-Assad slogans. The development comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The talks center on proposals to share intelligence and coordinate militarily with Russia against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq. Russia and Iran are strong backers of Assad and have been accused of targeting Western-backed rebel forces. The U.N.’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called for the protection of people being evacuated from Daraya and said their departure must be voluntary. In a statement issued in Geneva, he said the U.N. was not consulted or involved in the negotiation of the deal reached between rebel factions and government forces. Located just southwest of Damascus, Daraya has been pummeled by government airstrikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. In August 2012, around 400 people were killed over several days in a killing spree by troops and pro-government militiamen who stormed the suburb after heavy fighting and days of shelling, according to opposition activists. At least 48 green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles were lined up at the entrance of Daraya earlier Friday, waiting for the green light. An Associated Press journalist who entered the suburb from its northern entrance saw a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred. A group of uniformed soldiers celebrated, shouting pro-Syria slogans and flashing victory signs. Black smoke rose on the horizon — caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. Footage posted on the internet by a member of the Daraya local council shows a small group of a few dozen people milling about in a street lined with destroyed buildings. Surrounded by some meager belongings, they appear to be waiting to be evacuated. Women in full face cover are seen sitting on pieces of rubble while bearded men walk about. Under the deal, the government is to allow safe exit to hundreds of gunmen and their families out of Daraya and let them head to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib. Civilians will be taken to Kesweh, south of Daraya. “Idlib will be their graveyard,” said a Syrian army soldier. “This is a precious moment for every Syrian,” he added. The soldiers spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Daraya, which lies in the western Ghouta region, saw some of the first demonstrations against Assad after the uprising against his family rule began in March 2011, during which residents took to the streets, sometimes pictured carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. It is the latest rebel-held area to surrender to government troops following years of siege. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. The first major truce deal was struck in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, west of Daraya, in 2014. It was followed by truces and cease-fires in Babila, Yalda, Barzeh around the Syrian capital — all deals that swung heavily in the government’s favor and pacified the region. Daraya provided a stark example of the price of rebuffing truce overtures. For years, government helicopters conducted a brutal aerial campaign, pounding the suburb with barrel bombs — large containers packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal. The Syrian government denies using barrel bombs. Last December, Syrian rebels evacuated the last district they controlled in the central city of Homs, a major symbol of the uprising, after a siege that lasted almost three years. Rebels there also headed to Idlib, handing the government a significant victory in central Syria. The U.N.’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that severe food shortages were forcing some people in Daraya to eat grass. Residents had described burning plastic material to make fuel. Activist Hussam Ayash said residents were “trying to absorb the shock” of suddenly having to leave. “It’s difficult, but we have no choice,” he told the AP, speaking from inside Daraya. “Our condition has deteriorated to the point of being unbearable,” he said on Thursday night, ahead of the evacuations. “We withstood for four years but we couldn’t any longer,” he said, choking on his words. Ayash said the situation became unbearable after the town’s remaining field hospital was bombed and destroyed last week. The government had in recent months also encroached on the town’s agricultural farms — the only source of food for the local population, which he estimated at 8,000 people. Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.</s>Buses, ambulances and trucks have lined up at the entrance of a long-blockaded Damascus suburb to evacuate rebels and civilians under a deal struck between Syrian opposition forces and the government of President Bashar Assad. The surrender of the Daraya suburb, which became an early symbol of the uprising against Mr Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. Daraya’s rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late on Thursday, after four years of gruelling bombardment and a crippling siege that left the sprawling suburb in ruins. The suburb has been besieged and blockaded by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during this time. The development comes as US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The talks centre on proposals to share intelligence and co-ordinate militarily with Russia against Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. Russia and Iran are strong backers of Mr Assad and have been accused of targeting western-backed rebel forces. Located just southwest of Damascus, Daraya has been pummelled by government air strikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. The evacuations are to begin later on Friday. At least 48 green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and UN vehicles were lined up at the entrance of Daraya, waiting for the green light. In a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred, black smoke rose on the horizon – caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. Under the deal, the government is to allow safe exit to 700 gunmen and let them head to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib . Around 4,000 civilians will be taken to shelters in and around Damascus. “Idlib will be their graveyard,” said a Syrian army soldier. “This is a precious moment for every Syrian,” he added. Daraya, which lies in the western Ghouta region, has suffered thousands of helicopter-dropped, unguided barrel bombs over the years. It saw some of the first demonstrations against Mr Assad after the uprising against his family rule began in March 2011, during which residents took to the streets, some carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. It is the latest area to surrender to government troops following years of siege. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. The UN’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council earlier this year that severe food shortages were forcing some people in Daraya to eat grass. Residents had described burning plastic material to make fuel. “No one will remain here”, said Hussam Ayash, a Daraya activist. “We are being forced to leave, but our condition has deteriorated to the point of being unbearable,” he said, ahead of the evacuations. “We withstood for four years but we couldn’t any longer,” he said, choking on his words. Mr Ayash said the situation became unbearable after the town’s remaining field hospital was bombed and destroyed last week. The government had in recent months also encroached on the town’s agricultural farms – the only source of food for the local population, which he estimated at 8,000 people.</s>Escorted by armed troops, dozens of insurgents and their families left this war-wrecked suburb of the Syrian capital on Friday as part of a forced evacuation deal struck with the government to end a four-year siege and aerial campaign that has left the area in ruins. The capitulation by rebel forces in Daraya, an early bastion of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, provides another boost for his forces amid a stalemate in the fight for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. It also improves security around Assad’s seat of power, pacifying an entire region southwest of Damascus that was once a backbone of the rebellion. Daraya was the last remaining rebel holdout in the region known as western Ghouta — and the closest to the capital. The mass relocation of the suburb’s residents reflects the government’s ongoing military strategy to break up Sunni population areas, weakening the rebellion against it. It also highlights concerns over the forced displacement of members of the Sunni majority, seen by some as a government policy to strengthen its base and create a corridor made up of its minority supporters. Following the deal struck late Thursday, Daraya’s rebels began evacuating in government buses on Friday, a process expected to take several days. Around 700 gunmen are to be allowed safe passage to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib, while some 4,000 civilians will be taken to temporary shelter in government-controlled Kisweh, south of Daraya. The U.N., which said it was not consulted over the plan, expressed concern over the evacuation, saying it was imperative that those participating do so voluntarily. As the first white government bus carrying evacuees emerged from Daraya carrying mostly women and children, Syrian Army soldiers swarmed the vehicle, shouting pro-Assad slogans. Inside, armed troops guarded the doors as the women tried to hide their faces. Nine buses left Daraya on Friday. One of Daraya’s fighters, Tamam Abouel Kheir, posted a video message saying, “We are forced to leave. But we will return, our nation.” The post included pictures of his loved ones and a photo of a group of young men visiting the Daraya cemetery to pay their respects to the hundreds who died in the fighting. “If only we could take the tombs of our martyrs with us,” he wrote. Dr. Mohamad Diaa, a 27-year-old general practitioner in Daraya, said he would likely leave Saturday with the rebels heading to Idlib. “Today married civilians and families. Tomorrow, the rest of the shabab leave,” he said, using Arabic slang for young men. His family left Syria long before, but he chose to stay behind, Diaa said, giving only his first and middle names because he feared for his safety. He said he hoped the presence of the Red Crescent would be enough to prevent the government from arresting the evacuating rebels. Daraya-based opposition activist Hussam Ayash said residents were “trying to absorb the shock” of suddenly having to leave. “It’s difficult, but we have no choice,” he said. Daraya is part of “Rural Damascus,” a province that includes the capital’s suburbs and farmland. It saw some of the first demonstrations against Assad after the 2011 uprising against his family’s rule in which residents took to the streets, sometimes carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. After the uprising turned into insurgency, the suburb became a persistent threat to the government’s nearby Mezzeh air base. It was pummeled by government airstrikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. In August 2012, around 400 residents were killed by pro-government militiamen who stormed the suburb following heavy fighting and days of shelling, according to opposition activists. Once known for its workshops that produced handmade wooden furniture, Daraya has been besieged and blockaded by government forces since November 2012, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach it during that time. It has been held by a coalition of ultraconservative Islamic militias, including the Martyrs of Islam Brigade. An Associated Press journalist who entered the suburb Friday saw a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred. Black smoke rose on the horizon — caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. In a statement, the U.N. said it was neither involved nor consulted about the evacuation plan, adding, “the world is watching.” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said a small team of U.N. and Red Cross aid workers would travel to Daraya “to meet with all parties and identify the key issues for the civilians.” “We are using this lull in the fighting to get in and see what we can do and obviously see for ourselves what the situation is inside the city,” Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. Daraya is the latest rebel-held area to surrender to government troops following years of siege. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. Last December, Syrian rebels evacuated the last district they controlled in the central city of Homs, a major symbol of the uprising, after a nearly three-year siege. Rebels there also headed to Idlib, handing the government a significant victory in central Syria. Daraya provided a stark example of the price of rebuffing truce overtures. For years, government helicopters conducted a brutal aerial campaign, pounding the suburb with barrel bombs — large containers packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal. The Syrian government denies using barrel bombs. Diaa said for the last eight months Daraya has been pounded with hundreds of barrel bombs, as the government attempted to storm it. It was left choked off, with no supply lines and no roads in or out. The U.N.’s humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, told the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that severe food shortages were forcing some people in Daraya to eat grass. Residents said the situation became unbearable after the town’s remaining field hospital was bombed and destroyed last week. The government had in recent months also encroached on the town’s farmlands — the only source of food for the local population. Diaa said Daraya’s residents were let down by the international community and by rebel factions in Daraa and eastern Ghouta who did not come to their rescue. “We had hoped someone would stand by us and put some pressure on the regime. But it didn’t happen,” he said. Meanwhile, in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, had “achieved clarity” on a path toward restoring a truce in Syria, but details remained to be worked out. Kerry said the “vast majority” of technical discussions on steps to reinstate the cease-fire and improve humanitarian access had been completed during talks on Friday, and experts would try to finalize the unresolved steps in the coming days.</s>DARAYA, Syria (AP) — Buses, ambulances and trucks lined up at the entrance of a long-blockaded Damascus suburb on Friday to evacuate rebels and civilians under a deal struck between the Syrian opposition forces and the government. The surrender of the Daraya suburb, which became an early symbol of the nascent uprising against President Bashar Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. Daraya's rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late Thursday, after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that left the sprawling suburb in ruins. The suburb has been besieged and blockaded by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during this time. The development comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The talks center on proposals to share intelligence and coordinate militarily with Russia against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq. Russia and Iran are strong backers of Assad and have been accused of targeting Western-backed rebel forces. Located just southwest of Damascus, Daraya has been pummeled by government airstrikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. The evacuations are to begin later Friday. At least 48 green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles were lined up at the entrance of Daraya, waiting for the green light. An AP journalist who entered the suburb from its northern entrance saw a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred. A group of uniformed soldiers celebrated, shouting pro-Syria slogans and flashing victory signs. Black smoke rose on the horizon — caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. Footage posted on the internet by a member of the Daraya local council shows a small group of a few dozen people milling about in a street lined with destroyed buildings. Surrounded by some meager belongings, they appear to be waiting to be evacuated. Women in full face cover are seen sitting on pieces of rubble while bearded men walk about. By midday Friday, three buses and several ambulances were seen entering Daraya, ahead of the evacuation. Under the deal, the government is to allow safe exit to 700 gunmen and their families out of Daraya and let them head to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib. Around 4,000 civilians will be taken to a shelter in Kesweh, south of Daraya. "Idlib will be their graveyard," said a Syrian army soldier. "This is a precious moment for every Syrian," he added. The soldiers spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Daraya, which lies in the western Ghouta region, has suffered thousands of helicopter-dropped unguided barrel bombs over the years. It saw some of the first demonstrations against Assad after the uprising against his family rule began in March 2011, during which residents took to the streets, sometimes pictured carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. It is the latest rebel-held area to surrender to government troops following years of siege. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. The first major truce deal was struck in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, west of Daraya, in 2014. It was followed by truces and cease-fires in Babila, Yalda, Barzeh around the Syrian capital — all deals that swung heavily in the government' favor and pacified the region. Daraya provided a stark example of the price of rebuffing truce overtures. For years, government helicopters conducted a brutal aerial campaign, pounding the suburb with barrel bombs — large containers packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal. The Syrian government denies using barrel bombs. Last December, Syrian rebels evacuated the last district they controlled in the central city of Homs, a major symbol of the uprising, after a siege that lasted almost three years. Rebels there also headed to Idlib, handing the government a significant victory in central Syria. The U.N.'s humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that severe food shortages were forcing some people in Daraya to eat grass. Residents had described burning plastic material to make fuel. Activist Hussam Ayash said residents were "trying to absorb the shock" of suddenly having to leave. "It's difficult, but we have no choice," he told The Associated Press, speaking from inside Daraya. "Our condition has deteriorated to the point of being unbearable," he said on Thursday night, ahead of the evacuations. "We withstood for four years but we couldn't any longer," he said, choking on his words. Ayash said the situation became unbearable after the town's remaining field hospital was bombed and destroyed last week. The government had in recent months also encroached on the town's agricultural farms — the only source of food for the local population, which he estimated at 8,000 people. Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.</s>DARAYA, Syria -- Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating a Damascus suburb Friday as part of an agreement reached with the government after four years of grueling airstrikes and siege that left the suburb in ruins. The surrender of Daraya, which became an early symbol of the nascent uprising against President Bashar Assad, marks a success for his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat of power. It provides a further boost for the Syrian army as it fights opposition forces for control over Aleppo, Syria's largest city. Daraya's rebels agreed to evacuate in a deal late Thursday. Under the terms of the deal, about 700 gunmen will be allowed safe exit to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib, while some 4,000 civilians will be taken temporarily to a shelter south of Daraya. The suburb has been blockaded by government forces, with only one food delivery by the United Nations allowed to reach the district during the siege. It has been held by a coalition of ultraconservative Islamic militias, including the Martyrs of Islam Brigade. As the first white bus with rebels and their families emerged from Daraya, Syrian army soldiers swarmed the vehicle, shouting pro-Assad slogans. The development comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. After meeting off and on with Lavrov for nearly 10 hours, Kerry said the two "have achieved clarity" on a path to restore a truce in Syria but details remain to be worked out. Neither Kerry nor Lavrov described the talks in detail. The talks center on proposals to share intelligence and coordinate militarily with Russia against the Islamic State extremist group and the al-Qaida branch in Syria and Iraq. Russia and Iran are strong backers of Assad and have been accused of targeting Western-backed rebel forces. Asked at the start of the gathering to identify the main impediment to a broader nationwide ceasefire, Lavrov responded: "I don't want to spoil the atmosphere for the negotiations." Any U.S.-Russian coordination would be complicated by the fact that Russia says there are Islamic extremist groups mixed in with the moderate rebels that the U.S. supports. Russia accuses the U.S. of preventing strikes on terrorist groups out of concern that would mean targeting these rebels. "A terrorist center" remains in those areas of Syria and "no one can deal with it because so-called moderate opposition groups are there," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said in an interview the day before the talks. At the moment, a key focus is the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Thursday that Russia has agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire there and he's waiting to hear if rebels will do the same. He said trucks are ready to take humanitarian relief to the city. On Friday, de Mistura called for the protection of people being evacuated from Daraya and said their departure must be voluntary. In a statement issued in Geneva, he said the U.N. was not consulted or involved in the negotiation of the deal reached between rebel factions and government forces. "The world is watching," de Mistura said. Located just southwest of Damascus, Daraya has been pummeled by government airstrikes, barrel bombs and fighting over the years. In August 2012, around 400 people were killed over several days by troops and pro-government militiamen who stormed the suburb after heavy fighting and days of shelling, according to opposition activists. At least 48 green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles were lined up at the entrance of Daraya earlier Friday, waiting for the green light. A journalist who entered the suburb from the north saw a landscape of severely damaged and deserted buildings, some of them charred. A group of uniformed soldiers celebrated, shouting pro-Syria slogans and flashing victory signs. Black smoke rose on the horizon -- caused by the rebels burning their belongings before evacuating, according to Syrian army soldiers. Footage posted on the Internet by a member of the Daraya local council shows a small group of a few dozen people milling about in a street lined with destroyed buildings. Surrounded by some meager belongings, they appear to be waiting to be evacuated. Women in full face cover are seen sitting on pieces of rubble while bearded men walk about. Under the deal, the government is to allow safe exit to hundreds of gunmen and their families out of Daraya and let them head to the opposition-held northern province of Idlib. Civilians will be taken to Kesweh, south of Daraya. "Idlib will be their graveyard," said a Syrian army soldier. "This is a precious moment for every Syrian," he added. The soldiers spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Daraya, which lies in the western Ghouta region, saw some of the first demonstrations against Assad after the uprising against his family rule began in March 2011, during which residents took to the streets, sometimes pictured carrying red and white roses to reflect the peaceful nature of their protests. It is the latest rebel-held area to surrender to government troops after years of siege. Opposition activists and human-rights groups accuse the government of using siege and starvation tactics to force surrender by the opposition. Information for this article was contributed by Albert Aji, Zeina Karam, Sarah El Deeb, Jamey Keaten and Matthew Lee of The Associated Press and by Nick Wadhams and Henry Meyer of Bloomberg News."
"Following a ceasefire agreement with the government, Syrian rebels begin evacuating the war-torn suburb of Darayya, near Damascus, ending a four-year-long siege by government forces. Under the terms of surrender, the 8,000 civilians who reside in the suburb will be moved to regime-controlled areas while several hundred rebel fighters will be given passage to the Idlib Governorate."
"GARIPCE, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkey opened one of the world’s biggest suspension bridges on Friday, the latest megaproject in a $200 billion building spree that President Tayyip Erdogan hopes will secure his place in history. People wave Turkish flags during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city's European and Asian sides, in Istanbul, Turkey, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer The bridge creates a new link across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe. It is built in the style of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and boasts pylons higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is 1.4 km (0.9 mile) long and 59 meters wide, with eight vehicle lanes and two high-speed rail lines. “When man dies, he leaves behind a monument,” Erdogan told a crowd of thousands waving Turkish flags at the opening ceremony on the shores of the Bosphorus next to the bridge. He is seeking to use such projects to drive economic growth and secure a place as Turkey’s most significant leader since the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. “Be proud of your power, Turkey,” said a TV advert before the opening of the $3 billion Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge on the edge of Istanbul. It is named after a 16th-century Ottoman ruler. Erdogan’s infrastructure drive is transforming Europe’s biggest city, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait. In a little more than a decade, Istanbul’s skyline has soared, new highways have been built, and the length of the metro tripled. But Turkey’s stellar economic growth has slowed since 2011 and it could face difficulties attracting investment following an attempted coup last month, which led to a purge by the government that has seen tens of thousands of people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education being detained, suspended or placed under investigation. The country has also been hit by attacks this summer by Islamic State on a wedding party and Istanbul airport, while the Turkish army’s incursion this week in Syria to curb jihadist and Kurdish forces has unsettled nerves. But Erdogan - whose government announced a $200 billion, decade-long infrastructure investment plan three years ago - has vowed the months of turmoil would not stop planned megaprojects. The Yavuz Sultan Selim, which runs from the Garipce area on Istanbul’s European side to the region of Poyrazkoy on the Asian side, is the third bridge to span the Bosphorus Strait and can withstand winds of 300 km an hour. It ranks among the world’s biggest suspension bridges, in terms of width of deck, height of pylons as well as length of span. It has been built by Italy’s Astaldi and Istanbul-based IC Ictas which will jointly operate it for about a decade. Officials say the bridge will ease congestion in a city of 14 million people, reduce fuel costs and save workers time. Environmentalists say the project threatens Istanbul’s last forestland and will contaminate water supplies. Some economists warn the costs of such large-scale building is unsustainable. BRIDGE ‘IS SYMBOL’ Turkey closed deals to secure $45 billion in private infrastructure investment last year, absorbing 40 percent of the global total, according to the World Bank. Other planned megaprojects include the world’s biggest airport in Istanbul and a huge canal that would render a large chunk of the city an island. Such undertakings trumpet Turkey’s regional clout and drive the economy, Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told Reuters near the bridge site at Garipce. Construction accounts for 6 percent of output and employs 2 million people. “Turkey, by virtue of its geography, bridges Asia and Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus, but to benefit from this position, we need arteries and corridors,” he told Reuters. “There is money to be made by easing transportation between Europe and Asia, and this is why we are doing these projects.” As Arslan spoke, workers scaled the bridge’s gleaming white steel cables. Some 300 meters below, crude tankers rumbled north through the Bosphorus, one of the world’s busiest oil transit points, connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Each day, 650 new cars hit Istanbul’s roads, Arslan said, making it the word’s third-most congested city and increasing travel times by 50 percent, according to TomTom Traffic Index. The bridge “is a symbol and much like Turkey a gateway”, said Paolo Astaldi, chairman of Astaldi which owns a third of the joint venture. “It not only alleviates traffic in Istanbul, it speeds movement of goods across Turkey and, as Syria stabilizes, the importance of the link will increase.” Under a build-operate-transfer model, the consortium receives the toll crossing fees for vehicles using the hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge - $3 for cars and $15 for trucks. The government guarantees the firms will receive, as a minimum, the toll income from 135,000 cars a day, though the actual number expected to use the bridge is expected to be higher. Planned Turkish megaprojects, if realized, may add 10 to 15 percentage points in the next five years to the debt-to-GDP ratio, now 33 percent due to a wide current-account deficit, said Atilla Yesilada, an analyst at Global Source Partners. “You’re trying to stimulate sagging growth with a surge in infrastructure, but you have a savings problem. There comes a point when the international community won’t lend to you.” ISTANBUL’S ‘LUNGS’ The bridge is part of a network of 215 km of transit roads for freight to bypass Istanbul, Arslan said, reiterating a government pledge to protect the area from housing development. Yet realtors in nearby fishing and farming villages report a fourfold rise in land prices, and activists in the Northern Forests Defence campaign group believe the real aim is to erect new suburbs. “Transit makes up 3 percent of total traffic, so it won’t mitigate traffic jams,” said Cihan Baysal of the Northern Forests Defence. “This opens up hitherto pristine lands to more construction projects, because Turkey’s economy depends on construction ... which paradoxically exacerbates traffic jams.” The new roads seared gashes through forestland. Arslan said that while 380,000 trees were felled, 2.5 million were planted. “These forests are Istanbul’s lungs,” said Baysal, pointing to a court ruling the bridge lacked an environmental report. Among other concerns are the fate of what media reports said were a trove of unexcavated antiquities in the construction area, including Paleolithic remains and a Byzantine jail. Slideshow (13 Images) The two older Bosphorus Strait bridges, crossed by 150 million vehicles a year, sparked protests in 1973 and 1988; now their silhouettes define the skyline. Even the third bridge’s name stirred controversy when it was announced at a 2013 ground-breaking ceremony. Selim I, known as Selim the Grim, expanded the Ottoman Empire to dominate the Middle East. Many members of Turkey’s Alevi community, whose faith draws from Shi’ite, Sufi and Anatolian traditions, say Selim slaughtered tens of thousands of their forebears. They unsuccessfully lobbied to change the bridge’s name.</s>Istanbul to inaugurate third bridge linking Europe with Asia ISTANBUL (AP) — Istanbul is inaugurating the third bridge spanning the Bosphorus Strait dividing the continents of Europe and Asia, in a ceremony to be attended by Turkish leadership and representatives of several nations. Turkey's president and prime minister will attend Friday's ceremony, along with dignitaries from Bahrain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Pakistan, Georgia and northern Cyprus. The $3 billion bridge is named after the 16th-century Ottoman sultan, Selim, and is touted as the world's widest suspension bridge, featuring 10 lanes including two rail lines and spanning over 1,400 meters.</s>ANKARA: A third bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul will be opened Friday with a ceremony to be attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, built above the northern Bosphorus, was named after 16th century Ottoman Sultan Selim I, whose rule marked the expansion of the burgeoning world power in the Middle East. The ceremony will also be attended by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Mustafa Akinci, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as well as other senior officials from Pakistan, Georgia and Serbia. According to Turkish officials, it is estimated that the “longest suspension bridge to have a railway system” in the world will save $1.75 billion annually in terms of cutting travel times and reducing energy costs. The bridge is also expected to provide a solution to the city’s air pollution as well as traffic congestion, the officials claimed. Turkey’s government has guaranteed operators that 135,000 automobiles will use the bridge each day. The fee for automobiles going from the European to the Asian side will be 9.90 Turkish liras ($3.40).There will be no charge for passage from the Asian to the European side. The bridge is 1.4 kilometers (0.9 mile) long, 59 meters wide and boasts eight road lanes as well as two rail lines. It has been built as a part of the Northern Marmara Motorway Project, which has been planned in three phases. The first phase of the project has been completed by the private sector, which invested around $3 billion. The other two phases will involve the construction of highways and link roads amounting to a total length of 257 km. These are expected to be completed and available for public use in 2018.</s>The news stories that flooded front pages in the wake of Hurricane Irene late last month focused mostly on surging rivers, torn-up homes, downed trees, and the fate of New York City. But one story in particular caught my attention: the state of Vermont lost several of its historic covered bridges, those pleasant reminders of a bucolic North American past, beloved by so many-including, as of only recently, me. Just hours before Irene slammed into the Eastern Seaboard, my girlfriend and I were driving aimlessly around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, filling to the brim our box of vacation memories, already bursting at the seams with scenes of sunrise in coastal Maryland and rainy hours whiled away in the American rooms of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Partly on whim, partly because of fond childhood memories, and partly because it just seemed like a good way to organize the morning, we decided to see as many of Lancaster County's famed covered bridges as possible. By noon, when the rain started falling, I was hooked. The architectural impetus for covering a bridge has less to do with beauty than with sheer practicality. In the northeastern states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada, the arrival of the industrial revolution in the 19th century caused a massive population explosion, and a corresponding need to bridge the terrain's many rivers and streams in order to allow the free movement of people and goods across the land. Bridges made of stone, as those in Europe generally were, didn't make sense in North America, because violent temperature swings meant that the bridges would freeze and thaw and require maintenance every year. To build them instead with wood, plentiful anywhere in the Northeast, made sense. To then protect those wooden bridges with walls and a ceiling-after builders realized that such shelter would prolong a wooden bridge's lifespan tenfold, to nearly a century-made even more sense. While the existence of covered bridges can be traced back almost 3,000 years to ancient Babylon, they reached their architectural apex, and surely their greatest numbers, in 19th century North America. In Quebec alone, over a thousand covered bridges were built during the century and a half they were in vogue. But by the 1950s, stronger building materials had been developed, making it no longer necessary for builders to cover bridges in order to extend their lives and ensure that construction of new spans would be a worthy investment. Residents of towns with covered bridges were suddenly embarrassed by them, thinking the wooden structures evidence of backwardness compared to the modern steel bridges of which neighbouring towns could boast. Many bridges were demolished in the decades between when they stopped being built and the time, not so long ago, that people began to realize how special the remaining covered bridges were, and actively moved to preserve them. After that morning in Lancaster County, I began researching covered bridges, and found that there were nearly 100 still standing in the province of Quebec. I resolved that at the first opportunity I would head into the countryside to see some of them. With only minimal coaxing, I convinced two friends, Sam and Jack, to join me for a recent Sunday drive. Neither had any prior experience with covered bridges, but both are enthusiastic and willing to thoroughly immerse themselves in new things. I did sense some initial skepticism about my new obsession, though, so my friends proved an interesting experiment for observing how excitement steadily begins to grow in a bridge-hunting initiate. So how do you find Quebec's covered bridges? It's surprisingly easy. My new favourite website, www.coveredbridgemap.com, imposes the locations of Quebec's surviving ponts couverts on Google maps; by zooming in closely, you can carefully trace a route from bridge to bridge and back home. I drew up a short plan of action, including whatever historical and expository information I could find online for each of the bridges, and had Sam, acting as navigator in the passenger seat, read the directions as we went along. After getting slightly lost in Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, we rounded the last curve on a small dirt road and, to whoops and hollers (disproportionately mine, I admit), finally pulled up to examine our first bridge. Sam read from a brief history of the town and the bridge that I'd pulled off a local website. Built in 1884, the Des Rivières Covered B ridge is painted barn-red, the typical uniform for most North American spans. The interior is dark, all wood, weak light shining thinly through cracks in the walls and from the far end, like a short tunnel. The floor of the bridge consists of dusty wooden slats, some more stable than others, with noticeable grooves from one entrance of the bridge to the other, where vehicles have worn down the wood over the last century. Small spare boards thrust into spaces where the wall beams fall just short of their intended marks makes the construction feel spontaneous. Through a small cut-out window in one of the walls, you can watch the stream humming along, dipping below some willow trees on the bank, and disappearing from view - precisely what you would have seen in the same spot more than 125 years ago. We returned to the car, opened some lawn chairs from my trunk, and enjoyed thick slices of mango in the sun. Inside one of the next bridges we saw, someone had spray-painted in orange block letters: "VIVE L'AMOUR!" However vandalous, such an inscription is appropriate enough: another name for a covered bridge is a "kissing bridge," because young couples back in the day used the darkness of the bridge to cloak whatever heinous things young couples used to do. Even today, the dark interiors of most covered bridges continue to host the conjoined signatures of lovers past. I should probably admit that there's a bridge somewhere in Lancaster County sporting a careful engraving from my own set of Honda keys. The last stop on our route, the Balthazar Bridge in Brigham Township, was, as Jack declared, "the finale." Built in 1932, it spans a section of the Yamaska River that features a brief section of Class 3 rapids, as we learned from a group of kayakers who had just arrived from somewhere upstream. We stood on the bank throwing large sticks into the current, admiring how the water flowed smoothly over the rocks before forking around a small island and disappearing around the bend. Quebec's covered bridges, unlike New York's, don't have signs that say you can be fined $1 for driving over the bridge faster than a walk, but the idea, I think, is implicit. Ready to return to Montreal, I slowly coaxed my car over the precarious wooden slats and onto the other side, where, along the riverbank, a dozen cows sat fatly in the grass, mooing and chewing in the shade. "Oh shit, oh my God, oh shit!" So a woman cries-literally, cries-in a video that has circulated around the Internet in recent weeks, showing the collapse of her beloved Bartonsville Covered Bridge in Vermont into the raging waters of the Williams River below. The video is really sad: a few locals stand around in Hurricane Irene's fierce rains, watching the bridge-as if at the deathbed of an old friend, as if by standing guard they might prevent the inevitable. Suddenly, the bridge, built in 1870 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, crumbles into the water and is promptly swept away. While efforts have already been launched to eventually restore the Bartonsville to its proper place and glory, another YouTube video, showing the crumpled-up remains of the bridge where it washed up downstream, makes success seem unlikely. But maybe it's not even so obvious that covered bridges should be preserved at all. "Preservation is transformation," notes Roger McCain, a professor at Drexel University who has done some academic work on the economics of historical preservation, and runs an amateur website on covered bridges. If a bridge still exists with only a fraction of its original wood, is it still the same bridge? McCain believes that sometimes it doesn't even matter. "If you want to preserve something that's attractive and picturesque and lends distinction to your community, because it's either been there for a long or there once was something very much like that was there for a long time, then it makes perfectly good sense to maintain them," he says. Covered bridges can be pleasing to look at even if their historic aura is only a façade. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has chosen this inauspicious year to "consolidate" 55 highway- and bridge-related programs in the U.S. Department of Transportation into just five stream-lined categories. That means that projects previously funded by the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program will now have to compete for funds against other, admittedly more forward-looking projects under the department's new "Livability" goal. Other programs folded into this awkward category include "Recreational Trails" and "Safe Routes to School." The question begs itself: what politician would vote to divert funds from that latter program to maintain a covered bridge only a few romantics care about? Imagine the TV ad: "Barack Obama wants America's schoolchildren to plunge helplessly off cliffs. Is that change Virginia can believe in?" All the same, Professor McCain believes the impact of the federal preservation program being cut won't be nearly as destructive to the bridges as the recent floods. Besides, he says, it's really a decision local communities will have to make on their own. "A little federal money might encourage a local community to do more than they would do otherwise," he said. "But federal involvement in local issues is always political, and we can't make the whole world a museum." Sam, Jack, and I managed to get slightly lost again trying to find the highway, and were all late for various appointments we had in Montreal later in the afternoon. That didn't really matter. A day out in the country left us refreshed and fortified against whatever aggravations big-city life always promises to have in store. Perhaps even more than finding the bridges themselves, the joy, as ever, was in the hunt. Navigating unknown terrain, meeting unknown characters, turning one another on to good songs and interesting clouds - we agreed that while looking for covered bridges isn't necessarily the only way to see Quebec's countryside, it's as good an excuse as any to get out of the city on a beautiful autumn afternoon. Theoretically, you can just decide to go for an aimless drive in the country on a Sunday afternoon, but realistically, you never will. There's nothing specifically profound about the points on that map of covered bridges in Quebec. It's all about the connections you make in between."
"Turkey opens the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge in Istanbul, one of the world's biggest suspension bridges."
"Six Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as forest fires blanketed a swath of Southeast Asia in a smoky haze. Singapore's air quality deteriorated to unhealthy levels on Friday as winds blew smoke from fires on Sumatra, where millions of people are already affected by haze, across the city-state and into southern Malaysia. The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra and Borneo by weather satellites has increased in the past month though they are below levels last year when massive fires in Indonesia caused a regional crisis. Singapore's three-hour air pollution index was at 157 by late afternoon, after peaking at 215. Its environment agency doesn't give a health warning with the limited duration index, but on a 24-hour basis it says levels above 100 are unhealthy and above 200 very unhealthy. "The smell of smoke woke me up. I thought something was burning outside," said Singaporean copywriter Lim Jia Ying, who put on a mask for her commute to work. "I'm having a cough and it's getting worse. Luckily, I found a face mask at home," she said. Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency said six provinces which have a combined population of more than 23 million people have declared emergencies, allowing firefighting measures to go into full effect including aerial water drops. The haze is an annual problem for Southeast Asia, but last year's fires were the worst since 1997, straining relations between Indonesia and its neighbors. About 261,000 hectares (644,931 acres) burned, causing billions of dollars in economic losses for Indonesia. Many of the fires are deliberately set by agricultural conglomerates and small-time farmers to clear forests and peatland for plantations. National police chief Tito Karnavian said Friday that 85 people have been arrested this year for starting fires. About 2,800 hectares (6,918 acres) have burned so far this year, according to Indonesia's Forestry Ministry. Separately, Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a palm oil company PT Kallista Alam that was ordered to pay compensation of 366 billion rupiah ($28 million) for burning peatlands, according to a decision published this month on the court's website. ——— Associated Press writer Annabelle Liang in Singapore contributed to this report.</s>SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Air pollution in Singapore rose to the "unhealthy" level on Friday as acrid smoke drifted over the island from fires on Indonesia's Sumatra island, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said. Every dry season, smoke from fires set to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia clouds the skies over much of the region, raising concern about public health and worrying tourist operators and airlines. The 24-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI), which Singapore's NEA uses as a benchmark, rose as high as 105 in the afternoon. A level above 100 is considered "unhealthy". The NEA said it planned a "daily haze advisory" as "a burning smell and slight haze were experienced over many areas" in Singapore. Indonesia has been criticised by its northern neighbours and green groups for failing to end the annual fires, which were estimated to cost Southeast Asia's largest economy $16 billion in 2015, and left more than half a million Indonesians suffering from respiratory ailments. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has increased government efforts to tackle the haze, with police doubling numbers of fire-related arrests this year. "Forest and land fires in the Riau area are increasing," Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said in a statement on Friday, referring to aerial surveillance of 67 hotspots and smoke from the area drifting eastward over Singapore. "The smoke billowing from the hotspot locations is quite dense," Nugroho said, adding that 7,200 personnel and several aircraft had been deployed to stop the Riau fires. Pollution levels in neighbouring Malaysia were normal on Friday. Singapore has pushed Indonesia for information on companies suspected of causing pollution, some of which are listed on Singapore's stock exchange. A forest campaigner for the environmental group Greenpeace Indonesia, Yuyun Indradi, said the government was struggling to enforce laws to prevent the drainage of peatland for plantations and the setting of fires to clear land. "It has become a challenge for the government to enforce accountability among concession holders, to enforce its directives on blocking canals, and push companies to take part in efforts to restore peatland and prevent fires," Indradi said. "Now is the time for the government to answer this challenge. It is in the law." Greenpeace said, according to its satellite information, there were 138 fires across Indonesia on Friday. (Reporting by Marius Zaharia and Fathin Ungku in SINGAPORE and Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)</s>Every dry season, smoke from fires set to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia clouds the skies over much of the region, raising concern about public health and worrying tourist operators and airlines. The 24-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI), which the NEA uses as a benchmark, rose as high as 105 in the afternoon. A level above 100 is considered "unhealthy". The NEA said it planned a "daily haze advisory" as "a burning smell and slight haze were experienced over many areas" in Singapore. Indonesia repeatedly vows to stop the fires but each year they return. This year, Indonesia has arrested 454 people in connection with the smoke pollution. When heavy, the choking smog closes airports and schools and prompts warnings to residents to stay indoors. Pollution levels in neighboring Malaysia were normal on Friday. Singapore has pushed Indonesia for information on companies suspected of causing pollution, some of which are listed on Singapore's stock exchange. A forest campaigner for the environmental group Greenpeace Indonesia, Yuyun Indradi, said the government was struggling to enforce laws to prevent the drainage of peatland for plantations and the setting of fires to clear land. "It has become a challenge for the government to enforce accountability among concession holders, to enforce its directives on blocking canals, and push companies to take part in efforts to restore peatland and prevent fires," Indradi said. "Now is the time for the government to answer this challenge. It is in the law." Greenpeace said, according to its satellite information, there were 138 fires across Indonesia on Friday.</s>Acrid smog blanketed Singapore Friday as the city-state was hit by the year’s first major outbreak of haze, an annual crisis sparked by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. Singapore’s air quality index reached unhealthy levels with conditions deteriorating through the day, marking the worst haze episode in the city since vast parts of Southeast Asia were blanketed in smoke in 2015. Last year’s haze outbreak was among the worst in memory, shrouding Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand in acrid smoke. The blazes are started illegally to clear land, typically for palm oil and pulpwood plantations, and Indonesia has faced intense criticism from its neighbors over its failure to halt the annual smog outbreaks. Indonesian police said a total of 463 people have been arrested over forest fires so far in 2016. This is more than double the number arrested over the blazes in the whole of 2015 but the data suggest that most of this year’s arrests involved smallholders. Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) breached “very unhealthy” levels of 215 during the day. PSI levels above 100 are deemed unhealthy and people are advised to reduce vigorous outdoor activity. The NEA added that the smoke was being blown from fires in central Sumatra, the Indonesian island just across the Malacca Strait from Singapore. Visibility from high-rise offices and other vantage points was virtually zero. A photographer said he could hardly see the skyline from one of the city’s highest points at Mount Faber, while haze kits sold out at a drugstore chain by lunchtime. Food server Marcus Tan, 28, who works at a riverside restaurant with outdoor seating, said he was worried the haze would agitate his asthma. “I know I’m supposed to wear a mask so I don’t have another asthma attack. But do you think anyone will want to eat food served by someone wearing a mask?” he said. Smog was also visible in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of neighboring Malaysia, over a few days last week but did not breach unhealthy levels. Singapore last September closed schools and distributed protective face masks as the air pollution index soared to hazardous levels following three weeks of being cloaked in smoke. Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said on its website that the number of hot spots on Sumatra had increased in the past 48 hours. A hot spot is an area of intense heat detected by satellites, indicating a blaze has already broken out or that an area is very hot and likely to go up in flames soon. As of Friday, there were 69 hot spots on Sumatra, up from 43 two days earlier, the agency said. In the Indonesian part of Borneo island — another area where large numbers of smog-belching fires occur every year — there were 31 hot spots as of midnight Thursday local time, it added. However there were far fewer fires than at the peak of last year’s crisis, when hundreds burned out of control.</s>JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Six Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as forest fires blanket a swath of Southeast Asia in a smoky haze. Singapore’s air quality deteriorated to unhealthy levels on Friday as winds blew smoke from fires on Sumatra across the city-state and southern Malaysia. The number of hotspots detected by weather satellites has increased in the past month though they are below levels last year when massive fires caused a regional crisis. Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency says six provinces have declared emergency, allowing firefighting measures to go into full effect. Many of the fires are deliberately set by agricultural conglomerates and small-time farmers to clear forests and peatland for plantations. Last year’s fires were the worst since 1997, with about 261,000 hectares (2,610 square kilometers) burned.</s>SINGAPORE -- Acrid smog blanketed Singapore Friday as the city-state was hit by the year's first major outbreak of haze, an annual crisis sparked by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. Singapore's air quality index reached unhealthy levels with conditions deteriorating through the day, marking the worst haze episode in the city since vast parts of Southeast Asia were blanketed in smoke in 2015. Last year's haze outbreak was among the worst in memory, shrouding Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Thailand in acrid smoke. The blazes are started illegally to clear land, typically for palm oil and pulpwood plantations, and Indonesia has faced intense criticism from its neighbours over its failure to halt the annual smog outbreaks. Indonesian police said a total of 463 people have been arrested over forest fires so far in 2016. This is more than double the number arrested over the blazes in the whole of 2015 but the data suggest that most of this year's arrests involved smallholders. Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) said the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) breached "very unhealthy" levels of 215 during the day. PSI levels above 100 are deemed unhealthy and people are advised to reduce vigorous outdoor activity. The NEA added that the smoke was being blown from fires in central Sumatra, the Indonesian island just across the Malacca Strait from Singapore.</s>Singapore shrouded in smog as haze returns to SE Asia SINGAPORE -- Acrid smog blanketed Singapore Friday as the city-state was hit by the year's first major outbreak of haze, an annual crisis sparked by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. Singapore's air quality index reached unhealthy levels with conditions deteriorating through the day, marking the worst return of the haze to the city since vast parts of Southeast Asia were affected in 2015. Last year's haze outbreak was among the worst in memory, shrouding Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Thailand in acrid smoke. The blazes are started illegally to clear land, typically for palm oil and pulpwood plantations, and Indonesia has faced intense criticism from its neighbours over its failure to halt the annual smog outbreaks. Singapore's National Environment Agency said the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was at 165 as of 0400 GMT on Friday. The reading for the 24-hour period, however, was on the higher band of the moderate range. PSI levels above 100 are deemed unhealthy and people are advised to reduce vigorous outdoor activity. A cloud of greyish smoke swept across the island, accompanied by a strong smell of burning foliage. Visibility from high-rise offices and other vantage points was virtually zero. An AFP photographer said he could hardly see the skyline from one of the city's highest points at Mount Faber. Smog was also visible in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of neighbouring Malaysia, over a few days last week but did not breach unhealthy levels. An area in the Malaysian state of Perak had briefly tipped over to the unhealthy range for a few hours last week, according to local media. Singapore last September closed schools and distributed protective face masks as the air pollution index soared to hazardous levels following three weeks of being cloaked in smoke from Indonesia's nearby Sumatra island. Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said on its website that the number of "hotspots" on Sumatra -– which sits across the Malacca Strait from Singapore -– had increased in the past 48 hours. A hotspot is an area of intense heat detected by satellites, indicating a blaze has already broken out or that an area is very hot and likely to go up in flames soon. As of midnight local time on Thursday, there were 68 hotspots on Sumatra, up from 43 two days earlier, the agency said. In the Indonesian part of Borneo island –- another area where large numbers of smog-belching fires occur every year -- there were 31 hotspots as of midnight Thursday local time, it added. However there were far fewer fires than at the peak of last year's crisis, when hundreds burned out of control. Three provinces on Sumatra and three on Indonesian Borneo have in recent months officially declared they are on alert owing to the growing threat from forest fires.</s>Singapore has confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus, mostly among foreign construction workers, and said it expected more cases to be identified. All but seven of those infected have fully recovered, the health ministry and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement on Sunday. Those seven remain in hospital. On Saturday, authorities had confirmed a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in southeastern Singapore as the city-state's first case of a local transmission of the virus - which in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect. The authorities said they tested 124 people, primarily foreign construction workers employed on a site in the same part of Singapore. READ MORE: * Hong Kong confirms first case of Zika virus * Grieving mother urges caution over Zika * Border security key to stopping virus * New Zika cases in Florida * State of Emergency in Puerto Rico over illness That site has been ordered to halt work, and workers' dormitories are being inspected. Seventy-eight people tested negative and five cases were pending. Thirty-four patients had fully recovered. Four Singaporean men had developed symptoms of the virus in the past week and were hospitalised on Saturday. It was not clear where the foreign workers were from or when their cases were detected. Singapore hosts a large contingent of workers from the Asian sub-continent. None of those infected had travelled recently to Zika-affected areas. "This confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place," the statement said. The ministry "cannot rule out further community transmission since some of those tested positive also live or work in other parts of Singapore," the statement said. "We expect to identify more positive cases." Singapore, a major regional financial centre and busy transit hub, which maintains a constant vigil against the mosquito-borne dengue virus, reported its first case of the Zika virus in May, brought in by a middle-aged man who had been to Brazil. Singapore deployed around 200 NEA officers to clean drains and spray insecticide in the mainly residential area early on Sunday to counter mosquito breeding grounds, and volunteers and contractors handed out leaflets and insect repellent. Zika, carried by some mosquitoes, was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. The virus poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. It has been linked in Brazil to more than 1,600 cases of microcephaly - where babies are born with small heads. All medical services in Singapore had been alerted "to be extra vigilant" and immediately report any Zika-associated symptoms to the health ministry. "I'm very scared of mosquitoes because they always seem to bite me, they never bite my husband," Janice, 31, who gave only her first name, told Reuters. "This concerns me because maybe in a couple of years I want to have another (child)." Singapore said there were "ongoing local transmission" cases in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Other countries in the region to have detected the Zika virus since 2013 include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Malaysia said on Sunday it stepped up surveillance at main transit points with Singapore - handing out leaflets on Zika prevention and having paramedics ready to handle visitors with potential symptoms of the virus. In Thailand, where close to 100 cases of Zika have been recorded across 10 provinces this year, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) was screening athletes returning from the Olympic Games in Brazil, but was not otherwise changing its prevention measures. "Every country in this region has Zika transmission cases," said Prasert Thongcharoen, an adviser to the DDC. "Thailand has, however, managed to contain the problem through early detection." A foreign ministry spokesman said Indonesia was "following developments". Oskar Pribadi, a health ministry official, said there had been no recent Zika cases in the country. Vietnam has to date reported three cases of locally-transmitted Zika infection. The current strain of Zika sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean originated in Asia, where people may have built up greater immunity. The WHO has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults."
"Fires in Indonesia burn and blow smoke into Singapore, engulfing the city-state into darkness."
"An explosion at a sports center in the southern Belgian town of Chimay early on Friday killed one person and wounded four others, two of them seriously, Belgium's Crisis Center said. "It is probably a gas explosion," an official at the agency told Reuters, adding that there was no indication of it being a militant attack. Local media reported the blast occurred just after midnight local time, 6 p.m. ET, at a sports center known as Le Chalon in Chimay, close to the French border, when five people were still inside the building. Part of the building was destroyed. Belgium and France, along with the rest of Europe, have been on high alert after ISIS-attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past year.</s>An explosion has destroyed half of a sports centre in Belgium, with reports at least one person has died and four have been injured, two seriously. The blast happened shortly after midnight at a complex known as Le Chalon in the southern municipality of Chimay, on the border with France. Chimay police chief Pierre Maton said early on Friday that the blast was most likely “a gas explosion,” but an investigation into the cause was ongoing. There was no indication of it being a militant attack, officials said. It is thought there was a total of five people in the building. Several dozen police and firefighters attended the scene and the area had been cordoned off, but the damage was not as serious as initially feared. Windows were blown out of the two-story building, and one corner of the structure was badly damaged but there was no major collapse. The town has a population of 10,000 and lies 120km (75 miles) south of Brussels. A municipal stage of emergency has been declared and police have set up a security perimeter at the scene of the disaster, according to local media reports. Belgium and France, along with the rest of Europe, have been on high alert after Islamic State attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past year.</s>One person has been killed and at least four injured in a suspected gas blast at a sports centre near Belgium's border with France. Chimay police chief Pierre Maton said the blast was most likely to have been a gas explosion and an investigation into the cause was continuing. The blast in the town, 75 miles south of the capital Brussels, happened just after midnight local time. The area was cordoned off, but the damage was not as serious as initially feared. Windows were blown out of the two-storey building and one corner of the structure was badly damaged, but there was no major collapse. Firefighters were clearing the rubble and securing the building early on Friday. Police said they believed they had retrieved all the people from the rubble. Chimay has a population of about 10,000 and is known for one of Belgium's most famous breweries.</s>CHIMAY, Belgium (AP) - One person was killed and at least four were injured in Belgium in an accidental explosion at a sports center near the French border. Chimay police Chief Pierre Maton said early Friday that the blast was most likely “a gas explosion,” but an investigation into the cause was ongoing. The blast in the town of Chimay, 75 miles south of the capital Brussels, happened just after midnight local time. Several dozen police and firefighters were on the scene and the area had been cordoned off, but the damage was not as serious as initially feared. Windows were blown out of the two-story building, and one corner of the structure was badly damaged but there was no major collapse. Firefighters were on the scene early Friday morning clearing the rubble and securing the building. Police said they believed they have retrieved all the people from the rubble. Chimay has a population of about 10,000."
"An explosion at a sports centre in the Belgian town of Chimay kills one person and injures another four. A gas explosion is suspected to be the cause."
"Are you in Italy? Are you affected by the earthquake? If it's safe for you to do so, WhatsApp us on +44 7435 939 154 to share your photos, experiences and video. Please tag #CNNiReport in your message. Amatrice, Italy (CNN) Desperately needing food and shelter, more than 2,000 Italians are taking refuge in makeshift camps after this week's powerful earthquake killed at least 281 people and flattened entire villages. Camps have been set up in several affected areas, including Amatrice, the hardest-hit town, where hundreds of people were killed and buildings -- many from the 14th century -- crumbled in the aftershocks. A photo posted by Lauren Moorhouse (@lomoorhouse) on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:14am PDT Italy's civil protection agency told CNN that 2,100 people were living in the camps and said that more would be built to accommodate those in need. Emergency workers and earthquake survivors get food at a field kitchen in Amatrice on Thursday. Images from an Amatrice camp showed displaced people lining up for pasta and an elderly couple sitting on the edge of mattresses on a gym floor, having a meal as those around them hug and console one another. 'So many dead, so many children' At a camp in Sant'Angelo, northeast of Amatrice, people gathered and shared their stories of loss. One woman, Angelina Leone, could not hide her devastation. "There is no hope, too many people dead. And Amatrice doesn't exist anymore. Amatrice has disappeared, and there are so many dead, so many children," she said, holding back tears. At yet another camp, in Accumoli, Anna Maria Volpetti, 52, told CNN she had been visiting her hometown with her family when the quake hit. "We are lucky," she said. "The earthquake was brutal. It came in waves." AnnaMaria Volpetti, 52 was visiting Accumoli with her family. They now live in Tivoli but travel here every summer to the town where her family originally comes from. "We are lucky," she says. "The earthquake was brutal. It came in waves." A photo posted by Lauren Moorhouse (@lomoorhouse) on Aug 26, 2016 at 3:08am PDT Giampiero Antonetti of the civil protection agency in the Abruzzo region said that teams were trying to relocate people out of the camps as the weather in the mountainous area cools. "We will look for places for them to stay -- hotels, with relatives. Yesterday during the night it almost reached freezing, so people cannot be here for a long time." 72-hour window The death toll is steadily creeping up. It is unclear how many people remain trapped under the mounds of concrete, brick and stone. The rescue mission entered its third day Friday -- still within the crucial 72-hour window, after which the likelihood of survival drops. "Rescuers are very much aware they're in a race against time," said CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, describing the disaster response as swift and well-organized. But officials' hopes of finding more survivors were fading, he said. Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Firefighters help residents recover personal belongings from damaged houses in the village of Rio, Italy, on Sunday, August 28. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy on Wednesday, killing more than 290 people. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams reach remote areas. Hide Caption 1 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Firefighters stand by an excavator in Amatrice, Italy,on August 28, as dangerously damaged buildings and overhanging ledges are pulled down. Hide Caption 2 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A rescued dog receives treatment in a veterinary care unit in Amatrice, Italy on August 28. Hide Caption 3 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Volunteers on motorbikes drive through the town of Villa San Lorenzo a Flaviano, Italy, on August 28 as they bring supplies to smaller villages. Hide Caption 4 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A destroyed house is seen on Saturday, August 27, in Pescara del Tronto, Italy. Hide Caption 5 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Police inspect rubble and debris in Amatrice, Italy, on August 27. Hide Caption 6 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A drone controlled by Italian firefighters flies over damaged houses in San Lorenzo, Italy, on August 27. Hide Caption 7 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Damaged coffins and rubble are seen at the cemetery of Sant'Angelo, Italy, on August 27. Hide Caption 8 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescuers of the Italian Red Cross carry the body of a victim in Amatrice, Italy, on Friday, August 26. Hide Caption 9 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Firefighters and rescue workers stand near the damaged Sant'Agostino church and a destroyed ice cream shop in the Italian village of Amatrice on Friday, August 26. Hide Caption 10 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A woman rests in the courtyard of a convent in Amatrice on August 26. Hide Caption 11 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Firefighters inspect a damaged building from the elevated platform of a firetruck in Amatrice on August 26. Amatrice has been the hardest-hit town, with more than 200 killed there. Hide Caption 12 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy An aerial view shows the damage in the village of Saletta on August 26. Strong aftershocks in the region have rattled residents and emergency crews. Hide Caption 13 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man and woman comfort each other in front of a collapsed house in Amatrice on August 26. Hide Caption 14 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Firefighters cordon off an area around the rubble from a destroyed building in Amatrice on August 26. Hide Caption 15 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Emergency team members set up a tent camp for earthquake victims at a sports field in Arquata del Tronto on August 26. Hide Caption 16 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescuers make their way through destroyed houses in Pescara del Tronto on Thursday, August 25. It's unclear how many people remain trapped under debris. Hide Caption 17 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A field kitchen in Amatrice provides meals for emergency workers and earthquake survivors on August 25. Hide Caption 18 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescue and emergency service personnel use an excavator to search for victims under the remains of a building in Amatrice on August 25. Hide Caption 19 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy An old building in Amatrice is partly damaged after the quake. Hide Caption 20 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy An emergency services helicopter takes off in Amatrice as rescuers continue the search for survivors. Hide Caption 21 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man rests on a bench after spending the night in a makeshift camp set up inside a gym in Amatrice on August 25. Hide Caption 22 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A bird's eye view of Amatrice shows the devastation after the deadly quake struck on Wednesday, August 24. Hide Caption 23 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescuers help a woman from the rubble in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 24 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Search-and-rescue teams survey collapsed houses in Pescara del Tronto on August 24. Hide Caption 25 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man cries as another injured man is helped in Amatrice. Hide Caption 26 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy This woman in Amatrice was wounded during the earthquake. Hide Caption 27 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescuers carry a man through earthquake debris in Amatrice. Hide Caption 28 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rocco Girardi receives treatment after being rescued from the rubble in Arquata del Tronto on August 24. Hide Caption 29 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy The body of a unidentified child lies on a bench in Arquata del Tronto on August 24. Hide Caption 30 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy The quake left this house in ruins in Arquata del Tronto. Hide Caption 31 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Two people hug each other next to damaged houses in Pescara del Tronto. Hide Caption 32 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Two women pass along a stuffed toy in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 33 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Residents take in the damage in Amatrice. Hide Caption 34 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy This aerial photo shows damaged buildings in Amatrice. The quake struck at 3:36 a.m and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy. Hide Caption 35 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy An emergency hospital camp is set up to treat earthquake victims in Arquata del Tronto. Hide Caption 36 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A woman tries to comfort her child in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 37 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Residents survey a collapsed staircase in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 38 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Residents of Pescara del Tronto care for an elderly earthquake victim on August 24. Hide Caption 39 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Search-and-rescue teams look for survivors in Pescara del Tronto. Hide Caption 40 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Survivors sit among the rubble of a house in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 41 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Residents search for victims in Amatrice. Hide Caption 42 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy An injured man is rescued from a collapsed building in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 43 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man leans on a wall in Pescara del Tronto. Hide Caption 44 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A dog searches for people trapped in collapsed buildings in Amatrice. Hide Caption 45 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Rescuers search for victims in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 46 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man is pulled alive from the rubble. Hide Caption 47 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A man surveys damage near a dust-covered car in Amatrice on August 24. Hide Caption 48 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy Two people huddle together in Amatrice after the earthquake. Hide Caption 49 of 50 Photos: Earthquake strikes central Italy A rescue worker drives a truck of rubble as cleanup operations begin in Amatrice. Hide Caption 50 of 50 Aftershocks continue to rattle the region, making the tough rescue mission even more trying. Italian police on Twitter said the first funeral had held for a man named Marco Santarelli, the son of a police official. Other victims will be buried in a state funeral Saturday, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi attending, the Italian government said. #Terremoto oggi primi funerali vittime. A Roma l'ultimo saluto a Marco Santarelli figlio del Questore di Frosinone pic.twitter.com/Uir2rfgHDK — Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) 26 August 2016 Among the dead were three British nationals. Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement: "We are providing support to the families of Marcos Burnett and Will and Maria Henniker-Gotley following their tragic deaths in the earthquake in Italy. Our thoughts are with them at this incredibly difficult time. "British Embassy staff will continue working with local authorities regarding any further British nationals that may require our assistance." A reason for hope A firefighter who said he pulled a young girl from the rubble said rescuers "exploded with joy" after finding her alive. Angelo Moroni described to Italian ANSA news agency the moment he and other firefighters rescued a girl that he said was named Giorgia after digging through mountains of debris with their bare hands for hours. "At times like that you don't think, you go on for hours without feeling thirst or tiredness. We were sure she was safe only when we put her on a stretcher and doctors carried her away. Then we exploded with joy for this great result," he said. "The joy was huge." The central Italian town of Pescara del Tronto lies in ruins after Wednesday's deadly quake. The ANSA report said the girl's her older sister, who was next to her, was killed but that the girls' parents were pulled out alive. "I hope Giorgia remembers little of this place, rather I hope she forgets everything," Moroni told ANSA. National police confirmed Friday that Giorgia was not the girl in a widely shared video also being pulled from rubble Wednesday in Amatrice. That girl's name was Giulia, 10, police said, without giving the last names of either girl. JUST WATCHED A girl is pulled from earthquake rubble. Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH A girl is pulled from earthquake rubble. 01:17 The rescues are among the few stories of hope since the 6.2-magnitude quake struck Wednesday. 'The earthquake was brutal' The Italian Council of Ministers approved a state of emergency Thursday for the regions affected by the earthquake, allocating 50 million euros (about $56.5 million) in funding, while the displaced took refuge in the camps. People prepare to spend the night Thursday in a makeshift camp set up in a gym in Amatrice. Residents gathered at a square in Amatrice, some of the women crying and hugging to console each other, with dust still lingering in the air. Men stood in silence, too upset to speak to reporters. A woman holds a dog as she and a man hurry past rubble in Amatrice. One man from Rome, who traveled to Amatrice to check on relatives after the quake, gave a harrowing account of how he and his aunt saw two hands sticking out of the rubble. "This is something I will remember forever," Francesco Miglio said, adding that his aunt identified the woman as her neighbor. "And the thing that I will remember for the rest of my life was she had nice hands. I didn't know the lady, but she had nice hands with nail polish on," he said. JUST WATCHED Italian man rushed to save loved ones in quake zone Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Italian man rushed to save loved ones in quake zone 05:06 He and his aunt called out to the woman to move a finger if she could hear them. "She was gone," he said. Destruction of heritage Central Italy is home to many historic buildings, which are the backbone of the region's tourism industry. Earthquakes here not only bring a tragic loss of life but also leave cultural structures damaged or completely destroyed. CNN affiliate RAI reported damage to 293 pieces of cultural heritage, including 50 that were destroyed. An old building in Amatrice is partly damaged after the quake. A Roman Catholic cathedral in Urbino sustained small cracks in its internal structure. The Monastery of St. Chiara in Camerino, the Basilica of St. Francesco and the church of Sant'Agostino in Amatrice have partially collapsed. Historic buildings and city walls in Nursia and a cathedral in San Giuliano also were damaged. Italy is no stranger to deadly quakes. In May 2012, a pair of temblors killed dozens of people in northern Italy, while in April 2009, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake hit in the central L'Aquila region, leaving more than 300 people dead. Wednesday's quake struck an area close to the scene of the 2009 disaster.</s>A 4.7-magnitude aftershock has hit the Italian town of Amatrice as rescuers and emergency teams continue their search of three flattened hilltop towns and Italy declares a state of emergency in the region. With the provisional death toll from Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude quake standing at 267, including several foreigners, the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, authorised a preliminary €50m (£43m) in emergency funding for the stricken zone. The powerful aftershock, the latest of more than 500 since the initial quake, hit the area shortly after dawn on Friday, sending up plumes of thick grey dust, shaking buildings that were still standing and fuelling fears of fresh collapses which could hamper the rescue operation. In a first raft of emergency relief measures, Renzi cancelled residents’ taxes in and around the hardest-hit towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto, between 60 and 90 miles (95-145km) north-east of Rome. Most of the confirmed deaths were in Amatrice, where 193 people had died, includingthree Britons: Marcos Burnett, 14, who was on holiday with his parents and sister, and 55-year-old Will Henniker-Gotley and his wife Maria, 51, from south London. Marco’s parents are being treated for minor injuries in hospital. The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said on Thursday that extra staff had been sent to the region. Six Romanians, a Canadian, a Spaniard and a Salvadoran were also killed. The 2,500-strong population of the medieval hilltop town, voted one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns last year, was swollen with summer visitors, many from Rome, in anticipation of its popular annual food festival this weekend. But while 215 people had been pulled alive from the rubble since Wednesday and more than 360 were being treated in hospital, questions were mounting as to why there had been so many deaths in an area known for decades to be the most seismically hazardous in Europe. After a 2009 earthquake in nearby L’Aquila left 300 people dead, authorities released €1bn to upgrade buildings in the region, but takeup has been low. Despite eight devastating earthquakes in 40 years, experts estimate 70% of Italy’s buildings do not meet seismic standards. “Here, in the middle of a seismic zone, nothing has ever been done,” Dario Nanni, of Italy’s architects’ council, told Agence France-Presse. “It does not cost that much more when renovating a building to make it comply with earthquake standards. But less than 20% of buildings do.” The culture minister said 293 historical buildings had been damaged or destroyed by the quake and public prosecutors announced an investigation into whether anyone could be held responsible. Meanwhile, Renzi announced plans to help the country prepare better and address poor building standards, saying Italy should “have a plan that is not just limited to the management of emergency situations”. But the prime minister said suggestions that the country could easily construct quake-proof buildings were “absurd”. It was difficult to imagine, he said after a cabinet meeting, that the level of destruction from Wednesday’s quake “could have been avoided simply by using different building technology. We’re talking about medieval-era towns.” In Amatrice and the surrounding small towns and villages hopes of finding more survivors were fading; no one had been recovered alive since Wednesday night. The focus was now on helping the more than 1,200 people left homeless. About 5,400 emergency workers, firefighters, soldiers and volunteers, helped by 50 sniffer dogs, continued to sift through piles of cement, rock and twisted metal, many pointing out that the last survivor from the L’Aquila quake was found 72 hours after it struck. “We will work relentlessly until the last person is found, and make sure no one is trapped,” said one rescue team spokesman, Lorenzo Botti. Some survivors, having slept in their cars or in tent cities set up outside the towns, were allowed to pick up essential items from their homes on Thursday accompanied by rescue workers. “Last night we slept in the car. Tonight, I don’t know,” said Nello Caffini, carrying his sister-in-law’s belongings on his head through Pescara del Tronto, which was almost completely destroyed. Italy’s older buildings are not obliged to conform to anti-seismic building codes, and experts estimate it could cost more than €90bn to reinforce all the country’s historic buildings. Targeted improvement work, though, could be effective. Compounding the problem is the fact that many more modern buildings do not comply with regulations when they are built, and often prove deadlier than older constructions when an earthquake strikes. News reports in Amatrice said investigators were looking in particular into the town’s Romolo Capranica school, which was restored in 2012 using funds provided after the L’Aquila quake. It all but collapsed on Wednesday, while the town’s 13th-century clock tower remained standing. “We are able to prevent all these deaths,” Armando Zambrano, of the national council of engineers, told the Associated Press. “The problem is actually doing it. These tragedies keep happening because we don’t intervene. After each tragedy we say we will act but then the weeks go by and nothing happens.”</s>Sniffer dogs and emergency crews continued to scour piles of rubble in Amatrice, a picturesque town popular with tourists which was leveled by Wednesday's quake and where 207 bodies have been retrieved so far. But in nearby villages, such as Pescara del Tronto, rescuers pulled out after all the missing had been accounted for. Italy plans to hold a state funeral for around 40 of the victims on Saturday, which will be held in the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno. A day of national mourning was announced, with flags due to fly at half mast around the country for the dead, who include a number of foreigners. The civil protection department in Rome said nearly 400 people were being treated for injuries in hospitals, 40 of them in critical condition. An estimated 2,500 people were left homeless by the most deadly quake in Italy since 2009. Survivors with nowhere else to go are sleeping in neat rows of blue tents set up by emergency services close to their flattened communities. "It was quite a tough night because you have a significant change in temperature here. During the day, it is very, very hot and at night it is very, very cold," said Anna Maria Ciuccarelli of Arquata del Tronto. "There are still aftershocks preceded by booms and, for those of us who have just lived through an earthquake, it has a great effect, particularly psychologically," she said. More than 920 aftershocks have hit the area since the original 6.2 magnitude quake struck early Wednesday. "We have removed the last bodies that we knew about," said Paolo Cortelli, a member of the Alpine Rescue national service who helped to recover about 30 bodies from Pescara del Tronto. "We don't know, and we might never know, if the number of missing that we knew about actually corresponds to the people who were actually under the rubble." The foreigners who died in the disaster included six Romanians, a Spanish woman, a Canadian and an Albanian. The British embassy in Rome declined to comment on reports that three Britons, including a 14-year-old boy had died. The area is popular with holidaymakers and local authorities were struggling to pin down how many visitors were present when the quake hit. The Romanian Foreign Ministry said 17 Romanians were still missing. Italy has a large Romanian community, and some of the victims were resident in the country. The first funeral of a victim was held in Rome on Friday, for Marco Santarelli, the 28-year-old son of a senior state official, who died in the family's holiday home in Amatrice. "I cannot find the words to describe the grief of a father who outlives his own children. Perhaps there are no words," Marco's father, Filippo Santarelli, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. Hardly a single building was left unscathed in Amatrice, which was last year voted one of the most beautiful old towns in Italy and is famous for its local cuisine. "Amatrice will have to be razed to the ground," said mayor Sergio Pirozzi. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has declared a state of emergency for the region, allowing the government to release an immediate 50 million euros ($56 million) for the relief work. He has promised to rebuild the shattered homes and said he would also renew efforts to bolster Italy's flimsy defenses against earthquakes that regularly batter the country. "We want those communities to have the chance of a future and not just memories," he told reporters in Rome on Thursday. Italy has a poor record of rebuilding after quakes. About 8,300 people who were forced to leave their homes after a deadly earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 are still living in temporary accommodation. Renzi declined to predict when the homeless might be rehoused. "This is not about setting challenges and making promises. We need the pace of a marathon runner," he said. Most of the buildings in the area were built hundreds of years ago, long before any anti-seismic building norms were introduced, helping to explain the widespread destruction. Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini said all 293 culturally important sites, many of them churches, had either collapsed or been seriously damaged. Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. Almost 30 people died in earthquakes in northern Italy in 2012 while more than 300 died in the L'Aquila disaster.</s>Hopes of finding more survivors from Italy's powerful earthquake faded on Friday, with the death toll rising to 278 and the rescue operation in some of the stricken areas called off. Three days after the quake struck the mountainous heart of the country, sniffer dogs and emergency crews continued to scour the town of Amatrice, which was levelled in the disaster, but there was no sign of life beneath the debris. "Only a miracle can bring our friends back alive from the rubble, but we are still digging because many are missing," town mayor Sergio Pirozzi told reporters, saying, around 15 people, including some children, had not been accounted for. In nearby villages, such as Pescara del Tronto, rescuers pulled out after all the inhabitants had been accounted for. READ MORE: * Why Italy's earthquake was like Christchurch * Hamilton kindy teacher loses family in Italy earthquake * 'Voices under the rubble' as Italy searches for survivors * New Zealanders in Italy share experiences of earthquake * Drone captures extent of damage in quake-hit Italian town Italy plans to hold a state funeral for around 40 of the victims on Saturday, which will be held in the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno. A day of national mourning was announced, with flags due to fly at half mast around the country for the dead, who include a number of foreigners. The civil protection department in Rome said 388 people were being treated for injuries in hospitals, and 40 of them were in critical condition. An estimated 2,500 people were left homeless by the most deadly quake in Italy since 2009. Survivors with nowhere else to go are sleeping in neat rows of blue tents set up close to their flattened communities. The government has promised to rebuild the region, but some local people feared that would never happen. "I'm afraid our village and others like it will just die. Most people don't live here year round anyway. In the winter time the towns are virtually empty," said Salvatore Petrucci, 77, who came from the nearby hamlet of Trisunga. "We may be the last ones to have lived in Trisunga." More than 1,050 aftershocks have hit the area since the 6.2 magnitude quake early on Wednesday, bringing fresh damage to structures still standing. These included a bridge leading to Amatrice, which had to be closed on Friday, further complicating the rescue operation. The original quake was so strong that the town nearest the epicentre, Accumoli, sank by 20cm, according to Italy's geological institute. By Friday, most of the outlying communities were quiet and empty, buildings lying in crumpled mounds, the innards of private homes exposed to the skies and belongings scattered in the debris. "We have removed the last bodies that we knew about," said Paolo Cortelli, a member of the Alpine Rescue national service who helped to recover about 30 bodies from Pescara del Tronto. "We don't know, and we might never know, if the number of missing that we knew about actually corresponds to the people who were actually under the rubble." The foreigners who died in the disaster included six Romanians, a Spanish woman, a Canadian and an Albanian. Three British holidaymakers, including a 14-year-old boy, also died. The area is popular with vacationers and local authorities were struggling to pin down how many visitors were present when the quake hit. The Romanian Foreign Ministry said 17 Romanians were still missing. Italy has a large Romanian community, and some of the victims were residents in the country. The first funeral of a victim was held in Rome on Friday, for Marco Santarelli, the 28-year-old son of a senior state official, who died in the family's holiday home in Amatrice. "I cannot find the words to describe the grief of a father who outlives his own children. Perhaps there are no words," Marco's father, Filippo Santarelli, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. Later in the day, a funeral service for six other victims, including an 8-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15, was held in their hometown of Pomezia, south of Rome. Officials said 181 of the victims had been identified, including at least 21 children. The youngest was just 5-1/2 months old. The eldest was 93. Hardly a single building was left unscathed in Amatrice, which was last year voted one of the most beautiful old towns in Italy and is famous for its local cuisine. "Amatrice will have to be razed to the ground," said mayor Pirozzi, who urged youngsters not to leave the area, saying that would mean the end of their community. "No night can last so long that the sun never rises again. I am convinced that Amatrice will rise again. We owe it to the (218) people who died here." Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has declared a state of emergency for the region, allowing the government to release an immediate 50 million euros (NZ$77.4 million) for the relief work. He has promised to rebuild the shattered homes and said he would also renew efforts to bolster Italy's flimsy defences against earthquakes that regularly batter the country. "We want those communities to have the chance of a future and not just memories," he told reporters in Rome on Thursday. Italy has a poor record of rebuilding after quakes. About 8,300 people who were forced to leave their homes after a deadly earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 are still living in temporary accommodation. This latest disaster represents a major political challenge for Renzi, who has been in office for two years. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was widely criticised for what was perceived to be a botched response to the L'Aquila calamity. Renzi called for national unity and declined to predict when the homeless might be rehoused. "This is not about setting challenges and making promises. We need the pace of a marathon runner," he said. Insurance association ANIA estimates that less than one percent of Italy's 33 million homes have private quake coverage, meaning the bill for insurance companies was likely to be low. That means that the reconstruction bill will have to be paid by the heavily indebted state. Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio said on Friday he did not think rebuilding costs would reach the 14 billion euros earmarked for L'Aquila. Most of the buildings in the Amatrice area were built hundreds of years ago, long before any anti-seismic building norms were introduced, helping to explain the widespread destruction. Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini said all 293 culturally important sites, many of them churches, had either collapsed or been seriously damaged. Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. Almost 30 people died in earthquakes in northern Italy in 2012 while more than 300 died in the L'Aquila disaster.</s>PESCARA DEL TRONTO, Italy, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Hopes of finding more survivors faded on Friday three days after a powerful earthquake hit central Italy, with the death toll rising to 267 and the rescue operation in some of the stricken areas called off. Sniffer dogs and emergency crews continued to scour piles of rubble in Amatrice, a picturesque town popular with tourists which was levelled by Wednesday's quake and where 207 bodies have been retrieved so far. Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said around 15 people, including some children and the local baker, had not been accounted for. "Only a miracle can bring our friends back alive from the rubble, but we are still digging because many are missing," he told reporters. In nearby villages, such as Pescara del Tronto, rescuers pulled out after all the missing had been accounted for. Italy plans to hold a state funeral for around 40 of the victims on Saturday, which will be held in the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno. A day of national mourning was announced, with flags due to fly at half mast around the country for the dead, who include a number of foreigners. The civil protection department in Rome said nearly 400 people were being treated for injuries in hospitals, and 40 of them were in critical condition. An estimated 2,500 people were left homeless by the most deadly quake in Italy since 2009. Survivors with nowhere else to go are sleeping in neat rows of blue tents set up by emergency services close to their flattened communities. The government has promised to rebuild the region, but some local people feared that would never happen. "I'm afraid our village and others like it will just die. Most people don't live here year round anyway. In the winter time the towns are virtually empty," said Salvatore Petrucci, 77, who lived in the nearby small village of Trisunga. "We may be the last ones to have lived in Trisunga," he said. More than 920 aftershocks have hit the area since the original 6.2 magnitude quake struck early Wednesday. By Friday, most of the outlying communities were quiet and empty, buildings lying in crumpled mounds, the innards of private homes exposed to the skies and belongings scattered in the debris. "We have removed the last bodies that we knew about," said Paolo Cortelli, a member of the Alpine Rescue national service who helped to recover about 30 bodies from Pescara del Tronto. "We don't know, and we might never know, if the number of missing that we knew about actually corresponds to the people who were actually under the rubble." The foreigners who died in the disaster included six Romanians, a Spanish woman, a Canadian and an Albanian. The British embassy in Rome declined to comment on reports that three Britons, including a 14-year-old boy had died. The area is popular with holidaymakers and local authorities were struggling to pin down how many visitors were present when the quake hit. The Romanian Foreign Ministry said 17 Romanians were still missing. Italy has a large Romanian community, and some of the victims were resident in the country. The first funeral of a victim was held in Rome on Friday, for Marco Santarelli, the 28-year-old son of a senior state official, who died in the family's holiday home in Amatrice. "I cannot find the words to describe the grief of a father who outlives his own children. Perhaps there are no words," Marco's father, Filippo Santarelli, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. Hardly a single building was left unscathed in Amatrice, which was last year voted one of the most beautiful old towns in Italy and is famous for its local cuisine. "Amatrice will have to be razed to the ground," said mayor Pirozzi, who urged youngsters not to leave the area, saying that would mean the end of their community. "No night can last so long that the sun never rises again. I am convinced that Amatrice will rise again. We owe it to the 207 people who died here." Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has declared a state of emergency for the region, allowing the government to release an immediate 50 million euros ($56 million) for the relief work. He has promised to rebuild the shattered homes and said he would also renew efforts to bolster Italy's flimsy defences against earthquakes that regularly batter the country. "We want those communities to have the chance of a future and not just memories," he told reporters in Rome on Thursday. Italy has a poor record of rebuilding after quakes. About 8,300 people who were forced to leave their homes after a deadly earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 are still living in temporary accommodation. This latest disaster represents a major political challenge for Renzi, who has been in office for two years. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was widely criticised for what was perceived to be a botched response to the L'Aquila calamity. Renzi declined to predict when the homeless might be rehoused. "This is not about setting challenges and making promises. We need the pace of a marathon runner," he said. Most of the buildings in the area were built hundreds of years ago, long before any anti-seismic building norms were introduced, helping to explain the widespread destruction. Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini said all 293 culturally important sites, many of them churches, had either collapsed or been seriously damaged. Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. Almost 30 people died in earthquakes in northern Italy in 2012 while more than 300 died in the L'Aquila disaster. ($1 = 0.8857 euros) (Writing by Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullella, editing by David Stamp)</s>(CNN) The scale of damage from Wednesday's earthquake that shook central Italy is becoming clearer as rescue workers continue to dig through rubble to find survivors. One mayor said his town is " no more ." "There is nothing left here," another resident said . Here's a look at the devastation by the numbers: 250: Latest death toll, which is expected to rise It's hard to quantify exactly how many people are still missing or hurt, as many remote towns attract seasonal visitors. The towns are Amatrice, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli. That's the count for staffers with Italy's Civil Protection Agency. Other outside groups are helping too. 17: Estimated number of hours a girl was trapped under rubble before she was rescued 12: Number of major earthquakes in Italy since 2000 The country's Apennine mountain range sits along a tectonic plate that has been a hotbed for tremors. Most recently in 2009, a 6.3 earthquake struck central Italy and killed 295 people."
"A state of emergency is declared in Italy following several strong earthquakes."
"A strong aftershock has cut off a key route into the earthquake-stricken Italian town of Amatrice as the death toll from the earthquake rises further. With the death toll now at 278, hope of finding more survivors is fading. Photo: AFP A road bridge on a main route into the town which had been used by emergency crews was badly damaged in the 4.7 magnitude aftershock, one of more than 1000. Sniffer dogs and emergency crews were continuing to scour the town for survivors. The initial earthquake struck regions east of Rome at 3.36am local time on Wednesday. Officials said 181 of the victims had been identified, including at least 21 children. The Italian government declared a day of national mourning, and has scheduled a state funeral ceremony for the victims. On Friday the rescue operation in some of the stricken areas was called off. "Only a miracle can bring our friends back alive from the rubble, but we are still digging because many are missing," Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said. "Amatrice will have to be razed to the ground," said Mr Pirozzi, who urged youngsters not to leave the area, saying that would mean the end of their community. Photo: AFP Some 218 of the 278 deaths were in Amatrice, where barely a single building was left unscathed. The town was last year voted one of the most beautiful old towns in Italy and is famous for its local cuisine. "No night can last so long that the sun never rises again. I am convinced that Amatrice will rise again. We owe it to the people who died here," Mr Pirozzi said About 15 people, including children, had not been accounted for, he said. Rescuers in some nearby villages, such as Pescara del Tronto, pulled out of the towns after all the inhabitants had been accounted for. The civil protection department in Rome said 388 people were being treated for injuries in hospitals, and 40 of them were in critical condition. An estimated 2500 people have been left homeless. Survivors with nowhere else to go are sleeping in neat rows of blue tents set up close to their flattened communities. The government promised to rebuild the region, but some local people fear that will never happen. "I'm afraid our village and others like it will just die. Most people don't live here year round anyway. In the winter time the towns are virtually empty," said Salvatore Petrucci, 77, from the nearby hamlet of Trisunga. "We may be the last ones to have lived in Trisunga." The foreigners who died in the disaster included six Romanians, a Spanish woman, a Canadian and an Albanian. Three British holidaymakers, including a 14-year-old boy, also died. The area is popular with tourists and local authorities were struggling to pin down how many visitors were present when the earthquake hit. The Romanian foreign ministry said 17 Romanians were still missing. Italy has a large Romanian community, and some of the victims were Italian residents. - Reuters</s>Italian authorities say the death toll in central Italy's devastating earthquake has risen to 278. Civil protection officials gave the updated toll at a briefing Friday afternoon, adding that 238 other people caught up in the quake were rescued. The death toll in the Arquata area of the earthquake zone has stabilized with 49 dead hailing from the region. Firefighting official Bruno Frattasi says there are no more people there unaccounted for, and efforts now were making sure all the dead were returned to their loved ones. The situation remains more uncertain in the Amatrice area, where the vast majority of earthquake dead have come from. The mayor estimates at least 15 more people remain unaccounted for there. Romania says at least 21 of its citizens are still missing in the earthquake zone. Destruction from Italy quake a grave warning for California's old brick buildings Crews find living among the dead as search goes on for survivors of Italy quake that killed hundreds</s>ASCOLI PICENO, Italy (AP) — The Latest on the Italian earthquake (all times local): Italian authorities say the death toll in an Italian earthquake has risen yet again as bodies continued to be recovered and now stands at 290. The Civil Protection agency gave the updated figure late Saturday morning just ahead of a state funeral for some of the victims being attended by President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Matteo Renzi. The worst hit town was Amatrice, which now has 230 confirmed deaths. It is there that the death toll has been rising. Elsewhere, 11 were killed in Accumoli and 49 in Arquato del Tronto. Italian authorities say the death toll in an Italian earthquake has risen to 284 people after three more bodies were recovered overnight from the rubble of Amatrice, the hilltop town that bore the brunt of the devastation. The Civil Protection agency gave the updated figure on Saturday morning. There were 224 deaths in Amatrice, with the rest in nearby towns. Italian President Sergio Mattarella has visited Amatrice, a town devastated in the earthquake that hit central Italy this week and the place with the highest death toll. Mattarella was guided by town mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, who showed him the extent of the damage. The president met and thanked rescue workers, who have been working against the clock since early Wednesday to save people trapped in rubble and recover the victims. The president, who will later attend a state funeral for some of the victims, was taken only to the edge of the town, because it is too dangerous to enter the heart of the medieval town due to the extent of the destruction. Residents of an Italian region devastated by an earthquake were rattled by a series of aftershocks overnight, the strongest measuring 4.2, as Italy began a day of national mourning on Saturday. The national mourning will include a state funeral for some of the victims in Ascoli Piceno to be attended by Premier Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella. Ahead of the funeral, caskets were lined up in a gym where mourners have been bidding farewell to loved ones, kneeling, crying and placing their hands on flower-covered caskets. This corrects the first name of Premier Sergio Mattarella</s>Death toll rises to 267 as hopes for survivors begin to dim. Strong aftershocks rattled residents and rescue crews alike Friday as hopes began to dim that firefighters would find any more survivors from Italy’s earthquake. The first funerals were scheduled to be observed for some of the 267 dead. Some of hard-hit Amatrice’s crumbled buildings suffered more cracks after the biggest aftershock of the morning struck at 6-28 a.m. The U.S. Geological Service said it had a magnitude of 4.7, while the Italian geophysics institute measured it at 4.8. The aftershock was preceded by more than a dozen weaker ones overnight and was followed by another nine in the subsequent hour some of the nearly 1,000 aftershocks that have rocked the seismic area of Italy’s central Apennine Mountains in the two days since the original quake Wednesday. Rescue efforts continued through the night, but more than a day-and-a-half had passed since the last person was extracted alive from the rubble. While Premier Matteo Renzi hailed the fact that 215 people had been rescued since the quake, civil protection officials reported only a steadily rising death toll that stood early on Friday at 267. Nevertheless, civil protection operations chief Immacolata Postiglione insisted that the rescue effort continued in full, “in search of other people trapped in the rubble.” Italian news reports said the first funerals were to be observed on Friday for some of the victims -- in Rome, for the son of a local police chief; in Pomezia Terme for two grandmothers and their two grandchildren</s>The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) confirms on Friday the death of yet other two Romanian nationals in the Italian earthquake, the death toll thus reaching eight. “According to the last information, the MAE regretfully announces that following the earthquake of 24 August in Italy, two other deaths of Romanian nationals were confirmed. The current number of the Romanians’ death toll in Italy tragedy is eight,” the MAE specifies. Considering the complexity of the necessary actions to manage the situation, out of the minister’s order a consular mobile team with the MAE Rapid Reaction Unit trained to intervene from the very debut of the tragedy will take off for Rome, urgently, on Saturday morning to back the mobile teams of the Romanian Embassy in Rome and of the General Consulate of Romania in Bologna, which are already on the spot, the source adds. As for the information regarding the missing Romanian citizens, the number under the MAE attention reaches 19. The attempts to identifying them are under way, as checking are permanently covered in coordination with the Italian competent authorities. The MAE reminds that the affected Romanians can request consular assistance by dialling: (0039) 06 835 233 58, (0039) 06 835 233 56 for the Romanian Embassy; and (0039) 051 5872120, (0039) 051 5872209 for the Consular Office in Bologna; calls will be redirected to the Call and Support Centre for Romanian Abroad (CCSCRS) and taken by call centre operators around the clock. The ministry also extends heartfelt condolence to the families of the Romanian citizens killed in this tragedy and continues to provide full assistance. The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) confirms on Friday the death of yet other two Romanian nationals in the Italian earthquake, the death toll thus reaching eight. “According to the last information, the MAE regretfully announces that following the earthquake of 24 August in Italy, two other deaths of Romanian nationals were confirmed. The current number of the Romanians’ death toll in Italy tragedy is eight,” the MAE specifies. Considering the complexity of the necessary actions to manage the situation, out of the minister’s order a consular mobile team with the MAE Rapid Reaction Unit trained to intervene from the very debut of the tragedy will take off for Rome, urgently, on Saturday morning to back the mobile teams of the Romanian Embassy in Rome and of the General Consulate of Romania in Bologna, which are already on the spot, the source adds. As for the information regarding the missing Romanian citizens, the number under the MAE attention reaches 19. The attempts to identifying them are under way, as checking are permanently covered in coordination with the Italian competent authorities. The MAE reminds that the affected Romanians can request consular assistance by dialling: (0039) 06 835 233 58, (0039) 06 835 233 56 for the Romanian Embassy; and (0039) 051 5872120, (0039) 051 5872209 for the Consular Office in Bologna; calls will be redirected to the Call and Support Centre for Romanian Abroad (CCSCRS) and taken by call centre operators around the clock. The ministry also extends heartfelt condolence to the families of the Romanian citizens killed in this tragedy and continues to provide full assistance."
"The official death toll rises to 278."
"Striking miners in Bolivia armed with dynamite seized highways in a protest over mining laws and then kidnapped, possibly tortured and beat to death the county's deputy interior minister in a killing President Evo Morales characterized Friday as a "political conspiracy," officials say. Deputy Minister Rodolfo Llanes had traveled Thursday to the scene of the violent protests in western Bolivia in an effort to negotiate with the strikers. Instead, Illanes was "savagely beaten" to death by miners, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking. Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a "cowardly and brutal killing" and asked that the body of Illanes, whose formal title is vice minister of the interior regime, be turned over to authorities. Earlier, Romero had said that Illanes had been kidnapped and possibly tortured, but wasn't able to confirm reports that he had been killed by the striking informal, or artisan, miners, who are demanding the right to associate with private companies, among other issues. "This is a political conspiracy," Morales said at a news conference Friday. Calling for three days of official mourning, he criticized the "cowardly attitude" of the protesters and insisted that his government had "always been open" to negotiation. The fatal beating came after the killings of two protesters in clashes with police, deaths that likely fueled the tensions. Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles south of La Paz, to open a dialogue with the striking miners, who have blockaded a highway there since Monday. Thousands of passengers and vehicles are stranded on roads blocked by the strikers. Officials say he was taken hostage by the miners on Thursday morning. At midday, Illanes said on his Twitter account: "My health is fine, my family can be calm." There are reports that he had heart problems. Bolivia's informal miners number about 100,000 and work in self-managed cooperatives. They want to be able to associate with private companies, but are currently prohibited from doing so. The government argues that if they associate with multinational companies, they will no longer be cooperatives. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, strong allies of Morales when metal prices were high, was organized in the 1980s amid growing unemployment in the sector that followed the closure of state mines. Federation members went on an indefinite protest after negotiations over the mining legislation failed. Crews find living among the dead as search goes on for survivors of Italy quake that killed 250 Meet the Nightcrawlers of Manila: A night on the front lines of the Philippines' war on drugs Rio's Olympic legacy: too few public projects, often in well-off areas</s>Image copyright Ministerio de Gobierno de Bolivia Image caption Mr Illanes was reportedly beaten to death after being seized by protesters The Bolivian government says its deputy interior minister has been kidnapped and killed by striking miners. Rodolfo Illanes and his bodyguard were seized earlier on Thursday at a roadblock in Panduro, south of La Paz, official said. Interior Minister Carlos Romero said "all indications" were that Mr Illanes had been murdered in a "cowardly and brutal" attack. Two miners also died from gunshot wounds during clashes with police. Mr Illanes was beaten to death at about 18:00 local time (00:00 GMT), La Razon newspaper quoted Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira as saying. The authorities could not for the moment retrieve his body, the minister said. More than 100 arrests had been made, he said. President Evo Morales had been "profoundly affected" by Mr Illanes's death, Mr Ferreira added. While he was being held, Mr Illanes told Bolivian radio that a condition for his release was that the government negotiate with miners over new legislation. The miners have been blocking a highway in Panduro since Tuesday. The National Federation of Mining Co-operatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of President Morales, began what they said would be an indefinite protest after negotiations failed. Protesters have been demanding more mining concessions, the right to work for private companies, and greater union representation. Image copyright AP Image caption Miners have been clashing with police over proposed legislation Image copyright AP Image caption Police have been using tear gas Image copyright EPA Image caption Two miners were killed by live fire on Thursday Image copyright AP Image caption Police have been attempting to remove the protesters</s>Illanes was "savagely beaten" to death by the striking miners, Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking. Striking informal miners in Bolivia kidnapped and beat to death the country’s deputy interior minister on Thursday after he traveled to the area to mediate in the bitter conflict over mining laws, officials said. Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a “cowardly and brutal killing” and asked that the miners turn over the body of his deputy, Rodolfo Illanes, who holds the formal title of vice minister of the interior regime. Mr. Illanes was “savagely beaten” to death by the striking miners, Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking. Earlier, Mr. Romero had said that Mr. Illanes had been kidnapped and possibly tortured, but that he could not confirm local media reports that he had been killed by the striking miners, who are demanding more rights, including the right to associate with private companies. The fatal beating follows the killings of two protesters in clashes with police, deaths that likely escalated tensions in the strike. Mr. Illanes had gone to Panduro, where the strikers have blockaded a highway since Monday, to open a dialogue. Thousands of passengers and vehicles are stranded on roads blocked by the strikers. At midday Thursday, Mr. Illanes said on his Twitter account, “My health is fine, my family can be calm.” There are reports the Mr. Illanes had heart problems. Bolivia’s informal or artisan miners number about 100,000 and work in self-managed cooperatives. They want to be able to associate with private companies, which are prohibited. The government argues that if they associate with multinational companies they would cease to be cooperatives. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of President Evo Morales, went on an indefinite protest after negotiations over the mining legislation failed.</s>LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Striking miners in Bolivia kidnapped and beat to death the country’s deputy interior minister after he traveled to the area to mediate in the bitter conflict over mining laws, officials said. Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a “cowardly and brutal killing” and asked that the body of deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes be turned over to authorities. Illanes, whose formal title is vice minister of the interior regime, was “savagely beaten” to death by the striking miners, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking. Earlier, Romero had said that Illanes had been kidnapped and possibly tortured, but wasn’t able to confirm reports that he had been killed by the striking informal miners, who are demanding the right to associate with private companies, among other issues. The fatal beating follows the killings of two protesters in clashes with police, deaths that likely escalated tensions in the strike. Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the La Paz, to open a dialogue with the striking miners, who have blockaded a highway there since Monday. Thousands of passengers and vehicles are stranded on roads blocked by the strikers. Officials say he was taken hostage by the miners on Thursday morning. At midday, Illanes said on his Twitter account: “My health is fine, my family can be calm.” There are reports that he had heart problems. Bolivia’s informal or artisan miners number about 100,000 and work in self-managed cooperatives. They want to be able to associate with private companies, which is prohibited. The government argues that if they associate with multinational companies they would cease to be cooperatives. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of President Evo Morales, went on an indefinite protest after negotiations over the mining legislation failed.</s>LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Authorities in Bolivia say striking miners have kidnapped and killed the country’s deputy government minister, who had traveled to the area to mediate in the conflict over mining laws. Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a “cowardly and brutal killing” and asked that the miners turn over the body of deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes. Earlier, Romero and Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero said that Illanes had been kidnapped, but local media reports that he had been beaten to death by the miners had not been confirmed. The strike has turned violent recently with two protesters being killed and riot police failing to clear a highway in a western part of the Andean nation. Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the La Paz, to open a dialogue.</s>A Bolivian government minister has been beaten to death by striking mineworkers after being kidnapped, the government said. Rodolf Illanes, deputy interior minister, had gone to talk to protesting workers on Thursday in Panduro, around 160km (100 miles) from the capital, La Paz, but was intercepted and kidnapped. “At this present time, all the indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly assassinated,” minister of government Carlos Romero said in broadcast comments. The government was trying to recover his body, Romero said. Reymi Ferreira, the defence minister, said that Illanes had been “savagely beaten” to death by the striking miners. He broke down on television as he described how Illanes, appointed to his post in March, had apparently been “beaten and tortured to death”. Illanes’ assistant had escaped and was being treated in a hospital in La Paz, he said. “This crime will not go unpunished. Authorities are investigating ... around 100 people have been arrested,” Ferreira said. Moises Flores, the director of a mining radio station, later told local radio: “We have been able to see close up that vice-minister Illanes was dead. Colleagues told us that he had died of a beating.” Protests by miners in Bolivia demanding changes to laws turned violent this week after a highway was blockaded. Two workers were killed on Wednesday after being shot by police, and the government said 17 police officers had been wounded. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (Fencomin), once a strong ally of the leftwing president, Evo Morales, began what it said would be an indefinite protest after negotiations over mining legislation failed. Protesters have been demanding more mining concessions, the right to work for private companies, and greater union representation. The vast majority of miners in Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, work in cooperatives, scraping a living producing silver, tin and zinc. There are few foreign-owned mining firms, unlike in neighboring Peru and Chile. Natural gas accounts for roughly half of Bolivia’s total exports. Morales, a former coca grower, nationalised Bolivia’s resources sector after taking power in 2006, initially winning plaudits for ploughing the profits into welfare programs and boosting development. But his government has been dogged by accusations of cronyism and authoritarianism in recent years, and even the unions who were once his core support have soured on him as falling prices have crimped spending.</s>LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Striking Bolivian miners kidnapped and beat to death the country’s deputy interior minister in a shocking spasm of violence following weeks of tension over dwindling paychecks in a region hit hard by falling metal prices. The miners were demanding they be allowed to work for private companies, who promise to put more cash in their pockets. The issue has bedeviled President Evo Morales, who began as a champion of the working class and privatized the nation’s mining industry, only to see his support crater amid the downturn. Miners say Morales has become a shill of the rich, and done little to help them make ends meet as the economy slows. Deputy Minister Rodolfo Illanes, whose formal title is vice minister of the interior regime, had traveled Thursday to the scene of the violent protests in an effort to negotiate with the strikers who armed themselves with dynamite and seized several highways. Instead, Illanes was “savagely beaten” to death by miners, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking. Prosecutor Edwin Blanco Friday said an autopsy showed that Illanes died from trauma to the brain and thorax. Government Minister Carlos Romero on Thursday called it a “cowardly and brutal killing.” Earlier in the day, Romero had said that Illanes had been kidnapped and possibly tortured, but wasn’t able to confirm reports that he had been killed by the striking informal miners, who were demanding the right to associate with private companies, among other issues. “This is a political conspiracy,” Morales said at a news conference on Friday. Calling for three days of official mourning, he criticized the “cowardly attitude” of the protesters and insisted that his government had “always been open” to negotiation. The fatal beating came after the killings of two protesters in clashes with police, deaths that likely fueled the tensions. Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the La Paz, to open a dialogue with the striking miners, who have blockaded a highway there since Monday. Thousands of passengers and vehicles are stranded on roads blocked by the strikers. Officials say he was taken hostage by the miners on Thursday morning. At midday, Illanes said on his Twitter account: “My health is fine, my family can be calm.” There are reports that he had heart problems. Bolivia’s informal or artisan miners number about 100,000 and work in self-managed cooperatives. They want to be able to associate with private companies, but are currently prohibited from doing so. The government argues that if they associate with multinational companies they will no longer be cooperatives. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, strong allies of Morales when metal prices were high, was organized in the 1980s amid growing unemployment in the sector that followed the closure of state mines. Federation members went on an indefinite protest after negotiations over the mining legislation failed.</s>Bolivian miners on Thursday during a clash with the police in the town of Panduro hacked the Deputy Interior Minister to death. Interior Minister, Carlos Romero, confirmed on Friday that reports by witnesses indicated that the 55-year-old was beaten to death following clashes between police and miners in the town of Panduro, 165 kilometres south-east of La Paz. Romero said Illanes had been kidnapped by miners after attempting to initiate talks with them at a roadblock. The minister, who spoke of a “cowardly and brutal” murder, added that his aide was also injured and was taken to hospital. He said that one miner was reportedly also killed in the Thursday’s clashes, bringing the death toll in several days of protests against controversial trade union legislation to three. “Two miners were killed on Wednesday. “Around 100 miners were detained after Thursday’s protests,’’ he said. Miners currently represented by independently organized cooperatives have been using street blockades to protest against a law allowing them to join trade unions. The national federation of mining cooperatives (Fencomin) representing some 10,000 miners rejects any trade union influence on Bolivia’s mining sector.</s>LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivian Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes was beaten to death after he was kidnapped by striking mine workers on Thursday, the government said, and up to 100 people have been arrested as authorities vowed to punish those responsible. “At this present time, all the indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly murdered,” Minister of Government Carlos Romero said in broadcast comments. He said Illanes had gone to talk to protesters earlier on Thursday in Panduro, around 100 miles from the capital, La Paz, but was intercepted and kidnapped by striking miners. The government was trying to recover his body, Romero said, in a case that has shocked Bolivians. Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira broke down on television as he described how Illanes, appointed to his post in March, had apparently been “beaten and tortured to death.” Illanes’ assistant had escaped and was being treated in a hospital in La Paz, he said. “This crime will not go unpunished. Authorities are investigating … around 100 people have been arrested,” Ferreira said. Protests by miners in Bolivia demanding changes to laws turned violent this week after a highway was blockaded. Two workers were killed on Wednesday after shots were fired by police. The government said 17 police officers had been wounded. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of leftist President Evo Morales, began what they said would be an indefinite protest after negotiations over mining legislation failed. Protesters have been demanding more mining concessions with less stringent environmental rules, the right to work for private companies, and greater union representation. The vast majority of miners in Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, work in cooperatives, scraping a living producing silver, tin and zinc. There are few foreign-owned mining firms, unlike in neighboring Peru and Chile. Natural gas accounts for roughly half of Bolivia’s total exports. Ex-coca grower Morales nationalized Bolivia’s resources sector after taking power in 2006, initially winning plaudits for plowing the profits into welfare programs and boosting development. However, his government has been dogged by accusations of cronyism and authoritarianism in recent years, and even the unions who were once his core support have soured on him as falling prices have crimped spending.</s>Rodolfo Illanes, the deputy minister of interior, was killed Thursday in Panduro, where he was meeting with miners who had been striking and blockading roads since August 10, according to the attorney general's office. Three miners have died since the beginning of the protests, state-run ABI reported. The miners are protesting for their right to work directly with private companies. Bolivian President Evo Morales described the deputy minister as "a hero of natural resources" and declared three days of national mourning. "It was a cowardly act -- he was kidnapped, tortured and killed," Morales said. "It's unforgivable, and I don't understand how our brothers can hurt us in such a way." Five people, including a leader representing miners, were arrested Friday in relation to the killing. An additional 40 miners are under investigation. Orlando Gutiérrez, president of the Mine Workers Federation of Bolivia, condemned the killing, ABI reported. The autopsy report indicates Illanes was tortured for six to seven hours, and suffered strikes all over his body, according to Ramiro Guerrero, the attorney general of Bolivia. He also had multiple broken ribs and puncturing of his skull, Guerrero said in a statement. Authorities also found "a large quantity of explosives," some buried underground in the area where Illanes' body was recovered. Panduro is about 150 km (93 miles) from La Paz."
"Bolivia's deputy interior minister, Rodolfo Illanes, is kidnapped and beaten to death by striking miners."
"Armed Czech police fired at a suspect driving a large SUV as it attempted to ram German Chancellor Angela Merkel's motorcade. Merkel was on a visit to Prague when the man tried to break through a security cordon forcing local police to act. Officers fired at the SUV which stopped. While searching the vehicle, officers recovered handcuffs, tear gas and concrete cubes, according to local media. A man attempted to attack the motorcade of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured here with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, right, as she made her way between Prague's airport and the nation's parliament building as part of her one-day working visit Protesters were waiting yesterday outside the Czech parliament building to boo Merkel Merkel, right, held talks with Sobotka, left, during the one-day working visit to Prague The man was driving a black Mercedes SUV when he tried to attack. Police spokesman Jozef Bocan said: '[The man] attempted to join the motorcade as it moved between Prague airport and Czech government headquarters.' Bocan stressed that at no stage had Chancellor Merkel been in any danger. He said: 'While attempting to join the motorcade, he tried to run down police securing the road. The suspect acted alone. He was not armed, but items found in the car could easily have been used as weapons, particularly some cement cubes.' At the same time, protesters held highly offensive banners featuring the German chancellor Merkel spoke with Czech officials about Britain's decision to leave the European Union Bocan revealed officers had been forced to open fire to subdue the suspect who is now under arrest. Merkel held talks Thursday with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and President Milos Zeman focused on the future of the European Union after Britain's June decision to leave the bloc.</s>Assassination attempt on German Chancellor Angela Merkel foiled in Czech Republic the capital of Czech Republic, British media reported on Friday. As per details, police have arrested an armed man in a black Mercedes, who allegedly tried to join Merkel’s motorcade in Prague. British media said that Merkel was on her way to Prime Minister’s house in Prague, when a suspected black car entered in her convoy. Police stopped the car and arrested the armed man. Police spokesperson said that the suspect did not stop his car despite warning. The suspect stopped the car when he was given shoot out warning. Police recovered a box of tear gas, handcuffs and baton form his possession.</s>An assassination attempt on German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly been foiled in Prague. Czech police arrested a man after he attempted to drive his black Mercedes into the motorcade of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Prague. The police said the suspect was in custody and that Merkel was not in danger. Local reports claim that officers found a baton, a canister of tear gas, cement blocks, and handcuffs in the man’s black 4x4 Mercedes. The chancellor was in Prague to meet Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. She was travelling from the airport to the city when the suspicious vehicle appeared on the outskirts of the city, The Mercedes driver is reported to have refused to obey orders coming from police cars accompanying the German chancellor. He is alleged to have carried on trying to enter the motorcade and cut off a police vehicle that was trying to stop him. The driver reportedly only stopped and got out of the vehicle after police warned him that they were going to shoot. Merkel is meeting 15 other heads of state this week to create a new agenda after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. A series of demonstrations have greeted her in Prague, while demonstrators held posters saying “Merkel is killing Europe.”</s>Armed Czech police fired at a suspect driving a large SUV as it attempted to ram German Chancellor Angela Merkel's motorcade. Merkel was on a visit to Prague when the man tried to break through a security cordon forcing local police to act. Officers fired at the SUV which stopped. While searching the vehicle, officers recovered handcuffs, tear gas and concrete cubes, according to local media. The man was driving a black Mercedes SUV when he tried to attack. Police spokesman Jozef Bocan said: '[The man] attempted to join the motorcade as it moved between Prague airport and Czech government headquarters.' Bocan stressed that at no stage had Chancellor Merkel been in any danger. He said: 'While attempting to join the motorcade, he tried to run down police securing the road. The suspect acted alone. He was not armed, but items found in the car could easily have been used as weapons, particularly some cement cubes.' Bocan revealed officers had been forced to open fire to subdue the suspect who is now under arrest. Merkel held talks Thursday with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and President Milos Zeman focused on the future of the European Union after Britain's June decision to leave the bloc. Several hundred protesters, including members of anti-Islam groups, rallied in central Prague against Merkel and her decision to open the EU's doors to refugees and migrants last summer.</s>German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview on Saturday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives had “underestimated” the challenge of integrating a record migrant influx. Gabriel is also leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) – the junior coalition partner in Merkel’s government – and his comments to broadcaster ZDF come as campaigning gets under way for a federal election next year. More than a million migrants flocked to Germany from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere last year. Concerns about how to integrate them all into German society and the labour market are now rife and support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) has grown. “I, we always said that it’s inconceivable for Germany to take in a million people every year,” Gabriel said in extracts of an interview released on Saturday. The IAB German labour office research institute says around 16,000 are still arriving each month, compared with more than 200,000 in November. Gabriel also criticised Merkel’s catchphrase “Wir schaffen das”, meaning “We can do this”, which she adopted during the migrant crisis last summer and has repeatedly used since. Merkel used the phrase at a news conference she held in late July after a spate of attacks on civilians in Germany, including two claimed by Isis, that have put her open-door migrant policy in the spotlight. Her popularity has slipped since those attacks. Gabriel said repeating that phrase was not enough and the conservatives needed to create the conditions for Germany to be able to cope, adding that the conservatives had always blocked opportunities to do that."
"An assassination attempt against Angela Merkel is foiled by Czech police."
"DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 June) – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte met with leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) late Friday night to discuss peace under his administration but held a separate one-on-one meeting with MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim afterwards. Duterte met with Datu Abul Khayr Alonto of Lanao del Sur, chair of a faction of the MNLF and the MILF delegation led by chair Murad at Jacky’s Restocafe in Hotel Elena. “The group pledged their support and cooperation to the new government and (to) move forward (in) the peace process,” Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Duterte’s Executive Assistant told MindaNews. “One-on-one sila ni Murad,” said Go, who will be incoming Special Assistant and chief of the Presidential Management Staff. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim spent around 20 minutes to talk peace during a one-on-one meeting Friday night at Hotel Elena in Davao City. Photo contributed to MindaNews He said the Duterte-Murad conversation, which he estimated at 20 minutes, took place after the group meeting. Go, who was in the group meeting, declined to give other details. Murad could not be reached for comment but MindaNews sources who were present said the rest of the delegation left the function room to allow the two leaders to talk but returned later to formally close the meeting. It was the first meeting between the 67-year old Murad and the 71-year old Duterte, who visited the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on February 27 en route to his campaign rally in Cotabato City. Murad was out of the country then and he was received by 1st vice chair Ghazali Jaafar and members of the Central Committee. Two more attempts for a one-on-one meeting before the elections did not push through. MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim amd President-elect Rodrigo Duterte shake hands at the end of their 20-minute one-one-one talk. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor’s Office “Maganda ang nangyari. Very productive,” said a source privy to what Duterte and Murad talked about, but declined to provide details. Expectedly, the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was raised and the source said the discussion was “very positive.” The 16th Congress under the Aquino administration failed to pass the BBL that would have paved the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would have replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The BBL’s passage is crucial in the peace process as it is tied up with the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants, as well as the gradual redeployment of the military from the “former conflict areas” during the normalization phase. Earlier, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr., Duterte’s choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters in Manila that there was “no more need” for a BBL in view of the plan to amend the 1987 Constitution to shift to a federal system of government. “Template” Duterte during the campaign repeatedly said his administration would correct the historical injustices against the Moro people. In his February visit to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Duterte spoke about his plan to have the Constitution amended to allow for the shift from the Presidential system to a federal form but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.” Ghazali Jaafar, 1st Vice Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (right) introduces the other members of the MILF Central Committee to presidential candidate and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao on February 27, 2016. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO At the Cotabato City plaza, the lone Presidential candidate from Mindanao stressed the need to correct historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism. Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, wag nang galawin yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL). He said he will also tell MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas” (let’s copy that in Mindanao and in the rest of the Philippines”). Misuari, whom Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the MNLF with whom government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed. In the last Presidential Debate in April, Duterte said “nothing will appease the Moro people if you do not give them the BBL.” Asked in a press conference at the “Malacanang of the South” in Panacan on March 31 for clarification on his campaign promise and Alvarez’ plan on the BBL, Duterte replied: “Federalism would recognize the territory you are in now… What Alvarez meant was that we will not adopt the BBL to the exclusion of others… I’m willing to let go of the configuration now, yung boundaries nila, okay ra. But we have to reconfigure the others also. What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. Liberally construed it means kasali ka in a bigger network, yung federalism. So it will not stand out as a BBL law, it could stand out as a part of a federal set-up. Yun ang ibig sabihin. I’m sure he could not have misconstrued that thing.” The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by government and the MILF on March 27, 2014provides, among others, for the passage of a BBL to pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro. In a statement on June 11, Murad said the MILF “maintains its position that a CAB-based Bangsamoro Basic Law needs to be immediately passed into law, not only because it is part of the implementation of the signed agreements, but also because it effectively addresses the peculiarities unique to the Bangsamoro that are not necessarily found in other prospective federal states.” He also cited Duterte’s earlier statements regarding making the BBL a possible template for federalism. Duterte’s meeting with the group on Friday night covered a broad range of concerns such as achieving peace under the Duterte administration, the BBL, the need for a unified approach among the Moro fronts, the shift to federalism, illegal drugs, kidnap-for-ransom. BROTHERS ALL. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte listens as Datu Abul Khayr Alonto (right) of Lanao del Sur, chair of a faction the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) expounds on an issue during a “private meeting” late Friday night at Jacky’s Restocafé in Hotel Elena, Lanang, Davao City. To the left of Duterte are Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, 1st vice chair Ghazali Jaafar and Sammy Al Mansour, chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor’s Office Alonto, who was vice chair to Misuari in the early days of the MNLF and who surfaced as MNLF chair in 2014, referred to their meeting with Duterte as a talk of brothers. “Brother talking with brother,” he said. Alonto told ABS-CBN News Channel that the Moro fronts expressed the support of the Bangsamoro people to Duterte as “true son of Mindanao and is a good brother from Mindanao.” He said they took Duterte’s victory at the polls “as a referendum” that the Filipino people are “willing to shift to the federal system of government which could very well have the Bangsamoro government fit well in that system.” Asked by ANC if Duterte gave a timeline for the passage of the BBL, Alonto replied “that will be coming from his office after his oath-taking. “ BROTHER TO BROTHER. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte poses for a souvenir photo with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (to his right) and Datu Abul Khayr Alonto (to his left), chair of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) after a “private meeting” late Friday night at Jacky’s Restocafe in Hotel Elena, Lanang, Davao City. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor’s Office He said there will be an “all-comprehensive agreement and position to be presented by the Moro community through the leaders of the MILF and with support of the MNLF (that will be) submitted in due time.” Returning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who was not in Friday’s meeting because he was still on his way home from Oslo, Norway after a successful two-day informal talks with the National Democratic Front, told MindaNews on May 30 that he will conduct consultations with various sectors on the Bangsamoro peace roadmap. Inclusive “It will have to be inclusive of all Moro fronts,” Dureza said, referring to the MILF and MNLF. He said he is optimistic of the outcome of the unity talks brokered by the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2010 which led to an agreement between the MNLF and the MILF leaders that eventually led to the creation of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF). Only the MNLF under Alonto was represented in Friday’s meeting but the factions under Misuari, Muslimin Sema and several others, were not. Misuari’s spokesperson Randolph Parcasio told MindaNews on Saturday that Duterte was going to meet with Misuari in Sulu “in due time.” Sema told MindaNews also on Saturday that they are waiting for the OIC to convene the but “we are talking with the MILF on the issue of convergence of all signed agreements with the GPH under one autonomy law hinged on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement without abandoning the (MILF’s) CAB.” He said he hopes this would be tackled in the next BCF meeting. Sema had earlier proposed a quadripartite talks involving the government, MNLF, MILF and the OIC “and under the present circumstance with the federalist thrust of President Duterte, the quadripartite talks will fit in well.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)</s>RANSOM PAID. President Rodrigo Dutere updates reporters on Norwegian kidnap victim Kjartan Sekkingstad, who is being held by the Abu Sayyaf, on August 25, 2016. Photo by Editha Caduaya/ Rappler DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf group has received a P50-million ransom payment for its Norwegian hostage, Kjartan Sekkingstad, but the group has not yet released him as it reportedly wants to get even "more" money, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday, August 25. "They kept on postponing it [the release] because of the huge sum of money. Millions. 'Yung Norwegian, bayad na 'yon (Ransom has been paid for the Norwegian)," Duterte told reporters on Thursday morning. Duterte would not respond directly to questions on who paid ransom for Sekkingstad and joked, "Hindi ko alam saang banko (I don't know which bank)." Sekkingstad is the only remaining Abu Sayyaf captive from the group of 4 abducted in Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September 2015. Only one person in that group had been set free, so far – Filipina Marites Flor. Her boyfriend, Robert Hall, and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel were beheaded after the deadline for their ransom payment lapsed in June and April, respectively. The Canadian government is observing a no-ransom policy. On June 25, Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner went to see Duterte during the release of kidnap victim Flor. The two leaders talked about negotiating for the release of Sekkingstad. On Wednesday Duterte sent the 69th Army battalion to Jolo, Sulu, as part of his vow to "crush" the Abu Sayyaf, after the group beheaded its teenage captive that day. – Rappler.com</s>DAVAO CITY — Now that the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines is moving forward, President Rodrigo Duterte said the government troops will focus on how to solve the perennial problem of illegal drugs trade and extremism in the country. “Wala tayong NPA, MNLF is medyo silent and MILF has agreed to talk. So we have this time to concentrate on the fronts sa drugs pati doon sa extremism. (We do not have the New People’s Army. The Moro National Liberation Front is quite silent and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has agreed to talk. So we have this time to concentrate on the fronts of drugs and extremism),” Duterte said during his speech at the 10th year anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command inside the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, here Friday night, August 26. Duterte said the present peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines has presented a “window” of opportunity. He said the government can manage the number of the extremist group, pertaining to the Abu Sayyaf Group. “Definitely the Abu Sayyaf is out of control and there is only one way to do it.” Duterte said he had the respect for the ASG members who we were “fighting for freedom” but unfortunately lost because of the ideology of terrorism that the group espoused. “Tama kayo, there was this historical injustice committed against the Moro people (You were right, there was this historical injustice committed against the Moro people),” Duterte said. “Kayong mga Abu Sayyaf noon, medyo sumasaludo ako. But when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera, and then now you kill an innocent boy, nawala ang respeto ko sa inyo (I somewhat salute Abu Sayyaf members before, but when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera, and then now you kill an innocent boy, you lost my respect),” he said. The ASG reportedly beheaded 18-year-old Patrick Almodovar on Wednesday, August 24, after his family failed to meet the deadline to pay the ransom amounting to P1 million. Duterte said he would not hesitate to order both the military and the police to destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group. “Destroy them because they are criminals,” Duterte said. He added that there will never be peace in the area if the ASG remains. “Even if we grant them autonomy and they remain to be bandits, we will never have peace in that land. So, useless ang ating peace talks,” he said. At least 1,000 soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division here were sent to Jolo, Sulu to step up government’s ongoing campaign against the Abu Sayyaf. The 69th Infantry Battalion and the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion will be part of some 15 battalions to be deployed in the area of Western Mindanao Command. In his fight against illegal drugs, Duterte said he has given the government troops all that they need for the anti-drug campaign. Duterte also agreed for the postponement of the barangay elections to avoid having politicians funded by drug cartels. “Do you know the reason why I also agreed with congress, some Congressman, to postpone the barangay elections? Do you know why? Because I am afraid that the drug money will seep into the electoral process. You will just be adding to our headache, those that are funded by drug money will win,” Duterte said. Given the severity of the problem, Duterte said it would entail a declaration of Martial to eliminate all problems. He, however, stressed that he will not invoke such, but instead vowed to solve the problems within the limit of his powers as President. “At kailangan mo ng mag-Martial Law para to eliminate all. Which I will never do in the first place,” he said. (davaotoday.com)</s>When he was campaigning in the President election, naive and ignorant media around the world were competing in tarnishing has image In their wrong prophecy, Rodrigo Duterte was not going to win. There had been dozens of ill-motivated propaganda against him. But we, in Weekly Blitz never got puzzled or misled at all. We knew, patriotic and peace-loving people of Philippine will definitely vote for Mr. Duterte. Because they were tired of the chaotic and corruption plagued democracy. They were tired of bandits like Ferdinand Marcos and his Successors. Filipinos were tired of rampant corruption of politicians, civil servants and members of law enforcement agencies. They were tired of massive spread of narcotics and drugs, which were destroying the society, especially younger generation. Filipinos knew how the local casinos were becoming safe haven of illegal money. How millions and billions of black money were entering Philippines, while the poor were becoming poorer. jobless people were almost compelled in joining drug rackets just for the sake of earning few Pesos for survival. Even bank executives like Maia Santos Deguito had to join hands with international money thieves, may be for a better or ‘comfortable’ future. We do think, Maia Deguito is just a small fry in the stealing of USD 81 million from Bangladesh Bank. There are big fishes inside the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and casinos in Philippine. We strongly believe, more ‘cats’ will be out of the bag soon. Special thanks to The Inquirer newspaper for exposing this story. People ask, will President Rodrigo Duterte be the Mahathir Mohamad of Philippine? With confidence we can say- yes he will be. We also hope, the communist guerrillas will sit for a peaceful settlement as insurgencies won’t bring anything good to them. They should look into the world history to know insurgencies of LTTE (in Sri Lanka) or IRA (in Ireland) had to finally get defeated and eliminated. If communist guerrillas think they have path of destruction and terror and help President Duterte in transforming Philippine as the land of prosperity, peace and smile. President Duterte’s noble battle against corruption, drug & crime is no easy task. Because those evil forces might have used a part of their evil money in buying politicians, rights groups, media and civil-military administration. They have ‘lobbyists’ in various countries in the West, who would try portraying Mr. Duterte’s good battle and noble efforts as ‘cruel’, ‘inhuman’ or they may continue propaganda claiming human rights are being violated in today’s Philippines. They may hire media to show pictures of spouses of drug peddlers crying on the street hugging dead body. But, of course, there are media who wont be purchased and they will support president Rodrigo Duterte and his noble mission. The Philippine authorities need as much information they can as to how drugs (such as ice pill, yaba or meth) are entering the country. Through which route and methods. They also need information on corrupt individuals and trails of their wealth. Weekly Blitz, as an investigative newspaper will continue to look for such information through its contacts around the world and will publish. We call upon everyone to send us information on corruption, black money, drugs, terrorists, militants etc. We always shall keep our sources undisclosed. We also welcome scoops, data and documents from Wikileaks, IFIJ and everyone else around the world. Blitz, as a newspaper shall continue to support genuine statesman and courageous leaders like President Rodrigo Duterte and other. Keep eyes on Weekly Blitz for unbiased, unmolested and exclusive reports and analysis. Please LIKE us @ Facebook and Twitter.</s>Muslim extremists supporting the Islamic State group have freed eight fellow militants in a daring attack that also allowed 15 other inmates to escape from a provincial jail in the southern Philippines. About 20 heavily armed fighters of the Maute militant group stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi city before nightfall, disarmed the guards and rescued their eight comrades. The attackers also seized two rifles from guards, police said. The eight who escaped were arrested a week ago when they were caught with a homemade bomb in van at a security checkpoint. The others who escaped, apparently to divert the attention of authorities, were facing murder and illegal drugs charges. The Maute group is a new band of armed Muslim radicals who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State and use black flags with logos of the Middle East-based extremists. Based in Lanao del Sur’s Butig town, the militants have attacked army troops and beheaded a soldier and two kidnapped workers earlier this year. Before being killed, the two workers were made to wear orange shirts similar to beheading victims of the Islamic State group. A number of Muslim armed groups in the southern Philippines, including some commanders of the violent Abu Sayyaf, have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group. The military has tried to play down their actions, saying there has been no evidence of an active collaboration between the foreign extremists and Filipino militants who are aiming to prop up their image and secure badly needed funds amid years of battle setbacks. President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, has pursued peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups, but has ordered troops to destroy the Abu Sayyaf and other hard-line militants. Troops have continued on-and-off offensives against the Maute militants in Butig in Lanao del Sur, a predominantly Muslim province, about 520 miles south of Manila. A major offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province’s mountainous Patikul town, also in the south, has killed at least 19 militants, including an influential commander, Mohammad Said, who used the nom de guerre Amah Maas, his two sons, and another ranking fighter, Latip Sapie, military officials said. Said, who had severed arms and was among the most senior Abu Sayyaf commanders, had been implicated in the kidnappings of several Filipinos and foreigners.</s>Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently issued orders to the country's armed forces to eliminate Abu Sayyaf, mistakenly revealed that they paid a ransom to the militant group for the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad. In what appeared to be a slip of the tongue, Duterte said 50m Philippines peso (£816,098, $1m) was paid to Abu Sayyaf. The accidental revelation came when the president was addressing a news conference in his hometown of Davao City on Wednesday (24 August) night. He was answering queries about the recent beheading of an Abu Sayyaf captive in Sulu province. So far, the Filipino government has maintained that it has a policy of not surrendering to kidnappers' demands. However, the latest revelation by the president himself has raised concerns about the country's stand against Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to international terrorist group Islamic State (Isis). Journalists when asked Duterte whether he was aware of the beheading on Tuesday (23 August) in Sulu, he retorted: "If that's the one, then I will accuse the Abu Sayyaf of acting in bad faith. They have been paid 50,000 Philippine Pseso already." He then corrected himself and said the ransom amount was 50m Philippine peso, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Duterte apparently thought that the journalists were referring to the Norwegian hostage who has still not been released by Abu Sayyaf from captivity, while the question actually referred to the beheading of 18-year-old Patrick James Almodovar, who was abducted on 16 July from a village in Jolo Island in southwest Philippines. The boy was kidnapped by the Ajang-Ajang faction of Abu Sayyaf . However, the president soon realised that he had disclosed a piece of information that should have been a secret, and immediately changed the course of the interaction by reasserting his resolve to fight the militant group. "Destroy them. Period," he said. The president declined to divulge any more information about the ransom payment. When asked where the money came from, he only said: "Maybe from my bank."</s>When he was campaigning in the President election, naive and ignorant media around the world were competing in tarnishing has image In their wrong prophecy, Rodrigo Duterte was not going to win. There had been dozens of ill-motivated propaganda against him. But we, in Weekly Blitz never got puzzled or misled at all. We knew, patriotic and peace-loving people of Philippine will definitely vote for Mr. Duterte. Because they were tired of the chaotic and corruption plagued democracy. They were tired of bandits like Ferdinand Marcos and his Successors. Filipinos were tired of rampant corruption of politicians, civil servants and members of law enforcement agencies. They were tired of massive spread of narcotics and drugs, which were destroying the society, especially younger generation. Filipinos knew how the local casinos were becoming safe haven of illegal money. How millions and billions of black money were entering Philippines, while the poor were becoming poorer. jobless people were almost compelled in joining drug rackets just for the sake of earning few Pesos for survival. Even bank executives like Maia Santos Deguito had to join hands with international money thieves, may be for a better or ‘comfortable’ future. We do think, Maia Deguito is just a small fry in the stealing of USD 81 million from Bangladesh Bank. There are big fishes inside the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and casinos in Philippine. We strongly believe, more ‘cats’ will be out of the bag soon. Special thanks to The Inquirer newspaper for exposing this story. People ask, will President Rodrigo Duterte be the Mahathir Mohamad of Philippine? With confidence we can say- yes he will be. We also hope, the communist guerrillas will sit for a peaceful settlement as insurgencies won’t bring anything good to them. They should look into the world history to know insurgencies of LTTE (in Sri Lanka) or IRA (in Ireland) had to finally get defeated and eliminated. If communist guerrillas think they have path of destruction and terror and help President Duterte in transforming Philippine as the land of prosperity, peace and smile. President Duterte’s noble battle against corruption, drug & crime is no easy task. Because those evil forces might have used a part of their evil money in buying politicians, rights groups, media and civil-military administration. They have ‘lobbyists’ in various countries in the West, who would try portraying Mr. Duterte’s good battle and noble efforts as ‘cruel’, ‘inhuman’ or they may continue propaganda claiming human rights are being violated in today’s Philippines. They may hire media to show pictures of spouses of drug peddlers crying on the street hugging dead body. But, of course, there are media who wont be purchased and they will support president Rodrigo Duterte and his noble mission. The Philippine authorities need as much information they can as to how drugs (such as ice pill, yaba or meth) are entering the country. Through which route and methods. They also need information on corrupt individuals and trails of their wealth. Weekly Blitz, as an investigative newspaper will continue to look for such information through its contacts around the world and will publish. We call upon everyone to send us information on corruption, black money, drugs, terrorists, militants etc. We always shall keep our sources undisclosed. We also welcome scoops, data and documents from Wikileaks, IFIJ and everyone else around the world. Blitz, as a newspaper shall continue to support genuine statesman and courageous leaders like President Rodrigo Duterte and other. Keep eyes on Weekly Blitz for unbiased, unmolested and exclusive reports and analysis. Please LIKE us @ Facebook and Twitter.</s>MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops killed at least 11 Abu Sayyaf militants, including an influential commander, in an assault on the extremists Friday following their beheading of a captive whose family was too poor to pay ransom, the military said. Regional military commander Maj. Filemon Tan said 17 soldiers were wounded when hundreds of army troops surrounded a vast jungle area in Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town and clashed with scattered groups of about 100 militants. Among the 11 dead militants was Amah Maas, a longtime commander of the group who had severed arms and had been implicated in ransom kidnappings, including of European tourists. President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the troops to destroy the militants in their jungle bases after the extremists on Wednesday beheaded a Filipino teenager, Patrick James Aldovar, who was abducted near a police camp in Sulu's main Jolo town last month. "The order of the president is to search and destroy the Abu Sayyaf so that's what we are doing," Tan said, adding more than 1,200 troops, including special forces commandos, were involved in the assaults in Patikul and other Sulu hinterlands. Thousands of reinforcement troops have been flown by C130 cargo planes to Sulu and nearby Basilan island to help in the ongoing offensive. Many of the troops were freed up from other combat zones in the country after Duterte declared an indefinite ceasefire last week with communist rebels, who are engaged in peace talks with the government brokered by Norway. The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the Philippines for deadly bombings, kidnappings and beheadings. Without any known foreign funding, the extremists have relied on ransom kidnappings, extortion and other acts of banditry and some commanders have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group partly in the hope of obtaining funds. The militants are still holding several foreign and local hostages in their jungle bases, including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was kidnapped along with two Canadian men and a Filipino woman from a southern marina in September last year. The Canadians were beheaded after huge ransom demands were not met and the woman was freed before Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30. During a news conference Thursday, Duterte suggested the militants may be continuing to hold Sekkingstad despite being paid a 50 million-peso ransom ($1-million) for his freedom. Around the time the ransom was paid, the Filipino captive from the marina, Marites Flor, was instead freed by the Abu Sayyaf, two security officers told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the hostage talks publicly. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government was not involved with the payment and added the money was raised by "third parties," which he did not identify. The government, he said, maintains a no-ransom policy in resolving kidnappings. "We don't encourage," he said. "If they make negotiations, that is their negotiation."</s>Philippine security officials killed six members of militant group Abu Sayyaf on Friday including one involved in the kidnapping of two Canadians who were beheaded in the troubled south, the military said. A military spokesman said soldiers clashed with 100 members of notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang Abu Sayyaf as troops carried out President Rodrigo Duterte's orders to "destroy" the militants. In April and June, the group beheaded two Canadian tourists after ransom demands were not met. They were among four people kidnapped from the southern resort island of Samal last September. "We were able to recover (the six militants') bodies. One of them is a sub-group leader of the Abu Sayyaf who was involved in the Samal kidnapping," regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan told AFP. Tan said 17 soldiers were wounded in the encounter as the military aims to track hostages including a Norwegian who was kidnapped with the Canadians along with a Filipina who was released in June. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding a Dutch birdwatcher abducted in 2012 and Indonesian sailors kidnapped from the high seas in recent months, said Tan. Duterte, who took office on June 30, initially pleaded for peace with the Abu Sayyaf but has since hardened his stance after the group continued kidnapping and beheading hostages. The military said Wednesday the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a 19-year-old Filipino captive after a ransom demand was not met. Police recovered his head in Sulu. Responding to the incident, Duterte vowed on Thursday to annihilate the group. "My order to the police and to the armed forces: seek them out in their lairs and destroy them." The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of a few hundred Islamic militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom. Its leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group but analysts say they are mainly focused on lucrative kidnappings.</s>DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 August) – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military and police to seek out the Abu Sayyaf and destroy them. “Seek them out in their lairs and destroy them… Ang mga Abu Sayyaf destroy them, period,” Duterte said in a midnight press conference, hours after the Abu Sayyaf was reported to have beheaded an 18-year-old male resident of Sulu who was kidnapped by the terrorist group on July 16. The Abu Sayyaf had earlier warned they would behead Patrick James Almodovar, son of a court stenographer, by Wednesday, August 24, if the million-peso ransom they demanded was not paid. “That’s why I am sending the troops there and tell them to destroy (the Abu Sayyaf),” Duterte said in a press conference outside a seafood restaurant here after a near midnight dinner Wednesday with soldiers bound for Sulu. “My orders to the police and armed forces against all enemies of the state: Seek out, seek them out in their lairs, whatever and destroy them. Ang mga droga destroy them. Ang mga Abu Sayyaf, destroy them. Period.” Duterte is the fifth Philippine President to attempt to destroy the Abu Sayyaf. Former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III had attempted to do the same but the Abu Sayyaf has remained, its kidnapping and other terror acts even worse than before. Asked how different his war against the Abu Sayyaf will be from the previous administrations’, Duterte replied: “I’ll be harsh. But mind you, it’s not just a campaign-campaign. Go out and destroy them. So patay kung ano yan. Wag na kayong magtanong human rights. Even sa drugs.” Duterte initially thought it was the Norwegian kidnap victim, Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was beheaded because if he were, “I would accuse now the Abu Sayyaf of in utter bad faith. Binayaran na yan sila” (They were already paid), he said, citing the figure P50,000 but later corrected to P50 million. Who paid the amount, he did not say. He narrated he has Moro blood, having a Maranao for a grandmother, but abhors what the Abu Sayyaf is doing. MindaNews later asked Duterte at Magsaysay Park after eating durian with the soldiers, how he will destroy the Abu Sayyaf. “My orders for them: destroy. I do not care if you destroy a physical being or a property there or a cement house. Go there and destroy because they have destroyed us,” he replied. “But they are also staying within the communities,” MindaNews asked. “Bahala na. Basta my orders to them, pati yung droga destroy them.” In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor known for colorful language, waged an “all out war” against the Abu Sayyaf. His battlecry then was “Pulbusin ang Abu hanggang maging abo” (literally: crush the Abu until they turn into ash). Hundreds of troops were deployed to Sulu, transport to and from the island province as well as telecommunications were cut off for several days in September 2000. Thousands of Sulu residents were displaced and the livelihood of thousands of farmers and fisherfolk was adversely affected as they could not farm and fish while the military operations were ongoing. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)"
"Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte unintentionally reveals that a US$1 million ransom was given to the Abu Sayyaf terror group in exchange for a Norwegian hostage."
"A South African court has rejected a bid by the state prosecutor to appeal Oscar Pistorius' six-year prison sentence for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The prosecution had argued the decision was too lenient, but Judge Thokozile Masipa said the petition to appeal had no reasonable prospects of success. More to follow.</s>Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was jailed for six years for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. By Alon Skuy (Pool/AFP/File) Johannesburg (AFP) - A South African judge on Friday rejected an appeal by state prosecutors against Oscar Pistorius's "shockingly lenient" six-year jail sentence for murdering his girlfriend. Thokozile Masipa -- the same judge who imposed the punishment on the Paralympic athlete last month -- said she was not persuaded there was a "reasonable prospect of success on appeal". "The application for leave to appeal against the sentence is dismissed with costs," she said in the High Court in Johannesburg. Prosecutors had been pushing for a tougher sentence against the fallen 29-year-old double-amputee sprint star over the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. They now have the option of directly petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal to ask it to extend the term -- which is less than half the minimum 15-year sentence for murder in South Africa. Masipa presided over Pistorius's lengthy trial in the glare of the world's media, and South African law empowers the trial judge to grant or reject applications to appeal their own judgements. "The sentence of six years is shockingly lenient and disturbingly inappropriate," prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued in court. Pistorius shot Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet. At his sentencing in July, Masipa listed mitigating factors, including the athlete's claim he believed he was shooting an intruder. The prosecution on Friday again questioned Pistorius's failure to testify during the sentencing hearings, saying it raised the question of whether he had shown remorse. Nel also said the punishment had "resulted in an injustice and had the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute". He described it as flawed and that "another court may find that this court misdirected itself". Pistorius is serving his sentence at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in the capital Pretoria. - 'Enough is enough' - Masipa had also originally convicted Pistorius of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, in 2014. But an appeals court upgraded his conviction to murder in December last year. Pistorius's defence said it was an "insult" to suggest that the court's sentencing had been flawed and that it was time the case came to a close. "Enough is enough. What does the state want?" defence lawyer Barry Roux said. "This case has been exhausted beyond a point of any conceivable exhaustion," he added, accusing the prosecution of sending Pistorius "like a ping pong ball between courts." However, the prosecution still has recourse to a higher court. "Any party who has to apply to the trial judge for permission to appeal and is unsuccessful, the option is open for them to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal," said Stephan Terblanche, a law professor at the University of South Africa. Terblanche said the Supreme Court would study the grounds of appeal and those opposing the appeal, and make a decision without conducting a hearing. Pistorius, who pleaded not guilty at his high-profile trial, has always denied killing 29-year-old Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her. South African media reports earlier this month said the athlete had been put on suicide watch following mysterious wrist injuries. He said he sustained the injuries after falling from his bed and his family denied that he had tried to kill himself. The year before he killed Steenkamp, Pistorius -- known as the Blade Runner -- became the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when he appeared at the London 2012 Games. The Steenkamp and Pistorius families could not be reached for immediate comment.</s>South African judge Thokozile Masipa dismisses an appeal by prosecutor Gerrie Nel for a harsher sentence against Oscar Pistorius on Friday. Nel tells the court that six years is not appropriate for the crime of murdering Reena Steenkamp. Defence advocate Barry Roux argues Pistorius made the ‘mistake of his life’</s>A judge in South Africa has refused an attempt by prosecutors to appeal against the six-year jail sentence imposed on Oscar Pistorius for murdering his girlfriend in February 2013. Thokozile Masipa said an application by state prosecutors to appeal against the sentence she imposed in July had no reasonable prospect of success. Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, by firing four bullets from a handgun through a closed toilet door in his luxury home in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The sentence was much lower than many had expected and was widely criticised. Public prosecutors had demanded the mandatory minimum for murder of 15 years. Steenkamp’s family, however, did not actively support their appeal. Critics said Pistorius had received preferential treatment as a wealthy, white celebrity. Gerrie Nel, the lead state prosecutor, told the court on Friday that Pistorius had not shown any remorse and had yet to convincingly explain why he fired the fatal shots. “The respondent fired four shots through the door and never offered an acceptable explanation for doing so,” Nel said, adding that the sentence was “shockingly lenient”. Pistorius has always maintained he fired in the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind the door. His defence argued that his disability – he had his lower legs amputated before his first birthday – and the mental stress that occurred in the aftermath of the killing should be considered as mitigating circumstances. “I see a lot of prejudice against the accused from the state’s side,” Barry Roux, the former athlete’s main defence lawyer, said on Friday. “This trial and this process has been exhausted beyond any conceivable exhaustive process.” During sentencing hearings in June, a clinical psychologist called as a defence witness told the court in Pretoria that Pistorius was “a broken man”. Pistorius was initially convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison. After an appeal by state prosecutors, he was convicted of murder in December. In her judgment, Masipa said the evidence she had heard convinced her Pistorius was not a violent person, was unlikely to reoffend and had shown remorse. The judge said she had to balance the interests of society, the accused and relatives of the victim. Pistorius, she said, was “a fallen hero who has lost his career and been ruined financially. He cannot be at peace.” Women’s rights activists disagreed. “The judgment is an insult to women. It sends the wrong message,” Jacqui Mofokeng of the African National Congress women’s league, told the Guardian after the sentencing in July. Under South African law, Pistorius will be eligible for parole long before the end of the sentence. The 29-year-old was treated for wrist injuries this month after apparently falling from his bed. Prison officials said he denied trying to kill himself.</s>JOHANNESBURG, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A South African judge dismissed on Friday a request by state prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius' six-year murder sentence, the latest twist in a trial that has captured global headlines. The multiple gold medal-winning Paralympian, serving six years for murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2013, was not in court on Friday when the judge ruled that the state's petition had no reasonable prospects of success on appeal. Women's rights groups in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women say Pistorius has received preferential treatment compared to non-whites and those without his wealth or international celebrity status. His backers say he did not intend to kill Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced the Paralympic gold medallist to six years behind bars in July for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013, but the prosecution had said the decision was "shockingly lenient". Pistorius' defence had earlier argued the state was prejudiced and had dragged the case on too long, adding in their court documents that "enough is enough". "I'm not persuaded that there are reasonable prospects of success on appeal or that another court may find differently," Masipa said in her ruling, dismissing the state's application. Masipa originally sentenced Pistorius in 2014 after he was found guilty of manslaughter, but that conviction was increased to murder by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in December. The subsequent six-year sentence she passed in July was also criticised by women's groups for being too lenient. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who had sought 15 years for Pistorius for the murder conviction, told Reuters he could not comment. Nel has said Pistorius had not shown any remorse and had yet to explain why he fired the fatal shots. "His remorse and or prospects of rehabilitating could not be tested," Nel argued before Masipa's ruling, referring to Pistorius' decision not to testify at the sentencing hearings. It was unclear whether the state would appeal Friday's ruling. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman was not available to comment. Both the Pistorius and Steenkamp families declined to comment following Masipa's ruling. Pistorius, who had the lower part of his legs amputated when he was a baby, says he fired four shots into the toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home in the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind it. His defence has argued that his disability and mental stress that occurred in the aftermath of the killing should be considered as mitigating circumstances. "This trial and this process has been exhausted beyond any conceivable exhaustive process," his main defence lawyer Barry Roux said in a brief rebuttal. The track star was treated in hospital for wrist injuries earlier this month, but prison officials said Pistorius denied trying to kill himself. The incident coincided with the first day of competition in the Rio Olympic Games. Friday's ruling raised further division, with South Africans taking opposite sides on the issue in social media. Legal analysts were equally divided on whether prosecutors would appeal Masipa's ruling to the supreme court. "In my experience over the years, the Supreme Court of Appeal has placed a lot of confidence in our High Courts, and I must say, I would be surprised if they had to accept the petition," said Johannesburg-based lawyer Ulrich Roux. Criminal law attorney Zola Majavu said the state had a chance of success if they appealed to the supreme court. "Remember it was the same SCA that overturned her conviction on culpable homicide. So if I were in Gerrie Nel's shoes I would persist so that the SCA can pronounce on the matter," he said. (Additional reporting by Zimasa Mpemnyama; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Dominic Evans)</s>A legal challenge to Oscar Pistorius’ “lenient” six-year murder sentence was today rejected for having “no reasonable prospects of success”. A South African judge refused state prosecutors permission to appeal the Paralympic gold medallist's jail term for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa Masipa sentenced Pistorius in July but the prosecution argued that the decision was too lenient. Pistorius' defence argued that the state was prejudiced and had dragged the case on for too long. "I'm not persuaded that there are reasonable prospects of success on appeal or that another court may find differently," she said in her ruling. "For that reason, I grant the following order: The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs." Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who had sought 15 years for Pistorius for the murder conviction, told reporters at the hearing he could not comment. It was not immediately clear whether the state would now directly petition the Supreme Court of Appeal. Nel has said Pistorius, who did not attend Friday's hearing, had not shown any remorse and had yet to explain why he fired the fatal shots. But Pistorius’ backers maintain that he did not intend to kill Steenkamp. Pistorius, who had the lower part of his legs amputated when he was a baby, says he fired four shots into the toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home in the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind it. His defence has argued that his disability and mental stress that occurred in the aftermath of the killing should be considered as mitigating circumstances.</s>A legal challenge to Oscar Pistorius’s ‘shockingly too lenient’ six-year jail term for murdering Reeva Steenkamp was today rejected for having ‘no reasonable prospects of success’. A Pistorius family source greeted the news ‘with great relief’ and welcomed the judge’s ‘humanity’ after accusing prosecutors of having ‘a personal vendetta’ against the shamed athlete. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel spent almost an hour arguing against ‘the injustice’ of Pistorius’ prison sentence in the latest round of legal wrangling in pursuit of the runner, which was described as ‘ego driven and unprofessional’ by one of the Blade Runner’s relatives. Mr Nel told Judge Thokozile Masipa that she had misdirected herself in law by handing down a punishment that was less than half of South Africa’s prescribed minimum 15-year sentence for murder. The 29 year-old track star, who was treated for injuries to his wrists two weeks ago in what prison sources claimed was a self-harming incident in his cell, was not in court for the 80 minute hearing. Judge Masipa, who presided over the paralympian’s trial, took a little over an hour to decide that the state’s case was not worthy of referring to her superiors in South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal as there would be ‘little chance’ of senior judges arriving at a different punishment for Pistorius. A relative of the runner’s told MailOnline, ‘Judge Masipa is not a sissy, thank god. She can stand up to Nel. She knows the case, she knows the law. She is a serious legal mind and won’t be bullied into changing it.’ Although today’s result will bring some relief to Pistorius and his family, the state may still petition a higher court over the matter. Mr Nel, known as the ‘pitbull’ for his confrontational style of questioning witnesses, told the judge that he had found six ‘misdirections’ in her sentencing of Pistorius for the 2013 murder of Reeva, which resulted in a punishment that ‘induces a sense of shock.’ The prosecutor told the court that the judge had over-emphasised the athlete’s disability, sense of vulnerability and given undue weight to his expression of remorse and led to a ‘disturbingly disproportionate’ punishment. ‘The court failed to take into account that the accused fired four shots through the door and he never offered an acceptable explanation for having done so,’ Mr Nel told the hearing, adding, ‘there was a massive chasm between regret and remorse’. Mr Nel told proceedings that the judge had ignored a string of aggravating factors about the murder of ‘an innocent, defenceless woman’. He said the court should have started at the minimum murder sentence of 15 years when considering its punishment of Pistorius. ‘This induces a state of shock,’ he told the court, bluntly. ‘The deceased died in a horrendous way. That is what bothers Mr Steenkamp [her father].’ Mr Nel concluded his 55 minute argument by stating that Pistorius’ punishment had to be challenged as it set a dangerous precedent for future murder cases. Neither family was in court for the hearing. Reeva’s uncle, Mike Steenkamp, said he was ‘not surprised’ at the judge’s ruling. 'It would be impossible for the judge to allow this to back again to the appeal court. I think Barry and June are resigned to the fact that this is the end of the road in this case. 'We didnt think that it had much chance of success from the start. But we have always gone along with whatever the state thought was the right thing to do. ‘The Reeva Steenkamp Foundation is now up and running and the family are just wanting to devote all our energies to that now, and leave this legal matter behind us. 'We move forward in Reeva’s memory and to do good things for other women, that’s what we need to be doing now, not this.’ Today’s hearing was the State’s second challenge of a ruling by Judge Masipa. It first appealed her finding that Pistorius was guilty of manslaughter, for which she sentenced him for five years in jail. Last year, the judge’s manslaughter verdict was overturned on appeal – but when Pistorius appeared again in her court for sentencing for the more serious crime, Judge Masipa increased his term by just one more year. A family source told MailOnline the athlete was ‘anxious’ about the proceedings, and was convinced Mr Nel was motivated by a personal grudge against him. ‘It’s a personal thing, a vendetta, Nel is driven by his ego, it’s not right or professional the way that he keeps coming back to this again and again. It clearly has to be personal now, ‘ he said. Barry Roux, Pistorius’ defence lawyer, echoed the family’s sentiments when arguing against the application to appeal, telling the court ‘enough is enough’. ‘I see a lot of prejudice against the accused coming from the state,’ Mr Roux said firmly, glancing at his opponent across the High Court in Pretoria. He said the state’s application was an ‘insult’ to the court the state, and their argument did not justify using his client as ‘a ping pong ball’ being sent back and forth between the court houses of South Africa. Prosecutors had an attitude of ‘punish him, punish him, punish him’ towards Pistorius, the sprinter’s lawyer said. ‘This case has been exhausted beyond the point of exhaustion,’ Mr Roux said, asserting that a higher court would not ‘come to a different finding’ on punishment for his client. South Africa’s City Press newspaper reported earlier this month that Pistorius had been put on suicide watch following an incident in his cell which had left him needing hospital treatment for injuries to his wrists. Prison officials told City Press newspaper that the athlete was under 24-hour monitoring, with increased cell visits by warders. Pistorius’ brother Carl denied it was a suicide bid, as sources had claimed. The incident coincided with the first day of competition in the Rio Olympic Games, almost three weeks ago. Inside sources told the paper that razor blades were found in the disgraced athlete's cell, and that his wrist injuries, described as 'severe', were self-inflicted. The double-amputee, who is being held at the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria, had told prison officials he sustained the injuries sliding on his wet cell floor, while moving around on his stumps. According to the newspaper, the injury occurred soon after he had an altercation with prison officials over medication prescribed by state doctors. The Paralympian had refused to take the medication, saying it was 'toxic' and demanded to be given medication prescribed by his private doctor. He alleged that the prison official wanted to kill him and demanded to be transferred to another jail. Warders also raided his cell and found a pair a scissors, prescription drugs and 'toxic pills'. The National Prosecuting Authority said after the judgment, which surprised many legal observers, that it was ‘considering the options’ left available to take the matter further.</s>When Oscar plays the Castle stage at Victorious this weekend, the north London native will be able to look over and see where he used to play with his childhood best friend. ‘I’ve never played in Portsmouth, but my childhood best friend, her nan lived in Portsmouth, so I used to go and stay in Portsmouth, I went a few times – we went to the pier and the beach and all that. ‘It’s going to be quite nostalgic.’ Oscar released his debut album Cut and Paste in May this year to great reviews. Recorded mostly in his bedroom, it is an eclectic mash-up of styles, and reflects Oscar’s own wide range of influences from indie rock to synth-pop, dance and hip-hop. Music was a key part of Oscar Scheller’s background – his parents were in new wave act The Regents who scored a hit in 1979 with the song 7Teen. ‘I always looked up to my parents, I always thought they were pretty cool. ‘I was really focused on visual arts – drawing and painting and things like that so I went to art school. ‘I knew music was always going to be part of my life, but I didn’t know how, I didn’t know I would be doing it professionally so it was a nice surprise I think for everybody. I was just totally drawn to the music.’ He has also released a new version of early single Breaking My Phone with up-and-coming rapper Girli, who will be joining Oscar on his autumn tour, which includes a Brighton date. ‘I met Milly (Girli) when she came to a few of my gigs, she started out as a fan, but when she tweeted me I realised she had her own music. ‘I listened to it and really liked it so I asked her to support me at a London show I did and then we met properly. ‘We realised we had a few mutual friends, we’d grown up in the same area, we went to the same school, but she’s a bit younger than me so we’d never connected. ‘ It’s a bit crazy really, and now she’s become one of my best friends, so it made a lot of sense to do a track together.’ So will she be joining him on stage at Victorious? ‘I’m not sure, I need to ask her what she’s up to this weekend – that would be really cool though. I’m trying to get her on stage with me as much as I can.’ Although he plays with a full band at gigs, Oscar put together his debut in classic bedroom-producer fashion. ‘Pretty much all of it was recorded in my room, ‘ he explains, ‘bar the live drums and bass. ‘I went into a studio to record that because I wanted there to be a live presence in there somewhere.’ And he’s already looking at album number two. ‘I’d just finished a demo when you called,’ he tells WOW247. ‘It’s kind of the same process really, just me doing it, but I think I’m going to start working with a producer and to co-write with people and branch out – make it a bit bigger. ‘For me, the most exciting thing about being a recording artist is that you have the potential to progress and discover new things about yourself and your music. ‘For me it’s all about evolution. I wouldn’t want to do the same thing over again as that’s boring, and for me as an artist, that’s not what’s it’s really about.’ Oscar is signed to Wichita Recording, the label that has played host to indie luminaries such as Bloc Party, Yeah, Yeah Yeahs and The Cribs. After coming to the label’s attention, label head Mark Bowen flew in from LA to meet him. ‘I really got on with him. They were fourth or fifth on my list of dream labels to work with before this – obviously that’s changed now,’ he laughs. ‘I think I was quite naive back then. ‘It was total magic as soon as we sat down, we weren’t talking about business, we were talking ’90s acid house and our favourite hip-hop producers, it was a total meeting of minds, and it was very clear that they should be the ones to bring me into it. They’ve been incredibly supportive, they’re like family to me.’ Speaking of the US, has he had the chance to play there yet? ‘I’ve probably played more in America than I have in the UK. I’ve been doing little tours, and I did a bigger tour with Bloc Party and The Vaccines which was pretty mad. ‘I’ve done SXSW and the CMJ twice, I’ve been around the block over there. It’s probably my favourite place to play because it’s so mad.’ But he adds like an old pro: ‘But I reckon Portsmouth could give America a run for its money in term of the vibes...’</s>Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was being sent like a ping pong ball between courts and the state’s application for leave to appeal against the five-year sentence should be dismissed with costs. The murder case of Pistorius had been exhausted beyond the point of conceivable exhaustion. Counsel for Pistorius Barry Roux SC made this impassioned plea in the High Court in Johannesburg as he opposed the state’s application to extend Pistorius’ jail term to a possible 15 years. Pistorius was first sentenced to a five-year jail term in 2014 after the High Court in Pretoria found him guilty of culpable homicide for the murder of his girlfriend‚ Reeva Steenkamp‚ on February 14‚ 2013. He served just over a year of that sentence before being released on parole. However‚ the state went to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to get the conviction replaced with the of murder. In December last year‚ the SCA set aside the culpable homicide conviction and replaced it with that of murder. The SCA sent the matter back to Judge Thokozile Masipa to determine a new sentence. Judge Masipa sentenced Pistorius to a six-year jail term last month‚ a decision that the state wants to appeal. Roux accused the state of unnecessarily prolonging the legal process and subjecting Pistorius to continued uncertainty. Roux argued that Pistorius had been sentenced to an effective eight-year jail term if one considered the year Pistorius spent in prison for the culpable homicide conviction and time spent under correctional supervision from October last year until July this year when he was sentenced again for the murder conviction. Roux said Masipa should dismiss the application because eight years was not shockingly inappropriate or lenient — “that is what the state wants”‚ Roux said. In reply‚ prosecutor Gerrie Nel persisted with the contention that the sentence was “shockingly inappropriate” and disputes Roux’s submission that Pistorius had been sentenced to an eight-year jail term.</s>JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African judge on Friday dismissed an appeal by prosecutors for a harsher sentence against Oscar Pistorius who was found guilty of murder for killing his girlfriend in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa said the state's appeal to extend the six-year sentence against the 29-year-old double amputee Olympic sprinter had a limited prospect of success. "I am not persuaded that there are reasonable prospects of success for an appeal," she said in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in the early hours of February 14. He claimed he thought she was an intruder. The state charged that he shot her in anger after an argument. Pistorius was found guilty of murder and sentenced by Masipa to six years in prison. The sentence was "shockingly light" and that the judge should have used 15-year minimum as starting point as Steenkamp had suffered a "horrendous death," said prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Pistorius never offered an acceptable explanation for having fired four shots through the toilet door, he said. The fact that Pistorius fired four shots using hollow point bullets that are designed to inflict maximum damage meant the possibility of death was more likely and should have been an aggravating factor, said Nel. The state may appeal Masipa's decision at the Supreme Court of Appeals in the city of Bloemfontein, but is yet to indicate whether it will do so."
"The Johannesburg High Court rejects an appeal against the sentencing of Oscar Pistorius."
"PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Friday suspended a ban on women wearing full-body “burkini” swimsuits on a Mediterranean town’s beach but the prime minister said the debate was not over, calling the outfit a symbol of a “backwards, deadly Islamism”. The Council of State’s ruling against the resort of Villeneuve-Loubet is expected to set a precedent for the dozens of French towns that have also laid down such bans. It said Villeneuve-Loubet’s ban had “seriously infringed, in a manner that was clearly illegal, fundamental liberties such as the freedom to come and go, religious freedom and individual freedom”. The burkinis did not pose any threat to public order, said the council, which is France’s highest administrative court. The ban had been imposed on the grounds that wearing burkinis contravened French laws on secularism. It followed a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris, Nice and elsewhere in the past 20 months that shocked the world but also raised questions about the place of France’s large Muslim and Arab population in its society. Many conservatives and right-wing French supported the burkini ban, with some calling for it to be extended nationwide, while civil liberties campaigners, feminists and Muslims opposed it. The debate was fuelled by footage of police trying to enforce the ban on a woman on the beach in Nice. Reacting to the court ruling on Friday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a Socialist, said that France needed a modern, secular Islam and wearing a burkini clashed with that idea. “The Council of State ruling does not close the debate on the burkini,” Valls said on Facebook. “Denouncing the burkini is not calling into question individual freedom.. .It is denouncing deadly, backwards Islamism.” The issue has filtered into early campaigning for the presidential election in April 2017, making French cultural identity as well as security a hot issue in political debates. A man wears a placard with the message, "Burkini = Liberty" outside the Conseil d'Etat after France's highest administrative court suspended a ban on full-body burkini swimsuits that has outraged Muslims and opened divisions within the government, pending a definitive ruling, in Paris, France, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau Former President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday launched his comeback bid on a hardline law and order platform. A LOT OF TENSION “We need a law,” Nice’s conservative deputy mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter, calling for a bill that would allow burkini bans. Since conservatives do not have a majority in parliament and such a bill would have no chance of being adopted, Estrosi suggested that Valls come up with a draft law. But Valls’ support for the bans over past weeks has exposed divisions within the government, with several ministers saying they opposed them. While rulings by the Council of State do set precedents, several mayors said they would not suspend their own bans and rights groups said they would bring them to courts, meaning more lawsuits are expected. The Council of State would still have the final word. “There’s a lot of tension here and I won’t withdraw my decree,” Sisco mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni told BFM TV, saying that in his Corsica town the ban would be justified on security grounds. A spokesman for the ruling Socialist Party and the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur welcomed the court ruling and said he hoped it would calm things down. But the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca, of Sarkozy’s Les Republicains party, said it would heighten tensions. “We need to decide if we want a smiley, friendly version of sharia on our beaches or if we want the rules of the (French) republic to be implemented,” he said, referring to the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia. Slideshow (6 Images) Hakim, a 42-year-old trader of Algerian origin said that while he welcomed the ruling it did not really reassure him. “It is because of all these problems that I am thinking of leaving France and returning to Algeria after over 30 years here. It was not like this before, France has changed and it is not easy for us,” he said after Friday prayers at Paris’ main mosque.</s>France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended a controversial ban on the burkini by a French Riviera town after it was challenged by rights groups. In a judgement expected to set a precedent, the State Council ruled that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if wearing the Islamic swimsuit was a “proven risk” to public order. The judges said there was no such risk in the case before the court concerning Villeneuve-Loubet, one of around 30 towns to have introduced the bans. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) hailed the ruling as a “victory for common sense”. Police have fined Muslim women for wearing burkinis on beaches in several towns, including in the popular tourist resorts of Nice and Cannes, sparking controversy in France and abroad. The burkini bans have triggered a fierce debate about women’s rights and the French state’s strictly-guarded secularism. – ‘Line in the sand’ -Amnesty International welcomed the ruling. “By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand,” Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen said. “French authorities must now drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women,” he said. The CFCM’s secretary general Abdallah Zekri said: “This victory for common sense will help to take the tension out of a situation which has become very tense for our Muslim compatriots, especially women.” The State Council heard arguments from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group. A court in Nice had upheld the Villeneuve-Loubet ban this week. President Francois Hollande said Thursday that life in France “supposes that everyone sticks to the rules and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatisation”. Anger over the issue was further inflamed this week when photographs in the British media showed police surrounding a woman in a headscarf on a beach in Nice as she removed a long-sleeved top. The office of Nice’s mayor denied that the woman had been forced to remove clothing, telling AFP she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her top, over a pair of leggings, when the picture was taken. Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday condemned any “stigmatisation” of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was “a political sign of religious proselytising”. “We are not at war with Islam… the French republic is welcoming (to Muslims), we are protecting them against discrimination,” he told BFMTV. But in a sign of the divisions within the Socialist government on the issue, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the “proliferation” of burkini bans “was not a welcome development”. Vallaud-Belkacem, who is of Moroccan origin, took issue with the wording of the ban in Nice which linked the measure to the jihadist truck attack in the resort last month in which 86 people were killed. “In my opinion, there is nothing to prove that there is a link between the terrorism of Daesh and what a woman wears on a beach,” she said, using another term for Islamic State. But Valls contradicted his minister’s claims, saying the bans were necessary to maintain “public order”. – ‘No legal justification’ -The administrative court in Nice ruled Monday that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was “necessary” to prevent “public disorder” after the Nice attack and the murder of a Catholic priest by two jihadists in northern France. But in its ruling, the State Council said: “In the absence of such risks, the emotion and the concerns arising from terrorist attacks, especially the attack in Nice on July 14, are not sufficient to legally justify a ban.” The so-called burkini bans never actually mention the word burkini, although they are clearly aimed at the garment which covers the hair but leaves the face visible and stretches down to the ankles. The vague wording of the prohibitions has caused confusion. Apart from the incident in the photographs in Nice, a 34-year-old mother of two told AFP on Tuesday she had been fined on the beach in the resort of Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf. France was the first European country to ban the wearing of the Islamic face veil in public in 2010.</s>(CNN) Mayors do not have the right to ban burkinis, France's highest administrative court ruled Friday. The Council of State's ruling suspends a ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, and could affect cities around the country that have prohibited the full-length swimsuit. More than 30 French towns have banned burkinis , which cover the whole body except for the face, hands and feet. Officials say the ban on the burkini -- worn mostly by Muslim women -- was a response to growing terror concerns Human rights activists argue that such measures are illegal, and that pushes to outlaw the garment are Islamophobic. Authorities in Nice say the officers were simply exercising their duties. Deputy Mayor Christian Estrosi denounced the photos, saying they put the officers in danger. "I condemn these unacceptable provocations," he said. In London, demonstrators created a makeshift beach Thursday outside the French Embassy for a "Wear what you want beach party." Jenny Dawkins, a Church of England priest, told CNN she joined the protest after seeing a photo of the incident in Nice. "I think it's a frightening image," she said. "I find it quite chilling to see an image of a woman surrounded by men with guns being told to take her clothes off." In April 2011, France became the first European country to ban wearing in public the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes. And much like the recent burkini bans, opinion in the country is divided between those who see the laws as an infringement on religious freedom, and those who view the Islamic dress as inconsistent with France's rigorously enforced secularism.</s>France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended a controversial ban on the burkini by a French Riviera town after it was challenged by rights groups. In a judgement expected to set a precedent, the State Council ruled that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if wearing the Islamic swimsuit was a “proven risk” to public order. The judges said there was no such risk in the case before the court concerning Villeneuve-Loubet, one of around 30 towns to have introduced the bans. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) hailed the ruling as a “victory for common sense”. Police have fined Muslim women for wearing burkinis on beaches in several towns, including in the popular tourist resorts of Nice and Cannes, sparking controversy in France and abroad. The burkini bans have triggered a fierce debate about women’s rights and the French state’s strictly-guarded secularism. “By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance, Friday’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand,” Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen said.“French authorities must now drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women,” he said. The CFCM’s secretary general Abdallah Zekri said, “This victory for common sense will help to take the tension out of a situation which has become very tense for our Muslim compatriots, especially women.” The State Council heard arguments from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group. A court in Nice had upheld the Villeneuve-Loubet ban this week. President Francois Hollande said yesterday that life in France “supposes that everyone sticks to the rules and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatization”. Anger over the issue was further inflamed this week when photographs in the British media showed police surrounding a woman in a headscarf on a beach in Nice as she removed a long-sleeved top. The office of Nice’s mayor denied that the woman had been forced to remove clothing, telling AFP she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her top, over a pair of leggings, when the picture was taken. Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday condemned any “stigmatization” of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was “a political sign of religious proselytizing”. But in a sign of the divisions within the Socialist government on the issue, Education Minister Najat Vallaud- Belkacem said the “proliferation” of burkini bans “was not a welcome development”. Vallaud-Belkacem, who is of Moroccan origin, took issue with the wording of the ban in Nice which linked the measure to the jihadist truck attack in the resort last month in which 86 people were killed. “In my opinion, there is nothing to prove that there is a link between the terrorism of Daesh and what a woman wears on a beach,” she said, using another term for Islamic State.</s>France’s highest administrative court has suspended a ban on the burkini in a Riviera coastal town after a challenge by rights groups. The ruling from the state council suspends a single decree against full-body swimsuits issued by the mayor in the southern resort of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice. But it is likely to set a precedent for other towns that have banned the swimwear on their beaches. The state council ruled that the mayor did not have the right to issue a burkini ban – stating that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if there was a “proven risk” to public order. It believed that proven risk had not been demonstrated. The bans – made in the form of short-term mayoral decrees – began to be issued in a series of beach spots following the Bastille Day attack in Nice and the murder of a priest in Normandy. They do not explicitly use the word burkini but ban “beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation”, citing reasons such as the need to protect public order, hygiene or French laws on secularism. At a hearing before the state council on Thursday, lawyers for the rights groups in the Villeneuve-Loubet case argued that the bans were feeding fear and infringe on basic freedom. A lower court had ruled on Monday that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was necessary to prevent public disorder. But the state council found that this did not hold up under French law. The row over burkinis had intensified after a woman in a headscarf was photographed on a beach in Nice removing a long-sleeved top while surrounded by armed police. The city banned the burkini on its beaches last week, following about 15 seaside areas in south-east France where mayors had done the same. The bans have divided France’s government and society and drawn anger abroad. The former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, campaigning for his party’s nomination to run again as president in 2017, used his first public rally this week to call for a nationwide ban on the swimsuits, while the Socialist government has become divided, with the prime minister and one of its leading feminist voices at cabinet-level taking opposing positions. The burkini bans have prompted a row over the French principle of laïcité – secularism – amid accusations that politicians are twisting and distorting this principle for political gain, and using it to target Muslims. The French republic is built on a strict separation of church and state, intended to foster equality for all private beliefs. In theory, the state is neutral in terms of religion and allows everyone the freedom to practise their faith as long as there is no threat to public order.</s>France’s top judges have suspended a ban on burkinis on French beaches which sparked worldwide outrage and criticism. The country’s highest administrative court released a statement saying the ban would be suspended pending a definitive ruling. It said the ban "seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms to come and go, freedom of beliefs and individual freedom". The Conseil d'Etat gave the ruling following a request from the League of Human Rights to overturn the burkini ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet on the grounds it contravenes civil liberties. A human rights lawyer says the decision by France's top administrative court to overturn a ban on burkini swimsuits should set a legal precedent for the whole country. Lawyer Patrice Spinosi, representing the Human Rights League, told reporters that other mayors who have banned burkinis must conform to Friday's decision regarding the town of Villeneuve-Loubet. He also said women who have already received fines can protest them based on Friday's decision. "It is a decision that is meant to set legal precedent," he said. "Today all the ordinances taken should conform to the decision of the Council of State. Logically the mayors should withdraw these ordinances. If not legal actions could be taken" against those towns. "Today the state of law is that these ordinances are not justified. They violate fundamental liberties and they should be withdrawn." But the mayor of Sisco in northern Corsica says he won't lift his ban which was put in place after sunbathers of North African origin clashed with Sisco villagers on the beach earlier in August. He told BFM-TV on Friday: "Here the tension is very, very, very strong and I won't withdraw it." A protest against France’s “oppressive” ban on was staged at the country’s embassy in London on Thursday. Both Muslim and non-Muslim women donned burkinis, bikinis and swimsuits to sit on a makeshift beach in a bid to force the French government to repeal the "oppressive" law, under which women on beaches have been ordered to remove religious clothing by armed police. Under the French legal system, temporary decisions can be handed down before the court takes more time to prepare a judgement on the underlying legality of the case. This page is being updated.</s>(CNN) Mayors do not have the right to ban burkinis, France's highest administrative court ruled Friday. The Council of State's ruling suspends a ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, and could affect cities around the country that have prohibited the full-length swimsuit. More than 30 French towns have banned burkinis , which cover the whole body except for the face, hands and feet. Officials say banning the burkini -- worn mostly by Muslim women -- is a response to growing terror concerns and heightened tensions after a series of terror attacks. Human rights activists argue that burkini bans are illegal, and that pushes to outlaw the garment are Islamophobic. "By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today's decision has drawn an important line in the sand," Amnesty International Europe Director John Dalhuisen said in a statement. But it's unclear how other towns with burkini bans will respond to Friday's decision. If mayors continue to enforce and enact such decrees, they could face similar legal challenges. No matter what, battles over the burkini in the court -- and in the court of public opinion -- are far from over. Friday's decision was an initial ruling by the Council of State while it continues to prepare its more detailed judgment on the legal issues in the case. Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said he supports banning burkinis. And former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who plans to run again for the nation's top job, has said he would immediately enact a national ban of the swimsuits. Critics of the bans say they discriminate against the women they claim to protect. "These bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation," Dalhuisen said. "Not only are they in themselves discriminatory, but as we have seen, the enforcement of these bans leads to abuses and the degrading treatment of Muslim women and girls." Authorities in Nice say the officers were simply exercising their duties. Deputy Mayor Christian Estrosi denounced the photos, saying they put the officers in danger. "I condemn these unacceptable provocations," he said. In London, demonstrators created a makeshift beach Thursday outside the French Embassy for a "Wear what you want beach party." Jenny Dawkins, a Church of England priest, told CNN she joined the protest after seeing a photo of the incident in Nice. "I think it's a frightening image," she said. "I find it quite chilling to see an image of a woman surrounded by men with guns being told to take her clothes off." In April 2011, France became the first European country to ban wearing in public the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes. And much like the recent burkini bans, opinion in the country is divided between those who see the laws as an infringement on religious freedom, and those who view the Islamic dress as inconsistent with France's rigorously enforced secularism.</s>A top French court on Friday suspended a ban on full-body burkini swim suits that has angered Muslims, feminists and civil liberties campaigners. The ruling by the Council of State relates to the Mediterranean resort of Villeneuve-Loubet, one of more than a dozen French towns that have imposed such bans. The burkini ban has shone a light on secular France’s long-standing difficulties integrating its Muslim population and dealing with the aftermath of a series of Islamist attacks. The court said in a statement the decree to ban burkinis in Villeneuve-Loubet ‘seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom.’ The lawyer representing the League of Human Rights campaign group which had challenged the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet told reporters the ruling meant all town halls would need to reverse their bans. The group argued the bans contravened civil liberties. But one mayor in Corsica said he would not suspend his own ban, showing that the ruling will not put a quick end to the heated controversy that has already filtered into early campaigning for the 2017 presidential election. ‘There’s a lot of tension here and I won’t withdraw my decree,’ Sisco mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni told BFM TV. The issue has also made French cultural identity a hot-button issue along with security in political debates ahead of next April’s presidential election. Prime minister Manuel Valls robustly defended the burkini ban on Thursday while some ministers criticised it, exposing divisions within the government as campaigning begins. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday he would impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if elected as he seeks to position himself as a strong defender of French values and tough on immigration. ‘This is a slap for the prime minister and a kick up the backside for Sarkozy,’ Abdallah Zekri, secretary general of the French Muslim Council said of the ruling. ‘We’re satisfied with this.’ Socialist Party spokesman Razzy Hammadi told BFM TV he hoped the ruling ‘will put an end to this nasty controversy’.</s>Activists protest outside the French embassy during, the "wear what you want beach party" in London on Thursday. The protest is against the French authorities clampdown on Muslim women wearing burkinis on the beach. France's highest administrative court on Friday suspended a ban on full-body burkini swimsuits that has outraged Muslims and opened divisions within the government, pending a definitive ruling, the court said in a statement. The Conseil d'Etat gave the ruling following a request from the League of Human Rights to overturn the burkini ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet on the grounds it contravenes civil liberties. Under the French legal system, temporary decisions can be handed down before the court takes more time to prepare a judgement on the underlying legality of the case.</s>France’s top administrative court has overturned a town burkini ban amid shock and anger worldwide after some Muslim women were ordered to remove body-concealing garments on French Riviera beaches. The ruling by the Council of State specifically concerns a ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet. Under the French legal system, temporary decisions can be handed down before the court takes more time to prepare a judgement on the underlying legality of the case. The ruling will be binding and will affect at least 30 other coastal towns, mainly in southeast France, that have made similar decrees. Lawyers for two human rights groups challenged the legality of the ban, saying the orders infringe basic freedoms and that mayors have overstepped their powers by telling women what to wear on beaches. Mayors had cited concern about public order after deadly Islamic extremist attacks this summer, and many officials have argued that burkinis oppress women. Lawyer Patrice Spinosi, representing the Human Rights League, told reporters that the decision should set a precedent, and that other mayors should conform to it. He also said women who have already received fines can protest against them based on Friday’s decision. Images of uniformed police appearing to require a woman to take off her tunic in Nice, and media accounts of similar incidents, have elicited shock and anger online this week. Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns, based on a strict application of French secularism policies, are worsening religious tensions. The mayor of Sisco, in northern Corsica, said he will not lift his ban on the burkini despite the ruling. Ange-Pierre Vivoni had banned the burkini after an August 13th clash on a beach in Sisco. He told BFM-TV: “Here the tension is very, very, very strong and I won’t withdraw it.” He conceded he does not know whether a woman was actually wearing a burkini the day a clash occurred that set a group of sunbathers of North African origin, from another town, against villagers from Sisco. It took days to untangle the events leading to the violence that many immediately assumed was over a burkini. Divisions have emerged in President Francois Hollande’s government over the bans, and protests have been held in London and Berlin by those defending women’s right to wear what they want on the beach. Critics of the local decrees have said the orders are too vague, prompting local police officials to fine even women wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf and the hijab, but not burkinis."
"The France Conseil d'État suspends Villeneuve-Loubet commune's ban on full-body burkini swimsuits."
"Zimbabwe police used batons, tear gas and water cannons to crush an anti-government protest in the capital Friday, despite a court order that the demonstration should be permitted. At least 50 people were injured by the police, said former vice president Joice Mujuru, now the head of the People First party and a participant in the demonstration. "The people's anger is very deep. Zimbabweans are beginning to say enough is enough," said another opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a press conference after the demonstration was dispersed. Another anti-government demonstration will be held next Friday, said the coalition of at least 18 opposition parties and civic organizations that organized Friday's protest. Friday's protest, dubbed the "mega demonstration," was the first time that Zimbabwe's fractured opposition joined in a single action to confront President Robert Mugabe's government since 2007. Water cannons, frequently used to break up anti-government protests in the past two months, were sprayed against demonstrators. Usually bustling with hawkers, the capital's streets Friday were bristling with police wielding batons and tear gas canisters. Police were at the headquarters of the main opposition MDC-T party. Other police mounted roadblocks on roads leading into the city. Many Harare shops closed early while others were looted. At the crowded Copacabana market, stalls were burned as protesters clashed with a group that was chanting pro-government slogans. Tear gas blew into the annual agricultural fair, forcing officials to temporarily close the gates. Some protesters removed the road sign for Robert Mugabe Way and placed it next to a dead puppy. Others burned tires on the streets and threw stones and rocks at the police. "That old man should not be allowed to take the country to the grave with him," shouted one of the protesters in the local Shona language. Home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo on Thursday accused Western countries of plotting the protests. Protests have become a near-daily occurrence in this southern African country ravaged by a tumbling economy and widespread food shortages. Supporters of 92-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from white minority rule in 1980, say he should rule until he dies.</s>Protesters brought the centre of Zimbabwe’s capital to a standstill and fought running battles with police on Friday during one of the biggest demonstrations against Comrade Robert Mugabe for decades. The chaotic scenes came after 18 opposition groups and parties called their supporters to march for reform of the country’s widely-discredited electoral system before national elections in 2018. The authorities in Harare tried to block the protest, but it was given the go-ahead by the High Court. Even so, police used tear gas and water cannons against marchers in Freedom Square within 20 minutes of the court order. Shops owned by Vice President were closed to prevent a second round of looting Violence has escalated in Harare. Shops have been looted. Protesters were setting the city on fire. Police run out of water canons, and were spraying ordinary water on protesters. Protesters were not moved at all and kept advancing. Protesters were hunting down and beating police officers Zanu PF Youths (popularly called Youthies) joined the fight, assaulting protesters and charging with their own weapons. The Army has been deployed into the country’s capital as violence escalates soldier has reportedly stoned a protester to death along Jason Moyo, causing a new spate of violence. Reports say the Vice President of Sierra Leone who was visiting Harare was forced to evacuate the country. Protesters refuse to back down even after military is deployed. Direct gestures at helicopters. Protesters have used spikes to deflate tires on police vans, so most police vans are stuck with flat tires. The presidential motorcade has been spotted at high speed heading towards Harare International Airport. Whilst there is no official trip planned, at first reports indicated President Robert Mugabe had left the country.</s>HARARE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe warned protesters on Friday that there would be no "Arab Spring" in Zimbabwe after anti-government demonstrations descended it to some of the worst violence seen in the southern African nation for two decades. Zimbabwean police fired tear gas and water cannon at opposition leaders and hundreds of demonstrators at a protest against Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF in the capital Harare on Friday. (Reporting by Macdonald Dzirutwe; Writing by Joe Brock)</s>Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe accused foreign powers of having a hand in the unrest which saw opposition supporters clash with police in Harare. By Wilfred Kajese (AFP) Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Friday warned that the Arab Spring style of protests would fall flat in Zimbabwe after police fired teargas and beat up protesters staging the latest of a string of highly charged demonstrations. Dozens of police blocked off the site of the opposition rally for electoral reforms by 2018, when 92-year-old Mugabe who has ruled the southern African country for decades will seek re-election. The protesters responded to the clampdown by throwing stones at the police while some set tyres ablaze and others pulled down the sign for a street named after Mugabe. "They are burning types in the streets in order to get into power. They are thinking that what happened in the Arab Spring is going to happen in this country, but we tell them that is not going to happen here," said Mugabe in remarks broadcast by state television. "What politics is that when you burn tyres? We want peace in the country," said Mugabe accusing foreign powers of having a hand in the unrest. AFP correspondents saw armed police firing tear gas and water cannon at protesters gathered on the fringes of the central business district who were waiting for the march to start. Some people caught up in the melee, including children going to a nearby agricultural show, ran for shelter in the magistrate's court while riot police pursued the protesters and threatened journalists covering the rally. The usually-bustling pavements were clear of street hawkers and some shops were shut, as rocks, sticks and burning tyres were strewn across the streets. Opposition protesters also clashed with supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party who had refused to clear their street stalls. ZANU-PF youths hurled stones at the opposition activists but were overpowered and their stalls set on fire. The march was organised by 18 opposition parties including the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe People First formed this year by former vice president Joice Mujuru. Opposition leaders condemned the brutal repression of the protest and vowed to increase pressure on Mugabe's regime. "If that was meant to cow us from demonstrating, I want to say we are going to do the same next week Friday," former Mugabe ally and ex-cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa told reporters. Protests "will continue until the day we vote", said Mutasa, a former top member of ZANU-PF who is now a senior member of Mujuru's party. "We have had enough of ZANU-PF misrule." Tsvangirai said the public would not be easily calmed. "The people's anger is very deep. The people's desperation is very deep," he said. "Today's brutal suppression of the people will not stop them from exercising their rights." Tsvangirai said the regime was in its "sunset hour", warning that efforts to suppress the protests would backfire. "Citizens are like a spring: the more they are suppressed, the greater the rebound," he said. Charles Laurie, an analyst with Verisk Maplecroft in London, agreed that the government was on the verge of losing control. "The government is nearing a tipping point in its ability to control a population long used to violence and hardship, and who now have little to lose in putting themselves at risk in forcing political concessions," he told AFP. Police broke up the protest despite a court ordering them not to interfere or disrupt the march. Authorities said the had arrested 67 people, and lawyers said one of them was a journalist. Several foreign diplomatic missions based in Harare called on the authorities to ensure that basic human rights and freedoms are respected during policing. The US embassy expressed "deep concern over reports of violence during some of the protests" and called on government to "exhibit restraint" and respect human rights. And the Canadian embassy also said it was "increasingly concerned with reports of violence and human rights violations in response to public protest" while the Australian mission said the use of violence was "not acceptable under any circumstance". Friday's march was to demand free and fair elections. The last elections in 2013 were won by Mugabe in a vote the opposition said was rigged. Zimbabwe has seen a mounting tide of violent protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980. Under his rule, there has been an economic collapse that has caused food and cash shortages, with the country battling to pay public servants.</s>More than a hundred police officers in riot gear, backed up by water cannons and armored trucks, occupied the venue that opposition parties planned to use for their march. Mugabe's opponents have become emboldened by rising public anger and protests over an economic meltdown, cash shortages and high unemployment. Mugabe, 92, has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. As opposition supporters arrived for the march, they were told by the police to leave. The officers then fired teargas and a water cannon when parts of the crowd refused to comply, a Reuters witness reported. A few dozen supporters, who earlier chanted anti-Mugabe slogans, threw rocks at the police and burned tyres on the roadside near the square where the protest was due to start. "We are not going anywhere and demonstrating is the only solution left to force the dictator out of office," said Tapfuma Make, an unemployed 24-year-old from Chitungwiza town, south of the capital Harare. Zimbabwe's High Court ruled that police should allow the protest to proceed between 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. (1000-1400 GMT). "We view this as a victory for democracy. The demonstration is going ahead," MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora told reporters following the court's decision. Opposition parties leading the protests say the electoral commission is biased in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agencies loyal to Mugabe, charges the commission denies. The protesters want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the United Nations. They are also calling for Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers, scrap plans to introduce local bank notes and end cash shortages. Opposition leader and head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, and former vice president Joice Mujuru will lead the demonstration, which they expect to draw thousands of supporters. Zimbabwe's police used teargas and a water cannon on Wednesday to break-up a march by MDC youth supporters who were protesting over economic mismanagement and what they say is brutality by security agencies.</s>Zimbabwe's opposition supporters set up a burning barricade as they clash with police during a protest for electoral reforms in Harare on August 26, 2016. By Zinyange Auntony (AFP) Harare (AFP) - Riots erupted in Zimbabwe's capital Harare Friday after police fired tear gas and beat protesters who responded by throwing stones in the latest of a string of tense demonstrations. The violence came a day after a High Court judge had ordered police "not to interfere (with), obstruct or stop the march". Dozens of police blocked off the site of an opposition rally to demand electoral reforms before 2018 when 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for decades, will seek re-election. AFP correspondents saw armed police firing tear gas and water cannon at protesters gathered on the fringes of the central business district who were waiting for the march to start. Demonstrators then began throwing stones at police while some set tyres ablaze and others pulled down the sign for a street named after Mugabe. Some people caught up in the melee, including children going to a nearby agricultural show, ran for shelter in the magistrate's court while riot police pursued the demonstrators and threatened journalists covering the rally. The usually-bustling pavements were clear of street hawkers and some shops were shut, with rocks, sticks and burning tyres strewn across the streets. Opposition protesters also clashed with supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party who had refused to clear their street stalls. ZANU-PF youths hurled stones at the opposition activists but were overpowered and their stalls were set on fire. The march was organised by 18 opposition parties including the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe People First formed this year by former vice president Joice Mujuru. Opposition leaders gave a news conference where they condemned the brutal repression of the protest and vowed to increase pressure on Mugabe's regime. "If that was meant to cow us from demonstrating, I want to say we are going to do the same next week Friday," former Mugabe ally and ex-cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa told reporters. Protests "will continue until the day we vote," said Mutasa, a former top member of ZANU-PF who is now a senior member of Mujuru's party. "We have had enough of ZANU-PF misrule." Tsvangirai said the public would not be easily calmed. "The people's anger is very deep. The people's desperation is very deep," he said. "Today's brutal suppression of the people will not stop them from exercising their rights." Tsvangirai said the regime was in its "sunset hour", warning that efforts to suppress the protests would backfire. "Citizens are like a spring: the more they are suppressed, the greater the rebound," he said. Charles Laurie, an analyst with Verisk Maplecroft in London, agreed that the government was on the verge of losing control. "The government is nearing a tipping point in its ability to control a population long used to violence and hardship, and who now have little to lose in putting themselves at risk in forcing political concessions," he told AFP. "If the current anti-government momentum continues, we can expect the imposition of martial law and further draconian steps to re-assert government control." Thursday's court order was issued a day after police violently put down another march by opposition youths, firing tear gas and water cannon and beating them as they staged a protest against police brutality. Police had tried to "discourage" Friday's march, saying the anticipated crowd of around 150,000 would disrupt business and traffic. Foreign diplomatic missions based in Harare called on the authorities to ensure that basic human rights and freedoms are respected during policing. The Australian embassy issued a statement expressing concern over the recent unrest, saying the use of violence was "not acceptable under any circumstance." And the Canadian embassy also said it was "increasingly concerned with reports of violence and human rights violations in response to public protest." Friday's march was to demand free and fair elections. The last elections in 2013 were won by Mugabe in a vote the opposition said was rigged. Top officials have suggested the protests were "Western-sponsored" and aimed at seeking "regime change". Zimbabwe has seen a mounting tide of violent protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980. Under his rule, there has been an economic collapse that has caused food and cash shortages, with the country battling to pay public servants.</s>Riot police in Zimbabwe fired tear gas, beat up protesters and blocked off the site of an opposition rally in Harare on Friday, the latest in a string of demonstrations to hit the country. The rally -- which was authorised by a court -- was to demand electoral reforms before 2018 when 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for decades, will seek re-election. An AFP correspondent saw armed police firing tear gas and water cannon at protesters gathered on the fringes of Harare's central business district while waiting for the court ruling to allow the march to go ahead. Demonstrators fought back by throwing stones at police while some set tyres ablaze and others pulled down the sign for a street named after Mugabe. Some people caught up in the melee, including children going to an agricultural show nearby, ran for shelter in the magistrate's court building while riot police pursued the demonstrators and threatened journalists covering the rally. The usually bustling pavements were clear of street hawkers while some shops were shut and stones, sticks and burning tyres were strewn across the streets. The opposition protesters also clashed with supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party who had refused to clear their street stalls. The ZANU-PF youths hurled stones at the opposition activists but were overpowered and their market stalls were set on fire. High court judge Hlekani Mwayera ordered the police and government "not to interfere, obstruct or stop the march" organised by 18 opposition parties including the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe People First formed this year by former vice president Joice Mujuru. "We view this as victory for democracy," opposition spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said after the court ruling. "The demonstration is going ahead (although) we know the police have already teargassed the venue." The move to seek court backing came a day after police violently put down another march by opposition youths, firing tear gas and water cannon and beating them as they staged a protest against police brutality. Foreign diplomatic missions based in Harare called on the authorities to ensure that basic human rights and freedoms are respected during policing. The Australian embassy said in a statement it "shares the concerns of many Zimbabweans at the violence which has occurred over recent weeks." "The use of violence is not acceptable under any circumstance," it said. The Canadian embassy also said it was "increasingly concerned with reports of violence and human rights violations in response to public protest", and called for calm. Police tried to "discourage" Friday's march, saying the anticipated crowd of around 150,000 would disrupt business and traffic. But the opposition was defiant and resorted to the courts for protection. Former cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa, spokesman for the National Electoral Reform Agenda which groups political parties pushing for the reforms, said the march was to demand free and fair elections. Zimbabwe's last elections in 2013 were won by Mugabe in a vote the opposition said was rigged. Home Affairs Minister Ignatious Chombo warned on Thursday that the government would clamp down heavily on what it termed "Western-sponsored" protests seeking "regime change". Zimbabwe has seen a mounting tide of violent protests over the past weeks, with demonstrators calling on Mugabe to step down. Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has overseen an economic collapse that has caused food and cash shortages, with the country battling to pay public servants.</s>HARARE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police on Friday fired tear gas at opposition leaders and hundreds of demonstrators as a protest against President Robert Mugabe descended into one of the worst outbreaks of violence in two decades. Opposition head Morgan Tsvangirai and former vice president Joice Mujuru fled the rally in their cars while protesters ran for cover as police firing tear gas and water cannons broke-up the core of the demonstration. Clashes then spread through the streets of Harare as riot police fought running battles with protesters who hurled rocks at officers, set tyres ablaze and burned a popular market to the ground, in some of the worst unrest since food riots in 1998. "Mugabe's rule must end now, that old man has failed us," said one protester before throwing a rock at a taxi. Mugabe's opponents have become emboldened by rising public anger and protests over an economic meltdown, cash shortages and high unemployment. Mugabe, 92, has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. More than a hundred police officers in riot gear, backed up by water cannons and armoured trucks, occupied the venue that opposition parties planned to use for their demonstration. As opposition supporters arrived for the march, they were told by the police to leave. The officers then fired teargas and a water cannon when parts of the crowd refused to comply. Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said she was still to get details on Friday's protest. "Demonstrating is the only solution left to force the dictator out of office," said Tapfuma Make, an unemployed 24-year-old from Chitungwiza town, south of the capital Harare. Zimbabwe's High Court earlier ruled that police should allow the protest to proceed between 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. (1000-1400 GMT) in what Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) called a "victory for democracy". MDC secretary general and lawyer Douglas Mwonzora said the police had disregarded the court order and accused ZANU-PF youths of infiltrating the crowd to disrupt the protest. Opposition parties leading the protests say the electoral commission is biased in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agencies loyal to Mugabe, charges the commission denies. The protesters want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the United Nations. They are also calling for Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers, scrap plans to introduce local bank notes and end cash shortages. The latest demonstrations come nearly two months after the biggest large scale 'stay at home' strike in Zimbabwe since 2007, inspired by social media movements such as #ThisFlag led by pastor Evan Mawarire. Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo on Thursday called opposition leaders "foreign agents" using protests to cause chaos in order to justify international intervention in Zimbabwe's affairs. Zimbabwe's police used teargas and a water cannon on Wednesday to break-up a march by MDC youth supporters who were protesting over economic mismanagement and what they say is brutality by security agencies. (Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by James Macharia and Toby Chopra)</s>Mugabe was a darling of the west until he decided to give land back to the black man of Zimbabwe. When you go back to agreements made upon independence between Mugambe and Britain, just like in Kenya between Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Britain, it was already agreed that the land that colonialists had grabbed from local natives would have to be given back to the owners. So Mugabe was not only giving back land to the rightful owners but unlike Jomo Kenyatta who failed to implement the land redestribution agreement, Mugabe was also implementing a legal agreement which was already know to the Whiteman. Economic crisis that followed Mugabe’s decision occurred because the west did not like Mugabe’s boldness and so they imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to kill the economy and blame it on Mugabe. They always do this to bring down leaders of countries they don’t like and replace them with puppets of the West. So what’s happening in Zimbabwe is not a sign of the evil of Mugabe but the evil of a whiteman. For close to 30 years the USA and Europe kept in power and funded dictators in Africa as long as they were torturing black people not white people. And they did the same with Mugabe. As long as Mugabe touched no whiteman then he was good. The British Monarchy even knighted Mugabe. He is actually Sir Robert Mugabe, the defender of the British empire(Lol!). But the moment he touched the whiteman, the West including Britain which knighted him told the world Mugabe was evil. Sadly, there is always some people who are weak minded and they believe this lie. But look around. The closest allies of USA include Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East. Is this not a shame? Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorists, is allegedly linked to September 11 2001 Bin Laden strike against USA, stone citizens to death or chop off their hands, etc. And Saudi Arabia is the only country on earth where women are not allowed to drive cars or walk in public any how. These are just a few sins of Saudi Arabia and yet the USA and her western allies are close friends of the Saudi family. Ain’t this hypocrisy? Talk about Israel. How did Israel occupy the land they have? In 1948 when the Jewish State was created by the United Nations, Israel was given a different territory. But later Israel began to expand illegally into Palestine. They annexed Palestinian territory and they bomb Palestine and kill Palestinians anyday Netanyahu is in a bad mood or is just angry with what Iran said that day (lol!). But USA does not punish Israel instead they fund her more. Or see how they reacted towards Russia for annexing Cremea from Ukraine? But what about Israel? Ain’t this hypicrisy? And they came to Africa and say Mugabe is evil and impose sactions on Zimbabweans and we believe that and insult Mugabe?</s>PROMISE Mkwananzi has made Harare’s streets his second home along with a host of another activists that have been leading demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year-old rule and it is not very difficult to understand what motivates him. Mkwananzi, the #Tajamuka/Sesijikile movement’s spokesperson believes the end is nigh for the 92-year-old strongman’s tight grip on power. The former MDC-T youth assembly secretary-general was on Friday arrested on allegations of inciting public violence following another demonstration that brought business to a halt in Harare’s central business district. Mkwananzi said he has been arrested countless times in his quest for real freedom for Zimbabweans and says no amount of intimidation will force him to succumb to the intimidation. Before his arrest, he said he has been a fighter all his life and had numerous brushes with the Zanu PF-led government since his days as a student leader before he was expelled from the University of Zimbabwe, while in his final year as a law student. Mkwananzi is also a director of the Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation (ZISO). “Tajamuka has been an idea involving various political players, civil society and other citizens. We needed that platform for inclusivity where all players come together,” he said. “This is a campaign solely for the removal of President Mugabe and not a political party.” Mkwananzi said after the removal of Mugabe they would activate citizens into action and start demanding reforms. “There are so many people in #Tajamuka. We have about 17 political parties and 40 civil society organisations. We are also visible in rural areas. We are not seeking political power in anyway, but we are pushing for reforms,” he said. “It’s a campaign, which will have to fold when that business is accomplished.” Mkwananzi said the fiery group had managed to remove fear in the citizens. “#Tajamuka has grown into a huge campaign than we were expecting and has gone viral across the world and also here in Zimbabwe. Even in rural areas people are talking about #Tajamuka,” he said. “We have removed fear in the people and reactivated the voice of the citizens’ and their participation. “We have held sporadic and spontaneous demonstrations and confronting the regime on many fronts and we will hold our third national shut down soon.” Mkwananzi said #Tajamuka had set August 31, as the deadline for Mugabe to indicate how and when he intended to step down and explain the transitional mechanism, which should be put in place to fill in the vacuum and carry on the outstanding reforms. He denied allegations that they were putting people’s lives in danger through their numerous protests that have turned violent in some instances. “It is the regime putting people’s lives in danger not us. We march under the law and what is criminal is what the government is doing,” he said. “(They do this by) violating the Constitution and assaulting peaceful demonstrators, who are expressing genuine complaints.” Mkwananzi accused Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo of inciting the police to beat up protesters, warning that he would be prosecuted for that in a “new” Zimbabwe. “It’s unfortunate and we really want to warn the police. We want to warn Chombo that he will be prosecuted in the post Mugabe era for inciting violence and instructing the police to act outside the law and brutalise innocent people and committing crimes against humanity,” he said. “He is a candidate for prosecution. His statements are on record and surely he will be prosecuted when change comes.” Mkwananzi also said government was putting police in a very risky position. “They are making police vulnerable to the people and exposing them to hate by the people. That is a very dangerous position because when the police officers go home they will be exposed to danger. Police should not be used as a political junta and they should maintain their credibility,” he said. The #Tajamuka leader said Zimbabweans were tired of Mugabe’s rule. “There is the political backing of the citizens for Mugabe to go. We are really articulating what the citizens are asking. There shouldn’t be a vacuum when Mugabe steps down and there will be a transitional authority,” he said. “However, that transitional mechanism should not undermine the question of legitimacy. “You will know the root cause of the problems in this country to date, is the contested legitimacy of President Mugabe more than anything else and the transitional mechanism and the government that will come must be rooted in the legitimacy of the people.” #Tajamuka and other groups among them #ThisFlag led by exiled Pastor Evan Mawarire, Occupy Africa Unity Square led by Patson Dzamara and Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, have been leading anti-government protests across the country."
"Police and protesters clash in Harare after a court ruled that protests against Robert Mugabe can continue."
"Dark matter accounts for almost 85 percent mass of the observable universe and yet, we have never actually found the stuff outside of theories that prove it must exist. Even the visible disk of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, is believed to exist within a roughly spherical halo of dark matter that accounts for about 90 percent of the galaxy. In their search for the pervasive-yet-elusive particles of dark matter, astronomers have tried to find galaxies with much higher concentrations of the mysterious substance — it does not interact with visible matter at all, except through gravity, which is how scientists can theorize its existence. And while galaxies believed to be made up almost entirely of dark matter have been discovered before, they are usually quite small, such as VIRGOHI21 — about 50 million light-years away, it appears to contain no visible stars, has 99.9 percent dark matter and is about 10th the size of Milky Way. But now, a team of astronomers has found a galaxy that is comparable in size to ours but with a similar proportion of dark matter as VIRGOHI21. Named Dragonfly 44, it is about 300 million light-years away in the Coma constellation with an estimated mass of about 1 trillion times that of the sun. The discovery was made by astronomers from universities in the U.S. and Canada, who used the W.M. Keck Observatory and Gemini North telescope — both in Hawaii — for their observations. A paper, titled “A High Stellar Velocity Dispersion and ~100 Globular Clusters for the Ultra Diffuse Galaxy Dragonfly 44,” describing their findings was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters on Thursday. Pieter van Dokkum, an astronomer at Yale University and lead author of the paper, said in a statement: “Very soon after its discovery, we realized this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. It has so few stars that it would quickly be ripped apart unless something was holding it together.” The researchers measured the velocities of stars in Dragonfly 44 using data from Keck over six nights. “Star velocities are an indication of the galaxy’s mass ... The faster the stars move, the more mass its galaxy will have,” according to the statement. The stars in Dragonfly 44 were observed to be moving much faster than was expected for a galaxy of its brightness, or rather, its lack of brightness. Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto, co-author of the paper, said: “It means that Dragonfly 44 has a huge amount of unseen mass.” Observations from the Gemini North telescope showed that Dragonfly 44 has “a halo of spherical clusters of stars around the galaxy’s core, similar to the halo that surrounds our Milky Way galaxy.” Abraham said the team had no idea how galaxies like this could have formed. “The Gemini data show that a relatively large fraction of the stars is in the form of very compact clusters, and that is probably an important clue. But at the moment we’re just guessing.”</s>But don't cue "Star Wars' " Imperial March theme music or Darth Vader breathing just yet (even if the closeup image looks like a slightly creepy emoji). Although it's massive and mysterious, Dragonfly 44 is really just misunderstood. Dragonfly 44 went unnoticed until last year because, when regarding the darkness of space, this galaxy resembles a virtually indistinguishable blob. But by looking at it with some of the world's most powerful telescopes, including the Dragonfly telescope array designed and built by study authors Pieter van Dokkum and Roberto Abraham, researchers realized something else. It is named for the telescope that found it. Dragonfly 44 is an incredibly large but diffuse and dim galaxy. Encircling its core is a halo made up of clusters of stars, much like what we see in the Milky Way. But this galaxy is only 0.1% stars. The Milky Way has more than a hundred times that. The researchers knew that something had to be holding those few stars in place. "We knew as soon as we discovered the galaxy that it would be so tenuous if it was just made up of stars and no dark matter, that it would quickly disrupt and disappear," said van Dokkum, lead study author and Yale University astronomer. A huge amount of gravity was working to hold those stars in place, and once researchers used star velocity to measure how much mass the galaxy contained, they realized that the other 99.9% is dark matter. To put this in perspective, Dragonfly 44 is comparable in size to the Milky Way, which is 100,000 light-years wide. Mostly it is just unseen because it is cloaked in darkness. "It's very exciting because we thought we had sort of figured out what the relationship is between galaxies and dark matter," van Dokkum said. "This discovery turns that on its head. Now, you can have a hundred times fewer stars in the galaxy with the same amount of dark matter as the Milky Way. That was entirely unexpected, and that means that there is something missing in our description of galaxy formations, and there are physics that we don't yet understand in that process." This newly observed galaxy could hold the secrets to understanding dark matter, the hypothesized ingredient that makes up 90% of the universe. Given the fact that we know next to nothing about it, this find could open the door to our discovery and understanding of the mysterious building block. "One of the things we are after are finding galaxies like this that are even closer to us, ideally 30 or 50 million light-years away so we could study them in detail," van Dokkum said. "We could be looking for the dark matter particle itself. Currently, people are looking at tiny dwarf galaxies that circle the Milky Way to search for the dark matter particle with X-ray and UV telescopes, but nothing has been found yet. These galaxies are a million times more massive, so we have a higher chance of detecting a dark matter signal if we find one close enough to us. "But dark matter is one of the biggest mysteries in science. We don't even know if it is a particle or not. It's a bunch of steps from where we are now. For us, it's finding the best candidates. It would be incredibly exciting if it helps the search in that way." The invention and building of the Dragonfly telescope came out of a dinner conversation between the two men, that led to a bet in 2011. It has grown from one lens in a parking lot to an array of 48 lenses with a coating that enables them to do special imaging of these faint galaxies. Abraham, a professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto, is credited with putting the telescope together. Van Dokkum also has a background in photography, which enabled him to help with selecting the lenses. As it happens, in his spare time, he uses his photography skills to capture images of the underappreciated dragonfly. He calls it a "strange confluence of work and hobby," considering the name of the galaxy and telescope. See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter. Using their Dragonfly telescope, van Dokkum and Abraham will continue their research by surveying a random large batch of the sky rather than targeting of particular galaxies or groups of galaxies, as they had been doing. "We built this telescope to try to uncover what's out there," van Dokkum said. "What other things have we missed that are right above us?""
"A newly-discovered galaxy known as Dragonfly 44 appears to be made up mostly of dark matter."
"Image copyright AFP Image caption The soldiers are said to have been on a routine mission An ambush on a military patrol in Paraguay has left at least eight soldiers dead. The country's interior minister said the soldiers had been on a routine mission when they were attacked with explosives and gunfire. Francisco de Vargas said it was likely the gunmen were part of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). The attack took place near the village of Arroyito, some 500km (300 miles) north of the capital, Asuncion. Mr de Vargas said the gunmen had placed explosives in the road routinely used by the soldiers. The EPP is estimated to number between 50 and 150 people. The group is a Marxist-inspired rebel group which has been active in the impoverished northern region since 2008. It is thought to have killed about 50 people but says it only targets the country's oligarchy.</s>ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Eight soldiers were killed in an attack in Paraguay’s north by suspected members of a little-known rebels group, authorities said Saturday, just days after Colombian officials and guerrillas reached a peace deal to end the longest running insurgency in Latin America. Paraguayan Interior Minister Francisco De Vargas reported the first five deaths from the Saturday attack in Arroyito, a town about 305 miles (490 kilometers) from Asuncion. Dr. Bernardo Jacquet, a physician at Hospital Concepcion, located some 55 miles (90 kilometers) from where the attack occurred, later said that the death toll had risen to eight. Authorities suspect the attack was carried out by a little-known Paraguayan guerrilla group called the Paraguayan People’s Army. Federico Delfino, the country’s prosecutor for anti-kidnapping efforts, says that the attackers got away with eight M4 carbines, bulletproof vests, and the victims’ personal belongings. The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, on Wednesday announced the finalization of a peace agreement after more than four years of grueling negotiations in Cuba. A cease-fire in the Colombian conflict that lasted more than a half-century will take effect at midnight next Monday. The Paraguayan government considers members of the Paraguayan People’s Army to be terrorists under an anti-terrorism law. The Paraguayan People’s Army was blamed last year in the killing of a German couple. Their bodies were found after the rebels abducted the pair from their cattle farm and demanded that the owner of a farm pay $300,000 and give food to the poor.</s>Aug 28 (Gracenote) - Results and standings from the Paraguayan championship matches on Sunday Saturday, August 27 Guarani 1 General Diaz 0 Rubio Nu 0 Nacional A. 0 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 Guarani 9 6 1 2 8 6 19 ------------------------- 2 Olimpia 8 5 3 0 13 4 18 3 Sol de America 7 4 1 2 14 9 13 4 Sportivo Luqueno 8 3 3 2 9 9 12 5 Libertad 8 3 2 3 10 9 11 6 Deportivo Capiata 8 3 2 3 7 12 11 7 Cerro Porteno 8 2 3 3 14 11 9 8 Rubio Nu 8 2 3 3 8 8 9 9 General Diaz 9 2 3 4 7 9 9 10 General Caballero 8 1 5 2 7 8 8 11 Nacional A. 9 1 3 5 10 16 6 12 River Plate 8 1 3 4 6 12 6 1: Copa Libertadores Next Fixtures (GMT): Sunday, August 28 Olimpia v Libertad (2110) River Plate v Cerro Porteno (2320) Monday, August 29 General Caballero v Sol de America (2230) Tuesday, August 30 Sportivo Luqueno v Deportivo Capiata (0030)</s>Paraguay says eight troops killed in ambush ASUNCION, Aug 27 (Reuters) - An ambush in the north of Paraguay killed eight soldiers, authorities said on Saturday, adding that the attack bore the hallmarks of the guerrilla group known as the Paraguayan People's Army. The Paraguayan People's Army, known locally by its Spanish initials EPP, is a small leftist group formed just over a decade ago. It is loosely modeled on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has said in recent days that it will lay down its arms after half a century of war. The security forces who officials said were attacked on Saturday belong to a unit created by the government in 2013 to combat the EPP. "At about 9am this morning a routine patrol was the object of an attack on a country road in the Arroyito district ... the attackers detonated explosives as the truck passed and then carried out a cowardly armed attack on the wounded soldiers," said the Interior Ministry in a statement. The government said it is investigating the attack, which took place in a rural part of Concepcion, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of capital Asuncion, in an area where the EPP is known to operate. The shadowy EPP sometimes leave pamphlets at the site of attacks. Authorities have not said if anything like that has been found. Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas told a local radio station that the manner of the attack - explosive artifacts by a road - was typical of the EPP. "It is very probable that that is what happened," he said. The EPP has been blamed by authorities for a string of kidnappings, murders and attacks in the remote north of Paraguay, an area of cattle ranches, poor rural laborers, and illegal marijuana plantations. In 2013 it carried out an attack in which five people died, its bloodiest to date. The group is believed to hold three people captive at present: a police agent who has been held for over two years, and two Mennonites, members of a religious sect of European background who have significant dairy farming communities in Paraguay.</s>ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Five soldiers have been killed in an attack by suspected rebels in Paraguay's north, the country's interior minister said Saturday. Interior Minister Francisco De Vargas said Saturday that the attack occurred in Arroyito, a town about 305 miles (490 kilometers) from Asuncion. He says two more soldiers were gravely wounded. Authorities suspect that the attack was carried out by a little-known Paraguayan guerrilla group called the Paraguayan People's Army. It comes just days after Colombia and the largest rebel group in that country reached a peace deal to end the longest running insurgency in Latin America.</s>ASUNCION: Eight Paraguayan soldiers died Saturday in a roadside explosion, the government said, blaming it on a leftist guerrilla group. Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas said the attack occurred on a rural road near the village of Arroyito, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) north of Asuncion. “They placed explosives in the road where a patrol routinely passes. Because of the manner in which it was done, we believe it was an attack by the known criminal group EPP,” he said, using the Spanish acronym for the Paraguayan People’s Army. De Vargas said eight soldiers died in the attack. Since the guerrilla group first appeared in 2008, it has killed some 50 people in attacks, the majority of them police, soldiers and cattle raisers, according to police. The group has been active in the cattle-raising region where Saturday’s explosion occurred."
"At least eight Paraguayan Army soldiers are killed in an ambush by suspected Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) insurgents, near the village of Arroyito, in northern Paraguay."
"ANKARA, Turkey -- A Kurdish suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck into a checkpoint near a police station Friday in southeast Turkey, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, the prime minister said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 yards from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria. Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck and the three-story police station gutted from the explosion. Rebels linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party claimed the attack -- the latest in a string of bombings by the group targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. "No terrorist organization can take the Turkish Republic hostage," he told reporters in Istanbul. "We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve." President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "This attack, which comes at a time when Turkey is engaged in an intense struggle against terrorist organizations both within and outside its borders, only serves to increase our determination as a country and a nation." Turkey has sent tanks across the Syrian border after weeks of deadly attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Islamic State extremist group. The operation aims to help Syrian rebels retake Jarablus, a key Islamic State-held border town, and to contain the expansion of Syrian Kurdish militias linked to the Workers' Party. In a statement on the website of the Workers' Party's military wing, the militant group said the Cizre attack was in retaliation for jailed Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan's "isolation" on a prison island off Istanbul. The rebel leader has been denied visits since April 2015, as a peace process between the Workers' Party and the government began to falter. Violence between the Workers' Party and the security forces resumed last year after the collapse the two-year peace process in July. Hundreds of security force members, militants and civilians have been killed since. At the same time, Turkey has been afflicted by deadly attacks blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people, and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June that killed 44 people. According to the Sirnak governor's office, three of those wounded in Friday's attack were civilians. Cizre was placed under 24-hour curfew for several weeks earlier this year as the security forces opened operations to root out Kurdish militants. Since hostilities with the Workers' Party resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of Workers' Party militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human-rights groups say hundreds of civilians also have been killed. The Workers' Party is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies. Some 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in 1984. The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt July 15 that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy carrying Turkey's main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the northeast, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said. The rebel statement Friday said the target of the attack was Turkey's security forces, not Kilicdaroglu. Information for this article was contributed by Dusan Stojanovic and Cinar Kiper of The Associated Press.</s>ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Suspected Kurdish militants fired rockets at the airport in Turkey’s main southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Saturday, sending passengers and staff scrambling for shelter, Dogan news agency said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. Four rockets were fired at a police checkpoint outside the VIP lounge, and passengers and staff were taken inside the terminal building for safety, the private news agency said. The attack happened not long before midnight (5.00 p.m. ET) on Saturday. Broadcaster NTV said the rockets landed on wasteland nearby. There were no casualties and no disruption to flights, Diyarbakir governor Huseyin Aksoy told the news channel. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Diyarbakir is the main city in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast, where Kurdish militants have waged a three-decade insurgency. The attack comes days after Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria aimed at driving back Islamic State and preventing territorial gains by Kurdish fighters. Rebels supported by Turkey fought Kurdish-backed forces in northern Syria on Saturday, and Ankara said it had launched air strikes against both Kurdish militia fighters and Islamic State. Turkey fears Kurdish militia fighters will fill the void as Islamic State is pushed back. It wants to stop Kurdish forces gaining control of a continuous stretch of Syrian territory on its frontier, which it fears could deepen the insurgency by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants on its own soil. Diyarbakir airport largely handles domestic flights and is served by carriers including Turkish Airlines. The PKK, which first took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. A ceasefire collapsed just over a year ago, and violence has since surged.</s>Kurdish militants on Friday attacked a police checkpoint in southeast Turkey with an explosives-laden truck, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, officials and the state-run news agency said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 yards from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, for those attacks. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the death toll, saying it was a suicide attack carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to "destroy the terrorists." "No terrorist organization can take the Turkish Republic hostage," he told reporters in Istanbul. "We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve." Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck. The three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion. According to Sirnak governor's office, three of the wounded were civilians. The Health Ministry sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site. Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members, militants and even civilians have been killed since. Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June that killed 44 people. Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key IS-held town. Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed. The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies. The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt on July 15 that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy carrying Turkey's main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the northeast, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.</s>A suicide truck bombing at a police headquarters in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast killed at least 11 and wounded dozens on Friday, two days after Turkey launched an incursion against Islamic State and Kurdish militia fighters in Syria. Prime minister Binali Yildirim said there was no doubt that the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, was responsible for the attack in Sirnak province, which borders Syria and Iraq. The provincial governor’s office said 11 police officers were killed and 78 people, three of them civilians, wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The bombing in the town of Cizre was the latest in a series of attacks since a ceasefire with the PKK collapsed more than a year ago, and comes as Turkey tries to recover from a failed July 15 military coup. More than 1,700 military personnel have been removed for their alleged role in the putsch, including some 40 per cent of admirals and generals, raising concern about the NATO member’s ability to protect itself as it battles Islamic State in Syria and Kurdish militants at home. At a news conference in Istanbul, Yildirim said Turkey had opened a war on all terrorist groups. His deputy, Numan Kurtulmus, said on Twitter that Islamic State, the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were all attacking Turkey to take advantage of last month’s coup attempt. ‘Turkey is in an intense fight against terrorist organisations … The PKK/YPG and Islamic State seized the July 15 coup attempt as an opportunity,’ Kurtulmus wrote. Large plumes of smoke billowed from the blast site in Cizre, footage on CNN Turk showed. The broadcaster said a dozen ambulances and two helicopters had been sent to the scene. Photographs broadcast by private channel NTV showed a large three-storey building reduced to its concrete shell, with no walls or windows, and surrounded by grey rubble. Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes launched their first major incursion into Syria on Wednesday in support of Syrian rebels, in an operation president Tayyip Erdogan has said is aimed both at driving Islamic State away from the border area and preventing territorial gains by the YPG. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died since the rebels took up arms in Turkey in 1984. Turkish troops fired on US-backed YPG fighters in northern Syria on Thursday – a confrontation that highlights the cross-cutting of interests of two pivotal NATO allies. Also on Thursday, interior minister Efkan Ala accused the PKK of attacking a convoy carrying the country’s main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The government has blamed the PKK for a series of attacks this month in the southeast. The group has claimed responsibility for at least one attack on a police station. Last week Erdogan accused followers of a US-based Islamic cleric he blames for the July 15 coup attempt of being complicit in attacks by Kurdish militants. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has denied any involvement in and denounced the coup plot. (Updated)</s>Kurdish militants on Friday attacked a police checkpoint in southeast Turkey with an explosives-laden truck, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, officials and the state-run news agency said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 yards from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, for those attacks. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the death toll, saying it was a suicide attack carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to "destroy the terrorists." "No terrorist organization can take the Turkish Republic hostage," he told reporters in Istanbul. "We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve." Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck. The three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion. According to Sirnak governor's office, three of the wounded were civilians. The Health Ministry sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site. Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members, militants and even civilians have been killed since. Turkey has also seen a rise of deadly attacks that have been blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June that killed 44 people. Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border this week to help Syrian rebels retake a key IS-held town. Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed. The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies. The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt on July 15 that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy carrying Turkey's main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the northeast, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.</s>Turkish tanks have moved rapidly through the Syrian town of Jarablus on Wednesday, ousting Islamic State from one of its last border strongholds – but the most important outcome in Ankara’s eyes was beating the US-backed Kurdish fighters in a race to seize the surrounding area. In a pointed concession to Turkey, the US vice president Joe Biden demanded that Kurdish forces, who had been a central US proxy in the battle against the terrorist group, “move back across the Euphrates river”, to the east of Jarablus. He also said that the Kurds, who have won a series of recent battles against Isis, would be abandoned if they advanced. US jets gave cover to the Turkish push, one of the first times in the war that the two allies have conducted a joint operation. “They cannot, will not, under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment,” Biden said in Ankara during a visit to reset ties with Turkey, which had been strained since the failed coup attempt in July. The Turkish incursion, which was supported by Syrian rebels, was the largest into Syria in the five-year civil war and came after months of gains by Kurds in the north which had seriously tested relations with Washington and transformed the once-dormant border into one of the war’s most important battle zones. Bystanders throughout much of the war, Kurdish groups in Syria’s north-east had made swift gains after Russia’s intervention to reinforce President Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, the Kurds had been pivotal to US efforts to break the grip of Isis in the area, being used as a proxy force by US trainers and given air support by fighter jets. The development incensed Ankara, which insists that the Kurds were using the war to advance a de facto autonomous region aligned with the aims of a four-decade-long insurrection being waged by Kurdish groups in Turkey’s south-east. Turkish officials have repeatedly pointed to Kurdish manoeuvres along its 500-mile frontier as evidence of a plan to move Arabs from the area and create a buffer allowing the Kurds to consolidate influence in the area. In recent months, Turkey has stepped up its support for Syrian rebels battling both Isis and the Assad regime. The influence of rebel groups in the north had previously waned under Russian airstrikes and the creep of jihadi groups, who had gradually taken the ascendancy in key campaigns, such as the fight for Aleppo. A Turkish move to re-arm Syrian rebels, including jihadis, earlier this month had led to the siege of Aleppo imposed by Assad loyalists being broken and a supply line being reopened. Since then, Turkey has stepped up efforts to deter the Kurds from making further advances and to keep open access to Arab rebel areas. At the same time, Ankara has set aside a feud with Russia, which shares its insistence that Syria’s current borders be preserved. Recent public statements about talking to the Syrian regime give weight to a growing view in the region that Turkey views keeping Syria intact as a higher priority than removing the Syrian leader – a key goal of the Turkish leadership for the past five years. Biden’s demands that the US-backed Kurds go no further is likely to reassure Ankara, which had publicly denounced Washington’s efforts against Isis, even as a Kurdish-led force, comprised of some Arab units, pushed Isis from the city of Minbij earlier this month, splintering a supply line between the town of al-Bab, near Aleppo, and Raqqa to the east, which remains one of the group’s two most important hubs. However, the effect on the US-Kurdish relationship is less clear. The Syrian Kurdish political arm, the PYD, said in response to the campaign that “Turkey will be defeated just like [Isis]”.</s>Turkey clearing borders of militants to prevent more migrants - PM ISTANBUL, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Turkey aims to clear its borders of Islamic State and other militant groups to prevent a new flow of migrants and will continue operations until the nation's security is guaranteed, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday. Yildirim also told a news conference that the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK was behind Friday's bombing of a police headquarters in Turkey's southeast, the latest in a string of attacks that the authorities have blamed on the group. The attack came two days after Turkey launched an incursion into Syria against Islamic State and Kurdish militia fighters there.</s>It is hard to anticipate whether Turkey’s unprecedented military incursion into Syria this week will change the dynamics of the multiple wars that have ravaged the region and put civilians through hell. If things already seemed complicated in the Middle East, they may have just become even more so. What started on Wednesday ranks as the largest Turkish military operation inside Syrian territory since the civil war began five years ago. A dozen tanks, reportedly followed by a bus transporting Syrian rebels, rolled into northern Syria to drive Islamic State forces from the town of Jarablus, one of their last footholds on the Turkish-Syrian border. Today Turkey sent more tanks in and told the YPG Kurdish armed group it had one week to retreat from the border areas. Western anti-Isis coalition forces facilitated Operation Euphrates Shield with air strikes. It came days after a terrorist attack killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border – highlighting both how exposed Turkey has become to the insurgency and the multiple pressures the Kurds face. Although Turkey carried out this operation with US back-up, its priority – evident in other recent foreign manoeuvrings, such as detente with Russia and overtures to the Syrian president, having previously urged him to quit – is to curtail the territorial ambitions of Kurdish combatants, some of which happen to be US proxies in the war against Isis. Turkey is in effect deploying forces in Syria with US support, with the aim of pushing back Kurdish groups that the US also supports. The US has equipped and trained local forces to fight Isis, under the label “Syrian Democratic Forces”. They are dominated by Kurds, but include anti-Assad rebels. Nuances easily get lost: united against Isis, these groups are less so when it comes to confronting Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Little noticed in Aleppo’s plight is the fact that Syrian Kurdish fighters have played no small role in the siege of the city. The YPG has been more of a problem for the Syrian opposition than for the Assad regime. Turkey’s advance now puts these Kurdish groups under pressure, especially given its warming relations with Russia. Moscow may have qualms about Kurdish groups working tightly with the US and its protest against Turkey’s move into Syria may have less to do with protecting the Kurds than keeping the upper hand in Syria’s quagmire. As the Jarablus operation unfolded, US vice-president Joe Biden was in Ankara to attempt to woo Turkey back from Russia. Relations between the US and its Nato ally have been fraught since July’s coup attempt, but getting them back on track now seems a shared objective. So, having used Kurdish forces to take Manbij and stalk Raqqa, Mr Biden warned the YPG to move back across the Euphrates or lose US support. Syria is racked by multiple wars in which protagonists claiming to share common goals pursue their own distinct priorities. Turkey is part of the anti-IS coalition but wants to fight Kurdish militants in Syria as it does the PKK in its own south-eastern regions. Its role has shrunk from active intervention on multiple fronts to more narrowly defending its border. Even the renewed enthusiasm for Syrian rebels is not about toppling Mr Assad, but ensuring that the Kurds do not prop him up. Russia claims its military involvement is all about combatting Isis but has done much more to ensure the survival of the Assad regime. Syrian Kurdish groups have been “recruited” by the US against Isis, but their ultimate goal is to carve out an autonomous region. Anti-Assad revolutionaries have all along wanted to get rid of a dictatorship but are increasingly associated with radical Islamist groups, largely for a desperate lack of other options. The US has prioritised bombing Isis but at the expense of forging a solution to Syria’s civil war, which has helped Isis grow. With its tanks, Turkey has played one more card in a multi-pronged war that has created immense suffering and has no end in sight.</s>ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Kurdish militant suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck into a checkpoint near a police station in southeast Turkey on Friday, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people, the prime minister said. The attack struck the checkpoint 50 meters (yards) from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly-Kurdish Sirnak province that borders Syria. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a string of bombings targeting police or military vehicles and facilities. Authorities have blamed the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, for those attacks. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the attack was a PKK suicide bombing carried out with an explosives-laden truck. He vowed to "destroy the terrorists." "No terrorist organization can take the Turkish Republic hostage," he told reporters in Istanbul. "We will give these scoundrels every response they deserve." Turkey sent tanks across the Syrian border following weeks of deadly attacks by the PKK and the Islamic State group. The operation aims to help Syrian rebels retake Jarablus, a key IS-held border town, and to contain the expansion of Syrian Kurdish militia who are linked to the PKK. Heightened PKK attacks inside Turkey could prompt Turkey to take bolder moves against the Syrian Kurds. On Thursday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Turkish artillery fired at a group Syrian Kurdish fighters who were seen advancing north toward Jarablus despite Turkish warnings for them to retreat. "This attack, which comes at a time when Turkey is engaged in an intense struggle against terrorist organizations both within and outside its borders, only serves to increase our determination as a country and a nation," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a written statement. Violence between the PKK and the security forces resumed last year, after the collapse of a fragile two-year peace process between the government and the militant group. Hundreds of security force members, militants and even civilians have been killed since. At the same time, Turkey has been afflicted by deadly attacks blamed on Islamic State militants, including a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding in southeast Turkey last week that killed 54 people and an attack on Istanbul's main airport in June that killed 44 people. Television footage showed black smoke rising from the mangled truck. The three-story police station was gutted from the powerful explosion. According to Sirnak governor's office, three of the wounded were civilians. The Health Ministry sent 12 ambulances and two helicopters to the site. Cizre was placed under 24-hour curfew for several weeks earlier this year, as the security forces launched operations to root out Kurdish militants. A Turkish human rights group said scores of civilians were killed in the operations. Since hostilities with the PKK resumed last summer, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed, according to the Anadolu Agency. Human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed. The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies. Some 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in 1984. The attacks on police come as the country is still reeling from a violent coup attempt on July 15 that killed at least 270 people. The government has blamed the failed coup on the supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on his followers. On Thursday, Kurdish rebels opened fire at security forces protecting a convoy carrying Turkey's main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the northeast, killing a soldier and wounding two others, officials said.</s>Turkey aims to clear its borders of Islamic State and other militant groups to prevent a new flow of migrants and will continue operations until the nation’s security is guaranteed, prime minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday. Yildirim also told a news conference that the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK was behind Friday’s bombing of a police headquarters in Turkey’s southeast, the latest in a string of attacks that the authorities have blamed on the group. The attack came two days after Turkey launched an incursion into Syria against Islamic State and Kurdish militia fighters there."
"Suspected Kurdish militants fire rockets at Diyarbakır Airport in Diyarbakır, Turkey."
"Russia's emergency services said a fire broke out at a warehouse in Moscow, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. The blaze at a printing warehouse occurred early August 27 in the Russian capital’s northeast. "While extinguishing the fire, it was established that the source of fire is on the fourth floor," Dmitry Shirlin, head of the Office for Fire and Rescue Forces of the Moscow Directorate of the Emergency Situations Ministry, told reporters. "The rescuers found the room with no access from outside," Shirlin said. "The wall was broken through and inside the rescuers found 16 dead bodies." Russia's Investigative Committee, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said a criminal inquiry had been launched into the deaths of the victims of the fire. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter that "those guilty will be found and punished." Abdygany Shakirov, a representative of the Kyrgyz diaspora in Russia, vowed help to families of the victims. "We will provide all possible moral and material assistance. We will never leave our citizens in this difficult time," Shakirov said. Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services, said the fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored. He said the fire rapidly spread through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died were working. Denisov said firefighters found the charred bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to hospital, where one later died. "There is a woman crying, her daughter died, she was only 18," an unidentified witness told Rossia 24. "[They did not escape] because there was no emergency exit." The Kyrgyz nationals who lost their lives in the fire were in Moscow legally, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said. Many colleagues of the victims gathered at the site of the fire. Lax fire-safety standards have often been blamed for such incidents in Russia. In January, 12 people died in a fire in a Moscow clothing factory. Some 500,000 citizens from Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished, former Soviet republic, are working in Russia. Based on reporting by TASS, AFP, and Reuters</s>A fire in a Moscow printing plant killed 17 people on Saturday, officials have said. A representative of the Kyrgyz diaspora in Russia said all the dead were members of its community. “The incident happened when people were changing shifts at the printing house. It is very hard for us,” Abdygany Shakirov, the Kyrgyz representative told Reuters. Around 500,000 citizens of the impoverished former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan are working in Russia. The two countries belong to a Russian-dominated customs union. The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to president Vladimir Putin, said a criminal inquiry had been launched into the deaths of 17 of the victims of the blaze. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in his Twitter feed that one more person died later in a hospital. Ilya Denisov, an emergencies ministry official, told Rossiya-24 TV station a malfunctioning lamp caused the fire. Lax fire safety standards are often blamed for fatal workplace blazes in Russia. In January, 12 people died in a fire in a Moscow clothing factory.</s>MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s emergency services say a fire swept through a printing plant’s warehouse in Moscow, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. The emergency services say Saturday’s fire was caused by a faulty lamp in the warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored.</s>At least 16 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan have died in a fire at a warehouse in Moscow, Russian authorities have said. Firefighters arrived at 8am (5am BST) on Saturday at the scene, where a blaze had engulfed 200 sq metres of a warehouse in an industrial zone to the north of the Russian capital. The fire on the fourth floor of the building, which is thought to belong to a printing company, was extinguished at about 10am, officials said. Tass news agency quoted the Russian emergency ministry as saying: “When the fire was being put out, a room that had been cut off by the flames was discovered. Firefighters tore down the wall and found 16 dead.” The head of the Moscow branch of the emergency ministry, Ilya Denisov, said the victims were from the former Soviet republic. An AFP journalist at the scene saw more than 30 migrant workers gathered outside the warehouse, some of whom wept as they waited for news about those who had been in the building when the fire broke out. Denisov said the blaze was believed to have been caused by a broken lamp in a room containing large quantities of flammable liquid and paper products. “The fire spread from the first floor through the elevator shaft to the room in which the people were killed,” Denisov told Interfax news agency. The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, said the injured had been taken to a local hospital. City authorities have launched an investigation. “I am certain that those guilty will be found and punished,” Sobyanin tweeted. In a statement, the Moscow branch of the Russian investigative committee said it was looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident.</s>Russian emergency services say a fire swept through a printing plant's warehouse in Moscow on Saturday, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. The fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of the warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored, and it spread quickly through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died were working, said Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services. He said firefighters found the bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to the hospital, where one later died. Denisov, whose statements were carried by Russian news agencies, said the dead were all from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, and were believed to be working legally in Russia. U.S. intelligence sees Islamic State as weakened after series of defeats 93,000 people voluntarily left Japan for North Korea after World War II. Or did they? From Vietnam to Los Angeles: Photographer who captured iconic image on one road sees end of another</s>MOSCOW (AP) — Russian emergency services say a fire swept through a printing plant's warehouse in Moscow on Saturday, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. The fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored, and it spread quickly through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died were working, said Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services. He said firefighters found the bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to the hospital, where one later died. Denisov, whose statements were carried by Russian news agencies, said the dead were all from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, and were believed to be working legally in Russia.</s>At least 16 migrants die in Moscow warehouse fire MOSCOW: At least 16 migrant workers mostly from Kyrgyzstan died in a fire that broke out at a Moscow warehouse early yesterday, Russian authorities said. “When the fire was being put out, a room that had been cut off by the flames was discovered,” TASS news agency quoted the regional branch of the emergency ministry’s press service as saying. “Firefighters tore down the wall and found 16 dead.” Emergency workers arrived at the scene around 0500 GMT to put out a blaze that had engulfed 200 square meters of a warehouse in an industrial zone in the Russian capital’s north. The fire at the four-floor facility, which is thought to belong to a local printing company, was extinguished at around 0700 GMT, authorities said. The head of the Moscow branch of the emergency ministry, Ilya Denisov, told Russian news agencies that the victims of the fire were migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan’s foreign ministry later confirmed that 14 of the 16 people killed in the fire were Kyrgyz nationals. A representative of the Kyrgyz community in Moscow, Tursunbay Kurbatbekov, told TASS that a 16-year-old girl was thought to be among the dead. An AFP journalist at the scene saw about three dozen migrant workers gathered outside the warehouse, some of whom wept as they awaited news of the people who had been in the building when the blaze broke out. Denisov said the fire was thought to have been caused by a broken lamp in a room containing large quantities of flammable liquids and paper products. “The fire spread from the first floor through the elevator shaft to the room in which the people were killed,” Interfax news agency quoted Denisov as saying. Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter that the people injured in the blaze had been taken to a local hospital and that the city would investigate the incident. “I am certain that those guilty will be found and punished,” Sobyanin wrote. The Moscow branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that it was still probing the circumstances surrounding the incident. A criminal investigation was launched to determine whether the blaze erupted due to arson or negligence. — AFP</s>MOSCOW (AP) — A fire swept through a Moscow printing plant warehouse on Saturday, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan, Russia’s emergency services said. A representative of the Kyrgyz community said the victims were all young women trapped in a dressing room while changing into their work clothes. The fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of the warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored, and it spread quickly through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died, said Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services. He said firefighters found the bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to the hospital, where one later died. Denisov, whose statements were carried by Russian news agencies, said the dead were all from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, and were believed to be working legally in Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that 14 of the dead were Kyrgyz citizens. Abdygani Shakirov, who heads an organization representing the Kyrgyz community in Moscow, said all of the dead were young women. “Most of them were in Moscow to earn money,” he told Russian news agencies. “They were in the dressing room and were unable to get out. The smoke had blocked the exit.”</s>Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired two top-ranking generals from the country's Investigative Committee. Major-General Dmitry Shershakov, the Deputy Head of the Main Directorate's Commission for Combating Corruption, and Vitaly Frolov, the First Deputy Head of the Investigative Committee Oversight Commission, were both pushed from their posts on Friday. Russia's Investigative Committee has come under particular scrutiny following the arrest of several top officials on charges of corruption. On July 19, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested several employees of the Investigative Committee's Moscow branch, including its deputy head Denis Nikandrov. Nikandrov currently stands accused of receiving a $1 million dollar bribe in connection with a case against notorious crime boss Shakro Molodoi, or Young Shakro. The branch's Head of Security Mikhail Maksimenko, and his deputy Alexander Lamonov, were also arrested on corruption charges. The chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykhin, condemned the officials as “betrayers,” who had "besmirched" the reputation of colleagues, the Rossiskaya Gazeta newspaper reported at the time. Shakro Molodoi was arrested on June 11 on charges of extorting money from the owner of the Elements restaurant in Moscow, after a violent shootout in December 2015 left two dead. For more on the Denis Nikanorov and Young Shakro arrest, click here.</s>A fire in a warehouse at a Moscow printing works killed at least 17 people on Saturday morning, an Emergencies Ministry official told Rossiya-24 TV station. "Sixteen bodies were found in a room, four injured were brought to hospitals in Moscow. The fire was completely put out by 0953 (local time)," he said. The dead are all believed to be migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan, AP reported. The ministry said on its website that 12 people were rescued. The TV station said the people, who lived and worked at the depot, were mostly from former Soviet Union countries. The fire was reported to have been caused by a faulty lamp, according to AP. READ MORE: * Fire breaks out at Siberian coal mine with 50 miners underground: reports * Four killed after explosions, gunfire in anti-terror raid in St Petersburg, Russia * Dozens dead in Russian hospital fire Lax fire safety standards have often been blamed for such incidents in Russia."
"A fire at a warehouse in Moscow, Russia, kills at least 17 people, all migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan. The Investigative Committee of Russia, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, says a criminal inquiry has been launched."
"Outgoing chief minister Adam Giles delivers a succinct obituary for his one-term government, which had its 2012 16-seat win cut to two seats This article is more than 3 years old This article is more than 3 years old It was a thumping. Adam Giles described it best, conceding defeat of his Country Liberal party government in a landslide election result in the Northern Territory. The win was called within two hours of polls closing, and just a handful of seats remained in doubt as the next chief minister, Michael Gunner, made his victory speech an hour later. Giles’s central desert seat of Braitling was one yet to be called. Northern Territory election: Adam Giles says he'll 'have a beer' if he loses Read more With more than half the votes counted the CLP had a swing against it of more than 18%. Labor did not pick all that up, gaining 6.4% on the last election. At the time of counting there was a bigger swing towards independents with 8.9%. All predictions had suggested an emphatic Labor victory after four years of an increasingly divisive and controversial term of government, but there were a lot of unknowns. Since the last election in 2012 boundaries had been redrawn and new seats created, and new laws for polling day had been introduced. Territorians had optional preferential voting for the first time, and more than 50,000 took the opportunity to vote early without an excuse. Exclusion zones around polling stations prevented anyone campaigning or handing out how-to-vote cards within 100m. The CLP had won government in 2012 with 16 seats to Labor’s eight, with a solitary independent on the crossbench, but after a series of scandals, fights, reshuffles and coups – both attempted and successful – the party was reduced to a minority of 12. Then on Saturday night that 12 became two. Maybe four at most. “Tonight no doubt is a landslide. It’s a thumping,” said Giles in Alice Springs. “Politically speaking tonight’s result is a lesson in disunity is death in politics. It’s a result of personality before the politics, it’s a lesson in looking after oneself rather than thinking about the people. that message has been heard loud and clear within the candidates and the party of the Country Liberals.” The CLP, the party which had held government for 27 straight years until 2001, would rebuild, he said. “We will remove the disagreements, we will remove the personalities of politics and we will come back bigger and better because one thing is for sure: Labor can’t manage the economy, Labor can’t manage law and order, hence one day in the future the NT will look on us to take leadership, albeit in a more concise, less personality-operated government”. With about 55% of the vote counted, Labor had 15 seats in the bag and another three predicted. The CLP had retained just two. Three independents had won, and it would likely be four. David Tollner, former treasurer and member for Fong Lim, who was not preselected for this election, predicted there would be more independents in parliament than CLP members. The official Labor event, held at the Waratahs sporting club on the outskirts of Darwin’s CBD, was full of Labor faithful as well as city and suburban candidates. Around the corner the CLP gathered in Cullen Bay. The food was better but the mood was sombre. The leader had remained in Alice Springs. Gunner entered the Labor room to shouts and chants of congratulations, and he walked a slow gauntlet of hugs and high-fives, but the audience’s attention waned during his speech and rarely a moment went by without people talking and others shushing them. In one resonating moment, Gunner spoke of his lifetime association with the NT. He is the first territory-born chief minister to be elected since self-governance in 1978. “A boy born in Alice Springs, who grew up in public housing Tennant Creek, who now stands here as chief minister of the Northern Territory,” he said. “In the Northern Territory you can dream big.” The crowd erupted. Gunner said he would work with the independents and CLP opposition, and pledged unity and consultation – two things the electorate had indicated were missing during the CLP term. “You all deserve access to us and we will govern for all Territorians. As Territorians we are stronger when we are united, and we are united in our determination to make our home a better place.” Lynne Walker, member for Nhulunbuy, told Guardian Australia she was humbled by her party’s victory, and excited that as deputy chief minister she would be representing remote and Indigenous Territorians. Northern Territory election: Michael Gunner claims victory for Labor – as it happened Read more The federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, called Gunner early to congratulate him, and then formally sent out a public statement once the victory speech was over. “Territorians have punished the CLP for four years of scandal and controversy, and rewarded Labor for working hard and listening to people,” said Shorten. “Michael listened to Territorians and offered a positive plan for creating jobs, investing in people, and restoring trust and integrity in government. Territorians have responded to Labor’s plan, making the CLP government the first one-term government in the territory’s history.”</s>The outcome of the Northern Territory election has been labelled as extraordinary as Labor goes from being a minority to having a landslide victory. Northern Territory Labor leader Michael Gunner blames the 'chaotic' four years under the scandal-plagued Country Liberal party for the win and promises to live up to the voters' expectations. 'Every single Territorian, thank you for the trust that you have placed in Labor,' he told party supporters following the election on Saturday. 'It is a privilege to stand here today as a servant of the public and as the new chief minister of the NT.' The Labor party could have as many as 18 MPs in the 25-seat parliament, according to the predictions of the ABC election website. The party has already won 15 seats. The CLP, which went into Saturday's election with 11, may end up with only two, while independents could take the remaining three or four seats. Mr Gunner said Territorians were 'good people who deserve good governance and that's what we will give them.' 'They have rejected the chaos of the last four years and they have chosen to place their trust in Labor,' he said. He vowed Labor would provide restore confidence in the Northern Territory. 'We have got a plan to deliver certainty in the NT and to restore confidence in the NT,' 'There is a cost to chaos and there is a reward for stability.' However, he said he would work with the CLP and independents because 'they are not our enemies. They are Territorians and I will work with them.' The win is of historical importance for the party as Labor has only held power in the state for two terms since 1974 - they were consecutive terms from 2001- 2012. The CLP regained power in the 2012 election - and prior to the 2001 election they held it for close to three decades."
"The opposition Australian Labor Party defeats the governing Country Liberal Party in a landslide, reducing the CLP to just two seats."
"Image copyright AFP Image caption Soldiers arrested eight members of the Maute group last week Eight suspected militants linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) have been freed from jail in the Philippines in an apparently "staged raid". Police said at least 20 fighters from the Maute group had turned up at the Lanao del Sur jail in the southern city of Marawi, but no shots had been fired. A military source told the BBC they believed the men had been allowed to escape. The militants were held last week after being caught with homemade mortars. At least 15 other inmates - who faced murder and drugs charges - also walked free, but it is not clear whether this was agreed. The Maute group has carried out several bombings and kidnappings in the southern Mindanao region. The Philippines has faced Muslim separatist movements for decades in Mindanao, which has a significant Muslim population - the Philippines is mainly Catholic. The Maute group carries the black flag and insignia of IS, and has attacked army troops, beheaded a soldier and beheaded two local workers earlier this year. The militants kidnapped the two workers and made them wear orange shirts similar to those worn by IS beheading victims before they were killed. Several armed groups in the Philippines have pledged allegiance to IS, although the country's military says there is no evidence of active co-operation with foreign militants.</s>Islamic extremists supporting Isis freed eight fellow militants in an attack that also allowed 15 other inmates to escape from a provincial jail in the southern Philippines, police said on Sunday. About 20 heavily-armed fighters of the Maute militant group stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi city before nightfall on Saturday, disarmed the guards and rescued their eight comrades. The attackers also seized two rifles from guards, police said. The eight who escaped were arrested a week ago when they were caught with a homemade bomb in van at a security checkpoint. The others who escaped, apparently to divert the attention of authorities, were facing murder and illegal drugs charges. The Maute group is a new band of armed Muslim radicals, who have pledged allegiance to Isis and use black flags with logos of the Middle East-based extremists. Based in Lanao del Sur’s Butig town, the militants have attacked army troops and beheaded a soldier and two kidnapped workers earlier this year. Before being killed, the two workers were made to wear orange shirts similar to beheading victims of Isis. A number of Muslim armed groups in the country’s south, including some commanders of the violent Abu Sayyaf, have pledged loyalty to Isis. The military has tried to play down their action, saying there has been no evidence of an active collaboration between the foreign extremists and Filipino militants who are aiming to prop up their image and secure badly-needed funds amid years of battle setbacks. President Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in in June, has pursued peace deals with two large Muslim rebel groups but has ordered troops to destroy the Abu Sayyaf and other militants.</s>CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AP) — Muslim extremists supporting the Islamic State group have freed eight fellow militants in a daring attack that also allowed 15 other inmates to escape from a provincial jail in the southern Philippines. Police say about 20 heavily-armed fighters of the Maute militant group stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi city before nightfall Saturday, disarmed the guards and rescued their eight comrades, including three women. The attackers also seized two rifles from guards. Police said Sunday the eight militants were arrested by army troops and police when they were caught with a homemade mortar shell in a van in Lanao del Sur's Lumbayanague town. The Maute group is a new band of armed Muslim radicals, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.</s>The jailbreak is just the latest mass escape from poorly secured Philippine jails with the incidents often involving Muslim extremists. Muslim extremists carrying Islamic State group insignia have staged a daring jailbreak in the southern Philippines, freeing 28 detainees in the latest in a series of mass escapes, officials said Sunday. About 50 heavily armed members of the Maute group raided the local jail in the southern city of Marawi on Saturday, freeing eight comrades who had been arrested barely a week ago, police said. Twenty other detainees, held for other offences, also escaped in the raid, provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Agustine Tello said. The freed members of the Maute group were arrested on August 22 after soldiers manning an army checkpoint found improvised bombs and pistols in the van they were driving. The Maute group is one of several Muslim gangs in the southern region of Mindanao, the ancestral homeland of the Muslim minority in the largely Catholic Philippines. The group has carried out kidnappings and bombings and is believed to have led an attack on an army outpost in the Mindanao town of Butig in February. The fighting there lasted a week, leaving numerous fatalities and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes as helicopter gunships fought off the attackers. The gunmen attacking the jail Saturday were seen carrying black flags of the Islamic State group, and bandanas bearing the jihadists' insignia were later found in their base, the military said. Authorities said they were investigating why the jail's guards did not resist the raid or why security had not been increased after high-risk suspects were brought in. The jailbreak is just the latest mass escape from poorly secured Philippine jails, with the incidents often involving Muslim extremists. In 2009, more than 100 armed men raided a jail in the strife-torn southern island of Basilan, freeing 31 prisoners, including several Muslim guerrillas. © AFP, 2016</s>Metro Manila, Philippines (CNN) In an unassuming Quezon City neighborhood, across from a municipal library and around the corner from a police station stands the local jail. A short ride from Manila -- depending on traffic -- the jail isn't an imposing building, or even a particularly large one. Its total floor area is a shade over 30,000 square feet. More than 4,000 inmates -- and counting -- live cheek by jowl in what has to be one of the most densely populated corners of the Philippines. With thousands of arrests made since the beginning of June in the war on drugs, the population of inmates keeps growing. With thousands of arrests made since the beginning of June in the war on drugs, the population of inmates keeps growing. At the beginning of the year, just under 3,600 were incarcerated. In the seven weeks since President Duterte took office, that number has risen to 4,053. At the beginning of the year, just under 3,600 were incarcerated. In the seven weeks since President Duterte took office, that number has risen to 4,053. Many inmates could go home but can't afford the bail, which can be as low as 4,000 to 6,000 pesos ($86 to $129). Many inmates could go home but can't afford the bail, which can be as low as 4,000 to 6,000 pesos ($86 to $129). A rigorous search of those coming in keeps the amount of contraband to a minimum, says the jail's senior inspector. But it's still a jail, he shrugs, suggesting that drugs and other illegal goods do find their way in. A rigorous search of those coming in keeps the amount of contraband to a minimum, says the jail's senior inspector. But it's still a jail, he shrugs, suggesting that drugs and other illegal goods do find their way in. "The food is terrible," says one inmate. "And it's hard to find a space to sleep, especially when it rains." "The food is terrible," says one inmate. "And it's hard to find a space to sleep, especially when it rains." Critics say this overcrowding is a predictable effect of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Critics say this overcrowding is a predictable effect of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. It's always been packed, guards say, but recently the number of inmates has spiked. It's always been packed, guards say, but recently the number of inmates has spiked. Inmate Ramon Go, who acts as "mayor" for some of the jail's dorms, has been incarcerated for 16 years. He's currently awaiting the verdict of his murder trial, which happened two and a half years ago. Inmate Ramon Go, who acts as "mayor" for some of the jail's dorms, has been incarcerated for 16 years. He's currently awaiting the verdict of his murder trial, which happened two and a half years ago. Originally built in 1953, the country's jail authority suggests it is safe for 800 inmates -- a shade of its current numbers. By U.N. standards, it is fit for 200 inmates. Originally built in 1953, the country's jail authority suggests it is safe for 800 inmates -- a shade of its current numbers. By U.N. standards, it is fit for 200 inmates. Quezon City jail, just outside the capital Manila, is home to over 4,000 inmates. Quezon City jail, just outside the capital Manila, is home to over 4,000 inmates. It's always been packed, guards say, but recently the number of inmates has spiked. Conditions inside are astounding. Every available space is crammed with yellow T-shirted humanity. The men here -- and almost 60% are in for drug offenses -- spend the days sitting, squatting and standing in the unrelenting, suffocating Manila heat. Their numbers are climbing relentlessly. At the beginning of the year, a little under 3,600 were incarcerated. In the seven weeks since Duterte took office and charged his No. 1 cop, Ronald Dela Rosa, with cleaning up the country, that number has risen to 4,053. The Quezon City Jail was built in 1953, originally to house 800 people, according to the country's Bureau of Jail Management and Penology standards. The United Nations says it should house no more than 278. There are only 20 guards assigned to the mass of incarcerated men, some of whom have been living behind these walls for years without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Dela Rosa earlier told CNN that the criminals in the jails and prisons would just have to squeeze in, gesturing by pulling in his shoulders and arms. Inmates are woken at 5 a.m. before undergoing a head count -- no easy task when you have 4,000-plus men crammed into crumbling, ramshackle cells. 'Safer in here than out on the streets' Alex Beltran, a 29-year-old temp worker, has been here for a month and blames Duterte's crackdown for his imprisonment. "The food is terrible," he says. "And it's hard to find a space to sleep, especially when it rains." Life inside is "harder for the new guys," he says. Fellow inmate Romeo Payhoi, 38, is another newcomer, and while he says he was scared coming in, it hasn't been as bad as he anticipated, just cramped and lacking any privacy. At any rate, he adds, he feels "safer in here than out on the streets," where "the cops could kill you." Many who come into the system are already affiliated with gangs, like Sique-sique Sputnik (935 members incarcerated in the jail), Commando (386), Bahala Na gang (874) and Batang City Jail (740). Around a quarter of those inside the jail have no affiliation. These gangs hold considerable sway inside, and each run sections to which their members naturally gravitate. Colorful murals on the walls proclaim territory, although guards say that out of sheer necessity there is a de facto truce between the groups. Many inmates could go home but can't afford the bail, which can be as low as 4,000 to 6,000 pesos ($86 to $129), according to Joey Doguiles, the jail's senior inspector and chief of operations. A top police chief, when asked what officials did to prepare for the crackdown, said the threat from drugs was so great that there was no time to expand the facility. That would have to come later. Outside the jail as many as 700 relatives of inmates wait patiently in the still morning air to go in to see their brothers, husbands and sons. They'll be waiting for hours before adding to the crush inside -- one guard says that there isn't a specific visiting room; visitors mingle with prisoners, marked with ink stamp to denote their freedom. A rigorous search of those coming from the outside keeps the amount of contraband to a minimum, Doguiles says. But it's still a jail, he shrugs, suggesting that drugs and other illegal goods do find their way in. The main drug here -- as it is across the Philippines -- is shabu, the local name for meth. Bunks stacked at least three high Inside the dormitories -- affectionately called barangays, a Filipino name for neighborhoods -- the men are left to their own devices to find somewhere to sleep. Towels, threadbare curtains and even chipped plywood boards are put up to maintain some semblance of privacy, but it's impossible in such a cramped space. In one room there are 85 inmates in a 200-square foot space. Another one, bigger but not by much, holds 131. It's designed for 30. Bunks are stacked at least three high, and inmates have even crawled under these rickety structures to find a sleeping spot. One sleeps, cocooned, in a hammock suspended from the ceiling. And they don't even have the comfort of knowing that this is a temporary situation. The court system here works at a snail's pace. Ameena-Tara Jance visits six days a week to see her husband, who's been here for six years and counting. He's recovering from a mild stroke, and she says that in the heat some have been known to keel over and die. Her husband is due for another hearing in October, but they both feel there's no end in sight. "There's no justice," she says. The "mayor" of the second-floor dorms, Ramon Go -- an inmate responsible for marshaling and supervising around 900 of his fellow prisoners -- has been there for 16 years. He's one of the few who's had his trial -- on murder charges -- after a police raid led to a cop's shooting death. He was tried 2½ years ago -- after almost a decade and a half of waiting -- and is still stuck inside the walls of the jail in Quezon City, waiting for the verdict to come in. With thousands of arrests made since the beginning of June in the war on drugs, the population of inmates keeps growing. It's an endless wait, made keener by the fact that the inmates can't know when they might regain their freedom. So they wait, watching daily as more caught up in the crackdown are processed and attempt to eke out a space, and a life, in a jail already breaking at the seams."
"Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants break free supporters from a Marawi jail in the Philippines."
"Image copyright AFP Image caption The Farc has been fighting since 1964 in a conflict that has displaced millions A ceasefire has come into effect in Colombia between the main leftist rebel group and the government, ending one of the world's longest insurgencies. The ceasefire at midnight local time (05:00 GMT Monday) came after four years of peace talks in Cuba between the Farc and the government. The final agreement on ending the 52-year-old war will be signed next month. Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, gave the order to stop firing. "Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,'' Timochenko told journalists. "All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past," he said. Image copyright PA Image caption Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, better known under his alias of Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, announced the start of the ceasefire in Havana Image copyright Twitter Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree earlier to halt military operations against the Farc, also from midnight. "One of the country's most painful chapters" was coming to an end, he said in a tweet on Sunday, calling the ceasefire a "historic step". Crucial milestone: Analysis by Will Grant, BBC News, Havana Image copyright Reuters In one sense, the Farc's announcement of a total ceasefire is purely procedural. In another, it is a historic moment towards a lasting peace. It is procedural in that the bilateral ceasefire had already been agreed and there has in effect been a truce on the ground for several months. But the definitive ceasefire was supposed to come into force the day after the final peace agreement was signed by President Santos and the leader of the Farc, Timoleon Jimenez - an event expected in Cartagena at the end of September. This moves that forward in a gesture of goodwill on both sides. It is historic in that - finally - it brings to an end more than 50 years of conflict which left an estimated 260,000 people dead and millions internally displaced. These milestones are crucial for the Colombian peace process. Perhaps more important is what comes next: a popular vote on the agreement in early October. That will decide the fate of the years of negotiation in Havana and, in the process, the political futures of both President Santos and the Farc. A peace agreement was announced on Wednesday in Havana, at the peace talks. Farc fighters will ratify the accord in September and a Colombian popular vote on the agreement will follow on 2 October. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez reflects on a peace deal after 52 years of conflict Under the terms of the agreement, the Farc (the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) will give up its armed struggle and join the legal political process. In March Colombia announced the start of peace negotiations with the second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), but the rebels have yet to meet the government's precondition of releasing all of their hostages and stop all kidnapping. The Farc's 52-year fight Image copyright Reuters 1964: Set up as armed wing of Communist Party 2002: At its height, with an army of 20,000 fighters controlling up to a third of the country 2008: The group's worst year, when it suffered a series of bitter defeats 2012: Start of peace talks in Havana 2016: Definitive ceasefire Are you in Colombia? Can the ceasefire be maintained? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your experiences. If you are willing to speak further to a BBC journalist, please include a contact telephone number. Email your pictures to yourpics@bbc.co.uk, upload them here, tweet them to @BBC_HaveYourSay or text 61124. If you are outside the UK, send them to the international number +44 7624 800 100. Or WhatsApp us on +44 7525 900971 Read our terms and conditions.</s>BOGOTA: An historic ceasefire came into effect in Colombia, ending a 52-year war between FARC rebels and the government and taking a major step toward ending a conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 lives. The full ceasefire ordered by President Juan Manuel Santos and the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Timoleon Jimenez, began at midnight (0500 GMT). “This August 29 a new phase of history begins for Colombia. We silenced the guns. THE WAR WITH THE FARC IS OVER!” Santos wrote on Twitter one minute later. A message from the official FARC account at the same time was more restrained: “From this moment on the bilateral and definitive ceasefire begins.” The government’s chief peace negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, grew visibly emotional at a press conference describing how church bells and sirens had rung out in some of the areas hardest hit by the conflict. “It was a war against the civilian population, 80 percent of those who died were civilians,” he said. Sergio Jaramillo, the country’s high commissioner for peace, added: “A lot of human lives are going to be saved with this giant step we are taking today.” “The morning of peace has dawned,” tweeted the FARC’s chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez. The ceasefire is the first in which both sides are committed to a definite end to the fighting. “The ceasefire is really one more seal on the end of the conflict,” said Carlos Alfonso Velazquez, a security expert at the University of La Sabana. The conflict began in 1964 with the launch of the FARC, a Marxist guerrilla group born out of a peasant uprising. It has left 260,000 dead, 45,000 missing and 6.9 million uprooted from their homes. To end the war with the FARC for good, Colombians must now vote in an October 2 referendum on the peace accord hammered out in nearly four years of talks in Cuba. Santos said the exact question that will be put to voters in the referendum would be announced “in the coming days”. “We are on the verge of perhaps the most important political decision of our lives,” he said in a speech on Saturday. Colombia’s Congress on Monday approved the plan to call a referendum. Opinion polls show Colombians are divided ahead of the vote. Santos’s top rival, former president Alvaro Uribe, is leading a campaign to vote “no” to the peace deal. “This is not an agreement: this is the state submitting to the proposals of the narco-terrorist group FARC,” Uribe said at a university forum. He has said a special justice system envisaged for crimes committed during the conflict would give FARC fighters impunity. “I don’t think we can believe them,” said Felipe Giraldo, a 25-year-old unemployed man in Bogota. Others have a high personal stake in the vote. Adelaida Bermudez, 50, hopes it will bring home her daughter, who joined the FARC nine years ago. “I hope we’ll have peace… so the children come home,” she said in Gaitania, in the central region where the FARC was born. Santos and Jimenez are due to sign the peace agreement sometime between September 20 and 30 — possibly at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin. The end of hostilities will be followed by a six-month demobilization process. Starting Monday, the FARC’s estimated 7,500 fighters are to go to collection points to surrender their weapons under UN supervision. Guerrillas who refuse to demobilize and disarm “will be pursued with all the strength of the state forces,” Santos told El Espectador newspaper. Before the demobilization, the FARC will convene its leaders and troops one last time before transforming into “a legal political movement,” according to a statement published on Saturday. The territorial and ideological conflict has drawn in various left- and right-wing armed groups and gangs. Efforts to launch peace talks with a smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), have yet to bear fruit. But with the FARC ordering a ceasefire, the conflict appears to be reaching an end. “We wish to express our clear and definite will for reconciliation,” said Jimenez, known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, in Havana. “Today more than ever we regret that so much death and pain has been caused by the war. Today more than ever we wish to embrace (the military and police) as compatriots and start to work together for a new Colombia.” AFP</s>The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Sunday issued the order for its fighters to observe the ceasefire from Monday midnight. A historic midnight ceasefire on Sunday is set to end a 52-year-old war between the Colombian state and FARC rebels. Hundreds of thousands of Colombians have died since 1964 as rebel armies and gangs battled in the jungles in what is considered Latin America's last major civil armed conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Sunday issued the order for its fighters to observe the ceasefire from midnight (0500 GMT Monday). “I order all our commanders and units and each one of our combatants to definitively cease fire and hostilities against the Colombian state from midnight tonight” top FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez said in a declaration before the media in Cuba, where peace talks were held. On the government side, President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday ordered the Colombian national armed forces to halt military operations against the FARC. “We noted with excitement the president's order to the army. Consequently we are proceeding to give the same order to our troops,” Jimenez said Sunday, surrounded by FARC commanders in white shirts. Santos wrote on Twitter: “The end of the conflict has arrived!” The FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire in July 2015. But Sunday night's ceasefire is the first in which both sides have committed to a definitive end to the fighting. “The ceasefire is really one more seal on the end of the conflict. It is the test of fire,” said Carlos Alfonso Velazquez, a security expert at the University of La Sabana. Santos and Timochenko are due to sign a final, full peace agreement sometime between September 20 and 26. The ceasefire and definitive end of hostilities will be followed by a six-month demobilization process. From Monday, the FARC's estimated 7,500 fighters will start heading to collection points to give up their weapons under UN supervision. Guerrillas who refuse to demobilize and disarm "will be pursued with all the strength of the state forces," Santos told El Espectador newspaper. Before the demobilization, the FARC will convene its leaders and troops one last time before transforming into “a legal political movement,” according to a statement published on Saturday. On October 2, Colombians will go to the polls to cast ballots in a referendum that Santos hopes will endorse the peace agreement. “A victory for the 'Yes' vote will be a mandate from citizens for future governments,” Santos was quoting as saying by El Espectador. “The plebiscite will grant the political legitimacy that is needed.” He said the exact question that will be posed to voters in the referendum would be announced “in the coming days.” “We are on the verge of perhaps the most important political decision of our lives,” Santos said in a speech on Saturday. The territorial and ideological conflict has drawn in various left- and right-wing armed groups and gangs. It has left some 260,000 dead, 45,000 missing and 6.9 million people uprooted from their homes. Efforts to launch peace talks with a smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army, have yet to bear fruit. But with the country's biggest rebel group, the FARC, ordering a definitive ceasefire, the conflict appears to be reaching an end. “To the soldiers, naval personnel and air force pilots, police and state security and intelligence agencies, we wish to express our clear and definite will for reconciliation,” said Jimenez, known by the nom-de-guerre Timochenko, in Havana. “Rivalries and resentment must remain in the past. Today more than ever we regret that so much death and pain has been caused by the war. Today more than ever we wish to embrace them as compatriots and start to work together for a new Colombia.” © AFP, 2016</s>HAVANA — The commander of Colombia’s biggest rebel movement said Sunday its fighters will permanently cease hostilities with the government beginning with the first minute of Monday, as a result of their peace accord ending one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement in Havana, where the two sides negotiated for four years before announcing the peace deal Wednesday. “Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” said Londono, who also known as Timochenko. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC beginning Monday. Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum Oct. 2 to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than 5 million people from their homes Top FARC commanders are planning to gather one final time in mid-September to ratify the accord. FARC guerrillas are supposed to turn over their weapons within six months after the deal is formally signed. In return, the FARC’s still unnamed future political movement will be given a minimum 10 congressional seats—five in the lower house, five in the Senate—for two legislative periods. In addition, 16 lower house seats will be created for grassroots activists in rural areas traditionally neglected by the state and in which existing political parties will be banned from running candidates. Critics of the peace process contend that will further boost the rebels’ post-conflict political power. After 2026, both arrangements would end and the former rebels would have to demonstrate their political strength at the ballot box. Not all hostilities are ending under the deal with the FARC. The much-smaller National Liberation Army remains active in Colombia, although it is pursuing its own peace deal with the government.</s>A permanent ceasefire is taking effect in Colombia, in the latest step to bring an end to 52 years of bloody combat between the government and the country’s biggest rebel group. The commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) announced on Sunday that his fighters would cease hostilities beginning at 12.01am on Monday. as a result of the peace deal reached by the two sides during the week. Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos made a similar announcement on Friday, saying the military would halt attacks on the Farc beginning on Monday. Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, made his announcement in Havana, Cuba, where rebel and government negotiators talked for four years to reach the deal on ending one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. “Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” he said. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.” Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum on October 2nd to give voters the chance to approve the accord, which would end political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than five million people from their homes over five decades. Polls say most Colombians loathe the rebel group but are likely to endorse the deal anyway. Top Farc commanders are planning to gather one final time in mid-September to ratify the deal. Under the 297-page accord, Farc guerrillas are supposed to turn over their weapons within six months after the deal is formally signed. In return, the Farc’s still unnamed future political movement will be given a minimum 10 congressional seats — five in the lower house, five in the senate — for two legislative periods. In addition, 16 lower house seats will be created for grassroots activists in rural areas traditionally neglected by the state and in which existing political parties will be banned from running candidates. But critics of the peace process say that will further boost the rebels’ post-conflict political power. After 2026, both arrangements would end and the former rebels would have to demonstrate their political strength at the ballot box. Not all hostilities are ending under the deal with the Farc. The much-smaller National Liberation Army remains active in Colombia, although it is pursuing its own peace deal with the government.</s>HAVANA (AP) - The commander of Colombia’s biggest rebel movement said Sunday its fighters will permanently cease hostilities with the government beginning with the first minute of Monday, as a result of their peace accord ending one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), made the announcement in Havana, where the two sides negotiated for four years before announcing the peace deal Wednesday. “Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” said Londono, who is also known as Timoshenko. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC beginning Monday. Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum Oct. 2 to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than 5 million people from their homes After the agreement is signed, FARC guerrillas are supposed to begin handing their weapons over to United Nations-sponsored monitors."
"The FARC orders all its fighters to observe a ceasefire from midnight local time (Monday 1 a.m. EDT)."
"BAGHDAD—Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 50 miles north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi'ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi'ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a "gathering of Shi'ites". Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad's Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi’ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 80 km (50 miles) north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi’ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi’ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a “gathering of Shi’ites”. Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad’s Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi’ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 80 km (50 miles) north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi’ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi’ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a “gathering of Shi’ites”. Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad’s Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>BAGHDAD—Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 50 miles north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi'ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi'ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a "gathering of Shi'ites". Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad's Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>BAGHDAD—Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 50 miles north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi'ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi'ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a "gathering of Shi'ites". Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad's Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>BAGHDAD—Islamic State has claimed a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 at a wedding party near the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala late on Sunday. Five assailants including the suicide bomber attacked the celebration in Ain al-Tamr, west of Kerbala in southern Iraq, firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, the police said. All the attackers were killed by security forces. The bombing is the first in the Kerbala region since Iraqi forces dislodged Islamic State militants from their stronghold in Falluja, 50 miles north of city. The ultra-hardline Sunni group has been retreating since last year in the face of government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Iranian-supported Shi'ite militias. But it remains in control of parts of northern and western Iraq and continues to claim bombings all over the country, targeting mainly Shi'ite districts and cities. A statement on the Amaq news agency that supports Islamic State said the attack was carried out by four of its suicide fighters against a "gathering of Shi'ites". Initial reports in local media late, citing security sources, blamed the killings on a dispute between two tribes at the wedding party. Islamic State claimed a truck bomb that killed at least 325 people in Baghdad's Karrada shopping street in July, the deadliest attack since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.</s>An Iraqi security official says a suicide bomber has struck a wedding south of Baghdad, killing at least 15 people. Lt. Gen. Qais al-Mohammedawi says five suicide bombers took part in the attack in the village of Ein Tamr on Monday, but that the other four were killed by security forces. Ein Tamr is about 40 km (25 miles) west of the Shiite holy city of Karbala.</s>BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi security official says a suicide bomber has struck a wedding south of Baghdad, killing at least 15 people. Lt. Gen. Qais al-Mohammedawi says five suicide bombers took part in the attack in the village of Ein Tamer on Monday, but that the other four were killed by security forces. He says they were members of the Islamic State group, which has stepped up attacks on security forces and the country's Shiite majority in recent months as it has suffered a string of battlefield setbacks. Ein Tamr is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the Shiite holy city of Karbala.</s>(CNN) ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 15 people and injured 16 others at a wedding late Sunday in the central Iraqi city of Karbala. A statement released by the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said four suicide attackers targeted "a Shiite gathering." Iraqi authorities said there were five would-be suicide bombers, and that security members killed four. The attacker who targeted the wedding sprayed the crowd with automatic gunfire and threw hand grenades before detonating his suicide vest, officials said. Karbala is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Baghdad and is one of the holiest cities for Shiite Muslims. Developing story - more to come</s>Another 16 people were wounded at the wedding Sunday evening in Karbala. A statement released by the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said four suicide attackers targeted "a Shiite gathering." Iraqi authorities said there were five would-be suicide bombers, and that security members killed four. The attacker who targeted the wedding sprayed the crowd with automatic gunfire and threw hand grenades before detonating his suicide vest, officials said."
"A suicide bombing kills at least 15 people at a wedding in the southern Shiite city of Kerbala."
"Migrants fleeing Libya on board a dinghy wait to be rescued by emergency teams, as they sailed in the Mediterranean sea towards the Italian coast, about 17 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, on Aug. 28, 2016. More than seven hundred migrants were rescued Sunday morning from seven boats by members of the Proactiva Open Arms NGO before transferring them to the Italian coast guard.</s>Over 3,000 migrants are rescued on Monday off the coast of Libya with the majority of them hailing from Eritrea and Somalia. One of the 20 boats contained over 700 refugees that were rescued 13 miles from Sabratha, Libya. They were rescued by two NGO’s and the Italian navy in the Mediterranean Sea</s>(CNN) A five-day-old newborn peers out from a pink blanket. His dark, almond-shaped eyes stare directly at the camera, his tiny hand tucked underneath his chin. His short life has been anything but easy. He, his twin brother and his mother were among the 6,500 refugees and migrants rescued over 30 hours while attempting to make the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean. Italian officers rescue a woman from a crowded wooden boat carrying more than 700 migrants during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. Medecins Sans Frontieres' ship Dignity 1 and the Spanish humanitarian group Proactiva Open Arms rescued people aboard 15 rubber boats and one wooden boat Monday. BREAKING: The #Dignity1 , alongside @PROACTIVA_SERV , has helped to rescue 15 rubber boats and 1 wooden boat today. pic.twitter.com/ezsYTtV55H MSF found the twins and their mother aboard one of the boats. The three of them were transferred via Medevac for treatment in Italy, according to a tweet from MSF. UPDATE: The 5 day old babies have been transferred for a medevac to Italy, On the same day, MSF, Proactiva Open Arms and crews from the Italian Coast Guard rescued more than 3,000 migrants off the coast of Libya. Most of the rescues took place off the coast of Libya and one was in Maltese waters. Forty different organizations -- including EU's Marine mission "Sophia" which fights smugglers and Frontex, the European Agency tasked with border security -- rescued around 6,500 migrants in a single day, according to the Italian Coast Guard. The rescued migrants are being taken to Italian ports in Calabria and Sicily. The number of people plucked from sea on Monday was much higher than the average. For comparison, the route was used by 2,197 migrants in the week that started August 14, according to the International Organization for Migration. Monday's rate nearly tripled that weekly amount. Most of the migrants rescued this week came from sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the migrants using the central Mediterranean route, which is from Libya or other north African countries to Italy, are from Nigeria, Eritrea and Gambia according to the IOM. The main departure route for refugees from Africa has been Libya, according to the IOM , as migrants take advantage of the country's ongoing political chaos to escape over their mostly open borders. Libya's crisis has helped boost a lucrative smuggling business as African migrants who reach southern Libya are transported through the desert to northern beaches where they board boats bound for Europe. Of those who climbed into boats, 3,165 people have died at sea. Migrants have boarded plastic rafts that deflate and overcrowded wooden fishing boats that have overturned and tossed people overboard. Most of the deaths in 2016 came from people risking this particular route, which is considered dramatically more dangerous. Vessels tend to be more crowded, often carrying 600 or more passengers, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Many are fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, while others are escaping poverty or repression in Africa. Millions of migrants have been driven toward Europe via the Mediterranean. But as migrant boats and rafts cross the Mediterranean Sea, gateways into Europe are narrowing and many are growing wary.</s>OFF THE COAST OF LIBYA (AP) — Spanish and Italian naval ships, along with vessels from non-government groups, are rescuing thousands of migrants off the Libyan coast. Monday's dramatic operation is taking place just 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of the town of Sabratha in Libya. Groups such as Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders are helping take on some 3,000 people who had been travelling in some 20 small wooden boats. Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jump into the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Thousands of migrants and refugees were rescued Monday morning from more than 20 boats by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO before transferring them to the Italian cost guards and others NGO vessels operating at the zone.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) Migrants from Eritrea and Somalia cheered as the rescue boats arrived, with some jumping into the water and swimming toward them while others carefully carried babies onto the rescue ships. Tens of thousands of Africans take the dangerous Mediterranean Sea route as a gateway to a better life in Europe. Libya's chaos and lack of border controls have made it into a transit route. Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jump into the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Thousands of migrants and refugees were rescued Monday morning from more than 20 boats by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO before transferring them to the Italian cost guards and others NGO vessels operating at the zone. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jump into the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Thousands of migrants and refugees were rescued Monday morning from more than 20 boats by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO before transferring them to the Italian cost guards and others NGO vessels operating at the zone. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jumps into the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Thousands of migrants and refugees were rescued Monday morning from more than 20 boats by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO before transferring them to the Italian cost guards and others NGO vessels operating in the zone.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)</s>More than 700 migrants fleeing war-torn Libya have been rescued in the Mediterranean sea today. Refugees fleeing the troubled country on small inflatable dinghies were rescued by emergency teams as they sailed toward the Italian coast, about 17 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, earlier this morning. Members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO, a group set up to help rescue migrants at sea, helped pull them from their inflatable boats before handing them over to the Italian coastguards operating in the area. Thousands of migrants try each year to flee Libya and make it to Italy but many drown during the crossing. They cram into boats that are small and unsafe for the 190-mile perilous journey from Libya's shores. A total of 4,027 migrants and refugees have perished since January trying to flee wars and poverty looking for a better life mainly in Europe, the International Organisation for Migration said last week. Of that total, some 3,120 died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, including 120 who drowned off Libya's coastal town of Sabratha at the end of July, it said.</s>About 6,500 migrants have been rescued off Libya, the Italian coastguard says, in one of the biggest operations of its kind to date. Some 40 co-ordinated rescue missions took place about 20km (12 miles) off the Libyan town of Sabratha, it added. Video footage shows migrants, said to be from Eritrea and Somalia, cheering and some swimming to rescue vessels, while others carried babies aboard. On Sunday more than 1,100 migrants were rescued in the same area. The instability in Libya has made the country a hub for people-trafficking. Monday’s operations involved vessels from Italy as well as the EU’s border agency Frontex and the NGOs Proactiva Open Arms and Medecins Sans Frontieres. The migrants had set off in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels with enough fuel to reach waiting rescuers, AP reported. Last year more than 1m migrants – many fleeing the civil war in Syria – arrived in Europe, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people. In March, the EU struck a deal with Turkey to try to stop migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece while Balkan nations closed their borders to migrants, moves that have reduced the number of arrivals using the so-called eastern Mediterranean route. However, migrants from African countries such as Eritrea and Somalia as well as west African nations such as Nigeria and the Gambia are continuing to attempt the crossing from Libya to Italy. About 106,000 people have arrived in Italy so far this year while 2,726 have died in the attempt, according to the International Organization for Migration. The IOM says there are a further 275,000 migrants in Libya waiting to travel. Overall, about 284,000 migrants have entered Europe so far this year through various transit routes across Africa, Asia or the Middle East.</s>Startling images have emerged of refugees being rescued off the coast of Libya, showing what has become an everyday occurrence in the southern Mediterranean Sea over the past three years. Photographs show Italian rescuers coming to the aid of asylum seekers on a smuggling boat that was so overcrowded that several had been forced to dangle their legs over the side. During the commotion of the rescue, some leapt into the water to reach safety. The images were taken during the rescue on Monday of approximately 3,000 people, many from Eritrea and Somalia, who had set off in about 20 wooden fishing boats a few hours earlier. The scenes highlight the dangerous tactics of Libyan smugglers, who put so many people on each repurposed fishing trawler that it is highly unlikely the migrants will reach Italy without being rescued by the charity boats and military missions operating in the area. While the numbers migrating between Turkey and Greece has fallen substantially since March, after the completion of an agreement between the EU and Turkey, crossings between Libya and Italy remain at near-record levels. More than 100,000 people have left north Africa for Italy so far this year, on a par with last year’s rate, and only slightly less than the record figures in 2014. Most of the migrants this year are fleeing war and poverty in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, or dictatorships in Eritrea and Gambia. Others are migrant workers who hoped to make a living in Libya, but were forced to flee the country due to the civil war there, and the ensuing breakdown of law and order. Migrants in Libya often work in conditions that amount to slave labour. Others are kidnapped for ransom, and many are tortured. In a recent interview on a Mediterranean rescue ship, aid workers from Médecins Sans Frontières said the wounds that migrants bore were often indescribable. “You can have the biggest imagination in the world, and you can’t imagine the kind of violence they’ve been subjected to,” Paola Mazzoni, an MSF doctor, said in June. Without the money for a plane ticket home, thousands opt to make for Europe instead of journeying back through the Sahara to their countries of origin, in a deadly desert trek that is considered even more dangerous than the voyage across the Mediterranean. Since 2014, charities such as MSF, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and Save the Children – as well as anti-smuggling missions run by European navies – have attempted to rescue those risking the sea journey. Critics say they are encouraging more migrants to make the journey – but when rescues were suspended in early 2015, more migrants left Libya than ever before, and more migrants drowned. This month, an MSF boat was attacked and raided by the Libyan navy for reasons that remain unclear.</s>By Emilio Morenatti, The Associated Press OFF THE COAST OF LIBYA — Italian naval ships and vessels from non-government groups rescued thousands of migrants off the Libyan coast Monday, the latest surge in desperate attempts to flee to Europe driven by war, poverty and human traffickers. The dramatic operation took place just 13 miles north of the town of Sabratha, Libya. Groups such as Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders helped take on 3,000 people who had been traveling in about 20 small wooden boats. Migrants from Eritrea and Somalia cheered as the rescue boats arrived, with some jumping into the water and swimming toward them while others carefully carried babies onto the rescue ships. Their boats too weak and technically unequipped for a voyage across the stretch of the Mediterranean to the shores of Italy, the migrants had set off with a bit of gasoline in the crowded vessels, hoping to make it at least 15-20 miles out to sea and reach awaiting rescuers. Tens of thousands of Africans take the dangerous Mediterranean Sea route as a gateway to a better life in Europe, alongside those fleeing wars from Syria to Afghanistan. Libya’s chaos and lack of border controls have made it into a transit route. Since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, the country has sunk into lawlessness, facing myriad militias vying for influence and an emerging Islamic State affiliate. In June, the European Union expanded its anti-smuggling operation in the central Mediterranean to include training Libyan coastal and naval forces.</s>Italian naval ships and vessels from nongovernment groups rescued thousands of migrants off the Libyan coast on Monday, the latest surge in desperate attempts to flee to Europe driven by war, poverty, and human traffickers. The dramatic operation took place just 21 km (13 miles) north of the town of Sabratha in Libya. Groups such as Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders helped take on some 3,000 people who had been traveling in some 20 small wooden boats. In images and video by The Associated Press, migrants from Eritrea and Somalia cheered as the rescue boats arrived, with some jumping into the water and swimming toward them while others carefully carried babies onto the rescue ships. Tens of thousands of Africans take the dangerous Mediterranean Sea route as a gateway to a better life in Europe, alongside those fleeing wars from Syria to Afghanistan. Libya’s chaos and lack of border controls have made it into a transit route. Since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the country has sunk into lawlessness, facing a myriad of militias vying for influence and an emerging Islamic State affiliate. In June, the European Union expanded its anti-smuggling operation in the central Mediterranean to include training Libyan coastal and naval forces, which are intercepting boats and returning migrants to Libya, where some are being held in abusive conditions. Rights groups and experts estimate that there are about 3,500 migrants held in roughly 20 official detention facilities across Libya. Others are held in informal detention centers controlled by criminal gangs or armed groups.</s>Most migrants heading to Italy originate from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, often departing from Libya en masse when the sea is calm and a southern wind can push boats up into international waters. By Yaraq Nardi (Italian Red Cross/AFP/File) Rome (AFP) - Around 6,500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya, the Italian coastguard said, in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years. Dramatic images of one operation showed about 700 migrants crammed onto a fishing boat, with some of them jumping off the vessel in life jackets and swimming towards rescuers. A five-day-old baby was among those rescued along with other infants and was airlifted to an Italian hospital, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which took part in operations. "The command centre coordinated 40 rescue operations" that included vessels from Italy, humanitarian organisations as well as the EU's border agency Frontex, saving 6,500 migrants, the coastguard wrote on Twitter. "We've been particularly busy today," a spokesman for the Italian coastguard told AFP. On Sunday more than 1,100 migrants were rescued in the same area. The total number of arrivals in Italy this year now stands at 112,500, according to the UN's refugee agency and the coastguard, slightly below the 116,000 recorded by the same point in 2015. Almost all of those migrants originate from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, often departing from Libya en masse when the sea is calm and a southern wind can push boats up into international waters. Such days often come one after another, leading to large numbers of boats over a short period. More than 13,000 people were rescued in under a week at the end of May, and 8,300 more at the start of August. The Italian coastguard predicted that weather conditions would encourage the departure of further migrant boats Tuesday. The vessels are often flimsy and overcrowded while some of the migrants set off in such poor health that even if the crossing is calm they cannot survive a day at sea. There are around a dozen vessels run by humanitarian groups that patrol the waters off the Libyan coast, but tensions in the zone have flared recently as rival factions battle to control migrant trafficking. This month an MSF ship taking part in migrant rescue operations came under attack from armed men who shot at the vessel before briefly climbing aboard, the medical charity said. Nobody was hurt in the incident, which took place on August 17, the group said. More than 3,000 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 percent on the same period in 2015. Some 204,000 others crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in the first six months of this year, the UN refugee agency said, as the continent battles its worst migration crisis since World War II. Last year more than one million migrants made the journey to Europe, with the majority fleeing war in Syria and the Middle East."
"The Spanish-based Proactiva Open Arms NGO rescues more than 700 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea about 17 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. The rescued, who are from Nigeria, are transferred to the Italian Coast Guard."
"AMATRICE, Italy (Reuters) - Rescuers believe they have found more bodies buried deep in the rubble of the ruined town of Amatrice, five days after a devastating earthquake struck central Italy, killing at least 290 people. Residents of the hill town estimated that up to 10 people were still missing and emergency services said they had located three corpses in Amatrice’s Hotel Roma, which, like much of the historic center, was wrecked by Wednesday’s quake. Deputy Mayor Gianluca Carloni said his uncle’s body had still not been recovered from the hotel, which was particularly busy at this time of year because of a food festival. “It is absolutely vital to finish as soon as possible this initial (search) phase to make sure that there are no more bodies under the rubble,” he said. Museums across Italy donated proceeds from their ticket sales on Sunday to help the rebuilding effort, while top flight soccer teams held a minute’s silence before their weekend matches out of respect for the victims. Pope Francis led prayers for the dead in his weekly address in St Peter’s Square in Rome, saying he wanted to go to the earthquake zone to bring comfort to the survivors. “Dear brothers and sisters, as soon as it is possible, I hope to come and visit you,” he said. Priests in the quake zone held their regular Sunday services in large tents. Amatrice’s municipal website said the town had 100 churches, but every one was damaged by the disaster and many would have to be demolished. FALLEN MASONRY With aftershocks continuing to rattle the region, including a magnitude 4.4 quake centered on the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno, residents were still struggling to absorb the disaster. A rescue worker and a dog search among debris following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca “It took me 20 years to get my house, and then, in just 10 seconds, it was gone, like so many others,” said Ascenzio Attenni, who lived in the hamlet of Sant’Angelo outside Amatrice, where eight people died. “We have to thank God that we are alive,” he said, before breaking down in tears. Rescue operations in most of the area were halted two days ago, but teams were still combing Amatrice, which is 105 km (65 miles) east of Rome. The fire service said it was trying to remove some of the fallen masonry at the Hotel Roma and create a safe path to retrieve the three bodies as soon as possible. The Civil Protection Department lowered the official death toll on Sunday to 290 from a previously given 291. A number of foreigners were among the dead, including 11 Romanians, the foreign ministry in Bucharest said. Many Romanians work in Italy and Bucharest said 14 of its nationals were still unaccounted for. Italy has promised to rebuild the shattered communities and has said it will learn from the mistakes following a similar earthquake in the nearby city of L’Aquila in 2009, where much of the center is still out of bounds. Slideshow (2 Images) The rebuilding effort was stalled following allegations that organized crime groups had muscled in to obtain lucrative contracts. Italy’s anti-mafia chief Franco Roberti said the experience of L’Aquila would serve well this time around, but warned that the government could not lower its guard. “The risks are there and it is pointless to pretend otherwise,” he told la Repubblica newspaper. “Post-quake reconstruction is always very appetising for criminal gangs and their business partners.”</s>Death toll in Yemen war rises to at least 10,000-UN SANAA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The death toll in Yemen's 18-month-old civil war stands at about 10,000, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator said on Tuesday, an increase from estimates of more than 6,000 cited by officials and aid workers for much of 2016. Jamie McGoldrick told a new conference in the Yemeni capital that the new figure was based on official information provided by medical facilities in Yemen. He said he believed the toll might be even higher since some areas had no medical facilities, and relatives there often buried loved ones directly. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean)"
"Officials report the death toll is at least 290 people with at least 10 others still missing."
"(Reuters) - A bus with an unlicensed driver spun out of control near New Orleans on Sunday, killing two people and injuring 41, while taking volunteers to help with Louisiana flood relief, officials said. A private rental bus involved in a multiple car accident which killed two people is seen in a picture released by the Louisiana State Police. Louisiana State Police/Handout via Reuters St. John the Baptist Fire District Chief Spencer Chauvin was among those killed in the early morning crash after the chartered bus slammed into him as he tried to help victims of another accident, Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey told reporters at a news conference. Two other firefighters were injured in the crash, one critically, and a passenger in another vehicle struck by the bus died at the scene, the spokeswoman said. The driver, who was unauthorized to drive a commercial vehicle, was in custody and would be booked on suspicion of negligent homicide, reckless driving and driving without a license, Matey said. “All three firemen were thrown over the guard rail and into the water below,” Matey said. The incident started when a speeding pickup truck spun out of control, bouncing from one side of the road to the other before coming to rest along the right lane and shoulder of Interstate 10 near the community of Laplace, about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of New Orleans, Matey said. The firefighters and state police troopers were on scene to investigate when the bus, also out of control, slammed into the fire truck and a Toyota Camry, Matey said. Jermaine Starr, a passenger in the Camry, was pronounced dead at the scene. It was not immediately clear why the bus driver, Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, 37, lost control. Rodriguez, who is from Honduras, was in the United States illegally and Homeland Security officials are assisting the state in its investigation, Matey said. The Acadian Ambulance Service said on Twitter it had taken 38 people to hospitals and that a second ambulance company had transported three to hospitals. Matey said at the news conference that most of the injuries to the 24 people on the bus were minor to moderate. The bus, filled with volunteers to help residents recover from massive flooding in Louisiana earlier this month, was traveling westbound on Interstate 10 when it crashed into the fire truck and another vehicle, the television station and other media reported. As many as 60,600 homes were reported damaged or destroyed in flooding that ravaged 20 parishes, or counties, in the southern part of Louisiana. About 3,000 residents were still living in shelters as of Aug. 22, officials said last week.</s>(CNN) An undocumented immigrant was piloting a charter bus that he wasn't licensed to drive when it crashed Sunday morning in Louisiana, killing two people and injuring dozens, police said. The bus was full of workers headed to Baton Rouge on Interstate 10 to help with flood cleanup, said Louisiana State Police Trooper Melissa Matey. The driver was Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, Matey said. One of those killed was St. John the Baptist Parish Fire District Chief Spencer Chauvin, Matey said. The wreck happened at 6:40 a.m when the black charter bus came up on a blocked crash scene on Interstate 10 where Chauvin and two firefighters were assisting at a minor accident near LaPlace, Louisiana, west of New Orleans by Lake Pontchartrain. "The bus driver lost control of the bus, struck a fire truck, veered across the right lane, striking other vehicles, then veered and struck three firefighters, who, all three, were thrown over the guardrail," Matey said. While the bus was transporting workers, it was a party bus belonging to Kristina's Transportation LLC/AM Party Bus out of Jefferson, Louisiana, Matey said. Police are still investigating the crash, she said. Police gave this account: Chauvin, 36 of Gramercy, was standing with two firefighters by the interstate guardrail after responding to a crash early that morning. The firefighters had used one of their trucks to block the right lane of the interstate so they, police and the towing company could deal with the crash. A state trooper had his patrol car parked with blue lights flashing to warn early morning drivers. At least two other cars -- a Toyota Camry and a Chevrolet Silverado -- were stopped behind the emergency vehicles. As the 2002 Eldorado National bus, which was speeding, approached the crash scene, it clipped the fire truck, police said. The bus then struck the rear of the Camry, shoving it into the rear of the Silverado and a flatbed trailer. The bus then veered and struck all three firefighters, hurling them into water about 35-feet below, police said. Donna Vicknair, a longtime employee with the St. John the Baptist Parish, said Chauvin comes from a firefighting family. His father, Ivy "Sonny" Chauvin, is a retired fire chief and both his brothers work as firefighters. Vicknair said Chauvin was a volunteer until 2004, when the department went from volunteer to full time and he chose to make firefighting his career. He was married and leaves behind two young children, a boy and a girl. "He will be missed a whole lot around here," she said. "I will always remember Chief Chauvin as a good person." One of Chauvin's brothers, Lance Chauvin, posted his thoughts on his Facebook page: "Never in my life did I expect to lose my brother. Everyone knows how dangerous our job is. We know how dangerous our job is. He gave his life to make other people's lives better. He was doing what he loved. Maybe one day I'll be half the man you are. Fly High Spencer." The other person killed, Jermaine Starr, 21, of Moss Point, Mississippi, was in the backseat of the Camry, police said. Firefighter William Mack Beal, 35, of Gonzales, was taken to a local hospital with moderate injuries, and firefighter Nicholas Saale, 32, of Ponchatoula, was airlifted to New Orleans with critical injuries, police said. "This is a very sad day for all first responders in Louisiana," said Col. Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police superintendent. "Louisiana has the 'move over' law in place to protect our first responders on our roadways. Please adhere to this law and slow down when approaching emergency vehicles and disabled vehicles on the road." The Camry driver, Marcus Tate, 35 of Moss Point, was airlifted to Baton Rouge with serious injuries. Two of his passengers, Vontravous Kelly and David Jones, both of Moss Point, were hospitalized. Kelly is in critical condition and Jones is in serious condition, police said. The Silverado contained three adults and two children, all of Kenner, Louisiana, who were taken to local hospitals with minor or moderate injuries, as were at least 24 passengers on the bus, police said. Police initially reported 35-40 people were on the bus and authorities are still trying to identify all the victims, who are at various hospitals, Matey said. It's not known who chartered the bus, she said. The road was wet from light rain, but troopers who are investigating the crash don't know if weather was the main cause of the accident, Matey said. Rodriguez, who was also treated at a hospital, will be booked into the St. John the Baptist Correctional Center and charged with two counts of negligent homicide, reckless operation, and having no driver's license, Matey said.</s>St. John the Baptist Fire District Chief Spencer Chauvin died Sunday morning after the charter bus slammed into him as he tried to help victims of another accident, television station WWLTV of New Orleans reported, citing police and parish President Natalie Robottom. Two other firefighters were injured in the crash and a second person, who has not yet been identified, also died, the television station said. "It is a sad day in the St. John the Baptist Parish as we lost one of the bravest and most dedicated firefighters that I know," Robottom said in a statement according to the television station. The bus driver, identified as 37-year-old Denis Amaya Rodriguez, was in custody on suspicion of multiple violations, NBC News reported, citing Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey. Rodriguez, who is from Honduras, was in the U.S. illegally, the network reported, citing Matey. Few details were available Sunday afternoon about the cause of the accident. Matey told NBC that 41 people on the bus suffered minor injuries. A local ambulance company said on Twitter it had transported 38 people to hospitals from the scene of the accident on Interstate 10 near the community of Laplace, about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of New Orleans. The company, Acadian Ambulance Service, said that a second ambulance company had transported three additional people to hospitals. The bus, filled with volunteers to help residents recover from massive flooding in Louisiana earlier this month, was traveling westbound on Interstate 10 when it crashed into the fire truck and another vehicle, the television station and other media reported. As many as 60,600 homes were reported damaged or destroyed in flooding that ravaged 20 parishes, or counties, in the southern part of Louisiana. About 3,000 residents were still living in shelters as of Aug. 22, officials said last week.</s>NEW ORLEANS (AP) — U.S. Coast Guard officials say one person has been rescued and crews are searching for at least one more after a small plane crashed into a lake near a New Orleans airport. NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, WWL-TV and WBRZ-TV report that Coast Guard personnel responded to the scene Saturday night after the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the Seabrook Bridge near Lakefront Airport. The airport is located adjacent to Lake Ponchatrain, about 10 miles northeast of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. Coast Guard officials say the Cessna training flight crashed about 8:30 p.m. The person rescued was transferred to a New Orleans hospital in unknown condition. No further details were immediately available.</s>NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana State Police say an out-of-control bus carrying flood recovery volunteers hit a fire truck and firefighters who had responded to an earlier wreck, killing two people and injuring dozens. Trooper Melissa Matey told NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/2bKiYW8 ) that the bus driver did not have a commercial license and was not authorized to drive a bus. Matey tells local news media that the dead included a local fire chief and the injured included the 30 to 40 people on the bus. She described them as volunteers heading from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to help flood victims.</s>NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Authorities say a woman has been rescued and two men remain missing after a small plane crashed into a lake near a New Orleans airport. New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman Dawne Massey said in a statement early Sunday that department officials responded at 8:53 p.m. Saturday to a report that a Cessna aircraft carrying three people had crashed into Lake Ponchatrain near New Orleans Lakefront Airport. The airport is located about 10 miles northeast of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. Massey said one female passenger was picked up by a private yacht and transported to Ochsner Hospital. Her medical condition was not immediately known. Massey said NOPD divers were preparing to deploy in an effort to locate the additional two male passengers and the wreckage. No further details were immediately available."
"A bus carrying volunteers crashes into emergency vehicles responding to an earlier accident near New Orleans killing two, including the St. John the Baptist Fire District Chief, and injuring 43 more."
"'PROMOTE LIFE.' Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle denounces all forms of murder, from extrajudicial killings and abortion, as he promotes 'integral life.' File photo by Noli Yamsuan MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle condemned all forms of murder, from slaying drug suspects to aborting babies, as he broke his silence on the recent spate of killings in the Philippines. Tagle also denounced the illegal drug trade – a way of "murdering" the youth's dreams – in one of his first public messages on the recent extrajudicial killings. In a conference and interview quoted by Church-run Radyo Veritas on Sunday, August 28, Tagle pushed for the protection of all lives – "buhay ng kahit sino, hindi lamang buhay na gusto nating protektahan" (the lives of anyone, not only the lives we want to protect). "Basta taong may buhay, kahit sino pa siya, ang buhay na 'yun ay sagrado. Alam ko na ngayon na ang malaking usapin ay ang nagiging mga pagpatay – sabi pati raw sa mga hindi guilty, sa mga inosente – pero kahit nga guilty man o hindi guilty, ang buhay ay dapat alagaan at igalang. At kung guilty, bigyan ng bagong buhay – pagkakataong makabangon mula sa lumang buhay," Tagle said. (As long as one is alive, whoever he or she is, that life is sacred. I know that the big issue nowadays is the recent spate of killings – which, they say, afflicts even those not guilty, the innocent – but whether a person is guilty or not, life should be cared for and respected. And if a person is guilty, give him new life – the opportunity to rise from his old life.) Tagle's statement comes as more than 750 people have been killed by police in anti-drug operations while more than a thousand have been slain by shadowy figures. (READ: Duterte offers P2-M bounty for cops into drug trade) Cardinal hits abortion, too Tagle told Radyo Veritas, "Ang Diyos ay Diyos ng buhay kaya dapat alagaan ang buhay. Pero marami worried sa extrajudicial killings. At dapat lang." (God is a God of life so we need to protect life. But many are worried about extrajudicial killings. And rightfully so.) The cardinal continued: "Sana naman worried din tayo sa abortion. Bakit kaunti ang nagsasalita against abortion? Pagpatay din 'yan. Unfair labor practices – isang uri rin 'yan ng pagpatay ng dangal ng manggagawa." (I hope we're also worried about abortion. Why are only a few people speaking out against abortion? That's also murder. Unfair labor practices – that's also a form of murder against the dignity of laborers.) He added, "'Yung tapon tayo ng tapon ng pagkain, kailangan munang nasa basura bago pupulutin ng iba at ipapakain sa pamilya nila, pagpatay din 'yan sa mga batang walang makain." (Those wasting food, those putting food in the garbage can before others pick it up and feed it to their families, that is also a form of murder against children with nothing to eat.) Tagle said: "Bantayan natin ang abortion; ang mga batang hindi pa naisisilang ay walang kalaban-laban. Ang pagtitinda ng bawal na gamot, ang pagtulak sa mga kabataan sa bisyo – 'yan ay isang uri din ng pagpatay ng kanilang pangarap, kaisipan, pagpatay ng kanilang magagandang pakikisama sa pamilya." (Let's guard against abortion; children who haven't been born are helpless. Selling illegal drugs, pushing the youth to go into vices – that's also a form of murder against their dreams, their minds, their good relationships with their families.) Tagle: Promote 'integral life' "Be consistent to promote whole or integral life. Let us not be selective," he said. Tagle, in the past, had been active in other issues involving life. These issues include the Catholic Church's fight against the Reproductive Health Law, a measure that legislates state funding for contraceptives. Tagle now joins a growing number of religious groups and individuals that have criticized the recent killings in the Philippines: The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, as a whole, has not issued any statement on the killings since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. The last statement on this from the CBCP was against "vigilantism," issued less than two weeks before Duterte began his term. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com</s>WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama will meet controversial Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte next week, the White House said, despite concerns over a war on crime that has claimed more than 2,000 lives. Since taking office two months ago, Duterte has begun making good on an election pledge to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals, prompting criticism from rights groups who accuse him of inciting vigilante murders. He has also lashed out at the United Nations and described the US ambassador to Manila as a “son of a whore.” However, the White House said Obama would meet the firebrand leader on the sidelines of a summit in Laos, which begins on September 6, with the US president likely to voice disquiet over the bloodshed and Duterte’s abusive remarks. “We absolutely expect that the president will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines,” Obama aide Ben Rhodes told reporters in Washington on Monday. “We regularly meet with the leaders of our treaty allies where we have differences, whether it relates to human rights practices or derogatory comments. We take the opportunity of those meetings to raise those issues directly.” Duterte’s war on crime has seen unknown assailants kill more than half the victims, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs. Police have reported killing 756 people they have branded drug suspects, although they have insisted they are only acting in self-defense. The US State Department last week said it was “deeply concerned” about reports of extra judicial killings. The UN’s special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, also said Duterte’s promise of immunity and bounties to security forces who killed drug suspects violated international law. Duterte responded by threatening to quit the United Nations, saying: “If you are that disrespectful, son of a whore, then I will just leave you.” He later said his threat to withdraw from the UN was a joke, but continued to repeatedly criticize the international body. And after garnering more bad headlines overseas for calling the US ambassador “gay” and a “son of a whore,” Duterte refused to apologize. The Philippines, a former US colony, was regarded as one of the United States’ most loyal allies in Asia until Duterte took office. The two nations are bound by a mutual defense pact. AFP</s>MANILA, Philippines — On the day he was sworn into office, President Rodrigo Duterte went to a Manila slum and exhorted residents who knew any drug addicts to “go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” Two months later, nearly 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users lay dead as morgues continue to fill up. Faced with criticism of his actions by rights activists, international bodies and outspoken Filipinos, including the top judge, Duterte has stuck to his guns and threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court meddles in his work. According to a survey early last month, he has the support of nearly 91 percent of Filipinos. The independent poll was done during his first week in office, and no new surveys have come out since then. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a Senate hearing this week that police have recorded more than 1,900 dead, including 756 suspected drug dealers and users who were gunned down after they resisted arrest. More than 1,000 other deaths are under investigation, and some of them may not be drug-related, he said. Jayeel Cornelio, a doctor of sociology and director of Ateneo de Manila University’s Development Studies Program, said he suspects only a few of Duterte’s supporters are disillusioned by the killings and his rhetoric because voters trust his campaign promise to crush drug criminals. They also find resonance in his cursing and no-holds-barred comments. Duterte’s death threats against criminals, his promise to battle corruption, his anti-establishment rhetoric and gutter humor have enamored Filipinos living on the margins of society. He overwhelmingly won the election, mirroring public exasperation over the social ills he condemns. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has said the killings “may be a necessary evil in the pursuit of a greater good,” a sentiment echoed by a deluge of comments by Duterte supporters in social media deriding his critics and defending the brutal war on drugs. “The killings are OK so there will be less criminals, drug pushers and drug addicts in our society,” said Rex Alisoso, a 25-year-old cleaner in Manila. He said people have gotten used to the way Duterte talks and voted for him knowing his ways. Kim Labasan, a Manila shopkeeper, said she does not like Duterte’s constant swearing, his “stepping on too many toes,” and his decision to allow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery. But she supports the anti-drug war despite the rising death toll because, she said, she has personally seen the effects of drugs. Addicts in her hometown north of Manila have ended up with “poisoned brains” and even robbed her family’s home. “A battle of moralities is being waged right now by this administration — before, if you were a human rights advocate you are a hero of the country, now you are seen as someone who can destroy the country,” Cornelio said. He said that Duterte fosters “penal populism” — identifying a particular enemy, a criminal, and then hunting him down to death. Because the results are visible, tangible and people feel it, “it becomes more important than many other things to the ordinary person.” Duterte has said drugs were destroying the country. In his State of the Nation Address last month, he said “human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country.” He also lashed out at U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, calling him gay in derogatory terms, after he criticized Duterte’s rape comments during the presidential campaign. He threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations because of U.N. comments condemning extrajudicial killings, saying he did not “give a s---” about the consequences. The following day, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines was not leaving the U.N. and Duterte made the comment only because he was tired, angry and frustrated. Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, said Duterte “is steamrolling the rule of law and its advocates both at home and abroad.” The killings suggest his aggressive rhetoric advocating extrajudicial solutions to criminality has found a receptive audience, Kine said. “His supporters are cheering him on, but wait till one of them is killed,” said Ferdie Monasterio, a driver of a ride-sharing company who doesn’t support Duterte. “He is no different from Marcos and it looks like he wants to establish a dictatorship.” Cornelio said the death toll is not the clincher in turning public sentiment against Duterte, because a lot of people look at them as justified killings. He said that Dutere’s first year will be crucial since he promised quick action. “I think the threshold has to do with the delivery of the promises,” he said.</s>Duterte takes war on drugs to the stage MANILA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Philippine police, heavily criticised by rights groups for killing hundreds of drug dealers and users, are using a comedy puppet of Rodrigo Duterte to get the president's war on drugs message across to Manila school children. The Philippine National Police began the show, which also features a puppet of police chief Ronald dela Rosa, in Manila schools this month, the latest step in the anti-drug drive of Duterte, nicknamed "the Punisher", who won the presidency in May based on a platform of wiping out narcotics. "I hate drugs, don't do drugs because you are the hope of the country," the Duterte puppet told children at an impoverished community near a large landfill in Manila. Police have also employed a smiling, dancing mascot that looks like dela Rosa to spread the message at other youth events in the Filipino capital, with a comic book also commissioned to encourage children to stay away from drugs. "This is part of our programme to convince and maintain the safety of our people, especially those who have not been subjected to vices," Remigio Sedanto, the police community relations chief, said of the drive. More than 1,900 people have been killed, according to police figures, in the anti-drug drive since Duterte came to power with the president saying there would be no let up in the fight during a National Heroes Day speech on Monday. Students from Manila theatre group U.P. Repertory are also using theatre to show their objection to Duterte's approach by re-enacting the death of a local college student, who they said was gunned down by police in one of their drug operations. Participants were blindfolded and seated inside a dimply lit room to simulate what happens inside a drug den, while actors hit items on the ground to mimic gunshots. "We want to show what is really happening to the youth, to those who are affected by these killings under the new president," said Gio Potes, the show's head writer. The United States, a close ally of the Philippines, said last week it was "deeply concerned" about the reports of extra-judicial drug killings and it urged Duterte's government to ensure that law-enforcement efforts "comply with its human rights obligation". (Reporting by Peter Blaza and Ronn Bautista; Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Nick Macfie)</s>MANILA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday promised rewards running to tens of thousands of dollars for information leading to the capture of police officers protecting drug syndicates and warned corrupt officials they would face "a day of reckoning". In a National Heroes Day speech, Duterte said there would be no let-up in a "war on drugs" in which - according to police figures - more than 1,900 people have been killed since he came to power two months ago. Police say the toll of about 36 people a day is a result of drug dealers resisting arrest or gang feuds. Duterte railed against critics who have complained that the poor who trade drugs to make a living are being targeted by the police, but added that army generals, city mayors, governors and police involved in the drug trade must also be stopped. "I consider the fight against drugs a war, there is a crisis in this country, it is drugs ... it has infected every nook and corner," he said in the speech to retired and serving soldiers, government officials and foreign diplomats. Singling out corrupt policemen known as "ninjas", who take pay-offs from drug lords, Duterte said he was placing a 2 million peso ($43,000) bounty on their heads, telling their colleagues to "squeal on your friends". Duterte, who won a May election on a promise to wipe out drugs and dealers, last month named about 160 officials, judges, police and soldiers who he said were protecting drug traffickers or selling drugs in their communities. The United States, a close ally of the Philippines, said last week it was "deeply concerned" about the reports of extra-judicial drug killings and it urged Duterte's government to ensure that law-enforcement efforts "comply with its human rights obligation". The crackdown and some strongly worded criticism Duterte has made of the United States since coming to power present a dilemma for Washington, which has been seeking to forge unity among allies in Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China, especially in the strategic South China Sea. This month, two U.N. human rights experts urged Manila to stop the extra-judicial executions and killings. Duterte responded by threatening to leave the United Nations. In his speech on Monday Duterte scoffed at accusations that he was trampling on human rights and said law enforcers should not worry about criminal liability while acting on his campaign. In the early hours of Monday a suspected drug lord and his wife were shot dead by a gunman as they stepped off a ferry in the central province of Iloilo, national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos said. Police said the man, Melvin Odicta who was also known as "Dragon", was returning from Manila where last week he had met the interior minister to deny accusations that he was the region's top drug dealer. National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said on Friday he did not believe Odicta, telling officers: "Who are they fooling?" In a speech to thousands of drug users and pushers the previous day, dela Rosa encouraged them to kill drug lords because they were getting rich at the expense of the poor. "You want to kill them, then kill them, you can kill them because you are their victims here. You know who are the drug lords here, go to their houses, pour gasoline, set it on fire, show them you are angry at them." He later apologised for the comments. (Reporting by Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Robert Birsel)</s>Addict risks everything in Duterte’s drug war – ‘It’s scary because I could be next’ MANILA: Pedicab driver Reyjin dives into a neighbor’s house for a quick meth fix, fearful of taking a bullet to the head in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs but unable to quit. More than 2,000 people have died violent deaths since Duterte took office two months ago and immediately implemented his scorched-earth plans to eradicate drugs in society, ordering police to shoot dead traffickers and urging ordinary citizens to kill addicts. The bloodbath has seen unknown assailants kill more than half the victims, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are roaming through communities and shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs. Armed police constantly circle in Reyjin’s Manila slum community, but he continues to snort the fumes of the highly addictive methamphetamine known as “shabu” that Duterte has warned is destroying the lives of millions of poor Filipinos. “It’s scary because I could be next,” said the gaunt, gap-toothed 28-year-old, speaking to AFP on the condition his identity not be revealed for security reasons. The father-of-three said two masked motorcycle gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle had shot dead a woman who sold small amounts of drugs to him and other residents. “She was sitting in the alley when she took two bullets to the head,” he said. Such riding-in-tandem murders are one of the most common forms of killings by the shadowy assassins. Often a piece of cardboard, with “drug peddler” or “drug addict” written on it, is placed on the corpse. This has led to the war on crime becoming known as “cardboard justice”. Meanwhile, police have reported killing 756 people they have branded drug suspects. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa has repeatedly defended his officers, insisting they only kill when their own lives are in danger. However two policemen have been charged with murder over the jailhouse deaths of a father and son, who autopsies showed to have been beaten so badly before being shot that their limbs were broken. The United Nations, the US government and human rights groups have expressed alarm at the bloodshed, with some critics warning the Philippines is in the midst of a reign of terror as authorities act with no regard for the law. Duterte and Dela Rosa have repeatedly insisted they are acting within the boundaries of the law, while accusing their critics of siding with the drug traffickers and ignoring the devastating consequences of what they describe as a national shabu crisis. They say most of the unexplained deaths are being carried out by drug syndicates waging war on each other. Yet on the day he was sworn into office, Duterte gave a speech to a crowd in a Manila slum in which he called on them to kill drug addicts in their own community. And in an address to a group of drug addicts who had surrendered to police last week, Dela Rosa called on them to kill their suppliers and burn down their homes. Dela Rosa later apologized for the comments, saying they were made because he was angry, but they nevertheless added to an atmosphere of a dramatic breakdown in the rule of law. In Reyjin’s Manila slum, the violence and security presence has slowed the drug trade and made shabu more expensive. But lots is still available, in what could be a worrying sign for Duterte who vowed during the election campaign that he could completely wipe out the trade within six months. “If you want to buy, you just go stand there on the street and somebody will approach you,” said Reyjin, who took his first hit of shabu when he was 13. “You hand over the money and he will tell you to wait and have somebody else deliver the drugs to you.” Even the shabu “dens”, in which people rent out their huts for addicts to take a hit, are still operating, according to Reyjin. Reyjin said he earned about 400 pesos ($8.50) a day, taking passengers on short pedicab trips and occasionally doing odd jobs. He said he was spending about one quarter of his earnings on shabu. It used to be a 50-peso-a-day habit, but the price of shabu had doubled because of the drug war, according to Reyjin. Neighbors told AFP the eldest of Reyjin’s three children, a grade-schooler, looked malnourished and often went to school hungry. The two other siblings looked dirty and were forced to wear hand-me-down clothes in their one-room house, they added. The neighbors said they also suspected him of stealing small items from their homes to fund his habit. Reyjin said he was aware of the toll his habit took on his family. But, even compounded by the threat of his children being orphaned in the drug war, he said he could not stop taking shabu. “Sometime I tell myself I have to stop,” he said. “But my body craves it.” – AFP</s>MANILA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The number of drug-related killings in the Philippines since Rodrigo Duterte became president two months ago on a pledge to wipe out the illegal drug trade, has reached around 2,000, according to data released on Tuesday. There has been popular support for his campaign, but the wave of killings unleashed since his election victory has alarmed rights groups and brought expressions of concern from the United States, a close ally of Manila. As officials readied a publicity campaign to explain his fight against on narcotics, the Philippine National Police said that close to 900 drug traffickers and users had been killed in police operations from July 1 to August 20. That was an increase of 141 people over a week, on average 20 people a day. Last week the police said 1,100 other drug-related killings that were not classified as police operations were also being investigated. No new number for that category was given on Tuesday but, together with the new figure for police encounters, the total came to around 2,000. Duterte won the presidency of the Southeast Asian nation in a May election on a promise to wipe out drugs. Two U.N. human rights experts recently urged the Philippines to stop extra-judicial killings, drawing a furious response from Duterte, who threatened to pull h is country out of the United Nations. His foreign minister later rowed back on the threat. Duterte's communications secretary, Martin Andanar, said on Monday that a 30-second advertisement explaining the anti-drug campaign would be aired over the next week by commercial and public TV stations and by movie theatres. "The government is not spending a single centavo on these ads and TV stations are carrying them for free," Andanar told reporters at an event in a Manila hotel. He said his office would also publish a 40-page pamphlet to explain the rising body count. This would be issued on the president's first trip abroad next week, first to Brunei and then to an East Asia summit in Laos. "Some people abroad have to understand why many people are getting killed in the anti-drug campaign. They must understand, this is a war and there are casualties," Andanar said. "The pamphlet will inform and explain that the government was not killing people at random, that these killings are not extrajudicial in nature but as part of the anti-crime campaign. Some of those killed were police officers who are involved in criminal activities." The White House said on Monday that U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet Duterte in Laos on Sept. 6, and plans to touch on human rights as well as security concerns. Duterte's crackdown on drugs and some strongly worded criticism he has made of the United States present a dilemma for Washington, which has been seeking to forge unity among allies and partners in Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China, especially in the strategic South China Sea. There have been few signs in the Philippines itself of a backlash against the war on drugs. However, on Tuesday a newly formed group called the "Stop the Killings Network" announced a #Lightforlife campaign that would start with simultaneous candle-lighting events on Wednesday evening at six venues across Manila."
"The Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle condemns the extralegal killings and murders under Rodrigo Duterte."
"BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ruling Communist Party appointed a new senior official on Sunday to run Tibet, considered one of the country’s most politically sensitive positions due to periodic anti-Chinese unrest in the devoutly Buddhist Himalayan region. The official Xinhua news agency named Wu Yingjie as Tibet’s next party secretary. New leaders were also appointed in two other key provinces, part of a broad reshuffle ahead of an important party meeting next year. Wu has worked almost his entire career in Tibet, according to his official resume, having previously served as a deputy governor and propaganda chief, among other roles. Wu, like his predecessor Chen Quanguo, belongs to China’s majority Han Chinese ethnic group. Xinhua said Chen would be taking another position, without giving further details. Communist troops marched in and took control of Tibet in 1950 in what Beijing calls a “peaceful liberation”. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against the Chinese. China says its rule has bought prosperity and stability, rejecting claims from Tibetan exiles and rights groups of widespread repression. Xinhua said new party bosses had also been appointed to serve in the strategically located southwestern province of Yunnan and the populous southern province of Hunan. In Yunnan, which sits of the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, Chen Hao replaced Li Jiheng, while in Hunan, Du Jiahao has assumed the party’s top job, Xinhua said. Both Chen and Du worked with President Xi Jinping when he ran China’s commercial capital, Shanghai, as its Communist Party chief for a year in 2007, according to their resumes. The party will hold a once-every-five-years congress next autumn where Xi is expected to further cement his hold on power by seeking to appoint close allies into the party’s ruling inner core, the politburo and the politburo standing committee. The year leading up to that will see Xi appoint more new people into major provincial and government positions, sources with ties to the leadership say. (Story refiles to fix typo in fourth paragraph, drops the word ‘rather’.)</s>The Chinese Communist leadership has reshuffled senior posts in key regions after its annual closed-door meeting in the seaside town of Beidaihe, putting a new cadre in control in the politically sensitive region of Tibet, as well as Yunnan and Hunan. Wu Yingjie has been named as Tibet’s next Communist Party secretary, the official Xinhua news agency reported, while his predecessor Chen Quanguo is reportedly on his way to the restive region of Xinjiang in the far west. Both men belong to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group. In both Tibet and Xinjiang, members of local ethnic groups, the Tibetans and the Uighurs respectively, chafe against rule by the Han. Mr Wu (59) has been deputy party chief in the Himalayan region since 2011, and has been based there since 1974. He worked on farms and at a power plant there before doing his university degree in the provincial capital Lhasa. His appointment comes ahead of a key party congress next year, which takes place once every five years, during which President Xi Jinping will further cement his hold on power. It marks the end of his first five-year period in office and the retirement of some of his political rivals from the seven-man Standing Committee of the Politburo. Mr Xi is expected to put his allies into key positions on both the 25-person Politburo and the Standing Committee at the meeting. Beijing has run Tibet with a firm hand since People’s Liberation Army troops marched into the overwhelmingly Buddhist Himalayan region in 1950. The Chinese say they were liberating the Tibetan serfs from a theocracy until the god-king Dalai Lama fled into exile in India after a failed uprising in 1959, and they accuse the Dalai Lama of agitating for independence from there. Tibet has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence and nearly 150 people have set themselves on fire since 2009 in acts of self-immolation to protest rule by Beijing and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. Beijing says it is bringing prosperity to a traditionally impoverished area and rejects claims by Tibetan exile groups of widespread repression. State media has also been giving high profile of late to public appearances by the 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, the second most powerful figure in Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama chose a six-year-old child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, to be the 11th Panchen Lama, after the 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989. However, Gyaltsen Norbu, who was also six years of age, was imposed by Beijing, and the young Gedhun disappeared and has not been seen since. Xinhua said that Du Jiahao had replaced Xu Shousheng as secretary of the Hunan party, while Chen Hao had replaced Li Jiheng as party secretary in Yunnan, which borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar."
"Du Jiahao becomes Communist Party Secretary of Hunan, replacing Xu Shousheng."
"LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - Supporters of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo and his chief rival both said on Sunday they were set to win a presidential election that poses the most serious challenge yet to the Bongo family’s half-century rule in the tiny, oil-rich nation. Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba votes during the presidential election in Libreville, Gabon, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Gerauds Wilfried Obangome Backers of the president and his main challenger, Jean Ping, also traded accusations of fraud allegedly committed during Saturday’s vote, raising the prospect of increased tension in the wake of an uncharacteristically bitter campaign. At a large gathering of supporters at his campaign headquarters in the capital, Ping, 73, distributed figures showing him handily beating Bongo. “The general trends indicate we’re the winner of this important presidential election,” Ping told backers and reporters. “Despite numerous irregularities ... you have managed to thwart this regime’s congenital traps of fraud.” Interior Minister Pacôme Moubelet-Boubeya, who had already warned candidates that giving results before the official declaration was against the law, condemned Ping’s announcement. “The candidate Jean Ping has just carried out an attempt to manipulate the democratic process,” he said in a statement distributed late on Sunday. Official results are expected on Tuesday. Bongo, 57, who first won election after his father Omar died in 2009 after 42 years in office, has benefited from being the incumbent in a country with a patronage system lubricated by oil largesse. Gabon’s one-round election means the winner simply requires more votes than any other candidate. In 2009, Bongo won with 41.73 percent of the vote. Addressing Ping’s declaration, Bongo warned his rival against pre-empting the result by claiming victory before an official announcement. “You must not sell the skin of the bear before you’ve killed him,” he said, speaking at one of his campaign offices in Libreville. “In any case, I am confident.” FRAUD? Minutes earlier, his spokesman Alain Claude Bilie By Nzé told journalists that Bongo was leading in five of Gabon’s nine provinces. In comments broadcast overnight on state-owned television, the spokesman went even further, stating that Bongo was poised to win another term in office. “Even if no figure can or should be given at this stage, we are, in light of information we are receiving, able to say that our candidate ... will claim victory,” he said. Bilie By Nzé also said “massive fraud” had been observed during the vote, particularly in polling stations located in opposition strongholds. The interior ministry on Sunday acknowledged fraud had been noted in some polling stations. But it offered little detail and said that the process remained “satisfactory and positive”. An oil producer with a population of less than two million, Gabon is one of Africa’s richest countries. Opposition presidential candidate Jean Ping votes during the presidential election in Libreville, Gabon, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Erauds Wilfried Obangome However, declining oil output and falling prices have resulted in budget cuts and provided fodder for opposition claims that the average person has struggled under Bongo’s leadership. His re-election bid was also hobbled by a series of high-profile defections from the ruling party. Ping, one of 10 candidates contesting the poll, is a former foreign minister and African Union Commission chairman, who was a close ally of Omar Bongo. Some opposition supporters have called into question Bongo’s Gabonese nationality, claiming he was adopted from eastern Nigeria as a baby, a charge that risks fuelling xenophobic sentiment and which the president denies.</s>Gabon's President Ali Bongo said Sunday that he is "calmly" waiting for the result of the country's presidential election to be published, after his rival Jean Ping claimed victory following Saturday's vote. "We respect the law... so we are waiting calmly for Cenap (the national election commission) to announce the results of the election," Bongo told a crowd of supporters in his first public remarks since the poll. Official results are not due out until Tuesday and some voters voiced fears of a repeat of the violence seen after a disputed 2009 election.</s>Both sides in Gabon poll predict win as votes are counted LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Election officials compiled results in Gabon on Sunday as representatives of the incumbent president and his most prominent challenger predicted victory. President Ali Bongo Ondimba is vying for a second seven-year term. Bongo became president after the death of his father, who ruled for more than 40 years. His strongest challenger is Jean Ping, a former chair of the African Union Commission. Bongo's spokesman Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze said late Saturday that the president was "en route to a second term." He also said fraud had been noted in some polling stations where opposition representatives were first to arrive, though he did not provide details. However Ping's supporters said their candidate was clearly the winner and accused Bongo's team of trying to create instability.</s>A poster of Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is seen as supporters of opposition candidate Jean Ping rally in Libreville on the last day of the presidential election campaign on August 26, 2016. By Marco Longari (AFP/File) Libreville (AFP) - Gabon's President Ali Bongo and his only serious rival have both claimed victory in this weekend's presidential election, and accused each other of cheating. Barely had the last ballots been cast Saturday evening before the incumbent's spokesman declared: "Bongo will win... we are already on our way to a second mandate." Bongo, 57, has been in power since a disputed election held in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the oil-rich Central African country for 41 years. On Sunday, the campaign manager of Bongo's rival Jean Ping told reporters that the former head of the African Union Commission had won 60 percent of votes counted so far, just under half of the total, against 38 percent for the president. He also accused Bongo of "trying to push his way through," with the backing of the army. "That's totally crazy," countered Bongo's spokesman. "It's tight, but we are ahead." All of this was said in defiance of Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya, who has insisted only results from the election commission validated by his ministry had any validity. Before polling began Boubeya said everything was "in place to guarantee a transparent and impartial election". The poll will be decided by a simple majority and results are expected on Monday. African Union and the European Union observers said that aside from some delays, the poll itself, in which some 628,000 people were eligible vote, passed off without serious incident. But the acrimony that had marked the campaign period continued into the weekend with each of the main rivals accusing the other of mischief. "We have observed massive fraud, in particular in areas where opposition representatives arrived in polling stations first," said Bongo's spokesman. As he cast his own ballot Saturday morning Ping told reporters, "We know the other side is trying to cheat. It is up to you to be vigilant." His team had said that a Friday court ruling would allow soldiers, who tend to support Bongo, a former defence minister, to "vote several times in several polling centres". On Sunday, the streets of the capital, Libreville, were almost deserted. Fearing a repeat of the violence that followed Bongo's victory in 2009, many residents, who had stocked up on food, stayed indoors. Even those shops and stalls usually open on Sundays were shuttered. "There is no trouble in this district for now but we want to get the results soon," said Honore, a watchman. "We'll see how the candidates react. I hope it won't be like last time," he added. In the clashes that followed the 2009 victory, several people were killed, buildings were looted and the French consulate in Port Gentil, which saw the words of the violence, was torched. Until shortly before polling day, Bongo was the clear favourite, with the opposition split by several prominent politicians vying for the top job. But earlier this month, the main challengers pulled out and said they would all back Ping. Both candidates have promised to break with the past. Faced with repeated charges of nepotism, Bongo has long insisted he owes his presidency to merit and years of government service. His extravagant campaign made much of the slogan "Let's change together", and of roads and hospitals built during his first term. Ping described Bongo's attempts to diversify the economy away from oil as window dressing. One third of Gabon's population lives in poverty, despite the country boasting one of Africa's highest per capita incomes at $8,300 (7,400 euros) thanks to pumping 200,000 barrels of oil a day. There has been growing popular unrest in recent months, with numerous public sector strikes and thousands of layoffs in the oil sector.</s>LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — The United Nations secretary-general is urging political stakeholders in Gabon to avoid making statements on the outcome of Saturday's presidential election until results are announced. Opposition candidate Jean Ping has said early results show he will win in the oil-producing central African country. Ping is trying to unseat President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who came to power in 2009 after the death of his father, longtime ruler Omar Bongo. The Bongo family dynasty stretches back to the 1960s. Gabon's interior ministry said Sunday it is illegal to make a proclamation before the electoral commission announces results, which are expected Tuesday. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's statement on Monday says Gabon's elections were peaceful. Bongo's victory in 2009 sparked clashes between protesters and security forces.</s>GABON opposition candidate Jean Ping called on President Ali Bongo on Monday to “acknowledge his defeat” in a weekend presidential election, telling reporters in the capital Libreville that unofficial tallies give him a clear edge. Bongo’s camp said on Sunday that it was set to win the single-round contest and accused Ping’s supporters of fraud, charges that could presage confrontation between the two sides. The Central African oil producer’s interior minister called Ping’s move to pre-empt an official announcement of the poll results, which is expected on Tuesday, by declaring victory an attempt to manipulate the democratic process. “Based on nearly all the affidavits … we are able to affirm that I am the winner of the presidential vote,” Ping said. “I encourage Ali Bongo to submit to the verdict of the ballot box.” He also called upon the Gabonese people to “defend their choice throughout the country and overseas”. Ping said he had told the American and French ambassadors in Libreville that he intended to guarantee the security of Bongo and his family, who have ruled the nation of some two million people for nearly 50 years. Bongo, 57, first won election after his father Omar died in 2009 after 42 years in office. Declining oil output and falling prices have resulted in budget cuts in recent years, however, providing fodder for opposition claims that average Gabonese have struggled under his leadership.-Reuters</s>Gabon’s main opposition candidate Jean Ping said Sunday he had won a presidential election, beating the incumbent Omar Bongo. Official results of Saturday’s vote are due out on Tuesday. “I have been elected. I am waiting for the outgoing president to call to congratulate me,” Ping told journalists and his supporters in the capital Libreville. The central African country’s interior minister has repeatedly stated that only results released by the electoral commission and confirmed by his ministry are valid. Both of the two frontrunners had already predicted their own victory and accused the other of cheating. Shortly after polling ended on Saturday, the president’s spokesman said, “Bongo will win… we are already on our way to a second mandate.” In his comments Sunday, Ping, 73 added, “as I speak, the trends show we have won.” Ping said alleged attempts by Bongo’s camp to commit fraud had been foiled and that “we will finally see off the regime.” Bongo, 57, has been in power since a disputed election held in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the oil-rich Central African country for 41 years. Earlier, Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet said official results would be released around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Tuesday and that it was “illegal to release results ahead of the official announcement by the competent authorities.”</s>Gabon opposition candidate calls on President Bongo to "acknowledge his defeat" LIBREVILLE, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Gabon opposition candidate Jean Ping on Monday called on President Ali Bongo to "acknowledge his defeat" in a weekend presidential election, telling reporters in the capital Libreville that unofficial tallies give him a clear edge. The Central African oil producer's interior minister called Ping's move to pre-empt an official announcement of the poll results, which is expected on Tuesday, by declaring victory on Sunday an attempt to manipulate the democratic process. (Reporting By Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Joe Bavier and Toby Chopra)</s>Libreville – Gabon voted on Saturday in a poll posing the biggest challenge yet to President Ali Bongo, whose family has run the central African nation for half a century. Bongo, 57, is likely to be returned, seven years after winning his first election following the death of his father Omar, who ruled for 42 years. Polls closed at 7 p.m., an hour late to allow people were still waiting to vote to do so. Voting was mostly calm, although witnesses said a few scuffles broke out in one area as tempers flared in long queues to cast ballots. Results are not expected until Monday or Tuesday, although partial results may start trickling out on Sunday. Land and sea borders were shut on Saturday until 8 p.m. (1900 GMT). Bongo faced nine other candidates – compared with 22 in the last poll – but his main rival was veteran diplomat Jean Ping. “The day of glory has arrived and we are preparing as you can see to celebrate victory,” Ping, 73, said shortly after voting in Martine Oulabou school, in the capital Libreville. Ping faces an uphill struggle, not least because Gabon’s one-round system means the winner doesn’t need a majority, just more votes than any other candidate. “I have laid out the change achieved and the change to come in the future. For that reason, I’m confident,” Bongo, wearing a blue suit, said after voting. Bongo has made saving Gabon’s unique wildlife, including pristine equatorial rainforest and elephants, a priority, but voters complain they have more pressing worries. Ping, meanwhile, has harnessed discontent over the lack of a significant rise in living standards in the population of just under two million, despite its oil riches. “The Gabonese are suffering. We are not well paid, our children don’t live in good conditions. That’s why I voted for change,” Marie Ange N’no, 40, a civil servant, said outside a polling station in Libreville. She declined to say for whom she had voted. Gabon has just rejoined OPEC after two decades and has a GDP per capita of 10,000 dollars a year, making it one of Africa’s richest countries, yet much of that wealth is concentrated in the hands of the elite. About a fifth of Gabonese live on less than two dollars a day and nearly a third live below its own national poverty line, according to the latest available data, from 2005. But Gabon faces a financial squeeze owing to a long-term decline in oil output — which shrunk GDP per capita by nearly a fifth between 1980 and 2014, according to the United Nations Development Programme — and a sharp fall in the price of crude over the past two years. Efforts to diversify into agriculture and tourism have yet to bear much fruit. Oil wealth has flowed mostly to the elite – for a period Gabon was the world’s top per capita importer of champagne – and has trickled down slightly only via its bloated civil service. During his father’s rule, Gabon was a pillar of “La Francafrique”, an intricate, shadowy web of diplomacy, commerce and French military might that kept African autocrats in power and gave French companies privileged access to them. Bongo has tried to shake off this legacy by presenting a modern face with a development programme run by technocrats. “As (Omar Bongo’s) son, it is difficult to present yourself as something new and technocratic when the whiff of corruption hangs over from the last administration,” said Anthony Goldman, head of West Africa-focused PM Consulting. The mixed-race son of a wealthy Chinese trader, Ping is a former foreign minister and African Union Commission chairman who was once close to Omar Bongo and even had a relationship with his daughter, Pascaline, fathering two children by her. That limits how much leverage he can get out of dissatisfaction with the Bongo family. Ping fell out with “Bongo Junior”, as Gabonese call the president, leaving the ruling party in 2014 to become an outspoken critic. Opposition campaigners have questioned whether Bongo is really Gabonese or an adopted child from eastern Nigeria, something he denies.</s>Gabon’s main opposition candidate Jean Ping claimed Sunday he had been elected president, unseating Ali Bongo as leader of the oil-rich Central African country. Official results are not due out until Tuesday and some voters voiced fears of a repeat of the violence seen after a disputed 2009 election. “I have been elected. I am waiting for the outgoing president to call to congratulate me,” said Ping, 73, in the capital Libreville, prompting jubilation from hundreds of his supporters. “You have foiled the congenital fraud of this regime which we are finally going to see off,” the veteran politician told them. Bongo, 57, has been in power since the 2009 election held after the death of his father, Omar, who had ruled Gabon for 41 years. Ping, like the current president, worked for many years in Omar Bongo’s administration. Both frontrunners had already predicted victory and accused the other of cheating. Shortly after polling ended on Saturday, the president’s spokesman said: “Bongo will win… we are already on our way to a second mandate.” Bongo’s camp has acknowledged the election is “tight, but we are ahead”. Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya has said official results would be released around 1600 GMT on Tuesday and stressed it was “illegal to declare results before the relevant authorities do.” The head of the Pan-African Democracy Observatory, an NGO based in Togo, played down the significance of Ping’s declaration. “We should not be surprised if one or the other declares victory. It’s all part of the game,” Djovi Gally told reporters. Fearing a repeat of the violence that followed Bongo’s victory in 2009, many residents, who had stocked up on food, stayed indoors. The streets of Libreville were deserted with even shops and stalls that are usually open on Sundays shuttered. The French embassy warned its citizens not to travel within the country unless absolutely necessary for the time being and to keep themselves informed. “There is no trouble in this district for now but we want to get the results soon,” said one citizen, who gave his name as Honore. “We’ll see how the candidates react. I hope it won’t be like last time,” he added. Back then, several people were killed in the clashes, buildings were looted and the French consulate in Port Gentil, which saw the worst of the violence, was torched. Ping’s campaign coordinator, Jean Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi, claimed that Bongo would attempt to retain power by force. “Ali Bongo has decided to ignore the election and to stay in power. We know from reliable sources that the army is ready to be deployed in Libreville and Port Gentil and all across the country as early as tonight,” said Ayi. “This is the situation which we are entering: the election is over, the coup d’etat has started.” Bongo’s camp has dismissed such claims as “totally crazy.” Emmanuel Edzang, a voter in Libreville, said the capital had the feeling of a “powder keg.” “It could go off at any given moment if things don’t go well. There are really strong fears regarding people’s behaviour,” said Edzang. Until shortly before polling day, Bongo was the clear favourite, with the opposition split by several prominent politicians vying for the top job. But earlier this month, the main challengers pulled out and said they would all back Ping. Both candidates have promised to break with the past. Faced with repeated charges of nepotism, Bongo has long insisted he owes his presidency to merit and years of government service. His extravagant campaign made much of the slogan “Let’s change together”, and of roads and hospitals built during his first term. Ping described Bongo’s attempts to diversify the economy away from oil as window dressing. One third of Gabon’s population lives in poverty, despite the country boasting one of Africa’s highest per capita incomes at $8,300 (7,400 euros) thanks to pumping 200,000 barrels of oil a day. There has been growing popular unrest in recent months, with numerous public sector strikes and thousands of layoffs in the oil sector."
"Both President Ali Bongo Ondimba and his main challenger, former Foreign Minister Jean Ping, say they won yesterday's election for a seven-year term as president. Official results are expected Tuesday."
"The Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), a sounding rocket (research rocket) with a solid booster carrying advanced scramjet engines, was successfully flight-tested from the launch pad of the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre, also known as Sriharikota Range (SHAR), at Sriharikota on Sunday. This first experimental mission of Indian Space Research Organisation is aimed at the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidiser. The mission had a smooth countdown of 12 hours as the ATV with scramjet engines weighing 3277 kg lifted off at 6 a.m. ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar and SHAR director P. Kunhikrishnan along with a host of space scientists were present at Sriharikota on the occasion. The ATV vehicle, which touched down in the Bay of Bengal approximately 320 km from Sriharikota after a flight of 300 seconds, was successfully tracked during its flight from the ground stations at Sriharikota. With this, the ISRO had successfully demonstrated its capabilities in critical technologies like ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems. Technological challenges handled by ISRO scientists during the development of the scramjet engine include the design and development of hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, proper thermal management and ground testing of the engines. With this, India became the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of a scramjet engines. This mission is a milestone for ISRO’s future space transportation system. The scientists said that all the important flight events such as the burn out of booster rocket stage and functioning of scramjet engines for 5 seconds followed by burn out of the second stage took place exactly as planned. (ISRO's ATV rocket lifts off with two scramjet engines from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Sunday. Photo: ISRO) 10 things to know about ISRO's scramjet engine launch</s>BENGALURU: Joining a select club of nations, India on Sunday successfully test fired its futuristic Scramjet Rocket Engine using oxygen from the atmosphere that could cut the cost of the launches several fold and help in ISRO’s bid to design advanced air breathing engines. The first experimental mission of Scramjet Engine was successfully conducted from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 6 am, Indian Space Research Organisation said. It described the mission as a “modest” yet important milestone in its bid to design and develop advanced air breathing engines, including ones for its future space transport system. India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of Scramjet Engine after the US, Russia and European Space Agency. After a smooth countdown of 12 hours, the solid rocket booster Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) carrying the Scramjet Engines lifted off at 6 am and ending a 300 seconds-flight, touched down in the Bay of Bengal, about 320 kms from Sriharikota, the city-headquartered ISRO said. The important flight events — burn out of booster rocket stage, ignition of second stage solid rocket, functioning of Scramjet engines for 5 seconds followed by burn out of the second stage — took place exactly as planned, ISRO said. The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from the ground stations at Sriharikota. ISRO said it was the maiden “short duration experimental test” of Scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6, and the ATV, an advanced sounding rocket carrying the engines, weighed 3277 kg at lift-off. The space agency said with this flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated. It said Scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses Hydrogen as fuel and the Oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidizer. Usually rocket engines carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion, but these newly developed engines with air-breathing propulsion system will use oxygen from the atmosphere thereby reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle. It will also help in bring down launch costs substantially. The Scramjet engine will also be used eventually to power ISRO’s reusable launch vehicle at hypersonic speed. ATV is a two-stage spin stabilised launcher with identical solid motors (based on Rohini RH560 sounding rocket) as the first as well as the second stage (booster and sustainer), ISRO said. The twin Scramjet engines were mounted on the back of the second stage. Once the second stage reached the desired conditions for engine “Start-up”, necessary actions were initiated to ignite the Scramjet engines and they functioned for about 5 seconds, it said adding that today’s ATV flight operations were based on a pre-programmed sequence. President Pranb Mukherjee, who is in Bengaluru, congratulated ISRO for the successful test.</s>While conventional rocket engines need to carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion to produce thrust, scramjet engines obtain oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at hypersonic speed. The test-flight of the indigenously-developed supersonic combustion ramjet engine took place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 6 a.m. ISRO on Sunday successfully test-fired a newly-developed Scramjet Rocket Engine, DDNews reported. The air-breathing propulsion experiment involves its RH-560 rocket fitted with a supersonic combustion ramjet (Scramjet) engine. The test-flight of the indigenously-developed scramjet engine took place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 6 a.m., according to news agencies. The test was to have been done on July 28, 2016 but the search by the Indian Air Force and the Navy for the IAF’s transport aircraft An-32, which disappeared over the Bay of Bengal has delayed it by a month. The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, has developed the engines to be used in a two-stage RH-560 rocket. Named Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), the test platform comprises a scramjet engine hitched to the RH- 560 rocket. “The vehicle has been characterised and is being fabricated at the VSSC and the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri,” VSSC Director K.Sivan had told The Hindu during preparations for the launch of the PSLV-C34. Space agencies across the world are focussing on the development of scramjet technology because it contributes to smaller launch vehicles with more payload capacity and promises cheaper access to outer space. While conventional rocket engines need to carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion to produce thrust, scramjets obtain oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at hypersonic speed. The scramjet engine can also liquefy the oxygen and store it on board.</s>The Indian Space Research Organisation joined an elite club when, on Sunday, it successfully launched a rocket using a scramjet engine that was developed indigenously. This is ISRO’s first major step towards developing an air breathing propulsion system. The scramjet engine functioned for around six seconds. There are many reasons why the use of a scramjet engine is so attractive. A scramjet engine uses oxygen present in the atmospheric air to burn the hydrogen fuel. As a result, the amount of oxygen required to be carried on board would be reduced considerably as atmospheric oxygen is utilised to burn the fuel in the first stage. In general, propellant accounts for nearly 85 per cent of the weight of a rocket, and oxygen accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the weight of the propellant. Scramjet-powered rockets also have several times greater thrust compared with rockets powered by liquid fuel or even cryogenic fuel. Since about half of the propellant is required for the first stage to achieve the required velocity, a rocket using a scramjet engine would be significantly lighter and smaller and, therefore, cheaper. Alternatively, rockets fired by scramjet engines will be able to carry more payload. Sunday’s test flight, which attained six times the speed of sound (Mach 6) and was able to achieve ignition and maintain stable combustion even at such high velocity for about six seconds, is a big technological achievement. This is akin to “lighting a matchstick in a hurricane condition and sustaining the flame” for six seconds. The air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems were also successfully demonstrated during the maiden test flight. Since it relies on oxygen present in the atmosphere, the trajectories of scramjet engine-powered rockets are vastly different from conventional ones — rockets with scramjet engines should remain in the atmosphere for a longer period than normal rockets. Typically, scramjet rockets climb to a certain altitude and remain in the atmosphere for as long as possible to achieve the required velocity. It will take many years before a commercial rocket powered by a scramjet engine takes to the sky as there are several challenges to be overcome. One challenge will be to test the engine at higher Mach speeds and prolong the period of combustion. Since the scramjet comes into play only when the rocket goes beyond Mach 5, an engine that initially works at subsonic speed (as a ramjet) and later as a scramjet has to be developed. But as in the case of the successful test flight of a reusable vehicle, the first experimental flight using a scramjet engine is a technological demonstration of ISRO’s capability and will go a long way in redefining its position as one of the leading space agencies in the world.</s>The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully tested its scramjet engine on Sunday in Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The rocket took off at 6 am after reports confirmed that the wind speeds were conducive for the launch. The scramjet engine, used only during the atmospheric phase of the rocket’s flight, will help in bringing down the launch cost by reducing the amount of oxidiser to be carried along with the fuel. Meanwhile, the launch of the Indian weather satellite, INSAT-3DR, which was slated for Sunday has now been postponed to September 8. Queried about the change in launch plan Krishnan said: "While carrying out the tests there was a technical issue found with a satellite component. It has been sorted out now and hence the delay." He said the GSLV rocket that would carry the weather satellite INSAT-3DR is fully assembled. The weather satellite will be mounted on to the rocket in three to four days. According to officials, the ISRO will launch ScatSat -- a weather monitoring and forecasting satellite -- with polar satellite launch vehicle end of next month. The Indian satellite will be a co-passenger to an Algerian satellite. Both the satellites will be put into different orbits. So the fourth engine of the rocket will be switched off after ejecting ScatSat first. Then after a gap of around 30 minutes, the engine will be switched on and put the Algerian satellite into its intended orbit."
"The Indian Space agency ISRO successfully tests its Scramjet engines. Two scramjet engines were mounted alongside of a two-stage, solid fueled rocket called Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), which is an advanced sounding rocket. Scramjet engines were then ignited when ATV achieved a speed of Mach 6 (7350 km/hr) at an altitude of 20 km."
"ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 54 people when he drove a car bomb into a militia compound in Aden on Monday, the health ministry said, in one of the deadliest attacks claimed by Islamic State in the southern Yemeni port city. The director general of Yemen’s health ministry in Aden, al-Khader Laswar, told Reuters that at least 67 other people were wounded in the attack in the city’s Mansoura district. The militant Islamic State group said in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency one of its suicide bombers carried out the bombing. “Around 60 dead in a martyrdom operation by a fighter from Islamic State targeting a recruitment center in Aden city,” the statement said, without giving further details. A security source said the attack targeted a school compound where conscripts of the Popular Committees, forces allied to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, were gathered for breakfast. Related Coverage Islamic State claims Yemen suicide bombing, says about 60 militia recruits killed Witnesses said the suicide bomber entered the compound behind a truck that had brought breakfast for the conscripts, who had queued for the meal. Ambulance sirens wailed throughout the morning as they ferried casualties to a hospital run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which was overwhelmed by the number of casualties. An MSF spokesperson said the hospital received at least 45 bodies and more than 60 wounded people. Islamist militants, including Islamic State, have exploited an 18-month-old civil war between the Houthi movement and Hadi’s supporters, attacking senior officials, religious figures, security forces and compounds of the Saudi-led Arab military coalition which supports Hadi. Last month, the governor of the southern Yemeni city of Aden survived a car bomb attack targeting his convoy, the latest attempt on the city’s top official. In May, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 army recruits and injured 60 others when he rammed a booby-trapped car at recruits lined up to enlist for military service at a compound in Aden. Slideshow (5 Images) Hadi’s supporters, who accuse former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of using Islamist militants to target the internationally-recognized president, have launched a series of raids in recent weeks to try to stem the violence, seizing dozens of people suspected of involvement in attacks across the city. In eastern Yemen, forces loyal to Hadi, backed by troops from the United Arab Emirates, drove members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from the city of Mukalla in a military operation in May.</s>ADEN: The Islamic State group claimed responsiblity Monday for a suicide bombing against Yemeni army recruits in Aden that killed at least 60 people, the IS-linked Amaq news agency said. “Around 60 killed in a martyrdom operation carried out by an Islamic State fighter that targeted a recruitment centre in Aden,” Amaq said in a statement published on Twitter.</s>ADEN (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 54 people when he drove a car bomb into a militia compound in Aden on Monday, the health ministry said, in one of the deadliest attacks claimed by the Islamic State terror group in the southern Yemeni port city. The director general of Yemen’s health ministry in Aden, al-Khader Laswar, told Reuters that at least 67 other people were wounded in the attack in the city’s Mansoura district. The Islamic State said in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency one of its suicide bombers carried out the bombing. “Around 60 dead in a martyrdom operation by a fighter from Islamic State targeting a recruitment center in Aden city,” the statement said, without giving further details. A security source said the attack targeted a school compound where conscripts of the Popular Committees, forces allied to the internationally recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, were gathered for breakfast. The blast rocked the area and sent debris flying and residents fleeing, one witness said. Islamist terrorists have exploited an 18-month-old civil war between the Houthis and Hadi’s supporters and launched a series of attacks targeting senior officials, religious figures, security forces and compounds of the Saudi-led Arab military coalition which supports Hadi.</s>At least 15 bodies taken to Aden hospital after suicide bombing- hospital source ADEN, Aug 29 (Reuters) - At least 15 bodies were transferred to a hospital run by Medicins Sans Frontieres in the southern Yemen city of Aden on Monday, a source at the hospital said, after an attack on a building used by local militias. A security official and witnesses said a suicide bomber drove a car into the building in north Aden. It was used by the Popular Resistance, a local force that had helped drive Iran-allied Houthis out of the city last year. They said at least four people were killed and 11 were wounded in the attack, while a source at the medical charity said between 15 and 20 bodies had been brought into the hospital.</s>(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – An ISIS suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden car into an army recruiting center in Aden, Yemen, on Monday, killing 71 people, claimed the militant outfit in a statement published in its media wing Al Amaq. “The attacker drove through a gate that had been opened for a delivery vehicle. It rammed directly into a gathering of recruits,” informed security officials. “Some recruits were buried under rubble when a roof collapsed after the blast,” officials further said, adding, “Medical sources could not immediately verify whether all those killed in the attack were army recruits or had some other persons as well.” Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its hospital in Aden had received 45 dead and at least 60 wounded following the explosion. It may be mentioned here that Aden is the temporary base of Yemeni government, which was forced into exile after parts of the country were seized by Sana’a- an insurgent group backed by Iran.</s>ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed dozens of recruits at a military training camp Monday in Yemen's southern port city of Aden, according to a statement by the ISIS-affiliated Amaq agency which was widely circulated on social media. At least 45 people were killed in the attack and sixty others wounded, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) communications manager Malak Shaher told CNN. The car bomb exploded inside a training camp for forces allied to Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, according to two senior security officials in Aden. The explosion occurred at 8:15 a.m. local time (1.15 a.m. ET) while recruits were waiting in line to be enrolled among troops heading to battle at the Saudi-Yemeni border, the officials said.</s>ADEN, Aug 29 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 45 people when he drove a car laden with explosives into a compound run by local militias in Aden on Monday, Medecins Sans Frontieres said, in one of the deadliest attacks in the southern Yemeni port city. The official said at least 60 other people were brought into a nearby hospital run by the medical charity in Aden's Mansoura district. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but it resembled previous suicide bombings which Islamic State said it carried out in the city. A security source said the attack targeted a school compound where conscripts of the Popular Committees, forces allied to the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, were gathered for breakfast. The blast rocked the area and sent debris flying, sending residents fleeing, one witness said. Islamist militants have exploited an 18-month-old civil war between the Houthis and Hadi's supporters and launched a series of attacks targeting senior officials, religious figures, security forces and compounds of the Saudi-led Arab military coalition which supports Hadi. (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf, writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh; editing by Dominic Evans)</s>ADEN: An Islamic State group militant rammed his explosives-laden car into an army recruiting center in Aden yesterday, killing 71 people in the deadliest jihadist attack on the Yemeni city in over a year. The army, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, is training young recruits to join its nationwide war against Houthi rebels and their allies, as well as other militants. Aden is the temporary base of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which was forced into exile after Iran-backed insurgents seized Sanaa and other parts of the war-torn country. Security officials told AFP the attacker drove the car bomb into a gathering of recruits at a school in the north of the port city. The recruits were among 5,000 newly enrolled soldiers being trained to fight the Houthi rebels in the north along the border with Saudi Arabia, military sources said. Although the complex was locked as recruits registered inside, the attacker drove in when the gate was opened for a delivery vehicle, officials said. Witnesses said some recruits were buried when a roof collapsed after the blast which left a gaping hole on the building’s facade. Debris was scattered around the complex and nearby buildings were damaged. The assault killed at least 71 people and wounded 98, medical sources told AFP. They could not immediately verify whether all those who died were army recruits. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Twitter that its hospital in Aden “received 45 dead and at least 60 wounded” following the explosion. Aden has experienced a wave of bombings and shootings targeting officials and security forces. Attacks in the city are often claimed by jihadists from either Al-Qaeda or IS, which have both taken advantage of the chaos in Yemen to make gains in the south and southeast. IS claimed yesterday’s bombing on its official propaganda outlet, Amaq. Earlier this month, a suicide bomber drove his vehicle into a large group of army reinforcements sent from Aden to fight jihadists in neighboring Lahj, killing five soldiers, military officials said. No group has claimed that attack. But on July 20, four policemen were killed in a bombing attack in Aden that was claimed by IS. And in May, twin suicide bombings in Aden claimed by IS killed at least 41 people. Yemeni authorities have trained hundreds of soldiers in the city over the past two months as part of operations to retake neighbouring southern provinces from jihadists. Earlier this month, government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition entered Abyan’s provincial capital of Zinjibar. Troops retook other towns across Abyan but have been met by fierce resistance in the key Al-Qaeda stronghold of Al-Mahfid, security sources said. The militants still have a presence in areas surrounding the recaptured towns and control large parts of neighboring Shabwa province, the sources say. The Arab coalition battling the rebels and their allies in Yemen has also been providing troops with air cover throughout their war against the jihadists. The United States has carried out numerous drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March last year and have helped government forces push the rebels out of Aden and four other southern provinces since July 2015. The war in Yemen has also impacted security in Saudi Arabia, where shelling from the kingdom’s impoverished neighbor killed three Saudi children and wounded nine other people on Sunday. Cross-border attacks from Yemen have intensified since the suspension in early August of UN-brokered peace talks between the rebels and the Saudi-backed government. A plane chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) landed at Sanaa airport yesterday, carrying insulin for thousands of people suffering from diabetes. “Yemen’s health sector is in a terrible state,” said the head of the ICRC in Yemen, Alexandre Faite. “Less than 30 percent of the required medicines and medical supplies have entered Yemen in 2015,” he added. – AFP</s>SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A suicide attacker set off a massive car bomb in Yemen's southern city of Aden on Monday, killing at least 45 pro-government troops who had been preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia to fight Houthi rebels in Yemen's north, officials said. The men were at a staging area near two schools and a mosque where they were registering to join the expedition. The Saudis hope to train up to 5,000 fighters and deploy them to the Saudi cities of Najran and Jizan, near the border, Yemeni security officials said. Over 60 wounded were being taken to three area hospitals, they added. Aid group Doctors Without Borders reported on social media that their hospital in Aden had received 45 dead, while the Yemeni officials earlier put the figure at 25 but said it was likely to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief journalists. Yemen is embroiled in a civil war pitting the internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition against the Shiite rebels, who are allied with army units loyal to a former president. The fighting has allowed al-Qaida and an Islamic State affiliate in Yemen to expand their reach, particularly in the country's south. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The U.N. and rights groups estimate at least 9,000 people have been killed since fighting escalated in March 2015 with the start of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting the Houthis and their allies. Some 3 million people have been displaced inside the country, the Arab world's poorest.</s>Drives a car laden with explosives into a compound run by local militias. A suicide bomber killed at least 54 people when he drove a car laden with explosives into a compound run by local militias in Aden on Monday, Medicins Sans Frontieres said, in one of the deadliest attacks in the southern Yemeni port city. The official said at least 60 other people were brought into a nearby hospital run by the medical charity in Aden's Mansoura district. Meanwhile, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing and said the attack killed about 60 new recruits, according to the group's Amaq news agency. A security source said the attack targeted a school compound where conscripts of the Popular Committees, forces allied to the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, were gathered for breakfast. The blast rocked the area and sent debris flying, sending residents fleeing, one witness said. Islamist militants have exploited an 18-month-old civil war between the Houthis and Mr. Hadi's supporters and launched a series of attacks targeting senior officials, religious figures, security forces and compounds of the Saudi-led Arab military coalition which supports Mr. Hadi."
"The death toll of a suicide bombing in the southern Yemeni city of Aden rises to at least 71. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claims responsibility."
"This story is from August 30, 2016 Security forces patrol a deserted street in Srinagar. (AFP photo) Pak oppn against Sharif's K-team NC vows free legal aid to protesters SRINAGAR/ NEW DELHI: For the first time in 52 days, curfew was lifted from the entire Kashmir valley, barring three police stations, on Monday, setting the stage for the visit of an all-party delegation to the state on September 4. However, curfew was reimposed in some parts at night after fresh tension. Home minister Rajnath Singh will lead the delegation in a bid to explore dialogue as part of a political process to bring peace to the valley.The team will meet a cross-section of individuals and outfits in Srinagar on September 4 and 5. The visit could be extended by a day if it goes to Jammu as well.While there is no official word on the entities the team will talk to, indications are that it will limit itself to the brief followed by the team which went to the state in 2010. Then, LJP member and now food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had met some Hurriyat leaders separately . This time too, the team may not talk to secessionists but members will be free to interact with anybody they wish to. The opposition has demanded a political ou treach since violent protests broke out in the valley. The timing of the delegation's visit seems to have been worked out during J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti's meetings with home minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar and PM Narendra Modi in Delhi.Singh also held a discussion with BJP chief Amit Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley and MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh, an MP from the state, in what was described as a stock-taking exercise. It was decided at this meeting that an all-party delegation should go to Srinagar as soon as possible. The Centre has informed other political parties about the visit.Meanwhile, J&K resumed a shadow of normalcy on Monday even though a few clashes were reported from a number of places in Srinagar and parts of Budgam district. Nobody was hurt in these incidents, police said.The areas that fall under three police stations -Nowhatta and Maharaj Gunj in Srinagar, and Pulwama -remained under curfew. Miscreants emerged on the streets in these areas and tried to create trouble.Rioters pelted stones on private vehicles, erected barricades and also threw stones at vehicles of security forces, leading to clashes at multiple places. Following the clashes, the authorities imposed restrictions in these areas. Intense clashes in the interiors of Batamaloo, Srinagar, led to the authorities reportedly reimposing curfew in the area. Police said there was “minor“ stone-pelting in some areas.The 22 lawmakers nominated by Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif as envoys to highlight the Kashmir issue in key nations have no credentials to do so, the nation's opposition parties said on Monday. Ex-cricketer Imran Khan's PTI and former president Asif Ali Zardari-led PPP have also rued the lack of opposition representation on the team. PTI's Asad Umar asked how the team would highlight the issue when most didn't even attend parliamentary debates.J&K opposition party National Conference said on Monday it would provide free legal assistance to youngsters arrested during the current spell of unrest in the valley. “The legal cell of NC in every district will provide free legal assistance to youths arrested on fictitious charges by the present government,“ party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said. He added that an atmosphere of “lawlessness“ was being created in J&K.In Video: Curfew lifted from some parts of Kashmir after 51 days</s>Indian officials lift curfew from most of Kashmir SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities on Monday lifted a curfew imposed in most parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir as part of a 52-day security lockdown, although most shops and businesses remained closed due to an ongoing strike called to protest Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region. Government forces on Monday removed steel barricades and coils of barbed wire from the roads across the region, but officials said the curfew would continue in some parts of the old quarters of Kashmir's main city of Srinagar and in the southern Pulwama area. Public transport was off the roads in Srinagar but some private vehicles were seen on the streets. The curfew, a series of communication blackouts and a tightening crackdown have failed to stop some of the largest protests against Indian rule in recent years, triggered by the killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8. Since then, tens of thousands of people have defied security restrictions, staged protests and clashed with government forces on a daily basis. At least 68 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotguns at rock-throwing protesters. Two policemen have been killed while hundreds of government forces have been injured in the clashes. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Most Kashmiris want an end to Indian rule and favor independence or a merger with Pakistan. More than 68,000 people have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in the subsequent Indian military crackdown.</s>The decision to lift curfew was taken at a high level security meeting on Sunday evening, sources said. Authorities on Monday lifted curfew from Kashmir after 51 days since the ongoing unrest began on July 9, officials said. “Curfew has been lifted from the entire Valley. But, it will remain in force in Pulwama town and in areas under the jurisdiction of Nowhatta and M.R. Gunj police stations in Srinagar,” a senior police official told IANS. The decision to lift curfew was taken at a high level security meeting on Sunday evening, sources said. An all party delegation comprising senior leaders of political parties is slated to visit Kashmir on September 3. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to accompany the delegation. Meanwhile, separatists here continued their protest shutdown despite lifting of the curfew. In a statement issued last week, the separatists have asked people to continue the shutdown until September 1. All senior separatist leaders have been placed under detention in Srinagar city. A total of 71 people — 68 civilians and three policemen — have been killed in this present bout of violence that started on July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight. Over 11,000 others including civilians and security personnel were injured during this period.</s>An all-party delegation led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Jammu and Kashmir on September 4 and is expected to interact with a cross section of people as part of efforts to bring peace in the Valley which has been witnessing unrest. The delegation will visit Jammu and Kashmir on September 4 and the home minister will lead it, a home ministry spokesperson said. The delegation is expected to meet a cross section of people, individuals and organisations in its efforts to bring peace in KashmirValley which has been witnessing unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The home minister on Sunday had a hour-long meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh and discussed with them the modalities of the all-party delegation. Sources said the meeting discussed the possible individuals and groups with whom the delegation may interact during its tour of the troubled state. The government has sounded out different political parties to convey the names of their functionaries who will be part of the team. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about the Kashmir situation in his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme. "Ekta (unity) and Mamata (affection) was the crux of all interactions I had recently on Kashmir situation," he had said. Modi said those pushing youth towards stone pelting in Kashmir will some day have to answer them. He also said that all political parties spoke in one voice on Kashmir, sending out a strong message to the world as well as separatists. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had met the prime minister on Saturday. IMAGE: Rajnath Singh and Mehbooba Mufti address a press conference, in Srinagar on August 25, 2016. Photograph: PIB</s>To successfully reach out to Kashmiris, and establish good faith, the Central government needs to address the symbolism that drives the separatist quarter Over the past one and a half months, a host of institutions and individuals in India have impressed upon the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led Central government to reach out to Kashmiris to bring a peaceful end to the crisis in the Valley. Parliament discussed it at length, participants in an all-party meeting urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a political solution, and even a senior Army general has indirectly hinted at the need to talk to ‘all stakeholders’ in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). And yet, the BJP leadership has summarily failed to act on such advice and normalise the Valley. The BJP continues to approach the Kashmir issue either using a Pakistan angle (insisting that the Kashmir uprising is propped up by Pakistan) or from a Hindu-Muslim perspective. Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s attempts to blame the unrest entirely on Pakistan and rope in Delhi-based Muslim clerics to reach out to Kashmiris are indicative of these flawed approaches. The reality is that neither do Indian Muslims have anything to do with what happens in Kashmir nor is the ‘azadi’ struggle in Kashmir a purely Islamic movement. This shocking inability of the BJP to meaningfully resolve or sensibly respond to the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir is not merely a result of the arrogance of power or sheer political ignorance. At a very fundamental level, this is the result of a clash that exists between the BJP’s politics of symbolism and what Kashmir’s ‘azadi’ movement symbolises. While some of the demands made and positions taken by both the BJP leadership and the Kashmiri dissidents are indeed substantive, if not entirely useful, the fact is that there are thick layers of symbolism that surround these substantive arguments, with the latter almost clouding the former. The Kashmir issue is as much symbolic as it is substantive. Hence one cannot address the substantive issue of conflict resolution in Kashmir without addressing the symbology of the ‘azadi’ movement. In the BJP’s (and Sangh Parivar’s) hyper-nationalist cosmology, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and the separate flag and constitution which symbolise that special status of J&K in the Indian Union, run counter to their idea of Indian nationalism. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s evocative slogan “Ek vidhan, ek nishan aur ek samvidhan” (one country, one emblem and one constitution) forms the BJP’s political approach to Kashmir. In reality though, the J&K flag and its constitution are not privileged over the Indian national flag or Constitution, and Article 370 of the Constitution has lost all meaning over the years. In other words, while in the Kashmiri political imagination, the flag, constitution and whatever is left of Article 370 form a crucial part of Kashmiri nationalism and even its ‘azadi’ demand, the BJP, a party that rides high on exclusivist political symbolism, finds it hard to accept it. For the Kashmiri nationalist, abolition of Article 370 would be symbolic of complete ‘Indian occupation’; for the BJP and the Sangh, it would be in line with bringing Kashmir into the Indian mainstream. What about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA? To Kashmiris, draconian laws like AFSPA are symbolic of Indian oppression in Kashmir, whereas for the BJP, withdrawing AFSPA would be a symbolic defeat at the hands of Kashmiri separatists. The reality, however, is that revoking AFSPA from a few districts in Kashmir or even partially amending it would be a symbol that Kashmiris would find greatly encouraging. Moreover, doing so would hardly affect the Indian Army’s operational capability there. The same logic applies to the withdrawal of Central forces from the residential areas of the Valley. Having put itself on a ‘better than thou’ nationalistic pedestal, the BJP finds it difficult to heed to such demands, which the Congress party could if it willed it. However, doing so would make a great deal of difference to Kashmiris since, for them, the gun-totting soldier frisking Kashmiri civilians, day after day, represents Indian oppression. The only BJP leader who played to the Kashmiri nationalist symbolism, if not do anything about it, was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who by merely uttering the magic mantra that every BJP leader takes refuge in today — ‘Kashmiriyat, jamhooriyat, insaniyat’ — transformed the discourse on the relationship between New Delhi and Srinagar. His wise words did not lead to any action: the word was the act, and it made a difference. Moreover, the BJP managed to form a coalition government in the Valley with the ‘soft-separatist’ Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), despite declaring in its manifesto that it would abrogate Article 370, precisely because it managed to not only go back on its hardline positions but also address some of the key symbols of Kashmiri nationalism in its ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with the PDP. The United Progressive Alliance regime, on the other hand, was adept at symbolically playing to Kashmiri demands. Most of its Kashmir initiatives from 2004 to 2011 show that it cleverly used symbolism with an occasional sprinkling of substance: Manmohan Singh engaged the separatists without any hesitation (unlike the BJP), organised Round Table Conferences in Kashmir, set up Working Groups on key themes linked to the ‘azadi’ question, and, after the 2010 agitation, sent a group of interlocutors to Kashmir who went out of their way to meet all key separatists in the Valley. While nothing came out of any of these initiatives, Dr. Singh managed to convey to Kashmiris that he was willing to engage them in an ‘out of the box’ manner without riding high on aggressive nationalism. The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is a substantive issue pertaining primarily to the State’s territoriality, and yet there are strong symbolic aspects of the dispute that can indeed transcend the substantive claims. Armed with the unavoidable realisation that a territorial change of the Kashmir border is impossible due to a variety of reasons, Pakistan has been looking for an ‘honourable exit route’ from the Kashmir quagmire, a conflict that has had immeasurable adverse implications for its own society and polity. This explains the thought-process behind the so-called Musharraf formula on Kashmir, a solution that hinges on resolving the bilateral Kashmir dispute without changing its currently existing borders. Dr. Singh understood the symbolism behind the Musharraf formula and offered to work with the Pakistani leader to ‘make borders irrelevant’ in Kashmir. Both proposals were full of symbolism, with hardly any substantive territorial transformation in it. Dr. Singh was able to pursue it precisely because the symbolism behind his politics, and that of the Congress party, did not clash with the proposed solution. How fundamental is Kashmir to Pakistan’s identity? There was a time when Kashmir was bandied about as the “jugular vein of Pakistan”. They continue to do so, but of late, there is a recognition in the country that it needs to focus more on its own internal conflicts rather than Kashmir though the current stand-off may help reverse it. Pakistan also regularly refers to the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, but that is essentially to put New Delhi on the mat rather than being reflective of its seriousness about the Resolutions which would require Pakistan to first vacate the J&K territory under its control. In short, it is not impossible for India to address Pakistan’s claims on Kashmir, if preceded by a proper peace process. The BJP, however, due to its hyper-nationalist baggage and puritanical claims about Kashmir, may find it hard to address Pakistan’s need for a ‘symbolic resolution’ of the Kashmir dispute. The BJP’s inability to resolve the Kashmir issue also stems from its domestic political compulsions. Having often termed the Kashmiri separatists as ‘Pakistan-backed terrorists’, and then ‘successfully’ sold this line to its loyal constituency at home and on social media, it has become difficult for the BJP to proactively reach out to the separatists. No wonder then Mr. Modi took more than a month to even make a reluctant statement about the ongoing uprising in Kashmir, and Rajnath Singh failed to reach out to the separatists despite two visits to the Valley. More importantly, the BJP’s Kashmir policy will continue to be dictated by electoral compulsions. Its electoral campaigns tend to ride high (along with the developmental promises) on nationalist symbols, national pride, national power, civilisational greatness, etc. Such high-octane symbolism does not go well with attempts at negotiating with the Kashmiri ‘terrorists’ supported by Pakistan especially when the party is bracing for Assembly elections in crucial States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat. Kashmir’s contemporary ‘azadi’ struggle is a powerful concoction of hatred towards New Delhi, a desire to be free from Indian ‘occupation’, lived experiences of daily humiliation represented by the presence of the Indian armed forces there, a historical sense of victimhood and betrayal symbolised by centuries of being ruled by ‘outsiders’, New Delhi’s inability to keep promises, and a disturbing amount of religious influence. Sure, there is a substantive political basis to the ‘azadi’ demand. However, most of these expressions of ‘azadi’ can be addressed by a number of measures, mostly symbolic in nature, as pointed out above. In other words, addressing Kashmir’s symbolic needs then is perhaps key to the heart of the conflict in Kashmir. However, as Amitabh Mattoo, a renowned academic currently based out of Kashmir, points out, “The Kashmir issue is as much symbolic as it is substantive, but the more you wait to address the symbolic aspects of it, the less you would be able to address the substantive aspects.” Insurgencies are almost always waged, and fought, with a great deal of symbolism. However, the use of excessive counter-symbolism by the state to defeat the separatist/insurgent narrative, without catering to the insurgent’s symbolic needs, can often have the obverse effect of strengthening the separatist narrative. Therefore, if New Delhi wishes to get to the heart of the problem in Kashmir, it needs to address the very symbols of Kashmir’s ‘azadi’ movement. Happymon Jacob is an Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.</s>A nearly two-month curfew in the troubled Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was partially lifted on Monday only to be largely re-imposed after fresh violence erupted in several parts of the capital, Srinagar. For many people the easing of the curfew had been the first opportunity in 52 days to move freely outside their homes. The former Himalayan kingdom has been wracked by protests in the wake of the killing of a popular young militant separatist by security forces on 8 July. The death of Burhan Wani, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, tipped Kashmir into one of its worst crises in years. At least 68 people have been killed to date and up to 10,000 injured during the clashes. The saga has soured relations between Pakistan and India, who have been engaged in a decades-long dispute over the region. Authorities announced the partial lifting of the curfew after declaring an improvement in the security situation. But in many areas residents swiftly came out to hurl stones at government forces and shout slogans demanding freedom from Indian rule. Weeks of mobile phone network blackouts and movement restrictions have hit the poorest of Kashmir the hardest, with many people struggling to get hold of basic supplies from relief committees established across Srinagar. Raja Begum, a 62-year-old widow living in a small home in downtown Srinagar, lost her daily earnings of 150 rupees a day selling clothes on the street. “I tried to venture out of my house several times to get medicines but each time I was stopped by paramilitary forces,” said Begum, whose health has deteriorated without the drugs she needs. Even without the curfew, shops remained closed after a strike was called by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella group of separatist parties, many of whose leaders have been arrested in recent weeks. “People will not start their usual business until Delhi says it is open to full talks with the three parties – India, Pakistan and the resistance leaders,” said Hamida Nayeem, an academic at Kashmir University and an activist. On 15 August, Islamabad extended a formal invitation to India for fresh bilateral talks on the Kashmir dispute. But the offer was rebuffed by India, with Delhi saying it would discuss cross-border terrorism, which it blames on clandestine support by Pakistan. The lifting of the curfew allowed Nayeem to visit injured protesters recovering at Srinagar’s main hospital, many of them from serious pellet injuries to the eyes caused by shotguns used by security forces to disperse crowds. She said she had seen more than 100 such patients on Monday, many of whom either had been blinded or had undergone multiple operations to try to salvage some of their eyesight. “India has achieved new depths of degradation with this policy of aiming guns at people’s eyes,” she said. “They treat us as enemies rather than citizens.” India has flooded even more security forces into a region that is already home to 500,000 soldiers. Many of the reinforcements have taken over schools for use as temporary bases. The government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, initially played down the crisis in Kashmir, but it has faced increasing pressure, including from army chiefs, to open a dialogue with separatist leaders. In a radio address on Sunday, Modi expressed sadness at the loss of life in Kashmir but criticised “those trying to disturb peace in Kashmir by putting small children in the front and hiding behind them”. India and Pakistan have fought three conflicts over the Muslim-majority region, which Pakistan believes should have been included inside its territory when the subcontinent became independent from Britain in 1947. Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced over the weekend that he had appointed 22 parliamentarians as “special envoys” who would attempt to raise the issue internationally in the hope that foreign governments would exert pressure on India. The violence in Kashmir has undermined Sharif’s dream of overseeing an improvement in relations with India. Doubts are growing over whether Modi will attend a meeting of heads of government of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation due in the Pakistani capital on 9 November.</s>Authorities lifted a curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir after 52 days of lockdown amid deadly violence, but street clashes broke out again Monday between protesters and security forces. Restrictions were lifted throughout most of the tense Kashmir Valley including the main city of Sringar "following improvement in the situation", police said in a statement late Sunday. It was unclear whether the relaxation of restrictions would continue in the northern Himalayan region, where 68 civilians and two police officers have been killed since the unrest erupted last month. Schools and businesses remained closed on Monday and many streets in Srinagar were largely deserted as troops in riot gear patrolled on foot. Hundreds of residents rallied in other parts of Srinagar and in the northern town of Bandipora after the curfew was lifted, throwing stones at security forces who fired live rounds into the air and tear gas to disperse them, witnesses and an AFP photographer said. The current violence, the worst to hit the region since 2010, was triggered by the July 8 killing of a popular rebel leader, Burhan Wani, in a gunbattle with soldiers. Several rebel groups including Wani's Hizbul Mujahideen have for decades fought some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence for the region or its merger with Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm in the region on the weekend, criticising those responsible for encouraging youngsters to become involved in the recent unrest. Kashmir has been divided between rivals India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full. Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting since the armed rebellion against Indian rule began in 1989.</s>A fter 50 days of curfew in the Kashmir Valley, the Central and State governments finally appear to be coming together on how to engage with the conflict and all the stakeholders involved. Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visits to Srinagar appear to have, at least temporarily, calmed the air. A panel set up by the government is now looking at alternatives to the pellet guns used by the security forces: they have proved to be unacceptably lethal, and should have been abandoned already. An all-party delegation is expected to visit Srinagar in an attempt to reach out to people and kick-start a political dialogue. The process of normalcy can only begin once the restrictive curfew is lifted — but the government cannot sit back and wait for calm; it needs to foster it. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the gravity of the situation and sought to reach out by saying that each person who dies in the Valley is “one of our people”, there needs to be an actionable checklist to demonstrate the sincerity of the outreach. It is perhaps for all these reasons that after her meeting with Mr. Modi, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for the next step, a three-pronged action plan that would include talks with Pakistan and with the separatist leaders, many of whom are currently in prison. While all of these steps are welcome and necessary, the government must recognise that they only address the violence, and not the deeper problem of alienation in Kashmir. They are but leaves out of the playbook used in 2008 and 2010, to bring the Valley back from the edge after street protests: visits to Srinagar by senior national leaders and all-party delegations, words of restraint for security forces, and words of empathy to Kashmiris. In the current round of violence, Mr. Modi must do better than ‘reinvent the wheel’. To chart a new course, he and Ms. Mufti must work on a sustained plan for dialogue in the State, even as he builds a consensus on how to deal with Pakistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s grand diplomatic plans to internationalise the Kashmir issue may be unlikely to meet with much success on the international stage, and will probably be countered at the UN with India’s new pitch for Pakistan to vacate “all of Kashmir”. But such grandstanding hardly addresses the real issues at hand. The bilateral stand-off should not blunt the internal dialogue. What is important right now is not what India does outside its borders, but inside them, in a carefully considered, positive and sustained manner. For, the absence of violence is not peace; it is merely an enabling condition for the pursuit of lasting peace.</s>'Burhan Wani’s killing served as a spark for the anti-establishment fire that has been raging in the minds of Kashmiris ever since the Centre stopped engaging them for their political future.' '... before the upsurge the Hurriyat had begun to feel isolated and marginalised, many had begun to term them as irrelevant. But they are now back in the game.' 'The cardinal weaknesses shown in use of pellet shotguns are clearly due to lack of training on their use.' IMAGE: Protestors throw stones on the police which fired tear gas shells during a clash in Srinagar. Photograph: S Irfan/PTI Photo Nearly two months since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces, the Kashmir Valley remains shrouded in grief, anger and frustration. As dawn breaks everyday, mobs armed with sticks, stones and molotov cocktails emerge from homes to take on the collective might of a flailing administration for the cause of 'azadi'. But beyond the bold headlines and blaring prime time news shows, not much has really emerged from the Ground Zero of protest. To clear the air, Vipin Vijayan/Rediff.com reached out to Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, who has been part of the track II process which seeks to reach out to members of the civil society in the Valley to understand the ground reality and provide inputs to the government. Air Vice Marshal Kak is a former deputy director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and the founding additional director of the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi. In recent years, he has represented India in a number of Track II conferences on international security and strategic issues, and been part of many initiatives on the India-Pakistan peace process and conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir. The highly-decorated officer says the onus for restoring normalcy in the Kashmir Valley lies with the Centre and the state government together reaching out to all the stakeholders. Burhan Wani's killing seems to have touched a raw nerve with the Kashmiris. Help us make sense of the sudden spurt in anti-establishment sentiment. Or has it been that this sentiment has been simmering for a while now and simply boiled over upon the militant's killing? The latter part of the question itself provides the answer. Burhan Wani’s killing served as a spark for the anti-establishment fire that has been raging in the minds of Kashmiris ever since the Centre stopped engaging them for their political future. The last such effort was the interlocutors report of 2011 which has been gathering dust in North Block (which houses the PMO, home ministry, etc) ever since. This was the unanimous opinion of a large body of civil society comprising University teachers, lawyers, traders, manufacturers and sundry professionals I interacted with during two visits to Kashmir in the last three weeks. My second foray was as part of a 8-member delegation comprising a political leader, journalists, social activists, and a security analyst among others. How did Burhan Wani turn into an inspirational figure for the Kashmiri? Burhan Wani gave up studies to join militancy in 2011 when he was just 17. He soon gained a poster-boy image, and became a symbol of ‘new militancy’, in which educated, technology-savvy, social media-adept teenagers from relatively affluent families, who are ready to die, acquire iconic status. Sometime last year, a photograph of 10 militants, including Burhan Wani, all in jungle fatigues and bearing AK 47s, went viral on the social media. Professors at the Kashmir University told our delegation that militants spearheading the current upsurge are 12 to 16 years of age, fearless and ready to die. And we were told elders have lost control over the young. Worryingly enough, there is a growing cult of martyrdom. As a journalist-friend rightly averred, "there is an ecstasy in confrontation that borders on a love affair with death." There are reports that the writ of the government has stopped functioning in South Kashmir. Is there any truth in these claims? If so, in what manner? In a situation of what I term 'curfewed neo-normalcy', continuing protests over 48 days, 50-60 people getting injured daily in stone-pelting and counter actions by police, there is obviously pressure on the writ of the government, more so in South Kashmir, the centre of gravity of current upsurge. Notwithstanding the monumental challenge, the Mehbooba Mufti-led government, ably supported by the Centre, has not been found wanting in timely delivery of goods and services to public. The security forces are fully in control of the situation; yet they are restrained enough to let the youth let go the anger steam. Despite attendance in offices being restricted to about 10 per cent, the top civil and police administration is performing its functions admirably. Calls of Azadi have been heard across the Valley over the last 45 days. What's the premise of this demand? In general, anger against the Narendra Modi-led central government and support for Azadi stretches all across the Valley. There are small numbers who seek sovereign independence or merger with Pakistan, the latter demand having been consistently advocated by the hard line All Party Hurriyat Conference leader Ali Shah Geelani. In the entire spectrum of civil society, our delegation interacted with over three days, there was unanimity that they would not wish to join Pakistan. But they were equally vehement on their grievance that the special status accorded to J&K state under India's Constitution had been severely eroded ever since the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah in 1953. One gathers the impression that genuine autonomy as an alternative to sovereign independence would be an option that would resonate among the majority of Kashmiris with suitable devolutionary checks and balances provided to the people of Jammu and Ladakh. With violence continuing unabated and the toll rising by the day, where does Kashmir go from here? How do you see this situation being resolved? The immediate priority should be restoration of a modicum of normalcy progressively improving the same so people can get onto routine workaday living. The onus for this lies with the Centre and state government together reaching out to all the stakeholders. Expression of remorse on excessive use of force and the consequences it had on young teenagers by way of deaths and serious injuries, immediate ban on use of pellet guns, promise of selective revocation of AFSPA from a few districts, opening of official and non-official dialogue channels with the separatists and others and announcement of CBMs that would serve as a balm for the wounds in the minds of Kashmiris could be measures that would help resolve he situation. IMAGE: A policeman fires tear gas towards protesters during a protest against the recent killings in Kashmir, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters The government alleges that the separatists have been fuelling the protests in Kashmir. What's your take on this? The protests were spontaneous. But once these reached a critical mass, not only the separatists but even Pakistan leveraged the opportunity that came their way. The protestors do not fully adhere to the shut-down calendars announced by separatists. In fact, before the upsurge the Hurriyat had begun to feel isolated and marginalized, many had begun to term them as irrelevant. But they are now back in the game. And a dialogue by the Centre with them has to be a way point on the forward pathway. Kashmiri leaders allege that the use of pellet shot guns by security forces has been a catalyst to the protests. But the troops on the ground claim there's no other way to respond to the threat from large mobs that pelt stones. Opening fire could further antagonise the mob, they say. Negotiations aside, how should the security forces deal with the protestors on the ground? One does not want to appear cynical. Even one death is one too many. But as far higher casualties in conflicts elsewhere in the world suggest, 70 deaths in 48 days of mass upsurge are the result of restraint shown by both the stone pelters as also police forces. Doubtless, in some situations, possibly due to panic, police and the Central Reserve Police Force did use excessive force. But the cardinal weaknesses shown in use of pellet guns are clearly due to lack of training on their use. Because firing these at point blank ranges caused devastating injuries, including 200 cases of eye/retinal damage. Somewhere between 60-100 youth may be blinded in one or both eyes forever. The home minister has promised alternatives to pellet shotguns, options which need to be explored on priority. More robust crowd control and stone-pelting countermeasures training have to be imparted to the police and the CRPF deployed in the state. These are all a reflection of our non-professional and chalta hai approach. There is a near-unanimous agreement in Kashmir that the media has not being reporting the entire truth on the ground. Kashmiris claim television channels have kept peddling lies as news. So what is the entire truth? What is the message that the Kashmiri on the streets of Srinagar wants to convey to the rest of the nation? The Kashmiris, through our delegation, collectively conveyed a precise and unambiguous message, pointedly referring to three television channels -- "They lie through their teeth, they misrepresent us, call us terrorists." One television anchor, whose name can easily be guessed, is a unanimous object of hate throughout the valley. Would I be wrong when I say that agencies in Pakistan have no role to play in fuelling protests in the Valley? Many believe that it is in Pakistan's interest to keep the Valley in a state of permanent unrest. You are not wrong. Pakistan had no role in fuelling the mass upsurge. After Wani's killing in South Kashmir, the wave of sympathy and outrage was all pervasive and immediately spread to the entire Valley. The fact that nearly 2 lakh mourners held about 40 ceremonies in his memory over a 12 hour period after his body was handed over to the family is indicative of his cult following. Pakistan was clearly not involved in all this. It is also true that the so-called deep state in Pakistan has a huge stake in keeping the Kashmir pot on the boil to distract Pakistani people from the calamitous internal problems. Although cases of successful cross LoC infiltration are on the rise (there have been 85 cases in six months of 2016), the level of casualties because of cross border terrorism have been in a steep continuous decline from 2002 onwards. Perhaps the time has come to initiate a serious dialogue not the least because such a move would help impart greater acceleration to the New Delhi-Srinagar dialogue which must commence first. What should the Narendra Modi government do to assuage the people of Kashmir? The prime minister's promises at the all-party meeting -- after a 45-day silence which deeply hurt the civil society cross-section we met -- and Rajnath Singh's second visit to Kashmir presage encouraging political initiatives in the short term for the agitators to respond appropriately. In the medium term, initiation of a creative and innovative peace process involving multi-track dialogue with multiple stake-holders, as also a dialogue with Pakistan could lead to a political resolution acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. My own view is that greater devolution of political power with cross-LoC trade and people-to-people linkages envisaged in the so-termed 4-point mutually agreed between Musharraf-Vajpayee and Musharraf-Manmohan Singh during 2003-2007 -- the so-called golden period in India-Pakistan and Centre-Srinagar/Jammu relations -- appropriately repackaged, is a viable way forward. It would be a long haul, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to make the effort sincerely and resolutely. REDIFF RECOMMENDS</s>They discuss composition of all-party delegation that is to visit the State soon A day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called for a panel of eminent persons to be sent to the Valley for a dialogue, Home Minister Rajnath Singh discussed the Kashmir situation with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of State (MoS) Jitendra Singh and BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday. A Home Ministry official said the Ministers reviewed the ongoing unrest in the Valley and deliberated on the composition of the all-party delegation, which is expected to visit the State in the first week of September. The meeting continued for two hours at the residence of the Home Minister. Emerging out of the meeting, MoS, PMO Jitendra Singh said, “We had come here for margdarshan (guidance). He [Rajnath Singh] is a senior leader and that is why we came here.” “The Ministers also discussed the salient points discussed between the Prime Minister and the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister,” said the official. Amid Prime Minister Modi’s overtures to the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, the government is all set to announce a Rs. 2,000-crore package for displaced people of PoK living in the country."
"A curfew has ended in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir after 52 days of protest allowing for an all-party delegation to visit the state on Sunday."
"Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. His nephew said in a statement, “We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world. He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.” He had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989. The comic actor, who was twice Oscar nominated, for his role in “The Producers” and for co-penning “Young Frankenstein” with Mel Brooks, usually portrayed a neurotic who veered between total hysteria and dewy-eyed tenderness. “My quiet exterior used to be a mask for hysteria,” he told Time magazine in 1970. “After seven years of analysis, it just became a habit.” Habit or not, he got a great deal of mileage out of his persona in the 1970s for directors like Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, leading to a few less successful stints behind the camera, the best of which was “The Woman in Red,” co-starring then-wife Gilda Radner. Wilder was devastated by Radner’s death from ovarian cancer in 1989 and worked only intermittently after that. He tried his hand briefly at a sitcom in 1994, “Something Wilder,” and won an Emmy in 2003 for a guest role on “Will & Grace.” His professional debut came in Off Broadway’s “Roots” in 1961, followed by a stint on Broadway in Graham Greene’s comedy “The Complaisant Lover,” which won him a Clarence Derwent Award as promising newcomer. His performance in the 1963 production of Brecht’s “Mother Courage” was seen by Mel Brooks, whose future wife, Anne Bancroft, was starring in the production; a friendship with Brooks would lead to some of Wilder’s most successful film work. For the time being, however, Wilder continued to work onstage, in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1963 and “Dynamite Tonight” and “The White House” the following year. He then understudied Alan Arkin and Gabriel Dell in “Luv,” eventually taking over the role. Wilder also worked in television in 1962’s “The Sound of Hunting,” “The Interrogators,” “Windfall” and in the 1966 TV production of “Death of a Salesman” with Lee J. Cobb. He later starred in TV movies including “Thursday’s Game” and the comedy-variety special “Annie and the Hoods,” both in 1974. In 1967 Wilder essayed his first memorable bigscreen neurotic, Eugene Grizzard, a kidnapped undertaker in Arthur Penn’s classic “Bonnie and Clyde.” Then came “The Producers,” in which he played the hysterical Leo Bloom, an accountant lured into a money bilking scheme by a theatrical producer played by Zero Mostel. Directed and written by Brooks, the film brought Wilder an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor. With that, his film career was born. He next starred in a dual role with Donald Sutherland in “Start the Revolution Without Me,” in which he displayed his fencing abilities. It was followed by another middling comedy, “Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx,” also in 1970. In 1971 he stepped into the shoes of Willy Wonka, one of his most beloved and gentle characters. Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was not an immediate hit but became a children’s favorite over the years. The same cannot be said for the 1974 Stanley Donen-directed musical version of “The Little Prince,” in which Wilder appeared as the fox. He had somewhat better luck in Woody Allen’s spoof “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex,” appearing in a hilarious segment in which he played a doctor who falls in love with a sheep named Daisy. Full-fledged film stardom came with two other Brooks comedies, both in 1974: Western spoof “Blazing Saddles” and a wacko adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous book entitled “Young Frankenstein,” in which Wilder portrayed the mad scientist with his signature mixture of hysteria and sweetness. Working with Brooks spurred Wilder to write and direct his own comedies, though none reached the heights of his collaborations with Brooks. The first of these was “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” (1975), in which he included such Brooks regulars as Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman. It was followed by 1977’s “The World’s Greatest Lover,” which he also produced. Wilder fared better, however, when he was working solely in front of the camera, particularly in a number of films in which he co-starred with Richard Pryor. The first of these was 1976’s “Silver Streak,” a spoof of film thrillers set on trains; 1980’s “Stir Crazy” was an even bigger hit, grossing more than $100 million. Wilder and Pryor’s two other pairings, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Another You,” provided diminishing returns, however. While filming “Hanky Panky” in 1982, Wilder met “Saturday Night Live” comedienne Radner. She became his third wife shortly thereafter. Wilder and Radner co-starred in his most successful directing stint, “The Woman in Red” in 1984, and then “Haunted Honeymoon.” But Radner grew ill with cancer, and he devoted himself to her care, working sporadically after that and hardly at all after her death in 1989. In the early ’90s he appeared in his last film with Pryor and another comedy, “Funny About Love.” In addition to the failed TV series “Something Wilder” in 1994, he wrote and starred in the A&E mystery telepics “The Lady in Question” and “Murder in a Small Town” in 1999. He also appeared as the Mock Turtle in a 1999 NBC adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.” He last acted in a couple of episodes of “Will and Grace” in 2002-03 as Mr. Stein, winning an Emmy. He was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee and began studying acting at the age of 12. After getting his B.A. from the U. of Iowa in 1955, Wilder enrolled in the Old Vic Theater school in Bristol, where he learned acting technique and fencing. When he returned to the U.S. he taught fencing and did other odd jobs while studying with Herbert Berghof’s HB Studio and at the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg. Wilder’s memoir “Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art” was published in 2005. After that he wrote fiction: the 2007 novel “My French Whore”; 2008’s “The Woman Who Wouldn’t”; a collection of stories, “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” in 2010; and the novella “Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance” in 2013. Wilder was interviewed by Alec Baldwin for the one-hour TCM documentary “Role Model: Gene Wilder” in 2008. The actor was also active in raising cancer awareness in the wake of Radner’s death. He is survived by his fourth wife Karen Boyer, whom he married in 1991 and his nephew. His sister Corinne, predeceased him in January 2016. Before Radner, Wilder was married to the actress-playwright Mary Mercier and Mary Joan Schutz (aka Jo Ayers).</s>LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gene Wilder, the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in “The Producers” and the deranged animator of “Young Frankenstein,” has died. He was 83. Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a statement that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans. “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Walker-Pearlman said. Wilder started his acting career on the stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his collaborations with Mel Brooks on “The Producers,” ”Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” The last film — with Wilder playing a California-born descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced “Frahn-ken-SHTEEN” — was co-written by Brooks and Wilder. “One of the truly great talents of our time,” Mel Brooks tweeted. “He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.” With his unkempt hair and big, buggy eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.” Brooks would call him “God’s perfect prey, the victim in all of us.” But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or the charming candy man in the children’s favorite “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” His craziest role: the therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex.” He was close friends with Richard Pryor and their contrasting personas — Wilder uptight, Pryor loose — were ideal for comedy. They co-starred in four films: “Silver Streak,” ”Stir Crazy,” ”See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Another You.” And they created several memorable scenes, particularly when Pryor provided Wilder with directions on how to “act black” as they tried to avoid police in “Silver Streak.” In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brooks’ “The Producers.” He played the introverted Leo Bloom, an accountant who discovers the liberating joys of greed and corruption as he and Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) conceive a Broadway flop titled “Springtime For Hitler” and plan to flee with the money raised for the show’s production. Matthew Broderick played Wilder’s role in the 2001 Broadway stage revival of the show. Though they collaborated on film, Wilder and Brooks met through the theater. Wilder was in a play with Brooks’ then-future wife, Anne Bancroft, who introduced the pair backstage in 1963. Wilder, a Milwaukee native, was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1935. His father was a Russian emigre, his mother was of Polish descent. When he was 6, Wilder’s mother suffered a heart attack that left her a semi-invalid. He soon began improvising comedy skits to entertain her, the first indication of his future career. He started taking acting classes at age 12 and continued performing and taking lesson through college. In 1961, Wilder became a member of Lee Strasberg’s prestigious Actor’s Studio in Manhattan. That same year, he made both his off-Broadway and Broadway debuts. He won the Clarence Derwent Award, given to promising newcomers, for the Broadway work in Graham Greene’s comedy “The Complaisant Lover.” He used his new name, Gene Wilder, for the off-Broadway and Broadway roles. He lifted the first name from the character Eugene Gant in Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Back, Homeward Angel,” while the last name was clipped from playwright Thornton Wilder. A key break came when he co-starred with Bancroft in Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage,” and met Brooks, her future husband. “I was having trouble with one little section of the play, and he gave me tips on how to act. He said, ‘That’s a song and dance. He’s proselytizing about communism. Just skip over it, sing and dance over it, and get on to the good stuff.’ And he was right,” Wilder later explained. Before starring in “The Producers,” he had a small role as the hostage of gangsters in the 1967 classic “Bonnie and Clyde.” He peaked in the mid-1970s with the twin Brooks hits “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” He went on to write several screenplays and direct several films. In 1982, while making the generally forgettable “Hanky-Panky,” he fell in love with co-star Gilda Radner. They were married in 1984, and co-starred in two Wilder-penned films: “The Lady in Red” and “Haunted Honeymoon.” After Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research. He opened a support facility for cancer patients called “Gilda’s Place.” In 1991, he testified before Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer. Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen, whom he married in 1991.</s>In this March 16, 2005 file photo, actor Gene Wilder speaks about his life and career at Boston University in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) In this April 9, 2008 file photo, actor Gene Wilder listens as he is introduced to receive the Governor's Awards for Excellence in Culture and Tourism at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) Actor and author Gene Wilder autographs copies of his new book 'The Woman Who Wouldn't' at Barnes & Noble Bookstore at The Grove on March 17, 2008 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images) Gene Wilder and his wife Karen Boyer watch as Shahar Peer of Israel takes on Anna Chakvetadze of Russia during day ten of the 2007 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2007 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Actor Gene Wilder poses as he signs copies of his autobiography "Kiss Me Like A Stranger", at Waterstone's, Oxford Street on June 7, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images) This file photo taken on September 7, 1984 shows US actor and director Gene Wilder of the movie "The Woman in Red" during the 10th American Film Festival of Deauville. / AFP PHOTO / Mychele DANIAUMYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images LOS ANGELES -- Gene Wilder, the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in "The Producers" and the deranged animator of "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 83. Wilder's nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications from Alzheimer's disease. Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a statement that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans. "He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world," Walker-Pearlman said. Wilder started his acting career on the stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his collaborations with Mel Brooks on "The Producers," "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein." The last film -- with Wilder playing a California-born descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced "Frahn-ken-SHTEEN" -- was co-written by Brooks and Wilder. "One of the truly great talents of our time," Mel Brooks tweeted. "He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship." With his unkempt hair and big, buggy eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in "Young Frankenstein" or bilking Broadway in "The Producers." Brooks would call him "God's perfect prey, the victim in all of us." But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy gunslinger in "Blazing Saddles" or the charming candy man in the children's favourite "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." His craziest role: the therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen's "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex." He was close friends with Richard Pryor and their contrasting personas -- Wilder uptight, Pryor loose -- were ideal for comedy. They co-starred in four films: "Silver Streak," "Stir Crazy," "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" and "Another You." And they created several memorable scenes, particularly when Pryor provided Wilder with directions on how to "act black" as they tried to avoid police in "Silver Streak." In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brooks' "The Producers." He played the introverted Leo Bloom, an accountant who discovers the liberating joys of greed and corruption as he and Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) conceive a Broadway flop titled "Springtime For Hitler" and plan to flee with the money raised for the show's production. Matthew Broderick played Wilder's role in the 2001 Broadway stage revival of the show. Though they collaborated on film, Wilder and Brooks met through the theatre. Wilder was in a play with Brooks' then-future wife, Anne Bancroft, who introduced the pair backstage in 1963. Wilder, a Milwaukee native, was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1935. His father was a Russian emigre, his mother was of Polish descent. When he was 6, Wilder's mother suffered a heart attack that left her a semi-invalid. He soon began improvising comedy skits to entertain her, the first indication of his future career. He started taking acting classes at age 12 and continued performing and taking lesson through college. In 1961, Wilder became a member of Lee Strasberg's prestigious Actor's Studio in Manhattan. That same year, he made both his off-Broadway and Broadway debuts. He won the Clarence Derwent Award, given to promising newcomers, for the Broadway work in Graham Greene's comedy "The Complaisant Lover." He used his new name, Gene Wilder, for the off-Broadway and Broadway roles. He lifted the first name from the character Eugene Gant in Thomas Wolfe's "Look Back, Homeward Angel," while the last name was clipped from playwright Thornton Wilder. A key break came when he co-starred with Bancroft in Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage," and met Brooks, her future husband. "I was having trouble with one little section of the play, and he gave me tips on how to act. He said, 'That's a song and dance. He's proselytizing about communism. Just skip over it, sing and dance over it, and get on to the good stuff.' And he was right," Wilder later explained. Before starring in "The Producers," he had a small role as the hostage of gangsters in the 1967 classic "Bonnie and Clyde." He peaked in the mid-1970s with the twin Brooks hits "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein." He went on to write several screenplays and direct several films. In 1982, while making the generally forgettable "Hanky-Panky," he fell in love with co-star Gilda Radner. They were married in 1984, and co-starred in two Wilder-penned films: "The Lady in Red" and "Haunted Honeymoon." After Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research. He opened a support facility for cancer patients called "Gilda's Place." In 1991, he testified before Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer. Wilder guest-starred on two episodes of NBC's "Will & Grace" in 2002 and 2003, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor on a comedy series for his role as Mr. Stein, the boss of Will Truman, played by Canadian Eric McCormack. Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen, whom he married in 1991.</s>Gene Wilder, the star of such comedy classics as “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” has died. He was 83. Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday in Stamford, Connecticut from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.” But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” In this April 9, 2008 file photo, actor Gene Wilder listens as he is introduced to receive the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Culture and Tourism at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. Wilder, who starred in such film classics as "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Young Frankenstein" has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) In this April 9, 2008 file photo, actor Gene Wilder listens as he is introduced to receive the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Culture and Tourism at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. Wilder, who starred in such film classics as "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Young Frankenstein" has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)</s>Mel Brooks has led the tributes to Hollywood acting and writing partner Gene Wilder . His death was confirmed today by his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman saying he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The news of his death led to an outpouring of grief from Hollywood with his friend Mel Brooks leading the tributes. The director said: “Gene Wilder - one of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.” Rob Lowe wrote: “Gene Wilder as one of my earliest heroes. Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, are CLINICS on comic acting. Sad to hear of his passing.” Russell Crowe said: “I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends . George St. Cows outside. Gene Wilder, you were a genius. Rest in Peace.” Oscar-nominated Juliette Lewis added: “Thank you for the beautiful words”. Britain’s own funnyman Ricky Gervais simply used one of the star's most famous quotes from Willy Wonka writing on Twitter: “Good Day Sir!’ RIP Gene Wilder.” The frizzy-haired actor was often cast as characters who showed signs of neurotic or hysteric behaviour. “My quiet exterior used to be a mask for hysteria,” he told Time magazine in 1970. “After seven years of analysis, it just became a habit.” • Celebrity deaths in 2016: The famous faces gone too soon - from Gene Wilder to Prince and Alan Rickman Twice nominated for an Oscar, his glittering career faltered after the death of his wife Gilda Radner, who he starred alongside in The Woman in Red, which left him devastated. Friends say he never really got over her passing from ovarian cancer in 1989 and Wilder only worked infrequently after she died. He married again in 1991 to Karen Boyer. He returned briefly to television in the US with the sitcom “Something Wilder,” in 1994 and won an Emmy in 2003 for a guest role on “Will & Grace.” • Gene Wilder still has twinkle in his eye 44 years after playing Willy Wonka Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June 1933, he began acting at the age of eight when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. The family’s doctor told the then schoolboy to "try and make her laugh” to take her mind off the pain she suffered. After studying drama for two years when he turned 13 his mother Jeanne Silberman felt her son's potential was not being fully realised and sent him instead to Black-Foxe, a military institute in Hollywood. Following his graduation after studying Communication and Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa, he was accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol in 1955. But his time in the UK was short lived after he was drafted into the army the following year. He adopted Gene Wilder for his professional name at the age of 26, explaining, "I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe's character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder.” Following a short stint off-Broadway in 1961 Wilder won critical acclaim in Graham Greene’s comedy The Complaisant Lover. It saw him awarded the Clarence Derwent Award as most promising newcomer but more importantly brought him to the attention of Mel Brooks. When Wilder performed with the director’s future wife Anne Bancroft in Mother Courage it became the start of a long and famed friendship between the two men. It led to the actor being cast in the 1967 film The Producers, in which he played the hysterical Leo Bloom, an accountant lured into a money making scam by a theatrical producer played by Zero Mostel. Directed and written by Brooks, the film brought Wilder an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor spring-boarding him into more Hollywood roles. In 1971 he stepped into the shoes of Willie Wonka. Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was not an immediate hit but became a children’s favourite over the years. Now established in Hollywood Wilder achieved further stardom in two other Brooks comedies, both in 1974. Western spoof “Blazing Saddles” and a wacko adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous book entitled “Young Frankenstein,” in which Wilder portrayed the mad scientist with his signature mixture of hysteria and sweetness both enjoyed box office success. The 1980’s movie Stir Crazy starring Richard Pryor became the then biggest grossing movie earning more than $100 million. Wilder is survived by a daughter, Katharine whom he adopted in 1967 when he married her mother Mary Joan Schute.</s>LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gene Wilder, the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in “The Producers” and the mad scientist of “Young Frankenstein,” has died. He was 83. Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a statement that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans. “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Walker-Pearlman said. Wilder started his acting career on the stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his collaborations with Mel Brooks on “The Producers,” ”Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” The last film — with Wilder playing a California-born descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced “Frahn-ken-SHTEEN” — was co-written by Brooks and Wilder. “Gene Wilder, one of the truly great talents of our time, is gone,” Brooks wrote in a statement Monday. “He blessed every film we did together with his special magic and he blessed my life with his friendship. He will be so missed.” With his unkempt hair and big, buggy eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.” Brooks would call him “God’s perfect prey, the victim in all of us.” But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozing gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or the charming candy man in the children’s favorite “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” His craziest role: the therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex.” “The greatest comedic mind of my childhood is now gone,” actor Josh Gad wrote on Twitter. “#RIP #GeneWilder & thank you 4 your pure imagination. This one hits hard.” Tweeted Jim Carrey: “Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there’s a heaven he has a Golden Ticket.” Wilder was close friends with Richard Pryor and their contrasting personas — Wilder uptight, Pryor loose — were ideal for comedy. They co-starred in four films: “Silver Streak,” ”Stir Crazy,” ”See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Another You.” And they created several memorable scenes, particularly when Pryor provided Wilder with directions on how to “act black” as they tried to avoid police in “Silver Streak.” But Wilder would insist in a 2013 interview that he was no comedian. He told interviewer Robert Osborne it was the biggest misconception about him. “What a comic, what a funny guy, all that stuff! And I’m not. I’m really not. Except in a comedy in films,” Wilder said. “But I make my wife laugh once or twice in the house, but nothing special. But when people see me in a movie and it’s funny then they stop and say things to me about ‘how funny you were.’ But I don’t think I’m that funny. I think I can be in the movies.” In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brooks’ “The Producers.” He played the introverted Leo Bloom, an accountant who discovers the liberating joys of greed and corruption as he and Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) conceive a Broadway flop titled “Springtime For Hitler” and plan to flee with the money raised for the show’s production. Matthew Broderick played Wilder’s role in the 2001 Broadway stage revival of the show. Though they collaborated on film, Wilder and Brooks met through the theater. Wilder was in a play with Brooks’ then-future wife, Anne Bancroft, who introduced the pair backstage in 1963. Wilder, a Milwaukee native, was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933. His father was a Russian emigre, his mother was of Polish descent. When he was 6, Wilder’s mother suffered a heart attack that left her a semi-invalid. He soon began improvising comedy skits to entertain her, the first indication of his future career. He started taking acting classes at age 12 and continued performing and taking lesson through college. In 1961, Wilder became a member of Lee Strasberg’s prestigious Actor’s Studio in Manhattan. That same year, he made both his off-Broadway and Broadway debuts. He won the Clarence Derwent Award, given to promising newcomers, for the Broadway work in Graham Greene’s comedy “The Complaisant Lover.” He used his new name, Gene Wilder, for the off-Broadway and Broadway roles. He lifted the first name from the character Eugene Gant in Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Back, Homeward Angel,” while the last name was clipped from playwright Thornton Wilder. A key break came when he co-starred with Bancroft in Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage,” and met Brooks, her future husband. “I was having trouble with one little section of the play, and he gave me tips on how to act. He said, ‘That’s a song and dance. He’s proselytizing about communism. Just skip over it, sing and dance over it, and get on to the good stuff.’ And he was right,” Wilder later explained. Before starring in “The Producers,” he had a small role as the hostage of gangsters in the 1967 classic “Bonnie and Clyde.” He peaked in the mid-1970s with the twin Brooks hits “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” He went on to write several screenplays and direct several films. In 1982, while making the generally forgettable “Hanky-Panky,” he fell in love with co-star Gilda Radner. They were married in 1984, and co-starred in two Wilder-penned films: “The Woman in Red” and “Haunted Honeymoon.” After Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research and opened a support facility for cancer patients. In 1991, he testified before Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer. That same year, he appeared in his final film role: “Another You” with Pryor. Wilder worked mostly in television in recent years, including appearances on “Will & Grace” — including one that earned him an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor — and a starring role in the short-lived sitcom “Something Wilder.” In 2015, he was among the voices in the animated “The Yo Gabba Gabba! Movie 2.” As for why he stopped appearing on the big screen, Wilder said in 2013 he was turned off by the noise and foul language in modern movies. “I didn’t want to do the kind of junk I was seeing,” he said in an interview. “I didn’t want to do 3D for instance. I didn’t want to do ones where there’s just bombing and loud and swearing, so much swearing… can’t they just stop and talk instead of swearing?” Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen, whom he married in 1991, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Katherine, from whom he was estranged. This story has been corrected to show that Gene Wilder was born in 1933, not 1935. Also Gilda Radner and Wilder co-starred in “The Woman in Red,” not “The Lady in Red.” AP film writers Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles and Jake Coyle in New York and former AP reporter Larry McShane contributed to this story.</s>In this April 9, 2008, file photo, actor Gene Wilder listens as he is introduced to receive the Governor's Awards for Excellence in Culture and Tourism at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. Gene Wilder, the star of such comedy classics as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, has died. He was 83. Wilder's nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday in Stamford, Conn., from complications from Alzheimer's disease. The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in Young Frankenstein or bilking Broadway in The Producers. But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in Blazing Saddles and as the charming candy man in the children's favorite Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.</s>Gene Wilder, whose kinky curls and startling blue eyes brought a frantic air to roles in the movies Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, died on Monday at the age of 83, his family said. Wilder, a Milwaukee native, was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1935. His father was a Russian emigre, his mother was of Polish descent. READ MORE: * REVIEW: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory * The star of TV series Mr Ed dead at 96 * Why the long face? Our mane man bridles at new phone directory * Coronation Street creator Tony Warren dies * Everybody Loves Raymond star memorialised in NYC Wilder, whose best work came in collaborations with director-writer Mel Brooks and actor Richard Pryor, died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications of Alzheimer's disease, the family said in a statement. Wilder's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said the actor had chosen to keep his illness secret so that children who knew him as Willy Wonka would not equate the whimsical character with an adult disease. "He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world," Walker-Pearlman said. Wilder's barely contained hysteria made him a go-to lead for director-writer Mel Brooks, who cast him in "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein" and "The Producers" in the 1960s and '70s. Besides his classic collaborations with Brooks, Wilder paired memorably with comedian Richard Pryor in hits "Silver Streak" and "Stir Crazy." Wilder also was active in promoting ovarian cancer awareness and treatment after his wife, "Saturday Night Live" comedienne Gilda Radner, whom he married in 1984, died of the disease in 1989. He helped found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founded Gilda's Club, a support organisation that has branches throughout the United States. Brooks noted Wilder's death by tweeting, "Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship." Born Jerome Silberman to Russian immigrants in Milwaukee, Wilder studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre in Bristol, England, and then studied method acting at the Actors Studio. A leading role in a play that also starred Anne Bancroft, who was dating her future husband Brooks, led to Wilder becoming a top member of Brooks' stock company of crazies, some of whom branched out with Wilder into other film ventures. Wilder's first movie role was a small part as a terrified undertaker who was abducted by Bonnie and Clyde in Arthur Penn's 1967 film of the same name. The following year he was panic-stricken Leo Bloom to Zero Mostel's conniving Max Bialystock in Brooks' The Producers, picking up an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. While it initially got a tepid response, the movie with its over-the-top song Springtime for Hitler, went on to become a cult favorite and, years later with a different cast, a monster hit on Broadway. Wilder was a last-minute fill-in as the "Waco Kid" in Brooks' Blazing Saddles in 1974, and with Brooks wrote the screenplay for Young Frankenstein released later that year, also to big box office returns. The two were nominated for best screenplay Oscars, but lost to Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo for The Godfather Part II. With Brooks alumni Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman, Wilder made his directorial debut with 1975's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, and directed several other movies with uneven results. Wilder's title role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory earned him a Golden Globe nomination in 1971, and he was nominated again in that category in 1976 for Silver Streak. He won an Emmy in 2003 for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series for appearances on Will and Grace. Wilder's memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, was released in 2005 and he collaborated with oncologist Steven Piver on the book Gilda's Disease in 1998. He was hospitalised in 1999 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma but was said to be in complete remission in 2005. Wilder lived in Stamford in a house built in 1734 that he had shared with Radner, writing and painting watercolours with his wife Karen Boyer, whom he married in 1991.</s>Gene Wilder, the blue-eyed, frazzle-haired actor who elevated panic to a comic art form in frequent collaboration with Mel Brooks (The Producers, Young Frankenstein) and Richard Pryor (Silver Streak, Stir Crazy), died on Sunday in Stamford, Conn., from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. His family confirmed the news to the AP. Wilder was 83. Wilder perhaps is most fondly remembered as the captivating candy man and “Pure Imagination” crooner of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Blazing Saddles, helmed by Brooks and co-written by Brooks and Pryor, and Bonnie and Clyde are two other classics among Wilder’s roughly three dozen TV and film credits. Though associated with funnymen Brooks and Pryor — he worked on three movies in all with Brooks and co-starred opposite Pryor in four — Wilder was quietly adamant that he was not a comic. “I am really not — except in a comedy film,” Wilder said in 2013. Maybe because others perceived him as an actor first as well, Wilder was the rare comedy star who was made welcome at the grownup table. He was twice nominated for an Oscar: a Best Supporting Actor nod for The Producers and a screenplay nod for his and Brooks’s Young Frankenstein. Wilder was previously married to Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner, and in the wake of her death in 1989, he became a leading proponent of ovarian cancer screening and research. He’s survived by his fourth wife, Karen Webb. Born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, the future star became a comic actor almost from the start — and for a tragic reason: His mother suffered from heart disease, and since it was feared stress would kill her, laughter was demanded. Wilder, who went on to be one of the screen’s leading neurotics, would trace his own neuroses to the experience. “My mother was suffering every day of her life, and what right did I have to be happy if she was suffering?” Wilder told the Washington Post in 2005. “So whenever I got happy about something, I felt the need to cut it off, and the only way to cut it off was to pray. ‘Forgive me, Lord.’ For what, I didn’t know.” Wilder’s mother survived into his early 20s; she died, as Radner would decades later, of ovarian cancer. By the time of his mother’s death, Wilder was already a veteran actor, having been drawn to the stage as a teen. His early life took the familiar course of the draft-era young man: college (University of Iowa, then England’s Bristol Old Vic Theatre), then the Army, then back to civilian life. The former Jerome Silberman marked his return with a new name: Gene, depending on the source, chosen either in honor of a Thomas Wolfe character or his late mother, Jeanne; Wilder, for the author Thornton Wilder. Wilder began to appear on the Broadway stage in the early 1960s. The 1963 play Mother Courage and Her Children paired him with Anne Bancroft and brought him into the orbit of her then-boyfriend Mel Brooks. Four years later, in 1967, and a few months after he’d made his film debut in Bonnie and Clyde, Wilder starred in Brooks’s The Producers. (Because the future classic was a slow starter, to put it mildly, The Producers was not released in New York and Los Angeles until 1968.) In Bonnie and Clyde and The Producers, Wilder played mild-mannered types driven to hyperventilation by bank robbers (the former) and a scheming Broadway impresario (the latter). The parts arguably were his destiny: “When God saw Gene Wilder,” Brooks was quoted as saying, “He said, ‘That is prey. And we’ll put him on Earth and everybody will chase him and have some fun.'” In his mid-30s, and amid the “New Hollywood” revolution, Wilder was suddenly a leading man. He was not, however, suddenly everywhere, in everything. “I was always very selective,” Wilder said of his movie choices. “No, selective isn’t the right word.” “Egomaniacal,” he decided, was what he was looking for. For the choosy Wilder, Willy Wonka, a musical rendering of the Roald Dahl children’s book about greed, chocolate, and one good kid, was just his fifth film. At the time of its release, in 1971, and for a few years after, it was portrayed as a flop because, box-office-wise, it was. For a time, even Wilder spoke of Willy Wonka as being one of the films that “ended” the first part of his movie career. “I started all over again with Woody Allen in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex,” Wilder said in 1976. True enough, Wilder was a comic star anew for playing a doctor who falls in love with a sheep in Allen’s anthology. Then he reteamed with Brooks for Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, both released in 1974, and he was a comic superstar. While Brooks wrote and directed the Old West spoof Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein was Wilder’s baby. He started with the title and worked it into a full-blown, homage/parody of the black-and-white Universal horror classics. Brooks would end up directing that movie too, as well as rewriting the script with Wilder. “While we were making Blazing Saddles, we worked on the second draft of Young Frankenstein,” Wilder recalled. Wilder and Brooks never collaborated in any significant way after Young Frankenstein. There was no falling out; there were just different styles. “Our ideas of comedy are quite different,” Wilder told UPI in 1977. “Mel likes the fall-down stuff. I favor romantic humor.” Wilder began directing himself, in 1975’s The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, and 1977’s The World’s Greatest Lover, and found a new comedy partner in Pryor, starting with the 1976 heist comedy Silver Streak. “At the end of a take,” Wilder recounted to the New York Daily News of his first day shooting with Pryor, “we burst into the same song at the same time. … From then on, we began trusting each other in a way I haven’t experienced with any actor.” Silver Streak was a hit, as was the prison-set, Sidney Poitier-directed Stir Crazy, released in 1980, months after Pryor’s life- and career-changing self-immolation suicide attempt. It would be almost a decade before Wilder and Pryor teamed up again, in 1989’s See No Evil, Hear No Evil. In the interim, Wilder had acquired another screen partner: Radner. The two met on the 1982 crime comedy Hanky Panky, also directed by Poitier. Wilder and Radner married in 1984 and went on to work together in 1984’s The Woman in Red and 1986’s Haunted Honeymoon, both directed by Wilder. Then Radner began to not feel right — it would take doctors months to deliver the grim diagnosis: stage 4 ovarian cancer. For nearly three years, until her death at age 42 in 1989, Radner was in and out of treatment, and in and out of hospitals. “Gilda went through the tortures of the damned, and at the end, I felt robbed,” Wilder told People in 1991. “All along I kept hearing Gilda saying, ‘Don’t just sit there, dummy, do something!'” Wilder would go on to testify before Congress about the importance of screenings and knowledge of family health history and co-found Gilda’s Club, a cancer-support organization that started (and remains) in New York City and spawned numerous chapters. Wilder, who was married and divorced twice before his union to Radner, wed Webb, a hearing specialist he’d worked with on Hear No Evil, See No Evil, in 1991. Wilder would work in only a handful more TV and film projects, including one last comedy with Pryor, 1991’s Another You. The movie was panned and, worse, showed Pryor in marked physical decline from the multiple sclerosis that would claim him in 2005. In 1999, Wilder was diagnosed with lymphoma, but by the time he went public with his health, in 2000, he was already said to be in remission. Wilder began a low-key retirement after winning a Primetime Emmy for a 2003 guest-starring turn on TV’s Will & Grace. Away from Hollywood, Wilder said he enjoyed his life, his wife, his writing, and no longer having to deal with the business of show business. Along the way, Wilder’s old flop Willy Wonka became considered a children’s fantasy classic. The 2005 Johnny Depp-Tim Burton take, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of which Wilder was famously no fan, served only to make the older version ever more relevant. In the end, Wilder, who could do panic like few others onscreen, sounded serene. “I’ve become pretty philosophical about a lot of things, including death. It doesn’t get to me,” Wilder told London’s Telegraph in 2005. “At this point, the way I feel, if it’s over, it’s over.”</s>US actor Gene Wilder, remembered by many for his lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 83, his family confirmed. The comic actor also starred in classic films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Mr Wilder frequently collaborated with writer and director Mel Brooks as well as stand-up comedian Richard Pryor. The two-time Oscar-nominated actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1989. Mr Wilder’s nephew confirmed the actor died on Sunday in Stamford, Connecticut, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The star first made waves on Broadway before transitioning to the silver screen for a brief role as a kidnapped undertaker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Mel Brooks then cast Mr Wilder as Leo Bloom, an anxious accountant in the 1968 comedy, The Producers. In 1971, he took on the role of one of his most beloved characters, Willy Wonka, in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Mr Wilder’s other well-known roles included the Waco Kid in the 1974 cult classic Blazing Saddles and Doctor Ross in Woody Allen’s 1972 film, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask. For more on this story go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37215553"
"Gene Wilder, known for his role as the title character in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and for his collaborations with Mel Brooks, dies at the age of 83."
"The Latest on tropical weather systems (all times local): Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closing some areas at the end of the day as a major hurricane hurtles west toward Hawaii Island. Park officials said Tuesday that the coastal lava viewing area will close by Wednesday morning. Some camping areas are closing, but guests staying at Kilauea Military Camp and Volcano House may shelter in place. The closures will remain in effect until the storms pass. Hawaii’s Big Island is under a hurricane warning as category 3 Madeline approaches. The National Weather Service warned that hurricane conditions are expected on the Big Island within the next 36 hours. Hawaii’s Big Island is under a hurricane warning as category 3 Madeline approaches. The National Weather Service warned Tuesday that hurricane conditions are expected on the Big Island within the next 36 hours. Forecasters are urging residents and visitors to rush through preparations to protect their lives and property. Big Island resident Mitzi Bettencourt says she has boarded up windows in her brother’s oceanfront home. She says she and her neighbors are hoping their roofs stay intact and their houses don’t float away. Neighbors are stocking up on food and water to prepare for power outages. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Oahu this week. The White House is tracking the weather developments closely, but it doesn’t anticipate changing Obama’s schedule. Forecasters have issued a hurricane watch for parts of Florida stretching from northwest of Tampa to an area east of Panama City. The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued the watch for an area of the Gulf coast from the Anclote River to Indian Pass. An area to the west of Indian pass on the Panhandle is under a tropical storm watch. The watches are related to a tropical depression churning in the Gulf about 345 miles (55 kilometers) west of Key West. Forecasters say they expect the system to turn to the northeast toward Florida on Wednesday. It’s also expected to become a tropical storm by Wednesday. Residents of Hawaii’s Big Island are bracing for what could be the first hurricane to make landfall in that state in decades. Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Tuesday that Pacific hurricane Madeline, now a major Category 3 storm, is expected to weaken but likely to remain a hurricane as it passes the state. The forecaster says Madeline is expected to pass just south of the Big Island early Thursday morning. But if the storm’s track shifts slightly to the north, it could hit land. Chevalier says the last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which hit Kauai Island. A second Pacific hurricane called Lester is still far from Hawaii. Lester is expected to be a tropical storm by the time it passes the state. Federal regulators say offshore operators have temporarily evacuated workers from some oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico because of a tropical depression. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in Washington said in an emailed statement that personnel were taken off nine platforms by midday Tuesday, or from just a fraction of the 750 manned platforms in the Gulf. It adds workers also were evacuated from one rig and a total of seven rigs had been re-positioned away from the expected path of the storm. The regulatory agency says its hurricane response team has been activated and is working with offshore operators and other agencies “until operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas activities.” The emailed statement didn’t say exactly how many workers were evacuated. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center says a hurricane watch is in effect for the Big Island of Hawaii, warning major Hurricane Madeline could pass “dangerously close.” At 5 a.m. HST (11 a.m. EDT) Tuesday, Madeline was a powerful Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The center adds that the storm is centered about 445 miles (715 kilometers) east of Hilo, Hawaii, and moving west at 10 mph (17 kph). The Center’s advisory predicted the storm would pass near Hawaii’s Big Island Wednesday and Wednesday night and residents could experience hurricane-force winds, heavy rain and high surf. But it added that some weakening is forecast through late Wednesday. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to restock their emergency kits, create evacuation plans and secure outdoor furniture. Forecasters say a tropical weather system off the North Carolina coast is expected to pass near the Outer Banks by the evening. An 11 a.m. update on Tuesday from the National Hurricane Center says the tropical depression could become a named storm later in the day. Its center is also expected to pass near the North Carolina barrier islands in the afternoon or evening. Top sustained winds were 35 mph (55 kph) with higher gusts, and the storm was centered about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras. A tropical storm warning is in effect for much of the Outer Banks. In the Gulf of Mexico another tropical depression was about 340 miles (550 kilometers) west of Key West, Florida. Forecasters expect it to become a tropical storm later Tuesday and make a turn to the northeast toward Florida the next day. A slow stream of cars is heading north on the main highway off Hatteras Island in North Carolina as crowds of visitors thin ahead of the approach of a tropical weather system. Dozens of cars with tags from places including Maryland, New York and Ohio were seen headed Tuesday morning toward a bridge to the mainland. There was light, intermittent rain and mostly cloudy skies. A tropical depression off the Atlantic Coast is expected to become a tropical storm and bring rain and wind to North Carolina’s Outer Banks as it passes by early Wednesday. A public beach near Rodanthe was nearly empty, save for two parents enjoying the morning with their 11-year-old son. Joe and Kelley Walker of Virginia say they plan to stay through the weather and watch movies inside when it gets rainy. A tropical depression that threatens the North Carolina coast has turned north-northwestward in the Atlantic. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the depression is expected to later curve north and then northeast on Wednesday. Its forecast track shows its center will be near North Carolina’s Outer Banks by Tuesday afternoon or evening. The depression’s maximum sustained are near 35 mph (55 kph) and forecasters say it could become a tropical storm later in the day. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says a hurricane hunter aircraft has been sent to investigate a tropical depression nearing the North Carolina coast. The depression’s maximum sustained winds remain near 35 mph (55 kph) Tuesday morning but forecasters say it could become a tropical storm later in the day. The depression is centered about 95 miles (150 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving northwest near 6 mph (9 kph). Meanwhile, another tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico could hit northern Florida as a tropical storm later in the week. Officials say a potential tropical storm is already forming off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s expected to bring up to 45 mph winds and heavy rain that could flood low-lying areas. The tropical depression was about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of Cape Hatteras on Tuesday morning with top sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph). Officials say it’s expected to become a tropical storm in coming hours but not grow any stronger. Beachgoers, boat captains and business owners warily waited for the storm to wash out one of the summer’s last busy weeks. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami also say another tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico could hit northern Florida as a tropical storm later in the week and possibly head toward the Atlantic coast.</s></s>Hawaii Island is under a hurricane warning as officials prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Madeline. The warning means hurricane conditions are expected Wednesday into early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. As of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Hawaii County was considering opening emergency shelters. Ed Teixeira, county interim civil defense director, said shelters could be opened as early as Tuesday if the call is made. Asked what his main concern is, Teixeira said: “It’s not weakening fast enough.” Madeline remained a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It was 370 miles east of Hilo and moving west at 10 mph as of 11 a.m. The weather service said it expects Madeline to slowly weaken as it encounters vertical wind shear but remain a “dangerous hurricane” as it passes just south of the island late Wednesday and early Thursday. The hurricane is forecast to have maximum sustained winds of 105 mph Wednesday morning and 80 mph Thursday morning. Hurricane Lester was 1,275 miles east of Hilo as of 11 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. It’s forecast to pass the island to the north Saturday.</s>The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch Monday for Hawaii Island as Hurricane Madeline continues to intensify. A watch means that hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours. The weather service also issued a flash flood watch for the island for Wednesday and Thursday. As of 11 a.m. Monday, Madeline was a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It was located 630 miles east of Hilo. Madeline is forecast to pass south of the island Wednesday and Thursday. Landfall remains a possibility. By Thursday, the cyclone is expected to weaken to a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Farther to the east, Hurricane Lester continues to churn toward the island as a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. It was 1,610 miles east of Hilo as of 11 a.m. Monday. Lester is forecast to pass the island Saturday to the north, though a direct hit remains possible. It’s also expected to weaken to a category 1 hurricane as it nears the island, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.</s>HONOLULU (AP) — The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the Big Island of Hawaii as Hurricane Madeline closes in on the island. Forecaster Derek Wroe says the storm should be near or over the Big Island by Wednesday. Madeline was a Category 3 hurricane at midday Monday and may strengthen over the next 12 to 24 hours. But it's expected to weaken Tuesday because of upper atmosphere conditions. The Center's advisory on Madeline says Big Island residents could experience hurricane force winds, heavy rain and high surf on Wednesday. Madeline was 630 miles east of Hilo on Monday and moving west northwest at 10 mph. The hurricane had sustained winds near 115 mph.</s>Hawaii stands in the path of Hurricane Madeline, which could slam into the Big Island some time tomorrow, potentially derailing a proposed visit by President Obama. The US National Weather Service (NWS) said Madeline, a Category 3 hurricane, was expected to pass 'dangerously close' to Big Island, carrying heavy rain and strong winds. The hurricane, which has sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, was 575 miles east of Hilo at 0300 GMT on Tuesday. It is expected to dump up to 15 inches of rain on Hawaii. 'This rainfall may lead to dangerous flash floods and mudslides,' said an NWS Central Pacific Hurricane Center spokesman. The Big Island, officially known as Hawaii, is home to only 185,000 people, compared to Oahu - which includes the capital Honolulu - which has almost a million people. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to stock up with food, water, flashlights, batteries and first aid supplies. Hurricane Lester, a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 miles per hour, is currently 1,000 miles east of Madeline, also heading for Hawaii but it is expected to lose strength before it reaches landfall. The president is due to arrive on Thursday to give a keynote speech at the opening of the World Conservation Congress, a major meeting of thousands of delegates, including heads of state, scientists and policy makers. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature stages the congress every four years at a different location around the globe and unfortunately it is set to take place this week, from Thursday until Saturday. Obama, who was born and grew up in Hawaii, is also expected to travel to Midway Atoll - scene of a famous World War II battle - where he established the world's largest marine reserve last week, home to thousands of rare sea creatures. Hawaii is rarely affected by storms but in 1982 Hurricane Iwa devastasted the islands, with wind gusts of 100 miles per hour, it damaged 2,345 buildings, leaving 500 people homeless.</s>People stock up, board up as hurricane hurtles toward Hawaii HONOLULU (AP) — Residents of Hawaii's Big Island were evacuating animals and stockpiling water Tuesday, bracing for what could be the first hurricane to make landfall in the state in decades. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning as the major Category 3 storm dubbed Madeline hurtled west toward the island, urging residents to rush through preparations to protect themselves and their property and expect hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. "Hopefully our roofs stay on, and our houses don't float way or get blown away," said Big Island resident Mitzi Bettencourt, who boarded up walls of glass windows at her brother's oceanfront home. "It's like, 'Oh my God, are we going to get flattened or what?'" Bettencourt, who lives in a subdivision called Kapoho Vacationland, manages several vacation rental properties and has her own home to worry about, which sits a few blocks from the ocean. She and her neighbors were stocking their pantries, stowing away lawn furniture and preparing for power outages. "If they're not prepared now, they should get prepared fast," said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the weather service. Hurricane Madeline is expected to weaken but likely will remain a hurricane as it passes the state, Chevalier said. Forecasters are expecting Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island around 2 a.m. Thursday. But if the storm track shifts slightly to the north, the eye of the storm could pass over land. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which hit Kauai, Chevalier said. A second Pacific hurricane, called Lester, is still far from Hawaii, and it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it passes the state, Chevalier said. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Oahu this week. The White House is tracking the weather developments closely, but it doesn't anticipate changing Obama's schedule. The islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai were under a tropical storm watch, but there were no alerts for Oahu or Kauai. On the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closing some areas Tuesday, and park officials planned for the coastal lava viewing area to close by Wednesday morning. Some camping areas were closing, but guests staying at Kilauea Military Camp and Volcano House were allowed to shelter in place. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to restock their emergency kits with a flashlight, fresh batteries, cash and first-aid supplies. It recommended that residents create evacuation plans and secure outdoor furniture. Hawaiian Airlines said customers holding tickets to or from Hawaii's Big Island from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 would be allowed a one-time reservation change without a fee. Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.</s>Hawaii's Big Island is bracing itself as Hurricane Madeline, a category 3 storm, approaches. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Big Island on Tuesday. Hurricane-force winds can thus be expected to sweep the island within 48 hours, according to the Weather Channel. Residents in Big Island are stocking up on food and water and bracing themselves in power outages. A second storm, Hurricane Lester, is following in Madeline's path. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Oahu on Thursday to give a keynote speech at the opening of the World Conservation Congress - a major meeting of thousands of delegates, including heads of state, scientists and policy makers. The White House is tracking the weather developments closely, but it doesn't anticipate changing Obama's schedule. Forecasters are urging residents and visitors to prepare promptly in order to protect their lives and property. Big Island resident Mitzi Bettencourt has boarded up windows in her brother's oceanfront home. She and her neighbors are hoping their roofs stay intact and their houses don't float away. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to stock up with food, water, flashlights, batteries and first aid supplies. Hurricane Madeline, which has sustained winds of 125 mph, was 370 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii Tuesday evening. It could bring up to 15 inches of rain on the Big Island, with chances of flash flooding and mudslides. Madeline is expected to weaken but likely to remain a hurricane as it passes the state, meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Tuesday. This would be the first time Big Island has been hit by a hurricane. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which hit Kauai Island, according to Chevalier. The Big Island, officially known as Hawaii, is home to only 185,000 people, compared to Oahu - which includes the capital Honolulu - which has almost a million people. A second Pacific hurricane called Lester is still far from Hawaii. Lester is expected to be a tropical storm by the time it passes the state. But it could bring back possible hurricane conditions during the weekend, according to a warning by the National Weather Service on Tuesday evening. Hurricane Lester, a category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph, is currently 1,300 miles east of Hilo, also heading for Hawaii.</s>Hurricane churns toward Hawaii; people stock up, board up HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Preparing for what could be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in years, residents on the Big Island are stocking up on food and water and seeking shelter for their animals. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning as the storm dubbed Madeline churned west Tuesday toward the island, urging residents to rush through preparations to protect themselves and their property and expect hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. Peggy Beckett, a retiree and beekeeper, stopped at a Hilo supermarket to pick up some onions bagels, cheese, cold cuts and salad to add to her canned food at home. She has a cooler with ice in it plus a portable burner and batteries to get her through the storm. "There's always a lot of disbelief on the island that the storms will really be as big and bad as forecast," Beckett said. The Keaau resident and her partner made sure to put extra rocks on their beehives to protect them from the storm. Noting the lines of people inside the supermarket, Beckett said she thought people were getting prepared but weren't panicking. Hurricane Madeline, which was downgraded from Category 3 to 2 Tuesday, was weakening as it approached the islands. But it's expected to remain a hurricane as it passes the state, Chevalier said. Forecasters are expecting Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island around 2 a.m. Thursday. But if the storm track shifts slightly to the north, the eye of the storm could pass over land. "Hopefully our roofs stay on, and our houses don't float way or get blown away," said Big Island resident Mitzi Bettencourt, who boarded up walls of glass windows at her brother's oceanfront home. "It's like, 'Oh my God, are we going to get flattened or what?' " Bettencourt, who lives in a subdivision called Kapoho Vacationland, manages several vacation rental properties and has her own home to worry about, which sits a few blocks from the ocean. She and her neighbors were stocking their pantries, stowing away lawn furniture and preparing for power outages. "If they're not prepared now, they should get prepared fast," said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the weather service. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which hit Kauai, Chevalier said. A second Pacific hurricane, called Lester, is still far from Hawaii, and it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it passes the state, Chevalier said. Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation for both storms, which will allow the state to quickly spend money to alleviate disasters. "I urge you to take immediate steps to protect your families, loved ones, employees and property," Ige said in a statement. The state Department of Education announced public schools would be closed Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of severe weather, and about a dozen schools were turned into emergency shelters. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Oahu this week. The White House is tracking the weather developments closely, but it doesn't anticipate changing Obama's schedule. The islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai were under a tropical storm watch, but there were no alerts for Oahu or Kauai. On the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closing some areas Tuesday, and park officials planned for the coastal lava viewing area to close by Wednesday morning. Some camping areas were closing, but guests staying at Kilauea Military Camp and Volcano House were allowed to shelter in place. The U.S. Coast Guard asked crews of barges and ships to prepare to leave Hilo Harbor and told ocean-going vessels to seek sheltered waters until storm conditions subside. Captain Mike Long said he expected to close Hilo Harbor to all traffic by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to restock their emergency kits with a flashlight, fresh batteries, cash and first-aid supplies. It recommended that residents create evacuation plans and secure outdoor furniture. Hawaiian Airlines said customers holding tickets to or from Hawaii's Big Island from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 would be allowed a one-time reservation change without a fee. Bussewitz reported from Honolulu. AP writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.</s>Residents of Hawaii's Big Island were evacuating animals and stockpiling water Tuesday, bracing for what could be the first hurricane to make landfall in the state in decades. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning as the major Category 2 storm dubbed Madeline hurtled west toward the island, urging residents to rush through preparations to protect themselves and their property and expect hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. "Hopefully our roofs stay on, and our houses don't float way or get blown away," said Big Island resident Mitzi Bettencourt, who boarded up walls of glass windows at her brother's oceanfront home. "It's like, 'Oh my God, are we going to get flattened or what?' " Bettencourt, who lives in a subdivision called Kapoho Vacationland, manages several vacation rental properties and has her own home to worry about, which sits a few blocks from the ocean. She and her neighbors were stocking their pantries, stowing away lawn furniture and preparing for power outages. "If they're not prepared now, they should get prepared fast," said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the weather service. Hurricane Madeline, which was downgraded from Category 3 to 2 Tuesday, was weakening as it approached the islands. But it's expected to remain a hurricane as it passes the state, Chevalier said. Forecasters are expecting Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island around 2 a.m. Thursday. But if the storm track shifts slightly to the north, the eye of the storm could pass over land. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which hit Kauai, Chevalier said. A second Pacific hurricane, called Lester, is still far from Hawaii, and it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it passes the state, Chevalier said. Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation for both storms, which will allow the state to quickly spend money to alleviate disasters. "I urge you to take immediate steps to protect your families, loved ones, employees and property," Ige said in a statement. The state Department of Education announced public schools would be closed Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of severe weather, and about a dozen schools were turned into emergency shelters. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Oahu this week. The White House is tracking the weather developments closely, but it doesn't anticipate changing Obama's schedule. The islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai were under a tropical storm watch, but there were no alerts for Oahu or Kauai. On the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closing some areas Tuesday, and park officials planned for the coastal lava viewing area to close by Wednesday morning. Some camping areas were closing, but guests staying at Kilauea Military Camp and Volcano House were allowed to shelter in place. The U.S. Coast Guard asked crews of barges and ships to prepare to leave Hilo Harbor and told ocean-going vessels to seek sheltered waters until storm conditions subside. Captain Mike Long said he expected to close Hilo Harbor to all traffic by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to restock their emergency kits with a flashlight, fresh batteries, cash and first-aid supplies. It recommended that residents create evacuation plans and secure outdoor furniture. Hawaiian Airlines said customers holding tickets to or from Hawaii's Big Island from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 would be allowed a one-time reservation change without a fee."
"A hurricane watch is issued for the island of Hawaii as Hurricane Madeline approaches."
"Washington, DC - Researchers at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) recently identified compounds that potentially can be used to inhibit Zika virus replication and reduce its ability to kill brain cells. These compounds now can be studied by the broader research community to help combat the Zika public health crisis. NCATS is part of the National Institutes of Health. Using NCATS’ drug repurposing screening robots, researchers identified two classes of compounds effective against Zika: one is antiviral, and the other prevents Zika-related brain cell death. The compounds include emricasan, an investigational drug currently being evaluated in a clinical trial to reduce liver injury and fibrosis, and niclosamide, a U. S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for use in humans to treat worm infections. In addition, the researchers identified nine cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. CDK usually is involved in regulation of cellular processes as well as normal brain development, but the Zika virus can negatively affect this process. NCATS’ work was a collaborative effort with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, (JHU) and Florida State University, Tallahassee, (FSU), and the study results were published in the August 29 issue of Nature Medicine. The NCATS screening effort builds on the initial research by JHU and FSU scientists, who discovered that the Zika virus infects brain cells early in development. Infection by the Zika virus may be related to fetal microcephaly, an abnormally small head resulting from an underdeveloped and/or damaged brain. The Zika virus has been reported in 60 countries and territories worldwide; currently, there are no vaccines or effective drug treatments. The virus is spread primarily through bites from infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and in addition, can be transmitted from mother to child and through sexual contact. It also is associated with neurological diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in infected adults. “The Zika virus poses a global health threat,” said Anton Simeonov, Ph.D., NCATS scientific director. “While we await the development of effective vaccines, which can take a significant amount of time, our identification of repurposed small molecule compounds may accelerate the translational process of finding a potential therapy.” NCATS researcher Wei Zheng, Ph.D., and his team led the drug repurposing screen to test three strains of Zika: Asian, African and Puerto Rican. The scientists first developed an assay (test) using caspase 3, a protein that causes brain cell death when infected by the virus. The next step was screening 6,000 FDA-approved and investigational compounds, which resulted in the identification of more than 100 promising compounds. The team then evaluated the protective effect of these compounds in brain cells after Zika virus infection. Three lead compounds, emiracsan, niclosamide and a CDK inhibitor known as PHA-690509, were identified as reducing neuronal cell death caused by Zika virus infection. These compounds were effective either in inhibiting the replication of Zika or in preventing the virus from killing brain cells. For example, emricasan prevents cell death, and niclosamide and the nine CDK inhibitors stop the virus’ replication. The team also found that emricasan, when combined with one of the CDK inhibitors, prevented both cell death and virus replication. In addition, the team noted that the CDK inhibitors may be useful in treating non-pregnant patients who face an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome and other conditions sparked by Zika infection. The researchers cautioned, however, that the use of emricasan and niclosamide during pregnancy for Zika infection will need to be evaluated in pre-clinical toxicology studies and clinical trials. “Using the NCATS drug repurposing platform for emerging infectious diseases can help rapidly identify potential treatments for urgent needs such as the Zika virus,” Zheng said. “While identifying promising compounds is a first step, our goal at NCATS is to facilitate the translation of these findings for evaluation in the clinic. The release of all the compound screening data in this publication and in the public PubChem database opens the door to the research community to do just that.” NCATS’ screening effort enabled the broader research team to quickly translate their earlier discoveries toward work to develop treatments for Zika virus infection. JHU is working on a mouse model to study the neuroprotective effects of the compounds identified from the screen and studying the mechanism of action of the lead compounds. FSU is testing the efficacy of these compounds in a Zika virus mouse model and is also studying the mechanism of action of the lead compounds. In addition to NCATS, FSU and JHU, the research was supported by Emory University, Atlanta; the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Columbia; NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through grants NS048271 and NS095348, NS047344 and NS097206; and NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through grant AI119530.</s>SINGAPORE, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Singapore confirmed 26 more cases of locally-transmitted Zika infections on Tuesday, bringing the tally to 82, local media reported, citing the health ministry and National Environment Agency. Of these, five cases were detected in parts of Singapore outside the Aljunied area where all the previous cases were found, media reported. The Zika virus was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. It poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. (Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)</s>Hong Kong (CNN) The Zika virus is on a rampage in Singapore, with 82 locally-transmitted cases confirmed late Tuesday by the country's Ministry of Health (MOH). The MOH warns that the figures are likely set to rise, but why is Zika spreading so fast in the city state? "The proportion of our population that are immune to the Zika virus is likely to be low in Singapore and if you don't have the immunity to provide the roadblocks, then it's likely that the virus will spread fast," Ooi Eng Eong, the deputy director of the Emerging Infectious Disease program at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, told CNN. Everything you need to know about Zika Everything you need to know about Zika 01:42 Everything you need to know about Zika The majority of reported cases are among foreign construction workers based in the residential Aljunied Crescent neighborhood in Singapore. Though cases were limited to this area on Monday, by late Tuesday the MOH reported 26 new cases that showed how the Zika virus had spread to nearby residential areas, raising concerns that the virus could travel even further afield. While Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would be implementing additional passenger screening procedures at its airports, foreign ministries in the US, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea have all issued alerts, advising pregnant women against traveling to Singapore. Singapore is known to suffer widely from dengue virus, a mosquito-borne tropical disease that triggers high fevers, headaches, vomiting and skin rashes in those infected. In 2016, the MOH announced that it expected as many as 30,000 cases in the country. Ooi explained that the Zika virus' rapid spread in Singapore was likely down to its similarities with the dengue virus. "Zika is very closely related to dengue. It has all the genetic traits that would allow it to spread where dengue thrives -- the virus can infect and spread through the same Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread dengue virus," said Ooi. With its 5.7 million-strong population packed mostly in crowded urban areas, containing Zika's spread in Singapore is a challenge. "In Singapore, many people live in densely packed apartment blocks so it's easy for high numbers of people to get infected even if there are only a few mosquitoes flying around," explained Ooi. As of August 29, Singapore's MOH had screened roughly 5,000 premises out of an estimated 6,000 in the Aljunied Crescent neighborhood to check for mosquito breeding grounds. So far, the agency has detected and destroyed 39 breeding habitats. The MOH is also urging local residents to play an active role in stopping Zika's spread by distributing information leaflets and advising residents to apply repellent as a precaution. Jaspar Fuk-Woo Chan, an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, supported the MOH's efforts to reduce Zika's spread in Singapore. "The government are making information on the Zika virus' spread readily available. They've also reacted very quickly to the first local cases by collecting information on the infected people," Chan told CNN. He added, however, that it would take several weeks to grasp the extent of the outbreak. In the meantime, efforts to curb Zika's spread in the city state, he said, hinged on all citizens using insect repellent and making sure there were no potential mosquito breeding areas around their residential areas. 'Repellents are flying off the shelves' In a joint statement released Wednesday, Singapore's MOH and the the Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) advised all pregnant women with symptoms of Zika, or with Zika-positive male partners to be tested for the infection. But not every woman is letting the recent outbreak get to them. "I'm conscious that I have to be more careful now," Su San, a 30-year-old mother trying for a second child, told CNN. "I'm applying ointments so that I don't get bitten, but I haven't put my plans to have another child on hold." Rather than locking herself indoors, San said she would avoid areas like parks where mosquitoes were likely to be, and spend recreational time in libraries and museums instead. For others, the Zika outbreak in Singapore has become an unlikely boon. Theodore Khng, CEO of mosquito repellent startup Theo10, told CNN that sales of his natural deet-free product had tripled in the last three days. Khng initially manufactured his product to combat mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, but admitted that the recent Zika scare had boosted sales. "People who have used the products before have been buying in bulk for others," said Khng. "The repellents are flying off the shelves."</s>Moving from Africa to French Polynesia to Central and South America, the disease is now active in the US and Asia, and is likely to continue to spread. Zika arrives in a country via the bloodstream of hundreds of globe-trotting vacationers and business people, all returning home from areas where Zika is actively circulating. It's not like you can stop it -- four out of five people with Zika have no symptoms, so most of those passengers are unaware they carry the virus in their blood. Everything you need to know about Zika Everything you need to know about Zika 01:42 Everything you need to know about Zika No country is immune from a potential outbreak, as long as the mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus -- Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus -- live there. Some have called Zika the world's newest STD. Why it's serious Scientists have learned a lot about Zika in the last year. For one, the virus appears to have mutated as it has spread across the world. When it first emerged, inconspicuously, from Uganda's Zika forest in 1947, the effects of infection were mild, nothing worse than a mild cold or flu. While that's still true for many today, for others, the consequences of Zika are devastating. Babies are being born with life-altering brain damage to women infected with Zika during their pregnancies; immune-compromised adults are dying of complications, and a Zika-triggered auto-immune disorder called Guillain-Barré attacks the nervous system, causing temporary paralysis, and even death. Vaccine on the way? No vaccine currently exists. Even though several private and governmental agencies have various versions in the works, the likelihood of having a vaccine ready for public consumption is a year or two away -- possibly even more. How long those trials may take, says Fauci, is determined by the number of Zika infections in a community when the vaccine is ready. "If it's explosive in an area, then you can get an answer within one and a half years," Fauci adds, "but if the cases slow down it might take us additional three to four years to determine if it works." With a vaccine only a promise on the horizon, researchers are also looking at ways to treat the virus while it's circulating in the blood. A number of groups are screening thousands of existing drugs, already approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration, to see if any might be effective against the Zika virus. "Because [it] is blocking the multiplication of the viral genetic material, the compound is equally effective even when added several hours after the cells are exposed to the virus," Tang adds. While scientists scramble to vaccinate and treat, mosquito control officials are doing their utmost to tackle the virus at its source: the mosquitoes themselves. Traditional control techniques emphasize removing standing water, spraying pesticides and larvicides, and encouraging home owners to keep screens on their doors and windows. That, along with the widespread use of air-conditioning, make it much easier for developed countries like the US to keep outbreaks contained -- it's much harder in poor, economically disadvantaged countries. Another factor straining traditional control efforts is the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, who is primarily responsible for this global spread. A crafty creature, she is an aggressive daytime biter, who prefers to live close to her favorite blood meal, humans. Over the centuries, she has adapted to urban environments, preferring stagnant water and small containers such as plastic cups, potted plants and discarded tires to lay her eggs. A 'sip feeder,' this blood sucker likes to bite multiple people, taking just a 'sip' of blood each time, thus increasing the number of people she can infect in just one feeding. A tiny creature, her bite is almost painless. Once you add that to her tendency to sneak up on victims, often biting on ankles and the back of elbows, you can see how easy it might be for her to feed without a life-threatening slap. That's the worry for Brazil and other South and Central American countries, currently experiencing a drop in Zika cases during the drier winter months. When the rains begin again this fall, those eggs will hatch and cases could begin to rise, along with the associated risk to pregnant women and their undeveloped fetuses. In the meantime, Zika continues its travels, hitch hiking in traveler's blood and via the occasional mosquito hidden in an industrial shipment of goods. Whether the virus will take hold in a country depends on the local environment and a country's ability to combat the threat. The first case of locally-transmitted Zika in the US was a surprise. Instead of occurring from a mosquito bite, the virus was sexually transmitted by a man recently returned from a country with an active outbreak. Then in mid-July a Miami mosquito bit a returning traveler, processed the virus, and began spreading it in Wynwood, a 1-square-mile Miami neighborhood. Despite massive control efforts, one or two cases also popped up in Miami Beach and in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. To date, there are 43 cases of locally transmitted Zika in Florida. That number pales in comparison to hard-hit Puerto Rico, which has over 13 thousand cases of the virus, with more than a thousand of those affecting pregnant women. An economic downturn, failing health care system, and inadequate financial support from the mainland makes it difficult for Puerto Rico to fight their epidemic. Other Caribbean countries also continue to battle Zika as their outbreaks continue. The WHO says Martinique currently has 10 cases of microcephaly, while just this week the first babies with microcephaly were reported in Haiti, one, and the Dominican Republic with three cases. Brazil continues to be the country hardest hit by Zika, with thousands infected and over 1800 babies diagnosed with microcephaly. That number doesn't count the babies with normal sized heads that might develop vision, hearing and developmental issues from their Zika exposure as they grow. Other Central and South American countries are also struggling with the fallout from the virus. Columbia reports 29 cases of microcephaly in newborns, Panama has 5 cases, El Salvador 4, French Guiana 3, Paraguay 2, while Honduras and Costa Rica report one case each. The good news for South America is that colder winter weather and dry skies have reduced the number of new Zika cases. In fact the WHO just announced no laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika related to the Olympics, which ended on August 21 in Brazil, and Chile hasn't reported a new case of Zika this year. So far, Europe has been spared much of Zika's devastation. Despite a number of imported cases from returning travelers, only Slovenia and Spain report cases of microcephaly --one each -- says WHO. Southeast Asia has been hard hit by Zika, and officials worry numbers are vastly under reported. Singapore just announced 41 cases of locally acquired Zika infection, but the WHO also lists Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam as "countries with possible endemic transmission or evidence of local mosquito-borne Zika infections in 2016." Cambodia has reported cases in the past, but the WHO has the country on its list of countries where the outbreak has either been "terminated" or is "without documentation" in 2016. Other countries that fit that positive category include French Polynesia, the site of a large outbreak in 2013, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Cook Islands, the Maldives, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Cape Verde, a small island located 350 miles off the western coast of Africa, is reporting 9 cases of microcephaly. Other than that, Africa, the birthplace of Zika, is not reporting any outbreaks of Zika at this time. CNN has compiled the full list of countries and territories with current outbreaks of Zika, according to the CDC and WHO. Those affected are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kosrae (an Island of the Federated States of Micronesia), Maldives, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mexico, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States of America*, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Vietnam, American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga and Cape Verde.</s>Hong Kong (CNN) The Zika virus is on a rampage in Singapore, with 82 locally-transmitted cases confirmed late Tuesday by the country's Ministry of Health (MOH). The MOH warns that the figures are likely set to rise, but why is Zika spreading so fast in the city state? "The proportion of our population that are immune to the Zika virus is likely to be low in Singapore and if you don't have the immunity to provide the roadblocks, then it's likely that the virus will spread fast," Ooi Eng Eong, the deputy director of the Emerging Infectious Disease program at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, told CNN. Everything you need to know about Zika Everything you need to know about Zika 01:42 Everything you need to know about Zika The majority of reported cases are among foreign construction workers based in the residential Aljunied Crescent neighborhood in Singapore. Though cases were limited to this area on Monday, by late Tuesday the MOH reported 26 new cases that showed how the Zika virus had spread to nearby residential areas, raising concerns that the virus could travel even further afield. While Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would be implementing additional passenger screening procedures at its airports, foreign ministries in the US, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea have all issued alerts, advising pregnant women against traveling to Singapore. Singapore is known to suffer widely from dengue virus, a mosquito-borne tropical disease that triggers high fevers, headaches, vomiting and skin rashes in those infected. In 2016, the MOH announced that it expected as many as 30,000 cases in the country. Ooi explained that the Zika virus' rapid spread in Singapore was likely down to its similarities with the dengue virus. "Zika is very closely related to dengue. It has all the genetic traits that would allow it to spread where dengue thrives -- the virus can infect and spread through the same Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread dengue virus," said Ooi. With its 5.7 million-strong population packed mostly in crowded urban areas, containing Zika's spread in Singapore is a challenge. "In Singapore, many people live in densely packed apartment blocks so it's easy for high numbers of people to get infected even if there are only a few mosquitoes flying around," explained Ooi. As of August 29, Singapore's MOH had screened roughly 5,000 premises out of an estimated 6,000 in the Aljunied Crescent neighborhood to check for mosquito breeding grounds. So far, the agency has detected and destroyed 39 breeding habitats. The MOH is also urging local residents to play an active role in stopping Zika's spread by distributing information leaflets and advising residents to apply repellent as a precaution. Jaspar Fuk-Woo Chan, an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, supported the MOH's efforts to reduce Zika's spread in Singapore. "The government are making information on the Zika virus' spread readily available. They've also reacted very quickly to the first local cases by collecting information on the infected people," Chan told CNN. He added, however, that it would take several weeks to grasp the extent of the outbreak. In the meantime, efforts to curb Zika's spread in the city state, he said, hinged on all citizens using insect repellent and making sure there were no potential mosquito breeding areas around their residential areas. 'Repellents are flying off the shelves' In a joint statement released Wednesday, Singapore's MOH and the the Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) advised all pregnant women with symptoms of Zika, or with Zika-positive male partners to be tested for the infection. But not every woman is letting the recent outbreak get to them. "I'm conscious that I have to be more careful now," Su San, a 30-year-old mother trying for a second child, told CNN. "I'm applying ointments so that I don't get bitten, but I haven't put my plans to have another child on hold." Rather than locking herself indoors, San said she would avoid areas like parks where mosquitoes were likely to be, and spend recreational time in libraries and museums instead. For others, the Zika outbreak in Singapore has become an unlikely boon. Theodore Khng, CEO of mosquito repellent startup Theo10, told CNN that sales of his natural deet-free product had tripled in the last three days. Khng initially manufactured his product to combat mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, but admitted that the recent Zika scare had boosted sales. "People who have used the products before have been buying in bulk for others," said Khng. "The repellents are flying off the shelves."</s>Adult female mosquitoes can pass the Zika virus along to their offspring, new research reveals. Experts warn this means the virus will be much harder to control than previously thought. The finding makes clear the need for pesticide programs that kill both adult mosquitoes and their eggs. Current methods are not adequate, warns study co-author Dr Robert Tesh of the University of Texas. 'Spraying affects adults, but it does not usually kill the immature forms - the eggs and larvae,' he said. 'Spraying will reduce transmission, but it may not eliminate the virus.' The findings were published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on Monday. Scientists were comforted by the similarities they found between Zika and well-understood viruses like dengue and yellow fever. Like Zika, those two infections can be transmitted from female mosquitoes to their offspring. But more extreme measures will have to be taken to tackle Zika since it is new to the US and very few - if anyone - have build up resistance to the virus. Although Zika generally causes mild disease in adults, it is a major threat to pregnant women because it has been shown to cause the severe birth defect known as microcephaly and other brain abnormalities. The ongoing Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly, and has since spread rapidly through the Americas. Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that carry Zika, lay eggs in small containers of water. Homeowners have been advised to dump out containers of water on their properties. When the water is dumped, the eggs cling in a ring around the water line, where they remain dormant until the next rain, when they can hatch. Scientists studying Zika wanted to find out whether some of the offspring from these tropical mosquitoes might carry the virus, helping to perpetuate an outbreak during dry seasons. To find out, researchers injected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes raised in a laboratory with Zika. They were then fed, and within a week, they laid eggs. The team collected and cared for the eggs until they hatched into adult mosquitoes, and counted the ones that carried the Zika virus. They found the virus present in one out of every 290 mosquitoes tested. 'The ratio may sound low,' Tesh said, 'but when you consider the number of Aedes aegypti in a tropical urban community, it is likely high enough to allow some virus to persist, even when infected adult mosquitoes are killed.' Tesh said the next step is to show that mosquitoes are actually passing Zika to their offspring in the wild. Experts fighting Zika in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami have announced aerial spraying campaigns using pesticides that kill both adult mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. For homeowners in affected areas, Tesh advised people to dump standing water from containers on their property and scrub them thoroughly to remove eggs and larvae. They should also remove any objects from their yards that could collect water. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ZIKA The Zika (ZEE'-ka) virus was first discovered in monkey in Uganda in 1947 - its name comes from the Zika forest where it was first discovered. It is typically transmitted through bites from the Aedes species of mosquitoes. They are aggressive feeders, commonly biting multiple people in quick succession, fueling the spread of the virus. They are most active during mid-morning and then again between late afternoon and nightfall. Scientists have found Zika can be transmitted sexually - from both men and women. Couples should abstain or wear condoms for eight weeks if either partner has traveled to a country with a Zika outbreak, regardless of whether they have symptoms. A mother can pass the virus to her unborn baby during pregnancy. There are two ways this can happen: through the placenta, and through the amniotic sac. Since the virus can live in the womb lining, there is a chance the baby can become infected during birth. The majority of people infected with Zika virus will not experience symptoms. Those that do, usually develop mild symptoms - fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes - for no more than a week. There is no specific treatment for the virus and there is currently no vaccine. CAN THE SPREAD BE STOPPED? Individuals can protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents. They could also wear long sleeves and long pants - especially during daylight, when the mosquitoes tend to be most active, health officials say. Eliminating breeding spots and controlling mosquito populations can help prevent the spread of the virus.</s>Inspector Sharon Nagel drops larvicide granules into a drainage area as she helps the county fight to control the Zika virus, July 30, in Miami. Joe Raedle / Getty Images</s>A drug currently used to treat tapeworms could beat the Zika virus, according to a groundbreaking new study. In a series of experiments, researchers found the existing medication is highly effective at stopping the deadly virus from replicating in the body. The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Florida State University (FSU), Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health. It has been hailed as a medical breakthrough as federal regulators race to find treatment for the infection, which is spreading through the US. Professor Hengli Tang, of FSU, said: 'We focused on compounds that have the shortest path to clinical use. 'This is a first step toward a therapeutic that can stop transmission of this disease.' Profossor Tang and his colleagues identified two different groups of compounds that could potentially be used to treat Zika. One stops the virus from replicating, and the other that stops the virus from killing foetal brain cells, also called neuroprogenitor cells. One of the identified compounds is the basis for a drug called Niclosamide - an approved drug that showed no danger to pregnant women in animal studies. It is currently available as a treatment for tapeworm. Researchers said the drug could be prescribed by a doctor today, although further tests are still needed to determine a specific treatment regime for the infection. Although the Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, little was known about how it worked and its potential health implications - especially among pregnant women - until last year's outbreak in South America. The virus can cause abnormally small heads in unborn babies, known as microcephaly, leading them to be born with severe birth defects. Professor Tang said: 'It's so dramatic and irreversible. 'The probability of Zika-induced microcephaly occurring doesn't appear to be that high, but when it does, the damage is horrible.' Researchers around the world have been working to better understand the disease - which can be transmitted both by mosquito bite and through a sexual partner - and also to develop medical treatments. Earlier this year, Professor Tang's team was the first to show that the Zika virus caused cellular phenotypes consistent with microcephaly. They subsequently screened 6,000 compounds that were either already approved or were in the process of a clinical trial because they could be made more quickly available to people infected by Zika. Professor Hongjun Song, of Johns Hopkins University, said: 'It takes years if not decades to develop a new drug. 'In this sort of global health emergency, we don't have time. So instead of using new drugs, we chose to screen existing drugs. 'In this way, we hope to create a therapy much more quickly.' Now the researchers are continuing to work on the compounds and hope to begin testing the drugs on animals infected with Zika in the 'near future.' The latest findings were published by the journal Nature Medicine. The Zika (ZEE'-ka) virus was first discovered in monkey in Uganda in 1947 - its name comes from the Zika forest where it was first discovered. It is typically transmitted through bites from the Aedes species of mosquitoes. They are aggressive feeders, commonly biting multiple people in quick succession, fueling the spread of the virus. They are most active during mid-morning and then again between late afternoon and nightfall. Scientists have found Zika can be transmitted sexually - from both men and women. Couples should abstain or wear condoms for eight weeks if either partner has traveled to a country with a Zika outbreak, regardless of whether they have symptoms. A mother can pass the virus to her unborn baby during pregnancy. There are two ways this can happen: through the placenta, and through the amniotic sac. Since the virus can live in the womb lining, there is a chance the baby can become infected during birth. The majority of people infected with Zika virus will not experience symptoms. Those that do, usually develop mild symptoms - fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes - for no more than a week. There is no specific treatment for the virus and there is currently no vaccine. CAN THE SPREAD BE STOPPED? Individuals can protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents. They could also wear long sleeves and long pants - especially during daylight, when the mosquitoes tend to be most active, health officials say. Eliminating breeding spots and controlling mosquito populations can help prevent the spread of the virus.</s>Washington, DC - Researchers at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) recently identified compounds that potentially can be used to inhibit Zika virus replication and reduce its ability to kill brain cells. These compounds now can be studied by the broader research community to help combat the Zika public health crisis. NCATS is part of the National Institutes of Health. Using NCATS’ drug repurposing screening robots, researchers identified two classes of compounds effective against Zika: one is antiviral, and the other prevents Zika-related brain cell death. The compounds include emricasan, an investigational drug currently being evaluated in a clinical trial to reduce liver injury and fibrosis, and niclosamide, a U. S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for use in humans to treat worm infections. In addition, the researchers identified nine cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. CDK usually is involved in regulation of cellular processes as well as normal brain development, but the Zika virus can negatively affect this process. NCATS’ work was a collaborative effort with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, (JHU) and Florida State University, Tallahassee, (FSU), and the study results were published in the August 29 issue of Nature Medicine. The NCATS screening effort builds on the initial research by JHU and FSU scientists, who discovered that the Zika virus infects brain cells early in development. Infection by the Zika virus may be related to fetal microcephaly, an abnormally small head resulting from an underdeveloped and/or damaged brain. The Zika virus has been reported in 60 countries and territories worldwide; currently, there are no vaccines or effective drug treatments. The virus is spread primarily through bites from infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and in addition, can be transmitted from mother to child and through sexual contact. It also is associated with neurological diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in infected adults. “The Zika virus poses a global health threat,” said Anton Simeonov, Ph.D., NCATS scientific director. “While we await the development of effective vaccines, which can take a significant amount of time, our identification of repurposed small molecule compounds may accelerate the translational process of finding a potential therapy.” NCATS researcher Wei Zheng, Ph.D., and his team led the drug repurposing screen to test three strains of Zika: Asian, African and Puerto Rican. The scientists first developed an assay (test) using caspase 3, a protein that causes brain cell death when infected by the virus. The next step was screening 6,000 FDA-approved and investigational compounds, which resulted in the identification of more than 100 promising compounds. The team then evaluated the protective effect of these compounds in brain cells after Zika virus infection. Three lead compounds, emiracsan, niclosamide and a CDK inhibitor known as PHA-690509, were identified as reducing neuronal cell death caused by Zika virus infection. These compounds were effective either in inhibiting the replication of Zika or in preventing the virus from killing brain cells. For example, emricasan prevents cell death, and niclosamide and the nine CDK inhibitors stop the virus’ replication. The team also found that emricasan, when combined with one of the CDK inhibitors, prevented both cell death and virus replication. In addition, the team noted that the CDK inhibitors may be useful in treating non-pregnant patients who face an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome and other conditions sparked by Zika infection. The researchers cautioned, however, that the use of emricasan and niclosamide during pregnancy for Zika infection will need to be evaluated in pre-clinical toxicology studies and clinical trials. “Using the NCATS drug repurposing platform for emerging infectious diseases can help rapidly identify potential treatments for urgent needs such as the Zika virus,” Zheng said. “While identifying promising compounds is a first step, our goal at NCATS is to facilitate the translation of these findings for evaluation in the clinic. The release of all the compound screening data in this publication and in the public PubChem database opens the door to the research community to do just that.” NCATS’ screening effort enabled the broader research team to quickly translate their earlier discoveries toward work to develop treatments for Zika virus infection. JHU is working on a mouse model to study the neuroprotective effects of the compounds identified from the screen and studying the mechanism of action of the lead compounds. FSU is testing the efficacy of these compounds in a Zika virus mouse model and is also studying the mechanism of action of the lead compounds. In addition to NCATS, FSU and JHU, the research was supported by Emory University, Atlanta; the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Columbia; NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through grants NS048271 and NS095348, NS047344 and NS097206; and NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through grant AI119530.</s>WHO emergency panel on Zika to convene on Sept 1 GENEVA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that its Emergency Committee on Zika would meet on Thursday to review the outbreak's evolution and neurological birth defects linked to the mosquito-borne virus. The panel of independent experts led by Dr. David Heymann, which last met on June 14, convenes every three months to assess progress in the fight against the disease and malformations including microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The Zika virus was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. Singapore on Monday confirmed 15 new cases of locally transmitted infections, taking the tally to 56 as authorities step up efforts to contain the outbreak. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Dominic Evans)"
"The number of Zika virus infected in Singapore rises above 40."
"MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants his fiercest critic in the legislature, Senator Leila De Lima, to step down. "Dapat ka mag-resign (You should resign), you resign," said Duterte, addressing De Lima during a short speech on Monday, August 29, in Tacloban City. Not one to mince words, Duterte even said that if he were in her place, he would take his own life. "If I were De Lima, ladies and gentlemen, I will hang myself. The innermost of your core as female being serialized every day," said the President. He was referring to De Lima's private affairs, including her supposed romantic relationship with her driver, that are now public knowledge largely due to the President's announcement during the Philippine National Police service anniversary. Duterte, who previously blasted De Lima for "immorality," said the lady senator would make a bad example for women. "Pinapakita mo 'yan, you resign. Ano'ng pakita mo sa mga babae, 'Follow me,' sabihin mo? (You are showing that, you resign. What are you showing women, 'Follow me,' you will say?) This is how to be a woman of the world," said Duterte. Last week, Duterte made public a matrix supposedly showing personalities involved in the New Bilibid Prison illegal drug trade. Senator De Lima and former Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr, now Pangasinan 5th District representative, are the two highest public officials in the matrix. (READ: De Lima denies Duterte drug matrix: 'It's garbage') – Rappler.com</s>President Rodrigo Duterte’s scathing attacks on Sen. Leila de Lima are far from over. On Monday, the President said his nemesis should hang herself or resign from her post. “If I were de Lima, ladies and gentleman, I’ll hang myself. Your life, as well as the innermost of your core as a female, is being serialized everyday,” Duterte said when interviewed in Samar where he visited the wake of PO1 Gary Cabaguing, who was killed during an anti-drug operation. Duterte earlier slammed de Lima for being “immoral” for having an affair with her married driver, saying the latter profited from the illegal drug trade. Yesterday, the President said de Lima should resign from her Senate post because she is no role model for women. “Mag resign ka (You should resign). Wala kang ipakita…anong ipapakita mo sa mga babae (You have nothing to show. What are you going to tell women, follow me? [That] this is how to be a woman of the world?” Duterte said. He admitted that his bad blood with de Lima started when she, as the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, investigated Duterte’s links to the Davao Death Squad (DDS), a vigilante group that killed suspected criminals in Davao City where Duterte served as mayor from 1998 to 2016. Duterte said DDS stands for Davao Development System. “That is what’s tough. When I was the mayor, she said she would prove that Duterte is the leader of the DDS. Why do you have to interpret it the wrong way?” the President said. “Sino bang gustong pumatay (Who really wants to kill?) You think it is very easy to kill a fellow human being? You build the nation on the bones of your countrymen?” he added. Neither weak nor guilty But de Lima rejected Duterte’s advice. While she admitted that she considered resigning because of the vicious attacks against her, she chose not to. “After much reflection resignation at this point will be an admission of guilt and a sign of weakness and I’m neither weak nor guilty,” de Lima stressed. The senator said she has no intention to attend the hearing of the House of Representatives on the alleged proliferation of drugs at the National Bilibid Prison during her term as Justice secretary. “I have been adjudged guilty already by the President and do you think that House inquiry will be anything near fair to me?” de Lima said. “I’m finished in so far as the President is concerned that is why he wants me to resign and then I will show up in that hearing? I won’t have any respect left for myself if I do that,” the senator added. De Lima earlier said that she is willing to resign if the President can prove her alleged links to illegal drugs.</s>Philippines senator vows to press on in battle with 'The Punisher' MANILA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - A Philippines senator who is leading an inquiry into the spate of killings unleashed by President Rodrigo Duterte's 'war on drugs' has vowed to press on despite bizarre accusations and insults raining on her from the country's leader. Leila de Lima told Reuters on Monday she has no fears for her own life because it would be clear who was to blame if anything happened to her, but she has been warned by people close to Duterte to stop questioning the extra-judicial killings. "Some of my closest friends, some of my family are pleading with me 'you better stop already, stop it, stop it, keep quiet or just quit so they leave you alone'. But I cannot do that," the 57-year-old lawyer and politician said in her Senate office. More than 1,900 people have been killed in Duterte's war on drugs since he came to power two months ago, according to police figures. Police say the toll of about 36 people a day is a result of drug dealers resisting arrest or gang feuds. De Lima set up a Senate inquiry into the killings and held the first two hearings last week. On Thursday, Duterte accused de Lima of taking bribes from jailed drug lords. He has also said she is having an affair with her driver and at a news conference declared she was "finished". On Monday he attacked her again, saying de Lima had lost face as a woman and that if he were her he would hang himself. "What they are doing to me is even worse than death. The honour, especially my womanhood, my reputation," said de Lima, who denies all the allegations Duterte has made against her. Duterte, sometimes known as 'The Punisher', won a May election on a promise to wipe out drugs and dealers. But there has been an outcry from human rights groups over the sheer number of deaths that followed Duterte's victory and over his incendiary rhetoric, which they say encourages police to feel they can kill with impunity. There have been cases when police officers have killed suspected drug dealers who were in handcuffs and in custody, civil rights lawyers have said. There have also been hundreds of killings by anonymous gunmen. De Lima said witnesses had told her about one case involving a group of men dressed as civilians and wearing masks. "From all indications, based on the account of those who witnessed it, those were actually police," she said. "Are these death squads? Who are they, and under whose direction are they doing that?" She said despite Duterte's promises to go after drug syndicates and kingpins, it is mostly the poor who are dying. "The ones being targeted are the powerless, the voiceless, the defenceless, because they are so poor. Where is the justice there, there's so much injustice," she said. She said her Senate committee, which is due to hold another hearing on Thursday, was seeking facts - but it had no power to accuse or pursue any individual. De Lima is hoping the hearings will speed the passage of legislation that has been stuck in Congress that would make extra-judicial killing a special crime with harsh penalties. She also wants to bolster the independent Commission on Human Rights (CHR) so it has more capacity to investigate violations. De Lima said that the CHR and the police's internal affairs service were both overwhelmed and could only do so much, and a climate of fear meant people were reluctant to speak out. "It's only the president who can stop all of this," she said. "I call this madness really." (Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)</s>Before the time he is ready to step down from office on June 30, 2022, President Rodrigo Duterte must have appointed 12 of the 15 justices of the Supreme Court. The number could even be higher at 13 if rumors that a powerful cabal moving within the Court and the Congress to oust Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno proved true — allegedly, and ironically, on charges of tax evasion. If Sereno keeps her position, however, three of the six Supreme Court justices appointed by two predecessors of Duterte will be in the Court when he ends his term. The rest will have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, and replaced by Duterte by then. It would be a unique opportunity for a President who is both anti-elite and an outsider from the country’s traditional ruling class, to mold the Supreme Court, and therefore our legal system, according to his own unusual, pro-poor view of the world. The Supreme Court, even by design, has really been one of the bastions of elite rule, although there, indeed, have been unique cases when the Court defied the elite, as in its ruling that the Hacienda Luisita agrarian reform was fake. (It cost its Chief Justice Renato Corona his job, and tragically I have to say, even his life.) But not only that, the reality of the legal community is that with Duterte picking 12 justices in the next six years, about two justices per year, he has in effect the means to ensure that the judicial system consisting of Sandiganbayan, the Appellate Court, and the Regional Trial judges support him, even in what would likely be his controversial moves. Traditionally, and perhaps logically, (until President Aquino basically broke the practice and appointed mediocre legal academics like Chief Justice Sereno), justices of the Supreme Court are picked from the most experienced pool of judges and justices from the country’s advanced courts, mainly from the special anti-graft courts Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Courts. It would be human nature, of course, for even these judges to aspire to the highest court of the land, which would be the pinnacle of their legal careers. While they would do so by seeking connections to the President, or to those close to him, the one thing they can do to increase their chances is not to cross the President in cases in which his policies and programs are put on the line. The Commission on Human Rights and Senator Leila de Lima should kiss any plans of bringing to the courts their claims of extrajudicial killings goodbye. Following is the schedule of retirements at the Supreme Court during Duterte’s term: In contrast, Aquino was able to appoint only six Supreme Court justices, although Presidents Ramos and Arroyo did install 14 and 21 justices, respectively, but sadly failed to mold the Court to their world-views. Or did they? De Lima should resign Sen. Leila de Lima should start thinking of giving up her Senate seat. Her position has become untenable, even as President Duterte, who has emerged as an extremely popular and powerful president, is undoubtedly out to bury her — and the scenario seems to be unfolding at this time when his political capital is at its height. And for all of De Lima’s playing of the woman card, she has not at all denied that she has had intimate and sexual relationship with her subordinate Ronnie Dayan, her former bodyguard-driver. Shortly after his first de Lima slam, Duterte went for another strike by announcing in a televised comment that the senator has taken another lover, an MMDA motorcycle escort, after she apparently got tired of Dayan. While we live in a liberal age, a senator having a relationship with her married subordinate, and allegedly gifting him with houses and even vehicles, create a dent on the integrity of the entire Senate, which is supposed to be a model of uprightness for citizens, and especially the youth. If proven that she did gift her lover with houses, the obvious question is where could she have made the money for this when she had been in government for only 12 years since President Arroyo’s term, as head of the Commission on Human Rights? What makes her position untenable is that she was Justice Secretary for six years, the Republic’s prime law-enforcement officer. Yet in her six years in office, just like his boss President Aquino, she had hardly alerted the nation to the rapid proliferation of illegal drugs and the monstrous social menace that has created. She hadn’t undertaken even a fraction of the scale of operations against it that the present administration has lunched in just two months. It is difficult to believe that she had been largely ignorant of the illegal drug industry’s proliferation in this country. It is as difficult to believe that she simply closed her eyes to this while it was happening, free of any blame. Now we are all shocked that illegal drugs use has been uncovered as a plague upon the nation, with 10 percent of our adult population dependent on them, and that the industry has become a main generator of corruption and crime in our society. What could be a clearer indictment of an incompetent justice secretary than the fact that the Bilibid National Prison, which was under her supervision, had become not only the command center of drug lords, but also their distribution point and even manufacturing facility? Had the extent of the illegal drug problem been disclosed during the last elections, there is no doubt de Lima would not have been elected as senator, and would have even landed in the lowest rungs. A senatorial contest for a non-incumbent senator has been estimated to cost at least P500 million. From where and how could de Lima have raised such kind of money? In the final analysis, de Lima as senator is a fraud, having been elected on a completely false premise that she did her job as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, and if the allegations by President Duterte against her turn out to be correct, she even probably raised campaign funds from the very criminals she was supposed to put in jail. On the other hand, what value can she add to the Senate when her purported qualification for the post, that of basically being a former justice secretary, proves to be spurious? Never before has such a sitting senator been exposed to so much public scrutiny for allegations of being a fraud. De Lima should spare the country, and herself, from such ignominy. She should scour deep in her heart to find some patriotism, and resign her post in what is often referred to in a cliché, but in a fervent wish, as the country’s august body.</s>THE Senate committee on ethics and privileges has deferred action on a complaint filed against Senator Leila de Lima by a taxpayer who wanted her expelled from the chamber. Senator Vicente Sotto 3rd, chairman of the committee, said members of the panel were furnished copies of the complaint on Tuesday. “We have decided to keep it confidential because it might be premature publicity. So therefore, in fairness to everyone, to all concerned, we’d rather keep it confidential,” Sotto said in an interview after the organizational meeting of the committee. Sotto added that the panel agreed to call for a general counsel to assist them in studying the complaint. Sotto refused to disclose details of the complaint but in an interview last week, the senator hinted that some of the issues raised by the complainant were based on the allegations of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly on her alleged involvement in illegal drug operations and immorality. Asked if the committee will proceed with the investigation if the allegations were based on the actions of de Lima when she was not a senator, Sotto said they will have to study the issue on jurisdiction. “That is why it is not easy for us to just take over jurisdiction or to dismiss because of the underlying factors,” he explained. In his two-page complaint, Abelardo de Jesus said de Lima “miserably” failed to uphold the attributes of a public officer as secretary of the Department of Justice and as a senator, which is tantamount to betrayal of public trust. De Jesus based his complaint on the August 17, 2016 speech of the President during the 115th Police Service Anniversary in Camp Crame wherein he accused de Lima of “collecting money through her driver’ from the narco-inmates at the National Penitentiary to finance her Senate electoral campaign. The complainant said there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the allegation, considering that it was made by no less than the President. “Thus, I plead the Senate Ethics Committee to request the Office of the President for these evidentiary matters to warrant and justify the penalty sought to be imposed against Respondent,” de Jesus said in his complaint. The complaint charged de Lima with betrayal of public trust, gross misconduct, serious misrepresentation and grievous negligence. De Jesus said de Lima should be expelled from the Senate. Harassment De Lima dismissed the complaint as part of the harassment tactics against her. “I have not seen yet any such complaint so I’d rather that I wait first for whatever action, initial or otherwise, that the ethics committee would be taking on that matter,” de Lima said. “They’re trying to break my spirit but they will never succeed. That will not happen,” she added. She expressed confidence that members of the ethics panel will study the matter thoroughly. “I respect them as my colleagues. I know that they know what to do,” de Lima said."
"Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte calls on critic senator Leila de Lima to resign and "hang herself"."
"</s>PRESIDENT Duterte said on Monday his bloody antidrug campaign that has left nearly 1,800 people dead does not amount to genocide, but that he’s ready to go to jail to defend his men from lawsuits. Mr. Duterte drew a line between the widespread killings sparked by his antidrug war and the brutality under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the atrocities committed by Islamic State group extremists. “Genocide? Who did I kill? I did not kill any child. I did not drop barrel [bombs] just likeal- Assad,” President Duterte said in a speech to mark the Philippines’s National Heroes’ day before war veterans, ambassadors and top officials. “I’m fighting…criminals.” Referring to Islamic State group militants, whom he called “idiots,” Mr. Duterte said, “I do not burn women because they refuse to have sex.” At least 1,779 drug suspects have been killed in President Duterte’s campaign, including 712 who were gunned down in clashes with the police, with the rest being slain in still-unclear circumstances, the national police chief told a Senate inquiry last week. At least 3.7 million Filipinos have become addicted to methamphetamine, a prohibited stimulant known locally as shabu, with about 600,000 drug users and dealers surrendering to authorities, Mr. Duterte said. Human-rights groups have expressed alarm over the spate of killings, and United Nations (UN)-appointed human-rights experts warned steps should be taken to halt the violence, adding that the government and law enforcers could be held responsible. “Claims to fight the illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard said in a statement this month. The 71-year-old President Duterte built a name with his deadly crime-busting style as a longtime mayor of southern Davao City. He described his campaign against drugs as a harsh war that would involve the military because the problem has worsened into a crisis and claimed the lives of law enforcers. “We might still end up like the South American countries and their fractured governments. I am declaring war,” he told an audience at a national heroes’ cemetery on Monday, which included ambassadors, war veterans and security officials. The drug menace, he said, “has infected every nook and corner of this country involving generals, mayors, governors, barangay [village] captains” and policemen. Pressing his campaign, Mr. Duterte announced bounties of P2 million ($42,000) for information that would help the government identify any police officer protecting drugs syndicates. He repeated his pledge to defend the police and military, but warned law enforcers against conniving with criminals. “In the pursuit of law and order, pursuant to my directions, you do not have to worry about criminal liability,” he said. “I will go to the prison for you. I take full legal responsibility, you just do it according to the books.” “But for those in the government, the police, the corrupt police and the corrupt judges and the corrupt prosecutors, there will be a day of comeuppance, there will always be a day of reckoning,” Duterte said.</s>PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday brushed aside the possibility of being hauled into international courts over mounting deaths in his war against illegal drugs, daring his critics to send him to jail for it. But Duterte, in his National Heroes’ Day speech, pointed out that he should not be compared with the murderous Islamic State or Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who are accused of various atrocities and crimes against humanity. “Did I kill a child? Did I drop bombs like Assad and those other idiots? Did I burn women who refuse to have sex?” the President said at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig. “I will take full legal responsibility. I will be happy to join them in prison. I will not ask for a special room. I’d just ask for a bed, foam, and something to read. Do not scare me with [these cases of]genocide,” he said. Duterte again argued that his war against the illegal drug trade would be for the “law-abiding, God-fearing citizens to be comfortable, period, that they are not molested, their children can walk the streets and come home safe and sound.” Last week, the Philippine National Police told a Senate investigation 756 drug suspects have been killed in police operations nationwide. A total of 1,160 deaths were also recorded “outside police operations,” likely perpetrated by vigilantes or drug syndicates out to cover their tracks. On August 18, UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Dainius Pūras called on the Philippine government to stop the wave of killings of people linked to illegal drugs, saying that going after drug traders won’t exempt “state actors” from international legal obligations. Callamard said Duterte’s supposed directives to kill drug suspects and drug users who don’t surrender were “irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.” “It is effectively a license to kill,” she said. Bounty Duterte ignored the rapporteurs’ warning against encouraging impunity, and threatened to put a P2-million bounty on policemen involved in the illegal drug trade. He even urged law enforcers to rat on their colleagues. “I consider the fight against drugs a war. I am declaring war. It has infected every nook and corner of this country, involving generals, mayors, governors, barangay (village) captains, and so many of the ‘ninjas’ [as]we call them … these are the police who are into it,” Duterte said in Taguig. “I might be inclined to place a reward on their head, the members of the police who are protecting the drug syndicates in this country. I am placing, per head, P2 million,” he said. Duterte pointed out that there are now 3.6 million drug dependents in the country based on data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. These drug dependents are not mere “users” given their sheer number, he claimed. “You can just imagine a country with three million addicts and they say they are just users. My God! If you are a user, you are [also a]pusher. You have to [establish]connect[ion][with]somebody to finance the [drug]fix,” he claimed. Drawback Duterte was unfazed by the killings and said his intensified anti-drug campaign won’t spare anybody, including the poor. “They (critics) would want to make it appear that just because this guy is poor, therefore, he should not be made accountable to law but placed in a hospital,” he said. “In this planet, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you see drugs as a viable livelihood, there will always be a drawback,” the President said."
"Duterte rejects claims that he is inciting genocide with his anti-drug campaign."
"The incident happened just after 2 a.m. local time on Monday when a loud explosion was heard at the complex in Neder-Over-Heembeek, which is located in the northern part of the City of Brussels. A fire broke out at the scene. There were no injuries as a result of the explosion, but residents in the surrounding neighborhood reported being shaken by the blast. Firefighters extinguished the fire that engulfed the car and caused damage in the vicinity. No one was injured. Belgian media initially reported that the incident was caused by an explosives-laden vehicle that was rammed through gates at the facility before being detonated, but officials later said that no explosives were found. Instead, the fire was likely caused by fuel that was set on fire. "It's probably not terrorism. It's a criminal act," Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office, told the Associated Press news agency. This is a breaking news alert. Please check back or follow @BNONews on Twitter as details become available. If you want to receive breaking news alerts by email, click here to sign up. You can also like BNO News on Facebook by clicking here. Les pompiers sont toujours sur place #Belga #Nederoverheembeek pic.twitter.com/KVuxyuX9wx — Angèle Olivier (@AngeleOlivier) August 29, 2016 Click here for reuse options! </s>Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption A vehicle was used to break through barriers before it was destroyed by fire Attackers rammed a car through the gates of a Brussels crime laboratory before starting a fire to destroy forensic evidence, prosecutors say. Prosecutor's spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said a car broke through fences at about 02:00 (00:00 GMT). She said there was "sensitive material" inside the laboratories, but it is not yet clear what if anything was destroyed in the fire. Five people arrested nearby were later released without charge. Initial reports in Belgian media said a bomb had exploded. But Ms Van Wymersch said that while a bomb was unlikely to have detonated, it was impossible to fully rule out that scenario. "The location was not chosen randomly," she said. "It's an important site, that includes sensitive documents relating to current investigations." "The possibility of a terrorist act is not confirmed. It goes without saying that several individuals may have wanted to destroy evidence related to their legal cases," Ms Van Wymersch added. The case was being treated as arson, she said. Image copyright Reuters Some 30 firefighters helped put out the fire at the National Institute of Criminology, which Ms Van Wymersch said caused damage but caused no casualties. Forensic analysis linked to criminal cases is carried out at the site, but while it is not the only laboratory of its kind linked to the police, it is the most important forensic test centre in Belgium. Images submitted to broadcaster RTL by nearby residents showed flames and heavy smoke rising into the night sky. The independent institute, linked to Belgium's federal justice body, is in Neder-Over-Heembeek, a suburb in the north of Brussels. Belgium's terror alert level remains high since bomb attacks on Brussels airport and the city's metro, claimed by so-called Islamic State, that killed 32 people in March.</s>BRUSSELS, Aug 29 (Reuters) - A bomb exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of the Belgian capital on Monday but the building was empty and no one was wounded, broadcaster RTL said. Brussels prosecutors confirmed that there had been an explosion at the institute and that there had been no casualties but said the cause had still not been determined. A car rammed through the barriers at about 3 a.m. local time and one or more attackers exploded a bomb near the laboratories which caught fire, RTL said. The institute is linked to the Belgian ministry of justice and carries out forensic investigations in criminal cases, it says on its website. Europe has been on high alert after Islamic State attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past year. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Nick Macfie)</s>Five held over fire at Brussels criminology institute - prosecutors BRUSSELS, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Five people were being held and questioned on Monday over a fire at Brussels' criminology institute, a spokeswoman for the city's prosecutors said. Arsonists set fire to Belgium's National Institute of Criminology in Brussels earlier on Monday, causing an explosion but no casualties. "Five people were detained in the vicinity and are being heard," the spokeswoman, Ine Van Wymersch, told a news conference. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska)</s>A bomb has reportedly gone off at the Brussels Institute of Criminology. It happen at about 2.30am loncal time, according to Belgian media. A car reportedly rammed three fences to get near the institute’s building, where the bomb was detonated. No casualties were reported Brussels airport and metro were the targets of an Islamic State bomb attack that killed 32 people in March. Belgium remains on a high terror alert.</s>A bomb has exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of Brussels but the building was empty and no one was wounded, according to local media. A car rammed through the barriers at about 3am local time on Monday and one or more attackers exploded a bomb near the laboratories which caught fire, broadcaster RTL said. State broadcaster RTBF said no one was injured but that damage at the site was significant. Police have been deployed in force and sealed off the area. The institute is in Neder-Over-Hembeek, a suburb north of Brussels. It is linked to the Belgian ministry of justice and carries out forensic investigations in criminal cases. Belgium has been on high alert since March when attacks on the the city’s airport and subway killed 32 people. Days before the Brussels attacks, Salah Abdeslam, one of the leaders of the terror attacks on Paris in November 2015, was arrested in the Molenbeek area of Brussels after a four-month international manhunt. This is a developing story, please check back for updates.</s>Arsonists set fire to Belgium’s National Institute of Criminology in Brussels on Monday, causing an explosion but no casualties, a Brussels prosecutor said. Ine Van Wymersch said there were no immediate indications that the fire at the institute, which was empty at the time, was a militant attack although nothing had been ruled out. Europe has been on high alert after Islamic State attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past year. “It was arson, deliberate arson at the laboratory of the federal police,” she said. “With a fire you get explosions, but it’s not that explosives were thrown inside or installed.” “It is a path we are looking down,” she said, referring to the possibility of militant involvement. “But certainly not the first one we are thinking about. We are thinking more of deliberate arson by organised crime. We have no indications that it was terrorism,” she said. The institute is linked to the Belgian ministry of justice and carries out forensic investigations in criminal cases, according to its website. The attack was carried out by more than one person, Ms van Wymersch said. Two people had been detained, although they were not necessarily the perpetrators. Belgian broadcaster RTL said that a car rammed through barriers at the centre at about 3am local time.</s>Nobody hurt in blast outside Brussels criminology institute BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian media say unidentified attackers have detonated a bomb outside Belgium's criminology institute in the capital, Brussels, but the building was empty and nobody was injured. State broadcaster RTBF and other outlets reported Monday that a car drove through a security barrier at the site about 2 a.m. (0000 GMT), followed by an explosion that caused significant damage to the facility on Brussels' north side. Police have deployed in force and sealed off the area. The institute assists and advises Belgium's justice authorities in carrying out their investigations. Belgium has been on high alert since coordinated March 22 suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people.</s>A bomb has exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of Brussels. A car rammed through the barriers at about 3am and one or more attackers exploded a bomb near the laboratories which caught fire, RTL said. The blast hit the empty building on Monday morning and no one was wounded - it is not clear what happened to the bombers. There was significant damage at the site and police have sealed off the area. State broadcaster RTBF said a car with two people on board accessed the site before scaling a ladded and launching a bomb at the building. They are then said to have torched their vehicle. The institute, which is in the Neder-Over-Hembeek suburb of northern Brussels, assists and advises Belgium's justice authorities in carrying out their inquiries. Eyewitnesses reported seeing thick black smoke coming from the building before fire crews descended on the scene in the early hours of the morning. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. Fire service spokesman, Pierre Meys, said: 'it was probably not accidental. 'The explosion was extremely powerful. Windows of the lab were blown out dozens of metres away.' He said about 30 firefighters were called to the scene. Belgium has been on high alert since a March 22 attack on the Brussels airport and tube network killed 32 people. Those attacks were claimed by ISIS, which controls large areas of territory in Iraq and Syria and has claimed numerous terror atrocities in Europe in recent months.</s>BRUSSELS (AP) - Reports of a bomb outside Belgium’s criminal institute early Monday are probably false, the Brussels prosecutor’s office said, adding that the incident is much more likely an arson attack on a crime lab. “It’s probably not terrorism. It’s a criminal act,” said spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch. “I cannot confirm that there was any bomb.” State broadcaster RTBF and other outlets reported that a car drove through a security barrier at the site about 2 a.m., followed by an explosion that caused significant damage to the facility on Brussels’ north side. Nobody was injured. The institute assists and advises Belgium’s justice authorities in carrying out their investigations. Belgium has been on high alert since coordinated March 22 suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people."
"Multiple individuals rammed a van into the entrance of the Brussels National Institute of Criminology building, setting its laboratories on fire. No casualties have been reported. At least five people are arrested."
"Voters cast their ballots at ChiArts High School on March 15 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images</s>Washington (CNN) Hackers have breached databases for election systems in Illinois and Arizona, according to state election and law enforcement officials. In Illinois, hackers accessed a database for the Illinois Board of Elections, compromising up to 200,000 personal voter records according to Ken Menzel, General Counsel for the board. The FBI is investigating the hack, which initially occurred in late June and was discovered in July. It was first reported by Yahoo . Officials with the Board of Elections are "highly confident they (the hackers) weren't able to change anything, although the investigation is still going on" according to Menzel. Investigators believe the hackers are likely based overseas, according to a law enforcement official. The Illinois database included voters' names, addresses, sex and birthdays in addition to other information. Some of the records include either last four digits of a voter's social security number or drivers' license numbers. The database is comprised of records for 15 million individuals and is 10 years old. Not all outdated information has been purged, according to Menzel, so some of those records likely include information for deceased voters or those who have subsequently moved. According to Matthew Roberts, director of communications for the Arizona secretary of state, in late May, Arizona officials took the statewide voting registration system offline after the FBI alerted the Arizona Department of Administration that there was a credible cyber threat to the voter registration system. Although The Washington Post reported that Roberts attributed the database breach directly to a Russian hacker, when pressed by CNN, he said that the Arizona secretary of state's office learned of Russian involvement from internal IT and cyber security staff. "We indirectly heard that the credential and username posted online was from a known Russian hacker," Roberts said. When they took the system offline to review any vulnerabilities, they discovered that a county election official's username and password had been posted online publicly. It's believed that a worker may have inadvertently downloaded a virus which exposed the username and password. In this instance, the username and password information posted would only give individuals access to a localized, county version of the voting registration system, and not the entire state-wide system. Roberts says there is no evidence that any data within the system was compromised and there was no evidence of malware present in the database. The breaches are causing concern among election officials because of the voter personal information that could have been stolen, not because of any fear that an election could be stolen, law enforcement officials say. States have a variety of systems -- some better than others -- but the voting machines and tabulating systems are generally not connected to the Internet, which would be the vulnerability hackers would use to compromise the electoral system. The Department of Homeland Security is unaware of any specific credible threat to the electoral systems, according to a law enforcement official. Election databases are attractive targets to hackers because they contain personal information that can be cobbled together with other data to help criminals steal money. DHS has offered to help states increase security of their systems, but states have rebuffed federal help and largely believe their systems are secure. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call recently to discuss whether DHS should declare electoral systems as critical infrastructure , which triggers more involvement from the federal government. States have resisted those moves. Asked about the intrusions while speaking at the Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday he didn't want to comment on a specific case but said the bureau is always looking at ways to counteract cyberattacks. "We take very seriously any effort by any actor -- including nation states, especially nation states that move beyond the collection of information about our country and offers the prospect of an effort to influence the conduct of affairs in our country -- whether it is an election or something else," Comey said. Illinois officials say it's been a challenge to identify everyone whose records were compromised as they have to sort through the 109 jurisdictions that may have been affected. According to Menzel, they are working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to figure out who was responsible. Menzel says the board is not concerned about the integrity of the voting system and does not expect the breach to impact the upcoming general election. Illinois voting machines are not connected to the internet in any way, according to Menzel. Most voters in Illinois use an optical scan ballot but some jurisdictions do have touch screen machines to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. In some large counties, such as Cook County, at the end of the voting day, early unofficial voting results are reported back and sent via cell phone signal but they have encryption protection. Arizona largely uses paper ballots and also has touch screen machines.</s>Washington (CNN) Hackers have breached databases for election systems in Illinois and Arizona, according to state election and law enforcement officials. In Illinois, hackers accessed a database for the Illinois Board of Elections, compromising up to 200,000 personal voter records according to Ken Menzel, General Counsel for the board. The FBI is investigating the hack, which initially occurred in late June and was discovered in July. It was first reported by Yahoo . Officials with the Board of Elections are "highly confident they (the hackers) weren't able to change anything, although the investigation is still going on" according to Menzel. The Illinois database included voters' names, addresses, sex and birthdays in addition to other information. Some of the records include either last four digits of a voter's social security number or drivers' license numbers. The database is comprised of records for 15 million individuals and is 10 years old. Not all outdated information has been purged, according to Menzel, so some of those records likely include information for deceased voters or those who have subsequently moved. According to Matthew Roberts, Director of Communications for the Arizona Secretary of State, in late May, Arizona officials took the statewide voting registration system offline after the FBI alerted the Arizona Department of Administration that there was a credible cyber threat to the voter registration system. When they took the system offline to review any vulnerabilities, they discovered that a county election official's username and password had been posted online publicly. It's believed that a worker may have inadvertently downloaded a virus which exposed the username and password. In this instance, the username and password information posted would only give individuals access to a localized, county version of the voting registration system, and not the entire state-wide system. Roberts says there is no evidence that any data within the system was compromised and there was no evidence of malware present in the database. The breaches are causing concern among election officials because of the voter personal information that could have been stolen, not because of any fear that an election could be stolen, law enforcement officials say. States have a variety of systems -- some better than others -- but the voting machines and tabulating systems are generally not connected to the internet, which would be the vulnerability hackers would use to compromise the electoral system. The Department of Homeland Security is unaware of any specific credible threat to the electoral systems, according to a law enforcement official. Election databases are attractive targets to hackers because they contain personal information that can be cobbled together with other data to help criminals steal money. In a statement, FBI spokesperson Jillian Stickels said, "While we cannot comment on specific alerts, what I can say is that in furtherance of public-private partnerships, the FBI routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations. This data is provided in order to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals." Illinois officials say it's been a challenge to identify everyone whose records were compromised as they have to sort through the 109 jurisdictions that may have been affected. According to Menzel, they are working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to figure out who was responsible. Menzel says the board is not concerned about the integrity of the voting system and does not expect the breach to impact the upcoming general election. Illinois voting machines are not connected to the internet in any way, according to Menzel. Most voters in Illinois use an optical scan ballot but some jurisdictions do have touch screen machines to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. In some large counties, such as Cook County, at the end of the voting day, early unofficial voting results are reported back and sent via cell phone signal but they have encryption protection. Arizona largely uses paper ballots and also has touch screen machines.</s>The FBI believes that the infiltration in late June of Arizona voter-registration databases may be linked to foreign hackers who stole data from an Illinois election site, Yahoo News reported on Monday. Michael Isikoff, Yahoo's chief investigative correspondent, reported that he'd obtained an FBI warning about cyberattacks on elections databases in two states. He confirmed through a source that the states were Illinois and Arizona. The online article received nationwide attention on Monday, even though much of the story had already been reported. Isikoff's story, based on a disturbing FBI alert about the two attacks, touched nerves that were already frayed following the bombshell leak last month of Democratic National Committee e-mails, a debacle that resulted in the resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Arizona Secretary of State's Office revealed news of the hack back in late June and early July, reporting that it was a serious attack, the FBI was investigating, and that no data had been stolen. The Illinois hack, which shut down the Illinois voter registration for nearly two weeks, was covered by the news media when it happened in mid-July. Isikoff's story reveals that hackers had penetrated and copied voter information for about 200,000 Illinois residents. The events in Arizona and Illinois sparked so much concern that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke with state elections officials in a conference call on August 15, trying to assuage fears of a massive Election Day cyberattack and offering up federal experts who could visit election sites and make recommendations for security improvements. Three days after the phone call, Isikoff reported, the FBI issued its bulletin. Entitled "Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems," the alert stated that the FBI was investigating two computer attacks and listed eight IP addresses — unique numbers assigned to every computer and device using the internet — that were linked to the hacks. One of those IP addresses was used in both attacks. "The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected," the alert states. "Attempts should not be made to touch or ping the IP addresses directly." One of the IP addresses "has surfaced before in Russian criminal underground hacker forums," according to an expert quoted in Isikoff's article. The hacks in Illinois and Arizona should be seen as a "wake-up call" for elections officials, Tom Hicks, the chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, told Isikoff. The FBI won't comment on specific alerts but does acknowledge that it reveals information to "private industry" of cyber threats, says Matthew Reinsmoen, a special agent with the agency's Phoenix office. "This data is provided in order to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals," reads a statement Reinsmoen sent to New Times on Monday. "As you may know, in July, we confirmed that the FBI's Cyber Crimes Unit did alert the state to a potential computer compromise. Due to the sensitive nature of these investigations we will not elaborate further on the matter." Matt Roberts, spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, said media outlets around the world was calling to find out what was going on, but that the story was actually old news. Because the FBI won't comment, officials can't be certain Arizona is one of the two states mentioned in the alert, he said. But a serious breach did occur, apparently tied to Russian hackers. FBI officials notified the Arizona Department of Administration in late June of a serious threat to voter-registration records — an "eight" on a scale of one to ten as threats go, Roberts said. Malicious software was downloaded onto a Maricopa County Elections Department computer, where it apparently recorded the keystrokes of the computer user and gleaned the user's password-protected login information. The hacker put the county employee's username and password on the internet. Not long after, the information was used to gain access to the voter information. But the county uses two levels of computer security for access to that information, and the hacker was unable to get past that second level. Roberts declined to discuss the details of that second-level security. The FBI's revelation of a breach in June spurred the state to take its online voter-registration apparatus offline for almost a week while the system was inspected. "We wanted to make sure that info wasn't being corrupted if there was a bug in it," Roberts explained. Users wouldn't have noticed, because all the new registrations went into a queue that was processed when the system was put back online. The shutdown affected a page on the Secretary of State's website where Clean Elections candidates can solicit $5 contributions that allow them to collect public money to run their campaigns. Roberts said the inspection proved the malware hadn't infected any other computers at Maricopa County Elections, and that the state's voter-registration database hadn't been violated. Reagan took prompt action in June upon hearing from the FBI, he says. "When Secretary Reagan hears the words 'Russian hacker,' and 'credible Russian hacker' from the FBI, she's going to pay attention to that," he said. Isikoff's story says federal officials aren't sure if the attacks came from foreign agents bent on changing U.S. elections or from criminals who want to sell voter information for a quick buck.</s>Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russians were behind the assault on the election system in that state. The bureau described the threat as "credible" and significant, "an eight on a scale of one to 10," Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R), said Monday. As a result, Reagan shut down the state's voter registration system for nearly a week. It turned out that the hackers had not compromised the state system or even any county system. They had, however, stolen the user name and password of a single elections official in Gila County. Roberts said FBI investigators did not specify whether the hackers were criminals or employed by the Russian government. Bureau officials on Monday declined to comment. The Arizona incident is the latest indication of Russian interest in U.S. elections and party operations, and follows the discovery of a high-profile penetration into Democratic National Committee computers. That hack produced embarrassing emails that led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and sowed dissension on the eve of Hillary Clinton's nomination as the party's presidential candidate. The Russian campaign is also sparking intense anxiety about the security of this year's elections. Earlier this month, the FBI warned state officials to be on the lookout for intrusions into their elections systems. The "flash" alert, which was first reported by Yahoo News, said investigators had detected attempts to penetrate election systems in several states and listed Internet protocol addresses and other technical fingerprints associated with the hacks. In addition to Arizona, Illinois officials discovered an intrusion into their elections system in July. Although the hackers did not alter any data, the intrusion marks the first successful compromise of a state voter-registration database, federal officials said. "This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity," said Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems for the Illinois State Board of Elections, in a message that was sent to all election authorities in the state. The Illinois hackers were able to retrieve voter records, but the number accessed was "a fairly small percentage of the total," said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board. State officials alerted the FBI, he said, and the Department of Homeland Security also was involved. The intrusion in Illinois led to a week-long shutdown of the voter registration system. The FBI has told Illinois officials that it is looking at foreign government agencies and criminal hackers as potential culprits, Menzel said. At least two other states are looking into possible breaches, officials said. Meanwhile, states across the nation are scrambling to ensure that their systems are secure. Until now, countries such as Russia and China have shown little interest in voting systems in the United States. But experts said that if a foreign government gained the ability to tamper with voter data - for instance by deleting registration records - such a hack could cast doubt on the legitimacy of U.S. elections. "I'm less concerned about the attackers getting access to and downloading the information. I'm more concerned about the information being altered, modified or deleted. That's where the real potential is for any sort of meddling in the election,"said Brian Kalkin, vice president of operations for the Center for Internet Security, which operates the MS-ISAC, a multistate information-sharing center that helps government agencies combat cyberthreats and works closely with federal law enforcement. James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has told Congress that manipulation or deletion of data is the next big cyberthreat - "the next push on the envelope." Tom Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to maintain election integrity, said he is confident that states have sufficient safeguards in place to ward off attempts to manipulate data. For example, if a voter's name were deleted and did not show up on the precinct list, the individual could still cast a provisional ballot, Hicks said. Once the voter's status was confirmed, the ballot would be counted. Hicks also said the actual systems used to cast votes "are not hooked up to the Internet" and so "there's not going to be any manipulation of data." However, more than 30 states have some provisions for online voting, primarily for voters living overseas or serving in the military. This spring, a DHS official cautioned that online voting is not yet secure. "We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters' expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security of their votes and provides an avenue for malicious actors to manipulate the voting results," said Neil Jenkins, an official in the department's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Private-sector researchers are also concerned about potential meddling by Russians in the U.S. elections system. Rich Barger, chief information officer at ThreatConnect, said that several of the IP addresses listed in the FBI alert trace back to a website-hosting service called King Servers that offers Russia-based technical support. Barger also said that one of the methods used was similar to a tactic employed in other intrusions suspected of being carried out by the Russian government, including one this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency. "The very fact that [someone] has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the cross hairs, gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder: Can they really trust the results?" Barger said. Earlier this month, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state elections officials, offering his assistance in protecting against cyberattacks. Johnson said that DHS was "not aware of any specific or credible cybersecurity threats relating to the upcoming general election systems," according to a readout of the call. It was not clear whether he was aware at the time of the FBI's investigations in Arizona and Illinois.</s>Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state. The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was “credible” and severe, ranking as “an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,” said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week. It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official. • August 15, 2016 Hotels in 10 states, including Colorado, and D.C. may have been hit by hackers Nonetheless, the revelation comes amid news that the FBI is investigating suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems, and earlier this month warned states to be on the alert for intrusions. In Illinois, officials discovered an intrusion into their state voter registration system in July. The FBI’s Aug. 18 warning follows heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic Party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election. Although the hackers did not alter any data, the intrusion into the Illinois database marks the first succesful compromise of a state election database, federal officials said. Until now, countries such as Russia and China have shown little interest in voting systems in the United States. But experts said that if a foreign government gains the ability to tamper with voter data, for instance by deleting registration records, such a hack could cast doubt on the legitimacy of U.S. elections. Meanwhile, the recently discovered hacks have state officials across the country scrambling to ensure that their systems have not been compromised. At least two other states are looking into potential breaches, officials said. “This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity,” said Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems for the Illinois State Board of Elections, in a message that was sent to all election authorities in the state. In July, officials in that state discovered the intrusion, in which hackers were able to retrieve voter records. The amount accessed was “a fairly small percentage of the total,” said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board. State officials alerted the FBI, he said. The Department of Homeland Security also got involved, he said. The intrusion led the state election board to shut down the voter registration system for a week. In June, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office shut down part of its website after the FBI found a potential threat to its state voter registration system, according to the Arizona Republic. Following those breaches, the FBI issued its “flash” alert, which listed Internet protocol addresses and other technical fingerprints associated with the hacks. “The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” said the FBI alert, which was first reported by Yahoo News. The FBI declined official comment other than to note it “routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators” it turns up in investigations. The bureau has told Illinois officials that they’re looking at possible foreign government agencies as well as criminal hackers, Menzel said. The technical details in the alert were gathered by the MS-ISAC, a multi-state information-sharing center that helps state, local and tribal government agencies combat cyber threats and that works with federal law enforcement agencies. “I’m less concerned about the attackers getting access to and downloading the information,” said Brian Kalkin, vice president of operations for the Center for Internet Security, which operates the MS-ISAC. “I’m more concerned about the information being altered, modified or deleted. That’s where the real potential is for any sort of meddling in the election.” And James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has told Congress that ma­nipu­la­tion or deletion of data is the next big cyber threat–”the next push on the envelope.” But Tom Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to maintain election integrity, said he is confident that states have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure efforts at ma­nipu­la­tion will be unsuccesful. For one, he said, if a voter’s name does not show up on the list, the individual can still cast a provision ballot and once his or her status is confirmed, the ballot will be counted. Also, he said, in general the voting systems themselves “are not hooked up to the Internet” and so “there’s not going to be any ma­nipu­la­tion of data.” Nonetheless, more than 30 states have some provisions for online voting, primarily for voters living overseas of serving in the military. An official at the Department of Homeland Security cautioned this spring that online voting is not yet secure. “We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters’ expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security of their votes and provides an avenue for malicious actors to manipulate the voting results,” Neil Jenkins, an official in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, Some private-sector researchers say some of the information released by the FBI points to a potential Russian link, but they caution that their work is preliminary. Rich Barger, chief information officer at ThreatConnect, said that several of the IP addresses trace back to a website-hosting service called King Servers that offers Russia-based technical support. He also said that one of the methods used was similar to a tactic in other intrusions suspected of being carried out by the Russian government, including one this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency. “The very fact that [someone] has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the cross-hairs gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder: Can they really trust the results?” said Barger. On Aug. 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state election officials, offering the Department of Homeland Security’s assistance in protecting against cyberattacks. He said that DHS was “not aware of any specific or credible cybersecurity threats relating to the upcoming general election systems,” according to a readout of the call. It was not clear whether he was aware at the time of the FBI’s investigation into the Arizona and Illinois intrusions.</s>WASHINGTON -- The FBI is investigating a series of suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems and websites, and has warned states to be on the alert for intrusions. The Aug. 18 warning, issued after two states sustained intrusions into their systems, comes amid heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election. The FBI "flash" alert, which is not intended for general public release, listed Internet Protocol addresses and other technical fingerprints associated with the hacks. "The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected," said the FBI alert, which was first reported by Yahoo News. The warning did not name the states that were targeted. In Arkansas, Chris Powell, spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, said his office has had "no indications of this kind of activity in Arkansas" but that it is "monitoring news reports closely." Two states have reported threats to its systems in recent months. In June, the Arizona Secretary of State's office shut down part of its website after the FBI found a potential threat to its state voter registration system, according to The Arizona Republic. And in July, the Illinois Voter Registration System suffered a cyberintrusion in which hackers were able to retrieve a number of voter records, according to a message from the Illinois State Board of Elections. The intrusion led the state election board to shut down the voter registration system for a week. "This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign [international] entity," Kyle Thomas, the Illinois board's director of voting and registration systems, said in the message. The FBI declined to comment other than to note it "routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators" it turns up in investigations. Meanwhile, some private sector researchers say some of the information released by the FBI suggests a Russian link, though they caution their work is preliminary. Rich Barger, chief information officer at ThreatConnect, said that several of the IP addresses trace back to a website hosting service called King Servers that offers Russia-based technical support. He also said that one of the methods used was very similar to a method used in other intrusions suspected of being carried out by the Russian government, including one this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency. "If this is the Russians, we can start to think through worst-case scenarios as to how they might sow doubt over our electoral process at election time," Barger said. The reported intrusions so far do not appear to have involved manipulation of data -- a key concern of U.S. intelligence officials. But, Barger said, "the very fact that [someone] has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the crosshairs gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder -- can they really trust the results?" On Aug. 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state election officials, offering the Department of Homeland Security's assistance in protecting against cyberattacks. He said that Homeland Security was "not aware of any specific or credible cybersecurity threats relating to the upcoming general election systems," according to a readout of the call. It was not clear if he was aware at the time of the FBI's investigation into the Arizona and Illinois intrusions. Information for this article was contributed by Brian Fanney of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.</s>The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials. The FBI warning, contained in a “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections. Those concerns prompted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to convene a conference call with state election officials on Aug. 15, in which he offered his department’s help to make state voting systems more secure, including providing federal cyber security experts to scan for vulnerabilities, according to a “readout” of the call released by the department. Johnson emphasized in the call that Homeland Security was not aware of “specific or credible cybersecurity threats” to the election, officials said. But three days after that call, the FBI Cyber Division issued a potentially more disturbing warning, entitled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” The alert, labeled as restricted for “NEED TO KNOW recipients,” disclosed that the bureau was investigating cyberintrusions against two state election websites this summer, including one that resulted in the “exfiltration,” or theft, of voter registration data. “It was an eye opener,” one senior law enforcement official said of the bureau’s discovery of the intrusions. “We believe it’s kind of serious, and we’re investigating.” The bulletin does not identify the states in question, but sources familiar with the document say it refers to the targeting by suspected foreign hackers of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In the Illinois case, officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for ten days in late July, after the hackers managed to download personal data on up to 200,000 state voters, Ken Menzel, the general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections, said in an interview. The Arizona attack was more limited, involving malicious software that was introduced into its voter registration system but no successful exfiltration of data, a state official said. The FBI bulletin listed eight separate IP addresses that were the sources of the two attacks and suggested that the attacks may have been linked, noting that one of the IP addresses was used in both intrusions. The bulletin implied that the bureau was looking for any signs that the attacks may have been attempting to target even more than the two states. “The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” the alert reads. “Attempts should not be made to touch or ping the IP addresses directly.” “This is a big deal,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, who reviewed the FBI alert at the request of Yahoo News. “Two state election boards have been popped, and data has been taken. This certainly should be concerning to the common American voter.” Barger noted that that one of the IP addresses listed in the FBI alert has surfaced before in Russian criminal underground hacker forums. He also said the method of attack on one of the state election systems — including the types of tools used by the hackers to scan for vulnerabilities and exploit them — appear to resemble methods used in other suspected Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks, including one just this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency. The FBI did not respond to detailed questions about the alert, saying in a statement only that such bulletins are provided “to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals.” Menzel, the Illinois election official, said that in a recent briefing, FBI agents confirmed to him that the perpetrators were believed to be foreign hackers, although they were not identified by country. He said he was told that the bureau was looking at a “possible link” to the recent highly publicized attack on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, which U.S. officials suspect was perpetrated by Russian government hackers. But he said agents told him they had reached no conclusions, and other experts say the hackers could also have been common cyber criminals hoping to steal personal data on state voters for fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining bogus tax refunds. Still, the FBI warning seems likely to ramp up pressure on the Department of Homeland Security to formally designate state election systems as part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure” requiring federal protection — a key step, advocates say, in forestalling the possibility of foreign government meddling in the election. Such a formal designation, which would allow state election officials to request federal assistance to protect their voting systems, “is under consideration,” a Homeland Security spokesman told Yahoo News. Federal and state election officials say that the prospect of a full-blown cyberattack that seriously disrupts the November elections is remote, but not out of the question. About 40 states use optical-scan electronic-voting machines, allowing voters to fill out their choices on paper. The results are tabulated by computers. These are “reasonably safe” because the voting machines are backed up by paper ballots that can be checked, says Andrew W. Appel, a Princeton University computer science professor who has studied election security. But six states and parts of four others (including large swaths of Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state in this year’s race) are more vulnerable because they rely on paperless touchscreen voting, known as DREs or Direct-Recording Electronic voting machines, for which there are no paper ballot backups. “Then whatever numbers the voting computer says at the close of the polls are completely under the control of the computer program in there,” Appel wrote in a recent blog post entitled “Security Against Election Hacking.” “If the computer is hacked, then the hacker gets to decide what numbers are reported. … All DRE (paperless touchscreen) voting computers are susceptible to this kind of hacking. This is our biggest problem.” Another area of concern cited by Appel and other experts is the growing number of states that allow overseas and military voters to cast their ballots online. In his conference call this month with state election officials, Johnson urged them to guard against potential intrusions by taking basic precautionary steps, such as ensuring that electronic voting machines are not connected to the Internet while voting is taking place. The FBI bulletin addresses additional potential threats, such as the targeting of state voter registration databases comparable to the attacks in Arizona and Illinois. “This is a wake-up call for other states to look at their systems,” said Tom Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, an agency created by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to protect the integrity of elections and which helped distribute the FBI alert to state election officials last week. Hackers could conceivably use intrusions into voter registration databases to delete names from voter registration lists, although in most states, voters can request provisional ballots at the polls, allowing time for discrepancies to be resolved, an official of the National Association of Secretaries of State told Yahoo News. Still, according to Barger, the cybersecurity expert, such attacks can be used to create havoc and sow doubt over the election results. As a result, the FBI alert urges state officials to take additional steps to secure their systems, including conducting “vulnerability scans” of their databases. In addition, the bulletin urges officials to sharply restrict access to their databases. “Implement the principle of least privilege for database accounts,” the FBI alert reads. It adds that “any given user should have access to only the bare minimum set of resources required to perform business tasks.”</s>SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Illinois elections officials are confident no voter data were compromised this summer when a hacker was able to see information on about 200,000 registered voters. Ken Menzel is general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections. He says the online voter-registration system was shut down July 13 when officials noted an unusually high amount of traffic. Security was improved. The FBI warned state officials Monday to boost their security. State election websites in Arizona and Illinois experienced hack-related shutdowns earlier this summer. Menzel says the Illinois system's hacker was able to get information that could include driver's license or portions of Social Security numbers. Each affected voter will be notified after a complete accounting. He says the data accessed are not tied to vote-counting software so election results could not be altered.</s>NEW YORK (AP) — The FBI is warning state officials to boost their election security in light of evidence that hackers breached related data systems in two states. In a confidential "flash" alert from its cyber division, first reported by Yahoo News and posted online by others, the FBI said it's investigating the pair of incidents and advised states to scan their systems for specific signs of hacking. The FBI said Monday that it doesn't comment on specific alerts, but added that it routinely sends out advisories to private industry about signs of cyber threats that it comes across in its investigations. FILE - This Feb. 3, 2012, file photo shows FBI headquarters in Washington. The FBI is warning state officials to boost their election security in light of evidence that hackers breached the election systems of a pair of states. The Aug. 18, 2016, warning came just days after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson hosted a call with secretaries of state and other state elections officials to talk about cybersecurity and the election infrastructure. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) The FBI didn't name the states that were breached. State election websites in Arizona and Illinois experienced hack-related shutdowns earlier this summer. In both cases, the parts of the websites attacked involved online voter registration. The FBI's Aug. 18 warning also came just days after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson hosted a call with secretaries of state and other state election officials to talk about cybersecurity and election infrastructure. In that call, Johnson said that while DHS isn't aware of any particular cyber threat against election-related computers, it's "critically important" to make sure that election systems are secure amid a rapidly changing threat landscape, according to a DHS summary of the call. Federal officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility that hackers, particularly those working for Russia or another country, could breach U.S. elections systems and wreak havoc on the November presidential election. Some experts, along with Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign, believe that Russia was behind the embarrassing email hack of the Democratic National Committee right before its national convention last month. The hacked emails showed an apparent lack of neutrality in the primary race between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with some party officials disparaging Sanders. Follow Bree Fowler at https://twitter.com/APBreeFowler. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/bree-fowler."
"U.S. officials are investigating the hacking of election system databases in Illinois and Arizona. The FBI alerted all election officials nationwide about this issue earlier this month."

This is a copy of the WCEP-10 dataset, except the input source documents of its test split have been replaced by a sparse retriever. The retrieval pipeline used:

  • query: The summary field of each example
  • corpus: The union of all documents in the train, validation and test splits
  • retriever: BM25 via PyTerrier with default settings
  • top-k strategy: "oracle", i.e. the number of documents retrieved, k, is set as the original number of input documents for each example

Retrieval results on the test set:

ndcg recall@100 recall@1000 Rprec
0.8338 0.8836 0.9459 0.6658
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