No Image

Iraq calls on civilians to flee Old City of Mosul

The Iraqi air force dropped leaflets yesterday urging residents in the Daesh-held Old City centre of Mosul to flee, raising fears among humanitarian groups for the safety of desperate civilians there. The leaflet drop, announced in an Iraqi military statement, signalled that the decisive offensive to dislodge the militants from their remaining enclave in the northern Iraqi city was imminent. The US and Iran-backed offensive on Mosul, now in its eighth month, has taken longer than planned as the militants are entrenched, fighting back with booby traps, suicide cars and motor-bikes, snipers and mortar fire. It has also been a campaign marked by brutality and atrocities committed by Mosul’s would-be saviours, including units from the Iraqi army, special police units […]


No Image

Two men killed in Portland after trying to stop anti-Muslim rant — police

Author: 
Reuters
Sat, 2017-05-27 11:12
ID: 
1495876891386217800

Two men were stabbed to death in the US city of Portland on Friday when they tried to stop their attacker from harassing two women because they appeared to be Muslim, police said.
The incident unfolded on a commuter train hours before the start of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, when most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims observe a religious fast.
The attack began shortly before 4:30 p.m. when a man started yelling ethnic and religious slurs toward two women who appeared to be Muslim on a MAX train at the Hollywood Transit Station, the Portland Police Department said in a statement.
Three men who intervened were stabbed, two fatally. The attacker was arrested shortly after he got off the train, police said, adding that the women left the scene before police could interview them.
“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said during a news conference aired by local news outlets.
“They were attacked viciously by the suspect,” he added.
In a statement responding to Friday’s attack, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that anti-Muslim incidents increased by more than 50 percent in the United States from 2015 to 2016 due in part to President Donald Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“President Trump must speak out personally against the rising tide of Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry and racism in our nation that he has provoked through his numerous statements, policies and appointments that have negatively impacted minority communities,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
The administration says that while it strongly opposes Islamist militants, it has no quarrel with Islam.
Following the attack, police said one of the men died at the scene while another died at a hospital. The third man was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“These were folks just riding the train and unfortunately got caught up in this,” he said.
Witnesses told police that the two young women were possibly Muslim. One wore a hijab.
Portland police did not identify the suspect or the victims.

Main category: 

No Image

UK police arrest two more in hunt for suicide bomber’s network

Author: 
Reuters
Sat, 2017-05-27 11:22
ID: 
1495874791276138800

LONDON: British police said they had arrested two men on Saturday as they stepped up their efforts to capture a suspected network behind the suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Manchester earlier this week.
Officers used a controlled explosion to gain entry to the address in the north of the city where the latest arrests were made. Detectives are now questioning 11 men over the attack by Salman Abedi at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday.
While Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer said police were confident that they had made “immense” progress and had apprehended a “large part of the network,” extra armed officers will be on duty across the country with security stepped up at some 1,300 events over the long holiday weekend.
Britain remains on its highest threat level of critical, meaning an attack is expected imminently, with the army backing up police and hospitals across the country have told staff to be ready for another incident.
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that intelligence officers had identified 23,000 jihahist extremists living in Britain.
Earlier this week a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the security services were managing 500 active operations involving some 3,000 people who were thought to pose a threat.
However, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the UK police chief for counter-terrorism, advised people to be vigilant but to “go out as you planned and enjoy yourselves.”
There are a number of high-profile events over the weekend including soccer cup finals in London and Glasgow, and the Great Manchester Run.
While police and politicians have praised communities in Manchester for their reaction to the bombing, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable said there had been a rise in reported hate crimes, from an average of 28 to 56 incidents on Wednesday.
“We can’t directly link these to the events of Monday night and are continuing to monitor the situation,” he said.
Political campaigning for the June 8 national election which was suspended after the Manchester attack resumed on Friday with the bombing becoming a central feature.
The opposition Labour Party, emboldened by a rise in opinion polls, argued that Britain’s foreign policy had increased the risk of attacks and criticized Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May for cutting spending on policing.
May said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was saying Britain was to blame for the bombing.
“I want to make one thing very clear to Jeremy Corbyn and to you, and it is that there can never, ever be an excuse for terrorism,” she said at a summit of Group of Seven leaders in Sicily.
A poll on Thursday put May’s Conservatives five points ahead of Labour suggesting a far tighter race than previously anticipated.

Main category: 



No Image

Sounds of silence? Trump’s body language speaks volumes

Author: 
AP
Sat, 2017-05-27 03:00
ID: 
1495874532936130300

ITALY: The alpha-male handshake. The deadpan reaction from NATO leaders. The presidential push to the front of the pack.
Even if Donald Trump hasn’t done a lot of public speaking during his big trip abroad, the body language of the president and those around him has spoken volumes.
Day after day, with no presidential press conferences on the schedule, Trump watchers have instead parsed the president’s movements, and taken away messages that are at times painfully obvious, at times puzzling.
Put it all together, though, and the sense emerges of a president aggressively, if somewhat awkwardly, trying to assert himself on the world stage — with mixed success depending on his audience.
“Throughout the trip he looked uncomfortable and isolated, others looked surprised or distant,” presidential historian Julian Zelizer of Princeton wrote in an e-mail. “The looks capture how much of the international community is dealing with the unorthodox president who has done little to show he cares about the role of the US overseas.”
There was certainly any number of routine and friendly interactions between Trump and world leaders.
But there was no mistaking the cool reception of NATO leaders who stood by with stone faces on Thursday as Trump lectured US allies about the need to spend more on defense. No, heads were not bobbing as Trump intoned that he had been “very, very direct” with members of the NATO alliance in saying at they “must finally contribute their fair share.”
That came on the heels of a straight-faced greeting from the pontiff. In a photo that quickly went viral, Pope Francis posed next to the president with a dour look while Trump grinned. Adding to the dissonant image, Trump’s wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, stood next to the president, silently staring off into the distance, their somber expressions heightened by their all black outfits.
Back in Brussels, after the outdoor NATO ceremony ended, as the leaders headed to their next event, most chatted and mingled, but Trump walked alone. It was a stark contrast to the way world leaders once maneuvered to get in the camera angle with Barack Obama when he was the new president on the block.
The scene repeated itself in Italy at the G-7 summit on Friday. After the “family photo” group shot, the other leaders convivially walked down the narrow Sicilian streets to their luncheon. Trump hung back and, minutes later, opted instead to ride in a golf cart. Later, a number of the leaders surrounded Trump, some laughing as they listened.
At the NATO group shot on Thursday Trump’s move to get to the front of the pack again caused double-takes.
The president pushed himself past Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, to get to the front of the group as the NATO leaders walked inside the alliance’s new headquarters building.
Markovic gave a tense smile, and later called it a “harmless situation.”
But plenty of people in the Balkans were not amused.
“It seems Donald Trump did not want that anyone overshadows his presence at the summit,” said the Montenegro newspaper Vijesti.
Asked about the incident, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he hadn’t seen the encounter but noted that places were assigned for the group photo.
Earlier, Trump and new French President Emmanuel Macron had engaged in a power hand shake that came across as a meeting of alpha males when they met for the first time over lunch at the US ambassador’s residence in Brussels.
After some friendly chatter, the two gripped each other’s hands so tightly before the cameras that their jaws seemed to clench. It looked like Trump was ready to pull away first but Macron wasn’t quite ready to disengage.
“They’re presenting themselves as equals,” said body language expert Lillian Glass. “They’re both alphas.”
A different kind of hand-clasping — or lack thereof — also sparked chatter during the trip.
Two days in a row, the president and first lady Melania Trump failed to connect when Trump reached out to grab his wife’s hand — interactions that were replayed in slow-motion and endlessly dissected online.
At a red-carpet welcome in Israel, Trump reached out to grab his wife’s hand but she appeared to slap his hand away. A day later, in Rome, Trump seemed to reach for the first lady’s hand just as she reached up to brush her hair aside. On Thursday, the two did hold hands as they made their way down the stairs of Air Force One on another stop in their itinerary.
Glass said the interactions left people wondering: “What is that going on in that relationship?“
There was no questioning Trump’s friendly mojo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the two embraced repeatedly while Trump was in Israel, in a telling contrast to the strained relationship the Israeli leader had with Obama.
Netanyahu even tried to intervene when a politician in his Likud party with a reputation for inappropriate antics tried to take a selfie of the unamused-looking president by attempting to swat away Oren Hazan’s arm.
For diplomats, body language can be especially important.
Trump’s ambassador to Israel, Ron Dermer, is probably wishing he’d had a better poker face during the president’s Jerusalem stop.
When Trump told an Israeli delegation that he had just gotten back from the Middle East — which Jerusalem is clearly part of — Dermer instinctively reacted to the flub by putting his palm to his forehead.

Main category: 

No Image

Car bomber kills 13 in east Afghanistan on first day of Ramadan

Author: 
AFP
Sat, 2017-05-27 11:29
ID: 
1495874197226103600

AFGHANISTAN: A suicide car bomber killed 13 people in the eastern Afghan city of Khost on Saturday, officials said, in the first major insurgent attack at the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing, which provincial authorities said targeted a CIA-funded pro-government militia force in Khost province.
The attack is the latest in a series of assaults on Western-backed forces as the Taliban step up their annual spring offensive and the insurgency expands more than 15 years after they were toppled from power in a US-led invasion.
“A suicide car bomb in Khost province has killed 13 people and wounded six others, including two children,” said interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish, who earlier gave a death toll of 18.
“The target was a public bus station which was hit by the bombing. The victims were in civilian clothes and it is difficult to verify their identities at this stage.”
But provincial police chief Faizullah Ghairat said the victims were civilians and members of the elite Khost Provincial Force (KPF) — known to be paid and equipped by the American CIA.
“The bombing took place early morning when KPF members were heading to work,” Ghairat told AFP.
The KPF, estimated to have around 4,000 fighters, are known to operate a shadow war against the Taliban in a province that borders Pakistan and are accused of torture and extrajudicial killings.
The brazen attack comes just a day after at least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters attacked their base in Kandahar, in the third major insurgent assault this week on the military in the southern province.
The assault in Shah Wali Kot district followed insurgent raids earlier this week on military bases in the same area and Maiwand district, bringing the death toll among Western-backed troops to around 60.
The battlefield losses mark a stinging blow for NATO-backed Afghan forces and have raised concerns about their capacity to beat back the resurgent Taliban.
Afghan forces are beset by unprecedented casualties and blamed for corruption, desertion and “ghost soldiers” who exist on the payroll but whose salaries are usurped by fraudulent commanders.
During another deadly Taliban attack on security outposts in southern Zabul province on Sunday, local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention because they were unable to contact senior authorities for help.
The pleas for attention, a major embarrassment for the Western-backed government, highlighted the disarray in security ranks.
The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive in late April, heralding a surge in fighting as the US tries to craft a new Afghan strategy.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month warned of “another tough year” for security forces in Afghanistan.
The United States and several NATO allies are considering sending thousands more troops to break the stalemate against the resurgent militants.

Main category: 

No Image

Sri Lanka confirms 100 dead in mudslides; 99 missing

Author: APSat, 2017-05-27 03:00ID: 1495873556486057800SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka has appealed for outside help as the death toll from floods and mudslides on Saturday rose to 100 with 99 others missing.The Disaster Management Center said more than…


No Image

Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Al-Qeq vomiting blood

The health of imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader, Ahmad Saadat, and prisoners Ahed Ghalmeh and Muhammad Al-Qeq have seriously deteriorated, with all three vomiting blood, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs revealed in a statement yesterday. The three are being held in Israel’s Ohalei Kedar prison, where the media committee of the hunger strike has quoted prisoners as saying the conditions in which the hunger strikers were being held were increasingly unhygienic, in an effort to break their will. A hunger-striking prisoner told the committee on Wednesday that prisoners had been given worn out and dirty covers, that their cells were infected with bugs and that hunger strikers who had been transferred to Ohalei Kedar […]


No Image

<b>Oil</b> export pipeline design to be completed in August

Irene Muloni, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development has revealed that designs on a key infrastructure; the East African Crude Oil Pipeline …The post <b>Oil</b> export pipeline design to be completed in August appeared first …