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FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attends talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
April 21, 2019
DUBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Iran on Sunday to discuss security and regional issues, Iranian state TV reported, a day after Islamabad urged Tehran to act against militants behind killings in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.
A new umbrella group representing various insurgent groups operating in Baluchistan claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses in the province, which borders Iran.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday the training and logistical camps of the new alliance that carried out the attack were inside Iran and called for Iran to take action against the insurgents.
Iranian TV said that Khan began his two-day visit to Iran, the first since he took office last August, with a stop in the northeastern holy Shi’ite city of Mashhad.
Khan will meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, as well as other officials, in Tehran on Monday.
“During the meetings, improving bilateral ties, border security, countering terrorism and regional issues will be discussed,” state TV said.
Relations between Iran and Pakistan have been strained in recent months, with both sides accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
Shi’ite Muslim Iran says militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and has repeatedly called on Islamabad to crack down on them.
Tehran has stepped up security along its long border with Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in mid-February in southeastern Iran, with Iranian officials saying the attackers were based inside Pakistan.
The Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic Baloch minority, claimed responsibility for that attack.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Susan Fenton)
Newt Gingrich, onetime House speaker said President Trump could easily win re-election in 2020 if Democrats continue to back far-left candidates who isolate themselves on issues from the majority of voters.
Speaking with Fox News’ Todd Starnes on Wednesday, Gingrich recalled the 1972 election, in which the Democratic nominee, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, suffered an overwhelming loss to President Richard Nixon, who captured 60 percent of the popular vote.
“I think the way this election is going to shape up, I believe, you could see a 1972-style landslide because you know, if you remember, McGovern and then [Walter] Mondale in ‘84, both isolated themselves and the American people,” Gingrich said. “Well, if you look day after day at what the Democrats are talking about, they’re at 15 percent issues. I mean there are issues where only 15 percent of the country agrees with them and they keep doing that.”
Nixon’s presidency, similar to Trump’s, saw a booming economy, while McGovern was quickly labeled the anti-establishment candidate with views too extreme for the majority of Americans.
Said Gingrich: “Trump is a tough guy. All right. And some of his characteristics aren’t exactly what you’d hoped for at the country club, but he gets a lot done. He’s a serious man. The economy’s better than anybody thought it could be. And on the other hand, you have a party — the Democrats — who are losing their minds and doing more and more weird things.”
Gingrich’s predictions would mean that one of the leading Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wouldn’t stand a chance against Trump as the incumbent.
The former speaker of the House said that one candidate who could help Dems get away from a “McGovern” candidate is Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.
“I think Buttigieg, in some ways, is the most interesting candidate because he literally can be almost anything. So he’s kind of the chameleon candidate.”
Source: Fox News Politics
Migrants are seen at the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tajora shelter center in Tripoli, Libya April 24,2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
April 24, 2019
By Ahmed Elumami
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan officials have opened the doors of a detention center for illegal migrants in Tripoli, but frightened Somalis and other sub-Saharan Africans told Reuters they had decided to stay there for fear of getting caught up in fighting engulfing the capital.
“We don’t want to leave… We have no place to go,” said a 20-year-old migrant who gave his name as Daoud, sitting on a mattress in a packed warehouse where 550 migrants have been held.
His pregnant wife sat with other women in a different room also lacking air conditioning, trying to endure the sweltering heat.
More than 3,600 jailed migrants have been trapped in the capital since forces from the east of the country started an advance to capture it, the United Nations says.
On Tuesday, some 12 migrants were wounded when unknown gunmen opened fire on them in a detention center in a suburb fought over by both sides, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.
Details remain unclear. The injured migrants are being treated in a hospital. Amnesty International called for the incident to be investigated as a war crime.
In the quieter eastern Tajoura suburb, the manager opened the gate of his detention center housing migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and some Arab countries. Everyone stayed, surviving on one meal of pasta a day. On a good day they get two.
Large parts of Libya have been lawless since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and the country has become the main transit point for hundreds of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East attempting the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Officials have been accused in the past of mistreating detainees who are held by the thousands as part of European-backed efforts to curb smuggling.
At the Tajoura detention center, authorities have not supplied any food or water since before fighting started last week, said Nour Eldine Qarilti, the director.
“We have not received any assistance from all international organizations,” he told Reuters. “Some local NGOs still support us with simple needs but it’s not enough.”
Hundreds of migrants lay on mattresses, their few belongings packed in plastic bags or wrapped in towels. Laundry was hanging from the ceiling. Others were using a kitchen to cook lunch for others for a small fee.
According the United Nations, Libya is now hosting more than 700,000 people who have fled their homelands, often trekking through the desert in pursuit of their dream of crossing to a better life in Europe.
They then try to find smugglers to put them on boats. But with Italy and France helping to beef up the Libyan Coast Guard, most now get caught before reaching Europe.
According to one U.N. report last December, migrants and refugees in Libya suffer a “terrible litany of violations” by a combination of state officials, armed groups and traffickers. “These include unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gang rape, slavery, forced labor and extortion,” it said.
A study last month by the Women’s Refugee Commission, a U.S.-based charity, said refugees and migrants trying to reach Italy through Libya were victims of horrific sexual violence.
(Writing by Ahmed Elumami and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Peter Graff)
People visit a cemetery in al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
April 16, 2019
By Angus McDowall
ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) – A mantle of gold smothers Aleppo’s ruins, hiding the rubble and filling the craters with wild flowers that for a moment seem to transform a landscape scarred by war, destruction and death.
After an unusually wet winter, the warm days of spring have suddenly brought an abundance of color and life to a weary Syria, blooming in city and desert.
But they blanket a scene of war. The hummocks and dells are piles of debris, barricades, craters and trenches. The flowers grow where people once lived, fought, died.
Eight years of conflict have killed perhaps half a million people, destroyed whole towns and city districts and made half of all Syrians homeless.
In most parts of the country, the fighting is now over – at least for now. President Bashar al-Assad holds most of Syria, including the city of Aleppo, taken after months of bitter fighting in 2016.
However, Kurdish-led groups hold northeast Syria, and, in the northwest near Aleppo is the frontline with the last big rebel stronghold, where there has been bombardment in recent weeks.
The war destroyed much of Aleppo’s beautiful Old City and many poor eastern districts, leaving neighborhoods of rubble and fallen stone.
In the remains of the Attariyeh section of the souk, where the stone roof collapsed, a young couple sat on a pile of stones courting in the warm evening air, the sun illuminating the yellow flowers and picking out the woman’s red headscarf.
The steep sides of the ancient citadel’s round hill in the center of the city are thick with blooms and families gather at sunset to stroll or sit.
“It’s God’s message to make everything beautiful after mankind destroyed everything,” said Majd Kanaa, 35, standing at the end of a souk alleyway where he was repairing his late father’s shop, ready to reopen.
BUTTERFLIES, SWALLOWS, FROGS, STORKS
Clouds of butterflies, russet, black and white, flutter from the undergrowth and bees hum round the flowers. Flocks of swallows flit from the sky to roost in the ruins.
At night, in the fields and olive groves just outside the city, a cacophonous croaking of frogs drowns out the noise of cars from a road lined with cypress and pine trees.
Along the road from the south, precariously held for years by the army with rebels on one side and Islamic State on the other, the fighting left a chain of fortifications.
The war has moved far from here and these are now mostly deserted. Grass and flowers grow thick between the oil drums, sandbags and stacked tires guarding the old gun emplacements and concrete boxes.
Yellow broom, purple thistles and fat red poppies spring from the desert floor and paint it a psychedelic swirl of color. In one place, a huge patch of ground seems to bleed with thousands of poppies springing from the softly undulating earth.
“In Syria we believe that poppies are the blood of the martyrs,” said Aleppo lawyer and historian Alaa al-Sayed, explaining that their Arabic name comes from a dead king. “There are so many martyrs,” he added.
In the hills beyond the poppies are the pretty pointed mud domes of traditional “beehive” villages and young shepherds watching flocks of sheep and goats.
When the strong west wind ruffles the ground in the late afternoon, it makes the grass shimmer. Flocks of small birds suddenly rise from the ground and bob in the air. Migrating storks beat their wings in the distance.
Little electricity means little light, and at night the heavens are lit by a sharp crescent moon and brilliant constellations of stars. A fox slinks across the desert road in the light of car headlights.
But from time to time they also illuminate the burnt-out wrecks by the roadside, the remains of battles past, while two heavy trucks bear tanks onwards to today’s front line.
(Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
DETROIT – Detroit-area Roman Catholics have one more dining option during Lent than most other followers of the faith. The culinary appeal of that item, however, is up for debate.
A long-standing permission allows local Catholics to eat muskrat — a furry, marsh-dwelling rodent native to the area — “on days of abstinence, including Fridays of Lent,” according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. The custom dates to the region’s missionary history in the 1700s and is especially prevalent in communities along the Detroit River.
Missionary priests “realized that food was especially scarce in the region by the time Lent came around and did not want to burden Catholics unreasonably by denying them one of the few readily available sources of nutrition — however unappetizing it might be for most folks,” said Edward Peters, an expert on canon law who is on the faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
The Rev. Tim Laboe grew up in an area of Michigan where the practice has long been a tradition and recalls sitting down for muskrat dinners with his grandfather.
“I don’t know if I enjoy more eating the muskrat or watching people try it for the first time, because it doesn’t look in any way appetizing,” said Laboe, dean of studies at Sacred Heart.
Laboe said some people describe it as tasting like duck, but he disagrees: “I think muskrat tastes like muskrat, and I don’t think I can compare it to anything else.”
Muskrats eat mostly plants and vegetation. Including their tails, the critters are about 20 to 25 inches long (51 to 63.5 centimeters) and weigh between 2 and 5 pounds (0.91 and 2.27 kilograms).
Laboe, who said he enjoys the taste of the furry rodent despite its appearance, recalled a line he attributed to the late Bishop Kenneth Povish, the one-time head of the Lansing Diocese: “Anybody that eats muskrat is doing an act of penance worthy of the greatest of saints.”
Jokes aside, Laboe said the long history of parishioners chowing down on muskrat in the weeks before Easter is in keeping with the meaning of the season.
“The people that ate muskrat many, many years ago were poor, and they didn’t have much,” he said. “And so, in terms of people that do eat it, it does remind us, at least it reminds me, of the poor.”
Source: Fox News National
Ice Hockey World Championships - Final - Canada v Finland - Ondrej Nepela Arena, Bratislava, Slovakia - May 26, 2019 Finland's players celebrate after winning the World Championship. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
May 26, 2019
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Finland completed a fairytale world championship after they came from behind to beat favorites Canada 3-1 and clinch their third gold medal in an absorbing final on Sunday.
The Finns, who beat the Canadians by the same score in their opening group-stage match, were underdogs in all three knockout stage games but they defied the odds to shock 2018 champions Sweden, Russia and Canada en route to the title.
It was a case of history repeating itself for the battling Finns, who won their previous title at the same venue in 2011.
“It’s awesome,” said Finland forward Toni Rajala. “It’s something that you know might only happen once in your life, but even before the game it felt great. I wasn’t too nervous about it, I was enjoying it.”
Canada, who were aiming for a record 27th title, dominated the opening period as Shea Theodor fired them ahead midway through with a brilliant solo effort.
The Vegas Golden Knights defenceman weaved his way through three Finnish players and found the top corner with a superb wrist-shot after Oliwer Kaski had missed a penalty for Finland.
Canada hit the crossbar twice and those misses, coupled with lapses in concentration early in the second and third periods, cost them dearly.
Finland captain Marko Anttila, who scored the winner in the 1-0 semi-final win over Russia, was instrumental again as he leveled two minutes and 35 seconds into the second period when he beat goaltender Matt Murray with a fizzing low shot.
At exactly the same point in the third period, the towering Anttila punished the Canadians again as he popped up in front of goal and swept a fine Veli-Matti Savinainen assist into the roof of the net.
Harri Pesonen sealed Finland’s memorable win in the closing stages and the Canadians failed to create much up front in the dying minutes although they threw men forward in the Ondrej Nepela Arena.
Canada defenceman Damon Severson had mixed emotions.
“It was a long tournament, a lot of fun, a lot of good guys,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate we got the wrong medal. Finland played a good game, the only team to beat us in this tournament was them, twice, and they played some good hockey.
“It’s unfortunate we’re not going home with gold.”
Earlier on Sunday, Russia won the bronze medal with a penalty shootout win over the Czech Republic as the match finished 2-2 after regulation and overtime.
Nikita Gusev and Ilya Kovalchuk netted Russia’s goals in the shootout as the Czechs, who had led 2-1 in regular time after falling behind early on, missed all of their four attempts.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)
FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognised as the country's rightful interim ruler, attends rally in Barquisimeto, Venezuela May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jesus Hernandez NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
May 26, 2019
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Sunday played down the prospects for success at a new round of mediation with the government to be hosted by Norway next week, saying protests would continue until President Nicolas Maduro resigned.
Norway said on Saturday that representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition will return to Oslo next week following an initial round of preliminary talks about how to address a long-running political crisis.
Norway has a tradition of conflict mediation, including assistance with Colombia’s 2016 peace deal between the government and leftist FARC rebels.
“This is not negotiation. This is not dialogue,” Guaido told reporters after a rally in the western Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto, adding that his team was simply responding to an offer from the Norwegian government to mediate.
Guaido reiterated that any solution to Venezuela’s crisis required Maduro to stand down, allowing a transitional government to steer the OPEC nation to fresh presidential elections.
“If we have an end to the usurpation (by Maduro), a transition government and free elections, it will have worked. If not … we will remain in the streets,” said Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly.
Venezuela has been plunged into political turmoil since Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, dismissing Maduro’s 2018 re-election as a fraud.
More than 50 countries, including the United States and many members of the European Union, recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Maduro, who maintains control over state institutions, calls Guaido a puppet of Washington and blames U.S. sanctions for a hyperinflationary economic meltdown and humanitarian crisis.
The Venezuelan information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party has endorsed the Norwegian mediation, but opposition sympathizers remain skeptical. They argue that Maduro has previously used dialogue as a stalling tactic to maintain his grip on power while living standards steadily declined in the oil-rich nation.
Last week, opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez and two advisors represented Guaido’s side in Oslo, while Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Miranda state governor Hector Rodriguez went on behalf of the government.
Each side met separately with Norwegian mediators, but there was no face-to-face meeting between government and opposition representatives, Gonzalez told local media.
Guaido said that Norway would define the methodology for next week’s meeting, without specifying if the two sides would meet directly.
In a video posted on Twitter, Maduro said the government delegation would once again be led by the information minister, with the participation of the foreign minister and a state governor. He said he believed agreements were possible.
(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Susan Thomas)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
May 26, 2019
LIMA (Reuters) – The presidents of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia criticized a recent decision by the organization that manages internet protocol to grant global retailer Amazon Inc the rights to the .amazon domain.
Amazon Inc has been seeking the exclusive rights to the .amazon domain name since 2012. But Amazon basin countries – including Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia – have argued it refers to their geographic region and should not be the monopoly of one company.
The four leaders – Peru’s Martin Vizcarra, Colombia’s Ivan Duque, Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno and Bolivia’s Evo Morales – vowed to join forces to protect their countries from what they described as inadequate governance of the internet.
Last week, the global Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees internet addresses, said it decided to proceed with the designation requested by Amazon Inc pending a 30-day period of public comment.
The decision sets “a grave precedent by prioritizing private commercial interests above the considerations of state public policies, the rights on indigenous people and the preservation of the Amazon,” Vizcarra, Duque, Moreno and Morales said in a joint statement on Sunday after a gathering in Lima of the Andean Community regional bloc.
They added that Latin American and Caribbean countries agreed in 2013 to reject any attempt to appropriate the Amazon name or any other name that refers to geography, history, culture or nature without the consent of countries in the region.
Brazil, home to the largest swath of the Amazon forest, has also lamented ICANN’s decision.
Amazon.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular working hours.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Susan Thomas)
President Trump’s tweets have less of an impact now than they did two years ago.
Trump is inexorably associated with his favorite form of social media — Twitter. And while the quantity Trump’s tweets have increased, the impact of those tweets has decreased, according to a report by Axios.
The president’s “interaction rate” has been on the decline since taking office. The interaction rate is a metric that is used to measure engagement among Twitter users and considers retweets and likes divided by the amount of Twitter followers, to determine the overall impact of a given post.
In November 2017, Trump’s interaction rate sat at 0.55%, later dropping to 0.32% in June 2017. As of this month, that it has declined to a 0.16% interaction rate. At the same time, the pace of Trump’s tweets has increased. The president tweeted 157 times per month during his first six months in office — that number has increased to 284 times per month over the last six months.
An analysis of the tweets shows that the ones that had the highest interaction rate were often times the most comical or controversial. His number one tweet is a photoshopped pro wrestling video of him beating up man with a CNN logo superimposed over his head.
Rounding out the top three most interacted with tweets are two posts mocking and threatening North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!”
Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
The New York Times is facing criticism from the left on social media for an article about former White House communications director Hope Hicks.
The Times and reporter Maggie Haberman were the target of some on social media for an article that said Hicks is “facing an existential question” about whether to comply with a congressional subpoena.
The article begins: “One of the best-known but least visible former members of President Trump’s White House staff is facing an existential question: whether to comply with a congressional subpoena in the coming weeks.”
Hicks, who was communications director from 2017 to 2018, was mentioned in 28 pages of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York subpoenaed both Hicks and former White House counsel Don McGahn aide Annie Donaldson last week.
Some left-wing social media figures and politicians weighed in on the piece, which also featured an image from a professional photoshoot of the 30-year-old Hicks.
“It’s not a decision. She was subpoenaed,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts tweeted Sunday.
Democratic Trump opponent Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York responded by comparing Hicks to the media’s coverage of shootings.
“Yup. Where’s the 'no angel' take now? In the immediate aftermath of shootings, media routinely post menacing photos of people-of-color victims + dredge up any questionable thing they’d ever done. But when Hope Hicks considers not complying w a subpoena, it’s glamour shot time,” she tweeted.
Yup. Where’s the “no angel” take now?
In the immediate aftermath of shootings, media routinely post menacing photos of people-of-color victims + dredge up any questionable thing they’d ever done.
But when Hope Hicks considers not complying w a subpoena, it’s glamour shot time. https://t.co/ACnvXlKF7Q— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 26, 2019
Nadler also subpoenaed McGahn to testify, but the White House directed him not to participate, setting the stage for Nadler to hold him in contempt. Attorney General William Barr was also held in contempt by the committee after he refused requests to release an unredacted version of Mueller’s report.
May 26, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indycar driver Simon Pagenaud (22) before the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2019
By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – French polesitter Simon Pagenaud steered clear of trouble on the track and in the pits, then outraced Alexander Rossi to the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
The win gave team owner Roger Penske his 18th victory at the Brickyard.
A five-car pile up with 23 laps to run, triggered when Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais came together, brought out a red flag that set up a mad dash to finish with Pagenaud and Rossi swapping the lead over the final laps.
It was a clinically cool display by the son of a grocery store owner from LeMans as Pagenaud fought off challenges from two former 500 winners Rossi and Japan’s Takuma Sato, who completed the podium.
The victory capped a perfect month for Pagenaud, who also won the Indianapolis Grand Prix two weeks ago.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Indianapolis; Editing by Toby Davis)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepares to cast his vote for the European and local elections at a polling station in Athens, Greece, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
May 26, 2019
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is likely to call snap elections in June, a source in his Syriza party said on Sunday on condition of anonymity.
Syriza, in power since 2015, suffered a heavy defeat on Sunday in elections for new delegates to the European Parliament, trailing behind the main opposition New Democracy party by about nine points.
Tsipras was due to issue a statement on Sunday evening.
(Reporting By Renee Maltezou, writing by Michele Kambas)