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Two people are dead and six others are injured after the suspect slashed wildly at pedestrians in the city of Turku before cops rushed to the scene and shot him in the leg. This is the moment armed police arrested a man suspected of randomly stabbing people during a deadly rampage in Finland.
Two people died in the incident which saw several people knifed in the centre of Turku this afternoon.
Police, who say the attack is not currently being investigated as terrorism, shot the attacker in the leg before detaining him around 20 minutes after the alarm was raised.
Video footage emerged of police arresting a man on the ground near a pool of blood.
One person is reported to have died at the scene – while another died in hospital. All the victims were adults.
Police at a press conference this evening declined to say anything about the victims or the perpetrator in custody – whose “identity is being investigated”.

source: mirror.co.uk

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arnold

Once-and-future action hero and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) may not be the best person to convince President Trump about the merits of unequivocally condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists, given their history and especially when he uses a Trump bobble-head, but he gave it a try anyway on Thursday night. “The only way to beat the loud and angry voices of hate is to meet them with louder and more reasonable voices,” he said in a video for ATTN, and that includes Trump, who, “as president of this great country,” has “a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal that you won’t stand for hate and racism.” In case Trump was unsure what such a statement would sound like, Schwarzenegger offered him a Republican-specific template.

source: theweek.com

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A massive asteroid estimated to be 2.7 miles wide is set to make a ‘relatively close encounter’ with Earth on September 1.
Dubbed ‘Florence,’ the huge space rock will pass just 4.4 million miles from our planet – or, about 18 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
According to NASA, this is the closest an asteroid of this size has come since they first began tracking near-Earth objects, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to study it up close through ground-based radar observations.

While it may sound alarming, NASA says asteroid Florence will safely fly past Earth at a distance of about 4.4 million miles (7 million kilometers).
It’s not the closest encounter our planet has seen with an NEO, but for this distance, the experts say it is the largest.

source: dailymail.co.uk

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A man has been stabbed to death in a shop in Elberfeld, Dusseldorf, according to reports, after a knife attack in Finland. At least one other person is believed to have been hurt.
The incident has taken place on Kipdorf in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, in the city in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Special forces have been deployed and police have descended on the scene, forming a ring of steel around the area.
A special forces commander said systematic searches were taking place in neighbouring buildings.
Local media have reported the killer – or killers – have not yet been caught.
The dead man is believed to be 31-years-old and the other injured person, 25.
Early reports say the incident took place at a haridressers.
All of Europe is on standby for terror attacks following recent threats by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis.
Fourteen were killed in dual attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on Thursday.

source: express.co.uk

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Police in Finland say they have shot a man who reportedly stabbed several people in the south-western city of Turku.

Police tweeted: ‘Several people stabbed in central Turku. People are requested to avoid the city centre.’

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The man has been taken into custody after being shot in the leg, police say.
The police have warned people to stay away from the city centre.
The incident reportedly took place in the Puutori-Market Square area.

source: bbc

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The European Union should use military means to defend its external borders from migrants entering illegally, Bulgaria’s defense minister, Krasimir Karakachano, has said.

Krasimir Karakachanov, whose far-right United Patriots party is a junior coalition partner in Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government, said: “We cannot allow illegal immigrants to come to Europe as a whole,” in an interview with German daily Die Welt translated by Politico.

“We should deploy NATO or EU forces in Italy and Greece and defend the external borders of the European Union by force of arms if necessary.”

Karakachanov said he wanted to triple the number of troops stationed on his country’s border with Turkey to 600 soldiers from 140 to cut immigration further.

“We have not solved the migration issue,” he added. “Large, well-organized smuggling networks are still trying to get people into our country.”

He claimed “the majority of those crossing the Mediterranean are not in need of protection, are not being persecuted, they just want to live in the rich West.”

Bulgaria shares a border with Turkey. During the European refugee crisis in recent years, substantial numbers of asylum seekers and migrants have passed into the country.

Numbers have fallen drastically; the number of arrests for illegal migration in Bulgaria in the first half of 2017 fell by 80 percent compared with the first six months of 2016, according to the Sofia Globe.

But while certain pan-Europe policies, such as a deal between Brussels and Turkey to contain migrants in the Middle Eastern country, have decreased the number of people coming to Europe on some routes, plenty of people still make the journey.

The International Organization for Migration says 119,047 people have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2017. The organization, recommends that rather than seeking to forcibly deter refugees and migrants, Europe should focus on creating manageable, efficient systems for relocating them across the continent and integrating them into their new societies.

In January, it called for “a robust relocation scheme, support for voluntary returns and reinforced alternative legal pathways to dangerous journeys, including resettlement and family reunification.”

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Northern Ireland’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriage does not violate the rights of couples affected, the Belfast High Court ruled on Thursday (17 August), in a blow to campaigners in the only part of the United Kingdom that bans gay marriage.

The case was brought by three same-sex couples, backed by campaigners who are trying to pressure the region’s largest party, the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to reverse its veto on same-sex marriage.

The judge, Justice O’Hara, said the refusal to allow same- sex marriages in Northern Ireland was not a contravention of human rights “because that right does not exist.”

O’Hara said it was up to Northern Ireland’s devolved government to decide on the issue and that a ban on gay marriage did not violate international human rights standards.

He said the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that the right to gay marriage was not a right under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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“It is not difficult to understand how gay men and lesbians, who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion, feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage,” he said.

“However, the judgement which I have to reach is not based on social policy but on law.”

The ruling applied to two cases, the first brought by the first female couple and first male couple to have their civil partnership recognised in Northern Ireland: Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close and Christopher and Henry Flanagan-Kane.

In a second case – known as Petition X – a male couple that married in England in 2014 was challenging the downgrading of their relationship to a civil partnership when they moved to Northern Ireland.

The DUP, whose 10 seats in the British parliament prop up the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, have repeatedly vetoed gay marriage despite opinion polls that indicate it is supported by a significant majority in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this month Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visited a gay rights event in Belfast and said the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was just a matter of time.

The couples did not speak to the media after the ruling, but Gavin Boyd of gay rights group The Rainbow Project said they were disappointed and would consider whether to appeal.

“This is now a matter for the politicians, the [Northern Ireland] Assembly or Theresa May,” Boyd said.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey October 10, 2016. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTSRMVB

Venezuela, hit by economic devastation and political turmoil, is one of the most troubled countries today. Its situation has lately become so dire that 90% of its citizens are reported to have trouble affording food. Meanwhile, Venezuelan officials have “embezzled billions.” Venezuela currently ranks as the most corrupt country in Latin America. The ongoing catastrophe there has triggered mass unrest against President Nicolas Maduro, who has responded by grabbing more power and cracking down on the opposition with such measures as arresting opposition leaders. That is why Maduro is widely condemned around the world as a “dictator,” and Venezuela seems to be yet another failed experiment in socialism.

There are, however, admirers of Venezuela and its autocratic president, and they are not just left-wing comrades such as British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. To wit, Maduro enjoys unmistakable sympathy in Turkey from a political strain that can hardly be defined as “left” — Erdoganism, the ruling ideology and sentiment centered around the resolute leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This affection is evident in the Erdoganist media, where dozens of reporters and commentaries have lately been praising Maduro as a patriotic leader resisting plots by the CIA and other agents of “imperialism.” For example, an article in the daily Star headlined “Behind the Scenes of Events in Venezuela” argued that criticisms concerning the rule of law and human rights in Venezuela are merely propaganda in a “campaign by drug cartels and companies supported by the CIA.” Likening this propaganda to that against Turkey, the author added that Erdogan is much smarter than Maduro and therefore has better managed Turkey’s affairs.

A writer for the pro-Erdogan daily Milat also drew an analogy between Erdogan and Maduro, claiming that both leaders had been “targeted by CIA-orchestrated coup attempts.” It is now time to “protect democracy from the West,” the columnist said, and Maduro deserves praise “as the legitimate leader of Venezuela elected by the majority.” Aydinlik, a left-wing daily that has recently joined the pro-Erdogan camp, claimed to expose “the same CIA methods in Turkey and Venezuela.”

In Sabah, the flagship of the pro-Erdogan media, a columnist also took up the Erdogan-Madura analogy, but from a slightly different perspective — as an argument against the Turkish left. The left in Turkey recognizes the imperialist plot against Venezuela, the writer asserts, but it has failed to see that the exact same plot has been cooked up against Erdogan’s Turkey, and members of the left are unwitting participants in this plot. Thus, by opposing Erdogan with public protests, the writer claimed, the Turkish left has “chosen the will of the colonialists to the will of the nation.”

On social media, the Erdogan-Maduro axis is even clearer. “Erdogan said to Israel, ‘You are murderers.’ Maduro said the same to Israel.’ The rest is known,” wrote one Twitter user. Apparently he was referring to the common narrative that Erdogan only began to face criticism for supposed authoritarianism after he bashed Israel in 2009 (which, by the way, is incorrect, as reported in Al-Monitor). Another Turkish Twitter user expressed the same sentiments directly to @NicolasMaduro, writing, “Viva Turquia! Viva Venezuela! Viva Erdogan! Viva Maduro! Mr. Maduro, you are not alone.”

In the pro-Erdogan camp, only one writer found the Erdogan-Maduro analogies disturbing and “very unfair.” In the centrist HaberTurk, the liberal-leaning columnist Nagehan Alci reminded readers about the big differences between Maduro and Erdogan. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, relied on the army, whereas Erdogan never had the military on his side, Alci wrote. The elections in Venezuela are much less credible than Turkey’s, she claimed, and Maduro is ultimately a “Marxist-Leninist.”

Alci’s points are valid. It is especially clear that Erdogan is not a socialist. His success over the past 15 years has largely been based on capitalist growth, which was recently publicly emphasized in his inauguration of a Coca-Cola factory in the modest province of Isparta.

Erdogan and Maduro do, however, have similarities when it comes to their affection for populism, a political tool that can be used by politicians on the right and the left. From a populist perspective, society is divided between the “true people” and the enemies within, who are somehow threatening to the national ethos. Moreover, the true people are represented by a powerful leader, who will crush the enemies within and defy the dark forces behind them. Populism is, by nature, authoritarian and polarizing.

The problem with populist leaders is not their resisting “imperialism,” which can be real or perceived in any given situation. Rather, the problem is that they delegitimize their political opponents as agents of imperialism, and therefore themselves erode democracy from within. Democracy only begins when all the different components of a society are considered as equally legitimate.

Thus, when Turks look at the current tragedy of Venezuela, they would be better off seeing not a model with which to identify, but an experience to avoid. The Latin American nation shows how a populist zeal can bankrupt a whole nation by making “anti-imperialism” a blueprint for autocracy and a cover for corruption and nepotism. It also reminds that the way forward for any nation is inclusion, not division, and freedom, not oppression.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey October 10, 2016. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTSRMVB

Venezuela, hit by economic devastation and political turmoil, is one of the most troubled countries today. Its situation has lately become so dire that 90% of its citizens are reported to have trouble affording food. Meanwhile, Venezuelan officials have “embezzled billions.” Venezuela currently ranks as the most corrupt country in Latin America. The ongoing catastrophe there has triggered mass unrest against President Nicolas Maduro, who has responded by grabbing more power and cracking down on the opposition with such measures as arresting opposition leaders. That is why Maduro is widely condemned around the world as a “dictator,” and Venezuela seems to be yet another failed experiment in socialism.

There are, however, admirers of Venezuela and its autocratic president, and they are not just left-wing comrades such as British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. To wit, Maduro enjoys unmistakable sympathy in Turkey from a political strain that can hardly be defined as “left” — Erdoganism, the ruling ideology and sentiment centered around the resolute leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This affection is evident in the Erdoganist media, where dozens of reporters and commentaries have lately been praising Maduro as a patriotic leader resisting plots by the CIA and other agents of “imperialism.” For example, an article in the daily Star headlined “Behind the Scenes of Events in Venezuela” argued that criticisms concerning the rule of law and human rights in Venezuela are merely propaganda in a “campaign by drug cartels and companies supported by the CIA.” Likening this propaganda to that against Turkey, the author added that Erdogan is much smarter than Maduro and therefore has better managed Turkey’s affairs.

A writer for the pro-Erdogan daily Milat also drew an analogy between Erdogan and Maduro, claiming that both leaders had been “targeted by CIA-orchestrated coup attempts.” It is now time to “protect democracy from the West,” the columnist said, and Maduro deserves praise “as the legitimate leader of Venezuela elected by the majority.” Aydinlik, a left-wing daily that has recently joined the pro-Erdogan camp, claimed to expose “the same CIA methods in Turkey and Venezuela.”

In Sabah, the flagship of the pro-Erdogan media, a columnist also took up the Erdogan-Madura analogy, but from a slightly different perspective — as an argument against the Turkish left. The left in Turkey recognizes the imperialist plot against Venezuela, the writer asserts, but it has failed to see that the exact same plot has been cooked up against Erdogan’s Turkey, and members of the left are unwitting participants in this plot. Thus, by opposing Erdogan with public protests, the writer claimed, the Turkish left has “chosen the will of the colonialists to the will of the nation.”

On social media, the Erdogan-Maduro axis is even clearer. “Erdogan said to Israel, ‘You are murderers.’ Maduro said the same to Israel.’ The rest is known,” wrote one Twitter user. Apparently he was referring to the common narrative that Erdogan only began to face criticism for supposed authoritarianism after he bashed Israel in 2009 (which, by the way, is incorrect, as reported in Al-Monitor). Another Turkish Twitter user expressed the same sentiments directly to @NicolasMaduro, writing, “Viva Turquia! Viva Venezuela! Viva Erdogan! Viva Maduro! Mr. Maduro, you are not alone.”

In the pro-Erdogan camp, only one writer found the Erdogan-Maduro analogies disturbing and “very unfair.” In the centrist HaberTurk, the liberal-leaning columnist Nagehan Alci reminded readers about the big differences between Maduro and Erdogan. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, relied on the army, whereas Erdogan never had the military on his side, Alci wrote. The elections in Venezuela are much less credible than Turkey’s, she claimed, and Maduro is ultimately a “Marxist-Leninist.”

Alci’s points are valid. It is especially clear that Erdogan is not a socialist. His success over the past 15 years has largely been based on capitalist growth, which was recently publicly emphasized in his inauguration of a Coca-Cola factory in the modest province of Isparta.

Erdogan and Maduro do, however, have similarities when it comes to their affection for populism, a political tool that can be used by politicians on the right and the left. From a populist perspective, society is divided between the “true people” and the enemies within, who are somehow threatening to the national ethos. Moreover, the true people are represented by a powerful leader, who will crush the enemies within and defy the dark forces behind them. Populism is, by nature, authoritarian and polarizing.

The problem with populist leaders is not their resisting “imperialism,” which can be real or perceived in any given situation. Rather, the problem is that they delegitimize their political opponents as agents of imperialism, and therefore themselves erode democracy from within. Democracy only begins when all the different components of a society are considered as equally legitimate.

Thus, when Turks look at the current tragedy of Venezuela, they would be better off seeing not a model with which to identify, but an experience to avoid. The Latin American nation shows how a populist zeal can bankrupt a whole nation by making “anti-imperialism” a blueprint for autocracy and a cover for corruption and nepotism. It also reminds that the way forward for any nation is inclusion, not division, and freedom, not oppression.

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U.S. Army Rangers, assigned to 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, prepare for extraction from their objective during Task Force Training on Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014.  Rangers constantly train to maintain their tactical proficiency. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock/Not Reviewed)

Washington’s main Syrian ally in the fight against Islamic State says the U.S. military will remain in northern Syria long after the jihadists are defeated, predicting enduring ties with the Kurdish-dominated region.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias dominated by the Kurdish YPG, believes the United States has a “strategic interest” in staying on, SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters.

“They have a strategy policy for decades to come. There will be military, economic and political agreements in the long term between the leadership of the northern areas (of Syria) … and the U.S. administration,” Silo said.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State has deployed forces at several locations in northern Syria, including an airbase near the town of Kobani. It has supported the SDF with air strikes, artillery, and special forces on the ground.

Asked about long-term strategy, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, referred Reuters to the Pentagon. He said there was “still a lot of fighting to do, even after ISIS has been defeated in Raqqa”.

Islamic State remained in strongholds along the Euphrates River Valley, he added, in a reference to its stronghold in Deir al-Zor province southeast of Raqqa.

“Our mission … is to defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and to set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability,” Dillon said, without elaborating.

Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said in Washington: “The Department of Defense does not discuss timelines for future operations. However we remain committed to the destruction of ISIS and preventing its return.”

The SDF and YPG dominate a swathe of northern Syria where Kurdish-led autonomous administrations have emerged since the onset of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

The YPG and its allies hold an uninterrupted 400-km (250-mile) stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.

The U.S. alliance with the SDF and YPG is a major point of contention with neighboring Turkey, a U.S. ally. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.

Silo said: “The Americans have strategic interests here after the end of Daesh,” using a pejorative term for Islamic State.

NEW BASES?

“They (recently) referred to the possibility of securing an area to prepare for a military airport. These are the beginnings – they’re not giving support just to leave. America is not providing all this support for free,” Silo said.

He suggested northern Syria could become a new base for U.S. forces in the region. “Maybe there could be an alternative to their base in Turkey,” he added, referring to the Incirlik air base.

The head of the YPG said last month the United States had established seven military bases in areas of northern Syria controlled by the YPG or SDF, including a major air base near Kobani, a town at the border with Turkey.

The coalition says it does not discuss the location of its forces, citing operational security.

Reuters reporters have seen Blackhawk and Apache military helicopters taking off from a cement factory southeast of Kobani, a Kurdish town on the border with Turkey.

Washington under the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump started distributing arms to the YPG in March ahead of the final assault on Raqqa city, infuriating Turkey which has been unsuccessfully lobbying Washington to abandon the SDF.

Despite SDF confidence that U.S. forces will stay, there is concern that Washington will not give enough backing to YPG-allied forces and civil councils that control northeast Syria.

“We’re constantly asking them for clear, public political support,” Silo said. He said the U.S. State Department held its first public meeting with SDF officials this month.

“At the moment there are no meetings being held for a real discussion of Syria’s future. There are initiatives for developing political support for our forces, but we hope this will be bigger,” he said.

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QUALITY REPEAT: Rescue workers search for survivors after a mudslide in the Mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, August 14, 2017. Pictures taken August 14, 2017. Sierra Leone Red Cross/Handout via REUTERS

Sierra Leone’s president has appealed for urgent help to support the thousands of people affected by a devastating mudslide on the outskirts of the country’s capital.

A national emergency has been declared after the city suffered heavy flooding, thought to be the worst in Africa over the past two decades. Freetown’s mayor, Sam Gibson, said 270 corpses had been recovered and were “being prepared for burial”, while the chief coroner told Reuters that nearly 400 bodies had been found. Estimates of the numbers missing vary: the Red Cross reported that 600 people have not been traced, while the country’s interior minister has said thousands are unaccounted for.

At least a hundred houses were hit when a hillside in Regent, a mountainous town 15 miles east of Freetown, collapsed in the early hours of Monday morning.

Search and rescue efforts have continued throughout Tuesday, hampered by the country’s dangerous terrain and the sheer scale of the tragedy. The mudslide, which trapped residents while they were sleeping, is thought to have travelled for two miles.

Addressing the media, president Ernest Bai Koroma said the devastation “was overwhelming us”. “Entire communities have been wiped out,” Koroma said. “We need urgent support now.”

Linnea Van Wagenen, working for the UN in Sierra Leone, said: “We have the mountains and very steep hillsides. [It’s very hard to] access these areas, where it’s muddy, it’s slippery – there’s a risk of a second landslide. We’re not sure how this massive landslide has affected the ground around it.” She added that the chances of finding survivors on Tuesday was low.

The UN is using satellite data, radar imagery and drone mapping to assess which areas may be at risk of a second mudslide or further flooding. The country is not yet halfway through the rainy season, Van Wagenen said.

“Last year the heavy rains came in September, so we want to make sure we do analysis of communities that are at risk now and [see how we can] prevent the risk of something like this continuing to happen.”

Sierra Leone is prone to flooding, but it was not prepared for a disaster of this magnitude, said Daniel Byrne, monitoring and evaluation officer for Oxfam in Sierra Leone. “This particular emergency is unique because the total number of survivors is not that high compared with the people who have died. No one was expecting a situation like this. People are using their bare hands to remove bodies.”

Issatu Koroma, from Regent, is among the hundreds of people to have lost relatives and their homes in the mudslide. Both her son and nephew are missing, she said on Monday. “Everything is gone. We’ve lost everything – our house, everything. The mud came down with the water so fast and my son did not escape. We found him lying in the mud. He was just a boy. They took his body with the others to I don’t know where. God help Sierra Leone. Why are we cursed? What are we supposed to do now, with nothing?”

Abibatu Kamara, a mother of three who spent the night on her neighbours’ veranda, said so far any government response had been absent. “We have not received any food or blankets since the disaster occurred yesterday,” she told Agence France-Presse.

Kayode Akintola, Cafod’s country representative for Sierra Leone, said bodies are lining some of the capital’s streets: “Things are really bad on the ground. Just a few minutes’ walk from our office a bridge has been submerged. There are dead bodies in the water and littering some of the streets, and houses are still under water.

“We are working with our local partners to assess what support we can provide. The immediate need of people affected are water and food, meanwhile thousands of families who have lost their homes need shelter, and there are also serious health concerns.

Gaston Slanwa, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Sierra Leone, added that 60 people have died in one church community alone. “I drove around Freetown yesterday and saw several houses had disappeared, roads completely gone. On one bridge I saw two people who were already dead being pulled out of the water. In just one of the church communities we work with, 60 people have died and 300 have lost their homes. One of the churches was hit by the mudslide.”

Many of the 3,000 people left homeless spent last night in neighbouring homes that had survived the tragedy. Others were taken to a nearby police station for shelter.

Ishmael Tarawali, head of the Office of National Security, said that burials of identified bodies will begin immediately. “The hospital mortuary is overwhelmed right now and it is really our only option,” he said. Body bags are being donated by charities and NGOs.

“We’re hoping to organise as well as we can to get every last person identified, but it’s a complicated process,” he said. In some cases entire families have been killed, and the condition of the bodies is also making it difficult to identify victims.

The Red Cross and the government have been moving bodies to a holding centre at Connaught hospital in Freetown.

Alex Carle, director of international programmes at the British Red Cross, said the death toll is likely to rise, adding: “The spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea following flooding is also a huge concern.” The city’s drainage system has been overloaded by the torrential rains, leaving stagnant water in some areas.

Sorie Bangura, whose family is safe, was among the residents helping the rescue operation on Monday. “We’ve been trying to dig people out all day but it’s no use – just not enough volunteers. Some houses are so buried it would take machinery to dig them up,” he said on Monday.

“There are dead everywhere and people don’t know where to go. There are only so many houses still standing, and we can’t take in everybody. What we need is help from the international community. People need shelter, clothes, anything. This is the rainy season and it might only get worse. There must be a way to stop this from happening but nobody seems to know how. I’m scared for my life because it could be my family next.”

Richard Miller, ActionAid’s humanitarian director, said he feared the situation could get worse.

“There are signs of continuing rainfall and hanging debris from the mudslide,” he said. “ActionAid is planning an immediate humanitarian response in the worst-hit areas. Thousands of people’s homes have been swept away and their businesses and crops destroyed.

“Our local aid workers in Sierra Leone are telling us that they are especially concerned for the welfare and safety of girls and women, who are the most vulnerable at this time. Many children have been made homeless and are in immediate need of shelter and protection,” he said.

According to Agence France-Presse, Sierra Leone’s meteorological department issued no warning ahead of the torrential rains, which might have allowed for swifter evacuations from the disaster zones.

Priti Patel, the international development secretary, said in a statement that the UK is ready to provide support. “We have pre-positioned vital aid supplies and helped prepare the country’s response to disasters. We are already working with the government of Sierra Leone to coordinate the rescue ‎efforts and are ready to provide further assistance to those in need.”

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Turkey-Minister-of-European-Union-Affairs-Omer-Celik

 

Negotiations on the Cyprus problem have ended are in no way frozen or stalled according to Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with his British Counterpart, Alan Duncan, Celik expressed regret at the collapse of the Cyprus talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana of July 7.

“We are aware of the constructive and positive attitude of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Tsavusoglu. It’s really a shame. We are deeply upset that there wasn’t an outcome in the talks,” said Celik.

Celik added that Turkey and Britain are in close contact with regards to the Cyprus problem adding that despite the positive stance of the Turkish side it wasn’t possible to reach a solution.

The Turkish minister described as unfortunate German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement about not updating the Customs Union between Ankara and the EU.

Celik expressed the opinion that bilateral problems would not damage EU-Turkish relations and that the statements by the German Chancellor only serve to weaken the EU.

“It’s not fair that an EU member state holds such a position giving orders to all the EU institutions,” said assistant to the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin.

“The Customs Union is based on a win-win agreement,” he added.

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By Panagiotis Karampelas*

These days it seems that being objective is unpopular. Donald Trump, for some people, is the man they love to hate.

After the terrible events in Charlottesville, many condemned the US President for not being practically one sided in his criticism of the violence that broke out there.

However, sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow as it can bring down certain convictions that people have and turn the spotlight to corners of a story that may give them an unsettling feeling. And this is a burden that people are not always willing to accept…

In his August 15th Press Conference, the US President Donald Trump stated some of those truths, which are based on the undisputed facts of this case and should be brought into this wider conversation of what really happened during the terrible events of Charlottesville and where do the Western societies go in general, as regard to the way they approach their own history, especially those darker parts of it…

 

* Panagiotis Karampelas is a Strategic & Political analyst.

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Police in Spain say they have shot and killed five people south of Barcelona while carrying out an operation in response to a terrorist attack on Thursday.

The regional police for the Catalonia region said on Twitter early Friday that officers are in Cambrils, a seaside resort town 62 miles from Barcelona.

Police said the suspects were carrying bomb belts, which have been detonated by the force’s bomb squad.

According to BBC News, police said they stopped a second alleged terror plot. Emergency officials say six civilians and one police officer was injured.

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Authorities called on people in the town not to go out on the streets, although they said the situation was under control.

Caution is urged to all those in the area.

Police earlier Friday morning had said five suspects had been killed in the town south of Barcelona during the police response to a terrorist attack in which five civilians and one police officer were wounded. They said two of the wounded are in serious condition.

In another incident, according to BBC News, police shot dead a man who drove into officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona, but the authorities said there was no evidence yet that he was connected to the attack in Las Ramblas.

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breaking news llog

ISIS have claimed responsibility for the Barcelona terror attack that has left 13 dead and 80 injured.

The announcement was made tonight by the ISIS linked Amaq News Agency.

Translated into English, the message read: “The perpetrators of the attack Barcelona are Islamic state soldiers, it was carried out in response to the targeting of coalition countries”.

It comes after ISIS supporters took to social media to celebrate the Barcelona terror attack.

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0 16
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A Greek woman and her two children are among those injured in the terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Members of a Greek family are among the injured in the terrorist attack in Barcelona, ​​according to Mrs. Theoni Zissimopoulou, secretary of the General Consul of Greece in the city, wjo spoke to ERT-1 TV.
As the diplomat said a woman and her two children are injured while the father is well in his health.

The Greek Foreign Ministry tweeted in a post: “Our thought is in Barcelona. We are shocked by the shaky terrorist attack.”

Spanish police says the attack resulted in one dearth and multiple injuries, while reports speak of 13 dead. Currently there is a hostage situation in a restaurant where two gunmen are holding people hostages.

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0 12
barce

Two armed “terrorists” are holding hostages inside a restaurant in Barcelona after killing “at least 13 people” and injuring dozens more in a horrifying van attack.
Police have reportedly surrounded the Luna d’Istanbul eaterie near the Boqueria food market in a bustling district of the Catalan capital
Armed police have stormed the open-air market amid claims that terrorists are armed with rifles.
Cops clad in black and carrying machine guns were seen entering the area backed up by regular police armed with pistols.
Footage posted on social media purports to show some terrified hostages being released as armed cops and emergency vehicles have surrounded the area.
Eyewitness footage and photos from the scene show a huge emergency response after the smash on the iconic Las Ramblas tourist hotspot.
Testimonies suggest the van careered into pedestrians as they crossed the road .
Police have confirmed that the “massive crash” involved a white van mounting the pavement.

source: thesun.co.uk

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0 12
barce

Two armed “terrorists” are holding hostages inside a restaurant in Barcelona after killing “at least 13 people” and injuring dozens more in a horrifying van attack.
Police have reportedly surrounded the Luna d’Istanbul eaterie near the Boqueria food market in a bustling district of the Catalan capital
Armed police have stormed the open-air market amid claims that terrorists are armed with rifles.
Cops clad in black and carrying machine guns were seen entering the area backed up by regular police armed with pistols.
Footage posted on social media purports to show some terrified hostages being released as armed cops and emergency vehicles have surrounded the area.
Eyewitness footage and photos from the scene show a huge emergency response after the smash on the iconic Las Ramblas tourist hotspot.
Testimonies suggest the van careered into pedestrians as they crossed the road .
Police have confirmed that the “massive crash” involved a white van mounting the pavement.

source: thesun.co.uk

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0 11
barc

A van has ploughed into crowds in Ramblas tourist area in Barcelona. According to initial reports by Spanish police, several people have been injured. The emergency services are urging people to stay away from the area around Placa Catalunya. La Vanguardia newspaper reported that the van toured the central promenade before crashing into a kiosk at the crossroads with Carrer Bonsucces. People have been told to avoid the area as emergency services react to a “serious incident” in the Spanish city.

Metro lines have been shut and shoppers and pedestrians have been seen running into buildings as armed police flooded the area. Other unverified reports from local TV channel TV3 say two armed men are holding hostages in a nearby Turkish restaurant.

 

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0 10
nazi

A woman asks her neighbour about a Nazi flag in his garden, who responds by insulting and threatening her and using gestures. She insists and asks him why he believes such a symbol is appropriate in his garden.
– What’s up with the nazi flag?
– Who are you;
– Why do you have a Nazi flag up?
– What’s it to you!
– Because this is America not Nazi Germany.

This is part of the dialogue that unfolded between the two neighbors and points to the absurdity that America is experiencing over this period. It is a dialogue that took place between two neighbors, only hours after the bloody racist outbreak in Virginia, leaving behind one dead.

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0 12
icc

A war crimes court Thursday said a Malian ex-jihadist caused 2.7 million euros in damages when he destroyed Timbuktu’s fabled shrines in 2012.

The International Criminal Court ordered victims be paid “individual, collective and symbolic” reparations, ICC judge Raul Pangalangan said.

But the judges at the Hague-based tribunal recognised that Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was penniless, saying it was up to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) – set up to implement the judge’s decisions – to decide how the outstanding amount will have to be paid.

The judges further ordered that the Malian state as well as the international community be compensated with a symbolic amount of one euro for the damages suffered.

Judges gave the TFV until February 16 next year to come up with a plan on how to implement Thursday’s reparations award.

Jihadists used pickaxes and bulldozers against nine mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the Sidi Yahya mosque, built during a golden age of Islam, after a jihadist takeover in northen Mali in 2012.

Al-Mahdi was jailed for nine years in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the Unesco world heritage site and apologised to the Timbuktu community.

Timbuktu, founded by Tuareg tribes between the fifth and 12th centuries, has been nicknamed “the city of 333 saints,” referring to the number of Muslim sages buried there.

The ICC’s decision to jail Mahdi in September’s landmark verdict was the first arising out of the conflict in Mali, and the first time a jihadist had sat in the dock.

source: AFP

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braz

Brazil’s hottest cop looks an arresting sight in her latest photoshoot – complete with skimpy bikinis and big guns.
Mari Ag has become an Instagram sensation after sexy snaps of her on and off duty attracted tens of thousands of followers. Since making the headlines, she has been inundated with love messages and dozens of offers of marriage.
And she is just as popular within the force – which sees her as a great role model.
Her police colleagues are overjoyed with her popularity saying she is the perfect example of  a strong and beautiful woman – tough on one side and feminine on the other.
Mari is also a great believer that beauty and intelligence work perfectly together and uses her position as a role model to fight for female rights within Brazil’s male-dominated force.
She came in the top 10 out of 150,000 applicants who went for her police job, and now works on the Dutra Highway – one of the most dangerous areas for gang-related crime in Brazil.
Despite all the new attention, Mari still gets out on the beat everyday to take on her crime-plagued country’s crooks.
With all of this going on she still has time for her favourite pastimes, chilling on the beach in tiny bikinis, topping up her tan, and diving in the ocean.

source: thesun.co.uk

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0 16
bod

Two police officers in the US are being investigated for allegedly pulling over a college student and performing a vaginal search on her in a parking lot for 11 minutes.
Charneisha Corley, 23, was stopped in Harris County, Texas for running a stop sign and was told to step out of her car to be frisked after the deputies said they smelled marijuana.
But when they found nothing on her one of the officers “bodyslammed” her onto the ground before opening her legs and pulling her pants off to probe her, the dashcam footage shows.
“I feel like they sexually assaulted me! I really do. I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated,” she told abc13 television news channel.
The officers, one white male and one black woman, claimed they found half a gram of marijuana – but the charges were later dropped.
Now prosecutors say they have new secret evidence against Ms Corley and have re-opened their investigation after handing over what they say is fresh material to a grand jury.

source: independent.co.uk

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0 19
t

Members of the Russian upper house have stated that the 16-year US military campaign in Afghanistan had ended in failure and reiterated a call for Washington to withdraw troops from that country.

“George Bush Junior started the war, Barack Obama promised to end it but never did it. As a result, President Donald Trump has been left with a disaster on his hands. Loser superpower,” Senator Aleksey Pushkov tweeted.

Pushkov released this comment soon after Taliban released an open letter to Trump in which it claimed that the military operation in Afghanistan was in vain despite the huge costs, both in terms of human casualties and material losses. The letter then urged Trump to make a decision that would always see him remembered as an advocate of peace.

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed receipt of the Taliban’s open letter and said that Washington was considering various options as far as possible troop removal from Afghanistan is concerned.

Earlier this week, the Russian president’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said in a press interview that the US campaign in Afghanistan had failed and Washington needs to withdraw troops. He added that Moscow strongly opposes the plan to replace the regular US military forces in Afghanistan with military contractors.

On Thursday, the deputy head of the Russian upper house Committee for International Affairs, Andrey Klimov, told reporters that Kabulov’s statement was a sign that Moscow intended to use political and diplomatic leverage to prevent further spreading of US military presence.

“A US-led military intervention has been taking place for 16 years, right near the CIS borders. And considering the fact that the borders within the CIS are transparent this means that this is happening right near our borders,” Klimov said in comments with Vzglyad internet daily. The CIS is the Commonwealth of Independent States – a Russia-led political and economic bloc of former Soviet republics.

“In recent years this has borne no resemblance to an anti-terrorist operation and looks more like a colonial policy, an attempt to keep the US military contingent there at any cost,” he added.

The senator also noted that previously Russia has approved of the military operation conducted by the US and its NATO allies in Afghanistan, and even provided assistance to this operation, but this position has been reconsidered because of the deterioration of Russia-US relations and also because the operation in Afghanistan has failed to yield any positive results.

“Quite some time ago is became clear that the anti-terrorist operation conducted by the US and NATO in Afghanistan is ineffective, but in the course of this operation the flow of illegal drugs into Russia has increased many-fold, according to some estimations even 100-fold,” he said.

“All this calls for a reaction and the first statements made on the subject reveal that Russia intends to use political and diplomatic means to prevent this gray spreading of the US military presence in Afghanistan,” the senator concluded.

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0 15
tr1

They wash their hands of neo-Nazis and wag their fingers at leftists. They denounce a press corps they see as biased and controversies they view as manufactured. But in the frenzied blame game over the deadly violence at a rally of white supremacists, Donald Trump’s loyal base is happy to absolve the president himself.

Even as Trump’s zig-zag response to the weekend bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia, has brought criticism from some Republican lawmakers, many men and women who helped put him in office remain unmoved by the latest uproar.

“He has done nothing to turn me away from him,” said Patricia Aleeyah Robinson, of Toledo, Ohio.

Robinson is black and her support of Trump has put her at odds with many in her life, costing her friendships and straining family relationships.

But the 63-year-old retired truck driver sees the controversy over Trump’s response to Charlottesville as being driven by those seeking to disrupt his agenda and push backers like her away. She said she knows he pays no deference to racists and feels he is the only president who has ever spoken directly to blacks. She admires his refusal to sugarcoat his beliefs.

Three hundred miles south in a Charleston, West Virginia, shopping mall, Joyce Ash took a moment to ponder Trump after buying a dress Wednesday to wear to the funeral for her husband of 33 years, who died of pancreatic cancer.

The 71-year-old woman summoned nothing but support for the political novice who led her to ditch her lifelong support of Democrats. She recalled sitting up all Election Night to watch Trump clinch the win, and said nothing since made her reconsider her vote.

“Let the president do his job instead of trying to take him out every time you turn around,” Ash implored. She didn’t follow the back-and-forth over Trump’s statements on Charlottesville but saw no reason to question him: “I believe in Donald Trump, I really do. I believe that if they would just give this man a chance, the economy, everything will start going better.”

“You know why it doesn’t bother me? Because he is everybody’s president whether you like him or don’t like him. Everything he does, he’s doing it for our country,” said Patsy Jarman, a 70-year-old retired factory worker in New Bern, North Carolina. “And if you don’t like being here, you need to leave.”

Such enthusiasm may be unsurprising in some ways. Trump himself boasted last year he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Polls showed his approval ratings dipping even before this flare-up, and now some commentators are proclaiming a historic low point and late-night comedians have turned serious. But many Trump voters interviewed Wednesday showed no sign of moving away from him.

In Florida, 50-year-old Steven Damron of Spring Hill said the president handled the Charlottesville situation well, and he agreed with Trump that “both sides” were to blame.

In Iowa, Branden Nong, 35, of Waukee said that while he wished the president was more careful with his tweets or in his criticism of fellow Republicans, his vote was driven by economic issues, and he has been happy with Trump’s performance.

And in Pennsylvania, 46-year-old substitute teacher Julie Horrell of Mohrsville said: “I am sticking by the president. It’s early in his term yet. He needs to get the time to dig in his feet.”

Julie Brown, a 42-year-old real estate agent in Gilbert, Arizona, accused the media of twisting Trump’s statements on Charlottesville and said local officials did a bad job preparing for the protests. But she remains fully behind a president she sees as exactly the unpolished, authentic leader that the U.S. needs right now, and thinks of how her 4-year-old son will someday learn of this time.

“He’s going to be reading in a textbook one day about the good and the bad that this president is going to do,” she said, “but I hope and I believe it’s going to be more good.”

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0 14
sick cecilia

Incest between siblings and necrophilia should be legalised, a branch of the Swedish Liberal People’s Party has argued.

The Stockholm branch of the party’s youth wing (LUF) voted on the controversial motion at its annual meeting on Sunday.

It called for the repeal of several laws to make consensual sex between brothers and sisters aged over 15 legal, as well as allowing people to “bequeath” their bodies for intercourse after death without fearing the perpetrator would be prosecuted.

Cecilia Johnsson, president of LUF Stockholm, told Aftonbladet counter-incest legislation amounted to “morality law”, adding: “These laws protect no one right now”.

“I understand that [incest] can be considered unusual and disgusting, but the law cannot stem from it being disgusting”.

The LUF also voted to support the legalisation of sexual acts with a corpse, on the condition that the person consented while they were still alive.

Ms Johnsson said: “You should get to decide what happens to your body after you die, and if it happens to be that someone wants to bequeath their body to a museum or for research, or if they want to bequeath to someone for sex, then it should be okay.”

The central Liberal People’s Party disagreed, however, with spokesperson Adam Alfredsson telling Expressen the proposals were “nothing like the mother party endorses.”

“Incest is and should remain illegal,” he added. “We think it will continue to be illegal to use a dead man’s body in [a sexual] way.”

Meanwhile, a former Swedish Liberal MP, Carl B Hamilton, took to Facebook to dismiss the youth wing’s proposals as a publicity stunt concocted by “nitwits”.

The Independent has contacted Ms Johnsson for a response.

It is not the first time similar proposals have been raised in Europe.

In 2014, the German Ethics Council also called for an end to the criminalisation of incest between siblings, after examining the case of a man who was jailed for having four children with his sister.

The council argued that the risk of disability in children was not sufficient to warrant a law putting couples in “tragic situations”, and that decriminalising incest would not fuel the spread of the “very rare” practice.

“The majority of the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo,” a statement said.

A spokeswoman for Angela Merkel’s CDU party dismissed the possibility of abolishing criminal punishment at the time.

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0 16
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Turkish and Iranian military leaders held talks on Wednesday over cooperation in the Syrian conflict and counter-terrorism, officials said, during a rare visit to NATO-member Turkey by the Islamic Republic’s military chief of staff.

Turkey’s ties with Washington have been strained by U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, and the visit by Iranian General Mohammad Baqeri is the latest sign that Ankara is increasing cooperation with other powers such as Iran and Russia.

Baqeri met his Turkish counterpart on Tuesday and Turkey’s Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli on Wednesday in what Turkish media said was the first visit by an Iranian chief of staff since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

He was due to meet President Tayyip Erdogan later on Wednesday.

Turkey and Iran have supported rival sides in Syria’s six-year-old conflict, with Iran-backed fighters helping President Bashar al-Assad to drive back rebels battling to overthrow him, including some supported by Ankara.

Turkey is concerned that the Syrian chaos has empowered Kurdish forces who it says are closely tied to the long-running insurgency in its southeastern regions, as well as Islamic State fighters who have waged attacks inside Turkey, and is working with Iran and Russia to reduce the fighting in some areas.

An Iranian source said Baqeri was accompanied by the head of the ground forces of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s most powerful security entity.

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“There have been no such visits between the two countries for a long time, but considering regional developments and security issues – border security and the fight against terrorism – there was a need for such a visit,” Baqeri told Iranian state television on arrival on Tuesday.

The Iranian source said that, in addition to the war in Syria, the two sides would discuss the conflict in Iraq as well as dealing with Kurdish militants in the Turkish-Iranian border region, where Turkish media say Turkey has started building a frontier wall.

Russian Military Chief

Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed in May to set up “de-escalation zones” in Syria to try to stem the fighting in some parts of the country, including the northern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey and has since been overrun by jihadists linked to a former al Qaeda affiliate.

That has thrown into question any suggestion that the three countries could deploy a force to police the Idlib region.

“The negotiations regarding the Idlib issue are still ongoing,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish broadcaster TRT Haber on Wednesday.

“After the Iranian chief of staff, the Russian chief of staff will also come to Turkey,” he added.

Turkey has said for months that it is close to buying an S-400 missile defence system from Russia, and Erdogan said in July that the deal had already been signed.

Cavusoglu said Russia understood Turkey’s sensitivities about arming Kurdish fighters better than the United States, although he said U.S. officials had informed Turkey that the most recent shipments to the YPG did not include guns.

“The United States gives us reports about how many weapons they have given to the YPG every month,” he said. The latest “said they gave armoured vehicles and a bulldozer, but no guns.”

Turkey’s stepped-up military talks with Iran and Russia coincide with a major oil and gas deal involving firms from the three countries.

The Turkish firm Unit International said this week it has signed a $7 billion agreement with Russia’s state-owned Zarubezhneft and Iran’s Ghadir Investment Holding to drill for oil and natural gas in Iran.

Turkey is also discussing transporting more goods through Iran to the Gulf state of Qatar, which is locked in a dispute with its neighbours Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

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0 16
turkey-referendum-president-erdogan-781647

Politics in Turkey is entering a highly stressful two years this fall. Since the referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to be running a one-man show in decision-making and Ankara’s bureaucracy seems to be looking to his Beştepe residence for every small paper to be signed. So can this system survive until the necessary laws are passed? Will they even pass anyway?

Over the weekend a factory inauguration ceremony in the southwestern province of Isparta became the biggest talking point on social media. The Coca-Cola Company’s most recent beverage factory was built in Isparta and President Erdoğan, along with Global CEO Muhtar Kent and Anadolu Group President Tuncay Özilhan, cut the ribbon of the global brand factory. Up to this point there was nothing new. What is new was the rampant discussion and hashtag protests on social media against Coca-Cola’s role in bad nutrition, obesity and – yes – Middle East politics.

Several Islamic groups openly criticized Erdoğan’s participation at the opening. The Furkan Foundation claimed he would “never be able to say a word against Israel anymore.” The state-run Anadolu Agency pulled the name Coca-Cola from its story byline, while the official website of the Presidency only referred to the factory as “fruit juice factory.” What is behind all this fear and intimidation?

Sources close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) say that since the Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) operations there has been massive pressure on the government to open up space for other ultra-religious communities like the Menzil and İsmailağa groups.

Daily newspaper Birgun recently classified these groups according to their infiltration into the state. Here is what it looks like at the moment: The Süleymanci group is active in the Education Ministry. The Menzil group is dominant in the Health Ministry, as well as the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and the Police Department. The Ismailağa group is powerful inside university dorms and low-level government jobs. The Hamiyet and Irfan Foundations are strong in the Family Ministry and the Ensar Foundation is active in the Eductation Ministry, dorms, and extracurricular activities.

Unfortunately, it seems that the AK Party and Erdoğan are falling into the same trap of “outsourcing” the government.

Meanwhile, there is a growing tide in the judiciary suggesting that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu may be prosecuted because of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) trucks case. Indeed, it was Ayhan Oğan, the former AK Party Central Board Member who had dropped the “new state” bomb two weeks ago by saying Erdoğan was “establishing a new state,” who gave the initial signal for that. During the Justice March from Ankara to Istanbul a month ago, Oğan raised the possibility of Kılıçdaroğlu being investigated.

As things stand, both the ruling party and the main opposition seem squeezed by forces outside of their control. Add in the U.S.-North Korea crisis, the ongoing Syrian quagmire and the general effects on the economy, and you have a full-fledged pressure cooker waiting to explode.

Hakan Bayrakcı, a leading pollster and the founder of SONAR Research, said on private broadcaster CNN Türk last week that Erdoğan was planning everything with the deadline of 2019 in mind. “There is a possibility of an early election. Erdoğan would like to see the results of the municipal elections in March 2019. For him, that is a big barometer,” Bayrakçı said.

The only way to survive until 2019 under these circumstances is to let pressure out of the cooker. For that you need greater freedom, fewer journalists in jail, and a more secular state – if one actually still exists.

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0 12
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U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a “wise” decision not to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, which has eased escalating tension between the two countries.

Reclusive North Korea has made no secret of its plan to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States to counter what it perceives as constant U.S. threats of invasion.

Trump warned North Korea last week it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles toward Guam.

But North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim had delayed the decision while he waited to see what the United States did next.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”

North Korea’s threat to fire into the sea near Guam had prompted Trump to say earlier that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” if North Korea acted unwisely.

North Korea has long ignored warnings from the West and from its lone major ally, China, to halt its nuclear and missile tests which it conducts in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday it was time to “dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy” on North Korea and that he had told Russia, Japan, the United States, China and North and South Korea that he was available to help broker talks.

“My good offices are always available – and I conveyed this message yesterday to the representatives of the six-party talks,” Guterres told reporters. “The solution to this crisis must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate.”

The United States has been hoping China can press the North to rein in its weapons programs, something the top U.S. general reiterated in talks in Beijing this week.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army, that North Korea’s weapons programs threatened the entire international community, including China.

“He emphasised that the U.S. and China have the same goal – a denuclearised Korean peninsula achieved through peaceful means … North Korean actions threaten the economic and military security of China,” a U.S. military spokesman said in a statement.

“In the interest of regional stability, he said the U.S. views with growing urgency the need for China to increase pressure on the North Korean regime,” the spokesman said.

‘Solidarity and resolve’

China has repeatedly called for all sides to exercise restraint and remain calm, and while it has signed up for tough U.N. sanctions on North Korea, it says the key to a resolution lies in Washington and Pyongyang talking to each other, rather than expecting China to do all the work.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said while everyone was concerned about the situation, Chinese pressure on North Korea had made him more upbeat.

“Since yesterday we are a bit more optimistic; I think that above all Chinese pressure contributed to the statements from North Korea about definitely putting aside these ideas of firing a missile,” Gabriel said in Berlin. He said he had spoken with his counterparts in China, the United States and South Korea in recent days.

“All options” are on the table with regards to North Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in Chile on Wednesday. He called on Latin American nations to break ties with Pyongyang.

Japan conducted air manoeuvers with U.S. bombers southwest of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday involving two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force said in a news release.

“These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the U.S. Air Force said.

The U.S. aircraft have flown several sorties in East Asia in recent weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft.

North Korea regards the U.S. exercises with South Korea and Japan as preparations for invasion. The exercises also upset China, which says they do nothing to ease tension.

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0 17
law

According to Kurdish activists and arms researchers, Turkish versions of the U.S. M72 LAW anti-tank rocket keep popping up in ISIS stockpiles.

One such rocket was discovered and documented by Conflict Arms Research — an arms research organization dedicated to tracking weapons supplies in conflict zones through various chains of custody.

The HAR-66 — the Turkish version of the U.S. M72 — was discovered by the research group on the outskirts of Mosul in mid-March.

“Islamic State forces discarded this item during a battle against Rapid Response Division in the Al Jawsaq neighbourhood in early March 2017,” reads a report provided to Military Times.

Researchers at the arms tracking group were unable to ascertain how the anti-tank rocket ended up in ISIS custody. “I haven’t seen any in Iraqi inventories in the last three years,” said Damien Spleeters, a researcher at Conflict Arms Research.

Other HAR-66 rockets have been discovered by the People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, in Syria. Photos and videos of the captured rockets from ISIS have been documented and uploaded to the group’s official press page.

In June, the U.S. backed Kurdish militants uploaded video of a supply cache captured from ISIS during the early onset of the campaign to liberate Raqqa. That weapons cache featured expected Russian rifles and machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, but also the Turkish version of the U.S. LAW anti-tank rocket.

The rocket can be easily identified by the Turkish instructions on the rocket, and its squared firing mechanism and compact size. The rocket is sometimes misidentified because the Russians have a reversed engineered version of the M72 known as the RPG-18. However, the RPG-18 can be identified by the Cyrillic instructions on the tube of the rocket. Cyrillic is the standard alphabet for Slavic languages.

Kurdish activists have posted images to social media of the alleged captured U.S./Turkish rocket from the operation to liberate the Tabqa dam launched in March all the way back to the campaign to free the Syrian city of Manbij last summer from ISIS.

Military Times reached out to officials at Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S. and coalition mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Officials at OIR could not provide any further information.

“We know in this particular region the conflicts that have happened over the last several years there are a lot of different types of weapons systems on the battlefield,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve. “I do know there are a lot of weapon systems there left over time.”

The Syrian battlefield is awash in weapons and anti-tank rockets and has a thriving illicit arms markets. Some heavy weapons employed by ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq were captured after the terror group sacked Syrian and Iraqi army bases.

However, according to Arms researchers, Syrian and Iraqi inventories do not normally contain the HAR-66. “I do not remember having seen anything about Iraq procuring these weapons from Turkey,” said Pieter Wezeman, an arms researcher at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. However, Iraq has purchased a lot of weapons from a lot of other countries, he added.

Nevertheless, the Syrian battlefield has been flooded with weapon systems from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, U.S., and even Chinese Hongjian-8 anti-tank guided missile systems have been documented in the war-torn country.

According to researchers at Stratfor — a think-tank that specializes in geopolitical intelligence analysis —Turkey has been supplying its Arab dominant Free Syrian Army allies in northern Syria with weapons.

“We have previously seen HAR-66 rockets in the hands of Syrian rebel forces with close ties to Turkey,” said Stratfor’s senior military analyst Omar Lamrani.

The discovery of the Turkish rockets in the ISIS arsenal is yet another obstacle for the lightly armed U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters as they slog their way through Raqqa.

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Barack Obama’s tweet condemning racism in the wake of the violent far-right rally in Charlottesville during which one woman died has become the most liked tweet in history.
The poignant tweet, in which the former US President quoted Nelson Mandela, has been liked more than 2.9 million times on Twitter.
He posted the tweet alongside a picture of himself after his daughter Sasha’s fourth-grade graduation.

It read: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.”
He continued in separate tweets: “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela.”
Heather Heyer, 32 was killed when a car was driven into counter protesters as anti-fascist demonstrators clashed with the white supremacists at the rally in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Dozens of people were also injured as the car mowed into crowds.
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists were among those who gathered at the rally in Virginia to protest a decision to remove a statue of a Confederate general.
US President Donald Trump has come under fierce criticism for his response to the violence, after he told reporters in New York left-wing activists were also to blame for “charging” at the alt-right.

source: standard.co.uk

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su

Russia announced it’s newest variant of the Sukhoi Su-30SM — the Su30SM1 — last month, which reportedly has enhanced weapons and electrical systems.
Nevertheless, the Su-30SM1 has yet to be mass produced, and there’s reportedly only one of them at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant where they’re being made, according to The National Interest. Therefore Russia’s most upgraded Su-30 on the market is still the Su-30SM.
The Su-30SM is a versatile or multirole fighter, able to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks, and is often considered to be the F-15E Strike Eagle’s counterpart.

source: businessinsider.com

 

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A Swiss hotel has come under fire for posting an antisemitic sign telling its Jewish guests to shower before swimming in the hotel pool.
Under the headline “To our Jewish Guests,” the sign at the Paradies Arosa hotel read: “Please take a shower before you go swimming. If you break the rules, I am forced to close (sic) the swimming pool for you. Thank you for your understanding.”
Swiss tourism officials have said the hotel in the eastern town of Arosa had apologised for the incident and taken the sign down. But anger in the Jewish community still remains.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded the closure of the Paradies Arosa hotel, and issued a statement calling on “the broader Jewish community and their Gentile friends to blacklist this horrific hotel.”
On Twitter, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called for “justice” against the hotel’s management.
Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister, posted an image of the sign on her Facebook page and wrote that “there can be no tolerance and no indifference” to anti-Semitism and racism, in comments that also alluded also to violence around a white supremacist rally in Virginia in the United States.
We “must not let there be a place in the free world for Nazi flags or Ku Klux Klan masks or ugly signs in hotels directed at Jews only,” she wrote.
“We cannot allow acts of hate against Jews around the world to become normal.”
Swiss Tourism spokesman Markus Berger called said the incident was “unfortunate” but that it should “stay in perspective”.
He cited a recent trend of Orthodox and other Jews travelling to four Alpine villages in the area in the summertime, including Davos of World Economic Forum fame. Although the tourism office didn’t know the origin of the trend, Mr Berger said that numbers “definitely in the thousands” have grown in recent years, adding that many hotels in the area serve kosher food, and that Jewish guests “feel well-treated” there.
“It’s just this one lady at this one hotel who was not on top of the situation,” Mr Berger said. “It’s an isolated incident that doesn’t need for greater action to be taken.”
The secretary-general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities said it was “really a dumb thing” to do, but he also called for calm.
“It’s somebody who really didn’t think a lot,” Jonathan Kreutner said in a phone interview with the Associated Press.

source: news.com.au

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Smartphone separation anxiety is set to become an increasingly widespread problem, researchers say.
The term, which is also known as “nomophobia”, is used to describe the feeling of panic or stress some people experience when they’re unable to access or use their mobile phone.
According to new research, it has little to do with being unable to make or receive phone calls.
Instead, scientists from the City University of Hong Kong and the Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul say it’s because smartphones are so advanced and personal to us that they’ve actually become an extension of ourselves.
As well as storing meaningful photos and messages, mobiles act as a gateway to an enormous range of apps, websites and services that let us quickly access content that’s important to us.
“As smartphones evoke more personal memories, users extend more of their identity onto their smartphones,” the research, which is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, says.
Though they used a relatively small sample group of 300 students in South Korea for their study and conceded that it might not be fully representative of all smartphone users, they believe smartphone separation anxiety will become a bigger and bigger issue for people in the future, as technology becomes even more personalised and we grow ever more reliant upon it.
Nomophobia isn’t currently classified as a specific mental disorder, but studies have shown that smartphone attachment can cause significant problems.

source: independent.co.uk

 

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Jennifer Lawrence has joined a growing chorus of celebrities speaking out against the racist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, sharing an impassioned plea for fans to help publicly identify white supremacists who gathered from across state lines to participate in the deadly Unite the Right rallies, which joined various hate groups (including neo-Nazis) over the weekend.
“These are the faces of hate,” Lawrence wrote on her official Facebook page Monday afternoon, additionally sharing several photos from the demonstrations showing participants carrying torches and swastika-bearing flags. “Look closely and post anyone you find. You can’t hide with the internet you pathetic cowards!”
Social media users have banded together in recent days to out Unite the Right supporters, uncovering the identifies of several aggressors in the process.

source: ew.com

 

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0 14
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A new study has revealed that the vast majority of Germans do not see the migrants coming across the Mediterranean as legitimate refugees and want to see them deported back to North Africa.
The study, conducted by research institute Civey shows that 69.8 per cent of Germans do not regard the migrants rescued and transported by NGOs in the Mediterranean as legitimate refugees despite claims from the NGOs themselves.

Many of the NGOs have called for Germany to stop cooperating with the Libyan coastguard which has been turning back migrant boats, but according to the survey, most Germans disagree with them, Die Welt reports.

When the survey data is broken down by age, it shows that the largest section of those who want to return the migrants to North Africa are aged 65 and older at 74.6 per cent. The data also differs depending on the region of Germany the participant comes from with East Germans being the most favourable to deportations.

Along political lines, a majority of members of all parties support the deportation of Mediterranean migrants except for the left-wing Green party with only 34.7 per cent approving of the idea and 48.8 per cent rejecting the idea.

The Green party have long been in favour of the NGOs and their rescue missions in the Mediterranean, including Hamburg Green politician Anna Gallina who joined the crew of the Sea Eye NGO earlier this year. Ms. Gallina justified her actions saying: “I am going to Libya in the next few weeks because I want to contribute to the salvation of the people.”

The survey deeply divided the far-left Die Linke, or Left Party, with the number of those agreeing and disagreeing being close to equal. Some members of the far-left party, which finds its origins in the Communist party of former East Germany, have been against mass migration while others like Left Party politician Diether Dehm are so pro-migrant that Dehm was accused of smuggling migrants himself.

Perhaps least surprisingly, anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) members voted 98.8 percent in favour of deporting Mediterranean migrants. The AfD has consistently been against mass migration and for the strengthening of Germany’s borders since the start of the migrant crisis.

A new poll, from Insa, shows the AfD regaining some of the momentum they had in regional and local elections last year. The poll shows the party once again in third place nationally behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) coalition and the Social Democrats (SPD) led by former European Union parliament president Martin Schulz.

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The on-going North Korean nuclear crisis, in addition to the previous nuclear crises with Iraq and Iran, demonstrates that we lack a coherent, peaceful approach to respond decisively to major nuclear proliferation threats.

In all three cases, world leaders have wavered between war and diplomacy. The results have been suboptimal.

Iraq: war was an excessive response

In September 1980, Iranian airplanes bombed Iran’s French-origin research reactor Osiraq. The facility was partially destroyed. Teheran called the attack a preventive act. Notably, Iraq was a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subject to international Safeguards inspections, and free of anomaly reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Eight months later, in June 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed the Osiraq reactor. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the UN General Assembly, and the world’s mass media rebuked the Israelis for the attack. Remarkably, the US administration called it an act of defense.

In 2003, the United States accused Iraq of having restarted a nuclear weapons program. Reference was made to nuclear weapons related activities, detected in 1991 during the first war Gulf War. This embryonic nuclear program was destroyed by international inspectors immediately thereafter. The IAEA did not support the 2003 allegations. Nonetheless, the US decided that diplomacy had failed and, without UN endorsement, invaded Iraq with a coalition of the willing.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq did not disclose a clandestine nuclear weapons program. In 2005, the IAEA’s Director General ElBaradei and nuclear inspectors were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Iran: limited diplomatic postponement

Iran’s nuclear program included sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities, such as enrichment and reprocessing. These were conducted in line with the NPT, but nonetheless contained a possible military dimension. The existence of dual-purpose nuclear activities within the NPT constitutes the Treaty’s Achilles heel. While presumed nefarious intentions can cause heightened alertness, they cannot be legally penalized.

Iran’s steady development of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities caused international concern that slowly developed into a crisis. In the years after 2006, the UNSC imposed economic and trade sanctions, leading to diplomatic negotiations with Iran by the P5+1: the US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany. The July 2015 P5+1 nuclear agreement imposes a 10- 15-year reduction and freeze of Iran’s sensitive activities along with gradual lifting of sanctions.

IAEA inspectors are monitoring and verifying the implementation of an agreed plan, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. If Iran breaks out of the 2015 agreement, it would need ten months or longer to produce the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon, which is enough time for response measures.

North Korea: an on-going threat

North Korea joined the IAEA in 1974, signed the NPT in 1985 and in 1992 signed its NPT Safeguards Agreement. From the very beginning, Pyongyang’s behavior was not consistent with its binding international commitments. Already in 1992, IAEA inspectors found inconsistencies in North Korea’s declarations and the year after North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the NPT.

Just one day before the withdrawal was due to take effect, the US persuaded North Korea to suspend its decision. Six months later, in December 1993, IAEA Director General Hans Blix announced that the Agency could no longer provide “any meaningful assurances” that North Korea was not producing nuclear weapons.

A US initiative saved the situation. On 21 October 1994, an Agreed Framework was signed between the US and North Korea in Geneva. The UNSC then requested the IAEA to monitor the freeze of North Korea’s nuclear facilities under the Agreed Framework.

In December 2002, North Korea tampered with IAEA surveillance equipment and a few days later requested the immediate removal of IAEA inspectors from the country. Then, on 10 January 2003, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT and in April 2003 declared it had nuclear weapons.

During the six-party talks (USA, China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and North Korea) starting in 2003 on solving North Korea’s nuclear crisis, North Korea was repeatedly accused of violating the Agreed Framework and other international agreements, thus triggering several IAEA and UNSC resolutions.

North Korea’s capability to produce both plutonium and uranium nuclear weapons is rapidly advancing. Its capacity to enrich uranium has doubled in recent years. US and Chinese officials believe that there are more than 20 nuclear bombs in its arsenal.

The best that can be hoped for with North Korea is an immediate freeze of nuclear and ballistic missile activities. A return to zero nuclear weapons capability is a utopian expectation. With only one exception, no non-NPT member with nuclear weapons (India, Pakistan, and possibly Israel) has ever returned to zero nuclear weapons capability or indicated intentions to do so. The one exception is South Africa, which voluntarily destroyed its nuclear weapons in 1990 under IAEA supervision, as apartheid fell.

Conclusions

Though nuclear proliferation is a leading global threat, we have failed to demonstrate sufficient competence in responding.

The rhetoric of terror on both sides combined with the risk of miscalculation or a military error is extremely worrying. It only accelerates a dangerous nuclear vicious cycle.

PS: With apologies to Dr. Ikonomou, this seems an only slightly appropriate place at which to share John Oliver’s view of North Korea and prospects for opening good communications, among other things via the accordion:

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0 19
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For the past year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has exploited his country’s state of emergency to rule by decree, purging government ranks, imprisoning political dissenters and crushing independent media. But for all the attention paid to Turkey’s slippage in democratic norms, critics have largely ignored the heavy toll his brand of authoritarianism has taken on the country’s economy. The effects could be disastrous for Turkey’s future.

When Erdoğan first became prime minister in 2003, he inherited a struggling economy with a long list of structural problems. His greatest achievement during the first half of his 15-year tenure at the pinnacle of political power was to stick to a reform plan devised by the World Bank’s former Vice President Kemal Derviş and reorient Turkey’s foreign policy toward trade diplomacy.

But as he has consolidated power, he has become both more self-confident and more corrupt, replacing his original reform agenda with cronyism, nepotism and graft. Unless he ends his disastrous meddling in Turkish markets, the country’s volatile economy may well become the next casualty of last year’s abortive coup.

Turkey was already suffering from slowing growth and the highest percentage of youth not in employment, education or training, and the lowest labor force participation among OECD members. Morgan Stanley branded the country as one of “the Fragile Five” — overly dependent on short-term investment to finance its gaping current account deficit.

The failed coup exacerbated these shortcomings — and added new ones.

A key challenge for Turkey’s economy has long been weak governance. In 1995, a grand coalition of center-right and center-left parties established the Economic and Social Council, a quarterly consultative body to assemble labor, public, and private sector representatives to facilitate good governance.

But Erdoğan has refused to convene the Council since 2009, despite repeated calls to do so from the opposition. Under the current state of emergency, most economic decisions no longer involve parliament deliberations. They are simply the result of arbitrary decrees.

Erdoğan, for example, transferred the government’s stakes in Turkey’s flag carrier airline, two top public lenders, and fixed-line phone operator to the country’s newly-established sovereign wealth fund — and he did this simply with a decree. The controversial fund is neither transparent nor accountable, and it’s exempt from the oversight of the Court of Accounts, which is responsible for auditing public administrative bodies.

To make matters worse, the fund is managed by cronies, including an Erdoğan adviser who once claimed foreign powers were trying to kill the president by “telekinesis.”

Turkey’s deteriorating rule of law has also eroded private property rights. In the past year alone, the government seized 879 businesses with assets worth over $11 billion, prompting potential buyers to worry about prolonged legal battles over ownership. The appointment of party loyalists to run these firms has only aggravated cronyism and mismanagement.

The erosion of rule of law has also hit investors from the European Union, Turkey’s top trading partner and source of foreign direct investment. Ankara recently filed a complaint with Interpol against 681 German companies, accusing them of financing terrorism.

Although the Turkish government later withdrew its blacklist of German firms, the diplomatic spat undermined European investor confidence, as Berlin announced a review of state guarantees for investment in Turkey. The German government’s recent call for the European Commission to suspend its efforts to modernize the customs union agreement with Turkey could hinder not only bilateral trade, but also hurt Turkey’s export-oriented businesses.

Perhaps most ominous for economic future, Turkey’s talent pool has come under sustained attack in the aftermath of the coup. Purges hit universities particularly hard; the government closed 15 of them and fired more than 5,000 academics. The crackdown has frayed international academic collaboration and exchange, and led to a sharp drop in research output.

There are frequent reports of brain drain, pointing to a reversal of an earlier trend of Turkish expats returning to Turkish universities and research centers. The number Turkish citizens applying for asylum in the EU has spiked dramatically in the past year.

Ankara’s response to worsening social and economic indicators has been to cook the books rather than address root causes. When the country’s economy contracted in the third quarter of 2016, interrupting 27 quarters of continuous growth since 2009, the government reaction was not structural reform, but a questionable revision of the GDP math, boosting the average growth rate of the last five years from 4.4 percent to 7.1 percent.

Last year’s abortive coup and the ensuing state of emergency have dealt a heavy blow to Turkey’s democracy. But the country’s free market economy, too, has become a casualty of Erdoğan’s power grab, scaring away new investors and branding Turkey “the crisis candidate” among emerging markets.

Erdoğan has so far ignored calls by his transatlantic allies to respect political liberties — with no real cost to his power. If he similarly dismisses the warning signs from global markets, this time the consequences could be much worse, both for the Turkish economy and his own reelection potential.

 

By Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish parliament. 

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Indian and Chinese military forces are reported to be preparing for the possibility of an armed conflict over a disputed area in the Himalayas should a peaceful solution not be found.

The standoff began two months ago when Indian troops confronted Chinese forces working on a road over the Doklam Plateau, a strategically important area near where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet, and which both China and Bhutan – an ally of India – claim as their own.

China has demanded that Indian troops withdraw before it will hold talks with the country, while India has called for each side to stand down.

The South China Morning Post reported that sources close to the Chinese military have claimed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has plans to deploy aircraft and strategic missiles against India’s troops in the event of conflict breaking out, in order to limit the action to skirmishes.

“The PLA will not seek to fight a ground war with Indian troops early on. Instead it will deploy aircraft and strategic missiles to paralyse Indian mountain divisions stationed in the Himalayas on the border with China,” a source told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

In his Independence Day speech on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the country’s capabilities in the face of security challenges, The Times of India reports.

Mr Modi did not directly reference the border dispute, but asserted that “security is our priority”.

“It is clear that security of our country is our priority. Internal security is our priority. Be it sea or borders, be it cyber or space, India is capable of tackling every security challenge,” he said.

In a separate report, the newspaper claimed that ceremonial border personnel meetings between India and China appear to have been affected since the stand-off started.

A source told The Times of India there are up to eight of these ceremonial meetings a year, which include speeches, cultural performances and an exchange of gifts. The Indian army reportedly did not cross the border on 1 August for the 90th anniversary celebrations of the PLA, and China’s army has allegedly not responded to an invitation for India’s Independence Day celebrations.

Professor Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute, told The Independent it is unlikely that either side will escalate military action as “neither side wants a conflict at this point”.

“At the moment we are looking at a stand-off that is going to last for a while, I don’t see the Chinese or Indian side escalating into conflict,” he said. “But we do have a lot of boys with a lot of fancy toys facing each other in an emotionally charged area, so the risk of things getting out of hand cannot be eliminated.

“If the military disciplines on both sides hold, I don’t expect them to escalate because it is not government policy. Neither side is willing to stand down but neither side wants a conflict at this point.”

Last week sources told Reuters news agency that India’s military had increased its operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, though it was stressed the alert level had been raised as a matter of caution.

“The army has moved to a state that is called ‘no war, no peace’,” one source said. The order issued to all troop formations in the eastern command two weeks ago means soldiers are supposed to take up positions that are earmarked for them in the event of a war, the source added.

The move followed failed diplomatic efforts to break the stalemate, other sources with close ties to the Modi government told Reuters earlier in the week.

China has repeatedly warned of an escalation if India did not order its troops back. The state-controlled Global Times, which has kept up a barrage of hostile commentary, said last week that if Mr Modi continued the present course at the border, Beijing would have to take “counter-measures”.

Rhetoric printed in local media has fuelled tensions between both sides over the past month.

In July the BBC reported a Delhi newspaper as stating that China had warned the stand-off “could escalate into full-scale conflict,” while state-run media in Beijing had started running old reports and pictures from the brief but bloody 1962 Sino-Indian War, in which China made decisive territorial gains.

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North Korea’s dramatic leap forward in ballistic missile capability has its origins far beyond the Korean peninsula, experts believe: in Russian technology that may have been acquired from a factory near Ukraine’s restive east, although the timing for any transfers is not clear.

Military analysts and western intelligence agencies have been scrambling to explain Pyongyang’s string of successful long-range test firings, which have escalated tensions and triggered a war of words with Washington.

North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile, tested for the first time, twice, last month, is unlike anything that has preceded it in the hermit state’s ballistic arsenal: its purported range makes it capable of striking the continental US.

A series of provocative missile tests has already shown the US territory of Guam, home to a military base, to be credibly within range of Pyongyang’s latest rockets.

Such advances stand against a patchy record. The dictatorship’s previous efforts to develop its own Musudan rocket into a viable long-range ICBM — including a number of tests last year — have almost all failed.

The “astounding strides” that Pyongyang has made can only be explained by assuming the country gained access to foreign technology, a new comprehensive analysis of North Korea’s missile-test footage and data concludes.

“The Hwasong 12 and 14 are powered by a [liquid propellant engine] imported from an established missile power,” said Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank, in a report published on Monday.

Mr Elleman said the North Koreans were almost certainly using a modified version of the RD-250 — a Russian-designed missile engine that is only available from two sites: the Energomash concern in Russia and the KB Yuzhnoye design bureau and its closely linked Yuzhmash rocket factory in Ukraine.

The RD-250 engines being used by North Korea also appear to have been skilfully modified, said Mr Ellemen — indicating that foreign engineers had been purposefully engaged in developing the engines for sale to the North Koreans.

Mr Ellemen’s report points to the Yuzhnoye facility in Ukraine as the likeliest source. The war between Ukraine and Russian-backed proxies in the restive east, close to the factory, has crippled the business, making its site, and employees, a potentially easy target to exploit.

“A small team of disgruntled employees or underpaid guards at any one of the storage sites, and with access to the [engines], could be enticed to steal a few dozen engines by one of the many illicit arms dealers, criminal networks, or transnational smugglers operating in the former Soviet Union,” the IISS report says. “The engines (less than two metres tall and one metre wide) can be flown or, more likely, transported by train through Russia to North Korea.”

Yuzhmash, the company which produces the rockets designed by Yuzhnoye, denied the claim. “Missiles and missile components for military use have not been produced since independence,” the company said on Monday. The company has focused on building booster technology for commercial satellite launches since 1991, it said.

Another scientific paper, published on Friday in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, also notes that the RD-250 — or the variant RD-251 — is the probable basis for the tests. It was likely to have been manufactured by NPO Energomash, in Russia, and the paper said the rocket motor is “associated” with rocket and space launch vehicles in Ukraine.

However, it is more conservative about the possible timing for any transfers, saying it “probably” obtained the motor in vast shipments that took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“The presence of RD-250/1 rocket components in a new North Korean rocket raises new and potentially ominous questions about the variety and extent to which Soviet rocket motors might have been obtained by North Korea during the collapse of the Soviet Union,” say the authors, Theodore Postol and Markus Schiller.

Mr Elleman believes transfer in the 1990s to have been unlikely, however, and suggests that North Korea only acquired the modified R-250 engines in 2016.

The authors of both papers also told the FT that North Korea was likely to have a store of several of these adapted engines, with estimates ranging from 10 or so at the low end to upwards of 40 at the upper end.

A senior Ukrainian official steadfastly denied Ukraine was the source of North Korea’s newly acquired technology, instead pointing the finger at Russia. There was no immediate response from Moscow to the allegations.

North Korea has a long history of targeting the former states of the Soviet Union for technology to augment its missile programme. Illicit networks established by Pyongyang funnelled Scud technology from Russia in the 1980s and 1990s, which formed the backbone of its existing ballistics programme.

More recently, in 2012, two North Korean nationals were convicted in Ukraine of trying to procure hardware from Yuzhnoye.

The Hwasong programme is still in development, Mr Elleman’s report notes, and Pyongyang’s capability to strike the continental US easily is still a point of contention. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the two Hwasong-14 prototypes tested in July are unlikely to pose a significant nuclear threat — yet. Both were tested using lightweight warheads, which significantly flattered their ranges.

“Even if North Korea is now capable of fabricating a relatively lightweight, miniaturised atomic bomb that can survive the extreme re-entry environments of long-range rocket delivery, it will, with certainty, not be able to deliver such an atomic bomb to the Lower 48 states of the US with the rocket tested on July 3 and July 28,” a report published in the bulletin said on Friday.

It is not clear what further technological advances Pyongyang may have gained access to — particularly a more powerful, two-chamber, version of the RD-250 engine — and whether they will overturn such limitations.

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A night of torrential rain on August 14 caused flooding and a massive landslide in and around the capital of Sierra Leone. Our Observer lives at the hardest-hit site, where hundreds of people are feared dead.

Freetown Mayor Sam Gibson told reporters Tuesday that 270 bodies had been recovered so far. But as volunteers and excavators struggled to dig survivors out of the mud, the Red Cross warned another 600 people were missing.

“They’re still buried”

Victoria Gerber, a 21-year-old law student, lives in the town of Regent on the outskirts of Freetown. With the population of the capital swelling to more than 1 million people, many residents have chosen to build houses in Regent, on the slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf, ignoring government warnings that they were unsafe.

It was raining and flooding Sunday night, and the landslide happened at 6am in the morning. We heard tremors and the earth was shaking. At 6 o’clock everyone here heard a crack and half of the mountain just came down.

All of the houses and all of the people that were there were buried. And they’re still buried – we don’t have enough trucks, we don’t have enough ways to get them out. There aren’t enough volunteers. They haven’t been able to recover many bodies from this particular section. They’ve only been able to recover bodies from flat areas that were damaged by water and mud from the landslide. At the site where all the houses were, there have been only five bodies recovered. People can’t do much right now because the soil is still giving way. Pieces of stone are still falling away from the mountain.

The lower slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain after the August 14 landslide. Video filmed by Latoya Gerber, Victoria Gerber’s cousin, and posted on her Twitter feed.

It happened very early in the morning, so a lot of people hadn’t gone to work yet. A lot of families were killed – whole families. People who live in other sections of Freetown have been trying to get through to people in Regent on the phone. If they can’t reach them, they assume they are dead.

My family is all safe. I couldn’t get to my father and my mother because the wall in front of our building was washed away by the water. There was a huge stream of water separating me from my parents. They had to tie a rope around me then drag me across the water so I could reach them. The water was almost up to my shoulders.

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An international team of archaeologists believes it is on the cusp of pinpointing the location of a secret room hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza as it uses cutting-edge laser technology to map the 4,500-year-old ancient Egyptian wonder.

Medhi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute heading the ScanPyramids project, said that the team, which uses infrared thermography to map subatomic particles, had confirmed there was a hidden room inside the structure. Now the archaeologists need to find its exact location. We know there is a secret room, but not where it is,” Tayoubi said according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

However, other archaeologists collaborating on the project are being more cautious in their projections. Egypt’s former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass characterized what had been discovered thus far as “anomalies” or “small voids” between the stones.

In October 2016, the group announced their discovery of a previously undiscovered cavity 105 meters high in a northeastern section of the pyramid. It was hoped the discovery would be a corridor.

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The Great Pyramid is also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, for the fourth dynasty pharaoh who built it between 2580–2560 B.C. The tourist attraction has a rich and storied history of adventurer-explorers searching for elusive Pharaonic treasure inside, using methods less sensitive than lasers. In 820 A.D., the caliph al-Ma’mun began digging tunnels into the walls of the mammoth structure in search of its secrets. The British and Italian 19th-century Egyptologists Richard Vyse and Giovanni Battista Caviglia blasted holes in the pyramid with dynamite.

“Just like X-rays pass through our bodies, allowing us to visualize our skeleton, these elementary particles, weighing around 200 times more than electrons, can very easily pass through any structure, even large and thick rocks such as mountains,” Tayoubi told Discovery News in 2015 when describing the 21st-century techniques being used at Giza.

It is hoped the success of the new technology will lead to further discoveries. British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves believes the remains of 14th-century-B.C. Egyptian queen Nefertiti were hidden in a secret chamber in the tomb of Tutankhamun. A team from Politecnico University in Turin, Italy, will use methods used in medical scans, creating magnetic fields to investigate the site in the Valley of the Kings once again.

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President Donald Trump delivered a crushing rebuke to the leftist media for their one-sided coverage of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

For both failing to report the violence of leftist terrorists like Antifa, and for criticizing President Trump’s measured statement, the President absolutely laid the smackdown on the media.

“There was no way of making a correct statement that early,” President Trump said, regarding his broad initial statement on Charlottesville condemning all forms of hatred and bigotry. “Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

After repeating his earlier condemnation of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists, the President questioned why the media didn’t report the violence of what he called the “alt-left.”

“Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem?” he asked. “I think they do.”

For these common sense remarks, the mainstream media freaked out.

Watch the full video of the press conference, which was scheduled to be about President Trump’s infrastructure bill, below.

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A former British soldier dubbed ‘Tim the Cannibal’ by his Kurdish comrades has revealed how he left his comfortable life in London to fight ISIS in their Syrian backyard.
Tim Wordsworth, a scaffolder from East London, estimated that he fired 1,000 rounds at ISIS while fighting with the People’s Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan (YPG).
The married 39-year-old said he was inspired to take up arms against the murderous organisation because he was left with unfinished business from his Army days and in response to the slaughter of thousands of Yazidis by ISIS in August 2014.
He was nicknamed ‘Tim the Cannibal’ by his fellow fighters because he used to slurp up the blood of dead jihadists he delivered to mass graves.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he described the fighting as being ‘like World War One’ and revealed the unimaginable horrors he witnessed, such as seeing dead ISIS fighters whose bodies were so badly mangled that their jaws were ‘above their skull’.
He also recounted staying in houses where the occupants had ‘probably been murdered brutally’, and finding starving cats and dogs roaming in villages recaptured from ISIS.
The fighter revealed how depraved ISIS fighters threw nitric acid in the face of pre-pubescent girls or threw them down a well if they refused to have sex with them.
He said: ‘The actual reality of war, of horrific injuries and total terror of death was the f****** worst experience of my life but there’s also this wolfpack thing, especially with the Kurds, that you get drawn into and in the end I got drawn into it. I was blessed to survive.’
Tim said he became an ‘adopted orphan’ of the Kurds and became famous among them, which he likened to the fanfare surrounding pop star Justin Bieber.
After fighting with the YPG for half a year he spent one month on the frontline with the peshmerga, the government-backed army of Iraqi Kurdistan, fighting ISIS in Iraq.
However he was imprisoned for three-and-a-half months after insulting the Kurdish president Masoud Barzani in a Facebook rant which he said he later regretted and admitted was ‘stupid’.

more at: dailymail.co.uk

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Iraq has begun an aerial bombardment of Tal Afar, a town under Islamic State control west of Mosul, Baghdad-based al-Sumariya TV said on Tuesday, citing an Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman.
The ground attack to try to take the city should start when the air campaign is over, the spokesman, Mohammed al-Khodari, said, according to the TV channel.
Iraqi authorities had said Tal Afar, 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul, will be the next target in the war on the Islamist militant group that swept through swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed last month, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces completed the recapture of the militants’ capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign.
Tal Afar, which had about 200,000 residents before falling to Islamic State, experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has produced some of Islamic State’s most senior commanders.

source: Reuters 

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The declining birth rates in the western countries is a well documented problem with many ramifications for local societies in all walks of life. Many governments have been trying to mitigate the effects of the problem and reverse the trend of an ageing population, but the approach adopted by the Icelandic government to boost the small island-nation’s population is probably among the most novel and strange….According to local reports, the government appears ready to offer a 1,800-euro benefit to any man who will marry a woman from Iceland and contribute to the rise in the population. Although the news has been denied by the government as mere rumours, Iceland is one of the European countries that offers the most lucrative welfare benefits in an effort to raise its population, with couple’s receiving childcare benefits based on a number of factors that last until the children reach 18 years old. Iceland has a population of 320,000 with the majority of men being over 40 years old. According to studies carried out in the country, the average child for each woman has reached 1.9, compared to 4.02 in 1970.

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The Italian government yesterday (13 August) welcomed Libya’s decision to bar foreign vessels from a stretch of water off its coast,a move that has prompted almost all international charities to halt migrant search and rescue operations in the area.

The comments from Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano came as Save the Children and Sea Eye announced they were suspending operations in the area in response to the Libyan move.

Libya’s navy last week ordered foreign vessels to stay out of a coastal “search and rescue zone” for migrants headed for Europe, saying the measure was aimed at non-governmental organisations it accuses of facilitating illegal migration.

The Libyan government “is ready to put in place a search and rescue zone in its waters, work with Europe and invest in its coastguards,” Alfano told La Stampa daily on Sunday.

“This sends a signal that the balance is being restored in the Mediterranean.”

Six years since a revolution that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a key departure point for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Tens of thousands of migrants have resorted to paying people traffickers for the journey, often on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, and charities have dispatched ships to rescue them from drowning.

But by Sunday the Aquarius, operated by the SOS Mediterranée, was the only humanitarian vessel conducting search and rescue work off Libya.

And only Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms has said it is willing to keep operations going from Monday. Its two vessels were docked in Malta on Sunday.

‘Significant investment’

Libya and Italy – where the vast majority of migrants land – have worked together to stem the flow, with Italy also moving to rein in NGOs helping the multinational rescue operations by making them sign up to a new code of conduct.

“We need a significant, I repeat a significant European economic investment in Libya and in Africa,” Alfano said.

“Europe has to decide if the theme of migration flows is an absolute priority on the same scale as the economy. For us, it is”.

The Libyan measure prompted Save the Children to suspend search and rescue work in the area and send its ship Vos Hestia to port in Malta, saying it could not resume without “vital safety and security assurances”.

“We have a duty to ensure the safety of our team and the viability of the rescue mission. We need to have these assurances in place, before we can continue with the rescue mission as intended,” Save the Children’s Operation Director Rob MacGillivray said in a statement.

The announcement from Save the Children followed a similar move by German aid group Sea Eye, which also cited security concerns.

Sea Eye said in a statement that it was with “a heavy heart” that it made its decision, after the Libyan government’s “explicit threat against the private NGOs”.

“Under these circumstances, a continuation of our rescue work is not currently possible. It would be irresponsible towards our crews,” Sea Eye founder Michael Buschheuer said.

A day earlier, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it was halting the use of its largest boat in the area because of an “increasingly hostile environment for lifesaving rescue operations”.

Migrant aid ships have played a key role in assisting rescue operations.

Sea Eye said it has helped save some 12,000 lives since April 2016, and cautioned Sunday that the retreat of aid groups from Libya’s coast was putting lives at risk.

“We leave behind a deadly gap in the Mediterranean,” Buschheuer warned.

The number of migrant arrivals in Italy in July was down dramatically on the same month last year, suggesting efforts to train up and better equip Libya’s coastguard could already be having an impact.

The interior ministry said 11,193 new arrivals had been registered in July, compared with 23,552 in July 2016.

Arrivals for the first seven months of this year were 95,214, up 0.78% on the same period last year.

Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014.

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epa04350458 A relative of 3rd rank Captain Nikolai Belosorov kisses his tombstone at the Serafimovskoye cemetery during the memorial ceremony on the 14th anniversary of the Kursk submarine tragedy, in St. Petersburg, Russia, 12 August 2014. Nuclear submarine 'Kursk' sank in Barents Sea taking the lives of 118 sailors on 12 August 2000.  EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

Residents of St. Petersburg have paid homage to sailors from the Kursk nuclear submarine, which sank in the Barents Sea exactly 17 years earlier.

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Relatives and friends of crew members gathered for a memorial service and a commemorative meeting on August 12 at St. Petersburg’s Serafimovskoye Cemetery.

epa04350458 A relative of 3rd rank Captain Nikolai Belosorov kisses his tombstone at the Serafimovskoye cemetery during the memorial ceremony on the 14th anniversary of the Kursk submarine tragedy, in St. Petersburg, Russia, 12 August 2014. Nuclear submarine 'Kursk' sank in Barents Sea taking the lives of 118 sailors on 12 August 2000.  EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

On Aug. 12, 2000 as a result of a catastrophe during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea, the K-141 Kursk submarine sank to a depth of 108 meters. K-141 Kursk was an Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise-missile submarine. Its construction started in 1992 in the Russian city of Severodvinsk and was first launched in 1994. K-141 was deployed to the Mediterranean during the summer of 1999 to monitor the U.S fleet responding to the war in Kosovo.

epa04350073 (FILE) An undated file picture of the fated 'Kursk' submarine in her mooring in the base of Vidyayevo, Russia. The Russian nuclear powered submarine sank after a number of explosions occured on 12 August 2000. All of the 118 men on board died.  EPA/STR

On Aug. 12, 2000 the first major Russian naval exercise took place in a very long time. Kursk was loaded with 24 SS-N-19/P-700 Granit “Shipwreck” cruise missiles and 24 torpedoes. Due to faulty welding on a 65–76 “Kit” practice torpedo, an explosion of high-test peroxide occurred involving five to seven torpedo warheads, causing the sub to sink 175 km off the coast of Severomorsk. The disaster killed all 118 personnel on board, including the submarine captain Leonid Lyachin.

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On Aug. 22, President Vladimir Putin issued an executive order declaring Aug. 23 a day of mourning.

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The Kursk was raised from the bottom of the Barents Sea in 2001.

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Sources: rferl.org, rbth.com

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