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Showing posts from June, 2018

Canadian populist Doug Ford sworn in as Ontario province premier

Populist leader Doug Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s new premier on Friday, ending 15 years of Liberal rule in Canada’s most populous province, and he promised to drop a program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Ford and his Progressive Conservative party swept to power in Ontario’s parliamentary elections earlier this month with a vow to cut personal and corporate taxes. Ford, 53, is the brother of the late mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, who made headlines in 2013 when he admitted to smoking crack cocaine.
During his campaign Ford said he wanted to scrap Ontario’s cap-and-trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and repeated the promise at Friday’s ceremony, a policy that is at odds with the Liberal party federal government.
Ditching cap-and-trade is expected to ease the burden of businesses in the short-term, analysts have said.
In a public open-air event on the front steps of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s 26th premier. Ford, a busi…

U.S. intelligence believes North Korea making more nuclear bomb fuel despite talks: NBC

U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea has increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months and may try to hide these while seeking concessions in nuclear talks with the United States, NBC News quoted U.S. officials as saying.
In a report on Friday, the network said what it described as the latest U.S. intelligence assessment appeared to go counter to sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted after an unprecedented June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
NBC quoted five unidentified U.S. officials as saying that in recent months North Korea had stepped up production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, even as it engaged in diplomacy with the United States.
The network cited U.S. officials as saying that the intelligence assessment concludes that North Korea has more than one secret nuclear site in addition to its known nuclear fuel production f…

Afghan president orders troops to resume operations against Taliban

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a formal end to his government’s ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday but called on the insurgents to agree to full peace talks following a three-day truce during this month’s Eid holiday.
“It is now the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to keep killing or join the peace process,” Ghani told a news conference in Kabul where he repeated an appeal for comprehensive peace talks.
Ghani had ordered government forces to suspend offensive operations for 10 days after the Eid truce on June 15-17, which saw unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with soldiers, police and civilians on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere.
Saturday’s announcement means that Afghan security forces, which have adopted a largely defensive posture since Eid, can resume their normal operations against the Taliban as well as Islamic State fighters with whom there was no ceasefire.
The Eid ceasefire conjured hopes of an end to 40 years of fighting in Afghanistan but there is little rea…

Moorland fire in north England spreads, major incident declared

Fires on moorland outside the northern English city of Manchester intensified on Saturday, prompting authorities to declare a major incident.
Hot weather and wind over the last week have sparked fires in parts of the northern English countryside — unprecedented in recent times in an area better known for its rainy weather.
“A major incident has been declared as the fires on Winter Hill and Scout Road near Bolton have merged,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement, referring to an area roughly 12 miles northwest of the city.
“We strongly urge motorists and pedestrians to adhere to all road closure signs as they are there for your safety.”
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it had around 120 personnel battling wildfires in seven areas between Tameside to the east of the city, and the Winter Hill area to the northwest.
There have been no reports of casualties.
Earlier in the week the army was called in to help battle another fire on Saddleworth Moor, which spans the area b…

U.S. government says it will detain migrant children with parents

The U.S. government said in a court filing on Friday that it has the right to detain children and parents caught crossing the U.S. border illegally for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
A 1997 court settlement known as the Flores agreement has generally been interpreted to require the Department of Homeland Security to release illegal immigrant children from custody after 20 days.
But Justice Department lawyers said in the filing in U.S. District Court in California on Friday that they now have no choice but to hold children for as long as it takes to resolve their immigration cases, because of a preliminary injunction issued on Tuesday in a separate immigration case.
That case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, challenged the recent government policy of separating families in order to detain parents for as long as necessary under President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
Since that policy was implemented in May, families have been routinely …

Trump ally Giuliani says end is near for Iran's rulers

U.S. President Donald Trump will suffocate Iran’s “dictatorial ayatollahs”, his close ally Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday, suggesting his move to re-impose sanctions was aimed squarely at regime change.
The former New York mayor who is now Trump’s personal lawyer was addressing a conference of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella bloc of groups of exiled Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic.
“We are now realistically being able to see an end to the regime in Iran,” Giuliani said, pointing to recent protests in the country sparked by a currency collapse after Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“When the greatest economic power stops doing business with you then you collapse ... and the sanctions will become greater, greater and greater,” he said.
At the same conference last year, John Bolton, who was appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor in April this year, told NCRI members they would be ruling Iran before 2019.
Bolton, who at the tim…

Trump, Trudeau discuss trade, economic issues over phone call

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late on Friday to discuss trade and other economic issues, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Saturday.
The phone call between the two leaders was the first to be publicly disclosed since Trump blasted Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” at the end of the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Canada earlier this month.
Trump has repeatedly suggested Canada was profiting from U.S. trade, and his blistering comments after the G7 meeting drove bilateral relations to their lowest point in decades.
On Friday, Canada struck back at the Trump administration over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, vowing to impose punitive measures on C$16.6 billion ($12.6 billion) worth of American goods until Washington relents.
During the call, Trudeau told Trump that Canada had no choice but to announce reciprocal countermeasures to the steel and aluminum tariffs, according to a separate statement issued by Canada late on …

Jordan army begins delivering aid to Syrians stranded near border

The Jordanian army began delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced Syrians who took shelter near its border when major fighting broke out in southern Syria this month, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.
“This is in line with Jordan’s stance to help our Syrian brothers,” Jumana Ghunaimat told the state news agency.
Several thousand Syrians had gathered near a closed border crossing earlier on Saturday pleading to enter Jordan, which closed its borders after the Syrian army launched a major offensive this month, uprooting tens of thousands of people.
Social media footage showed large crowds of civilians, many children and women thronged facing Jordanian troops and tanks stationed along the heavily sealed border with Syria.
Tens of thousands of the more than 160,000 civilians who have been displaced, according to U.N. figures, have given up on entering Jordan and have instead headed westwards to the Israeli border.
Heavy fighting has taken place in Deraa city where rebels …

Syrian rebels lose string of southwest towns

A string of Syrian rebel-held towns and villages accepted government rule on Saturday as insurgent lines collapsed in parts of the southwest under an intense bombardment that the United Nations says has forced 160,000 people to flee.
The southwest was an early hotbed of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and defeat there would leave rebels with just one remaining stronghold — the area around Idlib province bordering Turkey in the northwest.
Rebels met Russian negotiators on Saturday to seek peace terms for Deraa province, where most of their southwest territory is located, but said these failed. 
Moscow is Assad’s strongest ally and its air power since 2015 has been crucial to his recapture of vast swathes of Syria.
Local groups in many towns seized by the army in recent days had negotiated their own surrender deals independently of the main rebel operations rooms after heavy air raids.
Rebels said they had taken back several towns and villages lost to the army earlier in the d…

Afghan forces to resume operations as historic ceasefire with Taliban ends

Afghan security forces are to resume operations as an unprecedented Eid holiday ceasefire with the Taliban comes to an end. President Ashraf Ghani noted that the landmark truce had proven that the militants are tired of war.
Ghani officially announced the end of the ceasefire on Saturday morning, saying that “the nation has shown they are ready for reconciliation,” as cited by TOLOnews channel. 
The president stated that many Taliban fighters now want peace and that the group is tired of war.
The Afghan leader, who has long been pushing for peace with the Taliban, once again called on the Islamic fundamentalist militants to join the peace process in the conflict-ravaged country. 
He said that the government wanted to convert the Taliban from a militant group into a political one.
The militants made a surprising statement earlier in June, saying that they would suspend hostilities with the government forces to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid. 
Their truce proposal excluded foreign forces in A…

Japanese space rocket crashes & explodes seconds after launch

The launch of privately developed Japanese sounding rocket MOMO-2 resulted in a catastrophic failure, as the spacecraft crashed back to Earth after only a few seconds in flight. 
The rocket exploded, damaging the ground facilities.
The MOMO rocket family is developed by a private startup company with the ambitious name ‘Interstellar Technologies.’ 
The rocket was launched from Taiki, Hokkaido prefecture early on Saturday morning.
The rocket successfully blasted off from the launchpad, but only seconds into the flight its engine shut down. 
The spacecraft then emitted a thick plume of gray smoke, while fire emerged from the side of its fuel tank, presumably due to rupture. 
The rocket then crashed back to Earth, exploding in a spectacular fireball, and setting the launchpad ablaze.
The launch was livestreamed and, despite the failure, the stream continued, giving viewers an opportunity to watch the spacecraft burn to ashes. Since the rocket was filled with ethanol and liquid oxygen, the compa…

2 killed, 300+ wounded and Israeli drone shot down in latest Gaza clashes

Palestinian protesters have shot down an Israeli surveillance drone, amid heavy clashes during the latest weekly Great March of Return protest, in which the IDF killed two people and injured over 300 more at the border fence.
Thousands of Palestinians once again descended on the Israeli-Gazan border on Friday for the latest showdown with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 
The Israeli forces responded with live fire as rioters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails and also sent incendiary balloons across the fence which sparked at least 15 fires in Israel, the Times of Israel reports.
The protesters also managed to take down an Israeli surveillance drone that was trying to map out their location and movements. 
An online video, yet to be verified, showed a small UAV being taken down by what appears to be a slingshot. Previously, the Israeli forces used drones to drop tear gas on Palestinians at the border.
The IDF confirmed the loss of their drone, noting that “there is no fear of leakage of in…

Air pollution linked to 3.2 million cases of diabetes in 2016 – study

Obesity, poor diets, and sedentary lifestyles are the usual suspects when it comes to diabetes, but a new study says that air pollution is another major cause of the disease, linked to 3.2 million cases a year.
For the study, which is the first to dig deep into the possible link between pollution and diabetes, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System examined the relationship between particulate matter – airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, soot, and liquid droplets – and diabetes.
They looked at data from 1.7 million US veterans who were followed for a median of 8.5 years, none of whom had a history of diabetes. 
After accounting for all medically known causes of diabetes and running statistical models, they compared cases of diabetes to particulate matter data. 
That data was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) land-based air-monitoring systems and space satellites …

Trump considers pulling out of Germany amid EU bashing over meager NATO spending – report

Donald Trump is considering scaling down or withdrawing the US military from Germany, according to a report ahead of the NATO leaders’ meeting. 
The US president has blasted allies for chipping in too little to the bloc’s budget.
The decision to explore the option of pulling 35,000 US troops out of Germany came after Trump floated the idea during a meeting with White House and military aides, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. 
The president was reportedly frustrated by the fact that Germany and other NATO allies don’t pay their “fair share” into the budget of the alliance.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told the Post that the military “regularly reviews force posture and performs cost-benefit analyses,” adding that the US remains “fully committed” to Germany and NATO.
Trump had stepped up his criticism of NATO ahead of the organization’s annual meeting scheduled for 11-12 July in Brussels. “Germany has to spend more mone…

مذاکرات مخالفان سوری با روسیه شکست خورد

مذاکرات مخالفان سوری با روسیه که با هدف توقف نبرد میان نیروهای دولتی سوریه و شورشیان در جنوب سوریه برگزار شد، شکست خورد.
گزارش شده است که شورشیان آنچه را که "تقاضای تحقیرآمیز" گروه مقابل برای تسلیم خود خوانده‌اند، رد کرده‌اند.
بنابر گزارش‌ها، مخالفان سوری مذاکراتی را با روسیه آغاز کرده‌ بودند که در ابتدا گفته می شد ممکن است در نتیجه آن، کنترل استان جنوبی درعا مجددا به دست دولت سوریه بیفتد اما این اتفاق نیفتاد و مذاکرات با شکست مواجه شد.
روس‌ها از یک تهاجم گسترده دولت در منطقه حمایت کرده‌اند. 
این منطقه استراتژیک از اولین مناطقی بود که هفت سال پیش علیه دولت بشار اسد دست به شورش زد.
طی روزهای اخیر، نیروهای دولتی پیشروی‌هایی سریع داشته‌اند و شورشیان مناطقی را از دست داده‌اند. 
تلویزیون دولتی سوریه از شهر دائل که کمتر از پانزده کیلومتر با شهر اصلی استان درعا فاصله دارد، گزارش پخش کرده است.
در نتیجه این درگیری‌ها، ده‌ها غیرنظامی کشته شده و ده‌ها هزار نفر هم از خانه‌های خود آواره شده‌اند.
استان‌های درعا (در نزدیکی مرز اردن) و قنیطره (در مرز بلندی‌های اشغالی جولان) یک سالی می‌شد که به مدد …